Ice Age Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha

While not as visually stunning or as lush as Pixar's Monsters, Inc., nor as engaging, story-wise, Blue Sky's Ice Age is nevertheless an excellent CGI animated tale that, like Monsters, Inc., reaches beyond merely appealing to children. Unlike, say, Shrek, Ice Age eschews pop culture references and focuses on the simple but engaging tale of three mismatched mammals, a prehistoric sloth (John Leguizamo), mammoth (Ray Romano) and sabre-toothed tiger (Denis Leary) thrown together with different agendas attempting to return a human child to its "herd" during the ice age. Visually, the backgrounds are often gorgeous and striking, with Blue Sky doing an excellent job capturing the look and feel of the artic climate and ice encased locales, and with the exception of the humans, who look a little rushed and blotchy, the mammals in Ice Age are painstakingly cared for. Romano's moody deadpan and Leguizamo's hyper-active annoyance, and their interplay, along with the running visually joke of Scrat (a prehistoric squirrel/racoon hybrid that just can't get his nut) is what makes Ice Age more than just eye-candy. And like any DVD release worth its salt, the special edition two-disc set of Ice Age comes bearing many, many treats. Included here is the new Scrat short "Gone Nutty," the Oscar-winning short "Bunny," widescreen and pan and scan versions of the film, deleted scenes, behind the scenes, "making of," director's commentary and tons of other features to eliminate any free time one might have to spend actually watching the movie. The shorts and the behind the scenes are the best of the bunch. While Ice Age may not be as franchise-friendly as Toy Story or Shrek, it's a strong tale that doesn't reach Pixar's level of greatness, but easily surpasses that of Shrek or Antz.