Adding Queen Latifah to the Ice Age team was probably one of the best decisions the crew made while adding installment (after installment) to the series. The first movie was so good in a meaningful way, with actual character development and depth. The second was completely the opposite, with totally stupid plot lines and an incredibly stupid female mammoth added who thinks she’s a possum and needs Manny to show her the way.
Because we lady folk don’t get our own bodies, don’t you know!
The franchise does improve in the third film as Ellie, voiced by Latifah, takes on a leadership role as well as a motherly one, though the former is a bit of a caricature and excludes her from much of the adventure. In the fourth movie, Ellie is finally in a primary leadership role—but it’s far secondary to her husband’s. When they are split up, it’s up to her to lead the animals away from the continental divide and to safety. She has some good lines, and we have the addition of her daughter, voiced by Keke Palmer, to add to the female cast—as well as her teen mammoth friends.
The movie is funny enough, and we have lots of female characters added—including two female pirates, voiced by the hilarious Rebel Wilson and Jennifer Lopez—that make it perhaps one of the most female-heavy casts in cartoon history; we also have more sloths, including Sid’s obnoxious mother and hilarious grandmother, played by Wanda Sykes (who really makes the movie). However, most of them don’t have an opportunity to talk, unless it’s to discuss men… Sigh. Still, it’s a huge step in the right direction for this series, and we do have females saving the day here and there (though they are also saved by males in return—which is fine; I would much rather have a symbiotic hero thing going on than a one-sided one).
As far as our original trio, their adventures are pretty exciting. Diego’s love-struck status with the new female tiger Shira is super cute, while run-ins with the pirates and sirens are fun and adventurous without being as scary as the dinosaur was in the third film (or those creepy fish-things in movie number two). Their characters continued to develop, which was fun to watch, but Sykes’s antics as the grandma everyone thinks is crazy (but turns out to be the opposite and quite the hero herself) really make this movie worth watching.