Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Incredibles

My favorite animated movie of all time is definitely “The Incredibles” by Pixar.  After watching it many, many times this summer while babysitting I think I can probably quote the entire movie. “The Incredibles” is about a family of superheroes. The Parr family has a large range of superpowers that complement one another. Bob Parr, “Mr. Incredible,” has super strength. He can lift just about anything -- a couch, a car, even a train with one hand. His wife, Helen, is “Elastigirl” and she can stretch as far as you could imagine. Daughter Violet can make herself invisible. She can also create force fields to protect herself from just about anything. Son Dash is lightning fast. The baby, Jack Jack, has superpowers that aren’t unveiled until the last scene in the movie. “Jack Jack” has the power to light his whole body on fire (kind of scary, but pretty cool).  Unfortunately, the community they live in has shunned the “supers” so the Parr family has to retire from crime-fighting and try to live a normal suburban life with no powers. They are pulled back into action to combat the evil plot of  Syndrome and, working together, they save the day.

Animation throughout the years has dramatically changed. “Traditional animation, with its time-consuming, hand-drawn cel images, is being replaced by computers, which produce images that are created digitally. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) has produced a new “look” in animation, less detailed, more sculptural, more plastique - like the streamlines images of Shrek, The Polar Express and The Incredibles.” (Giannetti p 33)

“The effects seen in ‘The Incredibles’ are completely fresh and spectacular,” says Sandra Karpman, effects supervisor. “The biggest leap from an effects standpoint is the fact that we have beautiful, amazing, 3-D volumetric clouds that you can actually fly through. Most clouds in other effects movies, or even previous CG films, are matte paintings or stock photography. In our film, when Helen is in the airplane flying through the clouds, it's very 3-D, and you see the clouds moving against each other. They’re transparent, and if you stack them, they become opaque.” (Arkoff )
The animators did really amazing things with the faces of the characters. Executive producer John Lasseter remarked, “When you see the characters in this movie act, and you look into the pools of their eyes, you can feel what’s going on inside their soul. The subtleties of their facial animation and their body gestures are remarkable.” (Arkoff ) The team at Pixar used this animation to create an emotional appeal in their audience. In the book Everything’s an Argument, authors Andrea A. Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz believe that “Emotional appeals are powerful tools for influencing what people think and believe.” (Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz p 38)

Animation is crucial for this movie and was definitely the right route to go. A number of scenes featuring Mr. Incredible quickly come to mind. The first is when Bob is trying to get back into “superhero shape” and he bench presses trains. In another scene Bob comes home from a long, hard day at work, and when he slams his car door shut, the windows break. He proceeds to pick the car up over his head and then notices that his little neighbor boy is standing there staring at him in amazement. Both of these scenes show Mr. Incredible’s super strength and would not have worked with human actors. Later on, Mr. Incredible jumps off one of the highest cliffs I have even seen to get away from Syndrome and dives into the water below. If any human tried to perform this, he or she would die upon impact. I also like the scene in which Bob is sitting on a couch when Helen comes into the room with the vacuum. To help his dear wife, Mr. Incredible, while still sitting, lifts up the other couch so she can vacuum underneath. A final example is the scene in which Bob is in a meeting with his boss. His boss tells him if he doesn't step it up then he is going to be fired. Mr. Incredible gets extremely angry and throws his boss through five office walls into the hallway. (The Incredibles, Film) All of these scenes would be nearly impossible to pull off if the film was not animated.

The very first time I saw “The Incredibles” was in a movie theater with my family. My parents had promised the producer, a family friend, that we would see it on the opening weekend. When the movie ended, spontaneous applause broke out.  The adults in the theater loved the movie just as much as the kids did.  The audience was drawn into this film that movie critic Peter Travers of Rolling Stone described this way:  “... not like any animated movie you’ve ever seen.  While delivering the goods as a rip-roaring action-adventure and in the process rocketing the art of animation to new heights of imagination, humor and wonder, director-writer Brad Bird has crafted a film that breaks fresh ground and defies fogy rules... It’s James Bond, Indiana Jones and the X-Men all rolled into one.” (TRAVERS) It is no wonder that “The Incredibles” won numerous awards, including “Best Animated Feature Film of the Year” in 2005.

Works Cited:
Arkoff, Vicki. "Ultimate Guide to 'The Incredibles." TLC. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sep 2012. < >.

Giannetti, Louis D. Understanding Movies 12th edition. NJ: Pearson, 2011. Print.

Lunsford, Andrea; Ruszkiewicz, John. Everything’s an argument. MA: Bedford, 2000

TRAVERS, Peter. "The Incredibles ." Rolling Stone. N.p., 11/3/04. Web. 27 Sep 2012. <>.

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