Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends
Small children often have imaginary friends. What if they were real? Then when the child outgrows the imaginary friend it would need a place to live. Enter Fosters, a place where unwanted imaginary friends can live until they are adopted by other children, presumably those without enough imagination to make them for themselves. The friends are emotionally at the age of their creators and the place is run by Herriman, a large white rabbit with a British accent and a very officious attitude. Bloo annoys him continuously along with his person Mac. There are many other amazing characters some reoccurring some created for single episodes or even single scenes. The whole effect is cute and enjoyable but after a while it dawns on you that Bloo is really annoying.
A geeky kid in a very weird town. His dog gets killed and he figures out a way to resurrect him. Chaos ensues. Lots of references to classic horror, monster, and thriller films. It had major problems though. The animation was mediocre. They were trying for a classic black and white monster movie look. What the got was clunky Rankin Bass, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer level “Anamagic”. The writing was also fairly predictable. Worst of all the story and characters just didn’t grab me, I wasn’t engaged by the film. It felt like a retread rather than an homage.
Short film about three cyborgs rescuing an Artificial Intelligence from a sadistic corporation. Quite good. The title is a play on freeware software and the idea of liberating the software AI.
A hugely powerful evil but inept alien being is intent of destroying the earth, much to the ambivalence of his superior. It gets everything wrong that Metalocolypse gets right. Badly written drivel.
From The New World
This is a sneaky one. Very well written with lots of bits and hints that you don’t even notice until they become critical later on. It starts out with kids going to school. You find out that they have powers, telekinetic abilities, and they are learning to use them. But over time stories appear. Of the adults sending giant cats to kill children. Of their memories being rewritten so they don’t remember them. Of a history they are not allowed to know. As the story goes on, and it skips ahead years at a time in places, an underlying dark current takes over. Of Spirit Demons and Ogres, and other monsters. Of the Monster Rats, who are the servants of humanity. Where did they all come from? It turns very dark toward the end. A strong message about prejudice, and privilege. Very well done all the way around.
A nice story about growing up and believing in yourself, misunderstandings and forgiveness. Gorgeous animation well done voice work, and the music is quite good. Overall though I’d give it a B. First the messages and meanings are a bit heavy handed. Then it’s a musical. Not that I dislike musicals, but the songs felt more like set pieces dropped in and not integrated into the story. This improved as the film went on but at the beginning it was quite clumsy. Lastly, the writing is formulaic and often predictable. I’m sure I saw similar scenes in Tangled, and my wife was saying dialogue before the character did, even though neither of us had seen the film before. Frozen is ok, but not great. Another Disney Princess movie. I enjoyed it but I’m glad I rented it rather than paying full price.
Full Metal Alchemist
The first time I caught several of these and I just could not get into it. It had all the stylistic bits that I like in other shows and the writing was fairly good, but it just did not work somehow and I stopped watching it. I tried again a few months later. The series had been refined, the characters were a lot deeper. We learned the reason why they ended up with one having a mechanical arm and leg and the other as a disembodied soul in a suit of steel armor. There was an effort to fill in the history and back story. After a slow start it has developed into a reasonably good series. The end is quite good.
Future Boy Conan
Pros: It’s a very early work by Miyazaki, from before he founded Studio Ghibli. You can see the themes, hints of characters, character designs, all sorts of things that he used later. It reminded me especially of Nausicaa, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke.
The trouble is that it was made in 1978. The animation is very crude compared to what they make now, the story is weak, and the “comedy” violence is just disturbing by todays standards.
From the mind of the man who created The Simpsons this is what he can do without the limitations of Fox and their family values. Fry accidentally gets frozen and wakes up in the year 3000. His best friend is a robot, he is in love with a one eyed mutant, and he works for an interstellar delivery company. This gives the creative team the ability to get into a huge variety of situations. It is a lot of fun. Fox never really gave this show a chance. Their loss.
The Future is Wild
I’m a time travel geek so this one hit a bit of a chord with me. C.G is from 10,000AD. An ice age is threatening humanity and she has been sent by her father in a flying time machine to look for a new home in the future. She picks up Emily, Ethan, Luis from the 21st century and Squibben from 100MYAD and they explore the future to find a new home for humanity. The CG animation is decent. The creatures are directly copied from the original Animal Planet special except for the usual children’s show type of changes. They can talk to each other for example. If the measure of a good show is if you wish there was another season and you find yourself wondering about how they made out in the end, this is a good series. By the last few shows, Queen of the Squibben is the peak, the characters are well developed, the writing seems to flow naturally, and there are authentic emotions. Best of all they got the complexities of time travel right. See an examination of the series in The Deeper Look about The Future is Wild