The Incredibles (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Brad Bird
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 115 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 45.99
Release Date: April 12, 2011
Review Date: April 11, 2011
Has anyone actually sat down with all of the Pixar films and analyzed exactly what it is about them that make them tower over the animated work of all other studios? It’s not just the unusual stories, the interesting and identifiable characters, and the enormous amounts of action, humor, and heart that are built into each one. It’s just this staggering amount of imagination, this feeling that with every new scene we’re going to experience something utterly fresh and satisfying that makes watching each one of their gems such a glorious experience. The Incredibles is the Pixar pinnacle; sure, there have been advances in animation since this film premiered, but you won’t find a funnier, more action-filled, and more deliciously delightful animated movie out there. It’s like A Chorus Line: a singular sensation.
Superhero Mr. Incredible aka Bob Parr, his secret identity, (Craig T. Nelson) was at one time a premiere crime fighter, but a series of lawsuits against him left him and his fellow heroes at the mercy of overriding public derision, so the government quietly retires them all, moving them into a kind of witness protection program that is sheer fifteen year torture for the once beloved champion. Becoming an insurance adjuster with his wife Helen aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and three children living a deadly dull life in the suburbs, he is beyond unhappy. One day, however, he’s surprised to receive an offer to secretly use his powers to combat a potential new threat, an Omnivoid, on a secret island facility in the Pacific Ocean. Despite being rusty and out of shape, he triumphs over his mechanical foe which only whets his appetite to continue fighting for the causes of good but now undercover without even Helen knowing. What Bob doesn’t know is that the creator of the Omnivoid is actually his arch nemesis Syndrome (Jason Lee) with a personal grudge against him and a plan to establish himself as the only source for help when things get tough. Though they had sworn off using their powers any longer, it’s going to take not only Bob’s family but also his best friend Lucius Best aka Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) to combat the wicked Syndrome.
From the faux news interviews which open the film to the delightfully arty credits which close it, The Incredibles is a, well, incredible thrill ride. Great attention to detail has been given in making old newsreel footage appear aged, reminiscences about their happier days appear golden, and colors adjusted to match the light in caves, jungles, open sea, and in dark interiors. And even the timing of jokes – window glass that breaks and falls at just the right moment, an ejector seat which is timed to dump its passenger with perfect precision, a gum bubble which bursts at exactly the effective second – just takes one’s breath away. Visual gags are numerous (the hugely muscular and overweight Bob squeezed into his tiny compact car, the baby Jack-Jack’s surprise powers at the conclusion), and verbal quips simply terrific (Edna Mode, costume designer to the stars, steals all of her scenes). And the level of animation to contain such astounding special effects, the explosions, the superpowers (son Dash as he zooms around, Frozone’s icy tentacles), and the incredibly detailed jungles just make astounding impressions time after time. The film is so stuffed with riches that one viewing is simply not enough to reveal its many pleasures and treasures. Suffice to say that director Brad Bird and his team of animators, story editors, and consultants scored a bull’s eye with this effort, its Oscar for Best Animated Feature merely icing on an already perfectly planned and executed confection.
The voice talent is also sublime. Craig T. Nelson’s tremendous performance as the bored and hopelessly grounded Bob who suddenly springs to life when he’s allowed to be himself cannot be over praised, and Jason Lee as his arch enemy Syndrome excels mightily with his evil chicanery. Holly Hunter’s scratchy alto is unmistakable as the more resigned but sharp-tongued Helen. Syndrome’s slinky assistant is voiced by Elizabeth Pena in an alluring performance while Wallace Shawn makes Bob’s greedy, uptight insurance boss Gilbert Huph a real pill. As the two talking Parr children, Spencer Fox as the enthusiastic Dash and Sarah Vowell as the socially awkward Violet are completely believable. If Brad Bird hadn’t taken home an Oscar for directing this masterwork, he should have been given one for his hilarious vocals as designer Edna Mode. With her Edith Head looks and her take-no-prisoners demeanor, Edna is one of the film’s most inspired creations.
Is it a surprise that the film earns reference scores for its video imagery? The 2.39:1 picture (1080p resolution using the AVC codec) is striking in its sharpness, color dimensionality, and solid lines without a hint of smearing or banding, even with all of the reds and greens. There isn't an artifact to be seen, not even with the multitude of tight line structures which could have been an aliasing nightmare. Blacks are beautifully inky, and the entire image is perfection. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is another in the sterling annuls of the Pixar studio. It’s no accident that this film won an Oscar for its sound editing as the soundtrack is alive with bursts of activity in every channel almost constantly and yet can be subtle with its effects when the need arises. Michael Giacchino’s terrific score was his first for Pixar, and its jazzy variety and driving power add extra dimension to the movie sounding wonderful in this lossless presentation. Dialogue is superbly recorded and is directionalized from time to time though the majority of it resides in the center channel.
Disc one contains two audio commentaries ported over from the DVD release. In the first, director Brad Bird and producer John Walker speak glowingly about the work done by all departments in fashioning the incredibly difficult-to-achieve look of the movie. The second commentary features a string of story editors and animators who worked on the project with their comments pieced together to form a separate but equally interesting commentary track.
All of the video featurettes on disc one are presented in 1080p.
Boundin’ is the Oscar-nominated short which accompanied The Incredibles into theaters. The musically rhymed story of a year in the life of a sheep runs 4 ¾ minutes.
Jack-Jack Attack is a 4 ¾-minute short showing us what baby Jack-Jack was up to with his baby sitter while his parents and siblings were off on their own adventure.
"Jack-Jack Attack Exploded" is the same short but played with a picture-in-picture commentary track discussing its making. It runs the same 4 ¾ minutes.
"The Incredibles Revisited" is a 22 ¼-minute roundtable discussion featuring Brad Bird, John Walker, and five senior members of the creative team reminiscing about their experiences making the movie including ideas that didn’t work, problems they ran into with the computer generation, and a non-supportive Disney executive who didn’t believe in the movie.
The disc contains 1080p trailers for Cars 2 and The Lion King.
Disc Two contains the remaining bonus features, some directly below in 1080p and most of the DVD-ported bonuses in 480i.
“Paths to Pixar: Story Artists” is a montage of interviews with various story artists at Pixar who discuss their paths to the studio and offer advice for any who want to consider what they do for a career. It runs 6 minutes.
“Studio Stories: Gary’s Birthday” tells the story of how the artists figured out a way to save time by having one gigantic birthday party instead of individual ones spread throughout the year. The origin of “Gary” is explained in this 1 ½ minute short.
“Ending with a Bang: Making the End Credits” explains (for those who didn’t listen to the commentaries) how the unusual closing credits for the movie came to be. It runs 1 ½ minutes.
“The New Nomanisan Island Redevlopment Plan” is a witty interactive map of Nomanisan Island offering ten brief descriptions of new opportunities (shooting range, spa, nightlife, camps) available on Syndrome’s formerly evil locale. Each vignette runs from ¼ to ½ minute.
There are six deleted scenes with introductions by Brad Bird and John Walker. They’re now presented in 1080p and run a total of 32 ½ minutes.
A 1080p teaser trailer for the movie runs 2 minutes.
The featurettes from the original DVD release which are ported over to this Blu-ray disc and are presented in 480i are as follows:
- “The Making of The Incredibles” is a rather haphazard approach to explaining what went into the production of the film. It’s 24 ½ minutes.
- “Story” describes how a narrative sequence is created in this 7 ½ minute feature.
- “Character Design” features an interview with the production designer who discusses forming these stylized, human characters. It runs for 5 ½ minutes.
- “E Volution” is an amusing look at the creation of the wonderful Edna Mode in 2 ¾ minutes.
- “Building Humans” takes 6 ¼ minutes to discuss the different stylized approaches to the people and how hard their hair was to animate.
- “Building Extras” reveals how a universal man design was used for all of the background and extra characters. It runs 2 minutes.
- “Set Design” elaborates on the 130 sets used in this film, designed to appear as a modernized, fictionalized 1960s. This runs 3 ¼ minutes.
- “Sound” reminds us that every sound had to be created from nothing in this 3 ½ minute vignette.
- “Music” shows the composing and recording of the score with live musicians together recording the tracks. It runs 5 ¼ minutes.
- “Lighting” shows how lighting can change the mood of a scene in an interesting 2 ¾ minute piece.
- “Tools” explains how software had to be created to be able to create the models used in this movie. It runs 2 ¾ minutes.
- “Mr. Incredible and Pals” is a silly 4-minute old-style cartoon with the title character and Frozone conquering a villain or two. There is also a for-laughs commentary with Craig Nelson and Samuel Jackson playing their characters responding unfavorably to the cartoon.
- “NSA Files” is a fun little picture and audio database featuring twenty-one superheroes which have been relocated by the NSA.
- “Who Is Brad Luckey?” introduces us to the man behind Boundin’ who also plays an NSA official in The Incredibles. This runs 4 minutes.
- “Vowellett – An Essay” is a quick portrait of writer/voice actress Sarah Vowell who plays Violet in the movie. This is 9 ¼ minutes.
- The step-through art gallery is divided into six sections.
There are eleven Easter eggs from the DVD release that are gathered here for easy viewing. They can be watched separately or in a 14-minute grouping.
There are four faux interviews with characters from the movie. Together they run 6 ½ minutes. Interviewed are Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Frozone, and Edna Mode.
There are two theatrical trailers which run 2 and 2 ½ minutes respectively. There are also eight teasers and spot ads which together run 2 ¾ minutes.
The third disc in the set is the DVD version of the film.
The fourth disc in the set is the digital copy of the movie with enclosed instructions for installation on PC and Mac devices.
Also inside are instructions for garnering a free admission ticket to Cars 2.
5/5 (not an average)
A one-of-a-kind animated movie (but then, apart from their sequels, all of the Pixar films are one-of-a-kind), The Incredibles makes for a tremendous Blu-ray release with superb picture and sound, new and vintage extras all on the discs in the package, and additional discs in the set for other uses. Highest recommendation!