Editor’s Note: Ice Age: Collision Course opens in wide theatrical release today, July 22, 2016.
If there was an award for “Most Creatively Bankrupt Series or Franchise,” Michael Bay’s Transformers series would be at or near the top, but the Ice Age franchise most certainly ranks a close second, possibly even first after the nadir-setting fifth entry, Ice Age: Collision Course. Devoid of ideas, devoid of imagination, and devoid of any originality whatsoever, Ice Age: Collision Course confirms what anyone with even a passing familiarity with the abjectly forgettable series already knows: Better to quit while you’re behind than try, try again to wring the last dollar out of a franchise and ruin any good will earned more than a decade ago (Ice Age arrived in multiplexes fourteen years ago). But don’t tell that to the studio, 20th Century Fox, and its animation subsidiary, Blue Sky Studios. They’ll continue to churn out one dreadful entry after another until moviegoers finally say, “No more.”
Ice Age: Collision Course confirms what anyone with even a passing familiarity with the abjectly forgettable series already knows: Better to quit while you’re behind than try, try again to wring the last dollar out of a franchise and ruin any good will earned more than a decade ago.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Ice Age: Collision Course reintroduces the characters we know and once, maybe, somehow liked via sitcom-level plot machinations. Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah), longtime marrieds/woolly mammoths with a restless daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer), about to flee their smothering, overprotective ways with her spouse-to-be, Julian (Adam Devine), are about to celebrate their anniversary, except, of course, Manny, forgets. A meteor shower temporarily saves Manny from complete embarrassment in front of Ellie and the inter-species herd they lead. Before Ellie can bask in the truly awe-inspiring fireworks Manny has “created” for her, a sizable meteor almost ruins their day. It crashes close by, but it’s only a minor inconvenience all told. The gigantic, continent-sized asteroid headed for Earth and an extinction level event is the real problem. Oh and the cause of the asteroid hurtling toward Earth? The wretchedly unfunny Scrat, an acorn-obsessed, slapstick-prone, proto-squirrel who finds and pilots a spaceship into outer space.
Technologically backward, Manny and the herd seemed doomed to a brief, if painful demise, but leave it to the filmmakers behind Ice Age: Collision Course to resurrect a semi-forgotten character, Buck (Simon Pegg), a one-eyed weasel with mental health issues who more or less rules over an underground world still filled with dinosaurs, and give him the virtual keys to solving their latest conundrum. It involves a long, incident-free journey – minus the occasional encounter with predator dino-birds led by Gavin (Nick Offerman) – magnets, a volcano, and a utopian community, Geotopia, ruled by the yoga-loving Shangri Llama (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and inhabited by ageless mammals, including Brook (Jessie J), a sloth and the immediate object of Sid’s (John Leguizamo), amorous intentions and desires. The illogical, absurd, ludicrous plot turns and the stale, clichéd gags and jokes only stop when the end credits mercifully roll almost two hours after the theater goes dark and Scrat makes his return appearance.
The illogical, absurd, ludicrous plot turns and the stale, clichéd gags and jokes only stop when the end credits mercifully roll almost two hours after the theater goes dark and Scrat makes his return appearance.
Ice Age: Collision Course has little else to offer beyond visual scenery. Computer animation has evolved sufficiently that even a supposed family-oriented film like Ice Age: Collision Course completely devoid of narrative inventiveness or originality can at minimum keep moviegoers visually and aurally engaged. The level of detail on the various characters, backgrounds, and foregrounds suggest the exact opposite imagination and originality wise. Geotopia, a multi-colored crystalline community, deserves a shout out, if only because Ice Age: Collision Course’s animators were given relatively free rein to take their ideas wherever they led them. A film, any film, though can’t succeed on visual ideas alone. It needs more, like characters with a measure of depth and complexity, fully rounded character arcs, and a non-recycled, idea-poor narrative. Unfortunately, from there, it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to the creative bankruptcy that’s become synonymous with the Ice Age series.
Ice Age: Collision Course is devoid of any charm or originality, and once again confirms that it's better to quit while you’re behind than try, try again to wring the last dollar out of a franchise.