Director: Brad Bird
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Catherine Keener, Eli Fucile, Bob Odenkirk, Samuel L. Jackson
Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for the kids while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world. (Source: IMDb)
2004 was a different time. There was no DCEU, there wasn’t even an MCU, and crucially Disney didn’t own Marvel, Star Wars, Fox, and pretty much every other major property…yet! Pre-dating the Marvel Cinematic Universe by 4 years, Disney Pixar’s superhero smash hit – and the best unofficial Fantastic Four film – was yet another hit for the animation giants. It is hard to believe that 14 years have passed since The Incredibles, and whilst audiences have been waiting in anticipation, for the characters and the world of the movie, no time has passed at all.
Incredibles 2 seamlessly picks up where the first film left off with our favourite family of heroes taking down The Underminer. In a similar vein to the first film, Incredibles 2 establishes a world where superheroes aren’t welcome. Supposedly doing more harm than good, the Parrs are labelled a menace and forced back undercover. When business owner Winston Deavor (Odenkirk) proposes a plan to get the heroes back into the publics favour, Helen/Elastigirl (Hunter) steps up to lead the way whilst Mr Incredible takes on the task of looking after the kids and the home.
The first film was subtly subversive in many ways; we all know deep down that Bob/Mr Incredible (Nelson) would still be strung up in a fiery bunker somewhere if it wasn’t for his wife saving the day. Incredibles 2 however is brazenly subversive with Helen being very much the focus and Bob being in the background; taking on the no less important but far less glamorous role of stay at home dad. The way this film plays with gender politics is wonderfully executed and it takes firm steps in challenging the views of what it means to be masculine that are so prevalent in today’s world. And don’t worry, this is still a kids film, but it is so refreshing to see a film that doesn’t just put a female character front and centre and call itself a feminist film, but rather a film which openly engages the views of those that would champion and challenge this concept.
We’ll move onto the lighter topics shortly, but it is also worth mentioning the nightmarish new villain, Screenslaver. There’s a bit of a fake-out that happens with this character later on, but there are some fantastic under-the-radar takeaways that this character gives which are really interesting to unpack. Screenslaver is a villain which controls unsuspecting victims through screens and this lays the foundation for some surprisingly potent themes about modern society’s fixation with screens and technology. We’ll ignore the irony that this is a message delivered in a film and that you’re probably reading this review on your smartphone, but it is something which cleverly bolsters the central theme of Incredibles 2 which is of course family. The bond and unity of a family is something which can overcome all challenges as the Parr family prove time and time again. The film ties together these two notions cementing that if we take our eyes away from the screens and focus on the truly important things – like family, and good defeating evil – then the world would be a better place.
Right, that’s the heavy stuff out the way! Incredibles 2 is of course an absolute delight, with stunning animation and a host of unforgettable moments. It really is wonderful to spend time with these characters again, and they’ve never looked better. Technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last 14 years, and some of the sequences in this film are just incredible to look at; up there with any of the live-action superhero blockbusters. With the characters, it’s like they never went away, and special mentions to Helen, returning legend Edna Mode (Bird) and Baby Jack-Jack, for being the standouts. Edna gets about as much screen-time as she did in the first, and again manages to be just as hilarious. Jack-Jack is the star of this show however and as the discovery of his vast and uncontrollable powers is where the comedic highlights of the film are.
To find a fault, it would perhaps be that the film is a little bit on the predictable side, and the twist is something you’ll see coming a mile off. But it is a kids film after all, so it gets a pass for this; it’s not something the target audience would have problems with so really just a minor gripe.
I saw this movie and you should too. More than living up to the hype, and succeeding in being just as good as the first film, Incredibles 2 is another Pixar masterpiece. Over time, it seems there is the potential for it to even surpass the original film as it maintains all the fun and thrills, but it is more thematically complex and this adds an extra layer of enjoyment. Incredibles 2 has something for everyone and was absolutely worth the wait. Now please don’t make us wait another 14 years for the third one…