The Minions have a cuteness factor that has caught on with the public in a certain way. The question with Minions is whether that will translate to giving them an entire film to themselves. They were a substantial contribution to the winning aspects of Despicable Me, which came out of nowhere amid low expectation to prove an unexpected delight. Certainly, they outshone the inferior Despicable Me 2, the point when their popularity hits its peak. Outside of the Minions though, Illumination Entertainment are starting to seem like one-hit wonders that have failed to come anywhere near replicating their first film. Their other ventures into animation with the part live-action Hop (2011) and the Dr Seuss adaptation The Lorax (2012) have left much to be desired. With Despicable Me 2, Minions and Despicable Me 3 (2017), they seem to have placed the companys hopes on recycling their one past success. That said, Illumination did pick up markedly with their next films The Secret Life of Pets (2016) and Sing (2016).
Minions is fun enough because well it has Minions and everyone seems to love their cute inanity. The film gets undeniable mileage out of seeing them go crazy with gadgets, in the scenes at the start with them signing on to serve variously a dinosaur, cavemen and a vampire, or the montage of scenes of them going amok in Buckingham Palace. There is a good deal of slapstick chaos the film opens with their Chipmunk-voices singing out the music accompanying the Universal logo, while if you wait until the end credits they and just about every character that has appeared throughout turns up to take part in a madcap rendition of The Beatles Revolution (1968). The film is certainly better than Despicable Me 2, although you feel like the latter third running around Buckingham Palace, with Kevin turned giant size and the battle with Scarlet becomes slapstick chaos for its own sake and where the cute silliness that the Minions appeal rests in is forgotten.
On the other hand, Minions does feel like it is still Illumination Entertainment straining to try and make lightning strike in a bottle all over again. Sandra Bullocks Scarlet Overkill is thrown in to substitute for Gru and seems at most a weaker rehash. The whole super-villain thing was delightfully upturned on its head in Despicable Me but Scarlet comes with a lack of anything similar she is just a standard cutout black-and-white villainess. It is noted that, despite much of the film being about the Minions wish to serve the most evil villain, that Scarlet fulfils a standard black hat role and gets the comeuppance that is her due for this sort of film in an ending where the Minions are cast as the good guys. The films one clever touch is visiting Villain Con, a convention for super-villains, but this comes with surprisingly little in the way of puncturing of the genres cliches.
One of the odder aspects of the film that the script seems to have run with is a Minion origin story. That said, what get is not really an origin story we just follow the Minions from the beginning of amoebic life on Earth and their quest for the most villainous master to serve. There is no particular reason given why they have a biological imperative to serve a villain a much more interesting film would have explored this notion. Nor for that matter does the film grapple with the implications of such an idea for example, if you were to say that some people were biologically born to work as servants or in minimum wage jobs, I am sure there would be an uproar but because this a small race of cute creatures in a family film this goes unquestioned.