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KF Animation Editor
Location: Tasmania
Birthday: August 27
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Reviews by animation type
TV Series (156)
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Reviews for Direct-to-Video

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animated cartoon My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas © Hasbro / Paramount Pictures / Sabella Dern Entertainment
My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas
Rated it: 1.5
posted: Feb 19, 2010
'"It was hell". recalls former child.

That's a cartoon by the lare great B.Kliban, but sums up my feelings about this whole franchise. I was in my teens when started, and other than being forced to eat cat poo, it was probably the most surefire way to get me to throw up.

OK, it's much later, but:

'When Minty accidentally breaks the Here Comes Christmas Candy Cane, which apparently guides Santa to Ponyville, she tries to take on the role of Santa and gives each one of her friends one of her prized socks.' - oh, be still mine beating heart!

Elsewhere, a reviewer who claims to actually be an original MLP fan says 'What, may I ask, is wrong with Hasbro? [...] What happened to the days when the little ponies actually did things OTHER than worry about their hair and worry themselves sick over Christmas presents and birthday parties?

Recommended for first trimester embryos.


animated cartoon R.O.D. © Studio DEEN / SME Visual Works
Rated it: 3
posted: Aug 10, 2007
Just your average 007/origami crossover.

By now you'd think I'd be used to Japanese animation which was a bit... off-kilter, but for a short series which doesn't seem to be intended as a comedy (though there are plenty of fluffy moments) this one rates pretty high on the 'out there' scale.

The last of the three episodes stuffed up halfway through on my machine, and even using various computer players, which handled it slightly better, I missed five or eight minutes of the last fifteen, which I'm sure didn't help it make sense.

Yumiko is a serious bookworm. I mean, in a used bookstore she behaves like the average male would if it were raining Penthouse Pets. Actually I must admit her house looks rather like parts of mine (in fact, last week I tripped over when a stack of books collapsed).

I can't really pretend to understand the thing properly (Yumiko is conscripted into a secret agency, who are battling clones of various long-dead evil people; they (the agency) turn out to be British. She has amazing powers to control paper, and an almost homo-social relationship the large-busted and older Nancy (who has the power to pass through objects, but not, apparently, the power to stop solid objects passing through her), and meanwhile a gigantic fortress erupts from the ocean whose purpose is to make most of the human race commit suicide by playing Beethoven to them.... err, I'm sure I missed something)

What I did like is the ways in which it failed to fall into some expected anime cliches. A couple of nice women appear by the end of the first episode, and there isn't some inevitable, nerdy 14 year-old who they're all inexplicably attracted to, for example. On the other hand it does fall into a few others. For instance the stars are female, but the bosses (who are rather distant and emotionally unimportant to things) are male (as in Neon Genesis, or Robotech)

Still, I enjoyed it, even if I gave up wrestling with the end of the last episode. It's hard to imagine those few minutes changing my rating, though.

Oh - one thing I didn't get. At the start, she seems to be just an average person who seems as disconcerted to be conscripted into a secret service as you'd imagine. Next thing she's got magic powers, and acting like she's always had them. Did I miss something?

animated cartoon Fox and the Hound 2 © Disney / Toon City, Inc
Fox and the Hound 2
Rated it: 3
posted: May 30, 2007
EDIT: upgraded in line with my new policy that DTVs shouldn't be judged on the same scale as theatrical releases.

Well, here it is...

For the record this is the first DTV (or is it DTDVD, nowadays?) review which I've written under my new self-imposed reviewing rules...

Which are basically that I'm not going to rate a DTV as if it were a 100 million dollar cinematic release. And I'm not going to worry quite AS much about how it relates to the original cinematic release. IOW, I've never given 4 stars to a DTV. Has anyone? So I'm going to score it somewhat along the lines 'that was worth X stars FOR A DTV'. I've tussled with this ever since I started writing reviews, and I may go back and change some of my old ratings. Don't worry, though - there will always bel some things wretched enough to score 1 star.

And I'm afraid, despite this somewhat more liberal rating system, 'Fox and the Hound 2' still only gets 2.5 stars.

This midquel is set towards the start of the original movie (Tod and Copper are still very young). The raw essentials are that Copper gets seduced into performing with a troupe of singing carnival dogs (errr... yeah, ok, I'm not going to try to explain that), and becomes the third point in a peculiar love/jealousy triangle between the two main stars, Cash and Dixie, while at the same time estranging his friend Tod, who of course isn't a dog, and can't sing (I'll put this down in my notebook about foxes. Not only do they smell of coffee (true), but they can't sing (plausible). And in the end themes of loyalty and family become important. (To a certain extent I think Disney ripped off their own 'Lady and the Tramp II', but then they probably ripped that off something else)

Well there are some things which grate against the original: the first being that the original was a near-masterpiece, and this isn't. Widow Tweed and Amos also show flickerings of attraction which were clearly not there in the first film at this point. The whole story is kind of silly in a way which the first one wasn't, but doesn't really do any serious damage to the first and second halves of the original (in the way that 'Wolf Quest' tore up the ending of 'Balto', for instance).

The animation and art direction is fair, and that's about it. When I say 'fair', put it this way: it makes 'Bambi 2' look like a masterpiece (in fact B2 was pretty good, but not quite that good).

Ok, the new characters. Well the voice characterisations are decent enough. Patrick Swayze is unexpectedly good as Cash (I say 'unexpectedly' because I didn't think the guy could act at all). As has been noticed below, Dixie bears an unmistakable resemblance to Sasha from 'All Dogs go to Heaven 2 / The Series', but fortunately when you get over the fact that they both sing 'come-on' lyrics, they also have a lot NOT in common. Dixie's personality is completely different - inclined to vindictiveness, whereas Sasha was mature and sensible - and Sasha actually only sings one stage number, whereas singing is almost Dixie's raison d'etre.

So why doesn't this film fly, other than not being as good as the original? It's hard to put my finger on it. I could complain about the glaringly obtrusive CGI whenever anything mechanical appears, but that's not enough in itself. I think it's just too emotionally lightweight. The characters don't get under your skin. There is a moment in the original - if you've seen it, you probably know what I'm talking about - which is real lump in the throat stuff. There's nothing in here which even approaches that. And that raises an interesting question for me:

Who the hell are they aiming this at - a sequel to a film whose original viewers are probably in their mid 30's, and who nobody else has probably watched? Perhaps that's it: the film really has no demographic, and no producers who really care about the original.

It's really not that bad.

It's really not that good.

animated cartoon Bambi 2 © Disney
Bambi 2
Rated it: 4
posted: Oct 09, 2006
Edit, 2007: the rating for this film has been changed according to my new rating guidelines, which boil down to 'This is a DTV, and I don't expect it to be as good as a box office blockbuster that cost 100 million dollars'

You have to hand it to Disney: either they are amazingly brave, or amazingly greedy. If ever there were an animated movie which should never have been sequeled, this is it. It would be up there with 'Citizen Kane II', or 'The Koran II'.

To a large extent I agree with Thalia's very good review below, though I tend to see a few more positives and a few less negatives.

Bambi II covers the period after Bambi's mother's death* and his emergence as a full grown buck. In fact there is room here for another midquel.

Taking on probably the greatest animated film of all time, and making a DTV sequel seems like either madness or money-grubbing. We're not talking about something like a follow-up to 'The Sword in the Stone' or 'Oliver and Company'. We're talking about daring to follow-up on the possibly the greatest animated movie of all time. The holy grail. And doing it on a budget. One hell of a tall order.

So how does it fare?

I think, in order to appreciate this movie, you have to forget the first one was made. Ironically, if you do that, this film doesn't really make much sense. It goes without saying that it falls far short of its parent (I'd give 'Bambi' 5 stars if I could), but erasing the original from your mind - to whatever degree that's possible - what are the pros and cons?

What doesn't work: at 62 minutes, this is very short, even for a DTV sequel. The story, taken 9in isolation, is rather unremarkable. The incidental characters, and most of the supporting ones, completely fail to re-capture the combination of innocence and artistic brilliance of the original. Thumper is an irritating sidekick. Flower is too lightweight to talk about.

The songs are horrible. It seems to me that an army of clones have produced animated songs for about the last 15 years. This is just the same as Brother Bear II. They all sound the same,. are designed to make you fell the same way, sound like they're sung by the same person. A pox on this rubbish. With a nod, again, to 'Over the Hedge', which had the good taste to use Ben Folds.

The animation is very good, but let's not even pretend that they equal the sheer artistry of the original, and its synchronisation with classic songs.

The story is rather unremarkable in its own right. It's a coming-of-age tale. Nothing much new here in the realm of Disney DTVs.

What does work:

It may not be 'Bambi', but the animation and backgrounds set new standards for Disney DTVs and DTVs in general. Be they digitally generated or not, there are quite a few scenes which are throat-catchingly beautiful, and if the film were longer and had more room to breathe, with more scenes of this type, it could have rated higher.

The Owl is a deft crossover between 30's to 40's and modern styles. He wouldn't seem jarringly out of place in the original.

The film conducts itself with a dignity which is almost completely lacking from Disney sequels. It may be sillier and more lame than the original, but it's a long way from embarrassing.

The animation of the deer is wonderful. The subtlety of the facial expression of Bambi, his father, and the other deer, is outstanding.

Patrick Stewart is an absolutely perfect choice as voice actor for Bambi's father.

There are moments of beauty which, while they don't equal the original, don't insult it either.

In summary

I give a little leeway for DTV's, and think 3 stars is about right. I enjoyed this film, despite the tremendous emotional baggage and expectations it carried. I agree that it if they were going to make it at all, it should have been a full-blown, longer cinema release, but OTOH it sets new standards for DTVs.

It has little of the inspiration and sheer artistry of the original, but in its own right, it has many merits.

Consider this: compare it with any Disney feature film made between '101 Dalmatians' (1961) and 'The Fox and the Hound' (1980). If there were no original Bambi, and this had dated from say, 1969, would everyone be beating up on it?

An enjoyable disappointment.

animated cartoon Brother Bear II © Disney
Brother Bear II
Rated it: 2.5
posted: Oct 05, 2006
In case you're wondering, I gave the original 3.5. I thought it was Disney's last really good 2D movie. I'm afraid I can't repeat the trick with the sequel. It's not bad at all, but it's nowhere in the same league as the first. Maybe it's because I've just seen two animated films within 24 hours which both have Wanda Sykes in them (she was much better in the other one, BTW).

I'll assume you know the story of BBI (why would you watch the sequel first?). In many ways this is similar in feel, but not as emotionally compelling. The animation and backgrounds look very good indeed for a DTV, but I'm starting to get used to the idea that good looking DTV sequels aren't that rare anymore, so all I can really do is not subtract points for that. But for anyone who gave up on DTVs around the time of 'Return of Jafar', this will be a bit of a revelation.

Well, the plot is outlined below, so let me just go back to the thing that really hit me about the first one (again I'm assuming you've seen it. If not, the next paragraph is a major spoiler.)

Basically Kenai is turned from a human into a bear. There is an old Roman* tradition called Saturnalia, where things are turned upside down, but then turned back to normal at the end. I was expecting this. It didn't happen. I thought, 'Wow!'

*actually all Roman traditions are old. (end spoiler)

What gave me the heebee jeebies about this film was I could see that reversal coming in the sequel.

Oh, hell, here's another


...and it didn't come. Though I'd kind of guessed it wouldn't, it took about two thirds of the movie.

*end spoiler*

And that pushed it into 2.5 stars for me.

So, the good: the plot isn't entirely predictable (I figured there were three possible endings, but didn't figure out the right one till fairly well into the movie). It looks damn good for a DTV. It reinforces the human-animal 'brotherhood' of the first film. The voice acting is adequate.

The bad: after being treated to Ben Fold's invigorating music in 'Over the Hedge' last night, I'm plunged back into the standard, production line schamtlzy, drippy Disney Ballads (several of them) here - courtesy of Melissa Etheridge.

Nita - the female (human) lead. I can't decide if she looks more like Mulan or Pocahontas. Suffice to say, seen there, done that.

The moose(s?) are still fairly pointless and annoying, but no more than the first time around, and since the first film was better, I suppose that makes them less annoying this time.

Extreme overdose of Aurora Borealis.

But look, the original was damn fine, and this one doesn't let it down as badly as a lot of sequels do. If you loved the first one, certainly give it a look. If you hated the first one, don't bother.

Pretty solid 2.5.

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