Ice Age: Continental Drift is the fourth Ice Age film to make its way to the big screen, and is a severe indictment of the belief that practice makes perfect. The cardinal rule of triple-A cinema is that a film doesn’t have to be great, or even good, to make money. That goes double for summer blockbusters and triple for films that have a number greater than one in the part of a series count.
I grant that I am very heavily influenced by the children’s films of my youth; films like Aladdin, The Lion King, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Many film critics and historians far more accomplished than I would call those films masterpieces. Not only did they entertain and educate an entire generation they were critical and financial triumphs.
For comparison, Ice Age: Continental Drift includes a conversation where one character asks two of his fellows, "Why aren’t you concerned that the world is ending?" They answer very bluntly with, "We’re stupid." One of the quickest ways to get me to dislike a film is to embrace stupidity as if it were a virtue, particularly in a film targeted at children.
/Rant Just so we're clear, stupidity is not a virtue. I am definitely not the smartest, or most gifted, person on the planet but I believe very strongly in making use and applying every last ounce of brain power that I have. To quote The Newsroom, (which is one of, if not the best, shows currently on television - my reaction to the series premiere as well as a link to the entire first episode is here.) "...we aspired to intelligence. We didn't belittle it, it didn't make us feel inferior." /Rant Off
Regardless of its stance towards intelligence and its role in evolution, Ice Age fails across the board. The writing is disjointed and as broken as the continents that our prehistoric heroes find themselves wandering across. The editing is likewise troubled and couldn’t figure out how to put the pieces back together once they started drifting apart. While the voice work includes a star-studded cast, most of the jokes fall flat and fail to provide any sustained entertainment.
The plot feels like it was Frankensteined together from different ideas that were drawn out of a hat. Concepts and major turning points are introduced at random and are only visible when needed. The "need to know basis" concept works best for protecting and hiding information. The plot isn't something you want to hide. Call me crazy, but I feel its rather important for the audience to know where the story is going.
Finally, I do feel a little bad for this flick. It has to be rough being the film that is released directly before The Dark Knight Rises (which as of this writing I will be seeing in roughly three hours!). That's definitely a though spot in the summer line up, but it only provides so much sympathy.
Children's movies are a bit of a different category because they should be judged both as a film and as an experience for kids. Unfortunately, Ice Age: Continental Drift fails at both aspects. Even though the first installment of the Ice Age franchise had a mammoth helping of heart and adventure; this latest installment looks to be headed straight for extinction.
Did anyone see this latest Ice Age flick? If so, what did you think?
Bonus Material - The teaser trailer for the original Ice Age film in 2002, embedded below, was one of the funniest things I had ever seen. It remains amusing.