In spite of the long 14-year wait, Brad Bird’s Incredibles 2 picks up from the moment the original left off, catapulting the viewer back into the animated world of superheroes. The film is all the better for this brash start, too. Once “The Underminer” announces his arrival, all doubts and thoughts of the long wait quickly fade away. Incredibles 2 is a fully-realised sequel in which you can feel the time, thought and care put into every aspect of the film. Bird manages to both satisfy expectations by reminding the audience what worked in the original while also successfully building upon its themes – creating a sequel that is as good as, if not sometimes better than, its predecessor.
The animation of Incredibles 2 is the most obvious improvement; technology at Pixar has clearly advanced in the time between films, and this added detail and texture allows Bird to flesh-out the world of the film to a greater extent. From the cars, the Brutalist architecture of Edna Mode’s house and the rapidly developing metropolis, the film subtly evokes a Sixties time period without explicitly stating so. This is credit to Bird’s knack for world-building. The film has its own lore, set of rules and technologies that, along with the detailed animation, make it easy for the viewer to invest and believe in this universe of fantastical heroes.
In a world where superheroes have been forced to go underground, the plot of Incredibles 2 explores ways to improve their image and get them back out into the open. When a scheme by an ambitious billionaire tries to do just this, Elastigirl is called upon to change the perception of superheroes by being filmed while fighting crime; leaving Bob, or Mr. Incredible, at home to care for the kids. Family dynamics and the comedy that arises from the individual superpowers of all the members of the Parr family is where the film excels. While the villain, Screen-Slaver, is a fairly compelling, the driving force of the film’s plot is, rightfully, in the “Incredibles” themselves. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the baby of the family Jack-Jack who is often the source of slapstick comedy. With a breadth of various powers that are being slowly discovered by the characters of the film, every scene with Jack-Jack is surprising and hilarious; his unusual pairing with Edna Mode is particularly brilliant.
Bird realises that the film’s strengths lie in the characters he’s created and he continues to develop them throughout. This is particularly pertinent when focusing on Elastigirl who is put at both the forefront of the film’s fictional public eye and the film itself. With more screen time, she is subsequently given greater depth and a chance to succeed in her own right and not just as part of the family. On the other hand, Bob has to learn how to manage the family with all its intricacies and quirks; ultimately, and in a thematic sense, suggesting that parenting itself is the true heroic action of the film.
For the most part Bird’s script is air-tight as every piece of dialogue feels necessary to the film’s themes and plot. If I were to nit-pick, however, there are a couple of lines in the second act which feel fairly on-the-nose in their delivery. While perhaps necessary for exposition and establishing the villain this could have been better integrated into the film, especially considering how concise and expertly crafted the script is otherwise. However, this small flaw is hardly enough to detract from the overall experience and the film is quick to make up for its few shortcomings.
On the whole, Incredibles 2 is a smart and perfectly executed animated film that would be hard not to enjoy. It manages to feel fresh in a market dominated by superhero movies and is fun from start to finish. Whether it be the Feminist undertones throughout, the great family dynamics or the beautifully animated action scenes, Incredibles 2 is a sequel that stands up to the original in its own right; a mature film that refuses to talk down to kids while still remaining easily accessible. If it takes fourteen years to make another great sequel, I’m happy to wait.
Subjective Score: 4.7/5
Objective Score: 4.4/5
Overall Score: 9.1/10
Words by Dan Lyons