Review of Incredibles 2

14 years is a long time to wait for a sequel, unless it happens to be a movie these days. This is the case for the newest Incredibles movie, which hit theaters June 15th. To delay things a little bit more after the built anticipation of 14 years, Disney felt that it was necessary to lead into Incredibles 2 with a series of “Thank you’s” from the stars. After seeing the movie, I feel that it was not enough, and they maybe should have taken another couple of years to polish it up some more. It is as good as the first, but not any better.

The movie has some really neat upgrades to graphics. It definitely shows the improvement in CG animation over the last decade and a bit. The stars have not lost the tone or quality of their voice acting, resuming and matching their roles with the voices we expect. The story picks up right from the end of the previous movie. Where the movie fails to live up to standards is in quality control and remembering who the audience is.

Walt Disney Animation and Pixar has proven itself capable at balancing message and entertainment. Walt Disney always felt that educating and entertaining could be done well together. This is not something which was demonstrated well in this film. The problem with Incredibles 2 is that it went heavy-handed with messages right up front and set aside the entertainment to preach those messages.

The messages that seemed to dominate this outing were all over the place. First there is almost an on-the-nose lecture on the nature of unjust laws. Superheroes are still outlawed in the sequel (and would naturally be so since it follows directly on the first movie). In fact, the events of the end of the first movie lead directly into the emphasis on why the superhero ban is in place. This leads to a debate between members of the Parr family. One argues that an unjust law should be ignored on the grounds that it is unjust. The other argues that the law is the law and should be followed, while also working to change it. Part of the on-the-nose nature of this is our context as a nation. But it also absorbs a healthy bit of dialogue in the early period of the movie.

The second lecture is a sermon preached against the lackadaisical attitude of society. The villain has gotten fed up with society expecting everything to be handed to them. The presence of superheroes only reinforces a “serve me” mentality. The main weapon in the villains arsenal is even a commentary on how time is spent.

The third message, and one that is somewhat positive is that dads are parents, too. It’s so common in many television shows or movies that dads are portrayed as the buffoon. They are incompetent at parental duties. They are lazy toward changing themselves for their children. They are hands off or ineffective in assisting their kids. Incredibles 2 shows Bob stepping into the role of primary care provider for the Parr children. He accepts challenges with some degree of failure. But he steps up to those trials. Released on Father’s Day weekend made this point crystal clear: dads can parent, too.

The first two messages that were being preached, and the degree with which they were being preached, made it difficult to see this movie being a children’s film. Sure, there was a lot of action. Jak-jak steals the show in every scene. But Pixar seemed to anticipate the audience having grown up during the intervening years. Especially when you consider that there are adult words and portrayals of alcohol. Sadly, I didn’t notice it. My 16 year old pointed them out to me. Which means your typical 7 and 8 year old will also notice the content targeted for older audiences. Walt Disney imagined his company and entertainment to be fit for all ages. This movie seems to have forgotten that the audience is made of impressionable younger children

Just as an added note, there is also a concern over strobe effects in this movie. Strobe effects have been related to seizure conditions in some children.

With a runtime of just over two hours, I feel that Brad Bird let this movie run just a little long. It slows down in parts. When you get to the climax, it doesn’t feel as snappy. Along with the over-the-top preaching of the aforementioned messages, the plot just doesn’t seem to draw you in. I never really felt interested in the villain’s objective. I never really felt interested in the villain. Well, the main villain. Underminer was potentially a fun villain, but we didn’t get to see enough of him.

Incredibles 2 is still a fun movie. There are some great action sequences (Elastigirl on the Elasticycle is one such sequence). There are also some funny jokes. And, as mentioned above, Jak-jak steals scenes almost every time he is present. It is a movie worth the entertainment time. I don’t feel that it holds up to the highest standards of Disney’s quality. It doesn’t really prove itself to be an excellent movie, either. However, it is a fun family movie as long as you keep in mind that this is PG rated.

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