The time has finally come for the sequel fans have been waiting 14 years for, one that developed a fervor of interest and excitement the world over. Disney-Pixar’s Incredibles 2 is here, bringing with it an action packed, emotionally driven, and well balanced second act that is well worth the wait.
Picking up right where we left off in the ending of the first film, Incredibles 2 wastes no time in taking you back into the world of the Parr family. The Underminer is still a threat, Supers are still illegal, and the family is still needing to find a balance between staying together and coming to terms with what it means to be a hero. Though time may not have passed for the Incredibles, time has definitely passed in the real world. A lot has changed since 2004, and Brad Bird is aware of that. Marvel is dominant, super heroes are the norm, and his trendy animated feature is in the midst of an over saturated market. How is it possible to keep a film about heroes and villains fresh and exciting? Bird and his team at Pixar know the answer, and that can be summed up into one word: Family.
The primary focus of the film is Helen’s return as Elastagirl. Chosen to help change the public’s image of the Supers, she takes center stage and becomes the breadwinner of the family. Bob (Mr. Incredible), has reservations, as the new task comes with a catch: He has to stay home while Elastagirl saves the day. In the first film, Mr. Incredible was the headliner and the big star. Sneaking out to fight crime and help save the world, Bob wants nothing more than to have the chance to be the revered hero. Instead, he must play Mr. Mom, learning how to handle adolescent rebellion, new math formulas, and Jack Jack’s insanely overpowering new abilities. It’s a chance to grow and evolve, and though it may be fun to see Bob suit up as Mr. Incredible, it’s even more satisfying to see him suit up as a parent. There are some really touching scenes, creating a real relatable connection that a lot of people will appreciate.
Meanwhile, getting more time with Helen as Elastagirl is fantastic, proving that she holds her own and stays true to the sassy young woman we saw in the opening credits of the first film. Elastagirl doesn’t need to be a supporting character, and her confidence speaks for itself on screen. She’s clever, rolls with the punches, and doesn’t take things for granted. In a time where female empowerment is at its peak, Elastagirl is a great role model. New Supers come into the fold, allowing her to take charge and see the impact she’s made on them. She also gets a chance to see how that impact has shaped her own persona with the very people she works to save. It’s a time for self discovery, and she handles it with poise and grace.
Everyone in the film has a chance to go through their own personal journey of self discovery. Even Jack Jack has his own story arc, which is both wildly entertaining and fun. The only thing we can ask for is more time to learn what’s really going on with him. Similar to the first film, we are learning little by little. The cookie crumbs are left for us to follow and ultimately will leave us wanting more. Jack Jack isn’t wasted, and is a shining example of the film’s ability to smoothly transition between plot lines. Between each of the characters, there are multiple subplots running at the same time. Though, this is not to say it is clunky and distracting, as each part is in sync, complimenting the other plot points and supporting the main story. It creates a good rhythm, giving us time with each character while still maintaining the hero side of it all. There are still plenty of action packed moments.
All the while, the animation looks amazing, showing a fresh new look to the franchise, while still maintaining the vintage vibe that was created in the first place. It’s cleaner, more detailed, and is an upgrade that Edna Mode herself would be proud of. As always, Michael Giacchino brings the jazzy, cool vibe everyone expects from the series. From story, to design, to execution, it’s all a great mix. In a lot of ways, the film moves beyond the first movie in tremendous ways. A sequel’s challenge is coming up with something new, but also staying loyal to elements established in the first act. Incredibles 2 does exactly that, in a way that is personal and beyond a super hero matinee. You get real heart, complexity, and the type of mature undertones you’d expect from a Pixar film. It’s more than just a kids movie, and in the end, serves a greater purpose.