(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.
(In French, on Blu-Ray, June 2015) It’s really not productive to start nit-picking about the anachronistic introduction of dinosaurs into the Ice Age universe in Dawn of the Dinosaurs: In an animated comedy series featuring talking ice-age animals that are already anachronistically mixed, there’s a double or triple degree of unreality that is useless to contest. We might rather enjoy how the series suddenly develops colors, uses its newly-found new world for ever-more-expansive action sequences and even introduces a memorable character (Simon Pegg’s turn as the deliriously tough “Buck”). Plus: extra earworm points for reviving “Walk the Dinosaur”. I still dislike the aesthetics of the series, its low-wit comedy, the over-developed action sequences and the broad obvious character arcs. But it is recognizably an Ice Age film, with the expected highlights going to Scrat (here temporarily paired off with Scratte, until the inevitable return to his true nutty love.) It’s almost instantly forgettable as “another instalment in the series”, although the dinosaurs do help make it more visually distinctive than the second film in the series.
(In French, on Blu-Ray, June 2015) I still think that the Ice Age series is duller than it ought to be, but I can certainly appreciate how the third and fourth instalment try shaking things up. In Continental Drift’s case, the series goes out to sea, with a plot that involves a lot of water and a bunch of pirates. Yes, pirates. Ice age pirates. It may sound like a big ball of nonsense, but it does lead to a big grand adventure featuring the usual characters of the series, with new voice actors such as Jennifer Lopez joining the fun. It’s not particularly sophisticated from a plotting viewpoint, but it doesn’t need to be: the action sequences are big and broad, everyone has something to do (miracles of miracles, Sid is almost less annoying this time around) and there are easy gags everywhere. For a series reaching a fourth installment, Ice Age is still keeping terminal ennui at bay. Granted, it didn’t have very high standards to begin with, but it seems to be meeting its own goals so far, and the film does look reasonably entertaining for the kids. By this installment, everyone know what to expect.