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MOVIES: Incredibles 2 - Review

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Fourteen years is a long time to wait for a sequel, but fans of Pixar's beloved superhero adventure The Incredibles can finally congratulate themselves on their patience and perseverance, because the Parr family is back on the big screen with Incredibles 2, a delightfully entertaining follow-up that feels surprisingly progressive while still adhering to the same retro vibe as its predecessor.

Picking up where the first film ended, the Parr family squares off against The Underminer in a thrilling opening sequence, which lands Bob (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen (Holly Hunter) in hot water with the local authorities, thanks to the large scale destruction left in their wake. Support from the government is unfortunately out of the question, but the couple is soon approached by the Deavor siblings (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener), a pair of philanthropic inventors who have designs on swaying public opinion enough to make superheroes legal once more.

Much to Bob's chagrin, the Deavors tap Helen to be the face of their new operation, leaving him at home to care for the children. In an era so rife with superhero movies that nevertheless has only produced a single film where a female hero takes center stage, putting the spotlight squarely on Elastigirl for the bulk of Incredibles 2 feels unbelievably refreshing and proves - once again - that female heroes are every bit as compelling, interesting and watchable as their male counterparts. Bob almost serves as the audience proxy for anyone who feels their masculinity is being threatened by spandex-clad women, wondering aloud why his wife was chosen over him, but even he is forced to admit that Helen is the best person for the job - something that internet trolls bemoaning female representation would be unable to do.

Back at home, Bob struggles to offer advice to Violet (Sarah Vowell) about teen romance and to help Dash (Huck Milner) decipher his math homework, which must be completed using the "modern" method. "Why in the world did they change math?" Bob wonders, spending many a sleepless night poring over textbooks. And then there's Jack-Jack, whose superpowers - first glimpsed during the final moments of The Incredibles but still a mystery to the rest of the family - are manifesting in surprising and hilarious ways that set the stage for many of the film's biggest laughs. Of particular note is a backyard battle between the adorable infant and a raccoon attempting to pilfer something from the trashcan, where the full range of Jack-Jack's abilities are on display for the first time.

One of the film's most glaring inconsistencies seems to be its villain, the Screenslaver, who hijacks broadcast feeds and uses hypnosis to control the mind of anyone watching. Conceptually, it's a cool idea, and the villain's costume is also quite creepy, but there's a bit of dialogue about humanity being so engrossed in their screens that they aren't noticing the tragedies and misfortune all around them. The problem here is that Incredibles 2 still seems to be set in a previous era, and this monologue feels like it would have made a lot more sense in a more modern world where everyone carried a smartphone.

Returning director Brad Bird continues to showcase an eye for exciting and unique action - indeed, Incredibles 2 feels like it has nearly twice the amount of action than the original film - while further endearing us to the Parr family by ensuring that each character is multi-layered and fully realized. The sequel may lack the emotional punch of Finding Dory, another Pixar follow-up that took more than a decade to reach the screen, but it's a significant improvement over lesser sequels like Cars 3 and Monsters University, and better than many of the blockbuster superhero offerings from other studios.

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