By Haley Goetz
I very distinctly remember when The Incredibles first came out. I was six years old, a little Pokémon-obsessed girl from the rural confines of New Hampshire. When I saw this film for the first time on a big screen, at this old-school movie house that has since closed down, I became obsessed with something besides just cute animal avatars. I became obsessed with storytelling, and with the ways in which story was framed throughout this film. Everything, from the meticulous set design of the film to the dialogue of the characters to the predicaments they found themselves in, was truthful and human. I loved it, and yet I still wanted to learn more! That is why having a sequel made as well as Incredibles 2 positively rocked my world this past weekend!
This new film, helmed by Brad Bird (the same guy who made the original), starts off right where the first film left off. From a sequel standpoint, this is a pretty bold move. Most sequels usually take place months or years after the events of the first storyline, but having this sequel take place following the original storyline allows for a seamless integration of both films. In summary, Incredibles 2 follows the Parr family as they continue to fight crime on the streets of their city. Underminer is the first villain out against the Parr family, digging under the ground in order to rob banks. However, a new and far more complex villain by the name of the Screenslaver soon hits the streets, and this is the villain that is focused on for the rest of the film.
Essentially, the Screenslaver’s goal is to turn people into puppets so that they can see how they are being used by easy and readily-available technology that is always at their fingertips. Elastigirl, otherwise known as Mrs. Incredible, gets chosen to join a taskforce dedicated to bringing superheroes back into the mainstream when she suddenly comes up against this villain. Not only does she and the rest of her family have to reconcile with their collective identities as supers, but they also (in typical superhero fashion) must come together in order to defeat this foe.
Incredibles 2 really did an excellent job at digging even deeper into the already fleshed-out characters from the original. Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible, as voiced by Craig T. Nelson) would rather be a superhero rather than just an ordinary citizen, and he has to learn to compartmentalize his feelings when he is not chosen to join the superhero taskforce. Helen Parr (Elastigirl, voiced by Helen Hunt) is the one chosen for the taskforce even though she’d much rather just live a normal life, whatever that may be. There’s Violet Parr (Sarah Vowell), the feisty and independent teenager. Dash Parr (Huck Milner), the fast-running and fast-talking kid. Jack-Jack Parr (Eli Fucile), the all-powerful baby. And then of course there are beloved recurring characters from the first film including Lucius Best (otherwise known as Frozone and voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) and Edna Mode (Brad Bird). Finally, two new characters are introduced into the mix, including philanthropist Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his inventive sister Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener).
One thing very worth mentioning about this film is the feminist message it carries. While Elastigirl would rather just stay at home and care for her family, it is her who’s chosen to help improve the image that the public has of superheroes. Mr. Incredible is visibly let down by this, as he wants to also use his superpowers as well, but he also wants Elastigirl to succeed as well. Along with this, there are also a lot of well-spoken female characters in this film and in the original film. Having the film be centered with this shift towards more female empowerment was wonderful, and here’s to hoping that more Pixar films continue with this approach.
Incredibles 2 has a story that feels utterly refreshing. It’s a modern film that deals with a technologically advanced society, but at the same time it’s a nostalgic film in that not a second has been wasted since the events of the first film. Along with this, the animation techniques used to make the film feel a bit different as well. Seeing as how The Incredibles was released in 2004, the animators obviously have some updated software after fourteen years. Everything in Incredibles 2 looks crisper, which is not to say that this is a good or a bad thing, just that it’s different from the way Pixar films of old would look.
Definitely give Incredibles 2 a watch. It’s a great addition to Pixar’s body of work and a great continuation of the story set by the original. Along with this, the film also begins with a short titled Bao and directed by Domee Shi, who has made history by becoming the first solo female filmmaker to direct a Pixar film! Here’s to hoping that in another fourteen years something like this won’t be a cause worth celebrating but rather just another film made from a woman’s perspective.