Director: Brad Bird
Starring: (voices of) Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huckleberry Milner, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Isabella Rossellini
Run Time: 118 mins
Director Brad Bird has always said he would only make a sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles if it was a better concept than the original. That’s a lofty promise, especially considering how the first film is one of Pixar’s best and for its time, marked a change in the superhero genre as it deconstructed its generic constructs. After a 14 year wait, it is with heavy heart that Bird seems to have reverted on this promise.
Incredibles 2 begins immediately after the end of the first film with the Parr family battling The Underminer, but after they cause rather a lot of collateral damage, the family are left without any financial assistance as the superhero program is shut down. This is until a new technology company reach out to them to help put these superheros back into the public limelight again.
Unfortunately, what follows is a painfully predictable narrative and a storyline that erratically meanders all over the place that isn’t particularly all that interesting. In Incredibles 2, Bird essentially revisits all the same beats as the first, only role-reverses the characters.
Many have praised Incredibles 2 for its gender politics as Mr Incredible is required to stay at home and raise his children while his wife goes out to fight crime. This is quite poorly handled as it fails to provide a commentary on this theme and instead rams a strong message of feminism down the audience’s throat. Whilst Bird has fun with extended sequences of seeing Mr Incredible at home struggling to control his children, the whole conceit of why this happens in the first place is rather baffling and utterly threw me out of the film.
A superhero film is only as strong as its villain and the villain in Incredibles 2 is poorly executed. The sinister Screen Slaver’s motivations are one-note and outdated, a villain who hypnotises subjects via technology. The character doesn’t really add much to the plot and could be removed entirely. Jason Lee’s Syndrome in the first film was outstanding because we saw the progression of the character from an innocent individual to a villain created by the actions of the characters.
Incredibles 2 isn’t a bad film; it’s just average and after a lengthy 14 year wait, that’s not good enough. I’m genuinely surprised Bird saw reason to stick with this obvious and predictable narrative, especially considering he is often an ambitious director with fascinating ideas. At least other Pixar sequels, often for better or worse, have gone in a completely different direction and have taken risks. Incredibles 2 sadly places as one of Pixar’s weakest films and a crushing disappointment.