Starring: The only original voice cast returning is Simon Pegg. Poor guy. They did pay Justina Machado to join, but either no one else wanted to come back, or they didn’t want to pay them.
Directed By: John C. Duncan
Where I Watched It; Disney Plus
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
The Plot: Disney, eager to find a way to continue to stretch out the already stretched Ice Age franchise, decides to fire original voice actors, and create a spinoff featuring two characters that weren’t even in the original franchise, joined by an even newer character, in hopes that people who can’t get enough out of this franchise will be bamboozled into believing this is a sequel of sorts. How does it end/ That’s up to you.
What Works; Well, Simon Pegg as Buck really tries to make the most of what he’s given. And in a cast full of actors who sound like they’re doing drunk guy at a party imitations of the original voice cast, it’s at least a welcome concept that Pegg agreed to do this film.
Another positive thing is that this film runs 82 minutes. So, there’s something. Of course, there isn’t much story to stretch much longer, but it is short.
What Doesn’t Work: Remember when Land Before Time was amazing, and even hardened adults found themselves emotionally invested in Littlefoot, the loss of his mother, and his journey to reunite with his herd. Then, they made like 40 more films, none of them even remotely with the same heart or purpose as the original? Well, let’s look at Ice Age, which has a fraction of the heart to begin with, as it was trying to be more of a comedy from the beginning. This was during the period in the early 2000’s where studios started to notice that if they didn’t dumb animated films down, they could manage to seek them to both adults and kids, and films like Ice Age and Shrek relied on equal parts story and humor to succeed.
Then they made more Ice Age movies, because they kept making money. Really, Ice Age is responsible for launching Blue Sky, it was that good. The sequels continued to decline in quality, with my least favorite being the last, which was also the lowest grossing, seemingly putting an end to the franchise.
Then Disney bought Fox and inherited Blue Sky and thus Ice Age, and now they are reviving this simplified and dumbed down universe for the Disney Jr. generation on Disney Plus.Although, this film doesn’t entirely pander to toddlers. This isn’t paw Patrol. When the Land Before Time franchise made the shift, it was clear that those films were being made for an even younger audience (if that was even possible). As this film still features the original characters, most of whom are adults, the film stays in sort of the upper level elementary school range. 7-11 year olds.
It’s trying to attract boys mostly, as I can’t imagine girls going crazy over a film centered around Crash and Eddie. They’re like the Bill and Ted of the franchise.
Then we have a villain, who is a bad dude because everyone made fun of his big head, which supposedly made his head grow bigger, and supposedly his brain. So his brain is his superpower (if dinosaurs have superpowers). And of course we add Raptors, because if Jurassic Park taught us anything, raptors make everything better.
But unlike all the other characters, these raptors aren’t sentient enough to talk, so they just spend the film being Orson’s henchmen, and I’ve already dissected the plot of this more than I ever wanted to.
If you want to put your child in front of a TV for a little while, maybe they will enjoy this. But this wasn’t made with nearly the same intention, care, or heart as even the worst Ice Age film. It feels like a good old fashioned straight-to-video sequel where the studio is determined to milk money out of something whether it makes any sense or not. And from a company that literally made these sequels for almost ever single one of their major animation works, with widely varying quality, of course they would do that to Ice Age.
Why bother paying Ray Romano when you have a buddy that does a decent Ray Romano impression? Or Denis Leary? Honestly, the replacement actors for the rest of the cast are so far off from the original, I hope they aren’t trying to mimic the original voice actors.
Blind Perspective: For an adult, I gotta say that (and this didn’t bother me personally) it is obvious that this narrator is reading the audio description with the clear intention that her primary audience is children. She has a delightful, cheery voice, and while I know there was more action happening on the screen than she was willing to describe to me, it was OK.
Final Thoughts: There’s always some kind of debate when a film like this released and someone tries to review it. I hear that phrase, this movie is not for you. i believe movies are for everyone. Everyone has unique tastes, and there are plenty of adults who watch animation, just like I know there are plenty of seven year olds out there who will already find this beneath them because their parents already let them watch R rated action films. But, I don’t review an R rated film with the idea that any specific audience is an appropriate audience. The ratings system is there for you, honestly, this movie is rated PG, so it can’t even hide behind a General Audiences rating. So, it’s just going to have to accept the fact that I only view this film as a heartless and pointless extension of a franchise that already had too many sequels, and fails to deliver on many of the promises that at least the franchise was promising up until this point. I’ve seen worse, sure. But if this was released in theatres, I think we would see audiences turn away from this in droves. It’s hiding on Disney Plus, and it is there, and not in theatres because it is just another Disney sequel that is totally unnecessary, something they’ve always done, and are now doing to the franchises they bought. After they murdered another inherited franchise last year with the truly awful Home Sweet Home Alone, I’m afraid for all future planned sequels of inherited property. I’m now deeply skeptical about even Sister Act 3 or Hocus Pocus 2.
Final Grade: D