" Alvin, a native has wandered into my frame "
— John Malkovich, Shadow of the Vampire

MRQE Top Critic

9

Nifty production design, a cinematic sensibility, but not quite a classic —Matt Anderson (review...)

Stitchpunk 9 is the most refined

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It’s worth the wait.

Infinite Justice

Elastigirl is enlisted to restore the supers' reputation
Elastigirl is enlisted to restore the supers’ reputation

Waiting 14 years for this follow-up is a double-edged sword for Pixar. On the plus side, there’s plenty of pent-up interest in seeing more of the Parr family and their friends. On the flip side, 14 years is a long time of compounding fondness for the original, introducing it to a couple generations worth of the planet’s newest citizens and setting already lofty expectations ablaze as to what a sequel should be like.

A lot has happened in the movie world since 2004 and the Incredibles face a revamped movie marketplace. For one thing, Batman was reborn by Christopher Nolan, redefining the superhero movie. That success was, in turn, a huge catalyst for both DC and Marvel getting to where they are today in the big screen business. Oh, and Disney went on a shopping spree, buying Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.

For the most part, writer/director Brad Bird deftly handles the pressure and delivers a solid story that simultaneously fits in perfectly with the Pixar canon while also further stretching out the possibilities for what can be done in an animated feature (in what is to-date the longest Pixar feature run time, at 118 minutes).

It’s certainly more fun watching Incredibles 2 than many of the DC and Marvel features, particularly from the past year or two. The world of the Incredibles is naturally CGI, while the world of Marvel is increasingly devolving the human, live-action component into a supporting role, subservient to all the CGI.

And so it is Incredibles 2 offers more smart humor and a more resonant story than Justice League and Avengers: Infinity War combined.

This Is Municiberg

That story picks up right where the first one left off. Virtually to the frame. That’s part of the magic of animation. The characters haven’t aged a day, while the actors have advanced 14 years, yet they can still successfully perform the vocal work necessary to bring the characters to life. The only major change is newcomer Huck Milner, who provides the voice for Dash Parr. Craig T. Nelson (Mr. Incredible), Holly Hunter (Elastigirl), Sarah Vowell (Violet), Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone) and, of course, Brad Bird (Edna Mode) all return with their vocal chords in fine form.

Let’s recap: Superheroes’ activities were pronounced illegal — having done more harm than good and leaving citizens with hefty tabs for all the destruction caused by their world-saving ways. Lawsuits piled up and superheroes were placed in a government protection program, relegated to mundane civilian work.

Things were looking up for the superheroes following the defeat of Syndrome, but other vile opportunists plagued the world. Undermining the Underminer led to serious damage to City Hall and that didn’t help the supers’ social standing.

To turn the tide, all it takes is a pair of true believers, a brother-sister tag team from a telecom powerhouse called Devtech. Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk, The Post) and Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener, Capote) have the right motivation and a seemingly sound solution. Their father was murdered during a home invasion, helpless and, thanks to the anti-superhero laws, without the ability to call on the heroes he had once trusted. In order to restore the supers’ proper place in the world, it’ll take an exercise in perception change.

Finite Injustice

Part of Pixar’s success has been the ability to craft stories with cross-generational appeal and The Incredibles is the epitome of that storytelling savviness. It’s held up extremely well over the years.

In the original, the social commentary — fun for the adults to pick up on without disrupting the pure entertainment value for younger audiences — covered things like the overly-litigious nature of society and the notion of preventing children from excelling so nobody feels inferior.

Elastigirl advised Dash and Violet to protect their identities. It’s their most valuable possession. Shift that advice to today’s real-world problems with identity theft and her words are prescient; The Incredibles has the added magic of becoming even more relevant over time.

In Incredibles 2, the societal eye-poking continues. Politicians get jabbed as disliking people who do good simply because it’s the right thing to do. But much more significant is the new baddie in New Urbem, a cyberpunk named Screenslaver. Playing off the evils of mobile device addiction, Screenslaver hacks people’s slavery to their screens and uses it as a conduit for hypnosis and thought control.

Truth to power: As the movie notes, people don’t break a sweat these days and they don’t participate in life — they watch it.

The Elastic Ceiling

All of that serves as lead-in to the main storyline. The Deavors’ plan is to put Helen Parr back in superhero mode as Elastigirl and rebuild society’s trust in the supers. After all, her super balance sheet is cleaner than Bob’s when calculating the destruction caused while doing good. Helen grapples with the complexities of having to leave her family in order to save it and having to break the law in order to fix it. But that’s what supers do: the crazy and the impossible.

Replacing the likes of Thunderhead, Dynaguy and others lost in various cape calamities is a gaggle of B-list supers; they get ensnared in a mystery caper that’s rather easy to solve, but that doesn’t diminish the entertainment value of the overall package. There’s plenty of color in the expanded mix of metahumans, including a hilarious spin on aging with a superhero dubbed “Reflux.” He puts his unfortunate medical condition to good use.

With that, while Elastigirl resumes public duty, Bob is left with the housework — and that’s when plenty of that famous Pixar heart enters the picture as Bob sharpens his powers as a super dad to a daughter dealing with a broken heart.