The Incredibles – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Writer-Director:

Brad Bird

Featuring the voices of:

Craig T. Nelson……….Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible
Holly Hunter……….Helen Parr/Elastigirl
Samuel L. Jackson……….Lucius Best/Frozone
Jason Lee……….Buddy Pine/Syndrome
Wallace Shawn……….Gilbert Huph
Sarah Vowell……….Violet Parr
Spencer Fox……….Dashiell (Dash) Parr
Brad Bird……….Edna “E” Mode
Elizabeth Pena……….Mirage

Walt Disney Pictures presents the Pixar film The Incredibles. Produced by John Walker. Running time: 115 minutes. Rated PG (for action violence).


The Movie

Pixar Studios is a force of nature that cannot be stopped. Since their first theatrical release, Toy Story, Pixar has steadily elevated its reputation as the masters of computer animation. (Sorry, Dreamworks.) Their newest release, The Incredibles, pushes the limits of the format.

This is a film that plays like a Leave it to Beaver sitcom satire with superheroes. Mr. Incredible, the primary protagonist, pays homage to the Golden Age of comics. He has the Jay Leno signature chin to go along with his barrel chest and thinning blonde hair. But his crime fighting days in a swanky 1960s-type setting are threatened when he is confronted with so many lawsuits. The lawsuits filed are for unlawful rescue attempts and the injuries people sustain while Mr. Incredible saves the day. It feels as if director Brad Bird is taking a jab at the stupid lawsuits – woman suing McDonald’s for hot coffee accident; people suing because junk food made them fat – of recent years.

The monetary damages Mr. Incredible has to deal with is insurmountable. So much so, he’s forced to retire. Thankfully the government has a Superhero Relocation Program that takes unwelcome superheroes and places them in suburban settings. Sans the spandex, of course. Joining Mr. Incredible (voice by Coach‘s Craig T. Nelson) is his lovely wife Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and their three children Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dashiell (Spencer Fox) and baby Jack Jack.

As new suburbanites the government gives Mr. Incredible, now Bob Parr, a monotonous insurance company job. Helen (a.k.a. Elastigirl) remains the matriarch raising the kids, doing the laundry, and various other domestic tasks. From time to time she has difficulty containing her troublesome kids. It’s a good thing she’s elastic, bending and stretching throughout her daily chores. Their oldest daughter Violet is an outcast at her high school. She has the superpower of invisibility. A power that allows her to escape the doldrums of teenage life. Dashiell who goes by Dash is a 100-mile per hour kid who mimics all 10-year-old boys strung out on sugar. Dash is so fast that his parents won’t let him try out for sports, especially track and field, because of his unfair advantage.

Looking for a little action and adventure, Bob does a little bit of superheroing on the side. Together with superhero pal Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), the two sneak out at night rescuing citizens from burning buildings and dismantling armed robbers. Unbeknownst to them, though, they were being followed by Mirage (Elizabeth Pena), a petite silver-haired beauty. Move over Jessica Rabbit, your replacement has arrived. Mirage works for an evil super genius known as Syndrome (Jason Lee). Upon luring Mr. Incredible to an uninhabited island, Mirage gives him the unenviable task of battling a robot named Omnidroid 7.

The robot is an invention of the evil Syndrome. At one time Syndrome thought Mr. Incredible was the greatest guy in the whole wide world – a role model to thousands, millions even. That is, until, he became bitter when Incredible would not allow him to be his “boy wonder.” As a result, Syndrome plans to unleash his robots on the world and use his homemade superpowers to stop them. Thus, Syndrome will become the most popular superhero ever.

Brad Bird and the rest of the Pixar animators did a fabulous job with this goofy superhero movie. Bird’s previous film was The Iron Giant, a great film that nobody saw in theaters. Over time it has generated quite the fan base. All the characters of The Incredibles are unique and their individual powers represent them as a whole. But even with all the spandex being thrown around, the best character of the film is not a superhero at all. Edna “E” Mode (voiced by the director himself) is so forceful despite her small stature. Sporting horn-rimmed glasses, “E” designs the extravagant outfits for the Incredibles. Because if they’re super, why should they settle for mediocrity?

The Incredibles may sound like a simple superhero/action movie, but believe me it is not. Underneath it all, this is a story that critiques today’s modern problems. Like how meaningless lawsuits overrun this country. Or how gifted and talented persons must dumb down in order to please everyone else. By shedding light on these problems in a comical way, Brad Bird has made a film that is smart for adults, but subtle enough for kids to enjoy.


The DVD

THE VIDEO

The video is fantastic! Transferred from the digital source there isn’t any edge enhancement to be seen. The attention to detail, everything from the lighting and coloring to the character and set design, are clear and exquisite. The film has a its theatrical widescreen viewing presentation (2.39:1) and it is enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions.

THE AUDIO

When a Disney film has a THX-certified audio track, you can pretty much guarantee a great sound track. The action set pieces are fully loaded with audio-pumping delight. But it is the boisterous musical score Michael Giacchino, with its jazz infused style of play, which is a pure joy to listen to in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The languages of Spanish or French are also available in Dolby 5.1 Also included are subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The fun begins on the first disc. While watching the Academy Award winning film, you can listen to two audio commentaries. The first commentary track has writer/director Brad Bird and producer John Walker offering up their bits of wisdom. Brad Bird is great on the audio track. His vociferous opinion that an animated film is a not genre rings so true. A western is a genre; an animated film can tackle so many different types of stories. People who refer to animation as a genre should get a clue.

The other track is comprised of a bunch of animators on the project. Here you can get more in-depth coverage of creating shots and animation for The Incredibles.

Besides the two tracks, Disney treats the viewer with 8 minutes and 47 seconds of sneak peeks. Included are: the teaser for Pixar’s next animated sensation Cars, an ad for the upcoming Cinderella: Special Edition DVD, a montage of the second wave of Studio Ghibli releases (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Porco Rosso, The Cat Returns), and more advertisements for Lilo & Stitch 2, The Incredibles Video Game and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

Remember the feeling you got as kid unwrapping a Christmas gift or standing inside a candy store? Sure you do. The second disc of The Incredibles has the same type of effect.

Following an introduction by Brad Bird we go to the first feature on disc #2. Ever wonder why Kari, Jack-Jack’s babysitter, left all those messages for Mrs. Parr? In each message she sounded more and more stressed out. The answer is revealed in Jack-Jack Attack (4:40) a new short film by Brad Bird. For those who have babysat in the past, you know the story. Watching out for flammable babies is a tough job.

The deleted scenes feature is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, there are six deleted scenes, but they only made it to the “animatics” stage of production. Basically, the scenes are storyboards with a few digital effects. Before each scene Bird explains why they were left out of the finished product. The scene entitled “Vipers” would have been great to see fully animated. Everything else is so-so.

Everything you want to know about making Brad Bird’s second feature can be found on the next two features, Making of The Incredibles and More Making of The Incredibles. The first “Making Of” gives an overview of Brad Bird’s arrival at Pixar and his first computer generated film. For 27 minutes you will understand why Pixar Animation Studios is one of the coolest places to work. Animation may be hard work but you would never know from watching these guys.

A feature with the word “More” in the title better deliver. The next “Making Of” lives up to its title. It is a series of 10 featurettes that you can watch individually or as one complete feature. Running nearly 41 minutes in all, you are treated to everything from story and character design to music and Edna Mode. Yes, even the awesome power who is “E” cannot be contained. Very informative. Great stuff.

Incredi-Blunders (1:42) is short but fun. Here you can see some of the computer-animated mistakes that occurred during production. The mistakes are accompanied by a stupid laugh track and cheesy music. My question is why? Michael Giacchino’s score would have been a better choice.

Probably the weirdest extra involves Sarah Vowell, the voice of Violet in The Incredibles. In the feature Vowellet – An essay by Sarah Vowell, Sarah explains why dead people are more fascinating than real ones. Apparently, she is a huge historical buff who is writing a book on the assassinations of three U.S. Presidents. It is this type of morbid curiosity that makes her perfect as the Violet, the class outcast with stringy hair. To think, Vowell had trepidation of offering her vocal talents.

The section entitled “Top Secret” has special NSA Files on 21 different superheroes. The files include mini-biographies and voice recordings by the superheroes. This extra goes to show you that even minor characters have a chance to shine. Better still is an extra that both Mr. Incredible and Frozone would like to forget. Thought to be lost forever, Mr. Incredible and Pals is a short-lived series featuring Mr. Incredible, Frozone and a bunny named Mr. Skipperdoo. It is campy fare in the tradition of Scooby Doo and the Batman TV series starring Adam West.

Unfortunately, only one episode is available for our viewing pleasure. Mr. Incredible and pals try to thwart the dastardly villain Lady Lightbug!! Not to be outdone there is a commentary option. Listen to Mr. Incredible and Frozone as they argue about the concept of the show. Frozone was definitely perturbed when he realized that a white guy was doing his voice – a beatnik using words like “Daddio.”

For those who saw The Incredibles in theaters, you probably saw this next feature; the Academy Award-nominated short film Boundin. The film is simplistic in its approach, but it is still funny and endearing to all. Boundin creator Bud Luckey talks about the short on an accompanying commentary track. Bud Luckey also gets his own feature called Who is Bud Luckey? (3:55). Learn how a hand-drawn animator with 20 years under his belt made the transition to computer animator.

An Art Gallery and Publicity Gallery complete the extras for Pixar’s latest opus on DVD. The art gallery is where you can find storyboards and character designs as well as set designs and different lighting techniques. The publicity gallery has mock Entertainment Tonight-esque interviews with Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Frozone, and Edna Mode. Two theatrical trailers and the teaser trailer for The Incredibles are also included.

The extras are great in all, but they lacked comments from the vocal talent. And after watching “Mr. Incredible and Pals” it would have been cool to have Mr. Incredible and Frozone do an audio commentary for the 115-minute film. Just imagine the stories they could tell.

THE INSIDE PULSE

The Incredibles is proof positive of why animation is such a viable medium. Sure, this film could have live action, but the story probably would have been action – first, character development – none. In my book Pixar is a perfect 6 for 6. What other studio has a track record like that? So you know what needs to be done. Pick up this DVD. The extras are fun; the movie is even better. I’ll give it a perfect 10!

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for The Incredibles
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

10
THE VIDEO

9.5
THE AUDIO

10
THE EXTRAS

9
REPLAY VALUE

10
OVERALL
10
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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