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.

The Mission: Obviously Possible Monthly Update for July 2018

Dun dun dun-dun-dundun, dun-dun-dundun, dun-dun-dundun, dun-dun… duh-duh-duuun… duh-duh-duuun… duh-duh-duuun… duhdun!

It just makes you want to go jump out of a plane or something, doesn’t it? Sadly, I think I’d be less Tom Cruise, more James Corden.


#146 Batman Ninja (2018)
#147 Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
#148 Blade of the Immortal (2017), aka Mugen no jûnin
#149 Red Sparrow (2018)
#150 True Romance (1993)
#151 RoboCop (2014)
#152 Rocky IV (1985)
#152a Rocky VI (1986), aka Rock’y
#153 What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
#154 Cash on Demand (1961)
#155 Despicable Me 2 3D (2013)
#156 Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018), aka Gojira: Kessen Kidō Zōshoku Toshi
#157 Zatoichi and the Doomed Man (1965), aka Zatôichi sakate-giri
#158 Free Enterprise (1998)
#158a Friends, Romans and Leo (1917)
#158b Little Red Riding Hood (1917)
#158c Quaint Provincetown (1917)
#158d Microscopic Pond Life (1915)
#159 Kidnapped (1917)
#160 Iron Monkey (1993), aka Siu nin Wong Fei Hung chi: Tit ma lau
#161 Superman III (1983)
#162 The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988)
#163 The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
#164 Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
#165 Full Metal Jacket (1987)
#166 Wind River (2017)
#167 The LEGO Ninjago Movie 3D (2017)
#168 Body of Lies (2008)
#169 I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death (1969), aka Sono Sartana, il vostro becchino
#170 The Garden of Words (2013), aka Koto no ha no niwa
#171 The Secret in Their Eyes (2009), aka El secreto de sus ojos
#172 Paul (Extended Edition) (2011)
#173 The Way of the Gun (2000)
Muppet Treasure Island

Free Enterprise

The Navigator

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Full Metal Jacket

.


Firstly, as usual, stats and numbers…

  • With 28 new feature films watched, July kept up 2018’s run of supersize months — in fact, it’s not only the third best month of the year, but also the fourth best of all time.
  • It’s my 50th consecutive month with 10+ films. It’s also my 6th consecutive month with 20+ films, extending that record-breaking run. It leaves just November and December as the only months that have never reached 20+ films.
  • It’s by far my highest July ever, the previous best being last year’s 17, and is so far beyond the monthly average of 8.1 that it’s dragged it up almost two whole films to 9.9.
  • Continuing with averages, it also surpasses the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 19.1, now exactly 20) and the average for 2018 to date (previously 24.2, now 24.7).
  • On the 17th I reached the landmark of being 100 films ahead of target. That’s the first time I’ve been 100 ahead since the end of 2015, when I was there for all of three days (29th-31st December) — and that was the only other time I’ve been 100 ahead. As it stands, I end the month a whopping 115 films ahead of where I ‘should’ be by this point.
  • Less auspiciously, this month my backlog of unreviewed films also surpassed 100 titles for the first time. Eesh.
  • Back to brighter news: as I continue to keep track of dates on which I’ve never seen a film (see the last bullet point in Viewing Notes here for background on that), this month I watched films on both the 16th and 19th to reduce the remaining list by a third. Still to come this year: September 2nd and December 22nd.

Now for something actually about the films themselves…

  • This month’s Blindspot film: plugging a gap in my viewing of both Quentin Tarantino’s and Tony Scott’s filmographies, the Tarantino-written Scott-directed True Romance, which plays exactly like a movie written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: plugging a gap in my viewing of Stanley Kubrick’s filmography, as I tend to do about once a year, Full Metal Jacket, which was one of my favourite Kubricks.
  • Somewhat relatedly: Argentinian Oscar-winning thriller The Secret in Their Eyes was a strong contender for one of those must-watch lists this year, but didn’t make it for reasons I forget. I sort of figured it’d be on a list next year. Not anymore, obviously.
  • Finally, earlier this week I posted my Train to Busan review semi-randomly (it was the last review left from 2017 and I wanted those done), only to later discover its UK TV premiere is this Friday. The “likes to make reviews tie into things” part of my brain was not impressed.



The 38th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Tom Cruise learnt to fly a helicopter, performed 106 skydives, and broke his ankle just to entertain us. And by golly, it worked. Some favourites are not a choice — this just is Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
There were a few mediocre options to choose between here, though. While there were definite flaws in certain unnecessary remakes and sequels among this month’s viewing (have a scan through the list above and I’m sure you can pick out the films I mean), the closest any film came to the cardinal sin of boring me was Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle.

Most Played Soundtrack of the Month
As much as I love the Mission: Impossible music (and, having now listened to the soundtrack in full, Lorne Balfe’s score for Fallout is better than I gave it credit for in my review), the soundtrack I’ve most often had on loop this month is Muppet Treasure Island, which has an array of superbly piratical songs (including a scene-stealing turn from Tim Curry), as well as a proto-Pirates of the Caribbean score from Hans Zimmer.

Most Impressive Spy of the Month
Oh sure, Ethan Hunt can do all those amazing physical feats, but can he be a pasty white guy wandering around Iraq looking for terrorists and somehow not stand out like a sore thumb to the locals, hm? No, that’s apparently Leo’s special skill as Roger Ferris in Body of Lies.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
I reviewed two new releases this month: direct-to-Netflix anime sequel Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle, and highly anticipated cinematic blockbuster Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Guess which review got the most hits. Yes, as you’ve probably correctly predicted from the way I’m making this point, it was Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle. Well, I can tell you exactly why that happened: my most-viewed posts are always ones that get a lot of referrals from IMDb, and, despite submitting my Fallout review as soon as I published it on Thursday morning, for some reason they didn’t add it until Monday afternoon, after the pre-release and opening weekend interest had passed. It ended up coming third, behind a very different spy movie, Red Sparrow.


After a concerted effort, this month I finally finished publishing reviews of my 2017 viewing. Now I’ve just got all those 2018 ones to catch up…


This month I am mainly rewatching Films That Precede Sequels That Are In Cinemas Now.

Well, I say “mainly” — from a UK perspective, technically it only applies to two of these…

#25 Galaxy Quest (1999)
#26 Never Say Never Again (1983)
#27 The Incredibles (2004)
#28 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
#29 Ant-Man 3D (2015)

I’ve been meaning to watch Never Say Never Again, er, again for yonks — I last saw it as a kid and, really, didn’t remember it very well. I happened to catch it starting one night on ITV4 HD and thought, well, why not now? Turns out, it’s not all that bad. I mean, it’s not great, but it was a passably entertaining off-brand Bond film. There are probably some Roger Moore films I’d rank below it — if it counted for such rankings, which it doesn’t. I’ll give it the “Guide To” treatment at some point.

I bought (and last watched) the special edition DVD of The Incredibles when it first came out in 2005, but I’ve never upgraded it because Disney have given it short shrift over here: first an extras-starved Blu-ray, now no UHD release even scheduled. It was long overdue that I revisit the film (as I said, it’s been 13 years), especially with the sequel coming out (in July here, hence why I wasn’t wittering about this last month), but I didn’t want to watch it in SD. I ended up stumbling across a UHD copy by… “other means”. So, yeah: screw you, Disney — I can’t say I feel too guilty about freely acquiring a film I’ve already bought and they’ve not bothered to treat right on this side of the pond since DVD.

Anyway, it’s a truly exceptional film — I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to rewatch it, and I wish I had more often. It’s certainly in my top four Pixar movies, alongside the Toy Story trilogy. Plus, I definitely made the right call skipping SD: it looks fantastic in higher definition; almost too good, the crispness showing up the age of the CG animation. Whether there’s an appreciable difference between its HD and UHD versions, I couldn’t say. Based on the comparisons at Caps-a-holic, there’s a slight difference in colour and sometimes in very, very fine detail, but the regular Blu-ray seems to hold its own.

Finally, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. It’s clearly the best of the first five Missions. Obviously, you’re allowed to have a different opinion. But you’d be incorrect. It’s basically a perfect spy/action movie, and anyone who tries to say otherwise is just wrong.


I suppose summer, with all its picnics and barbecues and whatnot, is the most appropriate time to release a movie about an ant and a wasp…

The Incredibles (2004)

100 Films’ 100 Favourites #44

Expect the incredible.

Country: USA
Language: English
Runtime: 115 minutes
BBFC: U
MPAA: PG

Original Release: 5th November 2004 (USA)
UK Release: 26th November 2004
First Seen: DVD, 2005

Stars
Craig T. Nelson (Poltergeist, Action Jackson)
Holly Hunter (Raising Arizona, The Piano)
Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Snakes on a Plane)
Jason Lee (Mallrats, Alvin and the Chipmunks)

Director
Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol)

Screenwriter
Brad Bird (*batteries not included, Ratatouille)
(I bet you could count on one hand the number of Western animated movies written by one person.)

The Story
After public opinion forced superheroes into a civilian relocation programme, Bob and Helen Parr — formerly Mr Incredible and Elastigirl — live a quiet domestic life with their three children. Bob is dissatisfied, however, and easily tempted back to heroic ways by a call to defeat an evil robot. When it emerges this is part of a plan to kill retired superheroes and give powers to everyone in the world, Bob’s wife and superpowered kids must enter the fray to save the world.

Our Heroes
The fantastic four titular heroes: Bob Parr, aka Mr Incredible, who has super strength and limited invulnerability; his wife Helen, aka Elastigirl, who can stretch her body like rubber; their daughter Violet, who can become invisible and generate a force shield; and her younger brother Dash, who has super-speed (name/power coincidencetastic!) There’s also their chum Lucius Best, aka Frozone, who can form ice from the air. He’s very cool, hence casting Samuel L. Jackson.

Our Villain
Disillusioned superhero fanboy Buddy Pine, who grew up and used technology to give himself powers, dubbing himself Syndrome. Wants to give everyone in the world powers, because when everyone’s super, no one will be.

Best Supporting Character
Fashion designer Edna Mode, who makes the superheroes’ costumes. Inspired by Hollywood costume designer Edith Head, Bird wanted Lily Tomlin to voice her, and provided an example of how she should sound. Tomlin thought it was perfect, so she instead persuaded Bird to play the role himself.

Memorable Quote
“No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid — ‘I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for ten minutes?!’” — Mr. Incredible

Memorable Scene
After tearing his old costume, Bob visits Edna for a new one. He wants a cape. Cue montage of why capes are a bad idea.

Technical Wizardry
The film presented a whole host of new technical challenges for Pixar, not least fully animating a whole cast of humans for the first time — they had to develop new technology to animate detailed anatomy, clothing, skin, and hair. The latter was a particular challenge. On Monsters, Inc., the animators persuaded director Pete Docter to give Boo pigtails to make her hair easier to animate, but Brad Bird accepted no such compromises, particularly as Violet’s long, face-covering hair was integral to her character — and it had to be depicted underwater and blowing in the wind, too. Ultimately, Violet’s hair was only successfully animated toward the end of production.

Next time…
One of the few Pixar sequels people actually wanted, The Incredibles 2 is in development for a 2019 release. That’s only a 15-year wait.

Awards
2 Oscars (Animated Film, Sound Editing)
2 Oscar nominations (Original Screenplay, Sound Mixing)
1 BAFTA Children’s Award (Best Film)
10 Annie Awards (Feature, Directing, Writing, Voice Acting (Brad Bird), Music, Production Design, Animated Effects, Character Animation, Character Design, Storyboarding)
6 Annie nominations (Voice Acting (Samuel L. Jackson), Character Animation (again, x3), Character Design (again), Storyboarding (again))
1 Saturn Award (Animated Film)
2 Saturn nominations (Writer, Music)
Won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form

What the Critics Said
“what really makes The Incredibles work is the wit of Bird [though] much of it will be over the heads of very young viewers who account for so much repeat business. Bird’s satiric take on suburbia, conformity and forced notions of equality is surprisingly sophisticated and biting for an animated feature, matched by a visual panache that is often breathtaking.” — Kevin Lally, Film Journal International

Score: 97%

What the Public Say
“Most Disney films are about people meeting and falling in love. Incredibles is one of the only ones I can think of about how important marriage is. It shows a couple fighting, getting along, and working together.” — Rachel Wagner, Reviewing All 54 Disney Animated Films and More!

Verdict

Even before the present glut of big-screen super-heroics, Pixar were in on the game with this affectionate genre entry. Writer-director Brad Bird mixes together classical superhero antics with elements of 1960s spy-fi to create a retro world of optimistic heroics and larger-than-life villainy — at odds with the dark-and-serious tone of so many superhero movies of the past 17+ years, but all the more memorable for it. It’s also great at the kinds of things Pixar is known for. The combination means it transcends both the kids’ animation and superhero subgenres.

#45 will be… keeping up with the Joneses.