Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    BLURAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)

    Ray Romano as MANNY
    John Leguizamo as SID
    Denis Leary as DIEGO
    Seann William Scott as CRASH
    Josh Peck as EDDIE
    Queen Latifah as ELLIE
    Simon Pegg as BUCK

    Rated PG
    Studio: 20th Century Fox

    Directed by: Carlos Saldanha

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In the third installment of the popular “Ice Age” series, Manny and Ellie the mammoths are pregnant, and Manny is freaking out about it. Sid the sloth is feeling a bit left out, so he tries to find a new family and stumbles on a few mysterious eggs. Soon, Diego the saber-toothed cat goes looking for Sid with Manny and Ellie, finding themselves trapped in an underground jungle where dinosaurs still walk the earth. With the help from a mentally unbalanced weasel named Buck, the Ice Age gang tries to find a way back to the surface.

“Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” was released in theaters in 3D, which was really pretty awesome to behold. A lot of the animation still holds up on a home video release, and the hi-def experience looks fantastic, especially in the action sequences.

This sequel holds together better than the previous one, “Ice Age: The Meltdown.” There’s a driving story with Manny and Ellie trying to bring Sid back into the fold. The characters don’t split up as much as they did in the second film, and while Diego doesn’t have as strong of a story, it works because he’s really just there to support Manny emotionally.

Of course, the coolest thing about this sequel is the use of dinosaurs, which is always a winner for kids. Although the overall concept is a bit forced (and what sequel isn’t, I ask you), it plays rather well, borrowing from movies like “The Lost World” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth” to spin the dinosaur storyline.

The best character in the whole film is actually Buck, voiced by the brilliant Simon Pegg. Where Sid was the slapstick center of attention in previous films, Buck really steals the show with his cultured zaniness.

And no “Ice Age” film would be complete without the antics of Scrat, which continue to be the best part of the show. And Scrat actually gets some depth of character as he courts the sultry Scratte and shows a softer side before being entangled in a love triangle with her and an acorn.

There was a certain disappointment I felt watching the film at home rather in the theater with the brilliant modern 3D set-up. Still, I’m somewhat happy that the DVD and Blu-ray didn’t come with a 3D presentation because the blue-red anaglyph glasses for home viewing really just ruin things now that I’m used to digital 3D.

The story isn’t as cohesive as the first film, but that’s to be expected for a series with such disparate characters. I am pretty impressed, however, at how the writers have managed to keep everyone in relative focus over the years.

The Blu-ray release includes the film in high definition as well as a standard definition DVD and digital copy disc. The Blu-ray disc includes everything from the double disc pack on DVD that is available, including the additional Scrat materials in the “Scrat Pack.”

Special features include a filmmakers’ commentary, a storybook maker widget, unfinished deleted scenes, Queen Latifah’s “Walk the Dinosaur” music video and several featurettes: “Evolution Expedition” which compares the creatures in the movie with real-life prehistoric animals, “Buck: From Easel to Weasel” which features the development of Simon Pegg’s character and “Unearthing the Lost World” which discusses how the underground world was developed.

Additional “Fox Movie Channel Presents” segments are included from the “Ice Age: The Meltdown” DVD release. These include a “Making a Scene” segment and “In Character” spots for John Leguizamo, Ray Romano and Queen Latifah. There’s also a BD-Live feature which allows for Live Look-up, a picture-in-picture link to IMDb information about the film.

The “Scrat Pack” features from the second DVD disc are also included on the Blu-ray disc. This includes two previous Scrat shorts – “Gone Nutty” and “No Time for Nuts.” Additional Scrat features include a featurette on the saber-toothed squirrel, a drawing tutorial, a spotlight on Scratte and a couple fake news clips about Scrat being released from a block of ice.

Families and kids that like dinosaurs (which is all of them).

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