Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Karen Disher
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec Running Time: 25 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
Release Date: November 26, 2011
Review Date: December 2, 2011
When Sid (John Leguizamo) inadvertently destroys Manny’s (Ray Romano) family Christmas rock, Manny angrily tells Sid that his act has placed him firmly on Santa’s naughty list thus denying him Christmas. Sid is devastated, and when Manny tries to whisper to him that Santa doesn’t exist, he’s overheard by his young daughter Peaches (Ciara Bravo) who refuses to believe it and strikes out with Sid and the mischievous Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck) to find Santa at the North Pole and get Sid’s name removed from the list.
Writers Sam Harper and Mike Reiss fashion lots of gags around Christmas traditions including Sid’s invention of the Christmas tree (some clever visual jokes with the decorations; “it’ll never catch on,” sneers Manny) and the introduction of the super cool reindeer Prancer (wonderfully voiced by T.J. Miller) who hasn’t yet begun his institutional pulling of Santa’s sleigh. It’s all done to formula, of course: Sid messes up, he tries to make things right while his friends lament his stupidity but eventually come to his aid as their friend in need of help. Also part of the formula are the adventures of Scrat the squirrel whose eternal scavenging for acorns is included in three daffy vignettes inserted into the larger story without really interacting with it. The producers have some fun with music, too, using various refrains from The Nutcracker for Scrat’s adventures and using “Sleigh Ride” and “Deck the Halls” (with new lyrics) to accompany some of the tomfoolery of the rest of the gang. It’s not very memorable, but it does serve its purpose of keeping these lovable characters front and center in the public eye half a year before their next big screen adventure (the earlier three films have grossed billions of dollars worldwide so there seems little chance the next one won’t be just as enthusiastically received).
By now, the actors, all of whom return to voice their familiar roles, are comfortable with the characters they’re playing, but there is certainly nothing new brought to the table with this mini-tale. John Leguizamo’s sweet stupidity as Sid and Denis Leary’s smug pessimism as saber-toothed tiger Diego stand out from the crowd, and T. J. Miller’s enthusiastic turn as Prancer makes as much of a positive impression here as Simon Pegg’s sensational introduction as Buck in the last film made. As always, Chris Wedge squawks and screeches amenably as the hapless Scrat.
The program is presented in its widescreen television aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is offered in 1080p using the AVC codec. Looking much sharper and more defined than its network broadcast at 720p, the extra resolution betrays the lower budgeted animation techniques used for this television special. Still, there is plenty of detail to be seen, and color is always bright and rich with the acres of white displayed never overdone to the point of blooming. There is some slight banding to be seen on occasion, but it’s never serious enough to spoil the video presentation. The program has been divided into 8 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix offers excellent resolution for a television show, but it lacks the resonance that a more highly budgeted offering might possess (the swirling winds of the Arctic, for example, don’t make their way around the available channels as they might have for an animated feature film soundtrack). Dialogue is expertly recorded and has been placed solidly in the center channel, and the almost constant music accompaniment adds luster to the sound mix throughout.
A sneak peak preview of Ice Age: Continental Drift is offered in 1080p. The excerpt from this July’s feature film runs 2 minutes.
“Swingin’ Jingle Bells” music video uses artwork from the special refashioned around a music video presentation of the holiday carol “Jingle Bells.” It’s in 1080p and runs for 3 minutes.
The disc offers preview trailers for We Bought a Zoo and Mr. Popper’s Penguins.
The second disc in the set is the DVD version of the special.
The third disc in the set is the digital copy of the special with enclosed instructions for installation on Mac and PC devices.
3/5 (not an average)
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special isn’t a memorable holiday treat, but fans of the Ice Age family of characters will likely enjoy seeing them in this seasonal adventure before they return en masse in their fourth feature film this summer.