The Incredibles

The Incredibles (2004)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurettes, Deletes Scenes, Bloopers, Short films, Galleries, and much much more

Pixar’s latest film has just arrived on DVD in another one of Disney’s great 2-disc Collector’s Editions. This time the geniuses at Pixar have teamed up with Brad Bird, the mastermind behind "The Iron Giant" and, many of the greatest "The Simpsons" episodes, of course, to create a movie that not only features Pixar’s trademark technique, wits and ability to create loveably characters, but also one that features a plot that is decisively different from their previous movies, taking it out of the whimsical realm and firmly plants it into the world of epic action filmmaking… sort of.

When the "The Incredibles" starts out we see that the world is continually saved by the selfless deeds of a group of superheroes. Wherever there is trouble, the Supers show up to save the day and bringing down the bad guys. Things change rapidly however, when one of the superheroes, Mr. Incredible, saves a man from falling to his own death from the top of a skyscraper. Not pleased that his suicide attempt has been disrupted and he is now plagued some aches from the aftermath of the rescue, in the best American manner he decides to sue Mr. Incredible for saving his life. Quickly lawsuits spring up all over the world as people frivolously sues superheroes and with the mounting pressure the governments of the world decide to put an end to it and force all superheroes to stop their work, go undercover and lead regular lives.
For 15 years this has worked fine, but what are you going to do when you once were world’s only hope and are now forced to make a living cheating people out of their insurances? A little something on the side, that’s what you do, so Mr. Incredible and his friend Frozone spend a few nights helping people in need, completely incognito, of course.
Utterly frustrated and miserable with his live the only sunshine Mr. Incredible has is his family, all of which also have superpowers. And on the day when Mr. Incredible is finally losing his job, he receives a mysterious message. It is an invitation for a elusive job. One that requires superpowers. One that pays well and is entirely undercover. For Bob Parr, aka Mr. Incredible, this is finally the chance he has been waiting for and soon he finds himself back in the game, without the knowledge of his family or anyone else, of course. But not all is as simple and easy as it may seem at first.

"The Incredibles" is a wonderful movie, rich with visuals, style, locales, characters and allegories. Unlike what you might expect, the movie is much less a comic book superhero event than a secret agent mystery. It conjures up feelings and images of a James Bond movie on every corner, combined with a bit Marvel glory. With its adventurous plot and exotic settings, the film weaves a spell that won’t let go until the end, completely pulling viewers in.

The movie also has an intriguing sense of humor that works for all ages. Children will enjoy it on one level and grown-ups may detect some other, more sublime, humorous notions in the film that cater directly to them. References to other films are all over the place, and some of the situations answer some of the questions you may always had on your mind while reading a superhero comic, such as where does his strength go once he takes off the suit, or what good are capes, really?

A magnificent cast lent their voices to this movie with Craig T. Nelson being Mr. Incredible, Holly Hunter his wife Elastigirl and Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone. They are supported by a group of wonderfully talented voice actors who all breathe live to their characters like you’d expect from a Pixar production, never doing too much, but always enough to fully flesh out the personalities and make them tangible.

Pixar is serving up "The Incredibles" in an <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> transfer on this DVD that is absolutely breathtaking. Forget about the <$PS,fullframe> version also on offer as the 2.39:1 aspect ratio clearly requires you to see a <$PS,widescreen> presentation in order to fully enjoy the film. Coming straight from the digital source the image has a clarity you would not believe. Razor-sharp yet without even a hint of edge-enhancement the image magnificent throughout. Colors are blazing, bringing to life the fiery reds as well as the cool blues without any oversaturation or bleeding. Even the most subtle gradients are flawlessly reproduced giving the image a rich and vibrant look. Blacks are solid and deep, rendering shadows perfectly detailed and firmly rooting the image visually. Needless to say that the compression is without flaws or artifacts.

The DVD contains a <$DD,Dolby Digital> EX mix that makes phenomenal use of the format – but dare I ask why there is no 6.1 channel <$DTS,DTS> track on this release? The track is making very good use of the surround format with a wide sound field and remarkable spatial integration of the sound effects. Dialogue is very well integrated and is never drowned out. The frequency response is wide and has a very good bass extension that gives the track a lot of energy, particularly in action moments. The dynamic range is equally impressive and makes sure the presentation is powerful and engaging at all times.

The DVD contains two <$commentary,commentary track>s. The first one features writer and director Brad Bird as he discusses the conception of the film, the production, the ideas and the amount of work that went into this movie. It clearly shows that this is a labor of love on his end and a film he wanted to make for a long time. The second commentary features some of the film’s animators, as they discuss the more technical implications of the making of the movie.

On the second disc of the DVD set you will find a wealth of bonus materials, complete with a brief introduction by Brad Bird. A series of deleted scenes, including an alternate opening, for example, as well as "Incredi-Blunders" a series of bloopers, which turn out to be very funny.

In fact, the DVD contains so many cool extras that it is hard to go through them all. There is "Jack-Jack Attack," a new short film about little baby Jack-Jack and his antics back at home while the rest of the family is out saving the world. There are a series of featurettes covering all aspects of the making of the movie, from the early ideas to storyboarding, creation and casting the film. Also look for an extensive art gallery, teasers, trailers and cool character interviews.

In a "Top Secret" section of the release you will also find two lovingly done "Mr. Incredible" cartoons that conjure up the classic feel of 50s superhero cartoons. Even more amusing are the government’s top secret superhero files where you can find information about every superhero on earth, their powers, their personalities and more.

"Boundin’" is another Pixar short film on the release, this time about a singing sheep. It’s a typical Pixar short in that it showcases personality, technology and superb animation in a few brief minutes. It even comes with a <$commentary,commentary track>.

And then there’s still some more, smaller stuff all over the disc. This DVD is really chock full of extras, making me wonder how they fit it all on there.

I am rarely impressed by DVDs on a technical level these days, but "The Incredibles" was one of those few DVDs where I looked at the screen in amazement, utterly taken by the quality of the presentation. It is a reference disc that puts most everything else to shame, and the film itself is, of course, a masterfully created adventure thrill ride with laughs, serious moments and some phantastic superhero action. This release gets my highest marks and recommendations. You simply owe it to yourself to experience "The Incredibles" on this DVD.