Friday, May 16, 2008

Ok, so superhero movies, Part 2

But the fact is that human beings think differently. And I don't mean that they have differences of opinion, I'm saying that they process the same information in different ways.

Imagine three factories standing alongside one another. The first one makes toys, the second makes shovels, the third one makes bombs. All three factories get a daily delivery of steel.

It's the same way with entertainment. People approach it wanting different things, they handle it in different ways, and what they take away from it is all their own.

Which is why reviewing a creative work with a score is such a fantastically stupid idea. It's like saying that steel can be given a numeric grade, like "7.2," and that number summarizes all the toys, shovels, and bombs in the world. You can't measure a movie because there's nothing to measure it against. You and the guy next to you had very separate experiences.

And maybe that's why a lot of the creative things that endure have a knack for hitting the audience on multiple levels. Take Shakespeare. He wrote with elegance, grace, and respect for his characters . . . characters who routinely murdered, went insane, hung out with witches, ran from bears, and settled it all with a good sword fight. He was a good writer. He didn't need to avoid the exciting hooks just to get his work respected. He wrote for the queen and he wrote for the peanut gallery, all in the same stoke.

Which brings me, naturally, to "The Incredibles." It's my favorite kind of movie: the one that's so much better than it had to be. Pixar's reputation and talent plus a superhero theme equals cash money money, dolla dolla bill ya'll. It doesn't have to be any good to make back every cent that goes into it.

But it is good. It succeeds as an action movie. It's entertaining to kids and gives them characters they can identify with. But it also has a lot to say about aging and feeling trapped, about strength and weakness and how they coexist, and about family.

It's really . . . remarkable.*

*Thought I was going to say "incredible," didn't you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Finally, SOMEONE who agrees with me on the amazing greatness of The Incredibles