“The Incredibles” has always been the rootin’-tootin’-est and most engaging of all the superhero franchises. The original “Incredibles” debuted 14 years ago, predating Marvel’s “Iron Man” by four years.
It’s top-shelf largely because Disney’s Pixar, at this point, is pretty much synonymous with incredible. Incredible excellence, that is. The company delivers quality without fail. I’m happy to say that the long-awaited sequel to 2004’s “The Incredibles” exceeds expectations.
As You May Remember
Let’s re-introduce the family, shall we? I’ll state their names, powers, and likenesses to Marvel or DC characters, for clarification.
The Parr family consists of Superman-like Bob, Mr. Incredible himself (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), and his wife, Helen, who’s also known as Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) as is a female version of the Fantastic Four’s Mr. Fantastic—very stretchy.
Then there’s the early-teen daughter Violet (voiced by Sarah Vowell), who’s a force-field generator, similar to the X-Men’s Jean Grey. She also disappears and teleports, sort of like Nightcrawler.
Next up is classically rambunctious, annoying little brother Dash (voiced by Huck Milner). He’s easy—just think Dash—Flash. Super-speedy.
Last, but definitely not least, is baby Jack-Jack (voiced by Eli Fucile). Apparently he has no powers. Yet.
Oh wait, there’s also the family friend Frozone (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson). He’s an ice-manipulator akin to Killer Frost of DC Comics.
The sequel picks up right where the last movie left off, and we’re immediately confronted with the mole-like villain the Underminer (voiced by Pixar’s running-gag casting of John Ratzenberger from “Cheers” in all its movies) and his giant revolving screw-nosed tank with which he undermines cities.
The superheroes dispense with the Underminer (not without a fair amount of collateral damage to real estate), but there’s a further glitch: Violet gets seen without her mask by none other than the boy at school she’s got a crush on. He needs to have his memory erased by the Incredibles’ “handler” Rick Dicker (voiced by Jonathan Banks), who looks exactly (and hilariously) like Tessio of “The Godfather.”
Now, it’s still against the law for superheroes to go gallivanting about saving people, and the Incredible family’s intervention against the Underminer results not in thanks, but in the family’s becoming outcasts and living in a motel.
A New Start
So, it turns out, basically, that the problem with superheroes is that they have a “perception” problem. The world perceives them badly. They need to be spun, re-packaged, and re-branded! Enter Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk), a “suit” and a spin-meister. He pitches, he seduces, and soon he’s got everybody backing his plan of having Elastigirl kick off his campaign for re-legalizing superheroes.
Helen’s re-outfitted with a snazzy new suit and a nifty café racer-like elasticycle. It’s a motorcycle that comes apart in the middle so stretchy Elastigirl’s lower half can, say, still be on the street while she runs the front half of the bike up the side of a building. Turns out Helen was a wild child with a mohawk in her rebellious youth—who knew? Bob definitely didn’t.
Elastigirl’s not sure she wants to sit in an alley on her bike waiting for crime to happen, but, what the heck—gotta start somewhere, right? Soon she’s mixing it up with a baddie named “The Screenslaver,” who’s hypnotizing people, making their various screens go all swirly, and then blabbering brainwash-y stuff at them.
So, Helen’s out there bringing home the bacon, and now, of course, it’s up to big Bob to play Mr. Mom. The gag of course being that he’s a super-competitive alpha male, slightly jealous, and mildly irritatingly chauvinistic about his wife’s new successes. And the fact that she gets to use her powers. Well! Let such a traditional man try and manage three high-energy kids—let alone ones with highly potent superpowers! He’s soon sleepwalking, with a three-day beard stubble.
It’s rare that sequels even come close to matching the quality of the brilliant first movie that made people beg for more. However, “Incredibles 2” outmatches its predecessor. It doesn’t have the element of surprise, of course—the first movie always wins in that regard—but “2” is definitely funnier.
It’s got a great action sequence with Jack-Jack going up against a backyard trash-can marauding raccoon, where producer Brad Bird clearly stole some of “Ice Age” Scrat’s hilarious expressions and put them on the ‘coon.
Speaking of Bird, he again voices the Rosa Klebb-like Edna Mode, the diminutive fashionista and snooty artiste who, when tasked with designing a suit that can contain and neutralize the emerging powers of Jack-Jack, breaks character and discovers that she does, in fact, have a maternal streak.
The movie takes about 10 minutes for the pace and excitement to get rolling, but when it does, it’s an, ahem, incredible ride—the type that keeps you on the edge of your seat consistently throughout the movie. That’s a major accomplishment. “Incredibles 2” is not only one of Pixar’s best movies ever, but also arguably one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.
Director: Brad Bird
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Samuel L. Jackson, Brad Bird, Bob Odenkirk
Running Time: 1 hour, 58 minutes
Release Date: June 15
Rated 4.5 stars out of 5