PG Dir: Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin | Universal | 1h 31min
Plot: What’s it about?
There’s a new trend (ok, maybe not so new) in that it not only pays to make a sequel or a prequel, but even spin the success of a movie off into its own film. This isn’t anything too terribly new, but it seems to be gathering momentum over the last few years. For instance if you’re sick of seeing Iron Man, maybe The Avengers will be more up your alley? This is the case with Minions, those lovable, evil-seeking, gibberish-speaking little creatures that we fist met in Despicable Me a few years ago. As successful as the film was, it was the Minions that really stole the show. So why not give them their own movie? Well, that short wait is over and now we’ve got 90 minutes of them. Can supporting players handle the spotlight and make it on their own? Judging by the $335 million gross at the box office – the answer is “Yes.”
We start at the beginning. The very beginning. Evidently the minions are as old as the Earth itself and they’ve always served an evil-master of sorts. However the minions have a knack for survival, while their leaders…don’t. This eventually leads us to 1968 and the minions are bored. Three of them set out on a journey to find a new leader leaving the rest behind. This leads them to New York where they learn of a “Villain-Con” to take place in Orlando. Catching a ride with a local “evil” family, they arrive in what appears to be their mecca. Soon the trio of Kevin, Bob and Stuart (all voiced by Pierre Coffin) find themselves clamoring over the most evil person in the world: Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock). Overkill along with her husband (voiced by Jon Hamm) are out to get what’s rightfully hers, the Queen of England’s crown. It’s up to the minions to fetch it for her, else bad things will happen.
Admittedly the movie is aimed at kids. I knew that going in. But I’ve always enjoyed their presence in the Despicable Me films (along with everyone else, which is why they got their own movie) and figured I’d give this a shot. These days there’s no shortage of well-made animated films with top notch talent attached and Minions is certainly no exception. Unlike some of the Dreamworks and Pixar films, this really is aimed at a younger audience and doesn’t quite feature some of the “adult” humor that kids might not get. Still, I actually enjoyed the movie and found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. Whatever it is that these things have, I like it.
Video: How’s it look?
Most likely anyone reading this will know that anything computer-animated will look positively stunning. This is the case with Minions and yes, it’s consistent with the other films in its genre. The 1.78:1 AVC HD image positively sparkles from beginning to end showcasing a wide variety of detail and texture. While I’m not really sure what the minions’ skin is made of, we’re treated to ariel shots of New York, buildings in London and intricate interior designs in mansions. What’s all of this mean? Sit back, relax and know that nothing in the world will look any better than what you’ve got in your player.
Audio: How’s it sound?
As is becoming more and more common these days, a Dolby Atmos soundtrack is included but if you’re not equipped (and not many reading at this moment are), a very nice Dolby TrueHD soundtrack has been included. I hesitate to comment on the “dialogue” and that’s used in quotes for a reason, as most of the vocals from the minions are just pure gibberish with a few coherent words mixed in (“Yes”, “Ok” and the like). Still, even though we can’t really understand what they’re saying, it does sound crystal clear. Ambient surround effects are abundant, the front stage is constantly churning and if you’ve ever wanted to see a 200 ft. tall minion destroy parts of London – I assure you that it will sound its best here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Deleted Scene – Me, Myself, Stuart
- Jingle Bells (Minion Style) – This holiday favorite is brought to life in a merry-Minion way. Now you get to sing along to the beloved video that was the most shared piece of content on Facebook in 2014.
- Theatrical Trailer – The Secret Life of Pets (Product Placement at its best)
- Three New Mini-Movies
- Binky Nelson Unpacified
- Around the World Interactive Map – Explore the world of the Minions with this interactive map featuring a collection of games, trivia, featurettes, storyboards, and more all themed to movie locations.
- Behind the Goggles – The Illumination Story of Minions – Get a “behind the googles” look at the history and evolution of everyone’s favorite yellow henchmen.
- Writer – See how the Minions evolve throughout the different time periods. Writer, Brian Lynch discusses creating distinctive personalities for the three main Minions, his VillainCon idea, and the Minion family.
- Boss’ Office – Illumination Entertainment CEO and founder and Minions producer, Chris Meledandri discusses the origins of Illumination Entertainment and the genesis of both Despicable Me and the Minions.
- Art Department – See how the Minions came to life, from the original art concept of the henchmen to the final creation of the Minions and how to differentiate them between new time periods. Also, see how the idea of Herb and Scarlett Overkill’s characters came to be.
- Gallery – Concept Art and Color Script (stills).
- Composer – Listen to how composer Heitor Pereira creates the sound of the Minions and what it takes to create big music for small characters.
- Actors Studio – Listen to the actors’ experiences being part of the Minions movie, who their favorite Minions are, and why they love them so much
- Notice Board – More stills.
- Safety Video
- Illumination MacGuff Animation
- Animation – Go behind the scenes and hear about the challenges and excitement behind the Minion characters and bringing them alive through animation in the movie
- Lighting, Layout and Effects – A look at the ways in which layout and lighting plays a big role in the emotion and motivation in the movie. Also see the ways in which they try to keep the 60’s vintage look and the challenges they face with very technical shots, where one shot can take weeks.
- 3D Models Gallery
- Directors – Directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda discuss the unique challenges of creating distinctive personalities for the Minions
- Producers – Producers Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy and Executive Producer Chris Renaud discuss the three main characters – Kevin, Stuart, and Bob – little family in the movie and the goal of creating a special bond between them and the audience when they leave the theater.
- Editorial – Editor Claire Dodgson discusses the distinctive editing style of the Despicable Me franchise and the three-year process it takes to make these movies from the original storyboards to cutting scenes with Minion dialogue.
- Storyboard Artist – Learn how the actions of the words of the script turn into visual drawings and how much work is put in from the rough sketches to the final cut of the movie.
- Gallery – Stuart Hot Tub gallery of stills.
The Bottom Line
Fans of Despicable Me will no doubt clamor to Minions. And why not? It’s good quality entertainment, builds on an already existing premise and, most of all, is entertaining. The Blu-ray delivers reference-quality picture and sound and has enough supplements to warrant a purchase. Odds are we haven’t seen the last of the little yellow “pill” creatures, either.