The longevity of The Fast and the Furious franchise is so surprising that it prompted me to write an article about it last year. If there’s any film series that has me scratching my head more than that, it’s the fifth installment in what is now the Ice Age quintilogy. Lots of animated franchises run this long, but rarely do all of them see a theatrical release, especially when not all of the entries are particularly well liked (I’m looking at you Ice Age: The Meltdown). These films still continue to add notable voice talent however, and with the promise of reality completely going out the window here (this marks the first time the lovable squirrel Scrat has gone into space), this could be a fun adventure with familiar fluffy friends.
As Scrat continues the search for a place to plant his acorn, he accidentally stumbles across a spaceship from an ancient civilization. He of course launches the ship into space (by way of slapstick comedy), knocking the planets into orbit, and setting an asteroid on a collision course (get it?) with Earth. Series regulars Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo) and Diego (Denis Leary) team up with all the other toys, I mean, characters, the franchise has collected along the way, in an attempt to save the world from certain destruction.
The thing that’s always stood out about the Ice Age films is the physical comedy, specifically the scenes involving the acorn loving squirrel Scrat (third name drop already!), and this film definitely continues that tradition. While there are of course some moments aimed purely at children, some of the slapstick is laugh out loud funny, and quite adult at times (that acorn finds it’s way into questionable places). There are some great verbal jokes too, most of which come from sloth Sid, voiced by the reliably comic John Leguizamo, and the scene stealing Buck, a Weasel(?) voiced by Simon Pegg, who’s not a stranger to comedy himself.
The biggest issue this film faces is that there are far too many characters. In addition to the three main characters, Scrat and Buck, there’s Manny’s love interest, his daughter, her love interest, two possums, Sid’s granny and Diego’s love interest. That’s twelve main characters before you’ve even introduced any antagonist or side plots. Most of them barely get any lines or screen time, and while I understand that killing them off to keep numbers down isn’t really an option in a kids film, it would’ve been nice to find some way to trim the number of characters we’re following.
What was a surprise is that there was so much attention and effort put into making this film. While the fifth installment of an animated franchise could’ve so easily been a cash grab (and let’s face it, this essentially is), plenty of elements worked very well. The animation was as good as anything out there, with the backgrounds and character models all looking great, the story wasn’t life changing but is certainly never boring, and this is definitely a film that adults can sit through without regretting their life choices.
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