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MOVIE REVIEW: Ice Age: Continental Drift 3D

Ice Age: Continental Drift 3D is worthwhile for series fans. Adults and kids alike will laugh at the continuing adventures of Manny, Sid, and Diego. Not the best, but silly and touching anyway.

Too Much Time Adrift

RATED: ★ ★ ★ 1/2 out of 5 buckets | WORTH: Matinee or DVD

Rated: PG  Mild rude humor and action/peril.

Release Date: July 13, 2012

Runtime:  1 hours 27 minutes

Director: Michael Thurmeier, Steve Martino
Writers: Michael Berg, Jason Fuchs
Cast:  Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Keke Palmer, Peter Dinklage, Nick Frost, Josh Gad, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Simon Pegg, Seann William Scott, Wanda Sykes, Patrick Stewart, Rebel Wilson, Chris Wedge

SYNOPSIS: When the continents start to break apart, Manny, Sid, and Diego are separated from Ellie, Peaches, and the rest of their herd, and will stop at nothing to be reunited.

REVIEW: Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who!) must have have done something right. Director of the 2010 short Scrat's Continental Crack-Up and its 2011 sequel, Martino steps up to the big chair for the fourth feature film installment of Ice Age. Martino is joined by co-director and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs alum director Mike Thurmeier who has been a part of the Ice Age family since the beginning when he was the lead animator on the original film. Michael Berg, who has written all of the Ice Age features exceptMeltdown, shares writing duties with young writer/actor Jason Fuchs for this landmass shattering story.Peaches (Keke Palmer, Joyful Noise) is now a adventurous teenager, eager to go to the cool hangouts and meet the cool boy mammoths. Manny (Ray Romano), being ever the paranoid and protective pachyderm, worries about his woolly little girl growing up too fast. When Scrat the Squirrel places his acorn ever so gently on a snow cap, it causes a chain reaction that starts the breaking apart of the world's land masses. When the split reaches Manny and his family, Manny, Sid (John Leguizamo) and Diego (Denis Leary, The Amazing Spider-Man) find themselves adrift on an iceberg, separated from Ellie (Queen Latifah, Joyful Noise), Peaches, and the rest of the herd. Vowing to find a way back to his family, Manny and his friends try to change the course of their drifting floating patch of ice, but must first deal with various misadventures along the way. They encounter a vile sea pirate named Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage, Elf) and his scurvy crew of misfits, including first mate saber Shira (Jennifer Lopez, What to Expect When You're Expecting), a rabbit named Squint (Aziz Ansari, 30 Minutes or Less), kangaroo Raz (Rebel Wilson,Bridesmaids), and elephant seal Fynn (Nick Frost, Snow White ad the Huntsman). While Manny and his pals try desperately to deal with Gutt and his crew, Ellie and Peaches have to deal with a landmass that is slowly but steadily pushing them and the rest of the herd toward the open ocean.

Manny, Sid, and Diego have become beloved CGI characters since they were animated onscreen back in 2002. Initially with their own agendas that revolves around the return of a human infant to its own herd, the three formally abandoned mammals discovered that they could become their own herd - a family. Even Diego, a ferocious saber tooth tiger discovers that being a part of the herd was more important than being part of the hierarchy of his own pack. In The Melt Down, Manny and his misfit pals  find more prehistoric trouble as their home is threatened by the melting ice caps, but Manny does find someone to start his own familial herd with a outspoken mammoth named Ellie who thinks she is a possum with her own herd mates Crash (Seann William Scott, American Reunion) and Eddie (Josh Peck, Red Dawn). In Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Sid gets into the family spirit by taking possession of three Tyrannosaurus Rex eggs, resulting in Manny, a pregnant Ellie, Crash and Eddie, Sid and Diego, falling into a tropical lost world inhabited by dinosaurs below the icy surface of the planet. In Continental Drift, the story continues to revolves around the ties that bind between family members and the lengths that loved ones will go through to stay together. Even Diego may have a chance at a relationship now that the white saber Shira has come aboard - of course, he will have to deal with the fact that she is always trying to keelhaul him first.

When dealing with family, Manny struggles to deal with the fact that his little girl Peaches is trying to venture out into the world on her own. Ellie tries to comfort Manny that peaches will be fine, but manny's old-fashioned attitude and the fact that he has already lost one family keeps him trying to hold on to Peaches too tightly. As a teenage pachyderm, Peaches reacts to her father's pressure with the want to spread her trunk even more! And with any teenager who is trying to impress a boy mammoth Ethan (Drake), Peaches finds herself giving up her 'strange' possum tree-hanging way of sleeping in order to seem more normal in front of the other mammoths , as well as hurting the feelings of best friend, soft-spoken mole hog Louis (Josh Gad) by telling the other mammoths that they are not really that close. But in spite of what transpires, true friendship always shines through, and family bonds bind tighter than any external adversity.

With so many major characters and divided story lines, Continental Drift does seem to drift a bit. Once upon a time major characters Eddie and Crash have more of cameo roles as comic relief than anything else, completely down-graded from their height of comic use inMeltdown and Dawn of the Dinosaurs. With Manny, Sid, and Diego out on a melting iceberg trying to get back home to the herd, and with Ellie and Peaches dealing with the task of getting to the land bridge and Peaches trying to fit in with the young mammoth herd, the segmented stories lose a little in impact. In Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Buck (Simon Pegg, Paul) may have been a new character and Sid may have been missing, but most of the characters were the same direct path. Continental Drift's introduction of so many new characters serves only to overwhelm us with quantity instead of quality. Not to say that this fourth entry into the series is not good, it is, but it may not be the best. You can still enjoy Sid's silly sloth antics, Manny's over-protective stoic nature, and Diego's quick barbs that just mask his affection for the herd, but a more intimate, tight story may have worked better. Even Sid's Granny (Wanda Sykes), although a silly addition to the team, only serves to illustrate that Sid may be better off with Manny and Diego instead of other sloths. At least, Granny has an imaginary pet named Precious to keep her company.

The 3D is excellent throughout, from Scrat's long sniffing snout to Captain Gutt and his crew casting barbed swords directly at the audience. Used in the classic sense, Martino and crew did not miss many opportunities to take advantage of the superior CGI animation version of the 3D technology. As with all of the Ice Age films, the characters and the scenery are beautifully crafted, created, and put to screen. If nothing else, Ice Age: Continental Drift is enjoyable to gaze at.

Ice Age: Continental Drift 3D is worthwhile if you are a fan of the preceding three films, or have kids who want you to take them to see it. Adults and kids alike will laugh at the antics and the continuing adventures of Manny, Sid, and Diego. If you are like me, though, you long for the time after Dawn of the Dinosaurs when Peaches was small, cuddly and could give babysitters Sid and Diego a run for their money. Can you have a prequel after a third sequel? Only the march of time will tell!

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