You know the drill with the Ice Age films (and just about every family-oriented animated film these days), lots of loud, manic, headache-inducing gags and obvious homilies about family and friendship made palatable by the cute, lovable characters and inventive animation.
The fourth instalment of the franchise employs a plot device very similar to the last Happy Feet movie: sudden geological changes see the continent split in two and the main characters separated from their families. Here Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the sabre tooth tiger (Dennis Leary), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) and his granny (Wanda Sykes) float off on an ice berg leaving Manny’s wife (Queen Latifah) and daughter (Keke Palmer) behind. Drifting across the ocean Manny and his crew encounter a nasty ape pirate called Captain Gutt who’s determined to enslave them.
It’s mostly fun, zany kid-friendly comedy with occasional violence and a few gags for adults. There’s also a teen-oriented sub-plot about Manny’s daughter learning to ignore peer pressure and trash-talk from a mammoth voiced by Nicky Minaj. Also, what would the Ice Age films be without the running gag about the speed freak rodent maniacally chasing acorns?
As in the previous Ice Age films the animation is stunningly realistic and here it actually makes effective use of 3d.
Mostly, though, the film’s appeal lies in its great voice cast with Wanda Sykes, Dennis Leary and Nick Frost as a big dumb walrus the standouts. Aussie Rebel Wilson also chips in as the voice of (you guessed it) a kangaroo.
While Ice Age 4 rarely lags and has plenty of clever visuals and amusing moments, it pales in comparison to other animated films like Toy Story and Wall E. Ice Age 4 is no animated classic parents but will still find it’s a movie they and their kids (and not just the little ones) will enjoy.
Rating: Three stars.
Director: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Running time: 94 mins
Released: June 28th 2012
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