History's greatest heroes return for the most outrageously funny and entertaining Ice Age adventure in two million years. When Scrat's acorn antics cause a cataclysmic crack-up, Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo) and Diego (Denis Leary) go where no herd has gone before - on a high-seas quest aboard a floating iceberg. But a menagerie of misfit pirates are determined to shiver their timbers and capsize their journey home. Join a boat-load of lovable new characters (voiced by Jennifer Lopez, Aziz Ansari and Peter Dinklage) for original songs, spectacular animation and heartwarming family fun.
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.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment brings 'Ice Age: Continental Drift' to Blu-ray in two separate combo pack options. The 3D package is a three-disc combo pack that features all the same material as the 2D version, which is a DVD-9/Digital Copy combo and a standard Region A locked, BD50. The third disc is also a Region A locked, BD50 that contains only the 3D version of the movie along with a three sneak peeks presented in 3D and lossless audio. They are all packaged inside a blue, eco-lite keepcase with a flipper in the middle and a glossy, reflective slipcover. At startup, the disc commences with 3D preview of 'Epic' before switching to a static main menu with music playing in the background.
Like its 2D counterpart, there are no surprises here. The fourth installment to the 'Ice Age' saga offers a phenomenal 1080p/MVC MPEG-4 encode. This one will have the whole family swatting at the air with their heads bobbing left and right to avoid all sorts of silly objects flying at them. The movie was clearly created with 3D in mind, and the filmmakers take full advantage of it, creating one scene after another to make the best use of the technology. It's basically 3D gimmicks galore for the entire duration. Scat soars through the air and towards the audience as if the character is about to crash into the screen and almost hovers in the middle of the living room for a second or two. Then there are the fights with the swords made of bones where the tips of the blade protrude at our face or at another character's and the iceberg pirate ships come barreling towards the audience.
When things aren't hurtling at us — and there's lots of that going here — the 2.40:1 frame displays an amazing depth of field that's consistent and really dazzles during action sequences. Separation between the foreground and background is outstanding, even breathtaking at times as characters seem to move about in a genuine three-dimensional space. When the ground first starts to break apart and we have a POV from Manny drifting away from his family, Ellie and Peaches rapidly move away from us, penetrating deep into the screen with stunning realism. The vast ocean feels expansive and infinite, objects in the far distance really appear faraway and remote, and the cliff of an oncoming landmass seems to progress towards us.
On the 2D front, the presentation remains every bit as spectacular as the 3D, showing a vast array of lush colors. Primaries are sumptuous, and richly-saturated while softer secondary hues fill the screen with warmth and boisterous life. Contrast is pitch-perfect with intense, brilliant whites, allowing for remarkable visibility of the most minute feature and facet. Black levels are inky and luxurious, adding a splendid intensity to the three-dimensional image. Without a doubt, the most impressive aspect comes from the animation work itself. Individual hairs on fur are distinct and detailed, moving independently of each other. We can make out every pebble, speck of dirt, grain on trees, and minor blemishes on the ugly faces of Captain Gutt and the elephant seal Flynn.
All in all, 'Ice Age: Continental Drift' hits Blu-ray with a dazzling, eye-catching and reference-quality 3D presentation.
On the audio front, Fox unleashes part four of their successful franchise with a fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, but it's not quite at the level of demo-worthy. Like its predecessors, this movie is largely a front-heavy design with several excellent moments of rear activity. Much of this understandably happens during action sequences when discrete effects smoothly move from front to back and side to side, creating a very entertaining, swashbuckling soundscape. The music of John Powell also extends in the back, satisfyingly enveloping the listener in these moments.
However, action sequences don't make up the majority of the movie, so the rest of the time is spent in the front soundstage, which in turn makes the lack of rear activity all the more apparent. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as there is still a wealth of convincing off-screen atmospherics to be enjoyed. With a detailed and precise mid-range carrying the film through to the end, we can hear the tiniest rustle of leaves, waves lightly ebbing and crashing, and a large landmass sliding in the distance. The low-end is frankly a missed opportunity to really shake things up, but it remains robust and highly-responsive nonetheless. In the middle of all this, dialogue and conversations are clear-cut and intelligible from beginning to end, making this a worthwhile lossless mix.
All supplemental material can be found on the 2D Blu-ray disc.
The fourth installment in the popular 'Ice Age' saga drifts along at a glacial pace, with sporadic displays of witty comedy sprinkled throughout. Peter Dinklage's Captain Gutt is the only real highlight to an otherwise lackluster sequel in a franchise that should've gone extinct in the last movie. The 3D Blu-ray, on the other hand, offers a phenomenal stereoscopic presentation and worthwhile lossless audio. The overall package comes with a treasure trove of supplements, sure to give younger audiences hours of entertainment but likely to wear thin with the adults in the house.