Saturday, March 15, 2014

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)


Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 20% (fuck if I know how it got that high)
Rotten Tomatoes Average Score: 2.7/10
IMDb User Review Score: 1.9/10

Acting: 0/10

Special Effects: 0/10

Coherence: 3/10

Fun: 0/10 (first half); 6/10 (second half)

Humor: 2/10 (first half); 8/10 (second half)

Introduction


Birdemic is a super low budget film (an estimated $10,000, though I have no clue what that money went toward) made in 2010 that gained some notoriety because it is just... awful. It is currently #9 on IMDb's Bottom 100 list, and was listed as #1 on Cracked.com's August 15, 2012 article "The 7 Most Unintentionally Hilarious Movies of the Decade".


Synopsis (Spoiler-Free)


Meet Rod. Rod is a successful technological salesman who is on the verge of fulfilling the American dream. He meets Nathalie, a fashion model, and the two of them start a romance that will soon be tested. For unbeknownst to them, there is a natural disaster on its way, one with lots and lots of angry birds. When it hits, Rod and Nat must team up with other survivors if they are going to make it through the day. 

Character Summaries (Minor Spoilers)


Rod (Alan Bagh)

Rod is a tech salesman for a company called NCT Software. He is very good at his job and makes a lot of money doing it. After meeting Nathalie in the first scene the two of them start dating. Rod is a good person, almost to the point of boredom. Now there is a reason I gave the acting a 0/10, and you're looking at that reason. Alan Bagh (and therefore Rod himself) is the most wooden, unemotive person that I think I have ever seen in cinema. Say what you want about Tommy Wiseau in The Room, at least he was expressing himself. It may be the incorrect expression most of the time, but at least its expression. Alan Bagh literally gives you no reason to care about his character because his character comes off as barely passing for a human being. It also leads to some frustration because you (the audience) cannot figure what Nathalie sees in this guy. Obviously it's her job to be interested in him; otherwise there would be no movie, but it still bothers the hell out of you while you're watching.


Nathalie (Whitney Moore)


Nathalie is a fashion model, who is somehow not materialistic. Like Rod, she is a good person to the point of boredom. As I said before, she and Rod are dating after a chance encounter at the beginning of the movie. Now let me clarify that Whitney Moore does not act well in this movie. However because she is so often sharing screen time with Rod, it makes her look like she could contend for an Oscar because she is just so much better than him. As I said in Rod's section, it really makes you wonder what Nathalie sees in Rod because we have this beautiful young, seemingly normal woman who is head over heels for this guy who's reaction to becoming a millionaire is pretty much sheer indifference. In a way I feel kind of bad for Ms. Moore. I feel like given the proper training and gigs, she could do alright, but this movie (and its sequel) will drag her down for the rest of time, especially with the cult status of this movie.

There are a few other characters as well, but none that are really on screen long enough for me to write about.


Saving Graces

Birdemic
The reason I split some of my ratings into two parts is because there really are two movies contained in Birdemic. There's the first half, the boring, completely inconsequential, and borderline unwatchable romance movie focused on Rod and Nat. This half sucks; there's no way around it. However, while the second half, the birdemic half, also technically sucks, it is a much different kind of suck. The birdemic itself is something you can really enjoy and laugh at from an absurdist point of view. First, there are the special effects (covered in a later section), which make it impossible to take any of these birds seriously. However, accompanying that, there are other absurdist elements here that are pretty damn funny. For instance, the birds tend to dive-bomb things and blow up (as in with a fireball). Bird's don't do that. They have never done that. On a similar note, outside of a Looney Tunes show, I don't think birds have ever made airplane diving sounds when they fly downward. This is most likely because birds are not airplanes. Lastly, these birds vomit flesh-melting acid because why wouldn't they?

Sins (Spoilers)

Global Warming
Let me preface this by stating that I fully believe in climate change and the role that mankind is playing in it. That being said, this movie shoves the topic so far down your throat that you really just want to believe less in climate change rather than listen to this nonsense. Keep in mind, at no point in this movie is global warming ever actually linked to the birdemic, meaning it has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie. Yet all the same, it gets thrown in our face every few minutes. Sometimes they'll even be discussing the birdemic and go off topic to talk about global warming. Let's delve deeper, shall we?

First off, there are many minor references to environmentalism and global warming. There are a few times where they actually are properly embedded into what's going on. For instance, Rod has his start-up company that is making a new type of solar panel. That's okay; he's allowed to do that, and one of solar energy's downfalls is the fact that it is very expensive to make an efficient panel. Most of the "cheaper" ones are less efficient. Now on the flip side, most of the environmentalism in this movie is so crass and obvious. Some examples: there is no reason why I should have to watch Rod purchase solar panels for his house. No one cares. There's also the intermittent news segments that discuss topics such as the polar bears and polar ice melt as if no one has ever heard of it before. Then we have Rod's plug-in hybrid Ford Mustang, which gets 100 mpg (I assume he means the equivalent of 100 mpg, since plug-ins don't use gas, but hey, why should the writer know he's talking about?). I'd also like to point out that this car doesn't exist. There's the gas prices reaching $100/gal, a crafty statement on the current oil market. There's also the time that they go to the movies to see An Inconvenient Truth despite that movie coming out four years before this one. Lastly, there are two instance that I am going to spend a little time on...

First we have this scene:


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For those of you that can't see this video, his answer to the question of essentially "Why are these birds attacking?" get so off track that at one point he talks about krill dying out from global warming, which just to recap, does not answer the question at all. He also ends the conversation by saying we should act like astronauts as if that's a thing.

Then of course we have the tree-hugging hippie:


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... ... ... what the fuck is he talking about? What does this have to do with anything? People are being murdered left and right by wild birds on what I am going to assume is a global scale (it is called Birdemic after all), and this guys talking about mild temperatures facilitating bark beetle movements. And like the scientist, he never links any of this to the birdemic. After this entire movie we still don't know what cause the birdemic.

Also worth noting, despite this movie's eco-friendly theme, almost 12 fucking minutes of this movie are shots of them driving or take place inside a moving car. And despite the movie's claim, I'm pretty sure that car is not a plug-in hybrid. Nice job, assholes.

Acting
I have already covered the acting the "Characters" section, but needless to say, it is just awful from pretty much everyone. Everyone is incapable of emoting. I used to think that acting poorly was better than not acting at all, but this movie changed my mind. It is one thing to misinterpret a line; it is another to miss the line in its entirety. Nathalie can be slightly excluded because she at least tries, but really the only person who acts well is Nat's mother, who plays the perky, earnest old lady role very well. It is worth noting, however, that sometimes the terrible acting is quite funny.

Special Effects
There just... awful. You'll see in the videos. No need for me to elaborate.

Play-By-Play Summary (Complete Spoilers)

Well, we start out with some exposition shots before the movie that becomes a more-than-2-minute dash cam video. But here's the best part: the cameraman is a fucking moron so the camera is tilted 25 degrees to the left the whole time. So anyway, Rod parks his car and walks like the Terminator to a diner and we are immediately assaulted by the very first words of the movie.


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So Rod orders absolutely nothing at this diner and instead follows Natalie out to force small talk with her. Apparently they went to school together or some shit; I wasn't really paying attention, but they do exchange cards. 

The next day starts out with some newswoman saying that a lot of dead birds have been found and that the polar ice caps are melting (no shit). At this point you probably think that this will be significant but I assure you it will not. Unrelated, but if you thought you were going to miss out on one second of this man's morning, you are dead wrong. We get to follow him as he drives around, gets gas, gets stuck IN A TRAFFIC JAM (whoo!), drives obscenely slow, parks, and walks into work. Fucking seriously...


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Rod is then at his job "closing" (loose definition) the biggest deal of his career: ONE MILLION DOLLARS! Now considering he gave the guy a 50% discount, he got $1,000,000 for a $2,000,000 deal, which makes him a jackass. It is worth noting, that Alan Bagh's acting, though it started out at abysmal, actually keeps getting worse. Look at this;


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Eleven minutes in: There have still not been any birds.

Going back to Nathalie, after doing some modeling, her agent tells her that Victoria's Secret wants her to be their new cover girl, which is impressive considering the gig she just finished five seconds ago was at a one hour photo. Rod calls her and they force (and I mean FORCE) smalltalk, complete with comments like "I'm sure you'll look great in lingerie", referring, of course, to Nathalie's new job. This scene is actually pretty interesting because while Whitney Moore is no Meryl Streep, she certainly looks like Ms. Streep compared to Mr. Bagh. Anyway, long story short, Rod asks her out.

Now Rod and his friend, whose name I care so little about, I'm not even going to look it up, are playing basketball like poorly acted white salesmen. We learn that Rod and his friend's company are going to be acquired by a larger company, which will make them all very rich. Note: his name is Rick, it gets mentioned later.

That same newswoman comes back to tell us about a wildfire that has 0% containment, otherwise known as no containment. Rod then answers his door to a solar panel salesman. I'd like to tell you that we don't have to literally watch Rod purchase solar panels, but we do. It is exactly as boring as it sounds.

18 minutes in: There are still no birds...

Well we're at a Vietnamese place for their date. They talk about how they like/got into their jobs, their dreams, and... and... zzz... zzz... zzz... Ok, now they're outside an- HOLY SHIT! BIRDS!... that don't do... anything... MOTHER FUCKER! Rod takes her home after some lame dancing.

Nathalie then stops by her mom's place and they talk about her new career and Nathalie gushes about Rod, which makes me die a little inside. Fun fact: Nathalie's mom is by far the best actor/actress in the movie.

Nathalie then calls her friend to see if she wants to go on a double date. This friend happens to be dating (or just banging) Rick, Rod's friend. Small world, huh. 

Now comes one of my favorite non-bird scenes. This is whee the CEO of Rod's company announces they have agreed to the acquisition... FOR A BILLION DOLLARS! Everyone then claps for a full 50 seconds (no bullshit). What makes it better is that the clapping continually dies down and then abruptly starts again because who edited this was doing something other than his job for this particular scene.


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Afterward, Rod is talking to the CEO about the work he's don- AND OH MY FUCKING GOD ALAN BAGH IS JUST... AWFUL! Shit! I don't even have words to describe him anymore; it's just unbelievable.


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After, Rick tries to convince Rod to buy a "nice, hot Ferrari" to impress Nathalie. Rod responds with, "She's my hot Ferrari" which makes no goddamn sense at all. Plus, according to Rod, his Mustang is "a plug-in hybrid. It gets 100 mpg". Let's clear up a few things. First, there is no such thing as a Mustang plug-in hybrid. Second, there is no such thing as a Mustang plug-in hybrid. Third, and this is important, we WATCHED HIM GET FUCKING GAS NO MORE THAN 15 MINUTES AGO! They then go to the movies to see An Inconvenient Truth, which I will remind you, was in theaters in 2006, which means that either A) this movie takes place in 2006 or B) creator/director/writer James Nguyen is a moron (probably B).
Note: at the pumpkin festival later on, one of the floats says "2008" on it.

The next day, Rod presents a new type of solar panel to potential investors, except Rod is played by Alan Bagh so it's about as exciting as watching a thermometer all day. Bafflingly, they agree to fund him.

Thirty-five minutes in: minus one bird sighting, there has STILL not been any hint of a birdemic.

Rod and Nat (I'm tired of typing "Nathalie") then walk through a very specifically named "Pumpkin and Art Festival". Nothing interesting happens. Then they go to the beach, and talk about their ideal man/woman and life backup plans (for some reason). Throughout this conversation there are literally jump cuts (that's right, you heard me: JUMP CUTS) MIDWAY THROUGH THE FUCKING DIALOG. What the HELL? You can't just do that. 


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Regardless along the beach they come across a dead CGI eagle who must've died while breakdancing because I see no other plausible explanation for the position that it died in.

Next, Nat and Rod go to visit Nat's mother, who is still super earnest. They talk about nothing an- GOD DAMMIT! Another jump cut, this time mid-SENTENCE!


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Forty-one minutes in: THERE IS STILL NO FUCKING BIRDEMIC!

They have dinner and talk about nothing (which is becoming a staple of this movie), and then we get to watch them dance terribly for two solid minutes. Don't believe me?


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They then go back to Nat's apartment to have implied sex. Just as I thought it would earlier, it made me die a little inside.

Forty-seven minutes in: HOLY FUCK BALLS, YOU GUYS! IT'S HERE! IT'S THE BIRDEMIC! Looks like it's time to regain my enthusiasm. Here we go!

It comes from literally nowhere, further building the case against Mr. Nguyen's incompetency. There are all of these eerie, silent shots of the town (which is a good start), but then instead of having one bird creepily appear and then another or some other approach that would actually make sense, instead we see silent stillness in one shot and the next, there are birds EVERYWHERE. It makes no sense. See for yourselves after this paragraph. Then the birdemic begins. Here you will notice some the birds choose to dive-bomb things and when they do, they... explode? What the hell? Do... do they... do the make airplane sound when they dive bomb? I'd love to be making this up, but I cannot hide the truth from you. Here you go.


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The birds surround the hotel just hover, flapping their wings and moving nowhere because Newtonian physics is for pussies. Rod and Nat do what is thus far the smartest thing they've done the whole movie, which is to barricade the windows with the bed (this is in response to a bird non-explosively dive-bombing their window). After awhile, the birds leave, and for some reason I will never understand, Nat and Rod leave the apartment.

The head to a neighbor's (Ramsey's) apartment. He and his girlfriend agree to let Rod and Nat hitch a ride in their van (Rod lost his car keys in a bare 1-room apartment somehow), but first they must get to the van. They all arm themselves with coat hangers. Yes, coat hangers. And what follows is one of the bizarre and hilarious moments of visual media that has ever existed. It was also on my welcome page, FYI.




They flee in the van, and Ramsey pulls out a military-grade assault rifle and starts shooting some birds. They then rescue some children (one of whom was in the trunk of a car... weird) because what everyone needed right now was more baggage. Predictably, the children immediately complain that they're hungry so everyone stop by at an abandoned convenience store to get food. They of course have to fight some birds to get back to the car.

They drive for a bit before they inexplicably decide to have an outdoor lunch. At least point, I think it's a given that everyone in this movie is a moron. They see an old guy with a dust mask looking at some dead birds. He warns them to get back because the birds are contagious. Rod and Nat do the only logical thing which is to completely disregard his warning and keep coming closer. He then clarifies that the dead birds had bird flu. He then comes back to the picnic tables to provide the group with some answers. Just kidding. He goes off on a tangent about global warming for two and a half minutes. See the "Global Warming" section to see this preachy bullshit.

In the car, Ramsey tells Rod that he was a soldier in Iraq but was tired of killing and why can't there be peace and yada yada yada. Meanwhile, Becky (Ramsay's gf) is killed as she squats down to take a shit. That is in no way a joke. 


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Then there is more terrible birdemicking.


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They then see a bus being attacked by birds. Now I am going to ignore the fact that Rod and Ramsey shoot (poorly and a lot) at a fucking bus; the main point here is that right now the birds cannot get into the bus. Then Ramsey goes to get the to convince everyone to come out... for some reason. They don't want to leave because they have some small measure of intelligence, but Ramsey convinces them to anyway. Once they get outside, some birds vomit flesh-melting acid on them! It is exactly as stupid as it sounds. Everyone that was on the bus, including Ramsey, dies. Here's that whole scene.


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In the next scene, they go to get some gas, but the gas station person (I don't know what they're called) tells him its $100/gal. I love this scene because I'm 90% sure that the gas station worker is not an actor. I'm fairly certain they just walked into this guy's convenience store and said "Hey! Wanna be in a movie?". Judge for yourselves.


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As per the norm, birds attack them with their hover-and-flap-wings-from-the-bird-elbow-joint move.

Next they see a guy pulled over and go to help him out. He asks for gas, and after Rod tells him he can't spare any, the guy pulls a gun and demands gas. Also, he does all this without emoting in the slightest. As the guy is walking away with the gas, a bird cuts his throat using its... uh... wing? Are wings sharp now? Whatever. Rod drives away without the gas for no logical reason that I can think of.

The gang then stops by a creek to get fresh water when they encounter a tree-hugging hippie. He proceeds to tell about global warming and how it causing a dry climate and, oh yeah, bark beetles. He hates those guys. Talks about them for over a minute. As they leave, they are attacked by the world's least threatening forest fire.


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After they drive a bit, they find their friends (the ones they went on the double date with; I really just don't care enough to scroll up and find their names) murdered by birds. They then run out of gas (who could have seen that coming?). Rod then looks in his trunk and finds a fishing rod and a portable stove. After some heavy math, he concludes that he can catch some fish and cook it. He does just that, but the kids want "a happy meal" because kids are just the worst.

Then the eagles arrive. Everyone rushes back to the car and Rod finishes off his ammo before retreating to the back seat but does not close the window. I cannot explain this. The birds hover around a harass the car as they are wont to do, but then some doves show up and chase the eagles away. The doves and the eagles fly away into to distance without getting any smaller for about four goddamn minutes. Mercifully, the credits roll during this time so we have something else to look at.

THE END

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