Pixar’s latest flick is ‘super’

James Preston Poole

Fourteen years after writer-director Brad Bird’s smash animated hit “The Incredibles” hit theaters, audiences are finally getting a sequel. Unlike the underwhelming “Finding Dory,” however, this is a Pixar follow-up that matches and, in some ways, surpasses the original.  

“Incredibles 2” picks up directly where the first film leaves off. After defeating Syndrome, a disastrous attempt at fighting a new threat known as the Underminer leaves the super powered Parr family in hot water. Superheroes remain illegal, but charismatic industrialist Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his tech-savvy sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) have a plan to improve the public’s perception of powered individuals by positioning Helen Parr (Holly Hunter), aka Elastigirl, as the new face of heroes.

 As Elastigirl enjoys the thrill of crime-fighting, Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) struggles with keeping the household together. The arrival of a mysterious masked villain known as the Screenslaver interrupts their new routine as the Parr family — and old allies such as Lucius Best/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) — are forced to save the world again.

 “Incredibles 2” makes the smart choice of taking the Parr family’s narrative to its next logical place. Now that the superheroes are comfortable with who they are, the conflict is about fighting against the outside world’s perception of them. This leads to a tight narrative that doesn’t meander, keeping focus and never overexposing fan favorite characters such as Frozone or Edna Mode.

 Unfortunately, the film can be quite predictable at moments. In the first third, it’s fairly easy to guess who the Screenslaver is and, this being a Pixar movie, it’s hard to really believe that the Parr family is in danger. These problems are offset by the film’s secret weapon: Elastigirl.

 Helen Parr, who was fairly underserved in the first film, is a more compelling protagonist than Mr. Incredible ever was. She revels in the opportunity to fight crime, and her enthusiasm and determination is contagious. Her dynamic skill set leads to a series of really inventive action sequences.

 Make no mistake, the animation here is gorgeous all the way through. The film has an appropriately comic book-y style with detailed textures that leap off the screen, although it’s really the action where it comes to life. From an exhilarating motorbike chase through the city, to a colorful superhero smackdown, Bird directs these with scenes with a smooth, yet kinetic energy that cracks and sizzles. By putting his characters into consistently unique setups, he recreates the feeling of playing with toys as a child.

 Not to go unmentioned, the voice acting provides “Incredibles 2” with its soul. Truly, this is a showcase for Holly Hunter’s range, as she manages to portray everything from joy to grit. Craig T. Nelson is a close second, as his single-dad antics provide him with some really funny moments, while newcomers Odenkirk and Keener give surprisingly adult performances here as characters you’re never sure if you can trust.

 “Incredibles 2” is another home run for Pixar. With a winning marriage of characters and visuals, it’d be a shame if it took 14 more years for a third.

  • “The Incredibles 2”
  • Runtime: 118 minutes
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • Score: 4.5/5