See? A superhero movie can be PG as long as it is animated! Say what you will about The Incredibles films, but they are just as intense as any of the other superhero movies that come out. There's no blood, as far as I remember, but they are pretty adrenaline heavy. While I totally agree that The Incredibles 2 should be PG, maybe we can extend that rating to the other movies? I don't see how animation makes something less intense. My kids are actually more traumatized when horrible things happen to Elastigirl than to Spider-Man. Also, that bad guy looks super creepy. PG.
DIRECTOR: Brad Bird
I already wrote a review for this movie! And that review is pretty great! You can read that review here, but you should also read this review. I wrote that to be published, so it has this great throughline and it is thematically structured. I actually proofread that one. This is my stream-of-consciousness mumbo-jumbo that makes my wife cringe on the reg. It's also been a few weeks since I've seen this movie and I've read a lot of criticism on it, so I kind of want to see where this goes. Excuse me for living!
I'm really bummed out that it seems impossible to get a Fantastic Four movie to work. There's no reason that it shouldn't work. The Incredibles is just the Fantastic Four with different names and slightly different dynamics. How are these movies so good? I actually might have an answer for that. Nothing about The Incredibles, both the first and the second movie, seems rushed in any way. Disney is infamous for giving attention to detail, so it shouldn't be surprising that a movie like The Incredibles 2 dotted its "i" and dotted its other "i". Like Finding Dory, there was a huge gap between the first movie and the second movie. Because there was a big gap, Pixar decided to stress how much time has gone by before deciding on making a sequel. When I hear most companies say that they want to make sure that a story is perfect before coming back to something, I tend to think that these spokespeople are blowing smoke up my rear end. I lean heavily towards examples like Ghostbusters: Answer the Call sooner than thinking that they are polishing the product to perfection. Brad Bird doesn't seem like the kind of guy who phones something in. (Sorry, I'm still reeling from writing Ghostbusters: Answer the Call instead of just saying "the new Ghostbusters movie." I apologize for my use of telecommunications jargon.) Brad Bird is an enigma to me. Every time I hear his name, I get really excited to find out what project he's worked on. I know he did Tomorrowland. That movie was better than most people gave it credit for. But the thing about Brad Bird is that he should be on my list of amazing directors. I should Google his name once a month to find up what he's doing...but I don't. I mean, Edgar Wright probably has a release schedule on par with Brad Bird, but I always know what he's up to. I'm obsessed with Edgar Wright. Brad Bird seems to have a very similar way of thinking and directing to Wright, but I only get excited to see his movies immediately after the trailer comes out. I don't know what that is. I say that they have a very similar mentality because both directors are extremely structure and detail oriented. I'm sure that many people have seen The Incredibles 2 at this point. I'm pretty sure that it made all of the money. Whether you liked it or not, this movie seems extremely detail oriented. There is this tonal world of The Incredibles that is just amazing. I don't know if this is Brad Bird's personal Tiki-themed aesthetic. Maybe he's just a big fan of World's Fairs, but everything in this world feels lived-in and real. The best science fiction doesn't make anything feel like it was added just to be added (I now know what my review of Valerian is going to be now), but it feels like people actually inhabit this world. I love versions of the future where one era simply evolved a different way. I love the '30s and '40s future here and everything just feels to be a part of it. Brad Bird is responsible for that.
My wife's big complaint about the movie is that it was too similar to the first one. I guess I can kind of bend on that one. I disagree with her overall, but I can see her point. Bird is locked into a very important theme in these movies: are superheroes a necessary evil? I think my wife and I are in different camps here. My wife wants the team to deal with a new issue. I think that the series is built to go deep, not wide. Honestly, if there's another Incredibles movie in two-to-three years, I'll change my position. But this series doesn't really seem to be built for a franchise. (I hate that sentence, but I'm leaving it in because I'm really distracted while writing this.) A fourteen year gap between the first and second movie means that time was taken. New ideas about the same subject spun out of someone's mind. Questions weren't fully answered in the first film, thus a second film needed to answer. More realistically, Brad Bird and his team were probably completely sick of answering the question, "When is Incredibles 2 coming out?", but I'd like to dream that someone was lying on their couch and just coming up with Eureka moment after Eureka moment. I like what this movie explores. Buddy / Syndrome in the first movie critiqued the idea of being a superhero to that of celebrity. The first movie is a commentary on being famous more than anything else. The first movie is about earning something and being selfless versus driving attention your way. I refuse to look this up, but I'd like to think that The Incredibles was a commentary on the burgeoning genre of reality television like The Simple Life. Some people work really hard and do their best and are famous, only to be ridiculed by society. Then there are awful people who are only famous because they know how to be famous. The second movie still discusses the need for superheroes, but it is more of a commentary on the value of the hero as a concept. Is there a benefit to having people in places of power when there are consequences? The villain has a backstory that stresses that people become too dependent on others to take care of them and Bird molds a character who is kind of right. The best villains are kind of right. I mean, they're wrong, but they have a point. It's more along the lines of their extremism that makes them the bad guy. Honestly, I thought Bob Oedenkirk's character was going to be the bad guy, but he wasn't. Well done, movie. You got me. But this felt fresh enough to me without feeling like a full rehash. It was fuller, not more and I like that. Also, there's all these messages about family that the first movie didn't get to touch on nearly as well as this movie. The first movie really separates Bob from the rest of the family for a majority of the movie. This movie separates Helen and I love how the dynamic kind of changes. It doesn't say it is better or worse, but it is just different. I noticed that Bob makes more mistakes than Helen does, but I don't think that has to be a commentary on men as the primary parent. I think it looks more at how hard the day-to-day of parenthood really is. At least that's what I'm telling myself.
Which kind of leads me to discussing the haters again. Are we in the golden age of meninists? I know that a lot of people didn't like the new Star Wars movies because their concentration on strong female characters? I keep reading articles about the feminism of The Incredibles and how it might detract from the film. We are in this cool time when women characters are being written pretty well. Helen Parr isn't "rah-rah-shish-boom-bah WOMANHOOD!" (Although to think that's how women advocate for themselves, through cheerleading, might be the most misogynist thing I've done in a while). She's just a strong character who is proud of herself and finds it ridiculous that she can't be the most impressive superhero in the family. The same deal with Rose and Rey in the Star Wars movies. They just do what they do. Is The Incredibles 2 a feminist film? Yeah, I guess. In the sense that it writes women like human beings who have authority. But then I also have to yell at the other side who aren't making things much better. io9, whose columns keep shooting their overall message in the foot, wrote an article about how Elastigirl deserves better than Mr. Incredible. I get it. Bob has some pretty backwards ideas. But it's not because he's sexist. It's because he wants to be a superhero again and he's a little selfish. Movies need to have characters with character flaws. io9's article is really advocating for Mary Sue characters and that's just a poor decision. Bob does nothing so bad that she needs to leave him. Bob almost immediately realizes his mistake for assuming that he would be the famous superhero again instead of his wife. He feels what he feels, but he deals with those feelings appropriately. He even has a chance to get his car back. (I love this moment.) But he realizes that the right thing would be to stay at home, despite the fact that it is killing him. Yeah, part of him is resentful that his wife is getting the limelight. But he is also still massively supportive of her despite his petty jealousies. Again, it's not a crime to have feelings. You can't control feelings, but Bob does something remarkably mature in this movie. He manages those feelings into something healthy. It comes down to the fact that he's not mad because his lowly wife is getting the spotlight. He's just jealous and he's aware of that and managing that. How is that not what we should all be doing? He's not even burying these feelings. He talks his problems out and gets help when he can't handle it anymore. Lauren started going back to work yesterday and I was a little jealous. I was stuck with the kids and one of them was a baby. It was remarkably stressful, but we just dealt with it. I'm not mad at Lauren; I just wish that I could go to work for a bit to feel like a human being. Bob's not mad at Helen. He just wish that he was doing something productive.
I will say that as creepy as the main villain is, there is something missing about that character. The super power is a bit of a cover-all issues thing. It is extremely effective in how terrifying the character is, but there is a bit of a letdown because the villain kind of takes a back seat to the story. The only movie that I can think that balances its message with a great villain is Spider-Man 2, but this movie gets close. Despite having the best name in the world (SCREENSLAVER!), the image and voice of this character is creepy. I'm surprised Henry managed to get through the sting on the bad guy moment. It is way too scary. It felt like it was something out of Se7en, which I loved. My kids somehow got through it and thank God, because I didn't want to leave that movie theater after that. But the actual time as the Screenslaver is pretty minimal. I know why and that's due to the big twist of the movie. But I actually liked the villain better before the big reveal than afterwards, so that's just more on me than anything else. But the Screenslaver somehow made The Incredibles 2 a bigger movie than the first. Syndrome barely interacts with society. There's the final fight, which now seems tame compared to just the basic fights that the Screenslaver instigates. This makes a template for these great fight sequences that the first movie only kind of teased. Add to the fact that there are just a lot of people with powers that are visually arresting, I have to say the movie is pretty great. I hope that my son stays strong with this movie because I wouldn't mind having this one play in the house on a rainy day. It's such a fun movie. I also secretly hope that this is it for a while. I know that Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter are up there, but Incredibles 2 works because it isn't rushed into production. I kind of wish the television adventures of adapted television shows on Disney were a little better because I think that might be the perfect outlet for the future adventures of The Incredibles. OOoooh...what if it was on ABC instead of Disney?
I might have something there.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.