Mr. Incredible is left at home with the kids while Elastigirl gets a new job saving the world.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen an Incredibles movie; so long, in fact, that it seems the world they knew has long left us behind. In the world of 2004, when the first Incredibles movie came out, there had been a few successful superhero films made: the X-Men franchise had just started up, and Sam Raimi and Toby McGuire’s Spider-Man series had done remarkably well with it’s two first films, but other than that, the superhero genre had for the most part been left alone for the better part of a decade. Batman and Robin had effectively killed off the Batman franchise, and Nolan wouldn’t revive it until the next year. Superman hadn’t been touched since the late 1980s; Nuclear Man had apparently been too shocking for audiences. The MCU had another four years before it would even see its first entry. What I’m saying is, when the Incredibles came out, the world they were entering wasn’t polluted by an overabundance of run-of-the-mill superhero films; we hadn’t seen twenty films pumped out of a studio about superheroes we hadn’t even known existed; superheroes were still fresh and exciting and new. Nowadays, if you can head to the theaters and see a marquee free from superhero names it’s an anomaly. Superhero films are everywhere; they’re impossible to escape; they’re more prevalent than ever before. So where does that leave a film like The Incredibles 2, a movie that’s clearly inspired, not by the flood of superhero movies that came within the past fourteen years, but by the serial films of the 1930’s and 40’s? Well, somehow, I’m happy to report, it still stays fresh; despite containing many of the same plot elements of the first.
(SOME SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH)
This film starts almost exactly where the first one left off; the Incredibles fight the Underminer, the mole bad guy from the end of the first. As the Incredibles fight the Underminer, Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk, The Post), a goodhearted man intent on legalizing superheroes, spots Elastigirl (Holly Hunter, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) and believes that she is the key to winning over the general public. Winston and his sister, Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener, Get Out) offer Elastigirl a job which will put her back in the limelight, and in the position to save people when needed. Mr. Incredible (Craig T Nelson, Poltergeist) is left at home with the kids, and he realizes that raising children is just as difficult and important as fighting the bad guys.
Familiar Yet Fresh
One of my only complaints about this film is that it feels remarkably similar to the first film, only the roles are reversed. In the first Incredibles, the mother is left at home to watch the kids, while the father goes off globetrotting and thrill seeking. In this one, it’s the opposite; the father stays at home while the mother goes out and fights crime. There are a lot of the same elements, too: detective work, allies with murky backstories, visiting Edna to get a new suit, wacky hi-jinks with Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson, Captain America: Civil War), kids inevitably getting sucked in to help their parents… the thing is, it really doesn’t get old.
Brad Bird has a way of keeping everything fresh despite the fact that the film he’s given us this time around is much the same as the first. A lot of that has to do with the writing, which feels quite topical at times. There are a lot of moments when characters say things that feel like thinly veiled political statements about the state of our nation and political discord that has come between us in today’s climate. For a kid’s film, this was surprisingly poignant and added a layer of depth to the film that I had not expected. Another thing I liked about this was that Bird didn’t seem to be trying to make a specific statement by bringing up this dissonance; instead, he felt content to merely bring it up and say that the tensions we’re feeling aren’t right; we should try to find some common ground.
Another thing I liked a lot about this movie was the creativity of the fight scenes. There have been dozens of superhero movies since the first Incredibles, and all of them have had barrages of special effects driven fight scenes; this superhero film is no different. What is different is the way that the heroes use their powers. Though many of the heroes have powers we’ve seen displayed through various other masked characters, Bird finds a way to keep everything feeling fresh and exciting. He shows us new things done with old powers.
As far as superhero sequels go, this is one of the better ones. It maintains the same tone and humor as the first one while still being able to feel timely and fresh and fun. I didn’t love this as much as the first one, but it’s still a very solid sequel. Pixar has a way of consistently putting out some of the best kid’s films out there, and this one is no different. Check it out. You wont be disappointed.
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