November 5, 2004

The Incredibles

incrediblesA wonderfully funny, exciting, and inventive film. Great for parents and kids too.

When the superheroes of the world are forced into retirement by a litigious public, Mr. Incredible and his wife, Elastigirl, raise a family in anonymous suburbia. Elastigirl hangs up the super-stretchy costume easily- she's content to leave her crime-fighting days behind her, but Mr. Incredible is stifled as a desk jockey. They very cleverly use his past exploits as a superhero as a metaphor for bachelorhood, and the constraints of life as a civilian for married life: Elastigirl begins to suspect her husband is having a extra-marital love affair, but he's not- he's actually fighting crime on the side without telling his wife. He's soon trapped by a former stalker-turned archenemy Syndrome. This forces the whole family to use their superpowers together to save Dad and save their city from certain destruction.

The Incredibles pays tribute to the history of superheroes without directly referencing any of them. They showcase a world full of superheroes in a expansive way which a live-action movie has never done. I have pointed out in the past that Pixar movies tend to focus on the types of characters which are easy to render with CGI (plastic toys, bugs, fish, cars, monsters). The Incredibles is mostly actual people, and they are very well done, if not lifelike. They spent a lot of time getting the hair perfect, maybe a little too perfect in relation to the relatively simple faces and skin. Of course, the main characters are in skintight costumes most of the time, so that makes the animation easier too. However, what's smart about choosing to make a CGI superhero movie is the verisimilitude of their super-heroics: It may take tons of wires and CGI to make Christopher Reeve or Brandon Routh fly, but Mr. Incredible is already CGI, so making him CGI off the ground adds zero effort.

The action sequences in the second half are a classic showcase of how superheroes can join forces and exploit each other's strengths to fight their adversaries, in a way which other superhero movies-- the X-Men trilogy, for example --do much less effectively. Why Disney is incapable of making movies like this is beyond me. (Landmark Embassy Cinema, Waltham)