Despicable Me 2 review

Good and Evil are both good options, whatever floats your boat.

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You better believe it.

MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW – You have been warned.

Despicable Me 2 is set shortly after the events of the surprisingly good first film from 2010 and as it is a sequel, it cannot and does not focus on the same themes of the first film (Taken 2 anyone?). This time around, we know Gru (Steve Carell) is no longer a criminal mastermind and is instead just being a dad for his three girls. While holding a party for his youngest – Agnes (Elsie Fisher) – Gru is met by a woman named Lucy (Kristen Wiig) who works for the ‘Anti-Villain league’ (AVL), who require Gru’s help in finding a drug that transforms beings into fluffy purple killing machines. The Minions play an interesting role in this film, one I do not want to divulge too much into, but needless to say, they do provide lots of laughs and plenty of fun for the little ones and grown-ups alike.

Using the same writing and directing crew as the first film, the second has the same feel to its comedy and storyline, which at times are very funny and heart-warming accordingly. But unlike the first film, this one does not have so much focus on Gru’s relationship with his three children – the middle child barely gets a look in this time round, but is a ninja, which makes up for it to some extent. We do get a side story of the older girl meeting a boy in the mall that does lead to some funny moments of Gru’s disapproval and a smaller side story of Agnes wanting a mum.  While these two side-plots are both fun and heart-warming, they do not provide nearly the same impact as the plot of the first film. The major theme of this film is finding love; this is clear from the start of the film and sets it apart from the first film well enough.

Steve Carell, Russell Brand (Dr. Nefario), Kristen Wiig and Gru’s three girls are joined by the likes of Steve Coogan and Benjamin Bratt for this second outing to Despicable Me’s universe and all perform their respective roles well, but particular praise goes to Kristen Wiig for her turn as a major character and Benjamin Bratt for his role of the antagonist of the piece; both of these voice actors were perfect in their respective roles.

As with the first film, the second is superbly animated and a joy to watch; each character proving as rubbery and fun as the last, breathing life into the film. There is one point to note in regards to animation however: the film has obviously been designed with 3D in mind, as there are often shots that would really ‘pop’ in 3D, but as I did not watch the film in 3D (boring I know), I cannot say if the effect worked well. Seeing the film in regular old 2D however, although fine, the shots with 3D in mind come off as slightly pointless and perhaps a tad annoying – I didn’t find these shots annoying, but I could understand why someone would.

The Minions – I for one am not entirely bothered by the minions –   have not lost any of their crazy charm that people loved from the first film and provided many of the laughs from the audience – young and old alike.

The film is not all good however. It has lost a little bit of the creative spark that the first film contained and it is not as heart-warming as the first as the ending just does not carry the same emotional clout as the first film and comes off as a bit too obvious. While the characters are likable, not once did I really feel bad for them or worried about what could happen, while I’m sure many children will be on the edge of their seat for suspense, I did not feel it. A handful of aspects of the film’s plot did not really get anywhere and felt slightly unfinished and a tad wasted as they provided interesting and funny. The main fault with this film however, is the loss of what made me enjoy the first so much – the super-villainy; while this still remains, not quite as much fun is made from the crazy characters and gadgetry the super-villainy theme brings to the table.

Despicable Me 2 comes highly recommended despite its less unique and interesting premise thanks largely to its hilarious script, fine voice-acting and superb animation. If you have kids, you could do much worse than watching this film; if you don’t have kids, you could do much worse than watching this film.

While the super-villainy has largely gone, the comedy remains; 76/100.

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