Long-awaited sequel to Pixar masterpiece falls short of genius of its predecessor
Film review: Incredibles 2 (PG), 8/10
The odds of a lightning strike on the same spot, 14 years apart, are astronomical so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that the long-awaited sequel to Disney Pixar's masterpiece falls tantalisingly short of the genius of its predecessor.
Of course, this is the animation studio which recently delighted and astounded us with Inside Out and Coco, virtuoso fables pictures of dazzling visuals and heartbreaking emotion, which prove anything is possible if you dare to dream.
Incredibles 2 is bigger in scope and ambition than the original and boasts thrilling action set pieces as well as a familiar menagerie of endearing characters including diminutive fashion oracle Edna Mode voiced by writer-director Brad Bird, whose ability to scene-steal has not waned since 2004.
The sequel exploits the burgeoning powers of the youngest and cutest member of the Parr clan, baby Jack-Jack, for uproarious laughs and there are some terrific sequences in which the adorable toddler cycles through his various powers to the mounting dismay of his exhausted father.
A rough 'n' tumble encounter between Jack-Jack and a thieving raccoon in the family's backyard is a tour-de-force of slapstick and visual gags, reaching a delirious crescendo when the baby starts firing green lasers uncontrollably from his eyes and his four-legged opponent realises that a garden parasol is no longer a safe place to launch an aerial attack.
The second film begins after the dust has settled from the epic showdown between villain Syndrome and protectors Bob Parr aka Mr Incredible (voiced by Craig T Nelson), Helen Parr aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and their children Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile).
Public affection is waning for the Superhero Relocation Program overseen by Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks), which would make the Parrs obsolete.
Thankfully, ardent fan Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his techno-savvy sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) believe they can turn the tide and they propose that Elastigirl fronts an aggressive publicity campaign while Bob takes care of Jack-Jack.
A masked menace called Screenslaver emerges from the shadows and threatens the safety of the metropolis.
Elastigirl races into the melee, flanked by a motley crew of superhero wannabes comprising Krushauer (Phil LaMarr), HeLectrix (also LaMarr), Reflux (Paul Eiding), Voyd (Sophia Bush), Brick and Screech.
Incredibles 2 overcomes a sluggish opening 15 minutes to rediscover some of the old magic. Bird's sequel is effortlessly entertaining and when the script hits its mark, guffaws come thick and fast but memories of the flawless original film temper enthusiasm for this return to dysfunctional super-powered family life.
The main feature is preceded by the adorable and disturbing animated short Bao, directed by Domee Shi.
This contemporary riff on the Little Gingerbread Man tests the bond between a mother and her unconventional child: a steamed bun, which magically comes to life. Yummy.