For as long as I can remember, I have loved The Incredibles. Some of the fondest memories from my childhood include playing the game of The Incredibles on my Game Boy Advance, and dressing up as Mr. Incredible. But, ever the professional, I’ll be sure not to let my nostalgia taint my opinion on this film; and don’t worry, it hasn’t, because I’d have loved it as much even if it were my first ever viewing.
The Incredibles tells the story of Bob and Helen Parr, an average married couple with less-than-average superpowers. Alongside their children Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack, the Parr family have to battle Syndrome, an enemy from Mr. Incredible’s past that has come back to teach our hero a lesson. I don’t want to go into much more detail, because the twists and quirks of the story are best experienced first-hand. One of the best things about Pixar films is that unlike most children’s films, which focus on poor jokes and over-the-top action, their stories are deep, and there is something for everyone. For example, when I first watched this as a child I was absorbed by the action and spectacle, upon a recent viewing last year my focus was the characters and story, and this time around, I most noticed the overarching theme of the film and the brilliant superhero references.
What first struck me this time around was the design and animation of The Incredibles. The city of Metroville is very detailed, and interiors such as Edna Mode’s home and the insurance company Bob works at are brilliantly designed, which shows how much hard work went into making this film. The costumes of the characters were also interesting, from the bold red and black of the family’s costumes to the bright blue to the white outfit of Samuel L. Jackson’s Frozone help add to the film’s appeal. At this stage in their domination of animation, Pixar hadn’t quite 100% nailed animated humans, so it was interesting to see how they combated this by making the characters very unique. There’s no other film that is quite the same as The Incredibles design-wise, which makes me appreciate it even more.
The direction of The Incredibles is ahem, incredible too. Directed by Brad Bird, who has gone on to do Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and more recently Tomorrowland, there are some beautiful panning shots of the Metroville landscape, and later on in the film, simply breathtaking shots of a jungle, which looks just as authentic as live-action. Thanks to the extended abilities directors have when using computer animation, Pixar needn’t worry about cameras keeping up with the action of our superhuman characters. Minor spoilers ahead for the rest of this paragraph, but the speed of Bird’s direction is particularly seen towards the beginning of the film when Mr. Incredible jumps through a window to save a suicidal man. Most live-action directors would not be able to follow Mr. Incredible as he jumps over a building to save this man, but the viewer is taken on this ride, and it makes the film that bit more immersive and brilliant.
As a huge comic-book and superhero fan, I especially loved the small nods to other comic books. I may be reaching, but I think there was a small reference to Tim Burton’s Batman towards the beginning, as a brooding Mr. Incredible looms over a wannabe thief, akin to Michael Keaton’s first scene in the 1989 flick. This one is also quite far-fetched, but when Mr. Incredible sneaks into the room containing the computer, it reminded me of Professor X’s room containing Cerebro in Bryan Singer’s 2000 film X-Men. Although I may be reaching quite far (a bit like Elastigirl), it proves how dedicated Pixar are to the superhero genre, making The Incredibles a wonderful homage to one of cinema’s most popular genres right now.
I also loved the soundtrack to The Incredibles. Done by Michael Giacchino, the music reminds me of classic Bond films such as Goldfinger because of the booming sound of brass, and it really emphasised the alternate 1960’s reality of the film. At points of heightened action or drama, the sound was well incorporated to add to that experience, and the soundtrack definitely made The Incredibles a better film.
This time when I watched it I mostly picked up on the theme of family and being special. The family bond between the Parrs is very strong, and you can really see how much they care about each other from their selfless actions. They are at times conflicted and detached from one another, particularly between Bob and Helen, but at the end of the day, their love for each other is prevalent, shown by the fantastic action scene at the end. The theme of being special is of massive importance throughout the film too. The villain’s entire motivation is based on his lack of powers, and they want to give everyone powers so that those originally considered special are no longer so. This short dialogue from Helen and Dash sums it up brilliantly:
Dash: You always say ‘Do your best’, but you don’t really mean it. Why can’t I do the best that I can do?
Helen: Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in, and to fit in, we gotta be like everyone else.
Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone’s special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.
However, not everything about the Incredibles is quite as amazing as those previously mentioned. Although relatively minor, there were some ridiculous plot conveniences which did take me out of the moment, but they are relatively minor so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Another issue I had was regarding the beginning. Although taken aback by the flurry of bright colours, punchy action and stunning cinematography, upon reflection I have realised that it was just far too bloated, which has dragged down the film’s pacing and left some scenes devoid of action because of it, which did detract from my overall enjoyment. However, these issues are quite minor, so it’s nothing too drastic and hasn’t spoilt the experience I had with The Incredibles.
I’m such a huge fan of The Incredibles that I was actually a bit worried going into the film, because I was afraid it wouldn’t hold up after 11 years of release. However, it gives me great pleasure to announce that I was absolutely incorrect. Aside from a few minor plot issues, The Incredibles is charming, funny, expertly directed, and most of all, a great time for all ages. If you haven’t seen The Incredibles, I wholeheartedly recommend you do because it is, in my opinion, one of Pixar’s best films, and if you’re a fan of superheroes too, expect a simply fantastic time, just like I had. To sum it up in one word: incredible.
I give The Incredibles 9 out of 10.
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