Sunday, 15 May 2016

Review: The Angry Birds Movie

The Angry Birds Movie*1
Cert: U / 97 mins / Dir. Fergal Reilly & Clay Kaytis / Trailer

Wow. Pre-trailer ads for U-rated kids' films might just be the worst thing humanity has ever invented, whether they're aimed at the impressionable youngsters themselves or their time-poor, guilt-ridden parents. In my day, toy-adverts were used to sell toys, not insurance. This is not what Ian Palitoy had in mind when he invented the action-figure, I assure you.

Anyway, taking as its basis the ridiculously successful casual-gaming phenomenon that is Angry Birds, the movie iteration focuses on the arrival of The Pigs at Bird Island, and their insidious plot to steal all the eggs*2. It's up to the emotionally-unstable feathered friends Red, Chuck, Bomb and Terence to save the day (with a little help, of course), all leading up to a meticulously implemented recreation of the gameplay which made the series such a success.

And happily, the movie is a success, too. It's very sharply scripted for a U-certificate (best line: "I'm tellin ya, something isn't kosher with those pigs..."), and the slapstick and more subtle visual gags will keep audiences of all ages happily occupied. More often than not, the witticisms and asides of the characters work better than the set-gags. Indeed, the consistently chucklesome screenplay serves as an interesting counterpoint to the fact that this is an (albeit belated) marketing tie-in for a video-game, rather than any sort of adaptation-proper.

The visuals are gorgeously animated as you'd expect, with a full and subtle range of facial expressions and twitches backing up the already-unique character design. That said, I saw this in 3D and the extra dimension seems very under-used, particularly since animated features always show this off the best.

The voice-cast are a pleasant surprise here, too. Given the Jason Sudekis/Josh Gad/Danny McBride level of casting, many of the performances are almost understated, and suit their respective characters well. Peter Dinklage gets to turn it up to 11 as Mighty Eagle, but it suits both the actor and the role, so y'know.

Considering the film industry's track record with game-to-movie conversions, and the disposable nature of this particular game itself, Angry Birds has no right at all to be as thoroughly enjoyable as it is.
But it's gloriously silly, and somewhat ironic that a movie as throwaway as this will stand up to a few repeat viewings, at least (and if you've got padawans in the house, you know that's only a matter of time)...

Oh, and there's nothing at the end of the credits. During and mid, yes. Just not after the names start rolling up. I stayed on, so you don't have to ;)

So, watch this if you enjoyed?

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Only if you're after the 3D; you won't lose too much by seeing this at home.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does, although the film knows its limitations and plays safely around them.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Everyone involved can safely put this on their CV.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
I didn't hear one, but I'd be amazed if there isn't.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: This movie features the vocals of Bill BB-8 Hader and is also produced by Catherine Winder, who was Exec Producer on The Clone Wars.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Although the BBFC website lists this as "The Angry Birds Movie", the classification card which comes up before the film says only "Angry Birds". It's the little things like this which wind me up. Where's the consistency, people?

*2 With a more 'studio' movie this could turn out to be a parable on immigration or cultural integration, but Angry Birds doesn't attempt to dig that deeply (and to its credit). I mean, obviously the pigs want to eat the eggs which all have baby birds inside, but that's as awkward as the whole thing gets.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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