When a sequel takes 14 years to arrive, expectations are super high. Good thing Incredibles 2 is filled with superheroes, fun and heart to prove worth the surprisingly long wait. Is it a superior sequel to Director/Writer Brad Bird’s first spin with the Parr family? It’s close, but not quite. Considering the 2004 original is regularly hailed as one of the best superhero films of all time, close is good enough.
The beauty of an animated film is time doesn’t matter provided the cast didn’t develop a drinking/smoking problem. There’s no worry about the onscreen characters aging badly allowing for the film to carry on as if no time has passed. Incredibles 2 picks up right after the end of the first film with the Parr family — Bob aka Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Helen aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Huck Milner) trying to stop The Underminer.
Astute comic book fans quickly picked up on the first film’s homage to Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four. Bird takes the sequel in a different direction with equally satisfying results.
With heroes still outlawed, Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) wants to restore the luster and appreciation for their efforts. Although big fans of Mr. Incredible and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), Winston thinks the best option to turn around public opinion is Elastigirl. This presents a new challenge for the Parrs as Bob now fills the stay at home parent role while Helen gets to be the hero.
Bird’s script is more sophisticated than many would be with this role reversal. Bob has realistic moments of jealousy, but he applies the same resourcefulness he had as a hero to being a stay at home dad. From helping Dash learn math to navigating Violet’s first crush, Bob has got things figured out. That’s a good thing as baby Jack Jack is starting to develop his powers. One of the film’s best moments comes when Jack Jack tangles with a raccoon.
Naturally, there’s a hilarious moment with diminutive screen stealer Edna Mode (Bird) as she devises a way to predict and stabilize Jack Jack’s powers.
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Thanks to his genius sister, Evelyn (Catherine Keener, Get Out), Winston has all the tech and motivation to help Elastigirl. Their father was a huge proponent of heroes and the Deavor siblings are carrying on the family tradition. Elastigirl’s efforts quickly prove successful as her actions inspire other heroes to step out of the shadows to help the cause. They’re just in time as a new villain, Screenslaver (Bill Wise) arrives on the scene with a plan to outlaw heroes forever.
There’s some fantastic action sequences here from an exhilarating motorcycle chase scene, a really creative fight with the Screenslaver and the big finale. While this is an animated film, the action scenes hold up and in some cases surpass a lot of its live action counterparts. Incredibles 2 has the benefit of not having to worry about poorly rendered CGI.
Just like the first film the voice performances are some of the best in a Pixar film. Nelson is very strong as he captures Bob’s beaten down, but enthusiastic go get ’em mentality. Hunter is also outstanding. She’s so good in this role.
As much fun as the sequel is, it’s not flawless. The plot is essentially the same as the first film just simply told from Elastigirl’s perspective. It’s so well done that it’s not bad, but some of the story beats feel a little familiar.
There’s a tinge of disappointment that Incredibles 2 is more of a solo hero story than a family of superheroes. Maybe the third film will be more of a superhero family movie? Of course, arguably some of the charm of the franchise is it’s about a family that just so happens to have powers.
In pretty much any other year, Incredibles 2 would have a lock on the best superhero film of the year but this is a high water mark for the genre. And only in 2018 is being third best not a bad thing. Now hopefully we don’t have to wait another 14 years for the third installment.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Pixar/Walt Disney Pictures