I won’t bury the lede: I don’t think that Incredibles 2 is as good as the original. And honestly, that’s not surprising; fourteen years of anticipation tend to distort expectations, so I tried to keep mine realistic going in. What I got was… a fairly typical sequel, actually: it rolls back some of the character development for the sake of creating conflict (Violet and Bob get hit particularly hard in this regard) and chooses to reinforce the themes of its predecessor (the importance of family, deconstructing black-and-white morality, exploring the distinction between what is legal and what is right), rather than pursuing new narrative avenues.
All of which is perfectly fine, because the movie still delivers what’s really important: top-tier superhero action. Once again, writer/director Brad Bird flawlessly captures the style, pace, and tone of classic Silver Age comic books in a way that live-action efforts in the genre will never be able to replicate. Sure, there are a few predictable plot twists (gee, isn’t it weird that Elastigirl ends up battling a hacker/hypnotist immediately after agreeing to work for a multimedia corporation?), but the heartfelt scenes in which the otherwise invincible Mr. Incredible grapples with his emotional vulnerability ultimately redeem such minor shortcomings. I’ve been saying it for years, and it remains true today: the Parr clan is the best interpretation of the Fantastic Four ever to grace the big screen, and Marvel Studios would do well to take notes (assuming the Fox/Disney deal puts the franchise back in their hands).
Bao, the short that precedes the film, is also excellent—heck, it’s quite possibly better than the feature presentation. It definitely beats a previous Pixar record: while Up’s prologue gets the audience crying ten minutes into the picture, Bao turns on the waterworks before the opening credits even roll!
[Originally written June 23, 2018.]