As with many recent Pixar movies, Incredibles 2 isn’t a great, ground-breaking animated work with new emotional insight. They don’t do that as much any more, instead focusing on revisiting familiar characters and spending more time with them. It’s comfortable instead of challenging, but the result is still a good cartoon movie. (The studio provided a review copy.)
I love the old-style staging of the film. Cars and clothes are retro, but the city has a monorail. Apparently, the setting is intended to be an idealized mid-1960s.
Another old-fashioned element is the story. I didn’t see this in the theater because the plot seemed so prehistoric. “Dad has to take care of the kids, comedy ensues.” It’s ridiculous to assume a father (Craig T. Nelson) can’t be as good a parent as mom (Holly Hunter), even back in the 80s when it was called Mr. Mom. I tried to view it as a story about how “parenting is hard” without getting caught up in the gender roles, although the movie makes that difficult at times. Handing off the child during the first big fight scene gets back to what KC always used to say about Legion of Super-Heroes comics — once there’s a kid, you always have to deal with who’s taking care of it.
Jack-Jack, though, is easily the best part of the movie. His random revolving powers allow for plenty of cool action sequences as well as lots of humor. The other kids get stereotypical plot lines: Dash (Huck Milner) struggles to learn math; Violet (Sarah Vowell) is worried about a boy. (Another old-fashioned approach to characterization.) Visually, it was neat to see how versatile the Elastigirl powers were.
Overall, there were impressive action sequences, but I found the story lacking. The basic premise is the core concept behind superheroes. Do you obey the law or do you fight in spite of what the law says? I liked the name Screenslaver, but there were too many elements that just didn’t quite come together.
I definitely appreciated being able to watch this at home, since it’s long, just about two hours. And there were a bunch of extras.
The short Bao, about the conflict between heritage and family and assimilation, ran with the movie in theaters. There’s a new “Auntie Edna” short, too (5 minutes), which shows more of Jack-Jack’s powers, elaborating on the scene in the movie where she designs his costume. It’s unnecessary, since we already know the outcome, but fun.
“Strong Coffee: A Lesson in Animation With Brad Bird” (19 minutes) is as much co-workers talking about the writer/director as his words. It’s not very revealing, mostly just praise for how great he is. The commentary is by four animation supervisors, not him.
The bonus disc has more special features.
- “Super Stuff” (6 1/2 minutes) covers the design.
- “Paths to Pixar: Everyday Heroes” (11 1/2 minutes) is about the parenting aspect and the family dynamics. It’s good to see so many women in a Pixar special feature. Various cast and crew members talk about balancing work and children.
- “Superbaby” (5 minutes) – two girl rappers, Frankie & Paige, visit Pixar and the staff explain things in rhyme.
- “Ralph Eggleston: Production Designer” (2 minutes)
- In “Making Bao” (6 minutes), Domee Shi explains being a first-time director. It was Very informative and helped me understand her vision for the cartoon as a Chinese immigrant story more.
- “Heroes & Villains” are eight profiles of the major characters from the film (25 1/2 minutes total), featuring voice talent and animators.
- “Vintage Features” – Each of the three main heroes — the parents and Frozone — gets a theme song and a faux-vintage toy commercial.
- 10 Deleted Scenes introduced by Bird take up 40 minutes. The length and scope of these indicates to me that they had some trouble shaping this movie, that it didn’t have a strong guiding principle behind “people love these characters, let’s do more with them”.
- 3 Trailers and a Promo. The first, a teaser, is nothing but Jack-Jack’s powers. The second is the main trailer in Spanish with subtitles. The third is in Japanese, about Dad leading the superhero family. The promo has the family doing a lot of winter sports for some reason.
I like discs with lots of extras, but this seemed like overkill. We were tired of it before it was done, much like the extra-long movie.