Fourteen years ago, filmmaker Brad Bird invited us into a 1960s-esque retro-futuristic world where superheroes are real. Of course, they were in hiding thanks to laws that made them illegal. However, by the end of ‘The Incredibles’, we entered a new age of Supers thanks to the Parr family. And that’s where we left Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack. But fourteen years later, we’re finally ready for a trip back to Metroville to catch up with this amazing family thanks to ‘The Incredibles 2’. And while it doesn’t exactly capture the same trademark Disney/Pixar magic as the first one, it’s safe to say that it’s incredible to see everyone again.
Picking up moments after the original, we catch up with our heroes just after the Underminer emerges from deep underground to try to take over the world above him. As the Incredibles and Frozone take on the villain, the level of destruction caused by the unsuccessful attempt to save the day causes the authorities to remember why Supers were outlawed in the first place. Although, Winston and Evelyn Deavor of DEVTECH see things differently and work towards reinstating the heroes of old by making Elastigirl the poster girl for the benefits of superheroes. With Helen off being a hero, Bob is left to take care of the family. Each parent is left with their own challenges, but when the technologically savvy Screenslaver and their hypnotized minions begins wreaking havoc on the city just as the world starts accepting Supers again, we find all hands on deck and them some to try to take them down.
As I previously mentioned, the sequel was missing a little something. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was subpar (or sub-Parr?). In fact, it was a very enjoyable summer family movie with tons of great action and a wonderful expansion of this world that we’ve come to love. But the movie fell into some familiar traps that many sequels fall victim to. For instance, a lot of gags like Lucius’ wife, Edna Mode’s super suit demonstration, a montage featuring Bob, and Jack-jack’s unpredictable powers were revisited. Some moments were updated nicely, but others seemed like going back to the well one too many times. And because there were so many moments that called back to the first movie, there wasn’t enough room for the new story threads to really breath. A number of these threads are explored, but none of them really get the time and focus they need to fully come to fruition since we’re too busy jumping around from one thing to another.
Speaking of something missing, Pixar movies are generally known for big emotions. In the case of ‘The Incredibles 2’, there’s much more big action. Though growing up and sticking by your family are reoccurring themes, there isn’t exactly a deeper, unexpected, and extremely emotional message hidden in the story. Don’t get me wrong. Not every movie needs that, but it’s just something that we’ve come to expect from award-winning animation studio over the years.
I guess the simplest way to put it is that while the first movie feels like a Marvel film, the second one feels more like a DC film. By comparison, this one is darker and more focused on action rather than favoring plot or character development. Another way to put it is that an entire TV season’s worth of plot is crammed into 118 minutes. But again, it’s not necessarily a bad thing here.
At the end of the day, despite this potentially not being the well-crafted sequel that we were waiting for all these years, ‘The Incredibles 2’ was pretty wonderful. It was great to hear Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, and Samuel L. Jackson revisit these iconic characters alongside excellent additions to the cast such as Huck Milner, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, and Jonathan Banks. Michael Giacchino provided another killer score that perfectly captured the feel of the genre, the era, and the characters. The things that this man does with a horn section should be considered a superpower. And thanks to Pixar’s world-renowned animation prowess, the fast-paced and exciting action featuring Elastigirl and other heroes were really a joy to watch as the story unfolded. In other words, sometimes it’s okay for a movie just to be a casual popcorn blockbuster because those are worth checking out too. You know, unless they’re not.
‘The Incredibles 2’ starring Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Samuel L. Jackson, Huck Milner, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, and Jonathan Banks is in theaters now.