Film history has proven that sequels released more than a decade after the last film tend to not be very good. Examples of this include Godfather III (16 years after Godfather II), Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps (23 years after Wall Street), Basic Instinct 2 (14 years after Basic Instinct), and Dumb and Dumber To (20 years after Dumb and Dumber).
But Pixar seems to be the exception to this rule. With sequels like Toy Story 3 and Finding Dory, Pixar seems to have come up with a formula for making long-awaited sequels work.
The first Incredibles came out in 2004 and now, fourteen years later, we get the sequel, and it was worth the wait. Pixar has done it once again with Incredibles 2, a bright, exciting, action-packed film with relevant themes, a great score, and stunning animation.
Incredibles 2 picks up right where the first film left off, as the Parr’s, Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner), and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) are leaving Dash’s track event when the Underminer (John Ratzenberger) is taking over the city. The Incredibles, along with Lucious/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) answer the call to action, but the aftermath and the destruction of the city forces the government to ban superheroes, forcing everyone to adhere to their secret identities.
That is until Bob, Helen, and Lucious meet Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), a telecommunications tycoon and huge superhero fan, and his sister, Evelyn (Catherine Keener), who want to legalize superheroes by giving them a positive public perception. His plan is for Elastigirl to go into the field, because she’s the least destructive, and wear a body-camera while saving the day so people can see all that they do. With Elastigirl in action, that leaves Bob at home with the kids, a role he has never played before.
While Elastigirl is on the job, she encounters the Screenslaver, a villain who hijacks television airwaves with hypnotic images that brainwash the civilians. Elasitgirl must stop Screenslaver before they enslave the entire city. Meanwhile, Bob finds out that Jack-Jack has a number of uncontrollable powers and must figure out how to harness those while also helping Violent out with boy problems and attempting to help Dash with his math homework, even when the math doesn’t make sense.
Writer/director Brad Bird wanted to make this sequel since 2007, right after he won his second Oscar for Ratatouille. But in typical Brad Bird-perfection style, he didn’t want to rush it because he wanted to make sure the characters were right and that the plot was worthy. It also didn’t help that a year after Ratatouille, in 2008, came the beginning of the comic book boom with Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and The Incredible Hulk all coming out in one summer. That summer essentially changed cinema forever and made it even harder for Bird, as he now had to make sure his movie wasn’t just another superhero movie.
The wait for Incredible 2 was worth every single day, because Bird hits every note perfectly. What makes Incredibles 2 different than every other comic book movie is the characters. Sure, the action is better than any Marvel movie I’ve seen in the last five years, but it’s living with the Parr family that makes this movie great. We met them in the first film, and now we get to grow with them in this one. We see Bob’s struggle with becoming the stay-at-home dad, we watch as Helen flourishes as the lead hero, we empathize with Violet and Dash’s school problems, and we just love everything about Jack-Jack. These are fully realized characters that drive this movie to greatness.
The themes and commentary in this movie is deep, rich, and relevant. Kudos to Bird for always challenging us as viewer. Bird brings up themes of familial roles and gender roles, as Bob and Helen essentially switch life roles. He takes shots at the over-saturation of the current comic book movie craze and how we are all obsessed with looking at our screens and are just hypnotized zombies in the grand scheme of modern entertainment and news. And they say these movies are for kids. HA!
Bird also gives us a glimpse into his mind in the form of Bob. As mentioned earlier, Bird wanted to make this sequel, but knew it wasn’t the right time, even though he could have easily manufactured one out. In between, Bird decided to try his hand at live-action film with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, a massive success, and Tomorrowland, a not-so-big hit, and then focused on bringing the Parr’s back to the big screen in a perfect way. This is what Bob is dealing with throughout the film. Bob is used to being the city’s hero and getting all the accolades that comes with being a hero. But when he has to become a stay-at-home dad and let Helen take the reigns, Bob has to learn to take on a new role and resist the temptation to get out there and be the hero he has known his whole life because he knows it is the best decision for everyone. He must try something new and become the fatherly figure he has never been. But when Mr. Incredible is called into action, Bob knows it is go time and he comes as ready as ever. This is a masterful stroke from Bird and further proof why he is one of the finest filmmakers working today.
Aesthetically, this is one of Pixar’s best. They just keeps upping themselves visually and Incredibles 2 is awe-inspiring. Every inch of this movie is gorgeous. Everything moves so smoothly and everything pops off screen. The action is thrilling. From the opening Underminer battle to the boat finale, your heart is beating out of your chest with intensity. And Michael Giacchino is the true M.V.P. of the movie with his masterful score. From the subtle, noir-inspired mystery theme to the gorgeous, emotional piece that swells over our final action sequence, every note is perfection. Giacchino has given us a number of brilliant scores, but this might be his finest.
The cast, like the first film, brings their A-game. Holly Hunter gives one of the best voice performances I’ve ever heard, right up there with Ellen DeGeneres in Finding Nemo and Eddie Murphy in Shrek. She brings Helen to life, adding more emotion and depth with just her words than most live-action performances. Craig T. Nelson is excellent as Bob. Going from hero to stay-at-home dad makes Bob frustrated, tired, and also adds a few comedy notes as well, which Nelson delivers on. The kids are wonderful, Samuel L. Jackson is a blast, Bob Odenkirk is great, and Catherine Keener shows that she is an unstoppable force in Hollywood that can do anything, live-action or animated.
Incredibles 2 is a truly special movie. Brad Bird has made easily one of his best films and one of Pixar’s best. Funny, thrilling, and smart, with top-notch voice-work, relevant themes, Giacchino’s outstanding score, and action that holds up better than most action movies, Incredibles 2 is a film for everyone. This is easily one of the best movie of 2018.
Did you see Incredibles 2? What did you think? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter and Instagram, @kevflix, or on Facebook by searching Kevflix.