Ice Age – The Meltdown appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Like the Blu-ray for the first film, Meltdown usually looked great, but it suffered from some lapses.
All of those connected to sharpness. The majority of the flick displayed good clarity, and it occasionally boasted genuinely excellent definition. However, more than a few wide shots lacked great detail and could look a smidgen soft. Those were fairly infrequent, but they detracted from the overall experience. Jagged edges and shimmering remained absent, and only a smidgen of edge enhancement appeared. I also found no source flaws.
Meltdown started with a chilly bluish-white palette but warmed up as the surface temperature increased. Much of the movie offered a nice natural look with lively greens and blues. Blacks came across as deep and rich, while shadows presented good clarity and visibility. Due to sporadic softness, this ended up as a positive but not great presentation.
On the other hand, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Meltdown worked consistently well. With cracking ice and all sorts of action sequences, the movie boasted many opportunities to feature all five speakers. It did so quite well. Various effects elements zoomed around the room to create a fine sense of immersion. The pieces meshed together smoothly and transitioned well. Localization was clean and precise, and the score featured solid stereo imaging. The mix turned into a broad, encompassing piece.
Audio quality also was very good. Speech seemed crisp and distinctive, as I noticed no flaws like edginess. Music seemed warm and full, while effects added a real bang to the proceedings. Those elements showed good clarity and accuracy, and they offered tight, deep bass as well. The track seemed vibrant and dynamic as it accentuated the movie.
How did the picture and sound of the Blu-ray compare to those of the movie’s DVD edition? I liked the audio for the DVD quite a lot, but the lossless track boasted even more punch. The DTS mix added a bit more depth and impact to the proceedings.
Even though the transfer doesn’t consistently excel, it still betters the DVD. The visuals demonstrated a better sense of definition and vivacity. While it wasn’t the slam-dunk I wanted, the transfer was a good upgrade over the DVD.
Most of the DVD’s extras reappear here. These open with two separate audio commentaries. The first presents director Carlos Saldanha in a running, screen-specific piece. He discusses challenges related to making a sequel, returning characters and new personalities, technical and animation issues, storytelling and editing, actors and performances, and other production topics.
Eternally chipper, Saldanha offers a very informative chat. He covers the appropriate material in a reasonably thorough manner and makes matters entertaining as well. Due to his sunny personality, I worried Saldanha would throw out tons of praise, but he avoids that trap. Instead, he focuses on the useful details in this excellent track.
For the second commentary, we hear from producer Lori Forte, art director Thomas Cardone, materials supervisor Michael Eringus, animation supervisors James Bresnahan, Galen Tan Chu and Michael Thurmier, effects supervisor Robert V. Cavaleri, lighting supervisor David Esneault, story artist Chris Renaud, lead animator Aaron Hartline, technical animation lead Matthew D. Simmons, and senior lighting lead Andrew Beddini. To my surprise, all of these folks sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion; with so many participants, I anticipated an edited affair.
The content of the commentary offers fewer surprises, though, as it covers expected subjects. We get notes about many technical issues. The track examines character design and animation, other visual decisions, story development and related choices, problems related to making a sequel, the film’s rushed production schedule, updating old characters and introducing new ones, and many nuts and bolts related to the execution of the material.
As I went into this track, I feared it’d be chaotic due to the number of participants. However, it works just fine. Forte acts as ringleader of sorts, and to my great surprise, no one ever interrupts or speaks over the others. They cover the topics in a concise and informative manner that helps make this a pretty good track. The subject matter means it occasionally can be a little dry, but it still offers a solid overview of animation techniques.
In addition to the commentaries, we find a slew of little video pieces under “Meltdown Shorts”. Crash and Eddie Stunts breaks down into three components: “Lava’s Leap” (0:21), “Dungball Dribble” (0:21) and “Peace Out Duel” (0:21). Each of these offers a short animated clip in which we watch the possum characters do some wacky activities. They’re mildly amusing at best. Called Outtake Prank, a 17-second clip shows a bit the animators did for fun. It uses the possums in an alternate version of an existing scene. It’s insubstantial but cute.
The ever-popular Scrat reappears in a new short called No Time for Nuts. In this seven-minute and nine-second cartoon, the squirrel comes across a time machine and chases nuts throughout the centuries. It’s a fairly effective twist on Scrat’s usual shenanigans.
For some multi-angle material, we go to The Animation Director’s Chair. This consists of six scenes from the movie: “Play Dead” (1:33), “Fish Story” (1:02), “Nuts” (1:45), “Family” (1:33), “Face Off” (1:27) and “Drain” (1:15). Four of the segments can be viewed in any of five modes: “Storyboard”, “Layout”, “Animation”, “Combo” and “Final”. “Fish Story” and “Nuts” drop the “Layout” option but include the other four. These let us see the scenes at various stages along the way toward completion. I like this kind of feature, as it gives us a fun way to inspect the animation processes.
A collection of Lost Historical Films let us see more about the movie’s animals. We find “The Sloth” (2:01), “The Wooly Mammoth” (2:01), “The Saber-Toothed Squirrel” (1:49), “The Saber-Toothed Tiger” (1:26), “The Vulture” (1:22) and “The Possum” (1:24). These offer humorous fake educational programs, each of which features basics about the real-life critters and gags. This is a simple but fun feature, especially when we get narration from John Leguizamo for the “Sloth” entry.
In the Ice Age Arcade, we find four elements. “The Ice Age Factoid Meltdown” offers trivia questions about the movie, many of which are tough because they require you to notice real minutiae such as the number of times Sid’s name is said during that flick. At least they’re forgiving, so you can try again and again. “Who’s Your Buddy?” has you choose from various options to figure out which character is your “buddy”. (Mine’s Sid.)
The Artist Gallery Channel provides something to check out as you watch the movie. If you activate this feature, you’ll see examples of color keys, storyboards, and character model “callouts”. These appear in the bottom lower left corner of the screen. The art pops up on a frequent basis, and the presentation means that they don’t intrude on the movie viewing experience; you can easily watch the flick and glance at the art along the way. I like this feature and think it gives us a good way to check out the planning material created for the film.
Audio comes to the forefront in Scrat’s Piranha Smackdown Sound Effects Lab. This allows us to view the same 37-second clip of Scrat and some piranhas but with different effects for each one. It’s a moderately fun way to see how various audio elements affect the same piece of material.
The disc includes a Sneak Peek at The Simpsons Movie. This 63-second clip shows a rough animated scene from the flick. This was interesting before the film’s release, but years later, it’s not too worthwhile. Finally, Trailers provides ads for Ice Age, Fantastic Four, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Planet of the Apes. No trailer for Meltdown appears here.
What does the Blu-ray drop from the DVD? We lose two promotional character featurettes, a look at actor John Leguizamo’s work, a mini-blooper reel, a dance tutorial, and some TV promos. A few of these were pretty fun, so it’s too bad the Blu-ray omits them – and it’s perplexing as well.
Although the original film offered only modest pleasures, Ice Age – The Meltdown couldn’t even live up to its minor legacy. Disjointed and rarely amusing, the sequel fails to stake out any interesting territory. The Blu-ray presents generally good picture and excellent audio along with a positive roster of extras headlined by two useful audio commentaries. The Blu-ray gives fans a fairly solid version of the flick, but I must admit Meltdown remains a definite disappointment for me.
To rate this film, visit the original review of ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN