After years of fan requests, Pixar is finally releasing Incredibles 2 film, 14 years after the release of the first one. The original is one of the most cherished of the beloved animation studios films, so they had a lot to live up to. With Brad Bird back at the helm to write and direct and the original cast, minus Spencer Fox who played Dash in the first film, they have stacked the deck in every way possible to meet fan expectations.
Incredibles 2 starts off where the first film ended, with the family fighting Underminer (John Ratzenberger), using it as an opportunity to show off both the much-improved graphics and the gorgeously detailed world as well as setting the stage for what is to come. Their attempt to capture the villain is ultimately fruitless and despite their heroic efforts the Parr family is reprimanded by the authorities and left living in a motel while they try to find a new life. Thankfully that new life finds them in the form of Winston and Evelynn Deavor (Catherine Keener and Bob Odenkirk), sibling owners of a telecom company who want to help make superheroes legal again.
These two offer Helen Parr (Holly Hunter) an opportunity to return to her time as Elastigirl and get back to saving the day, while they use the goodwill she will build to influence the political stage to welcome the supers back. After some conflict between Helen and Bob (Craig T. Nelson) over her returning to work and leaving Bob at home as a full-time parent, Helen gets back out there and on her first day stops a maglev train from crashing. Upon further investigation, she discovers the culprit is a mysterious individual who is controlling people with hypnotic screens. While Helen puzzles out the new baddie, Bob soon discovers that solo parenting isn’t quite as easy to manage as he thinks it will be.
Despite a few missteps in the past, Pixar has consistently put out quality kids’ films and the Incredibles 2 is a great example of their unique style. Everything in this second film is more detailed and thoughtful, while the first is a love letter to the golden age of comic books; this one delves deeper into the world it has created. The character design, backgrounds, and textures are all intricately developed with tiny details carefully created. The only downside of this is that the faces of some of the background characters are a little too uncanny valley and catching sight of one is jarring. The design scheme throughout feels like a heavily stylized version of the 1960’s, complete with huge cars and round couches.
Story-wise, Incredibles 2 explores deeper issues than the first one, it’s major focus is on the importance of family but it includes several different storylines that add depth to the story, but also make it feel a little overlong. Beyond the overarching story of Helen hunting down the bad guy, Bob must grapple with learning how to handle the ever-changing demands of parenting, and to its credit, the film never portrays him as a bumbling fool or a babysitter. Instead, it chooses to explore how difficult it can be to handle the different demands of children and allows him to grow as a character by developing an appreciation for the struggle that Helen has gone through. By taking this tack, Incredibles 2 is able to talk about each of the kids going through their own issues; Violet (Sarah Vowell) navigating romantic relationships for the first time, Dash (Huck Milner) deals with math homework, and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) has developed a surprising number of strong powers and has little control over them. The movie runs to just under 2 hours, and it uses that time well, managing to lace together the side stories and the superhero tale without too many bumps.
As a sequel, Incredibles 2 is by far and away Pixar’s best, it wraps together an intricate story with gorgeous artwork and fantastic acting to create something that manages to inspire the same magic as the first film. It chooses to use its screen time to explore its characters deeper motivations and still manages to appeal to a wide audience. Just as the first film holds its appeal over a decade later, this one will keep fans coming back for years to come.