Bless you, Brad Bird, bless you.
Walking into Incredibles 2, I kept my expectations in check. I wanted it to be good, of course, but it took them fourteen years to come out with this movie. When was the last time that any movie with that long of a delay turned out to be good, let alone great?
The Incredibles is one of my favorite Pixar movies after all and the company doesn’t have the greatest track-record when it comes to sequels. Toy Story 2 and 3 are great of course, but Monsters University really isn’t and Cars…well, the less said about those the better.
When a featurette with Craig T. Nelson, Helen Hunt, Samuel Jackson and Brad Bird started playing before the movie, saying that ‘we promise it’s worth the wait’ and all that, I still wasn’t convinced.
Then the movie began. Two minutes later, I had thrown all of that out the window. This is The Incredibles sequel we’ve been waiting for.
The film is set directly after the events of the first Incredibles — which was originally a surprise to most of us, as we all kind of figured this would take place fourteen years later as well and star Jack-Jack as a teenager.
Never fear, Bird knows exactly what he’s doing here and I can now say making a direct sequel was the right way to go.
Now that the world has been reintroduced to all the good superheroes can do, the time is now for them to make their grand return.
That’s what Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener), two multi-millionaires, believe at least. They want to launch a campaign that brings superheroes back into public favor with the public so that they no longer have to be in hiding.
Much to everyone’s surprise, the person they want to lead that campaign is Elastigirl. After all, Mr. Incredible (Nelson) is far too much of an insurance hazard, as he seems to destroy half the city every time he so much as puts on his suit.
That means that its Helen Parr who gets to run off and save the world this time, while Bob is stuck at home dealing with Violet’s (Sarah Vowell) high-school drama or Dash’s (Huck Milner) math homework.
Then there’s Jack-Jack — who is just starting to learn how to use his newly discovered superpowers and is more than a handful to take care of.
Elastigirl can’t exactly take a break to help out, though. A new criminal named Screenslaver, who has the power to hypnotize anyone who looks at a computer screen, has just emerged and she’s the only one who can take him down.
When making a sequel, filmmakers often run the risk of doing one of two things: either they’ll play it so safe that it feels like a retread of the first movie, or they’ll take it in such a new direction that it feels completely different and misses the mark of why we loved the first one.
There’s a thin line in-between there and Incredibles 2, somehow, manages to hit that mark. This feels like a completely natural progression of the first film — one that is careful to preserve the characters and things we loved about the first Incredibles, while also adding some new elements and lore into this universe.
The result is a fun movie with plenty of laughs, plenty of heart and plenty of charm. I had a huge, stupid grin on my face the moment the movie started and it never went away for the entire runtime — which, honestly, even though it clocks in at the two-hour mark, I wouldn’t have minded it going longer. That’s the mark of a good film.
And when I say laughs, there’s a lot of them. Unlike the tendency that Marvel sometimes has, Incredibles 2 knows when to hit the jokes and knows when to let the drama play out naturally. There are moments in the film that had the entire audience nearly in tears from laughter (one specific moment involving water, you’ll know it when you see it), and there were other moments that just had them in actual tears.
A couple stand-outs: I love what they did with Elastigirl in this movie and how they, more or less, switched the gender roles between her and Mr. Incredible. Bird obviously has a few things regarding social relevance that he wants to address in this movie, and he manages to do so without hitting you over the head with it. Here we have a strong female hero leading the charge without ever having to explicitly draw attention to itself while it’s doing it.
Meanwhile, Craig T. Nelson once again continues to kill it in this role. Incredibles 2 is quotable for days and a lot of that is due to him, as his voice is just perfect for this character.
Jack-Jack might just steal the whole movie, though. He’s given far more to do in Incredibles 2 than he had in the first movie, and it’s all a hoot to watch. I’m not going to spoil anything, obviously, but he has more than a few moments that really stand-out.
As far as complaints about the movie, I don’t have much. I’m not head-over-heels in love with the villain, Screenslaver, the same way I was with Syndrome. That’s mainly just because the villain really hinges on a certain twist that isn’t revealed until the third act, even though most audience members are going to predict it long before then. Even so, Bird still has points he wants to make about the use of technology and the new generation in regards to Screenslaver, which I did really enjoy.
Much to my surprise, Incredibles 2 manages to do more than just recapture the elements of fun from the first Incredibles. This has a brand new story, with some brand new characters, all while keeping the things we loved from the first film. This, right here, is the correct way to make a sequel.
Watch the trailer for Incredibles 2 here then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought about the movie!