Rock Dog 2016: Review

Rock Dog Plot

The 2016 Chinese movie starts off making a reference to the Big Lebowski. You have Sam Elliot opening the movie with a long tale about the main character of the story, Bodi and his father. The movie is set up 2D in the beginning in flashback but gradually transforms into a 3D animation. Told as if it were a Western in the beginning, there’s a fight between two distinctly different groups; the good, the bad and yes, even ugly. There’s even some tumbleweeds in the background to draw you in.

rock_dogThe movie was produced by Mandoo Pictures and Huayi Brothers. The film is directed by Ash Brannon and its based on the Chinese graphic novel, Tibetan Rock Dog by Zheng Jun. The movie has many talented voices from Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, Lewis Back, Kenan Thompson and more. The film takes between the countryside and city life. The story follows a young Tibetan Mastiff who leaves his home to become a rock musician. With the support from his father his goal is not only accept for who he is, a guard dog, but he also has to balance in becoming a musician. Bodi the young Tibetan Mastiff must face many challenges from fighting wolves, become a musician, and gaining friends.

The movie was released on July 8, 2016 in China and had a United States release by Lionsgate in February. The overall budget of the movie was $60 million but had a box office flop in the United States and China.

Thank you to ROCK And DROOL for giving me the opportunity to watch this movie and write a review.

Rock Dog Review

If you enjoy the Kung Fu Panda franchise I would recommend watching this movie. There are many similarities between the Kung Fu Panda series from the transition to 2D in the beginning to 3D. The story line from accepting yourself also plays a major role in this film. I enjoyed the animation at times from the fighting sequences to the detail in the musical instruments. What surprised me the most was the fight scene toward the ending of the film. The part where Bodi is fighting in the ring with the fence sequence in the background really stood out to me for animation. The animation was a plus, and the message of the movie was heartwarming. I also enjoyed the references to certain musicians in pop culture and had a Big Lebowski feel towards the beginning of the film and the end.

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Other than the animation, I was not happy with the plot overall and character development. There were multiple plots entwined into one and even though the end summed everything together i felt like i was lost halfway through the movie. The characters in the film fell flat and were not likable. Bodi the main character was extremely gullible and didn’t have much of a character development besides learning his strengths which he already had. I did like the development of the cat, Angus Scattergood but other than that the other characters were forgotten. I would have really liked to see a development of the characters that Bodi had met in the park and see their perspective of what it takes to be in a band. If that were the case it might have gotten a mix between the movie Sing and the movie Zootopia. I would recommend this movie to kids but there’s a good reason as to why the movie flopped at the Chinese box office. I would rate this movie 2 guitars out of 5.

2017 Oscars: Animated Short Contenders

Award season is slowly approaching for the Academy Awards. This year the Academy’s Short Films and Feature Animation branch has deemed eligible a record 70 animated shorts. There are ten shortlist animations followed by the final five nominations for the Oscars. Last year had 60 total animated shorts.  Previous years included 33 in 2010 to 58 in 2014. The Academy has yet to release the contenders but here is a list of contenders I believe that will make the cut for this years shortlist. The contenders are a varied lot shot in many styles, from the shortest, BAFTA-winner Ainslie Henderson’s “Stems” (Scotland), to the longest, Rob Valley’s “Pear Cider and Cigarettes” (Canada) at 35 minutes, just under the 40-minute mark. Disney has also been pushing two shorts this year, Alan Barillaro’s “Piper” and Leo Matsuda’s “Inner Workings.” Pixar has recently released a captivating independent short, “Borrowed Time.” I expect to Pixar to mean a strong contender for this year but I do hope a lot of the international films get recognized as well. The five nominees will be announced January 24, 2017.

1. Ainslie Henderson’s, “Stems” (Scotland)

Trailer for a new very short, short film about making puppet making make music. featuring the music of Poppy Ackroyd
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Made possible by Puppet Animation Scotland.

2. Rob Valley’s, “Pear Cider and Cigarettes” (Canada)

Drink and smoke…that’s what Techno Stypes really likes to do, and fight. He was in no condition to fight. He was sick, really sick. His disease had whittled him down to a shadow of his former self. He was crippled from a car accident when he was 17 but that’s not how he lost his big toe. He lost that in a motorbike accident, yeah he was broken alright… what the hell was he fighting for anyway and what was he still doing in China? His father had given me two clear instructions: 1. Get Techno to stop drinking long enough to receive the liver transplant, and 2. Get him back home to Vancouver. This was not going to be easy.

3. Georges Schwizgebel, “Erlking” (Switzerland)

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Wes Anderson’s New Stop Motion Film

Wes Anderson, famous for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr. Fox has decided to create a new film. Much like his film, Fantastic Mr. Fox he will be starting production of a new stop motion film. But instead of Foxes, he’s decided to create a stop motion film surrounded by dogs. Pre production has already begun but more details of the film should be leaked later within next year. I’m interested in seeing what his portrayal of dogs will be like considering throughout his movies like Moonrise Kingdom, a dog gets shot with an arrow. With his past films I expect this movie to be filled with vivid color, humor, hipster like music and adventure.

Kimi no Na wa / Your Name

Kimi no Na Wa or Your name is taking the Japanese box office by storm. The movie has recently surpassed Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo anime film, as well as James Cameron’s Avatar film. The only anime films to earn more are Ghibli and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess MononokeIt premiered at the Anime Expo 2016 convention in Los Angeles, California on July 3, 2016 and later in Japan on August 26, 2016. It has a growing box office of $158.1 million and includes  fantastic reviews and a few wins from BFI London Film Festival, Bucheon International Animation Festival, Tokyo International Film Festival and Newtype Anime Awards. Expect this movie to get a lot of attention in the next couple of months.
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Kimi no Na wa or Your name has been licensed by Funimation. Since it ran at the Laemmle Music Hall for one week, Dec 2nd to the 9th, it qualifies for the 2016 Oscars for Best Animation. A film must run for a week in LA county in order to qualify for a selection. A wider theatrical release is planned for the first quarter of 2017. After 52 days at the box office, it sold a total of 11 million tickets. This movie not only has a simple yet highly interesting plot it is capturing a lot of attention with a twist throughout the film and to fans loyal to the science fiction realm.

Your name is an animated youth science fiction fantasy film directed by Makota Shinkai. Makota Shinkai is a famous director of anime that has worked on previous gorgeous films of a voices of a distant star, 5 centimeters per second and the garden of words. The animation is by Comix Wave Films and distributed by Toho that have also worked on Makota Shinkais previous films. Without giving anything away the film is inspired by the novel, Your name written by Makota Shinkai. It was published in Japan by Kadokawa on June 18, 2016. The story is about a a high school girl named Mistuha Miyamizu living in the town of Itomori. She  is fed up with her life in the countryside and wishes to be a handsome Tokyo boy in her next life. Later, Taki Tachibana, a high school boy living in Tokyo, wakes up in a daze and realizes that he is Mitsuha, who herself has somehow ended up in Taki’s body. The story progresses with adventure, humor, science fiction and quite possibly some romance? I’m beyond excited for this film and I expect this movie to get a lot of praise during the Academy Award season. I do not expect this movie to win best animation overall but I do like to hope it gets the top 5 list of the category. Keeping my fingers crossed for an early release date in the United States.
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2017 Oscar Predictions: Best Animation

Here is a list of the few animations I believe that will make the top lists of Best Animation at the Oscars this year: Of course there is room for development.

Finding Dory (Pixar/Disney)
The film premiered at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles on June 8, 2016, and was released in the United States on June 17, 2016. The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $1 billion worldwide, becoming the second Pixar film to cross this mark following Toy Story 3 (2010). The film set numerous records, including the biggest animated opening of all time in North America, emerging as the biggest animated film of all time in the U.S. and has become the biggest Pixar film release in China.

One year after reuniting Nemo with his father, Marlin, Dory has become a helping hand in raising Nemo. One day during a lesson with Nemo’s class, Dory recalls through a childhood flashback that she has a family. She decides to look for them but finds her short-term memory loss to be an obstacle. The only thing she remembers is that they lived at the Jewel of Morro Bay.

Kimi no Na wa / Your name (Funimation)
Kimi no Na Wa has now surpassed Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo anime film, as well as James Cameron’s Avatar film. The only anime films to earn more are Ghibli and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke . Kimi no Na Wa will be released by Funimation before 2017 to qualify for an Oscar. Your Name will run at Los Angeles’ Laemmle Music Hall for one week, Dec. 2 to 9, qualifying it for the 2016 Oscars. A film must run for a week in LA county in order to qualify. A wider theatrical release is planned for the first quarter of 2017.

The film, themed around “miracles and love,” follows the story of high school students Mitsuha and Taki. In dreams, they swap bodies. While a love story, Kimi no Na Wa features several more layers of complexity as the two protagonists search for the secret to their dream swapping. The story reportedly takes inspiration from Torikaebaya Monogatari, a 12th-century tale where two siblings display the mannerisms of the opposite sex.


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Kung Fu Panda 3 Review

Kung Fu Panda 3 is a 2016 3D American-Chinese computer animated film produced by DreamWorks Animation. The film is classified as a comedy martial arts film and was distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is sequel to the 2011 Film Kung Fu Panda 2 and the Kung Fu Panda Franchise. The film had a limited release in China on January 23, 2016 and a united States release, January 29, 2016.
The film was directed by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger. They were also the writers of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. The executive producer is famous, Guillermo del Toro and produced by Melissa Cobb. Kung Fu Panda 3 returned some of the famous voice actors from the previous films and had a new cast as well. Some of these voices included, Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, J.K Simmons, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, Kate Hudson and Jackie Chan.  The 95 minute film received positive reviews and has a 7.2 out of 10 rating on IMDb. It had a budget of  $145 million but accumulated $519.9 million at the box office.
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Our story takes place  in the Spirit Realm with Turtle, Grandmaster Oogway. Grandmaster Oogway  fights against an adversary named Kai, who has defeated other kung fu masters in the realm and taken their qi, turning them into small jade charms. Oogway willingly gives in and also has his qi stolen, but not before warning Kai that the Dragon Warrior, Po will stop him. Kai takes this as a challenge to steal the qi from the Dragon Warrior and returns to the mortal realm. Po must find a way to find his inner peace and qi to defeat Kai. With the help from his friends, long lost father and family he battles not only his strongest enemy but his inner self and doubt as well. The real question is, will he find his inner qi in time and survive in the process?

Being a fan of the Kung Fu Panda Franchise I was excited to see this film. The characters were hilarious with their dialogue and the animation was absolutely stunning. The opening shots of the spirit realm are gorgeous with lighting, colors and 3d animation. I also really enjoy that the movies have stayed true with the Chinese elements and teachings of martial arts. I also enjoyed that they incorporated inner peace and qi as an entity and compared that to the strength behind your friends and family. What I also enjoyed was the soundtrack and film score of Hans Zimmer that has also worked on the previous films. I also liked that they incorporated renowned Asian musicians such as Chinese pianist lang lang, Chinese cellist Jian Wang, pop singer Jay Chou and Canadian Taiwanese young singer Patrick Brasca.
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Miss Hokusai Review

Miss Hokusai is a 2015 anime film about the life and works of Japanese artist Ukiyo-e and painter Katsushika Hokusai. The movie is as seen from the eyes of his daughter, Katushika O-Ei. The origin of this anime is based off of a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hinako Sugiura.  The manga is a collection of short stories that are not connected. The original run of the mange was from 1983 to 1987. The anime movie was released on May 9, 2015 with critical acclaimed reviews. It won the Jury Award the 39th Annecy International Animated Film Festival.  It received its North American premier at the Fantasia International Film Festival between July 12 and August 5, 2015.Which it won the Gold Audience Award for best animated feature film. It also won Best Animated Film Award at the Mainichi Film Awards.
G KIDS expanded the movie in over 85 theaters  over weekend in the month of October . The movie runs around 90 minutes and was directed by Keiichi Hara. Keiichi Hara is known for his work on Crayon Shin-Chan, Doraemon and 21 emon. The story was written by Miho Maruo and produced by Production I.G. The movie is rated Pg 13 for some sexual tension.
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I probably would have enjoyed this movie a lot more if I invested some time in reading the manga. After seeing this movie I already am trying to get a copy of the manga series. Going into this movie I expected a long story about the artist and his life. What I did not expect was a collection of short stories from these artist and what they experienced. The story is linear but there are many stories intertwined to get a feel of the characters and their backgrounds. I absolutely loved the traditional art and with studying art history in the past I enjoyed the many  mediums they used. I also enjoyed the references of Hokusaias, Great Wave off Kanagawa  and a few other prints he did.  I would have liked to see more story background about the father, Hokusai. I thought the ending was a little abrupt but I enjoyed the short stories and illustration of the movie. The illustration was certainly not a disappointed and it kept the story interesting. I do expect this movie to make the top 10 finalist for best animation at the Academy Awards but I don’t think I expect to see this movie make the top five at the Academy Awards for best animation. Overall I give this movies story a 3 out of 5 woodblock prints.