A decade on from the original film, Ice Age 4: Continental Drift sees Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the sabre-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), and the always charming Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) thrust into an unwanted adventure on the high seas. While there are plenty of laughs and a host of likeable characters, those without children should be warned; this is a family flick to the core.
Scrat’s unending pursuit of an acorn results in irreversible changes for the planet when he sets off a continental shift, separating our three heroes from the rest of their clan, including Manny’s wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) and their daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer). Sid’s family, who long ago abandoned him, make a brief appearance only to unload Granny (Wanda Sykes) on the naive sloth. She joins the adventure by accident, bringing her sharp tongue and no-nonsense attitude with her.
As their iceberg drifts further away from home they encounter a band of pirates, led by Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage), an orangutan out for mayhem and revenge. His crew includes a female sabre tooth tiger, Shira (Jennifer Lopez), both a threat and love interest for Diego, and a host of ratty and rejected animals, including an overweight seal, Flynn (Simon Pegg), and Raz, a kangaroo voiced by Rebel Wilson. Manny is determined to return home to his family, and with Captain Gutt being his only obstacle, the movie turns into an action-packed showdown between the pirates and our heroes.
Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who!) and Mike Thurmeier (Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs) co-direct with a screenplay by Michael Berg (Ice Age) and feature debut writer Jason Fuchs. While the central family plot-line is clichéd but sweet, what the team have accomplished so well, as with all of the entries in the Ice Age series, is a great balance between adult and child-friendly humour.
The 3-D used throughout is fun and engaging for children, with lots of trunks and snouts sniffing their way into the audience. While the animation in general is rather traditional and unexciting, the story soars on the backs of a band of lively animated and voiced characters (though the vocal talents of Nicki Minaj and Drake seem to go unnoticed in the under twelve age bracket). Ice Age: Continental Drift is an upbeat, high energy family film packed with laughs and life lessons in equal measure.
Ice Age: Continental Drift arrives in Australian cinemas June 28, 2012.