Friday, 13 July 2012

"Ice Age: Continental Drift": Heartwarming Tale About Family and Sacrifice

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In its fourth installment of the Ice Age movie series, Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to engage audiences with an entertaining tale featuring strong morals, and a heavy emphasis on the importance of family and sacrifice. Its humor will appeal to moviegoers of all ages, particularly the younger audiences, and its resolution will leave moviegoers with great warmth in their hearts.

Thanks to the adventures of Scrat, the prehistoric squirrel who spends his days chasing a slippery nut, the characters of Ice Age find themselves caught up in a continental drift. Scrat’s nut lands into the Earth’s core, causing the Earth’s land to break apart and drift away.

The timing could not be any worse for the characters we’ve come to love throughout the film series. Manny the Mammoth is already struggling to deal with his angst-ridden, rebellious, now-teenage daughter Peaches.

And the continental drift causes Manny, Diego the Tiger, Sid the Sloth, and Sid’s Granny to be separated from the rest of the animals and carried off on an iceberg.

Just when things seemingly have hit rock bottom, a storm targets the animals on the iceberg and lands them in the path of Captain Gutt, an Ape pirate captain who could have used a few lessons on the devastating effects of bullying. Captain Gutt and his crew pillage everything they can from Manny and his friends. But Gutt doesn’t stop there. He wants to turn Manny and his friends into slave laborers.

But Manny cannot bear the thought of never seeing his family again. And that very thought compels him to take on Captain Gutt and his minions. What develops is an adventurous tale of courage, sacrifice, and love that will make Ice Age: Continental Drift a hit amongst moviegoers.

The beauty of Ice Age: Continental Drift lies in its strong emphasis on familial relationships. In fact, the relationship between Manny, his wife Ellie, and his daughter Peaches is actually quite realistic for a children’s movie. Peaches is your typical teenager struggling with the hormonal mood swings that accompany puberty, and her strained relationship with her father is not unlike what one might see in the home of your average teenager.

Peaches is dealing with the issues that are commonplace amongst American adolescents. She wishes to bolster her reputation at school to impress a boy, and she lies and disobeys her parents in the process.

In fact, Peaches gets downright hurtful at times, even yelling to her dad, “I wish you weren’t my father,” words that Peaches later finds herself regretting after her father has been separated from the family.

When Manny finds himself adrift on the iceberg and being slowly separated from his family, the scene is a painful one. He yells to them, “No matter what, I will find you!” and one cannot help but feel the pain of separation that Ellie, Manny, and Peaches must be feeling at the moment. You know, if this were in fact a real story, and if the leading characters were not talking animals. But you get my point.

Ellie proves to be a strong character in her husband’s absence, taking charge and doing her best to play the role that her husband has played for the family. She ensures that the remaining animals are safe and moves them toward firm ground where they do not have to face the possibility of being taken adrift.

The film does not simply seem to underscore the importance of family relationships that are attained through marriage and child-bearing, but friendly relationships that are so close they mock that of a family relationship. Though Ellie is not related to the animals that are left behind following the continental drift, she looks after them as if she were.

The same point is made through Peaches' relationship with her friend Lewis. She stands by her friend in his time of need, and he later gets the opportunity to return the favor, highlighting once more the value of giving of oneself to another.

Diego comes to learn the value of his own herd and even remarks on the wonders of it later upon an encounter with another sabre-tooth tiger, whom Diego eventually invites to join his herd.

And once again, moviegoers get to see Sid’s soft and sentimental side. Sid has always been a kind, loving creature, willing to share his love with whoever will accept it. We saw that when he attempted to raise a couple of dinosaur babies as his own, and we see that same nature in Continental Drift with his relationship with his grandmother. Granny has been abandoned by the rest of the sloths because of her age, but Sid thinks nothing of her kooky nature or her elderly status and instead welcomes her with open arms.

In fact, Ice Age: Continental Drift seems to be making a point about the necessary and important role of the elderly of our society. The film refutes the notion that the elderly are merely a burden.

What is so fascinating about Sid’s demeanor is that we learn that Sid was abandoned by his own mother. And yet, despite that abandonment, he remains entirely optimistic and extremely warm.

And while the film is entirely positive, there are some frightening moments, particularly connected to Captain Gutt, who seems to have no remorse for his actions. He points out that he got his name because of his sharp claws, and he threatens to eliminate all of the things that Manny loves the most. Battles ensue between Gutt’s crew and his animal opponents.

Overall, many of the more violent interactions are relatively harmless, and in some cases, humorous. None of the animals perishes as a result of the fighting.

The humor in the film stays true to the typical Ice Age comedy, with some scatological jokes that not all moviegoers may appreciate, though they land well for the younger audiences.

And once again, the film’s production quality is impressive, particularly if one forks up the extra money for the 3-D version of the film.

Ice Age: Continental Drift is a very enjoyable family film with a number of positive elements. It’s always a pleasure to encounter these characters and I’m certain fans of the Ice Age film series will not be disappointed.

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