Incredibles 2

Good things come to those who wait. One of the things I admire the most about Pixar studios is its patience and integrity to drastically change directions of projects for the sake of quality. In the case of the Incredibles, greedy executives could have easily demanded a steady stream of sequels to fill will Disney coffers and yes, we would have gladly spent our money like lemmings. Believe me. I would have, in an instant, paid for one mediocre story after the other. They didn’t do that, now the question is, was Incredibles 2 worth the wait?

From Incredibles writer/director/creator Brad Bird, Incredibles 2 picks up almost instantly after the end of the first film with the appearance of the Underminer (John Ratzenberger). Using his massive drilling vehicles, the Underminer under mines a local bank and steals its cash reserves. Fortunately, the Incredibles were just blocks away cleaning up the mess from the first film and go after him. The results cause more extensive damage to the city, the Underminer escaping with the cash, Violet (Sarah Vowell) exposes her identity to a boy she likes, and the powers-that-be are shutting down the covert “supers” program run by Agent Dickers (Jonathan Banks).

With no government protection, the Parr family is back to where they were at the beginning of the first film, to live life as “normal” people and subject to arrest and prosecution if they ever use their powers again. That is until an ally is found in Winston and Evelyn Deavor (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener), who runs the wildly successful communications firm Devtech. Evelyn is the tech genius, and Winston is the firm statesman and PR genius. They want the supers back in action.

In a secret meeting with Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), the Deavors convince the trio that what they have is a perception problem. The public sees the damage they cause, but not the results. By placing body cameras in their uniforms, the public can now see supers in action, fighting crime and saving the day. Winston decides to take the supers public with Elastigirl as the lead super, because Elastigirl causes the least amount of damage.

“…to take the supers public with Elastigirl as the lead super…”

With Helen away for several days on her first mission, Bob is now the stay-at-home dad to Violet, Dash (Huck Milner), and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile). It’s not easy being a single parent, Violet is upset that Bob had the memory erased of the boy she liked, Dash is having problems in school with new math (You have no idea my frustrations with this Common Core crap), and Jack-Jack’s new emerging powers.

What I love about Incredibles 2 is its true comic book feel with action and soap opera drama. Two storylines interweaving together until they come together at the end. The first is the requisite sinister plot with film’s villain, the Screenslaver (???). Elastigirl and the Screenslaver are on the opposite side of the same mission for the world to accept/reject superheroes once and for all. With public sentiment moving steadily in favor of superheroes and the help of the “Ambassador” (Isabella Rossellini), the Screenslaver uses mind-control in hopes  of making superheroes publicly destroy their reputation and run them underground forever.

And for much-needed levity and heart is the supportive husband, Bob, taking care of every aspect of the family, so Helen can focus on her mission. As mentioned before, things get worse for Bob, as a parent, before they get better as he tries to be the hero at home. And then there’s Jack-Jack the cute and adorable nuclear weapon that’s about to explode when the supply cookies run dry. Jack-Jack is the highlight of the entire film.

Good sequels keep what we love in the first film, then expands on them and improves on the original weaknesses. The improvements come in the way of its technological advancements. Incredibles 2 looks so much better fixing some of the technical problems from the first. But you’d expect this from Pixar. I’ll point you to the ocean scene in the first film. The effects and blending of photo-realistic backdrops with stylized characters show Pixar continues to remain at the forefront of computer animation (can you believe they used to draw and paint cartoons in the past?).

“…the 60’s-retro-modern production design and the groovy score from Michael Giacchino.”

Transferring over beautifully are the 60’s-retro-modern production design and the groovy score from Michael Giacchino. There’s an uplifting joy the score adds while the Parrs explore their new spy home on the ocean cliffs. Press a button and the floors open up revealing a waterfall feature in the middle of the living room and then the uncontrolled mayhem as Dash take control of the home’s smart remote. It’s fun and gives us a moment to breathe before the second act. It’s one of those understated reasons we love the Incredible.

The negatives are very small. The villain storyline, regarding his/her motivation is a little weak and predictable. And the second group of heroes was fun, but a little bland. Void (Sophia Bush) was cool. Personally this world of heroes is a little derivative of the Marvel Universe. But I’m quibbling, this is a great film.

The Incredibles is a story about family wrapped in a high-speed rollercoaster. Part Fantastic Four, part Fast and the Furious. We root for this family to overcome, succeed, and grow stronger together. Incredibles 2 is the right second chapter in a winning franchise. My biggest regret is I’ll be way into my 60’s when the third chapter comes out.

Incredibles 2 (2018) Written and directed by Brad Bird. Starring Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Eli Fucile, Catherine Keener, Bob Odenkirk, Isabella Rossellini, Brad Bird, Jonathan Banks, John Ratzenberger.

8 out of 10 stars

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