Monday, December 10, 2012

The Incredibles (2004) - James Bond He's Not

The Incredibles DVD cover front and back
"The Incredibles" (2004).

Pixar brought out "The Incredibles" (2004), directed by Brad Bird, without the usual background for an animated film. There was no previous comic strip, no graphic novel, no television series, no old film that it was remaking - nothing. From start to finish, this was a special. Bird made his name in Hollywood with "The Iron Giant,"which people liked but did unspectacular business, and Pixar was wondering what he could come up with. This film, which Bird both wrote and directed, was the result.

The Incredibles family running through a tunnel
"The Incredibles."

The film introduces to a whole new family of superheroes. Mr. Incredible, who goes by the mild-mannered name of Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson), and his wife Helen ("Elastigirl") (Holly Hunter), are retired crimefighters. They are Batman after he hangs up the cape. They live quiet lives in Metroville, remaining anonymous so that nobody will bother them and they can have normal, peaceful lives.

The Incredibles family posing with the villains
"The Incredibles."

It is fifteen years later after they hung it up, and they have three children: Violet (Sarah Vowell); Dash (Spencer Fox); and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile and Maeve Andrews). The children also have superpowers, though that is a secret to everyone.It is good to know these things, however: you never know when a superpower will come in handy.

"The Incredibles."

Our story opens with Bob dreaming wistfully of the past, and the all the honors and awards he received for ridding the streets of vermin. Domestic life is all well and good, but it lacks the pizzazz that he became used to back in the day. As if the answer to his prayers, he suddenly receives a mysterious message: he is to travel to a remote island for an important new project. He decides to accept, thinking that some freelance work might improve his attitude. The deeper he gets into the project, though, the more he comes to realize how important his family really is to him.

Dash running in The Incredibles
"The Incredibles."

The magnitude of the achievement of this film is difficult to exaggerate. Popular superheroes don't just drop out of the sky, ready to front a 4000- multiplex feature film release. When was the last time you read a comic about "3-D Man"? Or, can you describe an adventure by Megaton Man?  How about Lightning Man? Surely, you follow Hawkman? "Devil Man?" All right, probably you never heard of a single one of those (if you have, you are a true comic book nerd and you have my respect). Now, none of these characters had a major studio pushing out a film, backed by years of quality products beforehand that lowered buyer resistance. But, seriously, this could have been another Gothman. Stan Lee and the guys at DC Comics may make it look easy, but coming up with a new superhero franchise is worth big, big bucks.

Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles
"The Incredibles."

The computer graphics in "The Incredibles" are stellar. A few action sequences really stand out for their fluidity and attention to detail. The Incredibles' kids will delight the youngsters in your house, while you may identify more with Elastigirl and her ability to wriggle in and out of tight spots.

Frozone in The Incredibles
"The Incredibles."

Samuel L. Jackson plays Lucius Best/Frozone, Bob's friend with whom he occasionally sneaks out to fight mundane street crime as a sort of hobby. Jason Lee is Buddy Pine/Syndrome, a computer geek who has been working on a powerful robot ("Omnidroid") designed to destroy Mr. Incredible due to a perceived slight he suffered years before. It turns out that Syndrome has been tracking superhero crimefighters for years, determined to wipe them out, and has been partially successful.

Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles
"The Incredibles."

Syndrome isn't Bob's only concern, however. Helen has noticed his sudden absences and thinks he may be having an affair. Bob has to juggle saving his marriage with figuring out a way to stop Syndrome from releasing a killer robot that will wipe it off the map.

Mr. Incredible and Frozone in The Incredibles
"The Incredibles."

The premise of "The Incredibles" is great, and the film did wonderfully at the box office. That there has been no sequel thus is a mystery almost as great as any in the film. It would be kind of funny if someone like Stan Lee were to license "The Incredibles" from Pixar instead of the other way around - but you just know that will never happen. Well, probably not.

Syndrome in The Incredibles
"The Incredibles."

"The Incredibles" was a great technical achievement as well as a popular one. Below is the trailer, which includes some theme music from the James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." Bond he is not, but Mr. Incredible can still save the day!




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