When a sequel to a beloved film is 14 years in the making, you expect a lot and hope it won't disappoint. The Incredibles 2 lives up to those expectations.
In fact, it takes the best elements of the first film - fantastic characters, fun family dynamics, an important message, a wonderful cast - throws in several more themes that are socially relevant today, and makes it all work.
The sequel doesn't skip a beat - literally. The first film ends with the Parr family in the parking lot of the kids' school when Underminer drills through the ground, and the second starts with them trying to stop him and save the city. For their efforts, the super family is arrested and reminded that "supers" are still illegal.
Just as they're at their lowest, and as Helen (Holly Hunter) and Bob (Craig T. Nelson) struggle to agree on whether to raise their children to try to be normal or to embrace who they are, a wealthy businessman, Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), enters their lives and invites them to get on board with a plan to make superheroes legal again. Not only is this a way for Helen and Bob to be restored to their former glory, it's also a way to ensure their kids, Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (newcomer Huck Milner), and Jack Jack (Eli Fucile) won't ever have to suppress who they really are the way their parents had to.
When Elastigirl is chosen to spearhead this initiative, Bob takes on being a solo parent for the first time while his wife goes off to kick some baddies' butts.
Soon, Elastigirl finds herself chasing after Screenslaver, an evil genius and superb villain who controls people through monitors and gets them to do all the dirty work.
What follows is a well-knit plot that cleverly weaves together two storylines: the challenges of parenting and defying gender stereotypes with Bob, and stepping out of someone's shadow to take the stage and do your best with Elastigirl. The thing that really connects the two are the subliminal messages that will inspire younger audiences to be decent and accepting, while striking a chord with older audiences who will see them as a reflection of the biggest and most important global conversations of the moment.
The Incredibles 2 flawlessly portrays the importance of representation for minorities. A conversation between Elastigirl and a new "super" named Voyd (Sophia Bush) about what it meant for the newbie to see her hero step out and be unapologetically herself can easily be a conversation happening in our own world among the LGBT, ethnic minority, and disabled communities; or others who are often underrepresented or disadvantaged, such as women.
From addressing the difficulties of being a parent to highlighting the world's obsession with social media, this film manages to showcase very modern social issues in a way that will appeal to both kids and adults.
As a whole, The Incredibles 2 shines not only as another solid Disney and Pixar animation, it really stands up as a good film in general. Everything about this sequel, from the pace to the plot, and the characters' development to the creative powers imagined for the roster of new superheros, is a win. The fact it resonates so well is a bonus. Oh, and don't worry, fan favourites like Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) and Edna Mode (the film's director Brad Bird) reprise their roles as well, and they're both fabulous, darling.
The Incredibles 2 won't make you weep the way Toy Story 3 or Finding Dory did, but like many other Pixar films, this one is incredible, too.
The Incredibles 2 hits cinemas on July 19.