If you ever meet Brad Bird, don’t call animated movies a genre.
“Animation is not a genre,” the passionate Pixar director growls on The Incredibles’ commentary. “It’s an art form. It can do any genre: detective film, cowboy film, horror film, fairy tale. It doesn’t do one thing. Next time I hear, ‘Oooo, what’s it like working in the animation genre?' I'm going to punch that person.”
You better believe it. Bird will defend his art with his fists. Pitching this superhero adventure to the Disney board, he almost lost his rag when one senior exec (possibly Mouse House CEO Michael Eisner?) said it should be live action. “I thought Brad was going to punch him and we’d all be out of a job,” chuckles producer John Walker.
That story’s just one of the, ahem, incredible anecdotes you’ll hear in The Incredibles Revisited, a fantastic 22-minute, Blu-ray exclusive roundtable chat between Bird, Walker and the lead artists.
When so many extras are full of, “It was so great working with blah” filler, this is packed with candid stories like Bird inadvertently terrifying the storyboard department while trying to boost their morale.
It was clearly a high-pressured production. “I spent four years praying every night we wouldn’t be the guys who made Pixar’s first flop,” remembers Walker.
He didn’t have to worry. The Incredibles lives up to its title. It’s a Pixar masterpiece, a family drama that just happens to be about super-powered characters in spandex. While many (post)modern ’toons wink at adults, Pixar plays to them by making movies too gloriously deep to be “just for kids”.
Marriage, parenting, retirement – Bird works rigorously through all his grown-up themes, tethering them tightly to state-of-the-art spectacle. (The second half is as explosive as half-a-dozen Bruck-busters).
Nothing suits Blu-ray like a CG movie: every meticulously rendered Pixar pixel shines in 1080p. This is a single-disc cut-down of the US double-pack, but the extras are as cool as Frozone: deleted scenes, animated shorts Boundin’ and Jack Jack Attacks, featurettes and a tour of über-baddie Syndrome’s island lair.
Bird and Walker’s yak-track gives a sense of the graft involved in creating a virtual world from the ground up: continuity meetings about digital food on a digital dinner table requiring superhuman passion, pored over like Louvre treasures.
All Pixar’s work is a technologist’s approach to art, movies where production pipelines and rendering issues could overwhelm the vision. Bird’s achievement
– something he shares with boss John Lasseter – is that he kept sight of the story, the message and the point.
That’s why The Incredibles isn’t an animated movie. It’s a drama that just happens to be animated.
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