Hello, Spongey here.
It’s time for another 3rd entry in an animated franchise. This time we’re back to Illumination’s Despicable Me Franchise. I’ve talked a lot about my feelings for this company and their movies so I’ll keep this short.
I reviewed the first back when the sequel came out but in short, after a lukewarm first impression, I like it now. It’s not quite worthy of the praise it got on release due to a cliché story but it made up for it with some heart, a good lead, and decent humor.
It was a decent debut for Illumination, back when they had a lot of promise. 3 years later we got the sequel, which is oddly the only Illumination I haven’t reviewed in some way. It was kinda Good. It was more original and is mostly fun but the script wasn’t tight with too much Minion antics.
Then there was a Minions I just talked about and we can just forget it existed. Because it’s a spin off, I won’t hold it against this franchise. But the fact that they made a cash grab after just two entries does say a lot about this company.
When they announced a third entry, I was worried. DM 2 just barely was a worthy enough sequel, and it honestly seemed likely that this is where the bottom would fall out. Perhaps not to Ice Age 4 levels but weak nonetheless.
The trailers haven’t changed my mind too much, but I like to stay optimistic. I enjoyed 2 more than I thought I would despite the flaws so perhaps this can work out fine. The reviews have not been the best, with almost all of them saying this is the weakest in the series.
But as usual, I’ll keep an open mind. This entry bring in the same duo of writers that also do a lot of Illumination’s films but previously have penned stuff like Horton Hears a Who. (Guess that’s why they got the writing job on The Lorax too).
We have a new co-director in the form of a guy who also co-directed Minions. Yeah, not much to say there. Will this entry turn this into a passable trilogy, or should Gru and his friends be put to rest?
This, is Despicable Me 3
There isn’t a lot to say that I haven’t said about the other Illumination Movies. The designs are hit or miss, but the animation quality is well done. The designs of the gadgets are as cool as always, especially the villains big robot thing in the climax.
The locations look a bit better than usual I suppose, such as Bratt’s hideout. Outside of that, it’s more of the same. It’s well crafted with solid movements and it enhances some of the action scenes such as the opening.
It’s typical Illumination animation. Well crafted but nothing too noteworthy. Perfectly decent but not as impressive as it once was. Still, at least it looks pretty. Yeah that’s all I got.
Gru is fired from the Anti Villain League after failing to catch child star turrned villain Balthazar Bratt, which makes him pretty bummed. Especially after the Minion ditch him. He finds out he has a lost twin brother that was disliked by their villain father. He wants to learn from Gru how to be evil and while he rejects the idea due to his heel turn, Gru starts to wonder if being evil is worth it anymore…
I’ve mentioned before that Gru is my favorite aspect of these movies with funny personality and growth. He is the heart of this franchise to me. This entry starts out the same way. They do a pretty good job of showing of bad his life as a good guy has been getting with him getting fired and all that.
Even the whole twin thing doesn’t seem too bad because of how it feeds into his desire to possibly become evil again. It’s a surprisingly good set up and makes sense with Gru’s arc.
….And as soon as he and Dru have met up and catch up, it all goes downhill. That’s right, this is The 5th Wave of kids’ movies. After a strong set up, it ends up wasting it quite bit The first had a strong focus on setting up the story with the biggest issue being it’s taking a bit too long to get to Dru.
The first problem is of course the subplot. There isn’t really a ton of them but they exist and are sadly too disconnected to really matter. Lucy has a story about wanting to be a good mother which is kind of cute but ends up being rushed and undercooked. It involves a slight story of this kid wanting to marry Margo which only lasts 2 scenes.
One of the girls wants to find a Unicorn which again, only has a few scenes and once she finds it (kinda), they drop it and it never feeds into the main story. And of course, the Minions are there in a side story where they somehow end up on a music competition called “Sing” (HAWWWWW), and then in Jail.
It’s weird and just like everything else, barely connects to anything. It’s even too rushed to be as funny as it sounds. The subplot aren’t the worst but barely connect to a larger story and end as soon as they begin.
They also serve to distract from the main focus, so you may go awhile without seeing the best character. The main story becomes far less interesting as a result and even the writing it becomes weaker.
That whole deal with Gru wanting to be evil? Completely dropped. There’s no transition between him thinking of evil and just wanting his job back. It then turns into the typical story of two brothers who are at odds with each other.
It doesn’t help that they use the screw up cliché with Dru being not that best at evil which amounts to some weak slapstick. It’s the opposite of that other Steve Carell movie that did this where, yes, Dru is dumb but he’s far from hateable so Gru honestly looks like a jerk when he chews him out.
This of course leads to the third act split up. Okay, this movie has cemented this as my all time LEAST FAVORITE cliché. It’s in EVERY. MOVIE. EVER. Sometimes it can be done decently like in Zootopia but most of the time it fails, only slowing the movie done.
Here, they make up so quickly it makes it pointless, even more so than usual in this kind of story! It’s a cheap way of creating conflict in Act 3, so stop doing it! Because of they dull the main story becomes, I was so checked out during the climax which is full of action and noise.
Add in the usual weak rushed ending which doesn’t show either character learning that much and you have a very disappointing story. My god, what happened? The writing starts out pretty decent with a good set up that makes sense for the series.
But the subplots distract too much and the main story gets rid of all the potential for depth it had. This creates a script that loses focus and becomes removed from what it should be.
There’s nothing really THAT bad here and there are some chuckles and as I said, the first act does have strong stuff but overall the writing drops the ball big time. Again, much like the 5th Wave although this is a bit better.
Since they drop the ball on the story itself, this sadly applies to the character. They can carry some charm but they either don’t have as much depth or get nothing to do.
Starting with Gru, voiced by Steve Carrel, he is still the best character as his dilemma is interesting. But once his story gets weak, so does he. Now he just wants to get his job back and his personality becomes very weak. And as I said, he becomes a jerk at one point.
So Gru is actually a bit of a but him being good in Act makes him the most developed person in here.
Dru, also voiced by Carell is pretty dull. His backstory is interesting but after that, he’s just a bumbling a guy. No more personality than that and despite an amusing ending with him, he’s not very interesting.
The best character actually ends up being the villain, voiced by Trey Parker. Yes, really. He was a child star whose show was canned due to him getting older and now he resents Hollywood and is stuck in the past. 80’s jokes are nothing new but the animators and Trey Parker make him pretty enjoyable with his crazy antics.
He’s not deep but he is solid for what he’s supposed to be and he is the only elements I say is better than the previous films. He’s fun enough.
The rest are just there to be there, just having those weak subplots. Lucy at least has the mother thing and Kristen Wiig’s voice work which is more than I can say for the others. One girls get a pointless Unicorn plot, one has that one bit with this kid and the other gets nothing at all.
Once Dru arrives, they hardly interact with Gru outside of some pointless bits that add nothing. Way to get rid of the main draw of the first film. Speaking of which, as I said, the Minions don’t do a whole lot which is usually good but what they get is just so tacked on and not funny.
They are even kind of unlikable as they seemed fine with Gru being good before but now they drop him so quickly Plus, in prison they become bullies with no transition. I know that’s the joke but it’s so odd in execution.
When even the Minions involvement feel half hearted, there’s a problem. They also pull an Umbrdige with Jenny Slate taking over the Anti Villain League which only happens so Gru can get fired as she never appeared again. I thought maybe she would turn out to be Bratt in disguise, as that’s a running thing but nope.
Oh and remember Nr Nefarious from the first 2? At the start of this, he’s been frozen in Carbonite and thus doesn’t speak at all. Yes, really. They never unfreeze him, they flat out write him out of the film because I guess even Russel Brand wanted no part in this.
Overall, the character can provide some charm but thanks to the writing,a lot of them feel wasted compared to how they were before.
The film play a lot like the franchise and company itself. It starts with a lot of promise with nice animation and a good set up with a solid story, but it ends up being a disappointment, turning the main story into a lot of tired cliches and filling the story with pointless subplots that waste the once decent cast of characters.
It’s not really the worst as the first half is decent-ish and the villain is fun, plus I didn’t groan a whole lot. However, it’s still not good because the 3rd act gets so weak with the writing. The inspiration was once there seems lost by the end of this.
I’m frustrated as I want t write this off as a cash grab sequel but that first act has promise for an actually good story, and they could have really gone places with it. I don’t need anything that deep but something more than what we got would have been nice.
It feels like they started with good ideas for a solid follow up but some lazy writers/executives came in and were like “Pfft, who needs a good story with depth? The kids just want to see silly antics with cliches and little substance”..
At least that’s what it feels like to me. It’s way better than the Minions movie since it at least have a plot with depth to it, but it’s easily the weakest in the actual main series with how the writing turned out.
It’s sad, it has so much potential but in the end, it falls flat. Look I don’t hate Illumination, they can make some fun stuff but aside from never taking risks, they are now milking Gru for all he’s worth.
They tease a 4th one and I’d like to say it’ll never happened but given my theater was pretty packed, I think people will eat this up and we’ll see Gru again in a few years, after Minions 2, oh god.
By the way, said audience seemed to be into at the start, but by the end they got fairly quiet, only reacting sometimes. I think that says everything. If you liked the first 2 a lot, more than I did, you might get into it more but try to spend as little as possible.
If you either didn’t like either that much, or thought they were merely Decent like myself, I’d say wait until you can rent in. There’s nothing terrible here and you won’t hate yourself but there’s no too much here for you, mostly.
After Cars 3 showed a franchise can learn from it’s mistakes, and despite it’s flaws can try to make an actual movie that fans of the first will entry will get into, Illumination reminds us that 3rd entries typically tend to be disappointments.
It’s mostly just Average but with the promise it had, it disappointments me more than I expected. Eh.
That was a sadder review than I was expecting. Given I didn’t expect much, the fact that it started strongly makes this even odder. So what’s the next animated film?
…Well, I’m glad that before then, we’ll see how Marvel handles our favorite webslinger in his latest film.