“Incredibles 2” is a worthy sequel to 2004’s “The Incredibles.” I remember when the first film came out how it immediately became one my favorite (and one of the best) animated films ever released. Samuel L. Jackson assures us before the film starts that the 14-year wait was worth it. I would whole-heartedly agree.
“Incredibles 2” picks up right where “The Incredibles” left off. Its premise is very similar to that of its predecessor, but like “The Force Awakens” or even “Return of the Jedi,” its similarities do not result in it feeling like a copy. I’d say that “Incredibles 2” is more like “Return of the Jedi” because it uses similar story concepts to the original but does not use visual callbacks to the extent that “Force Awakens” did. “Incredibles 2” feels like a separate entity and approaches plot issues brought up in the first “Incredibles” that were not resolved. We also get much more time spent with the film’s female characters, as the previous entry spent most of its time on the male leads. I suspect that after these two, the third will truly delve into the functionality of fighting crime as a family.
How Brad Bird continues to make one great animated film after the other is beyond me. His live-action films haven’t been too shabby either, particularly “Ghost Protocol.” “The Incredibles” was a monumental achievement in animation, story, and market appeal, and understood everything that made a superhero film great. Now in the age of superheroes such a theme could easily feel stale, but Bird somehow recreates the freshness of his first endeavor in this follow-up. The characters go through arcs just like they did in the first film, and the great thing with picking up right where we left off is that the characters start off no different than when we last saw them. We know them going in and are pleasantly surprised and impressed with their growing maturity at the end.
On the surface, “The Incredibles” was a family-friendly spoof on superhero comics. The adult themes of uniformity, its satirical take on the modern workplace, and its critique on the human ego gave it depth and is what really made it great. Similarly, “Incredibles 2” has themes of labor-intensive parenthood, technology overreliance, dependency, and celebrity idolization. It also carries along the cliché that, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and what it means to use that power for good. That cliché may never get old though, especially with ongoing political narratives.
The exuberant natures of the characters remain, which along with smart humor will delight kids and adults alike. I will say that this one puts more emphasis on the humor than on the central conflict, which for a sequel is not a bad idea. Story-wise, it is not as strong as the first. Perception is really what makes Brad Bird’s films unique though, along with his ability to make animation look and feel like live-action. The cooking in “Ratatouille” looks as real as any I have seen on Food Network, and the cars, town, and shadows implemented in “Incredibles 2” look so authentic that should I have watched it early in the morning, I might have thought I was looking outside. And the music is once again delightful. Sit through the credits for some surprising theme songs.
Will there be an “Incredibles 3?” I don’t see how they could resist making a trilogy for these hugely popular characters, as I still sense that their stories are not yet complete. A particular villain also remains at large.