Film Review: Ice Age 4: Continental Drift
Yes, there is a 4th Ice Age.
No, it’s not that bad.
Yes, it’s not that good either.
No, I don’t know why I keep saying Yes and No.
TL;DR Boring plot, underdeveloped villain and way too many characters. Still Ice Age-charming, though. 3 out of 5 stars.
After Brave, I think I’m ready to want to enjoy an animated kids movie.
So the plot picks up with Manny, Diego and Sid as the continents start to break apart. Our trio (plus Sid’s granny) get swept out to sea as Ellie and Peaches (Manny and Ellie’s daughter) lead the remaining herd to safety while a huge land mass encroaches on their home. Out in the sea, our heroes run into and run afoul of a pirate crew, and it’s then a race for Manny, Diego and Sid to reunite with the herd while escaping the vengeful pursuit of Captain Gutt. Sub plots include Peaches’ flirtation with a boy mammoth and peer pressure; Diego falling in love with a pirate Sabretooth; Sid finding his self-worth; and Scrat’s endless search for a nut.
There’s such an effortless joy to the Ice Age movies. I never feel like they’re throttling the audience while screaming in their faces “BE IMPRESSED BY ME!”
But this one, the fucking 4th entry, is easily the weakest yet. Ice Age has generally done well with introducing new characters, but there are just far too many this time. Peaches is now a sassy teenager with a hopeful best friend, a love interest and Alpha Bitch adversaries. The pirate crew alone includes 3 plot-important parts, plus the other members who show up in fight scenes. Add Sid’s family and it’s just too much.
And, naturally, due to the overbloated roster, none of the new characters get any significant development.
Why I hate this movie:
Gutt would probably be the worst offender in this regard. He’s the major villain, yet he gets no attributes other than “I’m mean and angry.” He gets zero back story or motivation. Weak.
He’s voiced by Peter Dinklage, for all you Game of Thrones fanboys out there. And he does a pretty fantastic job with what little he’s given. Wasted opportunity.
Shira, the female Sabretooth voice by Jennifer Lopez, doesn’t fare much better. She’s tough. That’s it. There’s some bullshit about how she left her pack and she has a bit of a wangst, but I didn’t give a shit about her. She’s also voiced by Jennifer Lopez, so.
The main plot isn’t very exciting. Our heroes kinda just float around and wait for plot points to happen to them.
One of Scrat’s scenes involves him diving deep down to retrieve a nut (which turns out to be a treasure map). He is unprepared for the effects of crushing water pressure. Watching him get squashed into a noodles with bulbous eyes is supposed to be hilarious, but no. It is terrifying.
Drake and Nicki Minaj do voices for some mammoths. Ew.
Peaches’ sub plot about giving in to peer pressure so Ethan (Drake. Ew) will like her is too easily resolved. After saying that she doesn’t like Louis (her best friend) and Louis hears it and runs away, Peaches is like “Wait a minute, I can just not be peer pressured,” and effortlessly stands up to the other mammoths. What kind of journey is that?
Oh, and Louis is a mole thing and Peaches is a fucking mammoth. How does he think that’s going to work out (he’s in love with her)? I don’t even wanna Rule 34 search that.
Reasons to watch:
Despite being shallow and pointless, Ice Age is still easily one of the better animated series out there. At least it didn’t suffer the same, horrifying sequel decay as goddamn Shrek. Ugh.
There are a few nice guest voice actors. Aziz Ansari is a rabbit pirate with a severe case of Little Man Syndrome.
Rebel Wilson is a prehistoric kangaroo pirate. She doesn’t do much, but homegirl be representin’.
Brittany from Glee is one of the other mammoth girls. Didn’t realise until she showed up in the credits, though.
Nick Frost (you know, the fat guy from Shaun of the Dead. I know him better from Spaced. Because hipster) is a dumb-dumb elephant seal pirate. His persistent cheeriness is infectious.
He actually picks up second best line with this greeting. Our heroes have just arrived back at the herd to find Gutt and his crew holding Ellie hostage: “Remember us? We’re the bad guys!” Joy!
Scrat’s plot is pretty cool (as usual). He’s on a quest to find a nut, natch. He eventually follows the treasure map to Scratlantis: a utopian, squirrel society. After going berserk on all the nuts they have, he spots a nut resting on a pedestal. The Scratlantis leader (voice by Patrick Stewart) tells him not to take it and to reject his base desires. But this is Scrat. He lifts the nut and Scratlantis vanishes into the ocean, becoming a desert. Points for staying true to character.
There’s a shout-out during Scrat’s opening sequence to Ice Age 3. He plummets through the earth’s crust and passes the Simon Pegg weasel wrangling a dinosaur. Continuity matters.
Diego is adorable as always.
During their voyage, our heroes encounter some siren/fish things. Sid hallucinates a lusty sloth with a bitchin’ 80s ponytail. Granny sees a bodybuilder sloth. I lol’d.
Granny is voiced by Wanda Sykes, and is surprisingly not nails-on-a-chalkboard grating.
Manny gets best line with this throwaway guess at how she’s reached such an old age despite almost constantly putting herself in danger: “The spiteful ones live the longest.” Does that make me immortal?
The possum brothers are asked their secret to happiness. Their answer? Being very stupid. I think we could all learn from that.
Oh, and Manny interrupts the sirens, which accidentally slaps a puckering Sid into Diego. They kiss. And they’re not even that bothered by it. Diego’s just like “Why are we kissing?” in a normal tone. So progressive.
The most accurate way to describe Ice Age 4 is “safe.” You’re not gonna find anything particularly new or inspiring, but you can count on a proven pedigree of charm and simple wit. 3 out of 5 stars.