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starlac

KF Managing Editor
Location: UK
Birthday: November 6
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About me:

Real name: Carl Padgham

Review Star Average: 2.25/4

Keyframe's Managing Editor, animation critic and researcher (and former videogame critic). I'm stingy with my stars, so don’t expect a lot of high scores from me, a profile has to really work to earn its balls of fire facsimiles.

Presently, I review animation based on how they bear up to the peers in their respective categories - features-to-features, DTVs-to-DTVs, etc - rather than try to unfairly compare a high budget feature film with a low budget direct-to-video. Call it a category concession if you will.

I hope to never let nostalgia affect my reviews, but then nobody’s perfect. My favourite animated cartoons tend to fall between the original "Golden Era" and the late 80s to early 90s. My interest in animation goes back years. I enjoy playing video games but tend to find their animated adaptations range from awful to okay - I could say a similar thing to game adaptations of many animation licences.

While I may prefer traditional animation to CGI, I can watch almost anything and think that the story and characters are more important to a film, etc, than the medium of animation used in it.

For what it's worth, I have Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism.

My Star to 10 scale ratio:

4.0 stars = 9-10 - Superb: One of the best films you could hope to see in your lifetime - insofar as I'm concerned, a rare gem in animation achievement.

3.5 stars = 8-9 - Great: That film that entertains all the way through, and never truly flounders, but is still missing the spark that seperates the great from the epic.

3.0 stars = 7-8 - Good: A film, etc, that is good, but not great, something you'd watch again, but might not go hunting down the Blu-ray or DVD - at full price - for.

2.5 stars = 5-6 - Mediocre: Straight down the middle, while it's watchable, you won't call it actually good per sé. On the flip side, neither is it actually bad.

2.0 stars = 3-4 - Poor: Not so bad as you cannot get through it, but you might not care to watch it again anytime soon, or remember anything about it immediately after it finishes.

1.5 stars = 2-3 - Terrible: Maybe there some redeeming factors, but they are few and far in a overwise horrid production.

1.0 stars = 1-2 - Abysmal: Practically unwatchable sludge. or as close to it as makes no odds.

Interests:

Animation, Drawing, writing, reading (animal novels, fantasy, sci-fi, animation history), videogames, and radio comedies. Not necessarily in that exact order.

Animation that I love:

Theatrical Shorts, Animaniacs, Astro Boy (all versions), Count Duckula, Lilo & Stitch, WALL•E...

Website:

starlacs galactic musings - Blog

Reviews by animation type
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7% of reviews had a rating of 4 stars
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18% of reviews had a rating of 3 stars
(18%)
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12% of reviews had a rating of 2.5 stars
(12%)
2 stars
20% of reviews had a rating of 2 stars
(20%)
1.5 stars
21% of reviews had a rating of 1.5 stars
(21%)
1 stars
14% of reviews had a rating of 1 stars
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Reviews for Theatrical Short

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animated cartoon Crowing Pains © Warner Bros.
Crowing Pains
Rated it: 2
posted: May 19, 2014
When loop notes that Sylvester is atypically violent in this cartoon, he ain't kidding. Within the opening minute he's trying to murder Barnyard Dog and then whacks Foghorn with blunt piece of wood when the rooster won't shut up, although to be fair to him, I think most characters are quite keen for Leghorn to zip it.

It doesn't help that I'm a big fan of Sylvester, so seeing him so out of character is alarming, especially when their no context as to why. I cannot recall the character appearing alongside either the Dog or Foghorn, so that they seem to have a feud is something out of the blue. I understand that there's no much time for setup, but there really is no reason for Sylvester to be here, his routine is basically what Foghorn generally gets up to - until he briefly take the roll the dog normally takes. The main reason he's here seems to give Henry Hawk a new target to mistake as a chicken.

If I being more cynical, I'd say that it's because Sylvester was a more well known star at this point, in spite of being only a few months older.

The history books note that Bob McKimson was the lesser of the directors at Warner - his cartoons are less cerebral than Jones and less chaotic than Freleng - but they generally fared better than this. The animation is quite sloppy in parts given the talent at the studio, with some of the sequences of Sylvester running being particularly egregious examples.

Yet there one thing that comes to mind when viewing this short, it actual boring in a way that doesn't usually occur within Warner cannon. Maybe a better word would be lacklustre, there's nothing here that hasn't been done better in other cartoons, even Foghorn Leghorn ones. It's watchable, and yes, it is more interesting than watching paint dry.

Though not as much fun as actually painting mind you.

animated cartoon Baseball Bugs © Warner Bros.
Baseball Bugs
Rated it: 2.5
posted: Aug 06, 2013
After watching what turns out to be a rather one-sided baseball game, a rather confrontational Bugs Bunny challenges the blatantly cheating Gas-House Gorilla's to a game of him versus all of them.

What follows is a fairly typical Bugs short, with some good jokes, some topical gags that only work if you know the time period, and some sight gags, as well as the running gag of Bugs throwing the ball in a number of bad ways.

Technically, Bugs would have lost the game the moment the ball left the boundaries of the game field (a home run scenario), but I suppose that would have been rather anticlimactic.

There's not much to say about this short, the premise is rather thin, even for some of Bugs' short subjects, but it's entertaining enough for a few minutes of your time.

animated cartoon The Loan Stranger © Walter Lantz Productions
The Loan Stranger
Rated it: 2
posted: Jul 03, 2013
Unlike most of the best Woody Woodpecker cartoons, there's a certain lack of insanity here, or is it kinetic energy? The end result is a short that's watchable enough, but will unlikely be much remembered after viewing (I've watched it a few times and cannot recall it readily).

Woody sings his trademark "So I'm Crazy" song, and his car breaks down near a loan company. This being a cartoon the loaner is a fox/wolf predatory-type that is preying on "suckers" to acquire their cars (given that Woody's car is a complete wreck, one has to wonder why the fox lets the bird borrow anything). Woody signs the loan and promptly forgets about it 30 days later.

What follows is a second act some lacklustre and poorly paced gags that really don't go anywhere as Woody keeps the fox from him, and the fox tries to get Woody to pay him back plus a ton of added interest. A gag that involves a giant mousetrap isn't fast or violently exaggerated enough to really be funny and that's part of the issue; the whole short is too plodding and slow for its own good.

Compared to Woody later cartoon shorts, like Barber of Servile this is quite poor, yet in the grand scheme of theatrical shorts, it is watchable, just not memorable. It just feels like the whole short feels like it's running on flumes.

animated cartoon Capetown Races © Paramount Pictures / Famous Studios
Capetown Races
Rated it: 1
posted: Mar 29, 2013
Profiles such as this always present me with a minor quandary, along the lines of its obvious racial-fueled content. Yet ultimately, I know that this kind of theatrical short belongs on the site as much as anything else does. If for no other reason than to acknowledge and remind others of the existence of such things having been about in the past, less history repeats.

As for the short itself, it's a total non-entity, much like the other Screen Songs that Famous made (Fleischers were, typically, more creative with theirs). Maybe it wouldn't be as bad if there was any sort of substance along with the blatant racism, but no, the blackface bit is the only thing of note, because there's nothing else to distinguish this from anything else. This includes the mountains of other shorts that you could watch instead, most of which you'll be much better off with. Indeed a part of me would state that you'd be better off watching any of the dozens of samey Herman and Katnip or Baby Huey shorts the studio churned out, at least at their worst they only insulted your intelligence.

A typical gag involves a - very bored looking - blackfaced kangaroo playing the banjo at one point, with the joke being that her joey is the one plucking the strings. And a mouse in a quartet having the deepest voice. At the 3.53 mark the screen blacks out, almost as if it's embarrassed at what's it showing (from memory this happens with most of the Screen Songs when the song part of the short came up).

Then, as this is a Screen Song, we get to follow the bouncing ball, as it follows the lyrics to the titular song, in this case the Minstrel Show ditty, Capetown Races, forgive me if I don't play along with you Famous. It was probably something of a novelty in the theatres, at home by my computer, it's not something I'd indulge in, even with things outside this title's subject.

Animation is okay, nothing more than to be expected from the studio at this point in time. If there was one thing Famous Studios had was decent animation and animators, so I'm inclined not to give them further marks just because the animation is as good as it usually is.

The short should never have existed, yet, of course, it does and we're kind of stuck with it, because to not acknowledge that it happened is to edit history and well, history is there to be learnt from, less it somehow finds a way to repeat.

animated cartoon Hot-Rod and Reel! © Warner Bros.
Hot-Rod and Reel!
Rated it: 2
posted: Feb 20, 2013
The problem with going through any of the Road Runner shorts are that they are fundamentally the same as each other in basic concept. So it all comes down to how good the gags are and the execution of said gags, particularity that last bit.

To be fair this is more of a problem these days than when these shorts were originally released, as its easy to watch dozens in a row, where upon they just seem to blend into one another. Originally their releases where drawn out over the year, hugely negating the aforementioned issues.

Hot-Reel will probably never find itself on my highest Road Runner shorts list and this delves from the short feeling a bit too cut and paste, with not enough in the way of seriously outlandish devices. Or the usual level of comic mishaps that I've come to associate with the series; something just feels off somehow, routine almost.

It certainly wouldn't surprise if it was the case of a bored Chuck Jones just going through the motions. Jones was becoming more interested in what he wanted to do rather than that which the studio told him to make. Add to that that he actively stated that the Road Runner shorts were the easier to churn out, basically writing themselves Then of course the fiscal budget weren't what they once were. This is a relatively late title in the series run - easily identified by the minimalist, UPA influenced backgrounds found throughout done by Phillip DeGuard (if not the datestamp at the start of the short).

A routine Road Runner, is still worth the watch, at only six minutes you can afford a little leeway. It is, however, a far cry from the series - and studios - best efforts.

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