Everybody loves a villain, especially one with a sense of humour. From Hades in Disney’s Hercules to Syndrome in The Incredibles, it’s difficult to resist a wise-cracking, mischievous, (animated) evil overlord.
When Despicable Me’s Gru turns good at the close of the first film though (well, comparatively anyway) the character risked losing some of his charm.
Luckily, for the most part at least, Despicable Me 2 delivers about the same standard of dastardliness as its predecessor.
This time around the anti-antagonist is El Macho, a thinly-veiled, overly macho villain dripping with cliché (obviously), but nonetheless entertaining. Gru is recruited by super-good agency the Anti-Villain League, led by a fantastically reserved Brit Silas – voiced by Steve Coogan – to investigate a shopping mall where a stolen formula has been hidden.
No ordinary formula, this strange purple liquid has the power to…make minions terrifying!
Be warned, this tale is not for the faint of heart. The poor minions, as well as being used to brilliant comic effect (and, to be honest, stealing the show from a slightly mellowed out Gru), are twisted into horrible monsters which could scare little-uns. Luckily, they get their own film next year to restore smiles to any traumatised viewers.
Of course, as all good animated stories do, the story ties up neatly, but somehow the journey leaves you unsatisfied after the more definitive climax of the first film.
Steve Carrell continues to put on an excellent performance and Kirstin Wigg is upgraded from supporting character to starring role this time around and the happy-go-lucky Lucy Wilde.
Russell Brand as Doctor Nefario, who continues to sound like Ray Winstone’s best pirate impression, shows the extent of character arc that the film can allow and does it well but fails to make the character his own or add any hint of the verve or humour he is known for.
The kids, Agnes, Edith and Jillian, continue to buck the usual trend of being simply dull distractions from the action, and youngster Agnes (voiced by Elsie Fisher) succeeds in tugging on the heart-strings at the film’s close.
For a film clearly aimed at a family audience, there is a lot to like here, but at the same time, a lot of ideas could have been pushed a lot further. Undoubtedly enjoyable, but not one to convert those who dismissed the Minions first time around.