- Review by Kaya Savas - 7/10/18
Incredibles 2 sees Michael Giacchino reconnecting with Brad Bird for the first time since Tomorrowland. This sequel also comes to us 14 years after the first Incredibles. The first film was such a treasure that gave us really amazing characters to fall in love with, plus a story that was more engaging and fun than 100% of the live-action superhero movies being made today. Thankfully Brad Bird and company decided to make a great continuation of these characters instead of trying to make a sequel to outdo the original. Giacchino gets to flesh out more of his love for composers like Henry Mancini and John Barry for a sequel score that is inspired and thrilling from start to finish.
Getting to listen to Giacchino revisit something that he did 14 years ago in his career is truly something. You can tell how much he has grown as a storyteller in that decade and a half, but also how his roots are so uniquely his own. Brad Bird gives us another character-focused superhero film that in the end is more about marriage and juggling work and family than it is about crime fighting. That doesn't keep the film from having some of the best choreographed action sequences that are more captivating than anything you’d find in a Marvel film these days. This is where Giacchino really gets to flex his orchestral action writing. By keeping the score simple, with some really hooking motifs, the music becomes an amazing backbone to the narrative. A lot of it reminded me of his score to Speed Racer, which is highly underrated. From the opening set piece with the Underminer to the runaway boat finale, the action scoring here is just superb and engrossing. Giacchino also gets to balance a bit of tactical espionage mixed in with the few scenes of big action, and that makes the whole narrative extremely engrossing.
For the characters, we do get some more fleshing out for Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl. The film is really about parenting roles in a family, and how to juggle that. The film has a 2-hour running time, which is pretty rare for an animated film. There is a big dose of character-building here that may bore the kids, but it’s almost like Brad Bird made this movie for people who watched it in theaters 14 years ago. The score doesn’t go overboard with heavy-handed emotions, but paints our heroic family with enough substance that we feel their presence in the music outside of the iconic main theme. And speaking of that theme, it was wonderful to see Giacchino not overplay it. The Incredibles theme is used the perfect amount throughout, and it gives this second score a dose of familiarity without going overboard.
Incredibles 2 came out right next to another Giacchino score in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Getting to experience these two side by side really illuminates the difference of a composer working with a writer/director like Brad Bird versus a bloated wreck of a film with no creative vision like Fallen Kingdom. Incredibles 2 doesn’t feel like the “new and improved” Incredibles either, it feels more like a true next chapter that doesn’t try to outdo what came before. While this score lacks any heavy emotional depth, it's still a brilliant piece of storytelling that balances action and character better than anything you'll find in Marvel or DC superhero movies these days. And for that, it's one of the best scores of the year.