Quick Hit: Nearly its predecessor’s equal, but lacking some small details to gain it there.
I fell head over heels for the first Incredibles movie when I first watched it. It has continued to be one of my favorite movies, and I’ve passed on the love of it to my sons. The sequel was heralded as a success in my household, though one of my boys has also deemed it as “Scary”. And indeed, there are some frightening moments in the movie – but what I think is most impressive is just how on point the movie is, and how Brad Bird manages to wrangle the heart of a movie that is 14 years old and push it into this year’s sequel.
The movie starts literally where the last one ended, with the UnderMiner attacking the city and the Parrs stopping them. But afterwards, amid the wash of property damage caused by the stop of the villain, Bob (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen (Holly Hunter) are approached to be the new face of superheroes as legislation is pushed forward to make superheroes legal once again. The catch – they want Elastigirl first, not Mr. Incredible, because of her ability to control property damage. This relegates Bob to Mr. Mom duty, and Helen learns to function in her own realm without her children.
Now if you’re worried this is a straight forward breakdown of gender roles, allow me to assuage you. There are only a few jokes that lean down this well-traveled road, and instead, we get to see a woman becoming empowered by her own choices. We get to see a man learning to spend time with his children and helping them grow, despite the fact that parenting is exhausting. One of the little choices that you can notice in this is just how alive Helen looks compared to the first movie, where she seemed like a worn down mother. Now, Bob has a look akin to his first movie, but it’s a happier look – he may be just as tired, but it’s not dragging on him like his insurance job.
The kids are still great, supplying a lot of heart. But nothing in this film beats Jack Jack, who steals literally every scene that he is in. Finding not just one power but a multitude of them, Jack Jack has battles with raccoons, jumps dimensions in search for cookies, and eats flame retardant. He is the true joy that Brad Bird lets out about being a super powered being. Essentially, if the rest of the Parrs are the Watchmen, struggling with their existence in the universe, Jack Jack is essentially StarFire – happy to be super.
There is tons of super action here – there are some new ones with fun powers that will be familiar for those that have read/watched X-Men – but I think that scene that shows us exactly what superhero animation can be is the scene where Elastigirl is chasing down the runaway train. She uses her body in so many different ways, it actually takes multiple viewings in order to be able to catch everything. It’s fun and the animation here is superb, and shows when you apply the right format to things that you can get some truly amazing visuals. It reminds me a bit of seeing Man of Steel for the first time and seeing Henry Cavill fly off into the air.
Despite all this, I think that Incredibles 2 has a bit of a villain problem compared to Buddy/Syndrome from the first movie. Screenslaver just doesn’t hold up when compared to that. Though the “twist” is something that most adults will see from about 20 minutes in, it probably holds up for kids – but the true deficiency is in the development of the character. I think we gained a lot from having a character like Mirage in the previous film, because it gave more room for Syndrome to be mysterious. Here, with everything essentially on the table from the introduction, there isn’t that same growth.
So I think Incredibles 2 is probably one of the most successful Pixar sequels. It’s right up there with the Toy Story sequels in my book. I’m giving it an “A-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"