New on Blu-ray: The Incredibles (2004)

Pixar movies were made to be watched on Blu-ray using a high-definition television to get their full dose of CG glory. To do otherwise would be to not appreciate the careful attention to detail and the sweat and blood the Pixar boys put into their movies. Which is why Pixar diehards will be giddy when Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment unleashes Brad Bird’s 2004 superhero family movie “The Incredibles” on Blu-ray in a four-disc set for the very first time on April 12, 2011.

Known to the world as superheroes, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, Bob Parr and his wife Helen were among the world’s greatest crime fighters, saving lives and battling evil on a daily basis. Fifteen years later, they have been forced to adopt civilian identities and retreat to the suburbs to live “normal” lives with their three kids, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack. 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. He soon discovers that it will take a super family effort to rescue the world from total destruction. Exploding with fun and all-new bonus features available only on Blu-ray, this spectacular 4-disc combo pack is edge-of-your-seat entertainment for everyone.

Review:

If you’ve waited this long to see Brad Bird’s “The Incredibles”, then you’ve been denying yourself one of the best superhero movies to ever be put on the big screen, animated or not. Simply put, “The Incredibles” is incredible. It boggles the mind why Pixar, seven years later, still hasn’t gotten their act together and put out a sequel to the film yet. What, we’ve gotten three “Toy Stories”, two “Cars”, and soon, two “Monsters, Inc.”, but someone over there still doesn’t think “The Incredibles” is worth a sequel? Which part of $631 worldwide box office gross doesn’t Pixar understand?

Set in a world where superheroes have been outlawed (detailed brilliantly in the film’s first 10-minute prologue), “The Incredibles” follows the indestructible Mr. Incredible, aka Bob Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) as he struggles to live a boring suburban existence with his wife Helen, aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunt), and their three children, 15 years after their forced retirement. Two of his kids have developed powers (one can turn invisible, and the other is super-fast), but Jack-Jack the baby seems perfectly normal. Seems, anyway. Bob and Helen’s life of suburban tedium is rocked when a supervillain from their past appears, and it’s up to the outlawed superheroes to get back into the game and save the world once again.

Freed from the limitations of live-action superhero movies, “The Incredibles” made full use of their CG status to craft some stunning action sequences. As a superhero movie, the film is guaranteed to make every comic book nerd happy. There is action pretty much throughout, along with Pixar’s amazing ability to tell an engaging, character-driven story along the way. There’s just something brilliant about watching a paunchy but still huge Mr. Incredible stuck behind a desk wearing a suit and tie denying a shriveled up old lady insurance benefits. When it’s time to jump back into action, Mr. Incredible finds that suburban life has left him a little, shall we say, out of shape.

“The Incredibles” features outstanding voice work from the entire cast, including Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone, pretty much the film’s only other superhero from what I can tell, though we do see other masked crimefighters early in the film during a wedding scene. Jason Lee is Syndrome, the supervillain who provides the nudge necessary for the retired superheroes, including the reluctant Elastigirl, to hop back into action. Writer/director Brad Bird himself provides the voice of Edna ‘E’ Mode, Mr. Incredible’s, well, super costume tailor.

Blu-ray Review:

More than any other genre, Pixar’s CG movies were made to be shown on the Blu-ray format. And while “The Incredibles” does produce an excellent transfer to Blu-ray, let’s just say that you can actually tell that it’s a Pixar movie made in 2004 as compared to their more recent, flawless offerings like “Wall-E” and “Up”. The studio was clearly still working out some of the kinks in the animation back then, and the characters and backgrounds aren’t nearly as seamless as they are today. You have to remember, though, that Blu-ray wasn’t even officially released until 2006, two years after “The Incredibles”, and every home didn’t have at least two high-def TV in the living room. Compared to its 2004 brethren, “The Incredibles” is still some, well, incredible stuff.

The four-disc Blu-ray set includes the film on Blu-ray, a digital copy, standard DVD, and a fourth disc filled with bonus features.

The Blu-ray disc includes full-length audio commentaries with director Brad Bird and producer John Walker on one track and about a dozen of the film’s animators on another track. There’s also an optional audio commentary with director Bud Luckey on his short film “Boundin'”, which is included. Also included: the very entertaining 5-minute “Jack-Jack Attack” short film, along with its companion piece, “Jack-Jack Exploded”, which goes through the behind-the-scenes making of “Attack”. The final bonus is called “The Incredibles Revisited”, a 22-minute round-table featurette with director Brad Bird getting back together with other members of the film’s crew to “revisit” the film seven years later. They look happy enough to be there, though sitting around a table reminiscing while cameras filmed them was definitely not comfortable for all of them.


The fourth disc is where the studio has crammed everything else. While interesting, you could probably skip this disc entirely. This includes a 5-minute “Paths of Pixar”, which explains what storyboard artists do for the movie (in a word, they’re really important). There’s a quick 90-second “Gary’s Birthday”, a Pixar studio anecdote told with animation. Not exactly mind-blowing stuff. The equally quick 90-second “Ending with a Bang” is much better, and details the creation of the movie’s end credits. The 4-minute “The New Nomanisan Island: A Top Secret Redevelopment Plan” newsreel-style featurette (above video) is very amusing; it also features an interactive tour of the island with quick funny bits inside.

More interesting in terms of getting additional fun out of “The Incredibles” are the deleted scenes, or actually, storyboarded scenes that were never used in the movie. 2004 Brad Bird sits down and explains why they weren’t used, or why they decided to take a different direction, such as with the opening prologue. Other bonuses include the original teaser trailer in HD, over an hour’s worth of “classic content” that can also be found from the movie’s previous DVD releases, and a wealth of easter eggs featuring everything from the film’s scenes acted out with puppets to Mr. Incredible getting down.

Buy “The Incredibles” on Blu-ray from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment April 12, 2011.