Game to films: The Angry Birds are back
As The Angry Birds Movie 2 is released in India, a look at our fascination with the game that introduced us to this colourful brood of birds, and their arch enemies, the pigs
A tech addict, 38-year-old Prithvi has, over the years, spent hours feeding virtual sweets to a digital snake, or throwing pumpkins at monsters trapped in his mobile phone. It was no wonder he got taken in by a brood of furry, colourful birds and wanted to help them defeat the bad pigs who had stolen their eggs. “What was surprising was that my wife, who is hardly interested in mobile games, got hooked to this one too,” Prithvi says.
Before Angry Birds, the perception about video games was that they were often violent or gory, male territory, says Kaiwan Yezdani, co-founder of Roosh Interactive, a game development company. “This game changed that. Everyone was playing it.” This Friday (August 23), the birds and pigs returned to the big screen in India, in a second film inspired by the game.
It was some time in 2009 that a Finnish video-games designer, Jaakko Iisalo, an employee at the mobile games developing company Rovio, came up with the first sketch that resulted in the creation of the Angry Birds game. Originally designed for iPhones, the game quickly caught on and spread to Apple’s other devices and then other operating systems.
“I discovered Angry Birds sometime in 2015-16. Everyone around me was playing it. It was the best free game available,” recalls Gargi Mulherjee, a banker settled in the UK. “One of the things I liked about the game was the tune. This was one game which I didn’t play on the mute.
The idea itself was simple — players used slingshots to launch wingless birds at pigs who had stolen their eggs, to try and destroy them. The birds don’t fly, and the first film inspired by the game had to have an explanation for that.
“Perhaps you’ve never heard the joke ‘Why don’t birds fly’?” asks Judge Peckinpah (an owl) of an unsocial bird named Red. “Because where else would we ever wanna go (from the perfect Bird Island)”, he says.
At each level of the game, the pigs hide in shelters constructed of glass, wood, metal etc. Some wear protective armour.
New birds are introduced as the game progresses, some with special powers. Over the years the series has seen many new versions. There are also animations, videos and merchandise inspired by the games.
The first Angry Birds film came out in 2016. For a game developer, “the biggest thing that can happen is for a filmmaker to want to adapt it for the big screen,” says Yezdani. But the game-to-film transition is also tricky. To succeed, “it should offer something that the game cannot,” says Nabanita Das, a media professional.
Where The Angry Birds Movie scored was in creating “endearing human characteristics and a believable social setting (for the birds),” says activist Pranaadhika Sinha Devburman.
The second Angry Birds film enters a new territory - the birds and pigs must unite for a common goal. As ‘frenemies’ will they be as popular as they had been as enemies?
Other Game-To-Film Transformations
The film is mostly based in the fictional Ryme City, where humans and Pokemons coexist. But there are sinister plans afoot and Pikachu and his new, unwilling, human partner must save the day.
Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time
A prince and princess team up against his evil uncle, who wants to control time.
Angelina Jolie plays adventurer Lara Croft (right) in this 2001 adaptation and its 2003 sequel, The Cradle of Life. Another adaptation was released in 2018, starring Alicia Vikander, but Jolie will forever remain synonymous with the character.