Star Rating:

Incredibles 2

Director: Brad Bird

Actors: Catherine Keener

Release Date: Friday 13th July 2018

Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Animation

Running time: 125 minutes

In the immediate aftermath of the Under-Miner's attack on the city, Helen Parr / Elasti-Girl (Holly Hunter) is recruited by a billionaire brother-and-sister duo (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener) to help bring superheroes back to the limelight, whilst Bob / Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) stays at home to mind the household. Whilst this is happening, a new villain - The Screenslaver - appears to cause havoc.

'The Incredibles' was a fascinating counterpoint to the cutesy, wholesome output from Pixar on its release back in 2004. Brad Bird's innate understanding of how to pace an action sequence, build tension and mood, as well as bringing together a truly unique cast - Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter, like? - was unheard of at the time and the film set the bar high, maybe too high, for itself with the sequel a decade and a half later. That isn't to say for a single second that 'Incredibles 2' isn't everything you'd hoped it would be - it absolutely is - but there's a feeling when you come to the end that you wonder where exactly it goes from here. In other words, it's left itself open to be pushed on for another sequel that could cheapen its legacy.

Of course, that's getting way ahead of the game. The film picks up quick-smart from the first one, still using that same '60s space-age inspired design throughout, and brings you straight into the action. The shift in the dynamic from Mr. Incredible to Elasti-Girl as superhero is an interesting one, as Bob Odenkirk's salesman character explains that she's a much better choice purely because she doesn't cause as much damage as Mr. Incredible. It's a smart bit of plotting, as it doesn't feel like it's done out of anything other than necessity and not storytelling convenience. Moreover, Elasti-Girl's action sequences are far more exciting than Mr. Incredible and a breathless chase sequence involving a train calls to mind 'The French Connection'. Craig T. Nelson, meanwhile, is perfectly suited to the comedic leanings of his character's story and gets some of the best laughs in the whole film.

The introduction of Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener does feel slightly like a lost opportunity, as Odenkirk's character doesn't have much to do beyond being overly enthusiastic whilst Keener has a certain level of ambivalence to the whole thing that's explained later on in the story. While Holly Hunter and Craig T. Nelson felt like an unusual choice in the original that worked, Keener and Odenkirk are the same unusual choices that didn't work. It's not that either of them aren't talented actors - quite the opposite - it's just that there's a certain flatness to their performance. If both of them were on-screen, there'd be another element that would perhaps enrich it, but instead the animation doesn't breathe life into it.

Apart from that, 'Incredibles 2' is incredibly slick and the fluidity of the story works its way through from the opening scene right through to the finale. You can tell that Bird's time working on live-action has influenced some of his creative choices here as there's more rigidity with how the camera works. When Elasti-Girl takes off after The Screenslaver, the camera tracks behind her just like you'd expect a real camera to do. An aerial sequence involving a convoy of helicopters could easily sit in something like 'Mission: Impossible' whilst Michael Giacchino's jazzy score adds texture and flavour to it all. The action sequences are smarter and more finely tuned here than the first one, all of which is what you want from this kind of film.

While it may lack the compelling villain of the first one and a miscasting with Odenkirk and Keener, 'Incredibles 2' is still a worthy follow-up to one of Pixar's finest accomplishments that can stand proudly alongside some of its best works.