I know that I liked The Incredibles but I really don’t think I have that same sense of nostalgia that a lot of people I know have for it. I was 16 when it came out so I was probably trying to appear too cool to give a shit about Pixar films. I definitely wasn’t but I was going through a phase. So, as good as I think the film is, it was never one of my favourites. I certainly wasn’t as emotionally invested in the sequel as I had been for Toy Story 3 or Finding Dory. Which is weird considering how much I adore superhero films in general. But, I have to admit, that every time someone was getting super excited about the new release I quite often had to fake enough enthusiasm to keep myself on par with theirs. I was excited but this wasn’t the film of my youth. Maybe I’m just spending too much time with younger people? Maybe I should have re-watched the original more recently? Who knows. I was excited enough to watch the damn thing. Plus, I’m always down to watch a Pixar film.
It’s been 14 years since The Incredibles came out but you wouldn’t know it watching the sequel. Incredibles 2 picks up from exactly the point that the first one finished. Superheroes are still outlawed but the Underminer is wreaking havoc on the city. Bob Parr and his wife Helen (Craig T Nelson and Holly Hunter) step in to stop him but must also attempt to keep their children, eager to help their parents, safe. The opening sequence is, quite simply, amazing to watch. It takes us straight back into the visual genius that made the first one so memorable. However, the decision to pick up straight after the first does mean there are a few obstacles to work through.
Superheroes are still illegal so the film’s primary goal is to find a way to legalise it again. It’s a bit like the boring court stuff in Batman vs Superman. You know, the stuff that happened between all of the boring fighting. In Incredibles 2, this happens after a wealthy pair of siblings Winston and Evelyn Deavor (Bob Odenkirk and Helen Keener) hire Mr Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone (Samuel L Jackson) to help improve the standing of superheroes. Attaching small cameras to their costumes, the pair hope to show people just how much the heroes do to try to save them all in order to overshadow the destruction they always leave in their wake.
Unfortunately for Bob, it is Helen who takes centre stage as she is the more efficient super. So as she is working on tracking down the mysterious Screenslaver, Bob is coming to terms with life as a househusband. Instead of fighting crime, Mr Incredible is set to work helping with maths homework, working through first love drama, and learning how to cope with baby Jack-Jack’s multiple power manifestations. Turns out family life isn’t quite as easy as stopping supervillains. Thankfully, all is not what it seems and the Parr’s have to come together to save one of their own from a dastardly plan.
Incredibles 2 may have dropped the “the” from the original but there is a definite connection between the two narratives. It’s not exactly a cut and paste job but there are enough similarities to make it seem familiar. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, though: if the formula worked it makes sense to tweak it a little. And it is nice to see Helen moving from sidekick role to main star for a change. In fact, Elastigirl really proves herself to be a bit of a badass this time around. It’s fantastic. Then there’s the inevitability of the increased exposure for Jack-Jack who was the firm fan favourite the first time. A lot of the comedy moments come from the manifestations of his powers. He steals the show and anyone who can begrudge him his time in the spotlight is clearly heartless.
Incredibles 2 is, against all the Pixar sequels odds, a great film. It doesn’t feel as fresh as it could have been but it still manages to revive everything great about the first one without feeling too repetitive. There aren’t many obviously unnecessary and desperate callbacks. Whatever in-jokes we see all feel natural and funny. Incredibles 2 doesn’t necessarily add anything to this franchise but it does manage to be an entertaining and funny family film. There is so much visually to enjoy and the score is phenomenal. And there are some genuinely funny moments. It’s classic Pixar: there are countless references and Easter Eggs to be discovered but that’s all part of the fun. It’s also clever. There are plenty of topics discussed here that are relevant to our society today. From gender inequality to family dynamics, Incredibles 2 is certain to resonate with the parents as much (if not more) than the kids. Going in, I wasn’t sure what I’d think about this sequel but, I’m happy to say, it’s wonderful. And it’s quite possibly increased my love for the first one.