Directed by: Jimmy Hayward
Staring: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler
Free Birds, in the whole scheme of things was a pretty low budget affair that was trying to make a buck in theatrical release with timing. After all, a cute kids animated film about turkeys trying to stop thanksgiving seemed like a no brainer. Well, we missed it in theaters so now we get a gander at it on blu-ray.
“Turkeys are dumb…really dumb.”
The holidays are always prime material for a film. From New Years Day to Christmas nearly every holiday has been turned into a themed film based around that day. Some films become classics, such as “The Nightmare Before Christmas” or even “Groundhog Day” and are shown every year around their based holiday. Unfortunately Free Birds is likely to get lost in the shuffle due to Planes, Trains and Automobiles being the best Thanksgiving holiday film.
Free Birds is an animated movie about the turkey Reggie (played by Owen Wilson) who, one day, gets pardoned by the President of the United States and starts to live the life of luxury. While relaxing and eating pizza, he is suddenly kidnapped by a fellow turkey, Jake (played by Woody Harrelson) who believes there is a time machine underneath a US base. Jake then suggests the idea of using it to change what people should eat on Thanksgiving so that no more turkeys have to die. It turns out Jake is right and they go on an adventure to the settlement of Plymouth to alter history.
Going into this film I pretty much had my expectations so low, they were next to dinosaur bones, due to the film having a scathing 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. To my surprise I was finding myself actually laughing a good few times within the first twenty minutes. It was soon after this twenty minute marker that all the laughs ended and the long endurance challenge started. Let me first say that this film isn’t bad, but it certainly is not good.
My first problems lie with the main character Reggie being, well, a complete stereotype of every single Owen Wilson character he’s ever played. Personally I’ve never liked any of Owen Wilson’s acting mainly because he plays the same character in everything he does with the confused and shy motif. Woody Harrelson gives a good performance and I was actually surprised to find out he was in the film during the credits.
The film meanders around for about forty minutes, but then becomes completely offensive when its final act devolves, and I’m serious when I say this, a beat for beat Avatar knock off. What’s sad is that the beginning of the film genuinely had my interest and surprise, but unfortunately it didn’t know what to do after the end of the first reel of the film and as such sputters out of steam quickly. I would recommend Free Birds to small kids, such as six and under, but to anyone over that age it is just to tedious.
“I’m going to use my incredibly tone pecks and buttocks to throw you over the wall.”
Presented in a 1:85.1 aspect ratio Free Birds has a very good, and crisp video presentation. Ironically there was a 3D version released in theaters, but none to be found on the home release. The animation in this film looks really good with a lot of stylization and good flowing movement. I did notice some of the animation on the human characters looked rather off, disjointed or even cartoony but I believe this to be done on purpose. Details, especially feathers and hair are exceptional with the colors popping out of the frame. Black levels are deep and solid, with only some very minor banding to be found during one scene. Overall a very good presentation.
“And that’s the girl who likes my daddy! …but don’t tell anyone…”
Presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, Free Birds fully uses the soundscape to bring the world to life. LFE use is good, especially when the time machine is coming to life, and the use of sound swirls around the stage. Dialogue is always clean and clear and never becomes an issue. While never being too aggressive, it still is a very good mix and I definitely recommend cranking the volume up during the time machine sequences.
Packaging and Bonus Features
“I’m tired now.”
Packaging for the blu-ray comes with a blu-ray and a dvd copy of the film. The artwork is bright and colorful with the two main characters on the front. None of the titling is embossed.
Bonus features are all presented in 1080p and are between ninety seconds and six minutes long. Two of the four features are lead by the film’s director and are informative but never really give a since of the work that had to go into this.
– Birds Flipping – a live action parody of the film’s climax.
– Animating the Free Birds: The Main Course
– Winging It: Animators in Action
– Talking Turkey with Composer Dominic Lewis
– Shake a Tail Feather (a teaser)
– Theatrical Trailer
– Digital HD Copy
“Side effects may include: accelerated aging, rapid evolutionary regressions and erratic physical mutation. I hope you have enjoyed you’re time traveling experience.”
Free Birds has an interesting premise but doesn’t know what to do with the characters or story and as such becomes a bore. Luckily the blu-ray comes with great video and audio presentation and some ok extras, but I’d only recommend this as a rental, due to one being able to watch everything on the disc in less than two hours.
Overall (not an average): 6/10