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Review: 'Bunnicula, A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery' by Deborah and James Howe

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A book cover, showing a rabbit that looks similar to Dracula the vampire.In the days before mobile phones and the Internet, people would have to have conversations with their pets to keep themselves from going insane. That's how it is with the Monroes, a nuclear family with two young children, two careers, and two pets: a cat (Chester) and a dog (Harold).

And every day, when the family members head out of the house, they leave their pets unsupervised to indulge in their vices. Chester reads horror stories; Harold daydreams about food. Life is perfect.

Until the day the Monroes go to a Dracula film, and come home with a little fluffy bundle of a rabbit in a shoebox full of dirt.

'War for the Planet of the Apes': I read the news today, oh boy

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (3 votes)

warfortheplanetoftheapes.jpgThird time's the charm.

I managed to see both the previous installments of this movie series in theaters (Rise in 2011 and Dawn in 2014). Despite the fact that I went in intending to review these movies for Flayrah when both of them came out, I didn't.

The truth of the matter is that I got bored, and just couldn't be bothered to write anything.

So, I really should have reviewed those other two movies. But it helps that this is the first movie in the series I actually liked, though.

Rise and Dawn are not bad movies; they have a lot of positive qualities to them, but I never really liked them.

This review's lyrical headline comes from the Beatles' "A Day in the Life", and, yes, I'm making that a "thing"..

Review: 'Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989 - 2015' by Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989 - 2015 Since their origin in panels and meets at science fiction conventions of the 1980s, furry cons have grown in membership and popularity. Today, they are found on every continent except Antarctica (now there's a challenge). Anthrocon, the world's largest furry convention, welcomed 6,389 attendees in 2015.

Fred Patten's book is the most complete published work (OK, OK: it's the only published work) to cover the history and status of furry fandom get-togethers across the world.

McFarland, January 2017, 260 pages. Available on Amazon and Google Play.

A convention is differentiated from a more casual furmeet by elements including a committee, paid memberships, and a structured event schedule. Most cons last more than one day and take place in a hotel, convention centre, or sometimes camp site or youth hostel.

Furry Event China: A review of my first Chinese furry con experience

Your rating: None Average: 4 (7 votes)

Furry Event China (referred to henceforth as FEC) is a number of firsts for me with regards to attending a furry convention:

  1. The convention itself was held inside of an event space of a public mall rather than the usual convention center
  2. It was my first furry convention experience not of a Western demographic
  3. It was the first convention I attended outside of North America.
  4. Actually, it was my first furry convention at an event that wasn't called VancouFur

Given this, and an assortment of other differences we will be going over, it was definitely an experience that I will never forget.

Furry Event China banner

Review: 'One Dog Story' - an indie game that is a bit 'ruff' around the edges

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Every dog has its day, but since the setting for this game takes place in a confined lab for the most part one wonders; was it ever really day and did this dog have it?

It's hard to say. On one hand, One Dog Story was a successfully-developed independent game that has a complete, playable, and coherent story. Coming in with no outside expectations, this game accomplishes what it set out to do. If played on its own, you may enjoy what it has to offer. Unfortunately, the game wears its inspiration upon its sleeve with how it was named. If you played Cave Story before this, you will come to realize that this spiritual successor did not add anything or modify the formula in any way that improves on its inspiration. In fact, the modifications seemed to make the game less enjoyable.

Review: 'The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw'

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

TheAutumnlands_Vol1-1.pngThe Autumnlands is the creative result of writer Kurt Busiek and artist Benjamin Dewey, with help from colourist Jordie Bellaire and typesetter John Roshell and published by Image. Started in 2014, it is still in continuation with a recent release of a second volume.

The story revolves around the city of Keniel, one of seventeen great floating cities above the earth, resides a relatively peaceful community of anthropomorphic people living in a world of sorcery. In the eyes of Dunstan, a young bull terrier lad, life is going fairly well as he learns from his father to take on the family trade business.

Though not all is well as it seems in the world. Magic fades at an alarming rate and the great mages seek to desperately restore it. In relative secret a group of mages seek to bring back a great hero of legend to restore the world’s magic, despite the warnings of their council superiors.

Unfortunately for them, things don't play out as planned.

It’s a phenomenal story collecting the first six issues of the action/fantasy series featuring primarily anthropomorphic animal characters. While these topics of talking animals and magic seem like the things a child would like to read about, it’s noted that this comic touches into more mature territory pretty quick.

In this series you will find nudity, racial segregation and stereotyping, violent impalement and disembowelment. And this is just within the very first chapter!

It immediately sets itself up as being a story for mature readers, and a clear reminder that some comic books aren’t written for children.

Review: 'A Dog's Purpose' a vapid back-and-forth

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

Dog Purpose.jpg

Starting with Old Yeller and continuing with films like the less iconic Marley & Me, American cinema has a simple trick for an instant tearjerker: give us a boy-and-his-dog story, then kill the dog. A Dog's Purpose ornaments this formula with an existential theme strung across many lifetimes, all from the view of a hungry, mischievous pooch.

Finding Bailey's purpose

What is the meaning of life? Are we here for a reason? These are heavy questions, but they're the first thoughts voiced by the feral pup who will become Bailey, our main character. When his first life is cut short by animal control, he realizes just playing and eating all day hadn't added up to much, and in his next life, his determination to find his real purpose leads him into the home of Ethan, a young boy with a troubled home life.

Through Bailey's perspective, we watch Ethan's father try to improve in his career, Ethan's burgeoning football successes, and his blossoming relationship with a girl named Hannah. But because Bailey doesn't understand many human words, and is more concerned with food and playful antics, it's hard to care when the father descends into alcoholism and abuse, Ethan loses his dreams of pro football when a housefire incident fractures his leg, and he pushes Hannah away in bitterness.

Bailey only seems to somber up when Ethan goes off to college and Bailey dies of loneliness—sorry, I meant kidney failure—and his "boy" rushes to his side just in time to say goodbye.

Review: 'Legend'

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

legend-cover-for-DBD.jpgLegend is a graphic novel by Samuel Sattin and Chris Koehler. It combines the popular post-apocalyptic story setting with talking animals - giving it furry appeal - and wonders how domesticated animals would survive after humanity is wiped out in a biological attack. To be fair, not all the humans are dead, but the only ones that we encounter have been turned into flesh-hungry zombies.

The first volume of Legend begins after humanity has already fallen. We meet a pack of dogs living in The Grounds, an open patch of a land next to a city. They need to choose a new leader as their previous one has just been killed by a mysterious creature in the ruins of the city. Vowing revenge, the new leader of the pack, Legend, begins a journey which leads him to ally with a clowder of cats and traverse a dangerous world which is undergoing dramatic changes.

Much of the comic is dedicated to setting up the world, introducing us to its cast of characters, the land they inhabit, and the back stories that underlie their motivations and mythology. This is all done well. Volume 1 contains the first five chapters of Legend and at the beginning of each chapter is a map. Chapter-by-chapter more of the “fog of war” gradually disappears as we learn the surrounding geography. The flashbacks, too, are entertaining and each one is visually distinct; based on the emotions of the character. It is only in one happy flashback that we ever see the world brightly lit and in full colour.

Throughout the entire comic, the artwork is excellent and does a good job of conveying the tone of the story. The majority of the scenes are highlighted in specific colours to convey mood and were a deliberate choice by the artist to limit his palette to better reflect the dogs’ limited colour range. However, the dark tone that falls over most of the story also makes it challenging at times to make out what is happening.

'Sing', a second movie review

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

A movie poster, showing the main characters.Sing (trailer) was Illumination Entertainment's second animated film of 2016, released in time for Christmas. With The Secret Life of Pets, the two films earned the studio $1.5 billion worldwide.

The DVD and Blu-ray came out in late March of 2017. It's a straightforward comedy with light story arcs and anthropomorphic animals, in which a koala named Buster Moon organizes a singing competition to save his financially-failing theater. By mistake, the publicity leaflets say the prize money is $100,000 instead of $1,000. For the rest of the film, things gradually spiral out of control, as he selects and deals with the five acts who will eventually take the stage at the end.

I enjoyed it! Although it didn't perform as well as The Secret Life of Pets at the box office, I liked it more. Partially because of the wider range of species - plus it didn't plug the Minions franchise as much - but mostly because it felt fun, didn't get bogged down in itself, and I liked the music.

‘Sing’: I did my best, it wasn’t much

Your rating: None Average: 3 (6 votes)

singmovie.jpgThis movie had just the worst timing.

Is it fair to review a movie that came out half a year ago now, just because I was Making A Point about … something or other … when that half a year ago came and went? I don’t know, but if the review had come out then, it would have been a thumbs up. Now, this is a negative review, by the way.

Sing’s well out of the theaters and available to rent or own, and it’s nominated for an Ursa Major award. Maybe it’ll win it, for all we know. Everybody could have just gotten tired of the at this point assumed and basically all but destined winner; of course, 2016 was not a great year for presumed and basically all but destined winners. If you voted for Sing, however, I don’t blame you; it’s still okay. There is a difference between a pan and savaging, and, honestly, this barely rates pan. I used to like it, after all. Still kind of do. Just not as much anymore.

Part of the reason for this downturn in my affections is due to another movie; yes, there’s an elephant in the room we’re going to need to talk about, and I’m obviously not talking about the characters in the movie. Actually, there are a lot of elephants I’m planning on discussing, but set that aside right now because, when I rented Sing recently and rewatched it, I realized I liked Rock Dog better. So, there’s that.

Review: 'Lagrange' by Phil Guesz

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (7 votes)

The book cover, showing the fragmentary remains of something floating in space.They called Marvin a chicken. And he was. (But only 5%.) He also plays the piano.

In the far-flung, space-traveling future, genetic manipulation has created a small subculture of modified humans that aren't exactly well-respected, but people will at least have sex with them and pay for the privilege. Marvin is pilot of the Pussy Pod, a small ship that safely transports people to and from the Henhouse, a brothel that sits just outside the limits of a space station's jurisdiction.

Legion Printing, May 2012, 78 pages. Available in eBook from Amazon.

Marvin's not a sex worker, but he respects them and cares about them. If he's a trifle ambivalent about his cattle car full of Johns, who can blame him? He's an excellent pilot and deserves more in his life. He shouldn't need to be covered in feathers, but his boss insisted because of the Henhouse's name. For Marvin, every day is a struggle to do his job well and not be bitter. He simply doesn't have the connections to find better work. But a man's got to make a living, even if it's just chicken feed.

'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2': I am the fox you've been waiting for

Your rating: None Average: 2.9 (8 votes)

guardiansofthegalaxyvol2.jpgSeeing as how the the last time I reviewed a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I spent an inordinate amount of time talking about biases, it's only fair that I cope with the fact that I might have had a bit of a bias against this movie.

I don't know if people are aware of this fact, but I really like foxes. Like, a lot. Just letting you know.

Now, the thing is, Guardians of the Galaxy features the character of Rocket, who is a raccoon, and not a fox. So, you see where I might have a problem. It's not a big deal; raccoons are cool and all, but they're not, well, foxes. This is a personal hangup, I try not to let it affect things too much, but full disclosure here. I mean, science has proven foxes are magic. Just saying. I watched a YouTube video and everything, so you can take that to the bank.

But the thing is, this movie features a running gag in which the character Nebula (Karen Gillan) keeps mistakenly referring to Rocket as a fox, which is funny, I guess, if you're not a vulpephiliac who is constantly being reminded how much more awesome this movie would be if featured Rocket the fox instead of Rocket the raccoon. I mean, this is a deep ditch the movie has to dig itself out of for this reviewer.

After that revelation, if you feel you can't take this reviewer's opinions on this movie seriously, well, I understand. But, if you're willing to give me the benefit of the doubt, by all means, please enjoy the following review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II.

Rock Dog- Not Norm Of The North 2017, but not Zootopia 2017

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (12 votes)

This has been a long time coming.

The movie? No, not the movie itself, but my review of it. To people who are only reading this review to get to my thoughts on the movie, I suggest skipping my little prologue. For those that would like some context, then read on.

Rock Dog has been on my radar for well over a year, potentially two years, though it's kind of hard to pin down the exact date. I saw the original trailer when it leaked at around the end of 2015 and was immediately interested.

The film was directed by Ash Brannon, a co-director of Toy Story 2 and the underrated masterpiece that is Surf's Up. I grew up with the latter film and was curious of this new project since Ash hasn't done a ton in the animation field since 2007.

I was so hyped for the film that I felt that it would surpass Zootopia. This belief had caused debates with many of the avid fans the film had garnered in the fandom. While my stance has softened on the Disney film, I still stand by some of the grievances I had with it. That being said I have decided that despite my desire to compare the two films, I decided to purely look at Rock Dog as it's own film and judge it on its own merits.

Furry Network's commission system - bringing the dealer's den home

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

FurryNetwork.jpgBack in November 2015, Fur Affinity lost control of its forums. The dramatic departure of forum moderators caused an exodus of users to the up-and-coming Furry Network. This furry art site is owned by Varka, an entrepreneur better-known for his business of adult toy manufacture, Bad Dragon, then for online endeavors.

But coming into the furry art site operation with real world business experience, the toy maker and the staff of Furry Network have the potential to make a marketplace unlike anything currently offered by the slew of social art sites. In December 2015, they put forth their idea: a site that would help alleviate the fraud and hassle that furry artists run into when taking commissions from strangers on the Internet, by acting as the intermediary between artist and consumer.

This March, Furry Network made its big first step in the direction toward this goal. Their site’s commission system opened, to a handful of pre-selected artists, to test out the features. Users could request commissions directly on the page, and all status and interaction would then take place on the site. This story reviews my experience with the new system, and how it could change everything about the furry economy as we know it.

Update (Apr 10): The site will now be identified as "Furry Network" rather than "Bad Dragon" on billing statements.

Review: 'Five Fortunes'

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

Five Fortunes Five Fortunes, edited by Fred Patten (FurPlanet), is a collection of five novellas from some of the best writers who write for general audiences in the Furry Fandom. The five stories provided in this anthology are as follows:

  • Chosen People by Phil Geusz
  • Huntress by Renee Carter Hall
  • Going Concerns by Watts Martin
  • When a Cat Loves a Dog by Mary E. Lowd
  • Piece of Mind by Bernard Doove

I am not sure how well the the term "fortune" applies to the five works, so on that level the collection doesn't feel as if it is all that well tied together as a theme. However, with five long works here it's not too problematic to have them each be their own thing. It's not like there's a lot of "destiny" fans out there. Each story approaches the nugget of self-determination from a different angle: from being mindful of doing the right thing (Geusz), to the finding one's self (Hall), to finding a way to survive the week (Martin) or the condition of one's life overall(Doove).

It's a furry sampler of novel sized works. This size is perfect for people who don't always like short stories because the story's over just as they get to know a character, but also don't wish to invest in story cover to cover. If, somehow, you don't know these writers or their universes, then this is a good place to start learning.