Incredibles 2 review Holly Hunter Elastigirl Craig T. NelsonYear: 2018
Director(s): Brad Bird
Writer(s): Brad Bird
Region of Origin: USA

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Rating: PG
Animation, Color, 118 mins

Synopsis: Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for the kids while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world. (Source)

It’s been 14 years since the first Incredibles, but Pixar’s heroic first family is back and doesn’t miss a single beat. Though the genre is much more dense and complex nowadays (hail Marvel!), director Brad Bird and crew have found a way to bring the family and their somewhat quaint world into modern times – and with a vengeance. If anything, the gap between films only helps to solidify the timelessness of these characters, offering up more nuanced family dynamics, social implications and spectacle that doesn’t skimp on emotion or purpose. There may be a lot of superhero films to choose from now, but Incredibles 2 easily strong-arms its way to the top, thanks to breathtaking action, endless wit and the heart to back it all up.

Things kick off exactly where the original left off. After the Parr family (Bob, Helen, Dash, Violet, Jack-Jack) attempts to thwart a destructive bank robbery, their efforts are met with a slap on the wrist and a twisted media narrative that paints them as rogues. Since superheroes are still outlawed, the family is forced into hiding and faced with the reality of starting over. Again. Enter an ambitious tycoon named Winston, and his sister Evelyn, who enlist Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone in a publicity stunt to regain the public’s trust in superheroes. The plan begins with Elastigirl, who will be outfitted with a camera-enabled super suit so that her heroic exploits can be properly chronicled and shown to a weary public. While Elastigirl is out paving the way, Bob stays at home and struggles with domesticity, juggling Dash’s homework, Violet’s boy drama and baby Jack-Jack’s budding powers. Meanwhile, a supervillain named Screenslaver begins a reign of terror around the city, bent on making sure that superheroes are outlawed for good.

Incredibles 2 review Holly HunterThe strength of this sequel, is how it reconciles its nuclear family roots through a modern lens. With Elastigirl out front and Bob back at home, the film’s self-aware dissection of gender roles within society and genre drive the story and each character in interesting ways. As Helen is forced to weigh extraordinary responsibility for a family she’s had to step away from, the film’s rousing mix of dazzling spectacle is balanced by Bob’s mundane, but equally as important homelife. There’s a not-so-subtle but earned dichotomy between the film’s two sides, resulting in heroics that not only push the laws of physics, but the boundaries of social norms and perception. In addition, there’s an amazingly robust ensemble of new characters at play, providing a diverse and surprising world for the Parr’s to thrive in.

Still, beyond the film’s gender politics, is a propulsive plot lined with action that never slows to take a breath. Once again, Bird takes fully advantage of the animated medium, pushing the powers of his iconically designed family for some kinetic set pieces that raise the bar and then some. There’s a tense chase sequence involving the cityscape traversal of Elastigirl’s unique motorbike, a set of villains who add even wilder powers into the mix (including one who has the ability to open spatial portals) and the ever evolving power combos and team-ups within the Parr family, which never cease to surprise. The sheer amount of thrills are worth the ticket alone, resulting in a wild adventure that keeps us guessing.

Incredibles 2 review Holly Hunter Craig T. NelsonAs with any Pixar film, the voice performances are just as great as the state-of-the-art animation and dizzying visuals. With her expanded role, Holly Hunter slays as Elastigirl/Helen. There’s a lot going on internally within Helen, and Hunter balances ferocity with vulnerability. Without Hunter’s depth, the film would have no heart. The rest of the family, Craig T. Nelson’s Mr. Incredible/Bob, Sarah Vowell’s Violet and Huck Milner’s Dash each bring another dynamic to the film, weaving together its disparate family members to create an irresistible whole. Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener keep us on our toes as brother and sister duo Winston and Evelyn, while Samuel L. Jackson is a delight as Frozone/Lucius. Oh, and, director Brad Bird himself almost steals the show with a quirky Edna Mode appearance. All in all, the impeccable ensemble gives the film its charm and keeps us invested with ease.

Incredibles 2 is absolutely worth the wait. It objectively isn’t better than its predecessor, but easily as good, updating these characters and proving that they still fit in. Bird delivers everything with a sleek sense of style and energy. This thing is loaded with fun, thrilling family hijinks and a subversive view of what heroism means in the modern world.

SG