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A Second Look: The Incredibles
In 2004, Brad Bird released The Incredibles. Starring Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sara Vowell, Spencer Fox, Jason Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Pena, and Bud Luckey, the film grossed $631.4 million at the box office. Nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Sound Mixing and Best Original Screenplay as well as the Annie Awards for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production (Samuel L. Jackson), Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production (Ted Mathot), Character Design in an Animated Feature Production (Teddy Newton) and Character Animation (John Kahrs, Peter Sohn, ad Kureha Yokoo), the film won the Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing and Best Animated Feature Film and the Annie Awards for Animated Effects, Best Animated Feature, Character Animation (Angus MacLane), Directing in an Animated Feature Production, Character Design in an Animated Feature Production (Tony Fucile), Music in an Animated Feature Production, Production Design in an Animated Feature Production, Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production (Kevin O’Brien), Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production (Brad Bird), and Writing in an Animated Feature Production.
After a superhero registration act, which ruled that all heroes had to be forced into retirement, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl have resigned to a quiet life in the suburbs with a normal house, job and three children. But when Mr. Incredible gets an offer to relive the glory days, he jumps at the chance and eventually gets into trouble, needing help from his family to save the world from a diabolical mastermind who once idolized him.
A fun, great and well-made film, The Incredibles wonderfully feels like Pixar’s family version of Watchmen, notably due to how it manages to deconstruct many of the age-old superhero traditions. One interesting example is putting a spotlight on just how much collateral damage a superhero would cause. It used to be that the damage was passed over as just something that happens because these heroes are making the world safer from villains. However, the film demonstrates that the amount of damage they cause, such as a crashed train with multiple injured riders, brings about quite a lot of consequences, such as the legal troubles and lawsuits that brought about the heroes being forced into retirement. There’s also what the film does to capes. A standard part of many superhero costumes, with many people agreeing that it makes a suit look really good, the film shows just how many deaths can happen simply because of a cape. That includes a form of bird strike, being caught on a rocket and snagging in an elevator shaft.
The characters are very interesting too, especially Mr. Incredible. He’s a great example of someone finding that the grass is always greener on the other side, initially expressing a desire to settle down. However, when he’s able to settle down, due to being forced to because of the registration act and have a normal life, he starts to have a yearning desire to relive the glory days and be a hero again. He also gets some very good character development when it comes to how he operates. At the beginning of the film, he’s a selfish loner who prefers to work alone and hates it when anyone gets involved in his business. Throughout the course of the film, he comes to appreciate how much his family is there for him, culminating when they come and rescue him and he understands that his attitude nearly killed them. During the final battle, he’s able to shed his selfishness which makes it so he, along with the rest of his family and Frozone, are able to figure out how to defeat the Omnidroid.
Interestingly, Syndrome is a great villain that really only came about because of Mr. Incredible’s early selfishness. His descent into villainy, though not shown, is actually done remarkably well, seeing as it was the lack of respect Mr. Incredible showed Buddy that led him down the dark path of villainy. His past also makes it so that he’s very smart when it comes to carrying out his scheme and it’s actually the most threatening part about him. He may have had a grudge against Mr. Incredible, but he knew to not send the Omnidroid after the man at the start because the risk of defeat was too high. So he decided that it was best to send other robots after weaker heroes and analyze the data from those that were destroyed. That way, he was able to make the only robot that could realistically and capably defeat Mr. Incredible.
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