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September 22, 2017

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'Ice Age' flow

The familiar team of three — Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the saber-tooth tiger — are back to brave the harsh conditions of the Ice Age once again. Oh, and let's not forget Scrat the squirrel, whose determined pursuit of his beloved acorn, as always, launches the entire plot into motion.

The movie begins with a classic conflict between Manny and his now-teenage daughter, Peaches, as he struggles to come to terms with her growing up and desire for independence.

Right at the peak of a heated argument, catastrophe strikes, and Manny is separated from Ellie and Peaches, thus beginning the struggle to find his way home. Of course, Manny is not alone. He is joined by his trusted sidekicks Sid and Diego, as well as a new character — Sid's grandmother, a cantankerous old sloth who was abandoned by her family for Sid to look after.

On an ice floe, the four embark on a wild journey across the high seas, facing challenges of all kinds along the way, including whirlpools, sirens and their toughest adversary: pirates.

As the fourth installment in the "Ice Age" franchise, it's hard for the film to incorporate originality and creativity while still referring back to aspects of the three previous movies. "Ice Age 4" suffers from this problem, and the movie will most likely not meet the expectations of viewers who have seen the first, second and third films.

Moreover, the plot line itself is not so smooth, with unexpected twists and turns that, although keeping things interesting, makes for an uneven and sometimes illogical story. With the addition of predictable punch lines that seem to barely incite laughter in the audience, the film could almost pass as boring.

Thankfully, it is saved by unique graphics and new characters such as Granny and Shira, who spice up the adventure with their relatable and surprisingly dimensional personalities. The dubbing is a plus to the movie as well, with the familiar voices of Jennifer Lopez, Jeremy Renner, Wanda Sykes, Drake and Nicki Minaj each bringing their characters to life. At one point, the animals even break out into song and dance, belting out a lively and undeniably catchy tune.

Ultimately, "Ice Age 4," like any family film, imparts a heartwarming message that is unfortunately very predictable, providing only a satisfactory hour-and-a-half of entertainment for its fans. ■

'Ice Age 4' (冰原歷險記4) ► Directed by Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier / With Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo / Animation / 2012 / USA / 94 min/ English with Chinese subtitles or Mandarin with Chinese subtitles / ★★★★☆/ Now Showing

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