In 2004, “The Incredibles” hit theaters and defined a generation. I was but a wee lass at the time, but the film became an instant obsession of mine and enjoys a unique position among my childhood favorites… it was one of those films that I liked better, the older I got. Fourteen years later I’m walking out of “Incredibles 2” and feeling that same sense of wonder and excitement, now made so much more intense from the years of anticipation and a lifetime of movie-loving. Fourteen years. It’s amazing to realize that this means I have spent over half of my entire lifetime, waiting for this movie.
Was “Incredibles 2” worth the wait? Absolutely.
“Incredibles 2” picks up right where “The Incredibles” left off, right in the middle of the action. The story goes on to show the struggles of Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) as he navigates the heroic task of raisings his super children while his wife, Helen Parr (Elastigirl), embarks on a new mission to save the world.
The gang’s all here with the returning voice talents of Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, and Samuel L. Jackson, among others. Brad Bird brings back his incredible eye and excellent writing (and a triumphant return as legend, icon, and a personal hero of mine, Edna Mode). All stars, assemble!
There is so much to talk about with this film. The foundation of my praise for “Incredibles 2” is that it does a wonderful job of really fleshing out this world and the characters. “The Incredibles” was a hell of a movie, but it was very Mr. Incredible forward. It was fun to peel back the layers and reveal the other characters slowly, but I always wanted more. “Incredibles 2” absolutely delivers on that want. Each of the characters is given new dimension, more defined direction, very individual personalities and priorities. To put it plainly, each character is just given so much more to do.
It’s 2018, the year of “Woke”. “Incredibles 2” understood very well the time period it was resurrecting into and reacted accordingly. This film is incredibly feminist and surprisingly political. *raises fist in solidarity*
It goes beyond the obvious discussion of “wife leaves husband home with the kids to pursue the big career”; which is huge in this movie, don’t get me wrong, and it tells that story well. Bob and Helen’s partnership is incredibly modern and strong and I love how that is shown. Beyond that, we get this great illustration of the woman that came before motherhood. The character of Helen Parr/Elastigirl shows the very greatest of all female potential. Any woman’s story, or her ambitions, can find a reflection in that character within a setting that allows Elastigirl to thrive. I’m afraid of venturing into spoiler territory so I’ll move on, but good on you PIXAR.
Speaking of strong women in cinema: Edna Goddamn Mode. EDNA MODE! What an icon! Like in the first film, Edna (voiced by Brad Bird) instantly steals the scene. I loved this character in “The Incredibles” and, honestly, was the most hyped to see her again in the sequel. The Edna plot thread was surprising and tons of fun. When is she getting her own spin-off?
I truly, madly, deeply LOVED “Incredibles 2”. I’m prepared to offer it the highest praise and my most sincere recommendation. But the film is not without its flaws. In fact, there is one significant area in which it falls way short of the first film’s legacy. The plot.
A major flaw with “Incredibles 2” is that I knew what the ending was going to be at the 20-minute mark. No exaggeration. I had figured it out. The plot is painfully predictable. The clues are all there, maybe even too in your face. “Incredibles” even lifted some ideas straight off the pages of a Batman comic. The first film had been really good about playing with the tropes of superheroes and their mediums; going there but also poking fun. This time around, it was a little too much of a copy and not enough of a parody. It was disappointing to see the film so formulaically laid out in front of you, when “The Incredibles” had been so clever.
Nit-pick time: Honey deserved so much better. The character became an instant fan-favorite and is widely accepted as the greatest good we were ever gonna have. I was just as much looking forward to her return as I was Edna’s. Suffice to say that “Incredibles 2” squandered an opportunity and did not give the diva her due.
Something that made “The Incredibles” such a stand-out film was a unique style. That retro, art-deco-esque thing it had going on. The end credit sequence has stuck with me, all of these years, and I’d put it high on any list of “Best Film Aesthetic”. That style not only carries through into “Incredibles 2” but they expand it, go all in, and do it even better. The music is still spectacular and remains a favorite score. Technically, it’s a kick-ass film.
I was concerned that, after 14 years, “Incredibles 2” would have a hard time finding its feet. Especially considering that we jump right in where the first film left off. It’s an interesting position for a sequel to be in, especially a superhero sequel in the age of Marvel. “Incredibles 2” was more than capable of stepping up to the plate. They stayed true to their roots and kept an excellent tone, pace, and structure that made the film fit so well with the foundation of the first. I found myself often amazed at small details of the first film that were remembered, referenced, and even explained in the sequel. We have a Hollywood rarity on our hands, folks, a sequel that can go toe-to-toe with its predecessor.
“Incredibles 2”, you were more than worth the wait. At the risk of being cheesy… it was just super. Don’t miss it!
Featured image credit: Pixar
Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. Bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.