Summary: Two sibling media moguls approach Elastigirl to advocate for the legalization of supers, leaving Mr.Incredible to watch the kids.
A personal favorite in my generations film viewing is the 2004 Pixar film The Incredibles. As children, we were wowed by the superpowers, the cool robots, and the charming humor, but as adults, we discovered the film actually had a lot more thoughtful and mature themes going on in the subtext. Obviously, with such a beloved film, we demanded a sequel! Finally, after 14 years of waiting, Pixar and Brad Bird delivered!
I feel as though I should get the obvious stuff out of the way first. This movie looks amazing. I mean, come on, it’s a Pixar film! If there’s one thing those guys keep excelling at, it is the quality of animation. It also helps that Brad Bird is an incredible director in his own right. The action scenes are kinetic and well executed, and the camera work matches that excitement. The superpowers on display are utilized creatively and definitely go head to head with the best in superhero flicks. Even the subtle character animation when the characters are speaking and emoting is so fun to look at. I also enjoy that the Incredibles 2 continues to use some truly unique character design to set it apart from other animated films. Facial features and body shapes are exaggerated but still move somewhat naturally. Of course, the production design is to die for. The late 60’s futurist aesthetic still leads to gorgeous vehicle and environment designs. What I enjoy most aesthetically in this film is seeing how much CG animation has improved in terms of rendering, animation, and camera work. It helps especially seeing characters your already familiar with today’s technology. On the technical side of things, this film definitely hits the mark.
In Incredibles 2, Elastigirl takes center stage in the main plot and doing the super heroics. When approached by the Deavor siblings, she is chosen to be the advocate for superhero legalization. I appreciated this not only for the in-universe reason (her powers aren’t as messy as Mr. Super Strength or Samuel L. Frozone) but also the way it highlights her strengths and capability as a character and a superhero. Her power set actually proves to lead to some awesome action, but also uses her intelligence against the main antagonist. I also appreciate how the film’s open up the discussion of the visibility of female superheroes in fiction. It is very brief but it is still a welcome touch. Unfortunately, halfway through the movie, her character takes a bit of a backseat. I can see why this choice was made story-wise but it’s a bit disappointing. Her scenes were so good that I was hoping she would just handle the main conflict herself. The first film gave us some hints about her skills, but her potential is truly realized in this film. However, I will now be advocating for some sort of solo Elastigirl project!
Unlike the first film, Mr. Incredible is on full-time dad duty. His scenes with the kids are both hilarious and heartwarming. Over the course of the movie, he is learning how to work with his kids and connect with them. This proves especially challenging when the youngest, Jack-Jack, starts to exhibit multiple superpowers at once. Jack-Jack is certainly the comedic highlight of the film. I mean, c’mon, it’s a baby with superpowers! Violet and Dash are both fun as well, and they even get their own mini-arc of learning to be team players in the superfamily unit. My only complaint is Mr. Incredible seems very petty at the beginning of the film. He is jealous of Elastigirl getting offered the superhero gig and his reaction seems a bit too mean-spirited. This is especially hypocritical seeing as how he had his turn doing the super-heroics in the first flick. Although, his stepping up as a dad does sort of redeem his flaws in a way, just not explicitly addressing this apparent pettiness. Even so, the family’s dynamic continues to be heartwarming and full of fun.
Unfortunately, the film’s antagonist and their evil plot bring the film’s overall rating down. Screen Slaver, the movie’s villain, is given a damn great introduction and power set. They utilize hypnotism through the use of video screens, which also ties into the characters overall philosophy. However, the character never lives up to their great introduction or the established motive. Halfway through the film, their entire plans and motives are delivered in an entirely new and more personal context. While I can appreciate the new personal motive, I fell like the character abandons all other philosophical intent in their evil plan. What was the point of doing a whole monologue about the evils of media and addiction to video screens if you are going to abandon it halfway through the film? It is very disappointing because I really wanted to see their intentions discussed more in-depth. Also, the character’s true identity isn’t surprising at all. You can guess where the supposed twist is going to be almost immediately. This seems to be becoming a trend in Pixar and Disney animated films, opting for a story twist instead of writing well-rounded villains. Screen Slaver had a lot of potential but unfortunately does not deliver.
Despite a lackluster villain, it’s good to be reunited with our favorite superhero family. The film’s animation is top notch, Brad Bird proves once again he is a damn good director, and the film and characters are highly enjoyable. With a massive opening box office, it’s pretty much guaranteed we are going to see the Incredibles again. Hopefully, It won’t take 14 years this time. . . .