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Incredibles 2 - Spoiler-free review

Nathan Strum

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Hey look - another review!

You'd almost think that a whole bunch of movies were being released at the same time of the year for some reason.

Can't imagine why. The weather's beautiful outside today.

Anyway...

It's been fourteen years since The Incredibles was released. How long ago is that? Well, that's before this blog existed. That's a long time.

Consequently, there's no review here for The Incredibles.

But if I had to place it somewhere in Pixar's pantheon of animated features, I think it would probably be my favorite. The reason I say "probably", is because it's been around so long, it's lost some of its impact over that time. But I still do remember the first time I saw it, and I remember it being fun, exciting, funny, and, well... incredible. It was the first film in decades that gave me the same kind of rush that the speeder bike chase in Return of the Jedi had.

Were I to guess, I probably would've scored The Incredibles a 9 or 10 out of 10.

So that's a lot to live up to.

And now, there's a sequel.

When Pixar fully jumped on board the sequel train after being acquired by Disney, I was worried. Pixar had been at their best with original films. Sure, Toy Story 2 was great, but Pixar themselves had spent years railing against Disney wanting to make sequels of Pixar films.

Ultimately though, we got sequels. And the question that begs to be asked is, was it worth not having an original Pixar film, every time they had to devote the studio to making a sequel instead? Well, the answers, as it turned out were yes. Then no. And no. And two more no's I didn't even bother seeing (Cars 3 and Finding Dory). Sure, they all made money, and soccer moms needing something to baby-sit their kids with for 90 minutes were more than happy to go see them. And Pixar's track record for original films isn't exactly spotless anymore, either.

So I was worried when I heard they were doing another Incredibles film. The Incredibles is one of those films that's so good, you want to see a sequel. But it's such a perfect film on its own, it doesn't really need one. Back To The Future is another example of this. Back To The Future Part II has some clever ideas and some fun moments, but it's also disappointing in many respects, and neither sequel lives up to the first film. We would have been just fine without them. At worst, a bad sequel can actually tarnish your enjoyment of the original film.

Even with Brad Bird back to direct, I was still worried. Bird's previous effort wasn't exactly one of my favorites, and I wondered if he could recapture the magic of the original, fourteen years later. Could he stay true to the characters, and make their story still interesting and relevant, despite 73 (count 'em) superhero films being released since the original?

Fortunately, the answer is a pretty definitive "yes".

I know... you can't really be "pretty definitive". It's either do or do not. There is no "pretty definitive".

Incredibles 2 is a fun film. Let's get that out of the way, first. Superhero films should be fun. This one is.

Helen (Elastigirl) takes center stage in this film, and we really get to see how formidable of a superhero she really is. We only caught glimpses of her abilities in the first movie, but here it's almost an Elastigirl solo film for a good chunk of the movie. And it works.

It works so well, I kept thinking... "Hey, with the right director, a Fantastic Four movie could be really cool! Mr. Fantastic would be awesome!" Hopefully, Marvel can get that sorted out someday.

Anyway, the Helen and Bob (Mr. Incredible) roles from the first movie are effectively reversed for Incredibles 2. Helen goes out superheroing, Bob stays at home with the kids. And then things happen, and... well, that's kind of where the "pretty definitive" part comes in.

Incredibles 2 pretty-much follows a lot of the same plot points as the first film. Yes, things are switched around a bit, but overall it's a pretty predictable film. In some cases, a bit too much so.

Oddly enough, the predictability didn't matter that much. In most films, it would be a problem. But with Incredibles 2, the emphasis is on the main characters - the Parrs. Everything else is in support of that. Even though on a larger scale things were predictable, and that may have reduced the overall impact of the plot of the film, it didn't diminish my enjoyment of it. The individual character moments, the family's interaction, action sequences, humor, and fight scenes (one in particular is my favorite superhero movie fight scene - ever), all pay off.

Revisiting the Incredibles was a lot of fun. It picks up right where the last one left off, and feels like a perfectly natural extension of it. The technology used to create these films has grown by leaps and bounds, but the filmmakers resisted the urge to change the look of the film. Aesthetically, it fits right in with the original, but still takes full advantage of advances in CG software and hardware to add a little more texture here, a little more detail there, or smooth off some previously rough edges. It's subtle, but it manages to match the original, without looking dated.

The voice cast is (mostly) back, except for Dash, who they had to recast since the original kid's voice is completely different now, and Rick Dicker, because the original voice for the character - Bud Luckey - passed away. Everything is amazingly seamless, considering how much time has passed. But CG doesn't age, and with the same director at the helm, the same composer and voice cast, there's continuity across the board. Probably more than most films, you could run this back-to-back with the original, and it would all just work.

The characters all naturally just fall right back into place, and the chemistry between them is still there, as if this were made right after the original. They're just as likable (and often flawed) as before. I'd questioned Bird's plan to pick this film up without any time having passed, but it really works. Plus, we don't have to wonder about how characters got from where they were back then, to some completely different point now. We get to enjoy seeing them pick right up where we last knew them, and take off from there. We also get to see more of Jack-Jack and his developing (and unpredictable) powers. Some of this is hinted at in the trailers, and it looks cute there, but Jack-Jack really steals a lot of this movie, and has some of the absolutely funniest scenes throughout the film.

Where the film is less successful is the villain. The villain is a significant step-down from Syndrome in the first movie. While the new villain (The Screenslaver) certainly has their motivations, they're lacking the same personal connection to the Parrs that Syndrome had. The Screenslaver also isn't as much fun as Syndrone was, but more of a typical, cookie-cutter, disposable, villain-of-the-week. Yes, the stakes are still high and all that, but the stakes are always high. That's a given. The villain should be more special. More engaging. More fun.

And less obvious.


Fortunately, the rest of the film and characters are fun enough to make up for that. Incredibles 2 is still a very fun ride, and one sequel I'm glad Pixar made. It doesn't have the originality, freshness or excitement of the original, but it's certainly a worthy successor, and it was great fun revisiting these characters again. Go see it with a big, buttery bucket of popcorn.

Incredibles 2 gets an 8/10

A word of warning: if you're susceptible to flashing lights, be warned that there's a scene in the film that could cause some problems. I don't have issues with that sort of thing, but the flashing was so intense, I immediately thought, "Wow... I hope everyone's okay with this."

If you want to go see the film, and want to know where it's going to happen:

When Elastigirl infiltrates the Screenslaver's hideout, she walks around for a bit, and after she lifts a cloth off of something, she gets jumped, and they end up fighting in a room where all of the walls are brightly flashing. The scene goes on for probably a couple of minutes, until she chases him back outside the room and down a hallway, and things return to normal. There are some other scenes where there are flashing images on TV monitors, but they're not as intense or prolonged. I'm actually surprised Disney let that one scene get all the way through production without someone flagging it as a potential problem.

 



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Great news! My sister's son is spending the week with my folks, we're all going to see it tomorrow. We brought him back from the family gathering in Wisconsin (she'd recently started a new job and couldn't go, so sent him up with the other grandparents*) and are returning him to Corpus Christi this weekend.

 

 

* my sister & brother married a brother & sister, so have the same in-laws.

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I'm surprised too; it's not like photosensitive epileptic seizures are an unknown thing.

 

(WARNING! THIS SCENE DID CAUSE SEIZURES. And it made the news internationally. And it's spent years in the Guinness book of World Records as the worst seizure-causing incident in the history of TV. Probably still there, but I can't find the record on their website.)

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I just saw the film last week and it was (tsk! tsk!) incredible!!! I agree with your review. As for the flashing lights?

 

What are you, a bunch of ninnies? There is a reason that is in the movie, and it is not different from any of a million other movies that do something similar.

 

I'm sorry if I sound a bit callous but, in my opinion, it's the 3% of people that could be sensitive to seizures that should walk on eggshells and make sure they are safe. It's like peanut allergies: if you're allergic to peanuts, then you better make sure you know what you're eating -- don't make the rest of the world stop eating peanuts. :roll:

 

Anyway, rant is over. Very good movie! :thumbsup:

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I don't think they should have avoided including that scene, but there were no notices about it at the theater that I attended. I think putting up warnings for it is just as reasonable as warning people about allergy issues.

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... Or they could assume that action movies have scenes that could cause effects on them, and do some research prior.

 

If I had a peanut allergy that could kill me, I would be suspicious of eating anything that could potentially be made of peanuts, including any baked goods. I wouldn't just blindly assume that the baker had to warn me about every cookie he has in store -- I would either avoid all baked goods to be on the safe side -- or if I really can't live without a friggin' cookie, I would research which kinds of cookies contain peanuts and ultimately ask the baker himself.

 

-dZ.

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