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Review: "Ice Age 4," The Cold Comfort

2012-08-01 09:32:46        Global Times

The fourth installment of Ice Age entertains movie fans this summer. [Photos: CFP]

Ten years have passed since animated creatures from the Ice Age first hit the big screen, and this summer is seeing Ice Age: Continental Drift (3-D), the fourth installment in the popular series, playing for local movie fans. Directed by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier (the first three were helmed by Carlos Saldanha), and distributed by 20th Century Fox, the 95-minute production is entertaining enough, but may prove disappointing to people who have seen the other three films.

High sea adventures

The iconic squirrel character Scrat is back again, still chasing acorns wherever he can find them.

This time, however, his ceaseless pursuits result in the splitting-up of the Pangaea landmass. This seismic incident means that the film's other characters - Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo), Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary) and Sid's grandmother - are caught adrift on an iceberg that takes them further and further from their home and families.

Desperate to reunite with his family - wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) and daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) - Manny leads his pals through a perilous adventure at sea, determined to get back home.

During their adventure, they encounter difficulties such as storms and a pirate gang led by a gigantopithecus (an extinct genus of ape) called Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage). Meanwhile back on dry land the characters' families are being evacuated to safety as their homeland gradually disappears around them.

And so two plots are developed in the film side by side: the plight of the characters finding their way back home, and the lives of the families left behind.

The seafaring part of the film is a predictable "good-overcoming-evil" parable while the landlocked narrative focuses on teenage development issues as experienced by Manny's rebellious daughter Peaches, and her lessons in love, friendship and the importance of family.

Back on the high seas, meanwhile, Diego has fallen for a saber-toothed tiger called Shira (Jennifer Lopez), while Sid discovers for the first time that his granny is a wise and courageous old soul.

From small acorns …

Scrat's role in all of this has been cleverly interwoven with the rest of the story line, and his scenes are probably the most creative in the whole film.

In a clever and amusing narrative, the filmmakers posit that the eventual outlines of the planet's continents, the appearance of the Egyptian Sphinx, and even the Presidential Memorial on Mount Rushmore can all be traced back to Scrat chasing acorns.

And this acorn-hunting plot ends on a high, with Scrat coming upon "Scratlantis" (a Scrat version of Atlantis). Is this a hint to where a future installment of the film may be set? 

Funny creatures

Apart from Scrat, the film highlights a raft of new characters to star alongside the three main protagonists. Sid's fearless granny gets a few funny lines, and plays a vital role in the ultimate battle against Gutt.

The pirate sub-plot may be a tad too close to Captain Jack's escapades in the Pirates of the Caribbean series for some, but the sheer diversity of animals featured in these scenes keeps audiences happily involved.

One badger has the pirate's skull and crossbones shaved into his fur and amusingly turns his holy body into a pirate flag by attaching himself to the top of a pole.

Another standout moment is provided by some ugly "sirens" at sea (inspired by Greek myth) who attempt to lure Manny and his friends with tempting illusions.

The series is still able to attract a stellar cast to voice the characters, but it's also true that the plots are getting progressively unoriginal with each new outing.


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