Movie Review: Incredibles 2 (2018)

A lot has changed in the fourteen years since Pixar released what many (me included) consider their absolute best film, The Incredibles. Back in 2004, superhero movies were few and far between, with just a few names like Spider-Man holding up the genre. Of course, with today's glut of superhero movies (an average of six or seven a year), there is no denying the mass market appeal of movies like The Avengers and Black Panther. Having said that, back in 2004, computer animation itself was just beginning to blossom into something, pun intended, incredible. The Incredibles was only the sixth film released by Disney and Pixar, and back then was a striking commentary on family dynamics, government, politics, and retro culture.

Back then, Pixar wasn't in the business of producing sequels for box office profits. Brad Bird, director of the original Incredibles, stated that he would only make a sequel if the story was good enough. Well, it seems that a fourteen year gap has certainly helped develop a story that may seem unnecessary, but is very well crafted.

Incredibles 2 is the twentieth original Pixar film, and reunites our favorite crime fighting family for another adventure. The film picks up exactly where the first film left off, and in a creative opening, recounts the events that lead to the upholding of a government law that superheroes are illegal, for the simple fact that they cause more collateral damage than save lives. When Bob Parr (aka Mr. Incredible), his wife Helen (Mrs. Incredible/Elastigirl), and their three kids, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack, go back into hiding, an opportunity presents itself for them to reclaim their place in society. This time around, it's Helen/Elastigirl who does much of the heavy lifting, leaving the kids in the care of her husband. The social commentary still is large, with the mother going off to work, and the stay-at-home dad being left in charge.

From the get-go, every single action sequence is meticulously orchestrated, possibly to the point of overkill. But it works every single time. Animation has opened up new avenues of potential, which are simply not possible in the live-action sphere, even today. For instance, Elastigirl's amazing motorcycle, as she rides full speed atop buildings. Every detail, from the details to the textures, are enhanced to 2018 animation standards, and some characters, Helen and Tony Rydinger in particular, look somewhat different from their 2004 models.

Although Elastigirl is more or less center-stage in this film, the shenanigans don't stop back home. The Parr family moves temporarily into a mansion, where Bob is tasked with dealing with various issues his three kids bring up. Violet is having boy problems, Dash needs help with Math homework, and little Jack-Jack is finally showing his powers- all 17 of them. In short, Jack-Jack steals every scene he's in, and there is a particular sequence involving a battle with a thieving racoon that deserves to be spun-off into a series of animated shorts. I have not heard a theater audience laugh so much during any film. Fan service is pretty high: Edna Mode makes a hilarious appearance, as does Frozone's (still -off camera) wife, although she was a bit underwhelming and less sassy this time around.

The film shines when the entire family, Frozone included, participate in an all-or nothing final battle that is truly spectacular. Brad Bird does a commendable job giving each character their own defining moment, and I was glad that Violet got a lot more fight scenes this time around. Although I liked the concept of the villain this time around (along with the social commentary on how much we use our screens), I correctly predicted who the secret villain would be early into the film, which I'm sure many others were able to as well. Pixar should take a page out of Walt Disney Animation's playbook on how to reveal their secret villains (see: Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6). But that's just a minor blip on an otherwise fantastic time at the movies.

Incredibles 2 still leaves a couple of plot threads open, which might eventually be addressed in a third installment. The fact of the matter is, a franchise of this caliber deserves a third outing. It's almost obvious that superheroes have multiple adventures. That said, Incredibles 2 is a fun, exciting, edge-of-your-seat time at the movies which will have audiences laughing, gasping and cheering from start to finish. It might not reach the incredble heights set by the first installment, but this is still one film that will win new fans, more than please older ones and have them wanting more.


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