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ICE AGE
Super Cool Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Voices: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary
Directors: Chris Wedge, Carlos Saldanha
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1, Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 81 Minutes
Release Date: March 14, 200
6

“Can we have the melon back? Junior here is hungry and…”

“NO WAY! THIS IS OUR PRIVATE STOCK PILE FOR THE ICE AGE. SUB-ARTIC TEMPERATURES WILL FORCE US UNDERGROUND FOR A BILLION, BILLION YEARS!”

“So you got three melons?”

Film ***

With DreamWorks and Disney competing intensely for the reign of computer animated adventures, you’ve got to hand it Fox for breaking into market with their entry in the genre. Ice Age is an endlessly hysterical romp that will have you screaming with laughs, as well as a touch of emotion by its conclusion.  Animator Chris Wedge, who won an Oscar three years ago for his animated short Bunny, and his animation team have constructed a beautiful-looking film to be sure, and one that will be remembered years to come alongside such other classics as Monsters, Inc. and Shrek. As for a story, it’s quite a simple one but nevertheless engaging, while the real appealing elements lie within the humor and the eye-gazing visuals and colors, which strike you right from the opening scene.

The central story involves the approaching of an ice age that is sure to freeze up everything. Enter Manfred, voiced by Ray Romano, a mammoth who is heading in the direction that every other species is vacating. It’s clear that Manfred does not want to be bothered, which explains his motive for doing what he’s doing. Along the way he encounters Sid, voiced by John Leguizamo, an ultra-lazy and simple-minded sloth who tags along with Manfred since his family abandoned him and more importantly, migrating would mean he would have to walk for such a LONG time. Manfred, of course, wants to be left alone but tries not to let Sid, who is something of a motor mouth, not get to him.

The two soon run into a slight bump when they come across a human baby boy, whose mother has just died trying to save his life during an attack from vengeful sabertooth tigers. The mother’s last movement is placing the kid in the hands of Sid and Manfred, and the two decide to head up north to return the baby to its rightful owner. The two then come across a suspecting character in Diego (voiced by Denis Leary), a sabertooth tiger who insists that he be given the baby since he claims to know the whereabouts of the humans, but Sid and Manfred appear to know better. Thus begins a wildly funny road trip-like adventure that is non-stop with laughs and adventurous moments.

Along their journey, the trio come across some very eccentric characters, including a clash a wills and brains with an army of dodo birds, and if there’s anyone out there wondering how or why this particular type of bird became extinct so early in life, this movie should provide a perfect explanation. This stands out as the most inspired moment of the movie. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned a small character by the name of Scrat, a sabertooth squirrel who appears in and out of the movie with a sole purpose to bury an acorn, his most prized possession. Each time he does this, he ends up starting a natural disaster, as in the opening scene of the movie, which is a monumental riot.

Ice Age is a very rare case where the voices of the actors are put to extraordinary use, and at times steal the power away from the movie’s magical look. For the three lead characters, the voices had never been chosen more wisely. TV personality Ray Romano carries a voice that was meant for an animated character, and he adds the perfect touch to Manfred. I have been a longtime fan of actor/comedian Denis Leary, who you may remember as the voice of the ladybug in A Bug’s Life, and he adds the right mix of humor and edge to the much-conflicted character of Diego. And finally, there’s John Leguizamo’s show stealing performance as the ultra-nuisance Sid. Leguizamo has always been a performer of high energy, and in Ice Age, he seems to have used every ounce of energy within him in order to perfect this character, which he has done indeed.

Ice Age was a big box office hit, and deserved to be. It’s a marvelous looking presentation, in my opinion, has taken computer animation to new level. It’s a perfect blend of comedy and emotionally driven drama that both kids and adults will no doubt be able to respond to.

Video ****

After seeing this movie in theaters, I instantly thought to myself how marvelous it would look on DVD, especially when Fox has long been one of the top impressive DVD-producing studios. Alongside Shrek, this is by far one of the grandest computer-animated movies to ever grace the format. The eye-gazing quality of the anamorphic presentation is endless, with striking blues and yellows, etc. There isn’t a single shot in the movie that isn’t rich with details and astonishing visuals. Flawless in every aspect.

Audio ****

Fox presents a superb 5.1 audio mix and embraces the unique sounds of an equally unique setting. There is plentiful physical comedy, which is captured wonderfully, as well as numerous action sequences, including a fast-paced slide in a snowy cave. All of this is accompanied by a nice score by David Newman. Quite simply a stunning effort.

Features ****

For the occasion of the release of the sequel, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Fox has reissued its already fantastic 2-Disc release for an even “cooler” release, titled the Super Cool Edtition.

Disc One features commentary from Director Chris Wedge and co-director Carlos Saldanha as well as a
Nutty Movie Mode, where you can branch to deleted scenes (with optional commentary) when you see the acorn icon pop up during the movie.

Disc Two includes a hip Extreme Cool Version, which Combines Scrat's Frozen Fun Facts with Behind-the-Ice Video Clips from the Filmmakers and Natural History Experts. Also featured is a Trailer for Ice Age: The Meltdown, "Gone Nutty: Scrat's Missing Adventure" Animated Short, "Bunny" Animated Short with Introduction by director Christopher Wedge, 6 Interactive Games, HBO Special: Behind the Scenes of Ice Age, Scene-Specific Commentary by John Leguizamo as Sid, 3 Multi-Angle Animation Studies, 6 Production Featurettes, International (Multi-Language) Clip, Sid Voice Development Featurette, Scrat's Promo Spots, DVD-ROM Games and Activities, and Theatrical Teaser/Trailers.

Summary:

Ice Age remains a fun and entertaining animated movie experience. And Fox has upped the entertainment value with this new Super Cool Edition, which is one of the most fun DVD experiences I’ve had in recent memory.

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