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Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs(2009)
The sub zero heroes are back. Scrat is still trying to nab the ever elusive nut, while maybe finding true love. Manny and Ellie await the birth of their mini-mammoth. Diego the saber toothed tiger wonders if he's growing too soft and Sid the sloth gets into trouble when he creates his own makeshift family by hijacking some dinosaur eggs. On a mission to rescue the hapless Sid, the gang ventures into a mysterious underground world, where they have some close encounters with dinosaurs, battle flora and fauna, run amuck and meet a relentless, one eyed, dino-hunting weasel named Buck.
For more about Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and the Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Blu-ray release, see Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 28, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Eunice Cho, Karen Disher, Harrison Fahn
Directors: Carlos Saldanha, Mike Thurmeier
» See full cast & crew
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Blu-ray Review
A meandering but harmless bit of family fun...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 28, 2009
Is it possible to review a CG animated film, even one with as much overseas clout and box office success as Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, without mentioning Pixar Studios? I wish it was. Unfortunately, aside from some notable standouts -- Kung Fu Panda and a few other inventive adventures like it -- recent animated films haven't given animation junkies a solid reason to venture beyond the hallowed halls of Pixar. Dawn of the Dinosaurs certainly tries. Blue Sky Studios has not only intensified its profitable franchise's action sequences, it's amped up its set pieces, added more characters into the mix, and given each one more to do than they have before. However, most everything falls flat. The story is inspired but doesn't go much of anywhere, the new characters are entertaining but tend to steal the show from the series' mainstays, a full half hour passes before our heroes finally make their way into the underground world at the center of the tale, and the comedy, though amusing at times, smacks of the lazy pop-culture shenanigans that have apparently become the go-to source of laughs at every animation studio struggling to topple Pixar. Ah well, at least kids and faithful franchise fans will get a kick out of it.
Manny the mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano), Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo), and Diego the Smilodon (Denis Leary) -- along with Manny's pregnant mate Ellie (Queen Latifah), series scavenger Scrat (Chris Wedge), and opposums Crash and Eddie (Seann William Scott and Josh Peck) -- are used to threats their own size, but when they stumble into a lost world ruled by lumbering dinosaurs, they find themselves at the very bottom of the food chain. And that isn't the only problem they have to face. Sid is taken away by a tyrannosaurus rex after her newly hatched babies mistake him for their mother, Diego is finding it increasingly difficult to hunt and pursue his prey, Manny and Ellie are expecting their first baby, and Scrat begins to develop feelings for a rival rodent named Scratte (Karen Disher). With the help of a wily (albeit mentally unbalanced) mammalian warrior named Buck (Simon Pegg), the crew has to track Sid, survive dangers they've never encountered, avoid a deadly creature ominously dubbed Rudy, and return to the surface in one piece.
After waltzing about for twenty long minutes, Dawn of the Dinosaurs begins to rattle and hum, promising a thrilling trek for the whole family. Sadly, it never comes. Manny and his friends' journey into the depths of the Earth is full of fun, fantastic dino designs, but rarely delivers enough thematic weight or narrative direction to support the animators' amazing work. Similarly, a slew of flashy tricks and camera angles adds dynamism to the series' formerly stocky visuals, but these initially exciting innovations aren't bolstered by the sort of creative action choreography other animated films have been producing en masse. There are several memorable scenes to be sure -- the first appearance of the tyrannosaurus, a pteranodon dogfight, and the many Scrat and Scratte tussles are my personal favorites -- but they struck me as little more than arresting animated shorts tied together by the loosest of plots. While the slap-stick hilarity of it all left my five-year-old son with plenty of grins and giggles, his mother and I were less than enthused. Humor either involves kid-friendly gross-out gags or dated, leftfield pop-culture references (a Flintstones one-liner is particularly groan-inducing), and its character development is thin and contrived at best. Granted, Dawn of the Dinosaurs is better than Ice Age: The Meltdown, but it still fails to capture the simple joy and smart storytelling of the first film in the franchise.
Ironically, Simon Pegg begins saving the film from utter disaster the moment his character saves the gang from a similar fate. His Buck is a bit too reminiscent of Johnny Depp's Captain Jack, but he sinks his all into every line and makes his scenes the highlight of the film. The animators match his commitment beat for beat, making Buck's face and mannerisms as entertaining as his batty banter, and seem to get more satisfaction from animating the sword-slinging furball than any of the series' main characters (with the exception of Scrat whose dogged pursuit of an acorn is as endearing as ever). In fact, I was surprised by the amount of screentime Buck swipes from his woolly compatriots, proof in my mind that directors Carlos Saldanha and Mike Thurmeier are slowly growing bored of the trio who started it all. Diego is given next to nothing to do this time around, Manny is reduced to cynical asides, and Sid is upstaged by four T-rexes that don't say a single word. With protagonists that have become such one-note characters, it's easy to see why a clever creation like Buck is such a welcome relief.
As it stands, Dawn of the Dinosaurs isn't going to bring many newcomers to the franchise fold, but it will appeal to children and families who've diligently followed the series from the beginning. Give it a try and see if you enjoy its wares more than I did.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Blu-ray, Video Quality
As many high definition enthusiasts probably already suspect, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs boasts an absolutely stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that is, in a word, perfect. Colors erupt off the screen -- prepare to be blown away when you reach the scenes involving the underground cavern's lava lakes -- and contrast is impeccable throughout. Moreover, blacks are deep and absorbing, primaries pop, and banding is nowhere to be seen. Detail is astounding as well. Every hair on Manny's back, every blade of grass at the base of a giant carnivorous plant, every shard of ice and rock that impedes the gang's journey is crisp and refined. Best of all, I didn't catch sight of any artifacting, aliasing, noise or, for that matter, any other digital anomaly that might undermine the hard work of the Blue Sky Studios animators. The presentation is as clean and spotless as its source, making Dawn of the Dinosaurs a gorgeous, technically proficient showcase piece worthy of its place in any videophile's film collection.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Dawn of the Dinosaurs features a decent DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track, but it isn't nearly as impressive as Fox's striking video transfer. Why? Oddly enough, rear speaker activity is surprisingly restrained throughout the film. A T-Rex invasion, a ride on a lava river, and a scene involving an aerial dogfight of sorts (among other action-oriented scenes) take greater advantage of the full soundfield but, more often than not, the experience is a noticeably front-heavy one. While the soundfield is still mildly involving, it isn't nearly as immersive as the soundfields found on similar animated releases (Kung Fu Panda, Cars, and Ratatouille come to mind, none of which offer a beefy 7.1 mammoth like DotD). The result? Directionality takes an unneeded hit. Nevertheless, robust LFE output saves the day, making every footstep and landslide as powerful as they are weighty. Roars elicit the requisite shivers, stampedes shake the ground, and toppling trees sound suitably dangerous. Likewise, dialogue is clean and clear, dynamics are bold, and pans are smooth. While John Powell's music is often unnaturally crammed into the background, solid prioritization ensures no quip or exchange goes unheard.
Ultimately, Dawn of the Dinosaurs' DTS-HD Master Audio track is a bit of a letdown, especially considering it's a 7.1 mix. It certainly isn't bad -- and will probably thrill anyone relying on their receiver's processing chip to artificially enhance its at-times two-dimensional soundfield -- but it also falls short of the high-scoring audio tracks found on other animated Blu-ray releases.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs includes a variety of special features, most of which are presented in high definition. While the material is largely hit or miss, fans of the film will be fairly pleased with the package.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs may leave kids laughing and clapping, but parents will find it to be an uneven affair; one that will appeal to some while boring others to tears. Alas, I was in the latter camp, yawning my way through the somewhat aimless, somewhat amusing animated adventure, wondering when, if ever, its characters would come alive in my imagination (at least like they did in the original Ice Age). Still, it's better than The Meltdown, so that's a definite plus. The Blu-ray edition is a tad inconsistent as well. Its marvelous video transfer is continually undermined by an unexpectedly front-heavy DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track, and its supplemental package, while rather lengthy, will only satisfy those who've fallen in love with the film itself. Hopefully, the inevitable fourth entry in the series will be more entertaining, and its eventual Blu-ray release will pack more sonic punch.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: Other Editions
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Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - October 27th - October 27, 2009
After the unprecedented success of Pixar's 'Toy Story', Hollywood studios recognized the emergence of a new film genre and quickly acquired the equipment and expertise in order to ensure they had a piece of the computer animated cash-cow. One of those moves was ...
• Ice Age 3 Blu-ray Gets October Date - September 2, 2009
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release 'Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs' on Blu-ray on October 27, day-and-date with the DVD. The BD edition will comprise three discs (BD/DVD/Digital copy), and will include an exclusive digital story maker and exclusive ...
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