The Incredibles was a defining movie for Pixar. It demonstrated what could be possible in animation in the superhero genre, and it defined what could do given the right talent. Now 14 years later Pixar and Disney are have brought the team back for the follow-up, and while still a magical formula, some of the magic has been lost in the delay.
First things first, The Incredibles 2 without a doubt is one of the best-animated superhero movies to date. The attention to detail, quality and tone are hard to match. The level of love and care that is on every frame of animation in the film is astounding. The issue rests with the fact it is a follow up to arguably one of the best Pixar Files to date.
The Incredibles touched a generation of fans and pushed what was possible in the genre, along with what people expect from Pixar. To follow that up is an insurmountable task. Yet, even with this daunting reality, Brad Bird along with the full voice cast jump back into the universe, carrying on the story right where the last one left off. And while every aspect shows the quality at work, the story and weight of expectations hold The Incredibles 2 back from true greatness.
The story picks shortly after the events of The Incredibles. Superheroes are still illegal, the family are now fighting crime as a unit, and the world is still learning to accept the reality of supers back in society. After a rather messy attempt at thwarting crime takes place on a city-wide scale, the Incredible family is once again pushed to the brink of giving up the passion they all share, at least until a rich benefactor steps in. Now stop me if this sounds familiar. The Incredibles follows the formula of the first installment to a fault, and while it felt fresh and new in 2004, in the year 2018, it is starting to feel like a rehash.
Brad Bird does manage some fantastic narrative choices that make the experience enjoyable even with this recycled formula. Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) is now the star of the show. Where the first movie gave a small taste of what she could do, The Incredibles 2 puts her abilities, personality, and fun sarcastic motherly style on full display. That is not to say Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) is relegated to the sidelines, he is now in charge of the family, learning what it is to be more than a superhero, and learning how important family is. This new dynamic works very well, it paints them both in new, exciting ways, and made for some of the best scenes of the movie.
Much like the first movie, The Incredibles manages that perfect mix of comedy and action, blending the two to a near perfect ratio. Brad Bird demonstrates how he is a master of his craft here, keeping the tension, action and light-hearted moments to carry you through the near 2-hour run time. Much like the first film, this mix makes it a joy for kids and adults alike. It manages to keep things interesting without resorting to pop culture references or meme jokes to carry the characters though. There is genuinely some fantastic writing on display here, and it is this dialogue and character development that will keep you in your seat well into the credits.
Visually, The Incredibles 2 is one of the most stunning Pixar films yet, full stop. The studio crafted an experience that feels akin to comic pages come to life, while still maintaining the uniquely Pixar look. This style allows for some stunning shots of the action, city fights, and even home life. From the first minute you enter the world of The Incredibles 2 you will be in awe in how it all looks, managing some truly memorable set piece moments, and spectacular vistas that set the mood of the world on display.
With the movie landscape littered with computer-generated movies, the gulf between a Pixar film and the competition has narrowed. Films like How to Train Your Dragon, Wreck-it Ralph, and Frozen all show what is possible with CGI, yet somehow Pixar manages to secure its position as the pinnacle of what is possible in the medium. The way characters emote, the action is framed, and even the way low key moments are crafted make The Incredibles 2 a visual and emotional masterpiece.
The family dynamic is what makes The Incredibles so special. It not only gives the action, powers and spectacle, it also gives heart. These are people that care about each other, and throughout the experience, even when times get hard, it is the family that pushes them to prevail. It is a human view and one that, as a viewer, I loved. Even with the story that repeated some beats from the first film, the characters, motivations and needs to help the ones they loved made a film that stands above the crowd. There are a plethora of superhero movies, and plenty that have grounded narratives, but how The Incredibles 2 presents its characters and story cement it as one of the best film of the genre for old and young alike.
Despite the flaws, this rather delayed sequel manages to be one of Pixar’s best. Such care has been put into every frame of the film, it will be a hard movie not to love. While it can be predictable at times, the characters and the motivation for their family carry you through the minor humps in an otherwise rewarding and heartwarming film. If you love superheroes, or just love Pixar, do yourself a service and check out The Incredibles 2. It has been a while in the making, but it was worth the wait.
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