2010, Movies

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010, James Nguyen)

I have seen a lot of bad movies in my life (though fewer recently) so I have pretty high (low?) standards for my “Worst Movies of All Time” list. For me, a film has to be have zero redeeming qualities about it for me to consider it one of the worst films ever made. Most movies do not fit that definition. Even my last few 1 star reviews were of films that had at least one redeeming quality. This film, on the other hand…

How has it taking me so long to see this? This film is legendary in part because I think some of us assumed that with improvements in CGI and other post-production techniques, it was nearly impossible to make something that belongs among the worst movies ever made, just because it’s so much easier to be technically competent than it used to be. Well, if I believed that, I was sorely mistaken.

Every so often I see a film I should have lived tweeted. This one perhaps more than any other, I should have live tweeted. Without taking notes, it’s sort of hard to know where to begin. But everything about this movie is bad. (Here’s a sample.)

  • The actors range from mediocre to terrible. The lead actor has some kind of speech impediment or odd way of enunciating (or, rather not enunciating) certain words, so that he doesn’t always sound like he is speaking English. (He is clearly American.) Some of the supporting class clearly don’t speak English. The kids’ lines appear to be overdubbed at some point. Some scenes seem to be (poorly) improvised – that or the filmmakers didn’t want to do another take. Oh yeah, every phone call feels like there is nobody on the other end of the phone… Oh, and one more thing. Sometimes the cast just stare, or look different directions (such as when the lead looks into the corners of his hotel room).
  • The plot, such that there is, is ridiculous. Nothing happens for like 45 minutes (much like Manos); there are scenes of the main character going to work, driving into a gas station, getting gas, leaving the gas station, getting stuck in traffic, “working,” leaving work… The birdemic is caused by global warming, by the way. Spoiler Alert, I guess. Rest assured, nothing makes any sense.
  • The sound is awful; the quality shifts from shot to shot and even varies within shots. There is at least one shot where there cast doesn’t appear to be recorded but should have been. There are noises in the background of the audio that regularly interfere with the film. Also, during one scene, there are the sounds of two guns shooting but we only see one firing (the other is not in use…).
  • The shots themselves are not necessarily awful. Though some of the film is too bright, there are actually a couple of normal looking shots. The problem with them is that the cast is in them, those CGI birds (see below) are in them, or the shot has seemingly nothing to do with the film. I’d suggest they were stock footage but they aren’t…
  • The soundtrack is hilariously derivative. The opening of the movie is meant to evoke Hitchcock (both the score and the pointless driving) and other cues later in the film seem to be cribbed right from ’80s adventure films. The cue for the scene with the tree-hugger is very Twin Peaks.
  • Last but definitely not least, I have seen some films with awful CGI, but this might be the worst – or, at the very least, the worst incorporation of bad CGI into a live action film. The birds just hover (or get bigger or smaller) and slap their wings. Occasionally one of them dive bombs and explodes. (Seriously, they just blow up!) Only occasionally does the CGI birds’ action (mostly non-action) match what’s on the screen, and one of those times is in the movie’s most classic shot, where four cast members wave sticks in the air while four birds hover above them, doing nothing.

Had I taken notes, this review might have been a few thousand words, so I’m sorry I didn’t. Anyway, this is such an all timer that I think it might be one of the worst 5 or 10 movies I’ve ever seen. It’s that bad. You owe it to yourself to watch it.


PS If I gave movies zeros, this one would get it. (I don’t give movies zero stars because a film’s very existence is an accomplishment I have never myself achieved.) In fact, this movie makes me want to go back to revise some of my 1 star reviews, because now I feel like those films didn’t deserve 1 star if this film is a 1 star.

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