Incredibles 2 ★★½

‘The Incredibles’ was a fun and refreshing standalone family film that didn’t require the sequel or a prequel treatment, cut to 14 years later, I have to ask why? ‘Incredibles 2’ is a disappointing and flawed cash gra -- er, sequel that not even your nostalgia goggles can save, I simply can’t just let it slide. There have been quite a few hot takes about the fundamental beliefs of the original 2004 film which have been amusing to read to say the least.

‘The Incredibles’ does flirt with Ayn Rand’s philosophy and undoubtedly leans towards a pro Objectivism viewpoint regarding Mr. Incredible’s arc. I consider the film to be centrist in context although it does borrow elements of egoism from Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ only using supers and everyday people separated into class structures instead. When you look at the themes of the film critically you can observe that it isn’t a zero-sum game, the ideologies mesh together to form varying degrees of conflict and resolution between the characters. “If everyone is special, no one is” as Syndrome states.

Ironically enough, let’s look at ‘Batman v Superman’ (a film I’m not particularly fond of but hear me out), based off Frank Miller’s heavily Randian influenced ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ comic series. Particularly, let’s look at the detail of how principally mistaken the public interprets Superman, but in context of BvS, that’s also kind of the point. The world doesn’t understand the concept of altruism, consequently they can only view Superman’s motivations to do good as a form of pity for the feeble rather than acting as an embodiment of righteousness, something that can be universally said to a lot of the mythos behind superheroes. Superheroes fight wrongdoing and save us from tragedy simply because they can. They have the decision to either use their powers (or authority depending on your internal philosophy) out of self-interest, but instead they choose to objectively pursue something greater than themselves.

This is the groundwork of morality in any superhero concept you could argue, especially during the course of ‘The Incredibles’. The rest of society may not have superpowers, but we each have our own exclusive talents and capabilities which we can use to either benefit or hurt one another. This was Syndrome’s downfall in the original film, not due to his internal guilt of wanting to be special when he obviously wasn’t, but that all he cared about was being special out of self-interest. His motives weren’t concerned whether what he was doing was morally virtuous or if his newfound abilities would serve the greater good, he made an egotistical decision. A decision only of which was counteracted by the righteousness of our heroes, willing to sacrifice themselves in the process to realize this goal.

‘Incredibles 2’ is painfully mediocre in comparison to the first, serviceable to be generous but not entirely appalling, there’s just no heart behind it and it shows. It’s a senseless retread that lacks any genuineness and effort and I don’t understand why (well, besides the obvious reason I’ll get to). The story begins directly after the final frame in the original, which doesn’t help that all the voice actors for each character have aged 14 years and it’s very noticeable, that took a while to get used to. If you’re going to make a sequel like this, wouldn’t it make more sense to have it set a few years after the fact?

Think about it. We could see how the kids aged, how they grew up trying to balance their lives being normal and being supers simultaneously like Peter Parker/Spiderman (or whatever he’s called these days, I can’t keep up). Instead all the characters from the original take a backseat along with many other foundations that go missing for, what exactly? It’s the same plot and story beats (supers are still illegal, reliving the glory days, uncovering a shadowy scheme) only with gender role reversals, this is seriously the story you needed to wait 14 years to tell?

The new villain is extremely predictable as you can figure out their identity immediately, nothing near as compelling as Syndrome. She is Screenslaver! Get it? We’re sooo obsessed with technology hahaha, isn’t that clever? Her motivations make absolutely no sense and are full of contradictions lacking any semblance of logic. You simply don’t give a shit about her plan since it’s too ridiculous to take seriously and that really bites a superhero film in the ass when your villain is senseless. None of the action scenes are exciting or creative, it’s essentially the same nonsense we’ve seen in any superhero film ever which is a recurring issue with this cash gra -- oops, sequel. This film waited 14 years too late since the macro for superheroes in cinema has changed drastically and is entirely different due to the success of the MCU.

The film tries to reintroduce and present themes of egoism/altruism that goes nowhere, many of the plot points also go nowhere as they either get dropped or forgotten, Elastigirl’s story goes nowhere, what’s there left to care about? Dash and Violet get more screen time, but their character development also goes nowhere which is something a cash gra -- SEQUEL should explore. Nah, instead the kids are just used as comic relief, literally which is Jack-Jack’s only purpose. Admittedly he is humorous in small doses but having a “cute baby” repetitively doing trivial and stupid things to garner a mild laugh doesn’t replace competent writing and character development.

It baffles me that this was written and directed by Brad Bird, it just felt way too safe thanks to the corporate hands at current year Disney. This is more of the same, nothing new, a quick CASH GRAB (there I said it) banking off nostalgia with terrible pacing, A and B story that drags and plays more like a sitcom than a consistent film. Nothing new is thematically explored or tackled, it’s played way too safe, so safe it becomes disappointing. It’s a decent enough film from Pixar but you’ll forget it in a week, you’re not missing anything by skipping it believe me.

I’d recommend just sticking to the original and pretend this one never happened, but if you do decide you want to check it out, there’s no rush to go see it, just wait until it streams. There’s no fantastical action sequence or set piece you’re missing out on, no spectacle, just rehashed ideas with updated textures. Although it may seem like it, this film didn’t make me livid or anything like that, it just felt really lazy and lacked novelty which I think is safe to say something you’d expect after waiting over a decade. It’s just unremarkable, meh. Maybe your kids will enjoy it but there’s nothing for adults to grasp onto which wasn’t the case in the first film.

Overall, ‘Incredibles 2’ doesn’t feel like a passion project we all needed to see, it’s a factory assembled product with the sole purpose of making money that offers no justice to these characters or themes introduced in the original. It’s one of the most predictable films I’ve ever seen and making the excuse “it’s just a kid’s movie” is not an argument. Making a film easy to follow and extremely predictable are two separate things and if I really need to spell that out further than I’m not the one with the problem. There’s no benefit to making a sequel if there are no surprises or nothing new is explored and this is a major problem with modern blockbusters, another pointless and mediocre cash grab.

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