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]
Assuming you’ll be able to understand about half of what’s being said due to the mumbling and thick accents here’s the gist of this Miami Vice: James “Sonny” Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) are the unsmiling leaders of a top-notch Miami-Dade vice squad whose job it is to take down the bad guys. But when they go deep undercover to expose yet another global drug cartel—which includes factions of the Aryan brotherhood (nice bunch)--their lives are put on the line especially after Crockett ends up falling for Chinese-Cuban Isabella (Gong Li) an intoxicating player for the other side. So back and forth we go: The good guys have the drugs; the bad guys want them back; the boys drive speed boats real fast have sex with their girls in the shower—blah blah blah—until finally some action. And when it all goes down it goes down hard. [Cue the synthetic drum solo.] Although you do miss a bit of that Don Johnson spirit Farrell and Foxx actually hold up just fine as the re-envisioned Crockett and Tubbs minus the jovial rapport and pink T-shirts. They look good in the Armani suits with stubbly faces and the dark sunglasses talking the talk and wielding firearms like pros. Everyone around them are equally Vice-esque especially the two female detectives—Trudy Joplin and Gina Calabrese—brought back from the original show. Played by Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest) and Elizabeth Rodriguez (Blow) respectively these girls simply kick ass. The only one who sticks out like a sore thumb is Gong Li. She looks the part—all steely and indifferent—but once the accomplished Chinese actress (Memoirs of a Geisha) opens her mouth she is way out of her element. It’s actually cringe-worthy watching her try to be tough speaking languages (even Spanish) she is not at all familiar with. And on top of that Gong and Farrell have zero chemistry making their supposedly steamy love scenes tepid indeed. What a waste of good-looking skin. Michael Mann is arguably one of the best writer/directors of crime drama today having crafted such sleek hard-hitters as Heat and Collateral. Returning to the innovative ‘80s show that helped put him on the map must have been a no-brainer even if he was reluctant to do it at first. Apparently Mann wanted to make Vice originally as a gritty feature film but got pigeonholed by the network. Maybe that was good thing because in holding back a bit Mann managed to make it one of the coolest crime series ever combining pulse-racing action with synergized music. But after getting burnt out by the network grind Mann is back to revisit the Vice world again taking it in the direction he originally planned. This Miami Vice is a hard cruel place almost too serious. There’s the little Mann stamps all over it—the overhead shots the clipped dialogue the grainy night vistas—but what’s happened between the first Vice and now is how tired the subject matter has become. Undercover cops/drug smuggling movies are old hat something we’ve seen played out hundreds of times before. And unfortunately Mann offers nothing new. Maybe he should have just left well enough alone.