I freely admit that I didn’t quite enjoy “Birdboy” when it was titled “Psychonauts, The Forgotten Children” back in 2016 for the Fantasia Film Festival. While typically I’m a big fan of animation of most kinds, “Birdboy” failed to click with me. I just could not find any real reason to recommend it when I’d finished it, and struggled to even finish it, when all was said and done.
Stranded on an island in a post-apocalyptic world, teenager Dinky and her friends hatch a dangerous plan to escape in the hope of finding a better life. Meanwhile, her old friend Birdboy has shut himself off from the world, pursued by the police and haunted by demon tormentors. But unbeknownst to anyone, he contains a secret inside him that could change the world forever.
Even now I find it hard to really give a clear approval for the newly titled “Birdboy” in spite of its wonderful animation and unique art style. I’m happy for the success of Pedro Rivero, and Alberto Vazquez as I think it’s refreshing to have a more Latin American perspective in the medium. I just didn’t take to “Birdboy,” even when looking at it in a new point of view on the release from GKIDS. The tone and aesthetic is just too morose and downbeat to soak in the message and originality.
It can never seem to decide what kind of atmosphere it wants to adopt right through the very end, and a lot of “Birdboy” feels like it struggles to extend itself beyond the graphic novel’s medium. The vision from the pair of directors is fascinating and I think applied to a better realized and innovative concept, they could very well set a trend.
GKIDS and Shout Factory includes a DVD Copy of the film. Also included is Beyond the Birdboy Original Short Film, a thirteen minute proof-of-concept origin story that sets the basis for the feature length narrative. There’s another of Alberto Vasquez’s short films, Decorado, and a series of Interviews clocking in a twelve minutes featuring Alberto Vasquez and Pedro Rivero. Here they discuss the graphic-novel origin of the story, how their collaboration began and how they worked the film into their schedules, and how their collaboration with the artists was integral to the story. They also reflect upon the film’s themes their aspirations beyond the art house audience.