Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Incredibles 2

It has taken 14 long years to get here! Snap comment: It was worth every minute of waiting..

"The Incredibles" is my favorite Pixar film. It was the perfect combination of comic book story, action, humor and best of all, it played like a James Bond film. There were secret identities and an impenetrable fortress to penetrate, and the movie had a score that any 007 adventure would be proud to claim as it's own. The movie was family friendly and it played with the notions of family, middle age, and a sense of nostalgia for the whole time it ran. It was a two hour movie that crammed in all the best stuff you cab imagine and it had a shiny retro style to it that any kid of the 1960s would recognize as part of their personal heritage. The conclusion of the movie promised that we would be seeing further adventures, even if it lacked the "James Bond will Return" sign off that has finished the Bond films for 50 years. So that begs the question, why did it take so long to get a sequel out?

Well first you have to figure out what happens with "The Underminer", the character who appears at the end of the original. Once you wrap that up, there is the question of what status the "Supers" are going to have, since the original limitations that forced them underground in the first place are still on the books. Also, to keep things fresh and not simply repeat the same story line, you will need new characters,both villains and supers. Don't forget that you also have "Jack Jack" to take care of. We know he has a variety of surprises in store for his family, if you took a year to develop each of the potential powers that Jack Jack has to fruition, and write them into the story with at least one gag for each, well that would take a decade at least.

As usual, I will not be summarizing the whole story for you, that's not how I roll on this blog. I will say that there is a little domestic problem that is similar to the storyline in Mr, Mom, but that the movie uses this to drive characters rather than to simply generate jokes. Mr. Incredible has to be worn down in some ways to make him vulnerable, and nothing like three uncooperative children will do that faster. Elastigirl has the main plot line to follow and it is she who must initially confront the new threats.

Frozone gets a slightly bigger opportunity to participate in this adventure, and even though it is a PG film, and Samuel Jackson is voicing the character, we get by without all the usual Jacksonisms. When the final confrontation is taking place, Lucius, Helen and Bob, patiently wait their turns on stage. It is the kids who get to drive the action in the last third of the story and boy do they get to do some fun stuff. Violet takes charge and needs to be both quick and smart about the decisions she makes. Dash is impetuous which leads to trouble but also a great deal of fun, especially concerning the Incredimobile. After having so many superheros in The Marvel and D.C. universes end up having battles, the confrontations in this film have to be unique and for the most part they are. There are several new supers who have a role to play in the story and they muct both be overcome and included in the final wrap up.

Let's face it, Edna Mode is everyone's favorite character from the first film. She steals the scenes she is in, and we are all waiting on pins and needles for her inclusion in this story. While remaining true to the character, Edna seems to harbor a little warmth beneath those bangs and the vocal delivery of  director Brad Bird again steals every moment the character is near the screen. If there is ever a spin-off story planned for extending this franchise, this is the character that needs to be exploited. She is so arch and clever and brilliant, I'm sure we could follow a story with her much more effectively than we could with any Minions.
The most successful humor in the story comes from Jack Jack, and it may be the scene that everybody remembers years from now. The Super Baby confrontation with a lowly but determined racoon is worth the price of admission in itself. It is not just a series of gags, which it does have, the story manages to make these two non speaking characters more interesting than the villain/super conflicts in the rest of the story. 
The look of the design in this film can still be attributed to googie architecture and retro cartoons from the 1960s. Helen has a motorcycle to die for but the car is the thing I will remember. The other supers are welcome echos of comic books past. When Elistigirl confronts the "Screenslaver" the animation is adjusted to highlight all the angles and color contrasts and it makes an amazing sequence which looks very different from the rest of the film but fits in perfectly. 

Bob Odenkirk sounds just smarmy enough to raise suspicions while in the end turning out to be just as smart as we thought another character was. Catherine Keener may get stereotyped as a mesmerizing character if she plays one more part like this. They are welcome additions to the film and they add personality to characters that could easily just be tropes in the vocal cords of someone else. As far as I'm concerned, Michael Giacchino, should have his name inscribed on the Oscar that he was not even nominated for fourteen years ago. His music work here uses some of the same themes but it plays so organically with the new story and the returning characters, that it all feels fresh.   

I really am looking forward to going back and seeing this movie again. Pixar has had a couple of weak enties in the last few years but along with "Coco" from last year, they seem to be on a new winning streak. Let's hope it lasts long enough to get us to "The Incredibles 3". 

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