Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"You mean you killed off real heroes so that you could *pretend* to be one? "

Film: "The Incredibles"

Release Date: 5 November 2004

Director: Brad Bird, Bill Wise

"The Incredibles" created new heights fro Pixar and the animation canvas. But to understand how these heights came to be, we'd have to first explore the origins of the film, possibly the oddest origins for a Pixar film to date. Unlike the previous Pixar films, "The Incredibles" was the brain child of established Pixar leadership, but rather started life over at Warner Bros. Feature Animation. Bird had just finished the animated film "The Iron Giant" at Warner and was ready to start work on another idea he had envisioned about a family of super heroes. At that time, Warner wasn't as interested in continuing their new Feature Animation department and rejected Bird's idea. Pixar's John Lasseter, a former classmate of Bird and head of Pixar Animation, was impressed with "The Iron Giant" and welcomed Bird to come over to Pixar with his family of super heroes idea.

It was accepted by Disney and work soon went under way, but not without it's problems. Many classically trained 2D animators around this time period found themselves having to work with 3D animation and it's differences from 2D. Bird was part of this group and his original idea for "The Incredibles" was as a 2D animated film. This lead to huge challenges at Pixar to make this movie. It was the longest Pixar film to date, the first to have an all human cast and had more locations then any of the previous Pixar films to date.

Similar to Andrew Stanton's idea for "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles" original idea came from Bird's desire to be a better father, but finding it hard to balance fatherhood and work. Each of the super powers the Parr family has is a direct relationship to their place in the family. Fathers need to be powerful and strong, so Bob's power is super strength, mother's need to be flexible, hence Helyn Parr's powers, young sons are full of energy moving at what seems to be lightning speed to many parents, just like Dash and most teen girls just want to blend in to the crowd just like Violet's supper power.

Many see this film as the end of an era of sorts for Pixar as it was the last no questions hit with the next few films, while still successful, not as successful as every Pixar film from "Toy Story" to "The Incredibles." While in some ways it may have been the end of an era at Pixar, in other ways it was the beginning of new eras at Pixar, with the sudden new use of human characters being possibly the biggest example of that.

My Reaction: I've always loved super heroes. From Spider-Man (my top fave) to Superman to Batman, what's not to love? So when I first found out that Pixar was entering the world of super heroes, I admit I got a bit excited. Even more so when I found out that "The Iron Giant" director Brad Bird had moved to Pixar and was going to be behind this one.

Then I saw the film. After re-watching it I can honestly say that my opinion hasn't changed much. I love this film, but my biggest let down was "A" that it was a bit longer then I felt it should be and "B" that director Bird decided to bled super heroes with James Bond. Some may have liked the Bond-style stories points and locations, I didn't so much. Don't get me wrong, I loved the family idea behind it and of course the fight at the end and beginning were awesome, but the Bond-style I felt took away a bit from the story.

That said, I loved the characters and really hope they make at least one more film with them, if not two or maybe even three. Unlike a lot of other kinds of stories, I think super heroes films really lend themselves to sequels, like it's almost a necessity. I also loved the animation in this one (it's amazing how far Pixar has come since "Toy Story") and enjoyed the emotional issues facing the main hero, Bob Parr AKA Mr.
Incredible. But my most favorite moment may have been towards the end when the last of the Nine Old Men, Olly Johnson and Frank Thomas, made their cameo in the film. I have heard many say that Pixar is the new Disney, and if that is so, how fitting that these great animators who in some ways may have had more to do with building the great Disney legacy then even Walt himself (knock on wood) got to be including in a Pixar film? It's ecpecially cool when you think that not that much after, both men passed away. I for one am happy they got to be in it, even if most people who watched it have no idea who they were and why they should care.

My Wife's Reaction: Again, she seemed to like it.

My Final Grade:
(B) I wanted to give this one a higher grade, but it just didn't do it for me as well as past Pixar films did. I realize I may loose what ever audience I have after reading this grade and then seeing my grade for "Cars," which many saw as Pixar's weakest film since "A Bug's Life" (another films I really loved and feel is underrated) but I have to be brutally honest with my thoughts here. Again, had they shortened it a bit and taken out the Bond-like feel, I bet the grade would have been much higher. Don't think that means I'm totally against Bond-like stories, in fact sometimes I like them. I just didn't like them in this film. But of the Pixar films to date, this is the lowest grade I feel any of them deserve, I promise! :D

All images copyright Disney/ Pixar. All rights reserved.

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