The Incredibles Starring: (Voices of) Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee, Samuel L. Jackson Director: Brad Bird The film: Just when you thought the world of animation had become bogged down under a haze of irony and in-jokes, out comes Pixar with the kind of production the genre has been crying out for. New characters, indeed, but what's more important is that the characters are allowed to establish themselves, rather than simply provide a mask for the identities behind their voices like so many alter egos. No hammy Eddie Murphy in a donkey suit here. And in establishing characters, the whole thing feels fresh and new. Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson) is a hulking family man on the surface. But beneath the calm exterior lurks Mr Incredible, a crime-fighting machine. The problem is that a few nasty public relations bungles have left the superheroes of the world out of favour. And so Bob retreats into a world of domesticity, with wife Helen (aka Elastigirl aka Holly Hunter) and their three kids. But the Incredible in him just can't stay away, and so he sneaks out at night, with buddy Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) in tow, to do a bit of bad-guy busting on the sly. It's only a matter of time, though, before the world at large needs its heroes - and where better to find them, we can suppose, than right at home. When the dastardly Syndrome (Jason Lee) comes up with a plan to set the world on its ear, it's up to Mr Incredible, and his family, to save the day. Director Brad Bird got his start on TV's superb The Simpsons and it shows. There are fabulous scenes of domestic triviality, but none of the cloying sentimentality that might have bogged things down. Although this is a cartoon world, most of it is a case of telling things as they are. Like Marge and Homer before them, you can really feel the love between the leads. The dialogue is loaded with laughs, but refrains from relying on too many in-jokes or nods towards other people in the entertainment industry. The pace never allows for much pondering and much of it comes at you at fairly breakneck speed, especially as our heroes work their way towards the film's final showdown. Again, by using voiceover first-timers such as Lee, the filmmakers for the most part escape any recognition that might cloud just who it is we're supposed to be watching. With the weight of the Pixar studio behind it, you'd expect cutting-edge effects and again they deliver with some edge-of-your-seat stuff - none better than when the mad man's robots threaten the world. Fans of the old Gigantor TV series will almost have a tear in their eye. The extras: The widescreen, two-disc collector's edition comes packed: two commentary tracks - one from the director and producer and one from the animating team - plus a host of featurettes, including a 'making of', out-takes and an alternative opening. There are also two extra shorts: a cartoon that has commentary from Frozone and Mr Incredible, and files on the characters - who they are and what they can get up to. Basically, the package is an example of what a studio can do if it's really proud of its feature film. The verdict: It won an Oscar and you're left in no doubt as to why.