(In French, In Theatres, August 2016) By the time they’ve hit their fifth instalment, ongoing series usually have both figured out their formula and downgraded their ambitions to focus almost solely on that formula. So it is that Ice Age: Collision Course once again focuses on the adventure of woolly mammoth Manny and his growing family (this time around, daughter Peaches is about to wed) while some world-altering events takes place. Meanwhile, and perhaps more interestingly, the film’s subplot goes for gonzo Science Fiction as squirrel Scrat’s fondness for acorns leads to a reshaping of the solar system via alien technology and the usual slapstick. Earthbound, we have more of the usual banter (any hope of seeing the idiot sloth being sidelined is once again extinguished), along with more implausible sci-fi shenanigans involving a volcano, alien crystal and an incoming meteor strike, implausibly prophesied by … whom? Anyway; it’s not as if this is a series built on realism, and by the time the film brings back (through a rather good long shot set to “Figaro”) the striking grander-than-life Buck from the third instalment, it’s easier to be swept up by the energy of the film. I mean: There’s a Neil deGrasse Tyson parody and an extended subplot about rejuvenating crystals. As for the rest, Ice Age: Collision Course is perhaps a bit too familiar at this point, and rote in its execution … but still more or less an extension to the series as it exists.
(On Cable TV, September 2013) I wish I had anything beyond a shrug to offer as a lasting reaction to this animated fantasy film. It’s obvious that a lot of people worked a long time in order to create Epic. Still, it falls flat: it hits its mark, provides what’s expected yet doesn’t manage to achieve a lasting impression. Visually, some of the animation looks clumsy and the aesthetics of the film seem subtly unpleasant even when they don’t mean to. The narrative threads aren’t hidden at all (even for a kid’s movie), and it does feel surprisingly long despite a short running time. Blue Sky Studio’s filmography is filled with animated features that go on to make a lot of money despite routine results, and in this light Epic isn’t much of an aberration. Struggling with having anything to add to this, I’ll simply note that the title is far too grandiose for such an average story, that some of the voice casting feel forced for show (Beyonce? Steven Tyler? Pitbull?) and that despite everything, it doesn’t quite feel like a waste of time. I suppose there are worse choices for kids, although I’ll note that the fast-moving visuals and darker scenes mark it for the 8+ set.