When it comes to sequels Pixar – as much as we love them – have a bit of a spotty record. Oh, sure they’ve given us the best trilogy ever made, Toy Story, but they’re also the studio responsible for Cars 2.
So when it was announced they were making a sequel to my favourite Pixar film ever The Incredibles, I’ll be honest, I was a weird combination of nervous and excited.
Would it live up to the original or would it be another Finding Dory? You know, the type of film where you leave the theatre convinced you love it, but when your step-mum puts it on at Christmas you’re a bit embarrassed to have recommended it?
Well, I’m delighted to say, after watching Incredibles 2, it does live up to the hype, and the film is easily Pixar’s best sequel since Toy Story 2.
Set immediately after the events of The Incredibles, the film opens with Bob, Helen, Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack being arrested after failing to bring down the Underminer, because ‘supers’ using their powers to fight crime is still illegal.
After their release, Frozone introduces Mr Incredible, and Elastigirl to the eccentric billionaire, Winston Deavor, and his sister Evelyn, who has a plan to make ‘supers’ legal again.
Unfortunately for Mr Incredible and to Elastigirl’s delight, the Deavor siblings choose her to demonstrate that superheroes are a benefit to society and take her to the big city where she must face the new supervillain Screenslaver.
Meanwhile, Mr Incredible has to stay home and keep the family together as Dash struggles with homework, Violet suffers boy trouble and Jack-Jack begins to develop all sorts of weird and wonderful powers.
A delight from start to finish, Incredibles 2 is every bit as entertaining, touching and funny as the first.
Following the first film, The Incredible’s writer and director, Brad Bird, promised we’d only ever get a sequel if they could deliver a story as good, if not better than the original.
Well, he wasn’t lying because I adored the story. If The Incredibles is a film about Mr Incredible accepting who he is as a father, husband and superhero in a post-super world, then Incredibles 2 is the opposite.
This is Helen’s story and it’s about change, realising how sometimes change can be for the better, whether it be liberating yourself from expected gender roles, or working to change an unfair system.
The film’s villain hammers this point home. Screenslaver decries passivity, instead extolling the virtues of doing things for yourself and not taking things as they are, he’s basically demanding change, although it’s a change which clashes with what our heroes want.
It’s an interesting twist on the lesson of the first and demonstrates Bird was passionate about keeping his promise to tell a story worthy of the first.
That said, as much as I enjoyed the story, Incredibles 2 is a hilarious film which capitalises on two of the best characters from the first movie, Edna Mode and the adorable Jack-Jack.
Both characters are brilliantly hilarious, Jack-Jack’s powers allow for some wonderful slapstick scenes, while Edna remains the greatest animated character of all time (Come at me!).
Bob’s new role as house husband allows him to stretch his comedy muscles as well, while he struggles to understand ‘why they’d change math!’
The movie’s gorgeously animated too, and explores the strange faux-Fifties world the Incredibles occupy in a way the first film couldn’t.
A particular highlight is a unique view we get of Municiberg, when Elastigirl moves around the city, contorting her body into all sorts of shapes and sizes, taking advantage of the city’s unique architecture in wonderfully creative ways.
The truly joyous thing about Incredibles 2 though isn’t the animation, the jokes, or even the story, it’s the family at the heart of these films – the Parrs and the bond they share.
Whenever the family are together you can’t help but smile, they just have such a fantastic relatable dynamic, it makes you want to spend time with them.
Unfortunately, Incredibles 2 has two major problems which stop it being a five-star masterpiece – and they’re not really the fault of the film, it’s more the fault of the first film.
Syndrome was such an amazing, charismatic villain, with such an interesting connection to the Incredible family, it was always going to be hard for Screenslaver to measure up.
And I’m afraid Screenslaver just isn’t as strong a villain as his predecessor.
That’s not to say he’s not an intimidating villain, because he is, with unique powers and a cracking design. The problem is, I just prefer Syndrome.
Syndrome had an interesting connection to the Parr family and the predicament they found themselves in at the start of the film.
Screenslaver, by comparison, is a bit more detached from it all and that’s fine, not every villain needs a hand in the hero’s origin, but it makes things a little less personal.
As for the second problem, when compared to the first, it feels disjointed.
The Incredibles was an exceptionally tight story which pretty much focused on Bob for the first two-thirds of the film before bringing the family in around the halfway point.
From the off, this film splits its focus between Helen’s adventures as Elastigirl, and Bob adjusting to his new domestic life.
It’s not a massive problem because both sides are entertaining enough, it’s just that it breaks the flow a little.
All in all, Incredibles 2 is a fantastic film, well worth the fourteen-year wait!
Incredibles 2 is in cinemas now.