Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ice Age: Continental Drift

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Ice Age: Continental Drift – 3 out of 5

I can’t believe this is the fourth Ice Age film! I’m not afraid to admit it either but I am a fan of the series. The first film was just a warm fun family animated movie, the sequel a welcome addition and I had my doubts about the third film but with Simon Pegg playing the memorable Buck and amazing animation, Dawn of the Dinosaurs proved to be a worthy addition to the series. I try not to ask the question (and I guarantee I will do no ice-based puns like I’m Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin) but is Continental Drift the beginning of the franchise’s downfall or another great sequel?

Or the beginning of a new, less albino reboot of Moby Dick?
Probably not because that would be silly.

Okay, so the Ice Age films kinda play loosey goosey with history. For example, there are dinosaurs in the last one despite it being established that humans are around (how come they’ve never showed humans again?)—I know that the dinosaurs were hidden underground and that’s the explanation but still, I fear that some Fox News watching Creationist is watching this and thinks it’s educational.

Sarah Palin is still under the impression that animals can talk.

Anyway, so the time has come for Pangaea to be split apart into the continents we know today and, of course, the precious little prehistoric rodent Scrat is responsible as his chase to get that damn acorn causes him to stumble to the Earth’s core and force planet-wide continental drift.

And in doing so, treats us with a cameo from Buck.

If the concept of the world changing around them isn’t enough, Manny and Ellie (Ray Romano and Queen Latifah) are dealing with their aging babe; Peaches, who desires to be a typical teenager and wants to stay out, get in danger and see boy mammoths. Meanwhile, Sid (John Leguizamo) is left with his Granny (Wanda Sykes) before the incoming continent shift (continents shifted faster back then) causes Manny, Diego (Denis Leary), Sid and Granny to be split up from the rest of the herd. While trying to get back, Manny and the crew are taken prisoner by some pirates sailing on a ship made from an iceberg led by the gigantopithecus; Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage) and his nasty crew including the 2nd-in-command saber tooth tiger; Shira (Jennifer Lopez) and the possibly caffeine (or cocaine) addicted rabid bunny; Squint (Aziz Ansari). Now the group has to free themselves of the pirates and reunite with their family before the world’s shifting landscape separates them forever.

A pirate ship made from an iceberg?  It's called the Screw You, Titanic.

Like I said, I enjoy the other films in the Ice Age series. The movies are always touching, funny and the animation keeps getting better—especially the work done in the last film. However, this one is the worst one in the series but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just doesn’t compare to the other films.

That animation is still good...even though in every film it has to involve the very crust
of the planet cracking and tearing apart.

As with the other installments, Continental Drift has its funny moments and the animation is spectacular. Also mirroring the other installments the film has some terrific voice acting. The original crew is here with Romano, Leary and Leguizamo along with those who joined the franchise like Queen Latifah, Josh Peck and Seann William Scott. Because it’s a new film, new characters are introduced and a host of talent is brought in to give life to these characters. Actors like Aziz Ansari, Nick Frost, Alan Tudyk, Wanda Sykes and Patrick Stewart—special mention to Peter Dinklage as the pirate Gutt. However, for every single great and talented individual they add to the cast, the filmmakers decide to add a has-been, a barely passable or decide to all out just boil down to the lowest common denominator and cast some flash-in-the-pan 15 minuter who won’t be remembered for this role or any other work they’ve done 5 years down the line.

Pirates = badass.  Prehistoric ape = badass.  Pirate prehistoric ape = VERY badass!

Even Louis is questioning the importance of his role
in the story.
Peaches has a little hedgehog/gopher-type creature for a friend in the film that teaches her what it really means to be popular or cool or something like that and while the moral is good, a real lack of presence for this character (Louis) ends up making the moral feel tacked on and altogether pointless. This is really a problem of the story and how this element wasn’t featured prominently enough or developed to the point it would aid the story but it didn’t help either that the poor-man’s Jonah Hill; Josh Gad, was cast to play the little guy. His performance is so forgettable that you would start to wonder why Crash and Eddie weren’t just used to push this moral…that is, if you still remembered there was a character named Louis in the film for the replacing.

In case you forgot, these two are Crash and Eddie.

Jennifer Lopez plays the potential love interest to Denis Leary’s Diego and although Lopez’s performance isn’t outright terrible (it’s not too great either, mind you) the reality can’t be escaped by the fact she’s pretty much a has-been and it can only be speculated that she was cast because she decided to work cheap (because she’s still Jenny from the Block and needs to eat)…or, more accurately, she was cast in order to use her mediocre singing talents for the big pointless song number that takes place as the credits starts. And she’s not even the first shitty singer/performer to be added to the cast.

You knew a love interest for Diego was coming but...J-Lo?

As if the casting director was out to fill the film with talentless musicians (and musicians is being used in the loosest of its definitions) he had some “cool” wooly mammoths that become the envy of Peaches be played by the likes of Glee actress; Heather Morris, Drake and Nicki Minaj. I’m assuming that the casting director and producers were like, “Kids like that shitty Glee show, abide by Drake’s YOLO stupidity and listen to Nicki Minaj’s shitty music, we should put them in the movie because kids are going to care who voices these animated characters.” Or, like Lopez, they were just brought in for the big musical number at the end—and being in Glee qualifies you to sing (because clearly acting took second fiddle to that show). You have to wonder if you can trust the decision making skills of the filmmakers when they bring in a guy who needs Sprite to help write his awful rhymes.

Better have another Sprite, Drake.  Clearly it's not working.

Thankfully, great performances from the familiar cast and a really great performance from Peter Dinklage—who proves there’s absolutely nothing he can’t kick-ass at!—helps forget the depressing fact that the same girl who wrote something called “Stupid Hoe” is in the film—I refuse to call anything Minaj makes music or songs because doing so would be a great dishonor to all music that has ever existed.

Granny Sloth is hotter than Minaj...but being more boneable than Minaj
isn't really that difficult.

Also here's a picture of Manny...I had to work him in
Sadly, this fourth addition to the Ice Age franchise isn’t as funny as the previous ones—it still has it’s moments but didn’t make me double over like the other films. This one seems far more depended on the concept of utilizing 3D in order to get the audience to forget there are very few jokes. In the past, I’ve proclaimed my love for 3D in the fact that the cameras used to create it are just pieces of technological wonder that I’m certain dark magic was used in order to create them. However, those bets are off when it comes to animated movies but many animated movies (basically all of them) are now produced in 3D and the extra dimension is used to create more depth to the film and make the viewer feel like they are “inside” the film. Gone are the days where cheap gags are used to make the audience jump (leave the cheap jumping gags to the “found footage” genre—it’s all they have). Gone are the days where a character uses a paddle ball to fire at the audience or point directly at the camera to make it look like his finger is coming right off the screen…okay, it’s actually not gone because Ice Age: Continental Drift is loaded with these lame gags. Even when I watched it on regular old 2D, these bits felt contrived and unnecessary, time wasted that could have went towards more jokes and less “hey, that sword is coming off the screen.”

Or a pig nose.

He just wants a fucking acorn!!!!
I sound like I’m being mean to Ice Age 4 and that I didn’t enjoy it but, honestly, I really liked it. However, when compared to the other films in the series, it’s just not up to the same quality. Yes, the jokes are funny and Scrat’s endless journey to get that stupid acorn is still a movie stealer (even though his never-ending crusade is just depressing and, as we’ve learned at the end of a previous movie, he’ll never get the acorn) but it just wasn’t as funny as the last 3 movies. Combine that with some truly downright awful casting decisions and putting in some very untalented individuals and people who won’t be remember probably even by next year keeps this one from hitting a 4 out of 5 on my scale and has it rest on a 3. Although, the movie does contain narwhals and it’s hard to hate anything associated with narwhals.

Narwhals...the ocean's badasses.

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