‘Incredibles II’ Is More Proof That The Sequel Is Rarely, If Ever, As Good As The Original

Courtesy: Disney/Pixar

Disney/Pixar’s new animated movie Incredibles II is one of the studios’ most anticipated movies since the studio released its debut animated movie Toy Story way back in 1995.  Fourteen years in the making, this sequel has been demanded by fans every year since the The Incredibles premiered, and hyped up quite a bit in the past year or so by Disney/Pixar in response to that demand.  That being the case, expectations were quite high for this latest offering from what is one of Hollywood’s leading studios in Pixar.  While this highly anticipated sequel largely lives up to those expectations – thanks to its story — it is not without at least one con – its pacing.  That will be covered later along with another of the movie’s positives, the work of the movie’s voice cast.  Keeping its pros and con in consideration, Incredibles II definitely lives up to the hype and is worth the watch, but is also more proof that the sequel is rarely if ever, as good as the original.

Incredibles II is an interesting new offering from Disney/Pixar.  While maybe not Disney/Pixar’s best effort, it is also not the studios’ worst offering either as is evidenced partly through its story.  The story at the center of Incredibles II picks up right where its predecessor left off, with the Parr family facing off against The Underminer.  The outcome of that instance sets up the remainder of the story, which sees the roles established in The Incredibles reversed.  This time, Bob stays at home and has to tend to the Violet and Dash while Helen goes out and gets to live the dream that she talked about all those years ago.  That continuity is, in itself a strong piece of the story.  The deeper evaluation of the family dynamic here, seeing Bob struggle (and eventually settle into a rhythm) as he tries to be “super” dad while Helen gets to live her dream this time is interestingly enough something to which so many couples can relate.  That’s because every husband and wife/mom and dad has gone through Bob and Helen’s situation at one point or another in life children aside.  From Bob trying to make sense of the “new math” with Dash to him chasing around little Jack Jack to Helen feeling like she has to run home at the drop of a hat, despite living her dream, every couple with kids has been there, trying to balance their lives.  This is just one part of what makes the story work as well as it does.  Writer/Director Brad Bird is to be commended for his use of a red herring to mislead audiences.  This is despite the fact that there is still a certain predictability to the story in regards to the villain’s true identity.  One has to appreciate how Bird managed to make even grown up viewers second guess themselves even just to a point in this aspect.  The only downside to the whole story is the revelation of how the villain’s plan was executed.  That revelation won’t be revealed here, but when audiences see for themselves, they will agree it is anything but original.  Rather it’s something that’s been done so many times.  Of course, in Bird’s defense, this movie is a super hero movie, so there are of course going to be some limitations in how the evil plot is executed as well as other elements.  Keeping all of this in mind, even with its pros and cons in itself, the story at the center of Incredibles II proves to form a relatively solid foundation for the movie’s overall presentation.  In turn, it alone makes for enough reason to watch this movie at least once.  While the story clearly does plenty to make Incredibles II at least somewhat watchable, it does suffer from one major problem.  That problem is its pacing.

The pacing of the movie’s story doesn’t make it unwatchable, but there is no denying that it does detract from the overall viewing experience at the same time.  The pacing really becomes most prominent as an issue around the final act of the roughly 2-hour story.  The final act takes place onboard Devtech’s ship, but is set up just beforehand.  That entire act could have been shortened without the story losing any of its depth.  It was as if Bird was trying too hard to appeal to hardcore viewers who had waited with baited breath for so many years for this story, and the end result was so much material going into the story that honestly could have been left out.  It leaves one wondering how many scenes, if any, ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor before it was all said and done.  Truth be told, the amount of material thrown into the final act (and even somewhat into the second act) makes the movie’s 1-hour, 58-minute run time feel every bit that long.  While it feels every bit that long, at least the pacing doesn’t make the movie feel any longer than that set time limit.  To that end, while the movie’s pacing is problematic in the grand scheme of things, it is not enough to leave the movie unwatchable.  It just means that when the movie eventually is released on DVD, BD and digital outlets, people will definitely find themselves thankful to be able to watch it at their speed.  Luckily for the movie’s sake, this is its only major con. Given, there’s also the issue of trying to figure out why no one saw Jack Jack’s powers in action at the end of The Incredibles in examining that pacing.  Were Bob and Helen not looking up when Jack Jack was fighting Syndrome?  Honestly, that is something else that deserves note.  That’s because of how much of the story is taken up by Bob dealing with Jack Jack’s growing powers.  They had to have seen what he was doing before Bob launched Helen up to catch Jack Jack after Syndrome’s plane was destroyed.  To that end, it makes the movie’s story and related pacing even more problematic.  Adding that issue to the overall presentation that is Incredibles II, it detracts from the movie’s presentation even more, and honestly does make one question the movie overall that much more.  Of course maybe Bob and Helen didn’t see Jack Jack or maybe they forgot.  It is conceivable.  Keeping that in mind, it still keeps the movie off of life support. To that end, the movie does have at least one more positive.  That positive is the work of the movie’s voice cast.

Audiences will note that save for maybe one character – Dash – the original voice cast from The Incredibles returned for this installment of the Parr family’s adventures.  This is important to note because it meant a certain level of familiarity and friendship among the cast.  That familiarity made for performances that were just as believable as those in The Incredibles.  Huck Milner is the only new addition to the cast this time out, as he took over from Spencer Fox as the voice of Dash, and even being the “new kid on the block,” Milner still held his own as the voice of the precocious young lad.  In fact, he makes Dash just as believable here as the rest of his family.  Audiences will laugh with joy as he tries to steal back Bob’s car (and eventually does, but for a good reason, not to give away too much) because of his enthusiasm and naivety.  In the same breath, Sarah Vowell’s presentation of the adolescent now teenager Violet is such that her character is just as believable.  Craig T. Nelson is spot on once again as the voice of Bob, who this time has found himself the stay at home dad, trying to control the kids.  His take on Bob as Bob struggles to settle into his new matrimonial role of sorts will have men and women alike laughing.  One of his best moments comes as Bob is falling asleep reading a story to Jack Jack, and Jack Jack ends up trying to wake up daddy.  Every dad out there knows that struggle.  The same applies as he is trying to make sense of the “new math” in order to help Dash with his homework.  When those performances are considered along with that of Holly Hunter (and even Brad Bird once again as Edna Mode), the collective performances of the voice cast gives audiences plenty in themselves to appreciate here, too.  Considering this along with the bigger story of the movie, which really could have used some more work (sadly) before being released, Incredibles II proves to be a movie that after 14 years of waiting maybe should have waited another year as it comes up short, at least in this critic’s view.

Disney/Pixar’s new animated feature Incredibles II took 14 years to finally see the light of day.  It was a movie that for so many, had been 14 years too long in the making.  The reality though, is that because of an issue with pacing and one major plot hole that could so easily negate most of this story, Incredibles II probably should have waited at least one more year, if not more.  Simply put, it’s a work that proves once again that the sequel is rarely if ever, as good as the original.

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