Genre: Superhero Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.
Release Date: June 15th, 2018 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Brad Bird Actors: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Eli Fucile, Samuel L. Jackson, Sophia Bush, Phil LaMarr, Isabella Rossellini
espite the superhero Parr family’s continuous efforts to keep their community safe, Metroville only sees the massive costs associated with the highly ruinous clashes between good and evil. After the Parrs’ most recent attempt at apprehending supervillain Underminer, which left the city’s infrastructure in significant disarray, the family is shuffled off for the last time by the soon-to-be-defunct superhero relocation program. As Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson) and his wife Helen (Holly Hunter) debate over how best to protect their children Dash (Huck Milner), Violet (Sarah Vowell), and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), the duo are approached by Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener), sibling telecommunications magnates with a plan on how to reverse the public’s negative perception of masked crimefighters. Convincing Helen to reprise her superhero identity of Elastigirl, the Deavors soon have the world looking on with a newfound respect for un-caped crusaders everywhere. As Helen combats the threat of mysterious malefactor Screenslaver, Bob finds himself in an equally challenging mission at home, helping Dash with schoolwork, Violet with heartbreak, and Jack-Jack with a host of mischievous superpowers.
The opening sequence is exciting, complex, destructive, and humorous, fusing action with comedy, and the foibles of superheroes with the mundanity of babysitting. It picks up immediately where the previous film left off, which is daring yet uninspired. In its efforts to bridge the gap between the 14 years between entries, this hectic introduction sets the tone for the rest of the adventure – it’s busy, unfocused, and tries to cover too many themes. But even in its messy storytelling, it’s undeniably fun to revisit this comical take on the Fantastic Four, which gains lagging newness yet welcome nostalgia.
“Superheroes are illegal!” The Parr family continues their bonding – universal notes despite their unusual abilities – slowly allowing the children to take bigger roles in their world-saving endeavors, struggling to balance a normal life with the necessity to include the youths in mature, crime-fighting acts of heroism that allow them to embrace their special gifts. Perhaps more than the mockery of superhero tropes or even the incorporation of those very same concepts in serious moments, “Incredibles 2” is about parenting, and shattering the conceptions of how men and women fit into household roles. But there’s more at work here too, which gives the project a confused, sluggish, complicated execution, especially when the use of media is scrutinized, publicity and fame are examined, and when Junior High melodrama bamboozles the unprepared Violet.
The film borrows major plot points from “Hancock” for putting a positive spin on the sometimes disastrous but always well-intentioned exploits of the Incredibles; from “Watchmen” for the notions of oversight, self-sufficiency, accountability, and trust; and from the “Avengers” or “X-Men” episodes for the creation of individualistic supporting personas, each with unique powers. This tragically unnecessary (or simply too late) sequel additionally confronts the ideas of privatized superheroes (which could teeter dangerously close to mercenaries, though it only grazes the surface), female empowerment, manipulating the weak-minded, and even the corruption of firsthand experiences (which modern technology has virtually destroyed, as many people find entertainment in merely viewing others’ experiences, rather than doing those very things for themselves). As a result, the story is all over the place (and overlong), cutting back and forth between daredevilry, child-rearing, costume-designing, and experimenting with superpowers. In the mix is also Helen’s dominant role, outshining her husband in the machismo department as she becomes the breadwinner and the crime-conquering heavy.
Despite the freneticism of the plot, the action scenes are tremendous (Michael Giacchino’s score has also gone up a notch in intensity), more often than not realizing better choreography, combat, and demolition than the live-action competition from Marvel or D.C., even when these moments tend to occur too frequently and without the steady escalation required to make each subsequent encounter memorable. It may take place in a cartoon world, but the visual effects are sharp enough to stand up to the green-screen environments of its non-animated brethren. The second half moves at a significantly better pace than the first, building up momentum for a slam-bang finale, but the filmmakers just couldn’t come up with anything revolutionary for this super-family to do; they’re largely stuck in the same routines as before, engaging in overly familiar plights and rescues, peppered with comic malfunctions.
– The Massie Twins