When the first The Incredibles film was released 14 years ago in 2004 Pixar were in the midst of their golden period, releasing films like Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and Wall-E. The superhero cinematic landscape was entirely different back then too, with only a few comic book films worth mentioning and seemingly lightyears away from the multi-billion dollar force they have become today.
It was – and still is – a modern-day animation classic, but the challenge facing Incredibles 2 was how to bridge a decade-and-a-half to keep the Parr family relevant amongst a now overcrowded market. As Syndrome (the villain in The Incredibles) taunted menacingly in the first film “when everyone’s super…no one will be.”
Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter and Sarah Vowell all return to voice the roles of Bob “ Mr Incredible”, Helen “Elastigirl” Parr and Violet respectively, with young Huck Milner stepping in as Dash and Samuel L. Jackson joining up again as their old pal Lucius “Frozone” Best. The family have no idea about baby Jack-Jack’s (Eli Fucile) emerging superpowers (although we have for well over a decade) which become more apparent as the story unfolds.
The film picks up immediately from the end of the first, where the Incredibles have just defeated Syndrome and a new foe, the Underminer, has burrowed his giant drilling machine onto the surface of the city. The aftermath of their battle sees them blamed for the destruction caused and the Super Relocation Program being closed down, making it illegal for any superhero to use their powers.
But all may not be lost. A billionaire tycoon, Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), is a superfan of the family and offers a potential solution although it may mean a big change to the family dynamic. From there the story launches into the rest of its world, which is best enjoyed in the moment.
The elephant in the room that needs to be cleared up is how well Incredibles 2 holds up to the first film. 14 years is a long time to wait no matter how good the original may be and while the sequel is mostly a lot of good fun, it was always facing an uphill task to match the impact of the original. The story is really what lets it down but it’s impossible not to enjoy the return of these familiar faces who look as fresh as they did in 2004.
That’s because the animation aesthetic has remained exactly the same, really finding its groove in the action sequences that have more than a hint of James Bond and Mission Impossible about them. The theme of parenting stretches on from the last film, with nods towards criticising the media, the legal system and challenging the traditional role of men in the family unit. But, this is mostly handled with kid’s gloves as you’d expect.
There is some talk of a third Incredibles film, or a shoot-off working its way up the Pixar pipeline but hopefully, they decide to leave things here. Incredibles 2 allows you to indulge in a little bit of early 00s nostalgia in a sequel that cannot touch the original but also doesn’t tarnish it in anyway.
Incredibles 2 is released in UK cinemas on July 13th.