Blu-ray Review: Ice Age – A Mammoth Christmas Special

Here’s the deal with this one: Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special runs only twenty-five minutes (twenty-two if you don’t count the credits). It was created as a TV special (it first aired less than a week before this disc hit shelves), hence both the running time and its decidedly trivial nature. However, with the latest Ice Age flick set to debut in July, 2012, bringing the franchises lovable lunatics out for a Christmas romp is great advertising.

Manny (Ray Romano) his mate Ellie (Queen Latifah), and their daughter Peaches (Ciara Bravo) are excited to celebrate Christmas. Manny proudly displays his family Christmas rock. When Sid inadvertently destroys the rock as he’s trying to introduce the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree, Manny angrily declares the accident will earn Sid a place on Santa Claus’ Naughty List. Sid is devastated, and when Manny tries to whisper to him that Santa doesn’t exist; Peaches overhears this, and refuses to believe it. Bothered by this new information, Peaches and Sid set out with 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 create a lot of gags around Christmas traditions. They get lots of mileage out of Sid’s “invention” of the Christmas tree (some clever visual jokes with the decorations; “it’ll never catch on,” sneers Manny). There’s also the introduction of Prancer (T.J. Miller), a suave reindeer who hasn’t yet begun the tradition of pulling Santa’s sleigh. Some of these gags are funny (how is it that jokes about yellow snow never get old?), some will appeal only to kids who laugh at anything. Either way, while the special does offer a whole lot in the way of story, it’s bound to get most watchers in the holiday spirit.

I assumed the quality of the animation would surpass that of standard TV fare, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it is here. It’s not quite up to the level of the most recent feature, but I think it’s better than the first two movies. Those who have to sit through this with young children should be impressed by the animation, if nothing else.

The 1.78:1, 1080p transfer looks superb. Detail is wonderful, with bright and rich colors throughout. There is some slight banding to be seen on occasion, but it’s never serious enough to spoil the video presentation.

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 have. 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.

English SDH, and Spanish subtitles are included.

There are some brief special features:

  • A sneak peak preview of Ice Age: Continental Drift (2 mins., 1080p)
  • “Swingin’ Jingle Bells” (3 mins., 1080p) this music video uses artwork from the special refashioned around a music video presentation of the holiday carol “Jingle Bells.”
  • DVD Copy
  • Digital Copy

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