Directed by: Brad Bird
Premise: Immediately following the events of the 2004 film, Elastigirl (voice of Holly Hunter) is recruited to be the face of a public relations blitz that will reintroduce superheroes. Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) stays home with the kids.
What Works: The first Incredibles movie was one of Pixar’s middle tier efforts. That puts it in good company but the original Incredibles had a story that wasn’t especially imaginative and the animation wasn’t at the same level as Pixar’s other efforts. On both of those fronts and on several others, Incredibles 2 is a better movie than its predecessor. The story is a little more complex and unlike some other sequels—namely Finding Dory—it doesn’t just repeat the same formula all over again. Incredibles 2 is a distinct story that is much more about the family as a whole. Each of the parents and the kids get a meaningful storyline. This movie builds upon what was implied by the coda of the first film; the family comes together and works as a team. The family drama is the heart of this movie and the filmmakers have created characters who are authentic and have interior lives and relationships that are as complex and nuanced as the characters of live action movies. Of particular interest is the way Incredibles 2 foregrounds Elastigirl as she achieves the fame and recognition that her husband craves. That causes a rift in the marriage but this part of the story avoids the kind of sitcom-esque situations and solutions that characterize similar movies. This is a mature and contemporary story, more so than maybe any other film that Pixar has produced. Incredibles 2 also looks great. The texture of the characters and their world is vivid and the movie has some terrific action sequences. There is a particular fight scene against flashing strobe lights that is among the most visually impressive sequences in all of Pixar’s filmography.
What Doesn’t: The emphasis on the family drama comes at the cost of superhero adventures. Incredibles 2 has the requisite amount of adventure and the set pieces deliver but the movie is far from constant action. A smaller portion of this movie is dedicated to the superheroics than other movies of this type like the Despicable Me films. That’s not a flaw of Incredibles 2 but the movie may not be as engaging for its youngest viewers the way the first one was. The superhero story of Incredibles 2 also isn’t as thoughtful or nuanced as the family drama. This part of the movie feels almost perfunctory. The filmmakers flirt with interesting ideas about what superheroes represent but they don’t really do anything with them and the big reveal is obvious.
Bottom Line: Incredibles 2 is a sequel that is better than its predecessor in nearly every respect. It is less of a children’s movie than the first one was but it is also a better film.
Episode: #706 (July 8,. 2018)