Sunday, June 17, 2018
Written and directed by Brad Bird, Incredibles 2 is a sequel to the 2004 film about a family of superheroes who come out of hiding to fight supervillains as they deal with trying to win back the support of the public for past mistakes as well as deal with a secret supervillain. The film is an exploration of family dynamics as a family cope with trying to rehabilitate their image as well as maintain their life as a family. Featuring the voices of Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell, Catherine Keener, Bob Odenkirk, Sophia Bush, Brad Bird, Michael Bird, Huck Milner, Jonathan Banks, Phil LaMarr, and Isabella Rossellini. Incredibles 2 is a riveting and exciting film from Brad Bird.
Directed by Domee Shi, Bao is the story of a Chinese mother who deals with loneliness following the departure of her son to college as a dumpling she created comes to life. It’s a film with a simple premise that plays into a woman’s sense of loss and longing as it play into the idea of a child growing and what a mother would often expect. All of which is told in a simple yet calm manner through its rich animation as well as being accompanied by Teddy Chu’s understated yet rapturous score that rely on traditional Chinese string music and woodwinds. It is truly a spectacular short film that is moving as well as being engaging and funny.
The film picks up where the previous film left off where the Parr family find themselves fighting a supervillain in the Underminer (John Ratzenberger) as they succeed in saving the city but the damage that was created accidentally by the Incredibles left the family in trouble as superheroes are still forbidden by law. It’s a film that is about the Incredibles trying to get back in the game with the help of a telecommunications tycoon who wants to get superheroes back in the world seeing that they can still make the world safer. Yet, it would lead to a change in dynamics as Helen Parr/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) is chosen to be the representative to bring superheroes back into public eye while Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) stays at the family’s new home to watch over the kids as he deals with being a full-time father and not doing superhero work. Brad Bird’s screenplay doesn’t just play into Bob’s struggle with raising three children including the baby Jack-Jack who is starting to gain multiple superpowers. It’s also the fact that Helen was chosen instead of him as he’s forced to realize that he isn’t the right choice due to the damages he accidentally causes in trying to save everyone.
Bob’s arc is the most interesting aspect of the film where he is seen out of his comfort zone as he tries to help Dash (Huck Milner) with his math homework and to not get into trouble while Violet (Sarah Vowell) is dealing with growing pains as it would relate to the fact that her crush Tony Rydinger (Michael Bird) doesn’t know who she is due to the fact that his memory was erased over the Underminer incident. It’s where the kids realize how much they miss their mother as Helen is doing work for Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) who is willing to help the superheroes get their jobs back as he felt the superhero ban was unjust due to the fact that his father was killed by a robber. Helping Helen in her new work is Winston’s sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) who would create some new technology as she feels underappreciated for her work as she and Helen bond as the latter is trying to discover of the identity of this mysterious villain known as the Screenslaver. The Screenslaver is an unusual antagonist whose intent is to control everyone and is against superheroes wanting to return in order to stabilize the status quo.
Bird’s direction is definitely grand in terms of the world that the Parrs are in as it does start off with this battle with the Underminer as they’re aided by longtime family friend Lucius Best/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) in stopping his machine from wreaking havoc. It is a massive set piece that play into the strengths of the family but also for the fact that Dash and Violet are still new in the superhero game as they have to watch over Jack-Jack while their parents and Frozone stop the Underminer. Bird’s usage of the wide shots play into the scope of these action set pieces as it include this intense scene of Helen trying to stop a train from going out of control as its engineer was unknowingly controlled by the Screenslaver. It’s a sequence that play into Bird’s approach to action including this massive climax as it relates to the Screenslaver and its power on everyone which feature some unique hypnotic lighting where Bird and animation director Travis Hathaway use it as a way for Screenslaver’s desire for control.
Bird’s direction for Bob’s arc is more intimate with its medium shots and some close-ups as it play into his struggle in trying to keep up with Jack-Jack’s growing powers that include a comical sequence of Jack-Jack fighting with a raccoon. The sequence of Bob taking Jack-Jack to Edna Mode (Brad Bird) is also comical for how Edna reacts to Jack-Jack as someone she believes can inspire her to create better costumes while being upset that Helen is given a new one without her consent. Bird also knows when to create these small moments as it relates to Bob trying to understand Violet’s growing pains as well as finding his footing as a dad where he can be himself and Mr. Incredible. It all play into the idea of the family dynamic as Helen’s time away from her family has her needing them once she deals with the Screenslaver whose plans for control is at great risk prompting the Incredibles, Frozone, and other superheroes to go out there and fight for the good of the world. Overall, Bird crafts an exhilarating yet engrossing film about a family of superheroes trying to get back in the game as well as balance their lives as themselves.
Cinematographer Mahyar Abousaeedi does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography in creating moods and shading for many of the animated sequences as well as things look at night and in the day. Editor Stephen Schaffer does amazing work with the editing as it help play into the intensity and craziness of the action scenes through some fast cutting as well as slowing things down in straightforward cuts for the dramatic and comedic scenes. Production designer Ralph Eggleston and art director Josh Holtsclaw do fantastic work with the look of the city as well as the new home of the Parrs as well as the office building that the Deavors live in Sound designer Ren Klyce and co-sound editor Coya Elliott do superb work with the sound in creating some effects for some of the weapons, Jack-Jack’s voice based on archives from the previous film, and superpowers as well as the effects in Screenslaver’s images. The film’s music by Michael Giacchino is great for its jazzy score with elements of horns, strings, and percussions as it help play into the air of excitement as well as some smooth and heavy pieces for the suspenseful moments as it’s a highlight of the film.
The voice casting by Natalie Lyon and Kevin Reher is wonderful as it include some notable small roles from John Ratzenberger as the Underminer, Kimberly Adair Clark as Lucius’ wife Honey, Bill Wise as the mysterious Screenslaver, Paul Eiding as an aging superhero named Reflux, Phil LaMarr in dual roles as the superheroes Krushauser and Helectrix, Michael Bird as Violet’s crush Tony Rydinger, Jonathan Banks as the Parrs’ old government friend Rick Dicker who tries to help them while dealing with the loss of his job, and Sophia Bush as a young superheroine named Voyd who idolizes Elastigirl as she can get objects to disappear and reappear through different dimensional voids. Brad Bird is fantastic in the voice role of Edna Mode as the fashion designer who creates superhero costumes as she helps Bob deal with Jack-Jack whom she sees as a muse while creating a tracking device to anticipate his growing powers. Isabella Rossellini is terrific in a small but memorable voice role as the Ambassador as a foreign official who is eager to get them back in service while befriending Elastigirl.
Bob Odenkirk is superb as Winston Deavor as a telecommunications mogul who wants to help Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and Frozone get back into the game in the hopes of bringing superheroes back into the world as he’s also a hardcore fan of the superheroes. Catherine Keener is brilliant as Evelyn Deavor as Winston’s older sister who is a tech genius and creates all of the gadgets yet feels underappreciated for her work while at least getting some compliments from Elastigirl. Huck Milner is excellent as Dash Parr as the boy with super-speed who is trying to be a good kid despite being a troublemaker as well as trying to solve math problems. Sarah Vowell is amazing as Violet Parr as a teenage girl who can turn invisible and create force-fields as she starts to deal with growing pains as well as uncertainty in wanting to be a superhero.
Samuel L. Jackson is remarkable as Lucius Best/Frozone as a superhero with the ability to create ice and freeze things who is first recruited Deavor into getting the superheroes back on the job while he also helps Bob deal with Jack-Jack’s growing powers. Craig T. Nelson is marvelous as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible as a hero of great strength who deals with sitting at home to watch over the kids as he laments his own bruised ego and shortcomings as a father forcing him to find his balance. Finally, there’s Holly Hunter in a phenomenal performance as Helen Parr/Elastigirl as a heroine with the ability to stretch her body parts into anything as someone who is given the chance to bring heroes back into the public eye while dealing with the mysterious foe in the Screenslaver as she suspects that something isn’t right.
Incredibles 2 is a film that definitely lives up to its incredible namesake thanks in part to Brad Bird’s sprawling vision as well as a spectacular voice cast. Along with its gorgeous visuals, Michael Giacchino’s thrilling score, and a mixture of genres that blend together to create something entertaining and compelling. It’s a film that manages to provide so much in the idea of what a superhero film can be as well as showcase the life outside of a superhero that is trying to find that balance in being both a hero and a regular person. In the end, Incredibles 2 is a sensational film from Brad Bird and Pixar.
Pixar Films: Toy Story - A Bug's Life - Toy Story 2 - (Monsters Inc.) – (Finding Nemo) – The Incredibles - Cars - Ratatouille - WALL-E - Up - Toy Story 3 - Cars 2 - Brave - Monsters University - Inside Out - The Good Dinosaur - (Finding Dory) – (Cars 3) – Coco – Toy Story 4 - (Onward) - (Soul (2020 film))
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