It’s been a full decade and a half since Pixar first brought The Incredibles to the screen. To try to help set the context for how different the world was then — there was no Marvel Cinematic Universe, and DC’s only entry in nearly the decade since Batman & Robin was Catwoman. Hellboy had just come out, but the pickings were thin. Then came along the basically unstoppable Pixar to sprinkle their fairy dust across their foray into a family of superheroes.
The result was a gamma-ray-infused breath of fresh air into the genre. Now Pixar is at it again with Incredibles 2, written and directed once again by Brad Bird, and it seems that lightning can strike twice.
Picking up directly after the events in the first film (an upside to animation being that you don’t have to explain away an aging actor no matter how many years have passed), the Parr family (Bob/Mr. Incredible, played by Craig Nelson; Helen/Elastigirl, played by Holly Hunter; Violet, played by Sarah Vowell; Dash, played by Huck Milner; and baby Jack-Jack) are driven back into hanging up their super-suits when the collateral damage of their crime-fighting becomes inconvenient for the politicians.
When billionaire Winston Deavor (played by Bob Odenkirk) and his sister Evelyn (played by Catherine Keener), both leaders of a multi-national communications conglomerate, reach out to help the Supers regain their public image, they tap Elastigirl to be the face of the heroes — and Mr. Incredible has to adjust to the challenge of being an at-home dad.
The animation is as sharp as ever, and the story feels more relaxed and well paced than the first film. Bird’s heart is still in the story and characters (we wouldn’t expect any less from the same creator as The Iron Giant). The humor is sincere, and set pieces all come together for an entertaining time, even when superhero films are as common as Priuses on a California highway.
There are some action scenes that definitely do earn its PG-rating. There’s a train sequence as well as a battle with super-villain Screenslaver (both featuring Elastigirl kicking as much ass as Black Widow) that are as solid as most of the leading MCU fare.
Jack-Jack is beginning to come into his powers; while Dash only sports a single power and Violet has two, it seems they’ve hit the jackpot with Jack-Jack. He’s seen in the trailer with laser eye beams, human-torch-style flames, dimensional teleportation — and those are just the beginning. Bob finds being a full-time parent every bit the challenge of fighting would-be world-dominating evildoers.
Pixar hasn’t always hit it out of the park (the Cars sequels being foremost among their missteps), but the Incredibles, under Bird’s guidance, have returned with more power than they had before. With the addition of the other Supers that are introduced in the film, if we heard that there was a TV or streaming series in the works, it wouldn’t be a surprise in the least.
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