Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Great Scenes # 26: The Incredibles (2004)

Directed by Brad Bird

Contrary to popular belief, a cinephile like myself do enjoy popcorn movies, films where you can sit back, relax and enjoy. But like any other type of film, I assess it with the same standards as a period drama or a European arthouse experimental film on it's own unique terms. Like a lot of popcorn movies, The Incredibles, about a family of superheroes has its share of action sequences. Now, I love a good action sequence. A lot of people have blasted me in the past for bashing Michael Bay movies or certain comic book movies ("It's not Citizen Kane, you're supposed to turn your brain and enjoy the action!") and accuse me of not enjoying good action. But a great action sequence for me is not how elaborate the stunts are or how impressive the CGI effects or how huge and spectacular the explosions are: It's whether or not I care about the characters involved. You can have the most elaborate stunts and eye-popping effects, if I don't give a crap about the characters and the story, it's all moot. I often cite this sequence as an example of truly great action. Yes, it's animated but I think it qualifies. It's a sequence where Dash, a little boy who has the power of super-speed, finally gets to use his powers to fullest extent. At this point, you already know him, you care about him, you relate to him. So in this sequence, you are cheering for him, you fear for him and everything else: the action, the explosions, the chases simply enhances that. It also helps that director Brad Bird adds in little character bits like hesitating before throwing a punch, wide-eyed fear, his shouts of "I'm alive!" and giggling when he finds out he can run on water. That is what a great action sequence should be!

8 comments:

That Bastard From Bellingham said...

Hmmmmm. I can see what you're saying when it comes to action sequences being colored by your bias as a cinephile (and I thoroughly agree - The Incredibles IS awesome because you do care about them, their struggle against adversity, and in little Bolt unleashing his full potential in a way that he's been begging to do since the start of the movie), whereas mine is colored both by my experience in street fighting, martial arts, and both a reader and writer of action novels.

For me, the choreography as well as the believability (or suspense thereof - as always I put it forth that the Rule of Cool and Rule of Badassed should govern above all) of the moves and the fluidity thereof is what makes a great action sequence. For instance, District B-13.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDABLE VIEWING first and foremost. But the parkour sequences are just beautiful, and when they switch from parkour to flat-out freerunning it can become absolutely breathtaking. But the fight sequences, my GOD!

Or, hell...anything with Tony Jaa. Even when he goes full-blown Martial Arts Jesus in Ong Bak 2 and 3. So well done it's scary.

Well, gun play. Hell, anything starring Bruce Willis or directed by John Woo (Face/Off and before, his original Hong Kong stuff especially). The gunplay is fierce, the choreography of movement amongst the actors are intense and even insane, and no matter how you cut it the MOMENT you see Bruce Willis show up you KNOW guns are going to be involved...and it's gonna get hairy.

I think it's less a matter of good action makes good action, but rather one's bias that makes for good action. To the unwashed masses, LOL GOOD FILM IS GOOD TO EAT POPCORN WITH is good enough. But me? I hated Snakes in a Plane, even if it did star Samuel L. Jackson hismotherfuckingself, cursing up a storm. But it wasn't cool or badassed enough for me to suspend my belief that a shitton of snakes are gonna somehow appear on a plane in a mafia hit or some other stupid plot device.

Now, a good movie to eat popcorn to? Maverick. Mel Gibson around shortly before Lethal Weapon 4, a list of awesome stars that are just involved, tons of shoutouts to real poker and the original Maverick t.v. stories, it's a western with every single trope involved, and it's just fuckin' fun.

Plus, as a tournament poker player (Texas Hold 'Em, no limit thank you very much) I dig the HELL outta this movie! It's a western, it's got great action, great stars, and poker action out the wazoo.

Dig it, baby!

Mark said...

I never really thought about it like that, but I can see what you mean.

The Angry Lurker said...

I have never looked at that movie or that scene like that before, it was just animated popcorn before....

YeamieWaffles said...

While I definitely did not expect you to consider a scene from the Incredibles great I am a big fan of the movie, I definitely enjoyed it at the time at least. Good stuff mate.

Bart said...

i wonder if this movie is in 3d yet.

Adam said...

I love the sound effects on the blades

MRanthrope said...

I havent seen this movie in ages but I do remember walking out of the theater and being super stoked about what I had just seen. Maybe it's time I revisit this one? I think so.

ojay said...

i so remember watching this repeatedly with my younger brothers..