Ice Age Showing The Cracks

I see a bit of myself in Scrat, the acorn-hunting squirrel at the heart of all that is Ice Age: he’s small, he’s plucky, and he just can’t resist a juicy pair of nuts (ok, maybe not the last one, yeah?).
But when his latest hunt for a shiny snack leads him to the centre of God’s green earth I start to worry. If I can’t handle any climate that isn’t iron-grey skies and thunderous pizzle, then surely things are about to go dreadfully wrong for Scrat. And when things go pear-shaped for him, it usually means a whole world of pain for the rest of the Ice Age gang.
Sure enough, his capers at the core make the Earth’s crust split apart. Mammoth Manny, sabre-tooth tiger Diego and sloth Sid are stranded on one side, floating perilously on a diddy patch of ice. On the other? Manny’s wife Ellie and his daughter Peaches. Yikes!
Ok, so now we have the ‘journey back home’ scenario, which will be familiar to people who have seen Ice Age before. Question is, does Continental Drift glide effortlessly or does it do a Bambi on the frozen lake of Critical Scrutiny?
For the most part Ice Age 4 lands squarely on its hiney. First of all there’s a whole lotta Peaches. Now there’s good peaches and bad ones: Frank Zappa and the Stranglers have both penned stormin’ choons about them in their various forms. Peaches the mammoth belongs squarely in the same category as a certain Miss Geldof. Vom!
Why? ‘Cos she’s a pain in the arse, like any teenage gobbo. She likes canoodling with the lads, which is fair enough. But when she’s not around them she bangs on and on like we’re der Ubermensch or something. Just you wait, love.
All this teen queen angst gets her some stern earbashings from Manny (before he drifts off thanks to Scrat) and then her Mum. The earnest family-is-da-best sermonizing drags on whenever Peaches is on screen. Probably bored the kids in the audience to tears, but they’ll have liked the whole rebelling thing. Take that Mom and Pop!
Then there’s the baddy. The original Ice Age had psycho sabre tooth Soto as the gang’s nemesis. To the ten year-old me, this guy was off the hook. You like eating babies? You’re a NUTTER! This time, there’s Captain Gutt. Ok he’s a big monkey, which is kinda scary. Yeah, he has a pirate crew that attack Manny’s bit of ice. And yeah, he tries to off Peaches and her mum near the end of the film. But there’s nothing there to give ten year-old me yellow bed sheets.
On the plus side, there are still plenty of slapstick capers to keep the kids happy. Most of those come from the dozy sloth Sid, who is just the right side of annoying for my liking. His granny is offloaded onto the gang by his family (who ditched Sid in the first film, poor bugger), and she’s a suitably cracked old coot.
The graphics are snazzier, too. Ok, I didn’t see this in 3D but it was still an improvement. You’d expect that though, wouldn’t ya?
All in all, this is a decent film for the kids, but one that suggests that the Ice Age gang will be put to sleep sooner rather than later.
James Archer

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