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Face-Off: The Incredibles vs. Incredibles 2

Nice to see you again, fans of the cinema! This is the Face-Off, where two movies enter and both movies leave, but one leaves in a slightly better light. Yes, here we take two competitors and compare their key elements and see who comes out the champion. It's a fierce competition that results in blood, tears, and online arguments, but the more brutal the battle, the sweeter the victory.

This weekend sees the release of the highly-anticipated new animated superhero movie SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, which is so far the best-reviewed Spider-Man outing to date. As well, the top movies at the box office are currently Disney's RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET and Illumination's THE GRINCH, meaning America is in full animation fever. Taking that into account we thought we would give you a Face-Off that has likely sparked much debate this year,  and one that involves both the realms of animation and superheroes. It's time for THE INCREDIBLES vs. INCREDIBLES 2.

The first was the animated juggernaut that became one of the most beloved movies of 2004, and one of the best animated movies of the decade. The movie came out during the heyday of Pixar, cementing it as the top animation studio in the business. For years people asked for a sequel, and director Brad Bird kept teasing one, and in 2014 news first dropped we would be getting said sequel over a decade later, and after having to suffer through two more CARS movies, no less. The sequel arrived with a BANG! and a POW! making almost $180 million its opening weekend, going to become the biggest Pixar movie of the lot in North America with over $600 million in the bank, before including its international cume. That's all on top of an almost guaranteed Best Animated Feature Oscar win, making this a sequel that easily stands up to, if not above, its predecessor. 

Still, it's a worthy battle between the two, so if you want to see which movie wins the battle of the superhero families then suit up and scroll on down!

Voice Cast

Craig T. Neslon+D2:S14 as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible
Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl
Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr
Spencer Fox as Dashiell "Dash" Parr
Jason Lee as Buddy Pine/IncrediBoy/Syndrome
Elizabeth Pena as Mirage
Bud Luckey as Rick Dicker
Wallace Shawn as Gilbert Huph
John Ratzenberger as The Underminer
with Brad Bird as Edna Mode
and Samuel L. Jackson as Lucious Best/Frozone

Craig T. Neslon+D2:S14 as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible
Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl
Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr
Huckleberry Milner as Dashiell "Dash" Parr
Bob Odenkirk as Winston Deavor
Catherine Keener as Evelyn Deavor
Jonathan Banks as Rick Dicker
Sophia Bush as Karen/Voyd
Isabella Rossellini as The Ambassador
Phil LaMarr as Krushauer and He-Lectrix
with Brad Bird as Edna Mode
and Samuel L. Jackson as Lucious Best/Frozone

Direction

By the time he had started work on THE INCREDIBLES Brad Bird had already established himself with the animated cult classic, THE IRON GIANT. While that movie played on atomic-era stories of the past, Bird brought that same passion to the world of 60s-era comic books and spy movies to thrilling effect. Pixar may have been in its first decade, with only a handful of movies under its belt, but Bird pushed computer animation to its limit by crafting a world that looks ripped right out of a Golden Age comic book filled with countless heroes and colorful locations. Where the movie really sets itself apart from being more than a colorful piece of eye candy is Bird's focus on the family at its core, telling a story about a family man - who happens to be a superhero - trying to reclaim his glory days. Bird may not get the emotional impact out of the movie that he did with GIANT, but he demonstrates a strong knack for visual storytelling and style here.

After THE INCREDIBLES Bird moved on to RATATOUILLE, and one of the best MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movies of the bunch (we don't have to talk about TOMORROWLAND), and in the latter he brought that same sense of showmanship from his first Pixar outing into the live-action realm, proving he was more than capable of handling both arenas. With INCREDIBLES 2 he exhibits a mesh of the two approaches by working within an animated sphere but giving it the kind of spectacle and visual finese you would find in a top-notch, live-action action flick. With improved visuals he gives each action sequence their own personality across various settings, like the exhilarating train sequence across a sunset sky or Elastigirl's tracking down of Screenslaver across a moody, dark, Gotham-esque nighttime city. In the midst of all that he doesn't lose sight of the core of the movie - the family - and though the story itself isn't as strong he takes the characters in strong directions, making his work here stronger overall. 

Script

As said above. Bird takes from the comic books and colorful action thrillers of the 60s and gives it a modern, satiricial feel while still evoking the best of those products. While the story may not incorporate the family in as strong a way as the sequel, this outing benefits from a central focus on Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr, a "retired" hero trying to relive the glory days and ends up making things worse for himself. The narrative is clean and focused, and allows for Bird to play with the world and the characters, each having their strong suits (figuratively and literall, thanks to Edna Mode). This means that when Parr is getting back into the game he can exlpore where all these heroes fit in to the universe, including where they got their costumes, gifting us the incomprable Edna Mode, one of the best creations Pixar has ever provided mankind. Also at the center is a more interesting, colorful villain (more on that later), which makes the conflict at the center more engaging. 

Thanks to better animation and more thrills INCREDIBLES 2 is certainly more entertaining than its predecessor, but the one element of it that I do always feel could have been better is the story. Very similar to the original in parts (one family member off to save the day as the others stay home, only for them to come into the mix and save the day together), the movie also deals with more characters and has to take on the fact these characters have become part of the pop culture zeitgiest, meaning each needs their due deligence. On that front Bird crafted a very worthy follow-up to the original, one that focuses on the family more and gives Bob room to grow, while on the other hand leaving most of the crime fighting to Helen/Elastigirl. Sadly, the movie also has to work with a weaker villain than the last movie, and although we get some cool, noir motifs from the investiagting of Screenslaver's identity, the main "hero" story just isn't as engaging as the one from the first movie. 

Best Bits & Lines

Bits:

Meet the Supers
Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl
Bomb-Voyage
Normal Life
Car Rage
Family Dinner
Heroing in the Shadows
Bob Tosses his Boss
The First Omnidroid
Training Montage
Edna Mode
No Capes!
The Second Omnidroid
Family Suits
Infiltaring Syndrome's Lair
Airplane Chaos
Elastigirl to the Rescue
The Incredibles in Action
Syndrome Attacks
Saving the City
Jack-Jack Attack
The Family that Fights Together

Lines:

Mr. Incredible: No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for... for ten minutes!

--

Violet: We act normal, mom! I want to *be* normal! The only normal one is Jack-Jack, and he's not even toilet trained!

--

Edna: My God, you've gotten fat.

--

Edna: Milan, darling. Milan. Supermodels. Heh! Nothing super about them... spoiled, stupid little stick figures with poofy lips who think only about themselves. Feh! I used to design for *gods*!

--

Edna: No capes!

--

Edna: I never look back, darling! It distracts from the now.

--

Syndrome: Sure, it was difficult, but you are worth it. I mean, after all... I am your biggest fan.

--

Edna: I didn't know the baby's powers so I covered the basics.
Helen: Jack-Jack doesn't have any powers.
Edna: No? Well, he'll look fabulous anyway.

--

Edna: And it can also withstand a temperature of over 1000 degrees. Completely bulletproof...And machine washable, darling. That's a new feature.

--

Edna: Pull-yourself-together! "What will you do?" Is this a question? You will show him you remember that he is Mr. Incredible, and you will remind him who *you* are. Well, you know where he is. Go, confront the problem. Fight! Win!

--

Syndrome: Oh, no. Elastigirl? You married Elastigirl? Ho, ho, ho...Oh - and got biz-zay! It's a whole family of supers! Looks like I hit the jackpot! Oh, this is just too good!

--

Dash: We're dead! We're dead! We survived but we're dead!

--

Lucius: Honey?
Honey: What?
Lucius: Where's my super suit?
Honey: What?
Lucius: WHERE - IS - MY - SUPER SUIT?
Honey: I, uh, put it away!
Lucius: Where!?
Honey: WHY do you NEED to know?

Bits:

The Underminer
Plan for Supers' Return
New House
Daddy Time
Elastigirl In Action
Jack-Jack v Raccoon
Helicopter Hijack
The Happy Platter
Elastigirl Traverses the City at Night
Taking on Screenslaver
Dealing with a Super Baby
Edna Mode 2
Real Screenslaver Revealed 
Jack-Jack’s Suit
Elastigirl v. Mr. Incredible
Rumble at the House
Infiltrating the Boat
Superheroes v. Superheroes
Plane Fight
Superheroes Legal/Family Suits Up

Lines:

Rick: If you wanna get out of the hole, first you gotta put down the shovel.

--

Dash: It defines who I am.
Bob: We're not saying you have - what?
Dash: Someone on TV said it.

--

Bob: I don't KNOW that way, why would they change math? Math is math, math is math!

--

Dash: Is she having adolescence?

--

Edna: Done properly, parenting is a heroic act... done properly.

--

Screenslaver: Superheroes are part of a brainless desire to replace true experience with simulation. You don't talk, you watch talk shows. You don't play games, you watch game shows. Travel, relationships, risk; every meaningful experience must be packaged and delivered to you to watch at a distance so that you can remain ever-sheltered, ever-passive, ever-ravenous consumers who can't train themselves to rise from their couches to break a sweat, and participate in life.

--

Bob: Because I'm formulating, okay! I'm taking in information! I'm processing! I'm doing the math, I'm fixing the boyfriend, and keeping the baby from turning into a flaming monster! How do I do it? By rolling with the punches, baby! I eat thunder and crap lightening, okay? Because I'm Mr. Incredible! Not "Mr. So-So" or "Mr. Mediocre Guy"! Mr. Incredible!

--

Bob: I've got to succeed! So she can succeed! So WE can succeed!

--

Bob: Combustion imminent? What does that mean?
Edna: It means fire, Robert.

--

Lucius: I'll be there, ASAP.
Honey: Where are you going ASAP? You better be back ASAP!

--

Krushauer: You want me to... UN-crush?
Mr. Incredible: What, no one's ever asked for that?
Krushauer: No! To un-crush is silly! Why un-crush?

--

Elastigirl: I missed Jack-Jack's first power?!
Mr. Incredible: Actually you missed his first seventeen.

 

 

Musical Mastery

This is the first score Michael Giacchino did for Pixar, and the movie that catapulted him into the public eye. When you listen to the score its easy to see why he got so much attention for his work here, because after his work on UP it has to be my favorite piece from him in the Pixar world. His score here is, as Edna Mode would say, bold and dramatic, taking spy-movie sounds and mixing them with heroic action pieces, all with an enegetic, jazzy vibe. While the sequel next door has so much going on in the action department the movie here has more gaps between the spectacle, so the score does a lot of heavy lifting in the meantime. It stands out well when Parr is going through his self-improvement montage, and during the more spy movie moments, like when the plane he's on goes underwater into a secret lair, or when he's in the Lava Room with Mirage. Like I said, his work on UP is he best in the animated realm, but INCREDIBLES is a close second, and one that still stands out from his whole discography over a decade later. 

Giacchino returned for the sequel, of course, and his work here is still great, taking the jazzy sounds and making them feel like a sound for sore ears. All the same, great sounds from the original score are here, but during the course of the movie I can't help but feel the compostitions take a back seat to the spectacle and humor. Don't get me wrong, there are some great bits here, and the inclusion of the theme songs for Elastigirl, Forzone and Mr. Incredible during the end credits is a nice, clever touch, and could easily be heard in superhero serials from decades ago. But still, his work from the original makes more of an impact both over the course of the movie and upon a relisten on its own. 

Villain

A doe-eyed, hopeful kid having his dreams crushed by his hero, only to become the villain bent on destroying all supers as an evil adult makes for a perfect animated superhero movie villain. Jason Lee gives a goofy, yet still sinister quality to Syndrome that makes you despise this character despite his tragic backstory. More importanly, it gives an emotional layer to the story that fits well into Bob's attempt to reclaim his former life, having to suffer the consequences as a result. But on top of all that he's just a fun villain to watch. He's got the crazy, volcano hair, outlandish costume, cool gadgets and strong, clear motivations. It's a shame he was taken down so easily in the first movie, because I would've liked to see him return for the sequel. 

The crux of INCREDIBLES 2 lies in the villain, a masked tech baddie known only as Screenslaver, a villain who hypnotizes people via TV screens. It's a fitting parable for modern times, even if the movie isn't quite set in the times we live in now. However, I don't like the Scooby-Doo, person-behind-the-mask angle, and when its revealed to be Evelyn it's still only a ho-hum development for me. As said, I like the link between a villain using our screens against us, but the actual villain and the motivation behind Evelyn's actions aren't as satisfying as in the original, which makes for the only real flaw in this movie - as minor a flaw as it is. 

Animation

Going back to a point I made in the "Direction" section, Pixar was still in its early days, and the animation doesn't always hold up as well when you go back and watch those older outings. There's not as much detail in either the foreground or background elements, and there's just not a ton of scope that can be given compared to later titles like WALL-E, UP, INSIDE OUT and the sequel next door. When the movie picks up and Parr gets to travel to the island the training wheels are kicked off and there's some vibrant color given to the locales, no doubt all the budget reserved for the climatic action scenes. 

One aspect of this movie that always stays with me after a viewing (yes, I've done several) is the animation. Sure, focusing all on humans as opposed to unique worlds inside the mind of a child doesn't make for as wondrous a visual feast, but Bird and the animation team do a staggering job of giving this movie a realistic, richly detailed, beaituflly colored visual scheme that dazzeles from scene to scene. Each key moment looks and feels so different than ones that came before, whether they be small, human, comedic scenes or daring action showcases. The blends of darkness and light are captivating, making this one of Pixar's boldest looking movies in their entire canon. 

The Incredibles

While the movie is called THE INCREDIBLES this is certainly Mr. Incredible's story. He gets most of the focus and goes through most of the change, with the family as a whole not getting to do much until they get thrust into the action in the second half. Until then they still are well-crafted, and Bird's script does a hilarious job executing the family dysfunction, working their powers into their daily lives. Still what I appreciate more about the sequel is how it makes the story more about the family than this one, where it's Parr learning not to hide secrets from them, with the whole gang coming together in the end.

If the first movie is a love letter to the Golden Age of comic books and spy movies then this outing is a love letter to the super family at its core. The sacrfice of a stronger narrative is given to develop all the members of the Parr family further, including exploring the patricarchs in greater depth, giving Violet and Dash more to do and making Jack-Jack the scene stealer of the movie. All in all this movie gets more out of the characters are the center than the previous movie, which is very much a positive given how well-written and dynamic they are. 

Thrills & Laughs

When it comes to laughs Edna Mode wins the day here, with her deadpan, absurd character traits and Bird's excellent voiceover work. As evidenced by the "Bits and Lines" segment everything out of her mouth is quotable and hysterical, and she gives the movie some comedic releif. Other than that the movie manages to be funny in numerous, slapstick ways, all peppered throughout the still-thrilling action. Some classic hero work in the beginning (saving a kitten from a tree, stopping a speeding train) are all there, with some more modern thrills (fighting the Omnidroid) making up the rest. There's plenty here that remain less dated than the animation itself, with Bird finding clever ways to incorporate the families powers into the spectacle. 

There's no reason why the INCREDIBLES movies should not be the most action-packed of the Pixar canon. They're superhero movies for christsakes. On that note, INCREDIBLES 2 *needs* to be the most spectacluar outing of all Pixar movies, and it lives up to that level thanks to some breathtaking animation and Bird's direction of the action scenes. There's no shortage of thrilling moments here, from the start with the Underminer to the helicopter chase with Elastigirl. Each new scene succeeds in their own unique ways, keeping the action coming in fresh, maginficent ways. Then there's the humor, and thanks to more Jack-Jack, additional heroes and the returning Edna this movie is more than funny enough to keep things entertaining between the punches. 

Praise & Money

Praise:

Rotten Tomatoes: 97% (75% Audience Score)

Metacritic: 90 (8.8 Audience)

IMDb: 8.0 

--

Money:

$261 million ($633 million global)

Praise:

Rotten Tomatoes: 94% (86% Audience Score)

Metacritic: 80 (8.0 Audience Score)

IMDb: 7.9 

--

Money:

$608 million ($1.24 billion global)

Incredibles 2

The Incredibles remains one of Pixar's best outings to date, and its style, characters, and action remain as engaging today as they were 14 years ago. But Brad Bird needed a reason to do INCREDIBLES 2 that made it more than a cash grab, and he topped the original in more than a few ways here. While the story and villain are slightly weaker the movie makes up for it heroic ways with outstanding animation, greater character dynamics, a voice cast that's better than ever and stupefying action sequences that push the boundaries for spectacle in the Pixar pantheon. Loyalists may stick with the original all the way, but upon each viewing, I find more things to love about this sequel, and it certainly lives up to the 14-year-long wait. Definitely more than FINDING DORY, that's for sure.

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