During the first 15 years of its existence, Pixar Animation Studios carved an unprecedented legacy for itself by consistently delivering original, imaginative & thoroughly captivating stories that, when merged with their groundbreaking computer animation, offered a cinematic experience that was unforgettable & unparalleled for their emotional impact. Their only franchise in the meantime was Toy Story and it still remains one of the greatest trilogies ever made.
But the advent of 2010s saw Pixar jumping into the pool of sequels & prequels in addition to losing its unblemished streak of critical & commercial success as the pioneering studio gave us follow-up chapters to stories that never really needed any follow-ups, to be honest. If there’s a Pixar film that ever deserved a sequel or made us wish for one, it’s none other than The Incredibles, a superhero film that even today ranks amongst the best offerings of its genre.
It’s been a long wait, 14 years to be exact, but our wish finally comes true this year as the next chapter in the Parr family saga is finally here. And it starts right where the previous film signed off. An action-packed, wonderfully witted & impeccably animated instalment that retains the heart of the original, Incredibles 2 is another marvellous entry in Pixar’s oeuvre that’s fresh, funny & fascinating in more ways than one and nearly manages to be worth the 14 years wait.
Picking up directly after the events of the first film, the story follows the Parr family as their attempts to stop the Underminer results in heavy collateral damage which in turn forces the government to shut down the program that supported them, thus leaving the family without any financial assistance. In comes a business tycoon with a plan to bring the Supers back into the sunlight but when Elastigirl is chosen to spearhead the publicity stunt, Bob decides to look after the kids.
Written & directed by Brad Bird (best known for The Iron Giant, Ratatouille & Ghost Protocol), what actually made The Incredibles so intriguing, interesting & invigorating in the first place was never the superhero stuff but the family dynamic, and Bird is aware of that core understanding in this sequel. The plot it packs in is as amusing as it is riveting and the narrative balance the film aspires for is almost as precise as the original. But despite all that, this action adventure feels somewhat inferior to its predecessor.
The returning characters are still amazing to watch, they still retain their unique identity & charisma, and their respective arcs exhibit even greater depth this time. By reversing the roles of Bob & Helen Parr, Bird gives both characters more dynamics to explore but this arrangement also allows him to play with the idea and come up with some genuinely hilarious situations, most of which revolves around Jack-Jack as the toddler starts showcasing his various superpowers, thus making Bob’s role as stay-at-home dad even more exhausting.
The 3D computer animation is much more refined & sharply detailed than its predecessor but considering over a decade worth of tech advancement, it isn’t that surprising. Top-notch animation is something we often take for granted when it comes to Pixar because it is always a given. But the vivid use of colour tones & accurate lighting do certainly stand out, for the images are polished to near-perfection and meticulously rendered. And further enriching the viewing experience are its outstanding camerawork, steady pace, solid editing & another splendid score from Michael Giacchino.
As for the vocal performances, Incredibles 2 finds Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Samuel L. Jackson reprising their respective characters with Brad Bird standing in for the ever amazing Edna Mode once again. Dash is voiced by a different kid but it’s hardly noticeable. The interplay between these familiar characters remains the heart & soul of this story just like the last time, and every single one of them play their part with finesse. The new additions include Bob Odenkirk & Katherine Keener as they play the siblings who attempt to bring back superheroes by revamping public’s perception of them.
On an overall scale, Incredibles 2 is a fascinating blend of kinetic direction, deft writing, clever wit, gorgeous animation, excellent voice work & lively score that finishes as one of the most enjoyable & entertaining works of the year. Falling slightly short on hype & expectations yet way more balanced than your average superhero flick, it is an enthralling ride that promises a fun time packed with plenty of thrills & laughs and effortlessly delivers it. The derivative third act & predictable twist do prevent the story from attaining a better height but it’s a minor shortcoming in an extravaganza that lives up to its name and although not as memorable as its predecessor, Incredibles 2 is still a damn wild ride that’s absolutely worth your time & money. Definitely recommended.