While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Anytime a show gets picked up for Season 2 after only six episodes, it’s obvious they’re doing something right. ABC’s Scandal has been a short, yet wild ride: A lyin’, cheatin’ President, murder at the White House, and prostitution add up to a hit show for the graceful, yet strong Kerry Washington, who plays big-shot fixer Olivia Pope. Hollywood.com caught up with Washington to chat about the upcoming Season 1 finale "Grant: For the People." The 35-year-old New Yorker said the cast has been chomping at the bit every week for the next shocking script, and the finale was no different. With the President’s infidelity on the brink of exposure and the unsolved murder of a White House intern, Scandal's finale is poised to knock our sensible shoes off. Washington dished on the outrageous episode – one she claims will have everyone begging for more.
The finale rumors include the highly-anticipated face-to-face confrontation between First Lady Mellie Grant and Olivia – something every Scandal fan has been begging for since the show premiered. Washington says she is floored by her adversary calling out Bellamy Young (who plays the First Lady) and Matt Letscher (who plays Billy Chambers) claiming they’ll both “blow you away” in the finale. Then again, we knew Young’s turn will be fantastic – who doesn’t love an old-fashioned cat fight over clandestine romance?
Quinn’s Other Identity
The teaser clip (below) not only shows Quinn (Katie Lowes) covered in blood after her reporter beau Gideon who Billy Chambers stabbed with a pair of scissors (vicious). At the very end of the trailer, Olivia tells Quinn not to call the cops because they’ll “find out who you really are.” Okay, we’re listening… Washington is kind of enough to add to the suspense. “It’s not really that simple. Like most things on Scandal, it’s a little more complicated,” she says. “But obviously this has been a relationship from the beginning that has been a little bit problematic. So, her ties to him continue to be a source of complication for the office.” Who could she be? Someone in witness protection program? The President’s illegitimate love child? Optimus Prime?
That Silly Billy
Billy Chambers, you’ve just stabbed a man with scissors. What are you going to do next? Well, he’s certainly not going to Disneyland. “He’s suddenly standing in front of the press, sort of stating his own version of the story, so it’s very exciting,” says Washington.
Billy resigns as the VP’s Chief of Staff and claims he’s telling the world the truth about his ‘love’ affair with Amanda Tanner – who he just had killed, no biggie. He proactively admits Amanda was pregnant with his baby, but that the president was taking advantage of her and using his power to sexually abuse her. But that’s not even the best part. He says the audio sex tape is of Amanda and President Fitz. Busted! Sort of. (Fans of the show know that voice is actually Olivia.) Might Olivia have to tell all in order to save the President?
A Major Reveal, and a Painful Scandal-less Summer
“At the end of this week’s episode, they’ll be a major reveal that will be really exciting,” adds Washington. “There will be an answer that people have really been looking for. It’s very fulfilling. When I read it, I was like, ‘Oh, wow ... good ... great!’ It’s a nice closure. But then there’s another cliffhanger that will make everyone scream at their TVs.” Of course there is. With shows like this, there’s always a catch!
Now, Olivia and the President have had a rocky road to travel, but it’s not devoid of love. Washington says she hasn’t fully decided where she wants that forbidden relationship to go. “I don’t know,” she laughs. “I don’t really have a dream scenario for them.” And to that we offer the wise words of Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber: “So, you’re saying there’s a chance!”
From Washington to Tarantino Territory
Washington not only has a hit show on ABC, but she is currently playing the female lead in surefire blockbuster Django Unchained, the long-awaited film from Quentin Tarantino and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. She added that because of the movie, she was the last to know that Scandal was renewed for Season 2.
“Tarantino doesn’t allow phones on set,” says Washington. “I was working, so literally it was all over the media. The whole cast and crew knew, and the producers of the movie were [hinting] like you should go back to your trailer and check your phone.”
But it seems she’ll recover. “Today I go to work with Sam Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jamie Foxx! All of us being guided by Quentin Tarantino. It’s a really profound experience,” she says. Yeah, she’ll be alright.
The season finale of Scandal airs 10 PM (ET/PT) MAY 17 on ABC.
Follow Mike Rothman on Twitter @TheRealRothman
[Image Credit: ABC]
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In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.