The Incredibles

The Incredibles (2004)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurettes, Deletes Scenes, Bloopers, Short Films, Galleries, Digital Copy, Interactive Feature, and much much more

"The Incredibles" is — in my opinion — one of the best movies that Pixar has produced so far. It is great to see that finally, this marvelous animated movie is finally making its way to Blu-Ray Disc.

For this movie, 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, he is now plagued some aches from the aftermath of the rescue. In the best American tradition he mangles the law and decides to sue Mr. Incredible for saving his life. As a result, lawsuits spring up all over the world as people begin to frivolously sue superheroes. With the increasing pressure and cost of these lawsuits mounting, 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 beacon of hope and are now forced to being a pencil pusher, make a living by cheating people out of their well-deserved insurances claims? A little something on the side, that's what you do. So Mr. Incredible and his friend Frozone spend a few nights here and there 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 they carefully hide from public view. 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.

I attribute most of the film's charm to director Brad Bird, who has proven again and again that he can take even the simplest of premises and spin it into a fascinating tale riveting with action and honest emotion. There is a reason why "Ratatouille" is probably my second-most beloved Pixar movie.

"The Incredibles" 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 movies 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.

Seeing "The Incredibles" in 1080p high definition is like walking outside after a good, hard rain. What you see is just so incredibly clear, deep and defined that you wonder if you've been wearing dirty goggles all this time. Featuring colors that are blazing and perfectly bringing out the powerful hues of the film, the transfer's definition has to be seen to be believed. It is, in fact, among the best that have ever graced Blu-Ray. Coming straight from the digital source the image is razor-sharp and had black levels that give the image more depth than ever.

The release features a DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track that makes phenomenal use of the format. The track pushed 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. Best of all, however, the track is carefully balanced — never too loud and never too low in volume.

Packed with extras and bonuses, the release contains two commentary tracks. 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.

Also included is a Filmmaker roundtable called "The Incredibles Revisited," offering additional insight into the movie and the people who made it. There is also "Jack-Jack Attack," a short film about little baby Jack-Jack and his antics back at home while the rest of the family is out saving the world. This short is accompanied by "Jack-Jack-Attack Exploded" and another short film called "Boundin'" 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 track.

There is a second Blu-Ray disc included, which features such an incredible wealth of bonus materials that it is hard to list it all here. It includes deleted scenes, an alternate opening, for example, as well as "Incredi-Blunders" a series of bloopers, which turn out to be very funny. It continues with 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.

A new interactive feature called "The New Nomanisan" is also included, along with 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.

And then there's still some more, smaller stuff all over the disc.

As if all of that were not enough, the release also includes the DVD version of the movie, complete with the "Boundin'" and "Jack-Jack-Attack" short films, and a Digital Copy on a fourth disc.

While we always expect a step up from Blu-Ray releases compared to DVDs, it doesn't happen all that often that you want to rub your eyes and go "Whoa!" But that is exactly what will happen to you when you insert "The Incredibles" in your player. I would give this release 6 out of 5 stars if I could because it is one of those releases that will make you want to go out and buy a Blu-Ray player if you don't own one yet.

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 fantastic superhero action. This release gets my highest marks and recommendations. You simply owe it to yourself to experience "The Incredibles" in high definition.