Fourteen years ago, Pixar released one of the best films in their still young cannon of movies, The Incredibles. In the ever-growing market of superhero movies, that included the early X-Men and Spider-Man movies, The Incredibles served as not only a great non-comic book origin movie but it was (and still remains to this day) one of the best superhero movies ever made. The Incredibles is a story about a superhero family with an emphasis on the family. The Incredibles is really about the mundane in the super. This superhero world seemed ripped with possibilities for sequels (although I’m just preaching to the choir here). Although Pixar wasn’t avoiding the sequel deliberately in favor of Cars sequels no one asked for, writer/director Brad Bird has said he didn’t want to make a sequel unless he could make one as good as or better than the original. Certainly a lofty goal but an admirable one.
The Incredibles 2 isn’t better than The Incredibles and it isn’t quite as good but it does what it needs to do, be worthy of the Incredibles name and make this 14-year wait, worth it. The Incredibles 2 is one of the most entertaining movies of the year, with great comedy, stunning animation and a logical second story that works perfectly with the first movie.
The Incredibles 2 picks up directly where the last one left off with the Underminer! He has declared war on peace and happiness (one of the best lines in the original movie). The Incredibles intervene. The resulting battle creates destruction and restarts the debate on superheroes, should they be legal again? The Supers find themselves being enlisted by a businessman (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) who is looking to change the public perception of Supers. Elastigirl ends up going out to fight crime while Mr. Incredible stays at home to look after the kids.
The Incredibles 2 is a bit of a role reversal from the first movie. Instead of Mr. Incredible going out to do hero work it is Elastigirl. Brad Bird makes sure that the individual adventures of each character of Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl are different and not a rehash. The previous movie was about a man in a midlife crisis, trying desperately to reclaim his days of glory (among much else). The Incredibles 2 is more about parents setting aside what they want and do what the need in order to create a better future for their children, to give them the choice to choose in the future.
With that, we get some hilarious sequences with Mr. Incredible clearly out of his element trying to take care of his teenage daughter, young son, and baby Jack-Jack (who starts to really show off his random assortment of superpowers). There is certainly a bit of Mr. Mom in the DNA of this movie but mixing the everyday struggles of parenting with super-powered children yields some very funny sequences. The standout has already shown to be Jack-Jack who easily gets the bulk of the laughs.
The Incredibles 2 is loaded with comedy and laughs throughout its runtime. The Incredibles is a funny movie but is also more dramatic. Incredibles 2 has serious moments but as a whole feels a lot more comedically driven than the first movie. This doesn’t hurt the movie’s character moments but it is worth noting the two slightly different tones. That being said, The Incredibles 2 is relentlessly funny. There are almost no jokes that don’t land. I can’t remember any jokes that made shrug my shoulders; I was laughing and smiling through nearly the entire movie.
This isn’t as deep as the first Incredibles (“when everybody is super, no one will be”) but it does have an intelligent plot that does exam society’s relationship with superheroes. This isn’t really new to the superhero movie sub-genre. Recently Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War, Watchmen, and even The Dark Knight all examined this relationship to varying degrees of success. The Incredibles 2 keeps the movie intensely focused on this family and how that relationship challenges them as a family which sets it apart from other superhero movies. It keeps that “mundane in the incredible” feeling that the original movie had.
While Mr. Incredible is at home, Elastigirl battles a new villain named The Screen Slaver. Screen Slaver is perhaps the weakest aspect of the movie. The first Incredibles had this great villain in Syndrome with a very personal conflict with the main characters. The Screen Slaver starts off being very menacing and mysterious. Brad Bird does a good job of building up the villain but once you start guessing who it is, I’m willing to bet 1 of 2 your guesses will be correct and it is somewhat disappointing. It doesn’t sink the movie but by any means, it still works in the context of the story.
Before I went and saw The Incredibles 2 with my girlfriend and a friend of mine, I did re-watch the first Incredibles. The animation in The Incredibles still looks remarkable good (eventually there will be a review of the movie). But jumping from that movie to this, you really can see the leap forward in animation technology that 14 years can produce. The animation is stunning. The attention to detail for hair, clothing and environmental models is staggering. The action scenes are massive and immersive creating the dynamic action that even live action can fail to capture. Brad Bird has clearly shown himself to be a great action director with not only his animation work but also Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Here there is no shortage of terrific action moments with even Frozone getting to show off his super abilities more often.
The Incredibles 2 was absolutely worth the 14-year wait. While it doesn’t rise to the ranks of a Toy Story 3 in terms of Pixar sequels (or is quite as good as the original for that matter) but it is far better than any of the Cars sequels and even Finding Dory for that matter. The Incredibles 2 is full of heart, fun, humor and is thrilling to watch. The Incredibles 2 is one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in a theater all year and was happy to spend 118 minutes with the characters of Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Dash, Violent, Jack-Jack and Frozone again. It won’t make you cry like Coco did but it will make you laugh and smile hard.