Directed by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin
Starring Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, John Hamm
Throughout history the Minions (all voiced by director Pierre Coffin) have evolved a very simple strategy for survival, which is to find the most despicable boss they can and serve them (if not competently then at least enthusiastically). It is a strategy that serves them well, until an unfortunate incident with Napoleon and a misdirected cannonball drives the Minions into exile. Now, after centuries without a master, Minion society is growing depressed and stagnant. In the dark time before Gru, it is up to three minion heroes to venture out into the world to find one very special evil overlord: a malevolent mistress of mayhem called Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock).
Minions has a significant amount of flash to it, without much depth. It lacks the heart and intelligence of its predecessors from the Despicable Me series of films. In its place it substitutes a maniacal energy and the most significant amount of Cool Britannia that we have seen since Kingsman: The Secret Service graced our screens. Submersing itself in late ‘60s British culture lends itself nicely to the aesthetics of the film (in all fairness, the era has been a strong influence in Despicable Me design previously), allowing for bright retro colours, sleek chrome super-science, a groovy soundtrack and some very amusing historical in-jokes.
Ultimately the plot is almost nonexistent and, it must be said, somewhat unimportant in the grand scheme of things. It is merely an excuse to ricochet the three core minions (Stuart, Kevin and Bob) from one whacky adventure to the next, with much happening on mere whim. It really doesn’t seem to matter one way or the other, as long as it keeps that frenetic pace. The advantage to this is the comedy and action ticks over nicely, and there is a lot of wow factor in the set pieces. The downside is that there is no tension or any emotional stake in the actions of these three, and you never feel properly invested.
Sandra Bullock does here best does her best old school Disney villainess impersonation, as Scarlet Overkill lurches from sugary sweet to missile launching psychotic at the drop of a hat (or, in this case, a crown). John Hamm (Mad Men) voices the other half of the Overkills, Herb, making him cool and suave but with a genuine joy for life. The designs of both characters are stunningly slick, with razor sharp lines that reflect the mod period perfectly. Coffin himself makes great use of the argot of languages that forms Minionese to give a range of emotions to hundreds of Minions on screen.
Sleek, flashy and fast, Minions might be all style over substance, but it sure is entertaining about it.