Review: ‘The Incredibles 2’ Flexes but Falls Short of Greatness

When audiences enter a Pixar film, there’s a certain expectation of what kind of film they are about to see. However, as Pixar has embraced the sequel, that idea has changed somewhat. Many of these films have fallen short of the quality expected from the animation studio. This could be due to the fact that few films really deserve sequels. It could also be because Pixar picked poor sequels to make.

Betting big on the “Cars” franchise or a forgetful fish in “Finding Dory” seemed more like a cash grab. However, the thought that “The Incredibles” deserved a sequel was more of the more natural fits. After all, superheroes need to keep saving the world. Why not revisit their stories? I’m happy to report that “Incredibles 2” is a pretty good film. However, it rarely lives up to the grandiosity of the first, despite some timely storylines.

“The Incredibles 2” picks up moments after the original film. Supers are still illegal, but the family jumps into action to stop the Underminer. Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) takes lead, and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) hands Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) off to the kids. Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Huck Milner) play hot potato with the baby while trying to help save the day. Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) comes in to help, but the superfamily (and friends) fail to save the day.

With intense pressure on the supers, the Deavor corporation approaches Frozone and the family. Led by Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn (Catherine Keener) the telecom giant wants to rebrand the supers, starting with Elastigirl. This puts Elastigirl on a path to meet new supers, such as Voyd (Sophia Bush), and take down the Screen Slaver. Meanwhile Mr. Incredible is to stay at home and take care of the kids (and the numerous personal issues they have).

The set up the film is interesting, but my problems with the film stem from breaking apart the family. Elastigirl’s storyline is engaging and interesting. She is a badass and allows the animators to stretch their abilities. Brad Bird is also an astounding action director, so this gives him the ability to really use his imagination. However, bouncing back to the family is frustrating. They are not very interesting. At all. Taking the struggle to bond with each other out of the equation leaves Dash and Violet with little to do. Once again, Mr. Incredible comes off as a bit of jerk. The dynamics just don’t work very well.

Violet is funny, but the fact that her entire storyline surrounds her trying to get a boyfriend feels regressive. We’ve already seen Mr. Incredible as the selfish character who doesn’t care about his family last film. I’m not sure we need an arrogant, over-confident version this time. Again he’s self-centered and only wants Elastigirl to succeed so he can jump back into the fray. Dash has literally nothing to do. Except for math. Also, he needs to learn how to pronounce fractions? I guess so.

Then, we’re led to believe the family has forgotten Jack-Jack had powers. This leads to some funny scenarios in the film, such as Jack-Jack fighting a raccoon. However, it doesn’t make any sense. Yes, audiences got to see the full range of powers in the “Jack-Jack Attack” short that was on the Blu-Ray/DVD when the film released.  But then we also so Jack-Jack turn into a demon, burst into flames, and turn into a metal weigh when fighting against Syndrome. This whole scene and plot are forgotten, despite the fact that the family gives Jack-Jack a disguise (and a knowing glance) at the end of the first film. This is retconning at best, and actively trying to fill time at the worst. Considering the film is more than 2 hours long, maybe shaving 15 minutes of homelife/Jack-Jack would have moved it along (you can still have the Edna scenes without saying Elastigirl doesn’t know about Jack-Jack’s powers).

The animation is really interesting this time around and helps to round out many characters. For Frozone and Elastigirl, animators could really deliver high-quality action with impeccable detail. Other characters, like Voyd, probably couldn’t have existed without these improves. Voyd’s powerset is essentially the video-game “Portal,” and it makes for very cool fight sequences and action moments. It’ll be interesting to see if this pops up in the 3rd installment. Yet for some reason, Mr. Incredible and Dash look really weird. Maybe it was trying to fill out the character, but the 1950’s pop look for the characters didn’t really look better with the increased definition this time around.

Finally, the story weakens after starting strong. The film suffers from a villain’s rants and raves. The backstory of our villain is interesting and provides a solid foundation for the character. However, as the name ScreenSlaver implies, being too focused on screens and not experiencing life feels lazy. There is more to the villain than meets the eye, but unsurprisingly, many Marvel’s issues with underdeveloped villains rear their heads here.

The Incredibles 2” is a well worth your time film. It’s not better than the original, but it still has some of the coolest action set pieces of the year. Elastigirl is given the spotlight and showcases why she deserves it. Brad Bird is among our very best visionary directors, and his team of animators does some really amazing things here. However, a slightly weak and predictable story holds back the film. Rather than refocus on how the family can’t be supers, maybe we needed a different B plot. Regardless, this movie is well worth checking out with family or friends.

GRADE: B

What did you think of “The Incredibles 2?” Where does it rank with other Pixar sequels? Let us know in the comments below! 

If you want more “Incredibles 2” content, check out our podcast, We Bought a Pod! Aaron and I discuss the film for more than 30 minutes and fill in more of our thoughts. 

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