Making Superheroes Fun Again
Review: Incredibles 2
Starring the voice talents of: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener
In a year saturated with superhero films, it would be easy to think that the Parr family might be crowded out by the sheer mass of competition. With some fifty superhero films arriving on the scene since The Incredibles’ credits first rolled, the genre has lost some of the novelty and freshness that it had in 2004. It is a testament to Pixar’s powers that Incredibles 2 makes the superhero film feel new and alive again.
Taking place shortly after the events of the first film, Incredibles 2 sees the Parr family coming to terms with the fact that superheroes have been made illegal. A chance to change this presents itself in the form of Winston Deaver (Odenkirk), a wealthy superhero fan who offers to lobby for re-legalisation on the superheroes’ behalf alongside his brilliant inventor sister, Evelyn. The family’s new life is interrupted by the Screenslaver, a new supervillain whose mind control works through the screens people are constantly glued to.
Pixar are held in high esteem for creating family-friendly stories that manage to interrogate deeper themes. Where Up looked at the importance of connection to stave off loneliness and Wall E presented a world ravaged by human greed, Incredibles 2 skewers (and at the same time, pays tribute to) classic superhero conventions. The film also explores modern families, with Mr Incredible struggling as a stay at home dad while Mrs Incredible becomes the sole remaining superhero and breadwinner. The commentary here is low-key and covert, but the way that a family animated film manages to provide a better look at these films than most blockbusters is yet another testament to Pixar.
With some ahem, incredible action sequences, Incredibles 2 matches Pixar’s usual high standards for animation, standing out among the already high standard set by the previous efforts mentioned above. Running at 118 minutes, it manages to make that time feel short, getting the exact balance right between exposition and action. While there is no end of credits scene, it is worth sticking around through the credits for some fun theme songs about the individual heroes that are hinted at during the movie.
As superhero films continue to flood the market for the conceivable future, the films that stand out will be those who show us something we haven’t seen before, those iterations whose themes are different and whose heroes are diverse. With Incredibles 2, Pixar have shown their Disney stablemates a few things about how this can be done.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor
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