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“Minions” Review

// Featured, Reviews (Film)


In Despicable Me, the minions were not part of the original script. In Despicable Me 2 the intention was to have the minions as a more integral part of the story. Finally, finally, the minions have become the star of their own animated feature. Simply titled Minions, the film acts as a prequel as to how the minions came about and their journey before finding their master Gru.

As introduced by narrator Geoffrey Rush, the minions have been around since the beginning of time. Their one purpose in life: to find a boss. Without a master to serve, the minions fall into deep depression and have so far been unsuccessful in keeping a master. In fact, the minions have most times been helpful in ensuring their masters die unlucky deaths. Until one day, one brave minion named Kevin, formulates a plan to find a new villain to serve.

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The film begins with a prologue of the minions in bacterial form evolving to land creatures presented in the form of traditional hand-drawn animation. It is a delightful little segment of the minions scramble up the food hierarchy, before they balloon into rubbery CGI, arguably the most inventive part of the film. When Kevin and fellow emissaries (overeager and distractible Bob and mellow Stuart) set out, there is a point where it looks like they might have had a part to play as Richard Nixon’s henchmen but that potential plot branch doesn’t get developed as the trio are then steered on course of a super villains convention.

Here, the minions are caught up with the other villains and are awestruck by new up and coming villain, Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock). They win a competition to serve Scarlet as her henchmen, although it is unclear why she would hold the competition as she already seems perfectly capable, especially supported by her husband Herb (voiced by Jon Hamm). From here the plot turns to focus on Scarlet’s goal to take over England and become the Queen. The bedtime story Scarlet tells the minions is presented in beautiful stop motion animation, a refreshing break from the CGI style of the rest of the film.

minions

Scarlett is portrayed as a rather one dimensional character much as the rest of the characters in the film – the short backstory that gave insight into her motivations would have been better padded out if the audience had been given something more to sympathise with and root for alongside her. Much better are the family of bank robbers the minions briefly travel with had more variety in their emotional and personality spectrum.

It is a pleasant surprise that the film is mainly set in London. However, only the quintessential backdrop of London was featured and perhaps a nice touch would have been to incorporate more uniquely English or London idiosyncrasies. From here on out, the film continues to persist in maintaining an almost unlinked series of individual sequences of slapstick comedy in London. Personally, I would have liked to see more of the minions’ indestructible tensility being tested and some sort of emotional story arc. Although considering the origins of the company’s name, the nature of the minions chasing their MacGuffin might have been an aptly deliberated creative decision.

The story is stronger in concept and lacks a clear arc linking all individual sequences. The minions end up in a varieties of the same scenario. Perhaps not Illumination Mac Guff’s most ambitious film compared to the Despicable Me series, the Minions definitely still had its laughable and cute moments. One can only imagine the many ideas that didn’t go into the film and more so that can be teased out – here’s to hoping the best ones get featured in Despicable Me 3, planned for release in 2017.

Minions is released in the UK today, with a wider release to follow in July. To learn more about the making of the film have a watch of our Lightbox video interview with directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin:

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100 Animated Shorts Greats - "The Family Dog" - from Brad Bird, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, pure gem in comedy! t.co/gb9JSKxqTg
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