Saturday, 4 August 2018

Film Review No. 42 The Incredibles 2 (PG)

Strong Points:
One of the funniest Pixar movies
The family life details are spot on...
Great voice acting from all
Stylish action sequences
Incredibly detailed animation and graphics
Great score
Edna's scene

Weak Points:
Never stops and takes a breath
The villain isn't quite Syndrome
The other heroes aren't really explored
...But the superhero sequences can't quite live up to them
Has some ideas (especially in the monologue) that aren't explored fully
Void's character model seemed off

Some of the greatest scenes were too short and spoiled in the trailers

Spoilers ahead:

In-depth Review:
If I could describe The Incredibles 2 it would have to be as a Saturday morning cartoon but with a much larger budget. By this I don't mean that the film is bad, or childish by any stretch of the imagination but rather that it just doesn't stop. The entire film takes place over a couple of days with almost no pause for thought. It's as if the film is reflecting Elastigirl's need to bring swift justice or Mr Incredible's need to keep the peace in the household - constantly moving, and constantly on edge.

This gives the film a different edge to other Pixar properties such as Toy Story or Inside Out. These films have a slow, thoughtful look at our own beliefs and feelings about areas such as growing up and letting go, with characters made to reflect the 'target' audience of children. Of course, these films can be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone, such is Pixar's skill. However, I'd say The Incredibles is the nearest Pixar has gotten to a more adult-oriented film (with Finding Nemo being close). The jokes about family, school systems, sleep and more are meant for the parents and older siblings who understand not just the complexities of growing up but the complexities of watching others grow up and trying to help them.

The core family of Mr Incredible, Elasticgirl, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack is as good as ever. Each has their own problems and motivations, making them relatable and mostly fully formed. I'd say that Dash could have had slightly more to him besides school, but his age group is difficult to cater for without making the film fully about him, so I understand why they didn't. Mr Incredible was the standout character for me, with the constant struggle for him of leaving the 'super stuff' to his wife, while his children also struggled to allow him to help while their mother was away. A couple of the points didn't carry on as much as I'd liked and were left semi-resolved, for example, his jealousy of his wife's achievements could have been more of a central film, potentially leading to a different direction for the villain (or at least a stumbling block). Overall, though, The Incredibles are an incredible family, and it's great to see a slightly different team to the ones we are used to with the MCU films.

This was one of the most laugh out loud Pixar films I've seen, mostly due to the more adult-oriented jokes mentioned above, and Jack-Jack. Jack-Jack and his multitude of powers are simply brilliant, inventive and original. From a fight with a racoon which finishes with multiple Jack-Jacks, to floating through multiple dimensions and turning into a monster when he doesn't get a cookie, there were simply so many standout scenes with Jack-Jack, that he easily picked up the slack of some of the other supporting cast - namely the other superheroes (besides Krushauer and his reverse crush scene). A shout out to Edna Mode's scene as well. I won't spoil it here, but it was brilliant, without the need to rely on Easter Eggs and nostalgia (although there was plenty of them as well).

The villain of the film is sadly not a fully developed Underminer, complete with heartbreaking past and a reasoning which while twisted, makes you stop and think. No, instead we have ScreenSlaver, a character with two, quite different motives. The one the film decides to focus on is a classic 'I'm always on the sidelines but have had enough of other people's mistakes and so will exact my revenge' motive, which while enough to make a character out of, overall, it's not quite Syndrome for a backstory. The other motive is hinted at through an excellent monologue and other visual cues - the idea that humans use screens and superheroes to avoid risk in their own lives, watching talk shows instead of talking to people etc. This idea was actually quite chilling, and I wish they'd done more with it. Overall though, the villain was serviceable but not much more. Kudos for making me jump with the reveal though.

The action sequences in The Incredibles 2 are just as inventive and stylized as the characters which complete them. From a high-speed chase to catch a train using a motorbike (not quite GTA: San Andreas but close) to a fight involving portals, shields and elastic, each fight is original and great to watch. They are busy enough to be interesting but not so busy that you can't keep track of everything. They sometimes even change visual styles, with the more comic book-esque fight in the hypnotic cage a particular highlight. I do wish that some of the superheroes powers could have been utilised more, in particular, Frozone, whose scenes mostly consisted of objects not slowing down even against his snow.

The voice cast is as impressive as the first film, just now with added realism. The characters struggle to find words and switch emotions on the go, and the entire film feels a lot freer than others have before it. This is helped by the increase in animation from the previous film. I was awestruck by the animation on display in this film. So much detail is packed into the environments that it feels like a real city, even if a character is just passing through. It's also gotten to the point where naturalism isn't compromised by the needs of animation, as was shown by a conversation between Bob and Helen as they got ready for bed. Each pause and filler for thought was expressed, each movement of the duvet and toothbrush as the characters tried to settle down. It was an outstanding piece of animation, an understated piece of mastery compared to the loud but equally impressive action pieces. A slight problem was that Void's model seemed to be more out of How To Train Your Dragon or Big Hero 6 for some reason, compared to the other characters who were instantly recognisable as being in The Incredibles universe.

Conclusion: overall, I really enjoyed The Incredibles 2. While more of a checking in with the family than world-changing, the film never felt forced and to be honest, it was nice to see these characters again, after so long. Hopefully, we won't have to wait another 14 years for another.

Rating: 90%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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