As hard as it to believe, the first Ice Age film came out 14 years ago – I remember heading off to the cinema to watch it as a young boy, and being enthralled (and, for the record, I still think it’s just as good now). We are now, inexplicably, on the fifth film in the series – as poor as all the sequels have been, kiddies keep turning out to watch them. Ice Age: Collison Course offers no difference in quality, running through the motions and failing to really muster up any heart, excitement or humour.
The movie begins, as always, with Scrat (Chris Wedge) and his epic pursuit of the elusive acorn. His hunt sees him wind up on a flying saucer and being launched into space, where he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that transform the universe and send an asteroid towards Earth. Manny (Ray Romano), displeased at the impending marriage of his daughter – and, especially, her choice of suitor – now has bigger things to worry about. He and his friends must leave their home and embark on a quest to discover how to stop the asteroid and save life as they know it.
Firstly, a word about Scrat. He remains the highlight of the series, and most definitely of this film – the screen bubbles with energy whenever he appears, and he is always a guarantor of some inspired physical comedy. Collison Course is no different, and the physics of space mean Scrat can take a beating in different gravities, on different planets and whilst fighting some particularly random teleporters. His antics are the movie’s only saving grace (as well as a scene with Buck the weasel (Simon Pegg) – it is a two minute continuous shot with simply stunning animation).
It’s not that the rest of the cast are bad, so much as they are underdeveloped, with many characters simply not getting the time they need to be more than basic sketches (and some getting far too much). Nick Offerman is typically enjoyable as a flying dinosaur, and I don’t really remember anyone else – that’s the impact they made on me.
The returning cast don’t fare much better. It is hinted that Sid (John Leguizamo) is lonely, and that Diego (Denis Leary) and his wife want children, but there is simply no effort expanded on them – to call them storylines would be a bit of an insult. The main story follows Manny forgetting his wedding anniversary and hating his potential future son-on-law, but any emotion generated is very much on the surface – there is no dramatic tension because we know how it’ll turn out and the script is too simple to suggest otherwise (similarly, the main plot ends exactly how you’d imagine). Worse of all, it tries to paper over these cracks by forcing Pegg’s Buck to the forefront and upping the crazy – do you remember a time we could go to the cinema and reasonably expect Simon Pegg not to be in a film?
I also have to speak about science – nobody came to watch this film and expect the science to be dead accurate, but the film tries to have it both ways. We get all the fun of alien spacecraft, for example, which is fine, but then it deals with issues in the narrative by saying that they aren’t scientifically accurate (even recruiting professional debunker Neil DeGrasse Tyson as an imaginary weasel to do the job). It’s poor writing, and it’s cheating the audience – a movie has to make sense on its own terms, at the very least.
Ice Age: Collison Course is a poor showing on the animation front (although the gap in quality between the animation and the writing is considerable) – it tries to do too much, failing to serve many of its characters or work up a cogent plot. If the kids ask to go and watch it, say no – they deserve better.
Director: Mike Thurmeler, Galen T. Chu
Cast: Ray Romano (Manny), John Leguizamo (Sid), Denis Leary (Diego), Queen Latifah (Ellie), Seann William Scott (Crash), Simon Pegg (Buck)
Running Time: 94 Mins