Review: Incredibles 2 - sequel just misses on super return
The odds of a lightning strike on the same spot, 14 years apart, are astronomical, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised the long-awaited sequel to Disney Pixar's masterpiece falls tantalisingly short of the genius of its predecessor.
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.
It 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 and 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 from his eyes.
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 Programme 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 temper enthusiasm for this return to dysfunctional, super-powered family life.
Skyscraper: Dwayne fails to hit heights in thriller
Thirty years after Bruce Willis defied logic and gravity to thwart Teutonic terrorists in Die Hard, Dwayne Johnson performs similar acts of vertiginous heroism in writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber's high-rise, lowbrow adventure.
Skyscraper, or Die Hardly Believable as it might have been titled in an early draft, embraces the inherent preposterousness of its dramatic set-up and the leading man's ability to overcome adversity with barely a trickle of sweat.
"This is stupid," growls Johnson as his amputee security expert stares out of the shattered window of a 220th floor penthouse at the lights of Hong Kong and prepares to shuffle along an exterior ledge to locate a pesky security panel.
His words are an apt assessment of Thurber's picture, which invites us to power off our thought processes and enjoy the base delights of one hulking man outwitting an army of gun-toting terrorists using ingenuity, brute force and everyday hardware supplies. "If you can't fix it with duct tape, you ain't using enough duct tape," quips Johnson's lifesaver during one outrageous action sequence.
Former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader Will Sawyer (Johnson) lost one of his legs during an extraction mission in snowbound Minnesota.
Sarah (Neve Campbell) was the surgeon that day and Will fell in love.
Ten years later, Will and Sarah are married with a daughter and son.
The doting father is now a security expert and has spent six months rigorously assessing the safety of The Pearl, the world's tallest superstructure.
A band of terrorists storms The Pearl and sets the 96th floor ablaze. Will is framed for the crime and must evade police as he regains access to the flaming structure, where Sarah and the children are trapped above the inferno.
Skyscraper snorts derisively in the face of plausibility and trades effectively on the inherent charisma, self-deprecating wit and physical presence of Johnson.
Composer Steve Jablonsky, who provided the soundtrack to Transformers: The Last Knight, delivers another deafening symphony to complement the digitally-rendered pyrotechnics.