In this year of sequels and reboots, one that seems to have been forgotten a little is the next installment in the surprisingly durable Ice Age franchise. Since the very first film nearly 15 years ago, this franchise has proved to be a bit of a hit machine, with every passing sequel performing well with audiences and raking in big money. So, with Collision Course, does this series have another smash on its hands (or rather claws n’ paws)? Probably but how much longer it will play so well with audiences is debatable.
Collision Course sees a meteorite heading for the earth, threatening to wipe out all mammal life. So- accompanied by eye patch wearing buccaneer weasel Buck (Simon Pegg)- Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo), Diego (Denis Leary) and their combined family, head out on a mission to find the source of what is attracting the meteorite to earth and hope to save themselves, and thus the planet. The film opens once again with the ever-brilliant Scrat (Chris Wedge) doing his nut chasing silent comedy routine and again these moments and the intercutting physical comedy of the Scrat segments throughout, are the best moments of the plot. In fact the film starts with a skip in its step but while the main narrative is sweet and well natured it shows signs of the series’ formula getting a bit stale the longer it progresses.
From Manny and Ellie (Queen Latifah) coping with their daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) leaving for a new life with her hip husband to be Julian (Adam DeVine) to the many moments of romance or the dino-birds chasing Buck, all the sub-plots of the film are fun enough even if they stick firmly to type. However things become overstuffed with a later youth spa like plot, with so many characters kind of getting lost amidst the sub-plotting and silly comedy- provided mostly by possum duo Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck). The influx of characters means there are lots of prehistoric critters that people will love but also means that you forget many are involved until they get a line onscreen- Diego, his wife Shira (Jennifer Lopez), Ellie and more all seem to just act as filler this time around, though characters like Granny (Wanda Sykes), Manny and Julian get decent development.
Collision Course’s standout, Scrat aside, is most certainly Simon Pegg’s fantastic voice work as Buck, who was lacking last time but is most welcome in the fray here, see the superb and fast-paced introductory song backed by Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. Pegg anchors the film with a sense of free roaming fun, even as the writing gets smothered by the annoying attempts at modernizing and making the dialogue “street”, his character ensures the energy levels remain high. For all the problems the film has- no real villain being a major issue, essentially the gang is fighting mother nature (again)- the animation is colourful and absolutely smooth, showing a real progression visually for this franchise. You have seen most of what is here done before and this sequel is unnecessary but despite this, younger audiences ought to enjoy the journey and there are the odd titters for adults and worthwhile ideologies (some educational tidbits and comments on families and aging) on show.
All in all it feels harsh to call this film needless because it is warm and does what it needs to as a family aimed animated feature, with chirpy and likable characters, some worthwhile messages, a few laughs and great animation, however now in its fifth installment, there is no doubting that the formula for this franchise is getting stretched out (the asteroid, overly relied upon pop culture gags and UFOs seem to bring that connotation) in this fast moving and increasingly sophisticated genre of filmmaking. There's nothing wrong with the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" approach sometimes (Dawn of the Dinosaurs was brilliant fun) but after five movies, if Ice Age wants to be one of the big franchises, it needs to shake things up! Don't get us wrong, this sequel offers inoffensive fun that the kids will likely enjoy but Ice Age: Collision Course suggests that this franchise may well be endangered unless it adapts. That said, we can not say we wouldn't welcome Scrat back to cause chaos again…though we doubt it will be on the planetary scale he does here.
ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: MIKE THURMEIER/ SCREENPLAY: MICHAEL J. WILSON, MICHAEL BERG, YONI BRENNER / STARRING: RAY ROMANO, JOHN LEGUIZAMO, DENIS LEARY, SIMON PEGG, QUEEN LATIFAH / RELEASE DATE: 15TH JULY
Expected Rating: 7/10