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The goldmine that is the animated movie market has had few failures. Almost every animated film that is released that involves cute creatures on an adventure manages to succeed at the box office and become an instant classic. Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, Shrek, Shrek 2 and The Incredibles are all part of the sure-fire animated empire. While I personally couldn’t stand Shrek, none of the films listed above can be faulted: they’re entertaining, look amazing and almost everyone on the planet has seen them. Ice Age may not be one of the animated films that springs to mind when talking about the animation dynasty, but it's both an endearing and endlessly funny film that deserves a lot more attention and praise than was heaped upon some of the films listed above.

Ice Age: Extreme Cool Edition
Set 20,000 years ago when most creatures are moving to warmer climates in the face of an ice age, three creatures take exception to the mass migration. A sardonic woolly mammoth named Manny (voiced by Ray Ramano) and a wacky sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo) end up going in the opposite direction to the rest of the creatures and find themselves on a quest to return a human baby to his tribe after his mother disappears. They are joined by a deceptive sabre toothed tiger Diego (Denis Leary) whose involvement in their mission is dubious. I don’t usually go and see animated films at the cinema, unless I am dragged by my seven year old niece. I was dragged to see Ice Age because of the continual presence of the little creature known as Scrat on every TV ad that advertised Ice Age. While Scrat may not be one of the main characters, whenever he appeared on screen, every kid in the cinema went nuts (no pun intended!). This small bit character completely captivated every child in the theatre, while the other more developed characters and their antics tended to receive less of a reception from the pint sized audience.

Ice Age differs greatly from its counterparts with its cartoonish execution and less sappy overtones. While there are heart-warming and adorable moments, especially involving the ‘cabbage patch doll’-like baby that the heroes must return to his tribe. This film focuses on the slapstick antics and friendship development of the main characters and continually goes for laughs rather than tears. Like most family orientated animated films, the characters set off on a quest and are changed by what occurs along the way. While Ice Age may not be the best of its genre, it's a film that is guaranteed to entertain the whole family.

Ice Age is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The film looks amazing, just as it did on the previous DVD release. This transfer is near perfection. I wish I could say perfection, but there is one minor imperfection in the transfer with some slight edge enhancement visible. Colours are superb and shadow detail is excellent. The overall image is sharp and clear with the fur details of the animals very impressive. While I said that this transfer is near perfection it's only because I have to look out for imperfections and therefore noticed the edge enhancement. This tiny (emphasis on the tiny) imperfection does not take away from how amazing this film looks on DVD.

The audio package is the first difference between this release of Ice Age and the previous release. This DVD release offers two audio tracks: a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a DTS 5.1 channel package. The DTS offers outstanding sound with dialogue clear and audible and the David Newman score spreading across all the channels to create a wonderful atmosphere. Surround sound is constant and the major difference between the Dolby 5.1 audio and the DTS audio is the activity of the subwoofer, which works overtime with the DTS audio. While the Dolby 5.1 package is more than adequate for this film, the DTS is a nice addition to this release, offering a perfect, problem free soundtrack that really enhances the viewing experience.

Ice Age: Extreme Cool Edition
Extreme Cool Edition sounds amazing doesn’t it? Well, yes and no. After viewing the extras on this disc, I think many Ice Age fans are going to have to purchase both DVD editions of this film to get all the available extras. While this second release offers some interesting new extras, some of the extras from the first release have been dumped to make room. It would have been nice if all the available extras were included on one release, but unfortunately for fans, there is no DVD release of this film that will contain all the extras. Basically, if you want to purchase this film on DVD, you are best to read reviews of each of the editions and choose which one it best for you. Please note that the transfer quality of the film appears to be consistent across all the editions. The only difference is the quantity and variety of extras material.

Firstly, here the new extras on this release which are not available on the first edition.

‘Hide & Eek’ and ‘Frozen Pairs are two games included on disc one that are only available on this release. ‘Hide & Eek’ involves the fan favourite Scrat finding his acorn. The player must help Scrat find the acorn from eight different locations otherwise something awful will happen to the furry little guy. ‘Frozen Pairs’ is a character matching game that requires the player to match tiny pictures (really tiny!) of each character to another picture of that character. While games on DVDs can be fun, both of these are fairly ordinary and the matching game is quite frustrating to play with the pictures being quite small and problematic to identify. Kids should have fun playing the Scrat game, even maybe deliberately getting the location wrong to see Scrat squashed.

The next new extra is the name sake of the DVD release. ‘Extreme Cool View’ offers a new approach to viewing the film that I will try to describe as simply as possible. The screen is divided in three windows on the main screen.

  • Window 1 contains a widescreen presentation of the film.
  • Window 2 is entitled Scrat’s Fun facts and is a text window offering trivia about various scenes through the film.
  • Window 3 is a featurette window which plays featurettes relevant to each particular part of the film while the film is running.

It sounds complicated, but the only window that continually plays is the movie and the other windows become active when chosen. The audio switches from the movie to the featurettes when the featurette window is chosen and Scrat's trivia facts are active when a featurette is not playing. There are a forty-eight featurettes that can also be viewed out of the Extreme Cool View mode. Although most are short, together the entire collection of featurettes cover a lot of ground and include interviews with the director, character designer and producers discussing all aspects of the film, including characters, animation development and ice age fossils.

‘Bunny’ is animated short film by Chris Wedge which won the Best Animation Short Oscar in 99. It’s an interesting little film that has an optional commentary track by Chris Wedge and co-director Carlos Saldanha. The remainder of the extras are also available on the first DVD release of Ice Age.

An audio commentary track by director Chris Wedge and co-director Carlos Saldanha provides plentiful information about all aspects of the production. The two speakers cover almost every area of interest from character development, animation techniques, story and style in a non stop commentary track that is worth a listen for fans. Wedge and Saldanha are pleasant commentators, but the track is fairly technical and dry and not especially entertaining.

Ice Age: Extreme Cool Edition
 ‘Gone Nutty-Scrat’s Missing Adventure’ is a short four minute feature with the poor little guy desperately trying to hoard his acorns. Hilarious! Six deleted scenes are included that were cut because of time and pace issues. Optional commentary is available for all scenes. Two theatrical trailers and a teaser trailer are a fantastic inclusion just for the fact they include appropriate use of a song we swear we all hate, but in the late eighties we couldn’t hear enough of; Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice. Word to your mother!

‘Scrat Reveals’ is a series of three mini scrat moments with Scrat playing with his acorn and then revealing the FOX logo. ‘Animation Progression’ enables you to choose multiple versions of three scenes: Opening, Almost Home/Lava and Tigers Attack! Each scene can be viewed at the storyboard, 3D layout, unrendered, rendered or complete stages. ‘International Ice Age’ is a multiple language featurette offering clips dubbed in French, Italian, German, Swedish, Polish, Greek, Cantonese and Korean. ‘Under the Ice’ comprises eight featurettes.

  • Behind the Scenes of Ice Age
  • Making a Character
  • Art of Rigging
  • Animators Acting
  • Art of Effects
  • Lighting and Materials
  • Using 2D in a 3D World
  • Sid Voice Development

The first featurette is the longest and is a standard behind the scenes promo feature, while the remainder of the featurettes focus on specific technical aspects of the film. ‘Design Galleries’ offer fourteen different sections and allow creation of your own gallery. While most photo galleries offer only a few images, this is an impressive and large collection of various character/scene images.

  • Manny (38 pictures)
  • Sid( 21 pictures)
  • Diego (18 pictures)
  • Roshan (8 pictures)
  • Scrat (12 pictures)
  • Sabre-toothed Tigers (20 pictures)
  • Sloths (8 pictures)
  • Dodos (3 pictures)
  • Vultures (3 pictures)
  • Wolves (6 pictures)
  • Trunkless Starts (4 pictures
  • Other Creatures (14 pictures)
  • Backgrounds (70 pictures)
  • Cave Paintings (22 pictures)

‘Size Comparison’ offers short paragraphs on the history of each of the creatures of Ice Age and offers size comparisons for all the creatures. This is a very informative and interesting extra that is great for kids.

Ice Age: Extreme Cool Edition
Ice Age: Extreme Cool Edition is an excellent DVD release. Although complaints can certainly be made about DVD double dipping, this release is faultless. Amazing extras and near perfect audio and video transfers. This release should be a worthy addition to everyone's collection.