de facto film reviews 3 stars

by Ben Rothrock

Now that superhero movies are no longer the bottom barrel genre of the film industry, one genre still holds that title: video game movies. This is still a tough subject to crack, though that hasn’t stopped people yet. To give them a break, more effort actually has been put into making them as good as they can be. Warcraft is proof of that. It may have been a terrible film, but it showed that studios were willing to at least try and put some effort into making them decent.

Another example also comes from 2016; the animated feature film adaptation of Angry Birds. That film took what very little existed within the games and made a story that was feasible enough to satisfy fans of the game. It also sported a perfect voice cast and some beautiful and stylish animation. If anything, the film was a glorious treat for the eyes. Now, thanks to the success of that film, the birds are back in The Angry Birds Movie 2.

After saving their home from the conniving pigs, Red (Jason Sudeikis), Chuck (Josh Gad), and Bomb (Danny McBride) spend their days engaging in an endless war with them, led by Leonard (Bill Hader) and his assistant Courtney (Awkwafina). They fire one prank after another, with no true end in sight. That is, until the pigs make a discovery that may require them to put their mission on hold.

On a distant, frozen island, previously hidden from view of the birds and pigs, an eagle named Zeta (Leslie Jones) is fed up with her life living in perpetual winter. She plots to use a giant ice ball canon to drive the birds and pigs away and turn their homes in her own personal resort. In order to save their homes, Red and his friends must form an uneasy alliance with Leonard, along with a team consisting of Chuck’s sister Silver (Rachel Bloom) and a pig genius named Garry Pig (Sterling K. Brown) to stop Zeta before they all meet an icy doom.

Critics weren’t too fond of the first film (which wasn’t much of a surprise), so it was almost shocking how warmly they started to receive this film. And for once, the critics were right. The Angry Birds Movie 2 is an improvement over an already entertaining animated film that focuses less on adapting the games and more on developing its own story, characters, and worlds. It also boasts more of the beautifully crafted animation and new additions to the cast that are just as great as the returning cast.

Of course, this is a kid’s film first and foremost. So, the humor isn’t entirely effective. It’s very kid friendly humor, which means a large amount of gross-out gags, which sometimes tend to overstay their welcome. However, one thing to mention is that these gags are less prominent in this film than in the first one. The previous film had much more potty humor, but this one does it in a more tasteful way. It’s not always successful, but it’s more so than the last one.

As with the first film, the voice cast was pure perfection, especially Sudeikis and Hader. Now that their characters are forced to work together, they have a lot more comedic potential to dive into, and it’s a wonder to behold. These two actually have fantastic comedic chemistry that makes their interactions about as entertaining as they could be. When ever Red and Leonard butt heads in this film, it’s always good for a hardy laugh.

But Leonard isn’t the only character that has great chemistry with Red. Sudeikis also has great chemistry with newcomer Rachel Bloom, who voices the decidedly less speedy but just as crazy sister of Chuck, Silver. Silver is portrayed as a potential love interest for Red, a plot point that adds great comedy to the film. Watching Red and Silver butt heads about who should be the true leader of the team is just as funny as watching Red and Leonard do the same.

Also just like the first film, the animation is absolutely stunning. I found myself awed by a shot of Red popping popcorn, which seems strange. The reason being that it looked about as realistic as possible. It was a strange sight that practically blurred the line between what was real and what was animated. Apart from that, the sheer amount of detail put into creating the world of Angry Birds is astonishing. You can tell that the filmmakers actually cared to put great effort into making the world look unique.

What helps this film rise above its predecessor is its focus off of the games. The first film’s goal was to adapt the games, so the plot is basically a compilation of little references to the game’s story and play mechanics. Now that the game has been put to screen, this film decides to focus on its own potential. It has its own characters and worlds that aren’t even featured in the games (unless you count Zeta being added to Angry Birds 2). Because of this, the franchise really gets to stretch its legs and explore its potential in the best way possible.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 manages to improve upon the original film by doing what most video game movies don’t. Instead of getting hampered by a need to adapt the games, this film creates its own story that takes its characters to new places that will keep the audiences guessing on what will happen next. We’ve already fallen in love with these characters, and the studio decided it was time for them to explore places outside of their games. With this, along with Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, it’s safe to say that we have found what it takes to break the video game movie curse (at least until Sonic the Hedgehog comes out next year).