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Review: 'The Secret Life of Pets', Cute and colourful fluff

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

A dog sits in front of a door, waiting for its owner to come home.The Secret Life of Pets [trailer] is the first of two animated movies released in 2016 from Illumination Studios, most known for its films Despicable Me and Minions.

Compared with their competition at Disney and Pixar, Illumination relies less on strong storytelling and instead leans more heavily towards pure charm to make their movies successful. In the past, they've accomplished this with cute and colourful characters, and a child-friendly sense of humour.

With that history in mind, The Secret Life of Pets continues its studio's charm offensive, compensating well for a bland and forgettable story.

Review: 'Furries: A Documentary', by Eric Risher

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (9 votes)

Two fursuiters stand side by side, contemplating the city at night. Furries: A Documentary [trailer] is a 33-minute video about furry fandom directed by Eric Risher. The project started as a short student film he made for university in 2009 called Through Fox's Eyes [trailer], after which he began gathering footage to turn it into a full documentary.

In 2015, Eric used Kickstarter to fund the final stages of the production, and doubled the modest $2,500 he'd hoped to receive. The completed work appeared in May 2016 – as did the online release of another fandom documentary, Fursonas (81 min.) by Dominic Rodriguez, who'd secured more attention and better distribution.

I think Furries is definitely the stronger of the two; it projects a much more positive vibe!

Review: 'The Secret Life of Pets', animated film

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (7 votes)

A group of pets stare at a cityscape. The Secret Life of Pets [trailer] is Illumination Entertainment's latest CG animated film offering, released on July 8, 2016. It's an entertaining comedy that's been doing quite well at the box office. I went to a weekday early evening screening, and the theater was packed with about an equal mix of adults and kids. Everyone seemed to enjoy it!

The story starts in an apartment building in Manhattan. Max (voiced by Louis C.K.) is a terrier who adores his owner, a young woman named Katie. One day she brings home a second dog, a huge, shaggy brown Newfoundland named Duke. Max and Duke don't get along at all. Their conflict results in them getting lost in the city, avoiding animal control officers and a gang of abandoned pets led by an insane white rabbit named Snowball. Meanwhile, the other pets from the apartment building embark on a quest to find them, led by Gidget, a white pomeranian.

Review: 'April and the Extraordinary World', animated film

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (5 votes)

A woman and a cat leap across rooftops, with twin Eiffel Towers in the background. April and the Extraordinary World [trailer] is the English dub of a 2015 French animated film, originally titled Avril et le monde truqué. There was a limited North American theatrical release in April 2016.

Furry-wise, it's borderline: a likeable talking cat sidekick, plus a little extra anthropomorphism that I can't discuss without spoiling. Its main appeal is for steampunk fans. If that's your thing, it's definitely worth a look!

Review: 'An Anthropomorphic Century', edited by Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)
AnAnthropomorphicCenturyFront420.jpg
Cover art by Mark Brill

Edited by Furry Fandom's most beloved Eagle, Fred Patten, An Anthropomorphic Century reprints stories ranging from 1909 to 2008, including the talents of Peter S. Beagle, Philip K. Dick, Michael H. Payne, Phil Geusz, Renee Carter Hall, and more… including myself.

Starting with "Tobermory" by Saki in 1909, Fred does an excellent job putting these stories in a historical and social context. Around the midpoint, however, the historical context begins to soften just a little. The stories are excellent, but not all are milestones, so I would have enjoyed a bit more perspective in what was going on in the real world when they saw print.

Fred may have decided to let the newer stories stand on their own rather than distracting readers from the work themselves. Perhaps this was a good decision; the collection puts on no airs that of a textbook, after all – but Fred Patten is an expert historian of two fandoms (the other being anime). I couldn't imagine a person better suited to bringing external context to these stories.

Disclaimer: I have a story in this anthology. I'll address that story last.

Brainless, but fun: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (4 votes)

teenage_mutant_ninja_turtles_out_of_the_shadows_ver10_xlg.jpg I didn't see the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie from 2014, but can you blame me? The film came out to terrible reviews, the new "Shrek" Turtle designs looked ugly, and it was produced by Michael Bay. Though I have childhood nostalgia for the Turtles (although I was born too late for the late 80s TMNT phenomenon), I had no interest in seeing it.

Then the first trailer for the sequel, Out of the Shadows, appeared late last year and it looked like it could be good fun. After the first film got criticised for not being faithful to the original cartoon or comics, the fan-service was clearly jacked up in this new movie by giving us Bebop and Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman and Krang to look forward to. Then there was that fantastic final shot of the tank on the rapids; the kind of over-the-top moment that we need more of in action films. So does this movie live up to the promise of cartoon characters and brainless fun? For the most part, yes.

Review: 'Furry! The Best Anthropomorphic Fiction Ever!', edited by Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Furry! The Best Anthropomorphic Fiction Ever! I read this back in 2006; it was a present from a friend who I swapped books with. I had forgotten that I had a detailed review of the stories on Bookcrossing.com.

I'm sharing old news, sure, but the book's still available in many formats and you'll enjoy it.

It makes me smile thinking how in 2006, I didn't know any of these Furries, and thanks to the Furry Writers' Guild I know many of them. At least virtually so.

This collection [available on Amazon] was divided into three sections:

  • Living Together: Furries and Humans
  • Living Apart: Alternate Furry Worlds
  • Living Within: Transformation

Review: 'Angry Birds' - a 2016 attempt at a 2010 property

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (9 votes)

There's nothing unique about being a Disney fan. It's very easy to say you like something that was obviously meant to have mass appeal. So in my everlasting attempt to stand out, I decided that rather than become the billionth sale for Disney's big furry flick of the year, I'd try and vouch for the underdogs – those dark-horse films such as Rock Dog, Sly Cooper, and what we're discussing here: Angry Birds.

It's a lot harder to make a case for a movie when no-one has any expectations for it. It was like fighting a losing battle, but I was happy to at least give these some attention.

And now, the first of these films which I championed has been released! I was fortunate enough to see it on release weekend and I can say that the theater was definitely packed. Was this film the embodiment of perfection or did it leave something to be desired? Let's see.

Album Review: 'Beast' by NIIC the Singing Dog

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (6 votes)

BEAST coverThe first time I was introduced to NIIC was on Flayrah. I think it was during the time we were discussing definitions of furry. Someone linked to an interview, republished on Flayrah, where NIIC shared his definition of furry music; one I referred to in my own article on the subject. However, I still didn't really listen to his music until someone linked me to "Paws To The Wall (Fursona version)."

Moving forward a few months, I looked for more of NIIC's work and found his newest album, Beast, released last month, available on Soundcloud. I decided to give it a listen, ripped everything out of the cloud and started listening to it at work. I quickly found that I was really enjoying it and decided to buy the album and help support him. Well, I ended up buying all of his CDs at once, but it does give me the perfect opportunity for a review!

A conversation piece about furries: 'Fursonas'

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (11 votes)

fursonas.jpgFursonas has certainly already stirred the fandom up with its announcement. This independent documentary film made by Dominic Rodriguez was developed over 4 years from 2012 to 2015. It follows a handful of furries from different walks of life and their take on their identity and the identity of this crazy little group they find themselves within.

The film is broken up into two main parts. The first half introduces the fur fans that we'll be getting perspectives from, and the second half gets into topics that are typically the main controversies of the fandom: sex, the media, and the conflict between individual identity and complying to societal norms.

TRIGGER WARNING: If you a major fan, or personal friend, of Uncle Kage then this film may prove difficult to watch. Oh yeah, and there is a scene with dildos as well, so viewer discretion and such.

Interview: 'Fursonas' documentary director Dominic Rodriguez (Video the Wolf)

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (12 votes)
Dominic Rodriguez' fursona
Dominic's fursona, Video the Wolf. Art by Roro.

Joe Strike: Is Fursonas about lifestyler furries?

Dominic Rodriguez: Kind of. People get concerned when they see there are so many fursuiters in it, because not all furries are fursuiters.

I wanted to talk to people who are passionate. That was a good line to draw: if you’re going to go so far as to make or buy a costume, you’re passionate about furry. When I asked the people in the film if you consider furry a lifestyle, half of them said no.

JS: Other than the badges of the furries interviewed, there’s no furry art in the film. Do you think you should’ve included some art?

DR: The thing I knew when I went into this is everybody has a different way of experiencing and appreciating furry. There’s no way to please everybody or to accurately do justice to everything unless the movie was six hours. I had to be selfish and focus on what really mattered to me which is furry as an identity and as a community. I love art and you can show footage of people drawing; but I wanted to do something different, something I cared about. I wasn’t going to spend four years on something I didn’t care about.

When people say furry isn’t a lifestyle I understand that, but when they say it’s just a hobby I think they’re almost giving it a disservice. There’s so much wrapped up in it, and I think people in it take it seriously. I don’t want people to think [the fandom is] just freaks obviously, but it was important people cared about what they were talking about.

Furbid.ws for sale?

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

furbid.gifWhen people are bored, they may begin to dig through old bookmarks, go through old emails, and rustle through things with a slight sense of nostalgia. This is what brought about the discovery that the domain Furbid.ws was for sale.

Older furries may have used furry auction sites such as this site from years ago. Furries used auction sites almost exclusively for many years before many found that announcing commissions on FurAffinity got noticed more than an auction. FurBid was founded in 1999 when it was owned and run by Aatheus.

No information on why it is being sold is available, though WikiFur suggests it stopped its run December 5 of last year.

'Star Fox: Zero': Shiny new controls, same old story

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (7 votes)

starfoxzero.jpgIt's time to return to the Lylat System and step into the Arwing cockpit as the latest Star Fox game, Star Fox: Zero comes out for the Wii U system. After a decade absence from the Nintendo console game lineup, will this reboot of the franchise give new hope to the fans, or will disappointment strike it back? Here are my thoughts on the latest adventure of the space faring mercenaries.

'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' episodes nominated for 2016 Hugo Awards as part of 'Rabid Puppies' slate

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (4 votes)

ifiwereahorribleafflictioniwouldberabies.jpgThe Hugo Awards announced their nominees for 2016, and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic gained its first nomination for the Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form for the episodes "The Cutie Map" (Part 1 and Part 2). However, furries and bronies perhaps shouldn't celebrate so soon; last year's Hugo Awards were pretty controversial, and this year is apparently the sequel.

Looks like the ponies are actually Trojan horses. For puppies.

Review: Welcome to 'The Jungle Book'

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

thejunglebook2016.jpgLet us not forget, Disney is a corporation. To a certain extent, we hold the 55 (and counting) full length animated movies produced by the Disney Animation Studios to a different standard than, say, the 32 (and counting) full length animated movies produced by DreamWorks Animation, or even the 16 (and counting) full length animated movies produced by Pixar, despite the fact that there really isn't much reason to, at this point. Just the fact that the brand is much older maybe should count for something, but, let's face it, just because it is so old, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has less in common with Zootopia than Kung Fu Panda 3 does (even when factoring out the furry aspects and the use of CGI).

We still treat many of those early animated Disney movies almost like sacred texts, despite the fact that Disney never has. Disney has always treated them like what they are; products to be sold. So, you've got annual theatrical re-releases for most of last century, a practice that only died when home video became a thing. To combat that, they introduced the "Disney Vault", which basically extended the "re-release" strategy indefinitely even with home video. Then came the direct-to-video sequels; finally, when those became a bit too damaging to the brand, the live action adaptations began. And the most recent movie to get that treatment is Jungle Book.

Whine all you like about originality and creativity, but Disney's got a business to run. This strategy is pretty much a brand-strengthening exercise, but at least part of the branding is based on "quality," so at least they're going to try and do right by the old movie (if not exactly Rupyard Kipling). And, hey, most of the older Disney movie's are based on properties that are public domain; if Disney doesn't do it, someone else will (and in fact, Warner Bros. has its own Jungle Book movie planned). And its not like Disney hasn't done this before (or, for that matter, that they were even the first movie studio to adapt The Jungle Book). If you want originality from Disney, go watch Zootopia again.

If you want to watch a good movie, well, actually, watching Zootopia again is okay, but do take some time to watch this version of The Jungle Book. It's actually really good.