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5 Best And 5 Worst Things About Incredibles 2

After almost 15 years of waiting, Incredibles 2 has finally arrived, giving fans all the outrageous action and superpowered shenanigans anyone could hope for. Once again written and directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, "Do the Bartman"), the sequel is chock-full of even more of what you loved about the first movie, with more superheroes, more inter-family drama, and even more Edna Mode. Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener join the cast as Winston and Evelyn Deavor, industrialists who want to use Elasti-Girl (Holly Hunter) to rally the world to re-legalize superheroes. Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) finds his hands full being a stay-at-home super-dad for Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner), and out-of-control super-baby Jack Jack (Eli Fucile). Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), meanwhile, is still as cool as ice.

While the film's as action-packed and emotional as any fan of Bird and Pixar could expect, it's not all sunshine and roses. We've got a rundown of our favorite (and not so favorite) moments in the film. These are the five best — and five worst — things about Incredibles 2.

Best: Superheroic action

One of Brad Bird's most obvious talents as a director is his eye for set pieces. Whether he's showcasing a super-speedy chase sequence in the original Incredibles or putting Tom Cruise through the wringer on the set of Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, Bird knows exactly how to direct a jaw-dropping piece of cinema. That talent is on full display in The Incredibles 2, most notably in a sequence in which Elasti-Girl has to stop a runaway train before it reaches the end of the track.

It's a thrilling sequence that sees Elasti-Girl racing through the streets on her motorcycle, bouncing off the rooftops, and using her powers in surprising ways. It's so good you might be tempted to forget about the many other excellent scenes in the film, like Elasti-Girl fighting the villainous Screenslaver in a cage surrounded by strobe lights or the Incredible family teaming up against a team of mind-controlled superheroes. After years spent working predominantly in live action, Incredibles 2 is proof that Bird still knows how to direct beautiful animated sequences.

Worst: A choppy script

Bird has been fairly open in interviews about the long, circuitous road that Incredibles 2 took on the way to finally getting made. In fact, he's publicly admitted multiple times that the main reason for the long delay was his own difficulty in cracking the story. Bird told io9, "I just kept rewriting and rewriting and rewriting, and every time I rewrote everybody had to adjust."

Those readjustments in the overall story definitely show in the finished product. Although Incredibles 2 is as flashy and fun as the original, the script still doesn't quite live up to the high bar set by its predecessor. Characters are given smaller arcs (if they get character arcs at all), while callbacks to the first film seem to happen because they're expected rather than because they actually needed to occur. Overall, it's just a shaggier story than the original, even if it's just as visually stunning.

Best: The new supers

One of the most engaging plots in the new film is Elasti-Girl's quest to legalize superheroes again, especially since it brings in a whole group of superpowered weirdos to play off the Parr family. The collection of costumed vigilantes that Winston Deavor assembles to help out Elasti-Girl are an eclectic mix that seem reminiscent of some of your favorite comic book heroes without ever devolving into a full-blown parody. They've got fun costumes, bizarre powers (one hero seems to have the power to vomit up lava), and just enough character that you can't wait to see them bounce off each other. Voyd, a new superheroine with the power to create holes in space that she can move through, is a particular standout; her fight scenes involve some gravity-bending action that feels straight out of Inception. The entire new team of superheroes is such a hoot to watch (especially that owl-themed hero) that you might find yourself hoping for a spinoff before they jump into Incredibles 3.

Worst: Screenslaver's mixed messages

While it was always going to be hard to top The Incredibles' fanboy-turned-supervillain Syndrome, Incredibles 2 has a bit of a villain problem. The Screenslaver has an excellent design and some wonderfully sinister meta-textual moments — one standout scene showcases a mind-controlled character looking directly at the viewer to comment on the fact that you're watching a film — but the actual motivation behind the villain is a bit lacking.

When we find out that Screenslaver is really (spoiler alert) Evelyn Deavor, it comes as less of a surprise and more of an acknowledgement that the villain had to be one of the high-profile voice actors who appear in the new film. While Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener knock it out of the park as the Deavor siblings, Evelyn's argument that she's using Screenslaver to outlaw superheroes forever to get revenge for her parents really doesn't hold up under scrutiny. Worse, once Evelyn's revealed to be Screenslaver, she doesn't get the chance to have a climactic fight with Elasti-Girl; instead, there's a fairly perfunctory villainous monologue in a plane before the day is saved as usual.

Best: Elasti-Girl gets to stretch her limits

Speaking of Elasti-Girl, Incredibles 2 is really a movie about her — and it's all the better for it. Some of the best scenes in The Incredibles involved Elasti-Girl's subtle solutions to problems that Mr. Incredible would much rather just smash through, and Incredibles 2 makes that discrepancy an actual plot point. When the Deavor siblings talk about how she's the best qualified to deal with problems that are more nuanced than bank robbers or giant robots, it's hard to disagree. Even better, it's a lot of fun to watch. Elasti-Girl's more elastic powers make for some thrilling set pieces as she swings herself through the city like Spider-Man or investigates a villain's secret headquarters like Batman.

Not to mention Holly Hunter's voice performance as Elasti-Girl, which expertly showcases a woman rediscovering her independence after years spent being a stay-at-home mom. By the time she actually reunites with the rest of the family for a climactic fight, you feel like she's had just as much of the journey that Mr. Incredible experienced in the first film when he had his own superhero job.

Worst: It's a bit of a gender-swapped remake

Speaking of the new film's relationship to the original, the plot of Incredibles 2 is almost a beat-for-beat inverse match for The Incredibles. Both films feature an adult member of the family who has to take up a job as a superhero in order to make ends meet and finds that they derive personal satisfaction in returning to the work. Both films feature that member of the family discovering that the wealthy benefactor that made it all possible is actually their arch-nemesis and falling right into a trap, requiring the rest of the family to save them. Even smaller moments like Violet's boy trouble are literally carried over from the first film — Violet's crush gets his memory wiped, requiring her to once again confidently ask him out at the end of the film.

While there are smaller moments in the sequel that change the formula slightly, like Jack-Jack's collection of powers or the new superhero teams, the plot of the movie is almost exactly the same as the original in a way that occasionally feels stale.

Best: Edna Mode, babysitter

Brad Bird is inarguably a visionary director and excellent writer, but his truest talent might be serving as the voice behind Edna Mode, superhero fashion designer extraordinaire. Edna makes her triumphant return in Incredibles 2 as a reluctant (and then surprisingly excited) babysitter for Jack-Jack once Bob has reached the end of his parenting rope, and she's a delight. From her burning jealousy that Elasti-Girl went elsewhere for her super-suit needs to the hilarious effect she has on Jack-Jack's mannerisms after babysitting him, Edna Mode is a true scene-stealing treat.

Even if we don't get anything quite as great as the "No capes" montage from the first movie, Edna's dispassionate science tests on superpowered Jack-Jack serve as a stand-out scene. Maybe instead of another Jack-Jack animated short, we can get some sort of "Edna's Average Day" short to whet our appetite for the next Incredibles film.

Worst: Jack-Jack is growing up too slow

As for the youngest member of the Incredibles family, Jack-Jack certainly gives the film some of its most visually expressive scenes. His handful of bizarre superpowers adds a Looney Tunes-esque energy to the film that's certainly fun to watch for a while. Unfortunately, there's a reason most Looney Tunes shorts were short. Making Jack-Jack and his random superpowers a major plot in the movie starts to get old after a while, especially when most of the family's response to his new powers is some variation of panicking and screaming.

As much fun as his pint-sized battle with a surprisingly tough raccoon can be, the movie definitely could have benefited from spending a little less time on the baby of the family. By the end, Jack-Jack is less of a character and more of a mascot that continually moves the main players wherever they need to go next like a crying, laser-eye-shooting deus ex machina.

Best: The theme songs

Incredibles 2 might not have a post-credits sequence of the sort that Marvel Cinematic Universe fans have come to expect, but there was one excellent surprise for those patient enough to stick around after the final scene: the actual theme songs for Elasti-Girl, Frozone, and Mr. Incredible play near the end.

Earlier in the film, Winston Deavor sings a few bars of each theme while getting to know the superheroes, and it seems like a charming reminder of just how popular they used to be in the world of the film. It's a quick joke, so audiences would be forgiven for thinking that the filmmakers wouldn't return to the idea that each hero has their own theme song — but they actually recorded those songs, and they're ridiculously catchy. Elasti-Girl's song blares out with full trumpets, Frozone's is relaxed and chill, while Mr. Incredible's sounds like an off-brand James Bond theme. It's easy to picture the types of television shows these heroes would have had with these memorable theme songs.

Worst: Was it worth the wait?

As much as Incredibles 2 was a fun time and a worthy sequel, the film can't help but struggle to live up to the high hopes of fans after nearly 15 years of waiting. That's a long time for any filmmaker to return to a previous work, and the fact that Incredibles 2 shares so much in common with the original almost makes it pale in comparison.

While it's always a bit unfair to compare an actual movie with the idea of what it might have been, it's still hard not think of the other stories that could have been told. Bird and Incredibles 2 are in the unenviable position of releasing a pretty good follow-up to a film that many fans hold up as a classic. When following up such a beloved piece of work, it's hard to imagine that any sequel could have measured up to expectations, and the pent-up anticipation created by a 14-year delay certainly didn't help.