Way back in 2016 when I was first considering starting this blog I experimented with a few films I wouldn’t normally see to test my own resolve for the sake of writing reviews. One movie that I wasted my money on was an animated videogame adaptation that quite honestly had me wondering if this was what I really wanted to devote my time to. That movie was “The Angry Birds Movie”. Three years later Sony Pictures Animation has released a sequel “The Angry Birds Movie 2” which was all but inevitable seeing as the first film was one of the most successful video game movies of all time both critically and commercially. Now I’m over two and a half years into this blog and once again I find myself staring down the “Angry Birds” property on the big screen. Since it’s bound to be the biggest release of the weekend, I swallowed my pride, put my big boy pants on and gave this sequel a chance to redeem the franchise. So, without further ado, this is my review of “The Angry Birds Movie 2”.
“The Angry Birds Movie 2” which I’ll just call “Angry Birds 2” picks up some time after the birds and pigs initial war in the first film. The two sides continue to fight in a prank war allowing Red (Jason Sudeikis) to escape his life as a social outcast and become a local celebrity as the savior of Bird Island. However, when a new threat makes itself known in the form of giant ice projectiles Pig king Leonard (Bill Hader) calls a truce with hopes of aligning with the birds to stop the threat. The truce causes Red to fear that he will return to his old existence as a social outcast leading him to accept Leonard’s call to team up against a common threat. The group is joined by birds Bomb (Danny McBride) and Chuck (Josh Gad) as well as Chuck’s intellectual sister Silver (Rachel Bloom), a pair of pigs, Courtney (Awkwafina) and Garry (Sterling K. Brown), and finally Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage) as they storm the third island called Eagle Island. There they face off against a new enemy named Zeta (Leslie Jones) with the fate of both Bird Island and Pig Island hanging in the balance.
Where do I start with this movie? “Angry Birds 2” doesn’t really up the ante from its predecessor, but at worst it’s on par with its predecessor sporting more colorful animation and the familiarity we have with the characters helps this film escape the need to develop much of their core personalities. It pulls off one important thing a sequel should do by continuing the story and not taking the time to introduce us to the characters of this universe all over again. It just kind of picks up the ball and keeps running towards a new goal with a new villain and a new lesson for our main hero, Red, to learn after he escaped the depths of insignificance in the first movie. But at the same time “Angry Birds 2” doesn’t offer as good a story. In fact, is’ not even a fully self-contained story. The original film had one long narrative that lasted the whole duration. This movie has an A-story and a completely random B-story following three hatchlings trying to retrieve some eggs that serves as nothing short of filler to reach the run time. The core narrative is hardly developed with important aspects of the story presented in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it exchanges that always feel like the film is on super speed just to get from one moment to the next. Whereas the first film worked to translate the games unique premise to the big screen, this film barely has any relation to the games except for some carry-over characters and the use of slingshots which in this movie are more for transportation than an actual weapon to win the conflict.
I mean this is about as acceptably phoned in as a sequel can be. There’s just enough here to set it apart from the first film but not enough to truly give it its own identity or surpass its predecessor. On the downside, the villain is forgettable with barely developed motives, the pacing is either way too quick or way to patient depending on the situation, and characters new and old receive very little attention besides Red or Silver. On the plus side, “Angry Birds 2” sports a much more meaningful life lesson than the first film by exploring the dangers of ego and the value of true heroism as well as the value of teamwork when it comes to getting the job done. The energy the film brings to the table might make for strange and often messy pacing but this is a kid’s film after all and the point is to keep that demographic entertained and glued to the screen for an hour and a half. “Angry Birds 2” certainly pulls that off probably much more effectively than the original movie. It really seems that for every element that tries to improve on the first film there are carryover elements that betray those good intentions and reminded me why I found the first movie so annoying.
One huge issue I have with this film is that “Angry Birds 2” is a pure, undeniable product of the times filled with pop culture references, forced celebrity voiceovers from rising stars that feel like they’re just here to add some name recognition, and more focus on dancing and ridiculousness than actual storytelling. References to “Baby Shark” and other modern fads as well as a soundtrack of classic songs that probably cost a quarter of the production budget all come together to make this movie both cliche and immediately dated, an unfortunate truth it shares with its predecessor. I do have to give the film credit for making me laugh…quite a lot actually, even if the source of my amusement might be more ironic than anything else. “Angry Birds 2” is indeed a funny movie whether it’s because it tells a genuinely good joke from time to time or because of the ridiculousness of some of the antics thrown into the mix. If nothing else I found myself shaking my head, slowly brushing my hand down my face in embarrassment and laughing at how these pop culture references and use of classic songs have become cliché tools of modern filmmaking to entertain a younger demographic while giving adults something to relate to. It’s just ridiculous enough to work and it almost makes me believe that the filmmakers knew what they were doing in taking this odd source material and just going all in to make it as insanely random as possible. Even though I didn’t exactly love this movie, it did keep me entertained for almost the whole duration which is more than the first movie can say.
But even as I trash this movie…I can’t help but almost recommend it. It’s a fascinatingly mediocre animated sequel but let’s be honest, there weren’t very high expectations to begin with. The filmmakers took a property with very limited possibilities and at least did SOMETHING fun with it even if that fun is derived from derivative, cliché, and dated material and storytelling. At least it’s something. Kid’s will probably enjoy this movie just fine and frankly while the story was inferior I did tolerate it much more than the first film. The voice acting isn’t bad, the animation is eye-catching, and I did laugh a lot even if I may have laughed at all the wrong things. The point is I still laughed and by the halfway point I just let loose and had fun with what I was given. After all, I was trapped there for an hour and a half and at least it was more watchable than some other train wrecks like, say, “Ugly Dolls” for example. Like the first film, “Angry Birds 2” is a sub-par movie that could have been a whole lot worse and while it’s not for me it’s still harmless animated fun that will at least keep kids, and maybe some who are young at heart, occupied for its short and sweet run time.