The sequel worth waiting 14 years for
WHEN we last saw the super-powered Parr family, they were ready to do battle against the Underminer in the final scene of The Incredibles.
Bet you didn't think it was going to take 14 years to find out how that scuffle went - spoiler (not really though), it didn't go down well. The city is a mess and superheroes are persona non grata again.
With Mr Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) starring down the barrel of another boring insurance job, a saviour comes in the form of nostalgia-fuelled, gazillionaire tech titan Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) who wants to mount a PR campaign to save the reputations of supers and restore them to legal status.
But Deavor and his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) don't want Mr Incredible for the job - their plans centre on Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), who tends to leave less crumbled buildings in her heroic wake. Her first night out, Elastigirl saves a runaway hover train that has been hijacked by a new villain: Screenslaver, who can control anyone through screen hypnosis.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Mr Incredible is in charge on the home front, which means contending with Violet's (Sarah Vowell) teen crush, Dash's (Huck Milner) maths homework (which would do anyone's head in) and the fact Jack Jack's many insanely dangerous powers are starting manifest.
The subplot with Mr Incredible and the kids is the film's strongest. It also happens to be highly relevant with its comic but insightful exploration of the anxieties of an alpha male patriarch forced into domestic duties while his wife is out being the breadwinner. You know what? He found it bloody hard to cope.
In the decade and a half since the original The Incredibles movie, the superhero genre has exploded, most notably with Marvel's blockbusters. But there's still something fresh about the this now-franchise - no other movie blends the world-saving antics with the family story quite as well. While the sequel re-treads a lot of the same story beats, there's enough character progression to justify a second outing.
And the choice to shift the focus of the more action-driven storyline to Elastigirl feels very of the moment. She's out there doing her superhero thing while Mr Incredible is mostly a passive actor - things are happening to him rather than because of him.
Of course, what Incredibles 2 excels at is its animation - it is an absolute delight to look at with its fabulous mix of retro and high tech design, the pops of colour and its overall dynamic aesthetic. It's as if someone blended the Jetsons with a Rock Hudson movie and dialled it up to 300 per cent.
Incredibles 2 may not be as emotionally sophisticated as Inside Out and it certainly leaves a lot on the table in terms of properly delving into many of the issues it teases (modern obsession with screens, whether Mr Incredible has a real awakening, Screenslaver's philosophy of individualism over community) but that's OK.
It is still a family movie that needs to be accessible for everyone, and the well-paced flick comes in at a touch over an hour and a half so it's worth sacrificing some of those deeper elements. If anything, what's been missing from Pixar's rightly vaunted stable in recent years has been a solid and exuberant adventure romp that's not going to make adults cry.
Most of us weren't expecting an Incredibles sequel after all this time but it was definitely worth the wait.
Incredibles 2 is in cinemas now.