Movies and Video Games by Sean Daniel
Where The Incredibles 2 fell short of The Incredibles
The Incredibles 2 is a computer-animated family superhero film directed by Brad Bird. It is the sequel to The Incredibles, a 2004 standout film from Pixar. The Incredibles 2 is rated PG and is in theatres now.
The 14-year gap between The Incredibles (2004) and The Incredibles 2 (2018) built an impossible amount of hype – impossible in the sense that the second film just can’t compete with the first. The Incredibles 2 is still a fantastic film – it has a detailed story, spectacular action, and sharp dialogue that kids and adults can enjoy – but it’s hard to match the massive expectations fans had. There are three things that brought the film down from perfection.
A Disappointing Villain
The brand-new villain, The Screenslaver, was a major disappointment. Smart marketing and cool powers based around television and hypnosis had my hopes up for something great. Some villains just aren’t effective, making big speeches and getting nothing done. Syndrome, the fantastic villain of the first film, was theatrical but still achieved many of his goals, all with a strong motive. He is, in my opinion, the best-written and most fun Pixar villain.
The Screenslaver also achieves their goal and even avoids big speeches, but the ‘reveal’ twist is too simple, and the villain’s motive isn’t explored in enough detail. It not only cheapens their actions, but how much we empathize with them. Another issue is the lengthy amount of time we get to deduce the mysterious new villain’s identity. Syndrome’s alter ego, former Mr. Incredible fanatic Buddy Pine, was revealed sooner than The Screenslaver’s, taking the focus off of who he was and putting the focus on what he does.
A Shadow Over the Humor
The original film was funny because it was so relatable. It was light on slapstick humour and heavy on familiarity. The Parr family regularly fought, made mistakes, and bonded like a real family might. Syndrome also provided some twisted laughs without becoming a joke for the same reason – he was relatable. There were even ridiculous side characters, like The Underminer, who ‘hereby declares war on peace and happiness’.
The family antics (and The Underminer) return in the sequel, though it feels less light, as if it were under a shadow. This darker tone makes sense in the story, but it doesn’t benefit the film. We also see a lot of Jack-Jack’s new powers, which create new opportunities for laughter, but I feel he’s a funny character because he’s not stuck under the shadow. He’s a cute baby with no hang-ups or problems. To the film’s credit, we relate more to Mr. Incredible trying to take care of him as Elastigirl does hero work. The result is hilarious.
That Special Touch
Do you remember ‘no capes’? Syndrome met his end in the original film when he was sucked into a jet turbine thanks to his cape, as foreshadowed by superhero fashion designer Edna Mode. How about the whole mechanic with Elastigirl distraught, believing her superhero husband Mr. Incredible was unfaithful? These thought-provoking details, far outside the visual details of the state-of-the-art animation of both films, are part of what makes them so strong.
The Incredibles 2 may have polish, but the set-ups and payoffs from the first film are stronger. Mr. Incredible’s arc as he becomes a better father is touching, and Violet Parr has a great arc involving her crush, Tony, but they don’t compare to any of the characters’ improvements as seen in the end of the original film. The parents’ marriage is fixed, Dash Parr finally gets to participate in sports, and Violet finds confidence and is asked out at the end of the film. It’s not that The Incredibles 2 lacks character arcs and interesting twists, but it lacks the original’s special touch.
-Sean Daniel email@example.com