Incredibles 2 (Walt Disney Pictures, PG)

I ncredibles 2 takes place immediately after the end of The Incredibles. The underground-dwelling villain Underminer, with the use of his giant and dangerous drill, attempts to rob Metroville Bank. But, the super powered Parr family – dad Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), mom Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), teenage daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell), young son Dash (Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack, along with family friend and ice master Lucius/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), manage to stop Underminer’s drill, though not without it inflicting a lot of damage to the city. The collateral waste results in the reinstatement of the Super Relocation Program, once again forcing the family and all other supers to adhere to their secret identities. One person who does not agree with this decision is telecommunications tycoon Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk). Deavor, along with his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener), formulate a plan to bring supers back into the good graces of public opinion by having Helen fight crime in the city of New Urbrem. This forces Bob to look after his kids, which proves more difficult than expected. Complicating matters further is Helen’s battle with a new and dangerous super villain, the Screenslaver, who uses the airwaves to project images to brainwash civilians.

Fourteen years is a long time to wait for a sequel to one of Pixar’s more vibrant offerings, but trust me when I say it was all worth the wait. Not only has returning director and writer Brad Bird matched the brisk storytelling skill of the first film, he also leads a talented team who once again raise the bar for Pixar in terms of animation quality. Not only does the animation accentuate the eccentricities of its 1960s setting through its vibrant colors and jagged edges, the amount of detail put into every visual idea is jaw-dropping. Characters have never looked more detain-driven and three-dimensional than they do in this film, and the lighting is a particular standout. Bird uses Pixar’s many quality resources to bring to life some incredible action sequences that are as creative and exciting as you will see in any animated film. And no visual feast can be topped off without equally impressive sound, and contributing to that is the groovy score by frequent Bird collaborator Michael Giacchino.

While it is all fine and dandy to look at something gorgeous, what adds to the eye candy is the how well the characters are drawn on the script. What Bird has done is create a family full of dueling personalities yet lovable quirks that keeps you invested in their fight to save the world. Bringing those personalities to the forefront are the committed voice performances from their actors. In particular, Holly Hunter shines as the center of gravity in the crazy situations. Nelson is hilarious as the former smash-happy hero who now must stay at home, Vowell is still a lively presence as Violet, and Hulk Miler brings vibrancy to Dash. Odenkirk is having the time of his life playing Winston with the wit and personality of a salesperson, and Keener helps play into that dynamic as his more level-headed sister. One final performance worth mentioning is that of Sophia Bush as Elastigirl fan Voyd, whose shyness delights.

Incredibles 2 does not fall into the trappings of the “2” in the title. Something that could have felt stale provides a breath of fresh air. With top-notch animation, colorful characters and magnificent action sequences, Incredibles 2 is a triumphant return to animation for Bird and a true summer delight.| Bill Loellke

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