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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Carlos Saldanha
Cast:
Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Queen Latifah, Will Arnett, Jay Leno, Chris Wedge
Writing Credits:
Gerry Swallow (and story), Peter Gaulke (and story), Jim Hecht

Tagline:
Kiss Your Ice Goodbye.

Synopsis:
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!

Box Office:
Budget
$80 million.
Opening Weekend
$68.033 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$195.329 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 11/21/2006

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Carlos Saldanha
• Audio Commentary with Producer Lori Forte, Art Director Thomas Cardone, Materials Supervisor Michael Eringus, Animation Supervisors James Bresnahan, Galen Tan Chu and Michael Thurmier, Effects Supervisor Robert V. Cavaleri, Lighting Supervisor David Esneault, Story Artist Chris Renaud, Lead Animator Aaron Hartline, Technical Animation Lead Matthew D. Simmons, and Senior Lighting Lead Andrew Beddini
• “Crash and Eddie Stunts”
• “No Time for Nuts” Short
• “The Animation Director’s Chair” Featurette
• “Meet Crash and Eddie” Featurette
• “Meet Ellie” Featurette
• “Lost Historical Films”
• “Scrat’s Piranha Smackdown Sound Effects Lab”
• Outtake Prank
• Silly Sid and John Leguizamo
• Music Montage
• Sloth Dancing to Sid’s Sing-Along
• “Marketing the Meltdown”
• Ice Age Arcade
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 31, 2006)

Back when Ice Age hit movie screens in the spring of 2002, it established that a studio other than Disney or DreamWorks could create a hit animated flick. To show they can keep up with the big boys, Fox produced a sequel, 2006’s Ice Age – The Meltdown, and it proved even more successful. While the original took in $176 million, Meltdown topped out with an impressive $195 million.

Too bad the sequel wasn’t nearly as good as its predecessor. Meltdown picks up on the adventures of characters from the first flick. These include Manny the wooly mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) and Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary). As was the case with the first movie, Manny remains depressed about the loss of his family. Other issues weigh on the group as well since it looks like the Ice Age is ending and everything will melt.

These two issues motivate much of the story. A local dam will soon bust and drown all the creatures that don’t immediately evacuate. They need to hike a fair distance in a short period of time to get to a boat and make it away from the flood. As an additional threat, some vicious aquatic beasts escape from the melting ice and chase after the evacuees.

Manny leads the way, and along their travels, he discovers he’s not the last of the wooly mammoths. He runs into another mammoth named Ellie (Queen Latifah). However, since possums raised her, she believes she’s one of their kind. Manny has to deal with that odd side of things to woo her and save the species. The movie follows their relationship as well as the march to survive the impending flood.

To say that the original Ice Age left me underwhelmed would be completely accurate. It offered mild entertainment but never became anything more involving than that. I came, I saw, I pretty much forgot about it.

With such modest heights to scale once again, it seems to me that Meltdown should have been able to equal the minor pleasures of its predecessor. Unfortunately, it disappoints. At least the original boasted something somewhat unusual in regard to setting and characters; the sequel can’t even claim anything new in those departments.

The story sure fails to explore any fresh ground. What was the message of the first movie? Family. What’s the message of the second movie? Family. The two flicks take somewhat different paths to explore their themes, but they don’t vary in truly substantial ways. They go down similar paths and end up in nearly identical places.

At only 90 minutes, Meltdown doesn’t sound like a long film. However, there’s “real time” and there’s “stuck in the theater time”. Although the movie spanned only 90 minutes real time, it came across as about 10 hours stuck in the theater time.

Hoo boy, does Meltdown drag! A lot of the problem stems from the lack of story inspiration. Meltdown rehashes the same “family” theme but it fails to involve all the characters very well. Manny and Ellie are clearly the focus of this one, so Sid and Diego get shunted to the sidelines. Sure, they have their own little subplots; Diego tries to conquer his fear of water while Sid finds a society of mini-sloths that worship him. Neither of those elements really goes anywhere, and they feel tacked on just to give those characters something to do.

In essence, Meltdown amounts to a long series of sight gags in search of a real story. It incorporates all sorts of wacky bits that fail to meld together well. Instead, the movie often comes across as a loose collection of shorts instead of one coherent flick.

And that’s what kills it. The film’s obsession with potty gags doesn’t help, but I could excuse that if Meltdown actually managed a moderately interesting plot or compelling characters. It prefers to just echo the uninspired original flick to become something even less interesting.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A / Bonus B+

Ice Age – The Meltdown appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I expected a strong presentation from Meltdown and that’s what I found.

No issues with sharpness occurred. The movie offered nicely crisp and detailed images from start to finish. If any softness marred the presentation, I couldn’t find it. Jagged edges and shimmering remained absent, and only a smidgen of edge enhancement appeared. I also found no source flaws.

Meltdown started with a chilly bluish-white palette but warmed up as the surface temperature increased. Much of the movie offered a nice natural look with lively greens and blues. Blacks came across as deep and rich, while shadows presented good clarity and visibility. This was a very satisfying transfer.

Even better, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Meltdown worked very well. With cracking ice and all sorts of action sequences, the movie boasted many opportunities to feature all five speakers. It did so quite well. Various effects elements zoomed around the room to create a fine sense of immersion. The pieces meshed together smoothly and transitioned well. Localization was clean and precise, and the score featured solid stereo imaging. The mix turned into a broad, encompassing piece.

Audio quality also was very good. Speech seemed crisp and distinctive, as I noticed no flaws like edginess. Music seemed warm and full, while effects added a real bang to the proceedings. Those elements showed good clarity and accuracy, and they offered tight, deep bass as well. The track seemed vibrant and dynamic as it accentuated the movie.

Ice Age – The Meltdown comes with a mix of extras. The main attractions come from two separate audio commentaries. The first presents director Carlos Saldanha in a running, screen-specific piece. He discusses challenges related to making a sequel, returning characters and new personalities, technical and animation issues, storytelling and editing, actors and performances, and other production topics.

Eternally chipper, Saldanha offers a very informative chat. He covers the appropriate material in a reasonably thorough manner and makes matters entertaining as well. Due to his sunny personality, I worried Saldanha would throw out tons of praise, but he avoids that trap. Instead, he focuses on the useful details in this excellent track.

For the second commentary, we hear from producer Lori Forte, art director Thomas Cardone, materials supervisor Michael Eringus, animation supervisors James Bresnahan, Galen Tan Chu and Michael Thurmier, effects supervisor Robert V. Cavaleri, lighting supervisor David Esneault, story artist Chris Renaud, lead animator Aaron Hartline, technical animation lead Matthew D. Simmons, and senior lighting lead Andrew Beddini. To my surprise, all of these folks sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion; with so many participants, I anticipated an edited affair.

The content of the commentary offers fewer surprises, though, as it covers expected subjects. We get notes about many technical issues. The track examines character design and animation, other visual decisions, story development and related choices, problems related to making a sequel, the film’s rushed production schedule, updating old characters and introducing new ones, and many nuts and bolts related to the execution of the material.

As I went into this track, I feared it’d be chaotic due to the number of participants. However, it works just fine. Forte acts as ringleader of sorts, and to my great surprise, no one ever interrupts or speaks over the others. They cover the topics in a concise and informative manner that helps make this a pretty good track. The subject matter means it occasionally can be a little dry, but it still offers a solid overview of animation techniques.

In addition to the commentaries, we find a slew of short video pieces. Crash and Eddie Stunts breaks down into three components: “Lava’s Leap” (0:21), “Dungball Dribble” (0:21) and “Peace Out Duel” (0:21). Each of these offers a short animated clip in which we watch the possum characters do some wacky activities. They’re mildly amusing at best.

The ever-popular Scrat reappears in a new short called No Time for Nuts. In this seven-minute and six-second cartoon, the squirrel comes across a time machine and chases nuts throughout the centuries. It’s a fairly effective twist on Scrat’s usual shenanigans.

For some multi-angle material, we go to The Animation Director’s Chair. This consists of six scenes from the movie: “Play Dead” (1:33), “Fish Story” (1:02), “Nuts” (1:45), “Family” (1:33), “Face Off” (1:27) and “Drain” (1:15). Four of the segments can be viewed in any of five modes: “Storyboard”, “Layout”, “Animation”, “Combo” and “Final”. “Fish Story” and “Nuts” drop the “Layout” option but include the other four. These let us see the scenes at various stages along the way toward completion. I like this kind of feature, as it gives us a fun way to inspect the animation processes.

Two quick character featurettes follow. We find Meet Crash and Eddie (2:04) and Meet Ellie (2:05). These act as quick promotional pieces to introduce us to the movie’s new characters. The clips include remarks from Saldanha, Forte, and character designer Peter De Seve. A couple of very minor design notes appear, but these pieces exist to promote the movie, so don’t expect much.

A collection of Lost Historical Films let us see more about the movie’s animals. We find “The Sloth” (2:01), “The Wooly Mammoth” (2:01), “The Saber-Toothed Squirrel” (1:49), “The Saber-Toothed Tiger” (1:26), “The Vulture” (1:22) and “The Possum” (1:24). These offer humorous fake educational programs, each of which features basics about the real-life critters and gags. This is a simple but fun feature, especially when we get narration from John Leguizamo for the “Sloth” entry.

Audio comes to the forefront in Scrat’s Piranha Smackdown Sound Effects Lab. This allows us to view the same 37-second clip of Scrat and some piranhas but with different effects for each one. It’s a moderately fun way to see how various audio elements affect the same piece of material.

Called Outtake Prank, a 17-second clip shows a bit the animators did for fun. It uses the possums in an alternate version of an existing scene. It’s insubstantial but cute.

A little info about actor and character appears in the six-minute and 56-second Silly Sid and John Leguizamo. It presents notes from Saldanha, executive producer Christopher Meledandri, character designer Peter de Seve, and actor John Leguizamo. We get information about the elements that make up Sid’s look as well as Leguizamo’s vocal performance. A few decent elements emerge, particularly when the actor reveals his methods in a comedic piece.

Next comes a 67-second Music Montage. It acts as something of a blooper reel since it shows rough animation, goofing around and promotional bits. It’s an odd piece but it’s worth a look.

Sloth Dancing to Sid’s Sing-Along goes for four minutes and 26 seconds. Leguizamo hosts as he demonstrates how to do the dance from the Fire King scene. Leguizamo contains to entertain here.

Two separate components appear in Marketing the Meltdown. “Scrat on Family Guy” features an 18-second snippet that indeed shows the squirrel as he interacts with Peter Griffin. It’s uninspired. “Sid Hosting Fox Animation Domination” breaks into eight pieces, each of which served to lead into Fox Sunday night series. These offer a series of amusing little promos.

In the Ice Age Arcade, we find four elements. “The Ice Age Factoid Meltdown” offers trivia questions about the movie, many of which are tough because they require you to notice real minutiae such as the number of times Sid’s name is said during that flick. At least they’re forgiving, so you can try again and again.

“Sid’s Soccer Challenge” has you pick spot in a goal so you can try to kick 10 balls past a dodo goalie. It’s random, pointless and not interesting. “Who’s Your Buddy?” has you choose from various options to figure out which character is your “buddy”. (Mine’s Sid.) Finally, “Video Game Memory Challenge” gives us two versions of the old “Concentration” game. They’re mildly entertaining, even if they do exist mainly to promote a videogame.

The DVD opens with a mix of promos. We get ads for Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, Home Alone, Cheaper By the Dozen 2 and Big Momma’s House 2. The disc also includes “First Look”, a spot that features a preview for A Night At the Museum and a “First Glimpse of The Simpsons Movie. This 62-second snippet shows rough animation and already appeared on the X-Men: The Last Stand DVD.

Although the original film offered only modest pleasures, Ice Age – The Meltdown couldn’t even live up to its minor legacy. Disjointed and rarely amusing, the sequel fails to stake out any interesting territory. The DVD presents very strong picture and audio along with a long roster of extras headlined by two useful audio commentaries. Fans will be pleased with this very good DVD release, but other animation fans should go for superior flicks like Over the Hedge or Cars, as they’re vastly more entertaining than this plodding dud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main