In 2004, Disney/Pixar kicked off their own superhero story with the animated classic, The Incredibles. The 1960’s retro style animated film had it all: colorful, relatable characters, wonderful storytelling, and a Silver-Age Fantastic Four–style and family message that everyone, no matter the age, could relate to. After that, fans who grew up watching the first one eagerly anticipated rejoining these heroes.
After 14 years, I can say that our patient waiting has paid off as writer-director Brad Bird delivered an entertaining delight.
This Review is Spoiler-Free.
Picking up after the events of The Incredibles, Incredibles 2 finds the Parr family trying to find balance regaining the public’s trust in superheroes with their civilian lives. When a telecommunications company offers Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) a chance to become the face of superhero reform, she jumps at the chance while uncovering a new foe who seeks to turn the populace against all supers. Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) is left to keep his family together in civilian life.
Director Brad Bird wanted to do a sequel as soon as he could, but devoted his time to other projects and waited to tell the right story and he was right to. It was clear from the opening scene after the title card that Brad Bird had fun writing this film. His action scenes with family matriarch Elastigirl in a high speed motorcycle-chase with a runaway train, cityscape-hopping over rooftops, through construction yards, and helicopters were some of the best generated action sequences I’ve seen in a while. Bird’s animator impulse was going wild to the infinite possibilities of Elastigirl’s superpowers. Elastigirl definitely takes the center stage in this sequel.
Meanwhile the sidelined Mr. Incredible is left to handle his family responsibilities that his wife left behind. Not only does he have to keep up with speedy Dash’s homework and moody Violet as she navigates teenage life, there is baby Jack-Jack. We got a glimpse of the baby’s powers near the end of the first movie. They have come out more fully in hilarious fashion this time around as Jack-Jack displays a who’s who of X-team powers, much to the joy and horror of his father (Trust me, they are all used before the movie is over). Mr. Incredible quickly learns that parenthood might be harder than saving the world.
Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) gets more to do this time around while showing more of his power base off. He’s not just casting freeze-rays, but shows that he has a control of all things cold. He’s a cooler and smoother Mr. Freeze.
Brad Bird flexes his storytelling muscle, allowing the audience to breathe and live in each scene, not flipping in-between the different actions too quickly. Considering the superhero-soaked decade that we have been living through, you would think that Bird might be hesitant to return to this material. From two Fantastic Fours, three different Spider-Men, two different Batmen, and multiple ensemble team-ups, superheros have established a tower of justice, built with millions of dollars. But Bird separated himself with his amazing ability to tell a story, including something bigger underneath the action. This is a story about parenthood and moral duty in the face of unethical governance. Remember that superheroes are illegal in this world so Elastigirl’s actions of civil disobedience flies in the face of this rule to fight for what she, and other masked vigilantes, believe in. Bird also expands the world in a new city and growing on the worldbuilding the first film established.
While the look and feel of Incredibles 2 is adventurous, nothing is perfect. This film picks up directly after the ending of the first film and I think a small passage of time might have benefited the overall product; even a small jump like a few weeks or six months would have been great, especially when new heroes were introduced. It’s a small thought but it just hit my mind while watching the movie. Incredibles 2 felts more like a continuation rather than a new adventure so a small passage of time could have been a great assist. As impressive as the villain, the Screenslayer, was, the motivation could have been better. Up to the third act, Dash and Violet feel overlooked but Bird makes it all work out.
All in all, the thrills are there, the humor lands each time and Michael Giacchino’s jazzy score carries us along the nearly two hour film. If you have long awaited your reunion with the Parr family, you will not be disappointed.
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