Synopsis – Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for the kids while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.
My Take – We all know that Pixar has gained a reputation for having a solid track record, mainly due to their excellent filmography that includes films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo, along with their respective brilliant sequels. However, one film which stood out strongly from their whole set of films was director Brad Bird‘s 2004 film, The Incredibles, which not only became the sixth Pixar film in a row to dominate the box office, but also the sixth film to impress us with its animation, story, action and characters. The film’s fresh and funny look at an ordinary family with extraordinary powers struck a sublime balance between domestic drama and tongue-in-cheek satire – celebrating and sending up superheroes in equal measure. I think its suffice to say, with the sequel finally releasing 14 years after its predecessor has a lot of expectations to live up to.
Thankfully, it delivers on all fronts. Sure, it doesn’t quite redefine or revitalize the genre, the way its predecessor did, but it’s still brilliantly funny, thoughtful and a pure joy to watch. Personally I felt the film is as good as its 2004 predecessor as the film has everything you expect from a Pixar film, including the nostalgia and the genuinely funny moments will make you cry of pure joy. The lovable characters still continue to have a strong and amusing chemistry, and the action is fast-paced and stylish. It shows director Brad Bird still carries a gift for telling effectively character-driven stories without sacrificing thrills. If you were a fan of the original, it is just going to be great seeing these characters on the big screen again after all this years.
Taking place right where the original film ended, the story once again follows the Parr Family, which consists of superheroes, Bob/Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), Helen/Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter), Violet (voiced by Sarah Vowell), Dash (voiced by Huck Milner), and toddler Jack-Jack (voiced by Eli Fucile), who despite being outlawed by the government, with the help of their fellow super, Frozone (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) attempt to take down their old nemesis Underminer (voiced by John Ratzenberger). However, they are unsuccessful in stopping the bank robbery and instead cause extreme damage throughout the city.
Once again send into the Super Protection Program, in order to find a way to live out their lives as normal citizens. That is until Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk), the head of powerful corporate, Devtech, and his sister, Evelyn (voiced by Catherine Keener), offer a PR plan to help rebuild the reputation of supers, by making Elastic girl the public face of the program by having her wear a body cam to show off her heroic deeds and regain their popularity with the public. Leaving Bob to look after the kids and tending to their needs, while Elastigirl takes on a new villain called ScreenSlaver, who hypnotizes large groups of people through their screens.
Without a doubt this is a fantastic sequel and easily one of the best follow-ups that Pixar has ever done (excluding the Toy Story sequels obviously). Even in a market where superheroes are dominating the box office, this film still works as a superhero film thanks to a lot of elements. Personally, I think this film was well worth the wait. It went in a few directions that I wasn’t expecting it to, its themes are very relevant to today’s climate and adults will definitely see where that comes into play, and the score by Michael Giacchino leaps off the screen. Very well written and directed by Brad Bird, this film is the definition of a film that warrants its existence and proves that the people who were demanding a sequel were doing the right thing throughout the years, as all of the charm and familial love of the original film still remains in this sequel and once again there was a good balance of comedy and drama. What I loved about the original was the authenticity that the story, characters, and animation had to it, and at its time felt more creative, natural, and beautiful.
Syndrome was one of the greatest superhero film villains of all time, not because of the amount of damage he was able to inflict upon the world, but because of the emotional pain he was able to cause Mr. Incredible and his family. The moments in which Mr. Incredible regrets his past mistakes and realizes how his actions affect others, especially his former biggest fan, are what makes the film stand out from any other hero-villain dynamic. It’s was an engrossing and smartly-designed world, where director Brad Bird kept the focus on where it should be, the family and their story. By beginning right from where the earlier film ended, the sequel eliminates all forms of confusion and time gaps that may arise after a hiatus of any amount between both films, that too with fresh ideas and dilemmas for each character. What it does better than the original is its focus on the entire Parr family and how they juggle both hero and civilian life. While I adore the first film, but most of the focus was centered on Mr. Incredible and his personal crisis of reliving the glory days. In the sequel, we not only follow Elastic girl’s action-packed new job, but we also explore Mr. Incredible trying to connect closer with his children who he hardly interacted with in the first film.
Not only does he need to tame Jack-Jack and his chaotic new abilities, but he must also console his teenage daughter Violet as she endures boy troubles, and help his son Dash who is struggling with his schoolwork. This is new territory for Mr. Incredible and it results in some genuinely funny and touching chemistry, and I personally think my focusing more on the strong family connection, the film soars higher than expectations. Speaking of Jack-Jack – the youngest member of the Parr family steals the entire film – and will run away with your heart too. It’s no spoiler to say that he starts randomly unleashing one superpower after another: his abilities manifested in Pixar‘s 2005 short film, Jack-Jack Attack, are on full display in every trailer for this film.
But it’s impossible to adequately express just how delightful Jack-Jack is in this film – even as he shoots laser beams from his eyes, spontaneously combusts and morphs into a rampaging mini-demon. His kinetic showdown with a hapless raccoon is one of the film’s best scenes, hilariously funny and gorgeously animated. My favorite though, Edna Mode whose attitude and mannerisms is also back in full force, with little to hold back. For comic book fans like me, the dilemmas of heroes doing their job despite the prejudice of society speaks strong in terms of your values challenging others. Others will cope well with the girl power motif that Elastic girl’s arc portrays, keeping it mostly on the down low, yet hitting hard where it needs to be.
Yet, there will be many who will grip tightly to family moments and the challenges modern parents face given a changing society. By broadening this cope, the sequel is going to rope in a lot of fans of varying ages, all once again getting captivated by the arcs in store. Also the film is more action-packed than its predecessor and the animation, compared to the original film, has skyrocketed in quality. The character designs are more brisk and expressive, similar to director Brad Bird‘s more traditionally-animated masterpiece The Iron Giant, where many characters displayed a wide range of evocative reactions. There is one scene where Jack-Jack battles a raccoon, and the critter’s movements are brilliantly animated. Snappy and comedic, yet not ignoring its natural, reactive behavior. Additionally, there’s a scene where Violet encounters his crush Tony Rydinger at a restaurant and she sprays water out of her nose in surprise. Kinda gross in theory, but the exaggerated, cartoon expression on her face as it happened really sold the moment as pure comedy.
In fact, it all looks so spectacular that you’ll find yourself gaining a renewed appreciation for the pure magic of animated films. We’re living at a time when CGI and special effects can pull off just about anything on screen. And yet, the film proves with its every frame and action sequence that there are some ideas that just won’t work as well in live action. A perfect example of this is the spectacular train sequence with Elastigirl. Speaking of short films, a Pixar tradition is to include one before new release, this time it’s BAO, a Chinese mother/son and food-oriented story from director Domee Shi), which as expected is excellent. Personally, the only point at which the film falters in comparison to the original is the main antagonist. Yes, Screenslaver is no Syndrome, who was by all outward appearances a more interesting, outright adversary, and perhaps one of the Disney‘s greatest baddies. He was intelligent and charismatic, but also ruthlessly cruel and murderous; a loser who was motivated from years of jealousy and neglect. While Screenslaver’s introduction is very effective and complex, the end reveal ultimately makes him tad silly, and seem very detached from what the film spent building upon.
Of course for a film like this work we need an accomplished voice talent. With returning voice cast members including Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Brad Bird and Samuel L. Jackson, who all once again excel in their respective roles. While the new voices which include Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Huck Milner, Jonathan Banks, Isabella Rossellin and Sophia Bush along with the new band of superheroes that Elastic girl meets, despite their minimal screen time, are likable. On the whole, ‘Incredibles 2‘ is an excellent follow-up to one of Pixar‘s best films and a solid superhero adventure that works due to its fantastic character work, humor, and exhilarating action sequences.
Directed – Brad Bird
Rated – PG
Run Time – 118 minutes