Please, let this fifth Ice Age film be the last
There’s no mystery as to why 20th Century Fox keeps making Ice Age films. The last two made over $850 million. The mystery is why they continue to be successful. A series that started as a gently enjoyable prehistoric buddy comedy has never really become anything more. It hasn’t deepened its world like Toy Story or even How To Train Your Dragon. It’s just added more thinly drawn characters and stuck with an ‘environmental disaster is about to befall our heroes’ template, to diminishing returns. We’re now on the fifth instalment and it’s looking ready for extinction.
Scrat, the sabre-toothed squirrel with a thing for nuts, somehow finds himself on an alien ship and while crashing around the galaxy manages to set a huge meteor on a destructive course towards Earth. Mammoth Manny, Sid the sloth and Diego the sabre-toothed tiger, plus their considerably extended families, mount a quest to divert the meteor and save the world. It’s an awkward set-up that begets an awkward story.
The series remains fixated on filling every role with some kind of recognisable name, whether they’re adept at acting or not. In the past we’ve had Nicki Minaj and Drake as mammoths; this time we get Jessie J as a daffy sloth with an east London twang. On this trajectory, in a few films’ time we’ll be listening to Lee from Steps trying to summon the motivation to play a sassy musk ox.
All the star power is to little end as it makes no difference how expensive the voice is if the things being said aren’t funny, and here they almost never are. There are so many characters crammed in – there are more than 10 in the core group – that instead of trying to give them any kind of real arc they’re employed in random, easy skits that neither change the plot nor make much sense in isolation. A weasel voiced by Simon Pegg sings opera for no reason. A pair of possums do a bit about hashtags – it’s set millions of years ago. Within about half an hour it has you rooting for the meteor.
Stars: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo
Director: Mike Thurmeier, Galen T. Chu
Release date: 15 Jul, 2016