April 30, 2011


Pixar likes to take chances, and for them one of the biggest was hiring outside of their staple. Since John Lasseter directed the first Toy Story, the filmmakers have all been with Pixar from the beginning so bringing in Brad Bird was somewhat risky. After all, Bird’s last film was the 1999 bomb The Iron Giant. The film might be a masterpiece, but it was nowhere near successful. But Bird’s The Incredibles worked, and was another in a long line of hits for the studio. It also did things the company hadn’t done before. And now it’s on Blu-ray and looks better than ever. Hit the jump for my review of The Incredibles on Blu-ray.

the-incredibles-movie-image-2The film opens with Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) trying to fight crime before he’s late for something. It turns out it’s his wedding to Elastigirl (Holly Hunter). They are happy together but shortly after they marry superheroes become considered a potential litigation disaster for the government, and so Bob/Mr. Incredible and his kind go into hiding. Cut to: three kids later, Bob’s bored and goes out with Lucius Best/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) once a week to listen to a police scanner and do vigilante help. This gets him noticed by Mirage (Elizabeth Peña), who then brings him to a secret lair where he’s asked to beat a machine. The machine was created by Syndrome (Jason Lee), who once idolized Mr. incredible but eventually grew jealous of him, to which he’s been looking to usurp the superhero throne. All the while he keeps his work for Syndrome from his family, though eventually his wife finds out and unintentionally brings the family along to help dad out.

There have been questions raised if the film is about Ayn Randian politics, and when you get into super people, it can get somewhat tricky in terms of the politics – which is enhanced by the talk about what it means if everyone is special. But the Atlas Shrugged homage seem less noticeable than what it takes from Watchmen, with the idea of outlawed superheroes and the villain’s eventual plot. I would argue that it’s a little confused on how we deal with people who excel (I don’t know if the film has a coherent thesis on being super in a normal world), but it’s mostly about coming to love your family, and understanding what it means to be a part of a team, which seems antithetical to Rand’s beliefs, but whatever.

More than anything I see the film as a metaphor for men who can’t accept becoming fathers and adults. The journey of the film isn’t about anything more than a father’s acceptance that he can still be awesome as a part of a unit than as someone who works alone. On that level, coming to accept your family, I think is why the film plays.

Disney’s Blu-ray of the film is a knockout. The film comes in widescreen (2.39:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 surround. The picture quality is reference level, though it’s hard not to watch the film now and see how hard they were going against the limitations of computer work. I don’t want to say anything looks bad, but it feels slightly more sterile than later Pixar films. On the disc they talk about how hard they pushed themselves on this one, and you can see it. But that takes nothing away from the accomplishment, it’s just the evolution of CG animation has made this something of a period piece. The four disc set also comes with a DVD and Digital copy of the film.

the-incredibles-movie-imageThe first disc comes with a commentary by Bird and producer John Walker, and a second commentary by supervising animators Tony Fucile, Steven Hunter, Alan Barillaro, and animators Gini Santos, David DeVan, Kureha Yokoo, Dave Mullins, John Kahrs, Robert Russ, Angus MacLane, Travis Hathaway, Doug Frankel and Peter Sohn – both of which are taken straight from the DVD. Also from the first release is the short film “Boundin’” (5 min.) with commentary by director Budd Luckey. “Jack-Jack Attack” (5 min.) is also included and it comes with a visual commentary by Bird, Story supervisor Mark Andrews, character designer Teddy Newton, and animator Bret Parker. “The Incredibles Revisited” gets a roundtable together of the film’s creators and talks about making the film. It’s surprisingly honest, and they get into the headaches that came with the title. The first disc also comes with bonus trailers.

Disc two adds new supplements, and has all of the old ones. The disc starts with “Path to Pixar: Story Artists” (6 min.) which talks to how people came to work for the leading animation studio. There’s a “Pixar Story” (1 min.) about doing birthday parties during the course of production and a celebration of the end credits (2 min.), which is followed by jokey look at what’s happened to “Nomanisan Island.” (4 min.). The six deleted scenes have been upped to 1080p, and come with an intro (2 min.). These cover a new opening and are mostly in storyboard form, but are at least meaty (33 min.). Then there’s the teaser trailer, and then the disc moves on to the classic supplements, which consists sixteen featurettes (96 min.) and two still galleries. There’s also eleven easter eggs (15 min.), Character Interviews (7 min), two Trailers, six ABC-specific commercials, and three TV spots.

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