Review: Incredibles 2

Written by Gaden Sousa.

For my Dad’s birthday, I convinced him to take us to Incredibles 2. It was bound to be a family experience. We’d watched (and re-watched) the first one together, so it made complete sense that we would go and see the new one as a family.
Very briefly: I used to get excited for films. There was a time when all I could do was live and breathe the newest big film (likely annoying all friends into a coma), but then I was let down enough and I learned my lesson. Now, I try to take a more placid, neutral stance before going to see a film. Trying not to let things I’ve seen and things I’ve heard influence me before actually watching the film. Trying to leave my personal baggage with what’s on the screen at the door.

However, Incredibles 2 is a film I allowed myself to get excited for. I allowed my hopes to rise. Brad Bird was coming back to write and direct almost the entire original voice cast, (minus the original actor for Dash, because boys’ voices drop). Besides, it was Pixar and they’d never let me down before. With every new little titbit, every little piece of story and character they’d released in trailers, my expectations had grown. I had loved the first one, thinking it to be one of the best superhero films (live-action or animated) ever.

So, did it live up to the hype? To the expectations? To the 14 years of painful waiting?

It is with a happy heart that I say, ‘Yes!’ And not only that, it exceeds them.

Incredibles 2 is everything you loved about the first one. It has gripping action, some of which is so ridiculously creative I audibly gasped in the cinema hall. It has strong character-based drama and doesn’t ever forget that it is a film about the Parr family, (not to mention what that family does with their extraordinary gifts when they have to navigate impossible things like math and boys). And it’s funny. Really funny. Far funnier than the original, in my mind.

The story is told so efficiently. It’s a rip-roaring adventure from start to finish. Picking up exactly where the first one left off, with the Underminer attacking the city. It’s an interesting choice on Brad Bird’s part to start the film here, not having any of the characters age at all. Yet somehow, through his strong direction and excellent scripting it all works—we’re instantly transported back to 14 years ago when we first met the Parr family.

The role reversal between Helen and Bob (Elastigirl and Mr Incredible), where Bob has to stay home and take care of the kids while Helen goes out to stop crime, is a welcome mix-up. It serves as the main building block of the central theme of the film: learning one’s place in a family unit. The Incredibles 2 works so well because it doesn’t focus on huge spectacle and action to serve up emotion (like many other superhero films). Instead, it focusses on family dynamics and how families work. All of this rings true through excellent voice acting and ridiculously nuanced animation.

All the characters in this film have to figure out where they belong. How they fit in. They have to understand who they are as part of a greater whole. It’s a lesson we all have to learn at some point in our lives. A lesson that can be applied to work, family, sports, and everything in-between. It’s a lesson that kids should be learning, which is why it’s uplifting that it’s so expertly depicted in Incredibles 2.

The secondary theme of Incredibles 2 concerns the villain: The Screen Slaver. It’s a very deft criticism of our over-reliance on screens and how we wish to have life packaged and presented to us, rather than going out there and experiencing life first hand. It’s built into the theme mostly for adults and older viewers. Ensuring, in true Pixar fashion, that this film is for everyone.

A quick word about how good the action is in this film is before I finish. Simply put, it’s the most creative action I’ve ever seen. Not to spoil anything, but there is a chase scene with a train. Elastigirl has a motorcycle. It’s all being very cool and then all of a sudden, she presses a button and the motorcycle splits into two parts allowing her to use her stretching powers while riding the bike. At this point I gasped and a few tears of sheer amazement rolled happily down my cheeks. The fact that someone can be that creative continues to astound me. The film is full of more scenes, and sequences, and set pieces just like this. It is endlessly inventive with superpowers and how they can be used, leaving me to wish that other superhero and action films look to these sequences to be better.

So, if you like family films that are incredibly emotional, thrilling and will make you think: you can’t get much better than Incredibles 2.

Gaden’s work appears in the Euphoria, Power, and Atmosphere editions of WORDLY Magazine.

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