It is with great sadness that I must report on the passing of one of the giants of the voice-acting world.
Christine Cavanaugh passed away on December 22, 2014 at the young age of 51. She is perhaps best-remembered as the voice actress of (in no particular order) Babe, Dexter (Dexter's Lab), Bunnie Rabbot (Sonic the Hedgehog), Chuckie Finster (Rugrats), Oblina (Aaahh!!! Real Monsters) and Goslyn Mallard (Darkwing Duck, Raw Toonage).
While her voiceography is not as long as other veteran voice actors and actresses, she more than made up for it with quality acting and defining fan-favourite characters, bringing them memorable personalities that lasted long after their shows completed their runs.
There’s an article over at ComingSoon.net about about a new feature animation project starting up. “RoboDog is said to be a classic, heart-warming adventure story about an unlikely duo who couldn’t be more different. KC (‘Kinetic Canine’) is a bright, energetic but overzealous robotic dog, while Marshall is an old, curmudgeonly ‘real’ dog, set in his ways and has little patience for anything new. This canine odd couple embarks on the adventure of a lifetime where each will learn the true nature of friendship, and not to judge a book by its cover.” The film stars the voices of Chris Colfer (Glee) as KC and Ron Perlman (Beauty & The Beast, Hellboy) as Marshall. The CGI project is being directed by Henry F. Anderson III (Gnomeo & Juliet, Stuart Little) for Marza Animation Planet, a new production house. No word yet on a planned release date.
When I finally saw the plot synopsis and the box art for Alpha and Omega: The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave, I was actually pretty upset. I feared that they just no longer care for the original characters of the very first movie.
The box art only featured the wolf puppies and I kept thinking negative things like: "Are they heading in a direction that I don't want them to go?"
I was scared about this movie. I just didn't bother posting a preview here, probably because of that. But you know what? My fears weren't completely true. They actually shown Kate and Humphrey and they had real roles. However, the focus was still often on the pups. There was also a white wolf called Daria often along with the pup Runt. These two were the main focus.
Some amount of spoiler is to be expected!
Quick on the bouncing furry heels of All Hail King Julien, Dreamworks Animation presents the premier of The Adventures of Puss in Boots — coming to Netflix later this month. “The Adventures of Puss in Boots finds the world’s most famous feline fortune-hunter in the hidden city of San Lorenzo, a mythical land that is invisible to the outside world thanks to a magical spell that protects its quirky inhabitants — not to mention its wondrous treasure. When Puss in Boots accidentally breaks the spell, he must do more than fight off an endless legion of invaders and marauders — he must become a legend.” According to an article over at Animation World Network, five episodes will premier on the 16th with more to follow. Soon, the tide of original Dreamworks programming for Netflix will include new episodes of Dreamworks Dragons and the new series Dinotrux.
First off: Happy New Year! Welcome to 2015. We’re happy to be here with you.
Something cool slipped by us in 2014. Doraemon: New Nobita’s Great Demon—Peko and the Exploration Party of Five (whew what a title!) is the latest anime feature starring Doraemon — a robotic cat from the 22nd century who travels back in time to assist a young boy named Nobita Nobi. Since he premiered in 1969, Doraemon has become one of the most popular anime and manga stars in Japanese history — so much so that the Japanese government tagged him as Japan’s “animation ambassador”. In this latest feature, “While out playing, Nobita meets a dog prince who has become separated from his people. Thankfully Doraemon and his magical powers are close at hand so the gang set out on an adventure to return the prince to a mysterious land known as the Bow-Wow Dog Kingdom.” Evidently this new film is a remake of the 1982 feature Doraemon: Nobita and the Haunts of Evil. Really now. Here’s hoping that someone in the vast anime import industry might see fit to distribute this new film in North America. For now, check out the trailer over on YouTube.
An Ode to Saturday Mornings Past, by JessKat
I'm not quite sure how to explain this… especially to younger viewers who grew up in the 500-channel universe of cable television and satellite services and Netflix streaming… but for those of us old enough (or geeky enough) to watch cartoons over-the-air with a rabbit-ears antenna, Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons after school were the only times when animation fans could watch their favourite shows… especially where cable channels such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, YTV or Toon Disney weren't available.
September 28, 2014 was the day the animation died - ending a long and painful decline on broadcast television in the United States, with The CW (the newest broadcast network) being the final holdout… the last man standing, as it were. This was the final Saturday morning with cartoons in America.
From here on out, animation fans in the United States will have to follow the path their Canadian counterparts took in 2001 to get their animation fix: a cable television or satellite subscription. If there is any consolation, it is that the ecosystem of Saturday morning cartoons seems healthier in Australia and Mexico.
To understand how we got to this point, we'll need to review the chain of events leading to the demise of animation on over-the-air television.
Rather quickly after the release of the Guardians of the Galaxy feature film this summer, Marvel put out word that an animated TV series was in the works — but that was about all we heard for a while. Now, Marvel has gone so far as to release a “splash page” image and even a short animated “teaser” for the new show, which is slated to premier in 2015. The characters (including fan-favorite Rocket Raccoon) all have the appearance they did in the movie, but there’s no word yet if any of the film’s actors will be voicing their characters for the show. Nor do we know if what we see in the teaser reflects the look and animation style of the actual show. But, it’s more than we had even a month ago! Read all about it over at Slash Film.
I had a friend in high school whose name began with an “S”. This friend, as it may not surprise readers to find out, was more than a bit geeky and nerdy. His name was not Sherman, but my dad once admitted to often forgetting his real name and replacing it in his mind with Sherman. He was reminded of the character from the old The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show segment “Mr. Peabody’s Improbable History”.
I never really cared much for that old show, and I don’t know if dad was actually a fan of it, or just found it unavoidable during his own childhood and adolescence. I doubt he’d admit to being a fan even if he was. That’s just the way my dad is. He is not, thank you very much, likely to be described as geeky or nerdy; so, his apparent remembrance of this show, and a strange fondness for the Vger twist from the first Star Trek movie are the only hints that there might be that side to his personality, so I was mildly excited about this movie for that reason, as well as the fact that Robert Minkoff, one of the co-directors of The Lion King, was helming it.
But, at the end of the day, this movie was just okay. I don’t regret seeing it, but I don’t have any especial need to see it again. It’s just an okay movie; nothing more, nothing less.
Since this is so late, I’m going to somewhat use hindsight; however, I’m going to be honest with what I thought was going to win at the time (for instance, I would have put money on My Little Pony: Equestria Girls winning the Ursa Major right until the end). However, back in November, it became clear that Frozen was going to take the two animated awards (I don’t think anyone could have predicted how unfurry the furry award would get).
For the record, it’s a boring movie, and the fact that both the Oscar and the Ursa Major have gone to movies trying to eat their cake and have it to on the “feminist” Disney princess thing is pretty much the saddest outcome ever. At least it wasn’t an upset this year at the Oscars.
Jerry Beck has just announced on his Animation Scoop website that Shout! Factory will release the December 2013 Belgian-made (for Christmas 2013 release in French-speaking parts of Europe) 85-minute animated feature The House of Magic, retitled Thunder and the House of Magic and dubbed into English, in theaters in U.S. “selected cities” on September 5. The selected cities include New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Shout! Factory is primarily a DVD releaser, so presumably this will become a generally-available DVD release shortly after that.
Under either title, this looks like a kids’ CGI animated feature that furry fans will enjoy, with an anthropomorphized kitten, rabbit, mouse, dog, doves, and lots of Toy Story-type toys saving an elderly stage magician’s house from being sold out from under him by a greedy nephew. The movie is made by Brussels’ nWave Pictures, which made the 2010 A Turtle's Tale: Sammy's Adventures and the 2012 A Turtle's Tale 2: Sammy's Escape from Paradise features that have already become children’s DVDs in America.
Here we come to the finale of the two disc “Ultimate Showdown” set of episodes from the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. It also contains the final six (or seven, depending on how you count the finale) episodes of the first season, so it’s a finale there as well.
“Enemy of my Enemy”
Karai is messing with the turtles when it turns out that “alien invasion” thing they’re always talking about is going down right now (though, seriously, she’s already met Justin; how is one Kraang UFO that much more surprising?). She decides to temporarily team up with the turtles; or does she? The turtles aren’t sure, so they decide to betray her before she can betray them. Except she was totally serious about that team-up thing. Whoops.
Also, the Kraang flying saucer pilot is the best Kraang in the series; good thing he survives the saucer’s crash. Maybe.
Earlier this month, Criterion released Watership Down to iTunes; a full Blu-Ray/DVD release has not been announced at this time, and Criterion's own site doesn't list it as yet part of the collection, even as "coming soon". [Tip: InkyCrow via Newsbyte]
If this does make Watership Down part of the Criterion Collection, it would be only the third animated feature in the collection, after Fantastic Mr. Fox and the no longer available Akira.
The movie is an adaptation of Richard Adams' bestselling novel; it's main competition was in the bestsellers list was Peter Benchley's Jaws, which it beat, despite being about rabbits. Though both novels were later adapted to movies, they didn't directly compete at the box office, which is probably a good thing for Watership Down.
It was directed by Martin Rosen, who went on to direct a second Adams adaptation, The Plague Dogs. It features the voice of John Hurt as Hazel. Hurt is probably best known for his memorable role in Alien as the ill-fated Kane, though he recently played the 8 1/2 incarnation of the titular character in the long running BBC series Doctor Who as the "War Doctor."
The rabbits of Watership Down speak their own language, words of which have been known to be repurposed by furries.
Update 2/1/2015: Watership Down will get a full Criterion DVD/Blu-Ray release on Feb. 24. [InkyCrow]
This is actually a two disc collection of the back half of season 1 of the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. I’m breaking them up into to two reviews, one for each disc, so that it doesn’t break the around six-ish episode streak of each review.
If you’d like to check out reviews of the rest of the first season, you can read the first seven episodes reviewed here, and the second six reviewed here, plus an extended review of the first two episodes (or one long episode, the series still isn’t clear on that) here. In fact, you should probably read that last linked article first, seeing as how it’s both the first chronologically and it also has breakdown of what this series is about.
You know, just in case the series title Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn’t clue you in that it’s about turtles, who are also ninjas, mutants and teenagers.
And we start off with one of the best episodes of the series, with the weird penchant for horror tropes and allusions finally given an episode where they fit like a glove. Dr. Falco (Jeffrey Combs) continues his experiments with the mutagen, but a lab accident turns him into the Rat King, with the ability to control all rats, and the turtles come to a horrifying realization; Splinter’s been taking it easy on them in training.
This large, full-color book is published both for the 30th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book, which was first published by two comic-book fans at a comics convention in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in May 1984, and for the release of the fifth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theatrical feature opening this Friday.
This is one of those “all you want to know about” books. It is not so much about the characters themselves as it is the official history of the TMNT phenomenon, or franchise, or whatever you want to call it. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the TMNT’s creators, are collectors as much as anything else, and this book is full of original sketches, the flyer for that 1984 comics convention, comic book covers, storyboards and cels from the TV animated series, posters and stills from the theatrical features, photos of all the TMNT merchandising items and so on.
Personally, I would have preferred more profiles of the anthropomorphic supporting characters besides Splinter the rat sensei, such as Bebop the warthog, Ninjara the vixen, or Dogpound and Fishface, who are not described because, with names like that, who needs to? Or plot synopses of the stories in the comic books, the TV series (or selected episodes; I suppose that asking for a synopsis of every TV episode would be too much), and the theatrical features.
Foreword by Peter Laird, San Rafael CA, Insight Editions, June 2014, hardcover $50.00 (192 pages).
Unlike some other animated television series that will remain unnamed in this review, the newest animated incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is releasing DVDs that feature the episodes in order at regular intervals, approximately six at a time.
The upshot is that I can review each episode in order by nominally reviewing the DVDs; at this point, I can review all the way through the approximate first quarter of the second season from Nickelodeon. So I’m going to do that. Starting right now.
It probably says something that, despite introducing a new mutant in this episode, said mutant didn’t manage to even gain his own action figure. And this is TMNT we’re talking about; in the original animated series, the action figure came first half the time, then the episode (if at all). He doesn’t even have a mutant name; he’s just his old human name, Dr. Rockwell, or “the monkey” (despite technically being an ape). Monkeys and apes just aren’t very charismatic as anthros, especially when they can’t even talk.
However, it does introduce a recurring villain, Dr. Falco (who will eventually get an action figure under a different name, and is voiced by Jeffrey The Reanimator Combs) and the idea that April will begin training as a kunoichi under Splinter. And the main “lesson” of the episode, in which overthinking Donatello must learn to fight more instinctively against a villain who can read his thoughts, is a good character-based plot engine; his flowchart for hanging out with April is an amusing subplot.