Time has not diminished Pixar’s beloved superhero family. Fourteen years after their debut, Incredibles 2 arrives as spry and genuinely thrilling as to suggest they never left. As superhero stories have begun to feel strained and perfunctory, this is not to be underestimated. Proving anew why the first installment is one of the most exciting superhero films of the modern era, this sequel is why we show up to these movies. It’s not just like The Incredibles ever left, but we forget how dull these movies have become while we watch it.
Picking up shortly after the first film, we’re also spared the now-common narrative of watching a group we’re familiar with deal with later stages. Instead, this chapter is more of a reversal of the first but with the characters as they already were. Elastigirl is now rightfully, as she always truly was, the best and coolest damn hero of the family.
Pops Mr. Incredible is in the caretaker role this time while mother Elastigirl takes the opportunity to be the face of the pro-super movement, funded by the grown Deavor siblings and Devtech industries. Evelyn and Winston Deavor are the descendants of a wealthy super-superfan who was killed once supers were made illegal. The first villain she faces off, Screenslaver, is bent on controlling minds by invading the screens we’re glued to. Edward Nygma has already called his lawyer.
Meanwhile Bob struggles to maintain his Mr. Incredible moniker when he stumbles to communicating with Violet’s woes and Dash’s mischief. Incredibles 2 throws perhaps a few too many ideas at the wall, which only pronounces its more antiquated ideas. But the propulsive pacing and breakneck punchlines keep you from lingering too long on stodgy ideas of “too many screens” and “dads can parent too”. Throw in a sadistic Jack Jack well on his way to become a full blown serial killer and the film is so consistently delightful, its easy to dismiss its bumps.
Again we’re served zippy visuals and witty quotables from Edna Mode. Michael Giacchino is once again a stealth player, serving the film’s retro influences but also delivering an iconically brassy sound all his own. Yet despite all of this high-octane energy and slightly overbearing gumption to wow you, Incredibles 2 is a cozy comfort, like cuddling with a rollercoaster. Or maybe that’s just the warmth in the velvety, immaculate vocal stylings of Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, and Catherine Keener. Director Brad Bird’s Edna still kills.
And that’s not because it has the saccharine sweetness of Pixar’s Up and Toy Story variety. Like Jack Jack’s demonic giddiness, the film earns hearty laughs from a bent that’s just twisted enough to surprise you as it follows all of its expected steps. The new pieces also carry some subtly subversion impact as well, like the dazzingly powered and vaguely queer Voyd. Come for the fun, stay for Isabella Rossellini having four lines as an ambassador.
With so many franchises taking dull or dour (or both) grabs at our already committed wallets, Incredibles 2 is a film that actually works its mighty butt off to satisfy. No capes, but greats.