Following up a beloved movie after more than a decade is always a challenge. Pixar have already shown that they’re able to do this successfully (see: Toy Story 3) and also fail completely (see: Monsters University). So now, 14 years after the original, where does The Incredibles 2 fall on that spectrum?
Well, the movie starts strongly, picking up exactly where the first instalment left off. It’s a really fun and exciting reintroduction to the Parr family and their universe, but the rest of the movie struggles to maintain that momentum and becomes a series of subplots. It’s symptomatic of a lack of focus throughout the film, and The Incredibles can’t decide what story it wants to follow through so it settles on all of them. None of the new characters make much, if any of an impact either; it may be a little ironic that the supervillain with hypnotic powers is so forgettable.
It’s strangely undisciplined from a studio that are so renowned for their focus on story and character, and in fact it feels like the whole movie was formed from a series of animated shorts. This is no more apparent than in the sequence involving Jack-Jack and a hostile raccoon, which while entertaining feels very much like it could be – and probably even was – its own thing outside of a main feature.
Some of the returning elements are perfectly fine, great even; time seems to have had no effect on Holly Hunter’s voice whatsoever. However the years haven’t been so kind to other aspects, and the art style just looks weird with more powerful graphics. It’s like when characters that are always intended to be 2-dimensional go 3D, something feels off. That said, I’m sure there will be corners of the internet that will appreciate some of the animation advancements…
It’s a few days after I saw this film, and the more I think about The Incredibles 2 I’m less convinced that it needed to exist. As mentioned above it’s certainly not the first Pixar property to be dusted off after a lengthy period of time, but at least those other Pixar sequels have tried to give us interesting and engaging characters, and definitely not compromise in the story department. Here though, it’s hard to see who this film was made for or why it was made in the first place.
Fan demand seems the obvious answer, where one could barely move online for hype since the sequel’s announcement. It’s a quick buck from a studio that at one point seemed to be more about the love of their art than filling their swimming pools with money, Scrooge McDuck style. No doubt there will be a third instalment as The Incredibles 2 sucks all the money out of parents’ pockets worldwide, but it feels at the cost of more than a little bit of integrity.
As another, better superhero movie that is also now over a decade old once said, you either die a hero or live long enough to become a villain. It’s something that Pixar and The Incredibles‘ producers should bear in mind for the future.