What Killed The Dinosaurs?
The efforts of those who create a successful animated feature for children is commendable. The work and talent that goes into developing and nurturing themes, balanced with accessible comedy while maintaining a strong narrative is insurmountable to the critical success of each release. A film that can reach both young and old alike is a strong indicator of quality, but the screenwriters and directors who make this happen aren’t necessarily at the forefront, so the work goes unassuming.
Then we come to Fox and their latest effort Ice Age: Collision Course. The comparative talent is exposed and denuded for all to see. Where the competition strives towards apogee the creators behind Collision Course make one assumption upon which their film takes creative form: if a target audience is juvenile by definition then it definitively correlates with juvenile by nature. However, children can be as fickle with their entertainment as any adult or film critic, and the particular children I shared a cinema with for this outing laughed little more than I did (and I didn’t laugh once). If you’re so singular in your approach that your only target demographic fails to see the humour then, simply put, your endeavour has comprehensively failed.
But with that immature philosophy already in the can we’re saddled with a paper-thin plot, over-populated by a cast playing one-dimensional caricatures whose only purpose is to sprout one-liners from a weak script saturated with monotonous jokes that care little more about the film’s narrative than the writers themselves. That narrative contains the theme of accepting change, and that would have been the sole saving grace had it not been left depthless and buried underneath a barrage of puerile badinage, idiotic facial expressions and character movement so jarring it visually induces sickness.
Tracking the quality of work that’s gone into each individual Ice Age film, you see this is not uncommon. But when you’re five films into a franchise it’s a money back guarantee no matter how shoddy a production. Why bother putting painstaking effort into your craft, or for that matter any effort at all? There is a wise-cracking, carrot eating rabbit who has been successfully performing a schtick reminiscent of this for several decades. The one major difference is he has a decent script upon which to fully form. What Ice Age offers is a squirrel, whose antics while chasing an acorn grew tiresome after one film. That’s the artistic integrity of Collision Course in a nutshell.
The Ice Age franchise is not long for this world. Not in terms of literal production (as long as it’s money in the bank they’ll keep pumping them out), but in terms of relevancy. The one-note horn that’s been blowing has long lost a vitality that I’m not sure was ever there to begin with, and it won’t last. The money printing-press will keep chugging along, but the structure in which it runs will eventually go the way of the dinosaurs.