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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The Incredibles -- INCREDIBLY RECOMMENDED!!!



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#1 of 187 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted March 06 2005 - 02:55 AM


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#2 of 187 ONLINE   TravisR

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Posted March 06 2005 - 03:08 AM

Awesome movie and great review!

Is it March 15 yet?

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#3 of 187 OFFLINE   Ernest Rister

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Posted March 06 2005 - 04:02 AM

Just some thoughts on the animation... After seeing John Lasseter's CGI animated feature Toy Story in 1995, I wrote in my review, "The critics have got this all wrong. They're comparing [Toy Story] to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Toy Story is not Snow White. Toy Story is 'Steamboat Willie' - it is only the beginning." If Toy Story was the equivalent of "Steamboat Willie", then Pixar's latest film, The Incredibles, is their "The Skeleton Dance". In "Skeleton", the first of Disney's acclaimed Silly Symphonies, Walt moved away from the endearing comedy of Mickey Mouse to experiment with subject matter that was more overtly adult-oriented and frightening. Parents complained it scared their kids. Walt, thank goodness, didn't listen to them - he wasn't making films for toddlers, he was making films for a general audience. The success of "The Skeleton Dance" allowed Walt to continue the Silly Symphonies, which led to further innovation, until Walt reached the zenith of the hand-drawn animated feature medium with the Golden Age features of the late 30's and early 40's, namely, Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi. I think the last nine years have proven me right - that Toy Story was not "the zenith" of CGI feature animation, but only the beginning. And now, with The Incredibles, we're seeing the Pixar studios starting to branch out into more overtly adult subject matter and push the boundaries of what people should expect from them. A quick word on that -- Pixar does not make films for children, they make films that young people as well as older people can enjoy. That was Walt's philosophy, but he would occasinally make films that were too intense for very young viewers. Bambi, Pinocchio, Snow White and many others all feature moments of horror and violence that remain too frightening for small children. Likewise, though Pixar makes movies for general family audiences, their films do occasionally feature moments that can scare the pants off the very young and easily frightened. Think of the mutilated toys that hide under Sid's bed in Toy Story, the violence of Hopper and "Thumper" in A Bug's Life, the corporate scream factory of Monsters Inc., and the various ocean dangers of Finding Nemo. The Incredibles is probably the least-accessible film for the very young that Pixar has yet made - but that's a good thing. Like "The Skeleton Dance", The Incredibles is still a family film, but it is not one appropriate for toddlers and pre-schoolers. Parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers should take the PG rating seriously. The Incredibles is the most fun I've had at the movies in years. It is the sort of film that you watch and and before the end, you realize your facial muscles are getting sore because you've been smiling non-stop for two hours. It is a dazzling showcase for human imagination and technical innovation. It is at once a warm blanket of comic nostalgia and a sharp criticism of modern politically-correct appeals to equality. People in their thirties might remember what it was like to see E.T. for the first time back in 1982 or Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981. The Incredibles is the first film I've seen in my adult years to give me that exact same feeling. When James Cameron wrapped Titanic, he told Premiere magazine that movie ticket prices should be raised for "event" pictures -- I think Pixar could get away with charging $20 a seat for The Incredibles, and leave few people complaining. To discuss the particulars of the movie would be to spoil the many wonderful surprises contained within, so I'll leave a discussion of the plot for others to pick over. Instead, I'd like to single out a few aspects of why this film is so special. The first is the most subtle, but the single biggest factor in the film's success. If I were teaching a college class, at about this time, I'd start showing some of the previous attempts at animating humans in CGI animated films such as Toy Story, Jimmy Neutron, Shrek and Finding Nemo. And then I'd show the dining room sequence in The Incredibles. I hate to keep using comparisons to the hand-drawn tradition animation legacy, but they're the most apt in these instances. Throughout the 30's, Disney struggled with the balancing act of animating a human being. Make them too real, they clash with the more abstract characters in the film (see Snow White). Make them too much of a caricature, they lose all believability (see "Goddess of Spring"). Pixar has struggled with this since their animated baby in "Tin Toy", which did not achieve believability in either animation nor design. Now, over a decade later, here we are with The Incredibles, a landmark animated film in that human characters have finally been achieved in CGI equalling the grace, freedom of expression and caricature seen in 101 Dalmatians. This achievement should not be understated. Because the characters are presented with such naturalism, because the acting is so good, we come to believe in these characters -- in their world, in their pain. They gain empathy in this way, and they endear themselves to us. You take that achievement in CGI character animaton and marry it to outstanding vocal work and a firecracker screenplay, it isn't too hard to see how The Incredibles has a legitimate claim to the throne of "best CGI animated feature film" to date. Another subtle achivement - though no less important and no less a breakthrough - is Brad Bird's work as director of this film. A protege of Disney animator Milt Kahl in the early 70's, Bird has always been respected in animation circles, but I wasn't introduced to him until his "Family Dog" episode of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories in the mid-80's. Even then, he showed gifts for staging and imaginative use of his "camera", traits he would refine working on "The Simpsons", and then showcase with his acclaimed animated feature, The Iron Giant. In The Incredibles, Bird's gift for staging is unleashed -- from epic city battles, to the dilemna of ElastiGirl trapped in multiple corridors, to even small, quiet scenes, such as a husband driving out of a garage leaving behind a wife who thinks he might be cheating on her. This is a film directed by a man as confident in his storytelling abilities as Steven Spielberg, and as gifted in his staging and composition as Michael Curtiz. Finally - and this is not so subtle - the look of the film and the period settings are a major contribution. The art direction and settings of the film are solidly rooted in the 1960's, which allows the film enough distance from the modern age to not be burdened by slavish realism while still allowing the film to retain a certain "Johnny Quest"-era believability to the space-age technology. Naturalism is the word for The Incredibles, not Realism, and the world-builders at Pixar look to have had an absolute field day designing a "retro-future". From wall clocks to business cards, from airplanes to living room furniture, from volcanic lairs to office cubicles, we are presented with the look of an age from the American past, but not so distant as to make the technology utterly implausible (see the Will Smith western Wild Wild West for an example of misjudging technology and setting). In fact, fans of the James Bond films of the 60's and 70's should find much to delight in here. The villain of The Incredibles has a secret base on a tropical island more stunning than the lairs of Drax, Scaramanga, Blofeld, Stromberg, and Dr. No combined. I've often written that there is no such thing as a perfect movie, except for Chuck Jones' "One Froggy Evening". Brad Bird's The Incredibles comes pretty close to being the second. When the character Dash is finally allowed to be all he can be, the liberation is an amazing thing to behold. Free to move into PG territory, Pixar's liberation is also a wonderful thing to experience -- and like Toy Story in 1995, I tell you now that this is not the height of their powers. Toy Story was not Snow White, and The Incredibles is not Pinocchio. In fact, The Incredibles strongly hints at a future a decade from now where "action films" shot with live stuntmen and actors may become increasingly irrelevant. Historians will look back one day and say that this was only the beginning. -- Ernest Rister

#4 of 187 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 06 2005 - 04:04 AM

David, Once again....you have left me speechless. A terrific review and I am certain, a terrific viewing experience in store for all of us when we receive this DVD. Thank You

 

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#5 of 187 OFFLINE   Francois Caron

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Posted March 06 2005 - 04:17 AM

"The Indredibles?"

DaViD, are you still writing your reviews in the middle of the night? Posted Image

Definitely will be buying this one.

BTW, for your EX center speaker set-up, have you considered pointing them upwards to have the sound bounce off the ceiling and back to the seating area?


#6 of 187 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted March 06 2005 - 04:37 AM

Wouldn't it be more logical to compare "Luxo Jr" to "Steamboat Willie"? Toy Story to Snow White makes perfect sense - one was the first full-length cel-animated flick, the other was the first full-length computer-animated flick...
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#7 of 187 OFFLINE   Ernest Rister

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Posted March 06 2005 - 04:39 AM

Considering the length and detail of the Miyazaki reviews, the Bambi review, and now the Incredibles review, I'm surprised the upstairs neighbor wasn't complaining about the constant non-stop "clack-clack-clacking" sound of David's keyboard the past week. UPSTAIRS NEIGHBOR (to landlord) You don't understand! He NEVER STOPS TYPING!!!

#8 of 187 OFFLINE   Ernest Rister

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Posted March 06 2005 - 05:04 AM

Wouldn't it be more logical to compare "Luxo Jr" to "Steamboat Willie"? I'd compare "Luxo Jr." to something like "Gertie the Dinosaur" in that "Luxo" (like Gertie) has no plot, and is just a movement and character demonstration. "Gertie" is actually the better of the two. Toy Story to Snow White makes perfect sense - one was the first full-length cel-animated flick, the other was the first full-length computer-animated flick... You mean feature? The first animated features were made in South America, long before Snow White, and were made in the silent era. They were harsh political screeds -- think of them as animated Fahrenheit 9/11's -- and were produced while Walt was just getting his feet wet. Snow White was not the first animated feature, and when you listened to Walt, he always said "This was going to be OUR first animated feature" or "Then we made OUR first animated feature", not "THE first animated feature". One could rightly say that Snow White was the first seven-reel animated narrative, but that's a mouthful. Regardless, you're missing the context. When "Steamboat" first appeared, it was the culmination of all Walt had done prior. And every year, year after year, Walt continued to top himself, everything building towards the greatest works of hand-drawn character animation of all time -- Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi. With these, he reached the mountaintop. He couldn't climb any higher. I don't think these first CGI features are going to be considered the zenith of this young medium -- compared to The Incredibles, look how crude Toy Story already looks. These first CGI features are not the mountaintop. They are only the beginning. Somewhere out there lies the Citadel, but this young medium has only begun the climb.

#9 of 187 OFFLINE   Kris Deering

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Posted March 06 2005 - 05:06 AM

Hey David Great Review!! Summed up the experience perfectly for me. As for your EX issue, I would skip it. The benefits of EX or ES are completely wasted when you sit up against a boundary like that. The panning sensation just goes away completely and by mounting the speakers above you, you will get an off pan that will extend up and over instead of around. It's the price we pay for space limitations!! I also have to agree with your bass comments. This film has insane infrasonic information. Most people's subs won't even approach those low levels of bass so they may never even hear it. I tested this soundtrack on two different systems and both of them have the ability to go well below 20Hz, and the sheer amount of infrasonic bass is astounding. You won't hear it, but oh you'll feel it. Keep up the great work with the reviews!!

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#10 of 187 OFFLINE   Ernest Rister

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Posted March 06 2005 - 05:26 AM

"...both of them have the ability to go well below 20Hz." Sweet. Have you tested Fantasia/2000 on that system?

#11 of 187 OFFLINE   Jeff_L

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Posted March 06 2005 - 05:41 AM

As soon as I saw The Incredibles on Nov 5th, I knew no better movie would be coming out for the rest of the year. The best movie of last year far and away! Saw it in the theaters more times than any other that I can think of, 10. The most entertaining movie on every level from start to finish that I have seen in a hell of a long time. But what else should I expect from Brad Bird? The holy trinity of family films in my opinion is now E.T., The Iron Giant, and The Incredibles, so way to go Brad for 2 out of 3! As far as the violence is concerned it is no worse than the 1st Star Wars Trilogy, it is rated PG after all. Michael Giacchino, you got shafted my friend. How he wasn't nominated for Original Score was a crime, he should have won for goodness sakes. Maybe a snob factor, looked him up on IMDB, and a lot of the work he previously did was for video games, but that music was good too!:S

#12 of 187 OFFLINE   Bryant Trew

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Posted March 06 2005 - 05:53 AM

Watched this last night - It's the first movie to make me question the maximum potential of DVD. Yes, I know it's easier to make an animation look better than real life, but this is ridiculously good. I had no idea my RPTV was capable of looking so awesome. As for the sound, I did find it very clear, but a bit low. I even broke out my Radio Shack meter to check it. Most peaks hit around 80db, and the average sound is much lower. For the best action flicks I get peaks in the 90's. All it requires is that I punch the volume up though...
Matrix Reloaded isn't deep at all. It's a simple, rehashed concept dressed up in fancy words and designer outfits...

Real World: "I'm hungry as hell, so I'm going to run my ass down to Micky D's to get me a burger and fries."

Matrix 2: "I need sustenance, ergo, move I shall expeditiously...

#13 of 187 OFFLINE   Casey Trowbridg

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Posted March 06 2005 - 06:16 AM

This is the only movie I've ever seen in a theater more than once. I saw it November 6 and again November 9 and it didn't get any less cool the second time I saw it. I've not looked forward to a DVD coming out this much in quite a long time, and I was really eager for Star Wars but not as much as I am for the Incredibles. Reviews like this from DaViD just make the wait all the more painful. Please 3/15 hurry up and arrive. Ernest's first post in the thread was also very well put and I find myself in agreement with a lot of it. Toy Story really was just the beginning, and the Incredibles is just a rest stop on the journey so to speak. I love this movie...

#14 of 187 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted March 06 2005 - 07:12 AM

Just finished reading David's review and Ernest's follow-up essay. Wow! We are truly fortunate to have these two gifted writers gracing this forum. It's gonna be a long 9 days...
Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:

* It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.
* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.
* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.

#15 of 187 OFFLINE   Ernest Rister

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Posted March 06 2005 - 07:37 AM

I think we're all far more fortunate to have two of the greatest animated films ever made released on home video in spectacular fashion within 14 days of each other. Bambi and The Incredibles are landmarks of character animation and we're blessed to receive such great home video presentations of both, releases separated by a mere 336 hours.

#16 of 187 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted March 06 2005 - 08:28 AM

So, has anyone found the 9-10 Easter Eggs?

DaViD? Posted Image

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#17 of 187 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted March 06 2005 - 08:36 AM

David - again thanks for a great review. Your Bambi review was the cause of me purchasing it last night. Posted Image

I saw this twice in the theater (one with a friend and once with my parents) and I found the latter half, in particular, fantastic. When it went into full superhero mode, it was a rush, and left me smiling widely. And that doesn't do it justice. It was jaw-droppingly, exhilirating. One of the best 40 minutes of movie action I've seen in a long time. They could have looped that three times and called it the move. Posted Image

But, I found the introduction a bit slow and the character tensions not as interesting as I'd hoped. I kept comparing it X-Men, which I still find the best superhero movie since maybe Superman I/II.

And so I question Ernest's suggestion that one day animation will replace live-action superhero movies. To me, it's like saying one day animated characters will replace all actors. But it could be. Final Fantasy attempted it. Tom Hanks tried it with Polar Express.

But perhaps Ernest's right: Arguably, we're there already. SpiderMan is all CGI for the big stunts. The motion of the X-Men, their powers and feats of strength, are all shown with the help of (computer-generated) animation. The burly-brawl of The Matrix: Reloaded is fully CGI Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving.

Of course, the important thing is the story. You can draw it with crayons and animate with a flipbook, and it will be a success if the story and acting are there. And Pixar clearly knows this, putting their incredible technology in the service of the story.

#18 of 187 OFFLINE   TheLongshot

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Posted March 06 2005 - 09:50 AM

I did send you an E-Mail yestderday, which did have my home phone. Did you get it? Jason

#19 of 187 OFFLINE   Nkosi

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Posted March 06 2005 - 10:54 AM

I agree with Craig S that we are really fortunate to have HTF as a place where we can learn so much from such great and insightful people. DaViD- the review was incred... I won't do it Posted Image DaViD- the review was awesome!! And Ernest, thanks for the follow up essay. Man, I simply can't wait for this DVD. The movie blew me away last year and was my favorite film from 2004. The movie is just a true celebration and display of the power of cinema and storytelling. Unbelievable. And DaViD's DVD review has me pacing... trying to wait until the 15th. Great movie!

#20 of 187 OFFLINE   Steve Christou

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Posted March 06 2005 - 11:52 AM

Incredible review David! Posted Image
Forget M$B this was easily the best film of 2004, looking forward to my copy soon.Posted Image

Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.


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