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Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/11/2012

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/17/2012

Despite the fact that sequels often get a bad rap, I think that most of us have our favorite series and there is at least one group of sequels that we want to see more of. (I know that I've been waiting since 1998 for Phantasm V.) But, for every group of movies that you cherish, there are many, many more which do nothing for you. That's how I feel about the Ice Age movies. The first one had its moments, but I'm not only surprised that the series has continued, but that they movies do as well as they do. Well, as the latest entry Ice Age: Continental Drift made $800 million at the worldwide box office, there must be something special about it, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Ice Age: Continental Drift begins not long after the events of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Manny the mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano) and his wife (?) Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah) are enjoying life with their daughter, Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer), who enjoys playing with her friend, Louis (voiced by Josh Gad). However, Peaches has a crush on Ethan (voiced by Drake) and she disobeys her parents to go hang out with his crowd. Manny doesn't like this, as he never wants Peaches out of his sight. Meanwhile, the continents are beginning to separate, which causes great fissures in the Earth. When one of these cracks hits their area, Manny is separated from Ellie and Peaches. He finds himself adrift on a chunk of ice with Sid the sloth (voiced by John Leguizamo), Diego the sabre-toothed tiger (voiced by Dennis Leary) and Sid's grandmother (voiced by Wanda Sykes). They need to find a way to steer the ice back home. However, there are pirates on the high seas, lead by Captain Gutt (voiced by Peter Dinklage), and they any boat they meet as prisoner. Will Manny and his friends be able to escape their clutches?

Now, let's keep in mind that Ice Age: Continental Drift is a movie for kids and thus should be met with certain expectations. And yet, having said that, companies like Pixar, Sony Animation and Dreamworks Animation have really raised the bar in what is to be expected when it comes to the quality of family films.

Obviously, the animation itself is a big part of this. The artists behind these movies spend years creating very detailed computer generated images and audiences have gotten very savvy when it comes to judging these films. As there are many CG cartoons on TV these days, moviegoers expect something special in that regard and Ice Age: Continental Drift delivers in that department. The animation is nicely detailed and the landscapes look great. The fur on the characters is intricate and just look at the detail in the water when Scrat reaches his final destination.

However, that really the only area where Ice Age: Continental Drift excels. From the first film onward, I've never been crazy about the characters in the Ice Age films for two reasons. First of all, they aren't very likeable. Sure, a surly mammoth and a defensive tiger may hold some realism, anthropomorphically speaking, but that doesn't mean that I want to spend any time with them. Secondly, and I don't care how weird this sounds, the characters here aren't cute and cuddly. Name another popular CG animated film which doesn't have a character which is cute, cuddly or both. And don't say Sid, because he's neither. Again, there's nothing about these characters to draw the viewer in.

The story in Ice Age: Continental Drift is pretty weak as well. Pirates? Really? Is it 2003? I know that some other recent films have attempted to make pirates fashionable again, but the whole idea just seems tired. The character design of the pirates themselves isn't very inspired and each fits a stereotype. The overly protective father premise doesn't feel very fresh either. The story milks this idea by having Manny separated from Ellie and Peaches. Fine. One would think that the breaking apart of the continents would be enough of an obstacle to go around -- Sending Manny and the gang out to sea to encounter pirates makes this feel as if two scripts were squished together. Even Scrat (voiced by Chris Wedge), the prehistoric squirrel which is my favorite part of the Ice Age movies, feels very tired at this point, and while he made me laugh when he was underwater, I did long to see him do something different.

Ice Age: Continental Drift comes form Blue Sky Studios, the animation company which also made Rio and Robots. Neither of those movies are perfect, but they do show a penchant for doing something a little different. I would have liked to have seen the reported $95 million spent on Ice Age: Continental Drift put toward a fresh movie like those listed above.

Ice Age: Continental Drift knows little about geography on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The image has a great amount of depth, even in this 2D version and the picture looks as if you could reach into it. The level of detail is very good and we can see the intricacies of the animation. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done and alert us to sounds off-screen. The stereo separation is good and the left and right speakers stay active. The surround sound effects are nearly constant and we feel as if we are right there on that block of ice, as the rear channels provide detailed effects. The subwoofer effects are also impressive, as the rumbles of the Earth fill the room.

The Ice Age: Continental Drift Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. "Party with a Pirate" Mode is sort of like an audio commentary, as Squint (voiced by Aziz Ansari) occasionally makes jokes about what is happening on-screen. "Ice Age: The Story So Far" (9 minutes) is a montage of scenes from the first three films showing the series' highlights. "Missing Links" (2 minutes) are two DELETED SCENES which are shown in animatic form. "Through a Pirate's Spyglass" (26 minutes) is comprised of two pieces. "Voices Ahoy!" examines the voice actors who appear in the film. We get comments from the actors and see them working in the studio. "Capturing the Crew" looks at the challenge of designing the new characters for the film. The introduction of and creation of Sid's family is explored in "Granny and the Stink of the Sloths" (9 minutes). "Whale of a Tale: Drifts, Rifts, Beasties, and Myths" (24 minutes) is a three-part featurette which looks at the actual science behind things in the film such as the creation of the continents and the animals. "Scrat Got Your Tongue" (7 minutes) is an oddly in-depth look at the Scrat character and the work which goes into continuing his story. "The Scratist" (2 minutes) is a black and white reel of Scrat footage which spoofs The Artist. "Shimmy Shake Music Section" (11 minutes) contains four songs from the film including MUSIC VIDEOS by Jennifer Lopez and The Wanted. The final extra are two TRAILERS for the film.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2012.