Fourth film in series should be last; Oliver Stone’s ‘Savages.’
Not that I really want to beat a dead wooly mammoth, but the fourth film in the animated Ice Age series feels like the concept has been drained of its fun.
The first film in the series was terrific and the third film energized the landscape with dinosaurs. This time around the breaking up of the earth’s one big land mass into continents, caused by Scrat’s continued pursuit of his beloved acorn, is the shaky premise in which our three original stars, Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) and Diego the Saber cat (Denis Leary), find themselves. They spend most of the movie on an ice berg that takes them away from Manny’s family, wife Ellie and daughter Peaches (Queen Latifah, Keke Palmer), so Manny is fighting to get home.
Along the way, Manny’s herd, which now includes Sid’s grandmother (Wanda Sykes), has an ongoing battle with a pirate gorilla named Captain Gut (Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage) and his crew of misfits.
There are a few good laughs (mostly provided by Sykes), but the visuals are pedestrian and the story as noted feels worn out.
It is time for the Ice Age to melt away.
There was a time when the announcement of an Oliver Stone film was greeted with excitement and anticipation. While that level of excitement isn’t the same as it was in the late 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, his more recent movies still offer moments that remind us how amazing Stone can be when his passion is up on the big screen. Savages, a bloody action film with comedic overtones, is connected stylistically to Stone’s 1994 Natural Born Killers. It has a few terrific classic Stone moments, but when the final credits roll it feels like a bit of a letdown. Best friends Chon and Ben (Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson) have cultivated some of the best pot in California, a business that thrives thanks to the help of a corrupt DEA agent played by John Travolta. However, when the vicious head of a Mexican drug cartel (Salma Hayek) decides she wants their business, they are forced to think about disappearing. However, their shared girlfriend, Ophelia (Blake Lively), is kidnapped by the cartel and in order to save her they have to strike back with the same vicious behavior as their enemies, which makes for a heavy body count and several nasty scenes of torture. I have no problem with bloodletting in conjunction with a cracking good story and tons of style, ala the current king of the genre, Quentin Tarantino. Yes, I went there, comparing Oliver Stone to Tarantino and declaring Q as the superior talent.
Savages isn’t a bad film, but it doesn’t come close to matching the best of what Stone has given us in the past.
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Directed by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier; rated PG
Directed by Oliver Stone; rated R
Movie Screening at Resorts