ATTENTION: SPOILERS AHEAD
14 years of anticipation, four years of hype and two hours of disappointment. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh. But the more I reflect on the sequel to my favourite Pixar film, the more I realize my discontent. Sure, Incredibles 2 offered woman power with Elastigirl kicking ass and Jack-Jack’s dangerously cute super powers, but there were also a dozen things I didn’t get to see.
A case of Sequelitis
Obviously, I’m watching Incredibles 2 as an adult now rather than as a seven-year-old, but I would argue that my generation - the one that grew up with the original film - has been more hyped. So maybe due to the nostalgia of it all, my high expectations have jaded my opinions or… it’s a simple case of sequelitis.
All I wanted to see was something new. “What sinister villain will the Incredibles take down in part two?” Instead, we got nearly the same plot as the first movie, with unnecessary superheroes, lower stakes and a painfully predictable antagonist.
Instead of Mr. Incredible being enlisted by a secret organization to fight evil, Elastigirl got her shot at being the beloved hero and trying to change the world’s opinion of superheroes. She had some cool action scenes until, spoiler: one of the people who brought her onboard turns out to be villain, which if you’ve seen the first movie, you know that’s exactly what happens. Mr. Incredible finds out his wife is in danger and leaves his kids to help, same as the first movie with a role reversal of course. The kids disobey their parents’ orders and end up helping their parents to save the day, as they all realize they work the best when they’re together as a family.
The only thing definitively better about the sequel in my opinion is the quality of the animation, which is a given after 14 years of technological advancements and improvements to the art of animation.
Playing it Incredibly safe
I’m not saying the Incredibles 2 didn’t do anything right, but they did play it incredibly safe. A sequel isn’t just supposed to repeat the same story and triumphs as before. A sequel should build on what’s there, offer something new - if not with higher stakes, then with character development and deeper emotion. But this film is a good example of a “popcorn movie”, defined by urban dictionary as something that’s “fun to watch without necessarily being particularly good.” One thing that especially surprised me in this new film was the lack of violence and killing - it felt sheltered compared with the original.
Now don’t get me wrong, I adore Pixar films and the genius that is Brad Bird, but this movie fell short for me. I think he knew from the beginning that he would never be able to make a film as good as the first one. It’s one of the reasons he didn’t feel the need to make a sequel to the Oscar-winning film, Ratatouille or to one of his first hits, Iron Giant.
“I’m told I need to do an Iron Giant 2 and I’m told I need to remake everything that I’ve made and no one apparently wants anything new anymore. I’m a little at odds with society on that… I’m not mad about it but it seems like it’s the only thing that people want now is for you to repeat what you just did.”
Bird even admitted that the original idea he pitched for the sequel was green-lit and then changed significantly. “I’ve thrown out two and a half other Incredibles movies,” Bird said in an interview. Perhaps one of the discarded villains Bird pitched would have done a better job of rivalling Syndrome, but the Screenslaver just missed the mark a little for me.
The Hollywood Formula
It pains me every time I think about the fact that all Hollywood wants to make are sequels and remakes. And even though they will almost never be as good as the original, they’re pretty much guaranteed to make x times the amount of money.
In 2016, Forbes found that 15 of the top 20 most profitable movies ever were sequels, reboots and spin-offs. No matter how good of an idea an original film is, it is always riskier than making a sequel, prequel or any other derivative film based off existing characters, storylines and beloved actors who guarantee box office sales.
Other recent sequels and spinoffs that have used the same formula include giant franchises like Star Wars and Jurassic Park who both insist on using the same plot over and over. Unfortunately, I can’t say I don’t occasionally contribute to the sales of these films and this trend in Hollywood that refuses to take risks and pave the way for new ideas and talent.
Of the dozen reviews and comments I searched through, looking for anyone who shared my opinion, this writer for the Verge summed up my feelings perfectly: “[Incredibles 2] only feels like less because The Incredibles was so much more.”