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Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009) Print E-mail
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Image“Ice Age” became an animated phenomenon back in 2002.  Immediately, the characters became loved by children.  The success of the first film led to a sequel in 2006, which was slightly less popular than the original.  This setback did not deter Fox from creating a third Ice Age film.  Unfortunately, this latest film seems to be running on fumes.

“Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” is closely tied with “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”  Ellie is pregnant, Sid longs for a family of his own and Diego is growing old and wants to leave the “herd.”  When Sid steals three dinosaur eggs, trouble ensues.

The mom T-Rex dino comes searching for her babies.  She kidnaps her kids, along with Sid and takes them back to her lair.  The herd follows the dino into a cave that leads to an underground paradise, filled with all the extinct dinosaurs.  While there, the herd meets Buck, a pirate wannabe.  Buck helps the gang find his friend.  The journey is not the most exciting, and laughs are few and far between.  Chances are, that children are not going to understand half of what is said.  Children will definitely be in it for the colors.

This third Ice Age film is not a total bust.  Buck is a great character that brings a bit more excitement to the screen, especially when dealing with Manny’s boring tone.  The film’s biggest fault is the lack of cohesion.  The overall film feels more like a bunch of individual segments.  In the case of this film, each of the characters is limited in story.  There is no depth to this film or the characters.

As a top-notch animated film, the Blu-ray transfer comes with an MPEG-4 AVC encode and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  The transfer is flawless.  The details are simply amazing.  Individual hairs are excellently defined.  Edges are also clean and crisp.  Colors are bolder than ever.  The contrast and saturation levels are terrific.  Blacks are deep and perfect.  There is simply no artifacting of any kind.  If I had any complaint with this video it would be the overall depth of the image.  Note, this is not a problem with the transfer.  It is a stylistic choice in the animation process.  However, transfer-wise, this is a perfect video presentation.

While the video track is stunning, the audio track is less than thrilling.  Fox provides a DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track, that is yet another useless 7.1 track.  It may as well be a 5.1 audio track.  The mix is largely front heavy, which is utterly disappointing.  The dialogue feels a bit weak, lacking the low-mid frequencies.  The LFE output is substantial at times, but falls short during other moments in the film.  Dynamics are decent.  Surround activity is hit or miss.  There are a few more active sequences that utilize the surround channels.  Panning is accurate.  However, effects fill out of place in the surrounds.  They come and go at random, creating a lack of cohesion.  Overall, this is a good audio track, but is far from the standard set by many other animated features.
The Blu-ray comes with a substantial supplements package, especially when looking at the back of the box.  While not all the features are interesting, there is generally something for everyone on this disc.  The first feature is an audio commentary with a handful of the filmmakers, including producers, directors and art designers.  This is a fairly bland commentary that should be reserved for true fans of the film.  “Evolution Expanded” is a 20-minute segment that attempts to involve some science with the film’s clips to create a somewhat educational featurette.  “Buck: From Easel to Weasel” takes a look at the creation of Buck.  “Falling for Scratte” examines the creation of the Scrat’s new love interest.  There are also four featurettes that focus on Scrat’s character.  “Unearthing the Lost World” covers the themes of the film.  Storybook Maker allows viewers to create a scrapbook of sorts.  However, this feature is fairly difficult to navigate so young children will require help.  There are a handful of Fox featurettes that examine the voice talents and characters of the film.  There are two Scrat short films, which are quite entertaining.  There are two unfinished deleted scenes.  There is a music video and a feature called Live Lookup, which pulls information from IMdb, also available on the disc.  This is a three-disc set.  The second disc is a standard DVD copy of the film.  The third disc is a Digital Copy of the film.

“Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” doesn’t have the greatest story or structure, but kids will be entertained by the great video transfers.  The audio leaves something to be desired, but all in all this is a good release.  I definitely recommend it for fans, but others might want to rent it first.

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