All entries for Thursday 09 December 2004

December 09, 2004

The Incredibles: Movie review

The Incredibles is a great film, one of the year's best. The omens were always good, since Pixar haven't made a bad movie yet (Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo) and the director, Brad Bird, comes with impeccable credentials; he worked on The Simpsons and then made the brilliant, under-appreciated animated film The Iron Giant.

What's suprising about The Incredibles is that it's been written for a different audience from previous Pixar films; it runs for two hours, which is long for an animated film, and it's liberally laced with chases, giant robots, violence, explosions and all the usual perils, plus some impressive new ones. It's more James Bond than Buzz Lightyear (in the US, it gained a PG certificate, though our more relaxed BBFC passed it – rightly – as U certificate).

The more adult tone works well; the film is as thrilling and spectacular as any live action equivalent, and manages also to be smarter and more insightful than most: there's a knowing nod to adults in the handling of Mr Incredible's mid-life crisis, and a subtle dig at political correctness – when Elastigirl (Mrs Incredible) tells their young son that he musn't use his super-speed powers on sports day, she reproves him by saying "Everyone's special, Dash", to which Dash disdainfully replies "Which is another way of saying that nobody is". Nice.

Two other stand-out moments: the villain's secret island base is clearly an homage to the many wonderful designs that Ken Adam did for the James Bond films, and the look of the base – the monorail gliding through the trees, the 1950s furnishings, the gleaming empty corridors – is just sensational. And Brad Bird almost steals his own movie by voicing Edna Mode, costume designer to the superhero fraternity, who is a hysterical cross between Bond's Q and Coco Chanel. Her explanation of why capes are not a good choice for the superhero is worth the price of admission on its own.

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