Incredibles 2 ★★★

First, let's take it for read that this has many pleasurable virtues in the humour, action and design categories. So with that out of the way, here's several reasons I liked this less than its predecessor.

1) Can we agree to never ever have another movie about whether super heroes should be legal? Is there anything that is more done to death and boring as shit?

2) I know this is ostensibly a kid's film - because what kid *doesn't* love superficial moral grappling with the legal status of superheroes? - but almost any adult will see at least a variant on the central plot twist arriving an hour in advance.

3) On the one hand, if you're going to make half your movie a MR. MOM remake in 2018, this is a half decent remake/transposition. On the other hand, half this film is a MR. MOM remake.

4) Those offended by Bird's Randian leanings in previous films won't find much here to take umbrage at (other than perhaps a John Galt-style speech, but you'd have to do more mental gymnastics than I feel like doing to a. posit that character as John Galt and b. posit that as an endorsement). But I'm honestly not sure what you *do* find. The Screenslaver's critique is rather pro forma, as we're not really given a WALL*E-esque world where people seem enslaved to screens. There could be some juice in (SPOILERS) a tech genius being amoral while a businessman obliviously facilitates their ends, but there's really only a superficial glancing suggestion that that's how this should be read. Most of the thematic stuff seems strung together for setpieces, which is fine - more than fine, whenever Jack-Jack or Void are involved - but leaves the inevitable action a bit empty. Say what you will about the tenets of Objectivism, but at least it's an ethos.

5) 2004 was a very different time for a few reasons, but one is that harkening back to an era where America seemed a shining beacon on a hill could give one potential optimism for the future. (Never mind that Frozone wouldn't be allowed to drink at a water fountain with Elastigirl then, much less fight crime together.) This is obviously one of those "your mileage may vary" situations, but I had genuine optimism that post-9/11 America might get its shit together, elect a decent President, clean things up, and lead with an optimistic vision. For obvious reasons, that part of me is dead now, and so this shiny society of world leaders swiftly uniting for an accord seems less plausible than Elastigirl's powers.

6) Another difference is fourteen years of progress in visual effects and animation. I remember, of all things, being blown away by a shot where Mr. Incredible is blow-drying a book, and the motion of the pages. Now, everything is possible and nothing is interesting. There's no way that I can think of that INCREDIBLES 2 *could* have impressed me in the way that its predecessor did, in terms of advancement of technical possibility. I mean, I'm sure there's some fractalised rendering or something that tech geeks are freaking out over, but fucked if I can tell.

7) Also, fourteen years ago, the MCU (and, fine, the DCEU) didn't exist. THE INCREDIBLES existed as a proxy for all the great superhero movies that hadn't been made yet. While I recognise that some readers will find "great superhero movies" a contradiction in terms, I'd argue that if you're remotely inclined to enjoy such movies, you'll find something for your taste. And while they haven't really nailed a FANTASTIC FOUR movie yet (at least anecdotally; haven't seen any), the niche that INCREDIBLES 2 is filling is so much smaller.

8) This is sort of a subset of 6) and 7), but those twin advances in technology and superhero ubiquity meant that - barring the delight in the unpredictability of Jack-Jack's powers - I didn't really get that much pleasure from superheroes using their power. Elastigirl gets a few great moments, and Void is clever (although I expect if I'd ever bothered to play Portal it would seem much less clever). The rest? It's fine.

What's fundamentally dispiriting about INCREDIBLES 2 - again, despite many great bits! I laughed! I was rarely bored! - is how superfluous it is. Pixar not so long ago was great at finding underexplored worlds and bringing them to screen? Of late, only INSIDE OUT and COCO have come close to hitting that remit. Everything else *looks* super, of course. But when everything's super, nothing is. That's what someone said once, anyway.

TL;DR: Better than half the superhero movies out there, more fun than most of them, I'm jaded, ignore me.