Archive for the ‘animal presence’ category

Tim Burton’s “Dumbo” is Coming!

June 21, 2018


I’ve always loved Tim Burton’s work for his dark, twisted, and even macabre take on things.  When Burton joins with Disney, we tend to get a less saccharine and darker vision of a great story with surreal, frequently animal elements, and so Tim Burton’s upcoming 2019 version of the Disney classic Dumbo promises to be a real treat.

We had last seen Dumbo as a two dimensional cartoon image in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and his upcoming outing will be as a far more realistic CGI elephant that is flawlessly integrated with a stellar live-action cast that includes such diverse talent as Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito.  And yes, the hauntingly sad lullaby Baby Mine from the 1940’s classic will be incorporated, so get those tissues ready for when mother elephant is chained up and separated from her baby…

The flying baby elephant with the endearingly enormous ears will be soaring across a big top circus tent in your neighborhood around March 2019.  He works for peanuts, after all…

 

 

“Terror Camp Clear” Episode of “The Terror”

May 8, 2018

With all hell breaking loose both within and without on episode 8 of The Terror, Captain Fitzjames unleashed a rocket on the rampaging Tuunbaq running amok in their camp, hitting the over-sized, long-necked polar bear-like creature a good shot but basically just changing its course.  This was a very cool use of retro technology, and Fitzjames looked good while deploying it, showing courage under extreme duress.  Mid-19th century weaponry just wasn’t up to the job, sadly…

The climatic battle scene followed an episode fueled by paranoia and rebellion in which seaman Hickey almost staged a successful mutiny after blaming his slaughter of two crew mates on an Inuit family who were then killed in reprisal by the Erebus/Terror crews.  Hickey then whipped the camp into a frenzy by rumors that an Inuit counter-attack was imminent, using it as justification to seize arms and distribute them among his followers.  When Hickey’s ruse was discovered and countered, we were fixing to see a hanging when a cocaine-addled crewman Collins posed a distraction, staggering in and closely followed by the Tuunbaq monster, who was either irate that natives had been killed or was uncontrolled by the departure of the shaman-like Lady Silence.

Anyways, Hickey escaped in the confusion of the Tuunbaq’s killing spree together with sympathizers and captives, and in alienating the Inuit population the expedition’s members have lost their best remaining chance of survival. With their bodies becoming covered with loathsome sores from scurvy and lead poisoning, things will continue to go downhill from here in the two episodes remaining of The Terror

“The Ladder” Episode of “The Terror”

April 3, 2018


Well, I certainly didn’t see that coming!  Season 1, Episode 3 of The Terror was almost a snooze fest until three quarters of the way through the hour when the Royal Navy’s tent station to catch the creature attacking them is set upon from above by the crafty Tuunbaq, who snatches one of the men and scatters them all, including Captain Franklin (pictured), who was basically paying the men a morale visit, and enticed to stay so as to share in the glory of the kill…

bad career decision!  Curse the creature for not playing by the rules, and walking up to the lures to be shot!  Defenseless, isolated, and disoriented, Captain Franklin staggers about the polar wastes before being seized by the creature, separated from his leg, and then jammed through a hole in the ice.  It was not the kind of retirement plan he had in mind from the Royal Navy.  Only a leg left to bury, too…

Good horror doesn’t play by the rules, either.  It builds up a sense of tension and dread, and then springs something on you that you weren’t quite expecting, often while you were anticipating quite another outcome. While ironically the men set out to slay the monster had been told to show it no mercy, it was they who were shown none. Horror’s vehicle here is to overwhelm and then subsume prideful men.

Alas, Captain Franklin, we barely knew you, but you seemed to be a likable if vain man.  And in the Of Ice and Men scenario, the ice seems to be winning…



Aspen Dental Well Commercial…

November 8, 2017

If you’ve ever watched an episode of “Lassie,” this commercial may resonate with you, because it presents a variation on a classic scenario from the old television series where young Timmy falls into a well, and it’s up to the faithful collie Lassie to summon rescuers.  Timmy needed a dog to take care of him, ‘ya see…

The story elements are essentially there, with the alteration that two adults rather than Timmy are trapped in the well.  The canine on the surface is sent for help, but returns with…a dentist.  Although this is Aspen Dental’s heroic dentist, the misunderstanding well victims nonetheless tell the dog that she is bad before the intervening dentist drops a rope over the well’s edge, telling those captives that use of it will be a little like flossing.  They are in a cavity, after all…

That’s just a little dental humor coming from the man in the white clinical coat, who is equally adept at defeating bank robbers, rescuing folks from elevators, or starting cars stranded in the desert.  Perhaps in the future, the Aspen Dental guy will take on a personification of gum disease, tooth decay, or plaque.  He might even travel with a youthful sidekick called Oral Hygiene.  At any rate, it’s good to know that Lassie hasn’t been forgotten…and do watch out for abandoned wells out there!  

Michael Jackson’s Halloween…

October 28, 2017

This year brought the novelty of a new Halloween special in the form of Michael Jackson’s Halloween, a 3D animated hour-long special which aired on CBS October 27th, and featured the music of…Michael Jackson!  While centering on the efforts of two young people to rescue a dog and defeat an evil witch (Conformity) who wants to banish music and dancing, the high point of the hour to me occurred about seventeen minutes in when the two protagonists guided by a talking Bubbles the Chimp to “follow the music” entered a surreal pumpkin field where Hay Man, a groundskeeping scarecrow with a pumpkin for a head voiced by Jim Parsons (Sheldon from Big Bang Theory), was kind of channeling Michael Jackson in a Jack Skellington-esque way…

With an entourage of dancing pumpkins and forest and field animals (including some foxes), a rather funky rendition of Jackson’s Dangerous was performed, complete with Jackson’s trademark moves and even a pelvic thrust or two.  Also memorable was a later encounter with a mad scientist cat voiced by Dietrich Bader, Franklin Stein, creator of a machine to destroy music but really a frustrated musician himself whose technology becomes converted to summon Jackson.  And fear not, the evil witch (Lucy Liu) is defeated in a big dance finale by a stylized representation of 1980’s Michael Jackson himself in an outfit reminiscent of his Thriller attire.  Music and dancing are safe, so relax…

Jackson enjoyed both scary things and animals, and his presence looms large over this special, both in terms of the soundtrack and assorted images of the performer, seen even in the wallpaper pattern of the mysterious Jackson Street Palace Hotel where much of the action transpires.  As someone who appeared in quirky delights such as Disney’s Captain EO and Moonwalker, Michael probably would have liked this “magical adventure of personal discovery,” and we foxes do like to get our groove on!


 

 

 

The Trump Rat…

August 16, 2017

 

What’s orange, inflatable, fifteen feet tall, and full of hot air? – – Why, the Trump Rat, of course!  Now, Donald Trump has been depicted as a variety of anthropomorphic animals, including a rooster.  The Trump Rat, however, shows uncommon attention to detail.  In addition to the trademark hair, there’s also the pursed lips, the red tie, and in a whimsical touch, Confederate-flag cuff links!  

The Trump Rat was positioned a short distance from Trump Tower when The Donald retreated to New York, and has become a popular site for tourist selfies.  Its creator was supposedly inspired by a particularly revolting rat that he spotted in New York City some time ago. The windbag is supposedly poised to travel to other locations, at times shadowing Trump himself.  

I would hasten to add that normally rodent-human hybrids have a proud and respectable heritage, with Mickey Mouse, The Secret of NIMH rats, and Fivel of An American Tail but several examples that come to mind…

Kraft’s “Assume Nothing” Lobster Commercial

September 11, 2016

 

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In a brief surreal commercial for Kraft Foods, we are introduced to Bill, who assumed that an event was a costume party, attending it in a full lobster suit. – – Don’t you hate it when that happens?!  Hapless Bill even inadvertently clouts a woman with a claw when he turns; wouldn’t that make for an interesting lawsuit?  Like Bill, I can relate to social embarrassments, being a fox out of the woodlands myself; the faux pas is my life.

Bill also assumed that his mayo was the best, when Kraft olive oil mayo delivers the taste with half the calories of the competition.  “Assume Nothing!,” we are counseled by the advertiser.  While these are words to live by, this is not to advocate unconditional buying into conspiracy theories despite the fact that it’s an election year…