Incredibles 2 Review
Although the ending of The Incredibles teased the continuation of the story, no matter how many times you watched it again there was never a feeling you needed to see what happened once the Underminer had announced his sudden arrival in Metroville. The story of the Parr family was so well told within the time allowed it felt like the perfect standalone animation film that could fend off the need for a sequel.
Pixar thought so at the time too but in the interim we’ve had a number of underwhelming sequels for Finding Nemo, Cars and Monsters, Inc, which have added little to the originals. Toy Story is the only one to sustain its power across three films, although the nervous wait is on until the release of the fourth instalment next year. For now we have Brad Bird returning to helm Incredibles 2, tasked with the seemingly impossible job of recreating the magic of a modern day animated classic.
Anyone who wasn’t waiting to see what happened between the dynamic foursome and the Underminer are out of luck as that is exactly the point we return to at the start of the sequel. There may have been a 14-year gap but we land back in Metroville as if no time has passed at all, shortly after Syndrome has been defeated and another threat has burrowed his giant drill to surface of the city streets.
Even though the Incredibles have saved some of the day, it isn’t enough to stop them being criticised by the media and government officials for the havoc they have wreaked (a definite nod towards Batman vs Superman). Added to which the Superhero Relocation Program is about to be shut down meaning Bob “Mr. Incredible” Parr (Craig T. Nelson) has to find another job fast to keep a roof over their heads (you may remember he lost his previous one in the first film after throwing his boss through the wall. A dream many of us aspire to).
This opens Incredibles 2 up to work on a smaller stage than the first, which in turn also makes it slightly less enjoyable. Which is not to say it needed to match the mind numbing end-of-film Marvel-style spectacles to remain relevant in the age of the comic book film, but some of the dynamic that made the first outing so much fun is lost. The trailers give a hint as to who the main hero of the day could be this time round, and although there is nothing revelatory, as with most Pixar films it’s best experienced as the world is gradually developed.
Suffice to say it includes a billionaire by the name of Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his inventor sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener), and a whole lot of more baby Jack-Jack who gave us a glimpse of his powers towards the end of the first film (as well as terrorising the poor babysitter). Holly Hunter returns to her voice role as Elastagirl, as does Violet's Sarah Vowell, while Huck Milner steps in to voice young Dash and Samuel L. Jackson is their old pal Frozone once again.
Last time there was a defined separation between the heroes with powers and those without, a line Bird is eager to blur wherever possible in the sequel. Not only are the Parr’s family dynamics forced into change but the masked villain of the piece, Screenslaver, works on a semi-meta narrative attacking superheroes for encouraging their fans to indulge in fantasy instead of reality, while becoming slaves to their screens. It works on a surface level but Bird never forgets this is a kid’s film and refrains from digging too heavily in these ideas.
The general aesthetic of the first film has been retained but upscaled with a decade-and-a-half’s worth of technological improvements. As is now the Pixar norm, the backdrops are jawdropping in places and the broad caricatures that made the original adventure such a joy are still intact. Much like his work in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland Bird comes to life during the action sequences which are wonderfully constructed, adding real visual inventiveness and an energetic verve. Granted, they are few and far between, but Bird takes pleasure in seeking inspiration from Bond and M:I on more than one occasion, supported by the brass-heavy score of the returning Michael Giacchino.
For those not excited by the prospect of a second Incredibles film it would be easy to ponder whether it should exist at all, but that question remains just as relevant to any film put to camera. While there’s no chance of Incredibles 2 ever challenging the upper echelons of Pixar's classics, there’s still a lot to be said for donning the cape one more time and feeling even just a little bit super once again.