Steps away from a movie devoured by the cavernous maws of the Minions, Despicable Me 2 strong arms Gru (Steve Carrell) into the employment arms of AVL: The Anti Villain League. Sent into the local eccentric, glass domed mall to sniff out an uber evil doer, Gru encounters forced mischief and predictable romance. It’s not only the romance which is predictable either.
Pouring on the adorable, Universal’s franchise may be the bad guy in and of itself. Luring in adults with sickeningly cute kid character and poking at impressionable little ones with wacky nonsense from scenery chewing Minions, Despicable Me 2 has no shame. This is targeted entertainment, the type which is shuffled into existence from marketing teams latched onto the material from exit surveys. In the write-in column was, “More Minions.” They relented.
The film is overstuffed enough with its sagging plot lines and wasteful character escapades to bundle mini-Minion movies directly into the narrative. They scream, they yell, and act stupid not all dissimilar to modern video game staple, The Rabbids. Come to think of it, they act an awful lot like the rambunctious mutant rabbits.
Gru is often disconnected from his legion of dopey one or two-eyed creatures, Gru now a busy body with romance in his eyes, a puppy love instance to break up (which goes nowhere), sidekicks to manage, a failing jelly business to deal with, and yes, the whole “find the villain” thing. The culprit is revealed 20 minutes in, showing how secondary this main plot thread is. Despicable Me 2 is not set on surprise – it assumes the bountiful energy from the Minions will assure enough distraction to throw any viewer from the flubs.
This is hardly a “despicable” movie, but rather one caught up in its bloated, loosely developed story arc. Patchwork comedy is delightful and the zany 3D antics are enough to stuff the face of any passionate child fanbase in spite of it all. Gru reacts as Despicable Me’s star and Carrell’s zippy voiced performance displays character momentum (even when there is none), but this feature is devoured by the long winded nonsense of its secondary mumbling centerpieces. By the finale, Despicable Me 2 has become self-referential as a dated, stereotypical evildoer enacts his Minion-centric, world conquering plan.
Writing and directing teams return, their efforts resulting in a sequel with enough ideas to filter out a third entry and two Minion side movies. Maybe this is the film where animation wholly turns to suit the growing demographics of an over active and super stimulated generation. If there is risk of losing someone to the allure of social media in the darkened theater, throw everything at the screen to make their eyes stick. If that was intent, it worked. This keenly colored, pop cultured follow-up has a surplus on everything it does, enjoyable if drifting ever further from sensible execution.
Headed onto Blu-ray with the pinnacle of sharpness and extensive fine detail, this CG feature drops a marvel of home media onto the format. Universal’s AVC encode is not in the discussion as it runs invisibly in the technical background of the feature, bouncing away from the dazzling array of colors to let their density shine.
Whereas the first Despicable Me needed a darker side for Gru’s notorious evilness, this is the all around sweeter sequel which appears to be designed around the brightest colors of the candy coated spectrum. Even the key protagonist is saturated with fiery reds as his scheme takes hold, and Minions shift from bright yellow to super purple. The mall location is doused with blues and charmingly whimsical store fronts with distinctive color patterns.
Animation quality improves to drop added fidelity into each frame, whether close-ups of Gru are showcasing facial texture or a loud restaurant owner is exposing his chest hair (sometimes, HD is not preferred). Clothing details are immense and when challenged by yards full of individual grass or grains of sand, Despicable Me 2 pulls out its super villain laugh. The disc never seems challenged.
What’s left? Everything. This Blu-ray does nothing wrong, beginning with the intense overdose on primaries and surrendering to its depth. Black levels and contrast? They’re never even merciful to weaker displays. This is an exhibition of pure mastery for the format.
Oh, wait. There is 3D to consider too. Depth is considered to extreme lengths, with certain action scenes revolving around achieving maximum perspective. Angles are consistently considerate of the format, even exploiting stereoscopic tech during a sequence intermingling with the credits. As hyper active as the movie is, the 3D material is equally exuberant. Opening shots sling objects directly toward the camera and it is not a one-off exploitation.
Despicable Me 2 is a sure candidate for the format with its overwhelming adherence to brightness. Such a focus on ensuring deeply ingrained background depth and poking at the virtual lens is a bonus. Few scenes pass without definitive, substantiated deepness.
Despite its frenzy of activity and action, sound design comes through as a lower priority. Focus on specific channels is minimally applied – much of the directionality is spread between multiple speakers at once. Surrounds have four channels to utilize without calling out clear winners. All of them bleed together and fronts are limited in their spacing. A 5.1 track would be of little difference.
Despite a boomy start for LFE work as a magnet sucks up a polar base, Despicable Me 2 shifts downward. By its close, there is nothing left in this audio tank as a rocket launch commences without any low end fuss. DTS-HD work is disappointingly sedate, offering little utilization of the soundstage. This is a rare animated feature to squander free reign in sound work.
Paltry bonuses lean on three mini-movies (one in 3D) which provide suitable short term laughs. Six featurettes struggle to be called promotional dribble as they loosely detail the kids, gadgets, and stars. One deleted scene and feature commentary from co-directors Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud sharply bring an end to these minuscule bonuses.