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The Incredibles (U)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc One: Filmmakers' audio commentary.
Disc Two: Jack-Jack Attack animated short. Boundin' Pixar short. Bloopers and outtakes. Deleted scenes and alternate opening. Top Secret Files on all The Supers. Behind the scenes making of.

IT'S been about ten years since director, Brad Bird, first came up with the idea for The Incredibles - an animated take on the superhero/comic book genre - that looks set to provide Pixar with another super-sized hit.

Bird, however, is a newcomer to the Pixar fraternity, despite being closely associated with animation supremo, John Lasseter, for some time.

He has previously been an executive consultation on The Simpsons and directed the acclaimed 2-D cartoon, The Iron Giant, before deciding to take up Pixar's offer of coming to work for them.

The result is pure Box Office dynamite - a supremely enjoyable creative explosion that actually shakes up the Pixar formula somewhat.

Whereas the likes of Toy Story and Finding Nemo thrive on the mis-matched buddy routine, The Incredibles takes in everything from James Bond to family affairs, with a smattering of what it means to be different as well.

It's also much darker than previous Pixar workouts, probably at the expense of younger children, who might find themselves tiring quickly of some of the plot paths it chooses to take.

Adults, however, will revel in all that the film has to offer, even if the running time is probably a little generous.

The plot in question centres around a collection of superheroes who must gradually come to terms with the fact that their presence - and heroism - is no longer wanted in the world.

Principal among them is Bob Parr (voiced by Craig T Nelson), the former Mr Incredible, whose decision to save a jumper who did not want to be rescued, opens the door to a number of compensation-seekers who spell the beginning of the end for the superhero business.

Forced into hiding, Bob is now living with his wife, Helen, aka Elastigirl (and voiced by Holly Hunter), and three children (Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack), and is trying to make an everyday living by selling insurance.

When he receives a mysterious invitation to travel to a remote island to take part in an apparently secret mission, however, Bob leaps at the chance, only to find himself at the centre of a plot for world domination, and facing his own mortality.

It is left to his family to find him and ensure that the superheroes will still be around when the world needs saving again.

But while the gang remains as committed as ever, the passage of time has taken its toll and things aren't what they used to be - particularly when it comes to squeezing into those lycra suits!

The Incredibles, while clearly inspired by the likes of Bond, Spider-Man and co, seldom gets its laughs by directly poking fun at them, opting instead to create its own unique set of gags and action sequences.

As such, viewers should find themselves marvelling at its ingenuity, rather than keeping up with the in-jokes that are threatening to detract from other movies.

The characters are richly defined, the scenarios consistently inventive and the humour pretty spot on - even if the laugh-out-loud moments are few and far between.

Both Nelson and Hunter bring a great deal of warmth and charm to their respective super-hero characters, while Jason Lee voices a memorable villain, and Samuel L Jackson delights as the icy cool Frozone. Even Bird, himself, crops up as a deliciously curious fashion designer to the heroes, in the form of Edna Mode.

And he knows when to toss in an action sequence without ever diminishing the emotional value of his principal characters - a rare feat, indeed, in this effects-driven age.

The result is another animation triumph for those geniuses at Pixar, whose own Incredible hot streak at the Box Office shows little sign of cooling off. Long may that continue!

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