The Incredibles is an animated superhero film with an incredible amount of action. It's great, all of it, but it's so relentless, so eager to entertain, so obviously afraid that someone, somewhere might be bored, even for a nanosecond, that it piles on thrill after thrill and becomes a bit exhausting instead.
The Incredibles are a family of superheroes. They're obliged to pass themselves off as normal, after superpowers are banned by the government. But Mr Incredible finds it hard to adjust to being an office worker, and when he's offered some freelance hero work, he takes it. This leads him into the path of an evil genius, whose lair is based on a volcanic island. Quickly out of his depth, the rest of the family comes to rescue him, and together they fight the evil genius holding him.
Writer/Director Brad Bird has taken bits of Watchmen, The Fantastic Four, X Men and the Spiderman films, and shaped them into an exciting family animation. The Incredibles' powers are very similar to the Fantastic Four, but here they're used to reflect each character's role within the family. So the shy teenage daughter's power is invisibility, to show she's self-conscious, while the Mother has elastic arms so she can cope with all her many chores. Like Superman, the Incredibles are born with their powers, and readers of Nietzsche will appreciate the pretty obvious message that naturally talented people shouldn't be held back by an average majority. The villain, by contrast, is more like Batman, as he's invented gizmos to give him power, and it's this trickery that makes him evil, as much as anything else.
Where recent live action superhero films jar badly whenever they move from the real life actors to the purely digital action scenes, The Incredibles has no such problem: it's all digital. The cartoony design of the characters is brilliant: they can put across emotion, and make us care for them in a way that the blank faced CGI 'synthespians' just can't.
Twenty minutes shorter, and The Incredibles would have been perfect. As it is, it's a superb entertainment, but just that tiny bit tiring. 8/10
Adrian Horrocks (March 2005)
any Bond film
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