The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild movie review: Come for a sense of nostalgia, stay for nothing
With stale jokes and predictable action, neither the animation nor the humour is good enough to keep your attention
The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild starts with a quick recap of the previous Ice Age movies, bringing the viewer up-to-date with the history of the characters and their past adventures if this is their first brush with the hugely popular franchise. It's a commendable attempt for people who've missed the previous movies, and indeed, the recap is well done. Unfortunately, this really is the best five minutes of the whole movie. It makes one wonder if anyone who is introduced to the Ice Age franchise with this movie will ever truly appreciate the series.
The spinoff of the original series starts with the possums Crash and Eddie (Vincent Tong and Aaron Harris) leaving their original family because they feel smothered by the attention and protection they get from their sister Ellie. It's time, they believe, to live on their own and be independent adults. Unfortunately for them, they assume adulthood is a whole lot of freedom, several exciting adventures, and absolutely no responsibility. With this excitement, they find themselves in the Lost World- an underground, hidden land, where things aren't as glorious as they look.
Orson, the evil dinosaur (Utkarsh Ambudkar), wants to take over the land with his army, driving away all the mammals in the area- the ones who aren't eaten, of course. Crash and Eddie collaborate with Buck (Simon Pegg), the weasel, and his best friend Zee (Justina Machado), approaching the fight more as bystanders who are more excited about the adventure and who only get the seriousness of the situation at the very last minute. The film is essentially a coming of age of these two mischievous, adorable, young possums. They learn valuable lessons about courage, staying by the herd, playing to their strengths, and are the ultimate heroes in their little adventure.
Unfortunately, Crash and Eddie aren't gripping enough to keep you hooked for the entirety of the movie. The scenes with Buck and Zee are far more thrilling and drive the action forward, and my favourite scenes are the few with Ellie, Manny, Sid, and Django, who are dealing with a sudden change in their herd and are out to search for the possums. These scenes, though, are too few and far between.
Another problem with the movie is that neither the animation nor the humour is good enough to keep your attention. The jokes are stale, the action predictable.
Orson is a scary and evil villain- one of the few genuinely enjoyable characters to watch. His character is fearsome and repulsive at the same time. In the end, when he is reduced to a pitiable figure without any power or support, you do feel for him, and the punishment meted out to him.
The film makes a larger point about the nature of authoritarianism and how devastating the fall can be. Unfortunately, like everything else in the movie, the message too is not explored in detail or with nuance. Power, in the end, is just transferred from one to another, and Crash and Eddie, who are otherwise so devoted to the cause of freedom, don't seem to mind when others don't have the same privilege. It's also a cynical message to give out — that an authoritarian power can only be replaced by another similar force. What does the defeat of Orson really mean if, in the end, someone else has just taken charge of the dangerous creatures in his army?
For someone who's grown up on Ice Age, which will be a large section of people in their twenties watching the movie, it is ultimately a movie to come home to. A movie that reintroduces you to your favourite characters and gives you a sense of nostalgia and fondness for what you've grown up with. For people who are new entrants to the franchise, it might not be a great watch because there's simply not enough to keep the story moving. It's only a 1 hour 21-minute long movie, but it feels much longer.
Shreemayee Das is a writer and a stand-up comedian. She writes mostly on cinema and culture. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @weepli.
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