Incredibles 2 Review
14 years later and they're still pretty incredible.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol director Brad Bird returns to the animated realm for a long-gestating sequel to the superb Pixar film, 2004's The Incredibles.Although he found success with Ghost Protocol - arguably putting the Mission: Impossible franchise back on the map (and look where it is now, with McQuarrie's double-header of Rogue Nation and Fallout) - Bird's next live action movie, Disney's Tomorrowland, was an expensive flop (possibly killing the chances of a sequel to Tron: Legacy in the process), so it's not wholly surprising to see Bird return to a guaranteed hit.
Thankfully it was worth the wait, with production on a sequel hinted at several times over the last 14 years, but frequently delayed and then - miraculously - brought forward so that Toy Story 4 could have more production time (something which inadvertently may lead to the unused ideas for this sequel being used for a possible third Incredibles outing). Bird didn't falter though, determined to only make a sequel if it could be as good if not better than the original, and finding some appreciable success on that count.
Bird determined to only make a sequel if it could be as good if not better than the original, finding some appreciable success on that count.
In the Incredibles world, the sequel takes place just months after the last movie, with the return of the titular superhero family not really changing much in terms of the political landscape and, indeed, superheroes soon completely outlawed, pushing the family back into their cycle of relocation every time they appear in public to save the planet from some supervillain.
After their latest actions cause some spectacular citywide destruction, politicians use the movie to shut down even their clandestine operations, with the family looking at redundancy and possibly even homelessness once their last two weeks' motel stay runs out. Thankfully a private entrepreneur and his sister approach them with a plan to help their 'political campaign' to change the law, pitching that it's all about the PR and eager to make Mrs. Incredible the face of a new kind of superhero whose heroic actions can be recorded and broadcast live so that the public can see just what a great job these supes are doing.
Meanwhile Mr. Incredible has to swallow his pride and stay at home to take care of the kids, including their youngest baby who is finally presenting with powers - some of which are pretty uncontrollable. Of course a new master villain rises to challenge the now prominently public Mrs. Incredible, and it may just take the whole damn family to tackle this opponent.
Despite the time that has passed since the last movie, Incredibles 2 fluidly picks up the story, whilst seamlessly acclimating to modern sensibilities, politics, feminism and even the very superhero landscape within which it must now ostensibly compete within an over-saturated sub-genre packed with some serious big boys (MCU's Infinity War for example).
It tackles this adeptly, and - in now very reliable Pixar style - affords a duality of substance that gives adults a very different movie experience from the children they take, and even children of different ages drawn to different elements therein. The story for adults involves topical ideas of female empowerment and stay-at-home dads, PR and the media perception of things being arguably more important than truth, and doing the more insurance-friendly, PC thing being often better received than doing the right thing.
It, in reliable Pixar style, gives adults a different movie experience from children.
At another level entirely, it's great to see Incredibles embrace the notion of being a superhero movie with a female lead, with Mrs. Incredible - or, more appropriately, Elastigirl - championing some of the best setpieces in the movie, single-handedly, almost reversing the focus of the first movie and playing out almost like a female-driven counterpoint to another current summer blockbuster gem, Mission: Impossible - Fallout.
Bird still handles spectacular superhero action sequences with a sense of scale than many of his counterparts simply cannot accomplish. His opening setpiece has the Incredibles face the Underminer - who devastates the city with a giant drill tank (for those old enough, it looks like a super-sized version of The Mole from Thunderbirds) - only Bird envisions the machine as literally the size of a skyscraper laid on its end, affording the entire sequence a larger-than-life feel that is breathtaking way beyond what you would think capable of within an animated movie.
Of course what makes Pixar movies Pixar movies, is the humanity and relatability, from the baby's repeated waking and the increasing tiredness and frustrations of Mr. Incredible, to his handling of his young son's maths assignment or teen daughter's lovelife (or lack thereof).
Despite all of this, Incredibles 2 can't help but fall down in the same department that so many of the still impressive Marvel films fell down in: the villain. Here there are simply too many themes replayed from the first film, but arguably with even less heart - the villain's motivation is tenuous at best - leaving it something of a letdown (sure, nobody was expecting a Thanos, but this is a pale shadow of even the last film's Syndrome).
Incredibles 2 is a pretty great sequel, potentially building this into an unlikely franchise.
Indeed recurring themes, done with less heart, are a fault with this feature, but it is still easily carried on the broad shoulders of the central characters (with Sam Jackson's Frozone getting plenty more screen time), on the spectacularly epic setpieces, on Michael Giacchino's (not only The Incredibles, but also Mission: Impossible - III and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and just about anything J.J. Abrams / Bird-related) superbly Bondian score, and on a wry knowing wit that grounds the superhero shenanigans in the daily routine of real-life responsibilities.
Yes, despite its faults, Incredibles 2 is a pretty great sequel, potentially building this into an unlikely - given the time that passed between the first two films - franchise-in-the-making, and one which fans may find themselves happy to adopt alongside the better Toy Story and lesser Cars franchises.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.