Josh Gad

The Other Side of Animation 44: The Angry Birds Movie Review


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This has been an odd year for video game movies. How? Well, how about the fact that we are getting movies that actually looks like their gaming counterparts. To be honest, I find that so shocking, since either due to technology or no one caring, it was always so hard for Hollywood to make these kinds of movies look like the games on which they are based. Too bad they still can’t be good movies, with this year’s Ratchet & Clank being one of the contenders for one of the worst movies of 2015. It might look like the game, have the same voice actors, and is basically the game turned into a movie, but it can’t save itself from sloppy storytelling and boring characters. That’s why today’s review of The Angry Birds Movie is such a surprise. It’s actually not bad! Released on May 20th, 2016, this CGI animated film directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly, who both have animation film experiences, including films like Tangled, Hotel Transylvania, and Wreck-It-Ralph, The Angry Birds Movie is honestly the biggest surprise of this year. I mean, not a surprise that it’s fantastic, but it isn’t a mess on arrival. I think everyone was thinking The Angry Birds Movie was going to bomb, hard! So, how is it? Well, let’s find out!

The film takes place on this island full of flightless birds. The main story focuses on Red, voiced by Jason Sudekis. Red is an angry individual among a village of happy- go-lucky birds. After getting into an incident with a customer, he is forced to to attend anger management, run by a bird named Matilda, voiced by Maya Rudolph. While there, Red meets up with a few individuals like Chuck, voiced by Josh Gad, Bomb, voiced by Danny McBride, and Terrance, voiced, or grumbled by Sean Penn. While attending the class, a ship of pigs arrives on the island led by Leonard, voiced by Bill Hader. And if you have played the games at all, the pigs steal the eggs, and it is up to Red and the gang to find the Mighty Eagle and save the eggs before the pigs eats them. Can they get them back? Will the birds get angry?

So, what is actually good about this film? Well, the best element that the film has going for it is the bright, colorful, and fast animation. It actually looks better than what I was expecting. It definitely makes Ratchet & Clank look so much worse, in terms of textures. While the overall look of the birds might be odd with the feet and arms, the designs don’t look that bad. I also found the script to be not that bad. Sure, it doesn’t totally devoid itself from modern animated film tropes in terms of hip dialogue and pop cultural references, but there was a lot less of it than I was expecting. The script also led itself to some pretty funny jokes. Not all the jokes land, in fact, a lot of them don’t, but I did find myself laughing a couple of times. I think that is because the actors they did get for the roles of the characters actually put effort into their acting. It could have been so easy for this film to get actors who would do nothing more than play themselves. The celebrities they hired are mostly comedians and comedic actors from sketch shows, and I was praising the casting choices when I wrote about this film a few months back. And yes, there is stunt casting and celebrity cameos that really weren’t worth the money due to how few lines they are given during the film. Still, my favorite performances came from Jason Sudekis, due to how relatable he makes Red, Danny Mcbride since I’m a sucker for big dumb characters like Bomb, Bill Hadder as the main antagonist Lenard, Keegan-Michael Key, since, well, he is Keegan Michael Key, and he made that bird judge lively, and to my surprise, Sean Penn as Terrence. Honestly, the Sean Penn casting is pretty hilarious in a very meta way due to his past history of anger, and his character, who is a giant caveman-like angry bird. The biggest surprise from this entire experience is how much effort was honestly put into this film. This could have easily been worse than both Ratchet & Clank and Warcraft combined, and yet, this is probably the best video game movie adaptation of the year. Granted, we have to see how Assassin’s Creed does, but so far, The Angry Birds Movie has more effort put into an overall experience than the two other video game movies out right now. I’ll be honest though, Rovio, the company behind Angry Birds probably put their best time and consideration into this film, since they have been going into a downward spiral of popularity with all the recent financial losses and layoffs throughout the last couple of years.

With all that praise being said, this film still has a huge amount of problems. First off, the film suffers from the usual children’s animated film tropes of pop cultural references, fast musical elements, and potty humor. Can studios get it through their thick skulls that you don’t need to make a film around those elements? Like I said above, they really didn’t need to stunt cast so many of the celebrities due to how they don’t have many lines at all. It just seems like a pointless expense to worry about. The pacing also could have been better. Once you hit the halfway point, and to no surprise, the pigs steal the eggs. The film does waste so much time with this Mighty Eagle character, and that is such a huge disappointment. They get Peter Dinklage as this character, and unfortunately, the Mighty Eagle bit goes on for way too long, and has the worst jokes of the film. Oh, and what is with this film and its fetish with its butt-shaking jokes? Like, wow! There are so many butt jokes! The ending is enjoyable, since you get to see the birds fly from a sling shot into the pig’s kingdom, but the pacing during this scene could have been slower, due to how you can’t really take a breather. This is why when you get those quiet moments of the good guys trying to find what they are looking for, or running into the bad guy between the action sequences, it gives the viewers time to take in what has been happening.

Okay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the political undertone. A lot of critics have pointed out that apparently, The Angry Birds Movie has some political themes under its belt, with Red representing the conservative individual stuck in a liberal PC world, and some other elements. So, what do I think about all this? Well, while I can see where some of them are coming from, I think people were looking too deeply into a movie that has a Sean Penn caveman bird with some intentional or unintentional comedy with said character, and an extended peeing joke at the halfway point of the film. I think it’s unintentional timing due to the current political landscape. And that is about as political as you are going to see me get with these reviews.

Overall, The Angry Birds Movie is a surprise. It’s not a great movie by any means since it falls into so many of the traps seen in bad kids films, but it was still so much more enjoyable than a lot of the animated films that have come out and will be coming out from the likes of LionsGate. I have already seen the worst movie of the year, Norm of the North, so anything that actually put effort into the overall package gets my thumbs up. I don’t know if I would recommend picking it up at release, but it’s not going to be the worst purchase or viewing in the world or of this year. Well, we are going from a surprise, to a new modern day classic with Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet. Thanks for reading, and see you all next time!

Rating: Rent It

Hit or Miss Trailer Predictions: The Angry Birds Movie


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Welcome back to Hit or Miss Trailer Predictions. This is a series of first impression articles covering the newest trailers on animated films, and breaking down the good or bad that the trailer offers.

For the past couple of years, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing something Angry Birds related. I, for one, am with the crowd that is getting sick and tired of it. If you think that isn’t true, then maybe the hundreds of layoffs of employees from the developer behind the popular franchise should be another reason to show people’s constantly losing interest in flinging birds at pigs. Now, of course, the franchise got to be so popular that they had to make a movie. Cut forward to 2015, and we have our first official trailer for the film that is coming out next year. So, what are my thoughts/predictions? Well, let’s break down everything. If you would like to make your own assumptions on the upcoming film, check out the trailer and tell me what you think!

 

Animation/Art Direction

Besides seeing iconic characters have arms and legs, the film actually looks good. Like I said, it’s strange to see the birds and pigs have limbs, but you quickly get used to it. I also like the fluid animation and the fast-paced humor. I know neither of those things are new or original anymore, but I think for a film like this to work, it needs to channel what made The LEGO Movie and Hotel Transylvania work. Have fast animation and jokes, but balance it out with heart, and a story with likable characters. I also love how colorful everything looks. It’s as if you stabbed a rainbow and let it all bleed out onto the CGI models.

 

Humor

While some of the jokes in the trailer fell flat for me, like the yoga skit with Josh Gad’s character, I found myself smirking at the rest of them. Sure, the jokes might not be original, and you can have predictable stories, characters, and maybe some jokes, but it’s all in the execution. Like I said, I found myself liking some of the jokes, for example when you first meet the bad guy, and the main lead having to deal with the little bird kicking the ball against his house.

 

Story

So, basically, there is this island where all these birds live, and a few individual ones have, well, anger issues or some kind of tick to them. One day, out of the blue, a ship arrives and out come these individuals called pigs. No one knows why they are there, and three birds, Red, voiced by Jason Sudeikis, Chuck, voiced by Josh Gad, and Bomb, voiced by Danny McBride decide to investigate why the pigs, led by one who is voiced by Bill Hader, are on the island. I think this movie will need to be clever since the game the film is based on didn’t really have a story. Hope it is clever, anyway.

 

Voice Cast

Honestly, I like this voice cast. You could tell that the company making this film, Rovio and Sony Entertainment, had the coin to bring in some actors that include Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Peter Dinklage, Keegan-Michael Key, and a few other actors. It’s interesting to note how many of these actors are from sketch comedy backgrounds. I think that will work in the film’s favor, due to how they can work off one another.

 

Any last minute good/bad comments?

I am not the only one thinking this, but I do think the film is a year or two too late. Instead of coming out when the franchise was huge, they instead come out when the popularity of the franchise is dying. I wonder if Rovio, the company behind the franchise, is basing all of their bets on this one film. Granted, a few bad business decisions have made Rovio go on a downward slide, but still.

 

Prediction: Unexpected Hit?

 

I am going to go out on a limb for this film and say it’s going to be an unexpected hit. I mean, look at what happened with The LEGO Movie or the recent Peanuts film. So many people thought they would crash and burn, but came out to be good movies. Granted, I won’t be surprised if Angry Birds ends up not being a good movie, and fails in the box office, but who knows. I just have a little more faith in this film than say, Norm of the North since there is actual effort put into Angry Birds. Now, how much effort that is, will show in the film’s story, characters, and acting. However, like I said above, this film does seem like it’s coming out too late. Don’t let me down, Angry Birds. I’m putting some of my faith into your film! Let’s me say this. This will be much more faithful in terms of an adaptation than freaking Jem and the Holograms.