Spirited Away

Director: Brad Bird
Cast (voices): Craig Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L Jackson

Reviewer: Andrew 'Doc' Docherty

They are strong. They are fast. They are bendy. And, just sometimes, they are even very, very hard to see. Who are they? Why, they are The Incredibles, of course!

Brad Bird’s brainchild, this is Pixar’s latest animated tour de force, and it is fantastic. Fantastic? Quite. Marvel’s Fantastic Four – the original super family-team quartet – seem to have been a major starting-block for Pixar’s creative hive-brain during its initial efforts to create a sense of super-team stability and vibrancy. Heck, three of the four Incredibles even have powers comparable to the FF’s own! To account for the super-strength of The Incredibles is to appreciate the multiple levels upon which it operates. Children will love the brightness, the action; the rest of us will appreciate how cool their costumes are...er, I mean, how slightly subversive and intelligent the film is. Not only are Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl his wife, and Violet and Dash (their children), the quintessence of super (once they get going), they are also undeniably human. The focus upon the thematic significance of the family, and of the team, is perhaps the most surprising thing about TI: those expecting a relatively straight-cut superhero ‘piss-take’ will be disappointed (although send-ups are aplenty – watch out for Edna Mode’s warning about cape reliability!), but no-one will fail to be delighted by the impression Pixar creates. Truly affective facial expressions accompany moments of unpredictably intense verbal and physical interaction and exchange, through meticulously crafted, super-realistic character modelling; and through the airtight, impenetrably effective script there oozes wit and striking existential observation. All of which accounts for its strong declaration of the innate heroism of man, be he ‘super’ or not. And the action is pretty darn good, too!

The definitive forged-in-celluloid adaptation of the super-hero mythos, then? Holy machine-washable super-suits, Batman, yes!! Incredible.