Review: Ice Age: Collision Course
PLOT: When Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel, somehow winds-up in space, he causes an apocalyptic meteor shower that threatens to make Manny (Ray Romano), the wholly mammoth, and his other pals extinct. Teaming-up with “dinosaur whisperer”, Buck (Simon Pegg) they set off on a quest to save themselves.
REVIEW: It’s hard to believe that Fox has been making ICE AGE movies for fourteen years. A surprise hit back in 2002, the franchise’s enduring popularity can be chalked up to international audiences, with the series having long petered-out in North America, while chalking-up blockbuster numbers in Europe and Asia. Compare ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT’s $161 million US gross (good – but weak for a CG animated kids film) to the astounding $715 million it made overseas.
Commercially, it was inevitable that the modestly budgeted series would continue, but creatively, it’s clear this once beloved franchise has all but run out of steam. It’s funny, looking back now the original film holds-up surprisingly well. I remember being shocked back then at how dark Manny the mammoth’s story wound-up being, with it being revealed his whole family was murdered by Neanderthals, making his quest to return a baby to her tribe bittersweet. I even remember it having a surprisingly harsh ending, with Manny violently killing the main baddie to save the baby - something that would never happen in a G-rated kids movie in our age of “trigger warnings” and such.
As a result, this ICE AGE is as vanilla as the last few entries, with it basically being the same kind of bubble-gum kiddie CG-feature as something like THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE. It’s the kind of movie that, when Manny is given a surprise party by his prehistoric pals, Beyoncé fills the soundtrack and the critters start making pop culture jokes that feel like they’ve been focus-grouped to appeal to hyperactive kids. Forget any kind of actual story, with the apocalyptic asteroid storm being largely ignored in favor of jokes about Manny’s annoyance with his new son-in-law (voiced by Adam DeVine in what seems like a G-rated play on his character from MIKE & DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES).
Original stars Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo are all back behind the mics, but none of them have much to work with. Leguizamo sounds like he’s trying hard, but to no avail. Most of the stars who contributed their voices to the other films are back too, including Queen Latifah as Manny’s wife, Seann William Scott and Josh Peck as two really annoying opossums, and Jennifer Lopez (who only seems to have half-a-dozen lines) as Leary’s sabre-tooth tiger wife.
Only Simon Pegg, who returns after sitting-out the fourth film, gives this any life, with him giving the movie some actual belly laughs through his energetic voicing of swashbuckling dino hunter, Buck, who’s being chased by some angry Dromaeosaurs voiced by Nick Offerman and Max Greenfield – neither of whom get more than what seems like only a few lines each. Eventually, it all turns into a riff on Frank Capra’s LOST HORIZONS, which I’m sure all the five-year-olds will appreciate (note – sarcasm) but luckily, it’s all over in ninety minutes.
Now, I’m sure many of you will think I’m being unduly harsh on a kid’s movie, but let’s face it – the time when we could dismiss any of these CG-animated romps as “just for kids” is over. Movies like FINDING DORY, FROZEN and ZOOTOPIA have proven that adults often like these just as much as the little ones, and thus there’s no excuse for churning out a lame one like this. Clearly, the franchise has just about gone extinct; although I have no doubt Fox will keep making these as long as people keep forking over their cash. If you’re reading this – take a stand! Your kids would probably enjoy THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS way more.
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