Monday, May 20, 2013

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Directed by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier.
2012. Rated PG, 88 minutes.
Ray Romano
Peter Dinklage
Josh Peck

Our most beloved prehistoric squirrel, Skrat, has finally gone and done it. His magnificent chase of that ever elusive nut has improbably led him to the Earth’s core. This sets off a chain reaction causing the surface above to split into what we now know as the seven continents. This parting of the land separates woolly mammoth Manny (Romano) from his wife Ellie (Latifah) and their now teenage daughter Peaches (Palmer). He finds himself out to sea on a block of ice with his trusty and familiar cohorts, Diego (Leary), the saber-toothed tiger, and Sid (Leguizamo) the sloth. Also along for the ride is Sid’s grandmother, Granny (Sykes). Manny trying to get back to his family as they try to reach safety ensues. And the squirrel chasing that nut.

To ensure getting the family back together is no easy task, there must be a villain. This one is Captain Gutt (Dinklage), an ape/pirate who runs a scurvy crew. The most important of the bunch is his first-mate Shira (Lopez). She’s a saber-toothed tiger and love interest to Diego. J-Lo handles the character capably. Still, Gutt stands out as a fun bad guy. Dinklage voices him excellently with a mean streak just enough to be a little scary to the youngest viewers. Gutt also provides us some of the movie’s best visuals just by swinging around as apes are wont to do. He also has a bit of magnetism about him. Helping in this regard is the fact that he’d be perfectly at home as the villain in the next Pirates of the Caribbean flick.

Speaking of PotC it is but one of the movies CD pays homage to. Most notable of these is Braveheart as the movie has lots of fun with that. It even makes fun of itself from time to time. Thankfully, it does so in a manner allowing it to avoid becoming self-parody. Just a wink and a nod letting us know it understands that much of what’s happened over the course of the series isn't historically or chronologically accurate.

Liberties with history aside, the main point of these films is to have fun. Of course, the not-so-subtle message in all of them is that we can all get along despite our differences. Even the bad guys are a collection of numerous species cooperating on a task. Once again, the lesson comes through loud and clear. The added layer is our concentration on inter-generational relationships withing the family. It’s nothing groundbreaking but still nicely done.

The Ice Age franchise has found a nice niche for itself. They aren't truly great movies like the Toy Story films, but they’re certainly a cut above most of the dreck passing for children’s entertainment. Each installment, Continental Drift included, is a fun adventure that manages to inject new colorful characters into our cast of familiar faces without upsetting the dynamics. This fits nicely into the canon.

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