By their fifth film, most franchises have found their way. They’ve found interesting and innovative new chapters in their beloved characters’ lives. FAST FIVE marked a shifting of gears, finding strength in their morph from racing to heist films. The BOND series was going strong and getting stronger from a storytelling point by YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. HARRY POTTER’s magic proved to be an unbreakable spell, yielding rave critical and commercial success with THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. Despite odd numbered failures, STAR TREK was still captivating audiences. The ICE AGE series, however, offers their weakest chapter yet with COLLISION COURSE. Though the other iterations hold varying degrees of redeeming qualities, this latest, directed by Mike Thurmeier and co-director Galen T. Chu, is marked with lackluster storylines and little to no character development.
Instead of returning to, I don’t know, a story about that baby they helped in the first ICE AGE film, remember when the gang walked by a bunch of artifacts encased in ice? And remember that one of those objects d’ art was a frozen spaceship? We barely did either. But it’s that innocuous moment that launches us into our journey when Scrat unwittingly defrosts the spacecraft, sending it into outer space. His ongoing selfish pursuit of the elusive acorn sets in motion a series of cataclysmic events that sends a deadly asteroid hurtling towards Earth. Meanwhile on Earth, it’s feeling like the end of the world anyways, what with Manny (voiced by Ray Romano) and Ellie’s (voiced by Queen Latifah) daughter Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer) marrying boisterous and goofy Justin (voiced by Adam Devine), Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) saddened by a recent heartbreak, and sabretooths Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez) and Diego (voiced by Denis Leary) lamenting being misjudged as scary beasts. It’s up to one-eyed weasel (who’s apparently #NotAEuphemism) Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg), returning from the DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS chapter, to help decipher the impending threat that will end all mammoth-kind. However, they are hindered by winged Dino villains (voiced by Max Greenfield, Stephanie Beatriz and Nick Offerman).
Usually, at the core of all these ICE AGE films are resonant and resounding themes about family values. But here, those strings in the fabric are woven into the tapestry oh-so-sloppily. Character arcs are ham-handled; the brewing conflict between Manny and his future son-in-law is borderline weird, failing to come across as well-intentioned. Knowing how and when to let go as a parent is an achingly real concept broached by Michael Berg and Yoni Brenner’s screenplay, but there’s no escalating rivalry between the two men in Peaches’ life. The sequence that has Ellie attempting to overwhelm her daughter into staying feels like a late addition. Nothing comes from Manny’s marital troubles with Ellie – he forgets their anniversary and that’s about as far as that goes. Shira and Diego’s quest for acceptance is posed in act one and then completely forgotten about until act three when it’s time for a rushed resolve, doing nothing in between that demonstrates their kindness. Sid’s girlfriend struggle is an ill-conceived idea.
Instead of trusting the audience, everything is over-explained – including the plan to save the world from impending doom. What’s meant to be a silly, random aside – one involving Neil deGrasse Tyson as a weasel – becomes a stunt cameo for the adults dragged by their kids to see this film. And by then, it doesn’t play with that targeted demo in the way the filmmakers hoped, eliciting a fleeting guffaw at most. While we’re on it, young kids will love and respond to the pratfalls (in this case, Scrat-falls) and scatological humor, but sparse few of the jokes hit with adults. I think I genuinely laughed twice. It’s admirable that the filmmakers show consequences to actions through Scrat. At the same time, I’m not sure whether we’re supposed to love or hate him, since he’s the cause of 99% of the problems in the series. If you find him insufferable in the past films, you really won’t like him in this, as he has more to do with the narrative drive than ever before.
This is a mammoth waste of time.
1.5 out of 5
ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE opens on July 22.