The Incredibles 2 | Brad Bird | June 15, 2018
Fans can be a sometimes fickle, sometimes impatient, sometimes hard to please lot – and I have had my fair share of fandom experiences. That being said, Disney-Pixar fans have been hoping, praying, and all-around waiting for The Incredibles 2 since the end of 2004’s The Incredibles. And finally – after what felt like an eternity (14 years, really) – the Parr family is back on the big screen once again. The trailers just weren’t enough.
The Incredibles 2 wastes no time and picks up right where the first left off – with the attack of the Underminer (John Ratzenberger). The Parr family manages to work together – despite some bickering and with help from Lucius/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) – to stop the Underminer, catching the attention of superhero fan and telecom giant Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk). The fight, however, causes additional property damage, which forces the Parrs into motel life, as the government agency overseeing existing superheroes has shut down – leaving Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks) 2 weeks away from retiring. Lucius comes to Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), introducing them to Winston and his inventor sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener). Win presents his plan to improve the perception of supers through tiny supersuit cameras that capture their heroics with Elastigirl as the trial run, all of which catches the eye of Screenslaver, a hypnotic villain. The kids, meanwhile, have troubles of their own – from Dash’s (Huck Milner) struggles with New Math at school to Violet’s (Sarah Vowell) dating struggles with Tony (Brad’s son Michael) to Jack-Jack’s (Eli Fucile) developing polymorph superpowers. And, of course, there are some new heroes in the mix – prominently Voyd (Sophia Bush) – inspired to step out of the shadows by Elastigirl’s solo heroic displays. Also, Edna Mode (Brad Bird) is back.
One of the best things about The Incredibles 2 is the whole film. Okay, okay, it’s the character development, the humorous elements, and how well the cast plays off each other. The returning cast members already work well together, but the Deavors and the fan supers (including two characters voiced by Phil LaMarr) each have their own moments, as well as moments playing off the Parrs (more so Helen and Bob than the kids). This means everyone gets their own time in the spotlight – even if the Parrs as a whole are the focus of the film and even if Jack-Jack is a bit of a scene stealer. As for the Parrs, Bob and Helen’s role switcheroo is handled very well and helps to deepen their connection to the audience (parents who have been in similar situations career-wise, fans of their dynamic in the first film) and with each other. Helen finally gets some independence but struggles with lawbreaking to turn things around for supers, while Bob dives into home life with the kids but struggles with homework help and crush issues.
From a musical standpoint, Michael Giacchino’s score, while good and era-appropriate, blends into the background and isn’t as noticeable or distinct as the first. Hamilton orchestrator and Greatest Showman music producer Alex Lacamoire lends a hand with the super trio’s campy theme songs, which briefly play during the end credits.
On a technical level, the character design has evolved with Pixar’s animation style. The Parrs have slightly changed, and they stand out more from the background with a greater range of expressions and movement. The rest of the cast leans toward blocky or angular, which takes a little getting used to but delineates them from the Parrs. There’s also greater flexibility with the action setpieces, including Elastigirl’s chase scenes and a short claustrophobic strobe illuminated cage fight that might be the most impressively animated sequence in the film – even though it has the potential to induce seizures in those prone to strobe effects.