The Incredibles – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

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Film Title: The Incredibles
Release Date: 2004
Rating: PG
Runtime: 115 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Pixar (Disney)
Audio Formats: Dolby Atmos 7.1.4DTS-HD 5.1 MA ES / DD 2.0
High Dynamic Range: HDR (HDR10)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Formats Available: 4K UHD Blu-ray
Versions Available: 4K Blu-ray4K SteelBook
Director: Brad Bird
Cast: Craig T. NelsonHolly Hunter,Samuel L. Jackson, Jason LeeSarah VowellLou RomanoWallace Shawn


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The Movie

In 2004, Pixar / Disney released their first film with writer/director Brad Bird, best known for his directorial debut “The Iron Giant” (1999). “The Incredibles” was to be the sixth film from CG animation studio Pixar, and also the second animated film written & directed by Brad Bird.

The film tells the story of a male superhero we at first know as “Mr. Incredible” (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), as well as a female superhero known as “Elastigirl” (voiced by Holly Hunter), and another male superhero friend known as “Frozone” (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson). We see them doing an interview in old VHS-like video footage that starts the film. Not soon after we get to see Mr. Incredible in action, BUT first we see him driving along as his alter-ego “Bob Parr,” your typical dress shirt wearing white collar pencil pusher driving to work. However Bob, he can’t simply just go to his dull drab job: first he must rescue a cat, and eventually attempt to stop a crime, as well as a loss of life. Just an average day we see of this guy’s ‘incredible’ superhero lifestyle, until things go wrong. Let’s just leave it at that.

Flash forward fifteen years later and ‘Bob‘ is still working that same job, dressed the same, but he is no longer the superhero he once was. He longs for those days, yet sits behind a desk. Let’s just say he grows tired of just longing for those days and having a family with wife “Elastigirl” (a.k.a. “Helen Parr“), daughter “Violet” (voiced by Sarah Vowell), oldest son “Dash” (voiced by Spencer Fox), and baby son “Jack Jack.” He and his old former superhero buddy “Lucius Best” (a.k.a. “Frozone“) like to sit in the car together late at night, away from their families, and listen to police radios, looking for crimes to go fight, just for fun, for old time-sake.

That all being said about how he’s still living a secret life, but in a different way, sooner or later he’s bound to want to go back to being a superhero full-time instead of working that day job, and coming home to his family, and pretending to be happy while looking like a zombie at the dinner table. Something, well, better yet, someone, will come along who will make Bob (a.k.a. Mr. Incredible), and his family, decide to go back to the family business.

All around, “The Incredibles” is one of the strongest of the early Pixar films, and one of the finest animated films of all-time. It’s family friendly as can be, sure, but it’s even cool and such to adults. Trust me: I love this film. It was writing and directing stuff like this that would lead to Brad Bird later also directing another Pixar animated classic: “Ratatouille” (2007), as well even the live-action films “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011),  “Tomorrowland” (2015), and this film’s upcoming sequel “Incredibles 2” – in theaters June 15th.

Movie Rating: 5 (out of 5)


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Video Quality

The film is presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio with HDR10 High Dynamic range. It’s a tad bit odd to see Disney not decide to include a Dolby Vision option of HDR here, just thought I’d mention that. That’s kinda starting to become ‘the norm’ on 4K releases as of lately.


First, let me just warn you going in, that if you are expecting this 4K UHD Blu-ray with HDR to provide more vibrant, brighter colors, and such in comparison to the 2011 released Blu-ray, you’re going to be disappointed. The manual screenshots taken with a digital camera using HDR below are to just give you an idea how the two sources look in comparison to one another.

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So which do you think is which? Well, I hate to tell you, most people seem to guess it incorrectly, and chances are that you did as well. The one on the TOP is actually the 4K source and the one on the BOTTOM is the 2011 Blu-ray source. I did that because usually people expect comparisons in an old vs. new fashion. It seems to fool folks. So, that being said, just look at how much the red on “Elastigirl” and the bricks in the background stand out in terms of vibrance. Then, look above at the 4K source, and see how dulled down they now are, with HDR making things almost too dark at times.


Okay, now that I’ve got that out of the way, I’ll continue. As most know (who have seen it before) the film starts out with some less than pleasing visual video quality, but that’s on purpose because of the old footage in a 4×3 aspect ratio, like it’s from a VHS tape. That is something that Director Brad Bird likes to do throughout the film, even throwing in old newsreel style footage (in black & white) for moments at a time early on in the film. He’s doing this to show the age of the lead superhero. With 4K now, some folks might not like this appearing less polished and visually pleasing as the CG animation throughout the rest of the film. In fairness, it doesn’t blend, but it’s the director’s intentions the film look this way. So keep that in mind.

After the opening video and title sequence you’ll see our hero get into some action starting around the afternoon, and as the scene progresses the sun goes down, leaving us almost at dusk. The dark sky, not quite night, is emphasized pretty nicely here with the addition of HDR (via HDR10). The dark shadows on the characters’ outfits are given a more strong emphasis on color, almost toning down the colors’ intensity, in a bad way. The black level is solid here throughout, much thanks again to HDR benefits, but at what cost? The color palette is admittedly not as vibrant at first as I and most everyone had expected it to be with high dynamic range. However, things start to brighten up (a bit) as the film progresses, with the filmmaker’s visual intents being why the film feels a bit dull early on, it’s almost washed out a slight bit in comparison to later in the film when things feel a tad bit more vibrant. Still, not as vibrant as I’d hoped with HDR behind it.

The 4K presentation here with high dynamic range does exhibit some benefits, namely a sharper visual presentation. There’s more detail, and with an enhanced amount of clarity, which can be seen here on the characters; whether it be the tiny strains of their hair, or the detail to their clothing (usually superhero outfit) textures or whatnot. As mentioned, darker scenes look better now, benefiting from the addition of HDR. 4K also brings out more detail as well in a dark scene than how you saw it on the 2011 Blu-ray.

Come 37 minutes into the film, no spoilers included, and you’ll notice things start to brighten up a tad when the physical setting our character finds himself in turns over to a lush beautiful jungle landscape. The colors almost start to pop here, but it still feels that something is holding them back. This presentation just is nowhere as near as good as I had hoped it would look in 4K. I don’t know if Disney has just toned down the colors, and delivered us a HDR presentation that is too dark or what. I just know I cannot help, as a fan of this film especially, but to feel disappointed by the video quality. Overall, this 4K UHD Blu-ray earns mixed bag of a rating, and again, is actually a tad bit disappointing.

Video Quality Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)


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Audio Quality

Audio here (on the 4K disc) is presented in Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 format and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio ES – yes, ES. For those who remember DTS ES you’ll remember it was capable of doing an extra rear channel, i.e. is technically a 6.1 (“Matrixed”) configuration. ES stands for Extended Surround. Looking back on it, the original 2011 Blu-ray Disc release also contained this sound mix. So, the DTS-HD 5.1 MA ES is not new. It has just ported over from the old Blu-ray.

It’s also worth noting that Disney has even included a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix as well. In fact, the back of the box doesn’t fully include all the sound formats (in full detail) that can be found on the 4K disc, as you’ll see below:

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Now, with that out of the way, let’s continue. I just wanted to first fully inform consumers as to what audio mixes are actually on the 4K disc.

The film (as those who have seen it before will remember) starts up with what anyone would call not the best sound quality, and that’s on purpose as it’s supposed to be from old video footage. Once the real film’s opening title sequence and such start up, though, you’ll really start to feel these surround mixes. The Atmos makes very, very subtle use of the height speakers in the 7.1.4 configuration (or even on a 5.1.2 configuration). It’s nothing too ‘over the top’ at first, however it certainly does have its moments as the film progresses, just nothing that ever makes you feel ‘blown away.’

Two of the first things that stood out to me to be taking any advantage of the atmospheric Dolby Atmos sound mix were the sound effects for explosions and the basic sound of glass breaking. It’s the little things like this early on that stood out to me with this Atmos track, as subtle as they were. There were also some not so subtle uses of the Atmos early on during some action sequences and such. When we first see our hero, “Mr. Incredible,” in action, and joined by “Elastigirl” you’ll notice some other sound effects make some use of the height speakers.

Meanwhile, you have the original music composed by Michael Giacchino coming through primarily the front left and right channel speakers, with a light amount of rear presence, and a decent amount of LFE via the subwoofer when the music gets intense during action scenes. The music really never gets much ‘play’ in the Atmos speakers, that I could tell, which usually is the case for Atmos mixes. Sadly the rear channels just don’t get a lot of ‘play’ themselves either in the Atmos mix and you don’t notice the music as much as you will in the original DTS-HD 5.1 MA ES mix.

Just as with the video quality, once you hit roughly 37 minutes into the film you’re going to notice the presentation really start to get a tad bit louder. In this area, it’s going to be from the Atmos finally starting to really kick in and attempt to take advantage of some action. The DTS-HD 5.1 MA ES mix gets really intense as well around this point, and honestly is more impressive during these action sequences.

One major problem here I’ve found with the Dolby Atmos mix, aside from my opinion toward it, is that when I’d leave the film paused a while and continue (hit ‘play’ and resume), that the sound would become just barely out of sync with the video and lips not being synchronized (anymore). This could be a few things causing this, not specifically the mix itself. The two things I suspect could be causing it personally on my end are my Samsung 4K UHD Blu-ray Player and my AVR unit having some occasional issues. I thought in fairness I’d point those out, that those could be perhaps be why the audio loses sync. There’s a simple solution to fix this: just pause the film, or don’t, and hit the menu button. Change the language from the current audio you’re on to another, and then back. Problem solved.

The Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 mix is likely to leave you impressed on a few occasions, however, it’s not the most impressive Atmos mix I’ve ever heard. In fact, it’s a little disappointing at times to be honest, as it lacks ‘oomph’ and requires amplification (more on that later). It manages to get the job done and deliver an alright audio presentation, but they probably might want to just opt for the older lossless surround mix, especially if they don’t have an Atmos capable system. While not quite ‘incredible’ so-to-speak at all, the Atmos mix does have its moments, as said. Yet, in comparison to the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio ES track, it can actually be better at times in terms of the amount of LFE you’ll find your subwoofer firing during some major action scenes versus the Dolby Atmos mix. It also has a lot more rear channel presence than the Atmos mix, as discussed before.

The biggest problem with the Atmos mix is that it’s a bit too quiet and requires some amplification, via making volume adjustments on your AVR unit, to find the ideal listening level. I myself ended up changing the volume several times throughout the film while watching it on the Atmos mix, while on DTS-HD 5.1 MA ES I didn’t ever have to adjust the volume. Lastly, dialogue in all mixes is delivered distinctly, and never once overwhelmed by any action or the music. On both of the lossless surround mixes, dialogue is delivered predominantly from the center channel. Overall, this Atmos 7.1.4 mix, as much as I thought it would be amazing, ended up failing to impress me. This is some “Mickey Mouse” sound right here, folks. In a bad way. Opt for the older sound mix. It’s sad too, because Disney used to be the one setting the standards in audio quality with their lossless surround sound mixes back 10 years ago on Blu-ray.

Audio Quality Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)


IMG_5392 copy.jpgBonus Materials

  • A Digital Copy of the film via Movies Anywhere is included, which is compatible with iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video and more. You redeem this with a code on paper insert in the various forms of packaging.

The 4K UHD Blu-ray includes no bonus materials what-so-ever, aside from subtitles and audio tracks in a few other languages. The second and third discs, a Blu-ray Disc of the film and “Bonus MaterialBlu-ray Disc, are where the bonus contents are to be found.

On the Blu-ray Disc you will find the following:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Brad Bird and Producer John Walker
  • Audio Commentary with Supervising Animators Tony Fucile, Steven Hunter and Alan Barillaro
  • The Incredibles Revisited (HD) – This runs close to 22 minutes in length, and focuses on a roundtable affair with a host of contributors of the original film. Having always been a fan of Bird (even more so after meeting him in 2007), this is a must-watch for fans of his work and of the film. – B.Surpless
  • Bounding (Animated Short) with Optional Commentary by Bud Luckey (HD) – This runs just shy of 5 minutes and shows the short that came directly before The Incredibles during its original 2004 theatrical run.
  • Jack-Jack Attack” (HD) with Optional Visual Commentary – Commentary comes from Brad Bird, Story Supervisor Mark Andrews, character designer Teddy Newton and animator Bret Parker. The short itself runs about 5 minutes.

On the second Blu-ray “Bonus Material” you will find the following:

  • Deleted Scenes (HD) – These scenes, totaling 35 minutes in length, are featured in HD for the first time, which was nice to see.
  • The New Nomanisan: A Top Secret Redevelopment Plan
  • Paths to Pixar: Story Artists (HD) – This runs close to 6 minutes, and focuses on the animators that worked on the film.
  • Studio Stories: Gary’s Birthday (HD) – A brief 2 minute look into the moral surrounding those who made the film.
  • Ending with a Bang: Making the End Credits (HD) – Another very short (2 minutes) look at the ending credit scene.
  • Making of The Incredibles (SD) – This runs close to 28 minutes and dives deep into the making of the film via a behind-the-scenes look.
  • DVD Content 
  • Easter Eggs
  • Publicity
  • Interactive Art Gallery
  • Incredibles Teaser
  • Maximize Your Home Theater

Overall, you get no new bonus materials at all, just the same discs found on the 2011 released Blu-ray Disc. You also get a digital copy of the film. That’s about it. Still, these bonus materials stand up to be solid, and still stand up to the test of time, proving to be very, very much worth watching.

Bonus Materials Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)


Closing Thoughts

The Incredibles” is now roughly 14 years in age, and has held up extremely well as a film. However, sadly this great film has not at all been done justice here in terms of its video or its Atmos audio presentation in its debut to the 4K UHD Blu-ray format. The bonus materials continue to be well worth the watch, despite the lack of any new materials.

As much as I hate to say this, I cannot recommend the 4K UHD Blu-ray release of “The Incredibles” to really anyone else but fans, or perhaps those who become new fans, and/or never owned it before on Blu-ray. If you still own the original 2011 Blu-ray Disc release, it’s definitely NOT time for you to replace that 7-year-old disc yet. Wait. This 4K release is an improvement, don’t get me wrong, but mostly visually though, as it comes with the Atmos audio mix being pretty much an utter disappointment.

In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
3.5 (out of 5) for video quality
3.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
3.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials


Overall Verdict:
Great Film / A So-So 4K Debut


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