Despicable Me was Illumination Entertainment’s debut film, and it was very successful. The Minions were originally supposed to be human-size henchmen, but due to budgetary constraints, the Minions became short and fairly symmetrical. The Minions provided a lot of the humorous relief and became very popular. With Despicable Me 2, Universal, Illumination Entertainment’s distributor, became the most profitable Universal release for over 100 years. That record was smashed by Furious 7 and looks like Jurassic World, will easily take Universal over the $1Billion mark for the second time. So, considering the success of the Minions, why not give them a spin-off, their own movie!? Minions is a prequel to the first two instalment of Despicable Me. We had an opportunity to check this movie out, and as entertaining as yellow ‘pill shaped miracles’ are, the film feels lacking of substantial storyline.
First of all, the animation is actually really good. There is a lot of detail, and it seems that less short-cuts have been taken with this film, technically, that is. There is great use of film-like camera looks, that always adds an addition level of cinematic value. The Minions have never looked this good, and they’ve really captured the Minions point of view, since a lot of the ‘camera’ angles are from their stand-point down below. Even though the animation is tops, there is nothing new here, and nothing in the sense of innovation. Illumination Entertainment has apparently been known for using ‘efficient’ animation techniques and renderings to reduce the cost of making a film, and hence generating a larger profit. It is clear that at Illumination Entertainment, they are in the business of making money, not story-telling.
The sound in this film can get excessive and it does feel rather loud and messy at some points. Originally the Minions provided punch lines for Despicable Me, having them provide a feature length amount of punch-lines can get a little repetitive and truthfully, annoying.
Story is were this film fails for me. The story is almost non-important. It’s predictable and there is no clear message. You don’t finish watching this movie and feel moved. Even though the Minions are able to hold their own, the new characters introduced feel shallow and non-interesting. Sandra Bullock is not a voice actress and neither is John Hamm, yes their names look great on posters and marketing material, but their voices do not add anything to an animated character.
There are moments where I did find myself laughing out loud, like the Minions vocalising the Universal theme song as the Universal Logo swivels around earth, at the beginning. But for the most part this is a children’s film. So expect butts, farts and pee jokes…
Minions feels like a cash grab, and a failed opportunity to make the Minions great. All the great musical numbers and popular culture references are not enough to save grace. Minions will be a box office success, but provides very little in the sense of meaningful messages for kids. If you’re torn between Minions or Inside Out, go Pixar.
TRIVIA COOKIES: References are made to the ‘fake’ moon landing. In Despicable Me, Gru is seen watching the moon landing back in 1969. The events of Minions take place in 1968. Additionally The Beatles make an appearance crossing Abbey Road. Their album was released in 1969.
The Minions speak minion-ese, which is a language created by the film makers that sounds like a mix of Spanish, Italian, French and even Korean. Spanish speaking people will laugh more in this film, since a lot of the punch-lines are delivered in Spanish by the Minions.