Sunday, 23 June 2013

Despicable Me 2 - First Look Review

Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand, Benjamin Bratt, Steve Coogan, Ken Jeong, Miranda Cosgrove, Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier,
Written by: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio

Rating: 7.5/10 

The film that's literally been advertised everywhere.


They've really pushed the boat out on this one, mostly down to the numbers at the box office of the previous outing. Despite brilliant animations - the crew wouldn't be half as funny without the facial expressions and mannerisms - the excellent voice cast get easily upstaged by the Minions, who become fan favourites rather quickly.

The film's most endearing moments come from the affable crew. The film doesn't quite reach the peaks of the original, nor does it capture the original spark that made us love it. But it creates it's own brand that's appealing and a delight. The world's not-so-great villain became a reformed man in the first film - which is a hefty narrative bridge with enough pitch to pull a story along.

The only disappointment in the film is the rather reserved narrative - the lack of development for Gru's character in this instalment will leave you wanting more. It's not a classic by any definition - but it's a pretty great animation film that'll have even the most stone-hearted chortling along.

Maybe they thought the Minion jokes would be enough to cover for it all? (Just wait till the end scene to see what we mean).

Gru (Steve Carrell) returns with his horde of Minions (voiced by the directors themselves) and Doctor Nefario (Russell Brand), as a reformed villain. Yes, apparently those exist. After the dastardly attempts of the previous film where Gru stole the Moon and then put it back promptly, he is now, in his own words, 'a legitimate businessman". Since adopting the three girls in the last film - Margo (Mirando Cosgrove), Agnes (Elsie Fisher) and Edith (Dana Gaier), Gru has started taking his father role rather seriously. However, as a new villain is on the loose, the Anti-Villain League, led by Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan), use Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) to bring Gru in to stop the new threat. Lucy's oddball stand-out attitude quickly makes her a great pairing with Gru. Gru, in the first instalment of this series, never really fit in the rest of the villains - on a similar plane, Wilde is also an offbeat, irregular member of her organisation. The new villain is voiced by a brilliant Benjamin Bratt, who replaced Al Pacino at the last minute. Bratt's 'El Macho', like Gru, is also a father - though he seems less adverse to the role.

Laughs abound aplenty in seeing Gru dressed as a fairy godmother for a birthday party, from the Minions and all their foolish antics, from the mismatch and mayhem that the hunt for the new villain causes, as well as the newly discovered difficulty of a single father realising that one of his three daughters now takes an interest in 'boys'.

The most critical aspect of this film is the effort and love that the actors put in for their animated characters. Quite often, you'll see disappointing animated films because the voice actors don't commit to the role - after all, it's relatively difficult to put many minute inflections into your voice when just recording in front of a microphone, right? Sometimes actors and actresses just phone in the jokes for voice recordings, and the film ends up a big mess.

This film suffers none of that, however, - Carrell's Gru is as excellent as ever, Brand's understated-but-still-strong Nefario is a good fit, while Wiig holds her own as one of the newcomer 'leads' (having played a lesser role in the previous one) in the franchise. Bratt and Coogan also slot in nicely to the family - Coogan's Silas provides the perfect posh British head, while Bratt's villain is comedy evil personified. Even Ken Jeong's 'Eagle-san', despite his limited on screen time, proves to be a wonderful addition to the show.

Credit must go where credit is due. So to those who worked on this film other than the cast already mentioned - it was an outstanding job. The animation was not only hilarious (some classic slapstick moments) but also moving (Gru's looks at the three girls are priceless). The animation was also a high standard in the characterisation department - little movements didn't seem jarred or out of place as they have in some previous films in this genre. All in all, an aesthetically pleasing affair. The sound editing, the bit that no-one cares about it if it goes right and only notice if it goes wrong, was superb. The film was scored again by the brilliant team of Pharrell Williams and Heitor Pereira who played a large part in making the first film memorable.

'Chris' Meledandri, head honcho at Illumination Entertainment - which is half the team that brought you this film - has some serious animation chops, so it's no wonder that this series is doing so well. Not only did he help redefine 20th Century Fox's role in the animation industry, but he was part of the teams that brought us 'Ice Age', 'The Simpsons Movie' and 'Hop'. Sure, 'Despicable Me 2' won't have the same animation status as the heartfelt and instantly recognisable Pixar films or the trend-breaking aesthetic power of other animation companies, but the movie represents an essence of fun and light heartedness that it encapsulates perfectly.

From the end credits (and your own common sense), you'll soon realise that the Minion spin-off isn't far off. The entire film pretty much works as a set up for the little guys - not that we mind, as without them, we'd just have your average 'father struggles with raising daughters' film as he navigates the adult world. As much as we appreciate and love the little guys - could we sit through a film with no heart that was just pure yellow Minion slapstick comedy? Maybe.

Renaud and Coffin's follow-up also suffers from other major flaw - marketing. The amount of TV spots and trailers have definitely hurt the feature for the adults. Despite some of the jokes having a fair bit of replay-ability, if you've watched any of the chat shows on either side of the Atlantic or have browsed Youtube clips for this movie, you'll likely have seen half of it before you even set foot in a cinema.

And that's kind of sad.

What the Misses Thought:
I have lost count of the amount of times the Mr and I have seen the trailer for this film! Both inside the cinema and out. However this did not stop us enjoying not only the jokes and scenes from the trailer but the entire film! It was really one in a Minion! And talking of Minions, they have to be my favourite part of Despicable Me, and I certainly cannot wait to see the next one! If you have children, please take them to see this, they will love if! If not... Still see it! 

All I have to say is... BANANA!?

What the Mr Thought:
Gone are the days when one animation company ruled above all - it's nice to see the growth of the market. It's also refreshing to see such talented actors who provide families with such brilliant entertainment.

The most suited analogy that I can conjure for this film is the theme of adolescence that it so imploringly dissects - it has a few bumpy bits, and areas where you're not sure if you'll make it to the end, but it turns out alright. It's a great family film and if you have kids - you could do much worse than letting them watch this (but beware of their own Minion related emulation antics later!).

Best part: The jokes work for both adults and kids. So you don't have to sit there bored while your little one laughs along merrily without understanding the appeal. And you know, Pharrell's music makes for some sweet easy listening. You'll be humming the tune on your way out again, just like 2010.

The Sister returns for her mini review-in-a-review:

What the Sis Thought:

From the people that brought you ‘It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die’ comes the second instalment of ‘Despicable Me’.
This is definitely not a recommendation for the more seriously inclined connoisseurs of the cinematic arts, especially with a heavy dose of the ever-lovable minions and their slapstick shenanigans. Of course, also expect the usual cuteness of Agnes voiced by the young but talented Elsie Kate Fisher.
The film essentially follows a plot of the usual villain threat with new Anti Villain League (AVL) member Lucy Wilde (voiced by Kristen Wiig) recruiting Gru (Steve Carrel) to stop it, inevitably creating hilarious results along the way.
So despite this film exposing many scenes through trailers, teasers and features, it still delivers a strong visual and comedic performance with excellent voice acting. And being a fan of animation, I had been expecting this film this film eagerly ever since I had first seen a teaser and I was not disappointed. I found it to be a truly enjoyable experience upon watching for its comedic aspects (I was consistently laughing throughout) interlaced with its emotional and narrative components. And let’s not forget the true stars of this film - the Minions (who have such a wonderfully silly magnetism about them). 

But remember, you didn't hear it from us,

The Mr, the Misses and the Sis.

No comments:

Post a Comment