It may be fourteen years since the surprisingly fabulous adventure of Disney’s collaboration with PIXAR, The Incredibles, was first revealed, but there’s no time lost in the story-telling of the sequel; Incredibles 2 takes off almost at the point where the original left off.
It’s three months later, and before there’s a chance to catch a breath, the incredible Parr family perform another service for the safety of the town’s citizens. They prevent the villainous Underminer (John Ratzenberger, continuing in his role as PIXAR’s voice-over good luck charm) and his giant corkscrew of a machine from drilling through the streets and robbing Metroville Bank. But the carnage done to the roads, the buildings, and its train service is so over-the-top, the authorities feel they have no choice.
Progress made for unwanted superheroes everywhere in the first feature, where superheroes with superpowers were welcome, must now go back into hiding. The world doesn’t want them. They can’t afford them. As the former agent of the National Supers Agency (NSA) and now the head of the Super Relocation Program, Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks) says, “You want out of the holes, first you’ve got to put down the shovel.” And before you get a chance to scratch your head and wonder exactly what those deep-throated words of wisdom actually meant, the superfamily with their super-duper powers, including close buddy Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), are back in hiding, pretending to be normal again.
But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Tycoon, Winston Deaver (Bob Odenkirk) is a fan of superheroes and feels the world will always need them. With the aid of his computer savvy sister, Evelyn (Catherine Keener), Deaver reaches out and invites the Parr family to take part in a publicity stunt. In the eyes of the public, if all goes well, it would make the supers look good again. But there’s a catch.
Only mom, Helen, aka Elastagirl (Holly Hunter) can participate. The rest of the family, dad (Craig T. Nelson), Violet (Sarah Powell), Dash (new voice, Huck Milner; the original Dash, Spencer Fox, grew older and his voice broke), and baby Jack-Jack have to remain in hiding, at least for the time being. But to make things comfortable, Deaver provides the family with a new, luxury, mountainside home in which to hide, far from the madding crowd. With dad in charge, the family can stay there while mom in her Elastagirl costume goes public once again.
What happens next is a new, dizzying adventure involving a supervillain known as Screenslaver, a runaway ship with all the world’s leaders on-board, goggles that hypnotize, a book called Doozles Are Dozing, and a clueless pizza delivery guy. Plus there’s a new development with baby Jack-Jack. Those who remember the first adventure might recall how at the end of the film, Jack-Jack developed the sudden ability to burst into flame and become something close to resembling a devilish one-horned, flyin’ purple people eater of the Sheb Wooley song. In Incredibles 2, those talents are just the tip of a really dangerous and untamed iceberg. As dad instructs the kids when he has to leave the home, “No firing the baby around the house!”
In keeping with the James Bond flavor of the first adventure embedded with all the superhero business, from time to time, Michael Giacchino’s score faintly echoes those distinctive John Barry secret agent trumpet arrangements as Elastagirl, Mr. Incredible, and the rest of the family race at breathtaking speeds around town, zipping and zapping in and out of trouble at speeds faster than you can take in. And look closely at the interior design of that mountainside retreat given to the Parrs in order to remain comfortable while hiding away from the public’s eye. With its open area full of giant gray boulders by the entryway, an inside pool, and a view that overlooks a drop, you’d swear that writer/director Brad Bird had insisted his animators create the look of something resembling the Jimmy Dean secret hideaway in Bond’s Diamonds Are Forever.
The issue with Incredibles 2, however, is not so much the adventure – the climax with all of its last-second rescues, stunts, and overall creativity is actually more exciting to watch and certainly more inventive than many of the live-action superhero movies – nor is it with the wit, which is always there; it’s the lack of surprise. The original had a terrific adventure, but it was also an introduction to everyone and its unique, animated style. The enjoyment was more than simply being thrilled, it was the discovery of new and very funny characters presented with an individual look. In the sequel, we already know them; the style and the characters are already established. Baby Jack-Jack’s new found powers is the one area that develops family matters and takes things in a new direction, but overall, there’s a sense of something telling us that we’re really watching more of the same. That’s fine if what you’re looking for is a repeat of what you enjoyed before, but the appreciation of something fresh is absent.
Still, what we have remains very funny with characters you can’t help but like, plus the animation itself is every bit as bright, bendy, and kinetic as it was before, including the introductory Disney logo which is comically stylized to match the animation of everything to follow. It’s not quite the original – we now know we were spoiled – but when compared to animated offerings from other studios, it’s still pretty incredible.
MPAA rating: PG Length: 118 Minutes Overall rating: 8 (out of 10)