There are a hundred ways to measure what makes a great movie, but nothing speaks more highly about a film than how closely you can read it. In his new feature, Deadshirt Editor-In-Chief Dylan Roth explores one of his favorite films by demonstrating just how much there is to talk about, writing at length about Every Five Minutes of runtime.
Written and Directed by Brad Bird
(c) 2004 Disney/Pixar
Mission Briefing (34:55-36:19)
We smash cut to a stylish manta ray-shaped jet plane soaring over the ocean while Michael Giacchino’s James Bond-inspired score kicks back in. Inside, Mirage is briefing Mr. Incredible—once again sporting his classic blue and black Super Suit—on the mission details using a high-tech two-sided computer monitor. From the moment Bob puts the suit back on, the film is reminding you that Mr. Incredible is just as much “secret agent” as he is “superhero.”
Mirage and Mr. Incredible exchange dry banter regarding the task ahead—the Omnidroid 9000, a fifteen-foot-tall robot with the ability to analyze and adapt to its opponents, awaits him on the secret volcano island base, where he’ll have to be dumbo-dropped from high altitude to avoid detection. Mirage advises that Incredible finish off the Omnidroid quickly before it can learn how to defeat him, but also asks Incredible to avoid completely destroying the robot, to protect the government’s investment.
Despite this demanding task, Mr. Incredible’s demeanor throughout the briefing is calm, confident; in a word: professional. Bob has slipped the cool tough guy persona of Mr. Incredible back on as easily as his mask.
Squeezing back into the old costume, however, now requires much more effort. During the briefing with Mirage, Mr. Incredible is always framed in such a way as to subtly conceal his belly, but moments later, as Mirage’s masked agents attempt to load him into his drop pod, the rousing score and ramping energy come to a halt as we pull back to reveal that Mr. Incredible has gotten stuck halfway into the pod, his gut taking up the entire hatch. After multiple failed attempts, the pod operator comically ratchets up the power on his controls to shove the portly powerhouse into the vehicle.
On the one hand, it’s a cheap fat joke, but it carries a certain story significance: Bob has thrown himself back into the role of Mr. Incredible—costume, swagger and all—embarking on a dangerous mission without really considering that he’s not Mr. Incredible anymore. His overconfidence, his unfamiliarity with his own body, will be his greatest obstacle in the battle ahead.
Bob vs. the Learning Robot (36:20-40:21)
As Mr. Incredible is rocketed toward his destination, we get our first look at the lush volcanic island of Nomanisan, which looks from a distance like Neverland from Peter Pan, but as the film progresses has more in common with Blofeld’s secret base in You Only Live Twice. That the base is called “No-Man-is-an Island” (The Incredibles is far from the originator of this pun) has an ironic ring to it, as both Bob and the island’s as-yet-unseen master Syndrome would certainly disagree with the sentiment, at least at this point in the film. Bob and Syndrome both believe they’re stronger alone—the man who realizes he’s wrong first will be the one who survives the film.
Once making landfall, Bob pounds his way out of his too-tight flight pod and limbers up, once again showing off his new layer of Comedy Fat for the audience. The old suit just straight up does not fit him anymore, but he hasn’t really figured that out. Lost in nostalgia, he croons out a deep, bassy “Showtime,” just like he did on his wedding night.
Here, the cutscene, as it were, ends, and the video game stage sequence begins, offering an exciting, mostly wordless hand-to-metal-hand combat sequence. Mr. Incredible faces off against the Omnidroid 9000, who quickly learns to counter Incredible’s initial beat-’em-up attack strategy. It takes a great deal of ingenuity and a big lava pit to give Incredible the edge, but he does succeed in defeating the robot. While Mr. Incredible is far from his prime fighting shape, he still impresses with some superhuman leaps, and with the presence of mind to trick the invulnerable robot into piercing its own heart.
But as teased in the flight pod sequence, this fight is more about the battle between Bob and his aging, atrophied body than it is against the merciless killing machine. During the fight, Bob finds himself easily winded, and even throws his back out, which nearly costs him his life. If Omnidroid didn’t accidentally crack Bob’s spine back into place, Mr. Incredible would likely have ended up a lava-charred corpse. And while wagering his life without proper preparation nearly kills him, Bob emerges from the fight more confident, more committed, and six figures wealthier.
What’s more, he’s impressed their shadowy host, who instructs Mirage to invite him to dinner. The Incredibles has dabbled in James Bond visuals up to this point, but beginning here, the film’s main occupation becomes making legendary 007 production designer Ken Adams blush.