TL;DR – This is a fun ride back into the world of 60s spy film and superheroes, the story does not always work but the animation and setting more than make up for it.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post credit scene
Content Warning – There are a couple of sequences that could be dangerous for people that suffer from epilepsy.
Back all the way in 2004 Pixar was in its golden era where each film released by the studio was better than the last and in that moment we got The Incredibles. It was a fun romp through the world of superheroes four years before the Marvel Cinematic Universe launched the flood of superhero film into the world. The original was this fun mix of a 60s spy film with the trappings of a modern superhero film and to this day stands as the closest we will get to a decent Fantastic Four film on the big screen. Now I quite liked the first film, but it wasn’t the huge cultural touchstone for me like it was for a lot of people. So when I heard they were finally doing a sequel to it I was less in an ‘it’s about time’ frame of mind but more ‘hmm that might be a bit of fun’ and overall I do think it was all a bit of fun.
So to set the scene, at the end of The Incredibles, just when life was returning back to normal The Underminer (John Ratzenberger) appeared to wreak havoc on the city. Well, Incredibles 2 picks off right where the last film left off with dad Mr Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), mum Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), leaving Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Huck Milner) to watch over Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) as they rush into battle. Well, that lasts a whole second before The Underminer gets the better of just the two of them, so with the whole family working together with the help of Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) they were able to stop the out of control drill before it wrecked city hall. But as always the city just sees the damage not all the lives that they saved and uses the incident to shut down the Super relocation department run by Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks). So the family has two weeks in a motel then all support is cut off, and it is in this moment where a guardian angel steps into the scene in the form of Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk). He runs a telecommunications company with his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) and is a real fan of Supers and is looking to fix their problem. He puts the family up in one of his many mansions and tasks Elastigirl on a new mission where she is wearing a body cam so people can see everything that happens not just the end result. So now she is off in a new city, Mr Incredible is at home looking after the kids, and there is a new villain on the scene, who might be more dangerous than anyone else they have faced before.
The first this that really stands out is how much effort has gone into getting the setting to feel right, and given this is a homage to the pulp fiction titles of the time it is important to get that right. You see it first in the design of everything, from the remotes to the cars, to the outfits, to the not at all evil villain lair/mountain house. That moment when they get into their new mansion just screams party houses of the 1960s, indeed for a moment, I got flashbacks to Peter Sellers’ famous oddball film The Party. As well as the setting, there is also the music brought to us by the brilliant Michael Giacchino. His score brings back memories of those classic James Bond films, and of those brilliant spoofs like with Evil Genius, or that one episode of Deep Space Nine. It is all big brassy notes with drum kits, a flourish of clarinets to round it out and it was such a joy to listen too.
When it comes to the animation, well Pixar is still the top of their game when it comes to 3D computer animation, and it really shows here. There is a level of detail that you don’t often get elsewhere, with beautiful character animations down to the hairs on their heads, the different water animations, the smoke from the tires, and the shadows in the clothes that are slightly rumpled from wear which you didn’t need to do but just adds to the film. All of this really helps the several action sequences in the film which is important when all the different powers of all the Supers start interacting with each other. Though I was surprised given that this is a film directed to a younger audience and how important that is to the Disney demographic that there was not more warning with regards to the number of scenes with bright flashing lights. One thing that I did find odd was two of the character models the brother and sister behind DEVTECH. Whenever Evelyn was on screen I kept getting flashbacks to Roxie from Megamind, also is it just me or was anyone else getting a Seth Meyers vibe from Winston, like to the point where I was surprised he was not the voice actor.
One area where the film worked but also showed some issues were with the story, and because we will be discussing the story, there might be some slight [SPOILERS] ahead. So the one thing I liked is Mr Incredible finding out the hard way that he is not perfect in every aspect of his life and that he needs help at times. This theme of working together as a team makes you stronger is a good one and it is good to see it explored here. The montage of him making everything worse while trying to fix it all was one of the highlights of the film, and looking after babies is a hard job even before they manifest seventeen different abilities you need to predict. I also liked the kids having to step up and decide who they want to be in the world, and some of the themes of police using body cams, and the role of public perception in policy creation was interesting to see in a film like this. However, one of the let downs is how predictable it all feels, like in my notes near the start I have “Telecommunications Company” written down and well. Add to this, it did feel at times that the story was only in service of moving us from one action set piece to the next, rather than evolving naturally. Though it was nice to see it move from more of a Fantastic Four to an X-Men film.
In the end, do we recommend Incredibles 2? Yes, yes we do. The animation is fantastic, the setting is a lot of fun, and while the story does not always work, when it does it is really interesting. Is it worth the 14 odd year wait, I’m not so sure, but I had fun here and I’ll be interested to see if we get Incredibles 3 in a shorter amount of time next go round.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Incredibles 2
Directed by – Brad Bird
Written by – Brad Bird
Music by – Michael Giacchino
Cinematography by – Mahyar Abousaeedi
Edited by – Stephen Schaffer
Starring – Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Eli Fucile, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Brad Bird, Jonathan Banks, Michael Bird, Sophia Bush, Phil LaMarr, Paul Eiding, Isabella Rossellini, Bill Wise & John Ratzenberger
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; Germany: na; New Zealand: PG; United Kingdom: PG; United States: PG