Film Review: Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2 is entertaining family fun. It lacks the momentum and some of the charm of the original, but should still satisfy its target audience.

Gru has settled down into the role of father to Margo, Edith and Agnes. When the Anti-Villain League ask for his help to track down a powerful criminal, Gru is reluctant to juggle a top secret spy mission with bringing up his three girls…

Three years after the success of Despicable Me comes its sequel. The narrative of Despicable Me 2 trends the expected path. There are a number of strands at play which means that the film has a little of everything. The relationship between Gru and the three girls is the strongest aspect of the film, much like the original. Despicable Me 2 depicts the progression of this relationship as the girls grow older.

The story of Gru and his hunt for the villain is secondary to his family relationship. The strand lacks the momentum and mystery that would have given the film a spark. The love story element in Despicable Me 2 is well crafted. These scenes make Gru a more multi-faceted character.

Ultimately, Despicable Me 2 is not as charming as the original film. This is because it lacks the freshness of the first film’s storyline. However, it is nice to see what happens to the characters after the first movie.

The Minions are wisely moved towards the centre of the stage in this instalment. These characters are a lot of fun, and are responsible for much of the film’s humour. Despicable Me 2 is amusing throughout, even if some of the laughs are slight. Steve Carell is joined by the capable Kristen Wiig, who voices newcomer Lucy.

Despicable Me 2 fails to match its predecessor, but is still an entertaining animated adventure.

Stuff to Look At

A catch up of all the trailers you may have missed for the Easter weekend…

The Big Wedding

Robert De Niro heads an all star cast in comedy The Big Wedding. I wish Robert De Niro was still making films with Martin Scorsese, but there you go. The film also stars Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, and Katherine Heigl, who surely cemented this role in her pact with the devil. The Big Wedding is released in UK cinemas on 29th May 2013.

Oblivion

Above is a featurette on upcoming movie Oblivion. Starring Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko and Melissa Leo, Oblivion is a future-set science fiction film from the director of Tron: Legacy. Oblivion is out in cinemas on 10th April 2013.

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness looks very promising. J.J. Abrams’ 2009 update of Star Trek was a great sci-fi action romp, and Into Darkness seems to be following the same path. Starring Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch, Star Trek Into Darkness hits UK screens on 9th May 2013.

World War Z

Brad Pitt stars in apocalyptic extravaganza World War Z. Based on the novel by Max Brooks, Pitt stars as Gerry Lane, a UN employee trying to ascertain the cause of a pandemic which is threatening the world. World War Z is released in UK cinemas on 21st June 2013.

Despicable Me 2

Gru is back! But perhaps more importantly, Agnes is back! From the above trailer, Despicable Me 2 appears to have a sound plot. It also features a host of talent, including Steve Carell, Al Pacino, Kristen Wiig and Steve Coogan. Despicable Me 2 is due for release on 28th June 2013.

Kick-Ass 2

Hit Girl is now a fully-fledged teen! Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Moretz return for Kick Ass 2. The sequel, which also stars Jim Carrey, is released on UK screens on 19th July 2013.

Film Review: Megamind

There has been an abundance of well-executed animated features in 2010; Megamind is just the latest of these. Although the film is enjoyable and has wide appeal, it may suffer from being released so soon after Despicable Me, as the two films share some striking similarities.

Super villain Megamind has a rivalry with his nemesis Metro Man which stretches all the way back to childhood. When Megamind finally defeats Metro Man, he finds that life is much emptier without a nemesis to fight…

Megamind appears to be a little ‘by the numbers’ in a way it would not have seemed only a few years ago. This is because there have been several animated features this year particularly that mix comedy with action and fantasy in a style that will appeal to adults as well as children. So in this sense it appears formulaic, but only as it comes after the year’s several successful animated features.

Like Despicable Me, the protagonist in Megamind is very much an anti-hero. Although he is evil, we inevitably root for the humorous Megamind to prosper, rather than the stereotypically ‘good’ characters. And just like Despicable Me‘s Gru, Megamind has a change in outlook through the course of the film.

Megamind is entertaining primarily due to its good use of comedy. Megamind’s conversations with his cohort Minion are amusing; these interactions reveal both affection and gentle ribbing. Megamind makes reference to a number of films, including The Karate Kid and Kill Bill: Vol. 2. Most notable, however, is Megamind‘s hilarious spoof of Marlon Brando in Superman. Megamind parodies superhero films, offering a rather skewered version of both heroes and villains of this genre. Nevertheless, Megamind appears to offer a more realistic interpretation of how superheroes would be treated in the real world, than that of Kick-Ass, for example. Metro Man is portrayed as part deity, part celebrity – a believable reflection of the contemporary world.

Will Ferrell appears perfecting cast voicing Megamind, he bring the humour necessary for this role. Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt similarly perform well, although it does feel a bit like stunt casting, particularly in the case of Pitt. Nowadays, it seems a prerequisite to have A list names voicing animated features.

The animation in Megamind is faultless, with the backdrops of the sky appearing strikingly realistic. The 3D element is incorporated seamlessly, although Megamind is a film that would certainly be enjoyed just as well in 2D. The soundtrack is fantastic, featuring classic tracks from Michael Jackson, AC/DC and Guns n’Roses.

If Megamind had been released a few years ago, it would definitely be one of best animated films in that year. Given the plethora of superb animated features this year, however, Megamind runs the risk of being forgotten. An enjoyable watch, nonetheless.

Film Review: Despicable Me

Despicable Me is a light-hearted animated movie that audiences young and old will enjoy. It does not pack the same emotional punch as a film such as Up, but it is entertaining throughout.

Gru’s schemes to become the greatest villain don’t always pay off. In order to triumph over new villain Vector, Gru enlists the unwitting help of three young orphaned sisters. Gru get more than he bargained for, however, when he adopts the girls…

In an industry dominated by Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks, it is nice to see a newer company competing with the established few. Although this Illumination Entertainment production shares a number of characteristics with other animated films, it still has its own feel.

Much of the enjoyment of Despicable Me is due to its humour. Whilst there is enough slapstick and universal comedy to entertain young viewers, many of the jokes seem geared towards older audience members. Gru’s disapproval of the children’s book he is asked to read, for example, appears to have more resonance with an older audience. Likewise, some of the references in the film will be lost on younger viewers.

Despicable Me features a host of famous names voicing its characters. Steve Carell and Jason Segal bring the humour that they best known for, and Jermaine Clement makes an amusing Jerry the Minion. Teen favourite Miranda Cosgrove is sure to bring in a young audience voicing Margo, the oldest of the girls.

The animation in the film is faultless. The minions, in particular, are well designed; despite looking identical, they seem to have their own personalities. Screened in 3D, Despicable Me is restrained with its use of the third dimension. The result is a subtle use of the form, which is much more aesthetically pleasing than the pronounced way it is utilised in some movies.

The only gripe with the film is that there is nothing remarkable about the narrative. Despicable Me offers a pretty predictable story; there is no real detour or surprise to enliven the narrative. Nevertheless, the characters are likeable and the humour frequent enough to compensate for this shortcoming.

Despicable Me follows the recent trend of animated films that appear to be aimed at adults, though they are suitable for all. Like last year’s Fantastic Mr Fox, the humour isn’t adult, but makes references that will go over the heads of young children. Coupled with this is the soundtrack, which features well-known tunes as well as original music from Pharrell Williams. The music signals an appeal wider than a standard children’s cartoon.

Despicable Me is yet another indication that animated films are not only for the young. In reaching an older audience, however, the film does not neglect younger viewers, making it a perfect family film.