[Screen It]


(2022) (voices of Simon Pegg, Aaron Harris) (PG)

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Computer-Animated Action/Comedy: Two possum brothers set out on their own and end up helping a swashbuckling weasel stop a dinosaur from taking over a lost world.

Possum brothers Eddie (voice of AARON HARRIS) and Crash (voice of VINCENT TONG) have known their adopted mammoth sister Ellie (voice of DOMINIQUE JENNINGS) since they were just kids. But they now feel it's time to move on from her, her mammoth hubby Manny (voice of SEAN KENIN ELIAS-REYES), and their friends and unofficial family members Sid the sloth (voice of JAKE GREEN) and Diego the saber-toothed tiger (voice of SKYLER STONE).

So, in the middle of the night, Eddie and Crash sneak out and end up in the previously discovered Lost World where they once again run into Buck (voice of SIMON PEGG), the one-eyed, adventurous, and slightly crazy weasel. He's currently preoccupied with stopping super-smart Orson the Protoceratops (voice of UTKARSH AMBUDKAR) from taking over that world, and not only gets help from the possum brothers but also Zee the zorilla (voice of JUSTINA MACHADO), his former partner.

As the four make for an unlikely alliance, and Ellie and the rest try to find the missing possums, the group must contend with Orson and his army of velociraptors.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

When it comes to animated movies, I fully understand old-school animation. Artists create individual cells featuring characters and then do a step-by-step series of them representing some form of physical movement. Those are then shot frame by frame and much like stop-motion animation, they create the semblance of regular motion.

I'm less clear with the exact steps used in computer-rendered animation and what work is done by the human artists and what's left for the computers. I can say, however, that such work has vastly improved over its earlier incarnations decades ago, including approaching photorealism when that effect is desired.

In that regard, I can also say that it's fairly easy to see when not enough money is put into such work, such as comparing some animated TV shows to big-budget theatrical releases. That's especially true when said work is the follow-up to previous offerings that apparently did have the needed budget to create the visuals.

All of which brings us around to "The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild," the sixth installment in the "Ice Age" franchise that began back in 2002 and was followed by "The Meltdown" four years later, "Dawn of the Dinosaurs" in 2009, and "Continental Drift" in 2012. All of those were produced by American computer animation studio Blue Sky Studios that's since been shuttered, meaning the necessary work for this follow-up was outsourced to Bardel Entertainment.

I know nothing about them beyond the fact that their work here doesn't pass the eye muster test compared to what we saw with the predecessors. While a few close-up shots look decent, much of the flick sports a decidedly inferior look. The same can be said, from an aural standpoint, of the vocal cast who -- notwithstanding Simon Pegg reprising his titular role -- are new to the parts and sometimes strain in their efforts to mimic the vocal work of those who preceded them.

Will young kids care about such downward changes? It's hard to say, but for any older kids or adults who've seen all of these films, at least two of one's five senses certainly will indicate that something's off with this offering.

And for some viewers, that will also include the use of some of the long-standing characters. Granted, the title is a dead giveaway of where things are headed. But for those wanting more (or at least a lot more) of mammoth duo Manny and Ellie, Sid the sloth, and Diego the saber-toothed tiger, they've been relegated to secondary characters in Ray DeLaurentis, Jim Hecht, and Will Schifrin's screenplay and disappear for a large chunk of the film's 80-some minute run time.

Instead, we get the title character who's joined by the possum brother duo of Crash and Eddie and Zee the zorilla (otherwise known as a polecat) in the Lost World where they must contend with Orson the Protoceratops who seems, personality-wise, to be some distant ancestor of Syndrome from the "Incredibles" movies.

He wants to rule that land and they try to stop him and his velociraptor army, and that's about it. Director John C. Donkin keeps things moving along at a quick clip and I imagine many younger kids might be entertained by the mixture of action, comedy, and the usual sprinklings of crude humor.

Adults, on the other hand, might wish all of this would go back into the deep freeze, particularly with the all-too-obvious step down in animation and vocal work. Not adventurous or wild enough for my tastes, "The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild" rates as just a 4 out of 10.

Reviewed January 21, 2022 / Posted January 28, 2022

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