Ice Age

Ice Age (1996)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Dennis Leary
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Short Film, Teaser & Trailer

Though not exactly know as a studio that produces a lot of animated features, occasionally 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment does have such a film in their repertoire. The original "Ice Age" is such a film, and after having spawned a decent sequel as well as a number of home video incarnations, the original "Ice Age" is finally available on Blu-Ray Disc also with many of the cool bonus materials intact.

Earth is on the brink of a new ice age and all the animals migrate south to find warmer climates. However for some animals things don't go as smoothly as expected. Sid, a simple-minded sloth, simply oversleeps the departure of his family – and no one bothered to wake him – and finds himself alone and forgotten. Soon he is facing dangers he never knew existed in two rhinos, but a woolly mammoth named Wally protects him. Immediately Sid makes himself Manny's constant companion on their lonely trail south. One day they come across a small group of human hunters. Their campsite is attacked by a pack of sabretooth tigers. In an attempt to rescue her baby, a mother flees the site but drowns in a river. Manny and Sid manage to rescue the baby and decide to return it to the humans, and thus a perilous quest begins.

"Ice Age" is entirely computer animated and quickly shows its attention to detail and high production values. In a time when many filmmakers and studios have the tendency to slap some cheap computer-rendered stuff together, it is great to see that there are filmmakers who completely understand the medium, its capabilities and limitations. "Ice Age" utilizes some of the great lessons learned in traditional cel animation and uses computer rendering technology as a tool, not as a focal point. Upon viewing the movie the story, the characters and the overall atmosphere create a dense, entertaining experience with the technology never distracting from the film.

The art direction of the movie is beautiful and the film offers some great vistas and imaginative creatures with great personalities. Colors schemes are perfectly put together for a rich visual experience while the animation and details always create an organic blend.

In addition to all the technology behind this movie I think one of the most appealing aspects of "Ice Age" is its sense of humor. It is never flat or shallow and it never gets old. I have seen this movie countless times and I still get a kick of the little slapstick gimmicks and John Leguizamo's wonderful voice acting in the movie every single time. The dynamics between the characters have been wonderfully fleshed out, making sure each character adds value to the overall story.

Presented on this Blu-Ray Disc you will find an AVC-encoded widescreen transfer of the movie in 1080p resolution, and let me tell you, it is nothing short of brilliant. Coming straight from the original digital source, there are no mars in the transfer of course, and the level of detail is simply stunning. Most impressive however is the color reproduction of the movie. With some of the most subtle color-gradients and shades the transfer brings out the best in "Ice Age" in every single shot. In a movie that consists mostly of white and blue tones – snow, water and sky – it is great to see just how perfectly these colors can be reproduced when treated properly. Add to it the subtle texture details that Chris Wedge and his team have added to every frame of the movie and you have a wonderful animated presentation that will glue you in front of the screen.

Not getting skimpy with the audio, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has also added a DTS 5.1 Master Lossless Audio track to the release making sure the film will convince in every department. From the great music to the subtle ambient noises and the sound effects, the track is wonderfully transparent and directional at all times. The track's frequency response if meticulous and manages to reproduces everything from the lowest rumbles to the highest harmonics without distortion. Equally, the dynamic range of the track is flawless with very good reproduction of the subtle moments as well as the most explosive scenes in the film. Well, after all, it is the original master track of the film, so what did you expect?

A commentary track by director Chris Wedge and co-director Carlos Saldanha that has been culled from the DVD version is also part of the release. It offers some exciting insight in to the production of such an ambitious and well-designed computer animated film. Fans of the genre will find plenty of information in their conversation as they shed light on many technical aspects as well as production issues in general.

The hilarious short film "Scrat's Missing Adventure" is also included on the disc. Running about 5 minutes it gives us some more of the hilarious antics of this little rodent in action.

In addition, six deleted scenes can also be found on this release, all of them with optional director's commentary.

The movie's teaser and trailer are also included, rounding out the disc.

Although the release is not quite as packed as the Special Edition DVD version was, "Ice Age" has a lot going for it on Blu-Ray, simply because the feature presentation is breathtakingly beautiful. "Ice Age" is a very cool movie – excuse the pun but it is in place I believe. It is entertaining and very funny, and it is beautiful to behold, masterfully crafted. "Ice Age" is definitely a Blu-Ray Disc you need to take a look at. Take it from me, and I don't be a Sloth.