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Non-Review Review: The Angry Birds Movie 2

The Angry Birds Movie 2 is a mess, a film that seems uncertain of its own target audience.

Like the original Angry Birds Movie, the sequel feels like something a throwback, an animated film that evolutionary leap that Pixar brought to computer-generated animation during their peak in the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Other animated studios have come to embrace the sort of sophisticated storytelling that elevated those iconic and beloved Pixar films, most notably Dreamworks in projects like Kung-Fu Panda or How to Train Your Dragon.

Cool customers.

In contrast, both The Angry Birds Movie and The Angry Birds Movie 2 feel displaced in time, or perhaps even a glimpse sideways into a world where Wall-E and Up never happened, so Shrek and its sequels still provide a template for storytelling in computer-generated animation. The Angry Birds Movie arguably made a better deal of this than one could expect, with an approach that harked back to the cartoonish sociopathy that defined so much of twentieth-century American animation, a particularly crass and crude spin on the Tex Avery template.

There are moments in The Angry Birds Movie 2 were that retrograde influence clearly shines through. In fact, The Angry Birds Movie 2 is at its strongest when it feels more like a collection of Looney Tunes sketches than an actually narrative. Unfortunately, all of this gets muddle; the eggs that were such an important plot point in The Angry Birds Movie get scrambled, as the film jumps from extremes; broad pop culture parodies, nineties nostalgia, absurd cartoonish violence, pseudo-feminism, a jilted lover plot, commentary on modern dating.

The se-squeal.

Maybe some of these elements could work in isolation, if the production team found an interesting angle into. Maybe some of these elements could work in unison, if they were combined in small doses and with a clear over-arching design in mind. However, The Angry Birds Movie 2 never seems sure of what it wants to be or who it wants to be for, creating a strange cocktail that doesn’t serve any of its audience particularly well.

The result is something of a curate’s egg.

Birds of a feather.

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Non-Review Review: Angry Birds

The Angry Birds Movie is an enjoyable animation experience.

Adapted from the famous touch-screen game, a favourite of phone users everywhere, The Angry Birds Movie has a fairly thin premise that can successfully distilled into its two-word title. Set on an island populated by flightless birds, the film follows the adventures of the series’ distinctive red character as he struggles to contain his rage and anger in a culture built around peace and harmony. The plot, such as it is, is driven by first contact between the feathered inhabitants and the mysterious green-skinned visitors from “the world of the pigs.”

All fired up.

All fired up.

Video game adaptations can be tricky, particularly when it comes to adapting a video game that lacks a strong internal narrative. After all, very few players could claim to be emotionally invested in the skilful (and joyful) application of physics that made the original game so popular. Trying to construct a world around the stylistic affectations of a plotless video game can lead to all manner of convoluted nonsense; one need only look at Street Fighter or Super Mario Brothers to see the dangers of adapting a plotless video game.

The strength of The Angry Birds Movie is in how the films luxuriates in its plotlessness, embracing the arbitrary nature of its internal logic. The Angry Birds Movie is more concerned with being witty and energetic than in being cohesive or making sense. Given that it is a movie about cartoon birds propelling themselves like missiles towards a group of egg-snatching pigs that manages be both charming and funny, it seems like the prudent choice.

Bite-sized fun.

Bite-sized fun.

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