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ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Voices: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Simon Pegg
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Audio: DTS HD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 94 Minutes
Release Date: October 27, 2009

“Let me tell you about the time I turned a Tyrannosaurus Rex into Tyrannosaurus Rachel.”

Film ***

I have to give credit to the Ice Age franchise. With three features in, the animated movie series has not lost a bit of its charm or comedic value. And for any animated movie that is not associated with Pixar, that’s really saying something.

The third installment, titled Dawn of the Dinosaurs, is right in line with its two predecessors. It’s endlessly funny, fast paced, and beautifully animated from beginning to end. As far as family films go, it’s about as perfect a movie as you could ask for.

At first, the premise had me scratching my head. When I learned that our prehistoric heroes were going to be running into an already extinct species, it seemed to me that the series was growing a little too desperate. But the story actually offers a clever little explanation for the dinosaurs’ existence.

Parenthood plays a big role in the story, as woolly mammoth couple Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah) are expecting their first born at any moment. This development causes lion sidekick Diego (Denis Leary) to question his role in the herd, as he feels as though he isn’t wanted around. Meanwhile, bumbling sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) discovers three lost baby eggs, which he decides to claim as his own.

Eventually, the herd winds up in a huge underground cavern and come to discover that another world has existed right underneath theirs for quite some time. To be more specific, it’s a world where dinosaurs are still alive and roaming. It also turns out Sid’s three eggs happen to hatch out a trio of baby T-Rexes.

The main conflict of the story is the gang’s attempt to return to their surface alive and in one peace, since some of the dinosaurs in this world happen to be not so friendly and a bit bloodthirsty. They end up teaming up with a one-eyed daredevil weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg), who seems to know the ins and outs of fighting off every known kind of dinosaurs. Fans of Pegg will thoroughly enjoy the wit and energy he brings to this character, who is one of the highlights of the movie.

But as in the case with every Ice Age movie, the main highlight here is the character of Scrat, the insane saber-toothed squirrel who’s every attempt to retrieve an acorn fails disastrously. This time around, Scrat gets more than he bargains for as he has a fierce competitor in the form of Scratte, a female squirrel who’s just as acorn obsessed. Scrat doesn’t know whether to defeat her or fall in love with her.

While it can’t measure up to the Pixar standard set by the likes of WALL*E, The Incredibles and Up, there’s still a lot of fun and enjoyment to be had with Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. In addition, it’s the best looking of the three movies, with so much amazing detail and color to be seen in every possible frame. And there are many laugh out loud moments in this third installment, making it ideal viewing for both kids and adults.

Video ****

While I was hoping for the 3D version (which I missed in theaters) to be included here, this Blu-ray from Fox provides one astounding treat for the eyes. I thought the previous two movies looked outstanding on regular DVD, so I couldn’t wait to see what Blu-ray had in store for this new movie. Needless to say, I was more than blown away by what was delivered in the 1080p. The computer animation is served up in perhaps the absolute best form you’ll ever see it in (other than 3D, of course), with every bit of detail and color of the animation showing up in glorious form. As far as animated Blu-ray releases go, this is one of best ones you’ll ever see!

Audio ****

For this release, Fox has wisely upgraded to a 7.1 DTS HD mix, and I hope this becomes a staple for their future Blu-ray releases. From the opening frame, the sound of the prehistoric environment is brought to fantastic life in the lossless audio. And the sound never lets up, as we get everything from numerous adventure set pieces to consistent music playback to the stomping sounds of dinosaur feet. A downright perfect matchup to the awesome picture quality!

Features ****

We got quite a bundle here with this three disc release.

Disc One is the Blu-ray release, which is loaded with all the extras. Included is a Filmmaker Commentary, an Ice Age Storybook Maker, a number of featurettes including “Evolution Expedition”, “Buck...Easel to Weasel”, and “Unearthing the Lost World”. Also featured are Unfinished Deleted Scenes, the music video for Queen Latifah’s "Walk with the Dinosaur”, and additional featurettes including “Fox Movie Channel presents Making A Scene”, “Fox Movie Channel presents Making a Scene (Ice Age: The Meltdown)”, “Fox Movie Channel presents In Character with John Leguizamo”, “Fox Movie Channel presents in Character with Ray Romano”, “Fox Movie Channel presents in Character with Queen Latifah”. Rounding out the extras are trailers, the Scrat Pack: a series of Scrat Shorts, and additional extras via BD-Live.

Disc Two includes a Standard DVD version of the movie.

Disc Three contains a Digital Copy.

Summary:

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is most welcome third entry in this hilarious and entertaining animated movie series. If you have Blu-ray access, and are a lover of animated movies, then this is one HD release you will definitely want to add to your collection.

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