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November 08, 2004

The Incredibles

Saturday was NOVA, and also the premier weekend of The Incredibles, so naturally, we had to take a crew to see it. Sunday I was telling Jean about it, and Kelly piped up "I wanna go!" So it looks like I'll be racking up the viewings.

This is the first Pixar movie which was not helmed by John Lasseter. According to reviews I've read, he was concerned that Pixar would become stale, retelling the same successful stories for years on end, like a certain animation company Pixar has worked with. Instead, he asked Brad Bird to create a movie, giving him complete creative control. Bird is responsible for another cool movie, The Iron Giant, and as a result, I was looking forward to seeing The Incredibles.

Well, I wasn't in any way disappointed. While this movie has many of the earmarks of a Pixar film, it also is new, having a viewpoint that appeals more to the adult eye. Family quarrels, boring work and ungrateful people populate this movie. Bad guys don't just get knocked down and look humiliated ("and I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you gosh darn kids!"), they die. And there are no musical numbers at all!

There are clever references to other icons of pop culture. One was a tribute to the speederbike chase through the forests of Endor from The Return of the Jedi, only done better. The villain's lair is straight out of the most extravagant Roger Moore era James Bond movie. And subtle details are constantly flying by.

I was trying to explain it to Jean, and this is the best I could come up with: It's as if they filmed the entire movie with live actors on location, with a tremendous budget. Then they sat in a theater and watched it over and over. Each time they noticed a little detail of light, or some bug moving in the background, or the way an actor stumbled when turning a corner, they wrote it down. Then they animated the entire thing. And added more stuff that can only be done with animation or CGI. It's that full of detail. Detail that happens in the background, not waved in your face, "look at me, look at all the cool stuff I can do!"

The writing is also a lot of fun. Now I did a lot of comic book reading both growing up and when I should have known better, and I still watch the usual superhero and scifi movies. So maybe I'm more steeped in the conventions than the average viewer, and can more easily appreciate the way this movie has fun with them. But I suspect that most folks who enjoyed Finding Nemo themselves, and just used their kids as an excuse to go see it, will enjoy The Incredibles as well.

Posted by dpwakefield at November 8, 2004 07:09 AM

Comments

I noticed you reference an Alan Matzka. I was wondering if this was an old friend of mine from grade school in Mulino OR. If it is could you give him my email address.
Thanks,
Brent Zimmerman

Posted by: Brent Zimmerman at November 10, 2004 06:09 AM

I don't know if he knows you, but I've forwarded your email to him.

Posted by: Donald Wakefield at November 10, 2004 07:33 AM