Friday, August 28, 2015

Minions (2015) Review:

Stories can be told in any direction and when it comes to movies, studios love to make franchises involving sequels and prequels. Despicable Me (2010) was a surprise hit that had intelligent writing, amiable main characters, plenty of comedy and heartwarming character development. When Despicable Me 2 (2013) came out, it not only continued its success financially but also critically by preserving the elements that worked in the initial installment. Of both films the character that became the official mascot of the series was the minion; the yellow, google eyed, muddle mouthed, squishy, denim overall wearing pills that followed Gru until the ends of the Earth for him to accomplish his mission to be the greatest villain mastermind. It is because they became so popular that a film revolving entirely around them was made. Thus this prequel serves as the backstory to how the minions got to the point of Despicable Me (2010). The question is, does it serve its purpose - kind of but not entirely.

Bob, Kevin & Stuart
The plot to this prequel is actually a bit convoluted. Since the beginning of time minions have roamed the earth looking for a bigger and badder antagonist to follow. After trying through multiple time periods and failing miserably, the minions finally go into isolation. Over time their life becomes stagnant and three minions named Kevin, Bob and Stuart (Pierre Coffin) decide to go out into the world and find their groupies an evil leader to follow. On their travels they see an add for VillianCon - an underground society where evil geniuses around the world come together to celebrate being bad. There the trio find Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock), an outlandish hyper-stylized fem-fatale who has the rights of being the first female villain. For this feature, Brian Lynch (Puss in Boots (2011)& Hop (2011)) served as the screenwriter and seems appropriate since Puss in Boots (2011) was also a prequel film to that of Shrek (2001). However even with this credit given, there's a lot that isn't answered.

The voice acting performed by Pierre Coffin and Sandra Bullock are the highlights in the acting. There are other voice appearances throughout like Jon Hamm playing Scarlett's boyfriend, Michael Keaton as a rogue father of a crime family and Geoffrey Rush as the narrator of the story. Yet none of the other characters are that important because they do not appear in Despicable Me (2010) or Despicable Me 2 (2013); it's rather disappointing. Animation and direction is also a plus. Kyle Balda (Co-Director of The Lorax (2012)) took full reigns of the project and it is competent. The lead character animator credit belongs to Christophe Delisle who has also worked on The Lorax (2012) and Despicable Me 2 (2013). Delisle's animation is smooth, colorful and is comical when it needs to be. Another interesting thing to take note of is the gradual alterations that have been given to Kevin, Stuart and Bob. There's a difference in their designs seeing them from Despicable Me (2010) to now. Possibly the most notable change is that Bob isn't so wide, he's been thinned down some.

For writing other than the main plot, there are several parts that don't make a whole lot of sense. For one, are minions immortal? Besides surviving some of the most hostile environments, did anyone else notice that they haven't aged since they came onto the screen? They lived from the dinosaur age, medieval times to mid 20th century. There's not even a real explanation to where they came from. Another big question are historical records. If minions have existed for this long in time, just how exactly do people in later times not know who they are? Surely someone must have documented such indestructible and loyal creatures. Then there's the whole separate issue of the humans in this particular universe. Unfortunately for England, London was the choice for setting and some of what is displayed is overly exaggerated. The UK police have car chases while pouring hot cups of tea - alright. The whole country of England hands over their entire kingdom to anyone who wears the crown - ummm yeah. I don't think the humans from Despicable Me (2010) or Despicable Me 2 (2013) were this silly.

Scarlett Overkill
The human character reactions to what the minions say on screen is also half and half. Sometimes they look like they understand and other times not. This too goes for the audiences' reactions. This feature unfortunately suffers from taking a supporting character and making it a main character. Sometimes it's not a good idea, especially if you can't grasp their language. Remember The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)? Yeah it's not as bad as that but same concept. Lucky for us the minion-ese language consists of various common words so it's not as tough as understanding wookies. The music was adequate for the film. Series composer Heitor Pereira returns and maintains the same feeling of the music although there is no main theme. Adding to that are a bunch of old school soundtrack songs from popular English rock bands during the late 1960s such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Monkeys and others. It's appropriate for the setting.

The voice-acting is fine, the animation looks better than ever and the music works. Honestly for a prequel it is not as well crafted as Despicable Me (2010) or its sequel. Even though it nicely ties in the events that took place before the minions met Gru, it leaves a lot of big questions in its place. Those minions are lucky they're so likable because otherwise it would not have been as enjoyable even at the most minimal level.

Points Earned --> 6:10

No comments:

Post a Comment