The Parr family has finally returned to the big screen in one of the year’s most anticipated movies, The Incredibles 2. Although Pixar’s much awaited sequel may not be as good as its predecessor it surely is as thematically sophisticated, well-written, beautifully directed, fun, and entertaining.
As writer/director Brad Bird promised, Incredibles 2 picks up, for the most part, moments after the Underminer surfaced at the end of the first film. Younger viewers will be hooked the instant The Parrs (a.k.a. The Incredibles) step into action, regardless if they haven’t seen the first film, but this small time jump works best for older audiences who are flooded with nostalgia after seeing their beloved superhero family look exactly as they did 14 years ago. The small temporal difference between the two installments does not only preserve this nostalgic feeling, but also allows for themes explored in the first film to effortlessly flow into its sequel.
After causing significant damages in their attempt to stop The Underminer, Bob (Mr.Incredible), Violet and Dash try to live a “normal life” while Helen (Elastigirl) works with businessman Winston Deaver and his superhero endorsing company DEVTECH in an attempt to ameliorate national perception of supers. The growing distrust of superheros present resembles the concerns world governments have with the Avengers in Captain America Civil War, yet Brad Bird fleshes out this fear and anxiety of super powered individuals with a little more nuance than the Russo brothers had in Cap 3. There isn’t a senseless battle between two conflicting sides, but rather a thought provoking exchange of ideologies between those in favor of superheros and the small percentage of those who aren’t. This small minority is mainly represented in the film’s villain, The Screenslaver, who has a clear and focused perspective which challenges both Helen and the viewer.
In one of many incredible sequences in the film, Helen tries to track The Screenslaver’s position through a radio transmission while the villain delivers a bone chilling monologue which sheds light on the issues of a increasingly technological orientated 1950s America. While The Screenslaver’s ghostly voice speaks on how people have become too reliant on home appliances and are much too fixated on trivial television shows as a way to escape real issues of society, it becomes apparent that the villain may also be speaking to the 21st century viewer who remains overly connected to their many screens.
While the revelation of The Screenslaver’s identity was quite transparent and underwhelming, the villain still holds a level complexity unparalleled by many of the flat and disposable villains featured in several superhero films of the last few years.
Like its predecessor, Incredibles 2 doesn’t oversimplify its character motives or “dumb down” its mature themes which respects the intellectual capabilities of younger audiences and also remains sophisticated enough to keep the notable older demographic of viewers intrigued. Of the many adult themes explored, older audiences, for example, may relate to a distinguished part of the film which sees the Parr family’s changing dynamic when Helen acts as the central provider and Bob take on the role of the household’s full time caretaker. But this arc of the film acts as more than a mere role reversal.
Helen’s brilliance in the limelight and Bob’s struggling effort to take care of Jack Jack, Dash, and Violet is the film speaking of the unsung versatility of women and the superfluous praise of men. Bob is simply doing what is expected of most women/mothers and complains that his last good years are slipping away from him. Elastigirl’s suave action sequences and Bob’s comedic time at home do more than entertain audiences, as they also exist as a way to reflect the issues of our own society. Helen’s role as the house provider is both unique to her animated 1950s America and feels tangible to changing landscapes in the real-world which is seeing an increasing amount of women act as the primary breadwinner. On the other hand, the film explores the negative implications of masculinity through Bob’s unnecessary jealousy of his wife’s new job and his hastiness to run into battle – which puts him and the family in trouble.
The film’s seamless ability to incorporate heavy feminist themes while providing a critique of modern family structures is simply incredible. Beyond this well-realized element of the film lies themes which identify our present-day addiction to technology and even our current, mindless obsession with superheroes. Added to its sophisticated ideas are clear inspirations of film-noir and espionage movies which unshackle it from a simple “kids story” label.
Incredibles 2 is, of course, beautifully directed, nostalgic, insightful and features so many well-done, exhilarating action sequences. It’ll fully immerse younger audiences and engage older ones to possibly reflect on themselves or even society for all of its entertaining 2 hour duration.