Making the most out of made-up-language-speaking munchkins, Minions doesn’t achieve Despicable heights, but provides plenty of fun child-friendly chaos.An origin story for the minions, the story’s prehistoric premise remains the highlight of the affair, charting the single-celled evolution of these single-minded creatures, who are perpetually in search of the next great supervillain to follow – normally because they didn’t do a very good job at keeping the last one alive. After hundreds – thousands – of years in exile, they send out a search party looking for a new master, taking 60s New York by storm, and following the latest celebrity villain, Scarlett Overkill, in her masterplan to steal the British crown jewels. At its best, Minions remains smartly silly, making the most of the physical humour and easily interpretable hijinks which can be understood irrespective of the ‘language’ barrier, and playing up to its child-dominated audience, although it also serves to simultaneously alienate is adult following, where its predecessors did not.Its primary weakness comes nominally in the form of the villainous Scarlett Overkill who, despite the best efforts of Sandra Bullock – with Jon Hamm hamming it up as her chilled out partner in crime – isn’t much of an evil presence at the end of the day. The minions are enough to carry the film a long way, but even before they hit London, the joke is wearing a little thin, and the clichéd Royal shenanigans don’t provide much intrigue as the final act events slowly roll towards a nominally engaging climax. It’s safe to say that the minions are fun enough to carry plenty of short films on their own, but in terms of full-length features the reality is that, without Gru and the Despicable Me films, they can’t quite make it over the finish line – something which Minions ultimately only serves to highlight.
2D/3D Picture QualityMinions hits UK region free Blu-ray courtesy of Universal, who deliver another spectacular reference title, with both its 1080p/AVC 2D and 1080p/MVC 3D encoded High Definition video presentations – on separate discs – promoting non-stop demo material, both framed in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. The 2D alone looks gorgeous, popping with prehistoric primaries in the first instance, before lapping up the vibrant hues of the swinging sixties. Brilliant blue skies, lush greens, and of course the banana yellow of the lovable lumps themselves; they all make for striking tones in a rich landscape, with strong black levels enriching the darker sequences.
Minions makes for stunning demo material in both 2D and 3D.
Even with just the two dimensions on offer, there’s plenty of 3D pop to the presentation, with several great sequences where you’re really wondering what more 3D could offer – the chase scene in the rain showcases the minions with superior depth and dimension. However, as has become to be expected from the first film and Despicable Me 2, Minions does still go that extra step with its 3D presentation, displaying seemingly limitless depth both into – and out of – the screen. Layers upon layers allow the backgrounds to come alive, whilst there is a wonderfully textured quality to the individual characters, who are tangibly real in their construction. In the more energetic moments, with grand events and spectacular explosions, objects burst beyond the limits of their world, and enter yours, providing an amazing presentation in both guises.
The aural accompaniment is fabulous too.
Cas Harlow reviewed the audio using a standard 5.1-channel setup - Whilst perhaps missing that distinctive thematic score that underpinned Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2, Minions nevertheless has all of the remaining ingredients necessary to make for a diverse, detailed and effective audio track. Dialogue – albeit predominately limited to the made-up minionese language – is still evenly disseminated across the frontal array, prioritised over the fronts and centre channels where appropriate. Effects are varied and impressive, from the stomp of dinosaurs to the boom of explosives, with bustling New York streets, villain conventions and Royal tributes providing immersive crowd-based environments, whilst the more energetic action sequences light up the sound-stage with fantastically intricate design. The score, as aforementioned, isn’t quite as good as it could have been, but nonetheless completes this technically outstanding package.
Steve Withers reviewed the audio using a 7.2.4-channel Dolby Atmos setup - Whilst the basic 7.1-channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is excellent, offering a superb surround experience, the Dolby Atmos track is something of a disappointment. In fact the overhead speakers hardly ever get used, making it difficult to distinguish the Atmos track from the more traditional one. It's surprising because the soundtrack for an animated film is constructed from the ground up, making it ideal for an object-based mix. Sadly despite all the comic capers on screen, the sound designers have failed to take full advantage of the additional channels available to them. As a result whilst it remains a great soundtrack, it is one of the least impressive Dolby Atmos mixes that we have heard, which is a shame because it had so much potential. There are certain Dolby Atmos soundtracks, like Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, that could convince anyone sat on the fence to take the immersive audio plunge, but Minions isn't one of them.
Although not exactly brimming with extras, there’s a nice selection of supplemental features on offer to investigate here. A trio of Shorts provides likely the highlight, with the small prehistoric episode – Crominions – offering some pterodactyl fun; Competition seeing the crazy hijinks that a couple of competitive minions get up to in the lab; and one dedicated to the adventures of the baby in the film’s robber family.
Three fun shorts headline this innovatively interactive extras package.
We also get a Jingle Bells sing-a-long with the minions as well as an Interactive Map which provides some behind the scenes information. Here you can dip around several locations used in the film (and several that weren’t) and look at pre-vis effects, background interviews and brief glimpses of deleted footages, often storyboarded. A further Interactive Guide allows you to look into core elements of the production, from the animation to the music, with yet further interviews and behind the scenes information.
Minions is a child-tailored filler to pass the time with until we get what they should have made instead – 2017’s Despicable Me 3.
Universal’s Region Free UK Blu-ray boasts stunning 2D and 3D, great audio and a nice selection of interactive extras. It’s great demo material, and will definitely hook younger audiences, even if its appeal to older generations is pretty lame, particularly in comparison to its Despicable Me predecessors.
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