Blu-ray/DVD, Opinions, Pixar, Reviews

[BLU-RAY REVIEW] ‘Incredibles 2’ Collector’s Edition Has Everyone… Kari, Usher, Even Frozone’s Wife

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I remember where I was when I found out Disney greenlit Incredibles 2. I was sitting in a frigid, steel seat on my college town’s public bus system, returning to my apartment from Wal-Mart (really high-rolling, obviously). There was snow on the ground, but it was beginning that phase where it’s kind of melted, but still visible everywhere. Another storm was projected to pass through the next day that would replace it all. I gasped as the notification buzzed my phone. Was it true? This was verified? This was real? It’s actually happening?

While nothing from that story is vital information for your everyday life, my point is that as an audience, we’ve waited a long time for Pixar to make a sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles. Anticipation was so high that I can tell you every detail about the moment I realized one of my wildest, thought-to-be-impossible movie dreams was coming true.

And now… we can watch it again and again! Here’s what’s going down on the new Blu-ray for Incredibles 2.

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The Film  ✮✮✮✮ (of out 5)

Despite being a family movie set in a romanticized ’60s of yesteryear, at the heart of Incredibles 2 is a sleek, sophisticated story for today’s audience. Its layers of narrative extrapolate social issues, subtle yet provocative. As Elastigirl is recruited to a program in favor of making superhero activity legal again, she leaves Mr. Incredible at home to take care of the family in her absence. While he grapples the comic nuances of parenting that he never anticipated, she resolves to expose the Screenslaver, a new villain with a manic obsession. The way Screenslaver sees it, society operates in a fantasy too dependent on screens, and as such leverages screens as hypnotism to prove the point.

Incredibles 2 smartly balances its exposition between the intricate and the comic, never dismissing either quality but always having one or the other steer the wheel. It’s a genuinely hilarious movie, but it’s also a deep one. The story explores themes of freedom, technology, and gender equality. This is a mature plot that will most certainly go over the heads of younger viewers, but that’s not to say it’s not for the whole family. In fact, it’s intentionally designed for the whole family because it’s about family itself.

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In a moviegoing landscape that’s much more crowded with superhero films than it was when The Incredibles first debuted in 2004, Incredibles 2 surprisingly still feels fresh, both from itself and from the brethren of its genre. Supers as a family unit is a unique concept, and exploring new sides of all the characters here allows us to sink our teeth deeper into their complexities.

Perhaps learning its lesson from Cars 2, Pixar lets the sidekick characters remain sidekicks, limiting the screentime of crowd favorites rather than boosting them into the center of the story. Jack-Jack is the standout comedic foil, his unpredictable powers providing a goldmine of pantomime visual gags and farce-like scenarios. (His showdown against a pesky raccoon in particular recalls vintage Disney cartoons pitting poor Donald Duck against the conniving Chip and Dale.) And yet, it’s not overdone. Likewise, the extremely popular and iconic Edna Mode is limited to only a handful of scenes, which feels underwhelming in a sense, but at the same time upholds the reputation of the character and the story.

At the expense of mastering our exposure to familiar faces, Incredibles 2 does a weaker job at managing new characters. A collection of new supers is introduced, but we don’t get to know them very well at all. Voyd, whose powers allow her to create short-range teleportation portals, is the most developed of them. While she has her moments, her lack of involvement in the heart of the story forces her to fall short of really making any impression on the franchise.

Still, Pixar knows what we came for, and they give that to us leaps and bounds. It’s hard to walk away unsatisfied.

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Bonus Features  ✮✮✮✮ (out of 5)

Pixar is known for providing a treasure trove of bonus material on their home video releases, and Incredibles 2 is no different.

Disappointingly, the most advertised and sought-after item on its menu doesn’t measure up. The new short film Auntie Edna shows us what happened the night Edna Mode babysat Jack-Jack. With arguably the two funniest characters in the franchise together to shine in all their glory, you’d think the ensuing short would be a knock-out. Instead, it rehashes most of the gags we’ve already seen with Jack-Jack’s powers. It’s a less-funny version of the 2005 short Jack-Jack Attack, which showed us what happened when Kari the distraught teenager babysat Jack-Jack during the first time he ever discovered his powers. What made that short hilarious was the unpredictability of Jack-Jack’s powers and the terrified reactions of Kari. In Auntie Edna, we’re pretty familiar at this point with what Jack-Jack can do, and Edna is fully aware that the baby has superpowers, so her beats with him are generally more level-headed rather than comically fearful, which is great for her but not as much fun for us. Auntie Edna doesn’t really cover any new ground, which is a shame considering that both characters don’t feel overused in the main film and seem to have so many untapped avenues to explore.

Thankfully, the other short film included is definitely worth your time. Bao, the short presented theatrically alongside Incredibles 2, accompanies it here in this home video release, too. It’s a phenomenal, dialogue-less coming-of-age tale from the perspective of the person raising that coming-of-age individual. It’s got all the heart Pixar is notorious for, packaged in an inventive way I promise you’ve never seen it like. A behind-the-scenes featurette tracks director Domee Shi’s inspiration for the story and her process leading her crew. You’ll learn a lot (somehow I completely missed that it takes place in Canada, not China.)

The primary takeaway we get from Incredibles 2‘s batch of extras is what it was like to be a crew member on this film. Director Brad Bird is the highest-ranking Pixar employee we hear from, and as such, much of the heavy-lifting in the backstage content comes from roles we ordinarily might not get to instead of executives. This provides an in-the-trenches perspective into the making of the movie, and allows us as a viewer to grasp the familial atmosphere that permeated the team.

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A series of character profiles gives a thorough look at each main character’s visual appearance as well as personality. A collection of “SuperScene Breakdowns” essentially provide extended filmmaker commentaries on individual sequences that stand out in the movie, such as the raccoon scene. Within this footage we find a mountain of amazing insight, both in trivia facts (did you know the voice of the supers’ limo driver is Usher?!) and in the filmmakers’ approach to the story. Of particular interest is producer John Walker’s remark, “In the world of The Incredibles, we have this rule. And that is, you never do something fantastic very long without doing something mundane.” Elsewhere, a crew member describes the project not as a superhero movie, but as a movie about a family who happen to be superheroes. This emphasizes the human core of the story and of the characters, and the majority of the content here focuses on bringing that humanity to life.

Continuing the theme of placing the spotlight on crew rather than higher-ups, instead of a director’s commentary, this set includes an animators’ commentary. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable conversation with Pixar pros you’ve probably never heard of, but definitely should. Many of them having worked on The Incredibles in 2004, they spend a lot of time discussing the advances in animation since then, and the ways Incredibles 2 takes advantage of modern technology. Despite this focus, the language never gets too technical, and can be enjoyed even by those unfamiliar with animation technique.

We still get to hear plenty from Brad Bird, though. The portraiture “Strong Coffee: A Lesson in Animation” essentially acts as a mini-biography of Bird’s inspirations in the animation field and his beginnings as mentee to Milt Kahl, one of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men. The standalone piece is presented with its own style unique from the rest of the content in the set, and through its selective storytelling, we get a sense for who Bird is as a person and as a director just from the sliver of his life that’s highlighted here.

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Even for those who normally don’t seek out deleted scenes, the impressive 40 minutes of them included in this set are worth watching. For a film that we’ve waited so long to finally see, it’s fascinating to see the different iterations of what we always waited for. Even though some of them are intriguing, many of the deleted scenes fall into overplayed sequel tropes like flashbacks, summarizing the preceding film, or bringing back unnecessary characters just for popularity’s sake. While most of the scenes made me glad Pixar chose to give us something fresh instead, a few would have been fun to see play out had they been included in the final version of the film, like seeing Kari the babysitter again. Perhaps most entertaining are Edna’s fashion show and a sequence where the audience gets to see Frozone’s wife, Honey, on camera.

There are also a few odds and ends here and there throughout the set, including “vintage” toy commercials, trailers, motion graphics videos for the supers’ theme songs, and a bewildering music video featuring Disney Channel talent galavanting around the Pixar campus.

The digital exclusive “The Coolest Guy in Show Business” uses an intriguing interview format to ultimately present a rough short film of Samuel L. Jackson narrating his youth. It’s candid, captivating, and definitely the sleeper of the set, worth checking out when you enter your movie’s digital code online.

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Final Thoughts

Incredibles 2 is nothing to mess around with. It’s hailed as “the most anticipated sequel of all time”… by Disney (I mean, they’re probably right, let’s just give it to them). The film delivers on what we waited so long for, and the question of owning it will be a no-brainer for many fans. For those on the fence about a purchase, the bonuses on this Blu-ray do an excellent job at sealing the deal. We get an extremely thorough glimpse into how the crew operated as a team, something often not spotlighted amidst traditional bonuses on other sets focusing on executives and actors. The animators are at the real heart of the bonus material, which is wonderful to experience. Even if the main selling point of Auntie Edna doesn’t live up to expectations, the almost-ridiculous-level abundance of everything else more than makes up for it. Without the feature commentary, there’s a solid two hours of content to pool through, a real treat for any fan of the franchise or the art form.

Incredibles 2 is now available digitally and drops on Blu-ray on November 6.

Purchase

Will you add Incredibles 2 to your collection?

Edited by: Morgan Stradling

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About Blake Taylor

Blake is a scriptwriter at Elevation Church, where he develops documentary shorts and creative elements as part of the film team. He graduated Appalachian State University studying Electronic Media Production and is an alumni of the Disney College Program. Blake’s favorite films are Mary Poppins, The Lion King, and Toy Story 3. You can find him on Twitter (@blake_242) and visit his blog at blakeonline.com.