" Whatever you heard in parts 2 and 3, Powell continues the trend "
Written by Thomas Glorieux
- Review of
the regular release
Some things are better left to those who know them the best. When Carlos Saldanha started the Ice Age franchise in 2002, he never suspected it would turn out this BIG. And while highly successful at the box office, all 3 Ice Age movies did reasonably well by fans and critics. So Saldanha probably assumed he said all he could with this trilogy. But considering Scratch didn't get his nut ... yet, producers and cast wanted to continue with a fourth (and possibly even fifth) one. Needless to say, no matter the popularity of animations, sometimes the public says its enough. And despite being another box office champion around the world, Ice Age: Continental Drift is somewhat of a mixed bag for some people.
Tell you what I found a mixed bag, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. And with that I mean the music. Not specifically the music itself (though it was a standard affair at best), but especially the album presentation. 44 Tracks is definitely not the right way to present a score, and for John Powell it wasn't the best way to deliver some kind of a development. Thankfully that problem is solved. 14 tracks for a nearly 60 minute listen is definitely an improvement on all levels. And I was hoping it would show in the music of John Powell as well.
To tell you the truth, I was never a fan of John Powell in Ice Age land. Neither the second nor third had the fluent animation style of various beloved scores. It was always too Mickey Mouse for my tastes, plus I consider other efforts to be superior over the Ice Age scores (Robots, Mars Needs Moms and How to Train your Dragon). But Ice Age 2 did have some nice themes, and it's not a surprise they open (briefly) the track "Morning Peaches", supported by a zany energetic pace. And "Schism" doesn't change that pace in the begin, despite a choral outburst in the beginning and some dramatic seriousness in the latter part.
And of course we all know where that leads us, to the storm that separates the heroes from their families. "Storm" holds what you'd expect, energetic changes of pace and tone, but intermixed with several fun orchestral ideas. Making me want to highlight the most fun idea of all, namely the motif for the new bad guys of the film, aka the pirates. And that's ingeniously performed by a threatening accordion, highlighting the second part of "No Exit Gutt" and "Escape from Captivity". The soft and playful "New Loves", the insane diversity of all kinds of styles (western, banjo, hawaian) in "Diversion" and "Pirating the Pirates", the catchy chorals luring Diego towards the water in "Sirens" and the long finale "Land Bridge Trap" are all well from a technical point of view, but they don't keep me interested at all. The final track has some good ideas (choral and orchestral), but it also lacks the fluent pace to keep it interesting from begin to end.
And what's even more disappointing is the fact no real highlights are discovered, especially when we get the exact same versions of the mammoths theme and the herd (main) theme in "Herd Reunion". Meaning, it's not hard to think back at Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, because in that moment they were brought with a sense of wonder. Because they were new and fresh. But here they are just recycled in the exact same manner. For a score that continues the sound of the previous soundtracks, a big new theme is lacking. Making Ice Age 4 just a continuation of the sound, not an expansion.
Ice Age 4: Continental Drift does continuously state the themes of the various characters (the herd's theme, the mammoths theme, Sid's theme, even the water park melody), while adding a delightfully devilish new (pirates) motif to the play list. And somehow all that is discovered in an album presentation that is as schizophrenic as you could possibly imagine it. But that doesn't mean it's any good. Because if you didn't like all those zany ideas in parts 2 and 3, chances are you're not gonna be overtly fond of them here. Yes, the tracks are now longer, but the constant Micky mousing attitude remains, and the energetic shifts of every single style and tone continues to deliver a John Powell voice that is sufficient, but not overtly memorable. For that reason alone, we consider other animation efforts to be superior to the Ice Age franchise. Honestly, one has to applaud John Powell again, for trying to deliver anything but the kitchen sink and keep it as fluent as possible for a Mickey Mouse affair. But when considering that, we've heard so much better from him in other animations, making Ice Age 4: Continental Drift one for the fans of the previous scores, not of the John Powell animations in general.
1. Morning Peaches (2.22)
2. Schism (2.28)
3. Storm (3.50)
4. No Exit Gutt (5.37)
5. Escape from Captivity (3.02)
6. New Loves (4.50)
7. Hydraxes / Prison Talk (2.57)
8. Diversion (3.57)
9. Pirating the Pirates (4.37)
10. Teen Cave (4.42)
11. Sirens (2.35)
12. Land Bridge Trap (8.22)
13. Herd Reunion (3.08)
14. Scrat's Fantasia on a Theme by LVB * (5.30)
* Based on themes from Symphony nr 9 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Total Length: 57.57