Minions (2015)

minions_2015_poster
Minions (2015)
  • Time: 104 min
  • Genre: Animation | Comedy | Family
  • Directors: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin
  • Cast: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Steve Carell, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Geoffrey Rush

Storyline:

The “revolutionary” minions: Kevin- the leader, Stuart- the rebel and Bob- their lovable little brother left the “Minion Tribes”- which have served their ex-masters, from the famous dinosaur T-Rex to Napoleon the Great; and went seeking for a new “master”. Finally, their journey ends in London after being recruited by a female super villain named Scarlet Overkill and her husband Herb in Orlando, who wanted to rule the world. Now, the three minions must face a new challenge: saving all of the Minion tribes from a huge plan of Minion annihilation.

5 reviews

  • Quickie Review:

    Minions from the dawn of time have always searched to serve the most despicable masters in the world. After failing to keep their masters numerous times, the minions feel without purpose. That’s when three brave minions, Kevin, Bob, and Stuart set out on a journey to find their new master. Despicable Me franchise has done a lot of things right, one of which that clicked with all ages were the adorable little minions. This film could’ve been very basic, continuously rehashing a collection slapstick comedy, and just simply depend on the popularity of the minions. Instead, the creators of this film added heart to the characters, delivering a movie that kids will love and adults will have fun with.

    Full Review:

    As much as I love the minions in the Despicable Me movies, I was quite pessimistic on how good Minions was going to be. It just felt like a cash grab. Of course, all movies aim to grab some cash but this movie in particular felt like the studio was just capitalising on the popularity of the characters. Gratefully, the movie got me to set aside my pessimism.

    One of my biggest concerns was whether a collection of side characters can really carry an entire movie. Short answer as it turns out: yes they can. It works because we are focusing on just three minions for the majority of the movie. Each of them have their unique personality that shines through without a single word of comprehensible dialogue. That in itself is an amazing feat, the minion-gibberish is all non-sense and yet I am able to empathise with them. I can’t even say the same for actual human actors in other movies sometimes! So in that sense, job well done animators. I also liked the small story arc that was given to the villain of the movie, Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock). She wasn’t a villain just for the sake of it, which added another dimension to what could have been a generic character. There is relatable back story to her that made us understand where she was coming from, while still retaining the unpredictable evil-ness.

    The movie is not without flaws. There are times where the jokes might be too slapstick for adults to enjoy. These scenes are obviously aimed for the kids. They don’t completely alienate us grown-ups but it is still noticeable. On top of that, I have to say I felt the absence of Gru and the kids from the Despicable Me movies. What I love about the minions is their relationship with Gru’s family, the pranks, the shenanigans, the care they have for each other, is all so delightful to watch. This absence was bound to happen since we are concentrating on the minions. At the same time, aside from Scarlett Overkill there are no other memorable supporting characters.

    Even with the problems, I really did enjoy my time watching Minions. It was a great light hearted, charming, fun movie. If you have little kids, nephews or nieces, don’t hesitate to take them to the cinema. They will have an awesome time. Together you too will find some amusing entertainment.

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  • I’m not a father but I have a niece and three nephews. Over the years, I’ve learned that if you plop them in front of a television set and turn on anything cartoon-related, they become spellbound. They stop all the jibber jabber, they tune the adults (and each other) out, and basically stare straight forward. In context, everyone under the age of 6 gets into the zone. Minions, which currently seems to be hauling in monster box office receipts, is the type of animated film that will provide youngins with this sort of childlike fix. It’s beautiful to look at with 3D effects that start off robust and strong. And let’s face it, what adolescent doesn’t like main characters who are goofy and look like Tic Tacs containing a flavor that can’t be identified yet.

    But wait. What about the adults that have to accompany said kids due to this flick’s MPAA rating and their overall concept of necessitated supervision? Well, they might find things unfocused and undisciplined. I’m mean sure you have a fresh and original sense of time and place (the late 1960’s to be exact), a rugged, arena rock soundtrack (with tunes by The Who, The Rolling Stones, and The Spencer Davis Group), and of course, some suggestive PG-rated, adult humor. But no amount of this upbringing could ever keep you, the adult, from having your patience tested (I know mine was). At the half hour mark, I found Minions as creatures, to be quite annoying. They spoke in a language that I couldn’t understand (I heard it was a hint of Spanish, whatever) and in all honesty, they needed some serious anxiety medication. As the end credits rolled I thought to myself, why couldn’t the descendants of Despicable Me fame make the 60’s a little more groovier man. Oh well.

    Slated as a prequel to the Despicable Me film series (mentioned one sentence ago) and featuring the voice-over work of Micheal Keaton (he must have done a heck of an accent because I couldn’t identify who his character was), Minions begins a long time ago (we’re talking the dinosaur age). These creatures obviously don’t age and carry that Forest Gumpian gene. They’ve seen it all, done it all, and even managed to even kill Napoleon. Now they need a new leader. Their solution: Go to New York City circa 1968 and befriend a supervillain named Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock). That’s the gist here and I dare you to follow verbatim, the actual plot points presented. I myself, drifted into a monotonous frenzy while throwing my hands way up in the air (there seemed to be a lot of globetrotting going on with these energetic, cuddly varmints. The only thing I ended up focusing on was if they had one eye or two).

    In conclusion, Minions has a visual richness and a canvas containing hundreds of pixels in many a frame. However, it’s unnecessarily feverish, incoherent and messy. As you watch it, you forget that you’re following a story and instead, seeing various scenes at random. Frankly, it’s hard to get a handle on the plot threads if it weren’t for a narrative device in the first ten minutes and one in the last fifteen. Mostly, I categorize this close-up fest as an animated version of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels (1971) and denounce it as possibly the first true stoner flick since The Beatles cartoon vehicle, Yellow Submarine. Does that mean that these proceedings are recommendable? Hardly. In truth, I’ve never seen the movies that spawned this 2015 release (Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2). And according to my fellow critic (and near-adult colleague, Cole Pollyea), you’re better off checking out those endeavors instead. However, if you choose to take the kiddies to Minions, be warned. They’ll eat it up (it’s safe to say that little ones won’t care one iota about the plot) while you’ll be anxiously waiting for the closing curtain. The result: A mixed review from me at 2 and a half stars.

    Of note: The one word spoken by the Minions that translated into anything English, was “banana”. It turned into a zinger that generated a small chuckle from me. Everything else was total gibberish (that included the whole running time of ninety-one minutes).

    Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

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  • The Minions are funny. Most of their humor, however, hinges on doing the wrong thing for a strong but evil character. They are a stylized character who goes back to Greek comedy. They are the ones who want to be evil, like their master, but always seem to mess things up for said master. They are a tried and true formula that is thrown off in the movie Minions because the aforementioned minions are not secondary characters, the henchmen, they are primary characters advancing the plot. There’s something to be said for the fact that these characters, individually and as a group, are funny. A lot can be glossed over with good visuals. The problem is that they have to succeed in their evil ways in order for things to advance.
    Screenwriter Brian Lynch has tried to have these characters become more actively involved without losing their charm. In order to do that we have to invest our emotions in a select group since a mob of minions lacks specific attracttion. Lynch has limited most of the movie to three minions, Kevin, Stewart, and Bob. This helps but it still leaves the minions spending a lot of the movie with nothing much except society to play against and that isn’t their best act.
    I have to say I was looking forward to this movie but not because I was expecting something that would be a comedy classic. I like their laugh. I like how they don’t function as a single minded group but as selectively individual characters. I like their eyes and their anger. I had low expectations and they lived up to them.
    Directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin have done an excellent job of keeping the pace fast and the visuals silly. Even Queen Elisabeth II has very un-regal posture when it leads to a laugh. Even great visuals will not substitute for effective plotting. This movie had a perfectly good evil character but her presence was shunted aside to allow the minions to do their thing and a good second banana needs the top banana to get laughs.
    All the minions are voiced by Coffin and he does a very nice job of differentiating one from the other while keeping the similarities that tie them all together. Other actors providing voices for characters are Sandra Bullock as Scarlett Overkill, Jon Hamm as Herb Overkill, Michael Keaton and Allison Janney as the husband and wife team Walter and Madge Nelson, Steve Coogan as a Tower Gaurd, Jennifer Saunders as the Queen, Geoffrey Rush as the Narrator and, appropriately, Steve Carell providing the voice for Young Gru.
    This, for all its short comings, is an entertaining movie. I give it 3 rats out of 4. Maybe, now that their background has been established, the next movie can be Gru growing up. Watch the credits. There are a number of short bits that are fun and after the credits have ended there is a virtual jam session.

  • (Rating: ☆☆ ½ out of 4)

    This film is mildly recommended.

    In brief: Minions has its shortcomings, but it’s the other characters around them that never rise to their level of fun.

    GRADE: B-
     
    Those zany gibberish-speaking yellow creatures are back, this time starring in their own feature length movie. With their limitations fully acknowledged and their inability to speak the King’s English as a handicap, could they have enough clout to carry their own film to stardom? The answer to that is still questionable, but Minions is lots of fun as you sit there and ponder the outcome.

    Their slapstick antics are still pleasant and silly enough to make any moviegoer grin non-stop, even if the screenplay does quite value their worth. The film starts off very well with a short and clever history of their evolution. Narrated by Geoffrey Rush with a crisp British ironic delivery, these henchman search for a master villain to support, from dinosaurs to caveman to the Napoleonic Wars before the film settles in 1968. It is then we meet Kevin, Stuart, and Bob who are sent on a mission to find a diabolical master mind for the tribes’ adulation. The trio bungle their way to a Villian-Con convention and into the clutches of the evil Scarlet Overkill and her doltish husband, Herb, whose sole goal is to get the Crown Jewels. (The story predates their loving master, Gru.)

    Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin direct the animated film and the latter voices the Minions to perfection. The film has a nice visual look throughout. The Minions themselves have individual traits and a variety of expressions that make these lovable characters work extremely well. As long as the film deals with the adorable threesome, their mob mentality and their relationships, the film succeeds. It’s the story’s slender plot that fails them and the audience.

    As with most animated films nowadays, the CGI trumps an underdeveloped script. Minions suffers from that malady. Too often the film relies on dumb chases and an annoying soundtrack of 60’s pop tunes to add to the supposed merriment. The plot meanders from one situation to the next with no real purpose, adding minor characters that do little to advance the action. The villain isn’t the least bit interesting, nor is her mission. The script by Brian Lynch becomes more illogical (even for a cartoon) and less satirical and witty as it finally reaches its clumsy ending. (You actually have seen the funniest parts of this film in its trailer.)

    Still, Minions is diverting and amusing, even if it never achieves its true potential. Like its overdone 60’s score, the film is just too Mellow Yellow.

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  • 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.

    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.

    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

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