Retread editions always leave judge Joel Pearce cold.
A lot like the first edition, except with a blue case.
Although film buffs everywhere complain about the ongoing epidemic of unnecessary sequels and remakes, every few weeks another high profile retread arrives in theaters, ignoring the fact that we're all getting tired of them. A side effect of this epidemic is the needless stream of DVD re-issues and minor upgrades. Do we need another Ice Age DVD? Is this one any better than the original release that already sits on shelves all over the continent?
For the two of you who haven't yet seen Ice Age, it is the story of three mammals on the onset of the ice age (it's true!), trying to rescue a human child. The driving force behind this adventure is Sid (John Leguizamo, Land of the Dead), a dopey sloth who has been abandoned by his family during the southern migration. He is reluctantly rescued by Manny (Ray Romano, Everybody Loves Raymond), a lone mammoth inexplicably headed north. They rescue the child from Diego (Denis Leary, Rescue Me), a saber tooth tiger with a hidden agenda. The three head northward, attempting to reach the humans before a mountain pass closes for winter.
The good news is that Ice Age has aged pretty well. I enjoyed it quite a bit when it first came out, and it's aged better than some of the other family movies from the same stretch of time. While Shrek isn't much fun to rewatch, this film is full of classic and childish humor, and moves at a truly breakneck pace. This success is mainly thanks to a very slick script, as well as animation that relies on personality rather than technical brilliance.
The witty dialogue between the main characters is the main thing that separates Ice Age from more mundane recent animated features. John Leguizamo, in particular, has never been funnier than this, forming Sid into one of the most hilarious characters ever. Denis Leary holds his own as the slightly threatening but mostly just really sarcastic Diego. Ray Romano is the weak link here (because not everyone loves Raymond), but he delivers his usual performance. While the film has a level of sarcasm usually reserved for British comedy, its makers also keep the tone light throughout, and the comic timing is perfect. Only a few of the jokes fall flat, and they are quickly overwhelmed by the flurry of great comedy.
The animation is also great—not because it was groundbreaking in 2002, but because it still looks good in 2006. The Fox animation studio knew that they wouldn't be able to deliver the same level of detail as Pixar or Dreamworks, so they decided to give Ice Age a unique look and style instead. It still looks fantastic. The characters move convincingly, and stretch just like the old Warner cartoons—only in 3D. The creators used this to deliver some truly inspired physical comedy. Watching Sid trying to fall asleep on a rock is funny, thanks to the ingenuity of the animators. The ongoing misadventures of Scrat are also hilarious.
So, while the film still holds up well, what really matters is the question of the necessity of this new "Super-Cool Edition." Like the original edition, it arrives on two discs and offers a choice between a widescreen and full screen transfer of the film. It's the exact same transfer as last time, which isn't a problem because it was already a great looking and sounding disc. The commentary track is still here as well. There is a "Nutty Movie Mode," but all it does is incorporate the deleted scenes from the original disc into the film.
The second disc is crammed with additional content, but most of it is carried over from the original. "Gone Nutty" is still here, as are the animation studies and other featurettes. In fact, this disc is almost identical. There is a trailer for the sequel, though, as well as an "Extreme Cool View" version of Ice Age. The film plays in a small part of the screen, and facts about the film and the actual ice age are played along the bottom. In a lot of ways, this is far more entertaining and useful than a commentary track, and does prove to be worth watching.
It is, however, not a good enough reason to upgrade to this new disc. We've been seeing a lot of completely unnecessary DVD releases lately, and this belongs on the top of the list. If you don't have either yet, grab whichever you can for cheapest. Ice Age is still a fun movie, but this disc is a blatant money grab. The low score is for the repetition, not the quality of the package (which is very high).
Blue Sky productions makes me laugh, so they are free to go. Fox gets a slap upside the head for wasting my time and consumers' money.
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Scales of Justice
• Commentary Track by Director Chris Wedge and Co-Director Carlos Saldanha
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