Creative Commons license icon

movies

Movie review: 'Wish Dragon' (2021)

No votes yet

'Wish Dragon' poster Wish Dragon (trailer) is a computer-animated film from the Sony Pictures Animation International Initiative, a fancy way of saying "international co-production", in this case between Sony and several studios in China. Concept art made the rounds in 2018, and they hoped to finish it in 2019. For whatever reason, it didn't get released until January 15, 2021 - in China - so this review is of the Chinese dub with English subtitles.

A little backstory. When Kung Fu Panda came out in 2008, it had so much artistic attention to cultural detail that China kicked their animation industry into high gear. In the twelve years since then, they've become a powerhouse of animation. Recently, there's been a slow-growing effort to make their films more exportable. Some efforts have fallen flat, like the sadly-overlooked Rock Dog; but with Mosley and Wish Dragon I'm optimistic that there'll be more co-productions to come!

Movie review: '100% Wolf' (2020)

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

100% Wolf (clip) is a computer-animated comedy film from Australia, released in mid-2020. Based on a 2009 book by Jayne Lyons, the adaptation was directed by Alexs Stadermann, produced by Flying Bark Productions, and it earned $4.6 million. IMDB gives it a score of 5.7 out of 10, and Rotten Tomatoes is similar. It's definitely for kids. Watching it as an adult furry fan, I have mixed feelings about it.

It takes about a quarter of the film's 96-minute running time to set up the story, so minor spoiler warning. There's a pack of werewolves living in modern-day society. Despite keeping it secret to avoid human persecution, on nights of the full moon they parkour around the city like superheroes to help rescue people. The youngest member of the pack's core family, Freddy Lupin, can't wait until he's old enough to become a werewolf too, and has a good relationship with his father, Flasheart, the pack leader.

Until things go wrong. Freddy loses both his father and the pack's sacred moonstone ring. Everyone is devastated. Fast-forward six years. I guess Freddy is being home-schooled? No sign of any friends, and his mother passed away when he was younger. Anyway, the pack still lacks a leader, or "High Howler", although Flasheart's brother, Hotspur, clearly thinks he deserves the position. For now, it's time for Freddy's coming-of-age ceremony, except instead of becoming a wolf, he turns into a poodle. Believing they've offended the Moon spirits, the family tasks Freddy with recovering the ring.

Opinion: The top ten movies of 2020

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Top Ten Movies of 2020

So, 2020.

Well, that's over, here are ten movies that managed to come out in 2020, an accomplishment in and of itself; so full marks for that!

Oh, by the way, I've been doing this for a decade now.

Movie review: 'The Donkey King' (2018)

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

'The Donkey King' movie poster The Donkey King (trailer) is a computer-animated comedy film, and the fifth animated feature from Pakistan. Originally released in 2018 in the Urdu language, an English dub was released in 2020. It was written and directed by Aziz Jindani, and produced by Talisman Studios.

It broke box office records in Pakistan, though I'm mystified as to how, because to me it's not a good film. Maybe its target audience had different expectations, or there were cultural reasons, which, if any, have been lost in the English dub. Don't watch this movie.

The premise starts with King Khan, a lion who rules over a city of anthropomorphic animals. He wants to retire, but his son, Prince Shazad, wouldn't be a good replacement. Miss Fitna, his treacherous fox advisor, proposes that a new king should be chosen democratically in an election …which is not how monarchies work. Her plan involves deposing the king so she can manipulate someone in his place, specifically the film's protagonist, a donkey named Mangu.

Movie review: 'Raya and the Last Dragon' (2021)

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Raya and the Last Dragon Before we start talking about the movie, due to the pretty unusual circumstances still happening in the world right now, we need to discuss what options are available to watch it. (With apologies to our non-North American readers, for whom none of this may apply.)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, streaming has been the obvious or only way to watch movies reviewed by Flayrah. Raya and the Last Dragon, however, isn't free to stream right now. You'll have to pay Disney+'s $29.99 'Premier Access' fee, or buy a ticket at a theater.

Currently, this reviewer recommends the Premier Access route. It's more expensive, but factoring in the ability to re-watch it, group watching, and ongoing pandemic concerns, it feels a safer bet.

Anyway, Raya and the Last Dragon is from Walt Disney Animation Studios; directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, it stars Kelly Marie Tran as Raya and Awkwafina as Sisu, the titular last dragon.

A Musical Rainforest

Updates! We love updates! A couple years ago we told you about a new animated film in the works call Koati, directed by Rodrigo Pérez Castro. Well now Animation World Network has some recent news: “Grammy Award-winning artist Marc Anthony and his Magnus Studios team are partnering with Sofia Vergara on her new animated feature comedy, Koati.  Produced by Upstairs Animation, Latin WE Productions, and Los Hijos de Jack, the film follows three unlikely heroes: Nachi, a free-spirited coati; Xochi, a fearless monarch butterfly; and Pako, a hyperactive glass frog, as they embark on an adventure to stop a wicked coral snake Zaina (Vergara) from destroying their homeland and friends. The soundtrack includes 10 original songs performed by notable names in Latin music.” Looks like this film is wearing its Latin American pedigree loudly and proudly. Keep your ears open for news on a release date!


image c. 2021 Upstairs Animation

Movie review: 'Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor' (2018)

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor (trailer) is a 2018 computer-animated children's film. Produced in Pakistan, it's the country's third animated film, made by 3rd World Studios and directed by Uzair Zaheer Khan. Furry fans can skip this one. It's so-so, probably only of interest to young kids, who'll either need to understand Urdu or be able to read subtitles.

The story involves a young boy named Allahyar, creative but shy, raised by a single dad who works as a forest ranger in northern Pakistan. After his father gets knocked unconscious by a hunter, Allahyar rescues Mehru, a young markhor (a species of goat, the country's national animal) and sets out to return her to her family who live on a distant mountain.

Turns out that by showing bravery for a markhor and by having a pure heart, Allahyar fulfills the prophecy of being "The Protector", and gets the ability to speak to animals. They're joined on their journey by Hero, a chukar partridge, and Chakku, a young snow leopard. The hunter, Mani, is on their trail the whole time.

As 'Space Jam: A New Legacy' draws nigh, non-furry Twitter processes its feelings for cartoon rabbits

Your rating: None Average: 4 (8 votes)

Lola Bunny's New Look. As of this article's writing (~7:30 P.M. CST, Thursday, March 4, 2021), basketball-playing Looney Tunes character Lola Bunny was second on Twitter's local trends list, behind only NBA professional Lebron James. Both will be playing basketball together in the upcoming movie Space Jam: A New Legacy, of which new details were revealed today; hence the reason for the trending (James is also making his seventeenth appearance in today's NBA All-Star Game, boosting him over his lapine teammate.)

Lola trending, of all the Looney Tunes making an appearance in the movie, is a bit unique, because it's for particularly furry reasons. She was introduced in the original Space Jam, so there was never any doubt she was coming back. But with the first real good look at the new character designs, people have noted changes. They aren't that drastic. But noticeable.

To put it bluntly, she's just not as sexy this time.

The design changes aren't all that much compared to her redesign for 2011's The Looney Tunes Show. If anything, the new design is a reversion back to her original look, and the biggest change is to her costume. She's switched out her old short shorts and midriff-baring top for an actual athletic uniform. Physically, she does seem to have had a reduction to her bust size.

Movie review: 'Tom & Jerry' (2021)

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (6 votes)
Tom and Jerry movie poster
One of many poster designs

Fairly early on while watching this movie, I came to an epiphany: I really don't like Jerry.

Seriously, he's a jerk. I mean, it'd be one thing if he violently thrashed his onscreen partner, Tom, because, after all, Tom is a cat, and cats eat mice. It'd be self-defense. I don't hate the Road Runner when Wile E. Coyote gets squished yet again, even if do feel sorry for Wile. But Tom rarely seems to have any interest in eating Jerry. Neither is Jerry like Bugs Bunny, who doesn't go looking for trouble. In the old shorts, Jerry frequently attacks Tom first, without provocation.

Take, as an example, how Tom and Jerry meet in their latest movie, released this weekend. Tom is busking in New York City's Central Park, when Jerry rudely interrupts him. Now, Tom is not without his own flaws; he's pretending to be blind to attract more customers, which is not cool. But Jerry doesn't seem to be bothered by this; his beef with Tom is clearly that Tom is making money, and he's not. So, he tries to steal his crowd, and then, in a bout of inevitable slapstick violence, breaks Tom's keyboard, which is clearly important to Tom beyond just a means of money. I'm on Tom's side, here.

Well, anyway, Tom & Jerry is a movie about Tom and Jerry. Tom is a cat. Jerry is a mouse. They starred in a bunch of cartoon shorts together starting in 1940, meaning that 2020 was their 80th anniversary. This movie was supposed to commemorate that milestone, but, well, COVID-19. It's mostly a live-action film; only the animals are animated (it wasn't submitted for consideration in the Academy Awards' 2020 Best Animated Feature category, which it would've qualified for under the extended "awards year", which implies the filmmakers consider it live-action). Besides Tom and Jerry (who are basically mute, and charmingly credited as "Themselves"), the movie stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Michael Peña.

Movie review: 'Mosley' (2019)

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

The movie poster for Mosley. The tag line reads 'Stand upright'.Mosley (trailer) is a 2019 computer-animated children's film that showed up on furry fandom's radar about six years ago as Beast of Burden. Written and directed by American animator Kirby Atkins, it was a labor of love that had been in various stages of development for over 15 years. The movie was finally brought to life thanks to a collaboration between animation studios in New Zealand and China. I enjoyed it!

The story takes place in an alternative, pre-industrialized Earth, that includes "thoriphants", an intelligent, quadrupedal, elephant-like species forced into servitude by mankind to do labor like horses and donkeys. Fully sentient and able to talk, Mosley, along with his pregnant mate Bera and his young son Rue, are the property of a disgruntled farmer. When Rue discovers a cave with drawings of bipedal, anthropomorphic thoriphants, Mosley must confront the possibility that the legendary tales of the "Uprights" might be true. Soon he'll be on a quest to find out.

Movie review: 'Dragon Rider' (2020)

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (7 votes)

Dragon Rider (trailer) is a 2020 computer-animated children's film, a German production (Drachenreiter) whose UK English dub was recently released online. Adapted from a best-selling children's book by Cornelia Funke, it's the story of a young dragon in the modern-day world, searching for a refuge where dragons can stay safe from mankind. Short version: You can skip this one.

The film was directed by Tomer Eshed (Flamingo Pride) who doesn't seem to have worked on anything this big before. The production company, Constantin Film, appears to have outsourced the animation to several studios, so it's not clear if there was a unified vision. The screenplay was adapted by... John R. Smith? Who, according to IMDB and its scoring system, is the genius behind Gnomeo & Juliet (5.9 out of 10), Sherlock Gnomes (5.2), and The Queen's Corgi (4.8).

Given that The Queen's Corgi is also the rare recipient of a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it's a bit of a red flag. Dragon Rider's IMDB score currently sits at 5.5.

'Redwall' adaptations coming to Netflix

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (9 votes)

Rights to Brian Jacques' Redwall series of novels have been purchased for adaptation by Netflix; there are plans to create a feature movie from the first, Redwall, as well as an "event series" based on the character of Martin the Warrior. The movie is being written by Patrick McHale.

Redwall Size Chart 2018, by mongoosefangs

The series spans 22 books (with a few picture books thrown in for the Dibbuns); if the first movie and/or series works out, Netflix has plenty of material to use. Redwall is popular among furry fans, as its entire world is filled with dressed, talking animals. The stories usually center around the titular Redwall Abbey and the adventures of its (mostly) rodent inhabitants, though the world is not limited to this one setting.

Trailer: 'Raya and the Last Dragon'

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

Disney has posted a trailer (now two) for its next animated movie, Raya and the Last Dragon, which will have a release date of March 5, making it officially Walt Disney Animation Studio's first movie of this exciting new decade. It has a talking Eastern-style dragon in it, so that's furry.

Raya and the Last Dragon will release theatrically, but as actually going to movie theaters is still not really recommended at this point, it'll also be released on the Disney+ streaming service the same day, though with an additional "Premier Access" charge of $29.99 in the US.

The movie features Kelly Marie Tran as the titular Raya, with Awkwafina as the titular last dragon (meanwhile, Disney animation regular voice actor Alan Tudyk will once again be "voicing" a non-anthropomorphic animal; this time, the giant pillbug / armadillo creature Tuk Tuk). The movie is set in the fictional fantasy world of Kumandra.

The full roster of the Tune Squad from 'Space Jam'

Your rating: None Average: 3.1 (7 votes)

tunesquad.jpg

The 1996 movie Space Jam is about Michael Jordan playing basketball with a bunch of Looney Tunes. It's possibly both one of the most beloved and most hated movies of the entire 90s.

It was notably hated by Chuck Jones, an animator famous for his work on the original Looney Tunes shorts, though, to be fair, Chuck Jones pretty much hated anything Looney Tunes that he didn't do himself, and also about half of his own stuff. Joe Dante directed the next live action/animation hybrid Looney Tunes movie, Back in Action, and his stated goal was basically to direct the anti-Space Jam. Flayrah's own coverage of Back in Action was not pro-Space Jam, calling it a "disaster". On the beloved side of the equation, however, Warner Bros. will be releasing a very belated sequel to the movie on July 16 of this year (both theatrically and on the HBO Max streaming service), and they usually don't do that if no one liked it (and, seriously, you can probably find someone who actually does like Space Jam very easily).

But despite the fact that the original 1996 website is still up (with the following link, this article is now in compliance with ancient Internet law stating that all articles about Space Jam must mention the original website), there isn't really a good list anywhere on the Internet that provides the complete line-up of the members of the Tune Squad, the Looney Tunes basketball team in the film. Seriously, the Space Jam Wiki does not have a team roster. The IMDB trivia page for Space Jam has a bare bones roster buried half way down the page (and it's very incomplete). Well, that won't stand. Here's the full roster of every character (animated or otherwise), who played against the Monstars in the movie's big game.

Documentary review: 'Hero, A Furry Story'

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (18 votes)

Picking up from where the 2020 documentary The Fandom left off, Ash "Coyote" Kreis' new 44-minute film, Hero: A Furry Story takes a deeper look into the fandom's disability community, particularly its less-looked-at subset with cancer and chronic illness, where people have found that fursuiting and its networks can create a source of happiness during a time of pain and illness. Hero is the film's star, a canine-identifying fan, diagnosed with cancer at age 22, who receives a new fursuit from the talent at Waggery Costumes.

As viewers are slowly introduced to all of the different people it takes to make a fursuit, Hero's story demonstrates what furry fans have already come to know: affirming that people in the fandom can be as family, loved ones, and mentors. Pulling itself away from the criticism that Kreis received after The Fandom, this new film's attention to disability, illness, and networked connections provides another interesting gateway into something that will surely be enjoyed by fans and non-fans alike.