Incredibles 2 captures most of the fun of Pixar's The Incredibles, but feels somewhat outdated in the modern Hollywood landscape of superhero movies.
Incredibles 2 is the long-awaited sequel to Disney-Pixar's The Incredibles, the animated superhero movie written and directed by Brad Bird. Released in 2004, The Incredibles introduced the Parr family, lead by Bob and Helen Parr, a pair of former superheroes. After public opinion turned against superheroes, Bob and Helen were relocated and raised their three children to live non-superhero lives in suburbia - though they, and their kids, had to become superheroes in order to defeat a supervillain. Now, Incredibles 2 picks up shortly after the events of the first film. Incredibles 2 captures most of the fun of Pixar's The Incredibles, but feels somewhat outdated in the modern Hollywood landscape of superhero movies.
At the start of Incredibles 2, superheroes are still illegal, but the Parr family breaks the law together - suiting up to save their city from any would-be supervillains. However, when Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack make a mess when trying to stop the Underminer's plans to rob a bank, they're arrested. Public opinion of superheroes seems to be at an all-time low, with the government officially shutting down the program that helped the Parrs keep their identities secret. However, Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) is approached by wealthy businessman Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) about a plan to bring superheroes back.
Along with his sister Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener), Winston plans to change the public perception of superheroes so that people don't only see the destruction they cause, and instead see the lives they save. With Elastigirl as the face of the program, the Deavors set out to get the public on board with supers once again in order to make the heroes legal - though one villain, the Screenslaver, may prove to make that goal impossible. Elsewhere, with Helen gone, that leaves Bob to run the household. That includes dealing with Violet's dating troubles, helping Dash with his math homework, and contending with the onset of Jack-Jack's powers - which include a wide range, from turning into a monster to teleporting to another dimension. With both Helen and Bob facing new challenges, they'll have to figure out how to move forward in order to create a future in which their kids don't have to hide their powers.
Incredibles 2 offers the continuation of the Parr family adventures that fans have been waiting for since the first film arrived in 2004. Though the sequel arrives 14 years after the original movie, Bird returned to the property to write and direct Incredibles 2, ensuring it's the followup most likely to honor the original. For the most part, it returns to the world of The Incredibles for a storyline that will no doubt please many fans of the original movie, combining the family-oriented themes of the first film with a great deal of superhero fun. Plus, with the introduction of plenty of new superheroes - Voyd (Sophia Bush), Krushauer and Helectrix (Phil LaMarr), just to name a few - Incredibles 2 also expands on the world of The Incredibles in some compelling ways.
With that said, the dynamics played out in the Parr family come off as extremely outdated. While Incredibles 2 attempts to take a step forward by putting Elastigirl front and center, this storyline is executed with extremely tired stereotypes about family dynamics, essentially forcing the movie three steps backward. Much of the movie sees Bob jealous of Helen for being the one chosen to lead the Deavors' project, especially as he struggles to take care of his own children. It's undoubtedly reminiscent of the era of media the Incredibles franchise has drawn inspiration from. But rather than offer some kind of update or commentary on that kind of husband-wife dynamic, Incredibles 2 is more or less a "family-friendly" regurgitation of it, which, considering how much media has evolved since that time (and since 2004), makes the movie feel incredibly outdated.
Further, while Jack-Jack's burgeoning powers provide for a number of fun sequences throughout the movie - especially one involving a raccoon - Violet and Dash's arcs largely exist to serve Bob's own storyline about learning to take care of the household. Violet's particular story had a great deal of potential, insofar as exploring how a child with superpowers growing up in a world where superheroes are illegal could affect her sense of self. But instead, her arc is boiled down to either focusing on her dating life or providing a challenge for Bob to overcome. Dash receives less screen time, and even less development as a result, with him providing little more than comedic relief. Considering how much fans enjoyed watching the adventures of the Parr family in The Incredibles, it's somewhat of a letdown to see them ill-served by the sequel.
There is adventure to be had - and enjoyed - in Incredibles 2. The animation of the Pixar sequel is undoubtedly beautiful to behold, especially with the retro influence of the Incredibles' world. There are a number of exciting action sequences in which Elastigirl, Violet and Jack-Jack especially get to demonstrate their visually compelling superpowers. Plus, with the addition of new superheroes and their variety of powers, Incredibles 2 takes advantage to create actions scenes that a studio would never be able to pull off in live-action, no matter how evolved visual effects have become. Incredibles 2 set out to offer even more ambitious and visually striking action sequences, and the movie undoubtedly delivers on that front (one particular fight between Elastigirl and Screenslaver especially stands out).
Ultimately, Incredibles 2 may provide fans of the original movie with another exciting adventure of the Parr family. But in the overall landscape of animated movies and superhero films in Hollywood, Incredibles 2 feels outdated and out of touch with modern audiences. The sequel employs too many tired tropes and stereotypes to truly feel fresh, and doesn't offer strong family dynamics to give the stunning visuals any depth. It's a mostly fun and enjoyable summer family movie - though, with a nearly two-hour runtime, some children may struggle to stay engaged. Still, considering the strong and forward-thinking films Pixar has produced in recent years, Incredibles 2 is a sequel that arrived a decade too late.
Incredibles 2 is now playing in U.S. theaters nationwide. It runs 118 minutes and is rated PG for action sequences and some brief mild language.
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- Incredibles 2 (2018) release date: Jun 15, 2018