Movie Review: Incredibles 2

First up, minor site update: I didn’t plan on having any posts this week, and forgot that I had even written yesterday’s movie review. I have a ton of doodles to scan and even a full comic strip to post but I just haven’t gotten around to it. If you checked out the site because of the Lost Goat bit last week, thank you! I know Erica of LG shared it with a bunch of friends and I heard some positive thoughts about it, including mostly people remembering what a great band they were. It was good to hear from people about it. I wrote it from a far away fan’s perspective, lucky enough to have given them a tiny bit of support and press back then – I wasn’t there when they were starting and plowing away in their local scene before hitting the road. Maybe there will be a follow up – stay tuned.

In the meantime: I saw Incredibles 2!

Was it good? Yes.

Was it necessary? Uh…um…

Incredibles 2 picks up where the first Incredibles left off, by way of recap of the classmate Violet had just asked out before the Underminer happened to attack right there and then. Remember that? She overcame her shyness as the result of the last battle with the Omnidroid or whatever. This is the first questionable choice of the movie, because it’s been nearly 13 years or so since the first film, and it picks up…hinting that the battle with Syndrome was only two weeks prior? And that nothing has changed for the Supers beyond the Barrs living in a motel after their home was destroyed, with no idea that baby Jack Jack has a random set of superpowers. Did their government agent liason not tell them that as a result of his interview with the babysitter?

What a rambling intro and recap. I’m assuming that you’ve also seen The Incredibles. It’s was about a family that had to hide their superpowers because Mr. Incredible’s super strength was just a tool to use nearly every available piece of scenery (trees, buildings) to stop crimes in progress. This is hammered home hard on Mr. Incredible after the Underminer gets away in a spectacular battle sequence, family vs. 4 storey high underground drill. From there, Elastigirl is chosen by philanthropist siblings Winston & Evelyn Devor as their champion of superhero rights – if Elastigirl can pull off some amazing public displays of heroism, surely laws banning superhero activity would be reversed.

The Incredibles should have been suspicious of this plan immediately: how would the siblings know that something might be up to have Elastigirl present? Well, from there, it looks like the culprit is the “Screenslaver,” who uses technology to hijack trains and television signals to create chaos and also hypnotize the populace while (get this) lecturing Elastigirl and the world on how society is so enamored with devices that isolates us from each other anti-technology blah blah blah.

This was another odd choice, considering again that the plot picks up right where the first movie left off. Like, was Screenslaver a problem in the first movie’s world? Considering that embracing your gifts that make you superior to others in other ways in a world that celebrates mediocrity was barely hidden as a message in the plot, was “you know, we all stare at our devices?” really where the filmmakers wanted to take us two weeks out from the plot of the last film?

Buuuut…otherwise…this movie is pretty great. The Incredibles was probably the first Pixar film where the people, as humans, looked like characters, and not heads on weird body sticks in the background of worlds populated by insects, toys, and/or monsters. They figured out that they didn’t have to adhere to regular human figures – the more cartoonish in their computer modeling, the more the audience would identify with them.

The aesthetic (50’s space age home designs, etc.) and backgrounds (see: Elastigirl’s cycle and monorail chase) are even better this time around. It’s a cartoon, of course, so we think they can do whatever the creators are able to draw, but check out the behind the scene extras in the first movie just to see how difficult it was to get hair right. It’s their planning and storyboarding that other cartoon adventures, with limitless potential in camera angles and scenarios that live action films won’t access to, haven’t been able to replicate. Considering how much most action movies are just actors in front of green screens while computers burn energy to create the world around them, a cartoon character in a cartoon world feels more real and in more danger.

One of my favorite bits in The Incredibles is when Bob gets the package and it’s a tablet that plays a recording before self destructing. Bob just looks at it and squints, with angle changes from the device to his eyes, to emphasize Bob’s curiosity as a device he might’ve recognized in his day as a superhero and concern since it’s not something he can share with Elastigirl. Just a brilliant sequence to help bring the viewer deeper into a new mystery in his secret life. It’s attention to details like that that made it one of the best animated movies, and action movies, ever.

The 2nd? It’s an adventure story. Though “okay, we get it, special people should embrace what makes them more special than the rest of us” hits you over the head, it’s the family’s journey of self discovery (Dash’s run through the jungle, that still makes me laugh today) keeps us riveted through the film. Here, it’s like another issue from a regular comic. Like there’s a glut of superheroes and now Syndrome is correct, no one is special.

But it’s a fantastic looking adventure, and a total blast throughout. I couldn’t help think of how Mr. Incredible caused so much havoc himself trying to stop the Underminer while Elastigirl, just as quick thinking as Bob, uses the same environment to minimize damage in the opening battle. And then it’s pointed out, hilariously, by everyone. That makes Elastigirl the better option to be the public test to bring back superheroes, much to Bob’s crushed ego. There’s a few other superheroes introduced, with one being a direct take on The Spot, one of the most ridiculous Spider-Man villains (and, of course, my favorite). I am not sure if they were aware of it, but what the Void does is exactly what The Spot does. Since Disney owns Marvel now, direct homages can be done with less legal worry…?

The Incredibles might seem like a Fantastic Four parody of some sorts, but surely stand out as great characters to not even bother making comparisons. I love the first movie, this was a lot of fun and advances in computer animation is probably responsible for improved color capabilities and an insane (and possibly seizure inducing) hypnotism sequence, though the stakes honestly don’t feel as high as the first. Still, two coffees up, and consumed. Good job, Pixar.

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