We've had three movies to get to know what to expect from the Blue Sky Studios' world of prehistoric animals and this instalment delivers the regular natural disaster and the same reliable family entertainment.

Though the core cast remains and the opening features Scrat's ongoing acorn gag, there are plenty of new characters to freshen things up, although it's getting hard to ignore how familiar the formula is.

Manny (Romano) and Ellie's (Latifah) baby mammoth, Peaches (Keke Palmer), has now grown into a teenager, and this unusual family of loveable misfits is still together - but not for long. As the title suggests, the cataclysmic breakup of the Earth's continents launches them on their next adventure.

Though most of the herd remains trapped on land, Manny, Diego (Leary), Sid the Sloth (Leguizamo) and his granny (Wanda Sykes) are cast out to sea on a drifting iceberg.


They survive tidal waves and the perfect storm, only to come face to face with a bunch of pirates led by Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage), a ruthless gigantopithecus (a gorilla-looking dude) who is determined Manny and friends will not return to shore.

By jumping on the popular pirate genre bandwagon, Ice Age 4 is able to introduce a whole new shipload of entertaining characters, including a delightfully dimwitted seal called Flynn (Nick Frost) and Shira (Jennifer Lopez), a smilodon tiger.

It also provides the opportunity for a musical number in the form of a sea shanty and for chases on iceberg ships to keep the action moving - even if the fighting scenes and escape plans get increasingly outlandish.

As far as animations go, Ice Age 4 isn't as preachy as many, with the themes of loyalty and the importance of family treated with a light touch.

And that's not a bad summary of what you get here; fun, whacky and snappy entertainment from a madcap cast of characters that's not too scary (even in 3D) for the littlies to enjoy, and with just enough funny lines to keep their parents entertained.

Stars: 3/5
Cast: Ray Romano, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah
Director: Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier
Running time: 93 mins
Rating: PG (Contains low level violence)
Verdict: More of the same, but still adorable.