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June 13, 2018

Incredibles 2 Could Be The Most Incredible Sequel Ever

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Written by: Gregg "Wonderllama" Snider
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The last time we saw the Parr family — Bob (Mr. Incredible), Helen (Elastigirl), Dash, and Violet — it was 2004. A new threat, The Underminer, had quite literally just emerged to threaten Metroville. Did they defeat the evil mole-man? Was Violet’s first date with Tony a success? What’s up with Jak-Jak?

It took 14 years, but we finally know the fate of Pixar’s favorite crime-fighters.

Incredibles 2 continues the story in the same glorious, action-packed, emotionally resonant vein as the original The Incredibles. In the tradition of the best Pixar films, it seamlessly blends delightful visual spectacle with superb storytelling. The action pops and sizzles, but first and foremost, Incredibles 2 is a powerful, topical story about people; their struggles with adolescence and diapers, marriage and parenting, ego and sacrifice.

It’s challenging enough to make an original movie that checks off all those boxes. Making a sequel that’s every bit as good — or, in my opinion as both a reviewer and a huge fan of The Incredibles, perhaps even better — and hits all of those notes is nothing short of (if you’ll pardon the pun) incredible.

Incredibles 2 picks up exactly where The Incredibles ended: the Parr family, in their familiar red costumes, watching as The Underminer announces himself and leaping into action to deal with this new threat. Things don’t go quite as planned, and a governmental cost-benefit analysis of their crime-fighting record ensures that supers won’t be allowed to resume their sanctioned superhero duties.

Enter Winston Deavor (voiced to eager puppy-dog perfection by Bob Odenkirk) and his sister Evelyn (an equally well-cast Catherine Keener), huge fans of supers with the money, influence, and media-savvy to help reinstate heroes. Their first step is to shape public perception of supers with viral video captured by supersuit-mounted cameras and softball TV interviews. Recognizing that her less destructive, brains-over-brawn approach to fighting bad guys will resonate with people, they focus initially on Elastigirl (brilliantly voiced again by Holly Hunter). Shining the spotlight on Elastigirl creates something of an existential crisis for Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson); he’s happy his wife has a chance to shine and wants to support her, but can barely contain his bitterness that he won’t be the one receiving the public accolades.

So while Elastigirl dons the spandex and deals with runaway trains and new villain Screenslaver (Bill Wise), Mr. Incredible dons his new uniform — reading glasses, bathrobe, and slippers — and undertakes his most challenging superhero mission: staying home and caring for three kids, especially when one of those kids, Jak-Jak, finally starts exhibiting super powers.

Our strict “no spoilers” policy means that’s about all I can write about the plot and characters. The tension between Bob and Helen over who should stay home and who should earn a living is entirely topical. The villain is a uniquely au courant creation. Screenslaver makes a subtle but unmistakable statement about the pervasiveness of screens in our daily lives. And teen angst about first dates is universal.

Thankfully, it won’t give away anything crucial to say that, in addition to its excellent storytelling and characters, Incredibles 2 has several truly spectacular action scenes, many centered on Elastigirl. Her motorcycle set-piece is one of the most daring, wild vehicle chase scenes I’ve seen. Right up until her edge-of-the-seat aerial helicopter rescue sequence. Animation makes it possible to create big action set-pieces that would be impossible in live action, but they are still among the most creative, intense, and gripping chase scenes on film. There’s a real sense of high stakes that makes it all the more gripping.

Elastigirl's motorcycle chase scene is thrilling.

Elastigirl’s motorcycle chase scene is thrilling.

The desire to do justice to the story and characters might explain why writer-director Brad Bird took 14 years to create this sequel. When it hit theaters in 2004, The Incredibles was an instant classic, chock full of incredible characters and genuine emotion, wrapped in a brilliant, heartwarming original story that spoke to kids and adults alike, along with a killer score that’s instantly recognizable and perfectly tailored to the film.

The sequel goes deeper in many ways. The frequent juxtaposition of the mundane — a baby who won’t sleep, helping decipher New Math — with over-the-top action humanizes these superheroes and makes them instantly relatable. It’s easy to put yourself in any of their shoes. They all have feet of clay, but they succeed in spite of, or perhaps because of that. The end result is that they value each other as people and as a family more than ever, and more honestly.

Much like Toy Story 2 (or, for that matter, Toy Story 3), Incredibles 2 transcends being just a sequel. It has the heart, the joy, the action, and above all the fun to join the ranks of Pixar’s best films. You actively root for and care about these imperfect, all too human superheroes. And like all of Pixar’s best films, it’s every bit as entertaining for grown-up kids.

Ephemera

  • Stick around for the closing credits. In lieu of additional footage, the closing music includes each of the heroes’ TV theme songs, a call-back to an early scene. Elastigirl’s is a fun vocal number that reminded me of the classic ‘Spiderman…Spiderman…does whatever a spider can’ TV theme. Frozone’s theme is a funky ode to ’70s soul, while Mr. Incredible’s theme is a spot-on bit of nonsense.
  • The score by Michael Giacchino, the Pixar stalwart who composed such memorable music for Ratatouille and Coco (among countless others), is absolutely brilliant. It creates the mood with its ’60s spy thriller vibe, and is a big part of why The Incredibles movies are so wonderful.
  • There was nowhere near enough Edna Mode for my tastes. I suggest we petition Pixar to give Edna her own spin-off movie.
  • Brad Bird’s influences are tucked away in little places. Keep an eye out for classic ’60s and ’70s TV shows on the Parrs’ television screen.

Incredibles 2 (Pixar Animation Studios / Walt Disney Pictures; rated PG) – Grade: A

 



About the Author

Gregg "Wonderllama" Snider





 
 

 
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