If there is one immediate, valid complaint regularly lodged against 3D movies it is that they are full of silly moments where things come out of the screen towards the audience for no particular reason other than the fact that they can. It is a cheap trick and the sort of thing that angers more than one person, including yours truly (not all 3D films resort to this, but many do).
What is worse than the poor excuse for the effect is watching in 2D a 3D movie that uses such tactics on a regular basis. When you add to that a bad plot and wooden acting, you’re really not going to have a good time watching. Ice Age: Continental Drift, unfortunately, manages to hit the trifecta.
This is the fourth outing for our Ice Age staples of Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary), Sid (John Leguizamo), and Scrat (Chris Wedge). This adventure features an expanded cast which also includes the voices of Aziz Ansari, Joy Behar, Peter Dinklage, Nick Frost, Josh Gad, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Heather Morris, Kunal Nayyar, Keke Palmer, Josh Peck, Simon Pegg, Sean William Scott, Patrick Stewart, Wanda Sykes, and Alan Tudyk (to name a few). If that feels like a lot of well-known actors to be appearing in a film, it is. Certainly one could conceive of ways to utilize all the actors to their fullest and create a number of in-depth characters and several supporting parts which are interesting, if small.
That doesn’t occur here. Characters, even our original ones, have no depth and one gets the sense that the actors have all been hired in order for the producers to put the actors’ names in the credits. Ice Age: Continental Drift operates on the ‘more is better’ principle but instead only ends up offering more, none of which is better (even if I wasn’t a fan of the second film).
Apparently the cast of characters has grown through the years to the point where in this film the number of characters is now so large that they need to have wholly separate plots take place for them. Between that and the fact that there is no depth to any character, the end result is that we get something more akin to a terribly long television episode and not a feature film.
As for the plot, in brief, due to Scrat causing continental drift, Manny gets separated from his wife, Ellie (Latifah), and daughter, Peaches (Palmer). The film follows Manny, Diego, Sid, and Sid’s grandmother (Sykes) as they attempt to navigate a block of ice back to their island (ice, in the movie, is like a boat). Ellie and Peaches have the responsibility of guiding all the animals to a pre-arranged location where they’ll meet Manny. The distances that have to be traversed are wildly different, but naturally both groups arrive at the same time, but that’s just another of the multitude of flaws in the film.
It should also be noted that on her trip, Peaches learns a very valuable lesson about who her true friends are and not just going along the with the in-crowd. She is the only character who shows any growth in the film, and it is entirely of the afterschool special sort.
The one outstanding part of the film is Dinklage’s Captain Gutt, a monkey pirate ship captain – and when I say “pirate ship” I mean pirate block of ice that looks like a ship. Gutt and his crew are the bad guys of the film who, for no particular reason, take umbrage to Manny and company and make it their life’s work to get the mammoth. Sure, the motivation is weak, but Dinklage is so over the top in his voicing of the character that it works.
Peter Dinklage is, in fact, one of very few actors in the film who appear to have sunk their teeth into their respective roles. The movie is full of flat line deliveries which only serve to enhance the drudgery that is the film’s 88 minute runtime.
As for the aforementioned 3D shots, they’re everywhere and the shot composition is regularly so odd that it can be a little difficult figuring out what is supposed to be taking place. The one thing that will be clear is that someone or something is supposed to be coming out of the screen towards the audience on a relatively constant basis.
If one is looking for something nice to say about the movie, it does look pretty good on Blu-ray. The animation in the franchise has improved dramatically through the years, and fur/hair on the various animals in question here looks great. Some of the water does as well, although there is still a certain dullness to the quantities of blue we get (the quality of the blue though is very nice). Additionally, there are some moments when different shades in the blue backgrounds tend to have a line between them rather than mixing nicely from one to the next. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track offers up all the necessary oohs, aahs, and chills it needs to as things whip around your head aurally (and visually too, presumably, if you have a 3D TV). Even if directors Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier skimped on plot, they didn’t skimp on action sequences and the soundtrack represents them well.
The Blu-ray also seems to take the more is better notion when it comes to bonus features. The 2D blu-ray set includes a DVD copy, as well as Ultraviolet and iTunes digital versions. Then, there are hours and hours worth of bonus features including weird ones like a mode where Aziz Ansari’s pirate rabbit appears from time to time as you watch the movie, a sing-along mode, and a featurette where you can dance as characters sing (and watch some music videos). There are also deleted scenes (unfinished ones) and behind the scenes pieces which go into the sloth family, the creation of the pirate crew, Scrat, and the science (and myths) behind the film. Some of these are slightly interesting, but it’s a lot to go through for minimal return.
Ice Age: Continental Drift, according to IMDb, took in more than 800 million dollars worldwide which means that we should all expect to see a fifth entry in the series pop up in a few years. Wait for that one, this one just isn’t worth it.