Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times in which the “hero” within us is revealed. After saving the day yet again against The Underminer, little has changed for superheroes, who are still essentially barred from doing what they do best in the world. The Parr family of Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and Jack Jack (Eli Fucile) are forced to live in exile again, this time in a motel.
But, an olive branch is extended via businessman Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), who possesses a love for superheroes and so desperately wants all of them to return to the populace. He devises a campaign headed by Elastigirl that will show the public that there’s nothing to fear from those different than us. This sidelines Bob, now moonlighting as a stay-at-home dad with difficulties he’s never experienced. In the shadows, revenge is being cooked up on a cold dish, and all superheroes are targets.
The Hollywood that The Incredibles 1 debuted to back in 2004 was a much different landscape than the one Incredibles 2 is flying into fourteen years later. In many ways, that was the superhero team-up movie before they were a common thing, just so happened the team was an actual family that made things emotional. Releasing a follow-up with that amount of years in between often spells doom, but with tons of pieces returning, Incredibles 2 effectively delivers dazzling superhero action in an animated world.
Director Brad Bird wastes no time in reacclimating the Parrs back to the audience, staging a spectacular action sequence that literally picks up where the last movie ended. On a pure action scale, Incredibles 2 is at minimum on par(r) with the superhero action seen earlier in 2018, it’s close to perfect. Near the end, there comes a point where the action upon action becomes a little tiring to sit through, but it is a small nitpick when it looks this great. The 60’s-influenced aesthetic is present again, as is another jazzy score from composer Michael Giacchino. Energy is not something Incredibles 2 is devoid of; if anything, the time away appears to have laced everyone from Craig T. to Samuel L. with the spirit young Dash possesses in bunches in their vocal performances. Undoubtedly, the star of the show is Jack Jack; and coming out of the Incredibles sequel makes one believe that an entire spinoff could be rooted around a baby.
Kind of like how Paul Greengrass famously stated the only way he’d want to do another Bourne movie is to have the script be a worthy one (which he wrote and which really wasn’t), Brad Bird made a similar statement saying he’d only do a sequel if the story was on par(r) with the first. There’s a simplicity that movie has that Incredibles 2 does not, but, it is cool to see Bird attempt to bring up new ideas (law, politics, and ever queernees) and truly mature moments in an animated movie. At the core, the message is a familiar one, seeing a hyper-masculine character find out that being the man is more than doing the big, WOW! things and increasingly about finding fulfillment in the smaller things—this case, being a father. Fitting that this comes out on Father’s Day weekend; the theme works at any time but is especially touching on this particular weekend.
Bird’s screenplay can be a little predictable, and the bulk of the viewing audience will peg who exactly is the Screenslaver baddie by the first five minutes of a certain character’s introduction. Telegraphed as it may be, Screenslaver is pretty compelling with legitimate motivation; a monologue providing a darkness rarely seen in a kid’s movie. Would have been interesting to hear more of the worldview the villain harbors. In the grand scheme of it all, the antagonist doesn’t matter as heavily as it does in other films. The Incredibles franchise is driven by the family and their interactions; many of them being infectiously hilarious.
Shouldering massive expectations and their own semi-spotty history of lesser sequels, Pixar’s latest doesn’t power past its predecessor. But the fact that it comes even within striking distance of doing so is a sort of impressive feat.
Photo credits go to USAToday.com, impawards.com, tggeeks.com, and superherohype.com.
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