On January 24, my sister Sherry took me in my wheelchair to see The Nut Job at the Pacific Theatres 18-Plex at the Glendale Americana at Brand “shopping community”.
The movie was released on January 17, and for over a week I had been reading reviews on animation-community websites that were uniformly negative. They did not just pan it, they hysterically reviled it. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 12% favorable professional rating:
Hampered by an unlikable central character and source material stretched too thin to cover its brief running time, The Nut Job will provoke an allergic reaction in all but the least demanding moviegoers. (RT critic consensus)
“Anyone who doubts the truth of the bromide that January is the time studios trot out films that would otherwise be unreleasable should take a look at The Nut Job, a CG feature that has all the originality and individuality of a Dixie Cup,” begins Charles Solomon’s review on Animation Scoop. “[…] Numerous, predictable contretemps ensue […] the storytelling is simply inept […] The animation is unimpressive at best. […] The Nut Job was made in Canada and Korea, reportedly in association with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea - probably because sitting through the film makes the 12-hour flying time between Los Angeles and Seoul seem brief.”
Conversely, the box office of The Nut Job has been good – fortunately, or I would have wondered whether the critics were talking about the same feature that I saw.
Nominations for the 2013 Ursa Major Awards, for the best anthropomorphic movies, novels, comic strips, games, etc., will close on February 28. Voting for the winner will begin on March 15th and will close on April 30. The awards will be presented at CaliFur X on May 30 to June 1, at the Irvine Marriott Hotel, Irvine, California.
If you have not nominated yet, you have only a few more days to do so. All titles first published or released during the 2013 calendar year are eligible. The awards are given in eleven categories: Motion Picture, Dramatic Short Work or Series, Novel, Short Fiction, Other Literary Work, Graphic Novel, Comic Strip, Magazine, Published Illustration, Website, and Game. The final ballot includes the top five titles nominated in each category.
Animation Breakdown Roundup!, a one-day 90+-minute animation festival of 25 brand-new animated experimental shorts, will play on Saturday, March 8 at 9:30 p.m. at The Cinefamily, a.k.a. The Silent Movie Theatre, 611 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036; (323) 655-2510. Tickets are $12.
Co-curator Alex MacDonald says to expect something like past compilations such as Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation, The International Tournée of Animation, or The Animation Show. Animation Breakdown Roundup! will feature “over 90 amazing minutes of animation filled with world premieres and exclusives.”
What makes it of interest to us is that half or more of the 25 shorts feature anthropomorphic animals and even Furries, counting the psychedelic duck musicians, the wolfman or werewolf bikers, and indescribable but clearly sentient "things". How many can you find in this 1’07” trailer?
In movie geek parlance, a ‘turkey’ is a movie that, well, it isn’t very good.
When Free Birds calls itself “the greatest turkey movie of all time,” it’s more than a little self-deprecating. Yes, the movie is about turkeys, but there’s that double meaning right there. That’s the joke, see. Ha ha.
It opens with a disclaimer reminding the audience that this movie is about talking turkeys; though Free Birds is about an historical event (the first Thanksgiving), it indicates that you should probably not take it too seriously.
Gee, the movie just apologized to me twice before I even got to watch it; that’s not a good sign.
Sly Cooper, the anthropomorphic raccoon star of several video games, is set to get his own movie. Although not due for release until 2016, the movie already has an official website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and a teaser-trailer:
The film will be made by animation studio Rainmaker Entertainment and indie production company Blockade Entertainment. The writer and director will be Kevin Munroe, who previously wrote and directed the CGI Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie of 2007.
The Criterion Collection has been around since 1984, making 2014 the thirtieth anniversary for the film collection that all but invented the modern idea of DVD bonuses. During those three decades, as the collection added "important classic and contemporary films," they included a single animated feature, despite releasing nearly 700 movies on Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-Ray.
That changes with the movie with 700 on the movie case's spine in the collection, which will be released Feb. 18. Wes Anderson's adaptation of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox becomes the second animated feature to join the prestigious collection.
Criterion Collection, February 18, 2014, dual format Blu-ray/DVD (3 discs, 87 minutes, color, 1.85:1 ratio, English) Criterion store price $31.96
Correction: The original headline implied Fantastic Mr. Fox was the first animated feature in the collection. The Criterion Collection released an out of print Akira Laserdisc, making Fantastic Mr. Fox the second animated feature in the collection. Sorry for the error.
On January 18, the 130-minute Indian animated feature Chhota Bheem and the Throne of Bali came to five Big Cinemas theaters in the U.S.:
- Peachtree Theatre, 6135 Peachtree Parkway, Norcross, Georgia 30092 (Atlanta)
- Golf Glen Stadium, 9180 West Niles Road, Niles, Illinois 60714 (Chicago)
- Dos Lagos Stadium, 2710 Lakeshore Drive, Corona, California 92883 (Los Angeles-San Diego)
- Movie City 8, 1655 Oak Tree Road, Edison, New Jersey 08820 (NYC)
- Big Cinemas Fremont 7, 39160 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont, California 94538 (San Francisco)
The notice does not say how long it is playing at each, but probably for one week, so you should have time to see it if you hurry. The news also does not say whether it is dubbed or subtitled in English; it was dubbed in Hindi for its Indian theatrical release last year.
The awards are selected by a two-stage process of nominating and voting. Members of the public send in up to five nominations in each of the eleven categories. The top five nominees in each category (more in case of a tie) are then presented on a final ballot for a public vote.
The eleven categories are: Motion Picture, Dramatic Short Work or Series, Novel, Short Fiction, Other Literary Work, Graphic Novel, Comic Strip, Magazine, Published Illustration, Website, and Game.
Many nominations are likely to come from the 2013 Recommended Anthropomorphic Reading List, which has been built up through prior recommendations. However, inclusion on the List is not necessary for nomination if a work is otherwise eligible.
Lou Scheimer was co-founder and president of Filmation Animation. Before he passed away last year, he completed his autobiography with the help of comic book writer and historian Andy Mangels. Now it’s been released in trade paperback by TwoMorrows Publishing as Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation. Best known for Saturday morning staples like The Archies and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Filmation was also responsible for the animated Star Trek series in the 1970′s, as well as for taking us back down the Yellow Brick Road with 1974′s Journey Back to Oz. For better or for worse (depending largely on your opinion of limited animation) there were a lot of anthropomorphic characters who made their way through various Filmation productions. Some of them, like Star Trek’s Lt. Mress, have become Furry icons. Check out Lou’s story — and the story of Filmation and Saturday morning cartoons — at Amazon.
Jerry Beck’s Animation Scoop website noted on December 18 that the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry has announced its 2013 selection of twenty-five new additions. Several of the films are animated, or contain animated sequences, and among those, several feature anthropomorphized animals.
The Cartoon Brew has a preview roundup of 22 animated features announced as coming in 2014. Fourteen are American or will be released in America; eight are foreign with no current plans to be distributed in America, although this could change.
At least nine of them feature anthropomorphic animals, bugs, Lego blocks. planes, marshmallow soldiers, or other things that we ought to be interested in. (We’re still arguing over whether the dragons in How to Train Your Dragon are anthropomorphic or not.)
Amid Amidi reports on the Cartoon Brew website that China’s first CGI feature, the 70-minute Boonie Bears: Homeward Journey, is coming to the U.S. on January 6.
Didn’t China already produce a CGI feature, 2011’s Kung Fu Panda ripoff Legend of a Rabbit? Apparently nobody wants to talk about that. (Totalitarian nations are very good at rewriting their history.)
If three days sounds like very short notice, it’s because Boonie Bears: Homeward Journey will not be a theatrical release. It’s coming direct-to-DVD. What’s more, this was not even a theatrical release in China. It was a Chinese TV special last Spring.
Not many independent animation studios have a large staffs; fewer still are a one-person operation. But such is the case with Zandoria Studios — also known as animator William Sutton, working out of his home in Tennessee. While still working a day job, Mr. Sutton has found time to create CGI sequences for various independent films. Meanwhile, he’s been working on his own personal project: TAR of Zandoria, created using the popular Animation Master software. TAR, you see, is a barbarian hippopotamus, who spends his time wandering the wasteland in search of adventure, dancing girls, and fruit punch — but who must instead busy himself dispatching armies of hyenas and other evil-doers. A Kickstarter campaign to finance the first episode of TAR was unfortunately not successful, and so Mr. Sutton is seeking out other ways to bring his idea to life — and the screen. Check out the official TAR web site to find out the latest and see lots of background sketches — both computer-generated and traditional art.
Sheriff Callie’s Wild West is a new CGI animated TV series for preschool kids, coming soon to Disney Junior. Starring the voice of Mandy Moore (Tangled), it tells the story of Callie — a calico cat, the loyal and heroic sheriff of a little western town called Nice and Friendly Corners — and her friends and associates as they learn important little life lessons. There’s an article at Entertainment Weekly that includes a preview video of the show. Sheriff Callie’s Wild West is available now at WATCHDisneyJunior.com and the WATCH Disney Junior smartphone and tablet app. It debuts on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior in early 2014.
If you have somehow missed out on the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic TV animation phenomenon so far, here is a good place to start. This book – and it is a cute little booklet, appropriate to the TV cartoon series; only 6.8” x 5” and brimming with color on glossy paper – is a graphic-novel adaptation of the two-part Friendship is Magic pilot episode broadcast on October 10 and 22, 2010. The story is by Lauren Faust, MLP:FIM’s creator, adapted into graphic-novel form by Justin Eisinger. Other credits are on the title page. This booklet consists of stills from the two TV cartoons with speech-balloon overlays; about as close to putting an animated cartoon onto paper as you can get. If you do not have a videotape or DVD of the first two episodes, this will enable you to have them.
IDW Publishing is the publisher of the MLP:FIM regular comic book, but this booklet is not a regular comic book. It is a cross between a standard American comic book and a Japanese tankōbon paperback, shrunk to about half-size, in glossy full-color on slick paper; more like the paperback photo-novels of Doctor Who, Star Blazers, or Star Trek episodes than a collection of comic-book issues.