Movie Reviews

The Incredibles

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 9 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Craig T. Nelson as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (voice)
Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl (voice)
Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone (voice)
Jason Lee as Buddy Pine/Syndrome (voice)
Spencer Fox as Dashiell 'Dash' Parr (voice)
Lou Romano as Bernie Kropp (voice)
Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr (voice)
Michael Bird as Tony Rydinger (voice)
Elizabeth Peña as Mirage (voice)
Bud Luckey as Rick Dicker (voice)
Brad Bird as Edna 'E' Mode (voice)
Bret 'Brook' Parker as Kari (voice)
John Ratzenberger as Underminer (voice)
Dominique Louis as Bomb Voyage (voice)
Teddy Newton as Newsreel Narrator (voice)
Jean Sincere as Mrs. Hogenson (voice)
Wallace Shawn as Gilbert Huph (voice)

Summary:
Thanks to awesome animation, a funny plot, and lots of comic book inspiration, The Incredibles is a fun action/adventure for the whole family.

Story:
After being the focus of numerous lawsuits, the superheroes of the world are forced to join a 'witness protection agency' of sorts. Banned from using their powers, they lead normal lives in hiding among regular humans. One such hero is Bob Parr (aka Mr. Incredible). Once the premier hero of his time, Bob now faces a midlife crisis, a boring dead-end job, and the usual chores of fatherhood. His wife is Helen Parr, formerly known as Elastigirl. Bob also has three children. His daughter Violet is shy and reserved and has invisibility and force field powers. His son Dash, who has super-speed, is hyperactive and is frustrated at being held back from using his powers. Finally, his infant son Jack doesn't seem to have any powers at all….or does he?

When the mysterious Mirage contacts Mr. Incredible to do some top-secret super-heroing, he jumps at the chance to get back in action. Though initially rusty, he quickly regains his happiness and sense of purpose by fighting robots on a remote tropical island. Little does he know that he has been lured into a trap by the evil Syndrome, a super-villain with a connection to Mr. Incredible's past. When he is eventually imprisoned, it's up to his family to come and rescue him. But will they be able to work together as a family and develop their powers in time to save the day?

The Incredibles is rated PG for action violence.

What Worked:
I think that The Incredibles easily falls within the Top 10 superhero films ever made. It has all the action, humor, and adventure that made films like Superman, Spider-Man, and X-Men great. Throw in Pixar's animation and the Iron Giant's Brad Bird and you have some first rate family entertainment.

The Incredibles parodies or draws inspiration from a number of different comics. It most heavily resembles the Fantastic Four. They reiterate a lot of the family themes of that comic and, more notably, the superpowers. Elastigirl is like Mr. Fantastic, Violet is like The Invisible Woman, and Mr. Incredible is like The Thing. I guess they didn't want kids imitating The Human Torch and setting themselves on fire, so Dash has super-speed like The Flash instead. (All this makes me wonder if audiences are going to think that the Fantastic Four movie copies The Incredibles rather than the other way around.) Meanwhile Frozone imitates Iceman from the X-Men comics to a greater degree than even the X-Men movie did. The film really copies a lot of the tricks the heroes do in the comics. For example, when a plane blows up Elastigirl copies Mr. Fantastic and makes herself into a parachute. Dash is able to run on water like The Flash. While it's not terribly original to copy the tricks from the comics, it's still very cool to see it played out on the screen. Audiences that aren't cultured from reading comics will be very impressed.

But while they copy a lot from the comics, there's a lot of original stuff here, too. Syndrome's fortress is accessed through a waterfall that opens up in an impressive manner. Mr. Incredible is also captured in a trap that fires blobs of expanding goo. The bad guys fly ships through the jungle that are like giant buzz saws. All this really blew me away and I loved it. These elements and others were quite imaginative.

The animation, as usual from Pixar, was amazing. While I didn't notice anything that I thought was particularly groundbreaking, the hair on the characters was very detailed. Dash's hair is a frizzy mop while Mr. Incredible has quite a comb-over. I'm glad that they went with characters that looked cartoony rather than realistic. The photo-real human characters of Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Polar Express always looked creepy to me.

The voice casting for this film couldn't have been better. Craig T. Nelson is excellent as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible. The character fits his personality so well that I couldn't think of anyone else to play him. Holly Hunter is also excellent as Helen Parr/Elastigirl. She transitions from heroine to mom with ease. She also has a great scene in the film where her elastic powers get her stuck in quite a jam. Samuel L. Jackson is also cool (pun intended) as Lucius Best/Frozone. His super-suit dialogue with his wife particularly cracks me up. Jason Lee is a good villain as Buddy Pine/Syndrome while director Brad Bird is absolutely hilarious as Edna 'E' Mode, the fashion designer for superheroes. The lecture on why superheroes shouldn't wear capes is classic. Also look for Pixar veterans John Ratzenberger as Underminer (another FF reference to The Mole) and Wallace Shawn as Gilbert Huph, Bob's annoying boss.

Pixar has broken formula with The Incredibles and I think that overall it was a success. Not only have they made a fun family film, but a solid action film as well. If you enjoy comic book movies, you're gonna love this.

What Didn't Work:
The Incredibles has quite a bit of action, but there are also long stretches of dialogue between the characters, setup for the fight scenes, and character development. This is all great stuff, but I found that younger children got awfully antsy during these scenes. I took my 3-year-old son, who is a superhero fan, to this film. He was absolutely mesmerized by it, but he got awfully wiggly during the slow parts. Parents be warned.

Parents will also want to note the PG rating. This movie can be intense at times. In one scene the mother seriously warns her children that the bad guys are trying to kill them. In another scene one of the children is kidnapped. In another scene a man tries to commit suicide by jumping off of a high rise. If your children are sensitive, you might want to screen this movie before taking them to it. Fortunately my children are desensitized to violence! And in any case, intense stuff in Disney films is nothing new. A child was kidnapped in The Rescuers. The Queen tried to kill Snow White. You get the idea.

While I was OK with copying existing superheroes' powers, I kind of wish Brad Bird and company would have come up with entirely new powers for the characters. They obviously have the creativity to do it, so I would have liked to have seen what they would have done if they started from scratch.

The Bottom Line:
If you like Pixar or comic book movies, then The Incredibles is required viewing for you. It's fun for both kids and adults.

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