The Pixar films that defined my childhood were Toy Story 1 and 2, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo. (I never got into A Bug's Life.) The Incredibles missed the cut-off by an inch. I liked it, but I never re and re and rewatched it on a cycle like those four. So, news of this long-awaited sequel wasn't so long-awaited for me. Instead it threatened to be like other sequels, marketing off previous success because the idea well has run dry. There were two promising aspects: the 14-years to work on it; and Brad Bird's return. And color me slightly less cynical than I was yesterday, because they pulled it off!
|Pixar's best sequel since Toy Story 2.|
Incredibles 2 matches its predecessor. It picks up right where it left off, (and gets the extra advantage that I haven't seen the original in a while) and has the same tone, purpose, structure, and ideas driving it as the original. Another long-await sequel, Toy Story 3 was fine, but felt disconnected from the other two, being more a nostalgia trip that veered into melodrama too many times. Not to hate on it, but the point is, Incredibles 2 feels as valid a sequel today as it might've felt in 2006. If they purposefully added nostalgia, it doesn't get in the way, and feels totally organic.
It started off on shaky ground, forced to revert a bit of the happy ending of the last film because the sequel starts up immediately with fighting The Underminer. They fail of course, not working as a family. Their interference actually causes more destruction than if they'd left Underminer to himself, reestablishing why supers are illegal in this story. The politics are like Civil War, but simplified, and both sides are clear and understandable, though we know the right thing is for them to be made legal again. Much better than the convoluted illogical mess of Civil War in a fraction of the time!
|I love her bike and the way they have her use it!|
After that things plod along, gaining momentum as the movie finds its feet. By the time Bob encourages Helen to take the secret Super job even though he's jealous of her, the feet are found and steady, and the rest of the movie falls into place. My favorite part was the whole middle section before the end game began. The train chase sequence knocked my socks off with originality and reminded me of what animation can do. And the home life was all wonderful, especially because of how hard Bob tries, keeping his head and putting in extra effort like staying up to learn Dash's homework.
Everyone said Jack-Jack was the highlight. Usually that kind of talk means a 50% chance I'll think the opposite because I despise pointless distractions, but Jack-Jack really was a highlight, and he was meant to be. The fight between him and the raccoon was hilarious, and the discovery and testing of all his powers is the kind of behind-the-scenes thing that made the first film so special too. Unfortunately, they had to start all over with Violet and Tony, so Violet's drama felt like retracing old steps. She's my favorite, so I would've liked to see much more progression there.
|I love that at home they have a natural up and down instead of full chaos which would've been easier. Bob's a great dad.|
The villain twist wasn't a total surprise; I was just glad that it wasn't as projected as I was worried it was. I did wonder at Elastigirl though, when she thought she caught the ScreenSlaver and the guy was clearly just another of his victims. The real villain's motivations worked well. Another classic case of a sympathetic idea taken way too far until it reaches villainy. She was nothing special, but got the plot where it needed to go. The sequence on the ship was where the film starts to stumble, though it never outright falls. Once no one's under mind-control anymore, everything picks back up and finishes in spectacular fashion.
Random details I really enjoyed: Dash's powers. I love how he fights, by machine-gunning people with his punches. The comedy. It fell in so naturally with the story and had me hooting many times. Jack-Jack was a laugh a second, and there were many subtle jokes and perfectly timed looks that were an absolute pleasure. Mr. Incredible has some delivery well worthy of his name. I also like how Elastigirl is the most marketable super, because she really is the most marketable. There's a reason that train chase worked so well. Her powers were used so creatively.
|Never forget: The mundane is fascinating when Supers do it!|
So, here's hoping that in the next film we can see the whole family working together for a good, solid block of time; that they won't forget about the novelty of Super home life; that Violet will get back to her date before the movie starts; and that they'll take as much time as they need regarding Incredibles 3. If they give as much devotion and effort as they did here, it'll be worth whatever the wait-time might be.
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