Sunday, July 10, 2016
The Angry Birds Movie
I had forgotten that this movie was even in development by the time the cast was announced, and by the time the trailer dropped I'd forgotten it even existed.
For those who haven't been paying attention to the mobile and casual market for the last seven years (And I applaud you if you've managed that) Angry Birds is a physics puzzle-game developed by Rovio Entertainment. It saw initial release in 2009, and since then has had at least one sequel, port, or spinoff since then. Including the original game, Rovio have put out seventeen entries to the Angry Bird IP in seven years. Not to mention the thirteen other games they put out that were unrelated. In total, that's thirty games in seven years. Ubisoft looks at Rovio and says "Whoa, slow down!"
One rather logical question you might be asking now is "Why now?" And you would be correct in asking that. I haven't played Angry Birds in at least four years, and I haven't been keeping track of the new releases since Angry Birds: Transformers came out. I had to look the studio up on Wikipedia to find out how many games had been put out, and I was surprised to see they were still around. I could have sworn they were in some serious trouble financially, but that was the last I'd heard.
This movie starts out with, no joke, a beat-for-beat ripoff of the scene from The Incredibles where Dash falls through the jungle, with a few things taken from the Skrat scenes in the Ice Age movies. Red, the red bird from Angry Birds (Jason Sudeikis) is trying to deliver a cake to a birthday party, but he's late and clumsy and angry about it and gets taken to Bird Court about it. The hypocritically angry judge (Keegan-Michael Key) sends Red to anger-management classes where he meets Chuck, (Josh Gad) who is in anger-management classes for speeding and messing up the police-station and acting like he's Sonic the freaking Hedgehog, Bomb (Danny Mcbride) who explodes when feeling strong emotions, Terence (Sean Penn) who doesn't talk and is apparently some kind of horrible criminal, and their instructor, Matilda (Maya Rudoplh). Red's level of irritation with these characters rather neatly mimics my own, as does his level of irritation with how the society on his island works. On his way home from the course one day, he's stopped by a crossing-guard that keeps him from crossing the road. The first two times is alright, but the third time around an old bird is taking forever to cross the road, and it becomes nobodies fault but his own for waiting and not just walking around the crossing-guard, or walking over to the sidewalks to his left or right.
Eventually, after plenty of annoying antics and one funny line, the green pigs show up, flaunting their technology and advancements to the rather primitive birds. Red, Bomb, and Chuck sneak onto the pigs ship and find a lot of crap and more pigs there. Red confronts the head pig, King Leonard Mudbeard (Bill Hader) and he tells the others that they were going to put on a cowboy show.
More pigs show up, and stuff happens in a montage set to "Friends" by Black Shelton. A song actually sung by a character played by Blake Shelton. I'll admit, I'm not much of a fan of modern country, but if I had to listen to a country song, I'd listen to this one. It's actually not bad, but it'd be better with cleaner vocals. IE, not auto-tuned and country-nasal.
This montage also includes a Chippendale's reference, with the cowboy pigs ripping off their chaps on-stage. That doesn't even require comment, I'm just gonna let that sink in. What the hell?
Red becomes more suspicious as time goes on, and decides to go on a quest to find the legendary hero of the birds, the last of the birds that can fly, Mighty Eagle (Peter freaking Dinklage for crying out loud) and ask his advice. After a massive journey up to and across the tops of mountains, they find The Lake of Wisdom, ripped straight from The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Then Mighty Eagle shows up, and they find out that he's a fat old retired son of a bitch who thinks he's Mister Miyagi. They leave, and find out that while the pigs are throwing a party for the birds, they're stealing the birds eggs and leaving.
This is almost an hour into the film. It takes us up to exactly the hour mark before the birds build their boat to go off to Pig Island to get the eggs back. This is an hour into a ninety-seven minute film. This leaves a little over thirty minutes for them to finally adapt the game and wrap the plot up.
The birds sail to the island and take one of the slingshots the pigs left behind. They then launch themselves bodily at the pigs buildings. This is where the mechanics of the game come into play. It doesn't make a lick of sense, and it comes straight outta nowhere, as you'd expect, but they put it in there because god-damn did we have to try and pay all this off!
They siege the castle, Red, Bomb and Chuck save the eggs, and Mighty Eagle steps in to help them escape. Terence then drives them all back to the boat in one of the pigs vehicles. Mighty Eagle's return is praised, and Red is no longer seen as an outcast in the village. They then play the entirety of that Blake Shelton song in the ending credits, and they set up a sequel mid-credits. Yeah, like that's gonna happen.
All in all, I think we're looking at this years Jupiter Ascending, but on a different end of the spectrum. While Jupiter Ascending moved too quickly, The Angry Birds Movie moves too slowly. Like I said before, there's a solid hour before they get to the actual plot of the game. Then they spend like fifteen minutes on adapting the game mechanic for mechanic, with about two or three minutes spent setting up the actual plot of the game (Which took like ten seconds in the game) and another sixty-five minutes or so on weird antics, with the remainder spent on the end-credits.
Speaking of the credits, the audio for this film was apparently produced by Skywalker Sound, AKA the best-damn sound guys in the business. So why, with that in mind, is the mixing and editing in this movie so noticeably bad? There are numerous times when it's obvious that they strung sentences together from multiple takes. Some points in the movie when multiple sound-effects play, or when an effect is playing on top of voices, it comes out sounding incredibly unnatural the way it's mixed. Just think, if Skywalker Sound can't make the audio sound good, how bad must it have been before they got to it?
Another technical issue with the movie is that the animation looks incredibly choppy, almost like they were trying to emulate stop-motion animation for some parts of the movie, but failed. It would be an interesting animation technique if not for the fact that it keeps going back and forth between being smoothly animated to being choppy as all hell. Part of the appeal of computer animation is how smooth you can make your animation look for crying out loud!
Now we come to the characters. I can't really bring myself to hate Red and Bomb, because they're not annoying, and they both seem like actual characters, save for one scene where Bomb is really freaking weird. Then there's Chuck, who's basically Sonic The Hedgehog if he were a metrosexual horn-dog, and Terence. Chuck is annoying as all hell, but Terence doesn't speak at all. They got Sean Penn to voice a character and he just grunts throughout the film!
The other characters are either tolerable or annoying, or in the case of Mighty Eagle, freaking cool because he's voiced by Peter freaking Dinklage! Yeah the character is an egotistical douche, but him just saying his name sounds epic because he's voiced by Peter freaking Dinklage!
Now we come to the performances. Jason Sudekis seems like he really doesn't want to be in this movie, but that translated well into a character I could relate to, since I quickly found that I didn't want to be watching the movie. Due to this, he's not exactly funny, but he's still pretty interesting to watch over the course of the film.
Josh Gadd considered turning this film down, since he thought Chuck was too similar to Olaf from Frozen. I've never seen Frozen, but from what I've heard, Olaf was pretty funny. Gadd need not concern himself with getting typecast, since Chuck is freaking annoying. Like I said before, he's a bad knockoff of Sonic without the understanding of any of what makes the character good.
Danny Mcbride as Bomb actually got a few laughs out of me, so there's that. The character would have been pretty good in something else, but in this, he's the highlight.
Funnily enough, despite getting billed towards the top of the card, Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla's characters are barely in the movie. You read that right. They got Smosh to be in the film and they were barely in it! Maybe they finally got the message that they're past their prime, or maybe they just had cameos. Either way, they were billed way too high for characters that were barely in the film.Now that we've gotten through the technical aspects and whatnot, let's talk about all the references in the film!
There are a few posters in the movie for Kevin Bacon in Hamlet. It's in the very center of the frame, and it's shown like three times.
Then there's the "Obey"-style posters in Mighty Eagle's cave with "Ohey" written on them. They're in the background for the most-part, but when they're introduced, the camera pans right over it, and it fills most of the screen.
During the pig-party, the deejays are both dressed like Daft Punk for some reason. Daft Punk haven't released an album or had a Hot 100 hit in three years, so this dates the movie significantly. Namely it dates it as having been written between 2012 and 2013.
There's a photobombing joke in the movie where the bird that carves pictures is trying to carve a selfie of him with the pigs boat in the background. This makes no sense, since he's just carving from what he's seen, and he didn't see Bomb walking across the background when he started!
During the siege of Pig Island, one of the birds runs into a "Calvin Swine" ad, with a pig that looks like Mark Whalberg did in the early '90s, backwards cap and everything. It could be intended to be Justin Bieber, but call me a product of the '90s, this looks like Marky Mark.
Inside of the pigs-castle, Red looks down a corridor while he and Chuck are looking for the eggs, and no joke, pig-versions of the twins from The Shining show up. I. Am. Not. Kidding. Thirty-six year-old Stanley Kubrick/Stephen King references in a kids movie! Are you guys trying to be Epic Movie? Because you're succeeding!
Then there's a scene when one of the pigs (the pigs who have tons of plungers for some reason) has a pair of plungers attached to its chest, and starts doing some kind of stripper/sexy dance. I don't get what the point of that was supposed to be.
The second most egregious moment in the film is when time slows down as the trio tries to figure out how to get past the guards. Time slows to a crawl, and the movie re-creates basically beat for beat the Quicksilver scene from Days of Future Past. Problem. Chuck is not as likable as Peter is by a wide margin, and this movie isn't nearly good enough to pull off something like that credibly.
There are other miscellaneous memes and pop-culture phenomena referenced or outright quoted throughout the film, but this one really takes the cake. Prepare yourself, this one's gonna be one hell of a doozy.
Towards the climax, Mighty Eagle puts on a record to psych himself up to help the other birds out. It being a record is bad enough, but guess what song is playing on it?
Pick a song that got popular via the internet, now find one that you'd think of that's not American. I'll give you a hint, Mike, Matthew, and Peter. No? Still nothing? This joke was ripped almost point for point from an abridged anime. Got a clue? Well, it was on Doctor Who at one point. Still nothing? Well, maybe you should check your privilege. Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Rick Astley. Never Gonna Give You Up.
Yeah, that. This movie Rick-rolls the audience. Not like the intended audience for this film would know that, they're probably not old enough to have ever been Rick-Rolled, much less to have actually heard the song when it was new.
Speaking of weird music in this film, it starts out with Paranoid by Black Sabbath! Probably best-known by the audience of the game this is based on as that song that sometimes plays on the Guitar Hero: World Tour title-screen.
When Red is feeling sad, Behind Blue Eyes starts playing, but not the version by The Who from 1977, but the 2003 version by Limp Bizkit! A cover of an almost forty year-old song that is itself thirteen years-old by one of the progenitors of the filthier side of Nu Metal. A band that hasn't been relevant in over ten years, and that I've actively tried to forget exists. That's not to say this cover is bad, but I'd rather listen to The Who's original version, because Fred Durst is no Roger Daltrey.
Then, during the end-credits montage and mid-credits scene, an over-produced rendition of I Will Survive starts playing, with Selena Gomez on vocals. This wouldn't be too bad if they'd bothered going back and either re-tuning Gomez's voice more subtly, or just re-took the vocal-track until it was on-pitch. She's no Gloria Gaynor, but she never will be, so they could have at least gone back to the studio for a couple more takes.
Apparently Rock You Like a Hurricane by The Scorpions and Wild Thing by Tone Lōc were also in the movie, but I didn't notice them. Amazing how they could have one of my favorite songs in this film and not have me notice. Rock You Like a Hurricane is iconic for crying out loud! Did they not use the riff or something?
Oh, and for those of you wondering, since the song was featured in one of the trailers, Michael Jackson's Bad is not in the film in any capacity. I can give this film a bit of credit though, the orchestral arrangement of the Angry Birds theme-song was pretty cool.
Soooo... What the fuck did this movie accomplish? Well, it made quite a bit of money at the box-office, so I wouldn't be surprised if it gets a sequel. I seriously hope that this movie didn't make enough money to dig Rovio out of their hole, but considering it's also backed by Sony, they'll probably get bought up by them and we'll see more Angry Birds movies and games, but they'll be PlayStation-exclusive from here on out.
In the end, fuck this movie. There are a few good lines scattered around the run-time, but nothing that justifies this films existence. If you've been on the internet in the last five years, and seen a kids movie in the past decade or so, you've already seem everything this movie has to offer and better. One of the jokes in this movie had the piss taken out of it in Hellsing Ultimate Abridged three freaking years ago!
Yet again, this is a movie without a single original idea to its name. Take your 0.3* rating and fuck right off. As far as directorial debuts go, this is one shit-show of a movie, and while it's similar to Jupiter Ascending, it's more like a kid-friendly version of Epic Movie than anything else.
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Image from Impawards.com