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Review: It’s bad movie time again with 'Cinderella'

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Cinderella: Once Upon a Time in the WestIf tasked with coming up with a reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 – first of all, I wouldn’t actually reboot it. I’d have Crow, Tom Servo and a new host back on the Satellite of Love with absolutely no explanation, because it’s the show with “repeat to yourself it’s just a show, you really should relax” in the theme song.

Second, I wouldn’t pitch it to Comedy Central or Syfy, but to a family oriented channel, because God knows there are enough lousy kid’s movies to go after; I’d first go after The Hub, because they seem to go after the cult, family appropriate shows, they already have a working relationship with Shout! Factory, the company that does the MST3K DVDs (and that would help get them rights to air older episodes, probably) and finally it would be about the only way to do My Little Pony: The Movie, which I’ve already laid the groundwork for. Use that for the series premiere; relatively high profile movie for the opener!

Finally, I’d pitch myself as the host – this is a fantasy that will eventually segue into a review of a bad movie, so you might as well go for it, right?

The True Story of Puss in Boots is a definite get. Hyenas might not work for the new direction of the show, but I have another movie in mind. It’s called Cinderella, and definitely falls into the fantasy MST3K reboot territory.

Dark Horse's 'Beasts of Burden' comic book to become animated feature

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Beasts of BurdenCartoon Brew has announced that Dark Horse’s Beasts of Burden comic book by Evan Dorkin (writer) and Jill Thompson (artist) is being developed into a CGI animated feature film by the Reel FX Creative Studios in Los Angeles and Dallas. The feature is to be written by Darren Lemke, directed by Shane Acker (director of darkly depressing post-Apocalypse animated feature 9), and co-produced by Reel FX’s Aron Warner and Dark Horse’s publisher Mike Richardson and Andrew Adamson of Strange Weather Films (director of the first two Shrek and first two Chronicles of Narnia movies).

While the history of animated feature films is replete with movies featuring talking dogs and other animals, there are relatively few starring four-legged “natural” dogs (Disney’s Lady and the Tramp and Amblimation’s Balto come to mind), and virtually none with serious suspense/horror plots.

'Tower of the Dragon' opens funding campaign on Kickstarter

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Tower of The DragonTower of the Dragon is a 3D animation project based in San Leandro, California. It plans to tell the story of Lyric, a young girl who has to save a world where reading is forbidden and magic is only used by those who obey without thinking.

The story is to deal with such issues such as bullying, insecurity, and self reliance. The fully-rendered movie is anticipated to cost $2,000,000 to make, so at present the project is focusing on creating an animatic of the screenplay.

A Kickstarter campaign has been started, hoping to raise $50,000 to fund its creation. Once the animatic is complete, it will be shown to 100+ reviewers, and their feedback will be used to create a revised animatic, in an iterative process until the story is ready to be rendered at full resolution.

With 21 days to go, the campaign has raised $16,811.

2012 Ursa Major Awards nominations close February 28

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Nominations for the 2012 Ursa Major Awards, for the Best Anthropomorphic Art and Literature of 2012, close on February 28. There is only one week left to nominate.

Anyone may submit up to five nominations for works first published during 2012 in each of the eleven categories — Motion Picture, Dramatic Short Work or Series, Novel, Short Fiction, Other Literary Work, Graphic Story, Comic Strip, Fanzine, Published Illustration, Website, and Game. It is not necessary to nominate for all categories.

The 2012 Recommended Anthropomorphics List may be used as a guide for what is eligible, but its entries on the List are not automatically nominated. Titles not on the List that were first published during 2012 are still eligible, in case some gems have been overlooked.

Discussion about potential nominees is welcome at the Ursa Major Awards LiveJournal community. Voting will take place from March 15 to May 15, 2013. The winners will be announced at a presentation ceremony at Anthrocon 2013 on July 4-7.

Animation: The legend of 'The Legend of Tembo'

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The Legend of TemboHave you ever heard of The Legend of Tembo? It was a new animation feature, the first from a new CGI studio in Port St. Lucie, Florida, Tradition Studios, created by another new company, Digital Domain, to be finished and released during 2014.

In 2009, Digital Domain Media Group received incentive grants worth nearly $70 million from the state and Port St. Lucie to build an approximately 120,000-square-foot, $40 million digital production studio in Tradition. The studio is expected to be complete in December. (2011 press release)

Tradition hired Disney veterans Aaron Blaise and Chuck Williams to direct it. During 2011 and the beginning of 2012, Digital Domain put out a slew of press releases to describe it.

NYC has anthro animation festivals, too

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Despite the implication on Flayrah, Los Angeles is not the only city to have festivals of animation with anthropomorphic stars. On February 28th through March 24th, the 16th Annual New York International Children’s Film Festival will play at seven different locations in NYC. The Festival will screen 100 different films (some live-action), and is expected to draw an attendance of 25,000+. It will present many of the films in the U.S. for the first time, to qualify them for 2013 Oscars.

Among the films are several that have been covered on Flayrah, including the Belgian Ernest & Celestine, about a mouse and a bear who become friends (French with English subtitles; Feb. 28 at Tribeca Cinemas); The Wolf Children (Ame & Yuki, the Wolf Children), about a college student who marries a werewolf who dies, and must raise their two werewolf toddlers alone (Japanese with English subtitles; March 3 at the Asia Society and 16 at SVA); The Day of the Crows, mostly about a feral child raised in the forest, but with some fantasy scenes of anthropomorphic animal-headed forest spirits (French with English subtitles; March 10 at FIAF); Welcome to the Space Show “with an intergalactic cast of thousands” (premiere of the English dub; March 9 at SVA), and Meet the Small Potatoes, for pre-schoolers about a musical group of animated potatoes who rise from small-town beginnings to international rock stardom (March 16 at the IFC Center and March 24 at the DGA Theater).

The Annie Winners!

The Annie Awards are often referred to as The Oscars of Animation. Presented each year by ASIFA-Hollywood (a division of the International Animated Film Society), the Annies celebrate the best in animated films and television as voted on by members of the animation industry from around the world. Needless to say, every year several anthropomorphic works are represented among the nominees — and sometimes even among the winners! On Saturday, February 2nd the Annie Awards for 2012 were presented at a gala ceremony at Royce Hall on the campus of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  Unlike in previous years, this year’s ceremony didn’t really have a “host”: Each presenter basically introduced the next presenter. In the feature film category the night largely belonged to Disney Animation’s film Wreck It Ralph, which won for Music, Writing, Voice Acting (for Alan Tudyk as King Candy), Directing (Rich Moore), and of course Best Animated Feature. Disney/Pixar’s Brave was also represented, bringing home wins for Feature Editing and Feature Production Design. Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians also took home awards in two technical categories, Feature Storyboarding and Effects Animation. Over in the TV categories, the biggest winner of the night was Dreamworks’ Dragons: Riders of Berk. In addition to a win for Best TV Production for Children, Dragons won for Storyboarding, Music, and Directing. Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness won in a single category, TV Editing.

Anthro dog and fox feature in 'The ABCs of Death'

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'ABCs of Death' anthrosThe ABCs of Death is a horror anthology film which premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Released as Video-on-Demand on January 31, it will screen in theatres from March 8 in the U.S.

The film is comprised of twenty-six different shorts – all themed around death – one for each letter of the alphabet. Spanning A is for Apocalypse to Z is for Zetsumetsu, each short has its own director and style.

H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion (by Thomas Cappelen Malling) features two anthropomorphic animal characters. A World War 2 British fighter pilot depicted as a jowly British Bulldog is shown watching a striptease performed by a sultry red fox who is concealing a deadly secret.

A short clip of the anthro characters can be found here - viewer discretion is advised.

'Wastelander Panda': last-minute call for voice actors

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The producers of Wastelander Panda, the tale of Arcayus (an anthropomorphic panda wandering a post-apocalyptic wasteland) have made a last-minute call for voice actors.

With the project now in post-production, the producers are looking for three actors to voice the three animal characters in the story. In particular, they are looking to voice:

For anyone tempted to try out for a part, the close of applications is imminent (February 1st).

Here Come the Muppets Again

Walt Disney Pictures have announced several upcoming feature films, and among them is the sequel to the successful 2011 re-launch of The Muppets. Currently titled The Muppets… Again, the new film is scheduled for release in March of 2014. According to The Muppet Wiki, “The film is planned to be a ‘comedy caper’ set in Europe.  Ricky Gervais will star as ‘a male lead whose intentions are always in question’ along with Ty Burrell as an Interpol inspector, Tina Fey as a ‘Russian femme fatale,’ and a ‘slew of cameos’”. [Oh like they ever have that in a Muppet movie!] The sequel will be again directed by James Bobin, and scripted by Nick Stoller, who co-wrote the 2011 film with star Jason Segel.


image c. 2013 Walt Disney Pictures

Retrospective review: Shady is best pony in ‘My Little Pony: The Movie’

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My Little Pony: The MovieDuring the early eighties, the FCC began to back off on restrictions on advertisements in children’s television, despite pressure from parents’ groups to apply more. The upshot was a series of Saturday morning cartoons (as well as other children’s shows) that were nothing but glorified commercials for various toy lines.

Hasbro was one of the companies involved in selling chunks of plastic to kids who could then nag their parents via the magic of animation. To be entirely fair, their products were probably the most artistically valid at the time, which I should stress was not saying much. Most of their shows have had a remarkable shelf life, long after the need to sell toys have gone.

In 1986, Hasbro had two movies hitting theaters based on their toylines; Transformers: The Movie and My Little Pony: The Movie, with a G.I. Joe: The Movie planned for 1987. However, both became massive box office flops, and G.I. Joe was sent direct to video. While Transformers quietly went on to become an animated cult hit, My Little Pony, well, didn’t.

The reason for this is simple; it’s not a very good movie. But looking at it today, it offers insights into why the newest incarnation of the property, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, has followed in Transformers: The Movie footsteps to become its own animated cult hit, as well as why bad movies are bad in general.

Animation: The cat wants a bar mitzvah

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The Rabbi's CatFrom January 18 to 25, the GKids (Guerrilla Kids International Distribution Syndicate) distributor gave the 98-minute French animated feature The Rabbi’s Cat (Le Chat du Rabbin), directed by Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux, produced by Autochenille Production (a studio set up in 2007 by Sfar and Delesvaux to make this movie), and based on Sfar’s French five-volume graphic novel of the same name (volumes 1, 2, and 5 of it, to be exact), a one-week American limited “general” distribution, in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego on the West Coast. It will have an East Coast release in mid-March.

The original French release, on June 1, 2011, won the Annecy Crystal for Best Feature at the 2011 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, and the 2012 César Award (“the French Oscar”) for Best Animated Film. It had a one-week release in one theater in America on December 7-13 to qualify for 2012 American film awards, and was nominated for the Annie in two categories, Best Animated Feature and Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated Feature Production.

On January 20, my sister and I went to the Laemmle Town Center 5 in Encino to see The Rabbi's Cat, in French with English subtitles. It was playing for a week, and has gotten a mixed but generally favorable illustrated review in LA Weekly, January 18-24, 2013, the major citywide free alternative newspaper. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 93%.

Furry Movie Award Watch: January 2013

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The Oscar nominees have been announced, and it is a weird year. It was so weird, most Oscar pundits had a better idea of what would win Best Original Song than Best Picture. Now that the nominees are out, it looks like Best Picture is finally clear, but most pundits (this one included) have a better lock on Best Foreign Language Film than Best Animated Feature. So much for “we’ll know come November.”

Animation: 'Thor: Legends of Valhalla'

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Did you know that Thor’s magic hammer has a name, Crusher, and is anthropomorphic?

I don’t recall that Marvel Comics ever taught us that. You can see for yourself on the 15th when the (bad) Icelandic 2011 CGI 3-D feature Thor: Legends of Valhalla, directed by Óskar Jónasson, is released in America Direct to Video. Or watch this 1’37” trailer.

Actually, Crusher is an accurate translation of Mjölnir, the mythological hammer's name.

Last call for 2012 Anthropomorphic Recommended List; UMA nominations open January 17

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Ursa Major Awards banner by EosFoxxThe ALAA’s 2012 Anthropomorphic Recommended List will close on January 15, 2013, to allow for last-minute recommendations of last-week-of-2012 releases. The 2012 Ursa Major Awards nominations will open on January 17, the first day of Further Confusion 2013.

Go to the Ursa Major Awards website on January 17 to register for an online nomination form. You may cast up to five nominations in each of eleven categories: Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture, Best Dramatic Short Work or Series, Best Novel, Best Short Fiction, Best Other Literary Work, Best Graphic Story, Best Comic Strip, Best Magazine, Best Published Illustration, Best Website, and Best Game. If you do not have five nominees in any category, you may nominate less. To be eligible, a work must have been released during the calendar year 2012; must include a non-human being given human attributes (anthropomorphic), which can be mental and/or physical; and must receive more than one nomination.

If you cannot think of anything to nominate, you may refer to the 2012 Recommended List. That has at least five titles in each category, recommended by Furry fans. Remember, 2012 Recommendations are not nominations for the awards. Nominations of a work are separate. You may nominate a work that has not been recommended if it meets the eligibility criteria.

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