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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.


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...


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holiday animation The Care Bears in the Land without Feelings © Atkinson Film Arts
The Care Bears in the Land without Feelings
Rated it: 1.5
posted: Aug 21, 2017
With a successful line of greeting cards and soft-toys under their belts (and it being the 1980s), it was inevitable that the Care Bears would end up getting depicted in animation, for good or ill.

First came this. The Land with Feelings – and its sequel special – is exactly as bad as you might imagine. To the point where even Those Characters From Cleveland were unhappy with the specials and moved production of the later movies and TV series to other studios. Here the animation was provided by Atkinson Film Arts, of “The Raccoons” fame, but whether due to budget restraints or lack of time, the results are a far cry from their more famous works.

The plot is unimaginative and forgettable; a boy runs away from home to wind up in the clutches of the Care Bears' original antagonist Professor Coldheart. The bears go after him into the titular lands, and wind up getting stopped – more or less one by one – before reaching the professor's castle by way of deus ex machina.

The animation is woeful, the design of the human children especially, looking more like concept work at times than finished animation. The Care Bears like always are identical, apart from colour and the symbols on their tummies. Professor Coldheart meanwhile, gets the closest thing to a pass, as he's the only thing with a personality range.

If you must watch something starring the Care Bears,* watch the first movie; which at least is just a mediocre non-entity rather than a non-starter.

*Or, you know watch something which is more likely to have some effort put into it.

animated cartoon Dizzy Dishes © Fleischer Studios
Dizzy Dishes
Rated it: 1.5
posted: Feb 13, 2015
The debut of many an iconic cartoon character has worn the suit of mediocrity, poor Betty is no exception. This shouldn't be surprising, really. For most animated stars, the ins and outs of their character develop over time, as the studio gets a handle on who they are and what they are capable of.

Also noteworthy is the fact that a review written around 85 years after the release of the short that it's looking at, is bound to have a large measure of hindsight. Betty appeared in many shorts over the years until the character was retired in the tale end of the Thirties (her last appearance being in Poor Cinderella, her only colour cartoon).

Of course, Betty is mostly known as a human, an oddity in itself in classic era animation for a primary protagonist. Here though she resembles a dog, matching the species of Bimbo, who actually is the main character of this short. While Betty became more human, Bimbo remained a dog, which, given their romantic relationship, did pose some questions, especially to the Hays Office, who had more than a few words to say on the subject of the popular heroine's overt sexuality.

The short itself, like so many debut cartoons, is nothing special, more noteworthy for the character it introduces than anything in itself. Bimbo a black and white dog, little more than a Mickey clone with a slightly elongated body at this point, is both a waiter and cook for a restaurant. Taking a order of roast duck from the large and short-tempered Gus Gorilla.

The canine cooks the duck all right, but finds himself entranced by the sight of Betty singing on stage, and getting up and dancing in tow (along with the duck, because this is a Fleischer Studios cartoon). Meanwhile the customer tries, impatiently, to ask about his duck while eating his cutlery and the table, before chasing Bimbo around.

We get a few gags related to kitchen and restaurant work, a lacklustre finale and, not much else in-between. Yet, as with many shorts that bring a star to prominence, this is more interesting historically, than entertaining. Unless you're intend to watch every Betty Boop for some reason - for me it's a archival thing - then you can happily skip a few of her earlier shorts and start with the later - pre-Hay's Code - ones where she is a human and the world she's living in is brilliantly mad.

animated cartoon The Wacky Weed © Walter Lantz Productions
The Wacky Weed
Rated it: 1.5
posted: Jan 07, 2015
It's kind of hard not to feel for the "adult" version of Andy Panda, a character who can be bamboozled by pretty much any character he comes up against. Whereas the child version was a mischievous tyke, Andy lost much of his character as he "grew up" becoming the dull everyman of the Walter Lantz studio as he did so.

This isn't a thing that just happened to Andy Panda alone though. Every studio seemed to create that everyman character that reacted to stuff more than created their own plots. Heck, it could be argued the Disney's own Mickey was as much as a blank slate for stories to be rebounded off of than a character that could be the instigator all his own.

However, Mickey at least had the benefit of interesting side-characters and the lush animation afforded to him from high Disney budgets. A character like Andy, from the lower budgeted Lantz studio, did not and often found himself in lowly stuff such as The Wacky Weed.

After a series of silly, and not entirely successful plant related puns as we look around a garden centre, we get to the plot. Andy has brought a flower - though he was more or less coerced into his choice by the narrator - and pretty much as soon as he's planted it, the titular weed - animate, naturally - comes to his garden with the intend of literately chocking the flower to death.

What we get is a few attempts by Andy to separate the weed from the flower which amount to very little. Andy's attempts to get rid of the weed are suspect at times (at one point he buries it, the weed simply digging its way back out again). And the weed's choking of the plant is a tad too laboured - and repetitive - to be funny.

The Wacky Weed almost feels like it was made because the studio had to make something with it's first breakout star. This was something the studio would get over when they simply dropped the panda from their scheduled short output when the studio came back from a year-long hiatus it had in 1950, sans director Dick Lundy, who was figured the only person who could make Andy cartoons work.

Andy's been in better stuff than this, though his persona's not much disproved from other shorts he's been in, such is the dilemma of the purely reaction character that he became. The Wacky Weed is not memorable, the nicest thing I can say is that the animation's okay, consider the time period and studio, but the whole thing is just bland and safe, much like the poor panda himself at times.

Probably why it's not on either of the Woody Woodpecker sets.

animated series RoboCop © Marvel / Saban International / Akom Production Company
Rated it: 1.5
posted: Mar 01, 2012
While I don't remember everything about the original RoboCop movie, due to it being a while since I last saw it, one thing that remains with me - outside that it was a relatively low budget sci-fi flick with a high dose of gory violence - was that at the very least it was about something more than just the effect firearms have on living human tissue. Granted there had been other films about the dangers of privatisation gone mad, and anti-robot as a substitute for racism plotted films and TV series, but it was a decent enough yarn for the time if you could get beyond the gratuitousness.

Watching this watered-down, animated series kind of think of how bizarre the notion of making kid-friendly versions of adult orientated films (like where's the animated versions of Friday the 13th or Child's Play). Then again the Eighties seemed to be the time to do this sort of thing, and I'm at least glad that it didn't end with one of those dreaded "knowing is half the battle" moral endings eighties shows - even some of the good ones - where plagued with throughout.

The animated series of Robocop itself is little more than a bottom-feeder that really didn't have any need to be made. Watered down from the source to the point where the networks could show it to the kiddies, reducing the plots to intellectually match what some executive wrongly thought kids could understand and rendering itself meaningless in the process. Following the generic plots is terrible and lame dialogue that rends cut-rate insults of the "Rust Bucket" and "Tin Can" vein and humdrum anti-robot stories that make it come across as a third-rate Astro Boy knock-off, but only at its - Robocop's - best.

This breed of poorly animated, low-end, cheaply-made kind of series was already becoming an anachronism this late into the Eighties, Disney had entered the fold of animation with Chip and Dale, as well as the Gummi Bears, Warners where about to join in through their long, profitable - and entertaining - collaboration with Spielberg and Fox would unleash The Simpson's on an unsuspecting world by the end of next year.

The nicest thing to be said about the series is that it was cancelled after only twelve episodes, and that there was other stuff on that was even worse; so as least it is a minor footnote in Eighties era TV. Today, it only good for filler to waste screen-time and DVD bargain bins. Long may its husk wither in the sea of forgetfulness, I can't say that it'd have many mourners.

2/10 (Terrible) - based on viewing 8/12 episodes.

animated cartoon Confidence © Walter Lantz Productions
Rated it: 1.5
posted: Sep 04, 2011
This is probably one of the more famous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’s shorts that Walter Lantz made, though it probably isn’t going to mean much compared to the studio’s other, more famous creations like Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy (or maybe even Andy Panda). This depression era short is pure thirties propaganda, and while nothing was wrong with trying to convince your country to pick up its feet and swim the currents of the bleak period of capitalism gone wrong, it certainly has trouble flying as animated entertainment, although it might seem more appropriate and valid in today’s economics.

It wouldn’t have been so much of a problem if it wasn’t so blatant in it intentions, as it was, it undercuts the cartoon, as does the throwaway nature of the short’s progression; betraying the fact that Lantz’s, at this point in time, didn’t have much of a story department to speak of; not that he, being very much gag-orientated than story driven, would’ve minded so much.

A great number of Fleischer’s cartoon’s managed to capture the essence of the depression flawlessly, but still held their worth in both entertainment and story; in comparision Oswald battling the spirit of depression using a hypodermic needle filled with confidence is pretty uninteresting as entertainment.

Also the spirit of depression circling the world would be impressive, if it wasn’t so hilariously, and likely unintentionally badly executed.

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