Incredibles 2 (2018) ☆☆☆1/2 (3.5/4): The family back in action

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“Incredibles 2”, which is a long-awaited sequel to “Incredibles” (2004), is as fun and exciting as its predecessor. Although its story and characters are understandably a bit less fresh in comparison, it does not lose any sense of fun and excitement at all as cheerfully and exuberantly presenting another eclectic mix of style, humor, and action, and the result is another entertaining animation feature film from Pixar Animation Studios.

In the previous film, Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) and his loving superhero family had to hide and suppress their superhuman abilities for years just like many other superheroes because the populace was not so pleased about the inadvertent collateral damages caused by the heroic acts of superheroes. However, the situation was changed as they later faced the diabolical plot of a megalomaniac villain, and they eventually embraced their identity as shown from the final scene which shows them quite ready to fight against another villain.

The story of “Incredibles 2” begins at the point not long after that scene. Although Mr. Incredible, his wife Helen Parr/Elestigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter), their children Violet (voiced by Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voiced by Huck Milner), and Mr. Incredible’s close friend Lucius Best/Frozone (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) did their best, the villain in question manages to run away with lots of money stolen from a big bank, and the public opinion on our superhero characters is not exactly good due to the messy aftermath of this incident.

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While Mr. Incredible and his family are worrying about their uncertain future because they are no longer helped by Superhero Relocation Program, there comes an unexpected offer from Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk), the CEO of a big telecommunication corporation named DevTech. He and his sister Evelyn (voiced by Catherine Keener), who has developed many different technologies for their company, have a plan for reforming the public image of superheroes, and they need the cooperation from not only Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl but also several other superheroes including Frozone.

Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl accept the offer because Evelyn and Winston are willing to provide anything Mr. Incredible and his family need, but Mr. Incredible is disappointed when his wife is chosen as the key part of Winston and Evelyn’s plan instead of him. According to the statistics, Elastigirl is less likely to cause collateral damage compared to him and other superheroes, and she certainly presents herself and her superhuman ability well during a sudden perilous situation involved with a runaway high-speed train, which later turns out to be orchestrated by a mysterious villain who seems quite willing to challenge her.

Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible tries to take care of his children in their new residence while his wife is busy with her new work, but he soon comes to see how demanding and exhausting this domestic task is. For example, Violet has been rather sullen as a boy she has liked does not recognize her at all even though they already met before, and there is nothing Mr. Incredible can do about that. In case of Dash, he remains your typical troublemaker, and he also really needs some help for doing his math homework. In addition, Jack-Jack (voiced by Eli Fucile), the youngest member of the family, still requires lots of care and attention, and his burgeoning superhuman abilities further complicate the situation.

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As smoothly going back and forth between these two storylines, the film generates lots of humor and excitement. The action sequence unfolded around the runaway high-speed train is thrilling and breathtaking as required, and that is just the appetizer for other impressive action sequences in the film. The movie also has lots of fun with Jack-Jack’s many different superhuman abilities, and I particularly like the slapstick sequence involved with an unlucky racoon. In the end, everything in the story culminates to a big action climax just like many other superhero movies, but the film never loses its wit and spirit even during that obligatory part, and what we eventually get here is much better than, say, “The Avengers” (2012) and its equally ponderous sequels.

The voice cast members are impeccable to say the least. While Craig T. Nelson brings considerable gruff charm to his character, Holly Hunter has a number of juicy moments as her character constantly amazes us with her incredible flexibility, and Sarah Vowell and Huck Milner are also solid in their respective supporting parts. Samuel L. Jackson, who is no stranger to superhero genre due to his routine appearance in “The Avengers” and its sequels, holds his own place as usual, and the same thing can be said about Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Isabella Rossellini, and director/writer Brad Bird, who delightfully plays his scene-stealing supporting character as he did before in the previous film.

Overall, “Incredibles 2” is not on a par with its predecessor or Bird’s previous animation films including “The Iron Giant” (1999) and “Ratatouille” (2007), but it is at least two or three steps above the lesser recent works from Pixar Animation Studios such as “The Good Dinosaur” (2015) and “Cars 3” (2017), and I enjoyed its distinctive style and personality, which is further accentuated by the hyperkinetic score by Michael Giacchino. In short, this is the best sequel product from Pixar Animation Studios since “Toy Story 3” (2010), and I certainly have some expectation on whatever will come next after this.

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