Thursday, 19 July 2018

Incredibles 2

Fantastic Five

Incredibles 2
USA Directed by Brad Bird
UK cinema release print.

Okay, this one’s kinda fun.

Despite dropping the definite article preceding the rest of the title, Incredibles 2 is still a sequel, 14 years later, to The Incredibles. I guess they’re thinking that if they want to ignore this sequel later down the line they can slap it back on and call that one The Incredibles 2 maybe?

Now there was no way in my mind that this follow up was ever going to be as good as The Incredibles because, frankly, that movie was one of the top ten greatest animated feature films of all time, as far as I’m concerned. However, I have to say director Brad Bird has done a good job on this one and it’s still a pretty great movie. It’s also not, quite, just a repeat of the first film although, honestly, there are some structural similarities and the ‘not such a surprise’ villain is a similar kind of reveal, in some ways, to the plot twist of the first movie (which I think was handled a little better).

This one concentrates on Elastigirl, voiced once again by Holly Hunter, as she embarks on a superhero campaign, marketing to bring ‘supers’ back into the limelight and stop them from being illegal anymore. Meanwhile, Mr. incredible, voiced once more by Craig T. Nelson, is left at home holding the baby and being a house husband trying to keep things going by solving a problem with Violet’s love life and Dash’s mathematics homework while trying to cope with baby Jack Jack’s growing list of super powers. And, like the first one, it all seems to work really well.

Now, the director does take things into slightly different waters where the first movie didn’t go, in one scene where he has anthropomorphised an animal... which does seem to mark new territory here in that, like in the first of the Fleischer Studios Superman cartoons of the 1940s, it seems a little out of place in a film which is primarily a version of the world we live in (albeit one where super powered humans actually exist). However, I have to say that the sequence in question, where Jack Jack goes toe to toe in a ferocious fight with a racoon, is a pretty cute scene and it’s not too intrusive within the chemical mix of the rest of the movie, in that it in any way dominates the style of the remainder of the story. It’s just a fun scene which you can let go of as soon as it’s over without, necessarily, thinking about the way the ecosystem of the ‘Incredibles Universe’ works in these films.

As with the first film, it’s all very nice to look at with rich colours, neat editing and it all moves along at a breakneck pace. Everything, again like the first film, is held in place and glued in all the right places (pretty much wall to wall, in this case) by Michael Giacchino’s incredible score. Now, it has to be said that while the soundscape he used for the first movie is back here, as it should be, the film is not quite as derivative of the style of the first film’s rejected composer John Barry. For instance, you can hear the temp track of films like Goldfinger and Thunderball screaming through in the music from the first film to such an extent that you can literally just drop tracks from the Bond films into The Incredibles and they would be timed to hit exactly the same dramatic points. That being said, there’s one cue in the new film where Elastigirl is on the way to her first day on the new job which sounds like a glorious mash up of John Barry’s Into Miami from Goldfinger and Jerry Goldsmith’s Your Zowie Face from In Like Flint so... you know... some of this homage is still present in a few places. It’s maybe not quite as fun as his first score but it’s still pretty great and works well, again, as a stand alone listen.

I think there were maybe a few missed opportunities in terms of cameos of characters from The Incredibles that might have made it into the second but because it’s trying to do, to some extent, it’s own thing in terms of story (although there are some marked similarities, too), I can’t really blame the writer/director for having a few characters sit this one out. That being said, he still has deliberate echoes of the first film finding their way into this so the fans and admirers of the original don’t feel too disappointed. So... we have a scene with Edna Mode, voiced once again by the director, getting to grips with baby Jack Jack’s new powers and we have a plot set up involved around a superhero coming out of retirement and facing possible betrayal at some point in the story. The point is, though, that despite having this kind of thing built into it, it never really feels like you're retreading old ground and Bird seems to really hold everything together in order to give us a new adventure from the heroes we’ve come to love.

And that’s me done on this one. Incredibles 2 lives up to the superlative of its title and gives people who loved the first one something else to give their affection to. If you’re already on board with these characters then you should have a great time with this one. If you’ve not seen the original, however, you might want to go back and watch that one first as this one starts off literally with a flashback scene which picks up, to the second, where the last one finished. Whichever film you watch first though... have a good time.

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