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The Incredibles: Widescreen Collector's Edition

If you've ever found yourself wondering just how Pixar manages to maintain its impressive critical and box-office track record — all of its six computer-animated features to date have been unqualified hits — you need look no further for an answer than The Incredibles bonus disc. As you wend your way through multiple behind-the-scenes featurettes, you can't help but notice the colorful, creative, kinetic atmosphere the company cultivates in its headquarters (everyone's office is filled with toys!). The message is clear: This is one movie studio that values inspiration and innovation just as much as the bottom line (or has at least realized that giving the former enough attention often translates into success at the latter). Hence The Incredibles, the funny, poignant, fast-paced, eye-popping adventure about a family of superheroes-in-hiding who must reclaim their innate talents in order to (naturally) save the world. Forced to give up a life of crime-fighting by a wave of anti-Super public sentiment, Bob and Helen Parr (aka Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, voiced by Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter) now live in the suburbs with their three children: shy teenager Violet (NPR's Sarah Vowell), rambunctious Dash (Spencer Fox), and baby Jack-Jack. Like any former BMOC who's traded in his glory days for a nondescript office job, Bob nostalgically relives his spandexed past whenever he can, trading "remember when" stories with best friend Lucius (aka Frozone, played by Samuel L. Jackson) and obsessively listening to the police scanner. When a mysterious client offers Bob a job that requires using all of his skills, he doesn't hesitate; but his secret freelancing leads to suspicion at home and, ultimately, a sticky situation for the whole family, thanks to the evil plans of villain Syndrome (Jason Lee). After Bob is captured, it's up to Helen and the kids — who have their own special powers — to save him, braving the perils of a secret jungle lair to spring him from Syndrome's clutches. It all adds up to a rip-roaring tale that takes full advantage of everything animation (computer or otherwise) has to offer. Watching Helen-as-Elastigirl twist and bend and flex herself into a succession of contorted shapes, or seeing Dash zip through the jungle while being pursued by Syndrome's minions, the sheer skill of Pixar's army of animators and technicians becomes obvious — as does the joy they take in telling a good story. No one is more passionate about the emphasis on storytelling than Incredibles director Brad Bird (who also voices the film's diminutive fashion maven, Edna Mode). His enthusiasm and energy are evident in all of the behind-the-scenes footage found on the bonus disc of Disney's collector's edition Incredibles DVD, as well as in the commentary he and producer John Walker provide on Disc One. The first platter offers the film in a gorgeous anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) that's lifted straight from the digital source files (a full-screen edition is available separately), with pristine Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX audio (Spanish and French tracks are also included, as are English, French, and Spanish subtitles). Extras on this disc include Bird and Walker's commentary, plus a tech-heavy track from a bevy of the film's animators, the usual collection of Disney trailers, and the THX Optimizer tool. The rest of the goodies are on Disc Two: more than an hour's worth of "making-of" featurettes, outtakes, an extensive still gallery, trailers, character interviews, a video essay by Vowell, top secret files on all of the film's Supers, a "vintage" "Mr. Incredible and Pals" cartoon (accompanied by hilarious commentary from Nelson and Jackson in character as Mr. Incredible and Frozone), 34 minutes' worth of deleted scenes presented in story reel format with comments and explanations from Bird and story supervisor Mark Andrews, and an intro by Bird. Also included here are "Boundin'," the short that ran before The Incredibles in theaters (along with a featurette about "Boundin'"'s writer-director, Bud Luckey), and the all-new "Jack-Jack Attack" short. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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