It’s been 14 years since the first Incredibles hit the silver screen, but finally after the long wait (and an extra month thanks to the World Cup) Incredibles 2 is in cinemas. Written and Directed by Brad Bird, director of the prequel, he only agreed to take the role if he felt it could match its predecessor. Did he achieve it? Read this spoiler free review to find out.
The film picks up where it left off back in 2004 with The Underminer (John Ratzenberger) emerging from the ground, only now we see it from the perspective of Violet’s (Sarah Vowell) crush Tony Rydinger (voiced by Michael Bird, son of the director). What follows is an epic action sequence to rival any Marvel film. It cleverly ties in the family element as the family play the babysitting merry-go-round in the midst of the action, passing Jack-Jack around like a hot potato.
It is impossible to ignore the classic pop-culture references in this film which became such a hit in the first movie. From the 60’s TV shows in the background such as Godzilla and Johnny Quest, which serve to ground the characters in reality and set up a timeframe, to the 60’s Bond style gadgets and vehicles, and of course, that iconic score. However, the first thing you notice is how far animation has come in the last decade and a half. You can now see every strand of Dash’s hair and every baby hair on Jack Jack’s head, it’s truly breath-taking.
“They feel like the exact same family I fell in love with 14 years ago”
The greatest challenge for Bird was to make the characters relevant to 2018, whilst keeping their motivations consistent with before. And he absolutely smashed it! They feel like the exact same family I fell in love with 14 years ago. The character development is fully realised and built upon the first film; in particular, the relationships between Violet and Dash (Huck Milner), and Bob (Craig T. Nelson) and Lucius (Samuel L. Jackson).
Another way in which the film felt relevant was in its approach towards gender politics. Although this is still a family film, it feels a little more mature as it caters more towards those who saw the first as a child. While other Disney franchises (cough* Star Wars *cough) have received criticism on their gratuitous portrayal of feminism, here it is perfect, as it is used to both empower women and drive the plot forward. In Incredibles 2, the roles are reversed as Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), becomes the new face for Superheroes, leaving Bob as a stay at home dad. However, this wouldn’t be a Disney film without a family message, which Bob comes to realise: being a parent is as heroic as being a superhero.
“I find myself clutching at straws trying to find a weakness”
I find myself clutching at straws trying to find a weakness, and here’s the best I could come up with: it suffers from ‘The Marvel Problem’. Pixar’s fellow Disney franchise, Marvel Studios has often been criticised for its one dimensional villains, as it was classically viewed that ‘the hero is only as good as their villain’. Think Luke Skywalker to Darth Vader or Batman to the Joker. The Incredibles to Screenslaver? Not so much. However, after nailing Syndrome with his Bond villain monologues, I can see why Pixar went with a different route, opting for a villain who hides behind the mask, just as The Incredibles do. The twist may have been a little predictable but that is only a small issue.
The real question is: was Incredibles 2 as good as The Incredibles? This is a tough question for me, because that was my favourite film as a child. But somehow, I think Pixar pulled it off. I may have been watching this film through rose tinted glasses, but honestly, I look damn fine in pink. This was the perfect 60’s movie for 2018 and it lived up to my expectations.
Media courtesy of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures via IMDb.