The Incredibles on Blu-ray
by Jim Bray
With Disney and Pixar's track record of releasing reference-quality Blu-rays, one would expect the high def disc version of "The Incredibles" to be, well, incredible.
And one would be right. The Brad Bird film, which also just happens to have been one of my "desert island discs" since its DVD debut, comes to the Blu-ray format looking and sounding just as good as I'd hoped it would. This is, indeed, reference quality stuff and I'm absoluted delighted with how it turned out.
That excellence of Blu-ray technology is the icing on what's a pretty darn fine cake to start with - a movie that's suitable for the whole family, and which offers plenty of excitement, great characters, great role models and a mindset that celebrates exceptionalism and personal responsibility via a witty and intelligent story.
Yet when I first went into "The Incredibles" upon its DVD release, I wasn't expecting much. Despite how much I'd enjoyed the earlier Pixar titles, the teaser (which is included with the Blu-ray's special materials) didn't really grab me; it was basically a fat Mr. Incredible trying to get his belt done up, with him going through a series of contortions to do it. Mildly amusing, at best, I thought.
Then I saw the movie and was captivated by it, falling in love with it the same way - or more - that I had fallen under the influence of "The Little Mermaid" when that classic animated musical restored Disney's long dormant magic for me.
The story follows Bob Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) and his family. He is, or at least was, Mr. Incredible, one of many super heroes of the time, crime fighters par excellence who helped keep their world safe. Along the way, he fell in love with, and married, Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and, as the film's villain notes later, "got busy:" they had three kids who have powers of their own.
It's mostly moot whether or not they have powers, however, because years earlier, a suicidal person whose life Mr. Incredible had saved took offense and sued him, opening up a floodgate of lawsuits against supers that ended up with them being forced into a kind of "witness protection plan" that saw them give up using their powers and instead live normal lives among the normal citizenry, hiding their true identities.
Jump forward 15 years and a now-flabby Bob is miserable in his job at an insurance company. He dreams of the old days, when he was useful, and with his also closeted super friend Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) they scope out police scanners, hoping for the chance to do good again.
Then, along comes a mysterious offer to do some good again, and Mr. Incredible is off to Nomanisan Island (and what a great name that is!) and a whole new adventure. And we - and the rest of Bob's family - are whisked right along with him.
It's a tremendous yarn, as mentioned, not only my favorite of all Pixar's great films but one of my all-time top ten as well. It's an interesting blend of superhero movie and spy flick, with a definite "Bondian" feel to it and a musical score that almost seems as if it was lifted from one of the John Barry Bond film scores.
It's funny, it's exciting - it's heart warming. It is, in fact, the full meal deal so far as movies go.
And as mentioned, Disney has given it a first rate Blu-ray treatment. They sent us the four disc combo pack, which includes two Blu-rays, a DVD and a digital copy of the movie. The movie and some extras are on the first Blu-ray, with the second chock full of new and "classic" supplements.
The movie's 1080p picture, at the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, looks absolutely flawless, with a razor sharp image, beautiful color, and that "pop off the screen" near-3D look you can get on the best Blu-rays. It is a real treat for the eyes and if you're looking for a new Blu-ray to show off your system, this is an excellent choice.
That goes for the audio as well. It's a dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that's bold and brash and which envelops you with a dynamic surround sound that puts you right in the action - and there's plenty of action to be put into. Each of the five main channels get a great workout, and the subwoofer as well. It is absolutely delightful.
Extras include all the stuff from the earlier DVD release, which is a good place to start. You get such delights as a running commentary with director Brad Bird and producer John Walker, whose love for the movie comes through clearly. There's also a commentary track with behind the scenes folk, and it's full of interesting bits about putting the film together.
You also get "Boundin'," the Oscar-nominated short shown in theaters with the movie, and the disc includes an optional commentary by director Bud Luckey. Then there's "Jack-Jack Attack," which features the Incredibles baby in action that happens offscreen in the main feature, while he's being looked after, supposedly, by a babysitter.
"Jack-Jack Attack Exploded" is a Picture in Picture commentary of the short, with the cast and crew opining about the production, while "The Incredibles Revisited is a fascinating, roundtable discussion with the director, producer, and some of the crew, in which they reminisce abouit the film's origins and challenges. There are also trailers for Cars 2 and The Lion King.
There's also a selection of deleted scenes, with setup intros, including an alternate opening. We learn why these were deleted and I ended up agreeing that the final film didn't suffer from their exclusion. And you can sample some publicity materials including TV commercials and previews, the abovementioned teaser of Mr. Incredible trying to get into his uniform, and even a bunch of easter eggs - stuff you normally come across by accident but which are presented here right in the menu.
"Paths to Pixar: Story Artists" is a look at some of the film's animators, describing their process of storyboarding and idea pitching, "Studio Stories: Gary's Birthday" is a bit of fluff where we learn there were so many crew birthdays during the production that they rolled them all together into one big party.
"Ending with a Bang: Making the End Credits," is just what it says, while "The New Nomanisan: A Top Secrets Redevelopment Plan" is a cute feature that offers a virtual tour of Syndrome's island after the movie - it has been turned into a family vacation getaway!
The Classic Content include a "Making of" documentary, as well as featurettes on the story, character design, sound, music, and the like.
It's definitely a full meal deal as far as the extras go, so if you're into that type of thing there's plenty to like here. For me, while I can never dump on value added content, it's the movie itself I wanted to see - and wanted to see given the best Blu-ray treatment possible - and I'm ecstatic about this Blu-ray presentation of "The Incredibles." It's positively awe-inspiring.
The Incredibles, from Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.