Despicable Me 3


Viewed – 11 December 2017  Blu-ray

The original Despicable Me was a great spin on an old idea… a somewhat inept but dedicated villain finds his life and evil world-conquering plans turned upside down when three orphan girls come into his care.  It worked great and also happened to (for better or worse) introduce the world ‘the minions’.  Now reaching the third entry, following a somewhat underwhelming minions movie spin-off, I approached this with only marginal hype.

Despicable Me 3

Gru (perfectly voiced again by Steve Carell) is now a special agent working for the Anti-Villain-League, who after failing to apprehend for the umpteenth time a wily villain obsessed with the eighties – suddenly gets fired by the agency’s new boss.   However whilst sitting on his laurels, tempted to return to a more villainous life, he discovers he’s got a long lost twin brother.

This was a riot of fun.  It’s a little jam-packed with story threads but somehow manages to hold it all together, helped by a sharp and laugh-out-loud script and colourful, brilliantly designed characters.  South Park’s Trey Parker turns in excellent voice work as comedy moon-walking villain Balthazar Bratt – a former child actor who never got over his career hitting the skids when puberty kicked in.  The several spot-on music cues work wonderfully and the gags come thick and fast.  ‘Dru’, Gru’s brother is a tad irritating, and I’d have liked much more for the three girls to do other than bonding with Gru’s girlfriend Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and hunting for a unicorn.

By the third outing, ideas of course can get recycled (ahem, Toy Story 3) – but something about the Despicable Me franchise I could just watch and watch.  This latest effort doesn’t buck the trend.  Recommended.

Verdict:  4 /5

Minions


Viewed – 19 November 2015  Blu-ray

It has to be said, those little yellow guys from the Despicable Me movies have become a runaway merchandising goldmine, and so following their slapstick pratfalls in those two highly entertaining outings … getting their own movie was an obvious no brainer.

Minions

Kevin, Bob and Stuart are members of a tribe of ‘minions’; peculiar little guys born to serve an evil villain.  However after centuries of missteps and blunders in search of their perfect leader, the three friends are given the task of setting off on a journey to track down famed super villain Scarlett Overkill, who just so happens to be attending a villain convention in Orlando.

It’s silly stuff no doubt, but packed with energy and plenty of in-jokes and site gags.  The minions are endlessly appealing and watching them get into scrapes is a lot of fun.  One stand out chase involving The Queen and The Crown Jewels is hilariously gripping.  However the villain, despite best efforts from Sandra Bullock is tiresome and clichéd and brings very little to the admittedly wafer-thin story.  Her henchman is also pretty lame. The constant mickey taking of Brirish stereotypes got old quickly too. But that being said, with uniformally ‘gorgeous’ CGI animation (sorry, but give me hand drawn animation any day of the week over such ‘pristine’ pixels) and bags of personality in the little fellas – I still got a kick out of this. Does it do much I wasn’t expecting? No. But did it entertain? Certainly.

Verdict:  3 /5

Despicable Me 2


Viewed – 08 December 2013

The first DM was a welcome surprise.  I had low expectations, it wasn’t by Pixar or Dreamworks and featured a quirky art style.  But why did it work so well?  Let’s just say it had a surprising amount of heart, telling the tale of down on his luck super villain Gru (Steve Carrell) whose plan to steal the moon(!) is complicated when three orphan girls come into his care.  It was funny, full of ‘aww’ moments and genuinely charming.  This follow up has former villain Gru getting recruited by the shady Anti-Villain League to track down a stolen top-secret formula, and is aided by spunky female agent ‘Lucy’ (Kristina Wiig) who as you can guess becomes an unexpected love interest for our put-upon main character.

despicableMe2

This sequel showcases the ingenious creations that won so many fans last time, namely the ‘minions’ as well as some great chemistry between Gru and Lucy, and plenty of continued ‘aww’ moments with the children.  I felt that unlike the last movie which focused on Gru’s relationship with the girls, making them more of a side line was a mistake – they are the heart and soul of this concept, but instead we get secret agent action, gadgets, lots of minion moments (never a bad thing) and a rather disappointing villain.  However on a visual scale this is a tour-de-force.  It’s definitely one of the most visually captivating and eye-meltingly gorgeous movies I have ever seen.  Animation house Illumination have really out done themselves. 

There is a lot going on, a few twists here and there and a fun ‘who dunnit’ plot, along with some great site gags (the sushi bar moment) – so overall this was almost as good as the first, but by throwing in more action and a predicable love story, the magic is missing somewhat.  Taken on it’s own merits however, I still had a ton of fun.

Verdict:  4 /5