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Released: 13th July 2018 (UK)
Length: 118 Minutes
Director: Brad Bird
Starring: Craig T. Nielson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Eli Fucile, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener and Brad Bird
2004’s The Incredibles marked the first time Pixar ever tackled stories with human characters and is widely regarded as one of the studio’s best efforts. It’s taken a long time for the sequel to arrive and any naysayers need not worry. Incredibles 2 is every bit as enjoyable as the first and another showcase of Pixar’s excellent track record in the animation business.
Things pick up literally seconds after the ending of the original film with the villainous Underminer (John Ratzenburger) showing up to wreak havoc on the city; the Parr family of Mr Incredible (Craig T. Nielson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and their children Violet (Sarah Vowell, Dash (newcomer Huck Milner) and JackJack (Eli Fucile) leaps into action alongside Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson). After another mishap with the government involving the legality of superheroes, the trio of classic superheroes are contacted by a multimillionaire superfan (played by Bob Odenkirk of Breaking Bad fame) who wants to change people’s perceptions of heroics and potentially bring them out of hiding. From here we swap back and forth between Elastigirl’s crime-fighting endeavours and Mr Incredible’s family time back home. The first act is quick and snappy with its call-backs to the first film and once Elastigirl is sent out, the narrative moves at a brisk pace, delivering both wacky comedy (the scenes with JackJack are all brilliant…) and fast-paced action in equal measure. All the way through, it does a fantastic job of involving every main character, while bringing in a few new ones and overall, the sense of scale has been increased. What I enjoyed most about the plot was how the kids all got their moment to shine, particularly in the last act. This was the perfect way to go after the original which often focused more on Mr Incredible and his character arc of a mid-life crisis.
Despite some recasting going on behind the scenes, the characters of Incredibles 2 are every bit as engaging as they were before. What makes it all work is the family dynamic meshed with each character’s own individual struggles; both in and out of the action, Incredibles 2 fully leverages the bond between the Parrs just as it did in the original film; Mr Incredible is juggling the pressures of family with his desires to be a superhero again, Dash is pushing through schoolwork and Violet is having trouble dating Tony Rydinger (Michael Bird) after overcoming her shyness. These everyday dilemmas are what make the characters so engaging and each of them are all oozing with personality, playing off each other well. The returning costume designer Edna Mode (voiced by Brad Bird himself) is again great; you can’t help but get absorbed in her obsessive eccentricity over designing new superhero outfits. The one downside to the characterisation here is the villain; I won’t reveal their identity, but they fall short of Syndrome’s thematic hook, that idea of wanting to make everyone the same average person, rather than the best they can be. It’s a weak link, but far from enough to bring the film down.
With such a long gap between the two films, the sophistication of the animation has really leapt forward for Incredibles 2. The action is far more kinetic, involving more buildings, vehicles and clashing powers; the camera concisely whips around all of it and on the whole, I loved how the film looked; with a fantastic range of lighting effects for both the setting and the various technologies in use; it bursts through the screen in a flurry of colour. One set-piece about halfway through sees the film almost turn into a cell-shaded style, though for epileptics, I advise caution. It’s all based on an incredibly charming design template that director Brad Bird is known for with human characters of varying proportions to show off their individual characteristics. The classy setting of fifties superhero comics mixed with zany sci-fi technology also works brilliantly as does the heavy use of trumpets throughout Michael Giacchino’s soundtrack. The music in general feels far more energetic than the more slow-burn focus of the first film, always rising to sell the extravagant action scenes. I really can’t do the film’s style enough justice; going back to the first film then comparing its animation quality to the sequel is highly recommended to see the gigantic leap forward for yourself.
Incredibles 2 is an excellent sequel, one which continues the strengths of the first while really upping the action and production values. It doesn’t quite surpass its predecessor due to a weaker antagonist but that’s insignificant; whether you waited over a decade for the sequel or are just getting into Pixar’s filmmaking talent, this is a production that will satisfy all audiences in every way you wanted.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars (Brilliant)