Tag Archives: Brad Bird

Incredibles 2 (2018) Movie Review By John Walsh

Incredibles 2

Director: Brad Bird
Writer: Brad Bird
Stars: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell 

A couple of weeks ago, I blathered away about sequel syndrome, the movie studios obsessive urge to fire them out and why I wasn’t a fan of them in general. The main reason being that they’re often at the expense of a great, self contained story. The original Incredibles, now fourteen years old, was the perfect example of an intelligent, slick and fun standalone film. Of course, it gave us that memorable cliff hanger ending with the Underminer and everyone assumed there would be a sequel shortly afterwards.

The film was a complete financial success too, which normally would solidify a second chapter being green lighted, but it remained a wonderful singular entity for over a decade. 

That is until Brad Bird, the director and writer, finally had a creative jolt or some kind of epiphany and penned a screenplay worthy of continuing our lovable, goofy, group of heroes journey. I only discovered the new films existence late last year. The first Edna teaser somehow evaded my glance, but needless to say, when I finally found out there was to be an Incredibles 2, I was absolutely ecstatic. I’m contradicting myself with that one, I know, but some sequels just demand to be made and this is most definitely one of those examples. 

There’s always that danger of damaging or forever corrupting the enjoyment of the original with a shitty made sequel though, but this is Brad Bird we’re talking about here. He gets this wacky universe of chaos and superhero bans. 

After watching Incredibles 2, I’m very pleased to say that he hasn’t ruined the enjoyment of the original. If anything, he’s enhanced that story, because it picks up right at that moment the Underminer burrows out of the ground and seamlessly blends the two together. Think of a better executed version of Back to the Future 2’s opener and you’ll be on the money. Our familial superheroes spring into attack with an exhilarating, flurry of action. The city is brutalised in the process and worse still, the antagonist manages to escape, leaving the good guys to carry the can. 

There’s something magical about a Pixar animated film. The artistry of the visuals is undeniable and a total joy to see on the big screen, but they also have that uncanny ability of attracting a wide spread of demographics, as the crossing of the £1bn mark in record time will testify. The reason is fairly obvious too. They take a simple concept, mesh it with stunning visuals and an undercurrent of deeper themes, and in doing so manage to connect with toddlers through to great grandparents. It’s been done in Coco and even the non-Pixar Paddington films recently, and the very same thing is at work in Incredibles 2.

The film is split into two distinct perspectives. Firstly, you’ve got the more simple, superficial plot of Elastigirl taking on the antogonist Screenslaver whilst fighting to empower and legalise superheroes, which were famously banned in the first film. But underneath that, is quite a powerful message about the dangers of modern society’s obsession with consuming tv and also just the obvious message of empowering everyone in society, regardless of their gender, sexuality and so on. Secondly, is Bob Parr’s simplistic plot of juggling parental duties whilst enviously watching his wife take the spotlight. Underneath is an equally powerful message about the complexity of parenthood and the difficulties of multitasking that comes with it. 

Stepping away from the deeper, more cerebral meanings though, it’s just an incredibly fun, quick paced and riveting story. All of the characters we loved from the original are back, barring one obvious villain, and each are given their own moments to shine.

Elastigirl was the most prominently featured. She’s obviously the most level headed of the family, which makes her the default ambassador for Winston Deavor’s drive for superhero acceptance. Jack Jack was by far my favourite however. The overwhelming majority of laughs came from his antics. The raccoon fight in the backyard was hilarious, as was the bonding session with Edna and the edible lavender, fire retardant moment. He was a little, combustible, Swiss Army knife of powers and I loved it. Bob was also enjoyable, he cut an exhausted figure for the most part, trying to help Dash with maths, keeping Violet from having an emotional breakdown and a toiling with Jack Jack. 

Frozone was sadly limited to a handful of admittedly action packed flourishes, but listen, Samuel L embodies the character and I love him. The villain, Screenslaver was cool enough, without ever troubling Syndrome as the best we’ve seen in the universe. The identity twist was telegraphed, but the character was complex for the genre and I could once again understand the ignorance that drove her actions and motivations much like in the first film. There’s was also some cool new additional superheroes that popped up and the one with the portal power in particular was a standout. 

I absolutely loved the action sequences throughout. The runaway train and the way Elastigirl stopped it gave me Spider-Man vibes, the raccoon fight was up there and the climatic battle was incredibly enjoyable. It had everything, from the skydiving, seat ejecting, an oversized toddler smashing through walls, propeller tampering, ice skating to just amazingly put together animation. The way they all cooperated to stop the gigantic ship from slamming into the city, harkened up memories of the frantic rush to rid Thanos of his gauntlet on Titan in Infinity War. The final ten minutes or so was like the entirety of good stuff seen in the film in a microcosm. 

I had been waiting to see this film for over a decade and there was a point when I didn’t think it would happen. Bird had been quoted as saying that he’d only do it if the story was bang on, which is admirable in today’s movie business. It was definitely worth the wait, however, I don’t think it quite topped the original. It’s a cracking film though. It was a visually stunning bit of escapism, that featured great voice acting, the exploration of complex themes, mixed in with some genuinely hilarious antics and light hearted fun. 

I don’t even need to recommend this film. If you’ve seen the original, it’s more of the same. If you haven’t seen the original then have a word with yourself. 

Rating: 5/5

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Tomorrowland (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

TOMORROWLAND

Director: Brad Bird
Writers: Damon Lindelof (screenplay), Brad Bird (screenplay)
Stars: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Thomas Robinson

Tomorrowland is the movie Director Brad Bird opted to make instead of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. I remember at the time thinking “You’re a Star Wars fan but you decided not to accept Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy’s offer of directing the next chapter in the Star Wars Saga…..are you mad?”

Having watched Tomorrowland I can now appreciated Bird’s decision and understand as a fan of the Star Wars Saga he wanted to enjoy the next episode as a fan and also now viewed Tomorrowland and it’s concept I fully understand why a guy like Brad Bird was more inclined to be attracted to this movie.

Having something in common and a shared destiny, Casey Newton (Robertson) bursting with scientific curiosity and a ton of questions and a former inventor and boy-genius Frank Walker (Clooney) embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.

I have to admit that I had to watch this twice before deciding to review this movie as although the storyline isn’t at all complex, there is a lot happening in this plot. The opening sequence to this movie finds young Frank (Robinson) in the early 1960’s attending a science fair in which he had brought along his latest invention, a jet pack that he wishes to be accepted in by the fair via a man named “Nix” played by Hugh Lawrie. At first, I believed the young girl “Athena” (Raffey Cassidy) with Nix was actually his daughter but there is a reveal  later on in the movie in regards to their relationship that I don’t want to spoil for anyone who hasn’t watched the movie yet.

After his invention is rejected he is encouraged by Athena to follow him with Nix’s party into a secret part of the fair Frank discovers a portal to another world and time that will change his life forever. At this point I am trying my best not to uncover too much of the plot but I think it’s fair to say that this other place is ahead of it’s time and more advanced than Earth in the 1960’s.

One thing I have always enjoyed is the futuristic theme that is ironically set in the past. To give you an idea of this, if you have ever played the game “Fallout” on any home console you will get what I mean. Even those World Fair scenes in Captain American: The First Avenger or going further back with another Joe Johnston project “The Rocketeer” I have always found it fascinating on how the past has tried to project an idea that is “futuristic” Well that is the theme and tone to a lot of this movie. I hope i’m making some kinda sense?

Present day America and it is young Casey Newton who discovers being in contact with a pin transports her to a glimpse of this world that a young Frank discovered all those years ago. She must now seek out the older Frank to discover the secret behind this strange land and why he was banished from it forever and also uncover a secret that only Frank knows about the fate of earth.

Tomorrowland as previously mentioned is a straightforward storyline but a lot happens in this movie at an alarming rate that you will miss things on a first time viewing. Visually this movie is a masterpiece and top marks to the visual effects guys who pulled off the almost impossible task of making the audience believe in this world. The action is just as important and the visuals help these sequences become believable and will keep you engrossed for the duration of the film. This is why I now understand the creative freedom Brad Bird would have had on this project as opposed to the Star Wars brand.

The cast are phenomenal in every aspect and have great chemistry between them in particular Clooney as old Frank with the brilliant Britt Robertson and equally brilliant are Thomas Robinson as young Frank and Raffey Cassidy as Athena. The humour in this movie reminded me of the chemistry we saw with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in the original Star Wars movie that combined great action and danger with the right amount of humour to keep it light. Having said that, this film does have some darker tones for a Disney movie and some of the fighting sequences are quite graphic (Robertson with a Baseball Bat anyone?)

Tomorrowland is a highly recommendable movie that all the family can enjoy from start to finish. Going into this movie I did expect it to be more for kids and it is to an extent but all age groups will enjoy this movie and my only regret is not seeing this in the cinema on it’s release. If you have already watched Tomorrowland then I’m sure you will appreciate it for what it is and it definitely is a movie you can revisit. For anyone who hasn’t watched it yet, I can’t recommend this enough.