Film review: Incredibles 2
Fourteen years after they charmed their way into the hearts of audiences, the Parr family is back as the Incredibles. Writer-director Brad Bird raised the bar for animation and crafted a new superhero family with Helen, Bob, Violet and Dash. In the sequel, the family is back, with the addition of baby Jack-Jack, but the world at large is anti-superhero. The drudgery of living in a motel and working as a dull insurance salesman is more than Bob can bear. And though the Parrs try to stay below the radar, sometimes the scale of villainy—like an attack by the Underminer—requires them to suit up.
Frustrated at being banned and misunderstood as troublemakers, Helen (voiced by Holly Hunter) pushes for Supers to be reinstated. Bob (Craig T. Nelson) reluctantly swallows his male pride and takes up the equally great challenge of managing the home. This entails dealing with Violet’s (Sarah Vowell) growing pains, Dash’s (Huck Milner) mischief and watching Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) reveal his superpowers.
This gender role reversal means that while Bob is learning the ropes of being a stay-at-home dad (he’s particularly frustrated with the math homework), Helen is enjoying being front and centre of the action. She’s rocking a new suit, especially designed for Elastigirl, and a new set of wheels, courtesy deep-pocketed telecom tycoon and superhero patron Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his tech-savvy sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener).
But things take on a dark and dangerous shade when Elastigirl is confronted by a formidable adversary, Screenslaver, who hypnotises through available screens. It’s now time for the Parrs to show why they are incredible. They team up with Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) and get a little help from Edna Mode (Brad Bird) and a host of bargain-basement heroes like Mr. Reflux, the Crusher and Voyd.
The voice talent is in top form and the unveiling of Jack-Jack is a highlight, opening the door for the return of costume designer Edna Mode and a whole lot of chaos. Bird has a field day moulding Jack-Jack to be a pint-sized superhero. When she returns from her mission, Helen exclaims: “I missed Jack-Jack’s first power!”, to which Bob replies, “Actually you missed his first seventeen.”
Bird laces in subliminal messages, but the main attraction of Incredibles 2 is the focussed storytelling, the clear and uncluttered animation and unadulterated fun. As far as sequels go, this one’s a fine follow-up and, with Jack-Jack coming of age, “Incredibles 3” (should it be on the cards) holds great promise.
Before a Pixar main feature film, we can usually expect a heartwarming short. Preceding Incredibles 2 is a tasty little dialogue-free film called Bao. A middle-aged Chinese woman’s listless days are enlivened when a little bao she has made comes to life. The cute dumpling, whose head gets squashed every time he attempts a header during football, becomes her constant companion until age begins to change him. Director Domee Shi takes a touching look at the empty nest syndrome in under 10 minutes, leaving you with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
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