Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Movie Review: Incredibles 2

Still super.

After a sabbatical of several years in live-action land, where he made Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (huge hit) and Tomorrowland(not so much), writer-director Brad Bird is back at the helm of a big Pixar animated feature—for which we should offer thanks to whatever popcorn gods are in charge of such things. Bird's Incredibles 2 is of course the long-delayed sequel to his 2004 classic The Incredibles, that dazzling fusion of superhero pandemonium, familial warmth, and '60s spy-movie flourishes. This new one, I'm happy to report, brings us more of that.

However, because seeing and being knocked out by Bird's iconic super-family for the first time is not an experience that can be repeated, Incredibles 2 doesn't push quite as many pleasure buttons as its predecessor. But it comes close. And even if it once again replicates a common flaw of live-action superhero blockbusters—the overextension of endless chaotic action scenes—the movie's computer animation is of such very high quality that complaints about this seem churlish.

The movie picks up where the first film ended, in an attack by the Underminer, a blithely ridiculous supervillain equipped with an earth-boring machine. Much collateral destruction is caused, which is extra-bad because superheroes are still banned at the behest of an ungrateful populace. So the Incredibles are still on the down-low. Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) is back to his real-world identity of Bob Parr; his partner Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) is once again Bob's plain old wife Helen; and their kids have returned to their civilian roles, too—teen daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell), whose secret super-specialty is invisibility; little brother Dash (Huck Milner), who races around at super speed; and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), who…well, he hasn't displayed any powers yet.

A ray of hope penetrates the Parrs' dull muggle life when they're contacted by a tech bazillionire named Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk). Winston loves superheroes and wants to get the ban against them overturned. He and his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) run a communications company called DevTech, and they've put together a PR plan to start recording superhero exploits with bodycams, which will provide up-close demonstrations of the super-community's usefulness. However, after running some cost-benefit calculations, Evelyn decides that Mr. Incredible is too much of a rage monkey to be allowed to take part in this program, so she chooses Elastigirl to be the face of it instead. Helen can't believe this is happening, and she's exultant.

Bob, on the other hand, is deeply bummed by his demotion, and a lot more than a little jealous as his wife aces her first assignment, roaring off on a motorcycle in pursuit of a runaway train. (The acrobatic action and madly shifting perspectives here are wildly, wonderfully complex.) Meanwhile, back in the swank digs where Winston has stashed the rest of the Parr family, we see Bob—like millions of mothers throughout many millennia—being driven nuts by the ever-needy kids: Violet is mooning around over a boy she fancies, Dash wants to start fighting supervillains himself, and Jack-Jack—well, it turns out he does have special powers after all. Bob seeks babysitting help from the diminutive fashion guru Edna Mode, of all people (she's voiced once again by Brad Bird himself), and eventually he's reunited with his family, and his frost-breathing super-pal Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), to do battle with a new menace—a mysterious villain called the ScreenSaver, who has the ability to hijack people's minds by hacking into the screens they spend so much of their lives staring into.

Yes, this is a story with social resonance—the shifting roles of men and women, our growing technological overload—but it doesn't bat us over the head with "messages." The movie charms us with its super-characters and their very human concerns, and wows us with its digital detail—the gleam of mini ice cubes in a glass, the very slight swell of a chest beneath taut Spandex. Bird is an artist so madly enamored of animation that he seems to have created one elaborate action sequence here, involving baby Jack-Jack and a frantic raccoon, just for fun. It exists for no other reason than to be incredible.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Brian||

    Mr. Invisible?

  • Cy||

    *Mr. Incredible

    Surprised Kurt didn't catch that.

  • KL||

    Thanks Brian. Just fixed...

  • SRoach||

    Sounds more like "Cellophane, Mr. Cellophane" to me.

    I do intend to watch the movie, but that, now corrected, glitch sounds like it may have been Freudian, what with the description of Parr getting demoted and being jealous of his wife's recovered fame.

  • hello.||

    Reviewing cartoons for children couldn't possibly be a more apt metaphor for this shit hole. Lol.

  • Cy||

    Animation isn't just for kids anymore. You'd think that it might occur to someone that technology and culture didn't freeze in 1979.

  • Citizen X||

    Look, some people really enjoy whining. Who are you to deny them this sad pleasure?

  • Brandybuck||

    Video games really sucks in 1979. Which is why most adult nerds were not into them yet.

  • ||

    You'd think that it might occur to someone that technology and culture didn't freeze in 1979.

    I'm pretty sure most of the stuff I grew up watching from '79 and well before is too adult for today's college students.

  • lap83||

    So you hate joy and all that is pure and wholesome, have fun with that

  • Inigo Montoya||

    I LOVED the first one, back when it was new, and I was the tender of age of my early-30s. Just like a kid, I made sure to buy a copy so I could repeat the cinema experience over and over. The pulsating 1960s John Barry-style score was enough to make it great, never mind all the other touches, like Edna Mode.

    Now I'm excited to see this second one, dahling. But I hope they remembered: NO CAPES!

  • perlchpr||

    Yeah, I've watched the first one a bunch. I used to own it. Makes me tear up every time. "Yeah, I know you're mad at me but I'm just happy you're alive."

  • sarcasmic||

    I can't wait to take my daughter to this.

  • FreeRadical||

    I can't wait to take my self to this.

  • Citizen X||

    a mysterious villain called the ScreenSaver, who has the ability to hijack people's minds by hacking into the screens they spend so much of their lives staring into

    Shit, did Pixar just scoop Amazon's forthcoming miniseries adaptation of Snow Crash?

  • Cy||

    I wasn't aware they were making a Snowcrash!?!?! That's great news! Thanks,

  • Citizen X||

    Yep. Amazon Studios is doing Snow Crash, Consider Phlebas, and a Ringworld adaptation, and they're also taking over The Expanse since SyFy dropped it.

  • Cy||

    Netflix is pretty hit or miss. But, at least they're trying.

  • Freddy the Jerk||

    Ringworld? Wow, that's audacious.

  • Shirley Knott||

    So is Consider Phlebas. Arguably a much more out-there choice, good though the novel is.
    Now when they do The Wasp Factory...

  • Citizen X||

    Part of Consider Phlebas does take place on a ringworld, which ends up getting sploded.

  • perlchpr||

    Wow. That might be worth sticking around for.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Glad to see one more suicide prevented.

  • Trollificus||

    CONSIDER PHLEBAS???? Holeeee shit. That's...that's...that would be wonderful if I had any faith that they could do it justice. But stil...people showing the nad to undertake any of The Culture novels is impressive, however successful it ultimately is.

    Christopher Nolan should look at doing "Use of Weapons" or "Player of Games".

  • Brandybuck||

    WHAT! A Snow Crash miniseries! Be still my hypertensive heart!

  • Trollificus||

    Ringworld was always do-able. Even a CGI-heavy, cheesy version would be okay...they've got Louis Wu, Nessus, Speaker-To-Animals andTeela Brown, can't be less than entertaining...can it?

    I just hope they don't make "Snowcrash" into a cyberpunk movie in the service of hackneyed costume/set design. Which I could see happening since having a cool "look" is easier than telling a coherent, engaging story.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    No, they scooped the rollout of the next update to FaceBook.

  • Cy||

    I'm looking forward to this. There doesn't seem to be a lot of films lately worth looking forward to. I'm all marveled out. DC can't seem to stop making people want to slit their own wrists. Disney has taken a dive off the social justice warrior/environmentalism cliff and have every intention of brain splatting from the fall. I've got to hand it to Dreamworks, I think they've stayed fairly sane in today's culture wars.

  • Brandybuck||

    As the only sentient being in the known universe who likes the DC movies, I have to say it's quite lonely over here. But at least we don't have the first Hulk movie, or any of the Fantastic Fours, or Elektra, or any of the other drek Marvel managed to spew on to the silver screen. On the other hand we still have the Dark Knight trilogy and the original Superman.

  • Cy||

    If only there were more movies like the Dark Knight Trilogy. The Supermans were before my time. The modern ones don't deserve the reputation they've been given. I think I liked the new Supermans more than I liked the new Wonder Woman.

  • ||

    But at least we don't have the first Hulk movie, or any of the Fantastic Fours, or Elektra, or any of the other drek Marvel managed to spew on to the silver screen. On the other hand we still have the Dark Knight trilogy and the original Superman.

    Have the Michael Keaton batman movies been erased from history or are they just avoided to forego the prelude to Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, and Catwoman? They're pretty good, iconic even, and while I understand the desire to forego reliving the other embarassment, it would be a shame to lose those two.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    The first Michael Keaton Batman was excellent; the second one is a forgettable mess whose sole redeeming feature was Peak Michelle Pfeiffer in a vinyl catsuit.

  • Cloudbuster||

    sole redeeming feature was Peak Michelle Pfeiffer in a vinyl catsuit.

    But that was one hell of a redeeming feature.

  • The Last American Hero||

    ^ This.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I mean, if we're just going by companies. DC has Batman and Robin, Catwoman, Superman 3 and 4. Green Lantern. Quite a few bad ones.

    if we're going by cinematic universes, none of those films you listed belong to either the MCU or the DCU.

  • Untermensch den 2||

    I have to point out that Incredibles 2 *is* Disney. It's Pixar, which is a Disney-owned property. Dreamworks has exactly nothing to do with this.

  • Will Nonya||

    "baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), who…well, he hasn't displayed any powers yet."

    you mean except for those scenes during the original movie and the jack jack short?

    I'll take "Thing I'd have never known without parenthood" for $100 Alex.

  • FreeRadical||

    This is what I was going to say. I think maybe Loder meant that the characters in the movie don't know he has powers. But the audience DOES know.

  • KL||

    Yes. Bob's discovery at 0:33: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rA6_6sTBi-M

  • FreeRadical||

    And, Edna seems to have known in the first movie. Maybe she just has really good superhero intuition.

    She made a super suit for the baby that pretty much had Jack-Jack's powers covered.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Cannot wait to see this. One of the charms of the original was that it didn't default to the "stupid father" trope, where the dumbass Dad is always being dumped on by his super smart wife and overly precocious kids. It had a heroic Dad (AND Mom).

    A bit worried the new one will backtrack on that.

  • Cy||

    It's all about girl power in the modern movie industry.

  • cthulhu||

    Not here. (Saw the movie Thursday night.) Putting Elastigirl front and center is not done for any SJW shtick, it's a logical plot development. And the stay-at-home dad stuff works the same way; the family dynamics are wholly plausible and relatable.

    Great movie, go see it!

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    A logical plot development... For a SJW audience?

    The ads portray no more of a competent father than did Tully.

    Pass.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Based on the trailers, the odds of Mr. Incredible getting Homer Simpsoned appear to be high.

  • FreeRadical||

    I'm also a bit worried. However, the first movie already had a bit of that, and I thought it captured family dynamics perfectly.

    I'm not very offended by the dad-overwhelmed-by-kids-and-house meme. I identify with it! When my wife went on business trips, it was always a bit of an adventure.

    It's only preaching that I hate.

  • Iheartskeet||

    BOOM ! Saw it.

    Worries were unfounded. As FreeRadical noted, the "dad-overwhelmed-by-kids" trope is not offensive, indeed I easily identified with it, and all the family dynamics handled well I thought.

    Plus, they could easily make a movie about Edna Mode. What a great character. She's like a short Ayn Rand of sorts, unsentimental in her ambition and drive for true excellence.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Haven't seen anything but the trailers yet, but the New Math scene was like a cut from my own life, engineer math nerd who occasionally does math tutoring for my family and more distant relatives.

    I think I might have used those exact words: "Math is math! Why would they change math?"

    Why indeed would they change math?

  • Azathoth!!||

    Why indeed would they change math?

    To make it incomprehensible.

    People who know math can figure out the universe for themselves.

    People who don't know math think the guy that ran the planetarium is a genius.

  • Syd Henderson||

    Hell, I'd like to see a movie about the raccoon.

  • FreeRadical||

    In addition to invisibility, Violet can make super strong force fields.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    So she's Mrs. Fantastic.

  • ByteRot||

    I mean, the entire thing is basically the Fantastic Four.

    It's a family of superheroes -- one who stretches; one who turns invisible and makes force fields; one who is big, tough, and strong; and a fast hot-headed showoff.

    And the Underminer is nothing if not a nod to the Mole Man.

    The Incredibles is, quite simply and objectively, the best Fantastic Four movie ever made.

  • ||

    "... fashion guru Edna Mode, of all people (she's voiced once again by Brad Bird himself)..."

    Funny, I've seen the first movie at least 30+ times (my kids' favorite movie...I enjoyed it every time too!), and I always assumed Edna's voice was done by Gedde Watanabe (i.e., "Long Duk Dong" in "Sixteen Candles", and "At Toon" in "Volunteers").

  • Cloudbuster||

    ...and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), who…well, he hasn't displayed any powers yet.

    Did you even watch The Incredibles?

  • KL||

    We know, but not the other main characters. In this film, Edna has no interest in helping Bob take care of Jack-Jack -- until she discovers he has powers. Also this, at 0:33: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rA6_6sTBi-M

  • cthulhu||

    Kurt, you ignorant slut, the villain's name is the ScreenSlaver, not ScreenSaver; guess all the copy editors were busy with Shikha's swill...

  • Trollificus||

    It's a living.

  • David1234||

    "...Jack-Jack—well, it turns out he does have special powers after all."

    That Jack-Jack has super powers was revealed in the first movie.

  • jenfein||

    Now you can watch it on TeaTV app. Get it from http://teatvappdownloads.com/

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online