By Marc S. Sanders

Disney/Pixar and (yeah, let’s single him out) Director Brad Bird continue to impress with marvelous feats of imagination. Yet I’m not necessarily referring to the art of their animation, outstanding action scenes or the colorful superhero names. Rather, it’s the story that usually stands above all else in each entry that’s released year after year.

Allow me to sidetrack for a moment. Consider a film like Lethal Weapon 2. It’s a fun movie that I’ve always liked, but it was not just an action movie. I mean, think about it. There’s a reason the first film was on Roger Ebert’s Top 10 list of 1987. It focused on the trauma and suicidal tendencies of a burned out cop along with some great action and humor. It’s sequel however, just did the same thing. Just more of the same stuff, despite a very capable partner that was featured in the film. The partner remained the sidekick again. Not much effort in thought the second time around (or 3rd or 4th).

Incredibles 2 avoids the same trap. While the first one focused on Bob Paar and his alias, Mr. Incredible, this new film relies on Holly Hunter’s Elastigirl, known by day as housewife Helen Paar. Yeah, as I’m writing this, I’m realizing she’s kind of recruited for a mission the same way her husband is, but the perspective seems fresh; consistent in step with other female hero protagonists like Wonder Woman and Katniss Everdeen.

Adding to the effectiveness of this film is that these larger than life characters are humanized. Dad is out of work, following a government mandate. So he stays home with the kids and mixes the pinks with the whites while trying to get the atomic demon baby Jack Jack to sleep. Side note: Jack Jack is an awesome scene stealer. There’s a reason this kid was on every toy shelf and t-shirt in countless variations from the end of summer through Christmas. He’s now up there as one of my favorite Pixar characters.

A surprise reveal is no surprise at all. So don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Just relish in a very cool new villain known as The Screenslaver. He’s no Syndrome but he’s pretty intimidating nonetheless.

As a major comic book geek, another thing I appreciated was that Bird’s script and direction follow a pattern of the golden and silver ages of comics without all the heavy drama that comic film adaptations depend on today. There’s a bad guy wreaking havoc and the superheroes come in to save the day. There’s no heavy pseudo tragedy to get in the way. Often I don’t mind that, but here it’s absence is refreshing. Just make it about a bank robbery and a bad guy with the “mwah ha ha” maniacal laugh and it’ll satisfy. It kept the movie light, playful and especially funny.

So glad that I was able to take time out to see Incredibles 2. Go find your super suit and soar to seat in front of the screen.

NOTE: there is a scene midway through the film that might be disruptive for people prone to having seizures. It contains the equivalent of an actual strobe light effect and it lasts a good 2-3 minutes. Please take that into consideration. If you want to know when it takes place, message me and I’ll clue you in when you might want to excuse yourself from the viewing.

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