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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...


starlacs galactic musings - Blog

Reviews by animation type
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Reviews for Short Film

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short film Birds of a Feather © unknown
Birds of a Feather
Rated it: 2
posted: Nov 01, 2012
I'm caught in a quandary of sorts. Do I review this as a piece of web animation, or a student film (which it technically is), in this scenario, yeah it's pretty good insofar as those things go. Alternatively, do I review it in the category that it was put in on the site, and judge it by that which category it shares.

In the latter's case, this is kind of a total non-entity when compared to the other short film's it sharing with.

I felt like I seen this story to many times to get into yet another variant of it, and I'm somewhat indifferent to too much saccharine without enough substance to back it up. The minimalist dialogue is nice

The animation has character, as does the sketchy art, but it's also a tad jerky here and there, yet it's also generally impressive given that its nature. It a good start to go with for the animator, and I wish their career all the best.

Ultimately this is a short film that won't cost you a lot of time to watch, is cute while it lasts but isn't that particularly interested in and of itself, and not really worth more than a single viewing. I meeting it half-way, party because well it didn't evoke anything negative in me, which is something of a plus by default sometimes.

short film Lifted © Pixar
Rated it: 2
posted: Sep 04, 2011
Like so many other of Pixar’s short subjects, I’m wondering whether I’m watching an actual short film, or an elaborate tech demo that just happens to also be a short film.

In this case, it just due to how little a short like Lifted has going for it, a clichéd driving test scenario in the guise of an alien invasion. It okay the first time around, but I’m used to watching short films that bear up to repeated viewings, or have something meaningful to say, are emotionally touching in some more pronounced form, or are plain straight-out funny,* or have multiple layers to discover.

Just being technically innovating - in whatever way it probably is - isn’t going to have much of an impact in even the short-term, especially considering how quickly the CGI industry moves forward. And I'm sorry, but there nothing here that needs to be re-watched.

*To me at least, humor is subjective after all, I just didn't find this short funny.

short film The Gruffalo © Magic Light Pictures / Studio Soi / Orange Eye
The Gruffalo
Rated it: 3
posted: Mar 05, 2011
Nominated for both a BAFTA – albeit last year – as well as this years Oscars, The Gruffalo would sound like a great piece of animation, at least until you remember that award ceremonies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Originally a children’s picture book, The Gruffalo is the tale of a mouse that makes up a fearsome creature in order to prevent being eaten by the three predators - a fox, owl and a snake - he comes across on his journey through the deep dark wood. It turns out that his fabricated monster isn’t quite as imaginary as he thought, and well, the mouse has to find another way out becoming dinner.

While the film is cute, it is also somewhat longer than its rather meagre story should be able to handle. Many of the short’s scenes consist of the mouse wandering through the wood and being stalked by the various antagonists. These scenes are basically there for both padding and eye candy. Essentially seven-to-ten minutes of material has been spread out to fill a twenty minute short; the wonderment is that it’s amazing is that I find myself not bothered in the slightest.

Part of that has to be because the animation is pretty darn good, looking almost organic like in places, like it was done in stop-motion; although it’s really CGI, it’s a neat visual trick. The minimal dialogue allows the animators a chance to have fun with character animation and there’s also the complete lack of any sort of pop-culture references; the slow pace makes a change from the incessant speed of other animated product of late and the whole thing just has a nice flow to it.

Is it deserving of heaps of undying praise, no, not really; however it is one of those shorts where the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The animation’s good, the characters are fun, even if they’re fairly two-dimensional and the story is, well lacking in content, but pleasant enough to go with it. The Gruffalo’s slow pace also makes for a surprising change from the hectic speed of other shows, and it nevertheless flows and feels quicker than it really is.

It’s a nice short that is entertaining for the duration, and whilst it has little ambition beyond being a fair facsimile of its book parent, it not a bad way to spend the twenty-odd minutes that it runs.


short film Adam © Aardman
Rated it: 2
posted: Mar 21, 2009
As a company's early shorts go, Aardman’s are generally quite good, and while Adam is an okay short, it fails to go that extra mile to be genuinely good, which is a shame.

It's mostly a case of time not being kind to the short, Aardman has come along in leaps and bounds since this short was made, with the usually excellent Wallace & Gromit and some decent cinematic flicks. The matter is that at this point, Aardman was continually improving their skills and this short just got lost in the process.

That’s not to say that the short doesn’t have it fair share of humour, with the central character doing a few things that are worth a chuckle on the first run through, but there is nothing substantial to keep your interest any further than that. God creates Adam, stuff happens to Adam, that’s the whole short in a nutshell really; to say anymore might just ruin the whole thing for others.

Still, at only six minutes in length, it’s worth at least a watch that one time.

short film Oktapodi © Gobelins L'école de L'image
Rated it: 3
posted: Feb 02, 2009
Oktapodi is a fun little short film that is in essence a classic chase/fight short that works so well in such short time frames. The film is about two aquarium-bound octopuses that are in love with each other, or are at least courting; the problem is the aquarium is owned by a fishmonger and one of them has just been sold to the chef/deliveryman of a seafood restaurant. Realising what fate lies in store the other octopi gives chase and, well, you’re just have to watch the short to find out what happens.

This short is the combined effort of a group of animation students at one of France’s apparently most prestigious schools of animation and it certainly shows in the technical. There is nothing here that you won’t see in a big studio production, but that’s the point, this is a student film that looks as good as a big studio production, and is more entertaining than some and less commercial than most.

It's a fun little short that, during its runtime, is fun to watch, is nicely detailed, very well animated and well paced, even if the ending is a tiny bit cliché. One thing, this is a short film, even by short film standards, at two and a bit minutes it really only so much longer than Pixar’s Luxo Jr., however it is a fun, enjoyable short while it lasts, the only problem is, it doesn't last long.

The other problem is how do I rate it, do I rate it on that first, enjoyable viewing, or on the fact that any two-and-bit short is going to have to be something else to be worthy of insurmountable praise. At the end of the day though it bears up better than most to repeated viewings, but not resolutely so. I would love to give the film it dues based on that first viewing, which would award it three stars, yet repeated viewings of such a short film can be a problem. However there is such a profound difference between the lengths of films in the short film section that to berate and penalise a short due to its length of all things feels almost like an oxymoronic thing to say, if not just outright mean.

Besides I watched it three times in a row and enjoyed each time almost equally, ergo it's a enjoyable film, ergo it gets its three stars.

N.B. It takes longer to read this review than to watch the entire short it's reviewing. :P

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