For a re­view of “Incredibles 2,”

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It’s been 14 years since the premiere of Brad Bird’s beloved an­i­mated su­per­hero film, “The Incredibles,” one of the mega-hit Pixar films that ce­mented the an­i­ma­tion stu­dio’s rep­u­ta­tion as the pro­duc­tion com­pany for film hu­mor and heart that would sat­isfy both par­ents and chil­dren. With cool mid-cen­tury flair and eye-pop­ping spec­ta­cle, “The Incredibles” sent up su­per­hero and spy tropes, but ul­ti­mately, it’s a fam­ily story. Hap­pily, Bird has pulled it off again, in the long-awaited se­quel “Incredibles 2,” which is as good, if not bet­ter than the orig­i­nal. Bird smartly blends emo­tion and ac­tion for a su­per­hero film that has real stakes and im­pact. It helps that it’s funny. In an era of su­per­hero fa­tigue, “Incredibles 2” re­minds us that su­per­heroes, ul­ti­mately, were sup­posed to be fun. While live-ac­tion su­per­hero films flail at try­ing to fig­ure out if they’re dark, gritty or witty, “Incredibles 2” is un­abashedly a blast, without any iden­tity cri­sis. How­ever, within this fan­tas­ti­cal world, it ac­tu­ally feels like the char­ac­ters are in real peril, an el­e­ment that’s gone miss­ing from block­buster ac­tion fran­chises, where it seems like death is never re­ally an op­tion. In “Incredibles 2,” the Parr fam­ily, long­ing to live a nor­mal life, is en­listed in a PR campaign to make su­per­heroes le­gal again. Win­ston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn (Cather­ine Keener), the wealthy sib­ling bene­fac­tors on their side, have both the means and the mo­ti­va­tion to re­ha­bil­i­tate the su­per­hero im­age, and they en­list Elasti­girl (Holly Hunter) in a me­dia blitz to make su­per­pow­ered crime fight­ing look good. Soon, she’s taking on a mys­te­ri­ous vil­lain, Screenslaver, who hyp­no­tizes his vic­tims with glow­ing screens (sound fa­mil­iar?). Mean­while, Mr. In­cred­i­ble (Craig T. Nel­son) finds he’s not so in­cred­i­ble at be­ing Mr. Mom while he cares for angsty tween Vi­o­let (Sarah Vow­ell), su­per-charged Dash (Huck Mil­ner) and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fu­cile), who he dis­cov­ers has a host of dif­fer­ent and equally chal­leng­ing — though very en­ter­tain­ing — su­per­pow­ers. Bird threads sev­eral smart themes through­out “Incredibles 2,” about gen­der roles in the work­place and at home, the me­dia’s role in pol­i­tics and our col­lec­tive ad­dic­tions to screens. While he never re­ally goes deep in un­pack­ing these ideas, there’s much more to the sub­stan­tive story than just ac­tion and hu­mor — it hits that sweet spot of sat­is­fac­tion for both younger and older au­di­ences. The an­i­ma­tion is just as jaw-drop­ping. It’s more tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced than the orig­i­nal film, but Bird main­tains the retro 1950s aes­thetic. The Parrs live in a strange land where mid-cen­tury styling, in­clud­ing the TVs, cars, stun­ning mod­ernist ar­chi­tec­ture and kitschy Tiki de­tails co­ex­ist along with highly ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy. Along with Michael Gi­acchino’s ad­dic­tive, spy movie-in­spired score, it makes for a film with a snazzy sin­gu­lar style. Most im­pres­sively, for all the slick panache Bird and his team of an­i­ma­tors have brought to the style of “Incredibles 2,” they’ve built in the most im­por­tant el­e­ment of all — ac­tual danger, which cre­ates ac­tual emotional in­vest­ment. When Elasti­girl tries out her new mo­tor­cy­cle, she skids and teeters, and when she’s in pur­suit of a run­away high­speed train, we feel her ef­fort, de­spite all her im­pres­sive su­per­pow­ers. In a cine­matic land­scape where it seems like con­se­quences, haz­ards, in­jury and even death are no longer a fac­tor, it’s pos­si­bly the most re­mark­able achieve­ment of all that Bird has made a film that puts both the danger — and the fun — back into su­per­hero sto­ries. “Incredibles 2,” a Dis­ney-Pixar re­lease, is rated PG for ac­tion se­quences and some brief mild lan­guage. Runnng time: 118 min­utes. ★★★★

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jason Mitchell, left, and Trevor Jack­son star in the Sony Pic­tures re­lease “Su­per­fly.”

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