ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE Review – An Uninspired Sequel

Believe it or not, Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox’s ICE AGE franchise has been around for fourteen years, dating all the way back to 2002.  Now, with its latest installment, ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE, the series may have finally worn out its welcome.  Lacking any originality, it appears as if the creative team has officially run out of ideas.  Never able to reach the consistent level of emotion or entertainment that PIXAR and DISNEY have repeatedly achieved, this series of films has always been able to deliver enough to make each individual movie worthy of at least one viewing.  You may have never left the theater feeling like you saw something great, but the films also never made you feel like you wasted your time either.  The fifth installment, ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE, fits right in with the rest of the series, but maybe a little too comfortably.  Although it does have some genuine entertainment value, the story feels unneeded, because nothing new is ever really introduced to the tone or character relationships.  Continue reading for our full ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE review.

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The film starts off with Scrat, the lovable saber-toothed squirrel made famous in the four previous films.  While once again pursuing the ever elusive acorn that’s always just out of his reach, he accidentally activates the abandoned alien spaceship that was briefly introduced in the first film, causing it to fly off into deep space.  The ship then knocks around the planets like a bunch of billiard balls, causing a chain reaction that eventually bumps a Meteor onto a collision course with the Earth.  Noticing the big ball of fire hurtling through the sky and being told of a prophecy regarding meteors slamming into a particular place on Earth, causing mass destruction and even extinction, our familiar ICE AGE heroes, the woolly mammoth Manny (Ray Ramano), his wife Ellie (Queen Latifa) and daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) decide to get together with the rest of the prehistoric herd, Sid (John Leguizamo), Diego (Denis Leary), Crash (Sean William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck) to come up with a plan to travel to the suspected impact area and try to stop the meteor from destroying the planet.

I know what everyone’s thinking.  That sounds pretty exciting and at times it is.  As long as the film stays focused on the meteor, it moves at a thrilling pace.  The animators do a good job creating some amazing moments filled with exciting action and great visuals.

Scrat’s epic pursuit of the elusive acorn catapults him into the universe. Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

Scrat’s epic pursuit of the elusive acorn catapults him into the universe. Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

 

It’s when the filmmakers decide to detour away from the meteor that everything starts to fall apart.  Writers Michael J. Wilson, Michael Berg and Yoni Brenner introduce a number of subplots regarding love and family that the core audience of children are going to most likely find uninteresting and boring.  Sid is looking for true love, while Peaches has found it with one of the franchise’s newest characters, Julien.  As the two mammoths plan their wedding, Manny has to deal with his jealous feelings of losing his daughter to another (yes, as the extinction size meteor is hurtling towards Earth, the wedding plans seem to never miss a beat).  Then there’s Diego and Shira’s (Jennifer Lopez) need to have kids and so on and so on…  With all of this, the film seems to have forgotten who it’s main demographic is.  I agree that building multi-dimensional characters and adding subplots to keep everything interesting can make for a stronger movie, but when the film enters into the world of an adult melodrama rather than the exciting roller-coaster ride that it could be, I fear that the youngsters in the audience are going to get fidgety and grow tired.  After all, who are they suppose to relate to in any of these scenarios?  What makes the filmmakers think that the kids are going to stay interested?  They’ll probably just start longing for the film to get back to the big dangerous meteor in the sky that for some reason has been forgotten.

pub_120_680_210_2K_UniversalColor_WB – (from left): Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg), Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo), Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), Julian (voiced by Adam Devine), Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer), Diego (voiced by Denis Leary) and Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez) embark on an epic quest. Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

(from left): Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg), Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo), Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), Julian (voiced by Adam Devine), Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer), Diego (voiced by Denis Leary) and Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez) embark on an epic quest. Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

 

The voice-over actors are all fine in their roles as most of them have been playing these parts for five movies (click here for more from them).  They all seem very comfortable, but yet don’t really bring anything new to their characters in the sense of growth, making me wonder why another film had to be added to the franchise.  I understand that the ICE AGE series is the second largest grossing animated franchise in the world and this kind of financial success will cause any studio to want to continue reaching for the green, but the writers along with directors Mike Thurmeier and Galen T. Chu don’t even seem to be trying to find any real purpose with these characters.  Everything in COLLISION COURSE feels like a rehash of things we’ve encountered in the previous films.

pub_publ_300_180_129_2K_UniversalColor_WB – Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) meets an ethereal female sloth, Brooke (voiced by Jessie J) who somehow finds him irresistible. Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) meets an ethereal female sloth, Brooke (voiced by Jessie J) who somehow finds him irresistible. Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

 

There are two new characters introduced that will probably continue through to the inevitable next film. Brooke, played by Jessie J is a fun and welcome addition.  A free-spirited sloth who falls in love with Sid and is full of real moxie as she steals most of the scenes that she’s in and adds to some of the more interesting moments in the film.

Unfortunately, for everything that Brooke brings to the film, the other new character Julian (Adam Devine) takes away.  Ultimately, the character makes no sense.  He is goofy, slow and uninspired.   He is the driving force behind Manny’s character growth, so I don’t understand why he was written the way he was.  Manny is jealous of losing his daughter to Julian and has to learn to let her go.  The problem is that Julian has no real appeal.  He seems to be such a bumbling idiot at times, making me wonder why Peaches would love him so much.  What is she attracted to?  It never feels like anything more than puppy love and therefore doesn’t work.

That’s one small step for Scrat. Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

That’s one small step for Scrat. Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

 

Let’s not forget about Scrat, who is caught in space throughout most of the movie.  He has always been the saving grace of the ICE AGE films.  Whenever the story would start to slow down, the films would take a break and go to Scrat who, with all his bad luck, can never seem to capture that acorn.  These moments have always been incredibly entertaining, because they were genuinely clever and laugh out loud funny.  The fact that the filmmakers had to send Scrat into space to continue his antics proves that they had officially run out of ideas for him on earth and for the first time his scenes are no longer funny or interesting.  Plus, if you need any further proof regarding the filmmaker’s lack of ideas just ask yourself, “didn’t we see the opening prologue with Scrat in space already?  Remember the short film COSMIC SCRAT-TASTROPHE?”

pub_120_560_102_4K_UniversalColor_WB – The herd makes a shocking discovery. (from left): Julian (voiced by Adam Devine), Crash and Eddie (voiced by Seann William Scott, Josh Peck), Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer), Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo), Granny (voiced by Wanda Sykes), Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), Diego (voiced by Denis Leary), Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), and Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez). Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

The herd makes a shocking discovery. (from left): Julian (voiced by Adam Devine), Crash and Eddie (voiced by Seann William Scott, Josh Peck), Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer), Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo), Granny (voiced by Wanda Sykes), Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), Diego (voiced by Denis Leary), Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), and Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez). Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

 

ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE isn’t a terrible movie.  When focusing on the disaster elements of the plot the film works well and will keep everybody in the audience entertained.  There is even some smart humor as the film references movies like PLANET OF THE APES, THE FLY (1986) and ARMAGEDDON in some really clever ways.   Unfortunately when the filmmakers steer away from these things to try and bring some real themes into the story, it veers off in the wrong direction which will probably be uninteresting to anyone under the age of ten, the films intended audience.  For those youngsters THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS is probably only a couple of theater doors away.

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About Mark Oguschewitz

Mark Oguschewitz moved to Los Angeles, California after graduating with a film degree from Columbia College in Chicago, Ill. Pursuing a career in the industry, Mark became an award winning freelance editor. He is also known for being the creative consultant for the podcast "Skywalking through Neverland" and co-host of the Podcast "Talking Apes TV." Mark's short film "Gourmet" took the Best Micro-Short honor at the International Horror and Sci-Fi film festival in 2007. His spare time is all about movies. It's not just entertainment, but has become more of a real passion, as he tries to see everything he can. Art house or Blockbuster – It doesn't matter, he loves them all.