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Dogstar

Animated Enthusiast
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Animation that I love:

Plague Dogs, Princess Mononoke, Secret of Nimh

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Latest Animation Reviews

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animated movie A Cat in Paris © France 3 Cinema / Folimage Valence Production / Digit Anima
A Cat in Paris
Rated it: 3
posted: Sep 01, 2012
To me, A Cat in Paris is a perfect example of a three star movie. It is unique, has an interesting plot, fitting animation, and likeable characters. It doesn't contain the depth, beauty, or emotion of a three and half or four star film. It also doesn't suffer any major problems, which would bump it down to a lower rating. It's a very good movie that doesn't fall into the masterpiece category.

A Cat in Paris is an Oscar nominated French film. It tells the story of a cat named Dino who leads two lives. In the day he is the companion of a mute little girl named Zoe. At night Dino aids one of Paris' greatest cat burglars, Nico. Zoe has refused to speak ever since a notorious gangster killed her father. Zoe's mom is a police chief that is trying to hunt down her husband's murderer. Soon, Dino's two lives intersect and Nico and Dino spend a wild night trying to protect Zoe from gangsters.

A Cat in Paris is a movie that just about everyone can watch. It appeals to every age group. Even though, it might be too intense for very young children, it is a perfect family film. There is a real sense of danger and suspense, but the film is kept light enough thanks to some of the sillier moments. The humor is never out a place and always fits well within the context of the film. This is simply a well-told story. At a running time of 70 minutes, there is no time for useless scenes.

Stylistically this movie is interesting. Although, the animation isn't beautiful, the style fits the story. There are a few clever jokes done with the animation that I quite liked. I didn't particularly care for the human character designs, but I really liked how the city and animal characters were designed.

I only saw the English dub, but the voice acting was very good. The soundtrack was fitting, but I can’t say I remember any of it.

Although it really doesn't stand up next to some of the greats and lacks anything particularity thought provoking, it is an extremely entertaining, unique, and well-made film. A Cat in Paris is definitely worth at least one watch.

animated cartoon Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island © Warner Bros. / Hanna-Barbera
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island
Rated it: 3.5
posted: Jan 08, 2012
I loved Scooby Doo when I was kid. I was somewhere between the ages of six to eight when this came out. I remember the hype clearly. Zombie Island was an all-new Scooby Doo adventure, and this time the monsters were real. It was agony waiting a couple of months to get this movie for my birthday. When I saw it, I absolutely loved it. I was completely engrossed. How does it hold today? Very well actually.

Scooby and the gang have broken up after their teenage years of crime fighting. Daphne runs a talk show with Fred as her cameraman, and for an upcoming special decides to investigate actual hauntings. Fred reunites the gang as a surprise for Daphne, and they head to New Orleans. Unfortunately (at least for Daphne), all the monsters turn out to be men in masks. That is until they are invited to Moonscar island, inhabited by two women, who invite the gang to investigate the hauntings on the island. Zombies chase Scooby and Shaggy, and the gang works on uncovering the Moonscar Island's mysterious past.

This movie is the highlight of the entire Scooby Doo franchise. I had always enjoyed the old series as stupid and fun light diversion, but this movie contains a maturity that is not found anywhere else in Scooby Doo.

Many improvements are made on the previous Scooby Doo franchise. The characters are better developed, and Daphne and Fred are no longer complete background characters. The animation is really nice for a direct to video movie, and is much smoother than the old Scooby animation. Zombie Island still keeps what was fun about the old Scooby Doo, but just adds some much needed depth.

The best thing about this movie is the story. It is a very dark and incredibly mature movie. Scooby Doo on Zombie Island does not shy away from the scary stuff. There is a twist at the ending that is very cool and hard to guess. The twist ending puts this movie above and beyond most direct to videos.

Are there problems? Sure. Some of the dialogue is bad and the slapstick falls flat at times. But I honestly don't have too many complaints. It might be too intense for young children, but I wasn't bothered by it at age six.

Scooby Doo and non-Scooby fans alike shouldn't miss this one. This forgotten gem is worth checking out

animated movie The Rescuers Down Under © Disney
The Rescuers Down Under
Rated it: 2.5
posted: Jan 06, 2012
Last night, I hung out with some old friends. We did what all college age kids do, watch movies that were deeply nostalgic. We rented Scooby Doo on Zombie Island and this film, The Rescuers Down Under.

I had not seen either of these films since I was about eight or so. I had really high expectations for this film. I remembered it as a sweeping epic that completely transported me into the film. I was mostly disappointed.

The movie opens with a little boy, named Cody, running into the outback and freeing a giant eagle. The eagle befriends Cody and shows him her nest. The boy leaves and is captured by McLeach, a poacher who wants Cody to reveal the location of the eagle. The rescuers, Bernard and Bianca come from New York, via an albatross named Wilbur to try to save the boy.

I think my two biggest gripes with The Rescuers Down Under was that the pacing was terrible and there wasn't enough time spent on Bernard and Bianca. There were also some things that were left out that I doubt would bother a child, but really bothered me.

The opening and the climax of the film are spectacular. I just found the rest of the movie to be poorly paced. A lot of the film is spent with scenes involving Cody locked in the poacher's house and Wilbur at the doctor's. Not a lot of time is spent on Bernard and Bianca. In my opinion, they meet Cody way too late in the game. Except for some slapstick with McLeach and his pet lizard, Joana, I was fairly bored until the end.

I was also really bothered by the fact that there are a bunch of loose ends left in this movie. I'm not going to spoil anything, but I will say they involved Cody's mother and also the animals that McLeach has captured.

Even though this movie has major flaws, there is a lot to like about it. The animation is great, and I think everyone remembers the flying sequence from the opening. This is one of the many moments of beauty in the film. There were also no continuity errors following the first film, which seems to plague Disney sequels. My favorite part was the climax, which is incredibly tense.

The voice acting was also good. Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor reprise their roles as Bernard and Bianca and continue doing a fantastic job. But the standout for me was George C. Scott as McLeach. McLeach some of the best lines and Scott delivered them perfectly.

Overall, The Rescuers Down Under is a good film. It just has a lot of problems. It also didn't live up to the grand epic that I had remembered from my childhood.

animated movie Alpha and Omega © Lions Gate Films / Crest Animation Productions
Alpha and Omega
Rated it: 2.5
posted: Sep 18, 2011
I was expecting to absolutely hate this film. When I saw the trailer, my immediate first thought was "Oh boy, a wolf movie! I can’t wait." Two seconds into the trailer, my thoughts immediately changed to, “Well, this looks like poor, predictable grab for cash.” I vowed that I would never pay to see Alpha and Omega.

A few years down the road, I find Alpha and Omega on netflix instant. I figure, at the very least I can make fun it. I watched it and I was actually pleasantly surprised.

I did come in knowing, that this film would not portray wild wolf packs accurately. But I don't think I've ever seen a wild wolf family structure done properly in fiction.*

Anyway, back to the meat of the film. I thought this film was going to be completely predictable and clichéd. I thought it was going to be about two social classes of wolves (alphas and omegas), who were completely unequal, alphas at the top, omegas at the bottom. But the two wolves, Kate (the serious alpha) and Humphrey (a buffon of an omega) after being shipped away, would work through their differences and fall in love, thus mending the class system. We've seen stuff like this before. But Alpha and Omega actually subverted these clichés fairly well.

In reality, both alphas and omegas are valued. Omegas aren't worthless and alphas don't hate them. Omegas have an important job, relieving tension in the packs through humor. Humphrey, is not a buffoon and is actually quite intelligent. Humphrey does not have an unrequited crush on Kate. The two are actually childhood friends and start off with mutual attraction for one another. The real problem is that Kate needs to marry another pack's alpha to unite the two packs. Kate, who is very responsible, knows she has to marry him even though she likes Humphrey to some degree. When the two are relocated to another park and have to return home, the film ends up being more Kate realizing that she is in love with Humphrey, than actually falling in love with him. Even though the movie is fairy formulaic, it does subvert a lot of clichés, making it somewhat unique.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this film were the characters. Like I said before, Humphrey isn't an idiot. He's very smart and uses his playful side to get out of bad situations. Kate is a little flat but not unlikable. The movie's supporting cast particularly shines. The wolf Kate is supposed to marry (Garth) is actually a really nice wolf (usually in these kind of movies, a character like Garth would be a huge jerk) and has some personality. But my favorite characters were Kate's parents, with the father having some depth and the mother being absolutely crazy but hilarious.

The humor was pretty hit and miss. Some moments, I found myself laughing out loud. Other moments, I would be completely embarrassed that I was watching this movie.

For content alone, I would probably give Alpha and Omega three stars. It was enjoyable and had some pleasant subversions from a tired formula But I do have to dock this film a half of a star for the animation. Normally, I wouldn't do this for animation, but I absolutely hated the style. There were times, I was completely taken out of the movie, just because I hated some of the background and character designs. It was very distracting.

If you can brave the animation, this movie is really worth a watch.

*It's actually a common misconception that wild wolves live packs with strict hierarchies. Wolves in the wild live in family units, consisting of the parents, the pups and older pups. As the pups get older, they usually leave the parents and start their own family. Captive wolves, however do live as packs with strict hierarchies. This is because captive wolves are usually a bunch strangers thrown together, not families. For more information, you can check out this website: http://www.davemech.org/news.html

animated series Wolf's Rain © Bandai / Bones
Wolf's Rain
Rated it: 4
posted: Apr 26, 2009
Wolf's Rain is a journey on many levels. In a literal sense, the story is definitely a journey story. Eight or so characters set out in search of something. These character develop through mental and physical challenges and through their relationships with one another. But Wolf's Rain is also a philosophical and almost soul-searching journey for the viewer. It is not merely a show, it is an experience.

Wolf's Rain as stated below is an incredibly complex story. It takes place in a broken down world where rivaling nobles govern their subjects in small cities.

In this world wolves are considered to be extinct. But due to a spell (which is never fully explained) wolves are able to pass as humans under a clever illusion.

The show starts in a run-down dome city controlled by an aging noble. Four wolves attracted to the scent of the flower maiden (I'm not going to even try to explain) in the city decide to join up and search for paradise. The wolves are Kiba, a white wolf who suggests going to paradise (paradise is Kiba’s obsession) to the others. There is Tsume, a cynical tough guy(wolf?) loner. Hige, a clever womanizer. And Toboe, a very young naive wolf with a good heart.

Besides the wolves, you have Cher a scientist who works with Cheza, the flower maiden. Hubb, a detective who is also Cher's ex-wife. And Quent a wolf-hunter who is aided by his dog Blue. During the course of the show, all of the character's stories converge. I don't feel like I can say anymore without going into too much detail.

Although I do have a few complaints, (mainly concerning plot holes and the direction the show went with one character) I still think this is the best anime and TV show I have ever seen. The characters and story are great. The animation is beautiful and diverse (ranging from urban backdrops to lush forests. The character design and the animation on the wolves looks great, though in my opinion the faces of the humans leave a little more to be desired.

The score, written by Yoko Kanno, also matches the animation beautifully. Kanno is best known for the famous score of Cowboy Bebop. Even if you decide not to see this series, I'd recommend listening to the Wolf's Rain OST's. Heck, I’d recommend listening to anything composed by Kanno.

But I think the best thing about Wolf's Rain is the philosophical nature of the show. This show contains ideas from Eastern Philosophy (including Hinduism and Buddhism) the three main monotheistic religions and ideas that come from God knows where else. Wolf's Rain explores difficult concepts such as the duality of life and death, purpose, the nature of reality and the necessity of others. This show makes you think and come up with your own interpretations of what the story means, what the ending means, what the authors are trying to convey e.t.c. Everyone comes away from Wolf’s Rain with different interpretations.

I recommend this series whole-heatedly to anybody looking for something unique and thought provoking. Wolf's Rain will take you on a beautiful, heart-breaking, philosophical journey.

 
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