Hellboy and Home on the Range

This has been a busy month, as I prepare to start a new job, and Scott has returned to working on the comic full-time. I’d like to take a moment to welcome the fans of Justin and Britney who are apparently coming to Scooter and Ferret in droves this week. Their internet meeting place is secret, so I can’t see why they’re coming, but I’m very happy that they are.

I’ve caught several movies in the last couple of weeks. Hellboy I saw twice, although the second time was mainly because I wasn’t excited about the other choices at the drive-in. It was one of the best comic book movies that I’ve seen, with a lot of the feel of the Mike Mignola stories, and I even thought it was ultimately quite romantic. Romance was nicely balanced with a solid amount of butt-kicking, something that was present yet uninspired in the drive-in’s second feature, Walking Tall. Yes, the Rock has biceps the size of Honey B Hams. No, it can’t seem to carry the movie, although Lord knows they do try. To the left of us, Scooby Doo 2 seemed to be a little better than the last one, but I’m basing that on having seen it without sound. To the right of us, The Alamo looked epic, and my father (true blood Texan that he is) recommends it heartily.

I finally got around to seeing Home on the Range this Sunday night, and I haven’t been looking forward to this review. My animator friends have been much less tough on animated releases than I have lately, particularly with Spirit and Brother Bear. Before I say anything, I should point out that Home looked incredible. Every artist working on the movie had every reason to be proud. The animation was fresh and exciting, the character designs were stand-outs, the music had some high points and the art direction was a wonderful return to the days of Paul Bunyun and Pecos Bill. That said, I hated everything else about this movie. I know it’s sacriledge to say it, but I thought this was Disney’s worst traditionally animated film, yes, even lower than The Black Cauldron. Excluding the cheapquels, which I haven’t seen, Home on the Range has the weakest story and character development I’ve experienced in a feature. I was never moved to care about any of the characters, and each emotional moment seemed contrived. The yodeling villain felt like a bad joke told by your dad that you wished would end quickly but instead lasts an hour, ruining the dinner party and embarrassing you in front of your friends. Not to mention the sexual innuendo that ranged from groaners (a cow telling you her udders are “real, stop staring!”) to “can’t help laughing because it’s so vaguely inappropriate” (a buffalo pairing off with one of the cows). This might have been a fun short. As a feature, it was the first I’ve ever considered walking out on, and that’s the greatest disappointment of all surrounding this last of a lengendary legacy.

Finally, I spent a couple of hours last Sunday at the Factoria Mall experiencing something new: battling 1 lb robots. Working with Rich Olson at Lux over the last several months I’ve heard him talking about his favorite hobby, and Sunday I saw it in action. His robot, Autonomous Bastard, won it’s first battle, and Rich tells me that this is a first for an autonomous robot versus a human controlled robot. What this translates to: a bunch of men put some Radio Shack parts together, stick them in a big glass case with a rotating saw, and have them attack each other with their various weaponry. If this sounds a little nerdy, it only gets more so in person as the announcer compares the robots to Star Trek vessels. But I love nerds, and I had a thrilling time watching “Chippy” and “Violator” attack each other with saws and send sparks into the air. Not very thrilling, but admirable for its accomplishment, is the winning video of Autonomous Bastard taking out his opponent.

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