, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Ice Age franchise has been withering away upon the aching shoulders of its brand appeal f0r ten years now… which was when they released the second one. Now, the fifth one has finally led the franchise to tank at the box office, being the first one to open to under $40 million with almost half that at just $22 million (don’t worry, I find it depressing that in the movie industry, these numbers are a disappointment too). It is a clear sign that you have thoroughly ruined something once-good when it is popular to claim that the original successful product was never much good in the first place. I beg to differ.

I am at an age that the first film qualifies as childhood ground. In fact, so does the second. But I really loved the first and so did my nan. I loved all the distinctly different colourful characters. Manny the sarcastic grump of a Mammoth (hence why Ray Ramano fit the part so well). Sid the deliberately and, originally, endearingly annoying Sloth. Diego the Judas of the pack, who has a deep internal conflict of whether he achieve the goals of his sabre-tooth pack or embrace the friends he’s unintentionally made on the film’s journey. This stuff is half-decent writing for an animated film. That reminds me too, you are made to feel the journey with these characters. It is a bloody road movie on-foot! On top of that, you have the tragedy of the baby being separated from his father and then loses his mother, yet is too young to be aware of any of it and the only parental figures he now has are these three oddballs who don’t know what to do for him but don’t want to leave him. On top of that, you had the hilariously executed silent comedy of Scrat and his nut, which held the whole film together…

What the fuck happened?

Biblical flood caused by Scrat? Dinosaurs underground, unearthed by Scrat? Tectonic plates separated by Scrat? Now, bloody planet alignment and meteor shower caused by Scrat? Yes, the premise sounds absolutely hilarious. But, the increasingly ridiculous stakes have completely butchered Ice Age’s grounded-setting success. We’re not being taken to the confined world that was the Ice Age anymore. We are now taken to distractingly unrealistic bizarro age, where a squirrel and his nut accidentally performs the acts of God upon the entire universe. It’s not as funny as it sounds, okay. In the movies, the stakes are just not there anymore. Yeah, the characters are in a bit of peril from these events. But you can’t take it seriously when you go back to the fact that it was all caused by the squirrel, I’m sorry. Admittedly, Ray Romano’s decreasingly sincere delivery doesn’t help either. It’s double-decker sarcasm: Romano’s sarcastic towards having to deliver his lines that are meant to sarcastic in-context to the film.

The humour’s not there, either. The past two have reached Alvin and the Chipmunks-level immaturity. Admittedly, Scrat is still funny. No stopping that. However, the rest of the content seems to be a lazy excuse to give Scrat the opportunity to all these things. There is one shot from the latest one’s trailer that makes my stomach cry. It is literally Manny, Sid and Diego standing in a line and being struck by lightning and turned into a puffball, one-by-one. It is so forced and so sad to these three characters being put through such crappy gags. It really is!

The worst bit is that, other than these sequels, Blue Sky doesn’t appear to be a lazy studio. The stylistic efforts put into the imagery of both Horton Hears a Who and The Peanuts Movie show true artistic attention to detail. Horton looked like a Dr Seuss illustration brought to life and Peanuts looked like a living Peanuts strip. It’s not just adaptations, either. Whilst some of Robots didn’t work, the flare of invention was there. Why don’t they do more stuff? You ruined your once-great Ice Age. You don’t make enough money from it, anymore. Release the boxset and call it a day. In fact, release a special edition of the first one and have the sequels as mere insignificant bonus features, tucked away. Thank you.