[Screen It]


(2016) (voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo) (PG)

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Computer Animated Comedy: A number of ice age characters must contend with the pending arrival of a huge asteroid that could devastate Earth.
While trying to get his paws on his beloved acorn, the prehistoric squirrel Scrat (sounds by CHRIS WEDGE) unintentionally boards a long-buried spaceship and accidentally sends it into space. There, he not only ends up rearranging planets and other such bodies, but also unwittingly sends a huge asteroid on a collision course with Earth. There, some dinosaur species still exist, such as flying Dromaeosaurs like Gavin (voice of NICK OFFERMAN) and his two children, Gertie (voice of STEPHANIE BEATRIZ) and Roger (voice of MAX GREENFIELD). They steal other dinosaurs' eggs, only to be thwarted from time to time by Buck (voice of SIMON PEGG), a highly dramatic, swashbuckler sort of weasel who easily eludes the dinosaurs.

Elsewhere, Manny (voice of RAY ROMANO) the woolly mammoth spends time with his best friends -- ground sloth Sid (voice of JOHN LEGUIZAMO) and saber-toothed tiger Diego (voice of DENIS LEARY) -- when not worrying alongside his wife, Ellie (voice of QUEEN LATIFAH), that their daughter, Peaches (voice of KEKE PALMER), is about to marry Julian (voice of ADAM DeVINE) and move away with him. Manny doesn't believe the latter is a mammoth worthy of his daughter's trunk in marriage, but all of that gets put on the back burner when a meteor shower pummels their area. They survive, as do the highly energetic possums Crash (voice of SEANN WILLIAM SCOTT) and Eddie (voice of JOSH PECK), along with Sid's cantankerous grandmother, Granny (voice of WANDA SYKES). But they learn from Buck that a massive, species-killing asteroid is headed straight for Earth.

The weasel comes up with a plan involving a volcano and highly magnetized rocks, but that ends up requiring the assistance of a wise guru, Shangri Llama (voice of JESSE TYLER FERGUSON), who lives in an ageless utopia alongside other animals, including the alluring ground sloth Brooke (voice of JESSIE J). With time running out, all involved try to save the day, all while Gavin and his brood try to get revenge on Buck for previously stealing an egg back from them.

OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
According to Wikipedia (my go-to crowd-sourced place for information that I don't have the time or energy to verify elsewhere), there have been at least five major ice ages in Earth's history. In fact, we're still in one today (currently in a very weak or interglacial stage) that started more than two and a half million years ago.

While it might seem to have been going on for as long for parents weary of the antics of Manny, Sid, Diego and a bevy of other talking critters, there's actually been a sixth ice age and that, of course, refers to the "Ice Age" movies. Starting in 2002, we've already had four installments -- 2006's "The Meltdown," 2009's "Dawn of the Dinosaurs," and "Continental Drift" from 2012 -- and the fifth now arrives in the form of "Ice Age: Collision Course."

Other than the first film that featured a plot about returning a human baby to its tribe, the follow-ups have all featured large-scale peril for the familiar characters, be that in the form of dinosaurs, continental shifting, and global warming. This time around, scribes Michael J. Wilson, Michael Berg, and Yoni Brenner have continued that gloom and doom theme with the pending arrival of a species extermination level event featuring an asteroid headed toward Earth, thanks to the antics of a certain saber-toothed squirrel that spends most of the time in space, unintentionally creating galactic havoc.

Despite the "end is near" storyline, there's plenty of time for frivolity (courtesy of John Leguizamo voicing Sid the sloth and Seann William Scott and Josh Peck doing the same for their goofy possum characters), action (Simon Pegg's swashbuckling weasel having various close calls with some flying dinosaurs), and family matters (Ray Romano and Queen Latifah's woolly mammoth parents not being keen on their daughter -- Keke Palmer -- about to get hitched and leave the tribe with her beau -- Adam DeVine). All of which should keep the little ones preoccupied and entertained before the third act necessitates the characters to kick into "save the day" mode.

Will what's present do the same for any adults in tow? Possibly, but that likely depends on one's tolerance for another outing with these characters as well as acceptance of a plot that's all over the board -- and then some -- in terms of storyline, tone and more. The writers and co-directors Mike Thurmeier and Galen T. Chu throw a lot at the wall, so to speak, with hopes that most if not all of it will stick.

I found some did and other parts didn't, with my favorite still being the standalone segments featuring Scrat, the acorn-loving squirrel who accidentally takes lots of slapstick style abuse while trying to get his paws on his beloved nut. I could watch an entire film with just him and his antics, and he and they are certainly the highlights here. But just when things get going, the filmmakers go back to the other characters and things become mundane again, something that can also be said about the quality of the animation. As has been the case with the previous entries, it's okay, but certainly not cutting edge or glorious to behold.

Nonetheless, kids don't seem to mind and these films certainly earn their keep in terms of international box office returns (to the tune of $2.8 billion for the first four films). Whether this one follows suit is still TBD, but if that begs for a sequel, what calamity will next face the characters? Killer bees? Aliens? The ascension of man? The Pokemon Go apocalypse?

Only time will tell, and while younger kids will likely be entertained to one degree or another by this film, adults might hope some global warming will put an end to this particular "Ice Age." The pic rates as a 4.5 out of 10.

Reviewed July 16, 2016 / Posted July 22, 2016

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