WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead.
Fourteen years ago, a movie called The Incredibles was released by Pixar Animation Studios. I was very young at the time, but it’s undeniable how different it was from others I’d seen. Being it was one of the first memories of my childhood, I still hold the film very close, and after rewatching it before my viewing of its long-awaited sequel, I can say that it still holds up very well. But we’re not here to talk about that movie, are we? We’re here to talk about the highly anticipated, Incredibles 2! It may be more than a decade late, but it certainly ranks among the studio’s best outings (something of a rarity these days).
Naturally, this film was never going to be as tremendous or as influential as the first. That’s just how it is, and always will be. But this sequel proved to be a perfectly great sequel for a multitude of reasons. Let’s start off by talking about the story.
Incredibles 2 picks up right where the first left off, with the family now facing a new enemy: the Underminer. Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) witnesses the scene and decides that now is the time to put forth his plan to legalize superheroes again. He chooses Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) for the introductory phase, which comes as a surprise to Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), who is left with the burden of taking care of the kids. This is made worse by the fact that they’re each going through their own issues. Violet (Sarah Vowell) is angered after an awkward encounter with her crush. Dash (Huck Milner) is having troubles with homework. And Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile)…well, he’s got some powers to show off now.
The film itself is unfairly overhyped, but at least in terms of the plot, it knows what it’s doing. Brad Bird’s first two Pixar outings are, simply put, the best that the studio has ever released. Bird continues that trend here, with an undoubtedly intriguing and cohesive story with only a few minor issues. The main problem encountered when viewing this movie is a sense of predictability. In 2018, computer-animated movies (and superhero flicks) are not a rare occurrence in Hollywood, and it’s easy to see a formula that’s developed over the course of more than a decade. That being said, the film still retains its original themes, exploring an even deeper sense of family by turning the tables and putting Elastigirl in the lead, which is a phenomenally enjoyable substitution.
The characters are still as enjoyable as they were fourteen years ago, but this time they get even more development, a welcome change. In the original film, they were sidelined, but it was, and still is excusable. It wasn’t their story. This time, it’s all about the kids, especially Violet. She was always the voice of reason among the children, providing a more polished sense of intelligence to the group. However, she really steals the spotlight here, as the issues she goes through can resonate with audiences. Every kid has felt a sense that they don’t belong or that their parents don’t understand what they’re going through. That’s what makes these films so great, though. They send messages (prevalent ones) and are able to convey them to an audience’s still developing mind.
The villain, Screenslaver, is, unfortunately, one of Pixar’s weaker baddies. The studio’s had some truly great antagonists over the years, and the first Incredibles film’s villain Syndrome is one of those. With this new installment, however, the heroes’ rival is a step-down. The ultimate reveal of who’s under the mask isn’t really that surprising, and the motivations behind them are a bit too convoluted for a kids’ movie. That being said, their powers are pretty damn cool. Being able to manipulate minds through technology is a fun twist on what has changed since the release of the original.
The humor also works in many ways. Pixar’s films can be marketed as many different genres, but comedy is by far the easiest to lure kids in with. However, with Incredibles 2, the humor is smart, sufficient, and never manages to become meaningless or stupid. The only thing I would go so far as to criticize would be the fact that the dialogue relies a tad too much on close knowledge of its predecessor. More mainstream fans will enjoy a lot of it, but probably not all of it.
Incredibles 2 manages to find some strong footing, despite every ounce of overhype. The characters are even better than they were fourteen years ago, and having Elastigirl front-and-center gives the movie an extra level of intensity. The action sequences are fast-paced and extraordinary, and the animation looks more fluid and sharp than ever. The villain is, unfortunately, lacking in many qualities that make a great antagonist, but this is undeniably a strong follow-up to an influential and iconic film. Definitely go see it this weekend, fan of Pixar or not.
Incredibles 2 stars Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Samuel L. Jackson, Brad Bird, Jonathan Banks, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener. Directed by Brad Bird.