November 02, 2004

The Incredibles - A Movie Review

An Animated Feature Better Than Most Live Productions
By Fred H. Arm
Once again, hats are off to Pixar’s amazing storytelling abilities and the very best in Computer Graphics (CG) animation. "The Incredibles," present a powerful and very witty action-adventure that involves an entire family of superheroes. It's "Spy Kids," Superman, and "Spider-Man" all rolled into one guided by the brilliant direction of Brad Bird, the man behind the terrific 1999 animated feature "Iron Giant." What Bird and Pixar have in effect accomplished is to make a superhero movie that could just as easily have been made into a live action spectacular. Accordingly, this is not only Pixar's first PG-rated film, it is also its longest. (115 minutes).

The movie is designed to appear as though it were created in the 1960s, and that includes a score reminiscent of movies like "Mission: Impossible," and skillfully conceived by Michael Giacchino. Everything works in this tour de force of film animation. The dialogue is crisp and well delivered. The humor is pure 21st Century original, delivering more laughs than most live features.
Bob Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), is a cheerful crimefighter known as Mr. Incredible, characterized as an upside down triangle with all his bulk above a thin waist and legs, topped by a shovel face that ands a broad smile. His wife Helen (Holly Hunter), known as Elasticgirl, is a rubbery contortionist with limbs that can extend as far as she likes, reminiscent of another superhero in comic books of years gone by called “Plasticman” in the fifties.

Unfortunately, as the story opens, an unappreciative public has tired of its superheroes; lawsuits force the Parrs into a superhero relocation program that bury the superheroes for 15 years, adopting new civilian identities and living a so-called "normal" life with three kids, each of which possesses supernatural abilities that must be curtailed whenever they threaten to use them. Their kids are a shy and awkward teenager called Violet (Sarah Vowell), the rambunctious and super-speedy Dash (Spencer Fox) and the infant Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile and Maeve Andrews).

Bob is now sporting a humongous midsection while punching a clock as a claims adjuster for an insurance company. The movie gets a lot of comedic mileage from Bob’s squeezing his bulk in and out of the tiny office cubicles. He indulges his mounting superhero drives by engaging in purported bowling nights with another ex-superhero, Lucius (Samuel L. Jackson), aka Frozone, and instead unbeknownst to his wife Helen, they actually moonlight in disguise as anonymous crime-fighting champions.

Dying to get back into the game, Bob is enticed to use his superhero powers by the mysterious Mirage (Elizabeth Pena) headquartered at the remote Nomanisan Island for a top-secret assignment. His various new missions’ success allows Bob to feel worthwhile for the first time in years. Thus, he secretly works out to get back into superhero shape and avoids telling Helen he has been fired from his insurance job.

Responding to another directive to return to the island is instead a trap sprung by a former admirer of Mr. Incredible who now goes by the pseudonym of Syndrome (Jason Lee). Unfortunately for Syndrome, he is only a miniature version of Mr. Incredible. Syndrome makes up for his lack of superpowers with an assortment of weapons and accessories he himself has created. And thus, the battle of good versus evil fills the screen with a panoply of special effects, albeit animation that is genuinely entertaining and fascinating.
The action often times is severe enough to make the film unsuitable for very young children; however, the intensity clearly plays out brilliantly to everyone else. The super-kids, engaged in their very first action adventure finally allowable by their parents, discover their superhero abilities thus making the sequences both hilarious and exciting. "The Incredibles" is, incredibly speaking; Pixar's best work yet.

Opens November 5th in the Bay Area.

Posted by fredarm at November 2, 2004 03:49 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?