Way back in 2004, Pixar Animation’s movie for that year was of a genre that they have never tried their hand with before: superheroes. And in keeping with it being a family movie, “The Incredibles” starred a nuclear family of superheroes – retired costume crime-fighter mom and dad, their two elder children with emerging powers, and the hyperactive baby – all caught in a frenetic adventure of trying to foil a super-villain while keeping their heads down in a world where super-heroing is a crime. The result was a critical and box office success that was all but asking for a sequel.
It took fourteen years, but that sequel has finally arrived. “Incredibles 2” had been a long time in coming. One needs only to start watching the film in cinemas from the very beginning of the program, which features director Brad Bird and lead voice talents Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter and Samuel L. Jackson apologizing to the audience for the time gap, to understand just how much both the studio and the fans have waited for this day. Now the premiere date has come and gone, and those who watch may find that nothing has changed, in a good way.
Well, that was simplistic. There have been changes after almost a decade and a half since “The Incredibles”, but that lies in the visual and technical aspects. The characters and the world they move in have become so much more detailed, as if toeing the line between lifelike and cartoony. But everything just looks so good from the first; or maybe that was just my 3D viewing of “Incredibles 2”. Anyway, for all the changes in the quality of how it looks, the setting has not quite changed, as the sequel continues from the “fight the new villain” cliffhanger ending.
The ending hook that has the superhuman Parr family taking on the Underminer has been expanded on in a videogame adaptation on the PlayStation 2. That interpretation is no longer canon as we see how the battle plays out; not well. The baddie escapes and the heroes’ efforts to catch him only cause more property damage tarnishing whatever good will they got before. Furthermore, this debacle causes the shutdown of the government agency that facilitated the Super Relocation Act, forcing the Parrs and other supers to stick to their civilian covers permanently.
With their home still gone, Bob/Mr. Incredible (Nelson) and Helen/Elatigirl (Hunter) find their family close to the end of a rope, when hope comes in the form of a telecommunications company bigwig plus superhero fan, Winston Deavor (Bob Odendirk), who has formulated a way to influence public perception on superhero activity and called on the Parr couple plus their fellow hero Frozone (Jackson) to explain it. When it comes to the application of the plan however, Winston selects Elastigirl to be the face of superhero lobbying, even springing things like paying her and providing a home for the family. That means the jobless Bob must take over as the stay-at-home parent. Hilarity ensues.
Those who have seen the trailers know what occupies this portion of the film. Bob struggles to look after his and Helen’s children: Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner taking over for Spencer Fox), and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile). That last part is a problem considering Jack-Jack (as teased at the end of “The Incredibles”) is also super-powered, and has multiple abilities at that. Meanwhile his daughter Violet is wondering why her crush is avoiding her after learning her secret identity, while Dash is struggling with Math that makes no sense to Bob at all.
As for Helen, her role in making the public trust superheroes lies in showcasing how they can fight crime without damaging the neighborhood, and her powers aren’t as devastating as her husband’s or Frozone’s. With tech from Deavor’s company DevTech, invented by his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener), Helen as Elastigirl is able to take video of her actions via costume-cam. And it does work, if the good word of foreign ambassadors (like the one voiced by Isabella Rossellini) and the appearance of other heroes both old and new (like Sophia Bush’s Voyd) were any indication.
But a greater menace is on the horizon with the Screenslaver, a techie super-villain who can brainwash people with a transmission that can be hacked into any system with a video screen. Said special effects for the brainwashing lights were actually found to have real unpleasant effects on epileptic viewers. It is great that not only advance audiences but theaters and even Disney-Pixar themselves have acknowledged the problem and actually moved quickly to address it. Aside from that, everything else is good as golden; the acting chops of the voice talents were perfection, as if they’d never been gone too long in characterizing the Incredibles.
The same applies for returning music composer Michael Giacchino, who was in charge of the first film’s score and his back for more; he has retained many of the samples from “The Incredibles” that have since become trademark leitmotifs of the world, and expanded on them further. Everything that makes “Incredibles 2” just as its title implies is due to the inspired directing of Brad Bird, who also reprises breakout fan character Edna Mode, costume designer for superheroes. Bird and his crew, and his stars, know full well how much this movie was anticipated by fans. I can tell you now, that “Incredibles 2” is everything they have waited for.
Images courtesy of Forbes, Inverse and Pixar Post