Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Incredibles 2004

How do you follow up an amazingly successful animated film about searching the ocean for a missing young clownfish? Simple, you do a fast paced comedy about a family of superheroes.

The Incredibles came out in 2004, just before the superhero boom really kicked in. I personally love it. I love everything about this film. It just does not hit a bum note for me.

I read a lot of comics as a kid and I did often wonder about the logistics of superheroes. What did they do when they got older? Could they not be superheroes? Who paid for the damage that they often caused in discharging their duties as super powered people? Could they get married and live normal lives? Would their kids have powers, would they be the same powers as their parents or not? The Incredibles set out to answer all these questions and more.

Bob Parr is Mr Incredible, a retired superhero (he didn't retire by choice, it was forced on him by the government), he works for a soulless insurance company and longs to return to his glory days. His wife Helen, was once Elastigirl, she's now a stay at home mother, who has issues trying to deal with two super powered children (their daughter Violet can make herself invisible and project force fields, their son Dash has super speed), they also has a baby Jack Jack, but as yet he hasn't manifested any powers, and Helen is hoping that he won't.

Secretly Bob goes out with his old friend Frozone and does some vigilante work. but even Frozone wants to give it up and do normal things with Bob, like go bowling, which is what they tell their wives they're doing.

Bob is contacted by a mysterious and beautiful woman who calls herself Mirage and offers him a chance to get back into the game. He passes her tests and after getting a new suit from his old costume designer, the delightfully acerbic Edna Mode, goes off to do a mission on a volcanic island where his new benefactor makes his home.

Helen works out that something is going on, is supplied with costumes for herself and her family by Edna and leaving Jack in the care of a teenage babysitter, flies off to go find out what Bob has gotten himself into. I should point out that it was not Helen's choice to leave Jack with the unprepared adolescent, that happened when Violet and Dash stowed away with their mother.

In the process the kids will discover how to use their powers and not be afraid to do so, Bob and Helen will realise that they both love superheroing and should never have given it up and how much they love each other and their family.

The villain of the piece is someone who calls himself Syndrome, he's kind of an evil genius inventor, who always wanted to be a superhero, but never had powers, so in revenge he killed all the old heroes and set himself up to be one.

The Incredibles take him down, but then he takes Jack Jack hostage, only for the babies powers (of which he seems to have not one, but many) to manifest in a startling manner. This causes his cape to become caught in his aeroplane's exhaust and underlines Edna's point that capes have no business being part of anyone's costume.

The animation in this one was crisp and clean, but cartoony throughout. I believe Pixar still had problems drawing realistic looking people, so decided to make them look like cartoons. It works. What also worked were the frequent nods to James Bond. The island is remiscent of Dr No's residence in that film, the approach to it is directly lifted from The Man With the Golden Gun and the fact that the base is in a volcano is from You Only Live Twice. Syndrome himself is not dissimilar to Blofeld.

There's also a great short cartoon on the DVD about what happened while Kari was trying to babysit Jack Jack.


Craig T. Nelson often played the tough guy parental figure, so this made him perfect for Bob, plus he has one of those deep superhero type voices.

I best remember Holly Hunter from Raising Arizona, where she desperately wanted to be a mother, so to cast her as a mother/superhero made perfect sense.

Samuel Jackson was cast as the retired Frozone years before he played Nick Fury, and like with nearly everything Jackson does he makes it work.

The best bit of casting was director and writer Brad Bird voicing Edna Mode. With her appearance and even the voice I always saw her as being based on Linda Hunt, although I can't find anything that says so, however Bird does a great job.

Pixar regulars Wallace Shawn and John Ratzenberger were cast in cameos as Bob's boss Gilbert Huph (who weirdly enough both looked and sounded like a cartoon version of former Australian Prime Minister John Howard) and a tiny role at the end as a villain who went by the name of The Underminer.

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