Summer of Movies: The Incredibles II (2018) – See It For The Short!

It’s gotten to the point where I only go out to the theater once a year or so. Used to go all the time. No more.

The experience just sucks. What else can I say? Bombarded with ads, trailers for some of the most God-awful looking drek, one after another, like body blows. People on their stupid omnipresent phones. Endless onscreen interactive wifi bullshit for all those God damn omnipresent phones.

Get off my lawn, I know.

Anyway, I ventured out to see a film I figured I’d like a lot, Incredibles 2. I thought the first one was wonderful, one of the best cartoons and flat out one of the best films of the last decade, really.

The sequel? Well, I liked it, but it’s nowhere near as good as the first one. How could it be, when the first one seemed so original at the time, a more comical version of “Watchmen,” really, with a phony universe of superheroes who’d been banned by society.

But in the years since the first film, I think we (especially me) have been inundated and overdosed on superheroes. Too many movies made from too many comic books, and even too many parody versions of the superhero genre like Venture Brothers and the like filling up the pop culture. So an Incredibles II has that uphill battle to wage – how can it deliver the familiarity of the original without seeming like yet another rehash of a cultural zeitgeist that’s turned into a flood?

Well, for one thing, the animation is pretty impressive. The sophistication of the computer animation used keeps getting better and better, and the object rendering, motion, and moving camera illusions are amazing to see.

But as far as story, I thought it fell short. A lot of it is a rehash of the first film, where much of the plot revolves around arguments over the necessity of superheroes and the like. And Incredibles II spends the majority of its screentime on two parallel stories – one with Mr. Incredible home with Jack-Jack the baby discovering his powers, the other with Elastagirl out saving the world with a publicity campaign designed to decriminalize superheroes. The schizo nature of this set-up makes up the bulk of the movie – we really don’t get a mesh of the two plots until good ol’ act 3, basically the final half hour, when the family comes together to save the day.

While I liked it and was entertained, my first reaction was that it wasn’t in the same league as the first one, and the obvious set-up for three, four and whatever else Disney wants to milk this thing to death the way they do with everything else made me simply sigh. I mean, you KNOW Brad Bird will move on to other stuff and we’ll get THE FORMULA from THE ANOINTED FRANCHISE SUCCESSOR like with every friggin thing else.

I’ve liked a lot of Bird’s work, from Iron Giant to Ratatouille. I wonder if he only made this one to secure deals for other stuff, to be honest. Who knows.

BUT – I can STRONGLY recommend and praise TO THE RAFTERS the Pixar short shown with it, the absolutely wonderful “Bao,” Domee Shi’s brilliant ode to mothers & sons. Again, the computer animation is astonishing, with character design being properly “cartoony” and universe objects (especially food in this one) looking amazingly real. But the simple story, told without dialogue, about a mom dealing with her son growing up is handled brilliantly, cleverly and humorously. Really hit home to see the difference between something special like “Bao” and then something that was basically well-designed calculated entertainment right after. Anyhoo,  it’ll be interesting to see if Shi gets to do a feature at some point. Here’s hopin’.

And now, back home, to my safe little CAVE to watch more old crap. But I’ll only briefly mention the crap and focus more on some nice discoveries on youtube for the next installment.


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