The Incredibles 2 an Elastigirl story was INCREDIBLY ok, but I really wouldn’t want to see it again. So before I explain my problems with this film, I will do it justice by telling what I liked. The animation was top notch, which is what everyone expects from Pixar. I really enjoyed the action scenes in the first half of the film, particularly the train chase sequence which showed off some really creative uses of Elastigirl’s powers. There was also her first with the villain Screensaver which displayed some impressive lighting effects. I also like the idea of it being more of an Elastigirl movie, with Mr. Incredible taking a more supportive role in the film. It puts the characters in different situations which allows the audience to explore more aspects of their characters. It was also funny, but that’s about it.
The film had a lot of potentials but kept fumbling the ball for most of the story. So allow me to explain how the fumbling all played out.
Part 1 – Things Change, (Except When They Don’t)
My biggest gripe with the film is that no one really learns anything by the end of it, the characters are pretty much the same as when they started the film. First is that the central thematic question brought up by the movie’s villain Screensaver is never really answered. Screenslaver’s problem with superheroes is that it makes the general public complacent where they believe that they don’t have to address their own issues because the superhumans will take care of it. At the end of the film, the superheroes take care of the problem and are celebrated without ever really addressing Screenslavers criticisms, (HOORAY ETHICAL QUESTIONS AVOIDED). The movie doesn’t even bother to admit that it is complicated or that it can’t answer this question, it just brings it up and then leaves it be.
On top of the audience never really getting an answer to the central thematic question of the film none of the individual charters to change that much from how they were at the start of the film. To illustrate this, I’m gonna list where the characters started and finished at in Incredibles 1, and compare that to where they begin and end in Incredibles 2.
Helen (Mrs. Incredible)
Is trying to leave her superhero life behind to raise a family ⇒ learns to embrace the superhero side of herself to save her family.
Is brought back into that superhero life ⇒ is a still a superhero by the end of the film.
The main problem with Mrs. Incredible’s arc is that she doesn’t have to change in order to save the day- what she does do is literally shoot the villain in the back to win.
Bob (Mr. Incredible)
Feels trapped by his domestic life and jumps at the first opportunity to be a superhero again -> realized how his family is the most important thing to him and that his superhero powers should be in service to them.
Struggles with being a stay at home dad ⇒ Becomes good at being a stay at home dad
To give the movie some credit, there was a bit of growth on Mr. Incredibles part, but the move never spent a lot of time emphasizing those moments or how he is growing. The first moment of growth is when he gives up his Incredimobile, showing that he is willing to leave his past glory behind to focus on his family. The problems here is that this was only in one scene, he already learned this lesson in the first film, and it doesn’t matter because he gets the car back and returns to being a superhero at the end of the movie. So there was no consequence to this story arc because he really hasn’t lost or gave up anything. His second major point of growth is when he is willing to rely on help from others to raise his family. But again the movie doesn’t take time to explore this as this growth is shown in the scene where he sends Jack-Jack to be babysat by Edna and this scene is played more for laughs than to emphasize a change for Mr. Incredible.
Hides her face behind her hair, Is shy and down on herself which inhibits the use of her powers and her ability to interact with the boy she likes -> Wears her hair back showing her face, is confident enough to use her powers freely and ask her crush on a date.
Her love life is trouble since Mr. incredible erased her crush’s memory of her ⇒ She starts talking to her crush again and goes on a date.
The problem with Violet’s arc is that she is not really the protagonist of her own story. In the first film, her character growth came about because of her own decisions like when she decides to start wearing her hair back and go look for her parents against her mother’s wishes. She gains this confidence after choosing to take action in spite of her fears, and she is a different person by the end of the movie. In Incredibles 2 Bob is the one responsible for her boy troubles, he erases her crush’s memories, and he is the one who takes efforts to restore their relationship. This leaves Violet without anything to do in the movie. But not having anything to do an even bigger problem for Dash.
Wants to use his powers but is restricted by his parents and society ⇒ learns the full extent of his powers and is able to use them in moderation in his personal life.
Um.. has a trouble with math? ⇒ gets a good grade in math, i think?
Dash really has nothing to do in this film, his conflict is only in the service of Bob’s conflict in the story. There is really not much to say about him because the movie does nothing with his character.
Is a baby ⇒ Is a SUPER BABY
Is a SUPER BABY ⇒ Makes the audience laugh with his super baby…niss
I think this one explains itself
My point is that there is little to no growth for each of the characters in this movie. This comes as a result of the film starts right where the first one ended which I think was a mistake because at the end of the first movie all of the characters were developed, so you pretty much write yourself into a corner before you start writing the script. This could have been fixed if they have the movie take place some years after the first one so we can get characters who have changed and have slightly more experience. This would allow the film can explore new challenges for the characters that they can face which can show the viewing how they have changed over the years and how their past experiences influenced them. But I guess I’m not a Disney executive what do I know. At least this is not the biggest problem in the film, that honor goes to how the script treated the child characters.
PART 2 – What about the Children, Won’t Anyone Think of the Children
So I already talked about how the kids have nothing to do in this movie other than to be the tools for the film’s jokes. But it’s particularly bad when the writers need to find out what to do with them when they get involved in the final fight. There is one scene of Violet using her force field and invisibility powers in creative ways to fight one of the hypnotized villains but nothing memorable outside of that one moment. Dash doesn’t do much in the final fight either he doesn’t use his speed in an interesting way, the most important thing that he does is push a button. There are no moments like when Dash ran on water, When Violet uses her force field to escape imprisonment, or when Violet and Dash combine their powers to create that invisible hamster ball. No instead Violet and Dash are saved by the baby, and there is never really a point of tension like in the first film but instead, all the perils the children face are resolved in a comedic faced by the super baby, and it’s all played for laughs.
This is what depressed me about the movie. The Incredibles 1 was a family film, for every member of the family. When I watch the first film as a kid my parents identified with Helen and Bob’s struggle of trying to deal with the frustrations of parenting while leaving their youth behind for the sake of their kids. As an adolescent, I profoundly identified with Dash’s restlessness and desire to just goof-off and Violet’s social anxiety and low self-esteem. Because I was able to identify with the struggles of characters that were my age, I was ready to cheer and celebrate when they were kicking butt as superheroes. It made me think I can overcome my problems and be great even as a young kid.
Incredibles 2 doesn’t have that. I can imagine kids seeing the Incredibles 2 not being able to become emotionally involved in the conflict as they could in Incredibles 1. Despite it being market as a family film accessible to all ages, Incredibles 2 is an adult only plot only looking into issues that adults can fully identify with. No kid stuff here.
It’s a tragedy that Violet and Dash are no longer characters but comedic and plot devices for the film which bring along Jack-Jack so he can do funny super-baby stuff.
SPOILERS AHEAD: Skip to Part 6 if You Don’t Want to Know Major Plot Points
Part 3 – WHAAAAAT!?
I won’t be able to explain my next major problem with the movie without spoiling some of the major plot points, so if you don’t want to know what happens then skip this section.
The writing really falls apart in the second half, in fact, there is an exact moment in the film where the script gives up on pursuing the themes brought up in the first half as well as some logical coherence to give the audience what they want. Half of the time I was thinking to myself – “What? why is this happening?”
The script starts to fall apart when Mrs. Incredible gets hypnotized, and the event that follows are all contrivances for the sake of the audience, one moment, in particular, is the monologue scene.
So even though screensaver has Mrs. Incredible hypnotized they still take the time to explain their motivations to Helen in one of those villain monologues you would typically see on Saturday morning cartoons. This was a frustrating scene in the film for me because the villain had to put in a bunch of wasted effort to give the monologue. Like they have Mrs. Incredible hypnotize they have practically won, but they put Mrs. Incredible in the freezing room in order disable her powers, then turns off the hypnosis, and after Screenslaver explains there plan they turn the hypnosis back on again. WHY why would the villain waste all that time and effort to turn the hypnosis off only to put it back on after explaining their plan. Its because the screenwriters thought that there wasn’t a point in the story where the heroes could discover Screenslaver’s plan in a way that was natural occur in the storyline, so that had to force a scene in so the audience could follow along. It’s frustrating because there is a moment in the story near the end of the final battle where the villain and Mrs. Incredible are on a plane together, and there could have explained her motivations without having to work around the hypnosis junk. What’s even more frustrating is that the first Incredibles movies had a moment making fun of this trope, which is ironic because the Incredibles 2 takes a lot of its story beats from the first film.
Part 4 – Ya Gotta Give the People What They Want
And what they want is what they expect. What do they expect out of Incredibles 2, exactly what was in Incredibles 1. If I break down the plots of both of the Incredibles films side by side, I’m sure my point will be made clear.
- We open to an action scene where Mr Incredible is fighting crime, he encounters a super-villain and ends up failing to capture him and in the process causes more harm than good
- We then see the hero’s down on their luck, they are rejected by society and has to make do living the lives of ordinary people
- Then an billionaire hires Mr incredible to allow him to become a superhero again and fight evil
- But it is then revealed that the Billionaire was a villain conspiring to eliminate superheroes from the world
- Mr incredible is captured
- The rest of the Parr family goes to the rescue, with Mrs. Incredible attempting to rescue Mr Incredible first and the children aiding them afterwards
- In the end the Family comes together to save a the city from destruction with the help of Frozon
- At the end of the film superheros are accepted again and the film ends with the family about to fight another criminal.
- Opens with an action scene of the superheroes being superheros only to have the villain escape and the hero’s causing more harm than good.
- Heroes are then blamed for the destruction and are force live as normal people.
- The Incredibles are down on their luck stuck in a domestic lifestyle
- But an billionaire comes to recruit Helen to be a superhero again.
- After a few initial victors its reveal that one of the billionaires was a villain. conspiring to eliminate superheroes from the world.
- Mrs. Incredible is captured.
- The rest of the Parr family goes to the rescue of Mrs. Incredible, with Mr. Incredible attempting the rescue first and the kids come in afterward.
- In the end the family works together with Frozon to save the city from destruction
- Superheros are once again accepted into society and the final scene shows the family preparing to fight criminals.
The second film follows the same story beats. They had about a decade to think about ideas for this film, and you decide to go with the same plot structure as the last film, if they make an Incredibles 3 will it be about Violet or Dash (or more likely Jack-Jack) getting hired by a billionaire to be a superhero only for that billionaire to betray them. It just seems lazy that they couldn’t do a different kind of plot structure than the first movie, but whatever I guess people just want the same film that they already watched.
Part 5 – Get All Your Heroes Onto a Boat
It seems like the second half of the film is just the writers trying to figure out a way to get all the superheroes on one ship for the final battle, logical coherence be darned. First is that the villain has Mr. Incredible captured, but I don’t know why she would need Mr.Incredible hypnotized. You could argue that it was so he doesn’t come in later to interfere, but he had no idea that Mrs. Incredible was in trouble until he got the phone call from the villain. But anyway Mr incredible falls for the villain trap and gets hypnotized, so he is on the boat for the final fight.
I also have to question why the villain would even bother to try and capture the kids, like how were they going to find out about the villains plans. If the Screen Slaver had not given Mr.increible that call or send the hypnotized supers, she probably would have one, she had all these other superheroes around to ruin the reputation of supers, so why did she need the kids. Well, she needed the kids so the audience can see all the Incredibles in one place to beat the villain like in the first movie.
The why this stuck out to me was because the first movie brought the whole family together in a way that was organic to the story. So for the sake of argument, I’m going to compare how the entire family gets involved in the conflict in the first film in comparison to the second film.
- Helen becomes suspicious that Bob is lying to her about where he is going so she goes to Edna to get some clues and finds out that he is on an island, probably captured.
- She then abruptly leaves to find him which worries Violet and Dash so they decide to stowaway on a plain that Mrs. Incredible is using to get to the island.
- Once they arrive on the Island Mrs. Incredible goes to find Mr. Incredible and the kids have to leave there hiding place when it turns out the cave they are saying in was a silo for Syndrome’s rocket, they are subsequently spotted and chased by Syndrome’s guards.
- Mr and Mrs. Incredible escape the facility together and learn that their kids are under attack, after saving there kids the whole family is captured by syndrome, which means they are all at the same place to get involved in the final battle
- Helen is hypnotized by ScreenSlaver.
- Bob learns that Helen is in trouble because he gets a call from Screenslaver telling him that Helen needs help.
- Mr. Incredible is then hypnotized and put on the boat.
- The kids are then attacked by a group of superheros that are under the control of Screenslaver which leads them to board the boat and save the parents.
The point I’m trying to make is that in the Incredibles 1 the rest of the family gets involved in the conflict by their own initiative, while in the Incredibles 2 the family gets involved because the villain did something that was entirely unnecessary for their plan to work. Also in the Incredibles 1, the children and spouse getting involved in the conflict contributed to there character arc, while in the Incredibles 2 the Screenslaver conflict had nothing to do with Bob’s development as a stay at home dad, and the kids didn’t even have a character arc for this conflict to contribute to. Even the small battles that Violet and Dash did have didn’t have anything to do with their powers or own personal shortcomings, they get involved because they were involved in the first film’s climax and that’s what the audience was expecting for this film. Speaking of expectations, how about that baby.
Part 6 – Funny baby LOL XD
Remember that crazy moment near the end of the first Incredibles film, whereafter the family beats the giant robot you hear all the voicemails of the baby sitter freaking out over Jack-Jack. Which then leads to that dramatic moment where Syndrome is about to get away with the baby, only for Jack-Jack to turn into the tiny monster that starts beating up Syndrome. Pretty neat and a good twist too, so now that Jack Jack is a known super-baby what do you do with him? Play him for laughs of course.
This isn’t entirely a bad thing, in fact, it works great in the first half of the film where the super-powered baby is making things hard for Bob as a stay at home dad. It is playing up the difficulties of raising an infant to a comedic degree. A funny super-powered baby works well when it’s appropriate. The climax of the film where Dash and Violet are on a life or death sneaking mission is not a relevant point to have comedic baby antics.
First off there is no tension in these later scenes during what should be an intense situation. Violet and Dash are in mortal danger, but that fact is glossed over in the wake of the baby comedy. Second, it leads to pretty lazy writing. Jack-Jack can literally do anything, meaning that it doesn’t matter what Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack are facing because the baby will use new power to save the day. Its Disney Pixar equivalent of Goku using the never before seen Ultra Instinct mode or Naruto using a new Jutsu with a new Nine Tail Fox Form to win a battle. No limits are meaning there is no risk, tension, or any chance for the writers to do something creative with a limited tool set.
The reason why this bothers me so much is that they threw away an opportunity to pass off Jack Jack to Edna and allow Violet and Dash a chance in the superhero spotlight and show them doing something cool like the adults. But no, no cool superhero kids moments, only funny babies.
The Incredibles 2 did a better job at making me depressed than the DC superhero films, so I guess that’s something. In a film series about realizing your potential, Incredibles 2 is a bunch of wasted potentials. I’m not upset, just disappointed, disappointed that they had 10 years to develop the ideas for the Incredibles 2 and they realized something that is less than what the original was. It’s just sad, Sad that the film caters to what the audience was expecting at the expense of its new ideas and worried that the child characters have no chance to shine.
5/10 – Only 90’s kids can appreciate this film
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