• The tale of the Minions vs. the Mouse

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    kunawiczDespicable Me 2 in three words was cute, predictable and successful. In this second installment, former villain Gru (Steve Carrell) has a new calling and finds romance. He gets recruited by the anti-villain league and falls in love with Agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) while on a mission to track down a villain responsible for creating a dangerous mutagen.

    We see the return of Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), Gru’s three adopted girls Agnes (“It’s so fluffy, I wanna die!”), Margo and Edith, and the scene-stealers of the Despicable Me films—the Minions, voiced by directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud.

    The yellow, bean shaped creatures with one or two eyes and goggles, which speak a wonderful kind of gibberish, are back and all over the place being both efficient and playful. As I was watching the film, I thought, I could watch a movie with no people and only Minions. Turns out, the next movie in the franchise is called Minions and is set to be unleashed over Christmas 2014.

    So far, the movie has made close to $300 million dollars worldwide with a production budget of $76 million.

    Opening on the same day in the U.S. was Disney’s big budgeted, big bet, The Lone Ranger with Armie Hammer in the title role and Johnny Depp as Tonto. Directed by Gore Verbinski, with a script by Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio and Justin Haythe, with music by Hans Zimmer, did anyone see what they did there? That’s pretty much the gang who did Pirates of the Caribbean, give or take a few souls.

    Maybe they tried too hard to pull off a Pirates in the wild west. Everything about it (and so many other movies these days) spelled out formula and franchise.

    I found the movie a bit too long and felt the character of the Lone Ranger took a while to get into “hero mode.” There were also a few stunts and scenes similar to Pirates. The current numbers are Despicable Me 2’s numbers backwards: a haul of about $73 million so far and a production budget of $215 million (though other sources place it at $250 million).

    The Tonto backstory was one of the better parts of the film, as well as the slow bonding of the two partners. Despite the awful reviews, I felt there was enough adventure and so much incredible non-CG scenery of locations in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and California.

    Since it’s an ongoing theme in my past three columns, I have to say Gilbert Cruz’s piece The Lone Ranger Represents Everything That’s Wrong with Hollywood Blockbusters on the NY Mag website is worth a read if you are into movies.

    Next week I take on my last “blockbuster” for a long while: Pacific Rim—only because Guillermo del Toro is special to me.

    Despicable Me opened July 3 in Metro Manila, Pacific Rim is out this weekend and The Lone Ranger opens on July 17.

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