Film reviews

Edinburgh International Film Festival: Incredibles 2

I was only four years old in the summer of 2004. Which made me the perfect age to watch and enjoy The Incredibles. I loved the comedy, the heroes, the villains. I believe it is where my love of superheroes came from. At the time I didn’t realise I was also appreciating the look of the movie, the script and its score. It quickly became one of my favourite movies, where it remains to this day. So, when somebody says the word “sequel” in the context of The Incredibles, I get my hopes up. Fourteen years later, Pixar and co bring these characters back and it is safe to say I was a little bit happy.

Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) returns to the direct the sequel in which picks up directly where the last took place. The Underminer is destroying the city and the family of supers team up to stop them.  After this opening set piece, the supers are arrested as their kind is still illegal. Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), Bob/Mr Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen/Elasti-Girl (Holly Hunter) are approached by a new character and business tycoon, Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) who wants to bring supers back into the mainstream and lift the ban that was set.

From there on, the plot follows a similar set up to the first with one of the key differences being that the roles are reversed. Elasti-girl was considered the best super to make a good impression on the public, so she takes on Bob’s role from the first one. It is fun to see her finally get the spotlight fully on her for much of the movie. She’s badass and she loves it, screaming in excitement whenever she calls home.

The Incredibles nails the look and feel that it is going for: Over the top, Saturday morning cartoon about superheroes, something that they refer to throughout this movie and the last one. The 50s/60s aesthetic makes it fun and vibrant, something I desperately wanted to explore and something I think I got in the sequel. Elasti-girl swings through a city that looks vibrant and large. The animation alone shows us just how far we have come since 2004 and the quality will only get better. This is helped along by Michael Giachino returning to score the film with its signature jazzy flavour. It’s a perfect side dish for a brilliant visual style and once again proves that he is one of the best blockbuster composers working today.

While Elasti-girl is out saving the world, it leaves Bob to deal with the kids; Dash (Huck Milner) is having trouble with his math, Violet (Sarah Vowell) is being an angsty teen with a whole lot of boy trouble. Bob has to deal with his wife getting to do the one thing he loves to do, which is also the one thing he isn’t allowed to do. This provides a lot of the drama to these scenes and are brilliantly voice acted by Nelson. Then we come to Jack-Jack, who is in the process of getting his powers, which include (but are not limited to) dimension jumping, multiplying and combustion. This part of the movie has some of the funniest slapstick, the cleverest jokes and easily the most heartfelt moments. Jack-Jack being the funniest of the characters and there is a scene involving a Racoon that may be the funniest thing you will see at the cinema this year.

The movie handles the balance between the two main storylines well. It never outstays its welcome with either and they move on in time to remember what is happening and where thanks to its excellent pacing and lack of unnecessary parts. It’s light but still manages to breeze to the two-hour mark and not make the children restless or bored; something I can personally vouch for as all children at this Family Gala showing were well behaved and fully engrossed.

Just like the rest of the movie, the main villain, Screenslaver, is slightly over the top and fits the world really well. Mainly appearing in sections with Elasti-girl, he wants to control people via screens. This involves hardcore epileptic light sequences that have been causing trouble in America where the movie has already been released. They are intense and did require me to look away even though I’m not usually sensitive to lights like that. Screenslaver keeps a secret identity for much of the movie, which can be a bit of a downfall as we don’t learn a lot about them.  When comparing them to Syndrome from the first one, they are a little weak in motive for wanting to bring down the whole of humanity.

Screenslaver is not the only new character. I have already mentioned Odenkirk’s character, Winston Deavor, but there is also Evelyn played by Catherine Keener. She is Winston’s sister and invents Elasti-girls new suit and gadgets, much to the disgust of Edna Mode (Brad Bird). There are also a group of new and funny superheroes, that felt inspired by The Incredibles to come out of hiding and do what was right.

Incredibles 2 gets so much right and not a lot wrong as it once again nails its tone and look. Props to a magnificent voice cast and an amazing score. It is let down slightly by its villain, but Incredibles 2 is more super-fun and a sequel that manages to live up to the high expectations that I had for it. It is pretty…. Super.

Incredibles 2 had a special screening at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and has already opened in most of the world. It finally hits cinemas in the UK on 13th July.

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