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Review: Ice Age: Continental Drift

— by ADAM DALE —

While many recent animated films have been setting their sights on people of all ages, and adding in the occasional adult –themed joke to appease those with more sophisticated sensibilities, the “Ice Age” franchise has been a consistent force in entertainment for its younger viewers. Rarely changing the formula that made 2002’s “Ice Age” a hit 10 years ago, “Ice Age: Continental Drift” brings us back to familiar territory, but still aims to please those younger viewers to whom it has always appealed.

It is a conscious choice to stay more family-friendly that could detour those without children from seeing the film right away, but then again they were never the target demographic Blue Sky Studios made these films for.

Years have passed and once again we meet up with the original three amigos: Manny (Ray Romano) the Wooly Mammoth, Diego (Denis Leary) the saber-toothed tiger and Sid (John Leguizamo) the sloth. They are joined by Manny’s wife Ellie (Queen Latifah), their now teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) and Ellie’s two annoying possum brothers Crash and Eddie (Sean William Scott and Josh Peck). Life seems to be going fine and the biggest hurdle of the moment is Manny being over-protective of his daughter and keeping her away from boys.

Everyone’s favorite mute prehistoric squirrel Scrat is once again trying to find and bury his beloved acorn when he causes a crack in a geometric fault that takes the singular Pangean continent and starts the divide into the multiple continents we know of today. When the Earth Begins to move, Manny, Diego, Sid and his recently acquired crazy Granny (Wanda Sykes) are set adrift on a chunk of ice headed out to sea. Ellie, Peaches and the rest of the group are told to head to a safe zone that Manny will meet them at as soon as he can. They must hurry because an entire mountain is sliding its way toward the group and the ocean at a rapid pace and they must get out of its way.

This is no summer cruise for the adrift bunch as not only do they have to deal with the loony 80-year-old sloth that keeps searching for her mysterious pet, but they also come alarmingly close to mutant Sirens who almost demolish the ice raft and, of course, a band of pirates led by the wicked Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage), a ruthless prehistoric ape who has earned his nickname, and his first mate Shira (Jennifer Lopez), a white saber-toothed tiger whose loyalties are questioned once she has seen how Manny and his friends interact. She wonders if she really wants to be a part of the pirate crew any longer. Manny, Diego, Sid and Granny must escape the clutches of Captain Gutt and get back to his family before it’s too late, but the captain isn’t willing to give up so easily and he will play dirty to get what he desires.

While “Ice Age: Continental Drift” has previous co-director Mike Thurmeier returning with a new co-director, Steve Martino, Blu Sky Studios has kept the film similar, with the same pacing, jokes and conventional routine as the past installments. This can be seen as a bad thing as this is the fourth film in the franchise and could use a shake-up to keep fans from losing interest, but I look at how a shift in the tone of “Shrek the Third” affected the outcome of the already-proven formula.

Just as usual, the comedy and jokes are abundant, and even though many come from franchise favorites Scrat and Sid, the addition of Wanda Sykes as Granny has now taken the lead in the chuckles-worth performance department. She was the funniest character in the film and I am so glad they decided to bring the veteran comedian into this film. Some of our newcomers had some standout moments too, as Peter Dinklage has a great presence and personality as Captain Gutt. He is a villain that won’t scare the tiny ones, but it menacing enough to know anyone who gets on his bad side is in trouble.

Jennifer Lopez seemed to capture less attention in her role as Shira, the white saber-toothed tiger and possible love interest for Diego. She fulfilled the role, but the impact of her character and her arc in the story didn’t have me wanting her to return if any future movies are made. There are many other new characters that had some moments to shine. They were voiced by Josh Gad, Drake, Nikki Minaj, Aziz Ansari, Nick Frost, Alan Tudyk, Rebel Wilson, Joy Behar, Heather Morris and many others.

So is this a movie deserving of the big screen 3D treatment? I would say yes and it is guaranteed to please your children and many adults as well. The animation and visuals look better than ever and the use of 3D is once again an added bonus for many scenes in the film. “Ice Age: Continental Drift” is bound to stay atop the family-oriented box office leader board as the next week will be starting the proprietorship that will be the reign of “The Dark Knight Rises” atop the summer Box Office.

“Ice Age: Continental Drift” is in theaters now and is rated PG for mild/rude humor and action peril and is available to see in 2D and RealD3D.

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