By Jack Dignan
The demand for an Incredibles sequel has been high. Throughout the many announcements of sequels to Cars, Finding Nemo and Toy Story, the one the people demanded most was Incredibles 2. And yet it never came. But just as we were starting to give up hope, it happened. It was announced. And just like that, the pressure for an announcement shifted into pressure for this film to be good. This is the movie that defined childhoods, and a sequel had a lot to live up to. Perhaps too much to live up to…
This is, without a doubt, a great movie. Really. That’s not just the Pixar fan inside of me talking. But the problem with Incredibles 2, amongst other things I’ll get into shortly, is that it doesn’t feel as though it’s worth the decades long wait. Sure, it’s a fantastic follow-up to an iconic original, and it’s great to just be back with these characters again, but recapturing the magic of the original is hard to achieve, so no matter how great this film is, it was always destined to be inferior. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the ride.
Our first film concluded with the arrival of a super villain named The Underminer (John Ratzenberger), thrusting our titular team of heroes back into the spotlight to save the city. Incredibles 2 picks up, quite literally, as soon as the first film ends, except superheroes are still technically illegal. Enter rich sibling duo of Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn (Catherine Kenner). They approach Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) with a proposition; they work together to redefine superheroes for a modern era, putting the trust back in the public eye and creating legal superheroes everywhere.
But, like with every superhero movie, it’s not all fun and games, and before they know it, a new villain arises. With Helen out saving the day, put into the forefront as a beacon of hope, Bob is sent back home to look after the kids, Dash (Huck Milner), Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile). An easy task? One would think so, but as Jack-Jack starts getting powers of his own, things get a lot more complicated. It’s a sequel that sounds as if it’s on a whole new league than the first, expanding this lore out while telling an exciting new story, and while I guess technically it does, there’s so much here that’s a gender swapped retelling of the first.
Incredibles 2 kicks things off with an explosive, politically charged first act. The Underminer action sequence is thrilling, utilizing all the characters in unique and memorable ways, even if the conclusion of the Underminer’s story leaves you waiting for an unfulfilled promise. It’s fantastic to see these characters interacting and having fun, bouncing off one another while all arguing over who’s in charge of Jack-Jack. In fact, it’s so good that I wanted more of it. The rest of the film, much like the first, sees the family split up again. But hey, each of the individual stories works wonders.
Helen finds herself in unfamiliar territory, chasing after a villain known as the Screenslaver. This new villain is a fascinating, almost terrifying threat; whose costume design is wonderful and whose motivations make sense. There’s a subtle social commentary woven into their character arc that doesn’t mesh with the main themes of the narrative, but as a character, I thoroughly enjoyed where writer-director Brad Bird took them, because wow, what a finale. But Screenslaver isn’t the only new “super” popping up, and, without delving into specifics, I thoroughly enjoyed every new addition.
The real star of the show, however, is Jack-Jack. He gets a more prominent role this time around, with Bob’s focus put on his family, as opposed to stopping crime. It’s these family sequences that I think may have been some of my favourites in this movie, and, of course, everything with Jack-Jack is all sorts of perfection. Jack-Jack’s relationship with Edna (Brad Bird) leads to the single funniest moment of the entire franchise, and if we don’t get a team up movie with these two (or at the very least a short film), I’m going to be very disappointed in Pixar. There are many who wanted to see a time jump between films, but trust me, once you see what this film has in store, that’s the last thing you’re going to want.
Incredibles 2 was never going to live up to the first. There’s just no way it could have. But as a film in its own right, it makes for another fantastic Pixar sequel. You may leave wanting a little bit more of the entire family kicking ass together, but a third film certainly isn’t out of the question, and if it means more Jack-Jack then count me in, for Incredibles 2 is a vivid, beautifully animated sequel that, well, come on, you already know you’re going to watch.
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