Ice Age 4 – Review

Ice Age 4 – Continental Drift (2012) 

Directed by Steve MartinoMike Thurmeier. Starring Ray RomanoAziz AnsariJoy BeharPeter DinklageAubrey GrahamQueen LatifahDenis LearyJohn LeguizamoJennifer LopezHeather MorrisSeann William Scott.

On its fourth outing the saga begins to feel a little bit tired, the formula is wearing slightly thin and as the subtlety and freshness are obviously long gone, it all begins to merge into one.

There is nothing really wrong  with Continental Drift, but for the first time I felt slightly too old for this type of fare and I almost wished I had a child with me so that I could enjoy the film a lot more than I really did.

The film starts off with the wrong foot straight away, introducing us to so many different characters that at some point I thought I was going to get lost. It’s obviously trying to pull together all the threads from the various earlier episodes, but by doing that not only it delays the actual story, but also it makes it feel clunky, chaotic, crowded and a bit confusing, and given its target audience that is inexcusable (you may argue that the target audience probably watch the previous parts almost daily on DVD and they are not lost at all…).

However once the plot gets going, it all runs quite smoothly, without too many surprises but also without anything offensive or boring.

This is old-style storytelling for kids and there is nothing wrong with that. The baddie is vicious enough, the hero is brave, the music is fitting for the adventure it’s depicting, and just in case you get bored, you can always count on the interludes with Scrat (though, I must say, even those felt slightly re-hashed from the past).

The animation has advanced a bit from the previous instalments, but it’s in the details more than the actual design and film-making. And while the 3D, as in most animated films, works rather well,in the end  it’s just as un-memorable and unimaginative as the rest of the ride.

But I shouldn’t really criticise it: I guess this is what people want from an Ice Age movie: the familiarity, the cosy feeling that comes being together with some old friends, the easy laughs (fewer out-loud ones I must say), the cute animals and at the end of the day even if you feel you’ve seen it all before, your kids will probably love it.

6/10

The Dilemma – Review


The Dilemma (2010)  

Directed by Ron Howard. Starring Vince VaughnKevin JamesJennifer Connelly

The truth might hurt, as the poster says, but so does this film!

In a way I should have known better, but in my defense I really wanted to go out and watch a movie tonight and it seemed like I had already seen everything else that my multiplex was showing. Ron Howard‘s latest comedy sounded like an easy watch for a Sunday night… How wrong I was!

This is one of the most misjudged film I have seen in a very long time and the possibly worse since I’ve started writing on this blog (I didn’t see “Vampires suck” last year, which I hear could have taken the crown).

The biggest crime of all, for a comedy of this kind, is that not only it’s just  un-funny (I probably chuckled once or twice at the most), but also it’s really boring. In fact I don’t even think it can be called a comedy… and yet it’s so superficial that it can hardly be considered a drama.

It has the longest introduction ever but I sort of decided to go for it anyway, hoping that the more time the film would spend setting up the scenes and its characters, the more engaging I would find it all once the “dilemma” would come.

Finally a good 30/40 minutes into the film (though it surely felt like a lot longer) the dilemma does arrive. Unfortunately that is almost the moment when I realized that the film was not going to improve and I plunged into complete boredom.

Everything about this film is wrong: Vince Vaughn’s monotone acting and his ludicrous religious moments, the pacing of the scenes, the lack of jokes and the complete misfires of the few that are actually there (the long speech at the 40th anniversary being the most glaring example of something which is supposed to be funny but fails on every level), the casting of Kevin James (who should clearly stay on TV) randomly paired up with Winona Ryder (never for a moment I believed that those 2 could have got married), the wasted use of Jennifer Connelly (she probably owed Ron Howard a favor from the time they did “A beautiful Mind” together: nothing else would explain why she should have taken this thin-paper part), and even Queen Latifah feels like it’s a character added in at the last moment, even on a half day re-shoot) because they felt the film didn’t have enough laughter.

What on earth happened to Ron Howard?!? I mean, only a few years ago he did Frost/Nixon, which I really loved and whatever you thought of A Beautiful Mind (over-rated Oscar bait in my view) at least it had a style and it felt as if it actually had been “directed” by somebody who knew what he was doing. Ransom was a fairly competent film too, edge of the seat drama/thriller (completely ruined by one of the worse trailer ever, which gave away 9/10 of the plot). Apollo 13 (which I haven’t seen in ages) was huge at the time and quite engaging. I even remember liking Cocoon back in the 80s (though I haven’t seen it since…).Despite all this he’s not the kind of director I would expect to see behind a comedy, but then again with Parenthood and even Edtv, he did prove  that at least he knew how to make entertaining light films… And after all, he was one of the forces behind “Arrested Development“, or was he? I’m beginning to doubt he was even involved with  the photocopying of the scripts in that series!

I’m not even sure Howard himself knew what kind of film he was making, as the film switches from bad slapstick to slow melodrama (a balance that as the New York Magazine noted “Perhaps the late Blake Edwards could have got right, but not Ron Howard”).

The general un-likability of the (potentially good) cast and the fact that this is a Ron Howard’s film makes the failure even greater.

I probably shouldn’t even waste anymore words on this.

The real dilemma for me was whether to give the film more than 1 star! In the end 4.5  will do.

4.5/10

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