Now Playing July 2018

Beaten

New Super Mario Bros U – I finally finished it up. I should have a post ready to go up soon. I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this, which says a lot when I went in expecting to enjoy it.

Pokemon Ultra Sunread review here.

Ongoing

River City Knights of Justice – I had a long car ride and I had finished Pokemon and hit a snag on the next game I am trying to work through (see below), so I fired up River City Knights of Justice, the beat-em-up from a couple years ago that was a spin off River City Ransom, maybe my favorite game of all time, and set in a fantasy world. It is fine, but somehow also completely unsatisfying. It shouldn’t take me long to finish this, I think I am nearing the end, and will post my complete thoughts on the game somehow next month.

Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers – I don’t know if I ever posted it, but I started something about the giant stack of unbeaten Shin Megami Tensei games I have sitting around a couple of years ago and was planning to make a genuine effort to beat them. Since then, I think I’ve beaten two of them, including the newly released Persona 5. The games in this mega-series tend to be long and challenging, not something that a person can just play. But I pulled this out while searching around for a new to play on my 3DS. While I am only three or four hours into it, I like it so far. It is clearly a much earlier game in the series than what I am used to, so plenty of the streamlining that has made the games more playable are not present here. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, just a little more cumbersome than most 3DS games. It is definitely a SMT game. You recruit demons and fight through first person dungeons. The odd thing here is that the main character doesn’t have any magic. Which means that the magic stat for him is all but useless and cutting down build possibilities for the one character you get to make choices about down to nil. Still, so far it has been a good time, though I frequently I am not sure exactly where it wants me to go.

Suikoden V – I made a little progress and another post is coming about this game. I love this game.

Upcoming

Super Mario Galaxy – I started this up again a few months ago, but I intend to speed through this sooner rather than later.

Yakuza – Probably Yakuza 0, but I’ve also got Kiwami and 6 ready to go. I plan to get my PS4 back from my brother, after only 9 months, and I’m itching for the unique menacing goofiness of the Yakuza series.

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What I Read July 2018

I read two books again in July. I’d hoped the summer would free my time up some, but it really hasn’t. I might manage more in August than July, but I wouldn’t bet on such a proposition.

Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon is Entirely Vindicated

Whit Stillman

This is the adaptation of Stillman’s movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s epistolary novel Lady Susan, which is included in this volume. The books sets itself up as a rebuttal, written by a relative of Lady Susan’s, to the Jane Austen story. It takes spins things to show that Lady Susan was good and thoughtful person subjected to gossip and innuendos from the stuck up De Courcy family. It is hilarious. The fictional author does his best to make Lady Susan look good, but it is clear who and what she is. The more interesting revelations about are about that fictional author, whose pathetic state are eventually revealed. It is mostly just an amusing supplement to the excellent movie. Speaking of which, if you haven’t seen Love and Friendship, you should really do so. The book sparkles with the same wit as the movie, as well as echoing its re-framing of Lady Susan from the villain she is in the original book.

Master and Fool

JV Jones

The final book in Jones’ trilogy with the most generic of all possible titles: ‘The Book of Words.’ This kind of feels like Jones didn’t really leave the character’s where she needed them at the end of the last book, so a lot has to happen at the start of this one to get things in place for the main thrust of the story. I feels a little forced, but it is mostly enjoyable, even if things don’t really link up as well as they might have. Mostly, I liked this book. While it is an ending, it doesn’t really feel like a final book. It leaves most of the characters in place for what could have been (maybe have been, I haven’t read any of Jones’ other work) more adventures.

I do have problems with the book. For one, it takes the female lead out of the picture pretty early on and gives her nothing to do for the bulk of the book. She isn’t exactly sidelined, but she doesn’t have anything to do other than to wait for the other characters to come back and save her. Another problem is how much time the book spends with the corrupt, plotting priest whose name I forget. He is a menacing yet comical character, but his machinations never really amount to anything. Other than providing updates on the rest of the world, he only really matters to about two chapters. Why is he there so much? He constantly feels like he is laying the groundwork for something that never materializes. All the pages wasted on that priest kind of highlight how rushed the rest of the story is. The book is enjoyable and fine, but it could have been better. I would read more by JV Jones, though.

Pokemon Ultra Sun

I am going to link to my review of Pokemon Moon, because it is largely the same game as this. For the first time since Pokemon Platinum, Nintendo has trotted out one of their incremental updates. I guess to be fair, this might be closer to Pokemon Black & White 2 than Platinum or the GBA’s Emerald, but it is definitely more of an update than sequel. So I don’t have a lot to add from what I already wrote about the first release of this game.

If I remember the story of Pokemon Moon correctly, which is no sure thing because the story of Pokemon games is not the sort of thing that sticks in my mind, the changes to the plot in Pokemon Ultra Sun mostly exist to close off what appeared to be sequel hooks. Instead of open ended semi-conclusions, the game now tells a full story. Like the original game, the story takes up more of the game than most Pokemon games, but now at least it is a complete experience.

As usual, the roster of available monster is much expanded. It is almost too much, which is in no way an actual problem. Even on the first of Alola’s four islands you can build a varied and effective team. Personally, I love that the game makes Hawlucha, objectively the best Pokemon, available very early in the game. It is a big change from Pokemon Crystal, which I recently played and thought the game held most of the interesting Pokemon to the second half of the game. (Or maybe just put them out in the daytime, because I could only play at night.) Ultra Sun gives the player access to Pokemon of almost every type within the first quarter of the game.

I wish I had more to say about this, but I really don’t. It hits right in a blindspot for me. I want to say that it is just because it is so much like the original Pokemon Sun & Moon. However, I don’t remember that game well enough to articulate how it is similar and how it is different. Maybe I don’t remember it well enough to comment on it similarity to its predecessor. So I am just going to leave it at this; Pokemon Ultra Sun is a familiar and delightful game. Finally, it is the part where I make some vague resolution to do post game stuff or complete the pokedex or something. That isn’t happening any time soon. I am going back to the growing stack of unbeaten 3DS games I have and trying to whittle it down some. Maybe put some serious time into Etrian Odyssey V.

Uncle Drew

Uncle Drew is a movie that maybe shouldn’t exist. It mostly stars professional athletes and is based on a series of soda commercials. It makes it more than a little surprising that it is as entertaining as it is. Uncle Drew isn’t the best comedy to come out this year, but it is solid and largely entertaining.

Uncle Drew stars Lil Rey Howery as Dax, the manager of a streetball team gearing up for the Rucker Classic basketball tournament. Just before it is set to start, Dax’s rival Mookie (Nick Kroll) steals his team and his girlfriend (Tiffany Haddish). The dejected Dax then encounters elderly streetball legend Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving) and manages to convince him to play for him. One of Drew’s requirements for playing is that he gets to pick the rest of the team, which sets the two of them off on a roadtrip to put his old team back together.

That team includes power forward Preacher (Chris Webber), who is now a minister married to Betty Lou (Lisa Leslie) who does not want Preacher to play. They also pick up Lights (Reggie Miller), a legally blind outside shooting expert and Boots (Nate Robinson), the hyperactive point guard who is now confined to a wheelchair. Along with Boots comes his granddaughter Maya, who becomes Dax’s love interest. Lastly, they pick up Big Fella (Shaquille O’Neal), their center and now martial arts instructor.

It all mostly exists for former, and current, professional athletes to put on old age makeup and make a bunch of old people jokes. The other part mostly involves simplistic life lessons, like echoing Tag’s moral that “you don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing,” and noting that you miss all of the shots you don’t take. It is fine, not profound but doesn’t need to be and is not supposed to be. The last ingredient to formula is seeing these old players school a bunch of youngsters. Other than an early scene of Uncle Drew clowning a young guy near the start, the movie does its best to withhold this part until the end, but it is mostly worth the pay off.

There is just enough the make the characters in this movie actually characters to string things along between the basketball and jokes. There is Dax’s arrested development, with him being trapped in a moment when he got his shot blocked, by Mookie, as a kid and with his feeling alone since he grew up an orphan. There is also the conflict between Big Fella and Uncle Drew that broke up the team all those years ago. It isn’t anything surprising and its resolution is pat, but it is enough of a conflict to be a conflict.

As far as basketball goes, Uncle Drew largely delivers. That is the advantage of casting professional basketball players. The tournament plays out almost exactly how you’d expect it to, but there is enough here to be enjoyable. I don’t know why this movie exists, but I am not upset I used my moviepass to go see it.

***

Ant-Man and The Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp is the perfect antidote to the world changing events of Avengers Infinity War. The stakes in that movie couldn’t be higher, while Ant-Man and the Wasp have easily the lowest stakes of any superhero movie to date. It brings back all the characters from the first movie for some very personal adventures.

Ant-Man deals a lot with the fallout from Scott’s involvement in Captain America Civil War. Unlike the rest of this team, Scott took a plea deal and ended up on house arrest for a couple years. Incidentally, his involvement also put his friends, Hope Van Dyne and Hank Pym, on the run from the government as well. As the movie starts, he is days away from getting his freedom, but he also starts having dreams of Janet Van Dyne, who was lost in the Quantum Realm years before. This leads to reconnecting with his erstwhile allies and sneaking out on his sentence.

That sets the stakes for this movie. Scott has to get back to his house before he is caught violating his house arrest. Hank and Hope, meanwhile, are trying to put together a rescue mission for Janet. Then there are the villains. The first is Sonny Burch who is trying to steal Hank’s tech with the vague idea of selling it on the black market. Hank’s tech isn’t weapons, though I’m sure it could be weaponized, and Burch doesn’t have any bigger evil scheme than steal Hank’s stuff and sell it to someone else. Then there is Ghost, who needs Hank’s tech to solve her problem of turning intangible. Again, she has no great villainous plot; her goal is just as personal and as sympathetic as the good guys’.

Keeping it low stakes works for Ant-Man. It gives a lot of time for banter between Scott and his friends, a group of ex-cons running a security business, as well as between Scott and Hope and Hank. This works really well mostly because Paul Rudd, who plays Scott, is delightful. The same is true of Michael Pena. Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne and Michael Douglas are all also good, though none of them really get enough to do. And no movie has enough Michelle Pfeiffer. The action is largely carried by Evangeline Lilly as Hope. Scott does his part, but Hope does the majority of the fighting and is great in it. The size changing powers are visually interesting and lead to a lot of interesting fight choreography. Again, that is a plus for keeping the stakes low, with it mostly being a lot of hand to hand fighting between one or two people who can change size and a handful of thugs who can’t or with one person who can phase through solid matter.

The villain is another thing this does well. Ghost’s methods are criminal, but she is mostly just opposed to our heroes more than evil. It is easy to understand why she is getting the help that she is from certain characters. All she wants is to have her problem fixed, and she needs Hank’s tech to do it. The conflict arises because her need conflicts with the need of Hank and Hope to get Janet back. It is understandable, logical and compelling.

Where is falters, as much as it does, is that it doesn’t have a whole lot that was not already in the first movie. It re-configures some things and gives us a character in action that we didn’t get to see before, but it is mostly just more of what we’ve already seen. Still, it is well executed and mostly very funny, so it is hard to hold its lack of originality against it.

I doubt this movie will be remembered as among he cream of the Marvel crop, but Ant-Man and The Wasp seems a more compelling movie to return to than the epic but exhausting Infinity War or many of the other larger than life adventures.

****1/2

Hearts Beat Loud

Hearts Beat Loud is a low key, charming little movie about a father and daughter. It doesn’t really do anything new or unexpected, but it is good hearted and enjoyable that it is easy to like anyway.

Hearts Beat Loud is a movie about the inevitability of change. Change isn’t innately good or bad, it merely is. Sam (Kiersey Clemmons) is graduating from high school and heading to college across the country. Her father Frank (Nick Offerman) is having a hard time dealing with it. Added on to this is that Frank’s record store is going out of business. The two of them are a musical family and after an evening of playing together, Frank becomes determined that the two of them will start a band. This is an enticing prospect for Frank, who used to be in a band with Sam’s mother before their daughter was born.

There is sadness is Frank’s obviously futile quest. The viewer knows that the worst possible outcome here is that Sam puts off her medical school dreams to start a band with her Dad, but as the movie seems determined to strip everything he has away from him you can’t help but sympathize with Frank a little bit. A big part of their relationship is obviously their musical connection and him wanting to keep them together with it is understandable, but also kind of selfish. Even Frank appears to know that it is a bad idea, although it is one that lets him keep his daughter around.

Sam appears to know this and for the most part shows little interest in giving up school to be in a band. But she also writes songs, because she is a musician. She also has to deal with moving across the country and giving up a burgeoning romance. There are tons of reasons for her to stay, but it is obvious that staying would be a limiting move for her.

In a parallel to losing his relationship with his daughter, Frank’s record shop is also going out of business. Like with the band business, Frank is given an opportunity to keep the record shop going, only it will mean changing it from what he knew. He has to decide if it is worth keeping what he had at the risk of changing it utterly, or just letting it go and grow to be something else.

A movie can’t put the emphasis that Hearts Beat Loud does on music and not make the music worth listening to. Fortunately, Hearts Beat Loud has some really great tunes and the significant time it spends letting its characters just play music is not wasted space.

Hearts Beat Loud is undeniably slight. It is a simple and low key affair buoyed largely by its charming cast, which in addition to Clemmons and Offerman includes Toni Collette, Blythe Danner, Ted Danson and Sasha Lane, and its engaging sincerity. A fun, touching trifle.

****

Sicario Day of the Soldado

The first Sicario was a look at the drug war that put the viewer in the shoes of Emily Blunt’s FBI agent Macer as she was exposed to the moral rot that it involved. It invited the viewer to join in her alienation as the tactics of the good guys became essentially indistinguishable from the bad guys. Sicario: Day of the Soldado, still wants to have that moral complexity, but other than a few echoes of the original it manages none of it. The fact that it works as well as it does rests entirely on the shoulders of Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin, who is having quite a year.

Sicario Day of the Soldado starts with some histrionics about imagined border security fears, with Muslim suicide bombers sneaking through the Mexican border to attack American grocery stores. It is a disgusting bum note that the movie never quite manages to recover from. It does give an unneeded in to introduce Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), a CIA operative who is busy torturing someone suspected of facilitating the suicide bombers. The US government has decided to treat the Mexican Cartels like terrorist organizations and wants Graver to bring his expertise to disrupting the cartels. He starts a plan to kidnap the daughter of the head of a cartel and frame another cartel for it. He brings along with him Alejandro Gillick (Del Toro), a mexican hitman he worked with in the past. Things go awry, as these things do, and Alejandro and Matt end up on opposite sides of the border and the conflict. Weaved inelegantly through the thriller is a plot line about a kid who gets caught up with the gangs starting by helping people cross the border for some cash.

Without Blunt’s character, the movie has no heart. The first half shows only the moral emptiness, with nothing to compare it against and making no real comment about it; it merely shows the blackness. About midway through, it turns into something of a straight up Western, and the two amoral operative suddenly develop at least the inklings of a conscious. It works for Del Toro’s Gillick, because it fits with his motivation. For Graver, it comes out of nowhere and makes little sense. The plot with the kid is as bleak as it could possibly be, but the movie doesn’t let the viewer inside of his thoughts to any degree at all, making it hard to tell if this is a drifting or just how he always was.

The end is where the movie really falls apart. It has no themes to tie together and no interest in delivering some kind of exciting final act, so it just sort of peters out with unsatisfying conclusions to its various plots. Some of them barely explained. Were I feeling generous, I might say the movie is leaving the viewer unfulfilled so they can chew on the movie’s meaning, but the movie doesn’t manage to have much of meaning, leaving the viewer simply underwhelmed.

Ignoring the movie’s either disgusting or muddled politics, as an action thriller it is fairly well staged. Its few actions scenes are tense and exciting. Brolin and Del Toro both deliver very good performances that make it easy to forget how unnecessary this sequel is.

**

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

While the original Jurassic World, which I have cooled on quite a bit since writing a fairly positive review of when it came out, was content to mostly just do the Jurassic Park again, but bigger and “better,” Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom tries to do more. In many ways, the Jurassic World movies echo the Disney Star Wars movies. The first does everything in its power to remind you of why you liked the series in the first place, the second does a little of mashing up other sequels in an attempt to propel the series forward after the back looking entry. But like how Jurassic World kind of fumbled the call back to the original formula, Fallen Kingdom pushes the series forward while giving the viewer no reason to believe that it has any clue where it is coming from.

A few years after the disaster at the park in Jurassic World, the volcano on isla nubar, where the dinosaurs are, becomes active and is going to erupt. Claire, Bryce Dallas Howard, is part of a group that is trying to do something to save the dinosaurs. She gets help from Benjamin Lockwood, the previously unknown partner of John Hammond who wants to save a few species of dinos and take them to another island. The need Claire to get into Jurassic World’s systems, and they need her to recruit Owen Grady, Chris Pratt, to help them get the velociraptor Blue. Once they arrive at the island, it becomes clear that they are not there to save the dinosaurs for any humanitarian purposes, but to capture the dinos for reasons unknown. Eventually it becomes clear that the genetic experiments that created the Indominus Rex are still happening.

Like the original Jurassic Park sequel, The Lost World, Fallen Kingdom splits time between the islands and the mainland and brings some dinosaurs to the mainland. It has the main characters there on an altruistic mission and the villains there for profit. While the series always was scifi, Fallen Kingdom pushes it further in that direction. The cloning procedures that brought the return of the dinos is now so much more than it started as.

There are times when I find Fallen Kingdom almost admirable, but it ends up feeling like a collection of ideas for further Jurassic adventures. There isn’t a lot to tie the various strands together. The island stuff is almost fully disconnected from the mainland stuff. Someone just had the idea of dinosaurs and a volcano. Just like someone had the idea of a raptor sneaking around a big old mansion. The movie just kind of throws all these things out there and hopes the viewer can make something of them. Characters get lost along the way, held together only by Chris Pratt’s and Bryce Dallas Howard’s charm.

I can’t say I didn’t enjoy Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom. Despite how jumbled it seems, there is a certain amount of fun to be had with dinosaurs in these various scenarios. The way the movie just goes for even its most outlandish ideas has a charm all of its own. But I can’t imagine looking back fondly on this movie even a year or two from now.

**1/2

What I Watched June 2018

Movies
Ready Player One – read review here. ***

Ocean’s 8 – read review here. ****

Roxanne – I was not aware of this Steve Martin update of Cyrano de Bergerac. It is charming, a little sappy and a little saccharine, but everything is so well done that it is hard to hold it against the movie. I loved it. ****1/2

Gamer – This movie is crazy, but I’m not sure it quite gets where it’s going. It is over the top and loud and gross, but its attempts at social commentary are kind of half hearted. I credit its attempts, but it doesn’t quite work. **1/2

Executive Decision – A Kurt Russell starring thriller from the 90’s. Russell is an analyst who goes along on the flight to a dangerous mission, boarding a hijacked flight mid air to stop some terrorists, only to end up as part of the mission. I don’t have a lot to say about it other than Kurt Russell is great. ***1/2

Hannie Caulder – A trio of villains kill Hannie Caulder’s husband and rape her, so with the help of a sharpshooting bounty hunter, she sets out to get revenge. It is pretty entertaining, and it is easy to see the inspiration for stuff like Django Unchained in here, but it kind of left me a little lukewarm. ***

Heat – I should have more to say about this, but I don’t. It is really good. *****

I, Tonya – Sort of a biopic, in that kind of Wolf of Wall Street mode, it tells mostly Tonya Harding’s version of the Tonya Harding story. It is heightened and sensationalized, with an amazing performance by Margot Robbie at the center of it. Definitely worth seeing. ****

Hot Fuzz – still one of my absolute favorites. *****

Tag – read review here. ***

Hotel Artemis – read review here. ****

Set it Up – A straightforward romantic comedy. The two protagonists have horrible bosses, they plot to get their bosses to date each other to get them off their backs. Their plan works and the protagonists grow closer. It does exactly what it is supposed to with reasonable amounts of success. ***1/2

King Kong – I love this movie. I know people have complaints, with its length, with its effects, with its some of its performances, but I don’t care. Everything about this movie just works for me. I especially love Jack Black as Carl Denham. It is just sort of perfect. *****

The Bodyguard – a martial arts movie, kind of, about an old man with dementia who forms a relationship with a young girl whose father gets in trouble with some bad people. While the protagonist frequently forgets things, he is also a martial arts master. As he tries to protect this little girl he tears up the local underworld. It is kind of sad and touching, as well as having some pretty solid action, directed by and starring Sammo Hung as the old man and Andy Lau making a brief appearance as the girls dad. ***

The Incredibles 2 – read review here. ****1/2

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom – read review here. **1/2

TV

The Toys the Made Us – another four episodes looking into the history of well known toylines. The show is pretty well made. If the subject matter interests you, the show is well worth checking out.

Kimmy Schmidt – This show is still great. Party Monster: Scratching the Surface is one of the great all-time TV episodes. It was only half a season, which didn’t really give the show much time to do a lot. So it feels like Kimmy has merely taken a few steps toward this seasons story, with the most outstanding one being the mockumentary episode mentioned above. I am sad to hear that this show is ending, but I am glad to have had it for the time we have.

Dear White People S2 – This biting and incisive comedy came back for an excellent second season. This is not a show to give easy wins to its characters, though there are clear bad guys it is not making overt judgements on how each of the characters deal with things. And by giving each character their own episodes to shine while building a bigger story, this show is plotted perfectly. This might be Netflix’s best show.

Bosch S4 – There are some weird structural things with this season that I hope are going to addressed going forward (I am speaking of a shocking death that occurs midway through but ultimately seems to be subplot), but for the most part this was a well done mystery/thriller. This show is well worth watching, though the pacing isn’t always perfect.

Howard’s End – An adaptation of the classic novel, this period piece drama remains as relevant today as it ever was. There isn’t much to say here, there are great performances and the show is very well made. It is definitely worth the time to watch this miniseries.

Voltron – This really feels like this show is moving into its endgame. I know that Netflix has committed to more episodes past this season. This show is about perfect as far as updates of old cartoons goes. It is as good as people remember their childhood favorites being. This is a packed half dozen episodes.

Goliath S1– Amazon Prime won’t stop advertising the new season of their legal drama, so I broke down and watched the first season. It is pretty good. Billy Bob Thornton is always worth watching, and the rest of the cast is solid as well. The show kind of sprawls, as though it doesn’t know which characters it wants to follow or wants its viewers to root for. It isn’t really complex characterization, it is mostly that sometimes characters do inexplicable things, sometimes just purely for the evil of it, other times they are just people on opposite sides of a lawsuit. Still, it is a good show.

The Incredibles 2 Review

I have long felt that The Incredibles is Pixar’s best movie. It was also the Pixar movie most calling for a sequel. It didn’t need a sequel, no Pixar movie has needed a sequel, but The Incredibles seemed like the one that was tailor made for there to be continuing adventures. Now, more than a dozen years after the original’s release, a sequel is here. While Incredibles 2 doesn’t quite match the original, it is a more than worthy follow up.

Although more than a decade has passed since it was released, Incredibles 2 picks up right after the The Incredibles ends, with the Underminer attacking the city and only the Parrs there to stop him. After a somewhat botched fight with the Underminer, the movie moves on to its main point. Winston Deaver wants to bring supers back, and his plan involves getting some of the most popular ones, like Mr. Incredible, Frozone and Elastigirl, to go on something of a charm offensive. Primarily, he wants Elastigirl, since she tends to be the least destructive in her crime fighting. That leaves Mr. Incredible to take care of the kids on his own.

The movie proceeds along those two paths, Helen/Elastigirl’s adventures at her new job trying to make supers look good and Bob/Mr. Incredible having to be a stay at home dad. Helen’s adventures have her dealing with the mysterious new villain the Screenslaver and mostly put other superhero movie action scene to shame. Her on her motorcycle chasing down a runaway train is one of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen. Bob’s scenes are likewise a lot of fun, with Bob having to help Dash with his homework, to try to fix a breach he caused between Violet and her beau and to deal with the fact that Jack-Jack has started exhibiting superpowers.

Mostly, Incredibles 2 is a fun expansion of the world of the first movie. It introduces a half dozen new heroes with inventive powers. It works on solving the problem that drove all the heroes underground in the first movie. Where it falters, slightly, is how it doesn’t really move the characters along that much. It flips the relative roles of Bob and Helen from the first movie, but doesn’t do anything all that new with them. The kids, other than Jack-Jack, don’t really have much to do. They are the same characters they were the first time around and we don’t really learn anything more about them or see them grow. The movie does have a lot of fun with the baby and those scenes delightful.

There isn’t much about the movie that doesn’t work, but it lacks a little of the original spark of the first movie. Maybe it is just that the landscape for superhero movies is quite different now than it was in 2004. The Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it had not even started yet; its contemporaries were X2, Daredevil and Spider-Man 2. Now, instead of one or two superhero movies a year and maybe one of them is good, we see five or six, plus all the TV shows. It makes it harder for Incredibles 2 to stand out. Nothing, however, hides its excellent construction and marvelous adventure.

*****