The Angry Birds Movie 2 (2019) Review
AN IMPROVEMENT MADE,
BUT STILL BLARINGLY NONSENSICAL
Back in 2016, sandwiched between the theatrical releases of The Nice Guys and Neighbors 2, Sony Pictures and Rovio Animation released the full-length Angry Birds film titled The Angry Birds Movie. Based on the popular app game from Rovio, the film, which was directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly, followed the adventures of Red, a hot tempered / loner outcast that bands together a group of other outcasts (i.e. Chuck and Bomb) to save the eggs, which were stolen from the villainous Leonard (leader of the green-colored Pigs). Despite the mixed reviews from critics, The Angry Birds Movie went on to become a box office success; grossing over $352 million against its $73 million production budget. As of now (circa 2019), the profitability of the feature has made The Angry Birds Movie the third highest grossing movie based on a video game (i.e. behind Warcraft and Pokémon: Detective Pikachu). Now, three years after the release of the movie, Sony / Columbia Pictures, Rovio Animation, and director Thurop Van Orman (as well as John Rice) present the follow-up animated film with The Angry Birds Movie 2. Does this sequel fly high in animated entertainment or does this second installment exploded (like the character Bomb)?
After rescuing the stolen eggs, Red (Jason Sudeikis) has finally found celebratory popularity on Bird Island; finding his continuing efforts to protect the community from the constant threat of Pig Island and its ruler, Leonard (Bill Hader). Rejoicing in fame, Red keeps order with the help from his newfound pals, Chuck (Josh Gad) and Bomb (Danny McBride), making sure the pigs stay in their place, despite the periodic attacks from their sworn enemies. However, when a new threat suddenly appears in the form of a mad eagle Zeta (Leslie Jones), who’s desperate to move off her frigid snow barren island, Leonard proposes a truce between, hoping to connect with Red (and his friends) to figure out a plan to defeat their new foe. Creating a team with intent to infiltrate Ice Island and Zeta’s scheming plans, Red brings in his boys, while Chuck’s sister, Silver (Rachel Bloom), a brilliant engineer, joins the gang and asserts control, which threatens Red’s newfound legacy as a hero to Bird Island.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
Ugh….The Angry Birds Movie. As I mentioned above, this was a movie that literally no one asked for. It was basically created to “cash in” on the brand, which (in truth) was on the decline as users have moved on to the next and latest phone app game to play. The film itself was pretty dull and I just couldn’t get past the overall the ridiculous premise the feature was trying to tell. Of course, the voice talents in the movie were solid and the animation was “okay-ish”, but the movie was too ridiculous and thin, especially towards the film’s ending (i.e. more noisy and zany slapstick goofiness than something congeal fun and amusing).I even placed the movie on my Top 10 Worst Movies of 2016….placing it on #10 on the list. I guess I completely missed the target audience demographic …. even though I’m a kid at heart and love kid’s animated films. In the end, The Angry Birds Movie just didn’t do anything for me and, despite its success at the box office, kind of sort of faded away in the background, with other (more prominent) animated features replacing the attentions of its viewers.
You can imagine my surprise when I heard that The Angry Birds Movie 2 was announced (like for real). As I said, I wasn’t really looking forward to this movie as the first film was completely nonsensical and I was expecting pretty much the same thing. As the saying goes “if it’s broke, don’t fix it”. That idea was further cemented when I saw the film’s movie trailer a few times when I went to my local theater (most when I saw PG films). Some of the jokes in the trailer did give a me a light chuckle, but, given the narrative premise showcased in the trailer, I wasn’t expecting “animated greatness” from the movie. So, against my preconceived judgement of the movie, I went to see The Angry Birds Movie 2, but decided to hold off doing my review for it for a time (choosing other movies to do first before this one). Now, I finally have the time to write my thoughts down on this animated sequel. Was it good or bad? Well, it’s definitely better than the first film. The Angry Birds Movie 2 delivers a slightly better that actually works and expands in certain areas (in better fashion), but it’s hard to justify a sequel in this rambunctious haphazard feature. There’s more to like about this second installment, but it’s nowhere as near as favorable and entertaining as a Disney / Pixar flick or even DreamWorks / Illumination endeavor.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 is directed by Thurop Van Orman, whose previous works includes as a writer for several animated cartoon TV show projects such as Adventure Time, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, and Camp Lazlo!. While he did direct two episodes on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Orman makes his animated feature length directorial debut with this movie and (to be fair) he does a decent job. As a side-note, John Rice, who worked on several animated projects like King of the Hill, The Simpsons Movie, and Gnomeo and Juliet, as a co-director to The Angry Birds Movie 2. Thus, given both of their backgrounds in animated endeavors (mostly in cartoon TV series), both Orman and Rice seem to compliment each other and work in their new cinematic medium for the sequel to The Angry Birds Movie. Perhaps the best aspects that Orman / Rice does in shaping the movie is in trying to elevate the feature more so than the first Angry Birds endeavor. In that regard, the movie does succeed; finding a more tangible and sustainable rhythm to the feature. While it isn’t the greatness story to be told (more on that below), The Angry Birds Movie 2 certainly has more “oomph” to it than its predecessor; providing a more entertaining narrative for this sequel than the previous one. There’s still plenty of time for callbacks and reference puns for both the “juice box” crowd as well as a few ones for adults as well. Thus, Orman and Rice collaboration directorial efforts do make The Angry Birds Movie 2 enjoyable and a bit more engaging to view than the original 2016 film.
Presentation-wise, The Angry Birds Movie 2 looks pretty much the same as the last one, which is a good thing (aesthetically speaking), but does have a bit more “sharpness” throughout. Of course, the animation color palette is still quite bright and vibrant throughout and that definitely helps, but the overall presentation looks a bit crispier, which does standout. Thus, even if the movie isn’t the greatness / memorable animated film of 2019….at least its still pleasing to look at. Additionally, while the music score, which was composed by Heitor Pereira, is quite good (offering up some cartoon-ish melodies vibes throughout), the movie’s soundtrack does pack a few pop-related songs that are quite catchy.
Of course, one of the big problems with the movie is the exact same thing I said with the first movie, which is the overall tardiness to its own popularity (even for a sequel endeavor). While there are those who still play the mobile games, Angry Birds (as a brand) is well into the elder years of its life spanning. It’s just not that popular as it used to be. Thus, even The Angry Birds Movie 2 itself (like the 2016 film) feels like a last-ditch attempt to try to capitalize on the brand, similar to other once-popular brands that tried to do that (i.e. High School Musical (High School Musical 3), Hanna Montana (The Hanna Montana Movie), Glee (Glee Live! In Concert), etc.). Of course, this sequel does stuff that’s slightly better than the first Angry Birds Movie, but it’s still quite underdeveloped. If this movie was released during the height of its popularity (roughly 2012 or 2013), it probably would’ve been successful and relative to the market and to its brand. Thus, it’s still “too little, too late” with this movie’s hype.
There are several other problems that do quickly arise as well, including a very weak narrative. Of course, the threat of Zeta, who wants to claim both Bird Island and Pig Island as her own (destroying the inhabitants before claiming them) is the primary narrative crux for the movie. It’s fine, but it’s not entirely realized as to “why” for Zeta’s nefarious ways. There’s a vague reason behind her machinations, but it’s just not enough. To be sure, another problem that the movie faces is in its narration. Yes, I do agree that this sequel’s story is better than the first one, with a bit more substance added. That being said, the story narration of The Angry Birds Movie 2 isn’t really made up of greater depth…. even for an animated feature. To be honest, the movie’s story feels like something for an episodic cartoon adventure, which would definitely fit the overall tone and presentation. There is also the overall zaniness and barrage of cartoon antics that the movie displays. It’s well and good (and works sometimes), but the some of material is rather bland and never really goes anywhere, except for a few passable jokes and gags. Thus, the movie is still quite nonsensical and doesn’t go deep. However, a movie endeavor such as that is something, I would never expect for an Angry Birds movie. Still, the movie doesn’t really have much “follow through” in terms of its story / plot, which is probably credited to the film’s script (penned by Peter Ackerman, Eyal Podell, and Jonathan E. Stewart). Lastly, the film’s side storyline that follows the misadventures of several hatchling birds is sort of reminiscent of “Scrat’s adventures” from the Ice Age franchise. It’s cute and light, but almost acts like “filler” for the feature’s runtime. I think it should’ve been saved for an animated short for the movie’s home video release. In short (speaking in general terms), The Angry Birds Movie 2 isn’t quite bad, but also doesn’t really standout quite enough, which is a little bit disappointing.
What does help movie is the continuing solid efforts of the film’s voice cast, which sees several actors / actresses returning to their respective cartoon roles from the first feature as well as welcomed additions for this movie. Leading the charge are the feature’s main three characters (Red, Chuck, and Bomb), who are voiced by actors Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses and We’re the Millers), Josh Gad (Frozen and The Wedding Ringer), and Danny McBride (Pineapple Express and This Is the End). Collectively, these three are the prime characters in the movie, with Red acting as the main protagonist character. Of course, Sudeikis, Gad, and McBride are quite capable in projecting their voice work in the feature, which is definitely the film’s highlight moments; each one giving their respective personas, with Red as angry / leader of the group, Chuck as the fast talking one, and Bomb has the bulker / grey matter mindset one. Behind them, actor Bill Hader (IT: Chapter Two and Barry) continues to be fun and amusing character of the Pig’s leader (i.e. Leonard), while actress Leslie Jones (Ghostbusters and Saturday Night Live) as the villainous Zeta. Unfortunately, while Jones’s voice is perfect for the character, the actual character of Zeta is thinly sketched and her reasoning behind her mastermind machinations is weak, which is disappointing.
The rest of the cast, including actress Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell) as Debbie, actor Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us and Black Panther) as Garry, actor Eugenio Derbez (Overboard and Dora and the Lost City of Gold) as Glenn, actress Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip and Night School) as Debbie, actor Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones and Avengers: Infinity War) as the Mighty Eagle, actor Maya Rudolph (Sisters and Bridesmaids) as Matilda, reality star Jojo Siwa (The Jojo & Bowbow Show Show) as Jay / Kira, singer Nick Minaj (Barbershop: The Next Cut) as Pinky, actor Tony Hale (Love, Simon and Veep) as Mime, actor Lil Rel Howery (Get Out and Uncle Drew) as Alex, and Zach Woods (Silicone Valley and In the Loop) as Carl, are in more supporting roles (some larger than others). While the screen-time might be limited (or just simply there for comedic relief), the assemblage of recognizable acting voice talents for these particular characters is enjoyable and make up for the feature’s shortcomings.
Red, Chuck, and Bomb are back for another zany animated installment in the film The Angry Birds Movie 2. Director Thurop Van Orman and John Rice latest feature finds the latest Angry Birds movie to be an improvement upon its predecessor in creating a more “passable” feature that will entertain its fanbase and its target demographic. While the voice talents are still solid (both veteran of the first film and new addition), the slightly better animation, and a tighter presentation, it’s quite hard to overlook some of the movie’s pitfalls, including a weak narrative and lack substance to sustain a theatrical motion picture (much like the first movie). To me, it was okay. Yes, I enjoyed it more than the first Angry Birds Movie, which is a better format, but nothing really stands out and ultimately just fall flat within its progression. Thus, my recommendation for the movie is a “iffy choice” as some viewer will like, while others won’t. Will there be an Angry Birds Movie 3? It’s hard to say, but there’s always a possibility. Regardless if a third installment materializes in the near future, The Angry Birds Movie 2 remains what it is…. an improvement made (in the right direction), but blaringly nonsensical cartoon tomfoolery.
3.0 Out of 5 (Iffy Choice)
Released On: August 14th, 2019
Reviewed On: October 15th, 2019
The Angry Birds Movie 2 is 97 minutes and is rated PG for rude humor and some action