Yes, they have finally done it, they have made a movie out of a very, very plotless video game. This is the 2nd of what will be 4 video game adaptations to come out this year in cinemas, the previous one being Ratchet and Clank which I briefly talked about last week in my Bad Neighbours 2 review and the other 2 will be the upcoming Warcraft which I will be reviewing and will be on our website at the beginning of June and Assassins Creed which we saw the trailer for this week, go look it up on YouTube if you haven’t seen it yet, it looks really good and it will be out on Boxing Day over here so we will attempt to get a review out of that in early 2017, in fact to make sure we get a review of that and Star Wars Rogue 1, we are actually pushing back the best and worst of 2016 list. It’s pretty clear that the video game companies are trying to capitalise on the success that comic films have been having, more specifically Marvel’s success, seeing how comics and video games have a very similar fan base. In theory this could work, however the past has not proved very good for video game franchises. When Prince of Persia could be considered your best bet for an adequate adaptation, you know the bar has been set pretty low. That being said, unlike those films this wasn’t live action, this is an animated film and it highlights one of my biggest problems with this film, ‘how do you make a film out of Angry Birds?’ Ok, you made an animated series, which I have only watched a few episodes of and it was ok, and there were some animated shorts that came with several updates to the game, but a whole one and a half hours feature movie!! There were even parody trailers on YouTube kind of making fun of the idea.
Angry Birds doesn’t really have much of a plot. The game is basically Pigs steal eggs, annoyed Birds that clearly need some Zanex, go and get them back by killing them through a series of elaborate physics based puzzles, not much to extend out to a Movie! The animated shorts were quite fun and interesting, but when we finally got to see the trailers for this film it was very clear they were going to be staying far away from series and the animated short and I will get into that in the actual review itself, but the trailers just made this film look really weird, not to mention that considering I have an Odeon Limitless card now and probably spend my time in those cinemas more than any other I have been so conditioned into seeing the advert for the Odeon Premier Club being advertised by the Angry Birds, and I am getting annoyed with seeing them now. Seriously, every time I go to the cinema I see those Birds. I am not going to let that hold it against me though because this film did at least look like it had been made semi-competently and I didn’t have too many expectations, plus after watching Norm Of The North my bar for animated films is set so low it’s in the mariana trench. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on Angry Birds.
First a quick plot summary, if a plot summary was really needed for an Angry Birds movie. Red (played by Jason Sudeikis) causes an incident at a birthday party and as a result is sentenced to anger management classes where he is joined by Chuck (played by Josh Gad) and Bomb (played by Danny McBride). Their world is rocked however when the island is visited by a group of pigs led by Leonard (played by Bill Hader) who extends an arm of friendship, however they are really out to steal the islands eggs in order to eat them at a banquet back on their own island. Now it is up to Red to lead a team of birds that shunned him to pig island to get them back. The film is the directing debut of Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly who have previously worked in animation departments for several of Disney’s 3D films and their inexperience in directing is very evident because this film doesn’t entirely work for me.
I will start with the positives because there are some positives to this film. The first being that the writing is not as bad as I though it was going to be and some of the jokes are kind of funny, especially some of the jokes from Red since Jason Sukeikis really can deliver a good punch line and I think this is largely down to the fact that the screenplay was written by ex Simpson’s writer John Vitti, rather like his writing on the first Alvin and the Chipmunks movie the film as a result becomes harmless rather than downright annoying, However, also like the first Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, his writing can’t cover up a lot of the films problems, the major one being, as I mentioned, my first thoughts on the film were that there wasn’t enough of a plot to make a feature film, has been proven rather apt. There really isn’t much of a plot going on here, it’s really moving from comedy set piece to comedy set piece, with several running gags that miss the mark and none of them feel like they are connected to a real plot, as a result the film feels extremely padded and that is saying a lot considering the film has a 1hr 37min running time.
The characters are rather stock, they don’t have much of a personality and they are really more extensions of the celebrities themselves, with a couple of exceptions. The only time we feel that someone is actually putting on a performance is Peter Dinklage playing the Mighty Eagle, but even then he is basically playing the pompous windbag that everyone thinks is a hero which is another character stereotype that has been overdone, especially to anyone who saw the recent Ratchet and Clank movie. As a result, every character feels really under-characterised and the whole thing feels like a stock family film. It’s basically the shunned out cast that rises to the occasion, everyone admits they were wrong about him and he gets the respect he deserves by the end of the film, this a complete get them in, get them out film. What made the animated short so successful and the animated TV series is that they were dialogue free, which meant we got a lot of interesting slapstick and the animation spoke for itself and you can do that in this kind of film. Last year’s Shaun the Sheep was entirely dialogue free for example and that film worked well enough to earn itself an Oscar nomination and do well with both critics and audiences. Even then, that wouldn’t have worked because then we would be complaining that it felt like an over extended episode of the TV series, but I think I would take that over what we got, which at the end of the day was a film that I didn’t care about. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it, I just felt apathy for it. I will say though, when the humour does hit it’s quite good, though some of the jokes are more adult jokes are confusing especially a reference later on in the film to ‘The Shining’, of all things, yes because so much of this film’s target audience will have seen ‘The Shining”!!!
If there is one thing to really be said about this film, however, in its favour, is that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It doesn’t over try or cater to the lowest common denominator, which so many family films do. You get a real sense that there was some genuine effort put into the film and for that I have to have some respect for it. The downside is that a lot of the lines in the film make you think, ‘yes you guys think this is funnier than it is’ and as a result the film feels rather unremarkable and I really don’t have much to say in its favour. It’s just, go from one set piece to the next set piece, get them in, get them out, we are done with it, but I can at least respect that the writing makes an attempt to appeal to a large audience, it just doesn’t completely work.
As your typical standard family film, the film is full of tons of celebrity voices who you will recognise from the start. The best performances by far are Jason Sudeikis and Peter Dinklage who at least get a funny line in now and again. I am not a Josh Gad fan, and once again I didn’t really enjoy his performance. Kate McKinnon playing Stella feels really poor, Danny McBride is ok in his performance, but again, because he is playing a stock role, we don’t get much of the actors charm. I will say that Bill Hader plays a decent villain and is given a couple of funny lines, but he doesn’t really do a brilliant job. I did enjoy Keegan-Michael Key of Key and Peele fame playing Judge Peckinpah who is doing a really fantastic voice in this film. The biggest casualty by far however, is Sean Penn who is completely wasted in this film playing the big red bird Terence, who for the entire film is purely grunting and sighing, there was no reason for Sean Penn to be cast in this role, you could have cast a decent voice actor to similar or better effect, there was literally no reason to hire this man.
As for the animation, I think the animation is rather decent, there is some pretty good 3D animation in here and you can tell the guys who directed this worked on films like Wreck it Ralph and Frozen. However, I really don’t enjoy the designs of the Angry Birds in this film, I know I commented on that in a previous review but it does stand to reason, (they are not as ugly as the new Ninja Turtle designs) for goodness sake I really don’t like the fact that they gave them a lot of human features, you could easily have made them look like the birds in the game and it would have been to a similar or greater effect. The same can be said of the Pigs too, it feels like the designs are to get more concession to the animators so that they can easily match them up with the voice actors.
I saw the film in 3D and if I am actually honest, there is some pretty good 3D. Granted I don’t think it’s essential to see it in that format but if you enjoy watching 3D I would recommend you go with this one as there are some good 3D effects in it. I am aware that seeing a film in 3D is rather expensive and I cannot deny that a lot of people don’t enjoy seeing films in that format, I would still recommend it though.
The most baffling thing about this film though is its Soundtrack. I have no idea how this Soundtrack came about. I was expecting at least one version of the Angry Birds theme song, we get a bit of it early on, but then the film takes a really weird dive. The opening song is Paranoid by Black Sabbath, then we get some other weird songs. One of the montages has Behind Blue Eyes by Limp Bizkit then we got Rock You Like A Hurricane, and covers of I Will Survive as the ending song and there is even Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley, then we get Friends by Blake Shelton for some weird reason, just so we have a cowboy song in there for the Pigs, what!, Really!! It feels like this soundtrack was played by one of the Producers going into a bar, putting £5.00 into the Jukebox and play randomly and whatever came up he wrote down and put in the film! I will admit, some of the songs are really great, particularly Paranoid and Behind Blue Eyes and Rock You Like A Hurricane, but they also feel kind of weird and out of place in an Angry Birds movie, but, hell I will take it frankly.
The Angry Birds movies is a film I would best describe as unremarkable. This is a very bland family film, but I at least respect the effort that was put into it and I think John Vitti did a decent job writing the script because there are a couple of funny lines in there. Other than than, it’s one of the most average films I have seen all year, I don’t feel much for the film at all. It feels like a cash grab to capitalise on the fleeting success of the Angry Birds games and I wouldn’t want to re-visit it. The best performances are easily Peter Dinklage, Jason Sudeikis and Keegan-Michael Key of Key and Peel fame, but really I’m not into this one. The animation may be nice and 3D effects are quite good and I don’t really hate the film overall, but there are better family films that came out earlier in 2016 and there will be better ones later in 2016. Save your money, there are better films round the corner.
So this is normally where I would talk about other films I have seen this week between movies, but this is the first time I have been to the cinema since Bad Neighbours 2 so I haven’t got any to talk about. I did watch Special Correspondence, Ricky Gervais’s new film for NetFlix and you know what it’s actually a decent comedy and him and Eric Banna have good chemistry. If you enjoy Ricky Gervais’s style of comedy I think you will like this film, I actually think this film has better writing in it than some of the later seasons of the Office and Extras, however, I think that the film is not as great as people have made it out to be, I think it’s rather average, but it’s certainly better than some of the things that Ricky Gervais has been writing in recent memory, so for that it gets a pass, but some of the characters feel really awful.
“So what are your thoughts on Angry Birds, or Special Correspondence, please leave some comments for me. I welcome all opinions.”
Join me back on 27 May when I will be giving my thoughts on X Men Apolcalypse.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it and since this film is probably going to be a success in the Box Office from lack of competition, apart from people going back to see Civil War again, expect Fruit Ninja the movie to be round the corner or Bejewelled the movie, take your pick!!
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