This new Blu-ray release of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs comes with both a 2D and a 3D disc and both versions share the same pristine digital transfer. The film retains the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and the 1080p24 transfer uses an absolutely stunning AVC encoded picture that was taken directly from the digital source. The 2D version renders motion wonderfully and the disc perfectly captures all the detail of both the design of the film and the animation of the characters, from the fur on Scrat to the scales on the dinosaurs. The colour palette is warm and rich with a painting like characteristic and whilst the colours often appear pastel in hue, which creates an overall softening effect, the resolution always renders a sharp and clear image. Whites are also nicely reproduced which is just as well considering all the ice on display and whilst the image is largely free of artefacts, there is occasionally some slight banding.
However the film was designed with 3D in mind and as such that remains the best way to watch it. The image is extremely dimensional, perfectly communicating the original 3D framing and design, which is extraordinary. The filmmakers expertly use the 3D format to both enhance and advance the story, always keeping the effects within a conservative depth budget. This means that the film is free of gimmicky 3D effects and the added dimensionality never draws attention to itself in an unnatural way. As with the 2D image, motion is handled well and whilst the transfer is free of crosstalk, the extensive use of ice means a lot of objects are against a white background so the disc could be a good test for how well your 3D display can reproduce images without introducing crosstalk. Overall this is an absolutely reference picture in both 2D and 3D, with images that are beautifully animated with bold colours and exceptional detail, all of which means that Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs provides for an outstanding visual experience regardless of which format you watch it in.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1-channel soundtrack for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is the same for both the 2D and the 3D versions and is a wonderfully spatial experience with active surrounds and a very dimensional sound field. The orchestral music score is well recorded with a wide and deep soundstage that extends to the side channels and back to the rear channels for an enveloping experience. Of course being an animated feature all the dialogue is ADR produced and is always intelligible but could be better integrated spatially because often there are no supporting atmospheric sound effects for the dialogue. However when sound effects are present they are very effective and atmospheric, especially thunder and rain and the roars of the dinosaurs. Bass extension is deep and powerful right down to 25Hz in the LFE channel, which provides an effective low-frequency foundation for the overall sound design. However quite often this sound design collapses to the front three channels without enough support in the surrounds, whilst at other times the surrounds are used quite aggressively. When the surrounds are being used to direct sounds around the room, often in support of elements of the picture that are utilising the 3D very effectively, the impact is incredibly immersive. Unfortunately whilst the fidelity is excellent, the frequent absence of sound effects in the surrounds, aside from the music, robs the film of some of its atmosphere and this is a little disappointing.
These are the same extras that were included with the original Blu-ray release of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, most of them are in high definition with the exception of the Fox Movie Channel featurettes that were produced in standard definition. This four disc set includes the 3D Blu-ray, the previously released standard 2D Blu-ray, a DVD copy and a Digital Copy.
- Filmmakers Commentary - This is a reasonably enjoyable commentary track that includes the director Carlos Saldanha and the co-director Michael Thurmeier, as well as the producer Lori Forte and the designer Peter de Seve. They talk about designing, casting and animating the film, as well as providing numerous anecdotes and friendly banter.
- Evolution Expedition (HD, 18:23) - This featurette is about various extinct Ice Age animals and whilst it is reasonably informative it is also clearly aimed at children. It includes interviews with various scientists as well as look at the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles. The featurette takes a look at most of the extinct animals that appear in the movie, as well as their modern day equivalents.
- Buck: From Easel to Weasel (HD, 7:11) - This featurette concentrates on the development, design and animation of Buck who is the main new character in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. There are interviews with the designer and animators, as well as Simon Pegg who provides Buck’s voice.
- Unearthing the Lost World (HD, 8:38) - This featurette is about the movie in general and specifically the concept of a lost world. It covers the development of the idea, as well as the design and creation of the lost world itself and the animation of the dinosaurs that inhabit it.
- Unfinished Deleted Scenes (HD, 4:30) - The first deleted scene is presented as an animatic made using the storyboards and the voice track. It involves Crash and Eddie on a mission to get a crystal within a spider’s web, done in the style of the Mission Impossible movies. It is difficult to see exactly where this would have fitted within the story because there is no related sequence in the finished film. The second deleted scene is also presented as an animatic made using the storyboards and the voice track. It features the head butting dinosaurs seen in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park: The Lost World who are triggered into a mating ritual by a red leaf carried by Crash and Eddie. The male dinosaurs all head butt each other until only one is left standing, who then wants to mate with Ellie. There follows a matador sequence with Buck using the red leaf to deal with the final amorous male dinosaur.
- Walk the Dinosaur (HD, 1:31) - This is the music video for the song recorded by Queen Latifah for the movie’s soundtrack and it is made up of clips from the film.
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with John Leguizamo (SD, 2:51) - This short promotional piece contains an interview with John Leguizamo where he talks about working on the third film and how his character of Sid the sloth has developed.
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Ray Romano (SD, 3:21) - This short promotional piece contains an interview with Ray Romano where he talks about working on the third film and how his character of Manny the mammoth has developed.
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Queen Latifah (SD, 3:06) - This short promotional piece contains an interview with Queen Latifah where she talks about working on the third film and how her character of Ellie the mammoth has developed.
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene (SD, 9:10) - This featurette deals with the writing, designing, voicing and animating of the carnivorous flower sequence.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is an enjoyable animated romp that includes some genuinely funny scenes and quite a bit of excitement. Whilst new characters like Simon Pegg’s Buck can be rather annoying, the partnership of Sid the sloth and Diego the sabre-toothed tiger remain genuinely charming. The plot is fairly basic but the quality of the animation is excellent and the slightly cartoonish look perfectly matches the comedic nature of the film. The implementation of the 3D is superb with some very clever design that effectively utilises the added dimensionality and an impressive degree of restraint when it comes to the use of negative parallax images.
This Blu-ray release is a four disc set that includes both the 2D and the 3D versions of the film and the picture quality on both is superb. The reference transfer is made from a digital source and as such is perfect with well defined colours, no banding or artefacts and a remarkable level of resolution and detail. However, regardless of the quality of the 2D disc, the 3D version remains the preferred way of watching the film, providing an incredibly immersive experience. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1-channel soundtrack doesn’t quite live up to the video, with the immersive score and well recorded dialogue being let down by a lack of atmospheric effects and surounds that could have been more aggressive. Whilst there is a reasonable number of extras, they are largely aimed at children and as such are somewhat lightweight. Overall though these complaints are minor and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs offers a marvelous package that will be sure to entertain all the family, whether in 2D or 3D.
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