As I sat in the theater waiting to watch “Incredibles 2,” every trailer that came on the big screen was a sequel. With the feature presentation being a sequel, this was either ironic or plain idiotic. I’ll let you decide, but it just once again confirmed what I have been saying for so long now, which is Hollywood is really running short of fresh ideas. It’s sad and while I might be excited for say “The LEGO Movie 2 – The Second Part” or “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” neither are something we have yet to see before. Maybe I should just accept that this is how it’s going to be, but my inner movie enthusiast isn’t allowing that quite yet. So instead I will press the pause button and talk about “Incredibles 2,” a sequel good enough to watch and one that should have probably come out much sooner.
Amazingly everyone looks the same as they did when we last saw them 14 years ago. I know, its animation, so of course they look the same. Then again, we are picking up right after the defeat of Syndrome from the first installment so obviously the bridge to this story is extremely short. And here, after letting a criminal known only as the Underminer (John Ratzenberger) rob a local bank and get away, they at least manage to stop his runaway drill from destroying City Hall. Problem is, they left a path of destruction a mile long in doing so, much to the chagrin of the local government officials. So they shut down the program leaving the Parr family out in the cold. It was then Lucius ‘Frozone’ (Samuel L. Jackson) showed up to tell them about a recent encounter with Winston Feavor (Bob Odenkirk), a local CEO of a telecommunications company. Turns out he was a big fan of Supers, so after seeing the latest mishap, devises a business plan using Helen ‘Elastigirl’ (Holly Hunter) to hopefully regain the publics support in the heroes they once loved. And for a while it was working. While Elastigirl was out stopping crime and being the hero the city needed, Bob ‘Mr. Incredible’ (Craig T. Nelson) was at home taking care of the kids. Almost sounds like a Hallmark special, but that’s where the warm and fuzzies stop as this version was anything but happy once the true villain showed up forcing the entire family to have to work together in a way they never imagined.
With any animated feature film, the cast is often quite impressive considering the freedom they are given. Meaning, rarely does anyone turn down one of these roles given how it’s one of the easiest and least stressful in Hollywood. So with that said, clearly we would see some of the original cast return in addition to some new voices. Originals like Craig T. Nelson (Mr. Incredible), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and Violet Parr (Sarah Vowell), who all stepped right back in like no time had passed. And what’s funny is how on the front of the film, it showed the cast joking about how long it took for a sequel. I mention this because if Brad Bird has any inclination for a third, he might want to jump on it given the age of some of his heroes like Nelson who just turned 74 this April. He was still great obviously, supporting Holly Hunter’s own Elastigirl, but he is not the picture of health if you ask me. But let’s face it, this was Hunter’s film from the start, as she was given the baton to somehow better or at worst equal what took place the first time around. Tough task and one she did not disappoint with as her own Elastigirl was a lot of fun to watch. Although maybe not as fun as the Parr’s youngest child Jack Jack, who Bird really made sure to have plenty of screen time. Often either laughing, teleporting or bursting into a ball of flames, Jack Jack was a joy to watch leaving the audience laughing uncontrollably. So kudos to the Bird and his animators, as he saw an opportunity with this character and knocked it out of the park.
“Incredibles 2” might be yet another sequel in a long list that doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter, but at least it feels different. And what I mean is this entire idea is unlike any other we have seen from not only Pixar, but in Hollywood. For most people, the original is still their overall favorite Pixar film, so to say a lot of thought went into this sequel is a huge understatement. All thanks to writer/director Brad Bird, who waited over 10 years before making this film, proving it’s never too late. Sure, he could have made it sooner and maybe that would have helped a story that did fall flat at times. But, I give him credit for doing it his way so he could gain even more experience from making films like “Ratatouille,” “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” and “Tomorrowland.” Quite the diverse list, but one that I feel helped prepare him for this second installment. Because despite a script that could have been better, the overall look to this film was incredible. Clearly taking advantage of technology he didn’t have the first go-around, Bird made sure this film would stand out in a crowd. That’s huge and in many ways allows you to forget about its shortcomings with the story. Who knows, maybe it was the underlying message he was trying to slide in there or maybe he started to overthink things during its development. Either way, it wasn’t as clean as I would have liked leaving me to wonder what could have been for a sequel that had a chance to be great, but instead settles for just being good.