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Review: ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ Is More Commercial Than Movie

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Angry Birds Movie MovieSpoon.com

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen it was first announced that Sony was developing a movie based on the Angry Birds video game, there was one question that came to the minds of many: How?

Angry Birds MovieSpoon.com

There’s no way this movie could work, right?

We live in an age where nearly anything marketable can be given a movie treatment. That may seem frightening and disheartening to the future of cinema, but keep in mind that any movie idea can be entertaining if executed with creativity. Pictures such as Pirates of the Caribbean have proven that even a property as out there as a theme park ride can make for a good movie. The Angry Birds Movie is sadly an example where the term cash-grab comes to mind throughout.

I recall the first trailer for The Angry Birds Movie generating some hope and enthusiasm as many remarked at how there was actually a story here. And, yes, there is a story with characters to this picture. It’s not a good story, but I guess it was supposed to be impressive that any type of story can be applied to such a non-narrative video game.

Angry Birds MovieSpoon.com

It just isn’t a movie without some cute chicks.

To be fair, however, the movie does start out very promising if not wholly original. Red (Jason Sudeikis) is a bitter bird that finds himself sarcastically drudging his way through everyday life on Bird Island. While all the other birds seem content and happy in their splendor of continuing their glowing society, Red is annoyed by all this joy. His rage eventually reaches a boiling point and he’s forced to join an anger management program. It is there that he meets the other angry birds of the community.

While in this group, Red meets other birds with similar issues of rage. There’s the highly-caffeinated Chuck (Josh Gad), the literally short-fused Bomb (Danny McBride) and the quietly fuming giant Terrance (Sean Penn). They all seem to have their quirks, but most appear to be mischief-makers that stand as outsiders of their community. While others have settled down with families, these birds still grapple with themselves and their anger.

Despite some less-than-amusing bird puns, this first act of establishing our characters was rather clever. I was starting to enjoy myself and ready myself to recommend The Angry Birds Movie.

But when the second act arrives, the movie suddenly remembers that it’s based on a video game. As such, the creative team and producers felt the need to have the movie reflect the game’s mechanics of birds launching themselves at pigs. To reach this point, the movie introduces the green-colored pigs as explorers from Piggy Island that arrives on Bird Island to share their technology.

Angry Birds MovieSpoon.com

Big green pigs could in NO way be the bad guys.

Led by their fat bearded leader (Bill Hader), the pigs introduce the birds to the wonders of trampolines and musical dance numbers. But Red and the other angry birds discover the pigs’ evil plan to snatch all the birds’ eggs to eat for breakfast. It’s up to Red to inspire all of Bird Island to rise up and fight against the pigs not as happy birds, but angry birds. And, yes, that exact line is spoken in the movie.

By the time we reach the third act, the movie is on autopilot. Musical numbers of random genres breakout to fill some time and give the movie something to do. Gags go for the lowest hanging fruit of extending sequences for annoying voices, farting and urination (I started to miss the bird puns by this point in the movie). And what is the grand scheme of the birds for rescuing their eggs from the evil pigs? They use a giant slingshot to launch themselves at the architecture of the pigs. There is no reason given as to why this is the best plan of attack. It just has to happen because that’s what you do in the video game.

Now what do I know of the video game Angry Birds? I played it once, thought it was cute as yet another demolition game and dropped it. Since the game’s inception, however, it has exploded into a runaway franchise of sequels, spin-offs, board games and an animated series. Was there some sort of lore or character established with this premise in the multitude of media it has spawned that might make me appreciate this movie more? If the movie’s script is anything to go by, I haven’t missed much. I think I’m safe from the whole “you’re not a gamer” argument for slandering such a picture.

The overly simplistic nature of the plot has led to many critics forming their own theories about terrifying messages in this non-message movie. Some have cited how the plight of the angry birds in this society relates to the struggle of manchildren not being able to grow up or form relationships. Others have likened the story and imagery to the immigration struggle in Germany.

But let’s not bestow such lofty analysis on such a commercial movie – leave that for the endless fan theories and inevitable slew of overanalyzing Cracked videos. It was made to sell more merchandise, acting as merchandise itself. This should be evident by the massive $300 million Sony spent on the advertising campaign, being one of their largest for an animated movie.

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.

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