Neil Fox on film: Ice Age, Magic Mike

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Ice Age:Continental Drift

The franchise/sequel/cliché bandwagon rolls on. The one thing to admire about this latest instalment is how shameless it is – it wants your money and doesn’t care how it gets it.

Cue 3D nonsense and a plot that wouldn’t be out of place in a 1960s LSD trip as our intrepid, mismatched heroes once again are cut off from home, but this time end up sailing the seven seas on a disconnected iceberg and have to face off against orangutan pirates, no less.

The energy and charm of the first film has never been matched as the dollar signs have clouded the creative process and the stories have been forced ever more to adopt clichés and resort to posturing and catering for young audiences by having hip names and jokes that will age as soon as you leave the cinema.

It’s sad, because the truth is, and it’s backed up by the box office, that if you give the kids great characters, great stories, great action, they like that, too. As always, the best parts are the animation and the silent devastation of Scrat and his nut. Once again he is the catalyst for disaster, and once again he’s the star of the show.

Magic Mike

While making Haywire, director Steven Soderbergh learned of star Channing Tatum’s past as a stripper and the pair decided to team up to dramatise that tale.

The result is this lively, slick and somewhat tongue-in-cheek look at the life of a man stripping his way through life.

Like a lot of recent Soderbergh releases, you are never quite sure where he is pitching it – parody, camp, seriousness.

And sadly, as with most of his recent work, it never quite delivers as a whole, despite having much to admire.

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World

Take Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, mix in some Planes, Trains And Automobiles and Dan In Real Life and you get this pronounced and disjointed indie comedy romance.

Never more than the sum of its parts, it isn’t a disaster, just a missed opportunity.

An asteroid is on its way to Earth. The world is nearly over. Steve Carell’s character Dodge thinks he is ready, until his wife deserts him in panic leaving him bereft and alone.

He decides to try and track down his high school sweetheart, taking his neighbour, the kooky Keira Knightley, along for the ride, which means things don’t go to plan.

As you may be able to tell it’s all very, very indie-contrived. It’s a forced scenario in many ways but it’s redeemed by the superb chemistry and performances of the leads, who for the most part manage to elevate it.

It’s just a shame that the characters draw too much from the well of existing types.

It’s not an apocalyptic mess, but neither is it a fitting testament to the end of it all. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.