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Featured DVD / Blu-ray Review: Ice Age: Continental Drift

December 9th, 2012

Ice Age: Continental Drift - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 3D Combo Pack

I've seen all of the Ice Age films. I thought the first film was great and the second film was good, but I thought the third film was only average for a kids film. Will the franchise bounce back with Ice Age: Continental Drift? Or will the fourth film continue the decline?

The Movie

The film begins with Scrat accidentally breaking up all of the continents, but we soon meet up with Manny and Ellie discussing Peaches. Manny is worried about who Peaches is hanging out with and is being a typical over-protective father and this is putting a strain on their little family. (Speaking of dysfunctional families, Sid's family shows up long enough to drop off his Granny and leave.) Later, Manny embarrasses Peaches in front of her friends and the two get into a fight, which ends when Peaches says, "I wish you weren't my father."

At that point, because it is dramatically significant, the continent breaks up and Manny and Peaches are separated with Manny floating out to sea on a ice ship with Sid, Diego, and as we later learn, Granny. Ellie and Peaches and the rest of the herd on the other side, with a large cliff-face moving towards them pushing them towards the sea. Manny tells them to cross the land bridge and they will be safe there. And no matter what happens, he will meet them there.

So what does happen? Manny and the rest are attacked by pirates sailing on an iceberg shaped like a ship. These pirates are led by Captain Gutt, a primate of some kind, and his first-mate, Shira, a female sabre-toothed cat. Gutt demands Manny joins his crew, but when Manny refuses, there's a big fight and eventually Manny is able to sink Gutt's ship by breaking it in half with the pirates on one side and our heroes on the other, mostly. Shira gets rescued by Manny after Gutt leaves her to drown. Our heroes still have to try and get home, but now they have a new prisoner to deal with prisoner / potential love interest, not to mention a really angry ape looking for revenge.

Meanwhile, the rest of the herd has to make it to the land bridge, while Peaches learns a lesson about being yourself and not abandoning your old friends to try and hang out with the cool kids.

So how does this film compare with the rest of the franchise? Sadly, it's not so good. It suffers from a lot of the same problems the third film suffered from, including a repetitive, predictable nature. The action scenes felt disconnected, because the overall plot wasn't strong enough to sustain the film. There was a predictable and weak song and dance number when Captain Gutt was introduced. Both romantic storylines felt shoehorned into the film. Almost none of the new characters introduced this movie worked. Finally, some of the scenes were trying too hard to have a wow factor in 3D by giving some scenes too much depth, so if you are stuck watching it in 2D (I only have a burner copy of the movie) they look off.

That said, there are some great action scenes throughout the movie, even if they didn't have the emotional impact they should have had there been a stronger plot. And there are some funny moments in the movie. The opening with Scrat was good, as was his epilogue. I especially like how when the gang on the boat were being seduced by the siren fish, Manny figured out it was an hallucination, because in the hallucination Ellie said Manny was right, which is something his wife would never say. The Granny character was a very strong addition to the cast; she didn't have a lot of character development, but she had many of the best lines. Likewise, Flynn, the elephant seal pirate, was a rather one-dimensional character, but he added a lot of laughs.

The Extras

The extras on the DVD begin with Ice Age: The Story So Far..., a 10-minute recap of the first three films. If you are watching this movie on DVD, you've probably already seen the other three movies. On the other hand, it is interesting to see the improvement in quality from the first to the fourth film. Whale of a Tale is a two-part / 16-minute making of featurette. The first part is about real life creatures that were the basis for some of the characters in the movie and how they are changed and the second part is on the mythology that inspired the story. Finally, there are some songs you can listen to that have dance moves as well. I don't have the Blu-ray or the 3-D Blu-ray to compare. The price of the 3D release is better than most similar titles at just $25, so that's good news.

The Verdict

Ice Age: Continental Drift is closer to the bottom of the franchise than the top. It should still entertain kids, but the crossover appeal is much more limited than with the first film. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD, but it is still worth a rental, if your kids like these movies. I don't have the Blu-ray Combo Pack or the 3D Combo Pack to compare, but the price is right.

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Filed under: Video Review, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Ice Age, Peter Dinklage, Nick Frost, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, Ray Romano, Wanda Sykes