Shortly after clashing with the Underminer (John Ratzenberger) the legal system rears its ugly reality concerning supers in public. But in steps communications tycoon, Winston Dever (Bob Odenkirk) to headline Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) for a campaign to legalize the co-existence. That leaves Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) at home to take care of Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and Jack-Jack with family friends like Uncle Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) and the always eccentric, Aunt Edna. But with the Screenslaver on the loose, can there still be a future for supers to have a legal role in society?
When it comes to Pixar sequels most have been unloved when they’re not connected to Toy Story. But before Coco milked the tears out of our eyes, the Parr family’s trailer to their second outing erased our fears of master animator, Brad Bird, being permanently zombified to live-action. Not opting to rehash too much from before, a lot of fresh ideas keep the story going even with the decade long take-over of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Bird’s central theme of unique individuals tied down by mediocre society finds a different angle every time he directs something new. And in the long run, it definitely pays off in sympathy and too many laughs for adults and children to control. Right from the opening battle, there’s a better sense of family bonding through thick and thin where the first film primarily focused on Mr. Incredible. Everyone gets their standout moment whether in their crimson wardrobe or pajamas. Mr. Incredible isn’t clueless on raising kids, but more burnt out on the longevity. That’s more than what can be argued for 99 percent of fathers in family films making it both funny and tragic seeing a dad who can chuck debris across a football field reduced to a five-o-clock shell of his former self. On the other side, Elastigirl carries many set pieces no matter what shape she takes, figuratively and literally. Only now they’re more reminiscent of Bird’s shot at the Mission Impossible franchise, adding to the distinct tone. Though the villain is weaker because of the surprise twist that’s becoming the new cliché in animated films. Compared to Syndrome Screenslaver has the combat, but not the manipulative mind despite wielding the latest machinery. That might not be enough details, but saying anything else would be giving too much away.
The first movie had a lot of obstacles to overcome when focusing on humans. Primarily on making them look more alive than toys without getting ensnared in the uncanny valley. With 14 years of advances in animation, this looks even better down to the punches and kicks mimicking two-dimensional pages in brief flashes. Some of the facial expressions can border on Ren and Stimpy territory. And let’s not forget the jazzy elephant in the room, Michael Giacchino. He’s become synonymous with Bird as much as John Williams with Spielberg or Danny Elfman with Burton. If the trumpets, trombones and saxophones grew legs, they would dance until the next millennium with how much energy they pack into a few notes. When was the last time a spy element was added to both the story and the musical notes?
Incredibles 2 can be crossed off the list of unfinished childhood adventures with complete satisfaction. It’s hard to choose the better adventure which states how sharp and witty they are compared to each other. Most elements are improved like the action, the family connection and the 14 year animation clean-up, but the villain is missing that one element to upstage Syndrome. Although it’s reassuring that this now renders the lackluster video game Rise of the Underminer non-cannon. Pixar fans who were kids when the first one came out should definitely see this with anyone in their lives. And laugh all you want even if it annoys the kids sitting next to you. We’ve waited longer than they have for this return to form.
Pros: More family connections, More heroes, bigger action, smooth sequel connection, lively jazz score, comedic and sympathetic characters
Cons: weaker villain
As tradition with every Pixar feature, a short film is presented at the beginning. In this case we have Bao, the debut of Chinese-Canadian artist, Domee Shi. Not much is known about the woman except she decides to raise a dumpling that grows legs and feet. From then on it’s one of the best Pixar shorts in recent history. Utilizing character animation with big heads on small bodies shows that not everything needs to be hyper-realistic in to look convincing. And once the pieces are put together, everything makes sense in a sad revelation that hits home for the parents more than the kids. Be prepared if the dumpling doesn’t hold your kid’s attention the entire time.
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