The Incredibles was practically perfect. Gorgeous animation blended with a deft plot; escalating tension melded with heart-warming family dynamics; an adorable yet realistically high-stakes romance between a husband and wife strode alongside the every-man struggle of a middle-aged father to find his place in life again; and weaving through it all was a truly diabolical yet savory villain.
Well, perfect is understandably hard to top…even for a writer and director of Brad Bird’s impressive story skills.
So……did the sequel pull it off?
That’s a question each viewer must answer for themselves—but here is my take.
The leading family must be the beating heart of this artifice…and for the most part, they hold up well.
The sequel escapes the pit-fall of having its characters rehash the same character growth issues that they face in the first movie.
Violet is now confident in herself and her abilities, and in her responsibility for her younger siblings. But that doesn’t mean she’s a perfect creature without emotional valleys to travel and faults to overcome.
Dash has matured as well — he’s not just a rambunctious young boy with more energy than is good for him. He’s eager to help others, has a good sense of humor, and uses that particular brand of teasing that proves he thinks the world of his older sister (#askhowIknow). Sure, he’s still an enthusiastic little boy – but that enthusiasm is one of his qualities, as well.
Bob and Helen faced a major marriage crisis in their first movie. While still madly in love, they both had to learn to be more honest and trusting with each other. In the sequel, they don’t rehash old ground. Instead of learning again to depend on each other, rather the stress comes from the reversal of their traditional male-female roles.
Speaking of which…
Male-female roles. Ah…the posts we could write about that.
One of the things The Incredibles did so breathtakingly well was portray a father’s love for his wife and family and his need to protect them…not because “he’s da man” and “Mr. Incredible kicks butt, baby!” but because he wants them to be safe.
Incredibles 2 explores this same dynamic, but from a different angle. Bob is a man, so every fiber of his being cries for him to protect others, to stop evil, to stand in the gap and be the meat-shield for those behind him.
But when Helen “Elasta-girl” is chosen to be the star hero, Bob throws himself into baby-sitting with the same gusto, and the same attack-from-the-front mentality.
It’s gorgeous to see the unique and differentiated strengths of males and females explored and displayed in such a way.
The Other Supers
Another element of Incredibles 2 is the introduction of other super-powered characters. Like…a lot of them.
I recognize that they’re supposed to be bit parts, but I couldn’t help but feel that they didn’t get developed as much as they could have. (Say, if some of Jack-Jack’s screen time was cut — more on that later.)
A couple of these “supers” seem redundant (especially one who is basically Mr. Incredible). That makes the whole group feel even more crammed into the movie — there’s just enough of them to make us store them in our minds for later reference, but not enough to satisfy us. And that’s a common problem with large casts.
As for their powers, while on one hand it seems like adding four-plus more powers to the universe is over-the-top…on the other hand it allows us to explore new angles of the same old powers.
Speaking of which, a lot of the fun of this movie comes from the new power use. In the first movie, Bob and Helen had been out of action for a while – and the kids were just getting the feel for their powers.
Now? They’ve had the time and experience to experiment – and the fights scenes are that much cooler for it!
Take for instance Violet throwing her force fields, or Dash running around to keep the crowd back from the danger zone…or Frozone freezing things (I know, he did that before – but it’s cool!). The cooperative fighting is also top-notch, as the Incredibles combine powers to defeat the odds (using the super-secret mega-power shared by all heroes: lucky timing!).
Extra bonus points for the sibling tag-team, of course!
Speaking of siblings…
Hmm. I can’t exactly say Jack-Jack is the Young Anakin of this world…but he’s very nearly a Gary Stu. Y’know, a “practically perfect in every way” character who has plot-armor and fixes all the world’s problems.
We all know Jack-Jack has powers, right? Well, powerssss with an “s” is right! Suffice it to say that if Jack-Jack ever turns to the dark side, the whole planet is sunk.
He’s still a non-verbal toddler (with the temper tantrums to prove it), yet exhibits advanced comprehension skills…plus an inhuman predilection for helping and serving his family.
In a world of superpowers and futuristic technology, Baby Super-Freak is probably the hardest thing to swallow.
The Fan Service
Another thing I struggled with was the fan service…can I call it the “required references”?
The first movie ended with the appearance of The Underminer. Well, the second movie opens with the family fighting him. Makes sense, right? I mean, everyone’s wondered where things went from there, right? (Um…someone did, I assume?) Now you get to find out!
Sounds logical. But it doesn’t stop there.
You know all the stuff you loved in the first movie? Well, it’s in this one, too!
Edna Mode is here. (FYI she’s awesome.)
Rick Dicker’s memory-wipe machine from Jack-Jack Attack is here, too.
Y’know that part where Frozone needs his super-suit, and Honey yells at him? There’s a mimic-scene in I2!
How about new and different super-suits! There’s some play with that, too.
And if you’ve watched the Honest Trailer, you know the villain and plot are basically lifted from the original film, also.
All right…okay…yeah…Maybe I’m the only one here, but a part of me thinks I’ve already watched The Incredibles. It was perfect. You can’t just make the same movie again, so DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT ALREADY.
Maybe I’m the only one.
It’s a Movie for the Kid in Me
Don’t misunderstand: it’s a good movie.
I laughed SO HARD. The plot, the pacing, the tension and stakes are by-the-book spot-on. The family dynamics are endearing; and the picture of supers dealing with real-life, common problems is honest and humanizing.
The action is FULLY AWESOME. The humor is SO MUCH.
It was amazing to watch with my brother and family.
But it’s not the first one. In the opinion of this reviewer, nothing will ever be the first one.
If you can live with that, enjoy this movie. If you need Incredibles 2 to surpass The Incredibles, you’re talking to the wrong girl.
My brother gave me this for Christmas because of course he did isn’t he adorable!
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