"Incredibles 2" is a mediocre movie.
Reportedly, director Brad Bird refused to work on a sequel to his hit 2004 family film "The Incredibles" until he felt that it would be at least as good as the first. If he considers the sequel to be even close to the first in story, characterization, writing, or cinematography, then he seems to have missed what worked so well about his original film. Granted, "Incredibles 2" isn't bad — it's watchable. The animation quality is better than it used to be. But compared to the complexity and art of the first film, it remains (at least for me) a real letdown. It squandered the potential of the franchise.
The sequel picks up exactly where the last film left off — with the Incredibles suiting up once again to fight the Underminer. The Underminer, though, was just a hackneyed pun of a villain put at the end of the last film to imply that Supers had come back. He isn't important. After the first action scene of the film, he disappears, which wouldn't necessarily be a problem, except… now the movie is stuck in the '60s. 14 real-life years passed between the original and the sequel, so now the voice actors all sound a lot older, and the animators struggle to match the chic stylism of the original. Their cinematic choices are all very modern, oftentimes using unnatural green and red lighting, first-person camera angles, and character designs that look like they're from Fortnite. This also isn't necessarily a problem, but that one film is supposed to have taken place immediately after the other is jarring — somewhat the reverse of watching "A New Hope" after "Revenge of the Sith."
Even though the film was marketed as Elastigirl's movie, the most significant character arc belongs once again to Mr. Incredible. In the previous movie he had to learn to relinquish his fantasy of vigilante hero work and love his family; in this movie, he has to… learn to relinquish his fantasy of vigilante hero work and love his family. Granted, he does a more thorough job of it this time around. Elastigirl doesn't have to learn anything — she was perfectly capable at the beginning of the film and remains so until the end. That's not necessarily bad, but it is missed potential. The first film is an intriguing exploration of masculinity that does not shy away from Mr. Incredible's flaws. I was hoping the second film would have an equally complex exploration of femininity. Instead, we get a Mary Sue protagonist.
Although a few of these problems are simple fixes, there's one major change I would have liked: the story should be set in the future (perhaps present day), for several reasons. First, we would get to see our heroes from the first film age — some would become old and grumpy, but others (like the kids) would just become adults. I'd love to know what kind of adult Jack-Jack grows up to be! Second, it would justify the new style set by 14 years of progress in film and animation. The Fornite-type designs would actually be quite fitting, giving the film an opportunity to compare old and new heroic types. Third, it would greatly increase the relevance of Screenslaver as a villain. Screens weren't nearly as prevalent or addictive in the '60s as they are now; Screenslaver works much better as a 21st-century villain than a 20th-century one.
But. I could be wrong. If you enjoyed "Incredibles 2" or felt I gave it short shrift, feel free to disagree! Rebuttals are welcome. Peace.