Movie review: Despicable Me 2

2013 appears to be a truly bumper year as far as animated features are concerned; we've already had Epic and The Croods and Monsters University, with Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs 2, Disney's Frozen and DreamWorks' Turbo still yet to come.

Adding to the pile is Universal's sequel Despicable Me 2 that once again stars Steve Carrell as ex-super-villain Gru.

With the world of super-villainy well and truly behind him, Gru (Carrell) is enjoying life with his adopted daughters Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Agnes (Elsie Fisher) and Edith (Dana Gaier). Not only that, he's also got his minions working on a collection of jams and jellies. Despite the lack of action, he does appear to be enjoying his new paternal role.

He may well have given up the villainy game, but it doesn't mean everyone else has. For instance, somewhere over the arctic, a secret laboratory is stolen by an incredibly–sized magnet. Its disappearance causes concern amongst the AVL - Anti-Villain League – who send out their agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) to recruit Gru; after all, who would know the work of a super-villain better than a reformed super-villain?

Gru, missing the excitement that his former occupation gave him, jumps at the opportunity, and so begins his mission to track down the latest super-villain on the block.

Although the premise of the original film was an interesting one, its execution was annoyingly floofy with the kind of sweetness that could knock a diabetic out for the count with a just a whiff of. A sequel then, gives Gru the opportunity at some sort of redemption.

The script certainly does a good job in moving away from the kids at least; the problem is, it's disappointing how the writers now seem intent to get Gru all loved up with a love interest. Thankfully it doesn't overwhelm the overall story.

The film may well boast an impressive cast, including Steve Coogan, Russell Brand and Ken Jeong, but you would have to have a pretty incredible ear – almost bionic-like – to be able to recognise who they belonged to as they perform for the most part outside the registers of their natural voices.

Thankfully the minions don't fail to impress with their silly shenanigans, that all seem to be rooted in classic animation.

One of the most telling things about the film is its use of 3D. Again, it's one of those features where you may well find yourself lifting up your 3D glasses once or twice just to clarify if you are indeed watching the 3D version. This is only confirmed at the end in the film's credits, when some minions perform; the thing is, it's only in this segment where the 3D is utilised to good effect, where objects do indeed seem to come protruding from the screen. If they do indeed know how to use 3D, why don't they use it more frequently within the main body of the film itself?

There are also a number of gentle nods to other films included, but are guaranteed to go over the heads of the film's demographic audience. Still, if you manage to notice them – particularly Return of the Jedi and 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers – then well done to you.

As much like the first film, this sequel isn't in the market to be pushing the envelope any which way, with a humdrum plot and story, as well as average animation, which is a real shame as Gru has the potential to truly revel in his evil past. Sadly then, it looks like it's very much back to the super-villainy blackboard for him.

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