The Incredibles

The Incredibles 2

    The Incredibles 2 has been teased ever since the cliffhanger at the end of The Incredibles back in 2004. I’m 21 years old at the time of writing, and it’s been almost 14 years since the first movie in the series was released. I have literally been waiting for this film for two-thirds of my life. Finding Dory only took 13 years, Monsters University took 12 years, meanwhile Cars sees a new movie every 5-6 years. I have a DVD copy of the first movie I’ve been watching with my parents about every six months since it came out that’s older than some of the children in the audience for this movie. It’s become a family tradition to watch the first movie and I can quote back almost every line in the movie as rote. Needless to say, that makes me fairly qualified to tell you, the reader, whether or not this movie is any good. Thankfully it is. I wish we’d gotten it 11-12 years ago, but it’s a solid installment and a worthy follow-up to one of my all-time favorite movies. Now we just have to hope it won’t take another 14 years for them to make an Incredibles 3.

Before we start talking about the movie, I’d like to go over my theater experience first. I try and keep comments about the theater experience out of the review, but there were a few egregious problems with the showing I went to at The Grand 18 in D’Iberville, Mississippi. First off, there was a string of commercials for apps and augmented reality games played with cellphones before the movie, and then when trailers started, they told everyone to put away their cell-phones. Then there was the fact that the screen had clearly been cleaned improperly as there was this shimmer effect I’ve begun to notice on a lot of poorly-maintained projection-screens. Then there’s the fact that there was a speck of dirt on either the projector, the window the projector was projecting through, or there was a much larger spot of dirt on the projection screen itself. Not enough to be detrimental, but enough to be unprofessional. Add to that the fact that the recliner seating was a tad difficult to adjust properly and my theater experience wasn’t quite perfect.

Spoiler warning for the movie.

As one would expect given the ending of The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2 picks up immediately after the first film’s cliffhanger ending. The Incredibles and Frozone manage to take on The Underminer (John Ratzenberger) and win, but The Underminer escapes, The Incredibles (Bob, Helen, Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack Parr, played by Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner and Eli Fucile respectively) are picked up by the police because superheroism is still illegal, Frozone (AKA Lucius Best, played by Samuel L. Jackson) is given a business proposition by a superhero fanboy who isn’t a complete psycho (Winston Deavor, played by Bob Odenkirk) and the guy Violet asked out, Tony gets his memory of her erased. The Superhero Relocation Program, which was established fifteen years prior to clean up superhero messes and keep heroes under wraps whenever possible, gets shut down, and the Parrs have two weeks to sort their situation out or they’re homeless, since their house was blown up in the previous film. Fortunately for them, the offer Deavor extended to Frozone is extended to Bob and Helen as well, and the three of them go to Deavor’s place where he introduces them to his sister, Evelyn (Catherine Keener) who invents the stuff his company sells and markets. The idea is to hire Helen to be the “pilot hero” to get the public convinced that Superheroes are a positive influence rather than a negative one. Bob, who’s spent the last fifteen years seething over the stupidity of the public and government, is naturally cheesed by this. If one can recall the first film as well as I can, then one remembers how Bob jumped to do hero-work, because it’s an inherent part of his being. He’s supportive of his wife, but it gets to him that he’s not out there doing hero-work. Granted, someone has to take care of the kids and that duty falls to him.

Elastigirl is given a new suit and motorcycle for use in superhero work while Bob is stuck trying to figure out why they changed math and how to organize all of the children, which is pretty relevant for fans of the first movie since they’re old enough to have kids of their own and wonder what the hell is going on with Common Core now. Which on reflection, is probably why this is in the movie at all.

Helen goes to one of the big cities to monitor crime and winds up stopping a runaway train hijacked by a new supervillain called “ScreenSlaver.” ScreenSlaver uses hypnosis on the engineer to make him run the train backward, but Elastigirl manages to avert disaster. This grants her a lot of good press, and an interview with the local news. Meanwhile, Jack-Jack has a fight with a Raccoon and Bob finds out that Jack-Jack has powers. For those of you wondering why they didn’t know he had powers, it’s because he was too far up when he was going lead-baby, human-torch and demon-baby for them to see it properly, Kari probably got her memory erased of the entire incident, and Syndrome is dead, so nobody else really knew he had powers. Speaking of which, as part of the project, Winston lets the Parrs stay in one of his extra houses, a mansion I suspect he bought from Syndrome’s estate-sale given the technologically-advanced gadgets, the secret entrances, the hidden trap-doors, and all of the other crap in the house. There’s nothing in the movie to confirm or deny that, but it makes perfect sense.

During the interview, ScreenSlaver hijacks the signal and the helicade of a foreign ambassador who was leaving the studio. Helen manages to save the Ambassador and the studio, then concocts a plan to track down ScreenSlaver with the help of some tech from Evelyn. She tracks him to his lair, and he puts up a pretty good fight, but Elastigirl apprehends him. Something I feel I should comment on is the fact that the theater had posted notices that the movie contained sequences of rapidly-flashing lights and I was not prepared for how rapidly they would be flashing. I’m normally unphased by strobe-effects in films and real life, but this gave me a headache to watch. I’d like to request that Pixar tone down the flashing for the home-media release, but I won’t be too put-out if they don’t. It’s very brief, but for the number of times I know I’m going to watch this movie I get the distinct feeling that I’m either going to get used to it or it’ll become the single most irritating part of the film that I’ll dread every time I watch it.

Elastigirl’s capture of ScreenSlaver is celebrated, and helps to spur the re-legalization of superhero action. However, at the victory party, Helen starts analyzing the footage captured from her body-cam and realizes that ScreenSlaver had tapped into her bodycam, and may indeed have just been mind-controlled as well. Evelyn confirms this when she slaps mind-control goggles into Helen to keep her from breaking the story. I have to admit, I didn’t see that one coming. I thought the brother was gonna be the villain.

Evelyn explains that she basically sees her father’s Superhero obsession as the thing that killed him, and she despises how her brother obsesses over them, and she sees the heroes as a crutch that humanity is expected to lean on when she thinks that humanity needs to move on otherwise we’ll be held back. So she’s basically Lex Luthor. I have a feeling that she and Syndrome would have gotten along very well.
One may also note some similarities between this scene and a scene from Fantastic 4, but since this is the better movie and indeed the better movie series and also Fox is soon going to be owned by Disney, there’s not really much to say about that here.

She calls Bob to lure him to the ship the superheroism legalization accord will be signed on, so Bob calls Lucius to watch the kids while he goes after Helen. Evelyn sends a bunch of rookie heroes her brother found and she subsequently mind-controlled, to apprehend the kids, but between Lucius and Dash summoning Bob’s Incredibile, the kids manage to escape, but Lucius gets mind-controlled. Bob faces off with Helen, but Evelyn uses the mind-control to catch Bob off-guard and mind-control him, so it’s up to Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack to save the day.

Evelyn has the Supers issue a threat to the world after the accords are signed, but Jack-Jack frees Helen and Helen frees Bob and Lucius. They face off with the other mind-controlled heroes, and Winston disables the mind-control screens on the boat. Helen takes out Evelyn while Bob and the kids stop the boat crashing into the city. Evelyn is arrested, and The Incredibles are hailed as heroes once more.

If like me, you’ve waited a long time for this movie to come out, it may be worth seeing in theaters, but if you suspect you’ll have a similar theater experience to the one I had, I’d recommend waiting for The Incredibles 2 to come out on 4K and spending what you would have spent on the tickets on that. It’s easily as good as the first one, so one will certainly wish to watch it again and again, and unless you catch it at a dollar theater you’re likely to pay just as much, if not more for tickets for the whole family as you would to just buy the 4K version. If you absolutely cannot wait, then go for it, but you’d probably be better off waiting for the 4K Blu-ray release.

Speaking of which, why exactly was The Incredibles $30 on 4K? It’s a fourteen-year-old film that everyone owns on either DVD or 2K Blu-ray, so Disney shouldn’t be expecting to make their typical amount on it. It’s not like the old VHS releases, or the first DVD releases of most of their films, the remastering was already done back when they issued the DVD and Blu-ray versions. Why exactly do they think they’ll make the asking price on this? For $30 I’ll wait until it’s discounted or stick with the DVD version I’ve had for the last fourteen years.

All in all, this movie did everything it needed to as a sequel. It had new ideas left and right, wasn’t just a straight carbon-copy of the first film with minute differences and managed to capture the heart and soul of the original. What they need to do now is make another movie before all of the actors are dead, because almost all of the cast is getting up there. That brings me to something I feel I should mention. Aside from Helen, Lucius, and The Underminer, the only voices that don’t sound like they’ve changed are Dash and Dicker, the two who had to be recast because the voice actors were either too old or dead respectively. The returning cast sounds generally like they are who they’re supposed to be, but Craig T. Nelson’s voice has aged more audibly than Albert Brooks’s had in Finding Dory, and Sarah Vowell sounded like she was straining to maintain her Violet voice throughout the first two-thirds of the film before settling back into the groove by the end of the film. In fact, Craig T. Nelson also sounded like he’d figured it out by the end as well and that made me wonder why they didn’t go back and retake the rest of their lines. You know you could have just pushed it back another few months to clean up the voice-acting, right Disney? You made us wait fourteen freaking years for the movie as it was, you could have made us wait a little longer and we wouldn’t have hated your guts any more than we already do. Although there’s a reason for it being somewhat rushed, considering the fact that Toy Story 4 got pushed back and The Incredibles 2 had to fill its release-date. I’m actually surprised the shaky voices are the only problem with the movie given that it had to be released an entire year earlier than planned. I was somewhat disappointed there wasn’t much Underminer in the movie, but I was satisfied with the film we got.

As with the last film, Michael Giacchino‘s score is absolute perfection. Best work from Giacchino since his Doctor Strange score. Would definitely listen to on its own given the opportunity.

In the end, it’s a solid installment that I wish I hadn’t had to wait two-thirds of my life to see. As a suggestion, maybe they could make an animated TV series out of the Glory Days from the first movie? They briefly namechecked some of the events of the Glory Days, and I think there’s a lot that could be gotten out of the pre-Relocation days. All I want is more of The Incredibles in my (and preferably the actors) lifetimes.

Image from impawards.com

Written By: Alex Shannon

Game, movie, television and literature critic from Gautier, Mississippi. Editor for OutLoud! Culture.com

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