This review is also up at Channel 24
What it's about
Based on the massively popular series of games, Angry Birds tells the story of a colony of flightless birds and Red, an angry outsider who has spent his life separate from his close-knit community, who discovers a plot against the birds by the apparently friendly pigs that show up on their shores one day.
What we thought
If you're wondering how on earth they're going to make a movie out of a bunch of games with nary a narrative between them, I'm afraid that the Angry Birds movie does nothing to actually answer that question. I enjoy Angry Birds Friends on Facebook, it's a fun little game to play for a few minutes at a time, but turning it into a film makes about as much sense as Pong: The Movie or the True Adventures of Tetris.
Sigh. I just gave the hacks in Hollywood the idea for two new cutesy animated moves, didn't I?
Anyway, Angry Birds plays out pretty much exactly as you might expect. It has little in the way of plot and the characters are about as two-dimensional as their computer game counterparts, being defined more by their powers than any sort of actual personalities – which, equally unsurprisingly, makes for a total waste of a pretty great voice cast.
Sure, it's bright and it's colourful but aren't most kids' animations? There is literally nothing about Angry Birds that sets its apart from the pack: not its animation, not its characters, not its plots and certainly not its incredibly limp jokes or it's surprisingly plodding pacing. Even the bit when it finally does the thing that the game does with slinging different kinds of Angry Birds at a bunch of buildings feels like nothing more than the game with slightly better graphics but without that all-important interactive gameplay. Once again, here's a video game movie that feels like watching someone else playing a video game and, despite some baffling evidence on YouTube that might test this particular theory, who actually wants to sit and watch someone else play a video game? Not me, that's for damn sure.
The film is so innocuous and boring, in fact, that - just in sheer desperation of finding something to do with itself - my mind started to dig into the actual messages that the film seemed to be trying (or, honestly, barely trying) to instill in the minds of their young audience. And, boy, did things get strange. The film's reaction to foreigners and its glorification of pessimism, anger and paranoia made the whole thing feel like a Trump propaganda video but then it becomes this weird anti-imperialism, pro-isolationism epistle before morphing into some sort of theological anti-god treatise – that is what the Great Eagle being a bitter disappointment thing was about, right?
Obviously, this is all nonsense and presumably was nothing but my mind trying valiantly to find something to do while the rest of me was bored spitless for 95-or-whatever minutes because, really, this whole enterprise is so sickeningly cynical, so single-minded in its product-shifting consumerism that to allocate any sort of philosophical depth to it, is sheer, unbridled lunacy on my part. Obviously, it's nothing more than a slightly expensive (bust still cheap in ever way that counts) video game commercial that sleepwalks its way through every aspect of its storytelling but I can't be the only one who noticed some seriously ugly or, at least, completely bonkers subtext to its message of -
Nah, never mind. “Message”. Give me a break. The only message of this film is “play the game!” or “buy the toys” - though considering that both the toys and the games are no doubt a thousand times more fun than this awful, cynical cash grab, you're probably better off listening to the message and skipping the film altogether.
Mark this one for the very, very young and utterly undiscerning only – and, of course, their poor, poor parents, who will have no choice but to suffer it alongside them.