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Minions feels like the prequel no one asked for, and arguably does nothing for the franchise. However, if you have maintained the spirit and amusement of a little kid, or plan to go with one, perhaps you may enjoy this. As for everyone else? Well…
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
For eons, the minions have traversed the world and have struggled to keep a master, if only because they keep leading to the deaths of each and every one. However, after killing Napoléon they find themselves forced into an ice cave which, for a hundred some odd years, is an ok existence. With time though comes boredom for without a master, they feel they have no purpose. Leading to Kevin, the leader, and smart one, joining with Stewart, a minion heavily into rock music, and Bob, a young minion who is a bit simple, on a journey to find a new master in the year 1968.
As for where their journey begins from? Well, that is hard to say. What we do know is they do eventually end up in New York, and upon picking up a signal from an antenna TV about a villain convention in Orlando, that ends up the place where our would-be heroes venture to. There they meet Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), and from there they impress her enough to become her henchmen. Leading to the main plot which deals with the minions stealing Queen Elizabeth’s crown for Scarlett, Bob ending up becoming king, and Scarlet wanting revenge for the betrayal.
I find myself struggling to really think of positive things to say, mostly because I find myself comparing the quality of Inside/Out to this film. Though, for the sake of being positive, I’ll try.
To begin, I found it nice the movie had a female villain who wasn’t sexualized, yet still was feminine. She enjoyed wearing dresses, wanted to be a princess, if not a queen, was married, and fought the sexist beliefs of her time to become the top villain around. Making it so while there, of course, were other villains competing amongst themselves, due to her abilities she became queen. Albeit not the way she wanted to be, but queen nonetheless. Which is something I am praising for with most villains, especially in animated movies, being men, or women who are either evil stepmothers or single and seemingly miserable because of it, Scarlet Overkill becomes an exception to what almost seems like a rule.
Alongside that bit of praise, I must admit the film does have its moments when it is funny. I found myself laughing around 11 times, and the children in the audience laughed a bit more than that.
Outside of those little bits of forced praise, honestly it is hard to say anything nice about the film. To begin, who was really asking for a feature length film on the minions? Granted, they are cute and amusing, but part of their appeal came from playing off Gru’s character. Without him, though, they are a bunch of idiots speaking some sort of Italian or Spanish sounding gibberish and playing up how silly they are to levels which makes the gimmick get old quick.
But perhaps one of the main issues here is that you don’t get to really know the minions, nor are any compelling masters presented before Gru. All you learn is that minions, from the time they were micro-organisms, would follow the biggest and strongest of the time, if they weren’t afraid of that being trying to kill or eat them. Which, in the film, isn’t consistent for while the T-Rex, among a handful of others, threaten the minions, they decide to befriend them but simply run from others.
Though with the ones they stay with, being that the majority are animals, or cavemen, at first, we don’t get to see them build the type of relationship they have with Gru, and even with Scarlet Overkill, we don’t see anything which makes you understand a thing about the minions. Plus, to make matters worse, while before this movie you’d think they were minions to a villain for protection, or because they were dependent creatures, this movie wipes that idea out by showing them making their own civilization.
Leading to the topic of Scarlet Overkill. Now, in a world in which Pixar/ Disney, as well as Studio Ghibli and many lesser known animation studios exist, there is no excuse for such a shallow character, much less villain. I mean, granted, with her being portrayed as unloved, oppressed, and abandoned, perhaps some may feel something for her. Thing is though, her background is told through a rather cheaply told bedtime story and not developed to the point where a part of you wants to root for her. Scarlet basically is a villain because the film needed one and I guess someone thought Bullock could voice the perfect villain. WRONG! For while she makes a decent live action actress, arguably she isn’t the best comedian – at least if she isn’t working with people who are actually good at being comedic.
Overall: Skip It
Ultimately, Minions relies far too heavy on the cuteness of the familiar sidekicks and doesn’t beef up this prequel to justify them having their own movie. Their life before Gru is hardly noteworthy; Scarlet Overkill, their master before Gru, isn’t developed in any sort of way to be appealing; and they strip any reason you could understand the minions latching onto someone by showing they are more than capable of being self-sufficient if they want to. Leaving you with a film which tries to use their cuteness, and silliness, to appeal to kids, while making adults happy that in a few years their kids will either outgrow liking movies like this or could simply be dropped off and not worried about until the movie is over.
Thus why this gets a Skip It rating. It offers little reason to see it, none of the characters seem worth the ticket price, nor time loss of your life, and ultimately it just feels like it was made/ released for money vs. actually entertaining you or expanding on the Despicable Me universe.