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Incredibles 2 Review: An Incredible Sequel
Review originally posted on 12 June.
It took Pixar a whopping 14 years to release the sequel to one of its most iconic animated movies of all time. The Incredibles remains unique in Pixar’s now-extensive library, featuring superheroes with familiar themes such as family and complex themes like the relevance of superheroes. Incredibles 2 continues in that grand tradition, offering more of the same story beats with some twists but improving on almost everything else including the visuals and family dynamic. Is Incredibles 2 a worthy follow-up to the first movie? Yes, it certainly is.
Incredibles 2 begins almost immediately following the aftermath of the Underminer’s attack from the first movie. I was slightly disappointed when Pixar went this route instead implementing narrative elements like time-skipping at least a few years into the future where the Parr kids would be older and the so-called Supers (what superheroes are called in-universe) would be widespread again. However, it’s clear there’s still a lot more story left to tell with this version of the Parr family.
Incredibles 2 basically explores the same familial and superhero themes from the first, but it’s not simply a retread as this time Pixar finds ways to expand them further. For example, it was Mr. Incredible who was the main focus of the first movie whereas this time around it’s Elastigirl in that very same position. The roles are essentially reversed, as Elastigirl gets to perform the all the action and conventional superhero stuff while Mr. Incredible has to stay behind and take care of the family. Elastigirl can do everything Mr. Incredible can do, and sometimes she can do it even better. That’s what Incredibles 2 tries to prove and it succeeds.
It’s a great take on reversing gender roles in families. Mr. Incredible has always been the breadwinner and the best at what he does (superhero stuff). However, this time he has to leave all that to his wife and instead take care of the kids. He learns to become a better dad throughout the course of this movie and like Edna says in the movie, “Done properly, parenting is a heroic act.” I’ve heard that great men don’t necessarily make great fathers, but like Mr. Incredible proves in this movie, they can be both. Being a good father isn’t any less heroic than taking down villains and saving the world.
As for the kids, I’d say that baby Jack-Jack received the most screentime. Dash fans would be slightly disappointed as more attention is given to his sister Violet in Incredibles 2. We see a lot more of Jack-Jack’s myriad abilities in action, as Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible attempts to keep them in check. Most of the jokes are centered around Jack-Jack’s incredibly unpredictable powers, which when combined with Jack-Jack’s infant cuteness, makes him the highlight of the movie.
Just like its predecessor, Incredibles 2 evoke Watchmen-like themes. Supers have been made illegal and the world is deemed to be a better world without them. The first movie explores those themes in a family-friendly way and it succeeds. “Are superheroes still relevant in a peaceful world?” You could argue that Mr. Incredible was trying too hard to become a superhero again, that it was an unhealthy obsession which led to him becoming negligent towards his family. But that’s another issue entirely.
This time around the movie explores a slightly different take on the issue, which has to do with the villain’s motivations. However, I can’t reveal it without spoiling the movie’s villain, so you’ll have to watch the movie when it releases. I can tell you that the story is a bit derivative and the main plot twist can be seen from a mile away. Still, I don’t expect anything too complex or intricate in an animated movie geared towards all ages.
It’s a Pixar animated movie, so I don’t have to tell you that Incredibles 2 is an extremely beautiful and visually-striking movie. 14 years of technological progress definitely shows in the movie from the way. Additionally, I do have something I’d like to highlight. Ever since the first Incredibles movie, director Brad Bird has tried his hand at directing live action movies like the phenomenal Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol and the less-phenomenal Tomorrowland.
I’m sure that Bird took everything he learned as a live-action director and incorporated them in the development of Incredibles 2. Remember how good the action scenes were in Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol? Now imagine them in lush animation. The action scenes and choreography in Incredibles 2 are as intense as any live-action movie out there.
Another huge improvement I would like to highlight is the camera work or cinematography. The way the action scenes flow into each frame doesn’t feel like an animated movie at all. The action scenes are shot like the very best live-action movies. What else can I say about them? They’re some of the best I’ve seen in an American animated movie. It’s not often that someone praises the action in a Pixar animated movie.
Will it be as iconic as the first Incredibles movie? Probably not, but only time will tell. All in all, this is probably the best sequel Pixar has ever done after Toy Story 2 and 3. If the upcoming Toy Story 4 is anything like this, it’ll probably be worth the wait too. Incredibles 2 is a more than a worthy follow-up to the first movie, and fans will love a movie that, while it doesn’t break new ground, improves on its predecessor in many ways.
If you’re watching Incredibles 2 in cinemas, the animated short playing before the movie starts is excellent. It’s titled “Bao,” and it explores familial themes as well. It’s quite the tearjerker too, so be prepared to get hit right in the feels.
Incredibles 2 opens in Malaysian cinemas on 14th June 2018. We caught the movie on MBO Cinemas Big Screen via press screening, courtesy of The Walt Disney Company (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.