The Incredibles 2 (2018)

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Picking up precisely where the last film left off, The Incredibles 2 follows the Parr family as they continue to struggle with the government, homework, boys, and pretty much all the same problems they had before. Except, this time, there may be a solution to their woes. See, even though superheroes are illegal in this world, there are people, powerful people, who want to bring them back into the sunlight. One of them approaches the Parrs, and offers to let them stay in his mansion, and get superheroes legalized again, if they come and work for him. Specifically, if Helen Parr, aka Elastigirl, comes to work for him. See, of all the classic superheroes in this world, she had the best track record when it came to not causing collateral damage, so if they want to convince people supers should be legal, they need to show that they can stop crime without blowing stuff up. So it’s up to Bob, aka Mr. Incredible, to watch the kids. Will he be able to manage? Will Elastigirl help make supers legit again? Well, watch the movie, and find out.

The Incredibles is a very important movie to me. Not only did I love it when it first came out, but I’ve actually grown to appreciate it much more as I’ve gotten older. Because, believe it or not, there is a ton of stuff in it that is super mature, and that simply did not register with my 8-year-old brain. I didn’t know what lawsuits were, or what attempted suicide was. I had no concept of mid-life crises, or adultery. I also didn’t pick up that the movie was a giant homage to 60s spy films. So much stuff in that first flick only became clear to me after I grew up, and, honestly, I think the movie’s become a lot more relevant in recent years. The Incredibles was made before the big superhero boom that started in 2008, and yet, it feels like a response to the MCU. It points out so many cliches and tropes in superhero cinema, and it’s villain, Syndrome, is, in many respects, the perfect analogue for the entitled, mean-spirited fanboys that have become so vocal and prevalent in recent years. What I’m trying to say with all this is, The Incredibles is fantastic, and whenever you have a sequel to a successful film come out 14 years after the original, there’s a strong likelihood that it’s going to be bad. Fortunately, The Incredibles 2 isn’t bad. In fact, it’s quite fun. The animation is superb, far better than the original’s (though that’s just a byproduct of technology improving over time). The music is as jazzy as before. It’s great to see Elastigirl get the chance to shine in the lead role. The believable family dynamics are still there, And the action scenes are amazing. They’re easily the best part of the movie. Basically, this is a fun, exciting movie with a whole lot of what you liked about the first Incredibles. And, odds are, you’ll walk out the theater satisfied.

That said, it’s not as good as the original. And I know that that’s a cliche, to say that a sequel isn’t as good as the original, but there is a reason I say that here. Part of what made the first Incredibles so good was the fact that it was a fresh perspective on the superhero genre. Now, though, after 14 years, we’ve seen every conceivable incarnation of the superhero–from the dark and gritty, to the lighthearted and comedic–and this film doesn’t really have anything new to bring to the discussion. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t really have anything to say about the genre, which is kind of disappointing. On top of this, the film picks up precisely where the last one left off, and yet, characters behave as though they didn’t undergo the arcs they had in the previous flick. Elastigirl still wants her kids to suppress their powers. Mr. Incredible still would rather go off and punch people than spend time with his family. Violet is still insecure around boys, and Dash is still bad at homework. And as if this weren’t bad enough, certain characters, like Dash and Frozone, really don’t get anything to do in this movie. The identity of the villain is also pretty easy to predict, and his/her motivation isn’t nearly as compelling as Syndrome’s from the original. FInally, the movie does a lot of stuff with Jack Jack, the baby of the Parr family who, in the previous flick, was revealed to have multiple powers, and it kind of got on my nerves after a while. They make a big joke out of saying “Oh, he also has this power, and this power, and this power” but it does get to a point where he feels too powerful, and he more or less acts as a deus ex machina. There’s also one scene where he fights a raccoon that totally took me out of the movie. It was so silly, and so inconsistent with the tone that the film had established up to that point that it kind of ruined the movie for me. Now look, I’m probably a minority on this point, since a lot of reviews I’ve read found Jack Jack’s bits to be funny, but I kind of hated them, and they brought the film down for me.  Even so, they aren’t enough for me to tell you to not go see this movie. It’s fun, exciting and the heart is still there. It’s the best Incredibles sequel we could have hoped for after all this time. And, I have to say, I absolutely adored the short film, “Bao” that came before the main movie. If you’re Chinese, or of Chinese descent, like me, you are going to love, and empathize with it, so, so much. It’s great.

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