Review: Incredibles 2

After a long-awaited hiatus of fourteen years, the Incredible family is back, picking up the story exactly where they left off. The only clue to the passage of time is the speedy transition into modernity with a celebration of empowered women and a shift in the traditional family model. In this adventure it is Helen who takes the superhero spotlight as Elastigirl – becoming the main breadwinner and leaving Bob somewhat begrudgingly to the domestic realm of childcare and housekeeping.

As Supers are still illegal, the Incredible family are still obliged to hide in the shadows as the unremarkable Parrs. This is set to change, however, when an enterprising pair of siblings hire Helen, as Elastigirl to head a PR campaign for superheroes, hoping that with some rebranding, they will be welcomed back by society, where they rightfully belong. A rejuvenated Elastigirl battles to save the city from a new villain ‘the Screenslaver’ who uses screens as a tool for mind control, meanwhile Bob struggles with the tribulations of parenthood, including a lovesick teenage Violet and toddler Jack Jack with newly discovered and seemingly exhaustive (and exhausting) superpowers.

Full disclosure here – The first Incredibles was probably my least favourite Pixar film (I will fight for Finding Nemo), and I find this sequel is simply more of the same in terms of plot, following a surprisingly similar story arc. On the other hand, if you loved the first Incredibles, you will probably love this instalment too. However, at a time when our screens our saturated with superhero content, I think this film struggles alongside rival features which have a much bigger scope. The action sequences are fast paced, and there are twists and turns in the plot, but I found the villain weak, the plot a little predictable (all the world’s leaders attending a diplomatic summit on a yacht – what could go wrong?), and the culmination of the action slightly anticlimactic – there was never a sense that the endangered population was so close to the brink that they were beyond saving.

That being said, Pixar isn’t Marvel, and was never going to build one of the dark and extensive universes that superhero fans have become so accustomed to seeing. The Incredibles was never going to stand out alongside these titans of the genre, and it is not what it sets out to do. It does, however, do beautifully, what Pixar does best – a family film which tugs at the heart strings. With the welcome return of Edna Mode, the cruel twists of Violet’s first love, and a toddler with superhuman reserves of energy that many parents will recognise with a scarred nostalgia, the film is well punctuated with laughs for both kids and adults. It is inspiring to see Helen take centre stage as Elastigirl and pursue a career that she loves, and it is the support of her husband, Bob, that proves particularly poignant. His quiet resentment as his wife lives out his dream brings a human side to the previously one-dimensional superhuman, but his exhaustion and bewilderment when facing the everyday feats of parenthood provides the most entertaining and moving moments of the film. Ultimately, The Incredibles 2 is a celebration of family, with all the love and sacrifices that go with it.

Anna Stopford

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