- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 10, 2022

The latest animated exploits of the world’s most dangerous villain move from his nearly $1 billion box office take to ultra-high definition disc-ready, home entertainment centers in Minions: The Rise of Gru — Collector’s Edition (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 88 minutes, $49.98)

Illumination Entertainment gives viewers a most anticipated origin story of Felonious Gru (Steve Carell and his hysterical Bela Lugosi accent), exploring his meeting and eventual collaboration with those feisty, yellow bulbous and pill-shaped henchmen.

As a precocious 11-year-old living in the 1970s with his mom (Julie Andrews), the budding bad guy’s dreams of evil begin to take shape when he’s asked to audition to become a member of the supervillain team the Vicious 6.

Mocked for being too young by the group that includes leader Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), Stronghold (Danny Trejo), Nun-Chuck (Lucy Lawless), Jean-Clawed (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren), he steals the team’s jade Chinese Zodiac jade amulet that they were going to use to control the world

He’ll need help from the group’s shunned former leader Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), gadget maker Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) as well as his loyal minions to stay alive and conquer the supervillains out to get the amulet.

From the spoofing of a James Bond opening (to the Sonny and Cher hit “Bang, Bang”) to the minions learning kung fu and Gru learning how to rob the Bank of Evil, the film is a silly and fun ride packed with chases and a large-scale final battle with the Vicious 6 transformed into multistoried monsters.

And, of course, throughout, those excessively mischievous and hysterical bundle of minions punctuate nearly all of the comedy high jinks with nonstop slapstick, chatty gibberish, odd noises, and complications, such as even flying a commercial jetliner and challenging Evel Knievel.

Suffice it to report, the whole family will find something to laugh at in Gru and his pals’ latest adventure.

4K in action: Thanks to a head-shaking 2160p presentation enhanced by high dynamic range tweaks, the computer animation sparkles throughout.

Every scene comes peppered with items, characters and locations exquisitely crisp, vibrant and detailed.

They range from waterfalls to flames, steel dragon statues, gobs of Cheez Whiz, wet cement, rain reflecting off of an undulating coat, blades of grass, fireworks, Wild Knuckles’ mutton chops, an illuminated Chinese dragon balloon, and cherry blossoms.

I recommend that viewers stop the movie at multiple points just to admire the animated craftsmanship that has gone into its creation.

Best extras: All contained on the 4K disc, the digital goodies offer a mix for the fans of the minions, the production and some hands-on activities for the kiddies.

First, a pair of shorts (averaging four minutes each) feature the pint-sized pop stars as they attempt to please a finicky art critic in “Post Modern Minions” with some wild high jinks in an art gallery.

Next, in “Minions and Monsters,” one of the little fellows imagines being thrust in a famed fantasy role-playing game packed with hostile creatures and a ferocious dragon.

For those interested in movie design, get 15 minutes of character profiles covering Gru, White Knuckles, Belle Bottom, Master Chow, the Vicious 6, Biker Otto — with words from directors Kyle Balda and Brad Abelson, and the voiceover actors in action.

Also, watch an all-too-short, six-minute explanation by the crew of the animation process with examples touching on story art, storyboards, layout, voice animation, lighting and texture and the final film sequences; five minutes on recreating a 1970s world; and four minutes on celebrating martial arts in the minion universe.

Finally, children can learn to draw and animate (either using paper or a computer tablet) a minion, young Gru and Kung Fu Stuart by watching Mr. Ableson as well as get detailed instructions on building a lair using household items, create stinky bubbles, a disco ball and even a jet pack.

For more complicated fun, youngsters (with parental help) also get step-by-step instructions on designing clothing with a 1970s flare for a minion doll including creating bell bottoms and a bandana.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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