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The Ice Age Adventures Of Buck Wild (2022)

Children of the nineties will be probably well acquainted with Disney's straight-to-video (or latterly direct-to-DVD) sequels to their theatrical films. Today, sequels like Frozen 2 or Ralph Breaks The Internet are of equal scale production (or bigger) to their hit original. But back in the day, even a massive hit like The Lion King or Aladdin would get lower-budget sequels, farmed out usually to one of their overseas studios. They were notorious for being cheap retreads of the originals. Today's equivalent would be a made-for streaming movie, although this doesn't necessarily carry the same negative connotations. Since Disney acquired the library of 20th Century Studios (formerly 20th Century Fox) the Ice Age has been given its first made-for-steaming outing The Ice Age Adventures Of Buck Wild.

The announcement of this film was pretty controversial with animation fans, in the light of Disney's decision to shut  Blue Sky Studios, the company responsible for the Ice Age series in the first place. However, first-time director John C. Donkin is actually a long-time veteran of Blue Sky. Joining the studio back in 1999, he was a producer on the original Ice Age as well as two of its sequels, several spin-off shorts, Robots and more. One of the three credited writers, Jim Hecht (also with a story by credit)  worked on the screenplay for the second Ice Age movie, The Meltdown.  Executive Producer Lori Forte is also an Ice Age veteran.


The other two writers William Schifrin and Ray DeLaurentis are TV animation vets, with credits between them including the likes of Fairly Odd Parents, Be Cool Scooby-Doo, Xiaolin Showdown and Muppet Treasure Island.  The animation was produced by Bardel Animation for 20th Century Studios and Walt Disney Pictures. The film was released on Disney Plus in the US on January 28, 2022, with the UK release following on March 25.

Despite the title character being the swashbuckling one-eyed weasel Buck Wild (voiced again by Simon Pegg) this film is really Crash and Eddie's story. The possum brothers decide to leave their adopted mammoth sister Ellie and the rest of their ragtag herd to make it on their own four feet. Deciding to return to the Lost World, the subterranean kingdom that first appeared in the third movie in the series Dawn Of The Dinosaurs, they are reunited with the eccentric adventurer Buck and find themselves fighting to save for their new home from devious self-professed genius dino Orson.

On its Stateside debut, Buck Wild was met with a decidedly frosty reception (see what I did there?) from critics, but I can't help but feel that the film's contentious production coloured their views somewhat. Blue Sky's demise is a great shame for many reasons, but this new film deserves to be considered in its own right- the director, writers and animators aren't to blame for the studio's shuttering.

Don't get me wrong, this is no classic. But neither is it a total failure and let's be totally honest, the Ice Age movies (fun as they are) were never exactly Citizen Kane in the first place.

Animation wise, it's a bit of an odd duck. The quality of the textures here show how much CG animation has advanced in the two decades since Manny, Sid and co first hit our screens. But the lower budget shows in the quality of the animation itself, which is less than spectacular.

Simon Pegg has never phoned in a performance in his life, and he brings a great deal of nutty fun to his character. But he doesn't actually get as much screen time as you would expect considering it's his name in the title. Pegg is also the only one of the original cast to return (presumably another budget-saving decision, not to be mean but what else is Sean William Scott doing?) replaced by lesser-known actors, who to their credit do pretty good impressions of the A-list cast. 

It also feels pretty distinct from the earlier films in that the main leads from the earlier films only appear in supporting roles and due to a legal issue (since resolved), sabre-toothed squirrel Scrat is totally absent.

That allusion to the DisneyToon sequels in the intro was quite deliberate, as Buck Wild has much the same energy. It definitely feels like a step down from a theatrical release, and by Disney's own efforts we have come to expect more from streaming content. Still, it's diverting enough and moves fast enough that it's all over well before it begins to wear out its welcome. It introduces some fun new characters in villain Orson and Buck's lady-friend Zee and has some good solid gags (one of which may or may not have been borrowed from Father Ted).

Purists may not be impressed, but this should be entertaining enough for younger viewers and the less demanding adult. If its the more authentic Blue Sky experience you're after on Disney Plus, Scrat Tales is on the horizon and the earlier Ice Age movies and shorts are just a click away.



IN A NUTSHELL:  A game performance from Pegg enlivens an otherwise by-the-numbers sequel.


*Advance Screener Provided by Disney UK*