It’s been 14 years since The Incredibles first brought the Pixar touch to superheroes. Now, the much-anticipated sequel is finally about to hit theaters, and critics have thoughts. Most of them are positive — EW’s Darren Franich, for instance, praised the sequel’s kinetic visual style and the way it upgraded the look of its predecessor.
“If the original Incredibles was cheerfully vintage in its worldbuilding, this sequel is a midcentury-modern fever dream,” Franich writes. “Much of the action takes place in New Urbrem, a city that looks like Superman’s Metropolis except every skyscraper is Tower-of-Babel tall. Meanwhile, the titular family of super-people moves into a swank new house, a glassy castle that somehow looks Flintstones-y and Jetsons-y, with a remote control water feature and a giant accent rock.”
But while he praises the visual filmmaking, Franich notes that “the story’s less adventurous, alas.” Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman was even more down on the new film, writing that it failed to cohere into a sequel worthy of its “unabashedly great” predecessor. Most critics, however, seemed to walk away delighted by the latest outing from director Brad Bird. While Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson contends the movie asks more questions than it can answer, “it’s still a boatload of fun.”
Check out more selections from critics below. Incredibles 2 hits theaters Friday.
Darren Franich (EW)
“No joke: These are the best superhero action sequences in our superhero-drowned decade. You figured Bird might be trepidatious returning to this material. Since 2004, there have been untold eons of comic book heroism adapted to the bigscreen, two Fantastic Fours, three different Spider-Men, the ongoing threat of a Jared Leto-Joker film. But the writer-director brings a snazzy Pop Art kineticism to his heroes’ journey. When Incredibles pal Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) casts his Iceman powers, the furious density is astonishing. He’s not just casting freeze-rays. It looks like he’s whipping up an Everest. And there’s a character whose power seems to be vomiting lava; I’ve never seen prettier lava.”
David Eidelstein (Vulture)
“I won’t spoil any of the setpieces but will note the existence of one showstopper: a slapstick sequence in which baby Jack-Jack is provoked by a raccoon (they are provocative creatures) into exercising his powers for the first time. As with everything else, Bird’s timing makes even what’s expected galvanically funny and what’s unexpected volcanically so. Can we dare to hope that the studio people behind the current plague of superhero movies will watch The Incredibles 2 and feel a twitch of shame? Their films are largely set inside computers anyway, so why not take their cues from Bird and streamline the storytelling, distill the action to its lyrical essence, and give us one great climactic sequence instead of the usual shambolic five? May they learn from the Bird to fly high!”
David Ehrlich (IndieWire)
“When the Parrs are pushed out of their comfort zone, Bird settles into his, and Incredibles 2 finds a groove the filmmaker has been looking for ever since he finished work on the ingenious Ratatouille in 2007. Once the menacing and mysterious Screenslaver is introduced, inciting a Spielberg-level monorail chase that reaffirms Bird’s lucid gift for kinetic and character-driven action filmmaking, the movie blasts off and never looks back.
The rest of Incredibles 2 fires on all cylinders, jumping between Elastigirl’s euphoric efforts to save the world and Bob’s exasperated attempts to put out fires at home (often literally, as one of baby Jack-Jack’s uncontrollable powers includes transforming into a flame-covered demon child). Both plot threads work on their own, and knot into something even stronger — and often exhilarating — as Bird ties them together.”
Owen Gleiberman (Variety)
“That’s a lot to live up to, and I wish I could say that Incredibles 2, which Bird also wrote and directed, is the great sequel The Incredibles deserves. It is not. It’s got a touch of the first film’s let’s-try-it-on spirit, and it’s a perfectly snappy and chucklesome and heartfelt entertainment, with little retro felicities you latch onto, yet something is missing: the thrill of discovery — the crucial sensation that the movie is taking us someplace we haven’t been.”
Michael O’Sullivan (The Washington Post)
“Perhaps most intriguingly, Incredibles 2 is both pop-culture eye candy and a sly critique of it — albeit one delivered in the form of the bad guy, who rails against the mediation of screens as a poor substitute for unfiltered life experience. I don’t need to tell you who wins here, but it’s refreshing to see a movie sequel that can question its own existence, even as it revels in it. (A movie theater marquee advertises “Dementia 113” in the background of one shot, a sight gag that evokes the kind of throwaway joke you might see on The Simpsons, for which Bird once worked.) It’s been a long time coming for Incredibles 2, but the punchline is worth the setup.”
Alissa Wilkinson (Vox)
“Incredibles 2 lacks some of the tight plotting, well-choreographed action, and emotional moments of its predecessor, but it’s still a boatload of fun. While the movies’ aesthetic is undoubtedly a pastiche, they continue to purposely employ a midcentury modernist aesthetic (it’s more or less set sometime around 1962), with design (and some story) elements that seem borrowed from early James Bond and Mad Men. And there’s some very funny slapstick, hilarious new characters, and a handful of sequences that match any great Pixar film.”
Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter)
“For anyone other than resolute animation haters and congenital sourpusses, these first minutes provide an exhilarating rush of retroactive pleasure, partly as a reminder of how distinctively different The Incredibles was from anything that had come before — or has come since. Bird’s authorial attitude is both sly and sincere, with a view of the nuclear family as the locus of human virtue and strength. It’s a perspective that is both tested and reaffirmed multiple times throughout the film, first and foremost with Mr. Incredible resigning himself to taking a back seat in order to tend to child-rearing while his wife ventures out to right the world’s latest wrongs.”
David Griffin (IGN)
“Brad Bird’s strong script and direction elevate this animated adventure to new heights. Instead of trying to copy or parody the superhero films of the past 14 years, Incredibles 2 embraces what made its first outing so memorable: The Parr family and their willingness to work together in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.”