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4K Ultra HD Review: Minions: The Rise of Gru (Collector’s Edition)

September 6, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Minions: The Rise of Gru is a sequel to the 2015 film Minions, which was itself a prequel to the three Despicable Me films, showing the origins of those little yellow guys who speak gibberish and have taken the world by storm.

And, five films deep into this wildly popular and financially successful franchise that has surely tested the patience of some while also delighting many others, Minions: The Rise of Gru feels like a reinvigoration of the series.

This surprisingly entertaining and oddly endearing sequel works simply because it embraces the potential of these characters as classic cartoon entities. Packed with slapstick, the film offers a lightning-quick and action-packed animated feature that doubles as the most purely fun entry into the franchise since the first one in 2010.

The film is set in 1976, when Gru (voiced once again by Steve Carell) is an 11-year-old child who dreams of becoming a super-villain. He gets into mischief with his buddies Kevin, Stuart and Bob (surname Le Minion), and the rest of the gender-nonconforming minions (voiced collectively by series stalwart Pierre Coffin) who live in his basement. They do “evil” stuff together; you know, like sneaking in to see Jaws, cutting in line at the ice cream shop, and eating it in front of the gym window.

Gru dreams of joining the Vicious 6, a super-group founded by his favourite villain, Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin, an inspired casting choice). The film’s prologue finds Wild Knuckles being ousted by his partners in crime – Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), Jean-Clawed (Jean-Claude Van Damme), Nun-chuck (Lucy Lawless), Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren) and Stronghold (Danny Trejo) – as they fight for possession of an ancient Chinese medallion that will give the wearer untold powers when activated on Chinese New Year. This leaves an opening in the villainous group that little Gru hopes to fill.

Right from its Bond-inspired opening credits sequence set to a Chinese cover of “Bang Bang” (the entire soundtrack, produced by Jack Antonoff, goes hard) over images of shadowy Minions, The Rise of Gru is a delight. Sure, the chaotic story feels held together by a hair, but the film works as a gonzo tribute to 1970s exploitation and martial arts films. Most importantly, we get a steady stream of chuckle-worthy Minion antics, as they make their way to San Francisco (or San Franprisco, in Minion-speak). There’s a character arc for Otto, who falls in love with a pet rock (and wears braces, a nice touch), and an amusing subplot that finds them learning Kung Fu from acupuncturist Master Chow (Michelle Yeoh).

By this point, the Minions are such an established part of pop culture that a good cohort of the film’s audience actually grew up with them (hence the goofy but endearing TikTok trend of teens showing up to screenings in full suits, particularly heartening to see after the film was delayed by two years due to the pandemic which existentially threatened movie theatres). Director Kyle Balda (who co-directed the first Minions film) very much embraces the idea of making a Saturday morning cartoon built around these characters, and it’s almost refreshing to see something that has no real agenda beyond just being goofy and entertaining.

If the film starts to run out of a bit of steam during the big final fight, it redeems itself with a surprisingly sweet ending, and the whole thing is nice and short at just under ninety minutes. Fast-paced, light on its feet, and most importantly a lot of fun, Minions: The Rise of Gru is an undemanding good time that, at its best, offers the pure delight of watching those dang Minions bumble and babble about.

Bonus Features (4K Ultra HD):

The 4K disc offers a bright and please visual experience and comes with a number of bonus features, including two new short films and several featurettes. A regular DVD and code for a digital copy are also included in the package, which ships with a slipcover.

Post Modern Minions (3 minutes, 49 seconds): This delightful short film finds the Minions inadvertently upending the modern art world.

Minions and Monsters (4 minutes, 20 seconds): The Minions get caught up in an imaginative fantasy role-playing game in this second of two original shorts.

Extended Scene (1 minute, 25 seconds): A fully animated extended version of the scene where Gru first goes to meet the Vicious 6.

Outtakes (3 minutes, 2 seconds): Footage of the actors goofing off in the recording booth.

Character Profiles (Play All – 15 minutes, 47 seconds): Balda and co-director Brad Ableson discuss the characters and their motivations in these short character studies, with some footage of the actors in the studio.

Gru (2 minutes, 46 seconds)

Wild Knuckles (2 minutes, 35 seconds)

Belle Bottom (2 minutes, 11 seconds)

Master Chow (2 minutes, 35 seconds)

The Vicious 6 (3 minutes, 8 seconds)

Biker (2 minutes, 32 seconds)

Gru-vy Animation (6 minutes, 27 seconds): Balda and co-directors Ableson and Jonathan del Val take us through the animation process, from concept art and storyboards to layout and the finished product.

The ’70s – Fashion, Food & Funk (4 minutes, 48 seconds): Balda, Ableson and Carell discuss growing up in the 1970s, and crafting a tribute to the decade by capturing the look and feel of the era.

Minion Martial Arts (4 minutes, 12 seconds): Balda and the co-directors discuss the legacy of 1970s Kung Fu movies, being inspired by the comedic martial arts movies of Jackie Chan and Stephen Chow, and the challenges of animating martial arts sequences featuring the Minions.

How to Draw (& Animate) With Brad Ableson (Play All – 11 minutes, 11 seconds):

Minion (4 minutes, 10 seconds)

Young Gru (3 minutes, 22 seconds)

Kung Fu Stuart (3 minutes, 37 seconds)

Lair Flair: Make Your Own Minion Hideout (Play All – 10 minutes, 22 seconds):

The Lair (4 minutes, 16 seconds)

Disco Bubbles (2 minutes, 47 seconds)

Jet Pack (3 minutes, 17 seconds)

Super Style Shop (Play All – 6 minutes, 50 seconds):

Bell Bottoms and Bandana (3 minutes, 50 seconds)

Fringe Vest and Chunky Necklace (2 minutes, 58 seconds)

Minions: The Rise of Gru is a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 88 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: September 6th, 2022

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