One of the greatest works of cinematic art of the early 21st century was The Incredibles. Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but only slight. I never get round to ranking films but if I did it would be right up there in a top 5.
So, as with a lot of fans of that first film I guess, I went to see Incredibles 2 with some trepidation. It’s taken 14 years to make a sequel. Would it play it safe and essentially re-play the first film? Worst case scenario – would it ruin the perfection of that first movie with some crass plot and character development?
Well, all I can say is it is a worthy successor – and that’s a pretty big compliment.
We pick up where the first film left off. So our beloved family of Bob/Mr Incredible (Craig T Nelson), Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Violet, Dash and baby Jack-Jack is as was we left them. Supers are illegal. Helen is flattered by a smooth-talking mega-rich salesman and persuaded to get back into Super mode to fight bad guys. Bob becomes a stay-at-home dad doing the supposedly easy stuff of guiding Violet through teen-age heartbreak, teaching Dash maths and minding Jack-Jack. What could be simpler?
Save to say that things get complicated for both Bob and Helen. The plot rushes along satisfactorily. Frozone (Samuel L Jackson) is along to help and a bunch of creatively imagined new Supers also join the cast.
One of the funniest elements of The Incredibles was the Pixar short of Jack-Jack’s babysitter discovering to her horror something of the baby’s multiple powers – you know, the usual things babies do like laser beam eyes, ‘monsterisation’, immolation, disappearance to the 4th dimension – stuff like that.
Jack-Jack and his out of control powers take centre stage in The Incredibles 2. Two encounters had me laughing out loud – his battle with a racoon and his meeting with the wonderful scene-stealing designer and inventor Edna E Mode (voiced brilliantly by director Brad Bird) who reappears from the first film (if all too briefly). It’s worth reading the wikipedia article on Edna and the sheer creative genius behind her character.
The wit, imagination and heart of The Incredibles all continue into the sequel. The animation is bold and stylish, as is the retro 1960s modernist look. Under the surface, there are pokes at capitalism’s ‘more is better’, the superficiality of modern marketing, gender roles in marriage, teenage angst and the human struggle of good against evil / darkness against light.
But most of all it is just great fun.
And that’s a significant achievement.