Ice Age: Continental Drift is the fourth outing for the trio of Sid, Manny & Diego and this time they are up against one of contemporary cinemas most popular villains…PIRATES!. The film follows two stories, the most primary follows the main trio as they try to get back home after a huge earthquake leaves them stranded on a iceberg and battling a group of vicious pirates. The other story arc has Ellie and Peaches, Manny’s partner and daughter, trying to save all their fellow friends by getting them safely across a bridge to a new home as their old one lays in ruins. Read on for more….
It is safe to say that this latest entry into the ever popular and successful Ice Age franchise is possibly the weakest along with the second one. However despite lacking the quality of both the first and third entries ‘Continental Drift’ still has some enjoyable aspects that prevents it from being a second rate animated film which it could have so easily been.
One of the most endearing aspects of the Ice Age films is that the three main characters of Sid (John Leguizamo), Manny (Ray Romano) & Diego (Denis Leary) are incredibly enjoyable to watch and listen to. The dialogue and dynamic between these three characters has always been one of the more positive points of each Ice Age instalment and it is no different with ‘Continental Drift’. Unfortunately due to the film having two separate story arcs that take place away from each other we occasionally have action move away from these three characters, when this happens the film begins to drag as we are forced to watch the development of Manny’s daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer). This may well be a fun story arc for the children as it chronicles the actions of the younger characters in Ice Age but it is also lacking in any sort of depth because of the films split in story. Though both stories end up tying together it ultimately results in a lot of jumping around back and forth and a great lack of depth in either story arcs development. It feels like the writers could not think of enough events or occurrences for either story and so tied them together.
Despite this, the voice acting for the film is still rather strong with only a few characters needing improvement. As mentioned the main trio are fantastic to listen to and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth is still fantastic to watch, though it does feel he is restricted to basic comedy relief at times there is enough to enjoy. In this arena what ‘Continental Drift’ has more than any other Ice Age film is an influx of new characters, especially with the new pirate crew led by the big ape Gutt. Though a new selection of characters can bring a air of freshness to a film the problem here is that there is too many and as a result many a voice actor wasted. Gutt is a great animated villain and is voiced brilliantly by Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) but he is not seen nearly enough, other wasted voice talent includes Alan Tudyk, Patrick Stewart & Nick Frost who all have minor roles.
When it comes to the animation and the 3D ‘Continental Drift’ is well worth the admission as both excel in their respective departments. The animation has improved on top of previous Ice Age films as one would expect but the character models of the villainous pirates and some sirens that appear later in the film are great. The 3D stands up well against other contemporary family films that have opted for the format but where it excels is in its use of 3D for more standard scenes than just the action orientated ones. A lot of films opt for gimmicky 3D as a way to cash in on the format but Ice Age utilises fully where it can and is all the better to watch because of it.
Overall Ice Age: Continental Drift is arguably the weakest of the four Ice Age films but it still remains a decent family film for both children and adults (are we ever going to get bored of Scrat chasing an acorn?). Will there be better animated films this year? most likely but if you are a fan of the previous films this will not disappoint but do not expect leaps and bounds story wise. It would have been better had A) the film been longer to give both story arcs depth or B) it had concentrated on one story arc but it is a kids film after all and we can not always expect to have fully fleshed out story when it comes to this domain. On a more positive note the franchise still has legs in it to keep moving forward and possibly get another entry or two out of it because of its likeable characters and witty but silly slapstick humour which is entertaining for all.