Magazine article Variety

Ice Age: Collision Course

Magazine article Variety

Ice Age: Collision Course

Article excerpt

Ice Age: Collision Course

Directors: Mike Thurmeier, Galen T. Chu

Voices: Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary

Ice Age: Collision Course," the breathless fifth chapter in what has become the most die-hard franchise in the history of digital animation, kicks off with a cheeky but spectacular prologue in which Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel, accidentally creates the solar system. He's sitting in a frozen wasteland, in pursuit of - what else? - the acorn that's forever destined to squirt out of his clutches. Only now that precious nut gets wedged into a control lever that operates a flying saucer that's been frozen inside a glacier. The sequence that follows might be described as Terrence Malick meets Tex Avery: When Scrat hits that lever and liberates the alien ship, it shoots off into space and causes a chain reaction that knocks apart the planets like billiard balls, in much the same way that Scrat split the continents apart in the 2010 short "Scrat's Continental Crack-Up."

Scrat has been there, of course, from the first "Ice Age" film, back in 2002. Yet no matter how often we see him, his manic, starving, Tasmanian-devil energy never gets old. More than just a gnashing mascot, he's got a hungry life force that's primordial. With "Collision Course," he once again becomes the guiding spirit of the "Ice Age" movies, and the result proves to be an essential course correction for the franchise. After the last two installments, "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" (2009) and the all-too-aptly named "Ice Age: Continental Drift" (2012), the series was running on prehistoric fumes. But now, against all odds, it has gotten its mojo back. "Collision Course" is a cosmic comedy about facing down the end of the world as we know it. It may be a slight entertainment in the grand scheme of things, but it's been made with a busy, nattering joy that is positively infectious. Even with animated competition from the likes of Pixar ("Finding Dory") and Illumination ("The Secret Life of Pets"), box office prospects look solid as ice.

Back in the snowy prehistoric wilds, life has been good for our old friends Sid the neurotic lisping ground sloth (John Leguizamo), Diego the grumpy saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), and, of course, Manny the woolly mammoth (Ray Romano) and his wife, Ellie (Queen Latifah), whose daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer), is now engaged - to a mastodon named Julian, voiced by Adam Devine as the series' first bro. Manny has serious doubts about marrying off his daughter to a flaky hipster who wants to take her far away. But that all seems like small beer after Scrat, still floating around in space, threatens the very existence of Earth by setting off a meteor shower that gives rise to one notably gargantuan purple-flaming rock speeding toward the planet. It's Buck, the one-eyed British weasel returning from the third "Ice Age" film, who diagnoses the catastrophe, and also figures out how they can stop it: by journeying to the valley where meteors have always struck Earth and creating a magnetic space that will attract and divert this one. The science is loopy, and it's meant to be, but that's perfectly OK, since the true molecular force at work in "Ice Age: Collision Course" has to do with a very special brand of entertainment fuel. …

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