Incredibles 2, written and directed by Brad Bird, doesn’t hold within it the same special magic that the first had, but that thankfully doesn’t stop it from still being a joyously fun adventure that had me entertained throughout. But, is it to good to be true? There are elements to this film that didn’t work for me, and it is certainly not as good as the first, but do those things stop it from being a film worth seeing? Well, let’s make our way into the review and find out.
The Incredibles family are back and this time Helen / Elastagirl – voiced by Holly Hunter – is tasked with fighting crime, while Bob / Mr. Incredible – voiced by Crain T. Nelson – stays at home to look after the kids. While things have changed at home, there is still the ever-present issue of superheroes being illegal, but Winston Deavor – voiced by Bob Odenkirk – seeks to change that, and the villainous threat, ‘Screenslaver’ might be the spark needed to shift public opinion.
When it comes to Pixar films, I find myself very much in the minority, in that I haven’t been a fan of their films for quite some time. Not since the 2008 film, Wall-E have I either enjoyed or desired to see a Pixar film. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a number of Pixar films. Toy Story (like a lot of people) holds a special place in my heart, and the first Incredibles is an absolute gem of a film – certainly one of the best superhero films ever made. But in recent times the films on offer haven’t appealed to me. While the quality of the animation has gotten much better, I feel the quality of the stories being told has diminished significantly. Sequels and uninteresting stories have taken over and I don’t ever find myself excited for what was once one of the beacons of brilliance in western animation. So it’s safe to say that walking into Incredibles 2, I wasn’t hopeful.
But both my love for the first film and my respect and appreciation for its creator, Brad Bird, saw me walking into the cinema to see a Pixar film for the first time in quite a while. I want to note that Brad Bird created my favourite western made animated film of all time, The Iron Giant; a film that for so many reasons is special to me. Still though, I was trepidations about Incredibles 2 – a sequel I didn’t trust in or honestly want that much. All this rambling is because I want to give you some context as to my mindset walking into this film and how it subsequently plays into my review.
So to put it up front, rather than holding off until the final few paragraphs, I think Incredibles 2 is a good film that definitely warrants its existence. The problem that can often occur with sequels is that they are purely cash grabs or attempting to feed off of nostalgia – I believed Incredibles 2 was going to be the latter of the two primarily. But not only is Incredibles 2 a good film, but it builds upon what came before and advances its characters in satisfying, meaningful ways.
Where the characters are placed within the story and how that then allows for a new avenue of exploration into them as characters was really well done – particularly in the case of Mr. Incredible. Rather than him off saving the world, I found it to be really endearing to watch him just being a dad. Grounding such a bigger-than-life character, who in the first film was battling robots and living the life he wanted, was a great way of looking at a different side to him. It also resulted in some of the funniest moments in the film, as he tried to contend with the troubles of three super-powered children, one of which ((Jack-Jack) who has a growing list of hilariously developing powers.
It would have been really easy to just have Mr. Incredible and his family be superheroes and tackling the dangers that come with that, but I think keeping most of them in a family environment, while Elastigirl was off stopping bad guys, was a brilliant way of showing us more of the madness of a superhero powered family and also allowing us the opportunity to see Elastigirl in an environment that she thrives in. That scene in the original when she’s piloting the plane and attempting to avoid the missiles, while also protecting her children, is harrowing and now getting to see her in her element without the worry of the kids helps to evolve Elastagirl in new directions.
This was one of the most important aspects for me when walking into Incredibles 2. I needed the film to not take the easy narrative route and to instead develop its characters in ways that showed there was more to them. Mr. Incredible’s arc in this film is perhaps my favourite arc overall, but all round, I really enjoyed the evolution that was put forth. My only slight gripe is that I do feel the film ends up finishing in a similar way to the original that in turn felt like it undercut what it had spent 2-hours doing. But I think I need another watch of the film to be sure about that point.
My other worry with Incredibles 2 was that it was going to rely on the jokes of the first film to get laughs from the audience this time. I fully expected a drawn-out ‘Where is my super-suit’ scene that went on for too long and walked all over the hilarity of the first. I also expected Jack-Jack to become a ridiculously used character who lost all meaning. But to my amazement, none of that was the case. The film didn’t go for the easy jokes. It didn’t rely on what worked so well the first time round to get a laugh this time. In the current climate of relying on nostalgia and memes, it’s uplifting to see Brad Bird not rehash himself and instead create new moments for people to love.
Which plays into the fact that Incredibles 2 is one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year. On multiple occasions, both myself and the generous audience around me were in hysterics. There are a number of brilliantly constructed physical gags – one involving Jack-Jack and a racoon being a particular highlight. And the film also boasts some really funny jokes. I spent much of Incredibles 2 smiling or laughing; Brad Bird has certainly put together a film that’ll delight people’s sense of humour.
And what else Brad Bird did was take full advantage of the advancements in animation technology. Holy hell does this film look good – and the animators of this film deserve a lot of praise. The cinematography is to my surprise… stunning. There were a number of shots that genuinely wowed me. But on top of the film looking great, it also has some incredible (no pun intended, I promise) set-pieces. The action in this film certainly surpasses the first Incredibles film. Every one of them is more exciting than the last and each of them had me amazed. The choreography, the fluid nature, and the rhythmically infectious score by Michael Giacchino that elevates any moment that its used in; all came together to offer an experience that felt like a joyously memorable time.
But despite that, there is one massive issue with Incredibles 2. So there is great character development, endless amounts of humour and some brilliantly executed action, but unfortunately the plot that drives all this is pretty weak. I almost immediately predicted who the villain was and what motivated them, and trust me, you probably will as well, it’s not difficult to figure out. It is so obvious and so uninspired, that I found the progression of the story to at no point feel engaging. It was all the other elements that pulled me in and had me eager to keep watching. While I felt strides forward were made with the characters we loved, the main plot was a significant step back, I suppose it wouldn’t be a true superhero film experience if the villain was actually interesting and the plot all that engaging.
I think the plot certainly does a lot to bring Incredibles 2 down in my personal ranking. There is so much I loved about this film, and like the first, I would happily watch it again, but I can’t help but be bothered by the weakness of the story – something that wasn’t an issue in the first. There’s also the problem of this film not feeling as special as the first, but I think that’s more to do with the fact that it’s come out during a point where we are overwhelmed with superhero films, while the first had a lot more room to breathe.
I certainly enjoyed Incredibles 2. It’s the first Pixar film I’ve liked in a very long time. I went in with little confidence and came out with a smile on my face and an eagerness to talk about all its standout moments. This is a sequel that warrants its existence and does justice to the original; something I didn’t think could happen.
I happily recommend, Incredibles 2. There’s A LOT of fun to be had with this film. I’m confident long-time fans of the first will enjoy this follow-up, despite some of the shortfalls. If you do end up seeing Incredibles 2, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
I’d love to know what you thought of Incredibles 2 and my review of it, so please feel free to leave any feedback or opinions you may have, in the comments section down below. If you liked what you read, may I ask you to consider following either/both my blog and my Twitter – @GavinsRamblings – to help me grow what I’m creating here? But I’ll not take up any more of your time other than to finish by giving you my thanks. Thank you for taking some of your time and dedicating it to reading my little site.