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THE INCREDIBLES

Review by Gordon Justesen

Voices: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Elizabeth Pena, Brad Bird
Director: Brad Bird
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, French Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Disney/Pixar
Features: See Review
Length: 115 Minutes
Release Date: March 15, 2005

"THAT WAS TOTALLY WICKED!"

Film ****

The revolutionary realm of computer animated films has been perhaps the most competitive film market amongst the studios. Disney and Pixar Studios paved the way with 1995's Toy Story, and since then, other studios such as DreamWorks (Shrek), Fox (Ice Age) and even Warner Bros. (The Polar Express), have offered their own impressive features. However, nothing more confirmed Disney and Pixar's reign of the market than last year's astonishing smash, The Incredibles.

Not only does it represent the most state of the art animation that has yet to be captured on screen, but this is also the edgiest animated film to emerge from any studio. It is a family film, but it also happens to contain some of the most mind blowing action and effects of any recent action adventure movie. Believe me when I tell you that, in terms of hero movies, this one even gives Spider-Man 2 a run for its money.

In addition, the movie carries a sharp, more mature tone in its humor and story than any animated film I've ever seen. It is perhaps the first film of its kind that plays like a regular live action movie would. It also acquires a lengthier running time of 115 minutes, creating a more epic feel.

You simply have to hand it to the film's writer/director, Brad Bird (the director of the heavily underrated The Iron Giant); he is a filmmaker of extraordinary imagination. He definitely knows a thing or two about comic book super heroes, and all the elements and cliches that go along with them. He has taken this and woven together an outstanding adventure comedy about heroes forced into retirement, only to be forced back into the business.

The story begins with the introduction of Mr. Incredible/aka Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson), whose daily doings of saving the world come with assistance in the form of Elastigirl/Helen (Holly Hunter) and Frozone/Lucius (Samuel L. Jackson). However, unwanted rescues and various citizen injuries help to call for a boycott of all heroes with secret identities. As a result, their secret identity can be their ONLY identity.

Fifteen years pass, Bob and Helen are married with three kids in tow. Bob, however, is increasingly depressed by his job at an insurance company, where he's forced to tell clients he can't help them, making him miss the old days even more. He yearns for it so bad that some nights, he and Lucius listen to the police scanner in order to secretly aid the cops, while telling his wife that their going bowling.

Then one night, Bob gets a secret invitation from a mysterious individual. It regards the possibility of returning to his superhero roots. It results in a trap set up by a new nemesis named Syndrome (Jason Lee), who has a personal bitter taste for Mr. Incredible.

Before long, Helen is suspecting that her husband is up to something. She is soon confronted with the truth of where Bob is, and is then confronted by eccentric suit designer Edna (voiced by Brad Bird, himself). Edna has a knack for creating unique costumes, as long as no capes are involved (something that is explained in a fantastically funny sequence.)

Once Helen reassumes her Elastigirl identity, with a hero suit that would make J. Lo jealous, and runs to her husband's rescue, The Incredibles turns into a non stop ride of breathtaking action sequences. What's more, every following action scene seems to outdo the previous one, something that is hardly ever accomplished.

I haven't even mentioned the children in the family. Young son Dash (Spencer Fox) has incomparable speed capabilities, while daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell) is able to disappear and create protective force fields. Then there's baby Jack-Jack, whose capabilities I'll leave for you to discover.

Without a doubt, The Incredibles is the finest achievement yet from Pixar, and I seriously think it will be for quite some time. Never before has state of the art computer animation been put to such extravagant use. This is a movie that works on so many levels, and I think will go down as the top animated film of the decade.

Keep in mind, though, that I have yet to see The Polar Express, so I'll have to wait to see if that comment holds up! For now, families and film lovers alike owe it to themselves to discover, or re-discover, this marvelous cinematic accomplishment.

Video ****

In a word...INCREDIBLE! There was no doubt in my mind that Disney would produce a magnificent piece of digital video, but let it be known that this is one of the most breathtaking presentations you will ever come across. The anamorphic picture is brought to life through a digital to digital transfer, just like Finding Nemo was. Each individual shot provides its own amazing quality. All around detail is at a format high, and colors are nothing short of monumental. Full screen version is available separately, but if you want the full visual effect, you should only opt for this version.

Audio ****

The 5.1 EX mix is perhaps the most outstanding sound mix I've heard on a non-DTS format. This is a movie that provides every possible ingredient for a fantastic sound presentation, and the mix does it, how shall I say...INCREDIBLE justice. Action is played out in jaw-dropping, channel rocking form, spoken words are strong and clear, and the lively music score is tremendously delivered. A pure home theater reference disc if there ever was one!

Features ****

A lot of work went into this movie, and Disney's stunning 2-Disc delivers the best set of features I've seen so far this year.

Disc One contains two commentary tracks; one with writer/director Brad Bird, and the second with various members of the animation team.

Disc Two includes extensive material, including two shorts; the new "Jack-Jack Attack" and the Pixar short "Boundin" which was featured in the movie's theatrical run. Also included are bloopers/outtakes, deleted scenes and an alternate opening, top secret files on all of the super characters with optional character commentary, and close to two hours of behind the scenes footage.

Both discs include an introduction by Brad Bird.

Summary:

The Incredibles is simply incredible, and there's no other way to put it. In addition to being a milestone achievement in computer animation, the DVD is one of the best all around releases ever. It's a pure must have for every collector!

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