Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3'Posted by 2cross2affliction on Sat 13 May 2023 - 14:54
Previously on Guardians of the Galaxy ...
Only your letters, and, mostly, your support can bring it back for a third try ... now somewhere in the black holes of Sirius Major there lived a young boy by the name of Rocket Raccoon ... the fact that it really doesn’t make a lot of sense is part of its charm ... it basically retcons Rocket’s original mini-series out of existence, positing it as a false memory ... it’s a good time to be a fan of raccoons with rocket launchers ... Blam! Murdered you! ... I couldn’t find a picture of Rocket Raccoon wearing a party hat ... ooga chaka, ooga chaka, ooga ooga ooga chaka ... we just get a glimpse of his scarred bare back, which implies that his transformation was painful ... I am the fox you've been waiting for ... Rocket is fine. He's fine. He'll be fine. It's fine ... oh, I'm definitely putting copyrighted Avengers music in this ... at one point, the "snap" apparently reached out into the real world and even claimed their director, but it's okay, he got better ... now you’re just making it sad.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the third and final instalment of the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy of movies, featuring the adventures of the titular group of spacefaring superheroes. James Gunn returns to direct, and the movie stars Chris Pratt as Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star Lord), Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, and, last but certainly not least, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket.
Review: 'Dissident Signals' edited by NightEyes DaySpring and Slip-WolfPosted by Rakuen Growlithe on Fri 14 Apr 2023 - 13:32
Dissident Signals is a compilation of post-apocalyptic furry fiction published by FurPlanet and edited by NightEyes DaySpring and Slip-Wolf. The individual stories are (very) loosely linked by short paragraphs, written by Slip-Wolf, that relate all the stories as broadcasts intended for any survivors of the ruined world to use to understand what went wrong and how to rebuild. It's an idea which would've been more effective had all the stories been set in the same universe but which does serve as a nice bookending device.
There is a lot of variety in the stories themselves: while most go with a science fiction premise, others include aspects of magic or worlds that barely differ from our own. There are stories where humans and furries coexist (to a certain extent), worlds which are completely furred, and even one story where all the characters are human and the furry aspect comes in a very unique way. Despite all the variety in settings, ideas and originality, nearly all of them are excellently written, though most are quite bleak.
There are a few stories which really stood out to me and which I would like to highlight for various reasons. I will present them in the order in which they appear in the compilation.
Review: "In a Dog's World" by Mary E. LowdPosted by Rakuen Growlithe on Sun 2 Apr 2023 - 22:58
Is In a Dog's World set in a dog's world? Well, yes and no. Humans have vanished from Earth, and several species are now "uplifted," gaining human-level intelligence and an anthropomorphic form. The story focuses on dogs and cats, which are now the main inhabitants of North America, and there, if you'll pardon the expression, dogs rule the roost.
Everywhere she looked in the world, it was dogs on top. Politicians, CEOs, the biggest celebrities, even the most innovative scientists -- they were all dogs.
Our main character, Katasha, is a tabby point Siamese cat, preparing for her high school prom and awaiting the results of her college application. She is not happy with the status that most cats have and wants to be a success. As dogs are successful, that is her aim: not to be a dog but to be a part of their world. She wishes to emulate the traits that dogs possess, wants to go to a predominantly dog college, and desires to date a dog.
Review: The Adventures of Peter Gray by Nathan HoppPosted by Rakuen Growlithe on Sat 18 Mar 2023 - 10:05
The Adventures of Peter Gray (Written Dreams Publishing, $16.99) is the first novel by Nathan Hopp. It's told from the perspective of the titular Peter Gray, a young wolf living on the streets of an alternate history New York City in 1899. The Adventures of Peter Gray invites us to experience the city through the eyes of one who loves it and see how both it and Peter's life changes over the year.
I want to start off with the biggest weakness of this book [as a product]: the blurb. The problem with it is that it sets up misplaced expectations and reading then becomes frustrating when those expectations aren't met. The first paragraph of the blurb is fine, but then it makes the whole book sound like it's about Peter's quest for a family and the Newsies' strike. The Newsies' strike is introduced and finished in fewer than 30 pages; the book has 240.
Ignore the blurb and appreciate the book for what it is: a collection of adventures of a young, orphaned wolf in the big city. There is an overall arc to Peter's story, but it develops slowly and organically while many smaller incidents build up to the climax. It's a good structure that works, making the whole book very suitable for quickly picking up and reading without having to worry about forgetting what happened last time.
Nearly all the chapters are self-contained. We meet new characters that stay with us but each chapter has a distinct story. Maybe it's Peter having a picnic with his friends, maybe it's a time when he deals with bullies, or maybe he goes to visit the Statue of Liberty. The various adventures are entertaining and reminiscent of the carefree days as a child. However, that carefree feeling is tempered by the reality that Peter is an orphan, homeless, and broke.
Review: A Wasteful Death by Sylvain St-PierrePosted by Rakuen Growlithe on Thu 9 Mar 2023 - 18:08
A Wasteful Death is a cross between a murder mystery and a love story set in a city populated entirely by anthropomorphic animals. While the main characters are two Registered Investigators, sort of like police, this story is nothing like Zootopia. Instincts remain, and everyone in this world is acutely aware of the distinction between predator and prey.
The main characters are Marlot Blackclaw, a wolf, and Trembor Goldenmane, a lion. Both are Registered Investigators who, unusually for their territorial profession, work together. What exactly is a Registered Investigator? Their job is to investigate unclaimed kills and track down the person responsible. Unclaimed being the key word here.
In the world of A Wasteful Death, predation is legal and, with a few exceptions such as students or anyone in a hospital, everyone is a potential target. Once someone is killed, there is a tax that the hunter must pay which is scaled according the value the kill had to society. The tax on a homeless drunk would be low but the tax on a wealthy CEO like Aiden Spottedfur is massive, and it falls on Marlot and Trembor to find out who killed her.
Review: Rise of the Patcheé by Eben PrentzlerPosted by Rakuen Growlithe on Sat 4 Mar 2023 - 14:32
Rise of the Patcheé is a self-published collection of three short stories by Eben Prentzler. The three stories are "Part 1 - The Scavenger Wars," "Part 2 - The Scribe’s Crystal" and "Part 3 - Touch of the Firstborn." They are all set in a fantasy world established in his earlier novel, Chronicles of Solo - Moments Away, and revolve around Mother, the title given to the leader of a Patcheé (African wild dog) pack.
When reviewing, or writing in general, it is good practice to keep your audience in mind. I see reviewing as generally having three potential audiences and functions: giving feedback to the author of a piece in order to help them improve, using a piece as an example to teach others what they should or should not do, and providing information to potential readers so that they can judge whether a piece is suitable for them. I feel that, in the furry fandom, all three of these functions overlap: authors are likely to read reviews by other furs, potential readers read the reviews and, with the fandom focused on creation, many of those readers are themselves aspiring authors. As such, I will talk about what does and does not work in this collection and why.
Sonic Frontiers - Of open worlds and confining cyberspacesPosted by Sonious on Wed 15 Feb 2023 - 21:09
It had been a long time since I last streamed a Sonic game. Sonic Forces was almost a one-off stream. It took only four to five hours to finish the game and also its Shadow add-on. Story beats were all a blur. The mechanic that was the staple was creating your own original character (do not steal), but as mentioned there wasn’t much for them to do. And who can ever forget the poor characterization and writing? True dat.
Since 2017, Sonic Team has certainly been taking their time with this next 3D entry. However, while I was an avid Sonic fan in my youth I kind of grew up and didn’t care so much about keeping up with the day to day on the stories and franchise as much as I used to. The last time I wrote a Sonic review for this site, it was for the movie. And that’s crossaffliction’s territory, that he would reestablish in the second release of the franchise.
I didn’t even review Sonic Forces. I had thoughts, but for whatever reason didn’t feel inspired enough to get them down on paper. Probably ended up in null space somewhere.
But enough about the background of Sonic, was their new Frontier worth the wait?
'Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series' - A newcomer's view of a pair of classics remasteredPosted by Sonious on Tue 31 Jan 2023 - 19:41
Klonoa was a bit after my time. While anthro platformers were a big household staple in the earlier years of my childhood, by the time I was entering my teenage my family trended toward more first-person shooter titles. We didn’t get an original PlayStation, and went for an N64 instead. That being said, last year’s remaster was a great opportunity to play a classic anthro platformer that I never got a chance to. Was it as good as the niche audience for this strange cabbit-like character laid it out to be?
The remaster comes with two games, and I have played through both. In short, the first game came as a bit of a surprise to me and had gameplay and story elements that challenged me as a player.
In terms of gameplay, both games have similar mechanics and feel like a mixture of early Kirby three dimension titles mixed with Mario 2 (US) combat where you pick up enemies to throw them at enemies and objects instead of sucking them in.
Playing the second game so quickly after the first caused a bit of a disappointment as it didn’t do things that the first hadn’t already done better. I enjoyed Phantomile more than I did Lunatea’s Veil. If there was a graphical difference in the titles in their original release, this remaster eliminates it and both look good.
I will go into more detail as to why after the header, as it will go into a bit more of the game’s content with some spoilers.
Movie review: 'Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile' (2022)Posted by dronon on Sat 14 Jan 2023 - 00:11
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (trailer) is a live-action musical comedy family film released in October 2022, with computer-animated critters mixed into it. It's an adaptation of two children's books by Bernard Waber, The House on East 88th Street (1962), and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (1965).
In my earlier review of My Father's Dragon, also an adaptation, my biggest complaint was how it borrowed story elements while destroying the spirit of the book. With Lyle, the spirit has definitely been kept. The premise is silly, it doesn't make sense, and has fun with it. It knows exactly what it is!
Hector P. Valenti is a charismatic showman and second-rate stage magician who buys a baby crocodile (Lyle), vainly hoping his new pet will become his ticket to stardom. When it doesn't work out (think One Froggy Evening), Hector leaves to recover his finances, abandoning Lyle in a New York townhouse, where he lives in secret. When the Primm family moves in, Lyle gradually befriends them and brings out their better natures. Until he runs afoul of their conniving basement tenant, Mr. Grumps.
The books had a low word count, so a lot of things had to be added to make a full movie. The Primms were originally bland and generic. Lyle's presence in the house (and how he survived) needed more of an explanation, so all of that received more details. Most (though not all) of the major plot points from the books still exist in some form. The changes make sense from a screenwriting perspective, but whether you think the movie is a respectful adaptation, that's going to vary a lot from person to person. It depends on what people are willing to accept or let go of.
You can poke holes in this movie like crazy, but at heart, it's an entertaining ride without any delusions of grandeur. I don't mean that in a snooty film review way. Like I said, the premise is silly, and it's having fun. I'm going to nit-pick things anyway, but there's lots of good energy!
Fur your consideration - A quick review of 11 short dramatic animation from 2022Posted by Sonious on Tue 10 Jan 2023 - 13:55
2023 has started off, but before we get too far in I wanted to take a look back on the short animations that I think are worth your time to look at from 2022. As there are quite a bit of items in the recommended list on the Ursa Major site, I decided to go through and watch them and curate them into 11 items I think do what they do really well and are well worth consideration for nomination.
The videos here are all short, only one of them breaks the 20 minute mark. The reviews will contain spoilers so be sure to watch the embedded feature prior to reading my thoughts on them if you would like to experience them for yourself.
Be sure to take some time and enjoy the hard work these artists put into these works. Also check out the other items in the recommended list if you have time as there are some interesting items that I thought were good, but there are too many to write about extensively.
Review: 'Puss in Boots: The Last Wish'Posted by 2cross2affliction on Sat 7 Jan 2023 - 09:54
Before Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, even. How about DreamWorks Animation's new studio bumper? It's a bit ostentatious, even a bit overly pleased with itself. Maybe goes on a little long. But, then again, what studio bumper doesn't, nowadays? But, being a celebration of DreamWorks past triumphs, it's interesting to note what franchises were chosen to be spotlighted.
Right out the gate, the Bad Guys are getting quite a vote of confidence, despite being the new guys with one movie under their belts. So I think it's safe to say we're getting a sequel. Also for furries, the Kung Fu Panda series is featured, and we already know that's got a fourth movie coming. The How To Train Your Dragon series is also represented by Toothless, despite the fact that the last movie came to a very decisive story end. It's one of the more acclaimed franchises of DreamWorks, so it has to show up, and even if there are no more movies, smaller screen spinoffs are still happening. There are also appearances by the Trolls and Boss Baby franchises, but they aren't furry, so who cares?
There are some notable absences, however. Despite featuring four movies, the Madagascar franchise is ignored. Spirit, you know, the one with the horse? That somehow managed two movies, but is apparently not an ongoing concern. And obviously, the Shrek franchise is prominently featured, but the star of the movie we're about to actually start reviewing is not. Maybe he'll show up in the bumper for movies he's not the star of?
'Beyond the Edge of Owlsgard' has been released, reviewedPosted by Sslaxx on Wed 4 Jan 2023 - 10:43
WatchDaToast has been developing a furry-themed point-and-click adventure game for a while now, Beyond the Edge of Owlsgard, raising €36,317 from 682 backers on Kickstarter. It's just been released, and VoxelSmash has reviewed it.
You can buy the game on Steam and follow the author on Twitter.
Streaming reviews: Pinocchios (2022)Posted by 2cross2affliction on Wed 28 Dec 2022 - 11:05
There are two movies that came out this year based on The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, the story of a marionette who gains life and then proceeds to, well, go on adventures. Both for all intents and purposes went straight to streaming services, but were treated on the higher "prestige" end of streaming movies, though we're still, as a culture, not sure if streaming first is on par with theatrical releases or more along the lines of straight to video trash (or are they TV movies?). Both were directed by Best Picture/Best Director Oscar winning directors. I personally found them both not actually very interesting, one being ridiculously over-hated, the other just as ridiculously over-loved.
The first was Robert Zemeckis's Pinocchio, which is less a straight adaptation of Collodi's novel than another one of those "live action Disney remakes" that everyone loves so much, this time of the 1940 version of Pinocchio. It released on Disney+ back in September, so I've been very efficient getting around to it. The second is Gillermo Del Toro's Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio. Normally, I hate when they do that "Director's Name's Whatever" thing to titles, it comes off as pretentious and boastful, but given the circumstances, I'm going to have to allow it this time. It released to Netflix this month.
Movie review: 'My Father's Dragon' (2022)Posted by dronon on Sun 27 Nov 2022 - 11:56
My Father's Dragon is a 2D animated children's fantasy film, the latest from Cartoon Saloon, directed by Nora Twomey. The studio kept an amazingly tight lid on this 99-minute production, with its trailer only becoming available five weeks before the film was released on Netflix. I'm very glad this project didn't get cancelled, what with partially being made during the Covid pandemic.
The main character is a quick-thinking boy named Elmer. After he shows kindness to Whoopi Goldberg-- I mean, to a talking cat, the magical neko tells him there's an island where he can find a dragon. And if Elmer can bring the dragon back, its novelty will save him and his single mom from financial ruin! So off Elmer goes, equipped only with a bunch of random stuff he happens to have in his bag. The situation on the island is difficult, and Elmer isn't the only one who needs the dragon.
How furry is it? Sssort of. Only in the sense of having animals that can talk; none of them are physically anthropomorphic, aside from a few primate species. A diplomatic gorilla is the closest this film gets to having an antagonist. As for the dragon, he has a very... unique design, because he's based on illustrations from a 1948 children's book that inspired this film. Despite getting top billing, the dragon is not especially interesting.
What this film does well is provide a sense of adventure and danger. Drawn in Cartoon Saloon's signature geometric artstyle with excellent use of color, it continues the common theme of their other films, a child protagonist trying to persevere against a situation that looms over them. Story-wise, it's a little uneven. It's primarily for younger children.
I wouldn't call it a must-see, unless you're a fan of Cartoon Saloon's work; personally I would much more highly recommend Wolfwalkers (exclusively on Apple TV+). My Father's Dragon scores 87% with critics and 77% from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. I'm with the audience, although I'd give it a 68% "Enh, maybe". Check it out if you're interested though!
As for being a book adaptation... That's something to rant about. Major spoilers ahead.
Streaming review: 'Zootopia+'Posted by 2cross2affliction on Sun 20 Nov 2022 - 06:54
Oh, look, another Zootopia review!
It's been six years since Zootopia was released to theaters. In that time, a lot has happened. America has managed the change to two different presidents. Across the pond in the UK, where the movie was known as Zootropolis, they've managed to beat that turnover rate for heads of state with four new prime ministers, plus a new monarch. That's kind of prescient for a movie where the titular city burns through two mayors over the course of its plot.
In all that time, Zootopia has managed to remain popular with furries. It also, perhaps a bit surprisingly, has managed to remain popular with non-furries. It is one of only three Disney Animated Studio movies to break into the billion dollar club (the other two are both Frozen). It also managed critical and industry awards accolades to go along with the commercial success, giving it the hat trick of movie success criteria. So, a lot of people would probably not be averse to a sequel, right?
Well, how about a series of animated shorts released over half a decade later with little fanfare to a streaming service, instead?