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20th Century Fox presents
Ice Age (Super-Cool Edition) (2002)

Sid: For a second there, I actually thought you were gonna eat me.
Diego: I don't eat junk food.

- John Leguizamo, Denis Leary

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: March 22, 2006

Stars: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary
Other Stars: Goran Visnjic, Jack Black, Diedrich Bader, Cedric The Entertainer, Jane Krakowski, Stephen Root
Director: Carlos Saldanha, Chris Wedge

MPAA Rating: PG for mild peril
Run Time: 01h:21m:02s
Release Date: March 14, 2006
UPC: 024543229087
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A-A-A- A-

DVD Review

There's a sequel a-coming, and that's the reason for this unnecessary repackaging of what was already a fully-loaded two-disc set from a couple of years ago. The extras (see below) are virtually identical, the image and audio transfers the same, and this is just a marketing ploy. Let me emphasize that there's absolutely no need to upgrade if you already own the previous 2-disc release.

That tacky marketing approach aside for this re-release, this remains a fun movie, for kids and adults. Borrowing thematically from the often retold western classic The Three Godfathers (best told as the 1948 John Ford/John Wayne outing), this is basically the story of a trio of animal outcasts who find themselves accidentally in the care of a human baby, and their various trials and tribulations as they make their way across a dangerous landscape, in this case during the big prehistoric global frost.

There's a caustic, sullen mammoth named Manny (Ray Romano) is going in the opposite direction, alone, for reasons that are made poignantly clear later on. Manny inadvertently saves the life of a slightly dim sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo) from a pair of angry rhinos, and the mammoth then finds himself stuck with an unwanted, constantly talking traveling partner. When Manny and Sid come across an abandoned human baby, they are joined by Diego (Denis Leary), a potentially dangerous saber-tooth tiger who has his own secret agenda for wanting to help. As the core of the plot unfolds, the trio then decides to try and return the baby to its tribe, which is also traveling south.

It's become the norm that new animated features must dazzle us somehow, and Blue Sky's visual approach is as sharp and almost three-dimensional as any Pixar title. Even though this one is now a few years old, the level of detail found in the backgrounds is impressive, with ice, snow, running water and fire equally rendered with an amazing level of realism. Hair and fur on the principal characters, often a tell-tale giveaway on sub-par animation, moves and reflects light wonderfully. Take note of the slick sheen on Sid's fur during the rainstorm sequence as an example.

Some of the sequences might be a little intense for very young childrenóDiego the saber-tooth tiger starts off rather threateningóbut the core of this one is dumb comedy, most of it courtesy of Leguizamo as Sid. The humor crosses that kid/adult boundary pretty easily, and the jokes and gags have no problem hitting their mark.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: Ice Age comes in two image transfer flavors: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan-and-scan, both of which are included on the same side of Disc 1, and are the same transfers found on the previous release. Image detail is exceptional, from naturally lifelike hair and fur (even Sid's dirty green coat) to some truly jaw-dropping rendering done on a raging river sequence. Colors hold up well, too, with deep blues and brilliant whites in a number of different shades. Black levels are dead-on, as well.

Beautiful.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Nothing new here, though gone is the formal THX-certification. What remains is the same 5.1 Dolby Digital English audio mix that is loud, clean, and incorporates all available channels in a particularly well-mixed and fun sound experience. The numerous discrete rear channel cues help create a truly enveloping sound field of the type that is sadly lacking on a large number of non-animated major studio releases. From the deep rumble of a rapidly advancing glacier to the swirling growls and roars during the saber-tooth tiger attack, the audio mix is extremely lively, and more than adds to the enjoyment of the film.

French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby surround tracks are also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, Anastasia, Ferngully, Cheaper By The Dozen
2 TV Spots/Teasers
6 Deleted Scenes
11 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Chris Wedge, Carlos Saldanha
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Scrat's Missing Adventure
  2. Animation Progression
  3. Bunny
  4. Design Galleries
  5. Games
Extras Review: There isn't much variation from the previous two-disc release when it comes to extras, though are a couple of new things, but hardly enough to make this worth an additional purchase. The new content is basically a branching option that includes the deleted scenes on disc one, and on disc two there's the Extreme Cool View (01h:15m:02s), which plays back the entire film, as well as pop-up facts and interviews, production drawings and assorted behind-the-scenes sequences that play simultaneously in a smaller window. There are 48 chapters for this section.

The remaining content is good, but it's still just a re-release of what's already been made available.

As before, the first disc houses both the fullframe and widescreen versions, as well as the same commentary from co-directors Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha. Not to quibble, but it's an informative track, and not nearly as dry as you might expect, considering that the bulk of their comments concern the development of the animation and its assorted various, potentially dull technical layers. The film's relatively short runtime works to their advantage, and the track is driven by Wedge, who provides an easy to follow, cohesively casual technical assessment of the production. Saldanha's slightly repetitive "This is my favorite" preface to most of his comments is a mild distraction, but it's really Wedge who generates the majority of output. Not overly technical, but this does give even the most uninformed viewer a simple, clear idea of the complexity of putting together a piece of modern CG animation.

The same batch of deleted scenes have migrated to disc one this time. These six deleted scenes, presented in 2.0 surround, are available with or without an optional commentary track from Wedge and Saldanha. Some of the scenes are rough cuts, with no sound effects, and none of them feature any score elements. It's interesting to see how a couple of scenes were drastically altered for the final cut, including a great confrontation between Sid and fellow sloth Sylvia that is actually funnier than what is used in the finished product. The scenes are:
Paying Toll With Aardvarks (01m:27s)
Sylvia And Sid Introduction (01m:45s)
Sabre Stake Out (:59s)
No More Fruit For You (01m:12s)
Sid And The Ladies (:47s)
Sid And Sylvia (02m:18s)

New for this release is something called Nutty Mode, essentially a branching option (watch for the acorn) that allows connecting to the deleted footage, as well as the commentary from Wedge and Saldanha

The film is cut into 20 chapters, and features subtitles in English and Spanish (French has been dropped this time around).

So what's new on Disc 2? Likewise, not much. There's a trailer for Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (the real reason for this pointless repackaging) and an additional television teaser for Ice Age (there's now two here).

Aside from the aforementioned Extreme Cool View, the rest is material that has been ported over from before. Scrat's Missing Adventure (04m:48s) is the short, entitled Gone Nutty, highlights the beleaguered critter from Ice Age as he once again struggles to gain control of an oversized nut. Funny stuff, and it features a great Pangea gag for all you fans of ancient plate tectonics. Presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, Gone Nutty is available in 5.1 and 2.0 surround, as well.

Sid On Sid (03m:10s) has the comic sloth doing an MST3k-style riff of a few clips from the film. Leguizamo is terrific delivering what I expect were a series of ad-libs, and this segment ends way too soon. International Ice Age offers the chance to see Manny, Sid and Diego dubbed in French, Italian, German, Swedish, Polish, Greek, Cantonese and Korean.

Under The Ice has the same title as the detailed behind-the-scenes segment from the original release, only this time it has been rejiggered and made shorter, with no new content. Behind The Scenes Of Ice Age (14m:03s) is the lamest and longest of the bunch, with the premise of Ray Romano giving scripted "ad-libs" over endless clips from the film. Just not as funny as it might have been. Sid Voice Development (03m:36s) has Leguizamo and Wedge providing some engaging insight into how the lateral lisp of Sid The Sloth was developed. A neat bonus are highlights from a demo tape made by Leguizamo in his hotel room during filming of Moulin Rouge where tries a number of different vocal styles. The remaining sections in Under The Ice are quite short, and don't really get an opportunity to properly explain the complex content. Using 2D In A 3D World (01m:10s), Making A Character (01m:05s), Art Of Rigging (01m:26s), Animators Acting (:51s), and Lighting And Materials (01m:04s) are rudimentary, introductory peeks at the CG animation process, apparently designed for attention-span challenged.

Animation Progression requires the remote's angle button. This section has three scenes (Opening, Tigers Attack, Almost Home) are broken down into five separate production areas. As each scene plays, you can click between Storyboards, 3D Layouts, Un-Rendered Animation, Final Render and Composite Of All Stages to see the differences, similarities and development of how the animation process progresses.

If for nothing else, the inclusion of Blue Sky's 1998 Academy Award winning animated short Bunny (07m:19s) makes this two-disc set's extras worthy of high marks, but like 99.9 percent of the supplements it has already been issued before. Designed originally as an in-house project to show off advances in lighting software, Bunny is a funny, disturbing and incredibly moving short about an aging bunny trying to bake a cake while a bothersome moth flutters about. The underlying thematic content might soar over the heads of younger viewers, who may also find the realistic bunny animation a little frightening. Bunny is available with an optional Chris Wedge commentary, and an optional intro (sort of a condensed commentary). If you have not seen Bunny, DO NOT listen to the intro first, as Wedge reveals the short's dramatic payoff.

Also found on Disc 2 this time are a set of fairly non-challenging "games", apparently designed for the under-7 demo. Three are new for this release, but hardly worth the effort. There's also a set of four Scrat teasers and some DVD-ROM extras that include a handful of similarly simple kid-friendly games, as well as a number of printable calendars, mobiles and the like.

Lastly, Design Galleries includes an option create your own image gallery, and while that is also a new feature it is largely busywork.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

This is still a very funny movie that is beautifully animated, but this Super-Cool release is a redundant and unnecessary double dip. I'd be hard pressed to find a reason why this version or the previous two-disc set both need to exist in the same world. They're that much alike.

If you don't own either, there isn't really any reason to choose one over the other.

 


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