The loveable Ice Age animals are back for a fourth instalment of gigantic geological proportions, and they’re in 3D. Those into Scrat and his odd nut obsession will be thrilled to know his actions affect proceedings once more from the start, and in so doing, the lives of Manny, Diego and Sid. It’s been three years since the last adventure that saw Sid trying to adopt and raise some baby dinosaurs (for those of you who’ve forgotten), and each character hasn’t changed much, personality-wise, for avid fans. That’s both a blessing in disguise and a curse if you are seeking something different this time around.
As with all the Ice Age films, there are always new characters to support the old but who play an equally valuable part in the storyline, including Sid’s cantankerous Granny who is abandoned for softie Sid to care for by his cruel family. And the Ice Age saga also falls for the pirate theme – like so many other kids films today – with a bunch of scallywags led by Captain Gutt (voiced by Peter Dinkage). Although a character in his own right, Gutt is less interesting as proceedings go on than his clever iceberg ship that is quite imaginative to watch gliding through the waters in 3D like an ice Titanic.
In fact, it’s more the detail than the adventure that really sticks with you in this episode, and there are some nice animated and colourful moments, such as when Sid and co experience the sirens on route. Also, the fascination for the older viewer – who might will find the adventure a little on the bland side – is the detail of the humanistic features of some of the characters, such as big cat Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez) who scuffles with Diego.
The obvious box office draw is seeing the same old gang up against the odds to be reunited once more – cue another excuse for Queen Latifah who voices Manny’s long-suffering wife Ellie to burst into song again in another film after Joyful Noise. Still, these family-orientated films are always an excuse for a sing-song, and there’s no holding back tapping your feet to the end rendition of “We Are Family”, which is a lovely concept, considering in reality and in such dire hardship the chances of a saber-toothed tiger like Diego not following his natural instinct to have a nibble is quite quaint.
Fans will lap up the latest icy-glowing adventure, and the 3D is not bad either as 3D goes, fitting perfectly with the lively, colourful and sometimes hectic goings-on that will wow the small kids out there. The problems lie perhaps with a tired formula that as simplistic as the plot is for all the family to follow just gets a little repetitious after a while, however goofy, accident-prone but genuinely good natured the characters are.