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Blu-ray Review: The Incredibles
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The IncrediblesThe Incredibles
4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack
Writer/Director Brad Bird
Starring Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Spencer Fox, Sarah Vowell
Walt Disney Pictures Home Entertainment
Release date: April 12, 2011

We all have our favorite superheroes: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and so on. We watch them in movies and television shows and read about them in comic books and we’ve been doing this for decades. These superheroes continue to fight crime and bring about justice decade after decade, to the point where we can’t imagine our popular culture without them.

But what if there were real-life superheroes — people with super powers, who could fly or have super strength or invisibility? And what if one day, those superheroes we love and have come to rely on were forced to retire forever?

That’s the premise of writer/director Brad Bird‘s The Incredibles, the 2004 Disney/Pixar CG-animated film, where “Supers” must hide their extraordinary abilities from the public after a law is passed banning super heroics, forcing these superhuman do-gooders to live ordinary lives.

We meet Bob (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen (Holly Hunter) Parr, a married couple living in the suburbs with their three children, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack. While Bob loves his family, we learn he’s actually the former superhero Mr. Incredible and after 15 years of forced retirement, he’s bored with his humdrum life. Helen, who was Elastigirl, seems to be handling their life much better, but Violet and Dash, who’ve inherited super abilities, are growing frustrated as well with having to keep their strengths a secret. One day, Bob loses control along with his pencil-pushing office job, but instead of telling Helen, the former Super hooks up with his old friend Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), and the duo secretly go out to fight crime together.

As Bob manages to keep all his secrets and his lust for life returns, things at home appear to be better than ever. One day he receives a very high paying offer for a top-secret dangerous mission on a remote island, and in a flash, Mr. Incredible springs into action not realizing the true danger he’s in. To save Mr. Incredible, his wife and children must shed their ordinary identities and embrace their super powers to come together as a superhero team.

The concept of The Incredibles is not a new one: we’ve seen this type of story before about vigilantes — whether “Super” or not — being forced to stand down, or put into early retirement (or even jail!) because of public or political backlash. What is original is how the story of The Incredibles is told, focusing on the strength of being a family. What’s also great is that while they are “Super,” they are not infallible or invulnerable — they make mistakes, they have weaknesses, they don’t always make the right decisions whether it pertains to raising their children or in dealing with a villain. We fear for them!

The film opens in documentary-style, with old interviews with Supers who talking about what it’s like to do what they do. It’s after this we learn about how the Supers were forced into a relocation program to live the rest of their lives in secret. Once we meet the Parr family, the love among them is obvious, but so is the discontent with their suppressed life. Though Dash can run faster than any child at his school, he must sit out of athletic events; Violet has several abilities, though she’s so introverted, she never learned to use them to their full potential. We watch their everyday lives hoping that something will come along to make them happy in exile. Though Bob does take up the Mr. Incredible mantle first, we can’t exactly get behind him because he’s doing so behind his family’s back. Once the film moves onto the remote island and the true villain and his motives are revealed, that’s when the story truly springs into action and the Parr family comes alive — ironic since they’re in what’s probably the most dangerous situation any of them have ever been in.

Aside from the Parr family, the villain Syndrome — voiced superbly by Jason Lee — pretty much steals every scene he’s in. If Pixar made a Syndrome movie, I’m sure it’d be a hit.

The Incredibles isn’t just another family-friendly animated feature — it’s a full-on action superhero film that’s a must-watch for anyone who loves superhero comics and movies, and of course, it’s also something that the kids will love. As with other Disney/Pixar films before it, The Incredibles is a well-made, well-scripted, visually beautiful film that only gets better with each subsequent viewing. A film like this is perfect for Blu-ray and this new 4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack is crammed with lots of bonus features, including a bunch that were created especially for this release.

Bonus Features

The 4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack comes with a few new bonus features, and also includes the extras that came with the original DVD release. These bonus features comes on DISC 2, which has only the extras on it.

DISC 1:

• Blu-ray version of the feature film [01:55:00]
Director Commentary: Feature-length commentary by Director Brad Bird and Producer John Walker.
Director Commentary: Feature-length commentary by supervising animators and animators.
Boundin’: [4:40] This is the 2003 Oscar-nominated short film from Bud Luckey, one of the crew of The Incredibles and a long-time Pixar animator. There’s option to play with or without the commentary from Luckey.
Jack-Jack Attack [4:42]: The original short film featuring baby Jack-Jack from The Incredibles.
Jack-Jack Attack Exploded [4:43]: A visual commentary by Incredibles director Brad Bird, as well as Character Designer Teddy Newton, Story Supervisor Mark Andrews, and Animator Bret Parker.
• [NEW] The Incredibles Revisited [22:06]: a roundtable discussion with writer/director Brad Bird, as well as several members of the filmmaking crew — Producer John Walker, Story Supervisor Mark Andrews, Supervising Technical Director Rick Sayre, Production Designer Lou Romano, Character Designer Teddy Newton, and Supervising Animator Tony Fucile. This feature was created for the Blu-ray release, and the filmmakers reminisce on making The Incredibles.

DISC 2

• [NEW] Paths To Pixar: Story Artists [5:53] – The story artists talk about creating storyboards for the film from the script and concept art. Along with hearing their stories and work methods, we also get to see their storyboards in progress.

• [NEW] Studio Stories: Gary’s Birthday [1:24] – The Incredibles crew narrates this tale, shown with drawings, of all the office birthday parties interfering with their work and what they did to get around the problem.

• [NEW] Ending With A Bang: Making The End Credits [1:35] – Andy Jimenez (Director of Photography) and Teddy Newton (Character Designer) talk about the end credits for the film were created.

• [NEW] The New Nomanisan Island Redevelopment Plan [3:30] – This is a look at the uncharted island that was the secret lair for the villain Syndrome, which is now a beautiful family vacation destination. Begins with a narrated tour, which turns into an interactive feature where you can look through places like the Spa, Shooting Range, and other areas.

Easter Eggs: A collection of 11 “easter eggs” found on the Bonus Features disc, which originally were accessed through pop-up icons on the DVD. Several featurettes and clips as short as 12 seconds, but some are over three minutes.

Publicity
Character Interviews [6:30]: The animated characters from The Incredibles have sit-down interviews with famous TV journalist to promote the movie.
Trailers

The following were included on the original DVD, but are now available in High Definition:

Deleted Scenes Now in HD: 7 deleted scenes including a 15-minute alternate opening sequence.
Incredibles Teaser in HD [2:01]

The following are the bonus features that were included in the original DVD release, which are now also included in this Combo Pack. All are under the folder “CLASSIC CONTENT.”

Making of the Incredibles [27:30]

The following are all short featurettes that go into the details of making a Disney/Pixar animated film like The Incredibles, with interviews with the crew on working on set design, story, music, lighting, and much more.

Story [7:15]:
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]
Tools [2:39]

Mr. Incredible and Pals [4:00]: an old-style cartoon featuring Mr. Incredible and Frozone having an adventure. A very cool little cartoon, epsecially if you like these superheroes; the only issue is that the mouths were not animated – instead, live-action mouths are used, but looks a bit freaky.
Mr. Incredible and Pals with Commentary by Mr. Incredible and Frozone [4:00]: the same cartoon, but with commentary by the superheroes.

NSA Files (Audio + 21 Stills) [7:00]: These are the “Top Secret” files from the National Supers Agency. After a brief interoductin, this feature allows you to select a “super” to look at their classified files, which include all of the information on their super powers, as well as their personalities. Each file includes an audio clip where the superhero talks about their life, career, alter ego, and more.

Who Is Bud Luckey? [3:55]: A spotlight on animator Bud Luckey, who started out decades ago in hand-drawn animation and made the jump to computer graphics and Disney/Pixar film since the first one.

Vowellett – an Essay by Sarah Vowell [10:13] A featurette on Sarah Vowell, the voice actress who plays the teenage super Violet. Vowell is quite the character herself, making this clip enjoyable, as Vowell was not originally an actress, but a documentary filmmaker. Here we get to see her at home, and talking about her other interests, and then about how she got the role as Violet.

Art Gallery: A collection of stills from the film accessible through an interactive menu.

DISC 3: contains a DVD standard edition of the feature film, as well as some bonus features:
The Incredibles feature film
• The original short film Jack-Jack Attack
• Pixar’s short film Boundin’ (nominated in 2003 for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short)

DISC 4: Digital copy of the feature film.

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