It is the fourth installment of the Ice Age series, produced by Blue Sky Studios and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the first sequel in the series not directed by Carlos Saldanha, and the second Ice Age installment that utilises Digital 3D. It was released in the US on July 13, 2012, three to six years after its predecessors The Meltdown and Dawn of the Dinosaurs, and ten years after the release of the original Ice Age. This was the first Ice Age film to be presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio.
Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, the film became a box office success, with a worldwide gross of over $877 million, marking it the highest grossing animated film of 2012.
A sequel, Ice Age 5 is scheduled to be released in 2016.
While Scrat (Chris Wedge) inadvertently causes the break up of Pangaea, Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah) are forced to deal with the trials and tribulations of their teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer), who has trouble fitting in with her peers. Ellie tries to support her daughter, but Manny becomes exceedingly over-protective. Peaches' friend Louis (Josh Gad), a molehog, tries to warn her as she tries to approach a mammoth named Ethan (Drake) whom she has a crush on. Meanwhile Sid's family returns, but only long enough to drop off the elderly Granny (Wanda Sykes) before abandoning them both. Manny catches Peaches sneaking off to meet Ethan, and they argue and fall out. Shortly after, a continental break-up separates Manny from the herd. Trapped on a moving chunk of ice with Sid (John Leguizamo) and Diego (Denis Leary), Manny has no choice but to ride out the current. Meanwhile a giant land shift encroaches on Ellie, Peaches, and those remaining on land, causing them to make their way toward the land bridge.
Meanwhile Scrat, in a side adventure, finds an acorn that has a treasure map on it that directs him towards an island. After violent weather and a fight against a giant crab pushes them further away from land Manny, Sid, and Diego find Granny who was sleeping inside a hollow tree stump, on the ice raft. Shortly after they are captured by a band of pirates sailing on a floating iceberg led by a Gigantopithecus, Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage), who attempts to press them into his crew. When they refuse, Gutt forces them to walk the plank, but Manny, Sid, Diego, Granny and Scrat (who was also taken captive) manage to escape and inadvertently cause the ship to sink. Gutt's first mate, a female sabertooth named Shira (Jennifer Lopez), joins them out of no will of her own after she was left for dead.
After finding Switchback Cove, they learn that it has a current that would take them back home, but after washing ashore, Shira, still loyal to Gutt, warns him and the rest of the pirate crew, who are also on the island, of their presence, but also gets punished for not attacking the herd. Gutt, wanting revenge on Manny for sinking his ship, plans an attack. In response, Manny coordinates a plan to steal Gutt's new ship to return home, and enlists the aid of the hyrax inhabitants of the island with the help of Sid. Shira decides to leave Gutt, after confronting her feelings about Diego, but she stays behind to ensure Gutt does not catch the herd who was attempting to escape on his new ice ship. In a fit of rage, Gutt constructs a new ship by breaking two icebergs apart and sails after the herd, determined to get revenge.
Meanwhile, Scrat, using one of the hyrax's leaf "planes", flies off the island, only to be swallowed by a shark. Peaches finally begins to fit in with the mammoths her age, but accidentally pushes away Louis, by saying they are not friends to fit in with the rest of the group. When she realizes the other teens' careless disregard for danger, she turns her back on them, warning that their extinction will come sooner than they think.
While sailing back on the current, Diego, Sid, and Granny encounter monstrous sirens preying on their deepest fantasies. Fortunately, Manny realizes just in time that none of it is real and saves them all at the last second. Scrat encounters a siren as well, taking on the shape of Scratte, that Scrat ignores. The siren then turns into an acorn and Scrat immediately runs up and attempts to bury the "acorn", and kills the siren, but is attacked by other ones and manages to escape unharmed.
Manny, Sid, Diego, and Granny return home only to find the land bridge destroyed in the earthquakes and that Gutt and his crew made it there first and capture Ellie and Peaches forcing Manny to face Gutt. Louis stands up for Peaches and a battle ensues between the herd and the pirates. Shira frees Ellie and helps fend off her former comrades, while Granny's "imaginary" pet whale, Precious, appears and turns the tables on the rest of the lot. Gutt then attempts to kill Ellie but Peaches, using her possum-like skills, manages to save her mother. Manny defeats Gutt in a duel on an ice floe and reunites with his family and friends. Meanwhile, Gutt encounters a siren taking on the shape of a female of his species and is eaten alive. With their home destroyed, the entire party and inhabitants then sail to an island that they found to settle down, while Louis becomes a hero among the teenage mammoths, Shira agrees to stay with Diego and becomes a member of the herd.
At the end Scrat discovers the island on the map, known as Scratlantis (a mock up of Atlantis), but his uncontrollable urge to hunt acorns in the acorn-rich city inadvertently causes the entire island to sink when he unplugs an acorn drain holder; Scrat is then ejected into what is now known as Death Valley, California.
- Ray Romano as Manny, a Woolly Mammoth who is Ellie's husband and Peaches' overprotective father.
- John Leguizamo as Sid , a lazy, but caring Ground Sloth.
- Denis Leary as Diego, a Smilodon.
- Seann William Scott as Crash, an opossum, Eddie's brother, and Ellie's close friend and adoptive brother.
- Josh Peck as Eddie, an opossum, Crash's brother, and Ellie's close friend and adoptive brother.
- Peter Dinklage as Captain Gutt, a Gigantopithecus.
- Wanda Sykes as Granny, Sid's 80-year-old grandmother.
- Jennifer Lopez as Shira, a Smilodon, Diego's love interest.
- Queen Latifah as Ellie, a Woolly Mammoth who is Manny's wife and Peaches' mother.
- Josh Gad as Louis, a molehog and Peaches' best friend who has a crush on her.
- Keke Palmer as Peaches, a teenage Woolly Mammoth and Manny and Ellie's daughter
- Nick Frost as Flynn an elephant seal.
- Aziz Ansari as Squint, a rabbit (Palaeolagus) who is Gutt's first mate.
- Drake as Ethan, a mammoth that Peaches has a crush on.
- Nicki Minaj as Steffie, a mammoth who is Ethan's friend and makes fun of Peaches.
- Alan Tudyk as Milton, Sid's father.
- Ester Dean as Sloth Siren and Gutt's Siren
- Kunal Nayyar as Gupta, a Bengali Badger (Chamitataxus).
- Rebel Wilson as Raz, a Procoptodon.
- Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo as Uncle Fungus, Sid's Uncle.
- Joy Behar as Eunice, Sid's mother.
- Alain Chabat as Silas, a Blue-footed booby.
- Heather Morris as Katie, one of Steffie's best friends.
- Chris Wedge as Scrat, a sabre-toothed squirrel.