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One Flew Over the Monkey’s Nest

This is direct from an article on Cartoon Brew: “Mexican animation firm Ánima Estudios, producer of the hit 2011 Mexican film Top Cat: The Movie, has released a trailer for its next feature Guardianes de Oz ([Guardians of Oz] retitled Wicked Flying Monkeys for English audiences). The film is set to premiere in Mexico on April 10, 2015. Directed by Alberto Mar (Top Cat: The Movie), the film has an original story by Mexico-born director Jorge Gutierrez, who helmed the recent Reel FX feature The Book of Life. Veteran American television writers Doug Langdale and Evan Gore are credited for the final script along with Gutierrez. Taking place in L. Frank Baum’s Oz universe, the film follows Ozzy, a young flying monkey who rebels against his boss, the wicked witch Evilene, and reaches out to the “Guardians of Oz”—the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man—who have been put under a spell by the witch.” The article also has a link to the trailer itself. It’s easy to see the connection between this and The Book of Life when you look at the character designs!

Opinion: The top ten movies of 2014

Your rating: None Average: 2.6 (8 votes)

top10.jpg
It’s surprising how important this top ten list is to me. I’m already thinking about possibilities for 2015; it’s going to be a fun year. Or really disappointing. One or the other.

But enough about next year - here’s ten movies from 2014 I liked.

The Untold Story

“… of the animals who didn’t get on the Ark.” That’s the official tag line of Oops! Noah is Gone, a new CGI feature film coming out later this year. Produced in Germany and animated all over Europe, it follows the story of David and his young son Finny, the last of the Nestrians, and what happens when one of them misses the boat — literally. The official English trailer explains it all better… sort of. No word yet on if it’s to be released to North American theaters or only on DVD. Thanks to Cartoon Brew for the heads-up.

[Don’t forget, nominations for the Ursa Major Awards are open now! And with that, we’ll see you all after Further Confusion!]

image c. 2015 Global Screen

image c. 2015 Global Screen

Woof and Whirrrrr…

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.

image c. 2015 Marza Animation Planet

image c. 2015 Marza Animation Planet

Review: "Alpha and Omega: The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave"

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (6 votes)

Alpha and Omega: The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave 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!

After The Turtles… The Cats

We got this from Movie Finatic: Animation fandom circles are all a-buzz (or is it reeling?) from the news that director and producer Michael Bay, fresh from his successful (at least financially) re-boot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is now set to give a try at a live-action movie based on (wait for it): ThunderCats. The thought of Mr. Bay taking on another 80’s animated TV icon was enough for no less than The Onion to create their own spoof article. But is all this just talk or is it actually happening? Stay Tooned! *Snarf Snarf Snarf…*

image c. 2014 by Jannica Coons

image c. 2014 by Jannica Coons

The Robot Cat and a Lot of Dogs

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.

Little Birds to the Big Screen

It had to happen, perhaps: A feature film based on a phone app. Of course, it is one of the biggest phone apps of all time: Angry Birds. According to an article over at Neon Tommy, Rovio and Sony Pictures have teamed up to announce the cast and crew for the upcoming Angry Birds movie. (In case you couldn’t guess, it’s going to be CGI.) “Cast as the lead roles in the animated movie, Saturday Night Live alums Jason Sudeikis (We’re The Millers) and Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids) will play Red and Matilda, alongside Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage, who will be playing Mighty Eagle. Some other big names that will be joining the cast include Josh Gad (Frozen), Bill Hader (Skeleton Twins), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), and YouTube stars Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla of Smosh. Behind the scenes, John Cohen (Despicable Me) and former Marvel Studios president David Maisel will be producing the film, while Clay Kaytis (Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph) and Fergal Reilly (Spider-Man 2) have been announced as directors.” The birds will fly in July of 2106.

It's about time for a 'Mr. Peabody and Sherman' review

Your rating: None Average: 4 (5 votes)

mrpeabodyandsherman.jpgI 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.

Furry Movie Award Watch: November 2013

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

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.

Review: It’s the Muppets again in 'Muppets Most Wanted'

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Muppets Most WantedThe latest Muppet movie begins at the end. Not like in media res, I mean like the first thing you see in this movie are the giant words “THE END.” We’re back at the end of the last Muppet movie, and it slowly dawns on the Muppets that the cameras are still rolling. This could mean only one thing!
Obviously, James Bobin forgot to shout cut.

No, wait, the Muppets are doing a sequel! So, the movie begins with a meta moment when the Muppets realize they’re now in a sequel, and they sing an absolutely hilarious song about this fact entitled “We’re Doing a Sequel.” So now they’re puppets, who are actors, who are playing themselves in a movie. It’s kind of like This is The End, except I don’t think James Franco is a puppet. At least I’m pretty sure he’s not.

Anyway, the best part? This movie was going to be called The Muppets Again! Because it’s about the Muppets, again! It’s so absurdly stupid it’s kind of brilliant, which is why it was changed at the last moment to Muppets Most Wanted. They went with a more descriptive, less generic title that somehow managed to be less descriptive and more generic.

Everybody got that?

Good, now explain it to me.

Animation: 'Thunder and the House of Magic'

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

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.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' is in the top five TMNT movies

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesIf I were to rank all five TMNT movies, this movie would come in dead last.

This is not to say I did not like this newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie; I like all five of the movies just fine, thank you very much, and this one is no exception. It’s quite possible that I may not be capable of disliking a movie involving teenage mutant ninja turtles.

I’d like to point out for the record that I have put forward reviews of the two most recent incarnations of the turtles’ story; I have been overwhelmingly positive towards both of them. Heck, the IDW comics are a reboot featuring ancient aliens mucking around with Earth’s history, and if I had to pick two storytelling devices I hate most, it would probably be those reboots and ancient alien stories. And yet, I not only loved that incarnation, I especially pointed out this newest origin story as a positive.

Since my first story at Flayrah back in 2010, this is my third review of a Ninja Turtle origin story; that’s almost one per year, for those of you who don’t like math in their movie reviews. Thank God this movie is doing well at the box office and the next movie will be a direct sequel with the origin story of the turtles all taken care of. Hopefully this time it lasts a while, and we don’t get a Amazing Spider-Man type situation. Because that would suck.

I’ve already talked about positive bias in movies, and it’s not really fair to compare this movie to previous incarnations of the franchise, but like that’s going to stop any of the hundreds of other amateur fanboy reviewers (and even a few professional fanboy reviewers, I’m sure) from doing just that, so I might as well.

'Watership Down' may be joining Criterion Collection

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (6 votes)

Watership Down Criterion CollectionEarlier 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]

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History', by Andrew Farago.

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TMNT: The Ultimate Visual HistoryThis 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).

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