Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huckleberry Milner, Catherine Keener, Eli Fucile, Bob Odenkirk, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Bird, Sophia Bush, Brad Bird, Phil LaMarr, Isabella Rossellini, Adam Gates, Jonathan Banks, John Ratzenberger
PG for action sequences and some brief mild language
Buy on DVD/Blu-ray
The question shouldn’t be why did it take Pixar fourteen years to create a sequel for one of its most popular films. It should be: why doesn’t it feel like any time has passed since then. Incredibles 2 picks up where we left off and returning to the original feels like returning to the family and friends we haven’t seen in forever, but with whom we have no problem falling into familiar routines.
Comparing this film to the original is a challenge since the time removed between films makes the predecessor feel like a distant memory, both familiar and foreign. Standing alone, so far removed from its predecessor, the film feels like a breath of fresh air, especially in the ever-deflating balloon that is superhero movies today.
Immediately following the events of the first film, Incredibles 2 finds the Parr family facing the perception that supers are too destructive to be legally allowed to roam free. This is compounded by a face-off with bank robber Underminer (John Ratzenberger, who has voiced a character in every film Pixar has ever produced) who uses Mr. Incredible’s (Craig T. Nelson) hubris against him.
However, amidst the hand-wringing and criminal arrests taking place, a wealthy businessman (Bob Odenkirk) wants to return supers to the limelight and plans to carefully pose Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) as the face of his movement. With the help of his technologically gifted sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener), Winston Deavor hopes to eliminate the stigma supers face and eradicate the law that prevents them from openly protecting the public.
A mysterious gasmask-covered villain named Screenslaver, who uses modulation software to disguise his voice, wants instead to ensure that the law is not only never repealed, but is cemented into the irrevocable annals of history.
Returning to the film after fourteen years, Hunter, Nelson, and Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr fall back into familiar cadence, delivering terrific voice work while a fine cast of newcomers give their talents to new and interesting characters alike, Odenkirk and Keener among them. Hunter and Odenkirk are far and away the best of this cast, but no one is truly lackluster, including Huckleberry Milner subbing in for Spencer Fox as the voice of Dash Parr.
Not to be forgotten, writer and director Brad Bird brings back the single funniest character from the original film, Edna “E” Mode. Based on legendary costume designer Edith Head in look and feel, Edna’s admonition about capes did not return, but her new love for young Jack-Jack and his unparalleled new powers, along with her irritation that Elastigirl’s new costume was designed by a rival, make for a stirring and unquestionably great segment of the film.
Bird understands these characters like few others and it’s a relief that he came back not only to direct them, but to write their latest adventures. Set within a halcyon 1950s aesthetic, the film explores modern concepts of family, acceptance, and technological advancement in ways that feel at home in both eras. While not as openly political as a lot of Pixar’s recent offerings, the film is no less astute and occasionally pointed in its criticism of the modern world.
Incredibles 2, with its stirring orchestral score, humorous dialogue, boisterous action, and zest for adventure, overcomes some of the weaknesses of predictable plot reveals and other minor problems to achieve certain success. With creative effects and suspense-filled storytelling, the film enters the canon of great Pixar films, if not close to the top, it’s still well above its middle point.
Each Pixar and Disney film is preceded by an animated short film. With rare exception, they’ve all been delightful. Bao is no exception. Telling the story of a woman who makes delicious bao for her husband, is shocked to discover that one of the little steamed, food-filled pastries has come to life. Following the trajectory of a young child in act and growth, the short film explores the delicate relationship between mother and son. While humor is limited, the pathos is infused into every moment and the final moments are tender, passionate, and emotionally resonant. This is a fine entry into the Pixar short canon.
Probables: Animated Feature
Potentials: Original Score, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing
June 21, 2018