Tuesday, June 10, 2014

So, I Was On Netflix: Free Birds

Not since Beverly Hills Chiahuahua has a movies
poster had such a true claim
Each Tuesday I review a film that can be found on Netflix Instant Streaming. This week, what happens when time travel and turkeys get mixed together. Spoiler Alert: an awful movie happens.

It's great to see someone in my own home state, Texas, making a major animated feature. Reel FX, which is located in Dallas, has done commercial work in the past, but this is by far their biggest endeavor ever. 7 months after its been unleashed on the public, that endeavor, known as Free Birds, is now an also-ran in November 2013, a month now known as the one that gave birth to perhaps the greatest animation phenomenon of our time; Frozen.

Compared to singing snowmen and actual quality filmmaking, there's no way this generic turkey flick could even theoretically compete. But really, against most feature films last year, Free Birds would likely have still been the loser in terms of quality. Honestly, there's just nothing here to really grab the viewer or get them invested in this world. It's as if the producers saw a bunch of animated movies and assumed that, hey, they make it look so effortless, it must be easy to make one of these things! Alas, no it is not easy to create a well made animated feature, and this movie proves it.

Our two main characters for this ride, Jake and Reggie (voiced by Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson respectively) are supposed to be this films equivalent to Buzz Lightyear and Woody The Cowboy, but instead just come off as boring. There's really no reason for the duo to become best friends, what with Jake's egotistical behavior and Reggies whininess. Even worse than those two though is how Amy Poehler is wasted as Jenny, a bland character that exists solely to give Reggie someone to fawn over. The wasting of talent extends to the likes of Keith David, George Takei and pretty much anyone else who has to play one of the characters in the sprawling cast of this train-wreck.

Reel FX lacks the big budget of PIXAR and DreamWorks features,  meaning it's understandable if their animation is a bit subpar compared to movies from the big leagues. Interestingly, it's a bit of a mixed bag. The turkeys are fine, though the background characters lack variety in terms of coloring and appearance. Humans similarly remain acceptable, even if they seem to have little movement from the neck down. Other animals like horses and dogs though are downright atrocious and effects like fire and water are some of the poorer effects I've seen in a major animated film in recent years.

Free Birds isn't quite bottom of the barrel bad like Planes, but it's so close it's truly scary. It speaks to how little some filmmakers appreciate the medium of animations ability to tell compelling stories that dreck like this not only gets made but is thought as acceptable in any form. Better luck next time Reel FX; this one just doesn't work on any level.

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