Genre: CG Animation
Director: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Cast: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Chris Wedge, Jeremy Renner, Nick Frost, Jennifer Lopez, Seann William Scott, Alan Tudyk
RunTime: 1 hr 33 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: http://www.iceagemovie.com/
Opening Day: 12 July 2012
Synopsis: One of filmdom's most beloved trios - "Ice Age's" Manny, Diego, and Sid - embark upon their greatest adventure after cataclysm sets an entire continent adrift. Separated from the rest of the herd, they use an iceberg as a makeshift ship, which launches them on an epic seafaring quest. Manny and the gang are challenged like never before to become heroes and do the impossible, as they encounter exotic sea creatures, explore a brave new world, and battle ruthless pirates. And Scrat's reunion with his cursed nut catapults him to places no prehistoric squirrel has gone before.
You can’t blame franchise newcomers Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier for sticking with formula- after all, the past three entries have grown increasingly successful on the back of a similar template. So fans of the prehistoric toon series will be comforted to know that once more, the unlikely trio of Manny the woolly mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the tiger are forced to rely on each other as some cataclysmic event forces them to migrate from their homely habitats for safer territory. And oh yes, there’s always Scrat’s pursuit of his prized acorn thrown in for good measure.
In fact, from the occasional diversion, Scrat’s ceaseless quest now sets in motion the chain of events in the story- though keener audiences might recognise the familiarity of this sequence with that of ‘Scrat’s Continental Crack-up’, a short which Fox attached to ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ back in 2010. Nonetheless, it’s amusing all the same, and culminates in the separation of Pangaea, the huge land mass from which the various continents originated from. No thanks to Scrat, Manny gets separated from his wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) and teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer), and spend the rest of the movie trying to get back to them.
It’s by far their most action-packed adventure yet- even more so than their previous encounter with the dinosaurs- and therefore fully poised to exploit the possibilities offered by 3D. Indeed those hesitant at shelling out the extra bucks for the additional dimension will find this a worthy investment, as directors Martino and Thurmeier are not shy to turn their adventure into a glorified rollercoaster ride- especially in the numerous POV shots when one character or another slides across the ice, glides down the glaciers and flies through the air. Scoff at the cheap thrills if you must, but there’s no denying that it makes for great fun particularly for the kids.
To get into action mode, recurrent series writer Michael Berg and his newbie partner Jason Fuchs (working from a story by Berg and Lori Forte) create an irascible villain in the form of mangy ape Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage)- the leader of a motley band of pirates including an elephant seal named Mr Flynn (Nick Frost) and a white sabre-toothed tiger named Shira (Jennifer Lopez). While Diego gets a love interest in Shira, Manny gets to show off his masculine side with a mano-a-mano fight against Gutt, whose paths he inadvertently cross when he destroys the latter’s ship-berg (that’s the best name we could come up with for their icebergs turned ships) and then makes off with the latter’s replacement.
Alongside the main act of Manny and Gutt, other characters also get their own stories- Sid is visited by his cantankerous granny (Wanda Sykes) similarly abandoned by his family; and Peaches distances herself from her best friend Louis (Josh Gad) in an attempt to keep up with the in-crowd (voiced in celebrity cameos by Drake, Nicki Minaj and Glee cheerleader Heather Morris) while going against the expressed wishes of her overprotective father Manny. It all comes to a neat closure of course, and even though none of these story arcs are inventive, they at least succeed in keeping the comic energy up throughout the movie.
And certainly, both Martino and Thurmeier deserve credit for sustaining a brisk snappy pace all the way, avoiding the stretches of dull that plagued the first two ‘Ice Age’ films. More than any of the previous instalments, this fourth entry confidently rests on the charms of its lead characters Manny, Sid and Diego and less on the zaniness of Scrat. It’s a surest sign yet that the franchise is truly coming into its own, further exemplified by the leaps and bounds by which Fox’s Blue Sky Studios has improved its technical standards, and you can bet that as formulaic as it is, this franchise isn’t quite going the way of the ice age anytime soon.
(The franchise’s most action-packed instalment yet, this is a fast-paced adventure packed with thrills and laughs- and of course Scrat)
Review by Gabriel Chong