Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 43.1 GB
Film Size: 29.2 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: A

Video
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. It's no surprise that this Blu-ray release looks fantastic. The presentation features such a clear upgrade from DVD, and sports a fantastic amount of detail.

Colors are always impressive, they are very rich and vibrant, and always leap off the screen. The transfer also features a great amount of 3D pop, some that comes with the clear intent of releasing the film theatrically in 3D.

I do have a few complaints though, and this is more with the actual source than it is with the Blu-ray transfer. While the characters themselves feature great textures, I found the quality surprisingly lacking in the actual environments at times. I say at times because in the majority of scenes the quality is significantly better, making some of the weaker scenes look quite rushed overall.

To be honest some of the environments looked very mediocre, particularly towards the beginning. I find most recent animated releases to be much more impressive visually simply because the clear attention to detail is always present.

The Blu-ray transfer itself will find nobody disappointed, as it's clearly accurate to the source and presented without a flaw. The actual look and style of the film will keep this slightly behind the best animated Blu-ray releases, but certainly makes for great demo material regardless. 9/10.

Audio
A 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included, which I believe is a first for a Fox Home Entertainment release. The audio is very strong, I was particularly impressed with the high quality of direction the mix had. The release made full use of the surround speakers to create an environment for the film, as well as providing different character perspectives.

During one scene we are viewing from the eyes of Diego, the surround speakers are used perfectly to show distance from the screen where he is viewing as well by making him breathe from the rear speakers. Dialogue was always impressive, providing the perfect clarity we have come to expect from most new release films.

There are a few times I felt the track lacked that extra power it could have had during certain scenes, particularly the dinosaur scenes. It was still very good and had a great quality to it, I was just left hoping for a bit more.

Overall I was very impressed by the track, it had a great dynamic use, and hopefully we see more 7.1 lossless mixes from Fox in the future. The track creates a fantastic environment, and I really believe the additional speaker use benefited the mix greatly. 9/10.

Extras

Filmmaker Commentary

Live Lookup (BD-Live)
Obtain up-to-date actor filmographies and information related to Ice Age 3 via IMDB, powered by BD-Live.

Ice Age Storybook Maker
This activity starts by selecting a certain age group. The include age groups are Bronze Age (ages 1-5), Stone Age (ages 6-11) and Ice Age (ages 12+). You can take pictures from different scenes, place them where you want in your storybook and added text which varies depending on which age you selected at the beginning. It's a cute activity for kids, but I can see it getting old very quickly.

Evolution Expedition (18:25) (HD)
Trevor Valle, an assistant lab supervisor at the George C. Page Museum, talks about some of the Ice Age mammals, including modern day examples of life. Luis Chiappe, the Director of the Dinosaur Institute Natural History Museum talks about some of the dinosaurs featured in the film. This is a fairly informative feature that I'm sure kids will actually enjoy watching and learning quite a bit.

Buck: From Easel To Weasel (7:12) (HD)
A feature all about the new Weasel character 'Buck.' They talk about the creation process of the character, as well as the casting process for the voice of 'Buck.'

Unearthing The Lost World (8:41) (HD)
Cast and crew interviews on returning for Ice Age and the challenges of making the film fit with the first two but adding much more. The crew talks about the added dinosaurs in the film, and how they kept them from being too scary for kids.

Unfinished Deleted Scenes (4:34) (HD)
Two deleted scenes are included, clearly in very early stages of production.

'Walk The Dinosaur' Music Video (1:32) (HD)
The song used in the film is turned into a music video featuring lots of different clips from the film.

Scrat Shorts (11:54) (HD)
Included are 'Gone Nutty - Scrat's Missing Adventure' and 'No Time For Nuts.'

The Saber-Toothed Squirrel: Nature's Nutty Buddy (1:49) (SD)
A very short 'education' film about Scrat, like those old black-and-white educational videos you would watch in school.

Scrat: From Head To Toe (8:24) (SD)
A learn how to draw Scrat tutorial.

Scratt "Breaking Story" (1:49) (SD)
a breaking story about the discovery of Scrat.

Scratt: "News Story" (2:30) (SD)
A fake news story about Scrat that attempts to be funny.

Falling For Scratte (8:30) (HD)
All about Scratte, Scratt's female counterpart in the film.

Fox Movie Channel Specials (27:53) (SD)
Quite a few different specials from the Fox Movie Channel, all promoting the latest Ice Age adventure.

Trailers (1:59) (HD)
A trailer for 'The Pink Panther 2', which is also available on Blu-ray.

DVD Copy of the film

Digital Copy of the film
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.

Extras on this release are mostly aimed at kids, but adults can certainly enjoy the featurettes as well. The inclusion of a DVD and Digital Copy on a release like this though is terrific, and I'm sure every parent can appreciate the inclusion of them. It definitely makes the decision to buy the Blu-ray release much easier. 8/10.

Blu-news Summary
I really like the Ice Age films, the characters are fun and we have seen the characters develop over the past two films. This film was certainly a box office hit for FOX, and it's not just because of great marketing. The story itself is very good, and the writing and animation teams have kept this film from being one of the many generic animated releases theatrically in the past years.

The addition of the dinosaurs was a great idea, these films were never about accuracy so it certainly works well. Fans of the previous two will enjoy the film very much and there's no doubt your kids will absolutely love this film. 8/10.

The Blu-ray release is great, featuring very good video and audio. Extras are also very solid, particularly the inclusion of a DVD and Digital Copy of the film. This Blu-ray release is 'Highly Recommended' to those with children, and certainly 'Worth A Look' to those without.

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