Review: The Incredibles

Pixar made an action movie.

Just think about that. Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo have all had action sequences breaking up and complementing the dialogue and story development. But they couldn't be called action movies, they were comedies, genuine family comedies in the sense that they hold genuine appeal for adults and children alike (unlike the undiluted GARBAGE which was being promoted immediately before the screening of The Incredibles I went to see). The Incredibles is an action movie. You will spend the vast majority of this movie on the edge of your seat. The rest will be spent smiling at the clever dialogue.

Surprisingly, this is not a common occurrence in movies, even within the action genre.

The Incredibles takes its cues from the Superman and Spider-Man movies, but elsewhere too - James Bond movies, Batman, Thunderbirds, Mission: Impossible and even the epoch-defining comic book Watchmen. But it's not parody. Shrek 2 was stupid. "Let's do Godzilla... in a fairytale setting! Let's do a parody of Cops... in a fairytale setting! Let's make fun of Disney for cheap laughs, re-use the entire first movie, and do a sequence with rain for no other reason than to prove that with our new graphics engine, we can do rain." Shrek 2 took all these well-known wossnames and drained them dry. Shrek 2 had ZERO original content, it was absolute creative rock-bottom.

The Incredibles doesn't do that. It takes lots of the more subtle bits and pieces, the bits that aren't stupid cliches but actually work, and meshes them together to make some kind of delicious cocktail. For example: Mr. Incredible himself - his super-hero persona at least - has the charisma and charm of James Bond, but it doesn't scream "JAMES BOND!" He ain't wearing a tux and bow tie or ordering dry vodka martinis or quipping stupidly after stupidly contrived action sequences - he's being genuinely charming and charismatic, the very qualities that made Bond stand out as a character to begin with.

I'm reminded of Half-Life, did you ever play that game? The original? Game Of The Year many, many times over back in... 1998 I think. Half-Life was a first-person shooter which brought relatively little that was breathtakingly new to the genre. It had continuous maps, perhaps, a totally non-speaking, unseen protagonist, Resident Evil-style shock moments, people-eating zombies, ripoffs of facehuggers from Alien, rocket launchers, sniper rifles, an (on the surface) flimsy excuse for an alien invasion, impressive AI, a brilliant ending... none of these were unheard-of before HL's release. But HL took the ingredients and made them GOOD. Valve mixed them together better than anybody had ever done before. It was everything an FPS had ever been, turned up to eleven. As a result it ruled, and provided the springboard for the next generation of computer games.

The Incredibles is everything an action movie has ever been, turned up to eleven, bringing together such classic elements as the island lair, the monologue and the maniacal supervillain, along with Pixar's established animation genius (smooth, cartoonish, minimalistic, elegant) and some spot-on voice talents, imaginative family drama, superb action sequences, absolutely no dumb, recycled or cliched dialogue that I could recognise, and a very intelligent approach (well, as these things go) to the concept of a superhero universe. I crave a sequel.

Five stars out of five. SEE IT.

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