Ice Age 4: Continental Drift hits our theatres not with a sweet wave of nostalgia, but a tidal wave of all things plain and common. The popular animation franchise from 20th Century Fox has never stooped to such low heights, though kids would argue against it.
This is a franchise that has run of ideas, so it does what it does best: Milk its limited creative resources as much as possible and hope that it puts in a good box-office performance, so that when it comes to brainstorming for a new project, someone high up in the hierarchy of the movie studio would exclaim, "Why not Ice Age 5? Ice Age 4 made money, didn't it?"
As the saying goes, "if it ain't broken, don't fix it". Speaking of which, everything breaks apart in Ice Age 4. You see, the story revolves around the idea of the formation of continents. Hence, there is quite a lot of destruction and mayhem in the movie. Rocks fall down, the ground cracks apart, ice caps break apart...
In essence, this is what our Mother Earth could conjure up in the near future if we still don't give a damn about the environment. Apparently, the characters Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo), and Diego the Sabretooth (Denis Leary) are more wary of their delicate situation than anyone else.
The three major characters continue their journey, but they are now stranded on a fast-floating icecap in the middle of the ocean. The narrative cuts back and forth between the ocean and the land where Manfred's family and the rest of the animals try to weather the seismic event.
To their credit, the filmmakers do not rush proceedings, so a fair amount of action and development take place before it cuts to the other location. Much of the humour (still) comes from silly jokes and outrageous physical movements, in particular a dancing Sloth. This is a kid's movie, so expect nothing more than ninety minutes of kiddy (read: cringe-worthy) fun.
The animation is surprisingly only above-average. Perhaps it's the lack of colour (the entire movie has a dull blue-grey look, mostly due to loads of sky and sea), and hence, the lack of visual energy or vibrancy. Even when plot is lacking or its characters wafer-thin, an animated feature that is vibrant can still engage via its eye-popping visuals. Look no further than Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012) for a relevant and recent example.
Ice Age 4 not only pales in comparison, but has already worn thin on a tired formula. It tries too hard to entertain, but with limited success. And I haven't mentioned about the atrocious end credits song... If you are planning to catch the film, tag along with a kid for he or she may just make your experience a tad more bearable.