Incredibles 2, by Albert W. Vogt III

Since I had already done The Incredibles (2004), why not do the sequel, Incredibles 2 (2018).  Why did they drop the “the,” anyway?  One of my favorite online film reviewers (other than myself, of course), Red Letter Media, once surmised that the reason why Revenge of the Jedi was changed to Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) was to save money.  “Return” is one less letter than “revenge,” thus saving a little bit of money in advertising.  Anyway, if you are as familiar with that lore as I am, you will know that vengeance is not really the Jedi way.  I am sure this is all very important to George Lucas.  AHEM!  At any rate, replacing the definite article “the” with a “2” at the end of Incrediblessaves twice as much money because it is two less characters.  That means less that you have to put on movie posters, commercials, toys, potato chip bags, coffee mugs, dog collars, banners pulled by airplanes (which actually charge per letter), ice cream containers, theme park rides, and whatever else Disney conceived of to get its loyal followers to consume this sequel after fourteen years since its predecessor.  Luckily, since Incredibles 2 is animated, they did not have to worry about their actors aging.

Conveniently, Incredibles 2 starts with a few reminders of what happened in the last film.  This serves to reintroduce you to the Parr family, consisting of superhumanly strong dad, Bob (voiced by Craig T. Nelson); super stretchy mom, Helen (voiced by Holly Hunter); the coming-of-age teen Violet (voiced by Sarah Vowell), who, as anyone her age has probably wished at one point, can turn invisible and project force fields; and the extra speedy Dashiell “Dash” (voiced by Huckleberry Milner).  They also have an infant son Jack-Jack (voiced by Eli Fucile), though they have yet to realize his powers.  The reminders pertain to a semi-botched mission the family had taken part in, where they had stopped a villain known as the Underminer (voiced by John Ratzenberger), but not before the destruction of a bank.  Making matters worse is the fact that Violet’s identity had been uncovered by her love interest, and complicating Agent Rick Dicker’s (voiced by Jonathan Banks) efforts to keep superheroes safe.  Thus, the Parrs are forced to go into hiding, and the reputation of superheroes takes a hit.  However, their friend and fellow crime fighter with powers Lucius Best (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson), also known as Frozone (take a guess at what he can do) introduces the Parrs to Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Oedenkirk).  Winston is the owner of a telecommunication company, but is also a big fan of superheroes.  He wants to see their place restored in society, and believes that the Parrs can help him do it.  To get them on his side, he gives them a new, swanky home with all the latest gadgets.  There is only one catch: Winston only wants Elastigirl, Helen’s alter-ego.  Initially, Bob is hurt, believing that it should be him out there doing the things Helen is being asked to do.  He relents because he sees it as a way forward for him, and others like him, to once more to fulfill their role in helping society.  To do his part, he agrees to stay at home with the children while Helen goes on missions.  As such, while Helen is out facing dangers, Bob must face Violet’s increasing teenaged angst, Dash’s struggles with mathematics, and Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers.  Meanwhile, Helen closes in on a new supervillain going by the name Screenslaver.  She prevents this person from carrying out a series of attacks, and eventually tracks him down to an apartment building.  When the “bad guy” is unmasked, it turns out to be a pizza deliveryman with no recollection of what he had done.  Still, Winston is ready to laud this as a victory, and invites all the known superheroes to his private cruise ship to celebrate the accomplishment, including Bob.  He plans on announcing to the world that superheroes are back. The one who remains unconvinced is Helen, who continues to investigate the matter.  This leads her to Winston’s sister Evelyn (voiced by Catherine Keener), whose technology savvy Helen had been relying on to figure out the goggles worn by Screenslaver.  Instead, Evelyn manages to slip the goggles onto Helen, explaining that she plans to destroy all superheroes by brainwashing them into committing heinous acts through the use of other pairs of the eyewear.  She is doing this because burglars had killed her father, and there had been no one around to save him.  With the other superheroes in her control, she sends some to kidnap the Parr children.  Instead, they get away in their dad’s old, supped-up car (think Batmobile, and you get the picture), and make it aboard the ship, believing their parents will help.  Unfortunately, they are under Evelyn’s sway.  Thus, they must begin the process of removing goggles from mind-controlled superheroes, which they manage to do starting with their mother.  Evelyn’s last-ditch attempt is to ram the ship into the city and blame it on the good guys aboard, taking off in a jet.  While the others work to stop the boat, Helen goes after Evelyn and manages to bring her to justice.  With everything returning to normal, the Parrs allow Violet to try to go on a date once more with the boy from before, though it is interrupted when their family is called upon once more to battle law breakers.

Is Incredibles 2 as good as the first one?  I guess.  Though the stories are different in terms of their plots, the themes and outcome are relatively the same.  They deal with people with incredible (no pun intended) physical traits coming to terms with a society that deems such people as a danger.  The collateral damage that occurs when they stop Underminer in Incredibles 2 attests to this fact.  The Avengers movies also allude to these problems.  In order to not do anymore damage, the Parrs must find a way to blend in with normal people without revealing their true identities.  I will credit Winston for seeing the error of this thinking.  If superheroes actually did exist, I would first hope that they were people of good character.  Still, human nature being what it is, you know that there would be bad ones, thus you would want the good ones to fight the bad ones, no?  At any rate, the internal debate over the role of superheroes in society is not what this Catholic reviewer will hone in on.  Instead, I would like to talk about Evelyn.  Her motivation is an interesting one.  While she blames superheroes for the death of her parents (I should mention that her mom died over grief from her dad’s passing), Winston takes the opposite view.  In his mind, had superheroes been more accepted, they would have been there to save them.  Regardless, you can understand Evelyn’s pain.  Woundedness is something that is discussed a lot in regards to Faith, and it is often something that leads people away from it, unfortunately.  The logic is that if God were real, if God loved me as He says, He would not allow bad things to happen to me.  It is not an easy concept to take, but such moments can work to strengthen your bond with God.  There is always a bigger lesson to be seen in difficult moments, even if you do not want to acknowledge it from a Christian perspective, that can make you a stronger person.  In sum, I urge you not to be like Evelyn, and equate strength with controlling others.  Instead, relinquish your desire for control, and know that Faith has its rewards.

Incredibles 2 is a fine movie for the whole family to see.  I do not have a family of my own, though I do have nieces, so some of its antics are lost on me.  Then again, it is not aimed at my demographic.  In any case, it is a serviceable, if not terribly original follow up to the first one, so enjoy without reservation.

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