You know a movie will good when it starts out with a PSA (public service apology in this case) from the actors for taking literally 14 years to make it—animation is hard!
Making a sequel after 14 years is always risky. The OG audience has grown up, the political climate and context have changed, and you have to figure out a way to get new fans interested in the movie while making sure the original fans still want to come back for more. Incredibles 2 did an incredible job on all fronts (that’s it, that’s my one pun, just like in the movie, I only get one).
The Incredibles never felt it like a kids movie. It was real and honest, and never had that campy quality a lot of animated movies have—Incredibles 2, written and directed by Brad Bird, is no different. In addition to the crimefighting, the jokes, and Jack-Jack turning into a weird purple monster, the movie provided a direct parallel to current political issues the U.S. is facing, if you look deep enough.
The plot, which revolves around the coined phrase “Make Supers Legal Again,” sounds a lot like a spin on a certain political statement we’ve been hearing a lot in the past two years. Instead of making the Supers hide out, banning them from the country altogether, or dare I say it, building a wall, Incredibles 2 was about accepting diversity in all forms, and fighting against Supers essentially having to hide out with their capes in a closet.
Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) takes center stage, being the most level-headed and least destructive Super of her merry band of misfit heroes, making her the perfect face for the movement. While Elastigirl is out fighting crime in her fabulously orderly way, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) tries to juggle learning math to help Dash (Huck Milner), deal with Violet’s (Sarah Vowell) adolescent angst, and preventing Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) from getting stuck in alternate dimensions. Honestly, Mr. Incredible, you deserve a father of the year award. Honestly, the best part of the movie was seeing Mr. Incredible trying to connect with his kids—him trying to console Violet amidst heartbreak was the purest thing in life, ever.
The movie also tackled another societal issue: our dependence on our screens, which is mildly ironic considering we were watching a movie… on a screen. The Big Bad of Incredibles 2 is Screenslaver, whose mission is pretty obvious. This deviously masked villain uses screens to hypnotize people through live broadcasts on-screen. Let’s be real, if this happens IRL, we’re all screwed.
Given that the film has a deep PR plot with Elastigirl, live interviews gave Screenslaver the perfect opportunity to mess with her heroics. The Supers are working together with Winston Deavor and his sister Evelyn, who own a telecommunications company, to free the Supers. The move was entertaining, fun, deep at times and lighthearted at others—pretty much everything you’d expect from an Incredibles movie. The plots and twists were fairly standard, and I basically had the whole course of the plot mapped out in my head within the first half hour, but anticipating what was to come didn’t detract from the entertainment value.
Usually, with animated movies, you’re keenly aware that you’re watching an animated movie. While the characters were on screen, of course, that was the case, but during moments where the background is only in view, the setting was so artfully depicted, it looked like it was shot on set. There’s one moment when Elastigirl is battling Screenslaver and the room turns into a hypnotic-themed light show—and it’s literally the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in an animated movie. That being said, there’s a lot of flashing light so if you or your little one is epileptic, unfortunately, it might be a good idea to sit this one out. My high-key obsession with lighting is real, and I wasn’t expecting to come out of the movie with so much to say about it, but the art department did a phenomenal job with details, such as light bouncing off of a pool, the lighting effects for Screenslaver’s hypnosis tactics, and the surprisingly frequent helicopter scenes.
Even after all of this time, the movie takes us to the same day the OG left off, and it doesn’t feel like a day has gone by since we were on the edge of our seats in the theater 14 years ago.