Incredibles 2 is a solid update to the
solid original

By Leigh Monson

  The Incredibles is a beloved member of the Pixar canon, and it's not hard to see why. Prior to the revolutionary explosion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Incredibles was commonly considered one of the best realizations of the superhero film, animated or otherwise, sporting inventive action that bounced the superpowered family's moves off one another in increasingly clever ways and a story that centered itself on the relatable conflict of a midlife crisis.
  Sure, the film dips its toe into some Randian objectivist preaching about the imperative need to let special people exercise their talents unimpeded, but overall the film is a well-revered product of its time, which makes the fact that it took fourteen years for a sequel to surface either a travesty or a cynical cash grab, depending on how you look at it. Regardless of the intent, though, Incredibles 2 lives up to the original film, amplifying both its strengths and flaws for the modern age, even if there's a lurking sense of obligation to the whole affair.
  Immediately following the events of the first film, Incredibles 2 finds the family dealing with the aftermath of returning to the crimefighting world as superheroes remain illegal. Enter Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), a wealthy industrialist with a fanatical love of superheroes who wishes to bring them back into prominence through public relations lobbying and bankrolling equipment for heroes to reestablish themselves. Though Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) is game to be the center of this campaign, Deavor is more interested in placing Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) in the spotlight, pulling her out of her housewife role and repositioning her as the family's breadwinner, while Mr. Incredible must deal with the learning curve of becoming a stay-at-home dad to their three kids, even as the infant Jack-Jack starts to demonstrate a plethora of new powers.
  The biggest issues with the plot of Incredibles 2 are in how much it feels like a retread of the original, with Elastigirl going through the exact same character arc as Mr. Incredible did previously. Mr. Incredible's newfound challenges with domesticity are appreciated and provide for some great slapstick, but this is the secondary plot to what feels like a retread that keeps the main familial players separated for too long even after their reunification was the entire point of the first film's climax.
  The children Violet and Dash don't even get complete story arcs of their own this time around, merely acting as problems that Mr. Incredible needs to solve while Elastigirl is off doing her own thing. And while the Ayn Rand philosophizing was a bit of superfluous subtext in the first film, here writer-director Brad Bird turns that proselytizing up to eleven, indulging in grand flamboyant speeches about the flippancy of escapist entertainment and the self-loathing of people who just weren't born special enough while Elastigirl pads time during chase sequences.
  But where Incredibles 2 succeeds is in the superhero action, which once again ups the ante in terms of how supernatural powers can combine to make some next-level fight choreography. Seeing Elastigirl stretch and contort at high speeds on solo missions is a joy, but with the introduction of characters like Voyd who can create portals and Reflux who can vomit lava, the dynamics of how superpowers interact makes for some of the most visually arresting animation Pixar has ever produced, and thankfully there's enough of it spread out throughout to almost negate the film's preaching.
  This is all to say that Incredibles 2 is roughly on par with its predecessor, larger and more bombastic in the ways that matter but also lacking and grating more severely in the same ways it did before. Another revolution in animation and the superhero genre this is not, but if you want another taste of cartoon superhero antics for the whole family, you've got something that rises to the challenge.

3.5/5 stars
Leigh Monson is technically a licensed attorney but somehow thinks being a film critic is a lot more fun. Leigh loves both award darlings and hilariously bad films, does not believe in superhero movie fatigue, and calls it like he sees it.