U – 91mins – 2016 – 3D
In his never-ending quest to secure his elusive acorn, single-focused sabre-toothed squirrel Scrat (Chris Wedge) scampers where no prehistoric rodent has scampered before, inadvertently setting in motion a cosmic calamity which means this might well be the final frontier for our furry frost-dwelling friends…
14 years, 5 feature films, 2 TV specials (including this Easter’s Great Egg-spcade), countless supplementary shorts and even a skating spectacular live show and through it all it’s still true to claim that Sid (John Sisters Leguizamo), Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and their “fro bros” have consistently remained true to themselves – even when the sequels’ storylines starting to strain credulity (Dawn of the Dinosaurs, I’m looking at you).
Despite this latest and most extreme case of universe-building (or should that be flattening?) being the “dumb”-est (their words) and closest to shark-jumping yet, my previous statement still remains true for large stretches of Ice Age: Collision Course. Once again the screenwriters have perfectly balanced slapstick silliness with witty banter only adults will appreciate (“I’m bored of hashtags now!”).
It’s a shame, then, that a third act reveal that a community of new – and frankly rather goofy – meteor-squatting, eternally-youthful colourful critters threatens to thaw out my immense goodwill for this fast and furry-ous four-quel. Writer Michael J. Wilson’s penchant for wackiness, surplus of surreal “far out” spiritualism and stubborn insistence that rapid kineticism equals humour (it doesn’t) is as disappointingly tiresome as rubber-limbed let-down Chester V from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.
Mercifully, elsewhere a far more harmonious balance is struck between plot, character progression and pleasing pay-offs, with the ever-ballooning herd following one-eyed action weasel Buck (Simon Kill Me Three Times Pegg) on a seemingly impossible mission to divert a deadly meteor from wiping out all life as they know it. There’s a strong sway towards coupling up (must be an age thing), with even kid-of-the-group Peaches (Keke Palmer) engaged to clumsy cutesy Julian (Adam DeVine).
Retaining its heart with a touching family-affirming finale, Collision Course pulls itself back from the brim and confirms that character cut-backs, simplified storylines and less high-concept catalysts are the way forward for the extinction-evading Ice Age-rs. Long may they continue to roam the arctic plains.
CR@B’s Claw Score: