The Incredibles 2 released very recently – about 2 weeks ago in fact. As such, there isn’t a lot of background information available just yet, so this won’t be as detailed of a blog post as some. Also, I only just saw the movie in theaters, and it’s hard to watch clips of the movie to help out with certain aspects of a review like this. Instead, this is just going to be how I thought of the movie.
That said, there is at least a bit of background information available. Following the release of 2004’s The Incredibles, director Brad Bird started working on his next Pixar movie, Ratatouille. Around the time of Ratatouille’s premier, Bird said he’d be open to a sequel to The Incredibles, but only if it could be even better than the first.
“I have pieces that I think are good, but I don’t have them all together.”
He talked about his thoughts on a sequel several more times over the years, saying that he had a lot of ideas, but couldn’t get them to click together. Early on in his planning, he thought of Bob (Mr. Incredible) and Helen (Elastigirl) switching rolls. Jack Jack’s developing powers would also be a focus.
Disney confirmed in March of 2014 that Incredibles 2 was being worked on, and that Bird would return as its lead writer. They considered one of its challenges being that so many superhero movies released since the first film. Bird wanted to avoid a lot of the tropes that had become synonymous with the genre.
“For me, the interesting thing was never the superhero part of it. It was more the family dynamic, and how do superhero things play into that.”
He also decided early on that the movie would take place shortly after the first Incredibles ended, avoiding a time skip that could potentially confuse audiences or overburden the movie with explaining what happened in the missing years. One major advantage the movie enjoyed was the major advancements in computer technology since the first movie’s release, not to mention how much more experienced Pixar had become in animation.
Most of the original cast returned to the sequel, with Craig T. Nelson as Mr. Incredible, Holly Hunter as Elastigirl, Sarah Vowell as Violet, and Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone. The only major exception being Spencer Fox as Dash, since 14 years made it a bit hard to voice a 10-year-old or so boy. Instead, newcomer Huck Milner plays the young speedster. Bud Luckey, who voiced the ambassador in the first movie, had retired from acting in 2014, so Jonathan Banks replaced him. And when Luckey died in February of this year, they dedicated Incredibles 2 in his memory. It’s worth noting that Luckey also acted as an animator for Pixar, helping design characters for Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo and Cars.
Despite the 14 year gap between releases, which tends to kill any possibility of a sequel being good, Incredibles 2 lives up to the original on almost every level. It’s first and foremost the story of a family. Although they’ve grown closer through the events of the first movie, they still clearly have minor issues they need to work through. They have their misunderstandings, and it’s fun watching Mr. Incredible struggling to be a stay at home dad while Elastigirl is trying to help make superheroes legal again.
But as the movie goes on, he not only starts to figure things out, but Violet and Dash start helping out at home in their own way. It shows their own growth in maturity. In fact by the end of the movie, Violet starts showing leadership and tactical thinking during the big superhero showdown fight.
The action is really stepped up from the first movie, without completely overshadowing the original. With the addition of a number of other heroes starting to come out of hiding, the fight scenes are more dynamic. And of course when Jack Jack gets directly into the action, things get delightfully weird. Like the first movie, this also acts as a great throwback to 60’s spy thrillers. It especially feels that way after recently doing my James Bond: Sean Connery month.
I’m certainly not alone on this. The movie earned 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 7.9/10. I particularly like this Robert Abele quote from TheWrap. “Whatever the opposite of phoning in a sequel is, that’s Brad Bird’s progressive-minded, thunderously fun mix of superhero saves, throwback aesthetics and family comedy.”
The movie is still doing very well in theaters, so we won’t get final box office numbers for a while. But we do know for sure that it earned $182 million on its opening weekend, the best debut ever for an animated movie to date. As of this writing, it’s grossed somewhere around $646 million worldwide on a $200 million budget, and that’s expected to keep going up for some time. It’s on track to beating Finding Dory as the top earning domestic released animated movie by next weekend.
The best part might be that Bird has talked about how he wasn’t able to fit all of his ideas into this movie. We could potentially see an Incredibles 3, and if this movie is any indication, a third movie could be a lot of fun as well. It’s too early for me to say exactly how good this movie is. It didn’t feel as dramatic as the original, but the family drama still remains at the core of this movie. The spy-ish plot involves betrayals, plot twists and action that might actually work better than the original movie’s story.
As a whole, this movie is definitely worth watching if you like the original, and I’d recommend the original to anyone interested in a superhero movie that’s more about family drama than it is about fighting crime. You know, the way that the Fantastic Four should have been treated instead of the absolute messes we’ve seen so far. But in case you’re not convinced yet, here’s a compilation of trailers.
I’m not sure when I’ll be able to sort through all 20 Pixar movies in order of my personal preference – the top 5 or so will be the hardest list I’ll ever create. But I’ll come up with the list at some point, hopefully in the near future.
In closing, happy late Canada Day for my fellow Canadians, Happy Independence Day 2 days from now for anyone in the United States, and to everyone else, I’ll be looking at the James Bond movies with the shortest lived Bond actors this month. Next month, I continue my DreamWorks blogathon.