The Angry Birds Movie 2 review: A silly but enjoyable film that is a vast improvement from its prequel
The Angry Birds Movie reveling in its silliness is not only tolerable but also enjoyable because that tomfoolery is also accompanied with clever humour.
castJason Sudeikis, Peter Dinklage, Leslie Jones, Bill Hader
directorThurop Van Orman
There is a scene in The Angry Birds Movie (2016), in which a supposedly heroic character, called Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), urinates into a water body, named the ‘Lake of Wisdom’, for around a minute as the other primary characters watch on in horror.
That minute in the film is the perfect metaphor for the way in which a production house put a blot on the legacy of a spectacular video game, by making the most obvious cash grab disaster of a movie based on it, as horrified viewers and critics watched on.
Its sequel, The Angry Birds Movie 2, does not really have the sort of refinement you would expect to see in, say, a Pixar film. But compared to its 2016 prequel, the movie is a vast improvement, and, in fact, a lesson for all future endeavours to create cinema based on video games. Keeping in mind the kind of forgettable fluff the prequel was, this is a highly commendable achievement.
The rivalry between flightless birds and green pigs continues at the beginning of The Angry Birds Movie 2, as tensions between Bird Island and Pig Island still soar high after the events shown in the prequel, in which the pigs fail in their attempt to steal the birds’ eggs. But as both these worlds are threatened, and attacked by a vengeful eagle called Zeta (Leslie Jones), who leads a third island called Eagle Island, the birds and pigs agree to a truce, and assemble a team to foil Zeta’s plans of destruction.
The biggest strength of The Angry Birds Movie 2 is undoubtedly its focus on character development. Director Thurop Van Orman, and screenwriters Peter Ackerman, Eyal Podell, and Jonathan E Stewart deserve special credit for bringing much-needed life and nuance to characters earlier reduced to hollow brand properties.
Even though Red (Jason Sudeikis) has won the admiration of his fellow feathery Bird Island citizens in the movie, he is still insecure about losing his newfound status. A newspaper clipping, hilariously titled ‘total loser now beloved’ and cleverly placed in a set piece, in Red’s house in the film aptly highlights Red’s fears.
In the same scene, by showing its now seemingly successful and popular protagonist dejectedly lying on the floor, and casually adding melted butter and salt to his mouth already stuffed with popcorn, The Angry Birds Movie 2 provides a brave allegory of depression.
Sharper writing also gives the stellar voice cast much more room to showcase their talents. Danny McBride is especially funny as the socially awkward Bomb, who – while speed-dating – nervously lists eating dirt as one of his hobbies, and even goes on to explain it is apparently an attractive skill during a scene. Chuck (Josh Gad) and King Leonard Mudbeard (Bill Hader) bring their own zany energy to the chaotic narrative, especially in scenes during which they hide themselves on Eagle Island inside a Trojan eagle suit, named Harvey.
Since Matilda (Maya Rudolph) was the only main female character in the prequel, the introduction of two new female birds in the movie – Silver (Rachel Bloom) and Zeta – is also a welcome change. Moreover, both of them are given strong, independent identities, and often make fun of the other characters’ male egos.
The computer animation, while one of the few things which the prequel also got right, is also top-notch, as the movie uses a wide colour palette to bring to life some carefully constructed visual gags (sometimes even bringing to mind scenes from Mission Impossible), without the whole setup appearing garish or overproduced.
There are, however, still a few aspects of the movie pulling it down from achieving a place in animation’s hall of fame. A crucial sub-plot involving hatchlings seemed unnecessary and forced. It is quite clear that the filmmakers wanted the hatchlings to be the Angry Birds version of the minions from the Despicable Me franchise, trying to score a similar ‘Aww!’ reaction from the audience.
Except the minions are more than just cute props. The goofy sense of humour, that is unique to them, is missing in the hatchlings, whose only selling point is baby talk. Viewers are supposed to laugh when a hatchling says ‘cwap’ instead of ‘crap’, but the joke falls flat.
The movie is also quite directionless and predictable in terms of overall plot, or the semblance of it. And it is not unfair to expect a brand expansion film to pay attention to such details. The Lego Movie, for instance, with its rich plot and explosion of pop culture references, proved that artistic genius can indeed be part of a movie based on nothing but plastic bricks.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 is ultimately a silly movie. But the film reveling in its silliness is not only tolerable but also enjoyable because that tomfoolery is also accompanied with clever humour, which will be appreciated by both kids and adults.
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