Feb 13, 2015

[Movies] The Incredibles (2004)

I think it's safe to say that The Incredibles is one of the most popular Pixar movies around. And it nicely plays with the superhero movie genre which seems to dominate the live-action movie environment these days. But it also had a unique charm ot itself that actually felt a lot more like older superhero stories with a bit of a pulp feel to things.

The Incredibles is definitely a movie with very strong characters and I really enjoyed how those individual arcs resolved themselves. And this goes outside the classic superhero movie story arc that begins with the character origins in terms of how they get their powers and all that good stuff.

There's a lot of good stuff about this movie and I think many of us look back at this a truly classic example of the quality of Brad Bird's brand of storytelling. And I'm pretty his involvement in this production really helped helped Pixar reach the heights that it has and it also redefined how we look at a lot of different superhero stories.

Synopsis: The Incredibles is a 2004 CGI-animated comedy superhero movie that was written and directed by Brad Bird for Pixar. The movie has won a number of awards including the 2004 Annie Award for Best Animated Feature, the Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Sound Editing and also the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.

The movie is set in a world where superheroes are real, but things take a turn for the worse when lawsuits related to collateral damage due to superhero / super-villain clashes that results in all these "supers" being put into a civilian relocation program similar to the witness protection program. They've all been given new identities and "normal"lives. Thus our point of focus is Bob / Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and his wife Helen / Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), both now living normal lives together with their super-powered children Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Spencer Fox), and the baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile / Maeve Andrews).

Bob is frustrated by his mundane life and tries to find some escape together with Lucius / Frozone by trying to respond to police scanner reports as secret vigilantes. But eventually Bob is approached a mysterious woman known only as Mirage (Elizabeth Peña), who offers him a mission to destroy a killer robot known as the Omnidroid in exchange for a big reward. Considering his frustrations and the fact that he just lost his job at the insurance agency, Bob agrees to take on the mission in secret.

The movie had a pretty complex story for what most initially dismiss as a "children's" movie. Despite the light tone and the almost simplistic presentation of events, The Incredibles has a very complex story at its core. The whole people turning against their heroes may seem like an old comic book concept, but they really managed to take it into a dark direction given how Supers end up going into hiding despite all the good they had done for the world. And that's a rather somber note to start a story about.

More than a superhero story, this is really a story about family. Bob is clearly going through an unusual mid-life crisis and his wife is doing her best to maintain a home. We don't care how everyone got their powers to begin with - they just have them and that's a given. Thus we focus instead on their lives as individuals and this makes it a very human story indeed. And that's a large part of the magic here - despite the amazing and fantastic things that everyone is capable of doing, it's really their human qualities that shine through and see them past the challenges they face.

Everyone has their moment to shine in the spotlight, but we have to take a moment to talk about Edna Mode (Brad Bird), the fashion designer for various Supers who indirectly went into retirement as well. She's a crazy over-the-top character that really stole all her scenes and I'm sure a lot of folks remember her more than some other characters in the movie. And that's rather brilliant - how this one side character had so much personality and on-screen presence and thus she becomes all the more real and thus more memorable.

The movie has great humor, brilliant action sequences, and a brilliant narrative structure that doesn't really leave you time to get bored or have your attention wander. It's brilliant in so many ways and I'll honestly feel bad for you if you haven't had a chance to watch this movie yet despite it having been out for more than a decade now.

The Incredibles is a fun movie for fans of all ages and it nicely defines part of what has made Pixar the giant that it is in terms of animated storytelling. And it's a rather geeky story as well and one that I personally enjoy a lot and never regret re-watching. Thus the movie gets a full 5 Omnidroid units attacking everyone out of a possible 5.


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