Pixar has been a leader in animation ever since it first burst on the scene in 1995 with Toy Story and, in truth, I’ve been on-board all the way through. I’ve loved almost every film they’ve released like Finding Nemo or Monster’s Inc, or Toy Story or even more recently, their film Coco. The brand has endured and has built a reputation of engaging young and adult moviegoers alike. Eight years into building what has since become a juggernaut regime, they released The Incredibles, a film that performed well at the box-office (a huge success for Pixar, perhaps overshadowed by the even greater success had by Finding Nemo a year prior) and received wide-approval. I certainly enjoyed The Incredibles, but I think it’d be fair to suggest I didn’t covet it the same way I coveted Toy Story, for instance. I only mention this to say that I was excited for Incredibles 2, but my level of anticipation wasn’t the same way that some (my fiancée, for example) felt they had been enduring the last decade-and-a-half.
Incredibles 2 has received very positive reviews from critics (a small notch below the weighty reception had by its predecessor) and has received support from a box-office perspective. As of this writing, Incredibles 2 has surpassed The Incredibles from a domestic standpoint by a considerable amount (even when adjusted for inflation) and has surpassed The Incredibles worldwide with some mileage left in it.
In our Brad Bird written and directed sequel (same as the first. Bird’s great and known for The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, and unfortunately, Tomorrowland), the story follows the Parr family, still, more-or-less, like they were left, now dealt with having to regain the public’s trust of superheroes, revamping the public’s perception with the help of a man named Winston Deavor. While Elastigirl is tasked with the heroics, leaving poor, old Bob (Mr. Incredible) entrusted to look after the kids, a job made more difficult by their infant son Jack-Jack and his unpredictable, blooming superpowers.
I had a couple of worries in this film heading in. Like Incredibles 2, the long-awaited Finding Dory film received strong box-office returns and critical acclaim, but, in truth, I was disappointed with Finding Dory as a film. In-particular, I found that the film coasted off the nostalgia of the previous film and while it was a decent film, it wasn’t a heavy-hitter follow-up like I would have liked. Seeing the scenarios with Bob and Jack-Jack in the trailers, I was afraid the film would play a generic scenario of having Mr. Incredible imploding under the weight of his own ego and that being the main conflict of the film.
Answering the latter’s question first – the character of Mr. Incredible is portrayed more selflessly and nuanced than that. The character has an ego to him and wants to be out fighting-crime but understands that in-order for his wife to succeed, he needs to succeed. If nothing else, I appreciate Pixar for portraying Elastigirl as a strong character without it unnecessarily weakening other characters or adding an unnecessary “battle of the sexes” story-line to it.
As for the second point, Incredibles 2 warrants itself with its fair-share of comedic moments that will have the younger crowd laughing and should even bring a smile or two from the adult audience. The action-scenes and animation itself are also definitely aspects I’d single out. The bombastic action is fast and kinetic, and I think it’s what I regard as my favorite part of the film. That, and the music composed by Michael Giacchino, which runs the wire of being beautifully familiar.
Something I also worried about was the villain. The first Incredibles film had a great villain, in my opinion, and I was worried they’d think the dynamic itself was enough to warrant the film without a central antagonist, opting, instead, for a central antagonist through conflict. The film has a villain, however, and I would describe said villain as passable (and capable of inducing epileptic seizures). I would only regard the villain as passable, however. As I watched the film, however, I’ll confess to the predictability of Screenslaver (that’s the villain’s name, by the way) and that I was able to predict it a mile away. This isn’t because of my detective skills, but, because the reveal was obvious. That, and the motive behind the villain’s behavior, felt very, very standard.
The story itself holds a familiarity as well, whether it be the strands shared with its predecessor, or the similarities it carries with established convention. The film doesn’t ask a lot of new, unique questions. And while it earns its keeps through its action, humor, and overall presentation, it doesn’t necessarily make the most of its potential. Incredibles 2 is a good animated affair, certainly bolstering the production-value Pixar (and Disney itself) usually delivers on that sets it above its competition, but as an overall production, through its standard, predictable story-line and conflicts, it only satiates and satisfies, it isn’t incredible.