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Retrospective review: 'The Howling'

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

thehowling.jpgAs a kid, I was given many cheap Wal-Mart editions of the writings of children's author Thornton Burgess, including The Adventures of Old Man Coyote, which contained a back cover blurb that was given a header simply saying "The Howling".

I bring this up because the movie referenced not very appropriately by that children's novel back cover is, on one hand, overshadowed by a similar werewolf movie that came out the exact same year, but has still managed to find itself embedded into pop culture deep enough that it gets its own call outs. I'll be covering that more popular werewolf movie eventually, but of the two werewolf movies of 1981 (three if you count the sorta-werewolf movie Wolfen), The Howling is my favorite.

Of all the werewolf movies I plan on covering, it has the most obvious flaws. It, more than any other, is going to take a very forgiving attitude to dated special effects. At least The Wolf Man has its iconic status going for it. The Howling also features one really cheap jump scare early on, but, to be fair, it makes up for this with one of the most earned jump scares in horror movie history later on. And finally, one of the main reasons I really love it so much is also something people can find annoying.

It's a postmodern werewolf movie. The rules of the werewolf movie have been codified. Now it's time to start playing with them.

Review: 'My Little Pony: The Movie' (2017)

Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (11 votes)

The poster for My Little Pony, The Movie"I guess I just sort of ... grew up."
Ask Jappleack

"Me too!"
— "What Good Will Wishing Do?", My Little Pony: The Movie (1986) (my review)

It's been seven years to the day since My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was first aired, and the geek world changed that day.

So let's talk about the 2017 movie. As far as the story goes, it's pretty bog-standard at this point for MLP:FiM. Bad guy appears (the Storm King, voiced by Liev Schreiber), three of the four magical alicorn princesses prove themselves worthless by getting instantly captured, so it's up to the fourth princess and series protagonist, Twilight Sparkle (voiced by Tara Strong), with her six friends - Applejack (voiced by Ashleigh Ball), Fluttershy (voiced by Andrea Libman), Pinkie Pie (also voiced by Libman), Rainbow Dash (also voiced by Ball), Rarity (voiced by Tabitha St. Germain) and Spike (voiced by Cathy Weseluck) - to save the land of Equestria with the magic of friendship. Which they used to be able to straight-up shoot people with, but they lost that ability back in season four.

Game Review: 'Night in the Woods'

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

A wide-eyed cat stands at the edge of a dark wood as night begins to fall.Night in the Woods (trailer) is an adventure game by Infinite Fall, a joint venture between game designer Alec Holowka and animator Scott Benson. Kickstarted in October 2013 in the hopes of getting $50,000 USD, it not only reached its goal within 26 hours, it raised over $200,000 within a month!

This was probably helped by Howolka's credibility from making Aquaria in 2007 with Derek Yu. Although Night in the Woods (NITW for short) took longer to develop than initially expected, it was released in February 2017 to very positive reviews.

Featuring a cast of animal characters, it's a story-driven game with easy-going 2D platforming and exploration. It takes about 8 to 12 hours to play, and it's available on PC, Mac, Linux and PS4.

I liked this game a lot, and the tricky part with this review is that the less you know about the story, the better. It takes place in Possum Springs, a mid-sized (possibly Rust Belt) town with a struggling economy. You play a 20-year-old cat named Mae who's dropped out of college and returned home, trying to deal with (or avoid) some personal issues. Then a couple of… worrying things start to happen.

Retrospective review: 'The Wolf Man'

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

thewolfman.jpgIt's October, and that means Halloween.

To celebrate that fact, I'd like to offer a series of reviews on various werewolf movies.

Werewolves are the closest the worlds of furry and horror brush the closest to each other, though they may have more in common than they seem.

Both furry and horror deal with things of dual natures. Furry explores the line between what we mean when we say "human", and what we mean when we say "animal". The werewolf movie, more than any other sub-type of horror movie (or horror story), explores this same trope, and not just the difference between "wolf" and "man".

Our first stop in this tour of wolf-men is the obvious one, 1941's The Wolf Man, written by Curt Siodmak and starring Lon Chaney, Jr. as Lawrence "Larry" Talbot, a.k.a. the Wolf Man.

'Spark: A Space Tail': No future

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

Spark, A Space Tail"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"
- John Lydon, singer/songwriter

"God Save the Queen is the actual worst song, let's not argue."
- Guy Lodge, again

To be perfectly honest, I was a bit excited for this movie, when I first heard of it, if only because furries in space is a concept that has worked in the past; and, hey, vixen right there.

I kept plugging it quietly in the background all throughout 2015 and early 2016 (and you guys thought I only covered Zootopia that year). I mean, what if 2016 had been a year where we had six wide release, fully anthropomorphic world movies ranging in genre from buddy cop, to martial arts, to backstage musical, to crime caper, to space opera, and also Rock Dog?

As it ended up, we got, by my count, one great movie, one good movie, one movie that was kind of meh, one movie that turned out to not exist, one terrible movie and also Rock Dog.

Review: 'The Cold Moons' by Aeron Clement

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

A book cover, showing badgers.You might think, on first glance, that you might not enjoy this 1987 book due to its similarity to Richard Adam's 1972 classic, Watership Down. That's why it sat on my shelf for almost a decade collecting dust, until recently when I felt the need to dip into some more children's literature.

The barebones plot has a group of small, harmless animals, displaced from their homes by man. A group of survivors venture out into the unknown (and very British) countryside with a Moses-like leader. There are trials and tribulations, including a conflict with their own kind, and eventually they find the promised land where they can live in peace... at least for a few generations.

'The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature': You know what I'm saying?

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

thenutjob2nuttybynature.jpg"Somehow, my job now requires me to sit and watch THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS."
- Guy Lodge, Guardian film critic, via Twitter, Nov. 9, 2016

"So much for peaceful protest."
- Surly, squirrel

Currently, this movie sits at a paltry 11% at Rotten Tomatoes, from 47 reviews (not a big number of reviews for a wide release movie). A grand total of five professional reviewers found enough decent in the movie to muster "fresh" ratings there. This 11% percent matches the original's score, though it had double the positive reviews with 10 of its 89 reviews finding something nice to say about it. So, obviously, not the most critically beloved movie franchise ever.

However, I didn't exactly follow the critics' consensus with the first movie, what with giving it a spot on my annual top ten list. Fred liked it too, in his review of the movie for Flayrah. And I won't be agreeing with the critics again for the sequel (you'll have to ask Fred if he's even seen this second one, though).

But, you know what, who cares? I mean, as I write this, the top story on Flayrah Lamar's article on the alt-right, while Equivamp's take is a little bit below it. Who cares if the cartoon squirrel movie is good or not; it's not like it has anything to say about the real world and the things that are happening in it right now.

Right?

Review: 'Bunnicula, A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery' by Deborah and James Howe

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

A book cover, showing a rabbit that looks similar to Dracula the vampire.In the days before mobile phones and the Internet, people would have to have conversations with their pets to keep themselves from going insane. That's how it is with the Monroes, a nuclear family with two young children, two careers, and two pets: a cat (Chester) and a dog (Harold).

And every day, when the family members head out of the house, they leave their pets unsupervised to indulge in their vices. Chester reads horror stories; Harold daydreams about food. Life is perfect.

Until the day the Monroes go to a Dracula film, and come home with a little fluffy bundle of a rabbit in a shoebox full of dirt.

'War for the Planet of the Apes': I read the news today, oh boy

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (4 votes)

warfortheplanetoftheapes.jpgThird time's the charm.

I managed to see both the previous installments of this movie series in theaters (Rise in 2011 and Dawn in 2014). Despite the fact that I went in intending to review these movies for Flayrah when both of them came out, I didn't.

The truth of the matter is that I got bored, and just couldn't be bothered to write anything.

So, I really should have reviewed those other two movies. But it helps that this is the first movie in the series I actually liked, though.

Rise and Dawn are not bad movies; they have a lot of positive qualities to them, but I never really liked them.

This review's lyrical headline comes from the Beatles' "A Day in the Life", and, yes, I'm making that a "thing"..

Review: 'Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989 - 2015' by Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989 - 2015 Since their origin in panels and meets at science fiction conventions of the 1980s, furry cons have grown in membership and popularity. Today, they are found on every continent except Antarctica (now there's a challenge). Anthrocon, the world's largest furry convention, welcomed 6,389 attendees in 2015.

Fred Patten's book is the most complete published work (OK, OK: it's the only published work) to cover the history and status of furry fandom get-togethers across the world.

McFarland, January 2017, 260 pages. Available on Amazon and Google Play.

A convention is differentiated from a more casual furmeet by elements including a committee, paid memberships, and a structured event schedule. Most cons last more than one day and take place in a hotel, convention centre, or sometimes camp site or youth hostel.

Furry Event China: A review of my first Chinese furry con experience

Your rating: None Average: 4 (7 votes)

Furry Event China (referred to henceforth as FEC) is a number of firsts for me with regards to attending a furry convention:

  1. The convention itself was held inside of an event space of a public mall rather than the usual convention center
  2. It was my first furry convention experience not of a Western demographic
  3. It was the first convention I attended outside of North America.
  4. Actually, it was my first furry convention at an event that wasn't called VancouFur

Given this, and an assortment of other differences we will be going over, it was definitely an experience that I will never forget.

Furry Event China banner

Review: 'One Dog Story' - an indie game that is a bit 'ruff' around the edges

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Every dog has its day, but since the setting for this game takes place in a confined lab for the most part one wonders; was it ever really day and did this dog have it?

It's hard to say. On one hand, One Dog Story was a successfully-developed independent game that has a complete, playable, and coherent story. Coming in with no outside expectations, this game accomplishes what it set out to do. If played on its own, you may enjoy what it has to offer. Unfortunately, the game wears its inspiration upon its sleeve with how it was named. If you played Cave Story before this, you will come to realize that this spiritual successor did not add anything or modify the formula in any way that improves on its inspiration. In fact, the modifications seemed to make the game less enjoyable.

Review: 'The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw'

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

TheAutumnlands_Vol1-1.pngThe Autumnlands is the creative result of writer Kurt Busiek and artist Benjamin Dewey, with help from colourist Jordie Bellaire and typesetter John Roshell and published by Image. Started in 2014, it is still in continuation with a recent release of a second volume.

The story revolves around the city of Keniel, one of seventeen great floating cities above the earth, resides a relatively peaceful community of anthropomorphic people living in a world of sorcery. In the eyes of Dunstan, a young bull terrier lad, life is going fairly well as he learns from his father to take on the family trade business.

Though not all is well as it seems in the world. Magic fades at an alarming rate and the great mages seek to desperately restore it. In relative secret a group of mages seek to bring back a great hero of legend to restore the world’s magic, despite the warnings of their council superiors.

Unfortunately for them, things don't play out as planned.

It’s a phenomenal story collecting the first six issues of the action/fantasy series featuring primarily anthropomorphic animal characters. While these topics of talking animals and magic seem like the things a child would like to read about, it’s noted that this comic touches into more mature territory pretty quick.

In this series you will find nudity, racial segregation and stereotyping, violent impalement and disembowelment. And this is just within the very first chapter!

It immediately sets itself up as being a story for mature readers, and a clear reminder that some comic books aren’t written for children.

Review: 'A Dog's Purpose' a vapid back-and-forth

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

Dog Purpose.jpg

Starting with Old Yeller and continuing with films like the less iconic Marley & Me, American cinema has a simple trick for an instant tearjerker: give us a boy-and-his-dog story, then kill the dog. A Dog's Purpose ornaments this formula with an existential theme strung across many lifetimes, all from the view of a hungry, mischievous pooch.

Finding Bailey's purpose

What is the meaning of life? Are we here for a reason? These are heavy questions, but they're the first thoughts voiced by the feral pup who will become Bailey, our main character. When his first life is cut short by animal control, he realizes just playing and eating all day hadn't added up to much, and in his next life, his determination to find his real purpose leads him into the home of Ethan, a young boy with a troubled home life.

Through Bailey's perspective, we watch Ethan's father try to improve in his career, Ethan's burgeoning football successes, and his blossoming relationship with a girl named Hannah. But because Bailey doesn't understand many human words, and is more concerned with food and playful antics, it's hard to care when the father descends into alcoholism and abuse, Ethan loses his dreams of pro football when a housefire incident fractures his leg, and he pushes Hannah away in bitterness.

Bailey only seems to somber up when Ethan goes off to college and Bailey dies of loneliness—sorry, I meant kidney failure—and his "boy" rushes to his side just in time to say goodbye.

Review: 'Legend'

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

legend-cover-for-DBD.jpgLegend is a graphic novel by Samuel Sattin and Chris Koehler. It combines the popular post-apocalyptic story setting with talking animals - giving it furry appeal - and wonders how domesticated animals would survive after humanity is wiped out in a biological attack. To be fair, not all the humans are dead, but the only ones that we encounter have been turned into flesh-hungry zombies.

The first volume of Legend begins after humanity has already fallen. We meet a pack of dogs living in The Grounds, an open patch of a land next to a city. They need to choose a new leader as their previous one has just been killed by a mysterious creature in the ruins of the city. Vowing revenge, the new leader of the pack, Legend, begins a journey which leads him to ally with a clowder of cats and traverse a dangerous world which is undergoing dramatic changes.

Much of the comic is dedicated to setting up the world, introducing us to its cast of characters, the land they inhabit, and the back stories that underlie their motivations and mythology. This is all done well. Volume 1 contains the first five chapters of Legend and at the beginning of each chapter is a map. Chapter-by-chapter more of the “fog of war” gradually disappears as we learn the surrounding geography. The flashbacks, too, are entertaining and each one is visually distinct; based on the emotions of the character. It is only in one happy flashback that we ever see the world brightly lit and in full colour.

Throughout the entire comic, the artwork is excellent and does a good job of conveying the tone of the story. The majority of the scenes are highlighted in specific colours to convey mood and were a deliberate choice by the artist to limit his palette to better reflect the dogs’ limited colour range. However, the dark tone that falls over most of the story also makes it challenging at times to make out what is happening.