The Parr family have finally returned to our screens 14 years after their first outing in 2004. The first film was an instant classic, remembered fondly by many and because of this, the second entry has been eagerly anticipated since it was announced back in 2014 that a sequel was in the works. I for one was extremely excited as The Incredibles is one of my favourite all-time films, and following the ending of the first film, I have always wanted more, and I am glad to say that I am not disappointed with the sequel. It builds on what the first film did right, it doesn’t take a huge amount of risks but this works as it feels blissfully nostalgic whilst feeling like a new film, it’s a good balance.
Brad Bird returns to direct the sequel to his first Pixar film, which serves The Incredibles 2 well as it feels more like a continuation of the previous movie rather than a standalone sequel. The music is once again sublime, with the theme tune bringing back memories of watching the original film as a child. Michael Giachinno’s score complements the film perfectly, with the new music echoing the old. Once again, it’s a nice blend and plays on the sense of nostalgia around the franchise, but not in a way that forces it upon you.
The voice acting is top notch, as should be expected from a Pixar production. Most of the original cast returns, with Sarah Vowell and Huck Milner joining to voice Violet and Dash Parr respectively. Even the actor who portrayed Jack-Jack in the first movie voices the youngest Incredible in this film, although in a rather inventive way. In trying to keep it authentic, Bird utilised unused recordings of Jack-Jack from the first film which brings a lovely feeling of continuity. Holly Hunter is once again superb as Elastigirl, her performance expertly carried out by someone who clearly understands their character. Craig T. Nelson as Mr Incredible is also fantastic, with his performance perfectly encapsulating the struggle of a man who is adjusting to life as a stay at home dad after a life of action and adventure. Catherine Keener, as the films villain, brings a more emotional perspective when compared to Syndrome from the first film. Her character has more depth and her motives are more understandable which gives her villain a more menacing personality, and unlike Syndrome, her main weapon is her intellect, and she more than goes toe to toe with the Elastigirl, Frozone and Mr Incredible. It isn’t until the intervention of the Parr children that she meets her match, which is a nice touch as more often than not the kids in these movies are passengers rather than the saviours. On top of this, the allegory of the Screenslaver is brilliant, it’s a spot on commentary of modern life and our obsessions with screens, genius! Also, Brad Bird once again superbly voices Edna Mode and despite her appearance being fleeting, her scenes were some of the best in the film.
I enjoyed that Elastigirl was the main protagonist in this movie. With the film being “set” in the 1960s, the prejudices prevalent at this time are addressed in The Incredibles 2, it is a world dominated by men, but the stronger characters in this film are female. Bob Parr struggles with his new role as a stay at home parent, rather than being the main bread winner in the family and his arc from struggling Dad to proud parent is a refreshing and emotional one. It is handled well through the use of comedy, and the relate-able nature of his struggle endears him to the audience.
For a film that is perceived as a children’s movie, The Incredibles 2 has a great deal of depth to it. It addresses subjects such as sexism, the struggles of being a parent and the treatment of minorities in society. These issues are relevant in today’s world and they a cleverly hidden within the framework of an animated film about a family of superheroes. It also raises these themes in a way that children can understand and take on board, which is fantastic.
On a less positive note, the plot is fairly derivative and similar to that of the first film. This is partly due to it needing to be watchable for a younger audience but this doesn’t make the film less entertaining. The more adult themes and issues raised are thought provoking and should preoccupy those parents watching the film with their children. It was fairly easy to work out who the main villain would be, as the story follows many cinematic tropes and clichés but despite the fact that I had worked out who the villain was within 15 minutes I was still entertained as the story played out.
Overall, The Incredibles 2 is the film we have all been waiting 14 years for. It treads the line between nostalgia and being its own film well. It’s real strength and appeal lies with the films character development. These are characters that we know and love. Bird understands this and puts them in situations that are relate-able which causes the audience to feel sympathetic towards our beloved heroes. The blend of humour and more serious issues means that these subjects aren’t forced upon the audience, whilst making it easier to think about and digest them. Despite a slightly cliché and predictable plot, The Incredibles 2 is an entertaining, family film that builds on the success of the first whilst not relying heavily on the original movie for humour or to keep the audience entertained. Hopefully, we will see the Parr family grace our screens again, and continue their story, this time without having to wait 14 more years.