Fourteen years after the Parr family first put on their Edna Mode designed red outfits, the heroic clan finally returns to the big screen in their long-awaited sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles. Literally picking up where the previous film left off, the Parr family is still trying to deal with having super powers in a society where superheroes are outlawed.
Taking several pages out of its predecessor’s playbook, the film once again focuses on Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) attempting to navigate that delicate balance between their old carefree superhero days and the responsibilities of parenthood. Complicating things further is the fact that their children Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Huck Milner), now have a taste for the heroic life after learning how to use their powers.
After an unsuccessful encounter with Underminer, which results in the villainous foe fleeing with stolen bank money and the city incurring substantial damage, the Incredibles find themselves in hot water. The only glimmer of hope comes in the form of a telecommunications tycoon Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) who want to change the anti-superhero laws. Understanding that media perception can greatly influence government policies, and being a fan himself, Winston wants to reshape the public’s image of superheroes.
When Elastigirl is picked as the new face of Winston’s campaign, Mr. Incredible is forced to take up all the domestic responsibilities while his wife is away. As he struggles with the fact that domestic life is not as easy as he thought, Elastigirl has her own adversities to overcome on the new job. The main one being the mysterious criminal known as Screenslaver, who uses hypnotic images to brainwash both innocent civilians and those who dare to stand in the way.
As nice as it is to put one’s feet back into the comfortable and familiar world which the Incredibles reside, the film never reaches the heights of its predecessor. Incredibles 2 essentially reuses many of the same plot points, with the main difference being the role reversal of the two main characters. This time around director Brad Bird aims to subvert the traditional notions of gender that were prevalent in the 1960’s era that the film takes some of its aesthetics from. Though it can be argued that the topic is still relevant today. However, the film never delves into this as richly as it could have.
The characters are coping in a world that is rapidly changing, but the fears and unrealistic desire for an imagined nostalgia, common with such evolutions, feels like an afterthought.
The plot also feels more impatient this time around, as if rushing to get to the point where the family has no choice but to unite to stop Screenslaver. As a result, it is the children and not the parents who we are most drawn to. Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), who has a hilarious encounter with an unsuspecting raccoon, becomes the main source for comedy due to the sheer number of special powers he has; while Violet copes with the awkwardness of being a teenager with a crush.
While Screenslaver is not as strong a villain as one would hope for in a film like this, the character does allow for several strong action set pieces. The close quarters fight between Screenslaver and Elastigirl and the climatic sequence that closes the film, being the standouts here. Incredibles 2 may not have the overall punch of the original film but, after 14 years of waiting, it was nice to catch up with old friends for a few hours.