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Minions (Blu-ray) (2015)
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Details At A Glance
Featurette-Behind the Goggles - The Illumination Story of the Minions
Featurette-Jingle Bells Minion Style
Year Of Production
||Cast & Crew
||Language Select Then Menu
Universal Pictures Home Video
Pan & Scan/Full Frame
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio
|Original Aspect Ratio
Annoying Product Placement
|Action In or After Credits
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
Emerging seemingly out of nowhere, the Despicable Me franchise unexpectedly developed into a box office juggernaut, with 2013’s Despicable Me 2 alone earning more than ten times its $76 million budget. With Despicable Me 3 still a couple of years away, we now have Minions to tide us over, which is not so much a movie but rather a feature-length toy commercial. The little yellow guys have proven to be a hit with youngsters around the world, but the concept of giving these one-note characters their own movie did not sound too promising, as there’s no emotional resonance or depth to them. Fortunately, the resulting flick is not without merit, with screenwriter Brian Lynch, and directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda pulling together a slight but enjoyable animated adventure. It’s not memorable in the slightest, but it is an improvement over the well-received but substandard Despicable Me 2.
As it turns out, the bespectacled titular creatures have existed since the dawn of time, constantly on the lookout for an evil master to serve. However, the Minions find it difficult to hang onto a boss, with their various masters meeting abrupt endings thanks to their careless antics. Settling in the Arctic, the little guys wind up feeling lonely and without purpose, eventually deciding upon a risky venture to the outside world. Bob, Kevin and Stuart (all voiced by co-director Coffin) therefore leave the tribe, ending up in New York City in 1968. The trio are soon thrilled to find that the International Villain-Con is being held in Orlando, whereupon they meet the world’s first female super-villain, Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock). Giving the Minions a shot at becoming her new henchmen, Scarlett sends Bob, Kevin and Stuart on a mission to steal Queen Elizabeth’s crown so that she can rule England.
Minions moves by briskly enough, amounting to a succession of quirky comedic set-pieces, but there just isn’t a strong enough story at the core of the movie. Thus, while there is ample visual ingenuity and the animation is consistently pleasing, the plot cannot sustain a full-length feature film. In fact, many of the vignettes would probably be better served as short movies, especially with so many Minion shorts being produced. Unfortunately, too, with the Minions left unable to talk properly, character development is hard, and the movie also lacks the emotional centre which allowed the original Despicable Me to soar into the stratosphere. Scarlet Overkill is not an especially memorable antagonist, either; she’s a bog-standard stock villain, and, unlike Gru (Steve Carell), there is no nuance or complexity to her character. Nevertheless, it is a miracle that the Minions never get on the nerves, and something has to be said of the astonishing voice cast. In addition to Bullock, there’s also Michael Keaton and Steve Coogan, while the reliable Geoffrey Rush provides narration.
Naturally, Minions offers up plenty of zaniness throughout, and kids will no doubt have a grand time watching the little yellow guys engaging in their usual shtick. For adults, the period detail does give the picture a boost, infusing the proceedings with ’60s music and pop culture markers, including a Beatles nod that this reviewer appreciated. The soundtrack is extremely well-judged, featuring tunes from The Who, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix, among others, giving the enterprise a unique flavour. The majority of the comedy is derived from slapstick humour in the vein of The Three Stooges and Charlie Chaplin, while sight gags are also employed to great effect. However, even though Minions does have belly-laughs, there’s not enough of them, particularly compared to the still-unbeatable 2010 movie that started it all.
By its very nature, Minions is a one-joke movie, and, without Gru as a main character, there is nothing in the way of heart and soul, while the story could have used some tweaking. For better or for worse, the movie functions simply as a goofy comedy, with nothing to make it engaging or enjoyable on more than one level. Therefore, it does get tiresome after a while. Still, kids will be enraptured by the colourful visual design and the antics of the Minions, and though adults won’t be as enthralled, it’s still a bright, fast-paced adventure that won’t leave you staring at your watch every few minutes.
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Being an animated movie, Minions looks stunning on Blu-ray, flaunting an AVC-encoded high definition transfer that does not disappoint in the slightest. The transfer is framed in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with the visuals filling up the screen in a satisfying way.
Being a recently-produced animated movie, clarity and sharpness is astonishing, while the screen remains beautifully detailed from start to finish. By design, the animation does not look like live action, with a certain cartoonishness to the entire enterprise. The characters, especially the Minions, are basic, and the transfer does a fine job with the textures on their clothes and glasses.
I did not detect any encoding anomalies at all. The Blu-ray was evidently created straight from the digital source, so there are no issues to speak of. Universal has done a fine job bringing this incredibly lucrative animated movie to home video.
Video Ratings Summary
Like most high-profile new releases these days, Minions is allotted a Dolby Atmos track, which is good news for those who are Atmos-compatible. For the rest of us, however, the audio defaults to a still mightily impressive Dolby Digital TrueHD 7.1 track, which does exactly what is expected of it.
The jaunty, bouncy music comes through well, creating an engaging aural experience. The front channels handle the dialogue (what there is of it) and the gibberish chatter from the Minions, not to mention the quirky little sound effects.
No issues here.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
You want extras? You got 'em!
Mini-Movies (HD) A handful of short movies, presented in HD with lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.
- Cro Minion (4:25) - A goofy little caveman-era Minions short that will easily delight children.
- Competition (3:47) - A couple of Minions randomly begin to get competitive, with their antics growing bigger and bigger in scope. Amusing.
- Binky Nelson Unpacified (4:34) - A short movie involving the family of robbers from the movie. The baby, Binky, loses his pacifier during a heist, and is determined to get it back.
Around the World Interactive Map (HD) Now this is an exhaustively vast feature. Using your remote, you can navigate to various countries around the world. Selecting a part of the globe, you are treated to interviews discussing the segments of the movie involving this country, faux infomercials, as well as storyboard galleries and storyboard-to-animation comparisons. It’s a bit laborious to navigate, but there’s plenty of stuff to unearth here if you have the time (and patience).
Behind the Goggles: The Illumination Story of Minions (HD) Selecting this, you are taken to a themed menu with plenty of options to select. It can be hard to navigate, as some options are almost hidden, but if you like extras, you’ll like this. All video snippets are presented in HD, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.
In the top left corner of the screen, there is a plane labelled “Illumination MacGuff.” Selecting it, you are taken to another screen of extras
- Writers (3:38) - A discussion of the scripting process, with writer Brian Lynch talking about the challenges facing the movie, and how he overcame them.
- The Boss’ Office (4:58) - Illumination founder and producer Chris Meledandri talks about the genesis of Despicable Me, and the creation of the Minions.
- Art Dept. (3:32) - Character designer Eric Guillon (speaking in French) and art director Olivier Adam talk about the design of the Minions and the visuals of the movie in general.
- Gallery - A couple of galleries of concept art are available to view.
- Recording Studio (2:46) - Composer Heitor Pereira talks about his creative collaboration with the filmmakers and his thought process behind the music. I enjoyed this.
- Actors Studio (3:18) - Many of the high-profile actors, including Michael Keaton and Sandra Bullock, talk about their experience and why they wanted to get involved.
- Notice Board - A selection of amusing, themed notice board images and posters. There is a funny safety video (00:54) to select whilst navigating the stills.
Phew. I think that’s it. Sound off in the comments below if I missed anything.
- Animation (3:10) - Many of the crew involved in the animation process chime in to talk about the behind-the-scenes goings-on at Illumination, and what went into animating Minions. Fairly interesting stuff.
- Lighting and Layout (2:27) - More of the animation crew talk about the lighting aspect of the visual design, which was so pivotal in the finished movie.
- 3D Models (00:42) - No interviews here, just a quick succession of 3D Minion models wearing various costumes.
- Models Gallery - This one can be navigated; essentially the same deal as the last extra, but with some storyboards thrown in as well.
- Director (3:12) - Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda chime in here, talking about their experiences and the way they approached the project, on top of their love for the characters.
- Producer (3:22) - The producers wax lyrical about the project and the three main Minion characters.
- Editorial (3:24) - Now this is worthwhile. Editor Claire Dodgson talks about the process of editing an animated movie, and the challenges of creating the movie over the course of three years.
- Storyboard Comparison: Lifeboat (00:46) - A comparison between storyboards, layout, animation and final for the scene in the lifeboat.
- Storyboard Comparison: King Bob (1:04) - Same as above, except this time for a sequence inside Buckingham Palace. Interesting to watch.
- Story (1:19) - A short interview with storyboard artist Nolwenn Roberts. Now they’re really reaching.
- Storyboard Gallery: Stuart Hot Tub - These storyboards are actually glimpsed in one of the video storyboard comparisons, but still a cool addition.
Jingle Bells Minion Style (HD; 1:52) What you see is what you get. The Minions gather round and sing Jingle Bells. There is a sing-along as well, and I must admit I was reduced to tears of laughter watching the gibberish appear on-screen, with the occasion discernible word or actor name.
R4 vs R1
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Minions sees a Blu-ray release in America in December. Judging from the press release, supplemental material appears to be identical, with the exception of a theatrical trailer for The Secret Life of Pets. Call it a draw.
Minions was made to sell tickets and sell toys, and judging from the box office receipts and the flurry of merchandise in stores, it did its job. Although not as memorable or as emotionally satisfying as a Pixar outing, it is fun, albeit repetitive.
A lot of effort went into Universal's Blu-ray release. Video and audio are outstanding, while the extras package is exhaustive. It could've used a nice audio commentary to top it off, however. If your infant is a fan of Minions, buying this disc is a no-brainer.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, November 19, 2015
|DVD||PlayStation 4, using HDMI output|
This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
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|Speakers||LG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W|
The Jackpot that jammed on "pay".