Ice Age: The Meltdown

As we return to the Ice Age Diego, the saber-tooth tiger is still annoyed by everything and everyone that isn’t him, Sid the sloth is still unaware of everything and everyone that isn’t him, and Manny the mammoth is still sarcastically caring toward both of them. As the story goes, the end of the Ice Age is near and all of the prehistoric animals are beginning to notice they have a melting problem. Also coming to the forefront is the fact that everyone believes Manny is the last mammoth, meaning extinction may be close. Hey, not everyone made it out of the real ice age alive. Immediately we notice how full the cast has become when we don’t confine the trio to carrying a human baby through the snow for an hour. There are new “bad guys” in the form of recently thawed prehistoric crocodiles (which look much more intimidating than the moronic, giggling, saber-tooth tigers of the first film) and, of course, more adventures of Scrat interspersed throughout the story with his persistent need to capture an acorn. There are a few parts that seem a bit inappropriate for little kids (using the word “crap” and all the talk of preserving the species), but over all Ice Age: The Meltdown is another hit only slightly less entertaining than its parent.

The most notable shift in the story line comes when the group of misfits meets a family of possums, one of whom is a mammoth in denial; a girl mammoth named Ellie. From this point on not only does Manny have to give Ellie a reality check, but also has the obligation to tell her about the birds and the bees, and boy does it get awkward. Manny wants to preserve the species and Ellie doesn’t even know which species she is. Meanwhile, Ellie’s possum brothers, Crash and Eddie, are there to protect their little sister as well as carry out their own version of prehistoric Xgames extraneously throughout the entire film.

What’s different here is that the first Ice Age movie was quite serious, life or death, including the “death” of the cave woman just after saving her child. Meltdown is a lot more cartoon like in its follow through. Sure the characters are put in difficult situations, but no real “fear” for their individual survival is present. The Meltdown, although funny, seems a little forced sometimes combined with some dragging in the pace department and, after so many times of seeing Scrat, it’s time to wonder if his adventures are replacing plot.

While this sequel is still comical and keeps kids’ and adults’ attention throughout most of the film, it definitely seems this should be the last film of the franchise. Listening to Manny the Mammoth talk about sex is about as uncomfortable as listening to Ray Romano talk about sex. And as great as John Leguizamo is there’s only so much spittle a person can take. While it was nice to see new characters take on the world with the original trio it would be awful to think that with every new movie the core cast would double again. The extras on the disc for The Meltdown are not bad, and are pretty entertaining little things for the most part. However, most of them are only about a minute or two long and there isn’t a play all feature to watch all of them straight through. This means every minute you’re having to push enter, again and again. These minute long clips are fine because at least there are extras, but painful to get through.

The short extras include the “Intro Into New Characters” which has two parts: “Meet Ellie” and “Meet Crash and Eddie”, as well as a “Crash and Eddie Blooper” (which isn't very funny), “All-New Crash and Eddie Stunts” (there were three of these), and the “Lost Historical Films on the Ice Age Period.” The latter are not amazingly wonderful, but decent and basically show scenes from the movie in black and white with a scientific-like narrator talking about the animals. What is truly strange is that the Sloth feature is narrated by Leguizamo, but all of the others are by someone else entirely, instead of having the voices of the characters in each one.

There are also some games on the disc that are decent but you need to have a child that is old enough to read and understand the game, work the remote, and maintain interest. They feel like more filler than anything as most of the “games” on DVDs tend to be clicking random icons with little fun involved. A Scrat-themed game isn’t even so much of a game as it is watching the piranha scene over and over with different sound effects, but it’s nothing that is actually interactive in any way.

What is a good special feature for The Meltdown is the new short film featuring Scrat, “No Time for Nuts.” This one is particularly nice for those that like Scrat’s tortured life. There is also an extra called “Sloth Dancing to Sid’s Sing-a-Long” which is great and funny as it encourages kids step by step to do the dance Sid does when he realizes the other foreign sloths are emulating him. Along those lines there is a “Silly Sid and John Leguizamo” featurette that’s nicely done. The most worthwhile feature on the disc, however, is the audio commentary, which includes the Director, Carlos Saldanha, Producer, Lori Forte and the production team who provide a great deal of information making it well worth the time.

If there’s anything to be said for the disc it’s that, even though some of the extras are bothersome or may not exactly be the most fun ever, at least there are extras and plenty of them. While I wouldn’t buy the DVD for the extras, it’s definitely worth the money if you do buy the movie.