It has been approximately a decade since the Ice Age franchise by Blue Sky Studios & 20th Century Fox was first introduced and, thus, went off to a flying start. The series continued to awe and entertain audiences in 2006 and 2009 following sequels that concluded a delightful and heartwarming trilogy. However, less than a year after Dawn Of The Dinosaurs hit the screens, a new fourth instalment was announced. Before this release, there were a number of things to consider about Continental Drift. Fourth instalments are not usually well-received by critics, particularly in this era, and after how its predecessor concluded, another film perhaps was not an essential addition. With this in mind, Ice Age: Continental Drift was, as predicted, an almost completely pointless film that lacked the majority of qualities that its predecessors provided so marvelously.
Carlos Saldanha, a director of the former Ice Age films, dropped out entirely from Ice Age: Continental Drift and was replaced by both Mike Thurmeier, who Saldanha had collaborated with on Dawn Of The Dinosaurs, and Steve Martino, co-director of Horton Hears A Who!. Obviously, the animated effects are out of this world and it was absolutely beautifully filmed, but there were so many weaknesses that it suffered from. Out of the four thus far, Continental Drift is undoubtedly the most predictable as we almost immediately know within 5 minutes of what is going to happen. Finally, what was most disappointing about this was that it lacked all of the laugh-out-loud jokes that we had experienced in the past and the charm and warmth of the characters which have put smiles on our faces.
Once again, the performers of the main characters reprise their roles. Ray Romano has given mixed voice-performances as primary protagonist Manny the mammoth, but there was nothing new he bought to the table in this one. John Leguizamo easily performs the best as Sid, the clumsy, wacky but well-intention sloth. Sid, who is a very close equivalence to Donkey in the Shrek franchise, was not the same character that made us cry with laughter in the three predecessors. Denis Leary reprises as the soft-natured but sensible sabre-toothed tiger Diego and Queen Latifah, Seann William Scott and Josh Peck also return but are more cameo appearances than supporting. Of course, the sub-plot featuring Scrat, a sabre-toothed squirrel, who is still in pursuit of his beloved acorn but all of the catastrophes continue to prevent him from getting it. Unfortunately, even Scrat was not very funny. It is dying down now and is becoming less humorous because it is the same old time and time again.
Like most animated sequels, particularly antagonists and supporting characters, another group of actors replace the ones in the predecessors. Peter Dinklage portrayed main villain Captain Gutt, a prehistoric ape known as Gigantopithecus. Gutt is a pirate captain and his crew include prehistoric species of rabbit, kangaroo and a sabre-toothed cat. Gutt is quite possible one of the most unrealistic family villains of all time. He was not a tremendous threat and there was no background detailing the nature of his character. The whole animal-pirates concept of the story and the iceberg-ships were ridiculous and just by observing this, certain pieces that were taken from the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise are easily noticeable. Unfortunately, the makers of the film just mixed what could’ve been an interesting story (only the continental drift) and the extremely likeable and heartwarming key characters with a very weak, lazy and poorly developed clan of newbies.
Overall, Ice Age: Continental Drift was, as expected, a rather weak, meaningless and at times chaotic fourth instalment in the franchise that is perhaps the runny and sloppy icing on the cake. There are franchises out there that are adapted into a beginning, middle and end that extends throughout film after film. Yet it is a series like Ice Age that needlessly continues and is fading away through repetition and irrelevance. At this rate, we could be in for more future sequels but if this is to be the last film in the franchise, it has concluded very poorly and it deserved so much more.