Incredibles 2 Review: Incredibly Familiar
Incredibles 2 review: 14 years later the Incredibles return in a sequel that doesn’t surpass the original, but still adds to it nicely.
When The Incredibles was released in 2004 the Hollywood landscape looked very different, especially when it came to superhero films. The MCU was still just a twinkle in Kevin Feige’s eye, Fox hadn’t yet ruined the X-Men franchise, and superhero films weren’t a genre until themselves. Pixar also wasn’t making sequels (with the exception of Toy Story 2). Things were very different.
Fast forward through a couple of presidents and a few Olympics, and Incredibles 2 was a riskier film than it would have been a few years earlier. Superheroes are everywhere, Pixar has alienated some fans by milking franchises, and while the MCU is king other superhero franchises haven’t done as well <cough>DC<cough>. The original Incredibles also spoofed the superhero genre, which worked well for the time but may not fly with modern audiences.
Thankfully, Pixar knows what it’s doing, and it knows how to change with the times without changing the original formula. Incredibles 2 doesn’t quite hit the same highs as the original, but it does make a satisfying addition. It also will leave you wanting more, and hopefully it won’t take a decade and a half.
Incredibles 2 picks up almost immediately where the original film left off, with the Parr family still adjusting to their lives as underground superheroes in a world that is split between honoring them and wanting to arrest them. When an eccentric billionaire (Bob Odenkirk) and his sister (Catherine Keener) approach Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) with a plan to get supers back on the right side of the law, they are back in business – partially.
Rather than bringing the superman-ish Mr. Incredible back, they instead turn to Elastigirl to be the torch-bearer. That sends the slightly reluctant matriarch of the family into the spotlight while the more eager patriarch becomes a stay at home dad for the first time. When a new supervillain named Screenslaver appears with the capability of hypnotizing anyone through a screen, the stakes increase significantly.
While it’s nice to see Elastigirl get the spotlight and there’s always some good comedy in role reveral stories, there are a lot of predictable stereotypes to first wade through, from the “dad who underestimates fatherhood” to the “rebellious teenage girl obsessed with a boy” to the “baby who doesn’t listen.” It’s all handled well enough and endearing animation paired with engaging vocal performances keep things moving at a good pace, but it’s still a fairly tired storyline. Even the wrinkle of having a toddler with near godlike powers (who, arguably, is the funniest part of the film), doesn’t really change the formula.
Part of what made The Incredibles stand out was that it was wholly original for the time. Superheroes were nothing new, but focusing on the lives of those heroes as they tried to handle both a villainous plot and a family felt unique. Incredibles 2 doesn’t have that same feeling of freshness. Some of that you can blame on the glut of superhero films, but the reliance on tropes is a bigger issue.
With all that said, there’s a reason that those tropes still exist. The stories of a dad suddenly trying to understand his daughter may not be original, but they are crowd-pleasing and Incredibles 2 does generate a lot of good moments from situations like that. And while the family side of things is a major part of the film, it’s only one part of it. It’s still a superhero film, and the third act plays out with an animated battle that is equal parts funny and thrilling.
If there are any real complaints about Incredibles 2, it’s that it doesn’t really have the emotional gut punch that some of the other Pixar movies have. There’s no ugly crying like in Coco or go-hug-your-loved-ones moments like in Finding Dory, but Incredibles 2 does want to make you see more of this world. And even though the tender moments don’t really carry much weight, it doesn’t really hurt the film.
If anything, it feels like director/writer Brad Bird is world building with Incredibles 2. The family is the core of the film, but the story expands beyond that and looks at the bigger world they inhabit, including some of the other heroes that populate it. The way it is set up, it’s begging for a follow up in one form or another – and there is so, som much potential to expand it. If that’s the plan, hopefully we won’t have to wait 14 years for it.
Incredibles 2 Review Conclusion
It might seem like sacrilege to say, but if the story of the Incredibles continues it might actually be a better fit for the small screen. The films have set the world up nicely and even introduced multiple characters, but in doing so it has become a more traditional superhero universe, which may not lend itself to Pixar’s “you gonna cry” style of filmmaking. That’s a problem for the future though, and not a bad one to have.
Incredibles 2 lacks the surprises of The Incredibles, and it relies on a lot of familiar ideas. What it does though, it does well.
Incredibles 2 is rated PG with a running time of 118 minutes.