FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: I’ve been anticipating this and now I have finally seen it: “Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” stars Michael Keaton (Batman , Beetlejuice), Emma Stone (The Help, Easy A), Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulk, The Illusionist), Naomi Watts (King Kong , The Ring), Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Due Date), Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion, Happy-Go-Lucky), Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone, Escape Plan), Lindsay Duncan (About Time, Alice in Wonderland ), and Clark Middleton (Fringe [TV series], Snowpiercer). It is directed and co-written by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Biutiful, Babel). The story follows the famous actor Riggan Thomson (Keaton) who is only known for his portrayal of superhero Birdman over twenty years ago. Since people know Birdman more than Riggan himself, he tries to get out of that image by setting up his own theatre production with him writing, directing, co-producing, and starring in it. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into this production and Riggan has put everything on the line to make it a success. However, issues ensue, both with people and inside himself. With a mental breakdown creeping up inside his head, Riggan must pull himself together so that his play can be a hit, and shed the wings of Birdman off his back.
I’ve made it a journey to watch as many Best Picture nominated movies as I can from the Oscars of the past year, having viewed four out of eight, not including this one. After seeing “Whiplash”, I was expecting “Birdman”, the winner of the Best Picture award, to top it. It had semi-big shoes to fill and although most of that shoe was filled, it fell short of “Whiplash”. Don’t let that disgruntle you though! This movie was great, but bizarre. I mean, extremely bizarre. Before I get into my review, I must say that this is a very original film, being something I haven’t seen before. It is weird, it is different, and it will have you thinking. This isn’t a sci-fi, but it sure has the far-out-there feel. Discussing the plot, it is rather simple, but it has a lot of depth. Basically what you are watching is a day-in-the-life of this Riggan figure. However, this day (or a couple of days to be more specific) is something of importance, having his whole career on the line. The trailer itself doesn’t give any inkling on the direction this movie takes you and that is what is great. I didn’t expect anything that unfolded in front of my eyes. It was unpredictable. To write about this would take forever because there is so much to discuss, mainly because it is…..I don’t know, the words escape. With this day-in-the-life-of plot comes some flaws, mostly because of how there are some random scenes, but it all is under the wing of a certain lesson. Life can go two ways for anyone in show business: you can either make it or break it. Once you break it, it is hard to come back, but that can also be said if you make it because Riggan made it with his Birdman movies, but it ruined his career in the process, extending a shadow over his self-worth and trading him in for a man only capable of dawning a bird costume. A side note I have is how I like that they pay homage to Keaton’s Batman in this because he is well-known for his portrayal of the masked bat vigilante of the late 80’s to early 90’s. Anyway, not many of the younger audience (like myself, being seventeen) will understand the aspect of what Riggan is going through, having never been where he has with his experience. I will admit it. But, although I can’t relate, I can understand. It’s because of the fact that I know how certain actors can get shrouded by one character they play and only be known by that for the rest of their lives. It’s like Jim Parsons who plays Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory”. Every time I see him act as someone different I can’t stop seeing Sheldon. It is a difficult task to overcome a character people become accustomed to and that is what made this movie so interesting with such a basic concept. You feel for Riggan and all he goes through. All the crap he has to put up with is unbelievable, but even he has his own problems. Off the topic of just Riggan, let me talk about the other characters. I think what makes this film so great with their characters is the fact that none of them tower over one another. No one is pushed to the back either. There are a lot of famous people in this movie and they all get their own time in the spotlight, both figuratively and literally. The acting was phenomenal and I thought it was all real (not literally, just exaggerating how great their acting is). I must mention this: Edward Norton. The guy is awesome, especially his character. Of course, he is a creepy guy, but he is very interesting. I love his acting all the time and after seeing a poorly scripted performance by him in “The Bourne Legacy”, it was refreshing to see him in a great role again. It goes the same for everyone else in terms of how great they were. Another thing that was fantastic and new is the cinematography. If you don’t already know, this film gives the illusion that it is all filmed in one take. I can tell where they can cut in some places and they actually do towards the end, but for the most part it is filmed in one go. I give major props to both the cameramen and the actors for going through in one swift motion most of the time. And the director is amazing to come up with this. There are moments where Riggan goes off mentally and you wonder whether what happens to him is real a few times, but with the directing, you can figure it out without them explaining it to you. Speaking of the mental part, that is where this film gets bizarre. Sure, there are other things, but this is the big chunk of it. This film goes many places and once you get the voices in Riggan’s head, it gets cuckoo rather fast. But oddly enough, I enjoyed it. It feels weird to like it, but I do. Now, I mentioned before that it has its flaws. There are not many, but they are definitely worth mentioning. This film is sick at times. Some things are just wrong and uncalled for, which calls for me to pull down some points. I’m not going to go further into it, but if you ever watch it, you’ll understand. That is why I said some scenes are random. It is really the biggest con I have which spans in spotted areas throughout the movie. Other than that, I have one last con: the ending. The ending was a mixed bag for me. It was like a rollercoaster. Once the pieces were set into place and Riggan went on-stage, my mind was going “oh man, this is dark, but genius!” But then, it extends to a whole new direction I didn’t expect. It brought my spirits down until a newspaper was shown and they were brought up with me thinking “now I know why they did this! Great thinking!” Then, it fades when the last minute rolls by. It leaves on a moment where you don’t really know what happened and that made me angry. I don’t want things to be explained to me if I can get the gist, but I needed explaining in this ending. It is more of a “think of it what you will” kind of ending. I don’t know, I’m just half-and-half on the discussion of it. Overall, I took a lot from this movie. It was a bizarrely enjoyable experience and I had fun with it. A great view of life is portrayed and it gave me something fresh. I definitely recommend anyone who is the right age to view this because you won’t regret it! FINAL SCORE: 91%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: