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'Incredibles' Shows Pixar's Super Powers

By Cynthia L. Webb
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Friday, November 5, 2004; 10:55 AM

The debut of "The Incredibles" today highlights the tech wizardry behind animated films and further validates the computer-animation prowess of Pixar Animation Studios.

The film, released by the Walt Disney Co., is poised to take the box office by storm, along with its superhero-cum-mid-life-angst story line straight from suburbia and its central character, insurance adjuster/superhero Bob Parr, a.k.a. Mr. Incredible. It also is one of the final collaborations between Disney and Pixar, whose lucrative yet bumpy partnership ends next year.

_____Post Reviews_____
'Incredibles': Pixar Uses Its Powers for Good (The Washington Post, Nov 5, 2004)
'Incredibles': One Super Family (The Washington Post, Nov 5, 2004)
_____More in Movies_____
'The Incredibles' Details
Watch the Trailer
Current Movie Openings
Arts & Living: Movies
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Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.

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Tech Investors See Brighter Future (washingtonpost.com, Nov 4, 2004)
Bloggers Let Poll Cat Out of the Bag (washingtonpost.com, Nov 3, 2004)
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Bush and Kerry: Real Differences on Tech? (washingtonpost.com, Nov 1, 2004)
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"There's no question that this weekend's boxoffice returns will be incredible -- the only question is how incredible. The current king of animation, Pixar Animation Studios, is poised to extend its perfect record to 6-for-6 as the Walt Disney Co.'s Buena Vista Distribution unleashes 'The Incredibles' to an eager marketplace," Hollywood Reporter wrote today.
The Hollywood Reporter: BoxOffice Preview: 'The Incredibles' Journey Begins

"After 'The Incredibles' hits theaters today, the world of superheroes may never be the same," declared Iowa's Sioux City Journal. Nor will animation, the article concludes. "Lifting the mask that shrouds the personal lives of crimefighters, the animated comedy shows what they do after retirement. It's a tongue-in-cheek look at a popular genre, but it's also a representation of the strides made in animation. As detailed in 'The Art of The Incredibles,' a new companion book, filmmakers got one step closer to making humans look believable. In earlier films ('Finding Nemo,' 'Toy Story' and 'Monsters Inc.') humans kept a distance -- computers couldn't do them justice. Now the cartoony Parr family comes as close to reality as director Brad Bird can get."
Sioux City Journal: New Book Details Creation of 'The Incredibles' Film

In its review, Wired News today notes that Bird -- the talent behind the critically admired 1999 financial flop "The Iron Giant" -- wrote and directed the new release, "but as with previous Pixar films, this is obviously an effort by a group of artists, filmmakers and techies who sincerely love the material with which they are working. ... Some filmgoers still raise their noses at animation, but 'The Incredibles' is undeniably an example of quality filmmaking. The Pixar animators, as much as any skilled cinematographer, understand how to effectively frame a shot, when to shift styles and how to make great use of color. [The film's] 'set design,' while not as gorgeous as Nemo's undersea backdrops, gives the film a rich, multidimensional and slightly cartoonlike look. It fits the story perfectly," the publication said. "Pixar's winning streak -- now at six films made over nine years -- is nearly unprecedented in Hollywood history. In a day when filmgoers seem increasingly suspicious of the blockbuster formula, Pixar has cracked the code. The keys: smart writing, a focus on story, plenty of all-ages humor and a sincere depth of feeling for the characters. Plus, of course, eye-bending animation."
Wired News: Incredibles: Another Pixar Winner

USA Today's review noted the power of the film's animation. "'The Incredibles' is one of the year's most clever and visually arresting computer-animated films, enlivened by a well-developed and credible cast of characters who just happen to be superheroes. Though not as endearing as 'Finding Nemo' or as cheeky as 'Shrek 2,' the film is a raucous adventure that celebrates the joys and messy complexities of family life. The animation has a unique style, artfully blending a futuristic quality with a retro '50s look," the paper said.
USA Today: 'Incredibles': Family Dynamic in Visual Overdrive

Bringing digital characters to life is no easy task, the San Jose Mercury news explains: "In the world of computer-generated animation, the most mundane aspects of everyday life are often the hardest to pull off on screen. Take the seemingly simple dinner scene . ... The Parr family is seated around the table and, as predictably happens, the quiet meal devolves into chaos. The brother and sister begin squabbling, the baby shrieks, and mom and dad do their super-human best to restore order. Piece of cake, right? Except for a thousand little details -- like keeping track of the food, which gets thrown around the room and slips and slides as Bob lifts the table to stop the melee. We're talking every slice of meat, every glob of mashed potatoes, every leaf of lettuce, every cherry tomato and every drip of gravy on every plate."

How did the tech wizards do? The Merc review glows: "Bird unwittingly demanded some of the toughest stuff to digitally animate: hair, fabric, dozens of scene changes and, most difficult of all, people. And not just one person, but a family of five and a group of supporting characters -- all of whom get close-ups. In short, 'The Incredibles' goes where no purely computer-animated film has gone before. Through the combination of cutting-edge technology and the subtleties of facial animation, body gestures and caricature, it convinces you that the digital actors are alive. Animated, yes, but alive."
The San Jose Mercury News: That's Incredible (Registration required)

"That crashing noise you hear emanating from your local multiplex is the sound of Pixar trying something different -- and succeeding magnificently. 'The Incredibles' is the first of the company's films to come with a PG rating, and it features not bugs, toys, monsters, or fish, but superheroes who fight dastardly villains and toss huge chunks of masonry around," the Boston Globe wrote in its review of the film. The piece touches on some of the film's tech magic, about "a gag involving a remote-controlled glove and, way off in the distance, Mr. Incredible, that makes all of 'Shark Tale' look like a 2-D doodle. The luxurious satin textures of the computer animation offer additional eye candy; not for nothing is there a credit for 'Hair and Cloth Simulation.'"

More on the top-notch animation, from The Washington Post: "While 'Incredibles' doesn't have the visual lusciousness that marked 'Nemo' -- or the high-stakes, heart-rending pull that comes with the traditional 'Bambi's mommy is dead!' kid-film moment -- Pixar geeks will love the trademark high-tech animation, including Elastigirl's ability to slither into all means of Twister-like positions, and a wonderful sequence when Dash finally lets loose his superhuman speed on the island."
The Boston Globe: Look! Up in the Sky! It's a Flabby Suburban Dad!
The Washington Post: 'Incredibles': Pixar Uses Its Powers for Good (Registration required)


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