Incredibles 2 (2018)
Director: Brad Bird
Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell
Synopsis: Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for the kids while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
MPAA Rating: PG (for action sequences and some brief mild language)
Release Date: June 15, 2018
It's been 14 years since a unique family of superheroes called the Incredibles first appeared on screen. The hit film of the same name came at a time when Pixar was at the peak of its creative genius, regularly delivering original, smart, entertaining films that uniquely managed to bring out the laughs but retain emotional depth that resonated with audiences of all ages.
Up until 2010, the only sequel the animation studio produced was Toy Story 2 (1999). Since then, the studio has pumped out six sequels, of which the vast majority received glowing praise from both critics and audiences. With perhaps the exception of Finding Dory (2015) though, a sequel to The Incredibles was always the most heavily sought after from audiences. Well, after years of talk and anticipation, we've finally got it.
Incredibles 2 picks up immediately where the original left off, with the Parr family fighting the Underminer as he attempts to rob the Metroville Bank. After failing to stop him, however, the government once again becomes concerned with the collateral damage caused by the encounter and soon after Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks) informs the family that the Super Relocation program is being shut down, forcing the Parr's to once again remain in their secret identities. Shortly after though the family is contacted by a company named DEVTECH that may have a solution, and Helen (Holly Hunter) is offered a job to complete a mission that may bring Supers back for good.
One of the reasons sequels are so difficult to write and produce is that you are working with an already established world and characters, so the sequel has to try to present something new and unique while still retaining the elements that worked in the first film. That being said, Incredibles 2 is filled with the familiar (but exciting) entertaining action sequences and laugh-out-loud humor that made the original such a hit. This time around, however, the vast majority of the humor comes from Jack-Jack, the Parr's infant, as the family around him tries to control his erratically developing powers. While Jack-Jack's scenes certainly deliver all the humor you need, one leaves wanting to see more of the comedy spread around the other characters, including the returning ones such as Edna Mode (Brad Bird), who sadly doesn't make as much of an impression as in the original.
Aside from comedy, Pixar has always aimed to provide social and cultural commentary in its films, and Incredibles 2 certainly follows that trademark in commenting on the recent shift and refocus on women's rights and opportunities over the last several years. Though Helen was an important character in the original (she rescued Bob when Syndrome captured him and held the family together as a whole), she's given a larger role in this film, as DEVTECH chooses her for their mission instead of what would've previously been an obvious choice in Mr. Incredible. Though this deliberate shift seems too obvious of a reference, it's still refreshing to see her serve a larger role as Elastigirl, and it also lets the door open for Mr. Incredible to serve a much different role in maintaining order in the home while she's away. While these shifts in the story are largely beneficial, Mr. Incredible's character seems to be downplayed a bit too far--even as far as him appearing to be physically weaker, unable to move objects that he should be able to move given his actions in the original or simply needing assistance for superhero tasks he should be able to handle himself. It's a rather frustrating element of the story that again awkwardly feels deliberate.
Besides a few role reversals for characters, the story provides little surprises or intrigue, and the villain feels overly familiar, clichéd, and predictable. Though the character is given some brief background, we really don't feel much as an audience for the individual, unlike Syndrome from the first film, who, though clearly an evil, malicious character, was actually just a misguided boy simply trying to be incredible himself.
Incredibles 2 certainly delivers the action, humor and gorgeous animation we know and love from Pixar, but it lacks the intelligence and heart of the original, as it’s hampered by a clichéd, dull villain and a less-than-intriguing story. Nevertheless, it’s still a fun, entertaining ride, and though it's Pixar's longest effort at 118 minutes, it's remarkably well paced and fluid, with the story advancing quickly but not feeling rushed. As the credits roll, younger audiences will undoubtedly be pleased, but fans of the original will most likely feel underwhelmed.
Written by Anthony Watkins, June 24, 2018