Directed by: Brad Bird
Written by: Brad Bird
Runtime: 118 Mins
Release: 13 July 2018 (UK)
Incredibles 2 arrives fourteen years after the original; which means that at the tender age of 28, I have waited half my life for it. I love the first film. I was so excited to purchase the dvd that I accidentally turned up to the shop a whole week before it was released, much to the annoyance of my nan who was driving me at the time. But that was half my life ago. Surely a sequel would not be able to reignite the same magic that the first iteration produced? Well, as the opening seconds of the film played out it was like no time had passed at all. No film can be called perfect, but Incredibles 2 is possibly as close as it is likely to get.
Mother knows best
Shifting the focus to the matriarch of the Parr super family; Incredibles 2 sees Elestagirl fight the villain as Mr Incredible is left at home to to look after the children (Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack). This transfer is much needed, especially after all of the raised awareness surrounding the patriarchal Hollywood, and is done flawlessly. One of the things that makes the first film so great is that, superhero stuff aside, it is a family drama. Incredibles 2 once again draws on this as the stereotypical breadwinner is made to stay at home to occupy a role that is seen as inherently feminine. Mr Incredible’s jealousy at his wife being in the limelight speaks very heavily of the male-dominated world we currently exist within, especially as Elastagirl proves (with ease) that she is equally as capable as anyone else to save the day. It is a refreshing change and one that is handled perfectly. Unlike other female led superhero films of late, the shift does not feel heavy handed. In other such films there is a constant pressure, as if every decision made needs to be explained to appease any angry men, whereas Incredibles 2 feels like it simply lets Elastagirl get on with her thing. It’s as if this is an allegory for how woman are treated in todays society or something.
Meanwhile Mr Incredible is left to look after the children and it is here the majority of the humour is found. The standard tropes are in full swing as we see Violet struggle with her affections towards a boy, and Dash continue to be a standard hyperactive boy (only this time with footsie pyjamas); yet it is with Jack-Jack and his increasing list of powers that had me roaring with laughter. Despite certain adventures of the smallest super hero stepping into the realm of unbelievable – the appearance of an overly anthropomorphic racoon reminds me more of the Ice Age franchise than anything else – every second the baby boy was on screen drew a smile to my face. Whether he was experimenting with new powers, imitating fashion designers, or simply trying to get a cookie, Jack-Jack steals every scene he is present in. It would have been very easy to put too much focus on these aspects, yet Jack-Jack never feels overused. He is an integral part of the family, and not just there for little more than comical sound effects.
What a difference fourteen years can make. On a recent viewing of the first film I was still blown away at how fantastic the animation is. Yet the visuals of Incredibles 2 make its predecessor seem like a child’s drawing in comparison. The fact that you are able to see the fur of a cotton shirt shows how far animation has truly come. The sheer range of emotions now present on each character’s face is astonishing. Still retaining the somewhat cartoonish look of the original, the sequel manages to add a layer of depth to each character; perfectly seen during Mr Incredible’s sleepless struggles with his youngest child.
Not with a bang, but with a whimper
There is only one thing about this film that I have trouble with, that stops Incredibles 2 from being an entirely perfect film, and that is its choice of villain. The hypnotic Screenslaver can turn anyone into a drone for their nefarious plans, but outside of the social commentary there is not a lot of substance to them. The reveal of their actual identity during the second act of the film is easily guessed, given the list of possible contenders. And the ideas surrounding Screenslaver share far too many points with Syndrome from the previous film, only with far less of the personality that makes him such a good villain. Also, despite being able to bring the Parr family together, the final act doesn’t hold as much gravitas as that of its predecessor. The stakes are nowhere near as high and the conclusion felt more of a return to status quo than one of endless possibility. That being said the ending is not bad by any means, I was just hoping for a little more oomph from a film I had waited more than half of my life for.
Incredibles 2 – Verdict
Incredibles 2 is an ambitious movie that succeeds in equalising the gender disparity in modern superhero films whilst retaining the family drama that formed the heart of the first film. Despite its villain not living up to extreme expectations this film is truly incredible, no pun intended. With explosive action sequences, stunning visuals, and a level of heart not seen since the first film, Incredibles 2 is as close to perfection as any film is ever likely to get.