Scrat the sabre-toothed squirrel’s pursuit of his beloved acorns has cataclysmic consequences for an entire continent in the latest chapter of the hugely popular Ice Age series. Directed with vim by Steve Martino and Michael Thurmeier, Ice Age 4: Continental Drift finds the computer animated characters all at sea as they race to reunite the disjointed herd. It’s a colourful romp with a generous glaze of mawkish sentiment to hammer home the importance of the family unit in times of upheaval.
There are moments when screenwriters Michael Berg and Jason Fuchs seem to be running short of ideas, and are happy to tread water before the next rollicking set piece. Thankfully, the running time is trim so lulls are brief and flickers of boredom are quenched by another riotous interlude with accident-prone Scrat as he makes his way to a fabled sunken island full of untold riches.
The film opens with the sabre-toothed squirrel (voice: Chris Wedge) plummeting to the centre of the earth, where he accidentally sets off a tectonic chain reaction that threatens to destroy the ice-laden paradise the animals call home.
Disaster looms and Manny the woolly mammoth (Ray Romano) clashes with his teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer), who is at that difficult age when any parental concern causes embarrassment. “I’m trying to protect you. That’s what fathers do,” he pleads. “Well I wish you weren’t my father,” replies Peaches, before Manny, Diego the sabre-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) and Sid’s grandmother (Wanda Sykes) are swept out to sea on an ice floe.
While Manny’s soul mate Ellie (Queen Latifah) shepherds the animals towards a bridge that is the only escape route from the rapidly collapsing island, her husband and his chums drift away and come under attack from sea-faring pirates led by prehistoric ape Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage). Romance blossoms between Diego and one of Gutt’s salty sea-beasts — sabre-toothed tigress Shira (Jennifer Lopez) — and she must decide where her loyalties lie.
Ice Age 4: Continental Drift unfolds at a brisk pace and action sequences are packed with high-velocity splats to keep little ones giggling with glee. Familiar themes of teenage rebellion, friendship and self-sacrifice are woven into a script laden with sentiment but scant originality. It’s difficult to see where the characters can go from here but where there’s the scent of box office lucre, another sequel is always a possibility.
A cute 3D animated short entitled The Longest Daycare starring dummy-sucking Maggie from The Simpsons provides generous laughs before the main feature.
Adam (Alex Pettyfer) lives in Tampa Bay with his sister Brooke (Cody Horn) in Magic Mike. He lands a temporary construction job alongside nice guy Mike (Channing Tatum) but on his very first day, Adam is sacked. As he roams the town, Adam crosses paths again with Mike who introduces him to the local male nude revue bar, where delirious women thrust dollar bills at gym-toned Adonises. It transpires that Mike is the club’s star turn and earns big bucks alongside dancers Ken (Matt Bomer), Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tarzan (Kevin Nash) and Tito (Adam Rodriguez) under the watchful eye of manager Dallas (Matthew McConaughey).
A mishap affords Adam a chance to perform on stage and under his new moniker of The Kid, he becomes a firm favourite of the female clientele. But he finds that adulation comes at a price.
Magic Mike boasts several frenetic dance sequences and an eye-opening sight gag involving a hand-operated pump. Tatum anchors the film with his sensitive, believable portrayal of a dreamer, who is ploughing all of his tips from the club into a fledgling custom furniture design business.
Screen chemistry with Horn never progresses beyond a simmer as an upbeat frothy first half gives way to a plodding, ponderous second, enlivened by occasional directorial flourishes. It’s not so much All About Eve as All About Steve. The mercurial Soderbergh that is.