Sunday, June 17, 2018

Review of INCREDIBLES 2: Frenetic Fun for the Family!

June 17, 2018

If I would rank all my all-time favorite Pixar films, "The Incredibles" (2004) would figure in my Top 5. That film written and directed by Brad Bird was about the Parrs, a family of superheroes who were forced by law to suppress using their powers and lead regular lives. Aside from frenetic action scenes and a great sense of clean humor, it also had poignant drama that centered on family values. I never expected for it to have a sequel at all, until first teasers came out late last year.

This sequel picked up where the first film ended, with the Incredibles and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) battling the super-bank robber Underminer (John Ratzenberger) . The heroes prevailed in th end, but the Underminer was able to escape with the loot. The massive destruction of the city after their fight resulted in the superheroes being permanently banned from using their powers anymore. 

In order to restore the trust and good will of supers to the public, telecom tycoon superhero fan Winston Deavers (Bob Odenkirk) and his technical genius sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) invited Elastigirl to openly foil high profile crimes using her powers. While his wife Helen (Holly Hunter) was singlehandedly fighting the hypnotizing villain Screenslaver (Bill Wise), Bob (Craig T. Nelson) had to stay at home to take care of the kids. 

The film had a feminist message in its agenda. It showcased Elastigirl's solo crime-fighting prowess and put Evelyn Deaver's innovative telecommunications inventions in the forefront. Among the new superheroes, it was Voyd (Sophia Bush), and her ability to create holes where objects can appear and disappear at her will, who got the major supporting role in the fight scenes. Violet (Sarah Vowell) made the first move in reconnecting with her crush Tony. Edna Mode (Brad Bird) is well, Edna Mode, enough said. 

The focus on Bob Parr was more of him being a father than as a superhero. Mr. Incredible was hardly in on much of the fighting action. A major part of the film was about him discovering Jack Jack's crazy superpowers when the baby got into a serious tussle with a raccoon. He also had to deal with Violet's budding romance woes and tutor Dash his math. You would not expect who Bob got to babysit Jack Jack when the whole fatherhood job got real tough for him. This aspect of the film made its release on Fathers Day just perfect.

After a gap of 14 years, the expectations for the sequel do tend to run very high. However, with the gamut of superhero films that came and went in that time, it was difficult to tell a completely original superhero story anymore. The topic about humans versus the supers echoed the conflicts already explored at length in the "X-Men" and the "Avengers" franchises. The "mysterious" villain was already so obvious from when the character was first introduced, so the revelation was not so surprising.

It was also disappointing to see fewer scenes of the whole Parr family working as a team fighting the bad guys. Most of the exciting, incredibly choreographed action scenes were those of Elastigirl and Frozone. Mr. Incredible mostly on the sideline fight-wise until his climactic rescue scene at the end. There were also so many busy scenes featuring several new heroes (Voyd, Helectrix, Krushauer, et al) and their varied powers, thus reducing the fighting time of Violet and Dash. 

Anyhow, the Pixar-quality creativity in artwork, the thrilling action sequences, the affecting family drama and the amusing humor are all still on point for our entertainment. Despite the familiarity and predictability of the plot, Brad Bird certainly made the whole film exciting and fun for the whole family to enjoy together. By the way, they still have not caught the Underminer, so does that mean we are still looking forward to a Part 3, maybe another 14 years from now? 8/10. 


Accompanying "Incredibles 2" is "Bao," an animated short about a lonely Chinese housewife whose homemade dumpling ("siopao" in our vernacular) comes to life and becomes her son. The animation of the siopao growing up is very cute and delightful. The story about a mother's love is poignant and heartwarming, tears will well. This film by Chinese-Canadian director Domee Shi (Pixar's first female director of an animated short) will surely to be a contender in the Animated Shorts category come Oscar time next year. 

1 comment:

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