After 14 years, the world’s finest super-powered family is finally back, and they arrive on the scene with a bang.
Since Brad Bird’s 2004 Pixar outing, fans have been clamouring year after year for another adventure in the exquisitely animated world of supers. While they have still been getting some brilliant works from Pixar, the Parr family had yet to get a follow-up – until now. Bird is back with Incredibles 2, and it’s a pleasure to watch and enjoy in every possible fashion.
A quick recap: After Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl/Helen Parr (Holly Hunter) help their children Dash (Huck Milner, replacing Spencer Fox from the first film) and Violet (Sarah Vowell) embrace their powers, they are sought out by Winston and Evelyn Deavor (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener), two siblings who run the world’s largest telecommunication company, and who are determined to bring supers back into the spotlight.
That’s pretty much the movie in a nutshell – but as viewers might guess, it’s not really about all of that. It’s about how the Parrs grow as a family, and how they all learn to pick each other up when they fall. The film very deftly explores each character’s strength, and also their weakness, and it does it by thrusting Hunter’s Elastigirl into the spotlight. Whereas in the first film, she was relegated to the worrying wife as her husband went on covert missions, she is now the hero entrusted with the dangerous nightlife, while Bob learns to adapt as a stay-at-home dad.
While this was pretty laid out in the trailer, the film makes it so much more than that, as Bird manages to make the genuine love Bob has for his family show – even as he’s trying to accept the fact that he is no longer the one saving the day and posing for the camera.
The villain, the Screenslaver, does deliver some pretty biting social commentary (“You don’t talk, you watch talk shows” is just one of the many, many zingers), but the character itself and the eventual Scooby Doo-esque unmasking is a bit lacklustre. It’s not a huge flaw, but in an otherwise great movie, it was a noticeable sag.
Perhaps the most welcome addition is the tremendous amount of comedy. The film embraces humour in a way that the first one only somewhat hinted at – and the character at the centre is Jack-Jack, the third Parr child, still an infant. Every single scene with Jack-Jack discovering his powers is brilliant, combining the innocent of a baby with some wild powers, from dimension hopping, to spontaneous combustion, to Superman-like laser eyes – and those are just a handful of the ones he displays. It may sound somewhat hyperbolic, but Jack-Jack legitimately had the theatre rolling with laughter – his character is easily the highlight of the film.
The visuals remain tremendous, and it almost seems as though Pixar embraced the comic book-like art design, choosing to have some of the fight scenes play out as though they were ripped right off a page. Of course, the music is stellar as well, as Michael Giacchino returns to score the sequel, and uses the jazzy sounds of the 50s and 60s to bring the action to life in an amazing way. Whether it’s Elastigirl traveling through the downtown core or Jack-Jack doing battle with the local wildlife, the music is the lifeblood of this movie in a crucial way, and Giacchino does a wonderful job.
The Incredibles 2 is, simply, Pixar having a blast both with movie making and in delighting the audience – it combines the emotional beats of the Disney storytelling viewers have come to love with some absolutely wicked action sequences, some that rivals even the best kind of live-action films. It’s funny, light, and at the same time manages to deliver some poignant messages about accepting things that are out of one’s control.
If you’re not seeing this movie in theatres, you’d be doing yourself a disservice – what are you waiting for?
Incredibles 2 is currently in theatres.
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