3D Blu-ray Review “Ice Age: Continental Drift 3D”

Actors: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Aziz Ansari, Joy Behar
Directors: Mike Thurmeier, Steve Martino
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Run Time: 88 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

When I the last chapter in this “Ice Age” franchise, which was also the first in 3D”, “Age of the Dinosaurs”, I thought the series had jumped the shark.  After a few viewings though, I that film has grown on me.  I was excited right off to see “Continental Drift”.  I thought the story looked cute, the 3D looks sharp and the new characters were fun.  I was right on all-three aspects.  This isn’t anything ground breaking in the story department but perfect for kids.  There are a bunch of great new characters, voiced by Jennifer Lopez, Aziz Ansari and Peter Dinklage.  This installment also introduces music into the film, with original songs and I think it works very well. Overall, I am very satisfied with this film and is perfectly timed for release to make a perfect Christmas gift this holiday season for every kid. Can’t wait to see what they come up with for the fifth installment in the “Ice Age” franchise.

Official Premise: This all-new chapter in the beloved Ice Age franchise reconnects families with herd favourites Manny, Sid, and Diego. Joining familiar friends of the Ice Age world on their latest journey is Sid’s long-lost and side-splittingly funny Granny plus a band of pirates led by the fearsome orangutan Captain Gutt. And no Ice Age film would be complete without celebrated icon Scrat, whose existence revolves around the elusive acorn. Scrat once again returns with his very own exploits; however this time his pursuits result in world-changing consequences.

One of the best aspects of the “Ice Age” franchise has always been its amazing voice cast. Ray Romano is always fun to listen to playing Manny.  Denis Leary plays the tough guy with the big heart, very well as  Diego.  John Leguizamo was born to play Sid with that lovable slur. Queen Latifah joined the cast last year voicing Ellie and is a nice match for Manny. Also Seann William Scott returns voicing Crash and  Simon Pegg as Buck.  Newcomers to the cast include Nicki Minaj voicing Steffie and parents will enjoy the “Shaun of the Dead” reunion as Nick Frost joins the cast with Simon Pegg voicing Flynn.

Fox delivers this release with a wonderful combo pack included the 3D Blu-ray, the standard Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy and also Ultraviolet digital streaming copy. You can literally want this film whenever and wherever you are. The 3D presentation really suits this franchise well and looks even better at home in a sharp 1080p transfer with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. I think that the depth added in the 3D and really makes the action scenes feel like your on a rollercoaster ride. Besides the 3D, the film is also backs but an incredible DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. There is no aspect of this Blu-ray release that isn’t amped up and ready to blow you away.

The special features are exploding out here with over four hours of extras.  Kids are going to eat up watching the film with the interactive “Party with a Pirate!” mode, very fun.  There is also a sing-along mode as well. I actually really enjoyed the original songs included here! There are many exclusive featurettes included, which gives some fantastic background into the production.  “Through a Pirate’s Spyglass: Voices Ahoy and Capturing the Crew” look into the recording sessions with the cast. “Granny and the Stink of the Sloths”, “Scrat Got Your Tongue?” and “Whale of a Tale: Drifts, Rifts, Beasties and Myths” focus on each of the respective characters and their aspects in the film.   There are two music video for the songs “We Are” and “Chasing the Sun”.  There are also some decent deleted Scenes included. “The Scratist” is an all-new animated short spoof with the lovable Scrat. “Ice Age: The Story So Far” is a seires overview for those who need a refresh on the first three films.  Lastly there are the original theatrical trailers included.

Ben Gleib talks about “Ice Age: Continental Drift”, Kevin Smith, “Chelsea Lately”, hanging with Jaleel White and time traveling with Syfy’s “Insane or Inspired?”

Ben Gleib is a comedian who can be seen recently voicing Marshall in “Ice Age: Continental Drift”. He also has his own podcast called “Last Week on Earth” on Kevin Smith’s Smodcast Network. Ben took out some time with Media Mikes to chat about appearing on “Chelsea Lately”, hanging with Jaleel White and time traveling with Syfy while working the show “Insane or Inspired?”

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your role of Marshall in “Ice Age: Continental Drift”?
Ben Gleib: Well I had had an obsession with sloths since early in my life. So I have had to shape my career so that one way or another, I would portray a sloth on the silver screen. Actually that answer is bullshit. I just auditioned and got cast. It was very exciting though. Every kid grows up watching cartoons and you would never imagine that you would become a cartoon yourself. It has certainly ruined my ability to watch cartoons again though since now I know the process that goes into it…but it is worth it to entertain America’s children [pauses]…I only say I want to entertain America’s children so that women will read this and want to have sex with me.

MG: Tell us about your podcast “Last Week on Earth” on Kevin Smith’s Smodcast Network?
BG: I did a TV pilot with Kevin originally. He then asked me to co-host a podcast with him and shortly after he offered me my own show on his network. The idea behind it was that I try and cover every single event that happens the week before on Earth. News, politics, pop culture, science, social trends, technology and just weird shit. Every other week a celebrity guest joins me for it. I am having the time of my life doing it. It is a shit ton of work trying to learn the details of all of theevents on planet Earth each week. But I feel like it is worth it as a gift to all of my listeners. And by gift I mean a gift that no one asked for, and will probably get returned to the store.

MG: What is the prepare time for each episode?
BG: It is a lot of time. I am following the news all week. I’m also pre-writing a lot of concepts for the podcast. Each episode probably takes me between 20-30 hours to prepare. If I don’t end up on “Jeopardy” or at least the dumb version of it “Celebrity Jeopardy” one of these days, my life will be a failure.

MG: Tell us how you ended up appearing as a frequent guest on “Chelsea Lately”?
BG: I knew Chelsea a bit before she had her show just from doing stand-up together. So one day she told me they wanted me on the show and I have been asked back ever since. I have been very fortunate because I really enjoy being on television. Chelsea’s show is best place for comedians to be these days. You go on her show and just riff about everything going on with pop culture that week and it is a lot of fun. Plus it is even easier for me, since if I tell jokes that don’t go over so well, Chelsea just makes fun of me and it gets laughs anyway. So it is a win-win situation and a fail safe.

MG: How did you get involved with Syfy’s “Insane or Inspired?”?
BG: The casting director of that show, Phyllis Coblentz, called me up one day and asked me to be on the show. I agreed to do it and thought it sounded like a fun show to do. We actually just got picked up for another twelve episodes as well. It has been awesome with Syfy because besides being paid to be on their show, they also conduct experiments on you. I can’t say too much more, but my end of this phone call is happening in the 1800’s. I might have already said too much, so let me cover it up and say that my end of the conversation is actually place in the 23rd century. That way it will keep you guessing.

MG: I noticed you wear the same clothes in every episode, do you ever consider personal hygiene?
BG: When you work with Syfy and are a time traveler, you don’t really have time to pack a heavy bag. You just keep the same clothes. Syfy didn’t really know which clips would be in each episode, so they asked us to wear the same clothes each taping. It was a little silly because in the same episode you can see me with long hair and a beard and short hair and clean shaven, all while being in the same clothes. That or it could have been just the longest taping in history or I just have bionic fast growing hair.

MG: Speaking of the SyFy family, you worked with Jaleel White, host of “Total Blackout” in the film “Dumbbells”, tell us about that?
BG: We already shot “Dumbbells” and I didn’t even know that Jaleel White was in the movie until you told me right now. I am very excited to know that now and more excited about my film career since he is in it. I did actually meet Jaleel White once in the past. I was at a bar in Hollywood last year and there was a very attractive girl I was trying to impress and while she went to the bathroom, I felt like my breath could use a little freshening. And like a knight in shining armor, like everyone knows he is, Jaleel White walks into the bar. So I asked him if he could spare a piece, since I saw him chewing and I felt nervous asking Steve Urkel for gum. He put a piece of gum in my hand and closed my fingers around it and said to me “Never forget me man, I hooked you up”. Things did not work out with that girl. But if they did work out, could you have guessed who the best man at the wedding would have been?

MG: Let me guess…Jaleel White?
BG: No, it would have been my best friend Scott. I just got a piece of gum from Jaleel White, that’s really not a big deal.

MG: Being a comedian, who are your all-time favorites comedians?
BG: My favorite comedians of all-time would have to be George Carlin, Chris Rock and George W. Bush. They are definitely three of the funniest people in history.

MG: What do you enjoy most about doing stand-up comedy?
BG: It is the most free medium for a comedian. It is really a privilege to bring comedy to people on any form, whether it be TV or movies. But when it is stand-up, there is literally nobody else that gets to have a say in it. I get to say or do anything I want. It is completely just my unfettered creative output that gets directly to the audience and you get immediate feedback. It is also exhilarating, in the moment, with every second to second and joke to joke you don’t know how it is going to go. So it keeps you on your toes. Also when you are on your toes it is good because you seem taller. Girls enjoy tall guys, and you just hope that they do not look down because girls do not like guys who stand on their tippy toes. They do not find it very manly.

MG: What do I need to do to get you down to the Improv clubs here in Orlando, FL?
BG: All you need to do is find very attractive women who are into somewhat tall comedians who make themselves look like taller ballet dancers, and then I will be there. Because that is the girl I like. The kind of girl I like, and you can quote me on this, is the kind of girl that likes me. But do me a favor though, do not quote me on anything else I said so far.

MG: Well that is going to make this a very short interview then.
BG: Perfect.

Film Review “Ice Age: Continental Drift”

Starring the voices of: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary
Directed by: Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hour 34 mins
20th Century Fox

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Of all of the popular series of computer animated films that have come along in the past decade plus, I’ve always felt that the “Ice Age” series was often dismissed. Which is a shame because, along with the “Toy Story” films, I’ve always thought that they featured the most consistent story and writing excellence as well as a perfect vocal cast. And I’m happy to say that the fourth chapter, “Continental Drift,” continues that excellence.

The film begins with Scrat once again trying to protect his treasured acorn. Over the past decade Scrat has become a rodent Gollum, doing whatever he can to protect his “precious!” He has also become the ice age’s very own Wiley E. Coyote, suffering devastating consequences no matter how smart he thinks he is. While Scrat is dealing with his problems, our three main characters, Manny (Romano), Sid (Leguizamo) and Diego (Leary) are dealing with theirs. An unexpected visit from Sid’s sloth family leaves an unexpected present behind: Grandma (Wanda Sykes). Even more unexpected are the changes taking place in the world around them. Changes that will send the three friends, and their new addition, on a journey they won’t long forget.

Rendered with the beauty one would expect from Blue Sky Studios, the film is a virtual travelogue of the world of the past. Cloud covered mountains overlook clear, rushing rivers while the flowers bloom so bright you can almost smell them. And that beauty is also a vital part of the story. The film deals with the formation of the continents, a formation that separates our familiar friends from their loved ones. As they try to find their way home they come across a band of animal pirates, commanded by their simian leader, Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage). Of course not everyone understands what a baddie the captain is. “Surrender or face my fury,” he demands. “Face your furry what,” asks Sid. Poor Sid.

As usual, the voice actors go above and beyond, breathing believable life into their animated alter egos. In checking back on my reviews of the previous three films, I noticed that I have always continued to praise the work of Ray Romano. And rightly so. He, and his fellow actors, give full and complete performances, which is many times a rarity in animated features. Leary and Leguizamo match Romano line for line. It’s obvious that these actors feel very comfortable in these roles and their familiarity is a plus. Sykes is very funny as Grandma. Like the other actors, she has managed to inject her very distinct personality into the character. Ditto Queen Latifah (Ellie), Jennifer Lopez (Shira the Tiger) and the rest of the vocal cast.

In this day of BIGGER and BETTER, 3D is pretty much standard on films like this. It doesn’t really add much to the story here. In fact, it was much better utilized in the short “Simpsons” cartoon that precedes it. But no matter how you choose to see it, you won’t be disappointed.