Sheep & Wolves (trailer) is an 85-minute Russian CG-animated movie that came out in 2016, also known as Волки и овцы (Volki i ovtsy). The writing and production took five years by Wizart Animation, whose earlier film had been The Snow Queen (2012).
Sheep & Wolves didn't quite break even at the box office, and received mixed reviews. After I watched it, I have to agree it's a middle-of-the-road film. It's not bad, it's not great - it's thoroughly so-so. On the positive side, the animation is good and very furry! But the writing... it's for kids aged six and above. There's not much in it to appeal to adults; it's what I call a "babysitting film". Plunk your tykes down in front of it and keep them distracted for a while. Still, I'd rank it a notch or two above Alpha & Omega.
Guardians (English trailer) is a Russian superhero film released in February 2017. The early trailers looked promising - fights, explosions, and a bear-guy! It's the Russian Avengers! Expectations were high, and it did well on its opening weekend... and was so disappointing that by its second weekend, it only took in 10% of its previous box office revenue.
It's a very formulaic movie. This isn't necessarily bad - Sing was formulaic too. But if you're going to use a formula, you have to do it well. You have to add a couple of entertaining surprises, mix it up a little, and maybe throw in some humor that mocks the very structure you're relying on. Guardians fails on all these counts.
I Am Dragon (trailer) is a Russian fantasy/drama film that came out in 2015 and yes I know it's technically a wyvern. When I showed clips of it to dragon furries, that's the first thing they said, in a tone of voice like I'd gotten their hopes up and then betrayed them.
For a live-action film, it uses a lot of computer graphics (around 85%), and looks pretty good! The setting felt very real to me. Production costs were about $18 million, and it flopped at the box office. As movies go, it's... ok. I say this with some reluctance. If you're a fan of dragons, you're not missing much.
Back-story: A line of dragons lives on a secluded island, and in a medieval town, the people perform a ceremony and song with which they offer their maidens as sacrifices. This summons the dragon who flies off with one of them, until one day a warrior decides he's going to rescue the woman he loves. He finds the island (too late to save the maiden), slays the beast, and the sacrificial rite is turned into a local wedding ritual, minus the dragon.
During the latest break in the Trump Russian investigations, an email was revealed to show a requested meeting between a Russian contact and President’s son, Donald Trump Jr, to discuss findings to help them against Clinton’s campaign on behalf of the Russian Government. This email has created yet another uneasy connection to the issue that the 2016 election could very well have been decided by heavy foreign influence and manipulation.
However, this is a furry news site, so what does this have to do with anthropomorphic arts or entertainment?
Well the author of the email sent to Trump Jr. to get this meeting set up was apparently made by an eccentric individual by the name of Rob Goldstone. The full story of their interaction and background can be read on Salon’s “Insane in Moscow”: The unbelievable but partly true story of the zany English publicist, the Azerbaijani pop sensation and the “high-quality” presidential offspring”.
Here is another new animated feature that we aren’t getting in America, at least right now. The Cartoon Brew website has just posted this article about Savva: Heart of the Warrior, a new Russian animated feature that opened in second place in that country, and has since been released in Poland and is coming to other countries in 2016. An American voice dub has been prepared, but no American release has been scheduled yet.
The CB article includes the trailer and a half-dozen stills. Savva and many characters are human, but there are plenty of talking animals including Angee, a white wolf or werewolf.
The Hollywood Reporter announced on May 13 that Wizart Animation in Moscow (business office) and Voronezh (animation studio) is producing The Snow Queen 3 for release in late 2016. Presumably this is in Russia, and it’ll come to the U.S. in 2017. Also presumably the cast will include Orm the troll and Gerda’s pet ermine Luta, since they were so popular in The Snow Queen and The Snow Queen 2: The Snow King.
The same Hollywood Reporter article announces that Wizart is pre-selling its own Sheep and Wolves featuring anthro wolves and sheep – it’s titled Volkii I Ovtsi (wolves and sheep), in Russian. Here’s the the English language for Sheep and Wolves.
The article continues, "Wizart will also be […] offering pre-sales for Urfin and His Wooden Soldiers (by Melnitsa Animation)."
In 2010 Russia’s Centre of National Film gave the world Space Dogs, a CGI animated feature that celebrated the memory of Strelka and Belka (the first animals ever to survive a trip rocketing into orbit) by re-imagining them in a science fiction adventure. Now one of the same directors (Inna Evlannikova) has returned to bring us their further adventures in Space Dogs 2, also known as Space Dog: Adventure to the Moon. Epic Pictures has picked up international distribution rights for the film. According to their web site, the plot goes like this: “When the world’s most precious monuments disappear before everyone’s eyes, an unlikely team of two legendary Russian canine astronauts named Belka and Strelka, a heroic American monkey named Bonnie, and Belka’s brave teenage son Pushok jet off to the dark side of the moon to investigate the mystery.” The site also has a link to the trailer. Here’s another Russian film that is slowly making its way around North America in specialty screenings, so look for it. (It’s also available on DVD at least some places, apparently.)
Here’s something for Thanksgiving: More birds! Now it’s Quackers, a new CGI animated film on its way from Russia’s Rome Animation and Film Studio. (Rome or not, it’s from Russia.) “A conflict flares up between local Mandarin Ducks and the Military Mallards who land on the Chinese island, mistaking it for Hawaii. While the fathers fight and argue, Longway, the Emperor’s son, and Erica, the commander’s daughter, meet and become friends. The kids must ally all the ducks to battle their foe, the daunting Ms. Knout, who seeks to destroy the Sun.” Got all that? Directed by Viktor Lakisov and due in 2016, Quackers has its own official web site, as well as a preview video up on Vimeo.
What if… instead of developing atomic bombs, the USA and the Soviet Union had instead put their efforts into developing giant atomic monsters — and flung them at each other? That’s the idea behind World War Kaiju, a new illustrated novel written by Josh Finney and Michael Colbert with full color art by Patrick McEvoy. “What if Doctor Strangelove created Godzilla? World War Kaiju is the story of an alternate history, one in which the atom bomb was never created and the ultimate weapon of mass destruction is the kaiju: Fifty foot tall radioactive beasts spawned from the mysterious KAI-235 isotope. Follow the journey of one journalist as he teams up with a retired CIA operative to uncover the truth about the conspiracy behind the monsters.” World War Kaiju is available now in trade paperback by 01 Publishing. Check out the official web page, and of course the animated preview on YouTube.
Would you believe a full-color funny-animal comic book series coming out of St. Petersburg in Russia? Welcome to the new world, friends! It’s Bo: Plushy Gangsta, heading our way this month (translated into English!) from Action Lab Comics’ Danger Zone imprint. “Are the legends of Bo, the teddy bear gangsta, true? You’re about to find out. When Bo’s girls get nabbed by a rival gang boss, the mysterious and fearsome plushy gangsta is forced into action! It’s Scarface meets Ted in this over-the-top video game style urban epic.” Makes sense, since it was created by video game designers Pavel Balabanov and Vasily Terentiev. Head on over to Action Labs’ Bo web site and check out their new trailer for the series. And trust us: This is not for young readers!
On August 9, Planes hit the movie theaters, while Wings hit the Walmart video bins. Jerry Beck has the story and a trailer on his Animation Scoop website. YouTube has the complete Wings, but in the original Russian.
What is the similarity between them? They both feature anthropomorphized airplanes. What is the difference? Quality. This may seem like an ironic comment considering that most of the reviews of Planes criticize it for its lack of the quality of Pixar’s Cars (despite the Disney label, it was subcontracted to Prana Studios in Mumbai for production), but check out the Wings trailer for yourself. Wings is vastly inferior to Planes. Technically, anyhow. Plotwise? Ehhh…
Does it happen in Russia too? Do some Russian furry fans wear rainbows as often as some in North America? Do they fear Russia's anti-gay oppression in current world news? Would they think twice about costuming in public, or holding meets, if they might be charged with illegally spreading information about "non-traditional sexual behavior"?
Is there a place on the web where international furry fans can easily connect with Russian furs to ask about their opinions and experiences?
The collection focuses on the work of Eastern European artists - Ankor Wolf, Aspeel RaraAvis, Augustine Mayer, Blackwervolk, LexXxy Nickson, NaurEvan, Fox Avril, Neichet, Richard N. Diego, DJ ShadowWolker, Vasory88, Vatarius [Arxas Project], Veemie and Worgen [Pioneer Chris]), but includes Fox Amoore, GreatFox and JayB.
Had 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.