Translating a video game to film can be a tricky business. Sometimes you get something as glorious as Mortal Kombat (and yes, it was great) – and sometimes you get Mortal Kombat Annihilation. Fortunately, the team at Sony, working alongside Rovio Animation, have done a suitable job at giving the Angry Birds – yes, the ones from the mobile line of games – their own shot in a feature film. It’s not flawless, but kids, parents and fans should enjoy it all the same.
The film revolves around Red, voiced by Jason Sudeikis. He’s a bird that has big-time anger issues, which lands him in a therapy session alongside other problematic characters, including Bomb (Danny McBride) and Chuck (a super-hyperactive Josh Gad, taking a slight step down from Frozen), as well as the barely speaking Terence (Sean Penn – you read that correctly). No sooner are they thrown together than pigs start appearing on the island, led by the mischievous Leonard (Bill Hader, stealing the show), and soon begins a rivalry that results in an explosive conclusion.
There are times that the jokes simply didn’t work. For instance, some of the opening ones can be groaners, and one gag involving the introduction of Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage) and the Lake of Wisdom (which is, in the fact, the Lake of Wizz) goes on way too long. But the rest of the movie has fairly good intentions, and picks up remarkably close to the end, when the birds wage war on the pigs’ town and begin leveling the place with unparalleled destruction.
It’s here that the film earns its most merit, mainly because the destruction is not only well-coordinated, but also quite imaginative. In fact, Chuck has a great moment midway on that would even put Quicksilver from the X-Men movies to shame. I won’t spoil it here, but you’ll definitely think along those same lines once it happens.
The voicework is quite pleasant throughout (save for Penn, who, of course, only grunts), but I think Hader is the highlight, giving Leonard just the right amount of oomph as a villain, but never to the point that kids will become scared of him. Sudeikis and the others have a field day as well, and it’s great to hear Maya Rudolph get a chance to shine as a bird that loves nothing more than to fart out fireballs. No, seriously.
It’s a mostly fun film. You can tell it’s gimmicky, and when moments in it tend to fall flat, but it still maintains a pretty strong level for a video game-licensed film. It certainly could’ve been far worse.
As for the Blu-Ray quality, it’s stupendous. The picture and sound quality is off the charts, capturing every detail and exploding with top-notch sound through the speaker set I have set up here. Nary did we find a detail missing here – and that’s particularly good news for those looking to invest in the 4K edition (which, by the way, we didn’t review – but if the regular Blu-Ray looks good, imagine how much better that gets).
The extras are definitely of the promotional variety, with four Hatchlings! shorts, which are okay but a little too tied together for their own good. There’s also an option to play along with Angry Birds Action! on your mobile phone, if you wish. On top of that, you’ll find a number of featurettes breaking down everything from how to make birds around the house to learning more about the voice actors to getting closer to the music. I would’ve liked more stuff revolving around the film’s production itself (it’s just an eight minute piece, at best), but it’s not a bad package for those fascinated by the production.
While Angry Birds Movie doesn’t quite match up to Pixar standards, it’s a fairly good introduction for the heroes in the movie world. Will we likely see a more improved effort from the sequel? Maybe – but here’s hoping they take a few more chances on laughs and don’t go with such easy gags. And, hey, maybe a pair-up for an Angry Birds Star Wars would be in order. Sony and Disney have teamed up before in the Marvel world, so why not?