Incredibles 2 smashes Pixar's sequel curse with a breakneck action film that's more than fit to touch the hem of the original’s cape
If we ignore the triumph that is the Toy Story trilogy, sequels have been Pixar’s kryptonite. The follow-ups to Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc tarnish the memories of the gem-like originals while the endless Cars films are running on fumes. The curse ends, however, with this breakneck superhero drama, which is more than fit to touch the hem of the original’s cape – not that the Incredibles would be caught dead in such hazardous apparel.
We begin with the Parr family – Bob (aka Mr. Incredible), Helen (Elastigirl) and their three kids Violet, Dash and baby Jack-Jack – broke and living in a dingy motel, the use of their superpowers once again outlawed. Things look up when a brother-sister team (Odenkirk and Keener), co-owners of a huge tech company, suggest a PR campaign to make supers popular again. Helen, with her non-smashy stretchy powers, is less likely to cause collateral damage than her musclebound hubby and is the obvious choice to head up the charm offensive, leaving Bob holding the baby.
Bird once again makes a strong claim at being today’s finest director of lucid action. Elastigirl’s rescue of a runaway monorail is a breathtaking highlight, closely followed by some brutal hand-to-hand combat in a room with walls of strobing light that’s both gorgeous and ferocious and a reminder that Pixar’s CGI animation can still cause our jaws to drop.
In among all these heroics, there’s a pleasingly goofy Looney Tunes-style digression of comic carnage when baby Jack-Jack squares off against a hungry racoon and demonstrates his newly manifested litany of superpowers, which include among many others the ability to turn into a bitey purple rage monster and shoot lime green lasers from his eyeballs.
Since the original back in 2004, superhero flicks have become cinema’s chief money-makers. Brad Bird’s fleet-footed sequel reminds us, though, that movies featuring god-like beings can challenge human-sized issues and not take themselves too seriously while doing so. It also reminds us that changing nappies and keeping house can be as demanding as punching bad guys, and that punching bad guys isn’t just a job for the boys.
Incredibles 2 screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival on 24 Jun
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