Ice Age

Starring:
Ray Romano as Manfred
John Leguizamo as Sid
Denis Leary as Diego
Goran Visnjic as Soto
Jack Black as Zeke
Cedric the Entertainer as Rhino
Stephen Root as Rhino/Start
Diedrich Bader as Saber-Tooth Tiger
Alan Tudyk as Saber-Tooth Tiger/Dodo/Freaky Mammal
Lorri Bagley as Female Sloth
Jane Krakowski as Female Sloth
Peter Ackerman as Dodo/Freaky Mammal
P.J. Benjamin as Dodo
Josh Hamilton as Dodo/Glypto
Chris Wedge as Dodo/Scrat

Special Features:
Disc 1:
- Commentary by Director Chris Wedge and Co-Director Carlos Saldanha
- Three Interactive Games
- 8 DVD-ROM Games / Activities

Disc 2:
- “Scrat’s Missing Adventure – Gone Nutty”
- Behind the Scenes of Ice Age HBO Special
- 6 Deleted Scenes in English, French, & Spanish (with Director’s Commentary)
- 6 Production Featurettes
- “The Making of Ice Age” Documentary
- Scene-Specific Commentary by John Leguizamo as Sid
- 3 Interactive Animation Studies
- International Multi-Language Clip
- Scrat’s Mini Promo Spots
- Blue Sky Studios’ Oscar Winning Animated Film “Bunny” with Director’s Commentary
- Ice Age Theatrical Teasers and Trailers

Other Info:
Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Pan and Scan Version (1.33:1)
Running Time: 81 Mins.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
THX Digitally Mastered
English, Spanish, and French Audio
English and Spanish Subtitles

Synopsis:
Ice Age is set in, well, the Ice Age. During this time animals rule the Earth, but humans are slowing climbing up the food chain. When Manny the Mammoth and Sid the Sloth discover a lost human child, they decide to return it to its tribe in a distant camp.

Along the way they meet up with Diego the Sabertooth Tiger who offers to help them find the camp. Little do they know that Diego has been sent to capture the child for his leader. Will the baby be returned to his father? Will Diego betray his newfound friends? And will Scrat ever get his acorn? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

Ice Age is rated PG for mild peril.

The Movie:
I originally reviewed this film on its theatrical release. You can view my thoughts on the story here.

While by no means perfect, it’s a fun new addition to the growing list of computer animated films. The whole concept of Ice Age is really fun. It’s a time period where humans and prehistoric creatures interacted, but it is rarely fully explored. Mammoths, sloths, and sabretooth tigers are such odd looking creatures that they really lend themselves to cartoon incarnations.

The cast for this film is good. Ray Romano makes a good grouchy mammoth. Denis Leary makes a good surly sabretooth. However, it is the sabretooth squirrel Scrat that really steals the show. His antics, as first shown in the trailers, are some of the highlights of the film. Voiced by director Chris Wedge, Scrat hearkens back to the physical cartoon humor of classic cartoons like Tom and Jerry and the early Bugs Bunny cartoons. The survivalist Dodos (how’s that for irony?) were a hilarious highlight, too.

Ice Age is not particularly groundbreaking in terms of CG technology. However, I was impressed with the CG water in the film. It looked fairly realistic. Oh, and be sure to watch for a tip ‘o the hat to Star Trek, believe it or not.

Ice Age was a little bit too similar to Monsters Inc. Both films had strange creatures trying to return a human child to their homes. On the surface they are different movies, but deep down they have very similar plots. Monsters Inc. is technically superior, too. The fur on Sulley was incredibly detailed and realistic. The fur on Manny ranges from looking like long stubble to being blurry. Ice Age was also surprisingly violent. Everything bad happens off camera, but I was surprised to see several death scenes and tear jerking moments where characters die.

Despite the minor complaints, I do recommend checking out Ice Age.

The Extras:
The “Ice Age” DVD is surprisingly well loaded with extras. Besides offering you both Widescreen and Pan & Scan versions of the film, you also get a whole second disc of extras. It’s a bit more than you’d expect from this film so it’s a nice treat. Here are some highlights:

Commentary by Director Chris Wedge and Co-Director Carlos Saldanha – The commentary is, unfortunately, rather dry. The co-directors offer up a lot of information in their planning on the film, but it’s not very exciting. I found myself frequently tuning out their commentary and just watching the film.

Three Interactive Games – These games involve a Hide And Seek game to find Scrat’s lost nut, a picture matching game featuring the main characters, and a mix and match game where you can shuffle parts on the characters. Geared towards children, they will get a kick out of these.

“Scrat’s Missing Adventure – Gone Nutty” – The opening scene of “Ice Age” was definitely one of the highlights of the film. Taking that notion and running with it, this short cartoon features Scrat taking more abuse while continuing his pursuit for acorns. It is hilarious and one of the more entertaining extras on the DVD.

Behind the Scenes of Ice Age HBO Special – A quick and dirty look at the making of the film, Ray Romano himself hosts this HBO special. While it replays some of the footage found elsewhere on the DVD, it’s a lot faster way of looking behind the scenes than going through the six featurettes.

6 Deleted Scenes in English, French, & Spanish (with Director’s Commentary) – These deleted scenes feature a missing subplot with Sid and a female sloth names Sylvia, a second poopy diaper changing scene with the baby, an alternate introduction to Sid, and some dialogue between the sabretooth tigers. It’s easy to see why they were cut from the film. The director’s commentary reveals that reactions at advance screenings had something to do with them being removed. Presented with alternate languages and commentary, this is a first class presentation of the deleted scenes (though the commentary is a bit dry).

6 Production Featurettes – These are your standard, yet interesting, documentaries on the making of the film. They include the creation of the characters, the recording of the dialogue, the animation of the movie, and more. For film buffs this is a great behind the scenes look at the movie.

Scene-Specific Commentary by John Leguizamo as Sid – This is a hilarious feature with Sid commenting on his performance in various scenes in the film. Lasting about only 5 minutes, Leguizamo returns to voice his characters and tells us about funny things that happened when the cameras weren’t rolling. Definitely check this one out.

3 Interactive Animation Studies – This allows you to watch three different scenes in storyboard, animatic, rough animation, and final forms. You hit the angle button to toggle between them. It’s a very interesting feature.

International Multi-Language Clip – This clip is shown with the dialogue alternating between different foreign language tracks. There’s not much more to this beyond a little amusement.

Scrat’s Mini Promo Spots – Scrat apparently did some promotional spots for the FOX channel and they are included on this disc. Other than for completeness’ sake, there’s not much to them.

Blue Sky Studios’ Oscar Winning Animated Film “Bunny” with Director’s Commentary – The sheer bizarreness of this film makes it obvious that it was an Oscar winner. While the animation is incredibly detailed and well done, the story is depressing and confusing. It features an elderly rabbit that kills an annoying moth. The moth ends up being her dead husband who escorts her to heaven. I was left scratching my head on this one. Maybe if it had a rat / squirrel getting hit on the head I would have enjoyed it more, but not even the commentary helped me figure this one out. Again, I guess it’s good to have for completeness’ sake.

The Bottom Line:
“Ice Age” is a decent movie with a top of the line DVD. If you haven’t seen it then it’s worth checking out. If you are a film and animation buff or you have kids, then this is one to add to the collection.

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