Blu-ray Review: Pixar’s Incredibles 2

The Movie

After 14 long years, Brad Bird and company (ie Pixar) finally delivered that sequel to The Incredibles that everyone was clamouring for. On every superficial level, it was a rousing success. The film went on to gross over a billion dollars and presumably sold plenty of candy coloured superhero merchandise for Disney as well. It was also easily the most purely entertaining superhero movie of the 2018 summer blockbuster season. The lovable family superhero dynamic was as strong as before, with every character playfully developed and an amusing gender-swap in the household’s power dynamic to explore for dramatic arcs and comedic gags. The vast technical improvements in the Pixar animation machine since 2004 also ensured that the sequel offered almost unparalleled animated eye candy, from the beautiful retro future designs to the subtle characterizations and the absolutely stunning kinetic action sequences.

In terms of pure spectacle and gleeful entertainment, the sequel’s appeal is undeniable. It’s impossible to plug Incredibles 2 into your earholes and eyeholes without feeling transported and elated. Brad Bird is one of the great filmmakers of his era after all. Give him the nearly unlimited resources of the Pixar machine to make a superhero blockbuster and you get the finest entertainment money can buy. Unfortunately, while Bird knew how to top the spectacle and continue the characters from the first Incredibles, he never figured out what he wanted to say through all the crowd pleasing. Bird’s admitted in interviews that his initial Incredibles 2 pitch hinged on a villain plot involving A.I. that proved to be too complicated and was scrapped mid-production. With a release date written in stone, Bird and the Pixar team came up with a pair of replacement baddies and hit all the right notes to satisfy. However, despite all the masterful craftsmanship, there’s an unfortunate hollow core.

Incredibles 2 feels like a sequel created on demand by a collection of animation geniuses, not a second story that needed to be told. All the bits and pieces are great, yet it doesn’t add up to more than a collection of amazing sequences and characters. Ah well, at the least the film moves fast enough that you won’t notice until the aftertaste. That’ll do. Certainly the flick lights up a home entertainment system like few others and boasts an impressive array of special features featuring passionate artists discussing the (ahem) incredible (sorry) craft that brought this blockbuster to life. Curiously enough, those special features barely even mention the script though. Probably a coincidence, right?

The Disc

Incredibles 2 Blu-rayVideo

Whether played in 4K or 1080p The Incredibles offers such stylized, warm, detailed, and vibrant images that your television will thank you for treating it so well.

Audio

Tracks include Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7/1, Dolby Digital 45.1, Dolby Digital 2.0.  All hit the bombastic highs of the score and explosion as well as the small character driven lows with clarity and charm.

Supplements

Audio Commentary: It starts with Brad Bird in his typical jovial style and then just when you’re gearing up to hear another of his brilliant director’s commentary tracks, he takes off and leaves the track to a handful of Pixar animators. It’s fascinating for those enamoured in the art of animation, but will quickly prove dull for anyone who could care less about the challenge of realistically rendering hair.

Strong Coffee – A Lesson In Animation With Brad Bird: An informative and amusing profile of the great Brad Bird, discussing his childhood internship with classic Disney animators and how he imparts that legacy onto the Pixar team. The featurette offers a strong impression of Brad’s energy, interests, work ethic, and leadership techniques, but weirdly barely discusses Incredibles 2 or why he wanted to make it.

BAO: Domee Shi’s beautiful short film that played before Incredibles 2 in theatres loses none of its power on multiple viewings on multiple sizes of scream. BAO almost rivals the opening of Up for pure emotional impact through silent, character driven animation. A mini-masterpiece that demands to be seen with a full box of tissues on hand.

Making Bao: In a pleasant surprise, Domee Shi gets a documentary almost as long as her short to discuss the personal inspirations behind her remarkable film. She comes off as a passionately gifted natural at her craft. Hopefully it won’t be long before she gets a feature of her own at Pixar because she ends up having more to say about a seven minute short that most people say about the feature film on this disc.

Auntie Edna: A glorified deleted scene turned into a short film that shows Edna goofing around with Jack-Jack. Cute and disposable, but I’m sure kids will love it.

Super Stuff: A seven minute rundown of the Retro Future design, discussing how it moved out of the 50s fantasies of the first film into the 60s fantasies. Proves how much thought went into each and every design in case you aren’t impressed enough by the sheer amount of work that Pixar puts into their pictures.

Paths To Pixar: Everyday heroes: A collection of Pixar team members and Brad Bird discussing how their personal family stories worked their way into scenes in the superhero sequel. Proof that the movie at least had personal significance in small chunks and an almost embarrassingly sweet way to kill 11 minutes.

Superbaby: Ever wanted to hear about the design of Jack Jack through awkward rap-rhymes and the visual language of Popular Mechanics For Kids? Great! That makes one of us.

Ralph Eggleston, Production Designer: An amusing portrait of a Pixar production designer and his work that ends it’s brief 2 minute runtime almost at the precise second it gets interesting.

Heroes & Villains: A collection of 2-minute profiles of every character in the film that essentially just give the voice actors and animators a chance to describe what you’ll see in the film. There are some amusing insights (like Brad Bird’s wife popping up to complain that she should get some writing credit on what he stole from her for Mrs. Incredible), but these clips ultimately feel like abandoned pieces of a larger documentary about the production that was never completed.

Vintage Featurettes: Some hilariously conceived fake ads for vintage action figures based on Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and Frozone. Creative yet pointless. Bit of a theme here.

Deleted Scenes: Brad Bird walks viewers through no less than 40 minutes of deleted scenes (in impressively animated storyboards). All are amusing and well crafted, yet superfluous. Oddly enough, none of these scenes involved the original abandoned villain plot, revealing just how many ideas were thrown at the wall as Bird n’ co. radically rewrote the film up until the deadline. It’s actually pretty impressive that the team managed to pull together a sequel as coherent as they did given how many permutations of the flick clearly existed.

Trailers And Promos: Guess what these are!


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