After an unsuccessful pursuit of the dastardly Underminer, the super powered Parr family find themselves in trouble with the government yet again, further forbidden from using their abilities, but when a hero-loving businessman claims to want to make superheroes legal again by changing public perception, Helen/Elastigirl is recruited for his new initiative, which leaves Bob/Mr. Incredible to stay home and look after the kids. But with Helen facing a dangerous mind controlling villain and Bob struggling with math homework, a brooding teenage daughter and an unpredictably superpowered Jack-Jack, the family of superheroes are surely up against their biggest challenge yet.
First of all, though I originally missed watching it in the cinema, only getting around to watching it on DVD many years later, I think that The Incredibles is one of Pixar’s best films as well as being one of the most colourful, exciting and imaginative superhero films ever. The film showed plenty of potential for a sequel or two so when news of a new Incredibles film rolled around, obviously I made plans to go and see it.
But does it measure up to its powerful predecessor? Well, this here sequel is a neat superhero outing for the great superhero family, complete with impressive action sequences and a committed focus on character development but I also have to admit that it didn’t exactly set my world on fire and although it’s a film with larger stakes, I don’t hesitate when I say that the first one is far superior.
A large part of Incredibles 2 is the focus on Bob having to be the stay-at-home dad, his ego taking a bruising as Helen goes off and has all the fun and glory doing some exciting superhero business, but while it’s admirable that the film commits to having Helen as the primary crimefighter, stepping away from her being the homemaker of the first film, the whole middle section which focuses on Bob and the kids isn’t all that interesting and the relatively slow pace results in much of the film having a lack of energy and thrills.
With this film, I had hoped that, given that the whole family decided to be superheroes at the end of The Incredibles, the whole family would team up on some amazing, thrilling, dangerous adventure that would be double what they faced in the first film – really expanding on the previous feature – but instead, the family is mostly split up and we’re only given a couple of solo superhero sequences in the main section of the film; the story itself is decent, though not as strong or as compact as the previous film, and the big villain reveal is just a little too obvious.
Upon seeing the trailer for Incredibles 2, I feared that the film would place too much emphasis on Bob’s familial responsibilities and come up short on the superhero antics and, for the most part, my worries seem warranted.
But of course, the film isn’t wholly devoid of any action and with Incredibles 2, we get the long awaited battle with The Underminer (which is actually anticlimactic, given that he ends up getting away) as well as a few Elastigirl adventures and a big showdown with a generous helping of heroes and villains and despite the long wait, these sequences are pretty nifty, smoothly directed, often unpredictable, and make enviable use of colour and lighting; there’s a lot packed into the big finale and as with the first film, it’s a mightily impressive animated setpiece.
And Incredibles 2 seems committed to developing its characters, attempting to include some strong messages about family and whatnot, so its determination to make this a character driven piece is quite admirable and the returning cast help to achieve this. Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter return as Bob and Helen, stepping back into their roles with ease and handling both the comedy and the heartfelt moments very well. Sarah Vowell, Samuel L. Jackson, Brad Bird return as Violet, Frozone and Edna, respectively, and they’re as good as you’d expect and as for newcomers, Huck Milner replaces Spencer Fox as Dash (I have to admit that I didn’t notice a difference – good casting!) and we also have Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener as brother and sister Winston and Evelyn Deavor, Odenkirk particularly impressing in his role of the confident, excitable and hero-loving tech CEO.
On the technical front, everything is up to the usual Pixar standard as Brad Bird’s direction is proficient and the animation is as good as we can expect: as mentioned before, the use of light and colour is exquisite and the rendering of water is truly remarkable; “It HAS to be real water!”, I was saying! And Michael Giachinno once again treats us to an adventurous, bombastic score, especially noticeable when played over the amazing closing credit animation.
So there it is. I’m guessing that I’ll be in the minority when I say that Incredibles 2 didn’t exactly rock my world, despite its many positive aspects; its a 3 1/2 star film for me so I’ll round it up to a generous 4. Because I’m not a monster.