"The Incredibles" was a hugely successful movie for Pixar, featuring a super-powered family with a retro-future look, often avoiding though sometimes revelling in the cliches of super-hero movies with a knowing humour appealing to all ages. It also boasted some excellent retro music by Michael Giacchino modelled to some extent on the big band Bond sound of John Barry, but with more fun. The music itself was very successful with an album release as well as sheet music. The world has now waited 14 years for a sequel, until director Brad Bird found the perfect storyline. Many of the core cast and crew from the original movie have returned including composer Michael Giacchino. So with the anticipation stirred up by now Disney Pixar's marketing campaign, while movie fans can catch up with ongoing story of the Incredible family we ask whether the sequel's music can live up to the promise of the original.
Thematically and stylistically the sequel builds on the material set out in the original just as you would expect, with lots of Barry-esque mannerisms, and even hints at a number of particular Bond themes. Of course the movie does not need the macho weight of a Bond movie, and its lightness comes from an injection of comic strip action akin to the 60s camp Batman series. You can almost imagine comic bubbles flashing "Pow!" and "Crash!" in tracks like "Train of Taut". Indeed the super theme songs towards the end are perfect parodies of 70s TV theme songs, including "Elastigirl", "Frozone", and "Mr. Incredible" which latter track mixes in a touch of The Incredibles theme itself.
The opening tracks set the scene, with a Barry-esque building of suspense and big-band power chords, reminding us of the original thematic material. "Consider Yourselves Undermined!" then introduces a theme which could even be modelled on the intro to "Diamonds are Forever". A number of tracks then touch on light jazz tropes, sometimes more like Mancini than Barry, with back-to-back tracks "This Ain't My Super-Suit?" and "Elastigirl Is Back" presenting contrasting views of Elastigirl. There is also some cartoon fun with pizzicato strings in "Rocky vs. Jack-Jack" followed by more Bond-isms in "Ambassador Ambush". Romantic strings dominate "Hero Worship" while "Searching for a Screenslaver" is a longer track initially devoted to pure suspense, before it becomes a "pussy galore" high tension build-up.
The remainder of the album brings more cartoon-ish fun, some further jazzy interludes and Barry-esque moments. "A Bridge Too Parr" even seems to contain a staccato parody of Monty Norman's Bond theme, plus Barry-esque alternating chords. "Looks Like I Picked the Wrong Week to Quit Oxygen" is the action climax with repeated chords and brass screechings, while subsequent tracks feel like the family aftermath. The End Titles "Incredits 2" follows the path set by "The Incredits" on the original soundtrack and initially uses some of the same material, before branching out into some mixed genre material and jazz pseudo-improvisation. Its near 10 minute duration has everything you would expect from this sequel with some recapitulation of the new material, and it's great how it fades away towards the end. Tracks 33 to 35 are alternative versions of the earlier character songs performed by Disney's own DCappella group, a bit like a latter day beat-boxing Swingle Singers, while track 36 is their version of "The Glory Days" from the original soundtrack "The Incredibles".
Inevitably people will want to compare "Incredibles 2" with the original score for "The Incredibles" since it made quite an impression with film music fans. In this respect the sequel is a little disappointing as it doesn't quite live up to these expectations. This is probably down to various factors outwith the control of the composer. The original score album benefitted from longer tracks of continuous music. The sequel with generally shorter tracks offers more disjointed listening. This is a less satisfying experience and one wonders if the album may have benefitted from having some tracks combined into suites or smaller groups. The warbling brass effect (and to some extent the omnipresent drum-kit) can also be tiresome on the ears if overused and could have been deployed more sparingly. These are minor quibbles however and do not seriously detract from the joy of revisiting this unique sound world.
The Download and Streaming versions of the album also include these tracks: