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00571 – Incredible National Treasure

MovieHype00571 – Incredible National Treasure

Today’s Agenda:



There are some of you out there (you know who you are) who simply won’t watch an animated movie. Perhaps there was a regrettable “Junior-Mint” episode at the theatre when you were six years old. Maybe WATERSHIP DOWN gave you nightmares for weeks (them rabbits is scary). Or maybe it was just the way you were raised.

Well, friends, you need get over it. As I recall, there was a time when people were raised to think that white folk and black folk shouldn’t associate either. How well did that work out? Now, I’m not equating the Civil Rights’ movement with the plight of animation (and somewhere someone put on 8 oz. gloves), but I am saying that just because you were taught a certain thing, no longer makes it so.

Animation has moved into a brave new world. The best of the breed can offer rich palettes and surprisingly sophisticated and emotional content. This is not your grandfather’s cartoon.

Of course, like with any medium, not everything will be good. However, I am happy to say that THE INCREDIBLES surely is. I know it’s been out for a couple of weeks, and most people who want to see it have, but let me add my voice to the chorus: this is one of the best movies of the year.

Made by Pixar, the people who gave us the TOY STORIES, A BUG’S LIFE, MONSTERS INC. and FINDING NEMO, they finally enter the world of humans. And it’s a rousing success.

THE INCREDIBLES is about super-heroes who have—because of our litigious society—retired and are trying to live a normal life. This is my favorite part of the movie, watching Mr. Incredible as he struggles to ignore his noble impulses to help people and fit into the work-a-day world. And the home-life is great too. Can you imagine what the offspring of two superheroes would be like?

There’s a bunch of James Bond stuff too, and that’s great, but you’re not watching this film for the action (although it’s unparalleled for an animated movie). No, you should go see THE INCREDIBLES to see how far animation has come, and to just enjoy a funny, exciting, sweet movie.

Hyperion’s Rating System (first explained in #121; write if you’re confused)

Suspension of Disbelief Scale (out of 10): 10. It’s a cartoon. About super-heroes, And underground layers on volcano-islands. Just enjoy.

Genre Grade: Obviously this is animation, and I give it an A-. One of the best animated films I have ever seen.

Pantheon Percentile (50 is an average movie, 99 the best movie ever): THE INCREDIBLES is very fun to watch, and I can only imagine that repeated viewings would be even better, as you could anticipate the funny lines and splashy “Wow!” visuals. I plan to own this. 92.

I hadn’t seen Aslan for a while. (He’s got a new girlfriend, and you know how it is when that happens.) But I finally corralled him with the offer of a free movie. I wanted to see NATIONAL TREASURE. Don’t ask me why. In general, I shudder at Jerry Bruckheimer movies. This is the guy responsible for atrocities like BAD BOYS, BAD BOYS 2 (STILL BAD), GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS, CON-AIR, and one of my all-time whipping boys, PEARL HARBOR.

On the other paw, I enjoyed ARMAGEDDON in spite of myself, as well as THE ROCK, and I really enjoyed last years PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and even this year’s KING ARTHUR.

Add to that Nicholas Cage, who is always watchable to me, and I don’t know; I just wanted to see it.

So we did.

The critics have mostly panned NATIONAL TREASURE, calling it half-baked or silly. I can’t really argue with them. It’s beyond absurd. But so was Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, and I enjoyed that immensely. NATIONAL TREASURE isn’t in that league, but Aslan and I still enjoyed it quite a bit.

The story involves a huge treasure (bet you didn’t see that coming) that America’s Founding Fathers have (maybe) hidden somewhere and left clues in plain sight. Like on dollar bills. Oh, and on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates, the latest scion in a family that’s been obsessed with finding this treasure since 1830 when one of the ancestors was given a scrap of paper that read…oh, who cares? Like any of that matters. The point is: they’re running around the country looking for treasure. And there are bad guys looking for it too.

There’s the requisite hot girl, Diane Kruger (who was Helen in TROY), and she mostly just looks really hot. However, she and Cage have real chemistry, and the scene where Cage and his partner explain that there is an invisible Treasure Map on the back of the Declaration of Independence is very funny.

Speaking of sidekicks, Justin Bartha as Riley the sidekick is a real hoot. He gets all the best lines, and delivers them in classic deadpan fashion. I predict big things for that lad.

The negatives are there, of course. The plot is mega-silly. Sean Bean as the bad guy (most of you will remember him as Boromir from FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING) doesn’t get a whole lot to do, and Cage’s hairpiece is so bad that at one point I became transfixed and could barely ogle Diane Kruger (and that’s a shame).

Also, the script is beyond derivative. There are several INDIANA JONES rip-offs (I’m sure the filmmakers would call them “homages”), as well as cribbing various scenes from half a dozen heist movies. The real theft though, comes from a movie that hasn’t even been made yet. Fans familiar with The Da Vinci Code will notice that it seems an awful lot like they took the formula of that book, dumbed it down, and Americanized it.

But that’s okay. Anyone expecting Shakespeare is in the wrong theatre. For all that, though, I had a blast. Yes, the film was silly and forgettable, but it was also fun. That’s all you can ask for here.

As Aslan and were walking to the car, I queried him on his thoughts. He pretty much concurred with mine. However, before he drove away, he asked if he could have a flame-thrower in my review.

So, I’d like to add that as we walked out of our theatre, Aslan pulled out his flame-thrower and torched everyone watching BRIDGET JONES. On the plus side, at least none of those women had anyone to go home to.

Suspension of Disbelief Scale: 8. They throw in a bunch of “real” American history, but you’re wearing your hair-piece too tight if you think any of the conspiracy is real.

Genre Grade: I guess you’d call this an action-thriller-popcorn film. Or maybe just a Bruckheimer movie. I put it about on par with THE ROCK. B-.

Pantheon Percentile: This movie doesn’t stand the test of time, and yet I have no doubt I’ll watch it 30 times on TBS in the next few years. 53.



November 20, 2004


Thanks to Aslan for torching all those poor desperate single girls

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