Dir: Brad Bird
Starring Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Samuel L Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Eli Fucile, Catherine Keener, John Ratzenberger, Brad Bird, Jonathan Banks
4.5 STARS (out of 5)
Is the Pixar slump well and truly over? It certainly seems that way. Controversial though it may seem, I believed we weren’t truly on the other side of the slump – which reportedly started with the sub-par Cars 2 – until Finding Dory had come to pass. Inside Out was well-made, but in my opinion, we were a while away from the studio’s best. The less said about The Good Dinosaur, the better. Regardless – and beyond digression – Incredibles 2 is the latest sequel to test the waters of existing, beloved Pixar properties, and unlike what the studio fumbled with the Cars franchise, this one may well actually surpass the original – toning down the controversy slightly, it is at least – at the very least – on par (or should that be on ‘Parr’)?
In a fairly unique move for a sequel, particularly as it’s been 14 years since the first Incredibles instalment, Incredibles 2 picks up right after the end of its predecessor – as the superhero family led by Mr Incredible and Elasti-Girl (the Parrs, to use their ‘normal’ names) decide to go all-out on attempting to thwart a rampaging villain. This move leads the heroes into deeper water than they anticipated, and beyond this, their hero protection program is shut down – leaving the Parrs to re-evaluate where they stand in society. This society is still biased against superheroes – and when a mysterious offer from someone who seems genuinely invested in bringing heroes back into the public eye opens up, it’s an offer neither of the adult Parrs can refuse – and it leads to a change in balance between the pair that’s both intriguing and hilarious in equal measure.
Incredibles 2 (Disney / Pixar)
I’ve already given much away here by saying that I think this one is on par with the original, if not better – my main reason for this lies in the fact that it is so adeptly paced – it’s so brilliantly sewn into the original movie that you could, and should, watch them back to back when the home releases are unveiled. It’s as if these characters have never been away – and that’s the best kind of feeling. They’ve even replaced the actor for Dash in this instalment as Spencer Fox had long since gone through puberty since the first movie – and you really can’t notice the difference.
Admittedly, the movie does feels rather uncanny to start – it stumbles a little – but when it hits its stride, it hits it with style. This is easily the funniest Pixar movie in a long time – while it does hit emotional chords here and there, this movie’s focus is on high action and humour – and it generates huge laughs. It’s impossible to say what could have gone into the making of an Incredibles sequel to make it perfect – and it’s reported that director Brad Bird has tons of cutting room floor material as far as potential plots are concerned – but what we have here is a straight-up follow-up that replicates the pace, the heart, the humour and the irreverence of the original, beat for beat. This is how you do a sequel well – across the board – transcending genres – and it’s one of Pixar’s absolute best as a result, perhaps their best sequel so far (and yes, I’m including Toy Story 3 in that measure).
I could easily continue talking about Incredibles 2 for time on end – and why not – but this column is only so long! There are a couple of weak points which do, sadly, allow the magic to fall off a little – though not enough to warrant it any less than a 4.5 star grading. The main issue for me with the movie – being as protective as spoilers as possible, if you’ll need them – is the villain. Disney has had a running habit of keeping villains hidden or hidden in plain sight for a while now (see Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Zootopia, Toy Story 3, Coco), and it’s getting a little boring. As with Syndrome in the first Incredibles, the sequel could have benefitted from having a villain with obvious intentions from the start – while it’s extremely easy for discerning adults to find the baddie here, it would have been nice to see a villain outright from the off – not one that’s hidden behind a twist. Beyond this, the villain’s motivations are fairly weak – it’s this part of the thread that drops the movie off a little – everything else is an absolute celebration of the premise.
Incredibles 2 is an absolute joy to watch and, despite its reliance upon some tropes, I dare say it’s in the running for the best animated movie this year – though Coco is running it a fairly close second. Can Hotel Transylvania 3 top it?