The 'Ice Age' gang is back for the third installment in the series. You pretty much know what you're getting yourself into now: A film geared mainly towards children, but one that contains some adult oriented humor so you're not completely bored. 'Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs' does what it sets out to do, nothing more. It's slightly more action oriented than the other 'Ice Age' films, and boasts a colorful new character voiced by Simon Pegg.
As the film opens, Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano) and his wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) are about to have a baby. Manny is in full blown overprotective father mode. He's even made a baby proofed playground. Diego (Dennis Leary) is beginning to feel like he doesn't belong in the herd anymore. He's feeling old and decides it may be time to go off on his own. Sid (John Leguizamo) is feeling left out, because Manny is giving all his attention to his wife and soon-to-be child.
Then sulking Sid finds an underground cave. Inside the cave are three eggs. Feeling the need to have a family of his own, Sid takes it upon himself to care for the eggs. As you might have guessed, it turns out those are dinosaur eggs, and that the mother of said eggs isn't too happy when she realizes they've been moved. When mommy T-Rex shows up and drags away her babies and Sid, Manny and the others follow in tow to help their friend. Wait, what… dinosaurs? Aren't dinosaurs supposed to have gone extinct? I thought that too, but this 'Ice Age' film has found a way around that little fact. Deep underground an entire tropical world exists, full of lush vegetation, and giant dinosaurs.
Does the ice create some sort of greenhouse effect? Does the lava spewing volcano in this tropical world keep the cavern well heated? Who knows, that's not the point. Sure the 'Ice Age' filmmakers are defying the laws of history, but they're not bothered by that and kids won't be either. The underground rain forest only serves as a backdrop for some pretty intense action scenes as far as children's cartoons go.
I was a fan of the first 'Ice Age' film; the loveable characters (Scrat makes me laugh every time), fun writing, and stylized animation were refreshing. The second film, 'Ice Age: The Meltdown,' suffered from the introduction of several new characters, like the two opossums and their incessant potty humor. This third film gives the opossums a back seat (thank goodness) and introduces a new weasel character named Buck (voiced by the aforementioned Simon Pegg). He's really the only new character, but at times carries the film with his witty, albeit insane, dialogue.
'Ice Age 3' has a simple story. It's fine kids fare and not much more. This isn't Pixar folks, but it's good enough for both parents and kids to sit down and watch together without either of them being bored.
The patented style of 'Ice Age' is shown off in tremendous splendor here. The AVC-encoded 1080p transfer is as stunning as one would expect for such a richly animated CGI film. In this reviewer's opinion, this installment even surpasses its predecessors as it makes the jump to Blu-ray.
Colors are perfectly rendered. The bright whites of the snow never burn too hot, and are nicely contrasted with the deep greens, purples and oranges of the rainforest found below the ice. Fine detail is maxed out. Every single hair is visible. A moment to watch is when Scrat meets a female squirrel. The clarity of her batting eyelashes is astounding. Tiny dinosaur scales are also clearly noticeable.
Technical and compression anomalies were kept out of sight. This is a perfect transfer for a magnificently animated film. This surely is the most colorful 'Ice Age' film and it is presented pristinely here.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track is sadly a little disappointing. It just isn't the encompassing experience that you would expect. I was sad to find out that almost the entire film is largely represented through the front channels. Sure there are a few surround sound effects, but it isn't what you'd expect from a film that should be bursting with life all around you.
Bass is deep and well produced whenever a dinosaur lumbers along the way, and dialogue is clear, but the rear speakers are really lacking here. I can't say there was a time during the film where I felt immersed by the sound field. Kids will find it engaging enough, but this just isn't the immersive experience that audiophiles will be looking for.
This third 'Ice Age' film is harmless. It provides a fun, semi-entertaining thrill ride for the kids, and won't completely bore the parents to death. The audio presentation is adequate, but it isn't anything that will leave you breathless. On the other hand the lush video presentation alone is worth owning this disc. While this isn't the best animated film out there, it wouldn't hurt to have this one in the collection in case you need some electronic babysitting for an hour and a half.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.