"The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild" stars Simon Pegg, Vincent Tong, Aaron Harris, Sean Kenin Elias-Reyes, Jake Green, Skyler Stone, Dominique Jennings, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Justina Machado. Released on Disney+ on January 28, 2022, the film has Crash and Eddie joining Buck Wild on a new adventure below the surface.
The film featured the directorial debut of John C. Donkin, who's known for producing several projects for Blue Sky Studios like "Ice Age", "Robots", and "Rio". It is a stand-alone spin-off of the "Ice Age" franchise. There's always a brand that immediately leads a specific animation studio to what it was today. Disney has Mickey Mouse, Pixar has "Toy Story", DreamWorks has "Shrek", and Illumination has the adorable Minions from "Despicable Me". Blue Sky Studios has a brand that's as icy as the era it takes place in: "Ice Age". The film, which centers on prehistoric mammals surviving climate change, became one of many animated features to pave the way for 3D animation. It also transformed Blue Sky into a household name and launched a money-making franchise consisting of sequels, short films, television specials, and video games. Sadly, after Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, along with the pandemic's economic impact, Blue Sky closed down last year, resulting in another Fox franchise being claimed by the mouse. Like Fox's other franchises that Disney owns, the biggest studio on Earth is continuing to milk this chilling series dry with yet another sequel, but with a catch. Instead of focusing on the prehistoric trio we know and love, this follow-up focuses on possum brothers Crash and Eddie and the wackiest weasel in existence, Buck Wild, who made his debut in 2009's "Dawn of the Dinosaurs". It's an intriguing direction for the franchise, but it's not without a few concerns, in my eyes. I enjoyed the "Ice Age" movies growing up, mainly because of the memorable characters and animation. Unfortunately, as I reached a certain age by the time "Collision Course" came out in 2016, it became clear that the franchise had outgrown its appeal for me. Let's just say that it went places where it threw logic (and charm) entirely out the window. However, that didn't stop me from giving this Disney+ sequel a shot, especially since I have a soft spot for Simon Pegg's portrayal of Buck. With that said, let's journey back to the Ice Age and see if it's tolerable enough to keep the franchise out of the deep freeze.
The story centers on Crash (Tong) and Eddie (Harris). They're twin possum brothers who enjoy living life on the edge and hanging out with their friends Manny (Elias-Reyes), Sid (Green), and Diego (Stone). Their latest antics accidentally destroy the gang's summer camp, resulting in them running away to find a new place to live. Crash and Eddie later stumble upon the Lost World and reunite with Buck Wild (Pegg), a one-eyed weasel and dinosaur hunter. When a protoceratops named Orson (Ambudkar) arrives with a plot to conquer the Lost World, Buck and the possums must team up to save his home with the help of his former partner Zee (Machado). Meanwhile, Manny, Ellie (Jennings), and the gang set out to find Crash and Eddie. As mentioned earlier, it's interesting to see the film focus on some of the supporting characters rather than the central trio like the previous films. I enjoyed Buck the most because of Pegg's performance and the character's wacky persona. Crash and Eddie, however, didn't offer a lot for them to be as memorable as the trio despite some worthy effort from Seann William Scott and Josh Peck. Like the other spin-offs focusing on supporting characters, "The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild" has the zany comic reliefs attempting to prove their worth in carrying the story forward as main characters. Unfortunately, for them, it shows proof that they're better off in their supporting roles. Despite the title referring to Buck Wild, the story only focuses on The Herd (mainly Crash and Eddie) instead of the rascally one-eyed hero of the Lost World, which adds to the massive disappointment of the film. To make things even more disheartening, the film became more generic and more idiotic than the previous sequels combined. But wait, that's not all! It even removed Scrat, who's one of the best parts of the franchise. Oh, the humanity! On a serious note, the film did try to showcase some character growth in Crash and Eddie, who attempt to be more independent, mature, and courageous. That alone provided enough interest in its plot. However, its execution was about as simplistic as an after-school special. With a storyline that's devoid of fun and wit and jokes that are more annoyingly dull than funny, the film has done the impossible: making a sequel that's less entertaining than "Collision Course". I know, shocking, isn't it? The only bright spot of the film I have no problem with was the cast. With the exception of Simon Pegg, the celebrity cast who voiced the main characters was replaced for the sequel. No Ray Romano, no John Leguizamo, no Denis Leary, and no Queen Latifah. This would've been a massive turn-off for me and the other fans of these actors, but after a while, I realized that the new cast didn't do too bad. I would even say that they were on point in matching the main actors' vocal performances, especially Elias-Reyes and Stone as Manny and Diego, respectively. Simon Pegg continues to provide some tolerable voice work as Buck, and Tong and Harris were both passable as Crash and Eddie, respectively. As for the new characters, Orson and Zee, they're just as forgettable as the plot despite some fine performances from Utkarsh Ambudkar and Justina Machado. But, of course, we can't forget about the animation. "Buck Wild" marks the first film in the franchise without the involvement of Blue Sky Studios due to its closure. As a result, the film's animation was instead produced by Bardel Entertainment, which previously collaborated with Disney and 20th Century Animation on the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" reboot. Unsurprisingly, the style was very lackluster in its scope and slapstick. It immediately resembled something that should've been a television series, which was the studio's original plan before redeveloping it as a movie. It didn't look awful, but like Orson's bulging brain, the lack of effort was very noticeable.
Overall, "The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild" is as thin as ice, story-wise and quality-wise. This is another Disney/20th Century collaboration that struggled to match the charm and wit of its icy predecessors. Despite its voice cast, the film is a highly generic and pointless installment that's better suited as a dinosaur fossil. With its forgettable story, mediocre characters, bland humor, and lackluster animation, the film is further proof that the franchise has officially gone extinct. If you enjoyed the previous "Ice Age" films and you happen to enjoy this one as well, then hey, more power to you. It's basically what it's made for: people who grew up with the "Ice Age" movies. Otherwise, you're better off watching the pre-Disney installments, which are also available on Disney+.