Friday, June 22, 2018

Film Review: Incredibles 2

Sexuality/Nudity No Objection
Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity No Objection
Anti-Catholic Philosophy No Objection

I know I've said this before on this blog, but the Incredibles is the best film version of the Fantastic Four.  And the sequel proves this to still be true.

Incredibles 2 takes place immediately after the final moments of the last film.  The Underminer (John Ratzenberg) is attacking the city.  So the family of Mr. Incredible/Bob (Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl/Helen (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner), and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) all do their part to help along with their friend Fro-Zone/Lucius (Samuel L. Jackson).  But the resulting destruction causes the family to lose their protection from the superhero relocation program.  With little options, they are approached by tech billionaire Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) to boost the profile of supers by placing Elastigirl in the spotlight, much to Bob's chagrin.  The forces Bob into the Mr. Mom role while Helen fights crime and unravels a larger mystery afoot.

Visually, the story is gorgeous.  Writer/Director Brad Bird has not lost a step when coming back into this franchise.  A number of PIXAR sequels feel like lesser imitations of the original.  But Incredibles 2 feels like a genuine continuation of the hero story the way Superman 2 does.  The colors are vivid, the style is retro-cool, the camera work is smooth and dynamic.  It has some of the best-directed superhero action scenes in movies lately, and that is saying a lot. 

But what really struck me was the script.  It has some of the best dialogue of any movie this year.  In what is ostensibly a children's film, the characters get into surprisingly deep and complex issues.  At the dinner table, Bob and Helen debate in front of the children about their actions as supers.  Supers are outlawed.  So should they have broken the law?  What if the law is unjust?  Do you break it to prove it's unjust?  Or do you wait for the law to change before you do that which you believe morally right?  Was it bad to save people if the law said they shouldn't?  I was surprised that the movie would raise issues like this throughout, but it did it in a way that didn't talk down to the audience. 

The film also introduces a group of wannabe heroes whose powers and costumes seem silly and lame.  But Bird did something that I found so interesting and exciting with these characters that I felt wonderfully surprised.

The only big detriment to the script is that the big twist that you aren't supposed to see coming is something that is obvious within seconds of reflection. 

The movie also has a great deal of relatable laughs.  Watching Bob manage the family was something that made me laugh constantly.  I would imagine most parents, especially when they have to handle things alone, could relate to the weariness that ensues.  But we also see the story from the perspective of Helen, who wants to do the best job she can, but is torn about being away from her family and has to field phone calls about missing shoes when she in pursuit of a runaway train.  Violet's story is particularly relatable as she begins to explore young romance and is faced with interfering parents and heartbreak.

That is one of the reasons this movie work and the Fantastic Four movies don't: The Incredibles are a believable family.  We can see ourselves in them and find something to which we can relate.  They aren't idealized in their relationships.  When Helen is chosen over Bob to be in the spotlight and be the bread-winner, he feels left out and emasculated.  This isn't presented as positive, but it is realistic.  And baby Jack-Jack feels like a chaotic monster.  Who hasn't taken care of an infant and felt it's uninhibited, chaotic presence. 

But the story never forgets that it is a spectacle.  I found the third act to be a fun adventure, not overly long as many blockbusters tend to be.  Incredibles 2 found the right balance.

The sequel does not match the originality of the first, but it is a worthy sequel that makes you want to see Incredibles 3.

image by Yasir72.multan

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