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'Ice Age: Continental Drift' gets lukewarm reception from critics

July 13, 2012|By Oliver Gettell
  • Diego (voiced by Denis Leary), left, Sid (John Leguizamo) and Manny (Ray Romano) in "Ice Age: Continental Drift."
Diego (voiced by Denis Leary), left, Sid (John Leguizamo) and Manny (Ray… (20th Century Fox )

Film franchises that make it past three movies don't tend to be known for the fourth — "Batman and Robin," anyone? "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"? — and critics' reviews indicate "Ice Age: Continental Drift" won't be one to buck the trend. The 3-D animated adventure follows a group of prehistoric animal pals (voiced by Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo) adrift on an iceberg, but many critics say the film itself is equally directionless.

The Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey pens one of the more positive reviews, calling this fourth installment "an improvement over No. 3, 2009's 'Dawn of the Dinosaurs,' which completely lost it when the Ice Age went tropical." The filmmakers, Sharkey says, "have gone a little crazy … but in a good way." Among the wacky highlights is "a big Broadway-style number involving pirates," the captain of whom is none other than "Game of Thrones" star Peter Dinklage.

In the minus column, "the dialogue is sometimes too sluggish and definitely too preachy, [and] the ending is a little too sappy." The final verdict: "consistently likable, if not quite lovable."

USA Today's Claudia Puig, on the other hand, finds "far too little here that's fresh." The premise, which involves the critters navigating the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea, "rarely satisfies viewers of any age," and at the film's core, it's "the same old story, modified slightly, with just a few new voices added." Puig is also among the numerous critics who prefer the "Simpsons" short that precedes the film to the main event, declaring it "far more clever and whimsical than any sequence in 'Ice Age.' "

A.O. Scott of the New York Times agrees, lamenting that viewers who wish to see the "four-and-a-half-minute dialogue-free delight … must also buy a ticket to 'Ice Age: Continental Drift.' " The main problem with "Continental Drift," Scott writes, "is that its sense of fun is essentially parasitic." The film's gimmicks — pirates, cute creatures, a surfeit of celebrity cameos — "try to entertain you by reminding you of things you’ve seen before." In the end, "a little more conviction might be nice."

Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert describes his viewing experience as "a cheerless exercise." He continues, "The characters are manic and idiotic, the dialogue is rat-a-tat chatter, the action is entirely at the service of the 3-D, and the movie depends on bright colors, lots of noise and a few songs in between the whiplash moments." However, the film "will perhaps be a delight for little kids.… Real little kids. Real, real little kids."

And in the Village Voice, Jonathan Kiefer pegs the series' endurance to "the Sisyphean tenacity of its mascot, the acorn-chasing prehistoric squirrel, Scrat," who apperas in a " 'Looney Tunes'-worthy prologue." After that, alas, it's all "filler."

Four films in, it looks as though fresh ideas have gone extinct in the Ice Age.


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