It’s hard to believe it’s been 14 years since the last Incredibles movie graced the big screen. Despite technical advancements in films (like Inside Out and Toy Story 3) as well as better storytelling approaches (in films like Up and WALL-E), The Incredibles is still picked out by fans as among the best.
I’m not sure if there’s really a solid answer to why this is, but maybe it’s because The Incredibles tackles real life, complex issues (like marriage and infidelity) while also being a cool, kid friendly action movie. The Incredibles has a little bit of something for everyone, and there really isn’t an audience demographic who’d dislike this.
So, after many years of patiently waiting, Pixar and superhero fans finally get another dose of their favorite family of supers.
The film takes place directly after the previous installment (I love when a movie can do this properly) with the attack of the Underminer. After a public blunder that further calls the role of superheroes in society into question, the Incredibles (i.e. the Parrs) must go into hiding once again. That is, until they’re approached by Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), a business tycoon and superhero fan who wants to help gain public support to legalize supers. To do this they enlist in the aid of Helen Parr (Holly Hunter) aka Elastigirl to display the benefits of superhero intervention in society. While Helen’s off saving the world, Bob (Craig T. Nelson) is forced to become a stay-at-home parent, raising their rambunctious children. We get to see new and old characters, fun commentary on everyday life, and a malicious plot to undermine the existence of supers.
Incredibles 2 is quickly becoming another beloved installment into the Pixar canon. However, claiming it as a game changer or the next big cinematic leap in animation would be a major embellishment.
The visual quality saw a great improvement over its predecessor; and it’s interesting to see how far animation has come even within the past 14 years. The backgrounds and character movements are crisp and clear; making action sequences and special effects more appealing to the eye. A lot of the artwork in the film has this distinct futurism look to it that I took notice of almost immediately. I’m a fan of this style of science fiction imagery and found it nice to see here.
The villain of Incredibles 2 called the Screenslaver, whose identity is part of the big surprise twist, is sadly quite obvious from the get-go. It’s in fact so apparent that your first immediate guess is exactly right. It’d call this a minor nitpick, but I think even younger kids might find this to be a bit too blatantly obvious.
Screenslaver as a character is kind of ominous and has a fascinating monologue full of philosophical and ideological jargon. There’s actually a plethora of thought-provoking ideological clashes displayed in Incredibles 2 that I really admired. The biggest of these ideological themes is the place of superheroes in our society, which we see reflected in the beliefs of Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Winston Deavor, and the Screenslaver. It’s not the first time this has been debated in film (even being mentioned in the first Incredibles); however here I feel like we really get at the heart of the conflict in a fascinating way.
If there’s anyone who decides to take up arms against The Incredibles 2, it’s going to be over the pretty stagnant story, which perhaps is not as exciting as everyone wanted it to be. This could potentially be the case especially when you consider it’s taken Brad Bird so many years to get around to the sequel. Fans have been waiting so long they expect the best possible story to be told, and I’m not sure if this was it. I can’t help but feel that Pixar coaxed him into production far before he was ready. Really, the “stay-at-home dad” plot/ retread morals of the first film isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s understandable.
That being established, I think most audiences young and old can get a lot of entertainment value out of Incredibles 2. Even with the release of several superhero films a year (and countless television series), there’s something about The Incredibles films that really draws in its viewers. In this case, I think it’s because we’re all already in love with all these characters, and The Incredibles 2 just builds on top of that connection. The Parrs are an interesting group of superheroes that we love seeing interact and get into trouble.
How well the film will age after the superhero craze dies down is a good question that I don’t have the answer to. But if audience reactions are any indicator, I’d say The Incredibles 2 will be cherished for years to come.
The Verdict: B+