The Incredibles

DVD Rating: *****

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Read Scott Macdonald's film review of The Incredibles
The Incredibles

You are in for a treat, visually and aurally. All of Pixar's films have received direct digital transfers, that is to say they have been rendered to precisely the optimal resolution for DVD. So, there is no film grain, no scratches or dust and supreme detail. A skilled MPEG-2 compressionist is required to make best use of a direct digital transfer, to compress without losing visible quality. The video headroom is excellent and the disc has plenty of space to encode the video optimally. The Incredibles' video is faultless to my eyes. Absolutely demo-room material, expect to see it selling thousands of top-notch plasma screens and projectors.

Very nearly as good is the audio, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX encoded at 448kbps, with back channel flagged and engaged on suitable decoders. Everything you hear is artificially created and justifiably earns its Best Sound Editing Oscar. The track has outstanding fidelity and is crisply recorded, edited and inventively mixed. Dialogue is occasionally directional and the sound effects smoothly pan around the stage. Surround use is almost continual, but never distracts. Deep bass is present, with some extremely strong subsonic energy below 20Hz, but tightly integrated bass in the sound effects. It may not be terribly loud most of the time, but there's always a consistency to the LFE. Michael Giacchino's light, jazzy, lively and seemingly effortless score (criminally not even nominated for Best Score) is integrated well.

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The extras are an excellent bunch, not as many as there could be, but after a couple of hours, you really begin to feel like you know the people behind the film.

Disc One has a dry yet welcome introduction by director/auteur Brad Bird, with two commentaries. The first is by Bird and producer John Walker, which sounds like inspired bickering between friends, "the beancounter and the artiste", but the stories come thick and fast. Bird just won't shut up. His energy levels hit a high, as he entertains us for the length of the film, especially bestowing unfettered praise on the skill of Pixar's animators. Technical issues are touched upon, but it's a story and production challenges seminar. The second commentary is a lengthy discussion between several key animators about how they approach the performance of their caricature creations. It's a less entertaining track, but no less insightful. Unlike Finding Nemo, these are purely audio commentary tracks, no extended branching.

Well over an hour of production documentary material is on Disc Two, focusing on various aspects of the Making Of. Animation is usually difficult to show how it all works, especially explaining how the machinations of production end up producing such a great film. But what it does do is show the undiluted passion for film and filmmaking that Pixar has. Cuddly teddy bear John Lasseter is omnipresent and shows up with his unbridled enthusiasm for storytelling every now and then.

The featurettes are divided into one main half-hour documentary, entitled The Making Of The Incredibles, with more than 40 minutes of additional material, encompassing the other expressive and technical disciplines. Bird is often revealed to be both passionate and a pain in the ass, described as "strong coffee" for the Pixar crew. Lasseter brought him in to prevent the studio from becoming complacent after their five-for-five batting average.

There are also some mildly amusing animation errors, edited to a satirically cheesy laugh track, which is as insubstantial as it sounds. There are also some geek-out files on all the Supers referenced in the movie, just to be exhaustive.

We are also treated to three short films, the pre-movie cookie "Boundin'", by Bud Luckey, complete with it's own short Making Of, entitled Who Is Bud Luckey? It's a nice little film, as an appetiser for the main feature, and serves its purpose. Jack-Jack Attack tells of the babysitter's inability to control the youngest Incredible's powers - very funny stuff. And there's a "lost" film, starring Mr Incredible, Frozone and a pink bunny, which is rather dry and uninteresting on it's own, but switch on the commentary by the two supers themselves (Craig T. Nelson and Samuel L Jackson in character) and it turns into a completely hysterical sketch with some of the most inspired MS3kT spoofery I have ever seen on a DVD special feature. You just won't believe how funny it is.

There's also around 30 minutes of deleted scenes and introductions/discussions as to why they were excised. There are next to no rendered shots in this sequence, since most of the animation didn't get further than the animatic (animated storyboard) stage. But, there are ideas and images referenced within the film itself. I particularly liked Bob feigning injury with a meat-cleaver and Syndrome using Bob as a homemaker wrecking-ball.

Finally, there's the promotional material, such as in-character interviews, and the great trailers (including the sketch where putting the suit back on proves to be hard) which got us all so excited.

It's an outstanding package for 2004's best film. Go buy!

Reviewed on: 13 Mar 2005
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The Incredibles packshot
The family life of superheroes, living incognito in the 'burbs, while saving the city from destruction.
Amazon link

Product Code: BED881558

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.39 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Commentary with director Brad Bird & producer John Walker; commentary with several key Pixar animators; short films Jack-Jack Attack, Boundin

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