The Incredibles 2 (2018)

Full Disclosure: I love me a good Pixar flick! I have yet to be REALLY let down by one of their films, with the exception of the ‘Cars’ series (just didn’t do it for me). But everything else they’ve done, going back to their first major feature film release, ‘Toy Story’, in the way back of 1995, has ranged from ‘Very Good’…to ‘Friggin Great!’. Out of their film library, ‘The Incredibles’ (2004) falls squarely under the ‘Friggin Great!’ category. I love that movie! For me, there’s a lot to love. I like the clever simplicity of the core story, the creative and energetic action scenes, the sense of ‘family’ from the perfectly-cast leads, the cool art-deco designs (I love that stuff!), mixed in with a healthy dose of 1950’s sci-fi, and the overall sense of fun. Amongst other things. Bottom line – When the credits finally rolled, after the ‘Underminer’ bursts on to the scene and ‘The Parr Family’ has sprung into action as bona fide superheroes, I was very ready, willing and able to see more! Given how well it did, and how well it was received by the general public in 2004, a sequel seemed inevitable. We all waited. And waited. And then waited some more. *Crickets* Pixar unleashed several other great titles since then, such as ‘Wall-E’ (2008), ‘Up’ (2009), ‘Toy Story 3’ (2010), and ‘Finding Dory’ (2016). I suspect that it was after writer / director Brad Bird kicked some Box Office ass with his live-action debut, the surprisingly fun ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ (2011), that the chance revisit one of his beloved properties emerged. That, and the resounding failure of his sci-fi / fantasy experiment film ‘Tomorrowland’ (2015), probably added to the appeal of going back to familiar (and already established) material to help him regain his footing. But…at long last, ‘The Incredibles 2′ is upon us.
At the time of this writing, it’s a Vacation Day Friday, gifted to myself for an upcoming birthday, leading into our August Long Weekend here in British Columbia. My fiance’ and I both had the day off and we were keeping it simple, so after we had taken our dog for a run at a nearby park…
SIDE-NOTE: Ok, this was unsettling. Whenever we take our dog, Charley, to this particular park, we also head into the wooded area behind, where a creek and small trail system run through. Along the trail and beside a tree is the burial place for a cherished, long-lived lil lizard buddy of mine who passed away a few month ago. I always check to see if the spot was disturbed, for some cheezy, overly-sentimental reason. Up until this point, there’s been no sign of disturbance, but today…something was different. The ground, under which he lay, was perfectly fine. Undisturbed. It gave me a weird lil sense of comfort. Then I saw the blood. Spattered on the tree trunk, and the foliage, at ground-level, was a very red (and in places, crusted and brown) blood-like substance. My still-adolescent, movie-freaked mind instantly thought of ‘Predator’ (go figure). This sentiment was reinforced when I looked up to find the source. What I saw, way further up the tree then I was expecting, was a shockingly wide and messy splash of this substance; smeared and running in spidery rivulets down the pale bark. Going back to the ‘Predator’ impression, it reminded me of the long, rising ‘reveal’ shot of the first military tough-guy in Arnie’s squad, ‘Hawkins’ (Shane Black) to get gorily off’d, where we see the blood leaking out of his eviscerated body strung up in the branches. I don’t know what I expected to see…but I expected something. There was no body. No source of this dripping gore stuff. Since I strongly doubt that it’s the work of an intergalactic trophy-hunting bipedal lizard-dude and collection of lethal cutting instruments, my money’s on either a local bird of prey chowed down on a branch up there, making lunch out of something with some weight, OR (worst case scenario) we have a cougar that’s followed one of the local creeks down from the hills and mountains to the North and into this little, densely-forested couple of acres in an urban centre, and also opted to feed in the cozy confines of the upper branches. That would make life interesting around here. Whatever it was that happened, there was no torn, scattered fur or feathers…just blood. Anyway, Nature’s cool…but also very not cool. Now, where was I….
…we decided we were going to make use of the Cineplex gift-card my future mother-in-law had sent me for my birthday (“Thanks, Darlene!”), that arrived in the mail about 40 minutes before we left. So we headed out to catch ‘The Incredibles 2’ while it was still in the theatre. It’s had a damn good run, playing now for about a month or so, still making the dollars. I always planned to see it on the Big Screen, but it kept getting bumped in favor of several other, very cool movies that hit over the Summer Blockbuster Season (May-first week Aug). We got some sweet flicks this year! But this time, I thought it was time to follow up on the further adventures of the incredible ‘Parr Family’…in 3D!
‘The Incredibles 2’ opens up IMMEDIATELY after the close of Part One, picking up as ‘The Parr Family’; ‘Bob’ / ‘Mr. Incredible’ (Craig T. Nelson), ‘Helen’ / ‘Elastigirl’ (Holly Hunter), ‘Violet’ (Sarah Vowell) and ‘Dash’ (Huck Milner), bust out into Incredible Mode to fight ‘The Underminer’ as the squashy mutant-mole dude drives a huge drilling machine on a path of destruction under the helpless city. Problem is, superheroes, as clearly laid out in the first flick, have been declared illegal, so the superhero antics of ‘The Incredibles’ brings the Law down on themselves, coupled with the shuttering of their watch-dog agency. Things don’t look good for our family of superheroes…until an ultra-rich tele-communications CEO and his techno-whiz sister implore them to join on a PR crime-fighting campaign to bring attention the the unfair laws prohibiting ‘Supers’. This coincides with the emergence of ‘The Screenslaver’; a super villain with the ability to control people’s minds through any screen, and who is causing a swath of destruction and crime in the city. We also watch as ‘Bob’ is forced to play Mr. Mom, with ‘Violet’ becoming more and more ‘teenager’ along the way, ‘Dash’ having issues with schoolwork and the baby ‘Jack-Jack’ manifesting more and odd random super powers. Hilarity and adventure ensue!
Mostly, this was worth the wait. Though I will admit that I did have a faint, and I stress faint, sense of what I can only describe as *shrugs*, similar to how I felt about ‘Sin City – A Dame to Kill For’ (2014), where too much time had elapsed since the first movie had come out and the novelty had more or less worn off in the time since, almost rendering the movie culturally irrelevant. ALMOST. While that was mostly true for that flick…it was mostly NOT true for this one. What’s even funnier was that it would seem that the film-makers and voice talent knew this too, which would explain the strange ‘apology’ video that kicks the movie off, where everyone implores to the camera – “Hey, we know it’s been a while. Sorry. These things take time. Blah blah blah”. But luckily it was short. As with all Pixar flicks, there’s almost always a Pixar ‘short’ that leads into the feature. The one that played, called ‘Bao’, was about a crazy Asian woman who manifests a dumpling-thingy into a living approximation of her son, in what was supposed to be touching story of breakdowns and rekindling of love and appreciation of family…but just played off as odd and sappy. Not one of their best.
The cast is great, with new voices like Bob Odenkirk (‘Better Call Saul’), Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich’) and Isabella Rossellini (‘Blue Velvet’) meshing nicely with the energy of the original cast. And of course director Brad Bird again reprised his hilarious role as ‘Edna Mode’, flamboyant fashion designer-to-the-Supers (“No capes!”).
The action scenes, especially one involving a high-speed chase following ‘Helen’ as she chases down an out-of-control mag-lev train and a helicopter pursuit / dog-fight among skyscrapers were very cool. The 3D added to the kinetic rush of the sequences, but I did feel that the depth of field could’ve been a bit deeper. Guess I was just spoiled by the above-average 3D of ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ last weekend.
As with the first one, the sound design and foley work was terrific. The crashes and explosions sounded great and the little incidental sounds filled the soundscape in nicely.
I don’t really have much shit-talking to do about ‘The Incredibles 2’. Again, I did feel a twinge of indifferent deja-vu at first, but I quickly got over it as the story and character pieces quickly fell into place and the story took off…at times, literally.
In a nutshell, ‘The Incredibles 2’ is not just some cash-in riding on the wave of nostalgia that’s busting a move through Hollywood right now. It’s a sequel that we all wanted and it seems that Disney, Pixar and Bird were all hip to that and wanted to make sure this was made well…and for the right reasons. It’s a lot of fun, with some great, fast-moving action set-pieces, a liberal sprinkling of clever, subtle humor through-out the 2 hour run-time and a genuine sense of ‘heart’. I still prefer the first flick, but as follow ups go, you could do a HELLUVA LOT WORSE that what they pulled off here. If you liked the Pixar films, especially the first ‘Incredibles’, you will definitely get a kick out of this long-overdue sequel. It was a good time at the theatre…but however you end up seeing it, just make sure you see it. Another good one with something cool for all ages. Well played, Disney / Pixar / Bird!!! Well played.


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