There's no question that when it comes to animated movies Ice Age tops my list. Yes, I place it above Toy Story, The Incredibles and pretty much any Disney movie. I know I'm going to raise a lot of eyebrows by saying that, and probably the ire of some friends, but that's my opinion, not yours. The sequel, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, I also loved - although it ever so slightly loses that extra spark. Sid is still the highlight of the movie with some exceptional one liners while the inclusion of Ellie brings a bit more heart to the movie. Having said that I wasn't keen on the section where the vultures sing "Food, Glorious Food", but I absolutely loved when Sid get's kidnapped by the mini-sloth’s to be sacrificed as the Fire God!
Overall this presentation is simply sublime. The additional detail you see - particularly with the fur on the many characters and especially on Scrat's tail in the opening sequence and his many other appearances as well as the fur on Manny and Ellie is glorious. Having said that there was the occasional moment when I felt that there wasn't quite as much sharpness in the transfer as one would have expected - Ellie's fur occasionally looks a little flat for one, but it's only in the occasional scene and rarely detracts from the overall experience.
One of the greatest things about a CG movie is that every little sound, line of dialogue, and piece of music has been recorded in recording studios to provide the utmost clarity. Indeed while we could only decode the DTS-HD track at 1.5Mbps it was a sensational audio experience with plenty of surround use and a lively sound field throughout.
Commentary with director Carlos Saldanha:
This is quite an interesting directors commentary which has been carried over from the DVD release. Carlos discusses in some detail the process of making the movie on both a technical and creative level. Certainly worth a listen.
Also carried over from the DVD release this is another quite interesting commentary with twelve of the key crew who worked on the movie. There's a lot of people here and while it does become a little confusing as to who is talking there is a lot of technical information provided with a wide range of topics discussed at a fairly non-stop pace.
No Time For Nuts (7:07/HD):
A short movie focusing on Scrat and his adventure as he time travels to save his nut! The video quality, while not quite up to the feature movie is still superb, while the movie only includes 2-channel audio. A fun addition which has a nice video upgrade over the DVD release.
Crash and Eddie Stunts and Outtakes (1:20/HD):
A couple of short outtakes from Crash and Eddie. Pretty funny but extremely brief and questionable inclusion as an "Extra" - more suited to 4 x 20 second Easter Eggs on the disc really.
The Animation Directors Chair (HD):
A pretty good inclusion. After selecting from six different scenes in the movie you are presented with window showing the Storyboards, Layout, Animation and Final on the left side of the screen, but can then switch between each for viewing in a larger window. Quite a good use of multi-angle on Blu-Ray.
Smackdown Sound Effects Lab:
The scene where Scrat attacks the Piranhas is played with one of five different sound effects tracks. They're pretty entertaining and certainly make you think about just how much a movie could change with a different sound theme. Short but fun.
Two mini-games. One is a rather tough trivia based game while the second determines who would be your buddy from the movie. Simplistic but fairly well developed.
Lost Historical Student Films on the Ice Age Period:
A series of six short films that give some brief backgrounds to the various species of characters. Each of the movies is between 1 and 2 minutes long, presented in Standard Definition with 192kbps stereo sound, but are worth a look for some entertainment value.
Artists Gallery Channel:
This extra is one which didn't appear on the original DVD release of Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. While playing the movie you have an option for a small window in the bottom left of the screen to display many of the drawings used to storyboard the movie before it was turned into CG. It's quite remarkable closely the final product stays to these images - with new ones appearing on screen every few seconds. Combine this with one of the audio commentaries and it really becomes a wonderful Behind the Scenes look at how much goes into making this film.
Review By: Dave Warner