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Incredibles, The (2004) Print E-mail
Monday, 18 April 2011
ImageFor a long time now I have been waiting for the release of “The Incredibles” on Blu-ray.  It is without a doubt my favorite of the Disney/Pixar films, right next to “Finding Nemo.”  I do have a bias toward this film given my work on the film.  However, that aside, the film is one of Pixar’s strongest all-around productions.

Brad Bird’s “The Incredibles” gives the audience something to enjoy regardless of your age.  It has adventure for the kids and family dynamics for the adults.  Thos two elements come together perfectly to make this a true animated classic.

First, the characters in the film are well constructed.  Each character has a distinct presence on screen and a true purpose.  The characters are driven by a terrific script and great voice acting.  Each subplot is given just the right amount of attention and easily helps the overall plot move forward.

The film is the longest running of Pixar’s animated features, coming in a just under two hours.  However, if you consider the deleted footage then the film is nearly two and one half hours in length.  As you will see in the bonus materials, as interesting as the deleted scenes are, they were wisely trimmed from the story.

“The Incredibles” deals with the rise and fall of superheroes.  As the film opens, superheroes are abundant and well respected members of the community.  However, that all takes a turn when lawsuits against superheroes start getting filed.  This is the first real element of the film, but not the last.  What I mean is that despite the film having superhero characters and super powers, the film finds grounding in reality, merging truth with animation.

The superheroes are asked by the government to go into hiding and so it is done.  The superheroes permanently take up their secret identity lives.  It just so happens that this film deals with Mr. Incredible and his marriage to Elastigirl.  As non-superheroes they are known as the Parr family.  15 years after the disappearance of the superheroes, Bob and Helen Parr have settled down and are raising three kids.  Still, Bob has trouble of letting go of the past.  He longs for the glory days. Through a series of perfectly constructed subplots, Bob secretly reengages in superhero work, leading to fixes and troubles in his marriage and family.  Ultimately that is what this film is about.  The superhero facet is there for the kids, but the true story is about the struggles of maintaining a family with lies and secrets.  Whether you are a superhero or not, the same issues of finding your true identity apply.

“The Incredibles” makes its debut on Blu-ray with a 1080p, AVC encode.  There is one tiny complaint that I have with the Blu-ray, and that is the appearance of three instances of banding/aliasing throughout the film.  However, I am trained to spot these, so taking that away, these are simply small if noticeable at all imperfections in the overall scheme.  So given the inconsequential nature of the few imperfections, the video quality gets its perfect five-star rating.  Colors are accurately conveyed here, remaining true to the source.  Black levels are of digital perfection.  The shadows remain nicely detailed when called upon.  Textures are not of importance here given the style of the animation.  The animation relies more on the shapes and colors than the textures.  However, details are razor sharp.  This is digital animation at its best.

My bias for this film lies in the audio given my work on the film.  For you readers, use this to your advantage.  I know what the film actually was supposed to sound like on the dubbing stage in its purest form.  Using that as a basis for comparison I will tell you that this Blu-ray release comes as close to listening to actually master than anything I have heard previously.  Of course, a lot of this depends on the quality of your own home theater speakers and playback system.  When played back on my home theater dubbing stage the quality is perfect.  The soundfields merge seamlessly.  Sounds pan effortlessly throughout the room.  And it goes without saying that the panning and directionality is spot on.  The dynamics are perfectly preserved when listening at the appropriately calibrated level.  Dialogue is accurately rendered, remaining crisp and clean throughout.  The LFE gets nicely transferred here as it comes in at just the right amount when called up.  Like “Tron: Legacy,” the bass is supple and spreads evenly throughout the room.  Given the way in which the sound was edited and mixed originally, this audio track lends itself to great 7.1 upmixing.  The studio has delivered the original 5.1 mix but with a matrixed sixth, back center channel.  I advise forgoing the DTS-HD MA ES functionality of the track and using your receiver to upmix the 5.1 content to 7.1 through THX Ultra2 Cinema.  This yields the best depth of field results and gives you the experience of listening to this film with depth of a real movie theater.

If anything could top the film, video and audio qualities of this release it would be the supplemental features.  Pixar provides us with every piece of bonus material that they could find, and almost every single piece is worthy of attention.  Dig in for yourself, but here is an overview of what can be found in this release.  “The Increidbles” comes to Blu-ray in a 4-disc set.  The first disc contains the feature and few bonus materials.  The second Blu-ray disc is filled to the brim with bonus materials.  The third disc is a DVD Copy of the film and the fourth disc is a Digital Copy.

The first disc features two terrific audio commentaries.  The first is with director Brad Bird and producer John Walker.  If you only have time for one commentary give this one priority.  The second commentary is a group commentary with numerous supervising animators and animators present.  This is a tough one to follow as there are roughly a dozen contributors.  Also on disc one is a feature called “The Incredibles Revisited.”  This feature is a roundtable discussion with the filmmakers.  Give this one of your highest watching priorities.  The last two features on disc one are “Boundin’,” and animated short and “Jack-Jack Attack,” another animated short.

Disc two leads off with 35 minutes of deleted scenes, which are now presented in high definition.  “Paths To Pixar: Story Artists” covers some of the in-house Pixar creators.  “The New Nomanisan: A Top Secret Redevelopment Plan” gives you and interactive look at Syndrome’s island.  “Studio Stories: Gary’s Birthday” amusedly looks at how the studio dealt with all the birthday’s going on during the production.  “Ending With a Bang: Making The End Credits” is short and sweet dealing with the title topic.  “The Making Of ‘The Incredibles’” is a half of one hour previously released piece.  In addition to the making of featurette, disc two also comes with about 75 minutes of other previously released standard definition featurettes, which include topics such as story, sound, music, lighting, characters and animation.  For those that are familiar with the original DVD presentation of the film, you will know that easter eggs were hidden on the disc.  On the Blu-ray they have been grouped together for you, so there is no need to search for them.  The disc also contains a section on Publicity, an art gallery, a trailer and access to a free move ticket for “Cars 2.”

“The Incredibles” was well worth the wait for its Blu-ray release.  All the aspects of this release are perfect in my opinion.  This is an absolutely, must-own Blu-ray release.

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