The Incredibles Review

Posted: July 25, 2014 by moviebuff801 in Barrage of the Blockbusters, moviebuff801's Movie Reviews, Time Capsule Reviews

Release Date: November 5th, 2004

Running Time: 1 hour and 55 minutes

Written & Directed by: Brad Bird

Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee, Samuel L. Jackson

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

Ah, the glory days. That seems to be the topic at hand when discussing The Incredibles, in more ways than one. Not only do the characters in the film, former superheroes forced into early retirement by citizens who’ve experienced said heroes’ destructive collateral damage, sit around and reminisce in some form about their own glory days, the film itself is a pleasant reminder of when Pixar Studios could do no wrong. Just to clarify, though: I don’t mean that to be taken as they’ve gone down the toilet in most recent years, but I still think there’s no denying that ever since after the release of Toy Story 3, Pixar has seemed to lose that magical spark which made them put out so many great movies, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who longs to see that spark return. Quite frankly, The Incredibles remains one of Pixar’s finest achievements to date, a movie filled with creativity, excitement, heart and humor, but that’s not where my praises end for it. I also consider it to be one of the best superhero films ever made, period, a title which The Incredibles is more than worthy of.

The film takes place in a world where superheroes are a part of the fabric of everyday life, but as already mentioned, begins when the public has become fed up with the costs of their day-saving. Specifically, the focus is on Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson), formerly Mr. Incredible, who’s become an office drone working for an insurance company and very bored with his ordinary life. He’s also a family man, having married Elastigirl/Helen (Holly Hunter) and fathering three children with her: Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Spencer Fox) and infant Jack Jack. Like their parents, Violet and Dash possess super powers; Violet has the ability to disappear and create forcefields, while Dash, as his name suggests, can run super-fast. The Parrs’ suburban lifestyle is interrupted, however, when Bob receives a cryptic mission to dispose of an experimental robot running amok on a secluded island. He does, but it opens up a whole new set of problems, at the center of which is Syndrome (Jason Lee), a vindictive supervillain with nefarious plans for all remaining superheroes in the world. Suddenly, the Parr family finds themselves the only ones who can put a stop to Syndrome’s schemes and in the process, give the public a good reminder of the benefits of having superheroes around.

The Incredibles does a number of things right. It has a great premise that thankfully isn’t underused by writer/director Brad Bird, action sequences that rival almost anything on display in live action fare, and its central theme of family isn’t forced down our throats by Bird. Instead, he explores said theme through the progression of the story and the actions of the characters, as opposed to spending too much time pontificating on the idea — an approach which is honestly ideal for a movie like this. Such an approach also goes to show how smart of a storyteller Brad Bird is, though this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody who’s seen his other animated efforts, 1999’s The Iron Giant and 2007’s Ratatouille. With all three of these movies, Bird shows that the genre of animation shouldn’t be limited to just bright colors and juvenile jokes, so it’s no wonder why he was snatched up by Pixar.

The famous animation studio is known for their unique and oftentimes original stories, and The Incredibles is no different. Whenever you put superheroes, or people like them, into very non-superhero settings, then I think things are already off to a good start. As I’ve already mentioned, this is a great story idea, one where the potential is never squandered because the script actually explores the various ins and outs. The Incredibles is such a smart movie in how it handles itself, and it never feels like it’s pandering to one demographic more than the other; there’s plenty here for everyone to enjoy. Brad Bird actually handles this sort of like a very high-concept James Bond picture, which helps distinguish this film a more than just being a superhero movie, and even an overall lukewarm Bond viewer like me has to appreciate that. You’ve got an island housing a top-secret facility on a lone island, technologically clever traps in and around said facility that have to be avoided during an inevitable break-in and a villain with world-dominating aspirations. Even Michael Giacchino’s score, which is very good, has the sound of a 60’s-style adventure. All of this lends The Incredibles a refreshing and fun atmosphere. There’s also the humor, plenty to go around, and continually clever while not being groan-inducingly “kiddie.” The humor is also blended quite naturally into nearly all of the action sequences, all of which are very exciting in their own right..

All’s good on the voice acting front, too. Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter are especially good at bringing out the humanity and deep level of caring for each other present in Bob and Helen, which makes them feel like a real couple and not just one animated by computers. Normally, you’d think a romantic couple in an animated film would be portrayed as being perfect and happy, but not here. Brad Bird infuses their relationship with what feel like legitimate problems that a married couple in this situation would face, and that’s just another mark of how well-written this script really is. Jason Lee does a very entertaining job as Syndrome, capturing a manically evil quality that fortunately never goes too over the top, and the same can be said for Spencer Fox’s Dash, whose “cuteness” doesn’t feel like its forced too much on us. All of these characters have wonderful personalities, including that of Edna Mode, the costume designer for all the superheroes, and Samuel L. Jackson’s Frozone — both of whom I could’ve honestly spent more time with. It just goes to show how well The Incredibles works as a “team movie,” putting something like Fantastic Four to shame in the process.

All in all, The Incredibles is the work of true masters of the field at play, and one of those rare films that lives up to its high standard-setting title.

****/****

NEXT WEEK: The gun is mightier than the sword.

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