Shiny Shelf

The Incredibles

By Jon de Burgh Miller on 19 November 2004

Brad Bird has been a fanboy favourite since his cult classic ‘The Iron Giant’, but with ‘The Incredibles’ Brad has gone from being an outsider on the fringes of feature animation to the major player in town, and one Pixar will no doubt be thankful to have on their team.

‘The Incredibles’ tells the story of a super-powered family living in a society where their powers aren’t understood or wanted, and shows them trying to carve out a normal life for themselves, while hiding the fact that they are different.

These are universal themes with many real life parallels, giving the film an underlying thematic strength that works well to support the many plot threads and action sequences.

For a Pixar film ‘The Incredibles’ weaves a surprising number of storylines together. You can tell Bird is a ‘Star Wars’ fan (he’s mentioned in interviews what high esteem he holds ‘The Phantom Menace’ in as a truly revolutionary film), not just because of superficial details like the Omnidroid looking and feeling like a Star Wars robot, but in the way he introduces an ambitous number of plotlines which are all tracked simultaneously, linked yet seperate, interweaving with each other successfully to create a suspense filled action conclusion.

This is a film that wears its influences on its sleeve. The most obvious reference is ‘The Fantastic Four’, with The Incredibles powers matching the Four almost exactly, but Bird then places them in a James Bond world of smart vehicles, tropical island volcano villain lairs, and aerial combat sequences, all executed with the same editing pace of a Star Wars film.

It’s a very funny film too, though it’s hard to see how jokes about the Golden Age of superheroes or villains’ monologues won’t go straight over the heads of many kids in the audience.

Pixar have yet to produce a bad film, but all have been narratively fairly simplistic. ‘The Incredibles’ introduces a new scope, with more characters, stories and incidents than any of the previous films, Pixar has come under criticism for not being able to match the realism of something like ‘Final Fantasy’, but in the stunning backgrounds you can see that the cartoon appearance of the Incredibles is totally by choice, rather than technical inability.

It’s clear from watching ‘The Incredibles’ that Brad Bird loves animation, loves comics, especially ‘The Fantastic Four’, loves James Bond and loves ‘Star Wars’. Those influences alone should be enough to tell you whether or not this is one you’ll want to see.

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By Jon de Burgh Miller

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