Incredibly, the first Incredibles movie came out 14 years ago. It’s a tough act to follow, having garnered critical acclaim – including an Oscar for Best Animated Feature – and stewed in the sweet juice of nostalgia for long enough to have assumed the status of cherished childhood favourite.
Its neat concept played with the idea of the nuclear family. The Parrs – comprising stretchy mum Elastigirl, super strong dad Mr Incredible, invisible force-field daughter Violet, zip-fast son Dash and baby Jack-Jack – were a suburban family trying their best to appear “normal” after “Supers” had been outlawed.
Kids could enjoy the sassy crime-fighting, while parents laughed knowingly at the satire of their own domestic struggles. Incredibles 2 picks up right where that left off, with the characters nary a day older, meaning we’re spared Dash’s struggle to get on the housing ladder in the San Francisco Bay area.
The set pieces are pacey, cinematic and just as thrilling as any live action equivalent
Supers are still very much illegal but the Parrs have a chance to redeem themselves. A pair of wealthy, orphaned siblings, whose parents adored superheroes but were murdered shortly after they were outlawed, enlist the Incredibles in their crusade to restore public support and repeal the law banning Supers. They do this by installing cameras on Elastigirl (she’s deemed the safest bet, much to her husband’s displeasure) to track her heroic deeds, allowing the viewing public to see the tough decisions they face while trying to save the world, rather than the smashed up cities they leave behind.
The gender role-reversal isn’t just timely, it’s also the source of many of the film’s jokes, with Mr Incredible struggling to tackle the school run and look after a baby that never sleeps (said baby eventually steals the show).
The set pieces are pacey, cinematic and just as thrilling as any live action equivalent. A sequence in which Elastigirl has to stop a runaway train reversing through the city is a particular heart-pumper. Fan favourite Edna Mole, the capricious superhero suit designer, also makes a welcome, if brief, reappearance.
In the end, Incredibles 2 pulls off a truly heroic feat by not just meeting those 14-year expectations, but surpassing them.