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THE INCREDIBLES
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Voices: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Elizabeth Pena, Brad Bird
Director: Brad Bird
Audio: DTS 5.1 HD
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
Studio: Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 115 Minutes
Release Date: April 12, 2011

No capes!”

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 re-assumes 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.

Video ****

Of all the films in the Pixar library, The Incredibles is hands down the one I've anticipated the most in terms of a Blu-ray release. Disney has executed nothing but outstanding work thus far in transferring their animated films to the HD format, and even more so with the Pixar films. But this, my friends, might just be the most stunning one yet in terms of video quality, surpassing even that of WALL*E. I've seen this movie more times than any other Pixar release, and I can certainly say that the picture resolution in the 1080p is even more visually riveting than what was given on the DVD edition, which is saying a lot because I remember labeling it as the best looking animated DVD I'd ever seen at the time.

The colors alone will astound your senses in how they're presented, particularly when the some of the characters show off their super powers (Frozone's ice sliding being one of the major highlights here). Character details are also most astonishing than ever before in terms of the simple appearance of their design, with the tiniest details such as hair looking way more authentic. And as far as the many set designs go, you will find yourself awestruck on more than one occasion. Basically, when you boil down to it, every frame of this movie provides a special treat for the eyes. As far as Pixar movies go, there's a chance Disney could possibly craft a superior looking Blu-ray release in the future (we're still waiting on Finding Nemo). But for now, this one is the standard to measure up to.

Audio ****

Same marks for the audio department. The original DVD came equipped with a Dolby 5.1 EX mix, which was about as glorious an audio track as one could ask for. But you ain't heard nothing yet, as the Blu-ray comes armed with an even bigger blast of audio in the form of a DTS HD mix. And with Pixar, you're basically guaranteed phenomenal sound quality with any of their films, but this is the studio's most action packed release to date...so expect the results to be a whole lot bigger! During the full 115 minute running time, there's nothing but big, huge, dynamic lossless audio on display here. The countless action set pieces are delivered in an even bigger sounding fashion and the thunderous music score courtesy of Michael Giacchino (Up, Star Trek) will rock your sound system in the best way possible! This, my friends, is the way you want to and must experience this film!

Features ****

Talk about INCREDIBLE! This 4-Disc Combo Pack release, while not cheap, is absolutely worth every single penny for those who LOVE this movie as I do. For starters, all of the extras that were included on the original 2-Disc DVD version have all been carried over here, along with several new Blu-ray exclusive features.

On Disc One, we get a brand new feature titled “The Incredibles Revisited”, which is a twenty minute roundtable discussion featuring writer/director Brad Bird, supervising animator Tony Fucile, story supervisor Mark Andrews, character designer Teddy Newton, technical director Rick Sayre, and production designer Lou Romano reflecting on their experience making the film. It's an informative and endlessly intriguing discussion that gives you the impression that these guys seriously enjoyed doing their individual parts to bring this film to life. The remaining extras on Disc One have all been ported over from the DVD, including two commentary tracks; the first featuring Brad Bird and producer John Walker, and the second with the team of animators. There's also two short films; “Boundin'”, which was the animated short that was featured before the movie during its theatrical release, and “Jack-Jack Attack.” Both shorts come with optional commentaries, but “Jack-Jack Attack” also comes with a Picture-in-Picture enhancement presentation, which is new to this Blu-ray Release.

Disc Two includes the rest of the extras from the DVD release, as well as some new Blu-ray exclusives. The section titled “Classic Content” contains most of the features seen before, including a half hour “Making of” featurette, as well as additional featurettes “Story”, “Character Design”, “E Volution”, “Building Humans”, “Building Extras”, “Set Design”, “Sound”, “Music”, “Lighting”, “Tools” and even a parody titled “Mr. Incredible and Pals”, which features optional commentary from Mr. Incredible and Frozone. There's also NSA files (audio and stills) and featurettes focusing on voice actors Sarah Vowell and Bud Luckey, and an art gallery. We also get over a half hour of Deleted Scenes as well as an Alternate Opening (both in HD!)

The new features exclusive to the Blu-ray include the featurettes “Paths to Pixar: Story Artists”, “Studio Stories: Gary's Birthday”, “Ending with a Bang: Making the End Credits” and “The New Nomansian: A Top Secret Redevelopment Plan”. Rounding out the extras is a Publicity section, featuring trailers for this film as well as the upcoming Cars 2 (the package also comes with a voucher good for a free admission to that movie that can be accessed through Disney Rewards).

Disc Three is a DVD edition of the film, which also includes the two short films, “Boundin'” and “Jack-Jack Attack”.

Disc Four contains a downloadable Digital Copy version.

Summary:

Though it took a while to arrive on the format it was destined for, Disney and Pixar have rewarded fans of The Incredibles with a stellar Blu-ray Combo Pack release...and trust me when I say the wait was so completely worth it! The picture quality, audio quality and extras have all been given a truly amazing upgrade, which is really saying something since the original DVD release was already one of the best releases on record. Unquestionably, one of the must have Blu-rays of the year!

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