Directors Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier extend the Ice Age franchise with more wild adventures, wonderfully voiced characters, beautifully rendered animation, and of course, the return of Scrat, the acorn-amorous squirrel.
Apart from the bespoke continental drift, (inadvertently caused by Scrat), no new ground is broken, but it’s a great prehistoric ride for the kids.
Manny (Ray Romano) is now a mammoth dad and has trouble letting go of his teenage daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer). Meanwhile, Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) has toothless and cantankerous Granny (Wanda Sykes) dumped on him by his uncaring family.
Cataclysmic events force Manny to be separated from his family and he, along with Sid, Granny and sabre-toothed tiger Diego (Denis Leary) are adrift on a small iceberg, heading out to sea.
In their quest to get back to their prehistoric animal society, our heroes battle storms, sirens (a disturbing scene of malevolent shape-shifting creatures luring each character with images of those they love the most), and most importantly, a band of pirates, led by Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage), a cruel ape who becomes Manny’s nemesis.
A love interest is introduced in Shira (Jennifer Lopez), a sabre-toothed tiger who is part of the pirate crew and develops mixed loyalties between her pirate tribe and Manny’s “herd”.
Ice Age 4 has the usual mawkish “always be who you are” message, and character development is not the primary concern for writer Michael Berg.
But the characters have more than sufficient grounding, introduced in the first incomparable Ice Age instalment almost 10 years ago.
Each movie since really becomes another chapter, rather than a sequel. And after all, who cares? It’s fun!
Not much of a drift away from what has been done before, Ice Age 4 remains on its initial solid ground.