By Eli Sokeland
Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers for Incredibles 2.
It took 14 years, but it is finally here. Due to this incredible (no pun intended) amount of time, Incredibles 2 has a lot to live up to. Before the movie had even officially started, the people who put the film together put out a thank-you for the audience. It was a nice touch, especially since the wait has been this long.
The major question that lingered in my mind was how the film would pick up from the previous installment. Interestingly, Incredibles 2 chooses to start exactly from the end of the first film. While this is welcoming to older audiences, this could be more difficult for younger children who have not seen the first movie.
Same characters, different roles
Since the movie does start off where it ends, the characters have not drastically changed. The movie does a great job at presenting them in different atmospheres. For example, the movie starts off with Tony Rydinger, Violet’s crush, narrating how his discovered Violet’s secret identity. Unfortunately Dicker, the head of agent of the superhero program, solves this by erasing all memories of Violet from Tony.
This mistake makes Violet think Tony is ignoring her, causing her to renounce everything that relates to superheroes. This is a great example of how the movie explicitly shows the consequences of each action. The major example of this is the direct action taken by the government after Underminer escapes.
Congress even specifically points out the destructive nature of Mr. Incredible. They shut down the mysterious agency that Dicker controlled. Luckily, a corporation reaches out to the family and Frozone about making superheroes legal again.
New faces, familiar feel
Winston Deavor, the CEO of a media company, presents a plan to show the public all the good that heroes have accomplished. Along with his sister Evelyn, they use microscopic cameras to give the public footage of Elastigirl in action. This focus is a fresh take compared to the previous film showcasing Mr. Incredible.
At first, I was weary of Winston because of the previous film’s interactions with how villain’s originate. However, the film expertly showcases that his father was a dedicated fan of superheroes. Winston was heartbroken when his parents died of a break-in that could have been prevented if superheroes were legal. Overall, the story did a good job at creating a unique backstory that felt genuine.
Winston even introduces some other minor heroes to Elastigirl, each with their own abilities. While they aren’t given much of a backstory, these heroes do have unique designs. A main major plot hole was how Winston was able to contact the heroes. While he did run into Frozone, the other heroes are a mystery. The most notable of the group, Voyd, has the ability to make portals. The film makes it obvious that they look up to the Incredibles.
Incredible family dynamics
The greatest aspect of this movie is not the action. Rather, it is the family that defines this film. While most of the characters have some development, there was an outlier in the film. Dash, the speedster of the family, experiences no change throughout the entire film.
In the beginning of the film, Dash is quick to constantly want to fight villains, despite his parents asking him to watch over Jack-Jack. While he has more power than an average kid, he quickly abuses it. By the end of the film, Dash still insists on doing most of the superhero work by himself.
Luckily, the rest of the family experiences some form of change. While Elastigirl does an incredible job at saving people from train derailments and assassination attempts, Mr. Incredible takes his turn with being a stay-at-home parent. This causes him to have an existential crisis of how “incredible” Mr. Incredible actually is.
I never realized how hard it would be to parent superhero kids, but this film paints an excellent view of what it would be like. While the movie does show common issues of parenting, such as homework help, the movie easily blends these with super powers. For example, Jack-Jack would teleport back to the living room to stay up late and watch TV.
With all of these stresses, it is understandable for Elastigirl to be concerned when Mr. Incredible said he could handle staying home. Despite his original confidence, Mr. Incredible calls for Frozone to help. Frozone, also confused by the situation, suggests that Edna look after Jack-Jack.
Fans fear not, Edna is still the fashion superstar from 14 years ago. Originally, she is hesitant to watch over the baby. After studying the mass amount of Jack-Jack’s powers, Edna gives him a suit that is designed to his personal needs. Also, she also helps Jack-Jack to control some of his powers.
Unique villain still surprises
While the movie does start off with Underminer as the main threat, the film doesn’t focus much on the primary villain, Screenslaver. The main major conflict is that the team wants to make superheroes legal again. It’s only until the end of the movie that Elastigirl focuses more on actually winning against this villain.
While Screenslaver’s philosophy resonates rather well in today’s society, it does contrast with the 1950s setting of the movie. The villain essentially believes that people are too busy watching screens to enjoy real life around them. In order to fulfill her evil intentions of overthrowing society, Screenslaver uses hypnosis through screens. While this power was unique, this was visually jarring and it does feel like it can easily cause seizures for the audience.
While this is a strong motive, the movie provides a greater depth to this character. Elastigirl, being the cunning hero, discovers that Screenslaver was being controlled by Evelyn Deavor through hypnosis. Evelyn’s true goal is to make superheroes illegal, forever. This is because she believed her parents shouldn’t have relied on superheroes to save them from the intruders. This does give the true villain a purpose to outcast the rest of society as lazy for relying on heroes.
Unfortunately, the film hardly shows any direct conflict between the villain and heroes. For example, she uses hypnosis to control the minor heroes to fight against the family. Even though Evelyn doesn’t have any superpowers, it is disappointing to not see her have any fighting abilities.
Due to this lack of conflict, the film feels like it was trying to create a sense of espionage. While it is more clever than the first film, Incredibles 2 doesn’t have a large enough cast to create much mystery. By the major twist of the film, there were only two people who had to be the true villain.
This theming of the film is also present in the big brass band music. One example is that the movie starts off right away with a fast pace rhythm. The balance of the tubas towards the rising trumpets give a sense of surprise and wonder for those “super” moments.
On the contrary, there are also some stealth scenes in which there are violins present to create suspense. While I do love the brass music, this is a nice refresher to indicate a different atmosphere. Overall, the music almost creates a James Bond feel.
At the end of the film, the heroes manage to capture Evelyn without too much difficulty. While there isn’t much resolved in terms of the family’s struggles, they were successful at becoming legal again. This was a major satisfactory moment when all the heroes were finally recognized by the public for doing something good.
Featured image from Releasemama
Overall, 'Incredibles 2' is definitely worth the wait. The film expertly balances action while showcasing a genuine family connection. Through the use of a strong plot and a different perspective on existing characters, the film feels fresh and nostalgic at the same time. This is an incredible film for both newcomers and veterans of the older Pixar generation.