nasty review, but not too much


Mr. Wolf and Mr. Snake chat in a diner before robbing a bank, then embark on a chase with the police in the streets of Los Angeles. In less than five minutes, The villains has chained enough winks to knock out our eyes and controlled skids to attract our attention. Sold by the director as “a Tarantino for childrenthe new Dreamworks spreads its cinematographic influences from its backfiring introduction which eyes as much on the side of pulp Fiction and reservoir dogs than Steven Soderbergh heist movies and Guy Ritchie gangster movies.

From the first shots, the playful discussion on the merits of eating turkey pigs recalls the prologue of pulp Fiction and the ramblings of Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta on Royal Cheese. The freeze-frame team presentation, meanwhile, draws inspiration from Snatch’s particularly fast-paced exposition scene, while Mr. Wolf – charismatic and phlegmatic – is overtly modeled after the George Clooney ofOcean’s Eleven (but with the look of Brad Pitt’s character).

Mr. Snake also has the same look as Johnny Depp in Las Vegas Parano

More generally, the tributes slip into the cadenced editing, the cutting of the image, a few well-turned lines (“The kind of guy who tells you the glass is half empty so they can steal it from you“), but also in the music composed by Daniel Pemberton which mixes funk and jazz and echoes the scores of To tear out and Ocean’s Eleven.

Dreamworks is good at involving adults by bombarding them with cultural and particularly cinematographic references – its masterstroke being the saga Shrek -, more The villains unfortunately turns out to be less cool, insolent and hilarious than this first sequence suggests deceive the eye. And after the first half hour, there’s not much clever or relevant to take away from this slapstick, benign twist on cult adult films.

The robbery scene which serves as a pivot in the story thus only offersa soggy patchwork of all the gimmicks and set figures of the genre : infiltrate, cut cameras and surveillance systems, distract security guards, unlock doors and knock out two or three security guards. And it’s not the fact of planting a transvestite shark in the middle of the set that makes the moment more surprising or interesting.

The Villains: photoThe crime was almost perfect


It’s not the first time that animated films have taken an interest in “bad guys” and characters who usually play the antagonists in stories. This was already the case with Shrekand more particularly the revolt of the wicked in Shrek 3but also with the forgettable super-villain Megamindand of course Me, ugly and mean at the competition.

And like The villains is mainly aimed at children, he does not forget to correct the situation and bring his anti-heroes back to the side of Good, which he very clearly delimits from Evil, by confronting them with an even more ill-intentioned enemy. Along the way, the film is therefore forced to abandon its heist story to bring his heartfelt morality on the power of friendship and the joys of redemptionfar from the madness of Tarantino or Guy Ritchie.

The Villains: photoDon’t worry, they love each other very much and will soon tell each other

The villains are more buffoonish than Machiavellian, and their motivations remain superficial, as does their characterization. Mr. Shark and Mr. Piranha play the traditional funny sidekicks that make noise and move in all directions as soon as you look at them, which discredits their villainous status, unlike the sardonic Mr. Snake to whom the script pays more attention.

What remains is a skewer of often heavy petomaniac gags, the obligatory musical sequence, uninspired situation comedy (the gang in onesie unicorn pilou-pilou) and absurd one-upmanship with reversals of the situation visible from the Moon. This agreed scenario therefore makes hearts with the fingers and farts with the armpits to obtain the favors of the youngest. Even the prejudices and social labels that the film wants to denounce do not lead to a more mature and sharp second reading or strong emotional issues as can be found in other films from the studio. Instead, we’re treated to a tide of possessed guinea pigs stealing armored vans, which will likely appeal to the target audience (and that’s already it).

The Villains: photoThat’s what uninhibited fun is all about


If not original, The villains has a strong and elegant visual identity. To stand out from the studio’s entirely digital productions, and animation cinema in general, Pierre Perifel opted for a mix of 3D and 2D decorations and elements. This superposition aims to get closer to the less smooth line of comic books in an artistic approach sometimes lacking in finesse, but not in interest.

The director has also claimed the influences of designers and scriptwriters Albert Uderzo and André Franquin to justify his desire to deviate from realism and the increasingly uniform graphic charter of Dreamworks, Pixar and Disney.

This more cartoonish universe is supported by the liveliness of the animation which takes up certain strong visual markers of Japanese animation and American cartoons, thus contributing to the dynamism and energy that runs through the story from one credit to the next. In addition to its more unusual aesthetic, the film is also less variegated and favors ocher hues to bathe Los Angeles in a soft and warm light which gives a little more cachet to this unfortunately too perfectible work.

The Bad Guys: Poster

Leave a Comment