Sequels can be a sore subject amongst film fans. All too often they fail to live up to the original and in some cases undo some of the greatness that once was, but every now and then a sequel comes along that reminds why we keep trying and what great episodic storytelling can do. This summer, that movie is “Incredibles 2.”
And with 14 years to make it, frankly, it really couldn’t have been anything less than excellent. But for the record, that doesn’t excuse you, “Cars 2,” you know what you did. But the mediocre sequels make the truly exceptional ones that much sweeter and sweet is just one of the many words I would use to describe “Incredibles 2.”
This movie picks up precisely where the last one left off. I mean that quite literally. But if you don’t remember where that is, don’t worry, one of the many things this movie does well is not assuming that its audience has seen the first movie. I know that sounds like an odd strength, but I like when a sequel stands well on its own, without spending too much time on backstory.
All of the family is back — Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner), Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), and, of course, that also includes Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) and the absolute best character of the Incredible’s franchise, Edna Mode (Brad Bird, who also wrote and directed both movies). But the real triumph of any sequel is successfully introducing new characters without over-crowding the story. In this case that’s Winston and Evelyn Deaver (Bob Odenkirk and Katherine Keener) and their enormous corporation, Devtech.
Following a falling out between superheroes and the law, hero-ing is once again outlawed, but this brother and sister team want to fix that and they want Elastigirl to be their poster woman. With Winston’s Elon Musk-esque salesmanship and Evelyn’s incredible inventions, the team quickly endears Elastigirl to the world as she battles a new foe, Screenslaver. However, this new villain quickly proves to be more than meets the eye.
Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible faces the task of maintaining balance at home. Who has the bigger challenge?
I’ll let you answer that for yourself, but I will say that the absolute balance of these two plots is storytelling at its finest.
It may have been nearly a decade and a half since we last saw this exceptional family, but if it took that long to find a sequel worth making, then I accept the wait. Because seriously, this sequel was worth the wait.
I mean, who saw Pixar exploring the differences between the process of invention and marketing those inventions? Or making a point about our constant attachment to screens? This is Pixar with limited Disney influence, which (no offense to the Mouse) is Pixar at its best.
I would never say that a sequel is better than the original because without the original the sequel would have no foundation on which to stand. However, I will say that this sequel made the absolute best possible choices it could have and I enjoyed every minute of it. My only criticism is that every movie could always use more Edna…always.