After nearly a decade and a half of anticipation, Redbrick Film critic Matt Taylor delivers his verdict on Pixar’s Incredibles 2
Upon its release in 2004, Disney-Pixar’s The Incredibles was a game-changer, and 14 years later, it is still widely regarded as one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. But, for so long it was the one to which we never got a sequel, despite that agonising cliffhanger. After what feels like a lifetime, Incredibles 2 is finally here – and thankfully, it’s a total blast.
We pick up immediately where the first film left off – the face off between the impending threat of the Underminer and our super family. What follows has dire consequences for the superhero community, causing a secret agency to kickstart a campaign for supers to be made legal again, with Elastigirl as their poster girl. All the while, the mysterious Screenslaver lurks in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to strike …
To say that Incredibles 2 is among the most enjoyable superhero flicks of this decade is no hyperbole – it’s 1 hour and 58 minutes of utter joy. Save for a handful of moments when my jaw was on the floor or my heart in my mouth, my face was inscribed with an enormous smile. As with the first film, much of the enjoyment comes from the cast and characters.
Everyone present is on top form, not least Holly Hunter (Elastigirl/Helen Parr) and Craig T Nelson (Mr Incredible/Bob Parr). While Helen is off on superhero duty, Bob grapples with being a stay-at-home dad. The latter’s journey is both fascinating and entertaining as hell; watching Mr Incredible be stuck on the sidelines is interesting to see, and scenes of him discovering his youngest son, Jack-Jack, displays a wide variety of powers, are fantastic. The younger cast members are not to be sniffed at; Sarah Vowell (Violet) and newcomer Huck Milner (Dash) get as much screentime as their on-screen parents, and make excellent use of it. Much like in the first film, Violet and Dash are left to their own devices, only this time they face a much graver threat. With no parents around to help them, they’re forced to rise to the occasion and prove to both themselves, and the rest of the world, that it’s time superheroes were brought back to the fore.
Expanding the superhero roster this time around was a great choice – joining the Incredibles and Frozone (Samuel L Jackson) are Voyd, Reflux, He-lectrix, Brick, Krushauer and Screech. While none are massively developed, they do what they need to, and are perfectly entertaining along the way.
As we’ve come to expect from Pixar movies, Incredibles 2 looks and feels gorgeous. While it perhaps doesn’t reach the dizzying heights and success of more recent efforts like Coco, it’s still a wonderful ride. Every frame feels meticulously crafted and beautifully realised, and director Brad Bird isn’t afraid to show off a little. The fast-paced action is fantastically choreographed, and highlights include Elastigirl trying to stop a speeding train, Dash and Violet defending a house under siege, and a final sequence at sea. The sequences are superbly shot; we’re always sure of the geography of the situation, and never get lost in the carnage (as is often the case with modern action movies).
An issue that many modern superhero movies have is that they lack a compelling villain. Save for Michael Shannon’s General Zod, the DC Extended Universe hasn’t had a single good villain, and, were it not for this year’s excellent offerings, the number of good villains in Marvel Studios movies could be counted on one hand. Luckily, Incredibles 2 doesn’t have that issue. Little has been revealed about Screenslaver, so I won’t give away any details here, but the one thing to note is that he is compelling. His motivations are personal and solid, and his plan feels meticulously and carefully thought-out. He’s an excellent thwart for the Incredibles and co., and as a villainous character, he just works.
Everything about Incredibles 2 just screams fun. All of it – from the character design to Michael Giacchino’s exceptional score and Brad Bird’s fantastic return as Edna Mode – is wonderful to watch. After the doom and gloom of Avengers: Infinity War (that admittedly doesn’t stop it from being the best film I’ve seen all year), Incredibles 2 feels like a breath of fresh air for the superhero genre. While Marvel have been on top form lately, it’s fantastic to see something different that isn’t a naff DC movie. It’s exciting and gripping but isn’t afraid to be funny and family-friendly, it balances everything perfectly. Worth the wait? Absolutely.
Verdict: Pixar’s excellent run continues with Incredibles 2 – a rare type of blockbuster that offers thrills galore, but is also a film for the whole family. Watching it, I felt as though I was six years old again, and that’s something that very few movies can do. Brad Bird, I salute you.