Fourteen years after the first “Ice Age” animated film was a hit, the fifth installment in the franchise, “Ice Age: Collision Course,” rolls into theaters. Is it inevitable? Yes, 2012’s “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” was the highest-grossing animated film that year. Is it necessary? Absolutely not. “Collision Course” is a perfunctory, watered-down entry in the series that feels like it should have been released on home video.
In this world of ancient animals — woolly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, flying dino-birds — facing apocalyptic, asteroid-borne problems, it feels odd that the emotional stakes of the film should be centered on the wedding of Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie’s (Queen Latifah) daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer). Not to get too nit-picky about a fantastical film for children where animals blow up a bunch of crystals in a volcano to set an asteroid off course, but the concept of marriage is anachronistic here. Also, they’re animals. When anything’s possible, centering a story on something as mundane as a wedding feels wildly unimaginative.
Romano’s Manny remains the heart of the group, but the chemistry and the writing between the characters is lacking. They seem to be on separate, equally underdeveloped story lines. The most time is given to Manny’s issues with his immature future son-in-law, Julian (Adam DeVine), who plans to move away with Peaches after their wedding. The other characters are granted tossed-off story scraps as they are led on a hunt for magnetic crystals by the swashbuckling Buck (Simon Pegg).
There’s a grotesque style to some of the character design, including the pop-eyed sloths, and the hijinks of the single-minded and physically elastic squirrel Scrat. He chases an acorn and ends up on a spaceship that sets off the whole asteroid debacle. There’s visual comedy fun to be had with simpleton Scrat, but his adventures in space take a physical toll on the rodent.
The focus on the mammoth wedding weighs the story stakes in the wrong direction — away from the world-ending part of the tale, which you would assume would take precedence. All of the apocalyptic stuff feels slapdash and silly, particularly a sojourn to “Geodetopia,” an opportunity to pillory yoga-practicing, crystal-loving hippies (much in the same way “Zootopia” did this year).
Nothing comes together in “Ice Age: Collision Course,” which feels like the franchise grinding to a disappointing halt. Despite all the star power involved, the voice acting performances don’t inspire, the visuals are basic and, in 3-D, dark and dim. This would work better as weekend background home entertainment, where the patchwork story and humdrum design can be easily looked over. This installment didn’t need to be made, and in a summer of fine animated fare, “Ice Age: Collision Course” is only for diehard fans.
‘Ice Age: Collision Course’
Rated PG for mild rude humor and some action/peril. 1:34. 2D and 3D: Fayette Mall, Frankfort, Hamburg, Nicholasville, Richmond, Woodhill. 2D only: Georgetown, Winchester.