Pixar has had a rough go with sequels. Outside of the Toy Story follow-ups, all of them have fallen incredibly short of their predecessors. This might be simply because the first installment in their franchises are masterpieces and that capturing that lightning in a bottle (not intended to be a Cars pun) is nearly impossible to do twice. This was my fear going into Incredibles 2. The first installment is among the best animated films of all time and a bad successor could taint that.
I’m happy to report that although Incredibles 2 doesn’t rise to lofty levels of the original, it does provide a wildly entertaining home run and is the best Pixar sequel next to Toy Story 3.
Here’s the synopsis:
Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2”–but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transition for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again–which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.
As with most Pixar films, the voice acting here is absolutely top notch. After seeing the trailers, I thought it might be jarring to have a different voice for Dash (the actor who originally played him has apparently grown up and his voice is too deep to play the part), but I actually didn’t notice it while watching the movie itself. It honestly feels like Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, and Samuel L. Jackson were born to voice these roles. And the addition of Bob Odenkirk was marvelous.
The animation is flawless as always, and Brad Bird’s direction of this film is superb. The action set pieces are probably the best I’ve ever seen in ANY animated feature. They showcase all of the heroes’ powers brilliantly, but Elastigirl’s steals several scenes.
One thing that I think this film is better than its predecessor is its humor. It is genuinely clever in its gags and I found myself almost crying from laughing so hard in certain scenes.
The first Incredibles was the feature film debut for rock star composer Michael Giacchino and he returns for this one. That score is probably his best and he definitely brings his A game for the sequel.
The script is VERY sharp, although it doesn’t have any ‘gut-punch’ moments like the best Pixar films have. Also, it is a bit heavy handed in its themes. Those themes do resonate but there are some moments where the villain’s exposition is a bit too on the nose in being preachy. Although its themes are different, there were times I felt like I was watching Tomorrowland (Brad Bird’s previous film) which took heavy-handedness to a whole new level, albeit to a lesser degree.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Incredibles 2 is really brilliant. It’s flawlessly animated and voiced and it’s among the funniest films I’ve seen in recent years. I highly recommend this film to everyone, both old and young alike.