Movie Review: The Incredibles
I was out running errands today and walked past the theater and thought: "why not"?
This is your basic superhero movie, except animated by Pixar and with a dash of the typical Pixar-ian snark. There were quite a few places where they poked fun at the superhero genre.
So the main character is Mr. Incredible, aka Robert (or Bob) Something-or-other. On a typical day on the job, he's bugged by a boy who's his #1 fan, who's invented his own rocket boots and wants to become his sidekick. Our hero tries to shoo the boy away, but circumstances conspire and the villain gets away and a hole gets blown in the middle of an el-track. Mr. Incredible manages to stop the oncoming train via brute force, and is later sued by the passengers who suffered harm in the process, as well as a guy who he stopped from commiting suicide earlier on. This law-suit effect snowballs until the government decides enough is enough and issues some law or something to the effect that superheroes need to stop doing people "favors" no one asked for. Oh yeah, and Mr. Incredible got married to Elastigirl that night too.
Cue a sixteen or so years later. Robert and his wife are parents of three. Their eldest is a girl in Jr. High or High School, with the power to go invisible and make forcefields. Their second child is a boy in grade school, whose power is superspeed. Their youngest is still a baby whose powers hasn't shown up yet. The mom is fairly content with their lot, but Robert is still hung up on the old glory days, and often spends Wednesday nights with another former superhero friend (Frozone) hunched over a radio monitoring the police bands and moonlighting superhero work. By day he's a clerk at some insurance company, regularly getting into trouble with his boss because he helps his clients get whatever coverage/repayment they need by pointing out loopholes in their coverage. Then one day he gets into row with said boss and loses his temper, throwing the man throw a couple of walls and the guy ends up in traction.
He's then contacted by some mysterious lady for some mysterious group/company, who hires his superhero persona to catch a (supposed) runaway robot gone berserk for big $. He does so. Of course, he doesn't tell his wife that he's lost his old job (and why) and is now out for superhero work, or where all his sudden newfound money is coming from (she assumes he's just climbing the corporate ladders). Then one day he finds out that the person behind hiring him is none other than the boy who used to be his fan, who's using his robot to kill superheros lured to his island for the same "job", and then planning to send a giant upgraded robot to wreck havoc in the city, after which he'll amazing stop the robot (via a remote control) and become a superhero lauded by the public, yadda yadda yadda. And of course, in classic villain fashion, the kid doesn't kill Mr. Incredible, but leaves him tied up.
While this happens, the missus gets suspicious back home, and discovers a new hole on Incredible's old suit that's been patched up. So she goes to the costume designed known to the superhero crowd, an eccentric lady who railroads over the poor woman first with a whole set of supersuits before finally telling her that her husband is probably not on some company conference. Luckily, each suit comes with a homing/tracking device. So Mrs. Incredible calls in a favor and gets a jet and goes haring off to look for her wayward husband.
The kids, unfortunately, snuck along. Our villain blows the plane out of the sky, but the trio survives. Mom leaves the kids in a cave and tells them to stay safe as she goes off to save her husband. She does but the kids are accidentally caught by a security cam, and after some gratuitous actions scenes where the kids get to show their stuff, they're all recaptured (but not killed, again) and forced to watch the villain's plans bear out. But, of course, they escape and get back to the city in time for the robot to *really* go berserk and turn on its maker. Then, with some help from the aforementioned Frozone, the family defeats the giant robot and gain the praise and adulation of the public, including presumably a repeal of the former anti-super laws.
The villain then goes for their youngest child, who'd been left home with the babysitter. But the baby sudden develops powers and is rescued by his parents, while the villain's cape gets caught in his plane's turbines and goes explody. In the epilogue scene, we have the birth of a new superteam-slash-family.
Well, it was a fun movie to watch at the time. Pixar's animation is as brilliant as always. A funny popcorn fic with some nice funny moments, especially when it satirizes some aspects of the superhero genre. Unfortunately, once the show was over and I had some time to think it over, it because evident that the biggest problems with the movie were caused by the same thing - the emphasis and caricaturization of certain aspects of the superhero genre. In other words, cashew should probably stay away from this movie unless she wants to be driven nuts. :p
Major ISSUES I have with the movie:
1. "Everybody is special, meaning nobody is."
You know, when a bunch of comic geeks such as the population of the Rumbles board notice that a certain message in a superhero movie is elitist, that's pretty sad. Come on. Just look at the quote and tell me what's so very wrong with it! It's saying that the notion that everyone is special and has their own worth to be wrong and bad, while the idea that there some people who are just extra special "just because" to be the right way to go. Why not and just come out and declare that people with superpowers born to them ought to have "divine right" to rule over the petty masses of "normals", who ought to obey the mighty ones who knows better than them what's good for them?
Okay, the standard response I see to the elitism charge is that "But Mr. Incredible never says anything on the issue! It's only the villain guy who's assuming that superpowers are the issue here."
Yes, but the very fact that the entire existence of the villain, and the fact that all of his motives/actions are centered around this issue, makes the idea as "sub"-textual as an elephant in a sandbox. If we look at the villain's exact words and actions, he never planned to harm any of the public aside from the supers he killed off before hand testing the robot and culling the defense. Also, in his exact words, the villains says to the effect of "and then, when I'm old and retired, I'm going to sell off all of my inventions so that everybody can be special... meaning nobody is." Now, someone explain to me why the last bit there is so evil and worth stopping? Or why the "heroes" are so much better or deserving when they stopped the robot and reaped the same benefits that the villain wanted?
The *character* might not have made elitism a thematic issue, but the *film* certainly did... especially when we consider that a large portion of the audience are little kids - generally even younger than the comic-reading crowd. That's all they're going to see. Seriously. If you go out and ask a bunch of kids why's the villain of the film is evil and needed to be stopped, then it's very likely that the majority's response (aside from "because he's the bad guy") would likely be "because he's going to set himself up as a fake superhero and then make superheroes not needed anymore".
2. Child Endangerment
I think this speaks for itself. For that matter, it's a problem in superhero comics in general, but a movie featuring a elementary age super-kid is going a bit too far, in my opinion.
Again, so the majority of the film has the parents against putting their kids in danger, and it's only circumstances that keep getting the children involved. But in the end, they do let the kids become superheroes right by their side, as if just because the kids happened to survive one heroing incident, they're now qualified to put their lives on the line on a regular basis.
Not to mention which, the entire other major theme of the entire movie was the idea that - you can't work by yourself/alone when it's much better to work together with those you love/as a team. Well, if it's just adults in a team, sure, no problem, excellent theme to show little kids. But it's NOT a good theme when two of those team-members are CHILDREN! Children who almost got killed several times in their first adventure too. What kind of parents are you?!
Well, I'm sure there are other issues I had with the movie, but these are the ones that come to me right now... I'll edit others in if they come to me.