Ice Age (2002)

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Released 14-Oct-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Audio Commentary-Chris Wedge (Director) & Carlos Saldanha (Co-Director)
Featurette-Scrat's Missing Adventure
Deleted Scenes-6 +/- commentary
Featurette-Sid On Sid
Featurette-Scrat Reveals (3)
Multiple Angles-Animation Progression (3 x 5)
Featurette-International Ice Age
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Featurette-Making A Character; Art Of Rigging; Animators Acting
Featurette-Art Of Effects;Lighting And Materials;Using 2D In A 3D World
Featurette-Sid Voice Development
Theatrical Trailer-3
Gallery-Design Galleries (14)
Notes-Size Comparison/The Science Behind Ice Age
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 77:55
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Chris Wedge
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Ray Romano
John Leguizamo
Denis Leary
Case Six-Sided Star Clamp
RPI $37.95 Music David Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    If you are a fan of light comedy and animation then you are going to love Ice Age. This is especially true if you have young children who will love this movie even more since it combines all the elements needed for a successful animation comedy; loveable characters, a sense of humour, a simple to follow storyline and plenty of drama. The movie itself is ably enhanced by the choice of voice actors for the various characters. Ray Romano as Manfred the Mammoth is an excellent choice with a deep voice that never seems to get agitated, yet he's a gigantic creature compared to everything else. It was obviously an inspiration to get John Leguizamo for Sid the Sloth, and Denis Leary has an excellent voice for the devious Diego the Sabertooth.

   When I first starting watching Ice Age, I had fears that it was simply another Shrek with the animation being somewhat similar in quality, but no fear - although there are some similarities in the setup (an unlikely hero (Manfred) with an unwanted sidekick (Sid)), the inclusion of Diego and the silly antics of Scrat the Sabertooth Squirrel (or whatever it is), plus the other characters that pop up here and there (especially the Kamikaze Dodos) show that the producer and directors went to great lengths to create something unique. Indeed, the movie was so well paced that the 75 minute length passed by extremely quickly and should prove highly entertaining.

    The storyline is very simple. Manfred the Mammoth is heading north, against the tide of the mass migration heading south due to the encroaching Ice Age (which is hastened by one crazy squirrel type creature called Scrat who insists on trying to bury his acorns in frozen ground and cracking the tectonic plates in the process). Sid the Sloth in the meantime has overslept and wakes up to find the only creatures left behind are some slow moving armadillos, who leave a nasty mess behind which gets him into trouble with Frank and Carl, a couple of small-brained rhinoceros-types who are determined to see an end of him for eating the last dandelion. Saved by the intervention of Manfred, Sid decides to team up with him, much to Manfred's dismay, and head north. Meanwhile, a pack of Sabertooth tigers, lead by Soto (Goran Visnjic) is planning on ambushing a small tribe of Neanderthals as retribution for killing off their pack. Soto instructs Diego to bring him the child of one of the humans so he can extract his revenge, but things don't go quite as planned and the baby ends up in the tender care of Sid and Manfred after his mother heroically saves him from Diego's claws.

    Wanting the baby so badly that he can think of nothing else, Soto instructs Diego to snatch the child from the claws/trunk of the travelling pair but ends up joining them on a trek north where he plans to ambush them and secure the Mammoth for his next meal. Naturally, things change as the trio travel together and Diego finds himself having a change of heart as he begins to appreciate the company of this mismatched pair and his heart just goes out of the planned attack. The three comics - Leary, Romano and Leguizamo - have a lot of fun with the characters and there are plenty of light chuckles. At no stage does the movie depict any real violence although there is action aplenty. The comedy is light and breezy and kids in particular should love this. Ice Age might not be your cup of tea, but I have yet to find many more pleasant ways of spending a night.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is another classic transfer to DVD and is absolutely of reference quality within its defined field. Compared to something like Final Fantasy, you might feel that this simply isn't up to that movie's supreme quality in animation, but this is a movie pitched at a different age group and the state of the animation is indicative of that fact. It is still interesting to note, though, that animation has come along in leaps and bounds compared to what was on offer even five years ago.

    The movie is presented at 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, exactly as the theatrical release was shown.

    You need to remember this is animation at times, since the sharpness is exemplary in places. Naturally, thick black lines can be seen around characters, but that's animation for you. Generally, though, the delineation between character and background is superb. Shadow detail depends almost entirely on what the animators want to show you, but an example at the beginning of the movie where all the animals are migrating offers shadow and background detail aplenty. Grain is non-existent throughout and blacks are naturally totally solid. Noise is not a problem.

    The colour is excellent with lots of variety depending on the location, although sometimes they do appear a little soft. Bold/solid colours are mainly used for things like lava and backgrounds.

   As far as I could ascertain there are simply no MPEG, film or video artefacts to be seen on this disc except for some slight aliasing on the credits.

    As you would expect, the subtitles are very simple and easy to read with a good font being utilized. They do interfere slightly with the visuals, being about an 1/8th of the way up from the bottom of the movie, but they are very accurate to what is being said.

    No layer change was noted during the presentation of the movie, but given the shortness of the film there is a better than even chance that the movie is on one layer and the extras are on the other layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    I wasn't expecting too much in the audio department even though the soundtrack has a listed bitrate of 448 kilobits per second for the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Given the intended audience, a more sedate soundtrack would have been the order of the day and this was what I found.

   The dialogue quality and syncing were excellent as you would anticipate.

   The music was attributed to David Newman (Galaxy Quest/Nutty Professors and many more) who manages to create a nicely balanced and easy listening track that adds just the right elements to the pathos, drama and excitement that is happening on the screen. It is never too overpowering nor too subtle and has the right mix for a movie of this nature.

   The surrounds have plenty to do during this movie and are very active throughout. They aren't overpowering in any sense but keep up a nice mix of music and effects to make them noticeable.

   The subwoofer is similarly used to the surrounds although I had a distinct sense of loss because much of the subterranean sounds you'd expect from something that is used as effectively as the .1 channel is missing. Thinking about it though, I can understand the desire to modify this aspect of the subwoofer activity given the movie's audience makeup.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

    As with the rest of this excellent disc, the main menu introduction is taken from the movie itself (sliding through the ice cavern). The audio likewise is from the movie soundtrack.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Looping approximately every 30 seconds or so, this is a continuation of the opening introduction with Scrat and the baby sliding by alternatively.

Scene Selection Animation & Audio

    The various submenus offer other snippets from the movie as part of the transitions. The select scene menu offers live footage from the movie in small insets. The music loops as usual. Other menus, especially the Special Features menu offer a more complete animation sequence (and one that is endlessly amusing I might add).

Audio Commentary

    Strangely enough, I found this an excellent if confusing addition to this movie. Considering the target audience, I doubt there will be that much call for detailed analysis of the movie and its making from both the director Chris Wedge (who by the way is both eloquent and loquacious about his art and the movie) and the co-director Carlos Saldahna (who is a little stilted at times). Still, if you enjoyed the movie you could do worse for extras I suppose. Wedge is definitely value for money, not only for his comments but for his delivery. He is the most excellent audio commentary speaker I've heard yet on a DVD.

Featurette - Scrat's Missing Adventure - 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced - running time 4:36 - Gone Nutty

    Much in the style of the old Warner Bros cartoons, Scrat, the little chipmunk/sabertooth squirrel character from the movie gets his own little cartoon. A brilliant addition both from the quality point of view and the idea point of view, this will keep the kids entertained for a couple of repeats at least.

Deleted Scenes

    There are 6 deleted scenes in all which can be played with the voice-overs or with audio commentary. Some of the scenes have been cut post-production and one prior to its final rendering. All of them are in 2.35:1 not 16x9 enhanced format and include

Featurette - Scrat Reveals - Mt Rushmore (0:30), Push (0:16), Block (0:16).

    From the looks of these, they are little fillers or teasers that were to show the fact that this is a Fox production. They are all in 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette

    An interesting little addition is this excerpt from the movie with various languages overlaid in lieu of the normal English so you can hear what it sounds like to other cultures. With a running time of 2:45 in 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced format, the clip runs as normal with the language change being noted as a subtitle.

Multiple Angles

    This feature gives you three selections from the movie and how they were developed from go to whoa. There are five different options to select from, with the fifth being a composite of the other four. They are; Storyboard, 3D Layout, Un-Rendered Animation and Final Render (which should be noted is in 2.35:1/not 16x9 enhanced). The three selections are the Opening sequence (2:55), Almost Home/Lava (2:55) and Tiger Attack (1:54).

Featurette - Sid on Sid - 3:03 in 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced format.

    An amusing look at Sid's parts in the movie while he tries to make himself sound cool and look good (and fails miserably of course). Good animation in the same style as the movie and an interesting aside.

Featurette-Making Of

    Nested under the heading Under the Ice are a swag of extra features, the first of which is The Making of.... This consists of a series of smaller interviews with the crew who helped develop the animation and bring the movie to life. The different sections are all in 1.33:1 format with excerpts from the movie letterboxed at 1.85:1 and not 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes

    Ray Romano takes a look at behind the scenes of making Ice Age. This is more like a mini comedy sketch in parts, with the actors and director describing their roles, and what they did to get the most out of the movie. It runs for 13:29 and has a decent Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack behind it. It has enough length to be interesting and enough comedy to not become boring. All of these extras are in 1.33:1 format with letterboxed excerpts from the movie in 1.85:1 and not 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette

    There are a whole bunch of little extras here, most very short, on how they created the animation, added the effects, voiced the characters, and other trivial bits.

Theatrical Trailer

    There are two theatrical trailers and one teaser trailer on offer.    All trailers are in 1.85:1 format and not 16x9 enhanced.

Gallery

    Allows you to create your own picture gallery. There are two parts. The first offers the ability to pick and choose original drawings and put them into a slide show type setup. Unfortunately, every time I selected this it crashed my DVD player, so I had to use my DVD ROM. You can also see all the various creatures and their individual pictures (and there are heaps of them to see). The second part is a comparison of the creatures in the movie with their actual historical equivalents. For instance, Sid the Sloth is based on the Megatherium, only in reality the Megatherium was over 9' tall and had armour for skin and could easily kill a sabertooth, whereas the character in the movie is a lot more of a wuss. Still, interesting and informative.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   There is no R1 release of this disc at this time but a 2 disc special edition has been announced with the following additions that are not available on the R4 release;

    It seems obvious that more DVD-ROM features will be available on the R1 release. The addition of another animated film on the R1 disc is a bonus, but given there is so much on the R4, unless you are an extras freak then it will come down to buyer's choice and cost.

Summary

    Ice Age is another in an increasing line of excellently made and presented animation films for the whole family to enjoy. This one has all the hallmarks of a true family classic that can be endlessly enjoyed with simple humour and excellent characterisations. The voice overs of Ray Romano, Denis Leary and especially John Leguizamo give this real comedic flavour along with a very dry and witty script. To break up the scenery are a cast of whacko Dodos, one 'nutty' squirrel and an array of interesting animals all based on prehistoric beasts.

    The video is simply superb and of reference quality

    The audio is only a step behind with only the lack of heavy subwoofer activity dragging this down a half notch, but then if you aim at the younger market this isn't too big a drawback.

    The extras are quite magnificent, both in quality and quantity.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Carl Berry (read my bio)
Friday, September 27, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD5300, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderRotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationRotel RB 985 MkII
SpeakersJBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer

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