The Big Sick (Cinema Review)

15 – 124mins – 2017


 

BEST SEEN COLD

While The Big Sick’s reputation precedes it, literally all I knew about this acclaimed indie rom-com prior to last night’s Cineworld Unlimited cardholder preview screening was that critics were raving about it Stateside, and it co-starred Ruby Sparks herself, quirky cutie Zoe Kazan.

… Keep Scuttling!

Ice Age: Collision Course (Cinema Review)

U – 91mins – 2016 – 3D


 

EXTINCTION IMMINENT?

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: 3 stars

Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade (TV Review)

Channel 4 – 27th March 2016 – 6:15pm


COLD CROSS BUNNY

Invigorating the stark ‘n’ samey white and blue landscape of the glacial era with a pack of perky prehistoric pals profuse with personality, 20th Century Fox’s frosty film franchise – which, scarily, started almost FIFTEEN years ago – has long been among my most frequent go-to’s when I’m in the laidback mood for chucklesome animated adventures.

Successfully juggling child-friendly japes and a warm moral core with parent-pleasing quips – mostly courtesy of hapless-but-amiable sloth Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) – I have been (quietly) anticipating Ice Age #5 ever since the latest box office smash, Continental Drift, landed back in 2012. Excitedly, Collision Course is heading our way this summer, but to tide us over, Channel 4 broadcast a brand new holiday special this Easter Sunday, in a UK terrestrial premiere.

Totalling a taut 30 minutes including advertisement break, The Great Egg-Scapade reunited the famous voice cast and followed the same format as 2011’s festive short A Mammoth Christmas, with Sid, Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) et al unintentionally starting the holiday traditions we uphold today.

Continental Drift’s raggedy rabbit pirate Squint (Seth Green, replacing Aziz Ansari) is still seething after the Ice Age-r’s sank his iceberg ship. Ranting to his lazy brother, Clint (Blake Anderson), Squint formulates a plan to get his rascally revenge, by sabotaging Sid’s “doomed” Egg Nursery venture. This leads to a nifty take on the Easter Bunny and Easter Egg Hunts, with Sid’s precious cargo hidden with colourful camouflage painting.

Elsewhere – and for the first time yet – pesky possum pals Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck) are given a weighty subplot by trying to plot the first ever April Fool’s Day prank, which works perfectly with their irritat– sorry, hyperactive, temperaments. Only patriarchal Manny’s mammoth brood, wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) and daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer), are noticeably sidelined, granted all but a couple of lines of dialogue apiece at the start and close, implying character progression in a snapshot.

Flashing back to the events of the last movie, a raft of tongue-in-cheek, self-aware callbacks also help buoy this stand-alone Springtime special in the franchise’s ever-expanding continuity. This is easy-watching family fun, with Manny and Diego’s frustration at not being able to watch the “game” (bird’s wrestling outside their cave’s TV-shaped window) an ingenious highlight. However, unlike the wit-loaded films, I did find The Great Egg-Scapade’s concept funnier than Jim Hecht’s busy script.

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars