‘Birdman’ Early Reviews Bring the Film Universal Praise

Published 8 months ago by

Birdman Early Reviews Birdman Early Reviews Bring the Film Universal Praise

This year will see the release of two different films in which older actors play more tragic and washed-up versions of themselves. In Ari Folman’s The Congress, Robin Wright (The Princess Bride) plays an out-of-work actress who sells the rights to her digital image to a movie studio in exchange for a large sum of money. In Birdman, the surreal new drama from Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel), Michael Keaton stars as another aging actor whose career has sharply declined since his younger days of playing a famous on-screen superhero.

Keaton’s character, Riggan Thompson decides to put together a broadway play – an adaptation of Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love – in order to put his life, his career and his family back on track. The film also stars Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and Andrea Riseborough.

The trailers for Birdman have been pretty insane, showing Riggan calling down fire from the heavens as part of his elaborate fantasy and wrestling with a mostly-naked Norton. The film premiered at the Venice International Film Festival this week and received glowing praise from critics. Check out some selections of what reviewers had to say about Birdman below.

birdman trailer keaton norton Birdman Early Reviews Bring the Film Universal Praise

Daily Telegraph – Robbie Collin:

“‘Birdman’ isn’t much like anything else at all. Think ‘Black Swan’ directed by Mel Brooks and you’re in the vicinity, but only just… This is a phenomenal start to this year’s Mostra: grand, spectacular, star-powered cinema that makes us ask anew what cinema is for. Call it a Dark Knight of the soul.”

Variety – Peter Debruge:

“‘Birdman’ offers by far the most fascinating meta-deconstruction of an actor’s ego since ‘Being John Malkovich,’ and one that leaves no room for vanity… Inarritu’s approach is mind-boggling in its complexity, nearly as demanding on [cinematographer Emmanuel] Lubezki as ‘Gravity’ must have been… It’s all one big magic trick, one designed to remind how much actors give to their art even as it disguises the layers of work that go into it.”

Screen Daily - Mark Adams:

“If Michael Keaton is very much the moving, complex and troubled face of ‘Birdman,’ there is no getting away from the sheer polish and precision that Alejandro González Iñárritu has brought to the film. The pure sense of control – working in beautiful tandem with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki – is astounding, with the film likely to feature strongly when awards are being handed out.”

Birdman official still Birdman Early Reviews Bring the Film Universal Praise

Hollywood Reporter – Todd McCarthy:

“‘Birdman’ flies very, very high. Intense emotional currents and the jagged feelings of volatile actors are turned loose to raucous dramatic and darkly comedic effect in one of the most sustained examples of visually fluid tour de force cinema anyone’s ever seen, all in the service of a story that examines the changing nature of celebrity and the popular regard for fame over creative achievement.”

TheWrap – Alonso Duralde:

“Putting aside [its] baseless and infantile loathing of the critic class, ‘Birdman’ is an often intelligent and unpredictable look at actors, loving their spontaneity and creativity glossing over their emotional needs and volatility. Riggan is so consumed with self-doubt that he often hears the voice of Birdman in his head, telling him to abandon this artsy-fartsy stage business so he can return to the screen for the ‘apocalyptic pornography’ that global audiences crave.”

Time Out – Cath Clarke

“We know Iñárritu has a dark side (just look at his previous films like ‘Amores Perros’ and ‘Babel’), and it’s not entirely hidden here. Life is disappointing, his film is saying (it opens with a Carver quote, ‘Did you get what you wanted out of life?’). But it’s also beautiful and, at times, unexpected. This film does real justice to that idea: it’s dazzling and rambling, intimate and sprawling, and it’s carried along by an infectious, off-the-cuff jazz score. As soon as it ends, you’ll be dying to fly with it again.”

Michael Keaton Birdman Birdman Early Reviews Bring the Film Universal Praise

Birdman has received particular praise for its cinematography and editing, since a combination of clever staging and visual trickery come together to create the illusion of a single, continuous real-time take, even as the action spans both days and miles. Composer Antonio Sanchez was also highly praised by his chaotic jazz score (at one point the frenetic drummer is actually caught on camera as part of the movie’s running thread of meta-humor). For moviegoers who are looking for something a little bit weird to watch this fall, Birdman definitely sounds like it’s worth seeing at least once.


Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance opens in U.S. theaters on October 17th, 2014.

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
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    • Guess it’s a Netflix for you, eh?

      • Not even that…looks like kind of a “moulty” movie to me!

    • Of course is not for you! You’d rather watch Guardians of Cheese or some mediocre movie full of dumb juvenile humor and nonsensical crap.

        • Hmm… that’s surprising since all you’ve done over the last year or so is write how stupid an idea GotG was.

          BTW, GotG was a very good (if not great) movie, and anyone who thinks otherwise either hasn’t seen it or is dead inside.

  1. I guess it was universally praised, but wasn’t just right for Goldilocks.

    • He obviously didn’t even watch the trailer… this film looks amazing.

      • I’ve seen better trailers pulled behind clunky old trucks.

        • Seems that your taste in movies directly correlates with your sense of humor… as in, they’re both questionable.

  2. This is going to be an art house film that is probably going to get keaton an oscar nod or at least a golden globe nod… it will probably get some other nods in the technical department too.

    I have high hopes for this movie but the average movie going public will come out of this either really hating it or really loving it… this will probably be one of those movies that finds an amazing life/cult following once it hits netflix

  3. “Black Swan directed my Mel Brooks”

    I think if I knew nothing else about the film, that would sell me on it!

    • Never saw Black Swan, although I am familiar with the story. The Mel Brooks part sold it for me though.

      • Don’t waste your time with Black Swan. I have absolutely no idea why that film got so much praise.

  4. They should have got Keaton to reprise his Batman role in Snyder’s Batman v Superman. An older and more washed up version of Bruce Wayne/Batman than we’re going to get. It would be especially cool if Bruce Wayne lost his money as well as getting old and out of shape…… Then coming out of retirement and trying to take on Superman.

    Quite a contrast with Superman’s almost godlike powers….. Youth and good looks too. Talk about an underdog story. I would love that.

    • I agree. That’s a much better idea than the Affleck casting. People would’ve lost their $h!t (in a good way) if Keaton reprised his role as an older Bruce Wayne.

      • If they ever made a Batman Beyond movie with him it would be so awesome

        • So I’m not the only person working on that script.

        • +1

    • Then that wouldn’t be Batman anymore, ’cause it would be so obvious that he wouldn’t be able to win anymore.

      Batman needs to be a tough guy imho. Batman is a winner !! 8)

      • Ever read The Dark Knight Returns? Keaton in that role would be iconic. Also, not suggesting that you feel strongly one way or the other, but Affleck is the furthest thing from a tough guy in MY honest opinion.

        • Yeah then I’d prefer Craig Daniel :)

    • If they were to do something like that someday, I’d want Tim Burton to do it. It’s should be all or nothing. Bring back the full team behind those movies. Not only Keaton.

      I wouldn’t put him into BvS. Even though it’s also got an older Batman, it’s still a different Batman than Keaton’s/Buton’s.

      • Bring back the guy who had Batman go out of his way to intentionally kill bad guys, no thanks.

        • They had it coming!! ;)

    • Keaton is 62 years old and only 5’9″, the Batman from BvS is in his forties and Affleck looks more like the Bruce Wayne from the comics/cartoons anyway… Keaton would be better for an old Bruce in a Batman Beyond movie.

  5. this costume could be an awesome hawkman costume if it had straps/wings on the helmet

  6. Many of you want Keaton to return as Batman, I want Norton to return as Hulk.

    • He was a fine Bruce Banner. It was the Hulk in that movie that dissappointed me.

      • I personally like his Hulk more than the one in the Avengers, and Norton’s Banner was the reason I started liking the Hulk, I hated Bana’s, and Ruffalo’s is not to my liking, to me Norton’s is perfect.

        • I’m talking about the portrayal of the green monster itself. That’s all down to the writers, directors, CGI departement and so on.

          What I didn’t like about the portrayal in the Incredible Hulk was that he didn’t seem angry enough. He’s supposed to be an explosion of anger. But I remember him more like a Hulk that was tired. And I know that’s also part of it. Hulk wants to be left alone. But I just think his rage faded too soon after the transformation.

          I liked the Hulk in the first movie better. This Hulk got more and more angry, and stronger and stronger, when you didn’t leave him alone. He threw battle tanks around like toys. That Hulk had all the power Hulk should have.

  7. Black Swan directed by Mel Brooks? I didn’t see Black Swan. But I love Mel Brooks.

    The setup also reminds me a bit of the Wrestler. And I know this sounds like a completely different story, but I can’t help thinking of Brazil.

    I’m hooked. The trailer looks awesome. The story sounds interesting. Count me in.

    • The Wrestler is a good analogy… also seems to have shades of Synecdoche, New York, with it’s surrealist take that merges fiction and reality to the point where you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. I personally love that sort of thing.

    • Yeah, The Wrestler and The Black Swan are pretty much sibling films, they’re both directed by Darren Aronofsky, and deal with very similar situations mirroring each other, although The Black Swan is much more of a psychological-surrealistic-schizoid story. I love both films, and yeah Birdman does have that feel that kind of feel to it, I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

  8. Oh yeah. I’m definitely going to watch this. I’d hate to be an actor. Sure you get lots of money, but you lose your privacy. The trade-off is just not worth it.

    • that goes with being a celebrity…

      Being an actor there are only a handful that see those big paydays… There are many actors who are completely out of work and on the street or working temp jobs to get by… just like many people in the entertainment field. what you see in movies are a small sampling of actors who had the right look or talent for the right roles. but there were probably hundreds of guys/gals who auditioned for 1 role. so multiply that by the thousands of roles in movies and TV and what do you get?

      • Very true. Acting in it of itself is such a risky line of work. You’re either waiting tables to pay the bills or if/when you do finally make it big, you basically give up a big chunk of your identity and sanity.

    • It seems that being a character actor is the way to go… You can make alot of money but still kinda keep your privacy… You become “that guy or chick” from the movies.

      • haha yeah basically dont star in any mainstream generic blockbusters!

  9. Can’t WAIT to see this movie.

  10. Not that the reviews mattered because it looked great anyway but holy cow, those reviews are great. Definitely a must-watch in my opinion.

  11. I’m sorry, but this isn’t for me. Superhero movies are popular year in and year out due to their optimism and the presentation of an alternative world where an every-man can save the world.

    This will be an incredibly nihilistic take on the concept which will show a man broken by fear and Hollywood glamour, driving himself insane in grief or loss (or both) before taking a final suicidal plunge into his later ego and most probably suicide. I will pass thank you.

    • It’s probably also wrong to categorize it as a superhero movie. It’s a story about an actor who used to play a superhero.

      I got a completely different impression from the trailer than you. I didn’t see it ending with a suicide. I saw the consideration of suicide (standing on the ledge) as the turning point. His rock bottom. But that’s probably where his journey begins.

  12. I’m not much into artsy films, maybe because of its pretentious “we’re-smarter-than-you” fanbase, but I still watch them, and I’m gonna watch this because of Michael Keaton.

  13. I cannot believe Birdman won best Picture. So because Hispanics directed and produced this picture we had to be politically correct and give best picture to them instead of American Sniper or the Theory of Everything, are you kidding me. What a let down, seriously. This is the last time I watch the academy awards, and all my friends.

    • Are you kidding me?

      Just because a movie you liked didn’t win, doesn’t mean it’s a big anti-American conspiracy. Grow up.