Like with a partner in a long-term relationship, we stick by a franchise through health and sickness in the hope that what it lacks in freshness, it will provide for in depth and meaning. In the case of Ice Age, the least those of us who have remained loyal despite unmistakable signs of steady deterioration, is a story that draws heavily from the evolution of its main characters, Manny, Sid and Diego. But in Ice Age: Collision Course, the fifth and hopefully the last in the franchise, the characters are nowhere near as fundamental to the proceedings as they once were. In fact, Diego (Dennis Leary), the sabre-toothed tiger, has all but gone extinct. The scenes that have him chatting with his wife Shira (Jennifer Lopez) about desiring children are half-hearted at best.And to think it all starts so promisingly when Manny (Ray Romano), the woolly mammoth, shows the classic symptoms of being in a long-term relationship: forgetting his wedding anniversary. The problem though is wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) hasn’t. However, these issues are quickly and lazily resolved, so there can be time made for meaningless, even if moderately entertaining, gags. Manny also has trouble reconciling with the idea that his daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) could potentially leave the family for boyfriend Julian (Adam DeVine). But director Mike Thurmeier shirks adult topics like parental insecurity to make way for cheap laughs that are drawn from suggesting that incoming meteors can be repelled by volcanos that regurgitate magnets. It is as bizarre as it sounds.
Cast: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Simon Pegg
Storyline: Manny, Diego and Sid must team up with Buck to fend off a meter strike
The hurtling asteroid, of course, is the handiwork of Scrat (Chris Wedge), who in continuing his epic struggle with his beloved acorn, redefines ‘all-consuming obsession’. Somehow, in the process, he manages to kickstart a series of disastrous spatial events that threaten earth’s existence. Scrat’s the first person on the moon, Scrat is the reason Mars is devoid of life, Scrat gave Saturn its rings… Scrat is almost Ice Age’s version of the Rajinikanth jokes. The character has generally excelled as an enjoyable distraction in previous Ice Age films, but in Collision Course, which sorely lacks meaning and depth, it almost begins to seem like a saving grace. The other’s Buck (Simon Pegg), the one-eyed weasel, whose craziness injects the film with the sort of energy that Sid (John Leguizamo), the ground sloth, fails to bring to the party. Perhaps the director knew that; perhaps that’s why Buck, like in our masala films, gets an opening song.
Collision Course isn’t a horrible film, mind you. It has its share of funny scenes—like when Sid, in the clutches of love, says, “I’m getting butterflies”, and Manny reacts with a Santhanam-like takedown: “I’m getting nauseous.” All of Scrat’s antics are enjoyable. Buck is a riot too, especially as Neil Debuck Weasel (Neil deGrasse Tyson), the astronomer inside Buck’s head who helps save the world. And no, that’s not a spoiler in these films.
Towards the end, there’s something about magnetic rocks getting dropped into a volcano, but I’d lost all patience and could only keep going back to that opening scene in which Sid shares his dating philosophy: “Love them and leave them.” Perhaps it’s time Blue Sky Studios applied that to the Ice Age franchise, unless… unless, we are talking about a full-length, silent film featuring Scrat and his acorn. That could be worth a shot, and remember, I called it here first.
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