Incredibles 2

incredibles_two_ver11STARS4As far as this animation fan is concerned, The Incredibles is still the greatest Pixar movie ever made. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say it’s perhaps the greatest superhero movie ever made as well. I mention this because it helps to appreciate my mindset as I entered the theater to watch Incredibles 2. This was 14 years in the making. I had high expectations and I greeted this sequel with breathless anticipation. Did it deliver?

In a word, yes. It’s an absolute joy. The kid in me was delighted. It’s entertaining and colorful and funny and all the things that a good feature should be. The action embodies the peaks of Whiz! Bang! Pow! spectacle. The score by returning composer Michael Giacchino is profoundly compelling. I highly recommend this to anyone that wants to see a good film. That’s everyone obviously. However, and this is why I opened my review with where my head was at, this doesn’t even come close to the heartfelt emotion of the previous story. Part of that lies in the inherent qualities of original vs. sequel. The first was blessed with the grace of purity. The Parr family was realizing their abilities right before our eyes and the mere exploration of that was a simple pleasure. In a follow-up, that novelty is gone. Now there is an expectation to expand upon the world and deepen our understanding.

As such, this is a more complicated production. The chronicle picks up where The Incredibles ended. After failing to stop the Underminer from robbing the bank with his massive drill, the authorities are worried. The destruction caused to the city has forced the Incredibles and other “supers” to retire from duty for the moment. I initially thought of the Sokovia Accords that regulated superhero powers in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War. Although Pixar was first. The theme of assimilating powerful individuals into normal society was present in the studio’s 2004 entry as well.  Enter Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) who leads DEVTECH, a telecommunications company, with his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener).  She is voiced with the world-weary sarcastic knowingness of Catherine Keener sporting a cartoon face that looks hyperrealistic — especially when compared to her brother’s ridiculously long face.  Winston is a fan and wishes to reignite public support for “supers”.  Since Winston deems Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) to be the least destructive, he advises her to fight crime as part of a publicity stunt.  It is during this period we are introduced to a new villain, Screenslaver, a baddie who hijacks screens by flashing hypnotic images that brainwash civilians.

With Elastigirl out fighting crime, the adventure reverses the traditional gender roles of mom and dad.  Thanks to DEVTECH corporation’s plan, Elastigirl is now the public face of superheroes while Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) stays home to take care of the kids. It’s not easy for him.  We’re so far past thinking this notion is a revolutionary concept that it’s positively quaint when the screenplay presents the idea as if it’s treading new ground. Look! Women can go to work.  Men can take care of their own children.  The basis for the plot is positively retro like a sitcom still firmly rooted in another era.  Even the obstacles with which Mr. Incredible must contend while being a stay-at-home dad seem like issues out of the past. While assisting his son with his arithmetic, he exasperatedly exclaims in frustration “This is Math! Why would they change Math?” There’s even a part where the Incredibles are given a space aged home filled with technological advances. I was reminded of the 60s cartoon The Jetsons. I wouldn’t be surprised if they struggled with similar issues.

I’m nitpicking mind you. Despite its inferiority to the original, Incredibles 2 is still the second best “Part 2” that Pixar has ever put out. The best sequel being Toy Story 2. We love this family. Their wholesome relationship is just as captivating as before. Older sister Violet (Sarah Vowell) and her brother Dash (Huck Milner) complete the family dynamic.  Bob’s best friend Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) is back too.  Fashion designer Edna Mode (Brad Bird) is wisely inserted into the drama again but she doesn’t overstay her welcome. The revelation of each unique personality is gone, but it’s nice to see everyone return nonetheless.

The character that really gets his due is Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile). The baby has an entire cadre of various superhero powers and much of the fun/laughs is discovering what this tiny tot will do next. His fight with a raccoon is a specular tableau, one of several in this film.  Writer/ director Brad Bird really knows how to frame an action set piece and there are many to dazzle you here. Once again, an Incredibles film out marvels Marvel. Amazingly this particular one all takes place within the confines of the backyard of their home. It’s telling that simplicity is its strongest asset. It’s that restraint that is missing from a somewhat more cluttered narrative.  The motivation for the villain is a bit convoluted too.  This doesn’t achieve the sheer feeling of Pixar’s very best works.  Instead, I will remember Incredibles 2 mainly for the spectacular action, music and style….but oh what style!


14 Responses to “Incredibles 2”

  1. Ok, it seems like I may need to check out The Incredibles now. Your enthusiasm for this is super-infectious. No idea why I missed out on the original.


    • Wait? You still haven’t seen The Incredibles? Wha???!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • What happens when I say I’m also missing Finding Dory, Up, Wall-E and Toy Story 3?



      • I meant Finding Nemo, and by extension the sequel lol


      • It’s hard to miss those films. They’re so ubiquitous. I’d assume you’re not a fan of animated movies. Is it a Pixar thing? What about Aladdin, The Lion King, Shrek, Despicable Me?

        Liked by 1 person

      • It is hard! I am impressed by my ability to do that but no man, it is far from intentional. I do love animation, and Pixar is brilliant. Toy Story and Inside Out rank up there amongst my favorite films ever. Loved The Lion King. Aladdin is ok, and the Despicable Me franchise never spoke to me. I guess you just wouldn’t necessarily call me a Pixar completionist. 😉

        That said, I really REALLY want to advance my Studio Ghibli education. They grapple with some themes that are really impressively bold and mature. Plus I think their animation style I favor over Pixar.


  2. It was perfectly fine. Just compared to the first and a lot of other Pixar, just not nearly as good. Nice review Mark.


  3. I agree, Brad Bird really does know how to set an action set piece, brilliantly. He knows what works. I was so happy with this sequel. Fun, loving, caring characters. This is gonna be a huge hit. Well deserved! 4stars


    • It will be a huge hit. I should’ve predicted this as the second biggest hit of the summer. I foolishly thought Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom would actually be good.


  4. I have yet to see the film but in my family I go to work and my husband is home with our son. It’s not anything unusual to us but you would be surprised how much life is set up for mum at home and dad at work. Every activity group for babies and toddler is “Mum and baby”. Every online community is mum focused. The health nurse always rings me for visits no matter how many times I mention that trying to arrange times with me is pointless. I think for a lot of the world it’s still a revolutionary concept.


    • I get that and I agree that mentality is still present throughout most of the world. This was a new concept back in 1983 when I saw the comedy Mr. Mom with Michael Keaton. 35 years later and I find Pixar is a little late to the party, but the movie is still wonderful. I loved it.


  5. I am so excited for the new Incredibles film, we’ve waited so long for the second part in the story x


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: