Movie Review: “Incredibles 2”
After the Incredibles pursue and fail to catch a super-villain, the authorities blame them for the destruction that occurred in the city during the chase. Sure, the super-villain would have gotten away with a bank vault’s worth of money (which happened anyway) but, if the villain was met with no resistance, property would not have been destroyed and lives would not have been at risk. With this latest incident, the government moves to make all supers illegal. Forced underground, Bob and Helen Parr (Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter, respectively) weigh their options. They do not want to give up their days of being superheroes, but they need to provide and take care of their family.
Ready to re-enter the mundane work force, Bob is contacted by Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), who is putting together a covert operation to hopefully put supers back in a positive light. His company is very wealthy, can give the heroes new tech, suits, and provide the family with a nice place to live. There is only one catch, for the first few missions, Winston only wants Elastigirl (as her powers result in less of a mess than Mr. Incredible). While Helen (as Elastigirl) struggles to protect the public from a dangerous new threat on her own, Bob must manage the day-to-day lives of three young super-children (the youngest of which is starting to develop an assortment of dangerous and uncontrollable powers).
The Pros & Cons
Winston Deavor (-4pts)
Mr. Incredible & The Kids (+10pts)
Pro: Elastigirl (+6pts)
I felt like, after seeing Incredibles, we only got a taste of what Elastigirl was capable of. We saw her doing her thing in a team format, but with a variety of powers in the family, we did not get to see much of a variety in her abilities. In Incredibles 2, we see her on solo-missions with the Elasticycle and it was awesome. The scenes with the Elasticycle were really cool, and seeing her adapting to different situations by using her powers in different ways was creative and kept me interested in watching her character solo.
Elastigirl kicked ass in this movie, but I also liked her story. She wants to be a super, but wants to set a positive example for her children so does not want to break the law. It was also interesting to see her getting the spotlight all to herself and how she handled it. I thought all of these things were set up nicely, though I did not think the filmmakers gave these things a very good resolution.
Con: Winston Deavor (-4pts)
Winston Deavor seemed counter-productive to the story that was setup in the very beginning of the movie. At the beginning of the movie, we see the Incredibles fail at capturing a super-villain. Once that happens, they are captured by authorities and forced underground (with supers being illegal). Then, not even a day goes by and Winston reaches out to them to offer them a job as superheroes.
The movie setup a premise that would have been interesting to see. We have seen the “superhero ban” storyline before, but it would have been interesting to see how Bob and Helen handled being looked at under a microscope (figuratively) with three super-children in a world where using super powers is illegal. Instead, we get Winston who immediately undermines that premise. The movie then goes in a completely different direction and gives a plot that is less compelling and Winston Deavor (who is very one-dimensional, uninteresting).
Pro: Mr. Incredible & The Kids (+10pts)
This was definitely my favorite part of the movie. The role reversal had Elastigirl fighting crime on her own, and Bob at home taking care of the kids. We have seen a lot of films with role reversals like this over the past few years, but this one was made more interesting by adding several layers to Bob’s insecurities. He is insecure about his wife working while he is at home, but he is also jealous that she gets to be a superhero while he does not. He is insecure that Winston Deavor wants Elastigirl and her abilities, but does not want his, though he is still proud of his wife. The most entertaining part of his insecurities is him trying to be a good father while feeling like he is failing. Violet is dealing with boy problems, Dash is struggling with his math homework, and Jack Jack is developing a vast assortment of uncontrollable and unpredictable powers.
Bob has his work cut out for him while dealing with just Jack Jack, but he does his best at helping his other two children. The whole Jack Jack thing was absolutely hilarious. I was worried that his plethora of powers would be used as lazy plot devices but that only happened once. Really, it was just used for comedic purposes and it worked really well. My favorite relationship in this movie was probably Violet and Bob. She is a stereotypical hormonal teenager that is embarrassed at her father and blames him for her ill-fortune. I won’t go further into detail to avoid spoilers but I enjoyed how this relationship played out.
Con: Goggles (-2pts)
I really hated these goggle things. The main villain of the movie is Screenslaver, I will get to my issues with that character later, but Screenslaver is able to hypnotize and control people using screens. One of the ways the villain utilizes this skill is by creating goggles with little screens on the inside of the lenses. Rather than using the villain’s skill in creative ways, the filmmakers resorted to generic brainwashing, which made the whole concept feel like a gimmick. Also, the main characters take way too long to realize that they should be destroying the goggles as they go (you will know what I mean if or when you see the movie).
Pro: Action (+4pts)
The filmmakers handled the action sequences pretty well. There are a few sequences that involve at least ten characters with super abilities. Fortunately the filmmakers were able to use those powers in different combinations to make creative moments that were entertaining to see. The various powers create an unpredictable tone during these scenes that will keep audiences engaged.
In some scenes, it is just the Incredibles taking on one villain. In other scenes there are a team of villains taking on a team of heroes. It could have felt cluttered, but the filmmakers mastered the ensemble action to create fresh-feeling action sequences that made the movie enjoyable. Do not even get me started on Jack Jack’s action moments, because they were an absolute joy.
Con: Screenslaver (-5pts)
In some aspect, I liked the idea of Screenslaver because of the character’s potential. With a villain like this, the movie really could have made a statement regarding how many screens are around us in our day-to-day lives. I am not saying that this is the route the filmmakers had to go in, but it would have been nice if the movie explored the unique nature of this villain. Instead the filmmakers did not do anything to of the sort.
We, disappointingly, ended up getting a generic villain that had the potential to be very interesting. This was made worse by the character’s motivations. Incredibles had Syndrome whose motivations were compelling. Incredibles 2 has a villain who could have been equally captivating, but was made very generic due to the lack of development. It was yet another movie where the villain was pretty much bad for the sake of being bad. The focus needed to be on the heroes but, to neglect the villain almost entirely, was a bad move.
Grade: B- (84pts)
The long anticipated Incredibles 2 had a few issues, but still ended up being a decently entertaining kids movie. The villain of the story, Screenslaver, had the potential of being another fascinating villain, but the filmmakers were either too afraid to take risks with the character or they made the active decision to neglect the character to focus on other things. Either way, this villain ended up being generic, predictable, and uninteresting. In addition to a lack-luster villain, the goggle concept felt like a lazy gimmick and the character of Winston Deavor undermined the premise that was setup in the beginning. Those were the film’s major issues, but it certainly was not all bad.
I liked seeing Elastigirl on the frontlines, as we were able to see the adaptability of the character as well as see a wide variety of what she is capable of doing with her powers. We got a lot of cool scenes with Elastigirl, but I enjoyed Mr. Incredible’s storyline even more. The character deals with a ton of insecurities in this movie. From feeling inadequate for being unwanted as a superhero (in comparison to his wife), to feeling like he is failing as a father. Combine that with the overwhelmingly entertaining Jack Jack and some very well-done ensemble action sequences, and what we are left with is a far from perfect, but entertaining, kids movie.