The 'Ice Age' franchise has never been a consistently good series of films. The first film was marginally fun as we were introduced to this new frozen world and the characters that populated it; Manny (voiced by Ray Ramano) a stalwart wooly mammoth, a saber tooth tiger named Diego (voiced by Dennis Leary), and a wacky ground sloth named Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo). Then the second movie rolled along and the series quickly fell into the all-too-familiar trap of introducing too many new characters. The third movie wasn't too bad, and ended up being quite enjoyable. Now we're onto the fourth movie and Fox Animation has gone back to the same pitfalls that befell the series during its second go-around.
'Ice Age: Continental Drift' is as lazy as an animated sequel can get. It's a movie that tries to coast by on some richly detailed animation, while it introduces far too many new characters, making it impossible to care about any of them. Not only are we trying to follow every character from previous installments, but now we're introduced to well over a dozen new talking animals.
Because, apparently, the 'Ice Age' people have run out of ideas they've simply decided to go with themes rather than stories. Here the theme is pirates!
After the continents begin breaking apart due to the actions of the hapless saber-toothed squirrel named Scrat – who just happens to be the only character worth watching in the franchise anymore – Manny, Diego, and Sid find themselves on the wrong side of the drift. As the land masses break apart a huge rift separates Manny from his wife and daughter. The trio floats out to sea, while Manny's family is left to fend for themselves.
Out at sea Manny and his gang come into contact with a horde of pirates led by Captain Gutt (voiced by Peter Dinklage). While they're swashbuckling and fighting for their lives, back on land we're treated to the angsty ruminations of a tween-age mammoth pining for one of the cool, popular mammoths. To top it all off, the mammoth that Manny's daughter is hot for is surrounded by a group of female mammoths with 'Jersey Shore' accents. Yes, it's just as terrible as it sounds.
The pirate action out at sea may be a bit exciting and will even provide much needed bright colors for electronic babysitting. However, when the movie switches to Manny's daughter and her troubles within the mammoth dating world it's like the movie applies the brakes as hard as possible. The entire thing comes to a screeching halt. Even the kids will be bored watching the finer points of prehistoric pachyderm courting.
'Ice Age' has never held a candle to Pixar movies. They've never even come close to mirroring the type of storytelling prowess that Pixar possesses. With that said, the first and third movies are rather enjoyable ways to pass the time. If your kid is in love with 'Ice Age' then those are the two to watch. The fourth movie falls in league with the second. It's far too bloated with new characters, nonsensical storylines, and tepid jokes.
There were a handful of times where I found myself chuckling, mainly because of Sid's antics with a very large crab that pops up out of the ocean, but on the whole the movie seems afraid of producing genuine laughter. It's much too obsessed with finding out if two love bird mammoths will really end up with each other. 'Ice Age: Continental Drift' ends up being a frigid drag.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Ice Age: Continental Drift' comes in 2D and 3D versions. The 2D Combo Pack has a Blu-ray and a DVD copy of the movie. The Blu-ray is a 50GB disc. The discs are housed in a standard keepcase which comes with a slipcover. This release is specifically locked for Region A use.
No surprise here. The visuals in 'Continental Drift' are every bit as lush and demo-worthy as they were in 'Dawn of the Dinosaurs.' Fox may not be able to piece together a decent movie with these characters, but at least they look magnificent in high-def.
The main visual draws here are the immensely detailed coats of fur and hair covering the characters. Fox's animation is much more angular, and at times, less detailed than something Pixar would do. However, when you watch the movie you'll notice that it's every bit as clear and beautifully rendered as any other computer animated movie.
Colors, from Manny's brown coat to the pink of Captain Gutt's face, are strikingly rich. Textures like fur, dirt, and the surface of the ocean all appear as lifelike as possible. Shadows have startling depth. The entire picture is simply HD eye candy. The 2D version of 'Continental Drift' is certainly worthy of the lofty "demo material" title.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix mirrors the greatness of the video. Here you'll run the gamut of sound. With as much action is in here you'll be impressed by the amount of thundering LFE used. As the continents violently break apart the cracking causes large, steady crashing to be produced from the sub. An ice flow breaks away from land and crashes into the ocean with a thunderous, echoing thwooosh that fills the soundfield. It's an encompassing experience to say the least.
The cracking of the continents travels through the channels seamlessly as the cracks move swiftly across the continents. Directionality is pinpoint in its accuracy. Dialogue is crystal clear. The extra two side channels are filled with engaging ambient sound that truly adds to the more action-packed scenes.
Like the video presentation, the audio mix does no wrong. I can't find a complaint with it. I enjoyed its sonic offerings thoroughly and I'm sure you will too.
It really is time Fox stop producing 'Ice Age' movies. From a creative standpoint it's obvious that the well of ideas ran dry a long time ago, but seeing that it made a ludicrous worldwide box office of $874 million, Fox will no doubt make like DreamWorks and run this franchise into the ground. However, if you're looking for another CGI demo disc to add to your collection then this will be a great one to pick up. Both the audio and video presentations are stunning. Let's chalk this up as a bad flick on a good disc.