The superhero family from the first Incredibles returns 14 years later in a story set immediately after the first film, and if early reviews are to be believed, it looks like the Parr family’s return is as thrilling as ever. But as close as it might come, it doesn’t quite capture the magic of the original.
Early reviews for Incredibles 2 hit the internet at noon on June 11, and most consider it a welcome follow-up that might fall just shy of the original. Even at that, we’re still getting some of Pixar’s absolute best.
Following a destructive confrontation with the Underminer and his massive drill that takes, the Incredibles find themselves in a world where superheroes are effectively outlawed.
Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy notes how long it has been since the 2004 original, saying, “It remains to be seen whether everyone who loved the original when they were six years old and is now 20 will rush out to catch this follow-up.”
But the sequel has a decidedly “pronounced female slant,” as Elastigirl becomes the main character. A new threat emerges from the Screenslaver, who can mind-control anyone who sees him on a screen.
More nuanced threats come in the form of Mr. Incredibles’ “mid-life male attitude transition,” because when he’s effectively tasked with staying home to raise the kids, he struggles to teach his son math as he lazily grows stubble. McCarthy puts a lot of value in director Brad Bird’s approach to this kind of story: “Bird’s authorial attitude is both sly and sincere, with a view of the nuclear family as the locus of human virtue and strength.”
Richard Lawson with Vanity Fair called Incredibles 2 “sleek and sure-footed — if a little square.” Much like the first, this sequel is stylish and fun, with Lawson noting Bird’s “uncanny spatial awareness” and “his playful understanding of physics” that make the superhero action sequences so exciting.
He also notes how the film becomes “a retrograde role-reversal comedy” after Mr. Incredible is sidelined and his wife goes on missions. Lawson calls this “trope of the bumbling dad overwhelmed by the complexities of keeping house and raising children” an “old idea,” but one that lands effectively.
A welcome highlight here is, apparently, the baby Jack-Jack, who begins exhibit seemingly random superpowers throughout the movie. “Jack-Jack gets the best stuff, particularly an extended and utterly bonkers backyard fight with a feisty raccoon in which Bird imbues the movie’s rollicking, round-edged verve with almost shocking jolts of violence.” It’s violence yes, but when it’s colorful and fun in Pixar’s classic style, we can barely recognize it as such.
Lawson also lightly grapples with the “smug” nature that comes with just about every Pixar film, saying, “I found it hard to truly love something so seamless, so sure of its superiority.”
But other reviews openly embraced Incredibles 2. Writing for The Wrap, Robert Abele called the movie “Brad Bird’s progressive-minded, thunderously fun mix of super saves, throwback aesthetics and family comedy.”
Abele also calls it “a similarly rousing and savvy adventure that energetically serves up more of what we love … and yet wisely, wittily, reverses the first film’s accommodating traditionalism to make for an even richer, funnier portrait of its tight and in-tights family.” Apparently, Incredibles 2 delivers more of what we loved about the original while also defying out expectations in new, refreshing ways. Another way it defies expectation is in how Jack-Jack transforms into “the cute-ferocious humor superpower of Incredibles 2.”
Ultimately, Abele assures us that Incredibles 2 could “save the day, the weekend, your summer, and maybe even your Marvel/DC/superhero fatigue.”
Josh Spiegel, for Slash Film, sees the villain of Incredibles 2, Screenslaver, as a metaphor for director Brad Bird’s own contemporary frustrations. “The villain’s motivations feel akin to Bird’s frustrations,” Spiegel writers, “this time with how modern society elevates superheroes to an unjustifiably mythic status.” Screenslaver rants during Incredibles 2 about how people worshipping superheroes are distracted by more real-life concerns, which seems oddly self-critical for what’s ostensibly just another superhero moving looking to distract and entertain.
Spiegel’s ultimate assessment is that even though this sequel doesn’t quite capture the full magic of the original, it’s still “a more exciting film than the last spate of Pixar sequels, both thrilling and thought-provoking.” So it’ll be totally worth your time.
Incredibles 2 hits theaters on June 19.