The Angry Birds Movie

Certificate U, 97 minutes

Directors: Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly

Stars: Peter Dinklage, Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad

The Angry Birds Movie is an animated film based on the popular Angry Birds game (and game franchise). It starts off on Bird Island, where most of the birds are quite peaceful and live in harmony with each other, under the protection of Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage, Pixels). Mighty Eagle hasn't been seen for many years, and is thought to be a myth. He was also the only bird that could fly (none of the others can, even though they have wings).

Red (Jason Sudeikis, We're the Millers) is a bit of an exception to the rule of harmony. An orphan, who often gets mocked for his eyebrows, he has moved his house outside the village, which is something that nobody objected to, and he has no friends. After trying to deliver a Hatchday Cake on time, and only just doing it, after suffering numerous problems along the way, he gets into a bit of an argument with the father. Red has some anger issues. The result of this is that he gets brought before Bird Court, where Judge Peckinpah (Keegan-Michael Key, Hotel Transylvania 2) sentences him to the only suitable punishment - anger management.

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The Angry Birds MovieCredit: does not start well, with Red attacking an animated sign before he even starts the class, which is run by the slightly dippy Matilda (Maya Rudolph, Big Hero 6), who finds Red a bit much, as he really doesn't get into the spirit of things. Also at the class are Chuck (Josh Gad, The Wedding Ringer), who was caught speeding (he's extremely fast), Bomb (Danny McBride, This Is the End, Your Highness), who has an unfortunate tendency to explode in certain situations, and the enormous, and intimidating, Terence (Sean Penn). It's not made clear what Terence did, but it seems to have been something quite bad, and he doesn't actually speak, just grunt and growl.

The birds are surprised when a boat arrives at their island, because it's believed that Bird Island is all there is. On the boat are apparently only two pigs (green pigs at that, but the birds haven't seen pigs before, so the green colour isn't weird to them, anymore than the pigs themselves are unusual), of which Leonard (Bill Hader, Inside Out) is the one in charge. The pigs also have access to lots of items that are much more technologically advanced than anything the birds have.

Red is suspicious of the pigs and their motives, especially after the two pigs becomes four. He, with the help of Chuck and Bomb, sneak onto the boat and find that the pigs were really lying about their numbers. They also have a lot of TNT, not that this is ever pointed out. No-one else is suspicious of the pigs at all, laughing off Red's worries, so he, and his two sort-of friends, go looking for Mighty Eagle. Who isn't exactly what they are expecting. Of course, the motives are the pigs are less than pure (as anyone who has played the game will know), proving Red right, and the birds have to go after the pigs on Piggy Island, which is when the films finally starts to get like the game, and the birds have to learn to become angry.

There are quite a lot of Easter Eggs in the film,[2] and it would probably take at least a couple of watches to spot them all. Some are more obvious, whilst others are in the background, like the radio marked Ham Radio and the log with a label saying Captain's Log on it. There are scenes that are inspired by other films, such as one with Chuck which is very similar to a scene featuring Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Not all of these are aimed at children either; there are some that probably only adults will catch, such as one straight out of The Shining (it seems unlikely that children will recognise a scene from a classic Stephen King-based horror film from 1980). Clearly a lot of time was spent adding subtle things to the film that may only be there for a matter of seconds.

The film is available in 2D and 3D, with the 3D version being the one watched. With this being an animated film, the 3D, as is typical, works better than it does in live action films, but it still isn't, for the majority of the film, the type of film that is truly effective in 3D, making the experience about middle of the road where 3D films are concerned.

Back in the 1980s, as computer gaming at home became cheaper, more common and of higher quality, video games started being released to tie in with films, a trend that continues to this day. These games are, by and large, poorer than those that aren't tied in to a film, and are often terrible. In the 1990s, as computer games increased in complexity, films started to be made that were based on the games. Another trend that continues to this day. Again, by and large, these game derived films were also poorer than those that weren't, and even more frequently tended to be terrible.

Angry Birds is a casual computer game that started off on iOS, and not a ground breaking one at that (it's based on the Crush the Castle mechanic, only much, much more successful[1]). Birds are launched at pigs using a slingshot with the aim of destroying all the pigs who are in and around structures on the screen and rescuing their eggs which have been taken by said pigs. Different birds (who, naturally, don't have personalities; nor do the pigs for that matter) have different abilities and are more effective against different materials. That's basically it - it may be fun and addictive, but it's designed for casual play, so it's rather lacking in the plot department, unlike bigger, console and PC-based games, as well as some other games on the mobile platform. This doesn't seem like the best thing to build an entire film around, even if it's a comparatively short one. Which does mean that expectations aren't that high.

Surprisingly, the film is actually quite enjoyable. The animation is good, the little Easter Eggs are nice to spot, and try to spot, and there's more of a plot than would be expected, and the birds, and Leonard (the other pigs are only really scenery) have rather more personality than would be thought from the game. The film definitely has its problems, but as it is it's at the top end in many ways of films based on video games. It stays true to the concept of the original game, whilst actually developing the story and the characters enough for there to be a story in the film. Be sure to watch the animations in the end credits, and the mid-credit scene after them. The Angry Birds Movie is a film with only cartoon levels of violence that can appeal to all ages, and has elements for children and adults as well.

The Angry Birds Movie egdcltd 2016-05-16 3.5 0 5