The Incredibles (2004)

Rating: B+

Dir: Brad Bird
Star (voice): Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee, Samuel L. Jackson

Oddly, Pixar’s inaugural foray above the G-rating is their first “family movie”, at least in the strict sense of the word. It’s also their first all-human cast, though wisely (see The Polar Express for details), they’ve not gone for photo-realism, but a more comic-book style, that’s entirely appropriate for the subject. After an unfortunate series of lawsuits forces superheroes to curb their abilities, Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and their two kids are struggling to lead ordinary lives; but then, an evil genius unleashes his plot, and only the family, along with their friend Fro-Zone (Jackson – would it be cynical to suggest he was tacked on as a sop to appeal to the minority audience?), can stop him.

This isn’t as good as the past couple of Pixar films. What’s somewhat lacking is the warm central heart of Nemo and Monsters; there’s a certain by-the-numbers feel to the family relationships that isn’t fresh or convincing. Yet once you get past this, it blossoms into an entirely new direction, for The Incredibles is the best action film of the year. Forget Spiderman 2, Van Helsing or The Day After Tomorrow, in terms of pacing and superbly well-executed set pieces, this is the one. You forget it’s CGI, and find yourself holding your breath and gasping: the one that particularly sticks in my mind is Dash, the Incredibles’ speedy son, being chased across water. If the next Bond flick is as imaginative – not least because of Michael Giacchino’s sly score, which beautifully evokes John Barry (originally slated to compose) – it’ll be more than satisfactory.