To think that The Incredibles came out 14 years ago is, well, incredible. The long wait for a sequel, combined with the original’s impact on many people’s childhoods, has led to a snowballing of hype that Pixar may have been worried about fulfilling. Yet amazingly, Incredibles 2 manages to, for the most part, live up to expectations. Rather than relying on nostalgia, director Brad Bird takes the franchise in an excitingly inventive direction that balances both thrilling action scenes and thoughtful family drama.
The film picks up directly after the first instalment, as Bob Parr/Mr Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Helen Parr/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and their superpowered family attempt to live in a world where superheroes are illegal. This may sound like the same set-up as the original, but from there the narrative moves in a new direction. The creators do not rely on good-will towards the previous chapter. Nostalgia is clearly present within the movie, with several callbacks weaved throughout, but it never becomes the primary focus. Thus, the film creates its own distinctive identity that is enjoyable for all.
Brad Bird’s direction should be commended for the excellent action scenes dotted throughout. Despite being an animated feature, these scenes are as thrilling as their live-action counterparts in any Marvel film. In fact, it benefits from animation’s ability to free-up creative ways of showing superpowers on screen that may have not been possible in other superhero adventures.
The film is also notable for being incredibly pretty. The character designs and set pieces are visually stunning, whether in fast-paced action sequences or more talkative scenes. Pixar once again prove that they have the edge over other animation studios such as DreamWorks when it comes to the aesthetic of their works, and it would not be surprising if this holds up even in 10 years’ time (just as the original still does to an extent, all the way from 2004).
This does not mean that the film is without fault. The villain is not very original, especially when compared to Syndrome from the first instalment. Their message and backstory are cliched, and they lack both the personal connection to the heroes and the dark charisma that made Syndrome so enticing to watch. Furthermore, the narrative is somewhat predictable. The twist that takes place part way through the film is highly obvious to anyone paying even cursory attention, leading to a dismissive shrug rather than genuine surprise when the reveal is made. However, these issues are minor in the grand scheme of things, and do not especially detract from the rest of the movie.
So, despite some problems with a mediocre villain and a predictable plot point, Incredibles 2 offers up a visually great and action-packed adventure that manages to please both fans of the original and newcomers, creating a fun story that leaves much potential for future films.
Image Credit: Movie DB.