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Furry Movie Award Watch: June 2013

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Folks, it’s a slow month, so I put together a list of animated movies to be nominated for an Academy Award by cross referencing Jerry Beck’s animated feature list and the Oscar’s site.

First off, not all of these movies feature anthropomorphism or animals, much less anthropomorphic animals, but a vast majority do. Secondly, my definition of what constitutes an animated feature is stricter than Beck’s, so some movies that appear on his list and did gain nominations do not appear on mine. Thirdly, this is going to be a dry and boring read, but I promise it is full of facts. [And links!] I’ll be witty and insightful next month.

Update 3/9/2015: Now updated through 2014.

Review: 'La chat du rabbin' ['The Rabbi's Cat']

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The Rabbi's Cat posterHad enough of French animated films yet? Don't worry, I'll run out of them soon! This week's review is Le chat du rabbin (The Rabbi's Cat), which came out in France in 2011 and only just recently got a North American DVD release. (Trailer). It's based on a comic book series by Joann Sfar.

The film starts in Algiers (North Africa) in the 1930s, with a rabbi, his daughter, and her pet cat. After the cat eats a parrot, he gains the ability to talk, and immediately gets in trouble with the rabbi because the cat's first action (of course) is to deny everything.

As the rabbi tries to keep the cat away from his daughter, the cat tries to get on the rabbi's good side by offering to convert to Judaism - although what he really wants is a bar mitzvah. Still, being a cat, he's an independent thinker and isn't shy about challenging the rabbi's religious teachings.

Animation: Disney does it again with 'Frozen'

Your rating: None Average: 3 (4 votes)

Disney 'Frozen' posterBoth the Animation Scoop and Cartoon Brew websites have the first five images of Frozen, Disney’s next animated theatrical feature, based (loosely) on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, to be released November 27th.

The posts include reader comments; go ahead and add yours. You can’t tell much about a theatrical feature from just five pictures, but it looks like the male hero will have the usual semi-anthropomorphized steed; in this case a reindeer rather than a horse. There is also a snowman who looks suspiciously anthropomorphic.

P.S.: A few hours later, Disney posted the first teaser trailer, which both Animation Scoop and Cartoon Brew have. Yep, the snowman is definitely anthropomorphic.

Review: 'Epic' is about as inspired as its title

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

EpicThis should come as no surprise, but Roger Ebert was a personal hero of mine. The man lost his voice years ago, but he was still able to speak clearly as ever in his writing, especially the movie reviews that were his main job. He died earlier this year.

I was reminded of a line he occasionally used during Blue Sky StudiosEpic during a scene where the villain has captured the comedy relief sidekicks and is telling them stories of his son. One of them exclaims, “Your stories are boring and torturous!” As Ebert would point out (as he did for Jason X), the movie just reviewed itself. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Epic features some really wonderful animation, great special effects and what I’m sure would have been remarkable use of 3D technology if I’d bothered to watch the movie that way, but none of it really matters, because the story is, well, boring and torturous.

Review: 'Ernest et Célestine' ['Ernest & Celestine']

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French DVD cover of 'Ernest & Celestine'Ernest et Célestine (Ernest & Celestine) is a 2012 children's animated film from Europe about a friendship between a mouse and a bear. It hasn't had a widespread English-language release in North America yet, but when it does, I recommend it. It's charming! (Trailer, with English subtitles.)

The two main characters exist in different worlds, and are both victims of circumstance. Ernest, the bear, is a musician who lives alone in a cabin in the forest outside a large town, an outsider. If not for the cabin, he'd be homeless; he runs out of food during the winter and must resort to busking and begging, and eventually theft, because busking is forbidden and his musical instruments are taken away.

R is for Review: 'The ABCs of Death'

Your rating: None Average: 3.2 (6 votes)

The ABCs of DeathAnybody can die, evidently.”
-“ABC”, Robert Pinsky, United States Poet Laureate

Necrophilia is more erotic than that [censored!].”
-SWfan, Flayrah commenter

The ABCs of Death is the brainchild of producer Ant Timpson (an end credit suggests the whole thing was inspired by a nightmare of his): take 26 horror directors from around the world and give them a letter of the alphabet. They then pick a word with that letter, and direct a short film for $5,000 that depicts a death involving that word.

Pretty simple, and a great concept for a horror anthology, but why the review on a furry site? Well, there’s Thomas Malling’s “H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion,” which is basically a live action Tex Avery cartoon. And there are plenty of animal-related shorts available, as well; some of the best shorts on the roster, including “D is for Dogfight,” “N is for Nuptials,” “P is for Pressure” and “Q is for Quack,” involve animals, if not always anthropomorphic.

But are these highlights worth the time for furries?

Prehistoric Pals with Pluck

Playing in theaters now (in front of several movies) is the trailer for Walking With Dinosaurs: The Movie, produced by BBC Earth (of course) and coming to theaters this December. Interestingly, the producers are taking a somewhat anthropomorphic angle for this 3D CGI film: It’s actually narrated by the dinosaurs themselves as they go about their daily lives. In this story, we meet a young frill-head dinosaur, who is something of a runt in his herd — but who will grow up to be a great leader who will guide them through a dangerous world. The film is directed by Barry Cook (Mulan, Arthur Christmas) and Neil Nightingale (Enchanted Kingdom). Check out the trailer at Animation Scoop.

image c. 2013 BBC Earth

Furry Movie Award Watch: April 2013

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Sorry for the delay, folks; I know all five of my regular readers were on pins and needles (hi, mom!). See, GreenReaper emailed to tell me that Fred had linked back to my Cinderella review on the new Cartoon Research site, and just like the time he emailed me about some video game site which quoted my Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 review, my computer died. Obviously, there's some connection here. Anyway, it's all their fault. Shame on you guys.

'Rio 2' first trailer revealed

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Animation Scoop has the first trailer for Blue Sky StudiosRio 2, out next April. It’s anthro birds, birds, birds!

I just got through reviewing the coffee-table The Art of 'Epic' for Animation World Network. (My review should be posted in the next day or two.) In it, director Chris Wedge says that a major reason for Blue Sky to have made Epic is to evolve the studio away from hard-edged, bright computer graphics like in the Ice Age movies, Robots, and Rio. and develop a softer, more dense look, such as that needed for the realistic forest in Epic. It sure hasn’t taken them long to get back to the brightly-colored Rio!

2012 Ursa Major Awards voting now closed

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Ursa Major Awards banner by EosFoxxThe voting for the 2012 Ursa Major Awards, for the best anthropomorphic literature and art of the calendar year 2012, is now closed. Voting took place from March 15 to May 15. 1,696 registrations were received, but only 1,113 people actually voted.

The winners will be announced at a presentation ceremony at Anthrocon 2013, held July 4–7, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The placing of the voting will be released at this time.

Registrations were received from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Grenada, Greece, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the U.S.A., Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Vietnam. This includes the large number of registrants who did not in fact vote.

Announcement: 'Foodfight!' is a direct-to-DVD release

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Animation Scoop’s Greg Ehrbar reports that Foodfight!, the coming-soon CGI theatrical feature announced ever since 2004, has finally come out – as a direct-to-DVD release, on May 7.

This is definitely one for Crossaffliction’s proposed MST3K for bad anthropomorphic movies. Ehrbar reviews Foodfight! as, “It is truly one of the worst animated films ever made.” That is evident from the 1’44” trailer alone, which is included in the AS review.

One week left to vote for the 2012 Ursa Major Awards; 2013 Recommended Anthropomorphic List now open

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Voting for the 2012 Ursa Major Awards, for the best anthropomorphic literature and art of the calendar year 2012 in eleven categories, closes on May 15. If you have not voted yet, you have a week left to do so on the Ursa Major Awards website.

In addition, the Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association has closed the 2012 Recommended Anthropomorphic Reading List. Recommendations for the 2013 Reading List are now being accepted.

All fans are invited to recommend worthwhile anthropomorphic works in eleven categories (motion pictures, short fiction, dramatic short films or broadcasts, novels, other literary works, magazines, graphic stories, comic strips, published illustrations, games, and websites) first published during 2013, plus miscellaneous items. This List is often used by fans to nominate in the next year's Awards.

The Ursa Major Award finalists for 2012 are . . .

Animation: 'The Painting' is coming

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Animation Scoop has the new American trailer and poster for the 2011 French animated feature Le Tableau (The Painting), due for May 24 release.

Review: 'A Monster in Paris'

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

A Monster in ParisRecently released on DVD in North America, A Monster in Paris (trailer) is a CGI-animated kids' film that originally came out in France in October 2011 as Un monstre à Paris.

Taking place during the Parisian flood of 1910, the two main characters are Emile, a shy film projectionist and amateur cinematographer, and his friend Raoul, a tinkerer who likes to invent gadgets and operates a delivery service out of the back of his truck. During a late-night delivery to an absent scientist's laboratory, Raoul plays with chemicals, unaware that his tampering accidentally creates a giant flea with a beautiful singing voice.

The "monster" is quickly targeted by Maynot, the Commissioner of police, who becomes obsessed with capturing and killing it as part of his campaign to become mayor. He's also taken an interest in a cabaret singer named Lucille, who disguises and hides the flea after recognizing its musical talents.

Raoul is an old friend/enemy of Lucille's, and soon he and Emile are in on her secret, trying to find a way to protect the flea from the Commissioner.

Ratchet & Clank: The Movie

After a wildly successful run of Ratchet & Clank releases for the Sony Playstation, Insomniac Games have announced they are teaming up with Sony Computer Entertainment, Rainmaker Entertainment, and Blockade Entertainment to bring the planet-hopping lombax and his little robot companion to the big screen in a brand-new CGI animated film — set to be released in 2015.  According to an article in Forbes, Insomniac’s own TJ Fixman will be lead writer on the film, and voice talent will feature James A. Taylor as Ratchet, David Kaye as Clank, and Jim Ward as the lumbering human Qwark — all of whom are well-known from the game series. The article on-line also features a new teaser-trailer for the upcoming film.

image c. 2013 Insomniac Games