Much-anticipated Incredibles sequel delivers
The Incredibles debuted on November 5th, 2004. It marked the first time Pixar told a story primarily focused on human characters. It was praised as one of the best superhero films and best Pixar films and still stands in high regard for both categories. Despite the success of the first film and demand for a sequel in a world where superhero movies became the most profitable segment of the film business, no sequels happened. Last year, a trailer featuring Jack-Jack testing his new powers and the hype machine kicked into high gear.
Last weekend, The Incredibles 2 opened in theatres to great critical praise and setting the record for gross on previews for all animated films. The strong response is absolutely deserved. The Incredibles 2 is the best animated film of the year and possibly the best superhero film of the year, in a year competing with Black Panther, Infinity War, Deadpool, and many others. It offers a mix of comic book-esque superheroes, a compelling family drama, James Bond feel, and animation that only Pixar can give.
Brad Bird continues his string of outstanding animated directorial projects. His first three were The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille, and this new film belongs in company with the others. Bird expanded the world of the fantastical 1960’s laid out in the original and gave his already iconic characters more room to grown and fill the story.
Those characters largely return with the same voice actors and pick up immediately after the first film. There’s no time to celebrate a victory; supers are still illegal and Robert Parr is still without work. It’s a stark reality facing the Parrs, and one that sets up an excellent story.
Mrs. Incredible (Holly Hunter) gets more time to shine as Elastigirl, her super alter ego, than in the first movie and she is wildly fun. Mr. Incredible (Craig Nelson) doesn’t actually get much time to be a superhero. He gets his moments, but most of the film focuses on him being Robert Parr, father of three super-powered children trying to learn math, dealing with boyfriend trouble, and being a baby that needs constant attention. Parr is pushed as a father and has to swallow his pride of wanting to be a hero in the spotlight. It’s a touching reminder of how challenging parenthood is and how necessary a good father is.
The Parr children: Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner), and Jack-Jack are all back and see serious development, at times claiming the spotlight to themselves. They’re just as fun to watch in the sequel as in the original. As are Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) and Edna Mode (Brad Bird). Jackson is a hammier version of his normal self and is a national treasure. Bird’s sort-of-Asian, sort-of-German voice helps make Edna Mode the funniest character in the series. New arrivals Winston and Evelyn Deavor (Bob Odendirk, Catherine Keener) are fun to watch and give the established characters new situations to deal with. They blend in well and feel perfectly at home in the new movie. All of the voice acting works very well.
Now to talk about the technical. Pixar is the master of computer animation and their skills are on full display here. A beautifully diverse color palette and memorable designs bring life to this fantastic imagining of the 1960’s. The animation is slightly more cartoony than Inside Out and Coco, but still detailed enough to see the stitches in the costumes or the individual hairs on Violet’s hair. It does stray a little close to the uncanny valley with how good the animation is compared with how unrealistic the design of the people is. But still, the animation is superb.
Michael Gianchinno returns to score the sequel. His music for the first film was one of the best and defining features in the first film. His newest project resulted in a lovely mix of original themes, Bond-esque motifs, and big band compositions. It is a more subtle score than the first movie, though. Dialogue drives more of the sequel, so the music is often filling out tone instead of driving the action. It’s still excellent and will likely get a Grammy nomination for Gianchinno.
So is this a better film than the original? Not quite. Nothing in the sequel quite surpasses the best of the original film, which in my opinion is the chase sequence in the jungle. The sequel also leans a bit more on dialogue to advance the narrative than the original. The dialogue is still good, but showing is always better than telling in a movie. Also, just a warning, there is one sequence that will cause problems for anyone suffering from epilepsy. Be forewarned and aware of potential problems there.
Still, The Incredibles 2 is a phenomenal movie. It expands on an interesting world, compelling characters, and will entertain audiences of all ages. It is one of the best sequels ever made, and is well worth a watch. Chalk up another hit for Pixar, the most consistent film studio in the world.