“The Incredibles” Blu-Ray Review

The Incredibles

– for action violence.
Director: Brad Bird
Starring: voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson
Running Time: 2 hours, 1 minute
Theatrical Release Date: November 5, 2004
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 12, 2011 (Amazon.com)
Official Site

Plot Summary
Bob Parr used to be one of the world’s greatest superheroes (known to all as “Mr. Incredible”), saving lives and fighting evil on a daily basis. But now, fifteen years later, Bob and his wife (a famous former superhero in her own right) have adopted civilian identities and retreated to the suburbs to live normal lives with their three kids. Now he’s a clock-punching insurance claims adjuster fighting boredom and a bulging waistline. Itching to get back into action, Bob gets his chance when a mysterious communication summons him to a remote island for a top-secret assignment…
(from TheIncredibles.com)

Film Review
Pixar is a film company that has been able to successfully produce one family hit after another. From toys to bugs to more toys, monsters and fish, Pixar has been able to master storytelling through computer animated features in a seemingly effortless fashion. 2003’s Academy Award winning film Finding Nemo was just an example of better becoming best, leaving audience’s expectations at their highest for anything that bears the Pixar brand. In November of 2004, Pixar released its sixth feature film, The Incredibles.

The Incredibles isn’t your typical family film. I went into the theater expecting the norm from Pixar and received something almost entirely different. First off, this film marks the first of Pixar’s features to warrant a PG rating (all previous films were rated G). The overall tone of the film is a lot more serious and somewhat darker at times than previous efforts. The Incredibles‘ central character is Mr. Incredible, aka Bob Parr, whom we see fifteen years after his career as a superhero has ended and he struggles with trying to live his mundane daily routine as an average insurance claims adjuster. With Bob now also a family man, having married fellow-superhero Elastigirl, the film incorporates a lot more adult themes like marriage and parenthood into the story. While the material never becomes intrusive on being family-friendly, the mood does get a little heavy at times, for instance, when Bob and Helen are arguing about him fighting crime behind her back. The pace is also much slower than the previous films – to the point where snoring broke out from the row of seats behind me.

But once the viewer adjusts to the idea of a more serious and developed story, one can truly appreciate what Pixar and director Brad Bird have done here. As a whole, The Incredibles really, truly is incredible. There is so much more depth and character development in this story than you normally would find in similar animated films. Taking what we all know about superheroes and giving it such a unique twist lets the viewers really in on something fun and new. From the flashbacks in the beginning giving us a glimpse at Mr. Incredible’s glory days as a crime fighter to the truly exciting final scenes, Pixar handles this story with care.

The PG rating is certainly deserved. The action violence is a bit intense at times for the younger audience. I was surprised how many of Syndrome’s goons were implied to actually die, such as via an explosive death when their vehicles crashed (while it’s typical for the central villain to perish, there almost always seems to be an attempt to keep the villain body count low). Also, while Edna explains the hazards of a superhero wearing a cape, we see a series of superheroes who have died due to accidents with a cape. With such, we see a hero’s cape catch on a rocket and another get sucked into a jet engine. While the actual death isn’t seen, the implications are made. Much of the action is pretty intense with many close-calls and near deaths for the main characters. While nothing graphic is ever seen, we do see the creepy skeleton of a deceased superhero and an ever-so-brief shot of a bloody cut on Mr. Incredible’s arm. While this all doesn’t seem too significant, coupled with some pretty hefty action sequences, it accumulates to one rather intense family film.

The creativity and solid writing of The Incredibles is what really makes this film a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable treat. While not perfect, it comes close, and quite possibly redefines what an action/comedy/family film could be. Many times during the film, it’s easy to forget you’re viewing an animated movie. The characters become so well-developed and so real — not to mention the visuals are astounding — that it pushes the boundaries of animated films as we know them.

Further proving that films don’t need the vulgar side of reality to be enjoyable, Pixar continues their winning streak with The Incredibles, and leaves audiences in anticipation of their next outing.
John DiBiase, (reviewed: 11/7/04; updated 4/9/11)

Blu-Ray Special Features Review
2011 sees the debut of Pixar’s The Incredibles on Blu-Ray disc. To properly bring the film into the high definition media realm, Disney has released the movie in a Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital copy combo pack. In Blu, the film looks crystal clear and beautifully colored and rendered. It’s a little obvious, however, when watching the film in 2011, that computer animation has made even more great strides over the past seven years. Pixar’s more recent UP and Toy Story 3 are good examples of this. Still, The Incredibles is a fantastic superhero-themed action adventure film that remains relevant and enjoyable today (especially in the superhero-crazed movie-going audience right now).

The Blu-Ray disc portion of the film is actually two discs; the first of which is the feature film coupled with a few bonus features, while the second disc is entirely devoted to more special features – some in HD, and some in standard definition that were ported over from the original DVD release of the film.

Disc One: Feature Film
Commentaries (1:55:00) – There are actually two full-length commentary tracks — one from director Brad Bird, the other from the animators.

Boundin’ (4:42) is the Pixar animated short that appeared at the beginning of The Incredibles when it ran in theaters in November, 2004. It’s about a happy little sheep who gets his world shattered when a farmer shears him, leaving him naked and depressed. Suddenly, a jackalope shows up and teaches him how to “bound” and “rebound” by just being happy and jumping around despite his circumstances. There’s optional commentary from Brad Bird for this one.

Jack Jack Attack (4:42) – The original animated short that first appeared on the DVD release of The Incredibles is featured here. It tells the story of just what the baby sitter experienced with Jack Jack while the rest of the Incredibles were fighting the giant robot in the city. It’s still a fun addition that’s nice to have here in high definition.

Jack Jack Attack Exploded (4:43) – This is a visual commentary that features director Brad Bird and three other artists who worked on this short as they take a deeper look behind the making of this short cartoon. While we don’t see the commentators except for pictures of them, we see frequent stills or videos integrated into the cartoon that show test footage, concept designs, and photographs of real people who inspired the characters Kari and Jack Jack (the latter of which was named for Bird’s little boy). It reveals discarded ideas and concepts as well, and ultimately is a great watch for fans of the movie and animated short.

The Incredibles Revisited (22:09) – This is a “roundtable” discussion that reunites the crew that worked on the film, driven by director Brad Bird. It also includes producer John Walker, supervising technical director Rick Sayre, character designer Teddy Newton, supervising animator Tony Fucile, production designer Lou Romano and story supervisor Mark Andrews. This is a very laid back, retrospective look into how the movie was birthed conceptually, the problems they had getting Disney to back it at first, and how difficult it was to accomplish with the limits of animation at the time. The crew talk further about how intense it was to work with Brad, joking about how difficult he was at times, and footage from the production (storyboards, actual in-studio video, etc) is mixed in. If you’re interested in the animation process or filmmaking, this is a real gem.

Disc Two: Bonus Material
Paths To Pixar: Story Artists (5:53) – Storyboarders from Pixar talk about how important storyboarding is to making an animated movie. They relate the process to making The Incredibles and even use the example of how Elastigirl infiltrates the base in the film and the evolution of that scene.

Studio Stories: Gary’s Birthday (1:24) – Like on other Pixar Blu-Ray releases, this is a brief “studio story” that is apparently true, this time involving how the team got tired of celebrating peoples’ birthdays really frequently, so they decided to have one birthday for the “gang”… except when they ordered one big cake for everyone, the bakery goofed up the word “gang” and spelled “Gary” on it. And so it became a big inside joke among the crew. (Brad Bird uses the word “cr*ppy” here twice)

Ending With A Bang: Making The End Credits (1:35) – This short featurette discusses how the style was chosen for the end credits, inspired by 60s, 2D animation, and how the crew’s individual roles came into play with the visuals.

The New Nomanisan: A Top Secret Redevelopment Plan (3:30) – This is a mock commercial that advertises the refurbished home base island of Syndrome’s as now being the perfect resort getaway. After the animated intro, we’re given a map of Nomanisan island and specific locations that have been converted into special attractions. It’s a really silly feature to add on here, but pretty amusing nonetheless.

Deleted Scenes Now In HD – These are the deleted scenes, all shown mostky as animated storyboards with scratch vocals, that were first released on the DVD release of the movie in 2005. Each one is introduced by Brad Bird and story supervisor Mark Andrews. The first scene is a fifteen-minute alternate opening that shows them as normal people trying to fit in at a neighborhood barbecue when they’re tracked down by Syndrome later that night. It’s an interesting scene, but the final version in the film definitely works better. The second is a scene that involved Helen’s own personal friend pilot, Snug, and how he helps out Elastigirl and ultimately becomes a casualty. The next is partially CG-animated but entirely unfinished (their daughter has no hair at all) where Helen and the kids are hiding after the plane crash from the enemy ships that fly by. The next sequence shows Bob helping the cops during a traffic jam but the police aren’t grateful like he hoped they’d be. The second to last scene shows Helen coming right out and asking Bob if he’s having an affair and he tells her she’s crazy. This was a wise cut. Finally, we see Helen having a nightmare that Bob is Mr. Incredible with all kinds of cute bikini-clad women fawning all over him. Another wise cut.

Incredibles Teaser In HD (2:01) – This is the original theatrical teaser for The Incredibles where Mr. Incredible gets the call to action and we see him suit up… but he’s too fat to get his belt on. It’s a fantastic teaser and a great addition here.

Classic Content – These are the original DVD features, including “Making of The Incredibles” (27:30), “Story” (7:15), “Character Design” (5:30), “E Volution” (2:45), “Building Humans” (6:17), “Building Extras” (2:00), “Set Design” (2:00), “Sound” (3:13), “Music” (5:15), “Lighting” (3:00), “Toos” (2:39), “Mr. Incredible and Pals” (4:00), “Mr. Incredible and Pals Commentary By Mr. Incredible and Frozone” (4:00), “NSA Files (Audio + 21 Stills)” (7:00), “Who Is Bud Luckey?” (3:55), “Vowellett – An Essay By Sarah Vowell” (10:13) and “Art Gallery.” It’s an immense amount of extras, but they’re not presented in HD. (NOTE: In “Mr. Incredible and Pals Commentary By Mr. Incredible and Frozone,” Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone uses the word “cr*ppy” once and then he and Craig T. Nelson as Mr. Incredible are both bleeped out for implied strong profanity towards the end. It’s done as a joke, but it’s still surprising to find on here)

Easter Eggs – This is a series of Easter Eggs that must have been hidden on the original DVD release. The first is a video of the film done as a sock puppet play in about three minutes. The next is a video of Bob dancing in his home, followed by a brief video about one of the crew members having devoured a cake on film to use as reference for when Bob scarfs down a slice in the movie. Next is a montage of buttons and doors and explosions seen throughout the film. “H3A – Classroom” is a deleted storyboarded scene where Dash puts signs on the back of his inept teacher. This one isn’t among the other deleted scenes. “Angus’ Guards” are joke deleted examples of brief cheers (like “Goal!”) that they try out after punching Dash before they meet their explosive end. “Victors’ Guards” is similar, except they are multiple “takes” of Mr. Incredible knocking out a guard by throwing a coconut long distance. “Incrediblunders” are a series of animation bloopers while “Frank & Ollie” is dedicated to two of the original Disney animators who actually make a brief appearance in the film in animated form. “Ball and Scooter” is just a 12 second video clip of someone riding a scooter through Pixar Studios and someone else kicking a large ball into the scooter rider, causing them to wipe out. Finally, “Markisms” is a montage of Mark Andrews goofing around on camera.

Publicity – These are the trailers for the movie as well as over six minutes of character interviews — literally characters from the movie being interviewed by real media to promote the movie’s release.

Overall, if you don’t own a copy of The Incredibles yet, this is the version to grab. While it might not be necessary to upgrade your DVD from six years ago, this really is the best looking version of the film you can watch and it looks fabulous on a nice TV. It’s still a fun movie and a great action film with a lot of heart.
John DiBiase, (reviewed: 4/10/11)

Parental Guide: Content Summary
. Sex/Nudity: Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible share some romantic moments including a playful scene where we see different moments of him leaving for work and her pulling him back inside the house (simply for playful implications but nothing is ever seen).
. Vulgarity/Language: 3 “G-d”
. Alcohol/Drugs: It’s very subtle, but we hear some of Syndrome’s goons comment “Everytime they run, we take a shot,” in reference to a drinking game. Mr. Incredible is drinking mimosa, while he and Mirage share wine earlier.
. Blood/Gore: We see a tiny bit of blood on Mr. Incredible’s arm when he’s cut there. We briefly see creepy skeletal remains of a late superhero.
. Violence: Mostly comic-style violence: We see some of Syndrome’s goons’ vehicles crash (implying death). When Edna is talking about the dangers of a superhero with a cape, we see instances that display how superheros have died in the past due to cape hazards. We see the act of the hero being caught in the situation but not the resulting death. We later see another character get sucked into a jet engine (without seeing the actual death, we know what will happen); other comic-style violence like fighting, explosions, crashes, etc occur.

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