Sunday, November 21, 2004

Incredibles was incredible! 

So, my Mom and I have had a pair of free tickets for a while now, and kept forgetting to use them on anything. I'd been hearing good buzz on the Incredibles for a while now, not just online but from coworkers and others. As an interesting added bonus: the lack of cable has meant that I've barely watched any TV for some time now. Why is that important? Because I saw the trailer for the movie on Quicktime's site once and that was it! No scenes drilled into my head a million times.. just a rememberance that I liked what I saw in the trailer and not much more.

Today was pretty dreary out, so the perfect day to stay in. At first we thought we wouldn't make it there in time, but got there at 1:15 exactly and so the trailers were still going on by the time we got in there. Got a pretty good seat, and also got to miss out on the commercials.

The Pixar short before the movie was a bit on the heavyhanded side maybe, but still fun and great anaimation as always (and great sense of motion)... Now it was time for the movie, and it was one of those rare great movie-watching experiences. Sound wasn't so loud that your ears were ringing after, the kids in audience were pretty well-behaved, and everyone (including us) were just into it all. Seriously, this is up there with some of my favorite movies, and I feel like it captures a sense of wonder that you don't often see these days (like the old Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies with a little Bond thrown and a strong family core). It tackles some serious issues without getting bogged down, has nostalgia while still being contemporary, it has great characters, and very good comic timing.

In short, you should really go see it if you haven't yet. I don't want to overhype it and give impossible expectations, but all I can say is that it was a really well done and enjoyable movie. And while this wasn't like the first showing of a LotR movie in terms of audience participation, it certainly didn't feel like a movie that's been out for a while now. It was the kind of thing where everyone felt like clapping at the end (though only a couple actually did) and there was a couple of throngs of people talking about it afterward... cool stuff. :)

If you've already seen it... see below for a bit more thoughts with spoilers:

---------------------- spoilers -----------------------
One of the comments that a co-worker made to me was that it was a movie that manages to appeal to kids and adults without having to do the tact of pop culture references and double entendres. However, having said that, it still isn't afraid of having stuff in there that younger kids won't understand or care about. It is just that it is done more like how things are in real life. Stuff like Elastigirl being worried he's cheating on her, or being unhappy with herself in the mirror, or the exact nature of what's going on in the insurance firm, or what the designer character is spoofing, but that isn't necessary to enjoy the movie. They'll certainly understand that Incredible's boss is a jerk, etc. This is the way a real family movie is made. Not by dumbing everything down to the lowest common denominator, but telling a good story and having enough cool stuff going on that there's no worry of boredom..

BTW, was anyone else surprised at a couple of things they got away with? I'm thinking especially the scene where Dash is asleep on Violet and kind of holding her and then wakes up and jumps off disgusted? It is kind of open to interpretation on if he was thinking of his Mom or something else, but it feels like a real moment.. something that could easily happen between kids in real life.

Also, one of the moments where the movie really impressed me was when the missles are coming at the ship and Elastigirl is yelling for Violet to put up her force field and in the end Violet just can't do it. Between her frailer personality and being told for so long not to use her powers, it is all way too much for her to handle. Again, that felt like a real moment, and I really expected that the movie was going to take the easy way out...

I loved the way the powers were used in this movie. The stuff at home was well thought-out and the fights were pretty creative at times (obviously just about any possible use of these powers has already happened in comics before, but that doesn't mean a movie couldn't botch things up). You really got the sense that the characters grew up with these powers (though of course somewhat surpressed in the case of the kids). Actually, I was impressed by those scenes with both the kids and parents where it becomes obvious just why the parents have the reputations they do. The kids themselves are amazed by just how skillful their parents really are. It is interesting in that while (as an adult) you identify with them in their normal lives, you're also seeing them as their kids have only know them. It is only later on when you really glimpse their past lives, and are now in the same position as the children of seeing it happen.

The characters are just really good in this movie. Violet has that shyness and almost a goth feeling at first, Dash manages not to be annoying, and the parents pretty well-rounded. And you really feel the vunerability of both Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible (his admission at the end), while also seeing their overall strength of character. And while Violet perhaps seemingly changes the most at the end of the movie, it also feels pretty natural. You can see from her interactions with her brother that she has a personality just screaming to get out...

As for the side characters, that boss is the slimeball you love to hate. Cheers to Wallace for still getting work. That designer lady (Edna) was amazing! Just such a funny and cool character. You can't help but love her. Is IMDB correct that that is actually the director doing her voice??? Frozone is neat character and despite not getting too too much screen time, those scenes really benefit from him. His lines in the burning building and then the cup of water were classic. It is also amusing that you never actually see his wife, only hear her voice...

I also liked that the henchmen get fleshed out ever-so-slightly. It would have been easy just to stick a mask on them, have them never talk, etc.. Everything from the guy throwing sand into the water, to them celebrating their aparant victory in the van were nice touches. Obviously Buddy is an interesting character, a pretty twisted guy. For Mirage, certainly in the Bond vein of exotic dangerous lady that falls for the hero. If anything bothers me in the movie, it is that her change of heart seems a bit quick and major. I suppose one might argue she got attracted to Buddy's power and got wrapped up in his plans without really thinking of the consequences.. I still would have liked to see a bit more deveopment for her, but the movie was already two hours long, and I'm glad they gave the time to the main family that they did. Also, those two scenes where Incredible nearly kills her were pretty bold....

I just saw some quotes from the director Brad Bird and one thing he mentioned is that while he's a fan of comics, he isn't a big trivia buff, and that he feels like some people are too busy trying to throw out references. I think that was one of the things I got from this movie was a real love of super-heroes without getting bogged down in continuity and nods. It essentially just takes the various archetypes and treats them as straight characters. I think it would have been diminished as a movie if they'd felt the need to throw in more direct references to their inspirations instead of concentrating on what actually makes superheroes so interesting in their basic sense. Despite the serious elements that balance things out, I think someone would be hard pressed not to dream of being able to stretch, run fast, etc. after seeing this movie. :) As I said to start with, I think it captures a real sense of wonder and excitement...

Lastly, it is nice to have a movie where all the humor seems to work, and does it without being really annoying or too wink-wink. The running gags with the kid on the tricycle and the trouble with capes were classic, and the gags at the expense of the heroes' old age weren't over-done, something which could have easily turned them into caricatures..

In short... I like this movie.. :)

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