My kids are huge fans of Ice Age. They have the first three movies on DVDs (which they’ve watched dozens of times) and each has a cuddly toy of one of the characters (Manny the Mammoth; Sid the Sloth and Scrat the psychotic Squirrel). So when they found out there was a new Ice Age movie coming out, we booked tickets well in advance.
After what seemed like an eternity (40 minutes-worth) of adverts and trailers at our local Odeon cinema, the movie finally began. And, to be frank, it was rather a luke-warm affair.
All the favourite characters are there, though a little older, the most notable being Peaches, the ‘baby’ mammoth who sleeps hanging by her tail from a tree. She has grown into a teenager and now has a crush on a cool boy mammoth, with all the teenage angst and parental battles that ensues.
The plot is painfully simple: the continents split in two; dad Manny’s herd (Diege the Sabre-Toothed Tiger, Sid and Sid’s newly introduced granny, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s!) get separated from his wife, Ellie, and daughter. Then the herd battle through stormy seas and against wicked pirates led by an OTT manic chimp called Gut to be reunited.
It’s like a cross between the Pirates of the Caribbean, Last of the Mohicans and, towards the end, Moby Dick.
Nothing wrong with taking inspiration from elsewhere, but what was most cringe-making was the over-protective-father-and-daughter-wanting-to-grown-up theme, inspired, no doubt by those Disney Channel America sitcoms where all the kids shout at each other a lot.
I don’t know who the makers think the film should be aimed at, but at our viewing there wasn’t a single teenager in the audience. In fact, most were aged between four and eight years old.
Obviously I’m not the target audience, but my sons, aged seven and four, and their pal, also seven, are, and they were all rather underwhelmed by it. I remember them coming out of the last Ice Age movie (Dawn of the Dinosaurs) and they were swashing their buckles, mimicking voices and copying scenes. It was after that film that they pestered me to buy them their cuddlies. With Ice Age 4, they didn’t even talk about it on the bus home.
Perhaps they’re getting too old for the franchise, too? Or more likely, the franchise is getting a little too old hat for them.
Yes, it was colourful and pacy and fun and action-packed throughout, but there were very few Laugh Out Loud moments, and even the usual show-stealer, Scrat, felt liked he’d jumped the shark as his pursuit of his beloved acorn became ever more ludicrous.
On a typical rainy day in London, it was a pleasant – if very expensive – diversion but, sadly, not one I’ll be repeating when the DVD goes on sale.
I think it’s time to put the Ice Age franchise into cold storage because it feels like the creators have run out of ideas. Coming soon: Ica Age Academy 5: The Return of Supermammoth.
Oh, I forgot to mention: it’s in 3D, but you could save yourself a few quid by just seeing the 2D version as the extra dimension is hardly used.
UPDATE: My 10 year-old stepdaughter went to see this with her dad’s family and declared it: ‘Hilarious!’ There is a scene in which Sid the Sloth eats a poisonous berry that causes him to become paralysed, which my SD said was ‘one of the funniest things’ she’d ever seen.
In other words: What do I know?