Tuesday 19 June 2018

Film Review: Incredibles 2

Leave the saving the world to the men? I don't think so...

In the 14 years since its release, Brad Bird's The Incredibles has gone on to be regarded as one of Pixar's best. The best of the best. Such is its popularity that it frankly seems ridiculous that audiences be made to wait so long for a sequel. But was it worth the wait?

Erm, sorta.

Incredibles 2, also directed by Bird, picks up immediately after the first film, with the lycra-clad family ready to do battle with The Underminer. After a tussle that results in a lot of collateral damage, superheroes are back in the spotlight. Forced underground, Bob (Craig T Nelson) and Helen (Holly Hunter) are approached by Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener), wealthy corporate types who are looking to make superheroes legal again. However, their quest is thrust into jeopardy when a fearsome new foe, Screenslaver, arrives on the scene.

Pixar's track record with sequels has gotten rockier in recent years, with films like Monsters University and Finding Dory proving to be entertaining yet forgettable entries into the studio's canon. Incredibles 2 joins them, with a ho-hum storyline ensuring the highly-anticipated sequel stops short of joining the likes of Toy Story, Up, Inside Out and Coco.

The animation is great, as usual, with the giant leap between 2004 and 2018 a sight to behold. The design is as vivid as you remember, with the accentuated characters leaping from the screen, not to mention the gorgeous Silver Age backdrops that are a wonderful mix of contemporary and classic architecture. It's a brilliant James Bond meets Saul Bass aesthetic that makes the film pop. The crop of new characters – including a goofy hero called Voyd (Sophia Bush), who can create portals – are immediately captivating designs. The action is colourful, frenetic and inventive; Bird's choreography makes excellent use of each individual character's powers, from Elastigirl's stretchy limbs to Violet's energy orbs.

And yet, it all amounts to something rather hollow. I hate to say it, but Incredibles 2 just doesn't do enough, outside of the graphical upgrade, to justify its own existence. It doesn't stand on its own or expand on the original in a meaningful way. It doesn't change the characters in important or interesting ways, aside from Elastigirl, who gets to flex her stretchy limbs as the family's main breadwinner while Bob is back home babysitting. Bob gets to learn a thing or two about parenthood, but this plot strand doesn't tie into the A-plot and is something of a dead-end.

It doesn't do much of anything, in an emotional sense, other than throw lots of gorgeous colour and noise at the audience. It's entertaining, that much is undeniable, but does it pull at the heartstrings? Does it make you think, have something to say or scream out for more? I don't think it does. If a great sequel is supposed to deepen the story, world and its characters, Incredibles 2 is average at best.

The Verdict: 6.5/10

Pixar is a company that has forged a reputation off its ability to offer audiences a wide spectrum of emotions and experiences. Incredibles 2 is fun and beautiful, but it isn't remarkable or emotional. A great Saturday matinee trip for families but not on par (pun intended) with Pixar's creme de la creme.

Incredibles 2 is in cinemas across Australia now.

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