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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda
Cast:
Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Carell
Writing Credits:
Brian Lynch

Synopsis:
Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlett Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world.

Box Office:
Budget
$74 Million.
Opening Weekend
$115,200,000 on 4,301 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$334,215,500.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English Dolby Atmos
English Descriptive Video Service
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $49.98
Release Date: 12/8/2015

Bonus:
• Both 2D and 3D Versions of the Film
• Deleted Scene
• Three Mini-Movies
• “Around the World” Interactive Map
• “Behind the Goggles – The Illumination Story of the Minions” Featurettes
• “Jingle Bells” – Minions Style
• Previews
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Minions [Blu-Ray 3D] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 24, 2015)

Essentially a prequel to 2010’s Despicable Me, 2015’s Minions< lets us learn more about the titular little yellow henchmen. Their story begins in the early stages of the Earth’s existence, as we see the Minions develop from single-celled organisms into the oblong yellow critters we know and love.

Over the millennia, the Minions attempt to find and serve the world’s most evil creatures. Unfortunately, their efforts never work out well, as their masters always die due to the Minions’ incompetence. This pattern of failure depresses the Minions, so they eventually separate themselves from society and reside alone in a frozen cave.

The Minions can’t deny their true nature forever, though, and three of their crew decide they need to re-enter the world and locate a new master. Led by the fearless, intrepid Kevin (voiced by Pierre Coffin), the trio also includes bored, music-obsessed Stuart (Coffin) and enthusiastic but immature Bob (Coffin). We follow them as they pursue their goal and eventually attempt to latch onto Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), a serious contender for the title of the world’s greatest super-villain.

Because I’m old, I can remember when sequels to animated films were a rarity. Obviously, we now get scads of that kind of mpvie, but Minions represents a genre that remains relatively unusual: animated spinoffs.

Disney produced a few direct-to-video spinoffs, but I don’t think anyone created an animated feature film based around supporting characters until 2011’s Puss In Boots. Starring a popular personality from the Shrek flicks, it did reasonably well at the box office, but its receipts paled compared to those of the four Shrek efforts. I think that left it regarded as a disappointment.

2014 brought The Penguins of Madagascar. As implied, that movie revolved around the military-style birds from the Madagascar series. Worldwide receipts redeemed it somewhat, but it borderline bombed in the US.

With that as backdrop, the prospects for Minions didn’t seem especially promising, especially given the nature of the lead characters. While Puss and the Penguins offered verbal personalities, the Minions essentially don’t speak. Sure, they produce vocalizations, but these usually add up to gibberish. Characters without a language base can carry a movie - WALL-E was a big hit with a lead even less chatty than the Minions – but it still seems like a longshot path to success.

Obviously audiences disagreed. In the US, Minions earned a stunning $335 million, a figure that topped the original’s $251 million and neared Despicable Me 2’s $368 million. Worldwide, however, Minions turned into an even bigger smash, as it took in an amazing $1.156 billion. That made it the biggest hit of the three films.

So commercially, Minions proved that animated spinoffs can succeed. Creatively, though, I’m less convinced, as I think Minions suffers from some of the flaws I anticipated would occur.

Primarily, the issue stems from the nature of the characters. I do appreciate the efforts of Coffin to add personality to the Minions. Also a co-director of the film, Coffin does little to differentiate the various Minions, but he still brings spice to his performance. Coffin plays each and every Minion, and while they all sound virtually identical, he maintains such a level of enthusiasm that charm seeps through.

However, the Minions were designed as comedic support and it becomes tough for them to elevate above that level. As hard as the movie works to give Kevin, Stuart and Bob individual personalities, it never quite succeeds. We can separate them to a degree, but they still feel like variations on a particular flavor.

The movie’s plot tends to be lackluster as well. Actually, Minions provides reasonable entertainment during its first half. Those initial 45 minutes or so come with a nice variety of characters and situations, and the movie exploits them for pretty good comedic effect.

Once the story lands in England, though, it becomes much less engaging. The filmmakers don’t seem to know quite what to do with the characters, so we get one monotonous confrontation after another, with a seemingly unending series of “climaxes”. Some entertaining moments still occur, but they become less frequent and lack the same charm of the earlier sequences.

I do think Minions is the best of the three Despicable Me-related films, but I was never wild about the prior two flicks. At its best, Minions offers decent comedic entertainment. It just doesn’t seem funny or clever enough across its entire running time to become something special.

Note that Minions includes some mid-credits sequences. It also adds a curtain call for all the characters at the very end, as we find a warped performance of the Beatles’ “Revolution”.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B-

Minions appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Computer animated films tend to look good on Blu-ray, and Minions followed that rule.

Sharpness was fine across the board. At times, shots could look a little soft, but that appeared to reflect the diffuse “period” feel the filmmakers attempted. In any case, the movie delivered satisfying definition. No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge haloes were absent. Of course, print flaws never manifested themselves.

With much of the action in the wild, wacky world of 1968, the movie’s palette gave us a bright range of hues. Again, the mildly blown-out look favored by the filmmakers meant the hues weren’t quite “Austin Powers Vivid”, but they seemed full and well-depicted. Blacks were dark and deep, while low-light shots offered nice clarity and smoothness. This became an appealing visual presentation.

With Minions, we get a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, this mix offered a lively soundscape, especially during the many action sequences. Those fleshed out the spectrum in an involving way and gave us many chances for movement.

This allowed the surrounds to play an active role. The track worked well enough in the early stages but it picked up more as it went, especially as the film neared its climax. The various channels got a good workout in this engrossing soundscape.

Audio quality seemed pleasing. Speech always sounded distinctive and concise, while music was peppy and rich. Effects offered solid reproduction, with clean highs and deep lows. I liked this mix and thought it gave the movie life.

This package includes both 2D and 3D versions of Minions. The picture quality comments above address the 2D edition, but I also want to talk about the 3D image.

In terms of picture quality, the 3D Minions satisfies. It might be a smidgen softer with slightly less dynamic colors, but I thought the differences seemed negligible. The 3D version represented the visuals well.

I also really liked the 3D effects of Minions. Though the image usually provided depth – and high-quality depth, at that – it also indulged in enough active 3D imagery to add a layer of fun. Plenty of tidbits pop out of the screen, though the film saves the best for last – check out the post-credits sequence for the wildest 3D.

On the surface, Minions seems to skimp on extras, but when we dig deep, we find reasonable substance. We start with three mini-movies: Cro-Minion (4:25), Competition (3:47) and Binky Nelson: Unpacified (4:34). Cro-Minion shows our heroes in Stone Age days, as they attempt to babysit a cave-toddler.

Competition shows two Minions who take a rivalry too far, while Unpacified features the criminal Nelson family from the movie. All three seem cute but not especially memorable. Unpacified - the only one without Minions – works the best of the bunch.

One deleted scene appears. “Me, Myself and Stuart” (0:29) shows a little clowning around in Buckingham Palace. At a mere 29 seconds, it barely qualifies as a “deleted scene”. It offers mild amusement.

Next we find an “interactive map”. Around the World lets us visit 15 locations featured in the movie. These give us a variety of ways to learn more about the film.

For instance, ”Arizona” shows us facts about T-Rexes and the state itself, and it also gives us a storyreel segment and stillframe art. Other sections offer character bios and interviews with movie personnel. Some are more detailed than others – London offers the biggest wealth of information – but all offer good tidbits and flesh out our understanding of the movie.

Behind the Goggles: The Illuminations Story of the Minions breaks into a mix of featurettes: “Writers” (3:38), “The Boss’ Office” (4:58), “Art Department” (3:32), “Recording Studio” (two clips, 2:46 and 3:18), “Animation” (3:10), “Lighting and Layout” (2:27), “Directors” (3:12), “Producer” (3:22), “Editorial” (3:24), and “Story” (1:19).

Across these, we hear from writer Brian Lynch, Illumination founder/producer Chris Meledandri, character designer Eric Guillon, art director Olivier Adam, composer Heitor Pereira, producer Janet Healey, directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin, CG supervisor Frank Baradat, animation directors Pierre LeDuc and Bruno Dequier, crowd supervisor Elisabeth Patte, head of layout Guy-Laurent Homsy, head of lighting and compositing Nicolas Brack, executive producer Chris Renault, editor Claire Dodgson, storyboard artist Noolwenn Roberts, and actors Jon Hamm, Sandra Bullock, Allison Janney, and Michael Keaton. The programs cover story/character choices and challenges, sets and visual design, cast and performances, music, art and animation, and editing.

Other materials pop up along the way as well. “Art Department” adds 60 images of “Eric Guillon Concept Art” as well as another section with 38 more frames of art created for the film. “The Break Room” gives us 13 cute images like those you’d see on an office bulletin board, and “Animation” lets us see a one-minute storyreel version of a scene.

Under “Lighting and Layout”, we get 42 seconds of 3D character models as well as six stillframes with similar material. ‘Editorial” presents two sequences that let us compare four stages of completion: storyboards, layout, animation and final. “Story” shows 21 storyboards

On the negative side, the interface of “Goggles” makes navigation more of a chore than I’d like. It’s not difficult to sort through the different components, but a more straightforward menu would’ve been more satisfactory.

Still, we get a lot of good material in “Goggles”. Like the interactive map, it takes some digging, but the interviews and other elements flesh out the movie well.

For musical fun, we go to ”Jingle Bells” Minion Style. In this one-minute, 52-second clip, we see the Minions as they goof their way through the holiday classic – and then invite us to sing along. It’s mostly silly, though I like the Karaoke-style lyrics on screen, especially since they include the names of cast members.

The disc opens with ads for The Secret Like of Pets, Jem and the Holograms, and The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave. No trailer for Minions appears here.

One note about supplements: all of the 2D disc’s materials also appear on the 3D platter. However, they remain 2D there. I didn’t expect the featurettes to be 3D, of course, but I’m a bit disappointed the mini-movies didn’t get the 3D treatment.

A third disc provides a DVD copy of Minions. It offers the mini-movies, “Jingle Bells” and the deleted scene.

As a spinoff, Minions provides occasional entertainment, but it lacks the substance necessary to carry a full movie. The lead characters just seem too one-dimensional to maintain interest across as entire feature. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture and audio as well as a mostly interesting set of supplements. Audiences love Minions, but I must admit I think it’s only moderately amusing.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.8 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main