Incredibles 2, 2018.
Written and Directed by Brad Bird.
Featuring the voice talents of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Samuel L. Jackson, Brad Bird, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Jonathan Banks, Sophia Bush, Isabella Rossellini, Phil LaMarr, Paul Eiding, Barry Bostwick, Yuri Lowenthal, and John Ratzenberger.
Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for Jack-Jack while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.
As the popularity of superhero movies has arguably reached its highest point, it was only a matter of time before Pixar, who has recently started cranking out a lot of sequels to their animated classics already anyway, would send the Incredibles on another heroic mission. Writer and director Brad Bird has even returned for Incredibles 2 (also having helmed Ratatouille for the studio), and its his script that avoids a lot of the fatal trappings of follow-ups that could be debated as over a decade too late while also finding political and gender commentary that is relevant to our own superhero free world.
Crime-fighting superheroes have been declared illegal, which doesn’t necessarily stop the family of five from trying to protect society, but after a citywide destructive battle with the Underminer, the situation further becomes dicey to the point where they are relocated to a motel and living in hiding. However, thanks to a new corporation heading a pro superhero activist movement lead by two siblings (voiced by Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener respectively), there may be a chance to alter public perception once and for all, but doing so will rely on leaving the more carefree members at home while the efficient Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) prowls the metropolis looking for good to do, all with a camera implanted into her newly designed suit (which is, of course, dark and grittier as an amusing job at the current state of the genre). In contrast, Michael Giacchino’s score is pleasantly once again snazzy with a sleuth touch.
First and foremost, it’s absolutely appreciated that in a world where Disney and Marvel still have trepidation about moving forward with a project centered on Black Widow but is finally working on a female superhero origin story with Captain Marvel due out next year, Brad Bird and the hard-working team of incredibly talented animators (as par for the course with Pixar, the detail is off the charts stunning with some tidbits such as a waterfall inside of a luxurious mansion seemingly serving as superfluous entertainment meant to show off just how powerful their computers are) have essentially crafted a girl power type of deal. It also doesn’t feel forced at all considering that women are more nurturing and less prone to accidentally wreak havoc during potentially catastrophic scenarios.
Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), somewhat selfishly, volunteers to stay at home and watch over the children as he knows if Elastigirl can win over the public, he’s granted the ability to once again do what he loves. Basically, the sequel is a role reversal of the first movie, with Mr. Incredible tackling the role of Mr. Mom doing everything from failing miserably at assisting his daughter Violet land a date with her crush, teaching Dash how to solve all them blasted tricky math problems, and coming to an understanding of baby Jack-Jack’s newfound powers. The material is obviously lighthearted and highly humorous to watch unfold, while Elastigirl receives a number of elaborate action set pieces that benefit from the always strong and capable direction of Brad Bird, who excels at this kind of thing whether it’s live-action or animation.
While children and adults will both be entertained alike (although the once again nearly 2-hour running time does feel a little long in places, partially because to older viewers it will be fairly predictable as to who the real villain is), there is a great humanist message in the film that never veers too far into an aggressively blunt political allegory, but one that simply draws parallels to current events. Likewise, it’s also important for kids, especially young girls to have female role models, so the decision to double down on Elastigirl truly does deserve praise. Now, don’t worry, I will have you know that the other members of the family still get a good amount of butt-kicking to do, including a returning Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone (10+ years of advancements in technology have made his ice-based superpowers look unprecedentedly dazzling and eye-popping).
Also introduced are a number of other supporting players superheroes all with oddball abilities. voiced by so many underrated names in the business coming from either cartoons, anime, or video games, ranging from Phil LaMarr to Yuri Lowenthal and more. It’s a grab bag of notable names for anyone that has a vested interest in celebrities beyond Hollywood stars. And you know what, I think I can get on board with a full-blown origin story for Paul Eiding’s acid reflux based superhero; just wait until you see the ability in action.
The only other negative worth touching on (besides a minor gripe with the running time) is that while Incredibles 2 is a polished and effective sequel in most areas of filmmaking, the storytelling could have done with a little more focus on family and unity. Jack-Jack developing powers is played for laughs when it seems that there is something emotionally resonant to be mined there involving the difficulty of super parents raising gifted babies, especially for Pixar. They are known for ripping out our heartstrings and stopping on them, but Incredibles 2 never reaches that admittedly ridiculously high bar that audiences have come to expect from the animation studio. Regardless, it’s still an incredible sequel that fans who have been clamoring for it for over a decade now are going to have a blast watching.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com