The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Incredibles 2

When it was released in 2004, The Incredibles proved to be a different kind of Pixar movie. It was a little edgier, a little more sophisticated, and a lot more action-packed. It was also pretty great. Why it took fourteen years to get a sequel is perplexing, given the near-universal critical and audience acclaim. Incredibles 2 was worth the wait, though. The movie takes everything that worked about the original and elevates it.

Superheroes, we learn in the film's earliest minutes, are now legally prohibited from fighting crime, due to the destruction they tend to cause in the process. A businessman named Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) wants to bring them back, with the help of his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener). They launch an entire PR campaign, involving body cameras to show the split-second decisions heroes have to make, that revolves around Elastigirl (Holly Hunter).

While she goes out and begins working again, her husband, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), is left at home to carry out domestic duties. These include helping son Dash (Huckleberry Milner) with his homework, soothing the adolescent angst of daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell), and managing the developing powers of baby Jack-Jack. Thankfully, he's got pal Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) to lend a hand. Meanwhile, a villain named the Screenslaver has figured out how to hypnotize anyone looking at any sort of screen, and is using that ability for nefarious purposes.

Incredibles 2 tackles several compelling, thoughtful themes male insecurity when a wife's career is more successful than her husband's, the never-ending responsibilities of parenting, and our society's addiction to screens. Writer/director Brad Bird expertly weaves them all together, so that they compliment each other rather than feeling like separate entities. That gives the movie real richness, providing substance for the adult viewers and important messages for the younger ones. It's a testament to the movie that it works equally well as both superhero adventure and family dramedy.

When the action scenes come, they're ingeniously designed. A chase involving Elastigirl on a specially-equipped motorcycle is impressive in the way it plays with the laws of physics, while the grand finale combines planes and a really big boat into a thrilling attempt by the characters to prevent catastrophe. Incredibles 2 additionally has one of the most visually stunning sequences any animated film has ever contained, in which Elastigirl and Screenslaver fight inside a cage, with strobing effects surrounding them.

As in the original, there's an abundance of humor, with big laughs arriving on a regular basis. The voice actors again do very good work, creating characters who earn our empathy. And as is the case with each new Pixar movie, the animation shows advances by leaps and bounds. The images onscreen are dazzling.

Incredibles 2 is a sequel that measures up to and often surpasses its predecessor in every way, shape, and form. This is a family film that offers bountiful fun and storytelling ambition in equal measure.

( out of four)

Incredibles 2 is rated PG for action sequences and some brief mild language. The running time is 1 hour and 58 minutes.

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