Flappy Bird is a weird phenomenon. It was developed and released in May of 2013, but only rose to popularity in the past 2 weeks. After a surge of players, and the developer earning $50,000 a day from ad revenue, it was pulled from the App Stores never to be seen again. As far as anybody can tell Flappy Bird had no promotional push at any point in its lifetime other than in the past few weeks when journalist were having a field day about the game.
For those who don’t already know, Flappy Bird is an endless runner where you tap on your screen to “flap” the birds wings so he can navigate through gaps in a series of Mario-esque pipes. Failure to flap well enough and hit the ground or a pipe, you lose. Super simple game; one button, one objective (to get as high a score as possible), and endless replay value. And it’s been done a hundred times over in the past (see Helicopter).
Wow. This movie was the sleeper hit in the past year. I cannot begin to describe how much this movie impressed me. But I’ll try.
First of all, Joaquin Phoenix did a wonderful job. It could be very easy to accidentally portray a man getting an AI girlfriend as a creepy dude. But Mr. Phoenix creates a very real person who has gone through real things in his life, and he just wants to talk to someone about it. This concept of real people is a sub-plot that runs through the film. Is artificial intelligence real intelligence? Are AI people too? But here’s the greatest thing about that sub-plot. It is almost entirely in the background. Through the movie these struggles with the essence of life is only expressly shown through character interactions (i.e. conversations between characters who really don’t care about this SkyNet-net like happening). This is how the film handles most things. By focusing on the characters in the “sci-fi” movie, Spike Jonze creates a world that is different and futuristic in a way we’ve never seen before. After seeing it, I’m thoroughly convinced that some parts of the movie will really be in our lives in a few years. And I don’t mean in the Minority Report way of “oooh, well all have holograms and motion control giant screens.” I mean I can legitimately see our technological world evolve into the one shown in Her.