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Review: 'Avengers: Infinity War'

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

Avengers: Infinity WarTo begin, a little bit of justification as to why I'm reviewing this. In addition to being the 19th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Avengers three ... point five ... ish, this movie is also essentially Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2.5. And seeing as how that team just won its second motion picture Ursa Major by a pretty good margin over historically fierce competition, well, this is a team furries apparently care about, even if it's really just Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) bringing the furry.

Next, a little bit of warning. This movie ends on what could be a cliffhanger which may totally be retconned out of existence by the end of next year's Untitled Avengers Film, or maybe not, in which case there is a lot, a lot, of stuff to spoil. Now, people have a tendency to act, well, spoiled about spoilers, which basically didn't exist before Alfred Hitchcock invented the idea to promote Psycho, despite the fact that the trailer consists of Hitchcock giving the game away, since it doesn't matter.

However, there's no need to be rude, so I'm not going into the ending, other than I think I will reveal Rocket's fate, so you know whether or not, as a furry, you should just give up on this Marvel Cinematic Universe or not.

But I'll do that after the break, so if you don't want to know, well, don't click "read more".

Review: 'Ghost of a Tale'

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (6 votes)

Ghost of a Tale is described as an action-RPG game with stealth elements, dialogues and quests. Of particular interest to furs is that you play as an anthropomorphic mouse character in a world that's very reminiscent of Brian Jacques' Redwall series. Impressively, it is primarily the work of a single developer, Seith, and was funded via IndieGoGo. Ghost of a Tale was available in early access for a long time, although I waited until after the full game was released, in March 2018, before buying a copy.

 

Movie review: 'Ivan Tsarevich and the Gray Wolf' (2011)

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

The movie poster.Ivan Tsarevich and the Gray Wolf (Иван Царевич и Серый волк / Ivan Tsarevich i Seriy volk / trailer) is a Russian 2D animated children's film that came out in 2011. It's the 7th film produced by Melnitsa Animation Studio, and although it took 12th place that year in Russia's box office, 9 of the top 11 films were all foreign imports, so for a domestic film it did really well! It made back 8 times what it cost to produce, enough to get sequels in 2013 and 2016. I've not watched the studio's other films, but they've definitely got an in-house animation style down to something that works well for them.

A lot of foreign animation companies don't bother exporting their films into the North American market because it's expensive, although Netflix and other streaming services are rapidly changing that. Sometimes it's a case of whether foreign audiences will be able to relate to the content. Ivan Tsarevich and the Gray Wolf feels very Russian, culturally. I get the impression it's poking fun at a lot of fairy tales, and I have no idea what they are. Still, it was an ok watch.

Movie review: 'Isle of Dogs'

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (7 votes)

isleofdogsreview.jpgDirector Wes Anderson has a lot of cinematic trademarks that make his movies, well, Wes Anderson movies. There's the whole love of more or less symmetrical shots, for instance. A frame from a Wes Anderson movie is often recognizable as such for this reason alone. He's the writer of all his own movies (with occasional co-writers, of course). In tone, his writing features normal to the point of banal dialogue in unusual circumstances. This is reflected in his movie's art direction; for instance, in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, he filmed parts of the movie on an actual boat at sea, and other parts on a flagrantly obvious sound stage. The thing about doing this is that creating a huge stage and filming at sea are both difficult things to do that also don't really complement each other. He creates comedies, but they are often very dark; at one point in The Grand Budapest Hotel, for instance, an innocent woman's severed head is held up, and the primary emotion felt is relief. Under normal circumstances, the standard critique would be his films are tonally inconsistent, but, as even the sets are at war with themselves, this is obviously on purpose.

Also, he is known for violently killing off dogs in his movies. That's a thing he does.

Which brings us to Isle of Dogs. There is literally a plot to kill off every dog in the movie. Turns out, Wes Anderson might actually like dogs, however, because that's the villains plot, not the movie's.

'Yet Another Research Dog' - A furry game of workaholism

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (8 votes)

Yet Another Research DogBack in the year 2000, a game broached shelves that became a social phenomenon. Maxis’s The Sims took the doll house that many, stereotypically girls, played with in their youth and put it onto the computer screen. In the shadow of popular “virtual pet” games like tamagotchi it took the idea of the animal pet and made them a bit more human. The result was not only a simulator where you could take your virtual human and help them climb the ladder of success, it was a game where the more creatively sadistic could torture the poor souls in ways that would make Edgar Allen Poe blush.

For those who are not into the whole torture thing, the game is pretty simple and addictive. You give your Sims stuff so that they can become more skilled so that they can acquire more stuff. There is a kind of cyclonic, capitalistic story behind it all, but the game does cut one thing out for the first iteration. The work part. While at home you need to keep your Sim’s bars full to keep them happy. Their sleepiness, hunger, bladder, hygiene, and such all have to be kept in check. However, the grungy and grindy part of the day, the effort done to make the money to improve the ever expanding home life, is cut out.

Movie review: 'The Shape of Water'

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (11 votes)

The Shape of Water movie poster.The Shape of Water (trailer) is a 2017 fantasy-drama film from director Guillermo del Toro, based on an idea he'd had since childhood. Essentially he wanted to make a happier version of the 1954 horror film Creature from the Black Lagoon, with the humanoid fish monster and the female lead falling in love.

And that's exactly what happens in The Shape of Water! It takes place in 1962, starring a mute woman named Elisa who's part of the cleaning staff at an American government research facility. In one of the labs, she learns of "the asset", an intelligent humanoid amphibian creature who's being tortured. Falling in love with him, she wants to set him free with the help of a small group of collaborators.

Review: 'Furry Nation' by Joe Strike

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (9 votes)

'Furry Nation' cover If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going. And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.
—Terry Pratchett

I am probably not wrong in my belief that many furs have little idea of how the fandom got started. The furry fandom is based around the appreciation of, and I'll simplify here, anthropomorphic characters. Furs find their way here through that appreciation and are able to join in immediately. This is not a bad thing but it is sad that many of us are unaware of our shared history. As we learned above, if we don't know where we come from then we are lost.

It's not that there has been no attempt to describe the origins of the furry fandom; aside from the crowdsourced wikis (e.g. WikiFur), we had Fred Patten's Retrospective: An Illustrated Chronology of Furry Fandom, 1966–1996 and Perri Rhoades' The Furry History Project. The first is not necessarily in the most easy to use form and both of the latter entries are chronological lists of major influences. Joe Strike's book departs from this format employing a mix of personal anecdotes, extensive research and several interviews with prominent furs to build a far more flowing, narrative history of the furry fandom.

Movie review: 'Paddington 2'

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (9 votes)

paddington2.jpg"Paddington 2 honors its star's rich legacy with a sweet-natured sequel whose adorable visuals are matched by a story perfectly balanced between heartwarming family fare and purely enjoyable all-ages adventure."
- Rotten Tomatoes Paddington 2 Critics Consensus

"I'm gonna wait for the goofy gorilla review."
- the late ba, Internet commenter

Reviewing Paddington 2 at this point is less an exercise in reviewing a movie than reviewing the very idea of a reviewing a movie.

It broke the record on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes for most reviews for a movie that still managed to retain a "100% positive" rating on the site with 187 "fresh" reviews, beating the previous record holder, Toy Story 2, which had 163. And though Flayrah reviews do not count towards the 'Tomato-Meter', even if they did, I have no intention of Armond White-ing the movie. It's a good movie. See it.

The rise of the furry visual novel

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (12 votes)

Get a writer, an artist, a musician, and a programmer in the same room and what can you make? Well a video game, obviously. However, you need to remember you only have one of each, so you’re not going to be making the next Skyrim in your lifetime. So what do you do? Well, use the visual medium of gaming to tell the story you want to tell in a slightly more interactive way. You’re now on your way to creating a visual novel.

While most visual novels could barely qualify as games to some, these literary heavy games are the go to for the more well-read, and perhaps more ‘casual’ gamer, that doesn’t mind letting the words immerse them in their worlds.

The genre has already had notoriety in Japan for awhile, but just like the anime craze heading to the West in the 1990s, this storytelling medium is starting to get recognition in other parts of the world. Digital platforms, such as Steam, are allowing for niche games to find a market where one may not have existed before. And if furries know anything, for better or worse, is what happens when niches connect by wire (or wireless these day).

Our fandom, in the past couple of years, has shown that it too has caught onto the rising genre and has jumped in with both paws, and for the lack of a better term— are leaving their mark upon it.
Visnovs_0.jpg

Review: Intimate Little Secrets by Rechan

Your rating: None Average: 3.1 (24 votes)

rechan06.jpgIntimate Little Secrets (US$9.95 from FurPlanet) is an anthology of short stories written by Rechan with a cover illustration by Teagan Gavet. Originally I expected the stories to be short, erotic pieces, but this is not the case and approaching it in that way will not lead to a proper appreciation of the work. Sex plays a role in all the stories but they are more, as the title suggests, intimate secrets where we see how different characters interact and react.

The writing is excellent, particularly with regard to the characters themselves. Each one, even characters that only appear briefly, feel real and whole. In each story, we see situations where the characters lusts, needs, and vulnerabilities are all laid bare and you can't help but find yourself caring about the characters and wanting to know what their reasons for acting a certain way are.

Movie review: 'The Star'

Your rating: None Average: 3 (22 votes)

thestar.jpg"Jesus our brother, strong and good, was humbly born in a stable rude."
-"The Friendly Beasts", folk song

"Well, we folks of the animal kingdom have our own version."
-Roger Miller, folk singer

Organized Christian theology has never really answered the question whether or not animals can be saved, but popular Christianity, as practiced by people rather than priests, has always seemed to think that salvation is available as much to animals as to humanity. A frequent way to tell the story of the Nativity is via the use of anthropomorphic animals. As a young child, I was at one time or another a lion and a firefly in various church Christmas pageants. Lions have traditionally been used in Christian art to symbolize Christ as King, though fireflies have never been very associated with Christmas in specific or Christianity in particular. I remember singing "This Little Light of Mine", anyway.

Which brings us to the original little light of Christianity and titular object of The Star. This is yet another retelling of the Nativity through the eyes of the animal kingdom, this time updated to slick CGI animated comedy. It's the same old story, but approximately 2.2 billion Christians around the world would attest it's a pretty decent story. So, it's got that going for it.

Review: 'Legacy', Book One in the Resonance Tetralogy, by Hugo Jackson

Your rating: None Average: 3 (22 votes)

Four characters travel along a forested area.Writing a fantasy tetralogy is an ambitious project. I haven't even been able to write a full fantasy yet. To commit to four books, you have to have an epic story, set in an epic landscape, with engaging characters with strengths and weaknesses enough to get them to (and through) the rough spots.

In Legacy, Hugo Jackson achieves most of this easily. His heroes are likable, with relatable issues and strengths. The tale is G-rated without being trite. The fight and battle scenes are usually nicely described, and easy to follow.

Faria Phiraco is a resonator, a manipulator of the elements via rare crystals. It is an extraordinary and secret power which she and her father, the Emperor of Xayall, guard with their lives. The Dhraka, malicious red-scaled dragons, have discovered an ancient artefact; a mysterious relic from the mythical, aeons-lost city of Nazreal. With their plan already set in motion, they besiege Xayall, pummelling the city to find Faria and rip more of Nazreal's secrets from her.

When her father goes missing, Faria has to rely on her own strength to brave the world that attacks her at every turn. Friends and guardians rally by her to help save her father and reveal the mysteries of the ruined city, while the dark legacy of an ancient cataclysm wraps its claws around her fate... and her past.

Movie review: 'Sheep and Wolves' (2016)

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (24 votes)

A Russian poster for the movie.Sheep & Wolves (trailer) is an 85-minute Russian CG-animated movie that came out in 2016, also known as Волки и овцы (Volki i ovtsy). The writing and production took five years by Wizart Animation, whose earlier film had been The Snow Queen (2012).

Sheep & Wolves didn't quite break even at the box office, and received mixed reviews. After I watched it, I have to agree it's a middle-of-the-road film. It's not bad, it's not great - it's thoroughly so-so. On the positive side, the animation is good and very furry! But the writing... it's for kids aged six and above. There's not much in it to appeal to adults; it's what I call a "babysitting film". Plunk your tykes down in front of it and keep them distracted for a while. Still, I'd rank it a notch or two above Alpha & Omega.

Book review: "Earthrise" by M.C.A. Hogarth

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (6 votes)

The book cover of Earthrise.Earthrise, the first book in M.C.A. Hogarth's Her Instruments trilogy, is a comfy space opera which includes some furry critters. Based on my last visit to her work (books 1 & 2 of The Dreamhealers), the furry species are nice and familiar. The crew of the TMS Earthrise has a centaur with wings, a phoenix, a mated pair of bipedal felines, and a throw-pillow tribble with strong mental powers. Most of these are descendants of slave races that humans created centuries earlier.

The assembled characters have an almost whimsical balance, yet they still feel realistic. When we join them in the story, they're a well-meshed crew. There's a comforting alienness to each of them, a diversity that avoids stereotypes, but claims labels of diversity within diversity, if that makes sense. We mostly see them through the eyes of their captain.

Book review: 'The Species of Blessing Avenue' by Graveyard Greg

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (13 votes)

Cover artwork by Ninja V.The Species of Blessing Avenue is a collection of short stories by Graveyard Greg, published in 2012.

Even before I got past the introduction, I liked two things about this book. First, it's got a were-lion in its leading role. Second, it was inspired by characters created for the Buffy The Vampire Slayer RPG.

I was warned that I shouldn't have tried to read this as a novella instead of three short stories. I'll try to correct that mistake as I go along with this review.