2004 was a special time for me, at least in regards to film. Prior to November, I had just seen the best Spider-Man film (well, before that was taken over by Spider-Man: Homecoming) and even despite seeing whatever films during and after that year passed like Saw, a little film by a man named Brad Bird who ended up working at Pixar despite the failure of The Iron Giant, rocked everyone's world. Mine included because The Incredibles was the film that got me into becoming a film buff. I wanted to make movies and I still do. The film somehow spoke to me in all the right ways. And it's even a film I saw twice in the theater.
So like everyone else, I've waited for a sequel. Waited and waited. I mean, I admit, I did assume Tomorrowland being a bomb probably finally got the ball rolling but it doesn't matter how it got here, it's important it's here. And as soon as the announcement came, it was glorious. Finally, the story of the Parrs was going to continue and I cannot think of a more appropriate follow up than this one.
Admittedly, I was disappointed it wasn't a 10 years later kind of thing but the more I got used to it, by the time I watched it, it makes sense anyway. I'll get to that in a bit. Regardless, it starts out with the battle with the Underminer and despite saving the day, the law is still technically illegal in regards to superheroes. It doesn't help that the Superhero Relocation Program didn't just get on its last legs, it now has none at all. So the Parrs are just out of luck until Winston Deavor of DevTech (voiced by Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk) wants to make superheroes legal again and wants Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone (voiced by Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter and Samuel L. Jackson respectively) to lead the charge. More specifically however, Elastigirl.
Whereas the first film concentrated on Mr. Incredible reclaiming his glory days, this film now concentrates on Elastigirl embracing her status as a superhero once again after suppressing it which plays into one of the two things I noticed. I'll get to that too. But basically, she tries to be a good role model for the kids telling them to obey the law and whatnot but then when she is chosen and accepts her new position as like an ambassador to superheroes and a factor to make them legal again and the more she continues with this role, the more she embraces it. She's confident, now comfortable in her own skin. She loves inspiring people, she adores her fans, even got excited like a kid in a candy store when she told her husband about her first superhero gig in years and given part of the film involves Mr. Incredible becoming a stay at home father, they didn't make any degrading jokes about either nor did the film resorted to shaming Elastigirl for taking the role-being out in the field.
As I said, she embraces being a full on superhero and the scenes where Mr. Incredibles tries to take care of the kids Dash, Violet (voiced by Huck Milner and Sarah Powell respectively) and Jack Jack are hilarious but not in say if Adam Sandler were writing this, there'd be jokes like him being emasculated. No, the humor with these moments are honest and given director Brad Bird is a father himself, that's not surprising and I imagine a very good friend of mine who is a father will either laugh or cry at these moments. He's struggling with helping Dash with homework, the fact that he allowed a boy Violet crushed on to get his memory erased and Jack Jack dealing with his newly discovered powers since the first movie which I describe as wild card for a very good reason.
The humor and drama are well balanced as is the action which Bird has a very good eye for. He is especially creative with these moments like Elastigirl's first stint in years as a solo superhero with her new motorcycle where she goes after a runaway hover train. Typing that sounds simple but the execution is very masterful from the camera work to even the moments where the bike splits apart constantly for her to stretch from place to place. He even works well with intense moments such as when Elastigirl goes to the location where she assumed the Screenslaver is. The colors being black and mute green as well as the tone are set up like a Horror film which I couldn't help but wonder if he has ever considered going to that genre.
Before I delver further, a quick shout out to the voice cast. They slipped into their roles very well as if nothing had passed and Huck Milner, I honestly couldn't tell the difference between him and Spencer Fox which, kudos for getting a soundalike. Thing is, when I originally hoped the sequel would be a ten years later kind of thing, I had hoped Spencer Fox would return. Alas, no but they got a good actor to follow up with.
And the newcomers like Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener and Jonathan Banks are really fantastic. Then again, given Odenkirk and Banks, my bias for Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul is showing but still. Admittedly, I got too used to Bud Lucky as the agent working for the Superhero Relocation Program but Banks, I got used to quickly after his first line and really, I'd like to think of him as an alternate universe Mike from the aforementioned shows.
But anyway, two things I noticed with this film.
One, being that I get the impression based on the film's premise that Brad Bird may had seen both Captain America: Civil War and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice when writing the script and went in the other direction in regards to the premise of making laws for superheroes and decided by the politicians. It helps even that with Elastigirl's new costume being gray, it seemed like the guy wanted to make a jab at the constant need to make superhero costumes darker-something which the DCEU films are notorious for.
The second thing and this is a big one and plays majorly into the film's premise as it goes on, the subtext. This film can be applied to the queer theory. Why? How? The film involves wanting to make superheroes legal and the film introduces new superheroes especially when Elastigirl is making headlines. This can be seen as an allegory for LGBT rights and sure, not the first time given the X-Men can be viewed in that light too. It's just that the subtext is very strong that it can be viewed in that light. And Elastigirl embracing herself as a superhero can be seen as her embracing her queerness finally especially after so long and inspired others to come out as well. And since this was brought to my attention, yes, a few moments with Elastigirl and Evelyn (voiced by Keener) can be viewed in this light too.
So between those themes and the family dynamic being strong as ever, it's hard for me to decide which I like better but Incredibles 2 I may prefer over the first despite that one being personal for me becoming a film buff. But Incredibles 2 I feel has an even stronger story, a lot of humor and drama to balance things out, great characters and excellent action to keep everything afloat. I don't want to give away too much especially who the villain is (but it was spoiled for me earlier unfortunately) but it's well worth the wait. Watch it when you can, it's highly recommended and hopefully we won't wait too long for a third film.
And a shout out to the short film Bao by Domee Shi, a cute and emotional film that I think parents can relate to. And if you have epilepsy when watching Incredibles 2, you may want to look away during certain moments, trust me.