If there’s one thing that stands out from the new teaser trailer for “The Incredibles 2” (apart from how awesome Helen is on a motorbike) it’s that all of the characters look a little… weird.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s up. This story clearly takes place immediately (immediately) after the events of the first movie, and yet, all of the characters have been tweaked ever so slightly to the point that it’s going to be hard to accept this as a natural progression from the first film.
So why does everyone look just a little bit weird?
Well, it’s entirely possible that you’re misremembering what the characters look like in the first film.
“The Incredibles”, when it was released, was a masterpiece of animation; the best-looking CGI film to date. The stylzed art style really made this stand out, and significantly, meant that the movie’s many human characters didn’t tumble straight down into Uncanny Valley in the same way that was common in other CGI movies of the time (cough cough “Shrek”).
What really made “The Incredibles” stand out was the texture work. Characters’ skin had blemishes and imperfections, skin reflected light in a different way than hair or fabric. For the first time, CGI characters looked alive.
“Looked” is the operative word. While all of these features are still present in the movie, it’s hard to go back to “The Incredibles” and see it as the same pinnacle of animation. The intervening years have not been kind to this movie, and what was once state of the art visuals now looks like a bad video game.
Naturally, Pixar needed to improve the quality of their character models when they returned to the Incredibles after over a decade. This has been done before – Mike and Sully look noticeably scalier and fluffier respectively in their prequel movie than they do in the original “Monsters Inc”.
With people though, changing even so much as the skin’s texture means dramatically changing how the face is perceived. Giving Dash more pronounced freckles makes him look different, and new shading on Bob’s hair makes his receding hairline more pronounced.
These are little changes that wouldn’t matter if we were dealing with pretty much any other group of Pixar characters (you never noticed, for example, how “Toy Story 3” simplifies the stitching on Woody’s patched shoulder compared with the previous movie).
The problem with the Incredibles, though, is that this family has always felt so wonderfully human, that any change to their appearance is more instantly noticeable than similar alterations to other CGI characters.
This isn’t a dealbreaker by any means, just be aware – if you’ve seen the trailer and you think the characters don’t look quite like you remember, it’s not Pixar’s fault. They can’t compete with a decade of polished nostalgia.