Unbelievable as it may seem, there are going to be some audience members parking themselves down to see Brad Bird’s follow up to his first Pixar picture that weren’t even born when it was released. So much has changed in that pocket of time. Blockbuster went bankrupt, we hadn’t seen the end of Harry Potter on bookshelves let alone, at the box office, and football went home with Greece, instead of potentially, maybe, England (TBC). Yet here we are, 14 years later and whilst time may have passed with us, Incredibles 2 sees fit to throw us a mere few minutes after the closing of its predecessor. The transition, you’ll be happy to know is a seamless one, with this new entry raising the Parr and then some.
Following a familial tussle with the Underminer, Bob, Helen, and the kids learn they’ve done no favours for superheroes of the world by causing more harm than good. Their resurfacing leads to the ‘Super Relocation’ program getting its plug pulled and the Parr family at a loose end. Thankfully, hope for our heroes arrives in the form of a crimefighter-loving gazillionaire (Bob Odenkirk), who wants to give the public eye another look at the world’s finest, and Elastigirl being the poster child of the media push.
So begins a classic switcheroo, with Helen playing breadwinner and Bob being the stay-at-home Dad who can lift one just as easily. The real challenge for Mr Incredible, however, lies in keeping his family in check and trying not to turn a Hulkish-green with envy as Helen sets off every day in order to save it any way she can. It’s a great role reversal that whilst slightly formulaic is executed brilliantly by Bird, who thankfully delivers a Pixar sequel that’s more successful than others.
Excluding Toy Story, there are a number of follow-up instalments to properties caught in that iconic lamp’s spotlight that just haven’t had the magic, spectacle, and heart of the ones before them. The Parr’s return thankfully matches almost all of those key elements before wrapping them up in a finely crafted shell of stunning visual effects that prove yet again why Pixar is the benchmark in animated film. There are endless laughs to be had that are coming from every opportunity that can be found, specifically with Jack-Jack who is now a certified scene-stealer.
Tiring out his Dad with every superpower he can conjure, the real highlight is seeing the tearaway tackle his own arch-nemesis, that would’ve worked just as well as an accompanying short it’s that good. This and every frame however crammed or calm it may be is displayed with meticulous detail that shows just how far they’ve come. From the frayed hairs on Bob’s stressed-out head to the metropolitan maze Helen has to navigate through to stop a runaway train, all of it works wonderfully alongside Michael Giacchino’s score that gives as much of a thrill and excitement as any Marvel movie in recent years.
Even so, every superhero movie has its weakness and Incredibles 2 doesn’t walk away as an exception. As great as it is to see these characters back in action there isn’t much in terms of development for the family, or their friends for that matter. Admittedly, the time gap isn’t huge but that doesn’t mean there can’t be more space to work with the likes of Bird’s cape-loathing costume designer Edna Mode who is given another brief 007’s Q-like cameo, or Samuel L. Jackson’s Frozone who really is there as just-in-time protector and feels thinner in substance than he did the first time around.
Then there’s the Parr’s themselves, who are lacking the emotional weight that added so much in their début. Bob and Helen’s fear of failure to protect their family was the driving force behind their actions and came to a wonderful climax in the first film, so seeing it pop up on occasion this time around feels pointless. Still, once that subject is squashed it’s back to the creatively comedic and action-packed antics you’ve come to expect. The fact that they even managed that is truly incredible.