“Incredibles 2” amps up the dazzling CGI visuals of its predecessor but disappointingly rehashes those storytelling themes instead stretching out its red creative spandex and trying something new. This isn’t so much a sequel as 14-year delayed part two, picking up quite literally where the first “Incredibles” left off, with the world still in a state of apprehension whether they should be friend or foe to their superpowered peers. This idea of superheroes being shunned by society propelled the first “Incredibles” to greatness, but repeating those same themes makes its sequel feel like a rerun.
Don’t get me wrong, the film is frequently breathtaking and unexpectedly hilarious. It’s climax is a cavalcade of super-stretched punches and baby-ignited, gargantuan explosions. The film is a hypnotic delight of sounds, speed and swift action. Butit feels like the emotional core of the movie is missing. We’re given plenty of reasons to worry about these characters, but very few as why we should care.
“Incredibles 2” sees Bob aka Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Helen aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), their children Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Huck Milner), and their masked confidante Lucius aka Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) still laying low, having to keep their super identities a secret due to a law banning superheroes. A silver-tongued TV magnate named Winston Deaver (Bob Odenkirk) and his gray-haired, self-assured sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) offer to revamp the heroes’ tattered image through the magic of media spin and micro-sized cameras. Overnight, heroes are beloved by the public again, and with the appearance of a tech-savvy super-criminal known as the Screen Slaver, they’re needed more than ever.
Or so we think. As “Incredibles 2” follows Elastigirl’s quest to stop Screenslaver, we tread over the same Objectivist territory of how common society looks down on super talented people with big dreams. We also revisit the same familial plot points of the first movie, with Violet trying to win over her crush again, and Bob reluctantly having to serve as caretaker to his children when he really wants to be fighting crime. The few new ideas “Incredibles 2” throws at us, like Elastigirl’s heroic hubris blinding her from solving a case, or how the proliferation of multiple TV screens is damaging to society, doesn’t cover for the lack of originality that pervades the film.
There are cute moments with Jack-Jack, the multi-talented super baby who can do anything from transport into different dimensions to turning into a purple rage monster anytime he doesn’t get a cookie. And the thrilling visuals are worth the ticket price alone, a movie that would be relentlessly entertaining even if you watched on mute. Had it not been from the guy who brought us “Ratatouille” and “The Iron Giant,” “Incredibles 2” would feel like a masterpiece. But in those 14 years since the original, it seems like storytelling virtuoso Brad Bird lost his grip on what made this family so incredible to begin with.