MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “Incredibles 2” is voiced by Craig T. Nelson (Coach [TV series], Poltergeist), Holly Hunter (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Piano), Sarah Vowell (Please Give, A.C.O.D.), Huck Milner, Catherine Keener (Capote, Being John Malkovich), Eli Fucile, Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul [TV series], The Post), Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight, Captain America: Winter Soldier), Sophia Bush (John Tucker Must Die, The Hitcher), Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Ratatouille), Phil LaMarr (Pulp Fiction, Futurama [TV series]), Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet, Death Becomes Her), and Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad [TV series], Community [TV series]). It was written and directed by Brad Bird. Picking up right where we left off, “Incredibles 2” sees the Parr family resuming their normal lives once more, but still under the secrecy of being supers. When the opportunity arises for superheroes to be legalized again through a big-time corporation, Bob (Nelson) and Helen (Hunter) decide to take action and win back the hearts of the world; however, it is Helen who ends up taking the spotlight with the company, forcing Bob to become a stay-at-home dad.
It goes without saying that Brad Bird is a genius; a safe bet in the film industry because he is just THAT good. I mean, look at his history; from “The Iron Giant” to “Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol,” the man has wowed audiences (I would’ve placed “Tomorrowland” in there, but I know only a select few actually enjoy it, me included). So, it was only due time for Pixar to scratch the sequel itch again, and what better way to bring back a property than with Mr. Bird? Granted, I was a bit on edge about this movie. The sequel craze this legendary animation company is going through has proven to be exhaustive and sickening. Not that the films they’ve churned out haven’t been good, but… they just don’t do anything for me. Outside of the “Toy Story” franchise and “Cars 3,” I haven’t seen any Pixar property brought back and actually capitalize on its predecessor (and it’s not like “Cars” was perfect, so it wasn’t too difficult to top). Sure, “Monsters University” was entertaining and I enjoyed it, but we could’ve been granted something else that year. I feared that “Incredibles 2” would burn in a dumpster fire, not necessarily ruining the first (as if a sequel can do that), but making me just more disappointed in the company that ruled my childhood. Critics raved it, but they also loved “Finding Dory,” and you all know how much I liked that one (sarcasm doesn’t quite read well, does it?). So, fourteen years after the release of Pixar’s famous super heroes, we are back in the city of I don’t know what watching our favorite heroes battle a foe unlike any other. And, I gotta say, it was not too shabby. Entertaining, beautiful, and sleek, “Incredibles 2” picks up where we left off and pulls us along for another joy ride filled with enough laughs and charm to keep you satisfied. It was like stepping back into the past and not being cringed; Mr. Bird delivered as I hoped he would, and I had a good time. Here’s why. First off, the story doesn’t make itself a complete copy of its predecessor. Granted, it certainly takes from the first flick (which I’ll discuss in the cons), but overall the tone of the movie focuses on the home life of the Parrs, and how it takes a lot to raise a family instead of crime fighting. While we got a sense of responsibility to family in the first film, we get the full take here, and I found it to be both relatable and enjoyable. Bob watching the kids was a treat, and the kids were able to be fleshed out a bit more this go-around (besides Dash [Milner], who took a backseat most of this ride). Jack-Jack (Fucile) was awesome and has far more powers than I could’ve imagined; so much so that I think the Bird could’ve pulled the brakes on him a bit. Not that they weren’t fun to watch unfold, but it was a bit scary to see this kid do so many things and hardly ever get a clue as to how many of those things there were. I guess it’s a mystery left to be solved. Jumping from the home life, we get to experience action with Helen Parr aka Elastigirl, as she works for a new company that looks to bring back superheroes. I liked her development, and found her crime fighting to be stimulating when compared to the more humorous home side to things. She was essentially Bob from the first picture, but a different personality and approach to the situation. Thankfully, Mr. Bird didn’t take this as a way to blast men and their dominance (I believe only one or two jokes were made). Moving on, the design of this flick is flawless. In the promotional image for the feature, I was shocked the see a downgrade in animation style when compared to the original. This one looked blocky and that of a video game, but thankfully it looked better in the final cut (I don’t know what phase in production that image was in, even though it looked final). The 60s look is beautiful, and you can’t beat Michael Giacchino’s score that masterfully accentuates it. He’s the next big pro on the list; though I knew it would be hard to make a new score that wouldn’t just take from the original, Giacchino took it in stride, offering another solid piece of music that really brings the picture home. It doesn’t top the original (obviously), but it’s solid nonetheless, and I think that’s the overall look on this picture as a whole. I didn’t expect it to top the original, but I’m glad it was worth the price of admission, gifting me with an experience that is truly enjoyable to watch. My gripes about it really lie in predictability, and how much it takes from the original. It’s pretty obvious as to where this adventure will take our heroes. The story beats and structure resemble that of the original, except the roles being switched, with Helen taking place of Bob. As I’ve stated, it’s not as repetitive as I thought, but there are enough similarities to justify being a grief. Finding the villain wasn’t a hard feat, nor was the conflict in the final act as harrowing as the first film. However, it did make for a fun thrill ride and offered some cool sequences. I enjoyed “Incredibles 2” despite similar elements offered in “Incredibles.” Mr. Bird did an exceptional job with what he had, and I couldn’t think of a better way to carve out this plot that wouldn’t seem familiar (not that it’s incredibly so). All in all, it’s a blast that I’m sure everyone will enjoy. It’s definitely the best sequel outside of the “Toy Story” franchise, fleshing out their characters further and exploring an outlet we didn’t really get to in the first feature. I’d say it was a day well spent in the theater. FINAL SCORE: 88%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer:
And now, my review for the Pixar short “Bao”:
MOVIE SHORT REVIEW: “Bao” is voiced by Sindy Lau (The Academy, Lyrics to Dying Rebirth) and Daniel Kailin (Legion [TV series]), and was directed by Domee Shi. A Chinese woman cooks dumplings, only for one of them to come to life. Taking it in as her son, she raises it to adulthood, only for consequences to unfold.
I don’t really know what I watched. I mean, it was original, I’ll give them that; but my goodness was it bizarre. Following an older Chinese woman caring for a child who is a dumpling, this Pixar short plays out as a montage, showing the mother caring for her newfound son as he grows up. If watching the dumpling sprout legs, grow a few inches, and actually be noticed by people who aren’t frightened isn’t weird enough, than the finale shouldn’t make your head spin. I kinda understood what the filmmakers of this were going for, as the short presents itself to be an allegory to an overprotective mother losing her child (not by death, but by growing up), but the execution of it all was freaky. Kudos for the Pixar team having the gonads to do this, but I was left more uncomfortable than satisfied. “Bao” was entertaining for what it was, and was as bold as it could be, though I don’t think it hit the mark for me as a viewer in the end. Some may think otherwise; I don’t feel that it’s awful (hence the alright score), I just think it was too out-there for my tastes. FINAL SCORE: 74%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is a clip: