Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, I maintain, is one of the greatest movie trilogies ever made. “Batman Begins” is groundbreaking, and “The Dark Knight,” even outside the realm of superhero films, is one of the best movies yet brought to the screen.
Then comes the “Dark Knight Rises.” Easily the worst of the three, it nonetheless is a well-made and compelling movie. Most of the vitriol directed at it largely has to do with the mammoth expectations placed upon it by “The Dark Knight.” When contractually obligated to make a follow up to one of the greatest and most beloved films ever made, it is hard not to disappoint. “The Return of the King” and “The Godfather Part II” are the exceptions, rather than the rule, when it comes to sequels.
I mention this because “The Incredibles 2” is, if you will, the “Dark Knight Rises” of the series. Certainly not in tone, but in the fact that it is a decent movie that has the misfortune of following a truly excellent one. As always, though, a film must stand on its own or not at all, so the merits of the movie have to be seen for themselves.
“The Incredibles 2” is, in many ways, about a role reversal from the original Incredibles movie. Elastigirl has the new secret job, while Mr. Incredible is out of his depth and must learn to adapt to the world of stay-at-home parenting. It is an intriguing premise, though unfortunately one that is not completely realized. The perils of parenting are introduced and rather summarily resolved without much impact on the overall plot or character development. The initially impressive villain, Screenslaver, is about as predictable and traditional as a villain gets these days. Overall, though exploring an interesting theme, the plot involving Mr. Incredible ultimately has little, if any, payoff in the film. Perhaps a valuable lesson about parenting, but one that feels divorced from the rest of the plot, and so is hung out to dry when the climax comes.
None of which is to say that the movie is not enjoyable. There are all of the delightful and warm moments one has come to expect from Pixar movies recently. There are touching family moments, clever action sequences, the return of the feisty Edna Mode, and a ham-faced and delightful baby Jack-Jack, who very nearly steals the show. The unexpected results of previous actions are explored, as is the world of possibilities when it comes to super powers.
The creativity remains; the finesse does not. When looking at this movie, one cannot help but think that the motivations, the characters, the plot, and the villain were all better conceived and better executed in the original Incredibles film. When exploring the responsibilities of family and the problems of reliving the past, the first movie hit harder and deeper than the sequel ever does. But that is not the fault of this movie. It is nothing more than a testament to the greatness of the first film. The Incredibles 2 is a fun and entertaining summer romp, and certainly fits the bill for animated family fun.