Illumination has become a pivotal name in animation and it is undoubtedly thanks to the studio’s hit franchise: Despicable Me. The story of aspiring supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) found success in 2010 and has only become more popular with its multiple sequels. If there is one thing that stands in this series it is none other than Gru’s wacky henchmen the Minions. The Minions have become animation icons to the point where even if you never seen Despicable Me you likely know of these crazy little characters. The Minions have become so popular that they received their own spinoff film in 2015. Minions told the story of the henchmen’s time before meeting Gru, and the movie proved to be as enjoyable and successful as its predecessors-in fact the film is the highest grossing movie of the entire Despicable Me franchise. This success not only cemented the franchise’s legacy, but showed that this spin-off had potential to become its own series; so as moviegoers await the next Despicable Me film the series makes another stop with the Minions in Minions: The Rise of Gru.
Directed by Kyle Balda (director of Despicable Me 3 and Minions), the movie tells the story of a young Gru looking to become a supervillain by joining the Vicious 6. However, after stealing an ancient stone from the six, Gru is kidnapped by former member Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) and it is up to the minions (Pierre Coffin) to find their mini boss. Along with Balda the film is co-directed by Brad Ableson as well as Jonathan del Val. The movie was announced in 2017 and was set to hit theaters on July 3,2020. However due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the film was pushed back a year and then was delayed yet again to July 1, 2022. At long last this film has finally hit theaters and it has this Film Adventurer wondering how this installments will fare in this successful franchise? As it stands the series may have another winner on its hands as Minions: The Rise of Gru is another enjoyable installment for the Despicable Me franchise.
Unlike its predecessor, Minions: The Rise of Gru is a direct prequel to the Despicable Me films as it features the series ' main character. So it was interesting how this plot would play out and the result was a fun continuation. The plot was fairly straightforward which is nothing new to this series as its tales are simple but effective. Yet in Rise of Gru’s case, its broad narrative could hinder this origin story. While the pacing was fairly effective, some points like Gru connecting with Wild Knuckle needed more time while aspects such as the mystical stone felt like just a plot device with little relevance to the overall story. Still the story had its moments. Seeing the Minions venturing across the country was fun and how the story connects to Despicable Me was a treat-though I cannot say if there were any issues in continuity.
Another intriguing aspect going into this film was the character of Gru and whether or not the future supervillain would receive any more development. The answer was the latter. While he may not have had any surprising development, seeing Gru as a kid was a refreshing take especially from a performance standpoint as it gave Steve Carell new material to work with. As for Minions they were their usual fun selves. Each Minion had their time to shine and their antics continued to be a delight. As for supporting characters, the likes of Wild Knuckles and the kung-fu master Chow (Michelle Yeoh) were solid additions to the cast. Yeoh in particular was enjoyable though I thought her character would have had more relevance to the overall story. As for the villains, the Vicious 6 were ok which was a little disappointing. While characters like Belle Bottom (Taraji P.Henson) had their moments, this group of rogues did not have the presence that I would have hoped for-especially when this group features the likes of Dolph Lundgren, Lucy Lawless, Danny Trejo and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
It would not be the Minions if there was not a little comedy in the movie. The Rise of Gru continues to have the same wit as its predecessors and featured several moments that had me chuckling throughout the film. Another highlight for the film was of course the animation which was as vibrant as ever. Along with its dynamic presentation the movie’s time period was a perfect setting to capture colorful nature to this series. When it came to music the score by Heitor Pereira was merely decent, but the film’s songs were fitting not just for the time period but for the ecstatic atmosphere of this spin-off.
Minions: The Rise of Gru lives up to its series name. While it could be too simplistic in areas, the movie was enjoyable with aspects like story and characters being a delight; and elements such as animation gave this installment a vibrant atmosphere that worked well with the movie's humorous side. I cannot say this sequel is a new standard for the series but, at the very least, Minions: The Rise of Gru is another solid installment for the animated franchise as well as a fun film for the summer season.