Compared to the likes of Finding Nemo, Up and more recently Coco, The Incredibles has always been one of Disney Pixar’s lighter, more fun outings. Incredibles 2 leans into that idea, and then some.
When we meet the titular family again, they’re gearing up to face the Underminer, the antagonist who popped out from beneath the ground right at the end of the first film.
What follows is one belter of an opener – (seriously, it’s so good it’d look at home in any Marvel movie) – as parents Helen, Bob and their kids try to take down the baddie with the big teeth and even bigger drill alongside pal Lucius. The scene flexes each of the supers’ powers brilliantly; Mr Incredible uses Elastigirl as a human trampoline, Violet zaps a boulder with one of her force-fields and Frozone skating between buildings on his self-made ice has never looked cooler. All the while, the team bickers humourously about who should be lumbered with infant Jack-Jack. (Cue plenty of baby-lobbing between family members).
That energy rarely lets up. After their destructive fight with Underminer, the Parrs are approached by wealthy telecommunications mogul Winston Deavor and his savvy sister Evelyn, who pitch putting cameras in their suits as a way of changing people’s perceptions on supers. As Elastigirl has the least problematic track record – much to Mr Incredible’s annoyance – she becomes the cause’s poster person and gets sent to the roughest part of Metroville to fight crime in the public’s eye. But their PR stint hits a snag when a mysterious figure named Screenslaver, who controls people via hypnotic broadcasts, shows up.
Elastigirl is an inspired choice of lead this time round. Her powers are infinitely thrilling to watch; her stretchy-self swinging from skyscraper to helicopter, shape-shifting into a parachute and extending between two halves of a motorcycle.
Her heroics also mean that husband Bob stays at home to care for a loved-up teenage daughter, a hyperactive son and a baby who’s just begun showcasing his many, many superpowers; something that provides many of the film’s laughs – one standout set-piece sees Jack-Jack get into an explosive spat with a raccoon – and simultaneously, more touching moments as well.
You’ll be riding such a high that you probably won’t care that the story is a little on the weak side. Several beats feel familiar – Violet pining over her schoolmate, one of the parents going back into the field alone, another monorail rescue – and new flourishes aren’t developed enough. Examples being introducing interesting supers like lava-barfer Reflux or dimensional teleporter Voyd only to give them frustratingly fleeting screen time, and the film’s villain.
Like Syndrome in the first movie, Screenslaver has personal reasons for wanting to wreak havoc but they appear to have other motivations that, when you realise who’s behind the masked message-maker, seem relatively random. Despite it being glaringly obvious who Screenslaver actually is, the movie tries to maintain the mystery of their true identity for far too long, meaning that when they are finally revealed, they have none of Syndrome’s charisma or threatening presence either.
While Screenslaver falls flat, other characters literally soar. Jack-Jack and his abilities – one of which cause his sneezes to propel him skyward – absolutely steals the show, whether he’s spontaneously combusting at inappropriate moments or grinning sweetly as he slams his face into a bowl of milky cereal.
It may not be as polished as its predecessor, but Incredibles 2 is action-packed and joyful enough to please fans already connected to these characters. To pinch a phrase from Edna Mode, who declares she enjoys Helen and Bob’s drop-bys several times in the first film, we enjoyed this sequel’s visit.