Look up any list of the top Pixar movies and you’ll often find The Incredibles at the very top. Its spot as Pixar’s best was rightfully earned; when the film was released in 2004, it was met with tremendous critical and box office acclaim. The story of a regular suburban family who just happen to also have super powers resonated with audiences everywhere, and director Brad Bird’s hands-on approach to crafting his films made it not only one of the greatest family movies there is, but one of the best action-packed superhero films there’s ever been. Fourteen long years later, the Parr family is finally back and suited up to save the world again. Was it worth the wait?
Fans of the first film will be happy to know that Incredibles 2 absolutely stacks up to its predecessor, and at times even surpasses it. Thanks to fourteen years of advancement in animation technology, specifically in rendering, textures, and lighting, the sequel looks ten times better than the original. The action is just as exciting as before, and with Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) taking over main hero duties this time around, the choreography for every action sequence is fresh and inspired thanks to her unique powers. It’s certainly a nice break from a hero like Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), who’s ability to simply punch and smash things is something audiences have seen a million different times over in movies.
Bob’s role is taking care of the kids, who end up being more of a handful than he previously thought, especially with Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) discovering his many powers. This subplot of Bob and the kids at home not only serves as genuinely hilarious and relatable comedic relief, but it also holds the film’s more sentimental moments. There are several scenes that are more touching than anything in the previous film. Laugh-wise, this is the funniest Pixar has been in years. Jack-Jack’s shenanigans steal the show, only growing more and more outrageous until the jokes become an absolutely relentless riot.
Michael Giacchino’s score is as tremendous as it’s ever been (Pixar films are often his best work), giving us the Incredibles theme we all know and love while still making room for new jazzy compositions. It’s paired perfectly with the seat-gripping action sequences of the film; as mentioned previously, it’s the film’s strongest point. The possibilities of what you can do with animation are endless, and Brad Bird always takes full advantage. His impeccable eye for action shines here, with the staging of every set piece used to its fullest potential and every punch and kick serving a purpose rather than just filling the screen with movement. Many sequences feel more like something out of a spy movie (and in one scene, horror) rather than a standard superhero film, and Incredibles 2 is all the better, and more original than its counterparts, for it.
Helen takes on new villain The Screenslaver, who hypnotizes people using screens, which are absolutely everywhere, even in the 50’s-inspired time period the world of the Incredibles takes place in. While Screenslaver is certainly more menacing and intimidating than the first film’s villain, Syndrome, they’re just not nearly as fun or charismatic. Helen and Screenslaver also lack any kind of personal relationship to each other, unlike Syndrome and Bob, and thus their struggle against one another doesn’t hold much emotional weight. Add that to relatively vague motivations, and it makes for a slightly underwhelming villain, despite being a genuinely frightening one.
Incredibles 2 miraculously manages to be worth the fourteen year wait, and even if you end up still preferring the original, this sequel stands quite tall on its own. Clocking in at just under two hours, this is not only Pixar’s longest film to date, but the longest computer-animated film in history as well. Picking up immediately where the first film left off, it takes off at a breakneck speed that rarely ever lets up, speeding through its runtime and keeping you cheering and laughing the whole way through. It’s tremendous fun and excitement for any age. The first Incredibles came out just before Hollywood exploded with the superhero takeover, and now, in the midst of the genre’s heyday with films like Avengers: Infinity War, is the perfect time for everyone’s favorite super family to return. Fans demanded a second outing of the Parrs for a long time, and if anything, Incredibles 2 will leave you demanding a third.
Note: The Pixar short film, Bao, is a tearjerker that warms you up to the themes of family and parenthood that are prevalent throughout the main feature. Don’t miss it.
Incredibles 2 is now in theaters.