Plot: What’s it about?
The Ice Age has been a cold, brutal period, but now, the sun still shines and plenty of life continues to blossom. Syd (voiced by John Leguizamo) has tried to open a camp for young children, but they beat him up rather than respect him. The water slides and pools are all the rage, thanks to some melted ice, but Diego (voiced by Denis Leary) stays on dry land since he can’t swim. At the same time, Manny (voiced by Ray Romano) has started to become concerned that he is the last of the wooly mammoths, since no one seen another one in quite some time. As always, Scrat remains single minded and is consumed by acorns, risking life and limb whenever he has the chance to acquire one. As serene as this all sounds, danger looms over everyone, as the ice continues to melt and floods seem imminent. The valley is surrounded by water held back by thin ice dams, so after a close call, the herds head toward the far end of the valley. So the journey begins and while Manny, Diego, and Syd start out on their own, they soon pick up new traveling companions. Manny is stunned to find a female mammoth named Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), but she is convinced she is a possum and her possum brothers cause more trouble than they’re worth. As this unusual caravan heads towards the end of the valley, will Manny ever be able to convince her she’s a mammoth and even if he can, will the group be able to escape the inevitable flood that is soon to be unleashed?
The original Ice Age had some very cool visuals and interesting characters, but was weighed down by a much too serious vibe. I know these kids movies need to try to warm hearts, but Ice Age suffered because the filmmakers pushed too hard. In this sequel, much of the melodrama is replaced with danger and in the end, I found this follow up to be better than the original. This time around, the writing seems more free and more risks are taken, some work and some fail a dismal death. The core group of talent returns and as before, all give fine performances and John Leguizamo steps up his presence. He is given more chance to let loose and he takes advantage, with the movie’s best performance. The new characters tossed in work too, especially the possum brothers, who liven up quite a few scenes. My favorite character from the original was Scrat and he is given a lot more time in this sequel, which I appreciated. The movie can still be heavy handed at times, but most of the time, the movie is lighter and more fun than the original. I still wouldn’t rank it with the best new wave animation out there, but Ice Age: The Meltdown is more than solid. So if you’re in need of a new movie the entire family can enjoy, then this movie is well recommended.
Video: How does it look?
Ice Age: The Meltdown is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a dynamic, impressive presentation, with only a few minor quibbles involved. On the bad side, the color transitions have a hiccup or two at times, but nothing too serious. Even so, fans are probably expecting near perfection from Blu-ray, so minor issues are still worth a mention. The colors simply shine here, with some of the boldest, richest hues I’ve seen, the entire spectrum looks incredible. I found contrast to be excellent also, with deep blacks and no detail lost in the shadows. As far as sharpness, this is a refined and razor sharp presentation, with the animation looking simply marvelous throughout. If you want to show off your new home theater, Ice Age: The Meltdown would be a great choice, as the visuals are sure to dazzle.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio isn’t quite as grand as the visual elements, but the included DTS HD soundtrack is more than solid and provides a superb experience. The movie has a lot of dialogue and lower key sequences, so the audio isn’t a full frontal assault in terms of surround presence. But there are ample scenes that put the speakers to the test and without fail, it all sounds excellent. There is power when needed and directional presence when needed, so all the bases are covered here. I wouldn’t rank this as a demo disc as far as audio is concerned, but the material is handled quite well. The dialogue is crystal clear and never suffers, while background elements come through well also. This disc also includes Spanish and French soundtracks, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This is the same assortment of extras found on the DVD version, so all the goodies remain intact. An audio commentary track features director Carlos Saldanha, who is joined by various members of the production staff. The session is lively and has very little downtime, as someone always has a tidbit or two of information to share. Saldanha guides the track at times, but everyone provides insight, so the session offers numerous perspectives. You can also check out the bonus short No Time For Nuts with the lovable Scrat, or view the evolution of a scene, from storyboard to finished product. A special look at how the new characters were developed is also here, as is a featurette on the marketing process, so quite a varied assortment. This disc also includes some outtakes, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.