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Review: Incredibles 2

June 18, 2018

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

It’s been fourteen years since The Incredibles came out in 2004, and now writer-director Brad Bird has finally given us the sequel that fans have been eagerly anticipating for ages.  So was the long wait worth it for Incredibles 2?  The answer to that would have to be a pretty big yes.

While it might not be quite as strong as the first one, this is a more than worthy followup that is a lot of fun to watch, building upon the original and allowing us to spend another couple of hours in the company of these beloved characters.  It’s a sequel that does pretty much exactly what you want it to, while also serving as an entertaining adventure in its own right.

The film picks up right where the first one left off, with the Parr family – parents Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), and kids Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner), and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) – in the midst of battling the Underminer (John Ratzenberger), with a little help from their good friend Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson).  The trouble is, superheroes are still illegal, and once they are seen in public they have to go into hiding again.

Enter Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener), a powerful sibling pair who run a corporation that wants to bring supers back into the spotlight, offering the family a new home and the chance to do hero work again.  They quickly deem that Elastigirl is their best bet in terms of marketing to get the public used to the idea of superheroes, which leaves Mr. Incredible at home to raise the kids, as his wife becomes the primary breadwinner.  When Elastigirl is faced with a mysterious villain who goes by the alias of the Screenslaver, and is interrupting live broadcasts and sending out hypnotizing signals through screens to brainwash viewers, calling the rest of her family into action.

As I mentioned earlier, Incredibles 2 doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor.  The plot feels a bit more conventional this time around, and there is a twist involving the villain that is somewhat easy to predict right from the start.  This in no way makes the story any less compelling, but it does reduce a bit of the element of surprise.  The film also introduces us to a variety of new superhero characters with various powers, including Voyd (Sophia Bush), Krushauer (Phil LaMarr) and Reflux (Paul Eiding), to name just a few, and they feel largely underdeveloped.  But for the most part, the film does come pretty darn close to recapturing the magic of the original, especially for a sequel being released so long after.

Much of the appeal of Incredibles 2 comes from the fact that it allows us to hang out with the original characters again, picking up right where we last saw them.  The strength of the film really lies in the dynamics between the family members, which are not only delightful to watch, but also once again extremely well defined.  Much of the film follows a Mr. Mom-style plot, and the domestic scenes with Mr. Incredible trying to get a handle on parenting is actually some of the best stuff in the film.  Violet is also going through her own issues, trying to make things work with her crush Tony Rydinger (Michael Bird), who had his memory wiped by Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks) after seeing her in her super suit.

A good deal of the film revolves around Jack-Jack discovering more of his vast array of super powers, which the audience already knows he has but his own family is only just discovering.  He really is the breakout character here, managing to steal the entire movie with his amusing and often adorable antics, including a raucous fight with a racoon in the backyard.  Another one of the funniest sequences involves everyone’s favourite fashion designer Edna Mode (Brad Bird) taking on the role of babysitter, leaving us hopeful for the possibility of another  spinoff short film, à la Jack-Jack Attack.

As we have come to expect from Pixar, the animation here is technically flawless.  The production design is impeccable, with art deco overtones that really capture the 1960s look and feel of the film, especially in the design of the Parr family’s new house.  Brad Bird has an exceptional eye for staging action sequences, and the set-pieces here are often dazzling to watch, including a thrilling foot chase through an apartment building that is lit by flashing strobe lights.  Michael Giacchino’s score once again provides jazzy and energetic accompaniment to the action, building upon his now-iconic themes from the first film.

I’ve been waiting for this film since I was a kid, so there is an obvious nostalgic appeal to Incredibles 2, but on top of that it’s simply an extremely well crafted animated blockbuster.  While the first film came out at a time when superhero movies were more of a novelty, where as now they are a dime a dozen, this one still manages to feel fresh.  The film is impeccably well paced at close to two hours, as it effortlessly zips between action, humour and character drama with nary a missed beat.  It’s simply a lot of fun, and probably one of the best times you will have at the movies this summer.

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