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Ice Age 4: Continental Drift 3D; Certificate U ***
MAKE that three-and-a-half stars. Despite the odd bad patch, the fourth instalment of the animated animals series is as bright, as inventive and as much fun as you could wish for.
Besides seeing Scrat the sabre-toothed squirrel’s snout come out at you in 3D is well worth that extra half a star.
Plotwise, the leading characters – Manny the woolly mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the sabre-toothed tiger – are all at sea following a continental catastrophe caused by Scrat’s dogged pursuit of his beloved acorns. The trio are cast adrift on an ice floe, together with slobbering Sid’s 80-year-old grandmother, while the rest of the land animals, including Manny’s mate Ellie and rebellious daughter Peaches, make their way to safety.
The floating castaways face storms, tidal waves and a vicious assortment of seafood.
At which point Ice Age takes its cue from Pirates Of The Caribbean as the drifting ice floe and its occupants clinging on for dear life come under fresh attack from pirates led by villainous prehistoric ape Captain Gutt.
While that means trouble for Manny & Co, it also means romance for Gutt with sabre-toothed tigress Shira.
Intercut with all this malarkey is Scrat as he scrambles from one disaster to another, always just within reach but never quite getting hold of that elusive acorn as he follows a treasure map.
The visuals are inventive, the 3D (2D is also available) is effectively used and brightly voiced by a cast that includes Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, John Leguizamo, Jennifer Lopez and Peter Dinklage.
A 3D animated short, The Longest Daycare, featuring dummy-sucking Maggie from The Simpsons, provides the laughs before the main feature.