MOVIE REVIEW: The Incredibles 2

written by David Steffen

The Incredibles 2 is a superhero family action/comedy animated feature from Pixar, released in June 2018.  It’s the sequel to The Incredibles, the first in the series, released way back in 2004.  The Incredibles 2 picks up where the first one left off, after the superhero family has had their first big win together thwarting Syndrome’s plan to set up superheroes for failure, and with the emergence of the Underminer’s big drilling machine from under the city.

The family joins together again to save the city from the Underminer (John Ratzenberger), and soon after Elastigirl aka Helen Parr (Holly Hunter), Mr. Incredible aka Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson), and Frozone aka Lucius Best (Samuel L. Jackson) are approached by rich superhero-sympathist brother-and-sister business partners Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener), who want to start a new campaign to make superheroes legal again, starting with financing Elastigirl to fight crime and improve the public image of supers.  Bob and Helen talk it through and decide that she should do it, in part to make a more accepting future for their children Dash (Huck Milner) and Violet (Sarah Vowell).  Bob stays home to watch the kids while Helen goes out on this mission, and their baby Jack-Jack begins manifesting superpowers.  Soon a new supervillain rises, Screenslaver (Bill Wise), who uses hypnosis to turn others into his minions.

People who are susceptible to strobelight-triggered seizures should be aware that there are some scenes which have intense strobe effects without warning, so I would suggest you should avoid this movie for your health.

Overall this movie fits Pixar’s high-caliber storytelling, lots of fun action, funny lines, memorable images, and high adventure.  As with almost all of Pixar’s other movies I would highly recommend it, and I would see it again myself given the opportunity.  In particular, with a young child myself, I completely related to Bob Parr at home trying to take care of a superpowered baby who has teleported into another dimension or has turned into a monster at the mention of cookies.

But there was something that bugged me about one of the storytelling choices here that is not up to Pixar’s usual storytelling standards–Pixar pulled a major and obvious retcon of the events from the first movie… and it’s not clear why.  At the end of The Incredibles, they discover Jack-Jack has powers.  It is, in fact, a major plot point that contributes to the resolution.  The super-villain Syndrome is very good at risk-assessment and he has plans for how to deal with every anticipated threat.  The only way that they succeed in defeating him is that he tries to kidnap Jack-Jack and Jack-Jack suddenly starts manifesting powers in an highly unpredictable way.  This distracts Syndrome long enough and he ends up getting sucked into a jet engine and the jet crashed on the Parrs’ house.  But… Pixar has apparently decided that somehow, Syndrome was defeated, and the Parrs’ house was destroyed by a jet crash, but that somehow this happened without Jack-Jack manifesting his powers.  And now Jack-Jack unexpectedly manifesting powers is a major plot point in this movie.  I suspect that they did this because they felt it would be implausible for Helen to leave Bob alone with the family right after Jack-Jack starts showing powers, but they could’ve figured out a way to write around that.  So that bugged me, not enough to hate the movie, but enough that it was distracting, especially when each character declared “Jack-Jack has powers?!” as though we hadn’t already known about all that already.