Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs [Blu-Ray]
Director : Co- Mike Thurmeier
Screenplay : Michael Berg, Peter Ackerman, Mike Reiss, & Yoni Brenner (story by Jason Carter Eaton)
MPAA Rating : PG
Year of Release : 2009
As most people know, dinosaurs predated the mammals of the Ice Age franchise by millions of years, thus, the third installment of the now seven-year-old computer-animated series has quite a bit of work to do in order to justify the furry and the scaly sharing the same screen. To solve this conundrum, the team of screenwriters dig deep into the classic tomes of science fiction (including those of Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs) to come up with something so profoundly ridiculous--an entire and separate world existing beneath the frozen ground of the Pleistocene Epoch--that it very nearly works. You can’t stop and think about any of it, but why would you want to? After all, this is a film with anthropomorphized prehistoric animals whose best sequence involves several of them harnessing and riding a pterodactyl.
As in the previous two installments, Ice Age (2002) and Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), the heroes of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs are an odd assortment that have come together as an unlikely herd: Manny the woolly mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the bug-eyed, anvil-headed sloth (John Leguizamo), and Diego the saber-tooth tiger (Denis Leary). The film returns the additional characters introduced in the second film, including Manny’s wife Ellie (Queen Latifah), who is pregnant and expecting any moment (for those who remember the details of the first film, this is a major event since Manny believed he was the last of his kind), as well as the in-fighting brother possums Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck). The tension this time around is that Manny and Ellie are settling down and starting a family, which leaves Diego and Sid on their own. Diego decides to head out and find his own adventure, while Sid makes the ill-fated decision to raise whatever will hatch out of three large eggs he finds in an underground cave.
Turns out the eggs produce three baby Tyrannosaurs Rexes, which happily mimic Sid’s sloth-like behavior, but don’t fit in very well with the generally peaceful group of mammals (turtles, birds, etc.) with whom Sid lives. And then there’s the momma Tyrannosaurs, who comes out of her underground lair to snatch her young and Sid along with them and return below ground, which means that Manny, Ellie, Diego, Crash, and Eddie must venture into the previously unseen netherworld to rescue their friend. There they find an entire world of lush primeval forests, massive mountains, and lava waterfalls that is populated by all the dinosaur species that should have been extinct millions of years earlier. The world is also inhabited by Buck (Simon Pegg), a deranged weasel with a leaf-patch over one eye who is determined to come face to face with the world’s most dangerous creature, a giant white dinosaur he has named “Rudy.”
Like the previous Ice Age films, Dawn of the Dinosaurs is enjoyable, but still a bit too formulaic (who didn’t see the use of Was (Not Was)’s kitschy ’80s one-hit wonder “Walk the Dinosaur” being used on the soundtrack?). In its theatrical release, this particular entry was buoyed by both the creative use of 3-D, which gives the increasingly detailed CGI-created world a sense of depth and presence, and the generally whacked-out premise, which is a far cry from the previous two installments’ more mundane journeys. Director Carlos Saldanha (who also helmed The Meltdown) and co-director Mike Thurmeier (a supervising animator making his feature-film directing debut) clearly relish the freedom to explore and push the boundaries, which results in the most action-oriented film in the series. The jokes don’t always hit like they should, but there is a pleasant familiarity that mixes well with the sense of adventure to underscore the film’s warm-n-fuzzy proclamations about the nature of family and togetherness.
And, of course, there is always the Scrat (again voiced by Chris Wedge), the buck-toothed squirrel-rat hybrid whose incessant love of the acorn is put to the test when he crosses paths with a female Scrat, affectionately knows as Scrattè (Karen Disher). Their physical and romantic tussles provide constant welcome relief from the story proper, and even if some of the jokes are dragged out a bit too far, they still remind us that well-executed slapstick comedy, the more ridiculous the better, is always enjoyable, even if it makes the rest of the movie look a bit stale.
|Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Three-Disc Blu-Ray + DVD Set|
|This three-disc set includes the film on Blu-Ray, standard DVD, and a third disc with a digital copy.|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin|
|Distributor||20th Century Fox Home Entertainment|
|Release Date||October 26, 2009|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|Presented in full 1080p/AVC-encoded high definition on a dual layer 50GB disc, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs looks absolutely fantastic. The detail is superb throughout, whether it be the millions of individual hairs on the various furry characters or the unique look of light shining through semi-translucent ice. A direct digital-to-digital port, the image is genuinely flawless throughout, without any noticeable elements of artifacting or compression. Colors are spot on, with the cool blues and icy whites of the ice age world contrasting sharply with the warm yellows, greens, and reds of the underground world. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround soundtrack is likewise impressive, with excellent directionality to encompass you in the action, particularly the pterodactyl flight sequence. The LFE channel is also kept busy to give the various dinosaurs’ roars an appropriately room-shaking depth.|
|As on the previous Ice Age discs, the audio commentary on the third entry is a full-room affair, with director Carlos Saldanha talking about the making of the film with members of the “Blue Sky Family,” including producers John Donkin and Lori Forte, co-director Mike Thurmeier, art director Michael Knapp, character designer Peter De Sève, and supervising animator Galen Tan Chu. Given the number of participants and the variety of roles they played in designing and producing the film, it is little surprise that the commentary is rich with detailed background information, especially from a technical perspective. The “Ice Age Storybook Maker” is a surprisingly complex, but fascinating supplement that allows you to create a digital storybook by selecting a sequence from the film, freezing still images and manipulating them, putting them into layouts, and inserting text. This supplement is available in three levels: Bronze Age (kids 1 to 5), Stone Age (kids 6 to 11), and Ice Age (kids 12 and up). “Evolution Expedition” is an 18-minute featurette hosted by various experts at Los Angeles’ George C. Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits and the Santa Barbara Zoo, who discuss the realities of the mammals who lived during the ice age and their modern-day descendents like lions, sloths, and elephants. There are two featurettes about the film’s production: “Buck: From Easel to Weasel” (7 min.) explores the development of Buck both visually and in terms of his character, while “Unearthing the Lost World” (9 min.) looks at the research and design that went into creating both the new underground jurassic environment and the dinosaurs who live there. The two unfinished deleted scenes run about four minutes total and are presented as black-and-white animatics with a soundtrack, suggesting that they were cut very early in the process. The two Scrat-starring short films “Gone Nutty: Scrat’s Missing Adventure” and “No Time For Nuts” are recycled from previous Ice Age DVDs, although there are a handful of new featurettes (which together run a little over 14 minutes total) about everyone’s favorite scampering prehistoric sabre-toothed misfit: the faux educational film “The Sabre-Toothed Squirrel: Nature’s Nutty Buddy,” the drawing tutorial “Scrat: From Head To Toe,” the behind-the-scenes featurettes “Bringing Scrat to Life” and “Whimper, Whimper: Scrat Speaks!,” two amusing faux news reports about the modern-day discovery of the Scrat frozen in ice, and the 8-minute “Falling for Scratte,” which explores the development of the female Scrat. Along with the music video for Queen Latifah’s “Walk The Dinosaur” cover, the rest of the disc is filled with five “Fox Movie Channel Presents” episodes: “In Character with John Leguizamo,” “In Character with Ray Romano,” “In Character with Queen Latifah,” “Making a Scene,” and “Making a Scene” from Ice Age 2.|
Copyright ©2009 James Kendrick
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