Note: This is a spoiler-free review.
I’ve been waiting for an Incredibles sequel for ages and my expectations once I heard that a sequel was in the works were incredibly high. Back in February, I wrote that “to succeed, Incredibles 2 must be as bold, dramatic, and heroic as the first.” After watching it on the IMAX big screen last night, I’m thrilled to report that Incredibles 2 did just that, giving us the sequel that we all deserved.
Incredibles 2 continues the plot of its predecessor, as the Incredible family fights against a new threat to the city, the Underminer. While the heroes’ efforts are valiant, they are illegal, not to mention costly, and the Incredible family is forced back into hiding. But the heroes discover another option- Winston Deaver, the CEO of communications company DevTech, recruits Elastigirl to show the world that it still needs supers. Elastigirl’s newfound superhero work shoots her into the spotlight, while Mr. Incredible chooses to confront a different problem- caring for his three super children. The heroes are also pitted against the mysterious Screenslaver, the greatest threat Metropolis has ever seen.
As an Incredibles fanatic, I could barely believe I was seeing its sequel on the big screen and was in bliss for the full duration of the newest movie. Incredibles 2 excels at building off the first movie (and the short film Jack-Jack Attacks) and develops its nuanced world. The politics of superhero legality serve as an interesting storyline while not weighing the plot down (à la the Star Wars prequels). We all knew that all of the Incredibles would be back, but some of the trivial characters (and gadgets) in the first movie not only return but also take on more relevant and multi-dimensional roles. There are also some beloved characters, such as fashion designer Edna Mode and Frozone, who return and take on different capacities that take the story in a fresh and humorous direction. At multiple points of Incredibles 2, I marveled at how director Brad Bird thought outside the box in his use of the characters with ideas I’d never considered but worked perfectly. In short, this movie felt exactly like a continuation of the groundbreaking first installment, which is true of all excellent sequels.
The base of the original Incredibles is family and the sequel is no different. When I wrote about what I wanted from the Incredibles sequel, exploring family issues through a superhero context was a necessity. Intertwining the mundane and the extraordinary made The Incredibles unique and relatable in the crowded superhero genre and the sequel understands this totally. To an even greater degree than the original, Incredibles 2 gives each of the family members, from Mr. Incredible to Jack-Jack, a compelling story arc that combines their powers and their humanity in humorous and unexpected ways. The emotions and motivations of the characters are genuine, ensuring that this blockbuster digs deeper than your usual action movie. To pinpoint one reason why this movie is triumphant, it is the characters who make this movie special, both in their mere presence and in their development. The one downside that I would say about the plot is that throughout the movie, the two storylines are disjointed and don’t build on each other to form a coherent narrative as the first Incredibles did.
The passage of time (14 years to be exact) had no effect on the plot, but the upgrade in animation is clear. From the enhanced action scenes to the close detail on the characters to the more cartoonish and clean look, Pixar definitely took advantage of the technology at its disposal. Like the first movie, the environments that the animators created were aesthetically wonderful and added to the feel of the movie. Another aspect that didn’t change at all is the quality of composer Michael Giacchino’s soundtrack, which never missed a beat and set the scene.
Incredibles 2 speaks on deeper levels than your typical action movie. Like Syndrome in the first movie, the villains of Incredibles 2 actually have a point, though the line between good and evil never blurs. The film toys with different aspects of the family dynamic than the first movie, which prevents this addition from seeming like a retread. To borrow from superhero lore, this film packed a punch.
Sequels are a slippery slope and are rarely worth the price of admission. But in Incredibles 2, Pixar has found a modern day Empire Strikes Back. Incredibles 2 will never be the iconic masterpiece of The Incredibles, but it never had to be and, in my mind, never could be. Going back to my article from February about what Incredibles 2 needed to succeed, it went a perfect five for five, plus the added bonus of being the funniest Pixar movie to hit theaters. Incredibles 2 was amusing, compelling, and thrilling and gave us all we could’ve asked for.
Riker Scale Rating: 95 out of 100