Review: Incredibles 2 (2018)

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Elastic, animated: Pixar Animation Studios/Disney

We knew this was coming. As Elastigirl said in her interview at the beginning of the Incredibles’ first outing, “Settle down? I don’t think so – I’m at the top of my game!”. She has always been the strong, most capable one despite her husband being able to lift cars. No question, INCREDIBLES 2 is her story.

Following a particularly destructive afternoon of city-saving, super-family the Incredibles are arrested and taken into protective custody. With their public reputation in tatters and their home life increasingly fraught, billionaire siblings Winston and Evelyn Deavor (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener) offer to re-brand and restore superheroes to glory, with Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) as their campaign mascot. With Helen saving the world from jeopardy 9-5, Bob (Craig T Nelson) is left at home with the kids, including Baby Jack Jack who is about to reveal an impressive, and hugely destructive array of powers all his own.

I got that unmistakable nostalgic tingle as the film began, the red, Incredibl-ised Disney/Pixar logos, the soft brass of Michael Giacchino’s theme ramping up… My friends and I were in our early teens when the first Incredibles came out, and there’s a certain appeal going back to a favourite movie world years later and picking up the story exactly where we left it.

This is the best superhero movie of 2018 (yes, even better than that one). The way this superhero team work together and combine their powers primarily to save civilians over beating up the villain is a great example of something bafflingly often forgotten about in superhero movies. Combined, the opening sequence and the finale are a more faithful take on Superman than Superman’s last six film appearances and considerably better than any cinematic portrayal of the Fantastic Four so far.

The film would have a very strong case for being Pixar’s best-looking film, no mean feat considering the company it keeps. Animated humans have rarely been this expressive, the environmental effects from the first film that are now starting to show their age here look photo-real in a stylised kind of way and every action scene plays out over multiple planes and keeps you guessing where it’s going next through the sheer amount of inventive visuals being thrown at you every second.

Jack Jack’s antics alone is worth the price of admission. I was holding my sides with wonderful pain at any scene built around people (and raccoons) unexpectedly encountering his powers. See the film on the biggest, best digital screen possible and you can hear him moving around the auditorium as he dimension-jumps. Speaking of this particular power, Bob seems creeped out but unsurprised that Jack Jack can still hear everything across dimensions.

As I said in my Incredibles review, Brad Bird has a real gift for breathing life into animated characters. I love that Bob tries to leap at another opportunity of returning to the glory days before he is pushed aside by his wife, the more precision, tactical and less collateral damaging hero. Helen gets a real rush out of proving that she’s still got it and Bob’s insecurities of course finally boil over in spectacular fashion. Violet’s (Sarah Vowell) worst teen nightmares end up happening in quick succession with only a minor input from her powers, Dash (Huck Milner) is in a much less complex place in his life, when his parents put their foot down on future family super-adventures, his reaction is sticking out his chest and proclaiming melodramatically, “It defines who I am!” This all rings really true.

The identity of the new masked villain is all too easy to guess, mostly because the list of possible suspects is really short. Arguably too, the film might be accused of being a bit too talky for kids. Bird aims to make animated movies for everyone, but when the pace slows and the fireworks stop, the little ones might get fidgety.

Much like HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2, I wouldn’t say that this is superior the original, but it is deeper. INCREDIBLES 2 is thrilling in new ways, heartfelt in an old-timey fashion and it still has something new to say about the world today through the medium of a alt-universe period superhero movie. Pixar has some serious work on their hands to not disappoint in their next effort at a sequel. SSP

About Sam Sewell-Peterson

I'm not paid to write about film - I do it because I love it. Favourites include Sam Mendes, Guillermo del Toro, Bong Joon-ho, Steven Spielberg, Danny Boyle, Edgar Wright, Taika Waititi and the Coen Brothers. All reviews and articles are original works owned by me. They represent one man's opinion, and I'm more than happy to engage in civilised debate if you disagree.
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