Film

Incredibles 2: a fun throwback that feels brand new

While Solo: A Star Wars Story may have flopped at the box office, Pixar’s Incredibles 2, directed by Brad Bird, has proved that nostalgia is not dead. The movie received great reviews by critics prior to its released and pre-ticket sales outnumbered those for any other animated film. The previous record was held by Finding Dory. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. This was easily one of the most anticipated films of the year.

So was the movie worth its fourteen year long wait?

In my opinion:

Yes.

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The family is back!

The film begins pretty much where the original left off; The Underminer is attacking the city and the Parr family are the only ones who can stop him. Bob and Helen go after The Underminer, leaving Violet and Dash to look after Jack-Jack. Naturally, things don’t go according to plan; the fight ends in disaster, the Super Relocation Program is shut down, the family is forced to move and the Super debate is thrust back into the spotlight.

Winston Deavor, the CEO of the telecommunications company Devtech, and his sister Evelyn, the genius behind the company’s technology, contacts the couple and Frozone for their help. They want to make Supers legal again.

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Incredibles 2 Catherine Keener as the voice of Evelyn, Samuel L. Jackson as the voice of Frozone, Holly Hunter as the voice of Elastigirl, Craig T. Nelson as the voice of Mr. Incredible and Bob Odenkirk as the voice of Winston (Source: EW)

Winston decides to make Elastigirl the face of his new campaign. The reason is simple:  she causes the least amount of damage in the field. So with the help of Winston and Evelyn, Helen once again becomes Elastigirl complete with a new suit and gadgets. Not long after, the evil Screenslaver, a masked villain who uses screens to hypnotize people appears.

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The Screensaver

Bob is at home  taking care of the kids. At first, he does a great job. Then Tony Rydinger, Violet’s love interest from the first movie doesn’t show up to their date and doesn’t seem to know who she is. Bob’s to blame; Violet’s mask fell off and Bob had Rick Dicker erase Tony’s memory. Dash is having trouble with math.

And then, the family finds out Jack-Jack has a smorgasbord of superpowers. Somehow they never noticed his powers in the previous film.

 So the two parents must deal with these challenges, along with an important ethical dilemma: Should one break laws that are unethical to show how they harm people?

So, the first thing I must say is that this film does not do is delve into the old “bumbling father” trope. Bob knows how to take care of children; he just cannot necessarily deal with brokenhearted daughter who is also confused about her place in the world and baby who has powers beyond his control all by himself. That’s pretty reasonable.

Dash doesn’t have any issues in the film. Except math.

 Helen struggles with her code of ethics while Elastigirl, as she is performing an illegal act.

There is a variety of female characters: Evelyn Deavor is a genius. She is the mind behind all their products; the Ambassador is targeted due to her influence; Edna Mode continues to be a powerful and influential designer who is able to create an outfit that can help control Jack-Jack’s many powers; and Voyd, a huge fan of Elastigirl ends up playing a key role in defeating the Screenslaver.

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New supers, including Voyd (center) meet Elastigirl

The film doesn’t force the women to talk about sexism in the world, but the idea gets tossed around a little. But mostly, the film is feminist because it has women in a variety of roles, making their own choices about their futures.

As I mentioned, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack each play an important role and while Violet does have a bit of a character arc, Dash doesn’t really have one at all. It’s Jack-Jack who gets a lot of the focus. However, All the Jack-Jack scenes were genuinely entertaining and never felt like padding or fan service.

The sibling dynamic between them was very interesting and realistic. But the kids’ lack of character arcs was definitely one of the film’s weak points.

I won’t waste my time talking about the animation here; it’s a Pixar film, so naturally it’s amazing. The film sticks to the style of the original, but everything simply looks better.

The movement is incredibly fluid. It’s especially apparent in the scenes where Helen uses her Elasticycle, a specially designed motorcycle that can split in two, allowing Helen to use utilize her powers in a way we haven’t seen before.

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And spoilers.

After several years of “twist villains” in films; Disney finally, finally, finally….manages to pull it off right.

They actually use foreshadowing, and they don’t wait until the last minute to have the villain’s identity revealed. It gives the viewer enough time to understand the character’s motivation and worry whether they’ll be able to get away with it.

Not only that, but they also give the villain a unique but still understandable motive that fits in with the themes of the film.

I didn’t even mind that I managed to guess the villain’s identity before the release. The film still kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering how the villain’s identity was going to be revealed and what their motives were going to be.

The film manages to keep a good balance between action, comedy, and drama. It does lean heavily towards the action/adventure genre, which isn’t a bad thing. I think it’s very much-needed in this day and age.

Incredibles 2 knows what is.  It doesn’t try to be like a Marvel movie, and it doesn’t need to be. It also doesn’t try to do what all other children’s movies are doing, and focus on “smart” self-aware humor. The movie’s humor doesn’t rely on making jokes regarding current superhero tropes or movies in general. It’s so refreshing.

The film manages to keep a similar tone to the first, which considering the production gap must have been difficult. I definitely think setting the movie immediately after the events of the first was a good idea. It made everything flow more naturally. It feels like we never left the characters behind.

And like The Incredibles, the sequel has a more mature feel to it than other Pixar movies.

It doesn’t try to downplay the danger the heroes are in. The film heavily averts the “Never Say Die” rule that a lot of kids’ media follows and there’s even a bit of mild swearing.

It doesn’t reach the emotional depths of the Toy Story franchise or Wall-E or Up but it doesn’t need to. Not every Pixar film should make you cry, and they shouldn’t need to be sad in order to be good. It’s nice to have a change in movie style and tone.

It, however, does come at the expense of the film’s message, which doesn’t get near the same amount of attention as it should have. Like Dash, it gets kind of forgotten.

But, I still really enjoyed the film. I think it fills a gap in the current market that a lot of people haven’t realized is there. It’s action packed, with a style of humor and heart that is able to appeal to viewers of all ages.

It was, pun intended, absolutely incredible.

And that’s the scoop.
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Score 9/10

Rating: PG

Length: 2 hours

Available: In cinemas near you.

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