Some time after the superpowered Parr family’s last outing, the heroes are still trying to save the day as best they can in spite of the illegality of super-heroics. After a particularly messy foiling of a mole themed bank job, they are left with no financial support from the government. However Winston Deavor (Bob Odgenkirk), an entrepreneur with a fondness for heroes, is hoping to change the law and wants to use Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) to do it. Whilst she tries to shape public opinion about superheroes, her husband must hold down the fort back home.
Most of the film follows two narratives. One is a charmingly realised parody of domestic family life in which all the pitfalls of being a parent are accentuated by their superpowers. The other is a genuinely effective, action filled superhero story as Elastigirl does battle with The Screenslaver (the puns are top quality). Elastigirl is a much more entertaining lead for the action sequences than Mr Incredible. Bird makes fabulously creative use of her abilities and Holly Hunter’s voice is much more expressive and interesting than Craig T Nelson’s. The film’s action sequences make wonderful use of the hero’s powers, which recalls the best sequences from the Xmen films.
Meanwhile the family scenes are wonderful because characters are all so vivid. Performances are fantastic across the board. The film balances it’s characters and story-lines remarkably well. Once the two narratives combine it’s as exciting to see the families personalities combine as it is to see their powers compliment each other. The comedy of the film compliments the cheesy tone of classic spy capers.
As with Coco there is an uncanniness to setting cartoon characters into increasingly realistic environments. Seeing realistic hair effects on a character who has compressed her body as flat as a pancake is a little creepy, as is seeing a character sitting in a beautifully rendered office with hips bigger than her head, and feet smaller than her eyes. It’s a strange contrast. The film undeniably looks gorgeous though. The light effects, and textures are gorgeous. Bird’s recreation of camera movements make full use of this beautifully rendered world. One shot of Elastigirl riding her electric motorcycle through an abandoned building really struck me.
The first Incredibles film was a genuinely fun action movie with some problematic themes. “If everyone is special then that means no one is” always felt mean spirited to me, especially for a kids film. This film concerns itself with similar themes. The villain of this film feels that the existence of Superheroes makes people less likely to do things for themselves. The theme of naturally exceptional people being held back by mass mediocrity and pretenders is far less apparent, which for me at least made this outing more enjoyable.
Which isn’t to say the film is shallower. The film has much to say about family, children, consumer culture, . Ultimately the film concludes that regardless of context, it’s as well to try and help people if you can, whoever they are. This is a far less sinister take on the complicated nature of heroics.
The Incredibles 2 is an adventure that is every bit as exciting as it’s predecessor. The family is as likeable as ever and Bird’s inventiveness and meticulous construction of set-pieces has never been more entertaining.