Incredibles 2 at EIFF: ‘a generic slice of caped crusading’
If any movie deserves the subtitle ‘Electric Boogaloo’ it’s Incredibles 2: an unnecessary late-stage sequel to a movie that never required a follow-up. Call me a cynic, but Pixar’s plan to cash-in on misplaced nostalgia (Incredibles is, despite popular consensus, one of the weakest films the studio has produced) seems incredibly obvious.
We rejoin the titular family of Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Violet, Dash, and baby Jack-Jack just as superheroes have become illegal. No sooner have they agreed to hang up their suits than an eccentric billionaire comes in to save the day. Winston Deavor has a plan: use miniature cameras designed by his sister Evelyn to record the actions of ‘supers’, and demonstrate that they can indeed be a force for good. One problem: Mr Incredible is, perhaps, too destructive in his actions to be used as a pilot study. Therefore, child-caring duties will be left to him whilst, simultaneously, Elastigirl will continue crimefighting – especially against emerging bad guy Screenslaver.
Let’s start with what’s good about this thing. Well, firstly, it’s quite funny. Rarely in a truly laugh-out-loud way; more like a twee, comforting, gentle laugh in a busy auditorium kind of manner, but funny nonetheless. Secondly, the animation (as we’ve come to expect) is fantastic, if not very interesting. It’s textbook Pixar style, which is fun, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s enough – especially with unique, beautiful looking projects like Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse becoming more and more mainstream. It’s key to note that there are no points here at which one might go ‘wow, this looks really great’, even if the standard is consistently high. Thirdly, and perhaps most surprisingly, the action sequences are rather thrilling – from an excellent opening drill chase, to some dizzying fights set to hypnotic, strobing backgrounds, Incredibles 2 consistently entertains.
Explaining what’s bad about Incredibles 2 is a little more taxing. Pixar is renowned for producing emotionally resonant, powerful content – but there’s little of that here. Pixar has also, in the past, pushed narrative and conceptual boundaries (Inside Out, for instance) – and, again, Incredibles 2 is completely standard. What we have here is a socially relevant story of an at-home father struggling to cope with domestic life that’s devoid of reality or emotion, and as a result feels rather hollow. The crime-fighting half of the film feels like it’s trying to play to some contemporary anxiety about technology, but again ends up being a generic slice of caped crusading.
Incredibles 2 is fine: it looks nice, sounds nice, and features some nice set-pieces. But that’s it. It’s dull, unexciting, and unnecessary. Where’s the inspiration? Where’s the emotion? What’s the point? There is none – well, apart from making a shit ton of cash.