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DVD Review: Ice Age: The Meltdown

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The recently released DVD, Ice Age:  The Meltdown, is packed with tons of special features, and that’s a wonderful thing, because they are, for the most part, far more interesting than the film which they accompany (save for the Scrat segments, but those are far more interstitial segments than part of the main storyline).

Fun for the first five minutes, the sequel to Ice Age picks up shortly after the first one left off.  We find the world melting, and Sid, not very successfully, running a day camp.  It quickly becomes apparent to the animals that the valley they are living in is going to flood due to the melting of a glacier that is holding back a massive lake of water.  A vulture informs them that a boat exists at the far end of the valley and that if they make it there in 3 days (when the glacier will apparently be weak enough to no longer hold back the water), they will survive. 

So, off all the animals go.  But, just as they’re starting out Manny is informed by other animals that he is the last Wooly Mammoth.  Though he doesn’t believe this at first, he does soon become worried.  Quickly though this problem is rectified as he, Sid, and Diego meet Ellie, another Mammoth.  Sadly though, Ellie believes herself to be a possum, like her “brothers,” Crash and Eddie.  Sid suggests they all continue to the other end of the valley together, and they are once again off. 

They, predictably, wander here, there and everywhere and make it to the boat just in time.  Sadly though, Ellie becomes trapped as rocks create a cave around her and Manny has to save her.  The glacier becomes unstable, the valley floods, and I’m not going to ruin the ending, but tons of Wooly Mammoths do eventually appear.

Now, the problems with the whole movie.  First off, the movie fails to stay relatively true to its own claims.  During one of the scenes in the film Manny and his pals have to pass over a huge chasm.  A monstrous chasm.  A chasm without a bottom.  If the glacier that is melting and will release the water is on one side of the chasm, and they end up on the other side of the chasm, how is it that the water is going to get them once the glacier melts?  There were other ways to create this scene, a large height would have been sufficient, and then the plot would hold together far better.  However, a large height

would not be as dramatic as a bottomless chasm, so the producers opted for the latter,.  They made the moment more dramatic and ignored their own plotline.  This exact same type of problem occurs at the end of the film when Ellie becomes trapped in the cave.  The geography on the inside of the cave does not match up with what is happening on the outside in any way, shape, or form.  The bottoms of the land don’t match.  The entire sequence, while impressive, fails to be in any way true to itself.  It was made in the way it was so that it could be more dramatic, so that the characters could overcome their problems, but it simply fails to work.

Additionally, the animation feels uneven at best.  Some shots look fantastic, others much less so.  And, though it is an ice age, surely the backgrounds used could be more interesting than what we get.  On the whole, the animation used here isn’t as good as rival studio Pixar’s. 

The next complaint I have some will consider foolish, but I think to be important.  Not only does the movie not stay true to itself, it fails to acknowledge real world truths.  Some artistic license is of course acceptable, but there are scenes that simply ignore reality and send out bad messages.  First, how is it that the ice age lasts less than the lifetime of the main characters.  Not just “less” than the lifetime actually, the characters haven’t aged at all.  In the first movie the ice age was coming, and now it’s over, in just a few years.  Not possible.  And, in this exact same vein, the addition of a heard of Wooly Mammoth heard at the end of the film not only doesn’t add anything to the content of the film itself, it sends out a message to children that the Wooly Mammoths didn’t go extinct.  That it wasn’t really happening.  Of course, Wooly Mammoths did in fact go extinct.  As did Saber Tooth Tigers, like Diego.  But, there’s no mention whatsoever of that occurring.  It is simply an odd choice. 

But then of course, there are the extras, which are good enough to make the whole DVD almost worth it.  There’s a new Scrat short in which he has troubles with a time machine, various “stunts” that Crash and Eddie “perform.”  There are commentaries, and pseudo-documentaries on the various animals that appear in the film voiced by the characters themselves, the ability to play one of Scrat’s scenes with different sound effects, and a view of different stages of the animation for various scenes.  For a single disc set, it’s packed with extras.

Most likely your children will be amused by the film.  But really good children’s movies amuse adults too, and that will not occur with Ice Age:  The Meltdown.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.