- The Incredibles 2
The sequel to the successful Pixar film, The Incredibles 2 stays on brand without compromising on its relevancy, repurposing the family dynamics that bring us the funniest jokes and injecting a handful of thoughts on technology that messes with our behaviours and beliefs into the story.
The superheroes fill our screens: on a quarterly basis, we get a tentpole blockbuster with superior individuals who try to save the world from total decay. They’ve become quite a staple of the restless times we’re going through, bringing us hope for change and progressing through their own film cycle with more diversity and creativity (the recent Black Panther and Infinity War from Marvel should be a testament to that). But it doesn’t mean they always defy the convention: the archetype stays the same, and sometimes breaking away from it brings out outrage in those who don’t quite appreciate these changes – The Last Jedi battle comes to mind here. The new animated feature from Pixar, The Incredibles 2, gets a bit of freedom that’s related to the fact it’s not stringently pencilled into the years-long episodic franchise plan, and although it’s based on the success of its predecessor, it doesn’t fail to surprise us with its freshness.
In the world where supers are not seen as saviours and held accountable to the laws that apply to anybody, our beloved Parr family needs to go into hiding after the mission they try to complete goes awry. But so long for the middle-class domestic life: once they move to a motel to start a new life, an offer that they can’t afford to reject appears on the horizon. A CEO of a massive telecoms corporation invites the family for negotiations, offering them a chance to defend the honour of the supers. There’s just one condition, though: Elastigirl must be the face of their project. Although initially troubled with questions, she heads back into her superhero life, leaving Mr Incredible at home with their children.
Although Elastigirl has always been a wonderfully feminist character to start with, the sequel of The Incredibles makes her role exemplary. This time, she’s on the frontline (and on the front pages of all the newspapers) combatting the evil single-handedly to stand up for the supers. She’s never quite been on the famed maternity leave as we know it, juggling raising her kids and fighting delinquents. And the film is definitely on the joke: when our leading lady takes down the criminals and saves the civilians, Mr Incredible tries to cope with the realities of juggling all the domestic duties. It doesn’t take long before solving homework with son, trying to understand his teenage daughter and taming the energy of his youngest offspring shows him that a whole lot of flexibility required to run a household is another superpower that his wife possesses. We know where Mrs Parr’s superhero moniker really comes from, right?
Just like the last time, we’re joined with the splendid voice cast that helps to create the connection with the characters and bring variety to every single persona. We’ve got Craig T. Nelson as Mr Incredible, Holly Hunter reprising her role as Elastigirl, along with Huck Milner and Sarah Vowell as their children. They’re joined by brilliant Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone, who we can never get enough of. The newcomers are Bob Odenkirk as Winston Deavor, the CEO of the telecoms company, as well as Catherine Keener as his sister, the genius product designer and the brains behind the company he owns.
But the film digs a little deeper than just the family dynamics, immersing us in some lessons on society as we breeze through the perfectly paced story. The Hollywood trend of placing technology at the heart of evil has expanded considerably over the past couple of years, and the Pixar’s newest release taps into it with success. The tech mogul that wants to bring the supers back into the spotlight repeats that he does it for the society, but he’s also an archetype of a certain personality that became so familiar to us that it sparks certain eeriness from the get-go. He’s essentially in a fandom, in love with his superheroes, remembering every single detail of their history down to their costumes and longing for the times long gone. But what he represents to us is quickly questioned. There’s unease in the PR moves that he consistently orchestrates, and questions regarding his ulterior motives start piling up fairly soon. Will fighting technology with the same medium bring any tangible results? How do the gadgets and upgrades blind us, and how do they break the human behind them? The Incredibles 2 points to the human nature and cooperation in response, trying to pose some difficult questions about the superior saviour or breaking the unfair laws for the greater good too.
The Incredibles 2 takes us back to the beloved, original story that first conquered our hearts fourteen years ago and hasn’t aged at all. The characterisation is as detailed as ever, the story is a joy to watch, and the film balances relevant, provocatively tackled topics with the belly laughs brought by the excellent gags, proving that the superhero films can be a fresh, daring statement on the times they’re created in without missing out on the sheer entertainment.