Ice Age 4: Continental Drift took #1 at the box office its opening weekend (this one just past), earning around $339 million internationally and overtaking ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ at the box office.
Viewed format: 2D
Unlike a lot of other adult folks reviewing films targeted towards the younger set, I have an ace up my sleeve: my twelve-year old sister (and usually, one or two of her friends), happy to lend their opinions to mine. I was lucky enough to have my little sister and her best friend accompany me to see this installment of the Ice Age franchise.
While Ice Age 4 had showings in 2D AND 3D that were convenient, we went for the 2D show because my twelve year old partners in crime both wear glasses and were loath to fit the second pair (the 3D ones) over their existing frames.
I really enjoyed Ice Age 1. I saw it with my father when I was a few years older than my sister is now and found it a novel, genuinely likable animated film. They weren’t ripping too much off of Disney’s look or leanings towards animated musicals and strong solo protagonists. It was silly, but it wasn’t too silly.
Three installments later and I’m forced to recalculate.
'Continental Drift' focuses on Wooly Mammoth Manny and his family, who are forced to separate when the land shifts- presumably due to tectonic plates- casting Manny on one side, and his wife and daughter on the other. We then follow Manny and his friends as they adventure on the high seas, adrift on a small glacier, trying to find a path back home.
Antagonists are introduced in the form of pirates, who are inexplicably drawn to Manny and crew. We never receive any explanation for his particular appeal, especially to the head pirate ‘Captain Gutt’: a sort of early primate (Chimp? Baboon?) with pimp-sharp fingernails and a penchant for collecting booty- and entrails. He’s voiced by Peter Dinklage who does an admirable job, considering the absurdity of his appearance and role.
The film has a musical number in the middle of it. Captain Gutt and the rest of his pirate crew break into a ‘shanty’ for Manny and co. as a sort of self-introduction, as though it isn’t quite clear that they’re pirates, despite clear visual indicators identifying them as such.
My favorite character in this film was probably J. Lo’s character ‘Shira’, a slinky, female Sabre-toothed feline that becomes Dennis Leary’s Diego’s love interest. Jennifer Lopez did a great job as a voice artist; I’d love to see J. Lo be a voice in more animated films.
At this point of Ice Age’s on-screen career, there are too many characters for the audience to concentrate on, with the result being that one doesn’t particularly care for any of them at all.
Add the motley crew of characters to the stilted and forced feel of the one musical number performed during the course of the film, and the film’s personality starts to feel a little schizophrenic. Is it a film about the importance of family? Is it about budding love? Is it a buddy flick? No- animated musical?
Apparently we weren’t the only ones to choose to see the movie in 2D.
Only 35% of the film’s opening weekend gross was from its 3D showings.
Spiderman’s 3D take was similarly low, counting for 45% of its gross.
Take a hint, Hollywood. Step up your 3D game or step down. I’ve seen one too many mediocre 3D movies to feel inclined to spend that extra five bucks, and I would’ve thought that producers have seen enough 3D films fail that they wouldn’t be so quick to walk the plank. (Pun intended.)
Let’s recap: (I’m on a roll.)
- Unwieldy, large cast of characters
- Completely unlikable antagonist whose backstory is never established
- Awkward musical number placed directly in middle of film
Don’t even get me started on Scrat’s screen-time. He must be on-screen for about 25% of the film. The new length of his on-screen visits make it less of an impromptu joy to see him, and more of an obligatory ‘oh, exposition’s coming.’
My sister and her friend had a similar reaction. They thought the film was ‘fine’, watchable, but definitely not a must-see.
Here’s a tip. Miss this one. Don’t even rent it. Rent Ice Age 1 and watch it over again. At least you won’t break your heart seeing the franchise dive-bomb into bad taste and cheap, ill-timed humor.
Jin @ Trailerpop HQ
Next Review: The Last House at the End of the Street !