Friday, October 2, 2009

The Incredibles

Okay, I have gone completely soft, and haven't written the last of these things I started way back in May. Please forgive me. *Crickets* Oh, that's right, I forgot nobody reads this blog anyway.

So, back in May, the kids and I got together, pulled out the blankets and pillows, popped some popcorn, and sat down to watch The Incredibles. It didn't have a short cartoon that played before it, so we watched the Carstrailer, and went straight into the film.

Rish really likes to do lists of top five or bottom five whatevers--Marvel super hero films, John Hughes films, Johnny Depp films, and so on. We've done best Marvel films, best DC films, but he's never done a list of the best super hero films of all time. If I was forced to make that list, I think I would put The Incredibles at number three.

And as far as movies that show super heroes being super heroes, it is far and away number one. Nowhere else can you see super heroes with such an amazing grasp on their abilities. The Incredibles are all new versions of already established super heroes. For the most part, they get their abilities from the other family of super heroes, The Fantastic Four. Mr. Incredible would be like The Thing. He's not made of rock, but he has super strength, and is nearly invulnerable to attack. Elastigirl is obviously Mr. Fantastic with the stretchy power. Violet has the powers of Invisible Girl, able to become invisible and create force fields. But then there's Dash, he's not The Human Torch, but instead he's Flash. Now Flash hasn't had a film adaptation yet, but The Fantastic Four certainly have, two of them in fact. If you put the two Fantastic Four films side by side with The Incredibles, it will quickly become obvious that Brad Bird and the folks at Pixar have a much better handle on what the FF can do than the people behind the actual Fantastic Four film. Which is a little sad to me. I've heard from a friend that Marvel is planning a Fantastic Four reboot. If that's true, they better get Mr. Bird on the phone, but it might not be possible, because apparently Pixar is now planning an Incredibles sequel.

I love the way The Incredibles starts with the raw interviews of the supers from "back in the day." It's hilarious stuff, and it hearkens back to Pixar's fake outtakes gag from A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, and Monsters, Inc. It's fun to see the attitudes of the two main characters, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl reversed from what they become later in the film as well. Mr. Incredible thinks it might be nice to settle down, and Elastigirl says there's no way she'd stop hero work and leave it to the boys.

The first segment of the film, showing the glory days of super heroes is excellent. It's filled with humorous lines, in fact, most of the ones I quote from this film are from this first section. (Don't you hate those people who are endlessly quoting movie lines?) My favorite thing in all this is Bomb Voyage. What an inspired goofy character. I can't help but smile whenever I hear him say, "Monsieur Incroyable!" Also, the demise of the super heroes seems all too plausible. Our crappy, selfish litigious society is likely to take something good like super heroes and say, "You didn't save my life, you ruined my death!"

So, The Incredibles is the story of a family, that has fallen apart, and needs to find a way back together. Bob, also known as Mr. Incredible, has lost sight of what matters most. He is constantly looking over his shoulder at his glorious past, and misses the glorious present right in front of him. Helen, also known as Elastigirl, has forgotten who she is, and her husband as well, and settled in for a lifetime of frumpitude, hiding and surviving, instead of living and thriving. And then there's the kids, struggling, as all kids do, for their own identity. Who are they? Violet's invisible, not literally, just figuratively. And Dash is a pest in need of an outlet.

When these people finally figure it all out, and come together as a family again, it makes me cry. It's so triumphant. The moment when the bad guys attack the family as a whole, and they team up to take them on gives me chills. It's just so completely satisfying. I wish that there was a possibility that I could write something so...Incredible.

Again, like Finding Nemo, they decided on a different composer. It's not a Randy Newman score, instead we have the first appearance of Michael Giacchino. He'll be back for Ratatouille, which is another fine score, but it doesn't compare to this one. This score is great. It comes across to me as a James Bond-like score. It's so very sixties sounding, brassy, and brash. It fits the film perfectly, and it's a pleasure to listen to.

There is only one complaint that I have about this film. This is the first film that Pixar did in which humans were the main characters. They chose to go the stylistic route, rather than duplicate the disastrously creepy realism of Warner Brothers's The Polar Express (Although The Incredibles came out first, so I suppose duplicate isn't quite the right word). I think that was a good idea, but here and there, there are characters that are a little too stylized, when placed next to the other fairly normal characters. For example, Dash's teacher, who he torments by placing thumbtacks on his chair, has an unusual, large football-shaped head. By himself, the character doesn't cause any problems, but placed next to Dash, Helen, and the Principal, all nearly normal-looking characters, he stands out garishly. It is enough to make you forget that you're just watching a movie, breaking the suspension of disbelief. It's not enough, however to cause me to dislike the film. It's more like a very small zit on a really hot, busty chick who digs you. It's very easy to overlook.All in all, this is a movie that you must see if you haven't. From the little touches of comedy, like the self-destructing message setting off the fire sprinklers, or Mr. Incredible's back going out on him while he battles the Omnidroid, to the excellent action, lovable characters, and interesting story arc. Oh, and Jason Lee is in it too, so what's not to like?

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