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Incredibles 2 Review

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It’s been almost 14 years since Pixar first brought The Incredibles to our screens, and a lot has changed in superhero films since then. In those sweeter, more innocent times, the MCU wasn’t even a twinkle in Robert Downey Jr.’s eye, Christopher Nolan hadn’t convinced DC that every single movie had to be grim ‘n’ gritty, and somehow - hardest to believe of all - there were only two Spider-Man films out.

As the comic book genre has grown and grown (and grown) over the last decade and a half, it’s hardly surprising that Pixar owners Disney - leading the superhero boom with Marvel too, remember - would want to bring the Parr family back for round two.

Thanks to the World Cup, Incredibles 2 (it’s dropped the ‘The’ for some odd reason) has very different release dates in the US and UK. The film released in the US on 15 June, but comes to the UK almost a month later: this Friday, 13 July.

UK readers can book tickets from Cineworld, Vue, or Odeon, while US fans should check Fandango for the latest times near you.

In the meantime, you can always entertain yourself by revisiting the original: grab it on disc from Amazon, or download/rent from iTunes or Google Play.
Both Incredibles films are unique among the Pixar canon: they’re the only two films from the animation house to boast anything close to auteur status: rather than the usual collaboration from the Pixar brain trust, the Incredibles movies have just one credit for writing and directing: Brad Bird.

That’s perhaps why it’s taken so long for the company to get around to arguably its most-requested sequel, as Bird has a) been busy making the likes of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland, and b) been waiting to find a story that he wanted to tell.

It took him a while, but apparently he got there, with a sequel that picks up immediately where the first film left off, with the sudden arrival of the dastardly Underminer. The Parrs spring right into action: Bob, a.k.a. the super-strong Mr Incredible (Craig T. Nelson); Helen, a.k.a. the stretchy Elastigirl (Holly Hunter); Violet, who can turn invisible and create force fields (Sarah Vowell); Dash, who’s, well, fast (Huckleberry Milner); and the randomly powered baby Jack-Jack.

In case you’d forgotten (it has been over a decade after all) superheroics are illegal in the world of the Incredibles, and after their fight with the Underminer causes some catastrophic collateral damage the Parrs find themselves in trouble with the authorities. That’s about when mysterious businessman Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) steps into the picture.

Together with his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) he wants to rehabilitate superheroes’ public image in honour of his late father, a champion of the cause, and hires Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and the still staggeringly cool Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) to bring supers back into repute, with Elastigirl first to take to the streets and battle mysterious new villain Screenslaver.

Much like its predecessor, this film is a loving tribute to the early days of superheroes, right down to renditions of their retro theme tunes and the introduction of the gadget packed ‘Incredibile’ car. There’s even a brief glimpse of the original ‘60s Jonny Quest cartoon, which should tell you everything you need to know about where Bird’s affections lie, while Michael Giacchino’s slick score blends superhero scale with ‘60s spy caper charm.

Still, even if the film has a tendency for the nostalgic, there’s an inventiveness that runs throughout. The introduction of a new group of heroes serves to open up both the world and fight scenes, allowing for the sort of lively superpower combinations that made Captain America: Civil War such a blast. Think a speedster trapped running through dimensional portals, Elastigirl punching herself through portals, or a forcefield/portal punch-up - the film does some great stuff with portals is really what I’m saying here.

There’s a similar sense of fun to Jack-Jack, whose powers manifest seemingly randomly, from shooting lasers to belching fire. Unsurprisingly this is played for laughs (mostly as the hapless Mr. Incredible finds parenting might be a tougher gig than fighting crime), but best of all in a stunning fight against cinema’s most tenacious raccoon (yup, you read that right), the sort of brilliant slapstick set piece that would make Wile E. Coyote proud.

Mr. Incredible’s parenting woes are played out through a series of family life vignettes that skirt the line of the ‘hopeless dad’ cliché. Any discomfort there is mostly redeemed by the timely exploration of his very male insecurities around his wife being picked for the hero work, something that the film has the guts to stick to, giving Elastigirl quite a few of the film’s biggest action beats and hero moments.

If there’s a complaint with the film, it’s perhaps that much like the first, it lacks some of the emotional depth that has underpinned Pixar’s most enduring films. Of course there’s nothing specifically wrong with a film more concerned with having fun than making you cry, but almost all of the big payoffs in Incredibles 2 are thematic rather than emotional, and the Parrs’ family dynamic never feels under any serious threat - we know they get along too well to ever make us really worry.


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