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Tag Archive: The Incredibles


Review by C.J. Bunce

If you forgot why so many fans of superhero movies rate The Incredibles as not only their top animated movie but their favorite and best superhero movie, too, The Incredibles 2 will bring you back around.  It was 2004 when we first met the Parr family, and yet here 14 years later the voice acting talent hasn’t missed a beat.  Sure, we have a new actor as Dash (Huck Milner, replacing Spencer Fox), but Craig T. Nelson (Bob/Mr. Incredible), Holly Hunter (Helen/Elastigirl), Sarah Vowell (Violet), and Samuel L. Jackson (Lucius/Frozone) could have recorded this in 2005 and it couldn’t have sounded any better.  And sound is half of the appeal of this solid sequel to the Academy Award-winning original, which won the Oscar for best animated film.

The music is just as incredible as Michael Giacchino’s work in the original, only his expanded themes this time may have resulted in an even better soundtrack.  How did he not win the Oscar for the original?  Who knows, but the Oscar-winning composer (for Up) pulls out all the stops from the 1960s spy movies, leaning on James Bond themes and using trumpets frequently grinding and screaming their way through a film that must be at least 85% action.  If you are patient enough to sit through the full credits you’ll even hear the “classic TV show” style theme songs for each of the lead superheroes.  The Incredibles 2 was worth the wait just for the visuals and style to be mirrored just right, thanks to returning writer/director Brad Bird leading the way.  Bird was nominated for an Oscar for his writing for the original, and his new story nicely balances a fresh, new adventure with those elements fans want more of.  So expect more bumbling by Mr. Incredible, more heroics by Elastigirl, more everything by Frozone, more Edna Mode, and more over-the-top, zany villainy.

Why are the original and The Incredibles 2 such great superhero movies?  They certainly rip the heroics from the comic book pages, they make the family of heroes endearing but not sappy, they pepper the film with humor, and connect it all with an easy, fun story–not too much drama, but when it’s there it’s because of the maniacal nature of the most memorable comic book villains.  The Incredibles 2 also benefits from not feeling obligated to use the Disney convention of adding goofy irrelevant characters added only for a dose of low-brow humor.  They had room to do that with super-baby Jack-Jack, but instead of leaning on him for that, they use the character to help give Mr. Incredible a rounded story arc, providing the baby with several great scenes that steal the show.  Anyone who ever had someone waking them up every night at 3 a.m. will appreciate the realism of little, smiling, happy-go-lucky Jack-Jack.

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At this year’s D23 convention, director Brad Bird and Disney/Pixar creator John Lasseter revealed a first look at the coming sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles with the return of superhero costumer Edna “no capes” Mode, and we saw a full trailer back in February (check it out here).  Holly Hunter’s character Helen aka Elastigirl is in the drivers’ seat for the eagerly awaited sequel, and a new trailer for the movie shows us even more.

In the original film Jack-Jack revealed his powers to his babysitter.  This time father Bob Farr aka Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) takes on a Mr. Mom role, doing the same kind of botched parenting antics as Michael Keaton in the 1983 film.  Most of the original cast is back, including Nelson, Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone), Sarah Vowell (Violet), with Huck Milner replacing Spencer Fox as the new voice of son Dash.  Samuel L. Jackson’s Frozone looks to be as funny as ever.

That mid-century modern artistry defines this series, as well as Michael Giacchino’s 1960s-70s spy flick soundtrack, an update to his exciting original musical score.  It looks like the superheroics are coming from Elastigirl in this chapter, and the humor from Mr. Incredible.

Check out this new trailer for The Incredibles 2:

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At this year’s D23 convention, director Brad Bird and Disney/Pixar creator John Lasseter revealed a first look at the coming sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles with the return of superhero costumer Edna “no capes” Mode.  Bird suggested that Holly Hunter’s character Helen aka Elastigirl would be in the drivers’ seat for the eagerly awaited sequel, and a new trailer for the movie now confirms it.  In The Incredibles 2, Elastigirl is back in action!

In the original film Jack-Jack revealed his powers to his babysitter.  This time father Bob Farr aka Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) learns what his baby boy is already aware of.  He not only has powers, he has crazy new powers!  The same mid-century modern artistic style, shown particularly in the Parr family’s new house (the original was destroyed last time around).

Most of the original cast is back, including Nelson, Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone), Sarah Vowell (Violet), with Huck Milner replacing Spencer Fox as the new voice of son Dash.  Michael Giacchino will also be back with an update to his exciting original musical score.

Check out this new trailer being aired during this week’s Olympics coverage on NBC for The Incredibles 2:

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At this year’s D23 convention, director Brad Bird and Disney/Pixar creator John Lasseter revealed a first look at the coming sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles with the return of superhero costumer Edna “no capes” Mode.  Bird suggested that Holly Hunter’s character Helen aka Elastigirl would be in the drivers’ seat for the eagerly awaited sequel, but a new teaser for the movie shows the Incredibles family baby “Jack-Jack” will get some attention of his own.

In the original film Jack-Jack revealed his powers to his babysitter.  This time father Bob Farr aka Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) learns what his baby boy is already aware of.  According to The Incredibles director Bird, who will also direct the sequel, expect a return of the same mid-century modern artistic style, shown particularly in the Parr family’s new house (the original was destroyed last time around).

Most of the original cast will be back, including Nelson, Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone), Sarah Vowell (Violet), with Huck Milner replacing Spencer Fox as the new voice of son Dash.  Michael Giacchino will also be back with an update to his exciting original musical score.

Check out this incredibly short teaser for The Incredibles 2:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the sequel to the 2014 spy movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, is coming to the theaters in a few weeks.  If you didn’t see the original, it was probably because of its rather uninspired title.  But don’t wait any longer.  Kingsman: The Secret Service is a blast.  And it’s streaming right now.  Kingsman: The Secret Service stars Colin Firth as a secret agent in a new brand of 007 series, as he attempts to recruit the next member of the Kingsman organization, the son of a former agent, played by Taron Egerton.  It’s stylish.  It’s wall-to-wall action.  It’s part dark comedy.  And its over-the-top violence is operatic and epic.  The last time we had this much fun was watching Roddy Piper and Keith David in They Live.

For those hoping Firth would ever be tapped as Bond, this is every bit that, only Firth’s master spy has moves like no Bond ever had.  One scene provides so much hand-to-hand combat you’d think you were watching Kill Bill, and the Quentin Tarentino influence doesn’t stop there.  You’d almost think the retired director was the ghost director behind the mayhem in the film’s climactic battle.  It’s just as well, as actual director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2, X-Men: First Class, Layer Cake) proves again he knows the action genre.

Every great British spy story needs a Bond girl, and Sofia Boutella’s Gazelle is up there with the best.  Her missing lower legs (no, we never learn why) were replaced with steel blades, blades that can kill–and very much do.  Think of Bond girls played by Famke Janssen and Grace Jones, and Boutella fits right in.  Every bit the combat equal to Firth and Egerton’s spies, Gazelle is practically a character missing from Tarentino’s Kill Bill movies. Continue reading

Crying at the Movies–Spotlight

Field of Dreams catch scene

WELCOME TO EARTH-4

A Column by J. Torrey McClain

I have cried in many movies.  It took me a while to allow the tears to silently flow instead of fighting them back to maintain a sense of dignity that I imagined more that I possessed.  I can keep crying at the same scene after many viewings, but I’m not sure I can elucidate why.  Recently I watched Spotlight–the Oscar nominated movie–and I cried for a very different reason than I have before.  Before I get to that one though, I figure I will run down a list of some of the movies that made me cry and try to rationalize why on all of them.

Scrooged – Ever since I saw this film in the theater, there is one moment at the end that gets me every time.  It’s the moment that Calvin Cooley walks up to Frank Cross and tugs on his coat.  Bill Murray, as Cross, looks down after his big rambling speech, tears streaking his face and says, “Did I forget something big man?”  Cooley whispers his first words since his father dies and says, “You forgot to say ‘God bless us everyone,’” at least how I remember it.  Why does it still get me?  Maybe it is Calvin’s story that we as the audience see as a companion to Cross’s story and the tragedy therein of his assistant.  Maybe it’s stellar writing that makes a single character wait to speak until he has something magical to say.  Maybe it’s just the sentiments that accompany Christmastime.  I’ll bet it is the part of me that empathizes with Cross and all of the stress and responsibility of being an adult and remembering that sometimes being a child allows innocence to have the perspective to get to the point with just a few words.

SCROOGED, Nicholas Phillips, Bill Murray, Alfre Woodard, 1988, (c)Paramount

Field of Dreams – Many a man has had his stoic expression cracked by this movie when Ray Kinsella and his father are reunited.  It’s the moment where just before his father leaves again, Ray gets up the courage to stop him in his tracks and asks, “You wanna have a catch?” As the Ghost of Christmas Past says in “Scrooged,” it’s Niagara Falls for me. I remember kneeling before my TV during this scene as tears streamed down my face like never before or since.  I sobbed out loud.  I’m sure that’s why the Ghost of Christmas Past knows how to get Frank Cross to sob.  It’s the memories of the times past, those fleeting moments with family that as an adult I want to have had more of those times.  Even if they were plentiful, the past seems far away and the times few as life keeps pushing forward and spreadsheets replace baseball mitts.

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Koba socializing with humans

WELCOME TO EARTH-4

A Weekly Column with J. Torrey McClain

When I think about some of my favorite movies, they contain a sense of the dynamics of a family, whether it is by blood or by situation.  The Incredibles is a fantastic example of a family at the center of the story and how, when forced to confront his own mortality, at his core Mr. Incredible finds that family is the most important thing in his life.  Stalag 17 is about a family in a single room wooden cell in a POW camp and even though they argue and kid and get on each other’s nerves, they will risk their lives for each other.  The Philadelphia Story revolves around a family’s plan for a wedding one weekend on their estate.  Up is built on scrapbook glimpses of a life spent together as a family.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes contains what it means to have family and what a family is as one of its themes.  Humans as a family.  Apes as a family.  The family of Caesar and the family of the lead human Malcolm played by Jason Clarke.  Family by blood and new families after loved ones perish.

It is dealing with the idea of ape families that becomes problematic in my mind.  Scientifically, we know that chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans have familial bonds.  We can see those attachments as we stare at them through windows in zoos as the elders have learned to turn their backs to our prying eyes.  There are blood families and communities as families.  Yet, we don’t really care much about what happens to them because they can’t tell us how separation from their family feels.  We hope they forget if they ever get sent to a new zoo or study facility.  We hope that any new introductions into a community will forget the families left behind in the wild or their previous place of captivity.  It would be different if our apes, the ones that we see, could scream at us like Caesar and tell us that we won’t threaten or separate their family.

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2824589-13260-gamesrocks-superman

By Art Schmidt

I was having lunch with a friend the other day and we were talking about comic book movies and the slow transition of the formulas for the ones which have succeeded to television format. My friend was grumbling about the lack of costumed heroes on popular shows such as Arrow or the new Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  I have to admit, I hadn’t really noticed the lack of costumes in those shows, loving the first season of Arrow despite very few folks with traditional comic book costumes, and enjoying the first couple of episodes of A.O.S. (can you acronym an acronym?).

But the more I thought about it, the more puzzled I was.  Why weren’t there more costumes in Arrow?  Certainly Deathstroke’s mask was a pivotal prop in the series, and the Dark Archer had a cool getup, but they weren’t costumes so much as work attire fitting the villain’s nature.  And of course A.O.S. is a show about normal people, super spies and highly-skilled to be sure, but not superheroes.  And certainly without costumes outside of May’s black leather suit, akin to Fury’s normal wardrobe and the attire seen by many personnel aboard the Heli-carrier in The Avengers.

Speaking of which, The Avengers is a perfect case in point.  The evolution of the superhero sans costume.  I’ll get back to that in a minute.

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beware the batman batmobile

If you find typical animated series on Cartoon Network visually boring, this new series is for you.  DC Comics’ DC Nation on Cartoon Network has finally achieved a satisfying blend of eye-grabbing visuals and smart storytelling in its newest animated series, Beware the Batman.   A follow-on to Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Beware the Batman is a fresh take on Batman that opens up possibilities for a long-term animated series with interesting villains of the week similar to those we enjoyed with the 1960s live action Batman series, but skip the camp and humor for some gritty situations and snappy dialogue.

What first will draw viewers to Beware the Batman is the high-resolution, three-dimensional effect of the cutting edge CGI animation itself, similar to the realism we’ve seen in Tron: Uprising, but even more so like the stylish visuals in The Incredibles.  Although the Batman himself may be the least eye-catching of the hundreds of Batman incarnations out there, he has his own style here that may grow on viewers.  But Alfred, the villains, Tatsu Yamashiro, all look incredible.  Wayne Manor is a beautiful mansion on the edge of a cliff, something you’d expect to see from Richard Branson.  Gotham looks like the moody covers to The Dark Knight Returns.  The action sequences are full of explosions and chases offered up in ways you haven’t seen before, too, with realistic and futuristic 3D technology effects like those in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report.

Alfred and Batman

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Review by C.J. Bunce

(spoilers!)

DC Comics has released a hardcover compilation of both the Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special one-shot plus the first five issues of the “Dead Again/Child Support” storyline from Green Arrow/Black Canary Issues #1-5.  Judd Winick wrote the story with Amanda Conner illustrating the Wedding Special and Cliff Chiang pencilling GA/BC Issues #1-4 and Andre Coelho pencilling Issue #5.

On paper, the first chapter, the Wedding Special, is what you would expect.  Put together the two superheroes who have had an off-again/on-again relationship for pretty much decades, and after years of talking about it we get the first big superhero wedding since Clark Kent and Lois Lane.  Of course, they couldn’t just put the two characters together and give us a storyline of what it would be like to have a superhero couple, like “the early years of The Incredibles,” or something close to that.  Instead, they cram together some backstory, bachelor party, etc. and a wedding into a few short pages.  Only Batman is smart enough to return a negative on the RSVP.  As expected, the marriage is doomed from the start.  Someone gets wind of all the superheroes being in the same place at the same time for the wedding, nukes are launched, and it becomes another Justice League fight scene.

Worst yet, once the dust settles and Oliver and Dinah get home, we learn that a big element was missing from the wedding, as Ollie is an imposter and tries to murder Dinah on her wedding night, and she must kill him to defend herself.

Among all of this is plenty silliness and cartoony characterizations that amount to a light-hearted romp up just to the last scene.  It is difficult to expect anything else from a one-shot about a superhero wedding, so you either go with it or stop reading.  Flashing back to other incarnations of Green Arrow and Black Canary, such as those documented in the For Better For Worse compilation (to be reviewed here later), it becomes clear that this really is more of a superhero wedding–focusing on the costumed personas–more than a wedding of Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance.  And in chapter one you are left to hope for seeing that wedding someday.  Back in the prior volume of the Green Arrow series, as well as the volume before that, we did get a fair bit of family life, and the stories seemed pretty good at the time, with son Conner (Green Arrow 2) as well as Mia (the new Speedy) rounding out the family.  The past run at the trials of a superhero family was the closest thing we have seen to the clever The Incredibles film by Pixar.

I am not a fan of Amanda Conner’s trademark cartoony renderings of Black Canary.  She draws her looking ditsy, and combining the fact that Ollie and Dinah spend the first chapter swearing at each other in asterisks, etc., Green Arrow and Black Canary are caricatures of a reality show bridezilla-fest.  In stark contrast is Chiang’s excellent covers, which seem to nicely peg a great looking superhero team.  The colorist work is also well done–the entire book is finished in vibrant colors.

The rest of the Wedding Album consists next of Winick’s “Dead Again” storyline and there we begin to see some family taking shape.  The highlight is Cliff Chiang, the artist currently getting high praise for the New 52 Wonder Woman series.  Going back now and viewing his earlier work is great fun, as he definitely has his own, recognizable style.  And in the first chapter of the “Dead Again” story, we learn that the man who married Dinah, and who was killed by Dinah, was a shapeshifter called Everyman, and Ollie is held prisoner by a doppleganger for Athena, and the Amazons.  No doubt that Chiang’s work on Green Arrow/Black Canary and this Amazon storyline propelled him into the artist role for the current Wonder Woman series.

Chiang original cover art for GA BC issue 1

But you can’t knock Winick’s writing for the rest of the Wedding Album.  The story is great, beginning with Dinah and Mia arriving at the island of the Amazons to figure out why they took Ollie and Connor springing Ollie from their jail, including having to loan Ollie his underwear since Ollie was, of course, imprisoned naked by the Amazons.  The Amazons want Dinah (not Diana aka Wonder Woman) to lead and train the new Amazon warriors.  But in their escape Connor is shot and near death.  In the aftermath, the family comes together and in the last chapter “Child Support,” Oliver and Dinah actually get married.  The last chapter was illustrated ably by Andre Coelho.  Only once in the last few chapters does the story falter a bit, when we learn the reason Everyman finally made himself known to Dinah on their wedding night.

For the most part, the Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Album is worth checking out, if not for a good Judd Winick story, then to see more of Cliff Chiang’s nice artwork.

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