In 2004, Pixar Animation set out to make the company’s sixth feature-length animated film. It would also be its first starring a full human cast – or, in this case, full superhuman cast. Being an avid consumer of comics since I was old enough to read, The Incredibles was a love letter aimed directly at me. Seven years and five Pixar features later, time hasn’t diminished its powers. But does the new Blu-ray release have enough extras to do the film justice – or does it fall short of incredible?
The story begins with Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), a former superhero forced into retirement by his “sidekick’s” unwanted – and extremely costly – intervention in a robbery. After an onslaught of lawsuits brought against Mr. Incredible by ungrateful civilians injured during his successful attempts to save them, the government has had no choice but to shut down all superhero activities.
Fast forward 15 years, and Mr. Incredible lives with his wife Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and their three children, Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Spencer Fox), and Jack-Jack. By day, he works in his cramped cubicle at an insurance company; by night, he spaces out while the chaos of his family surrounds him. Dash is forbidden from competing in sports due to his super-speed abilities and desire to stand out. Violet, embarrassed by her abnormal family, uses here ability to turn invisible to hide herself from the world.
Bored by this humdrum routine, Mr. Incredible is itching to see some action. Using the cover story that he and his friend Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) are going bowling, he spends time listening in on police radios and doing rogue hero work. But after nearly being caught by the authorities, resulting in an explosive argument with his wife about endangering the family, it would seem that Mr. Incredible is forever bound to a life of normalcy.
Matters get even worse for him after he loses his job for throwing his boss through a wall. However, his life seemingly takes a turn for the better when a mysterious prospector offers him work in neutralizing a giant robot that has gone berserk on a distant island. Seeing it as a great heroic endeavor, he takes the job without thinking twice: a decision he will later regret.
After defeating the mechanical monstrosity, he returns home a completely different man. Informing his wife neither about his secret mission or getting fired, he pretends to go to work every day, but instead works out at a train yard to shed the extra weight he has gained over the years. As he begins to spend more time at home, his relationships with his wife and children improve. He gets a new car, a new life, and even a new suit created by superhero fashion designer Edna ‘E’ Mode (comically voiced by director Brad Bird).
But right when things have never been better, Mr. Incredible is called to the island once more, where he is met – and easily defeated – by an even more advanced version of the robot he fought before. The mysterious prospector is revealed to be his former ,self proclaimed, sidekick Incrediboy, now grown up into supervillain Syndrome (Jason Lee), with a sworn mission to destroy all supers. It is up to Elastigirl, Dash and Violet to not only save Mr. Incredible but the entire world from Syndrome’s diabolical plan.
Many studios have managed to challenge Pixar on a visual level, but all fall short on the heart it puts into its movies. The Incredibles pulls off the difficult feat of making you believe that lives are really at stake. While watching the argument between Mr. Incredible and his wife, they ceased to be cartoon characters. The conflict felt real, and I suddenly found myself worried about the turmoil their marriage was in. The family’s fragile stability is shaken to the core so many times, it makes you wonder how they will make it out of such impossible situations. It is only in the end that they realize that united they are strong, and even against the forces of evil, together they will always prevail.
So it feels almost criminal that Pixar has chosen to produce a sequel to Cars, its least successful movie (though one with unbelievably profitable merchandising. Coincidence? I think not) instead of making an Incredibles 2 – particularly now the company has jumped on the prequels bandwagon to make Monsters University. Instead, Incredibles fans must be content with this Blu-ray release.
Besides the movie itself, the package contains a digital copy, a DVD copy, and a Blu-ray filled to the brim with extras. As well as the features from the original DVD release, the disc includes a number of new extras, with content ranging from a Jack-Jack mini movie to multiple behind-the-scenes videos.
Even if you already own The Incredibles, I cannot recommend enough that you upgrade to this beautiful HD version: not only crisp and crystal clear (right down to the costumes’ textures), but loaded with enough extra features to satisfy any fan.
As well as being a visual spectacle, The Incredibles is a thrill ride unlike any other animated film I have seen. Even seven years later, this is my personal favorite Pixar film and will probably always remain closest to my nerdy heart – at least until they release its much-deserved sequel.
The Incredibles four-disc Blu-ray set is out now in the US from Buena Vista Home Entertainment, price $45.99.
A worldwide release follows later this year.