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Film review – Ice Age: Collision Course reveals a franchise facing extinction

The unnecessary fifth film in the animated series tries to appeal to children and adults, but fails to do either

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 July, 2016, 10:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 July, 2016, 10:02am

2/5 stars

Franchises rarely last five films, and this latest offering in animation house Blue Sky’s prehistoric cartoon series shows why. Reuniting us with Manny, Sid and the others, it’s a balmy story from screenwriter Michael J. Wilson that somehow spoons astrophysics, evolutionary theory and homely familial values into a knockabout adventure that has all the zaniness of a Looney Tunes cartoon and none of the charm.

It opens as sabre-toothed squirrel Scrat, ever in pursuit of his beloved acorn, activates a half-buried alien ship, sending him into space and causing meteors to head towards Earth. Down below, Manny the mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano) must contend with his daughter Peaches’ impending wedding – until the fiery asteroids start falling and pandemonium ensues.

Co-directed by Mike Thurmeier and Galen T. Chu, the jokes are a strange mix of childish pratfalls, which certainly amused the kids at the screening I attended, and high-brow references for the adults. The music from Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra that opens 2001: A Space Odyssey gets an airing; ubiquitous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (he’s already popped up in Batman v Superman and Zoolander 2 this year) also appears to explain life, the universe and everything.

For celeb spotters, alongside returnees Jennifer Lopez and Queen Latifah, the franchise is joined by British singer Jessie J who voices Brooke, a fellow sloth who falls for the heartbroken Sid (John Leguizamo). Simon Pegg also returns as Buck, the hyperactive one-eyed weasel – and “dinosaur whisperer” – who acts like Daffy Duck on crack. It’s not his – or anyone else’s – finest hour.

Ice Age: Collision Course opens on July 28

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