In the fifth Ice Age entry, our unlikely family faces yet another end-of-the-world scenario.
It’s almost hard to believe the fifth Ice Age hits cinemas this year. The first film from this flagship 20th Century Fox animated was released in 2002. It told a simple story of an unlikely alliance between a mammoth, sloth and a sabretooth tiger to save a human child and was met with good reviews from critics. And yes, it made tons of money as well. That was followed by 2006’s Ice Age: Meltdown, 2009’s Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and 2012’s Ice Age: Continental Drift. And while each of the entries continued to perform well, they were starting to lose focus of the characters and created increasingly ridiculous and convoluted premises for their stories.
In Ice Age: Collision Course, our unlikely family of prehistoric characters face various personal conflicts. Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano) and his wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) both need to come with terms that their daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) will soon marry a guy they might not like very much. Sid (John Leguizamo) is dumped by his girlfriend just after his proposal. And the pair of sabretooth tigers, Diego and Shira (John Leary and Jennifer Lopez, respectively), try to settle down with the herd of various animals that are afraid of them. On top of that, our characters face yet another cataclysmic event when the notorious Scrat causes a meteor apocalypse after accidentally boarding an alien spaceship that takes him deep into outer space. And there’s also Buck (Simon Pegg), a returning character from Dawn of the Dinosaurs, who, coincidentally, might just have a solution to the big problem.
So how does Ice Age: Collision Course deal with all those plot threads? Well, not very well. Or not at all. It’s a like a Saturday morning cartoon with plenty of gags and silly jokes. That it itself might not be a problem, given that it’s mostly intended for little children, but the 94-minute running time just might. The fact that the asteroid is about to kill off all animals doesn’t seem to bother any of the characters at all and they all seem to be more concerned about their personal circumstances and whatever is in front of them at any given minute. So there is no real sense of tension to make us care about their fate. Plus, it’s so predictable that we already know where the story is going. Lazy storytelling is indeed a bane of this franchise.
Collision Course tells a story way too silly and weightless for anybody above 10 but, at the same time, way too convoluted for anybody below that age. There are so many characters in this series by now that it doesn’t really feel like the plot can serve any of them. Yes, we do get that the franchise’s core theme about unlikely families and friendships. But there needs to be some sort of reason for them to be in the film. It gets so crowded that the most consistent subplot is that of Scrat and his endless quest to reclaim the ever-elusive acorn. Trouble is… we’ve had five films about this already!
Sad thing about this franchise is that the original 2002 film actually created a very touching and focused story that the audiences could relate to on a very intimate level. It presented a clear narrative and very specific things happening to its characters and there was no need to come up with ridiculous new apocalyptic scenarios to justify its existence. But with each new entry, Ice Age series would lose its heart and personality while constantly adding new quirky, and often annoying, supporting characters that would then serve absolutely no purpose in subsequent sequels.
While there is nothing particularly offensive about Ice Age: Collision Course, the film does neither offer us anything new nor does it replicate the original film’s formula successfully. It serves only as another pointless extension to make money. And it most certainly will do just that, given a strong box office performance of the previous weak entry. It might only entertain the youngest audience members for a little while but probably won’t linger in memory for long. The overabundance of characters prohibits it from ever reaching any sense of coherence and once touching and endearing concept of family and friendship has turned into a pitiful parody of itself. In other words, whatever made the series work in the first place ultimately killed it. A sad view indeed.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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