"While most franchise films seem to wither with charm and ambition, Ice Age continues to thrive"
While most franchise films seem to wither with charm and ambition, Ice Age continues to thrive.
In the latest instalment, Ice Age 4, I found myself genuinely laughing out loud at a lot of the gags, which like the previous films has catered for both adults and children alike. At the end of the day, it isn't the most sophisticated humour, we're not exactly watching a film written by Woody Allen but that's something we the audience understand, it is a kids film tailored for kids and it doesn't matter how old you get, only the hardest of hearts would fail to smirk at the line 'when you drink water through your trunk, does the water taste like boogers?' a line that's especially hilarious given its context of the impending destruction fast approaching!
The story this time round see's Manny (Rat Romano) separated once more from his family as a result of the titular continental drift tearing the land and their homes apart, along the way they encounter tsunamis, giant crabs, pirates and the cutest bunch of body popping chipmunks you'll see all year (Alvin can jog on!) Logic and accuracy isn't exactly part of Ice Age's agenda, as such the cause for the shift in plate tectonics ultimately boils down to the actions of one of Ice Age's favourite yet consistently unfortunate characters, Scrat. Theres a lovely sense of familiarity and recurring ideas especially with Scrat who really can't seem to catch much of a break. One of his highlights comes toward the end of the movie when Scrat discover the lost city of 'Scratlantis' , an acorn paradise but you can probably imagine what happens after that!
What Ice Age have always done well is presenting a film with universal themes and emotions from such a unique perspective, while obviously set against the back drop of a huge, global event it's the relationships between the characters that really drive these movies, its about family and friendship. This time round, it's a story of adolescence and growing up. My only critique of the movie is the fact it's an oft told tale and a fairly clichéd one at that. Peaches, Mannys daughter, is now a teenager and would rather hang out with boys than her family, she hangs around with a nerdy mole rat and sleeps upside down in a tree. She also yearns for popularity and has a massive crush on a boy mammoth, Ethan (Drake) who plays one of the 'Jocks'. In fact it's not just Drake, Ice Age 4 boasts a veritable smorgasbord of rap alumni, theres Drake, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah and Keke Palmer!
It's a plot line that provides plenty of life lessons and all the kind of things you get told in school, don't try to be something you're not, don't forget who your real friends are etc etc and I suppose under the surface of a fun, kid friendly movie with lots of colours and slapstick there's a bit of subliminal education going on which is never a bad thing, only the downside is we get lines like 'I wish you weren't my father!' a improbable line of dialogue you can see coming a mile off.
I don't want to get too heavy on the nuts and bolts of narrative arcs and characterisation , Ice Age delivers in so many other ways, from the fantastic voice acting of its cast ; Wanda Sykes, Nick Frost and Peter Dinklage who are all newcomers to the franchise are just some of the stand out performances alongside the brilliant recurring voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary.
Pixar are widely regarded as one of the best animation studios around, and rightly so but Blue Sky, the team behind the Ice Age films really don't get that much recognition for their work. Since the very first film, they've have come on leaps and bounds in terms of their animation and frankly the level of detail in Ice Age 4 is simply jaw dropping, especially in 3D. Simply put, if you're a fan of Ice Age already, then 4 doesn't disappoint and if you just want to be entertained for a hour and a half, its the perfect film to check out.