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‘The Incredibles’ lives up to its name

‘The Incredibles’ blows ‘Finding Nemo’ out of the water, scares ‘Monsters Inc.’ under the bed and sends ‘Shrek’ packing back to the swamp.

Simply put, it’s incredible – the most groundbreaking, jaw-dropping 3D animated film since ‘Toy Story’ made a dinosaur of traditional animation.

Just as Woody and Buzz took you right into the secret lives of toys, this tale of a superhero family completely engulfs you. For two hours you’re transported into a highly stylised fantasy world filled with superheroes, dastardly Bond-style villains, plenty of explosions, vintage science fiction gadgets and wily insurance salesmen.

It’s a world where superheroes are no longer appreciated, forced to put their costumes in mothballs and assume very low profiles. Mr Incredible (now simply known as Bob Parr) is one such hero, now living out a dull existence in suburbia, with his wife, Helen, (formerly the super-stretchable Elastigirl) and his three children, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack. All he wants to do is save the world, but it’s hardly something that his career in the insurance industry allows.

So, when he gets a sinister offer to track down some of his fellow ex-superheroes, he jumps at the chance to don his red suit once more. It’s a move that pits him head to head with the maniacal Syndrome, a self-styled superhero wannabe geek intent on unleashing terror in the Parrs’ home town.

On paper, it’s not the most original story, but writer-director Brad Bird has whipped up a script packed with equal amounts of explosive action and wry humour. It’s a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, poking fun at superhero conventions (the monologuing villain, the costume and the cape) and introducing such inspired elements as a superhero equivalent of the witness protection service.

Equally superb are the scenes of suburbia: a hulking Parr driving his tiny Japanese car, Helen using her elastic arms to end a dinner-time squabble, Bob telling his clients how to screw the insurance company, mom and dad cheering “slow down!” at the lightning fast Dash during a school sports day.

But Bird’s most memorable creation is Edna, the pint-sized superhero fashion designer who won’t take no for an answer. Voiced by the director, she’s a combination between a German dominatrix, a librarian and a temperamental artist, who gives us an insight into the world of superhero costume design.

Her appearance really lights up the film – no mean feat considering the visual spectacle around her. Of course the animation is stupendous, especially the sequences on Syndrome’s hideaway island headquarters, making the far-fetched story highly believable and giving the action sequences even more zip.

Not that ‘The Incredibles’ is lacking in the pace department. This is rollicking action adventure at its best – not exactly for tiny tots, but pure escapism that pushes the boundaries of animation. Phew! It’s about time.

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