After Infinity War, Deadpool and the other caped crusaders dominating the big screen, you might be experiencing superhero fatigue. Superpowered animation Incredibles 2 isn't the cure -- but it could be the refreshing palate cleanser we need.
Released in the same year as Hellboy and Catwoman -- when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still years away -- the original 2004 Incredibles was at the forefront of the current superhero boom. The story followed the adventures of the Parr family as they embraced their varied superpowers for wholesome heroics rendered in timelessly retro pop art style.
While this year's sequel takes place straight after the events of the 2004 film, animation studio Pixar has given the superhero family a 2018 makeover. Every frame is packed with fantastic detail and cutting-edge animated magic while staying true to the original movie's charming visual feel.
The fantastic family -- and most of the original cast -- return for the belated sequel. Craig T. Nelson provides the voice of Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible), Holly Hunter voices Helen Parr (Elastigirl) and Sarah Vowell is teenage daughter Violet. Huck Milner replaces the first film's voice actor Spencer Fox as young son Dash Parr, as Fox understandably no longer has the same voice he did 14 years ago. Amusingly, though, Eli Fucile once again lends his voice to baby Jack-Jack.
It's Elastigirl's time
While the whole family has their moments, the film's A-story definitely belongs to Hunter's Elastigirl. The world of the Incredibles is afraid of superpowered vigilantes, but Elastigirl is recruited by nostalgia-tinted PR guru Winston Deaver (Bob Odenkirk) to lead a campaign to legalize superheroics.
That leaves Bob Parr as a stay-at-home dad, juggling Violet's boy troubles, Dash's math problems and baby Jack-Jack's burgeoning anarchic superpowers.
You can see the eventual twist coming, but you have fun getting there with funny dialogue and fast-paced banter. As in the first film, the super-fashionista Edna Mode (Brad Bird) hilariously runs away with the movie as she combines fashion tips with barbed witticisms.
Sadly for the rest of the supporting cast, the increased focus on both parents means that Violet and Dash get relegated to the sidelines for most of the film, and family friend Lucius (also known as Frozone and played by Samuel L. Jackson) only gets to pop in during a few key moments.
So many details
Incredibles 2 keeps the gloriously retro art style of the original film, but supercharges it with what feels like every animation upgrade Pixar has developed over the past 14 years of animation innovation.
Animated hair swishes with more bounce and shine than a shampoo ad, while the fabric that makes up the family members' costumes presses and moves realistically when they hug. Even the cartoon-style faces are packed with detail, blushing and changing subtly with the lighting in different locations.
Edna Mode is a highlight once again, showcasing all these cutting-edge animation techniques as her hair bobs and her gorgeous robe bounces while she hops across the screen.
These lovely little details come on top of the more eye-popping visuals created by the various superpowers on show. New character Voyd (Sophia Bush) creates holes in the air much like the gun from Portal, making for dizzying fight scenes. Meanwhile baby Jack-Jack piles up multiple powers including laser eyes and teleportation in comically chaotic fashion.
More relevant than ever
We're living in an era of peak superhero movie. Heck, we've had Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2 this year alone. After the amazing but emotionally exhausting Infinity War, it's certainly time for something a bit lighter, and ideally something that isn't burdened down with years of complex continuity. Incredibles 2 succeeds by telling a family-friendly superhero story that also gives Pixar's animators the opportunity to stretch their muscles.
And if this is the dazzling update Pixar has given the Incredibles, I can't wait to see what's in store for next year's Toy Story 4.
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