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Ice Age: The Meltdown(2006)
Your favorite sub-zero heroes are back for another incredible adventure in the super-cool animated comedy Ice Age the Meltdown! The action heats up - and so does the temperature - for Manny, Sid, Diego and Scrat. Trying to escape the valley to avoid a flood of trouble, the comical creatures embark on a hilarious journey across the thawing landscape and meet Ellie, a female woolly mammoth who melts Manny's heart. With its dazzling animation, unforgettable characters and an all-new Scrat short, Ice Age: The Meltdown is laugh-out-loud fun for the whole family!
For more about Ice Age: The Meltdown and the Ice Age: The Meltdown Blu-ray release, see Ice Age: The Meltdown Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 20, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Will Arnett
Director: Carlos Saldanha
» See full cast & crew
Ice Age: The Meltdown Blu-ray Review
A pretty good sequel shines in Blu.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 20, 2008
Let go of the past so you can have a future.
What would the world be without sequels to movies starring cute animated characters? We're up to about ten zillion Land Before Time movies and several Shrek flicks, so it comes as no surprise that the success of Fox's lovable, all digital smash hit Ice Age has spawned a sequel, Ice Age: The Meltdown, with a third movie in the franchise (Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs) planned for 2009. While this second film in the series returns to us four of the most memorable and cherished characters of recent memory (and introduces us to a few more), Meltdown fails to provide the same charm, wit, action, and laugh-a-minute jokes that populated the first. Make no mistake, Meltdown is a worthy successor, but like so many sequels, this one just can't quite manage to re-capture the magic of the first.
Manny (Ray Romano, Welcome to Mooseport), Sid (John Leguizamo, Land of the Dead), and Diego (Denis Leary, Rescue Me) are back, this time trying to escape a new crisis--global warming. Despite the warnings of "Fast Tony" (Al Gore, er, Jay Leno, Cars) that global warming is here, our trio of misfit heroes doesn't believe it until they see the melting ice for themselves. Once again migrating towards safety, this hodgepodge of heroes must deal with their individual struggles. Sid tries to find acceptance, Diego must face his fear of water, and Manny comes to terms with the fact that he may be the only Wooly Mammoth left alive-- until he meets a female mammoth named Ellie (Queen Latifah, Hairspray, perhaps so named as an homage to E.L.E. from Deep Impact, an acronym for "Extinction Level Event," certainly an appropriate monicker here). Unfortunately for Manny, however, Ellie has been raised by possums, and she believes herself to be one. As Manny tries to convince her otherwise, the group marches onward, in search of the migrating pack that they hope will lead them away from the end of the world. They'll face more comical trials and tribulations along the way, each character learning a little something about themselves, their world, and the importance of friendship and sticking together.
Ice Age: The Meltdown definitely offers up fewer laughs than its predecessor as the film takes on a slightly more serious tone. The action is also toned down, the enemy this time a pair of alligator-fish type creatures who dwell underwater, obviously putting our group in imminent danger as the ice melts and more water covers the Earth. A companion for Manny was a given in this film, and Queen Latifah provides an excellent and amusing foil to the character of Manny, especially while she believes herself to be a possum. Sid, of course, remains as lovable and foolhardy as ever, while Diego maintains his aura of toughness over a soft, well-mannered interior. Scrat also returns, getting himself into more misadventures in mere minutes than the entire cast of Ice Age has managed over two full-length films, and his presence solidifies both the film and the laughs. While Ice Age: The Meltdown is a slower, slightly less magical film than the first, it's a good, worthwhile film in its own right, one that should please most fans of the first movie.
Ice Age: The Meltdown Blu-ray, Video Quality
Fox thaws Ice Age: The Meltdown onto Blu-ray in a pristine, flawless 1080p high definition transfer. Framed at the same 1.85:1 ratio as its predecessor, this sequel sports a wonderful, superior image that manages to outshine the excellent transfer of the first film on Blu-ray. For starters, the animation looks and feels much more natural and lifelike in this film. Digital animation technology has definitely come a long way in the four years between Ice Age films, and I'm already eager to see how these characters will look in the third installment, coming next year. Color reproduction on this disc, as expected, is perfectly rendered in the digital environment, providing rich and pleasing hues across nearly the entire spectrum of the palette, evidenced on the many animals seen early in the film. The primary shades remain the same as those seen in the first film--blues, tans, and browns, but every color is really something to behold, and there are enough of them to make Crayola's big box of crayons jealous. The image is simply marvelous, and coming direct to you from the original digital source via Blu-ray, there is nary a hint of those pesky issues that can effect film stocks. The image is very deep and detailed, definitely appearing three dimensional, almost literally popping out of the screen and into your living room. This time around, fine attention to detail has been paid to the individual hairs on each character's hide, and they move about seamlessly and naturally, each individual one taking on a life of its own thanks to the talented digital artists who poured so much work into this film. Fox has delivered another top-quality transfer here, and their record of producing first-class Blu-ray discs keeps them right near the top of the list of best content providers on the format.
Ice Age: The Meltdown Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Matching the fine video transfer bit-for-bit is the excellent DTS-HD MA soundtrack that appears on this disc. It offers some very fine, deep bass, especially from falling and cracking ice, or when Ellie falls out of her tree. It's never overplayed, but rather sounds about as we would expect: loud, powerful, clear. The track is a bit weak in spots, failing to provide complete immersion, such as an underwater scene early on, but it's loud, active, and impressive nevertheless. Sound moves seamlessly from one speaker to the next, such as during a scene in chapter 6 where Scrat rolls around with his head stuck in ice, or as heard in chapter 13 as Manny whirls a tree trunk around the characters on-screen, and therefore around your circle of speakers as well. Dialogue reproduction is once again fantastic, and the voice actors are again at the top of their games, as they were in the first Ice Age film. Queen Latifah adds a bit of attitude and sweetness to the proceedings, and she fits right in with Romano, Leguizamo, and Leary. Fox yet again delivers a terrific listening experience with a great high definition DTS mix. Happy listening!
Ice Age: The Meltdown Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unlike its predecessor, Ice Age: The Meltdown comes with enough supplements, or in this case, "cool stuff," to keep fans busy for quite a while as they dig through several good features. First up are two commentary tracks. The first features director Carlos Saldanha. He discusses how working as co-director on the first film helped hone his skills in making a good sequel. We learn about the basics in making a competent, enjoyable sequel, the improvements in the look of the characters (especially the fur), and the creative challenges in keeping the characters "fresh and funny" the second time around. Saldanha goes over the writing of the film, the process of coming up with some of the jokes, and creating a more vast, complex world for the characters to interact in. For a solo effort, Saldanha does a very good job here, making for an enjoyable and informative track.
The second track is a "crew commentary" with producer Lori Forte, effects supervisor Robert Cavaleri, art director Tom Cardone, lighting supervisor Dave Esneault, senior lighting lead Andrew Beddini, supervising animator Jim Bresnahan, lead animator Aaron Hartline, animation technical lead Matt Simmons, annimation supervisor Galen Tan Chu, materials supervisor Michael Eringis, Chris Renaud from the story department, and supervising animator Mike Thurmeier. Whew. Needless to say, each person has a lot to contribute to the track, and frankly it's nearly impossible to keep up with who's who, but based on what they talk about you get a general idea of what each worked on. Fans of digital animation will have a blast listening to this one. It is a bit daunting at best and overwhelming at worst, but for anyone wanting to learn about how the film was made, this is one of the best tracks out there to listen to.
Delving into the rest of the supplements, we are first greeted by Meltdown Shorts, bringing us a feature entitled No Time For Nuts (1080p, 7:10), another fun Scrat adventure. Also under this subheading is Crash & Eddie Stunts & Outtake (1080p, 1:52), a series of four short scenes not found in the movie, each featuring the possums who raised Ellie from a teeny Mammoth. The animation on these is first-rate. Next up is The Animation Director's Chair, a series of six short scenes that allow the viewer to see the film in four separate stages--"storyboards," "layout," "animation," and "final." I really enjoyed this feature. It's easy to navigate and fascinating to see clips from the film in different stages of development. Moving along, Lost Historical Films is a series of six, 1950s-style documentaries, presented in 480p, about the creatures found in the film. These are obviously meant to be for nothing but laughs, and the style works. Another enjoyable feature.
Ice Age Arcade allows viewers to play two games in 1080p. The first, entitled Factoid Meltdown, asks viewers questions from the movie with clips from the film serving as clues, should you need them. The second game, Who's Your Buddy?, asks a series of questions with no right or wrong answer. When complete, you find out who your buddy is based on how you answered the questions. My buddy was Sid. Next is the Artist Gallery Channel, a feature that allows you to watch the film "with drawings, sketches, and renderings from the artists that created the movie." Viewers can turn this feature on and off by navigating through the pop-up menu. Scrat's Piranha Smackdown Sound Effects Lab lets viewers watch this now-classic scene with five different sound effects inserted into the scene--"animals," "car noises," "classic cartoons," "human noises," and "musical instruments." This is yet another very well-done extra. Next are 1080p trailers for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Fantastic Four, Planet of the Apes, and Ice Age. Finally, a now-redundant first look at The Simpsons Movie (1080p, 1:03) concludes this long, extensive, and enjoyable list of special features.
Ice Age: The Meltdown Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Though a bit slower paced and not quite as entertaining as the first film in the franchise, Ice Age: The Meltdown nevertheless sees the return of the same fantastic character set, each maturing before our eyes throughout the film. The laugh factor remains high, mostly thanks to Scrat and Sid, and the rest of the characters, both old and new, fill out the roster and together make a worthwhile sequel that's better than a lot of similar animated sequels. Fans of the movie and of the series should be ecstatic about adding this disc to their collection. It offers up a superior video and audio quality, as well as a heaping helping of extras that are fun and informative. Highly recommended!
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