In 2004 Pixar Animation Studios relished the glory days of superhero fiction in The Incredibles, which had the throwback style of a comic strip, with the memorably Jazzy score and a collection of unforgettable characters. In the years since then, the film’s relatable reflections of family life and engaging action have made it a bit of a favourite among some fans, who have passionately craved a sequel. However, director Brad Bird has remained steadfast – despite being asked countlessly – that he would only do a sequel if the story were right. Well, 14 years on and with the hype train full to busting, Incredibles 2 is finally here and thankfully, the wait was more than worth it!
From the Incrediblised Disney castle ident onwards, you sink back into this world so effortlessly that it is as though these characters never left at all. Picking up where the last film left off, you enter a wave of nostalgia and excitement as Bird unleashes a sequel that is sophisticatedly plotted and rather timely. It’s mad to think the film was developed ahead of modern day events like the #MeToo movement, as the film’s gender inequality and empowerment messages feel very relevant, as does its bold assessments of how heroism and villainy can be sold to an audience by savvy salesmanship, along with an ideology. The villain of the piece in particular is as much an idea as a character. Next to these themes though, the film firmly grasps its human family drama, as well as its exciting superhero action, delivering a follow up that is funny, action-packed and smile inducing throughout.
The animation is first rate and conjures up set pieces that are hugely impressive, especially a mid-film fight/chase that touches on film noir and Alfred Hitchcock one minute and then warps into something original, hypnotic, psychedelic and intense, creating one of the studios best scenes since the incinerator sequence in Toy Story 3. While Michael Giacchino delivers another belter of a score that has a Bond-like edge and he even gives some of the main heroes their own theme songs, which further captures that old school vibe. His music is flexible, fun and rolls with the changing tones, ideas, themes and characters of the movie.
Speaking of which, the returning characters remain a joy. Holly Hunter leads the film as Helen ‘Elastigril’ Parr whose return to hero work means that Craig T. Nelson’s Bob ‘Mr. Incredible’ Parr takes over family duties. This flip gives each character their own journeys, as Helen discovers how the game has changed in her search for intriguing new baddie The Screenslaver and Bob re-connects on a deeper level with his kids Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner, replacing Spencer Fox) and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile).
To that point, Violet and Dash take on responsibilities in this story, while Jack-Jack’s newfound powers (which we caught a glimpse of at the finale of the last film) cause a stir and the powerful little tyke walks away as the scene-stealer at many points. Meanwhile Samuel L. Jackson gets a nice part to play as the cool hero Frozone and Brad Bird’s returning fashion designer Edna Mode is much welcome. The film also introduces some strong new characters in well-meaning super-supporting sibling tycoons Winston and Evelyn Deavor, voiced by Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener. Although some new supporting faces do little but serve the villain’s plot but they are still likably wacky additions to the film.
Incredibles 2 is Disney Pixar’s 20th motion picture and – like the emotive and sweet short film Bao that precedes the main feature – it is further proof that Pixar are still super in more ways than one!