So, fourteen years have passed since the Parr family graced our screens, one I remember fondly from my own childhood, and one I still find incredibly enjoyable to watch now. So, in revisiting this IP there’s the obvious trepidation about revisiting a long-dormant franchise, will it be a worthy addition to the canon? Or a cobbled together cash grab aimed at the nostalgia crowd? Well, these fears are assuaged somewhat seeing as this is a Pixar project, and Pixar has an extraordinary hit-and-miss ratio.
All the fan favourites return for this follow-up, as well as director Brad Bird. So has their absence made our hearts grow fonder?
Immediately following the events of the first film, the Parr family are approached by Winston Deavor, a wealthy businessman interested re-legalising ‘Supers’. He offers a position to improve the public perception of Supers to Elastagirl, who unravels a plot by the nefarious ‘Screen-slaver’ who takes control of people via screens, leaving Helen to fight this new threat, and Bob fighting a completely different threat… domestic life.
There was a fear I had, around eight years ago, when Toy Story 3 was released, that it might have been impossible to recapture the magic of all those years ago, to a completely new audience as well as the old one. Luckily enough, the film delivered and was a more than worthy follow-up to the first two, so after this I have confidence in Pixar, perhaps more than most studios to deliver in films, long-dormant follow-up or otherwise.
Having said this, can I honestly say that Incredibles 2 is better than the first? No, but is it a worthy follow-up? Absolutely, the same charm and lovable characters are still there, doing what they do best, and what this film does best is showing us the characters we know from a different angle, especially Elastagirl and Mr Incredible, in maybe a sign of the times, this is very much Elastagirl’s film, while Mr Incredible is cast in a more supporting role. Not that this is a bad thing, she more than carries the load of the movie and while the ‘domesticated man’ angle can be a little cliched, you can’t help but like Mr Incredible more, as he genuinely seems to do what he thinks is best, right or wrongly.
Another new wrinkle added to this film that was missing from the first film somewhat, and that’s the development of Jack Jack (the baby of the family, whose powers begin to develop in this film) which, to me, offer some of the movie’s funnier moments, in particular a ‘fight’ between Jack Jack and a raccoon, where his powers seem to come at random, because of course a baby would have no control of these powers. For most of the film, I didn’t think Jack Jack was used enough, until the final third where he becomes an important part of the equation in a great pay-off to the preceding events, so bravo for turning my criticism around there, Pixar.
I think the biggest mark I have against the film is that the villain isn’t as strong as the first time around, their motivations aren’t as well-defined as Syndrome’s were in the first Incredibles, however, this isn’t as big a mark against it as it seems as Syndrome is a genuinely interesting and believable (not to mention somewhat sympathetic) villain, which given the ever-changing landscape of superhero-movies aren’t always consistent to say the least. Screen-slaver has some good moments but doesn’t seem to click when the pieces fall into place, her motivations don’t always match her plot, she doesn’t have the same justified reasons as Syndrome and that works against her.
Overall, Incredibles II is a very enjoyable movie, and a welcome return to characters we fell in love with all those years ago (shout out to Edna Mode, who also made her triumphant return in this movie) it’s not as much a solid-gold classic as the original, but it is a more than worthy follow-up to it, and another solid hit for Pixar whose hit-rate continues to astound. If you loved the original, you will not be disappointed with this sequel.