Incredibles 2 (2018)

2018 #233
Brad Bird | 118 mins | Blu-ray (3D) | 2.39:1 | USA / English | PG / PG

Incredibles 2

Brad Bird — the director behind The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, and not letting them release the IMAX version of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol on Blu-ray (I will never be over that) — returns to the movie that made his name with what must be Pixar’s most-requested (probably “only requested”, actually) sequel, Incredibles 2.

It’s been 14 years for us viewers since the last Parr family adventure, but in-universe it’s been no time at all — literally, as Incredibles 2 picks up by recapping the closing moments of The Incredibles, which saw the eponymous family of superheroes about to face off against villain The Underminer. That confrontation goes disastrously awry, landing the family in a whole heap of trouble; but it also attracts the attention of media mogul Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), who believes superheroes should be made legal again. Recruiting parents Bob and Helen Parr — aka Mr Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) — and their friend Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) to his cause, the first step in Deavor’s public relations plan revolves around public crimefighting appearances by Elastigirl… alone. This leaves Bob holding the baby, literally, as he’s stuck at home with the kids while his wife gets to have all the fun.

At its most basic, Incredibles 2 is a gender-reversed do-over of the first movie… to a fault, in fact. The closing moments of the first film suggest a “family of superheroes” future for the Parrs, with them battling crime together. The sequel immediately works to put everything back in its place: the kids aren’t allowed to use their powers (until they must for the climax, natch); one of the parents gets to go off and be a superhero, while the other has to stay at home. The difference is it’s the man staying at home, and where Helen was consummate at looking after the kids, Bob finds it a challenge — because Men, amirite?

Left holding the baby... literally

Part of what made The Incredibles so successful as a movie was it mixed a plausible family dynamic in with the superhero capers, but here that home life aspect is what holds the film back, because Bob’s struggles with the kids are 66.6% cliché. His son struggles with homework, and Bob doesn’t know how to do it either! His daughter has boyfriend problems! The 33.3% that works comes courtesy of baby Jack-Jack, who is beginning to develop powers — plural. As the middle of the film drags on, becoming a bit “we get the point!” with Bob’s familial woes, the bright spot is continually Jack-Jack’s humorous madcap antics.

Mind you, the actual storyline in the superhero section isn’t much better. It revolves around the hunt for a mysterious villain, which naturally ends in a twist reveal… but as their true identity is pretty obvious as soon as they first appear earlier on, that reveal is a long time coming. Depending how critical you want to be, this part of the movie also has a lot of thematic points that seem to peter out or had nowhere to go in the first place. Is the film trying to say something about our addiction to screens and media? About the merits of vigilantism over bureaucracy? The dangers of being reliant on ‘higher powers’ to look after us? It touches on these things, and more, but they’re only given passing reference. Okay, yes, when you boil it down this is “just” a kids’ action-adventure movie and maybe we shouldn’t expect too much depth of thought… but Pixar are always hailed as being much more than that. Is it too much to expect that, if they’re going to introduce a topic or perspective, they’ll also at least close it out somehow?

Yet for all these story woes, Incredibles 2 does indeed work as a colourful action-adventure movie; gloriously so. The action sequences are absolutely thrilling, beautifully choreographed and constructed. They’re even better in 3D, too — Elastigirl’s stretchy powers seem to have been made for the format. And while the middle of the film may refuse to pay off the “family of superheroes” thing, the opening sequence and climax let them all in on the action, and it’s all the better for it.

Stretchy superheroics

What made The Incredibles one of Pixar’s best films, and one of the best films in the whole superhero genre, was the way it combined the action and adventure with family dynamics and concerns, seamlessly marrying the two. The sequel lacks the clarity and connectedness that first movie boasted, working very well as a fun superhero action movie but struggling as a family comedy-drama. It’s still an entertaining time (the sometimes-slow mid-section aside), but it’s not the genre and studio standout that the first film was.

4 out of 5

Incredibles 2 was released on DVD and Blu-ray (2D & 3D, but no 4K) in the UK this week.

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4 thoughts on “Incredibles 2 (2018)

  1. I’m a huge fan of the original and really wanted to watch this, but learned a few weeks ago that Disney aren’t releasing the 4K version over here. I appreciate I could just simply import it but the cost is likely /more than the film is worth, from the sounds of things. But really, what is Disney thinking? Even for Disney this is a strange decision.

    A UK 4K is available in some weird licensing deal with Samsung if you buy a Samsung tv and blu-ray player but that just makes it even stranger, doing that with a film like this.

    So no sale Disney. I’ll wait for this to turn up on cheap rental on Prime or something, otherwise you clearly don’t want my money. Part of me suspects this is a sign of the future with physical formats and I don’t like it.

    Anyway, nice review. You’ve made me feel better about leaving this alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really don’t understand Disney’s attitude here. Literally all they’ve got to do is slap a BBFC PG icon on the cover and, boom, UK release. Heck, they could probably ship some US copies over and just stick little PG stickers on. I know the 4K market isn’t huge, but surely it’s big enough? It doesn’t seem to be rentable in 4K either, which is even more inexplicable. Though, knowing Disney, there’s probably some behind-the-scenes profit-greediness reason they won’t pay a licensing fee or something.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My nightmare-scenario is that Disney are intending to dumb-down the quality of the usual market (disc, download etc) and push people who want HIgh Quality (4K etc) to their Disney Channel when it launches towards Global Domination. “You don’t want to subscribe to our Disney Channel fine, here’s the film on DVD and VHS…!” Its almost as if Disney is becoming the bad guy out of Tron. Hmmm…

        Liked by 1 person

        • I too worry Disney’s goal is to get everyone signed up for their new thing. But they’re also releasing The Lion King on 4K BD imminently, which suggests they’re not giving up on physical… just yet.

          Like

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