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INCREDIBLES 2: 2 ½ STARS. “When the film focuses on family it works best.”

Fourteen years ago the idea of superheroes with personal lives was novel. The Parrs, the extraordinary nearest-and-dearest at the heart of “The Incredibles,” fought against evil but did so as a family. It felt like a new twist on both the family comedy and superhero movies. Cut to today, The Iron Man Age, and such stories aren’t so fresh. “The Avengers” aren’t blood relations but behave as though they are, bickering and bonding in ways that seem familiar to any family, dysfunctional or not. The release of “The Incredibles 2” raises a question; Will this clan of superheroes seems as special as they once did?

The new film, helmed by returning director Brad Bird, picks up where the last one left off. A villain named The Underminer (John Ratzenberger) and his giant drill are wreaking havoc, threatening to destroy The City of Metroville. Despite a ban on superheroes—in an echo from “Avengers: Age of Ultron” they’ve been outlawed because of the collateral damage caused by their enthusiastic crime-fighting—the Parrs, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell), son Dash (Huck Milner) and ally Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), step in to stop the baddie and his evil screwing machine.

Their efforts put an end to The Underminer but, true to form, leave a path of destruction behind. Arrested and ordered to stop fighting crime, they are given a chance at a comeback when tech wizard and superhero fanboy Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) devises a plan to revamp the public’s opinion of them. He launches a public relations campaign and, aided by some real life heroics on the part of Elastigirl, rehabilitates the Incredibles’s dented reputation.

As Elastigirl earns headlines Mr. Incredible a.k.a. Bob stays home minding the kids and trying to figure out how to cope with the newfound superpowers of infant Jack-Jack, the family’s newest member.

Just as it looks like the Incredibles can finally come out of retirement Screenslaver, a new supervillain, reveals a mass hypnosis technology that will turn the public against all superheroes.

“Incredibles 2” is a fantastic looking movie. Advances in CGI since the first film allow for bigger and wilder, more cinematic action scenes and director Bird mixes-and-matches a variety of influences from silent movies on up to modern day blockbusters to engage the eye. There’s plenty of action of the sort we’re used to in recent live action superhero adventures and therein lies the problem. We’re used to it now and even though Bird stages some inventive work it feels, in a summer of superhero overload, like more of the same.

The emphasis on family is still there, woven into the script. The Parrs may be “supers” but they are a family with all the problems that go along with that. When “Incredibles 2” focuses on family it works best. The character work is strong, with each character’s special power echoing their place within the family unit. Or instance, Elastigirl, the over-extended mother, is extraordinarily flexible, able to multitask with ease. Violet is a shy teen whose power is the ability to disappear and build force fields. It’s a clever way to mix the genres, family drama and superhero action, but the family side feels under developed in favour of action set pieces.

As a sequel “Incredibles 2” doesn’t feel as fresh as it did the first time around but should please fans with the superpower of patience that have waited fourteen years for the continuation of the story.

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