By Ryen Thomas
June 16, 2018
While Toy Story 3 is still my personal favorite Pixar sequel, The Incredibles 2 is, by far, the most anticipated. But does it live up to the first masterpiece? The answer is: most definitely. It may not have the emotional kick of the first film’s exploration of family dynamics, but with the aid of a jazzy score from start to finish, it is packed with an explosive narrative that swiftly picks up right where the last one left off.
Mr. Incredible (Craig Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Spencer Fox) and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) all return to battle against the villainous Underminer in a roller coaster ride opening scene. It displays powers in the most breathtaking way, thanks to radiant 3D animation that puts some live action fare to shame. Unlike the first film that is set mostly on a remote island, this world is expanded and urbanized to show how the Incredibles directly impact the society they happily operate in.
After that first day is saved, a new nightmare emerges for our heroes that pits them against a society that believes they do more damage than good and wants to keep those with power in the closet as illegals. Enter Winston Deavor, a telecommunications tycoon, who wants to change the public perception of Supers. Deavor starts by with positioning Elastigirl as the face of his initiative because he believes her use of intellect will create the least collateral damage.
Bob Odenkirk voices Deavor, creating a charming and savvy character that’s the Incredibles biggest fanboy. But very quickly we wonder if he’s possibly slimy and up to no just good like Saul Goodman, the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul TV role Odenkirk is also known for playing. Questioning Deavor’s enthusiasm to help the Supers made me worry that the sequel was retreading the same ground that the first film did with the villainous Syndrome. While there are many twists in the film, some turns can be seen from a mile a way. The ultimate suspense lies with how Elastigirl solves the mystery of who the film’s big baddie is and how she will at her new job while reversing roles with her husband, Mr. Incredible, who’s now in her former place as the stay-at-home parent.
At home, Mr. Incredible is a fish out of water. He feels benched for most of the movie, but his process of learning to relate to his family is where we get the most heart in the movie. He helps Violet deal with boy issues, Dash with new math, and he discovers baby Jack-Jack’s super powers. Jack-Jack steals the show, creating the most hilarity and ultimately putting Violet and Dash in the back seat of the narrative.
Frozone gets more screen time, and the banter between he and his wife is appreciated. But it’s the new character, Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener) the sister of Winston, who is a welcomed and complex addition to the Incredible’s universe. The animation gracefully depicts her movements and expressions in such a way that has one feeling they’re watching the performance of a real live actor. She helps Elastigirl operate in the field and allows her to express concerns she’s internalized since first leaving her superhero days behind for a family life.
Their conversations surprisingly drive home the film’s narrative themes, which flirts with feminism and politics, and may possibly have a parent raise their brow in response to a few mature words used. While Evelyn encourages Elastigirl to independently work on her own, Elastigirl proves that a true hero knows the value of working with others.
If the film has one major set back it’s that we honestly don’t get to see much of the family together until the triumphant climax at the end. But even that only serves to make us hope we won’t have to wait another decade until we get to see them all in action again.
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5