Cinema: 'Incredibles 2' Was Not Worth The Wait
It’s always hard when making a sequel to a beloved movie, it’s even harder when said movie comes out fourteen years after the original. Incredibles 2, like many Pixar sequels as of late, is a misfire on just about all fronts. The characters are less layered, the villain is underdeveloped and the plot is nothing special. While the movie is entertaining enough, for the most part, poor pacing prevents the film from being a completely fun and entertaining action adventure film. The only aspects of the film that are improved are the animation and setting, but that’s hardly enough to recommend this movie to anybody, but children. Unfortunately, it’s hard to recommend this to children as so much of Incredibles 2 relies on callbacks to the first film to provide laughs and entertainment. Pixar was once known for animated films that transcended being just for kids, but now more and more they seem to only be in it for the money and brand recognition.
The plot of the movie doesn’t feel important enough to be worth making a movie about. One of the first rules of making a movie is to have the film focus on the most important event in a character’s life. Now while there are always exceptions to this rule, the plot of Incredibles 2 feels more akin to that of a direct-to-television movie used to set up an Incredibles’s show rather than a theatrical release. None of the characters grow in Incredibles 2. In fact, all the main characters are almost exactly the same as when they started. No characters learn any lessons, except for Bob who only relearns the same lesson he learned in the first movie. The only thing of substance that happens in Incredibles 2 is that supers are made legal again, but honestly, that could’ve happened without this movie. If this movie started out by saying supers were made legal due to the Incredibles defeat of Syndrome in the first movie, I would have completely bought it. Without internal struggles for these characters to deal with, so much of this movie feels shallow and as if its only point was to cash in on people nostalgic for the first film.
Any depth the characters had in the first film is gone in Incredibles 2. Dash acted out in the first movie because he was bored and wasn’t able to challenge himself due to having to hide his powers. Now he just acts out for no reason other than to be a bratty little brother. Bob spent all of the last film learning the importance of family, but now he’s back to thinking that being a superhero is more important. Not only does it rob him of a good motivation this movie, but it also makes the events of the first movie seem pointless. Besides repeating his same arc, Bob is also made very unlikable as he seems to openly resent his wife for getting to live the life of a super while he’s stuck at home with the kids. This is made even worse when you realize how hypocritical this is as Bob literally stuck Helen with the kids in the last movie as he went off to be a hero. Bob also lied to Helen about doing this while she was very open about her missions. This ends up painting Bob as a pretty bad guy, even though we’re supposed to be rooting for him.
Speaking of unlikable characters, the main villain of Incredibles 2 leaves a lot to be desired. Syndrome, the main villain in The Incredibles, was great. He was heavily tied to Mr. Incredible who was responsible for his creation, had a strong motivation and a clear goal in mind, and to top it all off he had a very distinct personality that was both hammy and despicable. The Screenslaver, on the other hand, was a terrible villain whose plans and motivation made no sense, lacked personality and was very unmemorable. Ten minutes after the movie I struggled to remember the villain’s real name as the character left so little of an impression on me. Who the villain’s secret identity was also extremely obvious and once again relied on a seemingly good villain that was secretly evil all along. It seems like almost every Disney antagonist is a secret evil all along villain nowadays, as was the case with Toy Story 3, Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, Coco, and Zootopia. Despite there being nothing inherently wrong with secretly evil all along villains, it gets boring after seeing the same thing done over and over again. It also feels lazy as the writers don’t have to work on making the villain as compelling, instead relying on the twist to sell these characters.
One of the strangest parts of the film was the emphasis on the family not knowing about Jack-Jack’s powers. While it wasn’t made exactly clear the family knew he had powers, it seems odd none of them saw Jack-Jack transforming or catching on fire when Syndrome captured him. It’s made even stranger that they don’t know with all those messages the babysitter left about his powers the in the last film. Incredibles 2 also relied far too heavily on Jack-Jack based humor. Jack-Jack fighting a raccoon felt more like an episode of Tom and Jerry than a superhero movie. Seeing Jack-Jack’s antics were cute at first, but so much of the movie is focused on them when they should have been focused on giving Elastigirl a character arc or making the villain and her plan less dumb. On top of these bad decisions, the choice to have the film pick up exactly where it left off in the prior movie led to many of the voices sounding noticeably aged. This isn’t so much a problem for Samuel Jackson’s Frozone or new characters like Bob Odenkirk’s Winston Deavor but is very evident for Violet, Bob and Helen’s voices.
Some of the only aspects improved upon from the original are the animation and the setting. As can be expected the animation is gorgeous, especially when compared to the original. Even though the original is still impressive for the time, it doesn’t hold up as well now as some parts look a little underdeveloped. There are quite a few well-animated fight scenes that are generally quite entertaining. The one drawback to this improved animation is one scene in particular that really should’ve come with a seizure warning. At one point in the film after luring Elastigirl to his secret layer, the Screenslaver locks her in a room with a bunch of flashing monitors. While a cool scene, it seems careless of Disney to not alert audiences of it. The scene goes on for quite some time and I had to look away at points as the flashing lights started to give me a headache. Besides the animation, the setting was far more defined than in The Incredibles. The faux-sixties feel was much more evident in this film and made the world feel more distinct and interesting as opposed to The Incredibles where it felt like the movie could be taking place in modern times.
While Incredibles 2 may not be worthy of The Incredibles name or stand up with the other Pixar greats, it’s far from the worst movie to show your kids. It’s entertaining enough that I was never bored and it's loud and colorful enough to distract children for at least most of the film. If you really enjoy the technical aspects of animation or can just appreciate it, you might find some worth in this movie, but other than that, I wouldn’t recommend seeing Incredibles 2 in theaters. If you’re really curious I would just wait to rent it or catch it when it comes on a streaming service.