Incredibles 2: worth the wait?

When Pixar Animation Studios came out with the Incredibles in 2004, it preceded the superhero movie franchises that we know today and the cult-like obsession with them. The Incredibles is a classic close to our hearts not just for the suspenseful action, but we also got attached to the family. In the Incredibles 2, Director Brad Bird succeeds in meeting 14 years of expectations and satisfying our craving to see more of this superhero family while delivering a dazzling entertainment.

*spoilers ahead in this review*

The movie picks up right where we left off.

We were kids when the first Incredibles came out, but went to the theater in our 20s, for the sequel. The Parrs, however, have not aged since we last saw them.  The story begins with Helen taking up an offer to perform a publicity stunt to make Supers legal again, leaving Bob as a struggling stay-at-home father dealing with teenage drama, math homework, and Jack-Jack’s 17 undiscovered powers.

More time with Jack-Jack

Jack-Jack’s development was hands-down my favorite thing about this movie. In the last movie, we got to learn that Jack-Jack has powers in the last 15 minutes of the plot remaining. Thankfully, Incredibles 2 gives us plenty of time with Jack-Jack, with two iconic scenes of him fighting a raccoon. It is also commendable that the director did not try add unnecessary new characters and instead gave us more time with the Supers we already know and love.

In 2018, we’re all about women empowerment, and Pixar knows it!

Pixar shows that it is acutely aware that Incredibles 2 is for a much different society than its prequel was. The second movie uses Helen and Bob’s role reversals to subtly deal with relevant and timely topics such as the changing concepts of masculinity and femininity and how it affects family dynamics. We see Bob being confused and hurt at first that Elastigirl is being preferred over Mr. Incredible for the grand operation. We see Helen grappling with motherhood and her responsibility as a Super.

Pixar does not sugar coated this role reversal. The movie portrays the difficulties of the situation realistically – capturing the bitterness, insecurities, fears – and show you healthy resolutions of it. 

Screenslaver dishes out social critiques.

Where this sequel falls short, is in its villain. It is too easy to tell which one of the Deavors siblings will be the villain. In fact, if you said Evelyn Deavors out loud, it actually sounds like evil endeavors, so maybe they didn’t try to hide the villain very well anyway. It’s very hard for the audience to relate to Evelyn’s backstory. Comparatively, Syndrome’s story line of being resentful of the Supers over rejection was more memorable and relatable. Evelyn’s views on Superheroes, particularly with her brother’s polar different perspective, feels too feeble for her actions.

That being said, Screenslaver is perhaps the most terrifying and lifelike villain from all Pixar movies. Even the name, taken literally, is a powerful nod to our own addictions to screens today.

“Superheroes are part of a brainless desire to replace true experience with simulation. You don’t talk, you watch talk shows. You don’t play games, you watch game shows. Travel, relationships, risk; every meaningful experience must be packaged and delivered to you to watch at a distance so that you can remain ever-sheltered, ever-passive, ever-ravenous consumers who can’t free themselves to rise from their couches to break a sweat, never anticipate new life.”

This monologue of the Screenslaver plays while Elastigirl is on the hunt for her. This haunting statement lingers with the audience. Pixar truly knows the time its movies are for: the era of social media. We don’t experience much in real-life anymore but would rather consume packages of the second-hand experience through a screen. In a very Black Mirror way, the villain forces us to evaluate to what extent we are actually living versus just watching other people live.

A self aware superhero movie touching on Big Ideas

Another way that the movie is self-aware is through its comment on superheroes. Between the first and the second Incredibles movies, we saw more live-action superhero movies coming out and gaining popularity than ever before. Would we rather obsess over superheroes saving the day to serve as a distraction from saving the day ourselves? This idea is reinforced throughout the movie in the villain’s backstory: her parents died because they waited for a Super to save them instead of doing anything themselves.

The third, and most important, comment that Pixar makes on modern society is embedded in the very plot of Incredibles 2. The movie revolves around Superheroes trying to change their illegal status, and Bob and Helen actually explicitly argue, if the rules are unjust and unfair, should we challenge them or play along? This particular question seems pertinent in context of global politics, from Trump’s migrant separation policy which puts children into cages, to even the quota reform movement here which does challenges the injustices in the system. Once again, Pixar makes Incredibles 2 incredible not just through the visuals and the storytelling, but by making it fitting to our times.

Would we rather obsess over superheroes saving the day to serve as a distraction from saving the day ourselves?

So what’s the verdict?

Unlike other recent Pixar sequels (I’m looking at you, Cars 2), Incredibles 2 does not feel like an unnecessary needlessly filled sequel made just for the money. Rather, it feels like a continuation of our relationship with the Parrs and Frozone and Edna. The Incredibles is one of the best Pixar movies till date and no matter how many times you watch it, it always leaves a meaningful impact. Incredibles 2, thankfully, did not try to mimic that impact, but rather deliver excellent entertainment with characters who have already won our hearts. Is Incredibles 2 as brilliant as the first one? Not really. But does it do the first movie justice? Absolutely.

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