A very well done film that is packed with many worthwhile DVD extras.
As much as I appreciate the production featurettes, I wish they would have been broken down in a simpler way.
Ice Age is great film. I missed it when it played in theaters, but watching it now I was taken with every aspect of this simple story. Manfred (a mammoth), Sid (a sloth) and Diego (a tiger) decide to join forces when they are left in charge of a human baby. Their goal is to reunite this lost child with it's family. What is essentially a simple story takes us on a laugh filled adventure, where these three very different animals come to bond in a most unexpected way.
Ray Romano (Manfred), John Leguizamo (Sid) and Denis Leary (Diego) are perfectly cast in their voice roles. In fact, I think that this might be John Leguizamo's best work ever. I became so completely engaged in this tightly woven tale of 3 friendships forged, that I don't recall seeing an animated move that had this kind of effect on me since I was a child.
This is a commentary track with Ice Age Director Chris Wedge and the film's Co-Director Carlos Saldanha. These two give listeners an interesting back and forth discussion on the film, the characters and the overall story. While not as technical as one might want, they seem more focused on the themes and storytelling which is probably a good thing.
Nutty Movie Mode
One can watch the movie in this special way and they will then see it in an enhanced mode. Essentially, you set your DVD player and whenever an acorn pops up on the screen, you will be taken to this film's deleted scenes individually. Once those scenes run their course, the viewer is dropped back into the movie.
These Deleted Scenes can also be viewed separately. There are six in total and they have titles like "Sylvia & Sid Introduction" and "Sabre Stake Out." Truthfully, as it is, Ice Age plays just fine in it's 81 minute theatrical form.
Extreme Cool View
If the Nutty Movie Mode isn't enough for you, than the Extreme Cool View should more than satisfy your need for more information on this film. When watched in this mode we are given things like "Scrat's Frozen Fun Facts" and "Behind the Ice Video Clips" from the Filmmakers and Natural History Experts. While I didn't make it all the way through the movie in this "scientific" mode, it would be a great way for younger kids to get teachers to show them this film in class!
Sid on Sid
As the character of Sid, John Leguizamo sits down and takes us through some of Sid's more prominent scenes. In my opinion, this character is the star of the movie so Leguizamo could have talked over all of it if he had wanted to. Watching him here, he was so keyed into this character, that I am wondering if Wedge and Co. allowed him to improvise his whole role?
The short films on this disc are "Bunny" and "Gone Nutty: Scrat's Missing Adventure." While I enjoyed Scrat's missing adventure, simply because I really enjoy seeing Scrat in action, I loved "Bunny." This tale of a widowed rabbit who is eventually reunited with her husband in heaven, says more in the few minutes it plays, than most films say in their entire 80, 90 or 120 minute runs.
Scrat Reveals and International Ice Age
Scrat Reveals is a series of Fox promos in which they use Scrat and some devices from Ice Age to promote the Fox network. International Ice Age shows us a scene like Sid, Manfred and Diego changing the human baby. Seamlessly interspersed throughout this is the scene in multiple dialects. Nothing too amazing, but it does show the universal appeal of animation.
Under the Ice
These are six featurettes that look at the technical aspects of making this film. Some of their titles are "Lighting," "Making A Character" and "Animators Acting." I hate to say it but these were a let down. I am finishing up my own feature length animated movie, 1985-1986, and places like Pixar and Blue Sky are exactly where I want to be in terms of growing my animation skills. Unfortunately, the animators they have talking are too detached (as well as devoid of personality) and they describe their work too quickly for me to really be able to glean anything from what they are saying.
There are also six games that come on this disc as well. They have titles like "Cave In," "Hide and Eek" and "Ice Match." All one needs to do is be competent with their DVD player's remote (and most kids probably are), and these games should come fairly easy to to them. They range from motion games where you have to guide a specific character, or recognition games where you have to use reasoning and logic. Believe me, it's not as complicated as it sounds.
I loved this section of the DVD. It examined 3 scenes from the movie "Opening," "Almost Home" and "Tigers Attack." Now, in order make these scenes there are 5 individual stages they must go through. Using the ANGLE button on your DVD player's remote, one gets to see how these stages build upon one another to create the final product.
In an interesting twist on this special feature there are actually two galleries to view. One allows viewers to pick the images of the characters they wish to see, and then they can play those images in sequential order. The second one is more of a scientific look at each character, as we are given a succinct account of that animal's real life history.
Widescreen Anamorphic - 1.85:1 and 1.33:1. The 3D animation employed here is just breathtaking. I know when we watch movies on DVD they are compressed, so supposedly the quality isn't as good as the big screen, but I was just blown away by how truly well done this film was. It seems like no expense has been spared to make this movie look and feel authentic, and while it is animation, so much of this film looks amazingly real.
Dolby Digital. English 5.1 - Dolby Surround. French and Spanish Dolby Surround. Subtitled in English and Spanish. This is one of the few animated movies I have seen that seems to give the characters that inhabit it room to breath. Don't get me wrong, I understand the need to have wall to wall dialogue, but something tells me that sometimes more is said when the characters don't say as much. Also, the audio design had a big hand in completely pulling me into this story.
With a plastic blue case and the stars of the show on the front cover, this new version of the Ice Age DVD pulls out all the stops. The back features some more shots of our furry friends, a small description of what this movie is about, a breakdown of everything that comes with this two disc set, a cast list and some technical specs. Both discs come economically housed in a regular sized amaray case. For fans of this movie, this is the only version of this disc you need to own.
Having interviewed Chris Wedge many months back, I got the impression that this was a person who doesn't see animation as simply kids stuff. He seems to try and infuse the tales he's telling with great ideas and themes that we might not normally find in these movies, and as a result he crafts films that stand out a little bit more than your average cartoon.
Filled to the brim with DVD extras and featuring a really well put together transfer of this film, Ice Age is clearly a movie that would fit in anybody's DVD collection.
Ice Age was released March 10, 2002.