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Thursday, June 14, 2018 12:04 am

Stylish Incredibles 2 hits all the right notes

 

A great deal has changed where pop culture and superheroes are concerned. Since the release of The Incredibles 14 years ago, the world of caped heroes with extraordinary powers was thought to be the purview of nerds and overgrown adolescents. The Marvel Films juggernaut hadn’t begun, and not everyone knew that Tony Stark was Iron Man, Captain America was a man out of time, and that you simply don’t make Bruce Banner angry. The mainstream success of the superhero film has changed the landscape of American escapist fare for good and ill. Would anyone care to revisit Pixar’s superhero family, a vehicle through which they extolled and parodied the genre at the same time?

I thought that the sell-by date for these characters had long ago passed – Disney even acknowledges this in a clever prologue that has their main voice talent admitting that, yes, 14 years is a long time – but having seen Incredibles 2, I’m willing to admit my hunch was wrong. While not groundbreaking (and at times covering much of the same ground as the first film under the watchful eye of series creator Brad Bird), the movie is a welcome excuse to check in on the Parrs once more.

Picking up not too long after the first film ended, the Incredibles find themselves in a world in which superheroes have been outlawed. Seen as being more trouble than they’re fiscally worth, costumed crusaders around the world have retired or have been working underground. However, industrialist Winston Deaver (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) plans to get the law changed by bringing some of the heroes out of the shadows and highlighting all of the good they do. He approaches Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), his wife Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and their ally Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) to follow his lead, but wants the female of the group to be the first to step into the spotlight. That means her husband has to hold down the fort and mind to the kids, a task he’s less than thrilled with.

The children in question are, of course, teen mistress of invisibility Violet (Sarah Vowell), speedster Dash (Huck Milner) and toddler Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), who can do a myriad of things. With mom and dad forced to reluctantly switch places and assume new roles, the film’s theme of having to adapt as life changes is front and center. This leads us to many amusing moments, most of them surrounding Mr. Incredible, who finds himself stymied when forced to help his son with his math homework or faced with the mercurial nature of his teenaged daughter. His sleep-deprived meltdown is a highlight, and kudos to Nelson for giving comedic voice to the parental angst that so many of us have dealt with.

There are no surprises where the story is concerned, but Bird’s eye makes the film worth watching. The colors pop here and the superheroics are truly spectacular. The scenes vary in regards to their visual intent and composition – sunlit action, noir-tinged moments, dazzling strobe-light sequences and other pieces of eye candy keep you engaged even when the story lags. Incredibles 2 is the most visually dynamic film I’ve seen this year, and while its story is a bit pedestrian, it consistently provides one astounding sight after another.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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