Incredibles 2

 

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The belated sequel to The Incredibles (2004) is a non-stop action affair, albeit with some resonant contemporary themes.

 

Incredibles 2

 

It would be a brave sequel to give us less for second helpings. Alas, Incredibles 2 waters down the domestic detail to make way for even more superheroes à la Incredibles Assemble. The original cartoon, written and directed by Brad Bird in 2004, was a true original. It took the idea of a superhero who had to cope with the drudgery of everyday life, while married to a woman with equally awesome crime-fighting gifts. He was Mr Incredible, she was Elastigirl, and even their three kids had superpowers – but they all had to keep their public personas under wraps. The film, which won the Oscar for best animated feature, was fresh, irreverent, imaginative, very funny and even thrilling (and, on occasion, quite moving).

 

The sequel, also written and directed by Brad Bird, takes off where the first one left off, in spite of a chronological gap of fourteen years. The Incredibles – the Parr family – are battling the Underminer, when Violet, the Parrs’ daughter, let slips her mask and is espied by Tony (Michael Bird, son of Brad), a boy from school she fancies. So, in a trice, poor Tony has his memory erased by a government official (Jonathan Banks) and even forgets who Violet is. Meanwhile, the Parrs fail to apprehend the Underminer, and although they save the destruction of City Hall, they are deprived of their legitimacy and are forced to go undercover with no financial aid. While Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson) contemplates a new life of office drudgery, a hugely wealthy fan (Bob Odenkirk) suggests a stunt by Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) to resurrect the Parrs’ reputation, and that of all superheroes.

 

The plot thickens and a new villain emerges with an ingenious modus operandi. Displaying a canny skill for hypnotechnology, the unknown assailant hypnotizes anybody exposed to a television, monitor or specially modified goggles. Thus, every superhero comes under the command of ‘The Screenslaver,’ except those not subjected to a screen.

 

Incredibles 2, while posing as a cartoon for all the family, is actually dealing with some pretty sophisticated issues here: the subliminal manipulation by the media (in any form) as well as the gender divide as evinced by the parental duties of Mr and Mrs Incredible. With Helen Parr out-and-about getting a name for herself, Bob Parr is left at home coping with disciplinary issues and sleep deprivation. This is all great fun but the sequel is guilty of over-stretching itself. When Bob Parr discovers that their baby also has special skills, Brad Bird rather overdoes it. Little Jack-Jack has not one but seventeen superpowers, including the ability to leap between dimensions, to replicate himself innumerable times and to turn into a flaming monster. Throw in a bunch of new superheroes with their own skillset and the whole thing begins to get terribly wearying. Incredibles 2 barely stops to take breath, so that the few diversions from the main thrust of the narrative prove to be a welcome break. These include a comic showdown between Jack-Jack and a redoubtable raccoon, as well as a magnificent showhouse that pays tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright. More of the latter would have reaped dividends, but the accent is on the action, in keeping with all the other superhero movies that have congested the multiplex this year.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Voices of  Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Brad Bird, Jonathan Banks, Michael Bird, Sophia Bush, Isabella Rossellini, John Ratzenberger, Barry Bostwick, Usher.

 

Dir Brad Bird, Pro John Walker and Nicole Paradis Grindle, Screenplay Brad Bird, Ph Mahyar Abousaeedi and Erik Smitt, Pro Des Josh Holtsclaw, Ed Stephen Schaffer, Music Michael Giacchino, Costumes Deanna Marsigliese.

 

Pixar Animation Studios/Walt Disney Pictures/Illumination Entertainment-Walt Disney Pictures.

125 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 13 July 2018. Cert. PG.