Friday, April 30, 2010

Twelve Hundred!

The 1200th strip of Rhapsodies is now up.

They're a Buncha Jerks!

Today's Strip

A little girl's imaginary friends try to cheer Gage up. There's also circumstantial evidence here that Peaseblossom is Bonnie's imaginary friend... Everybody's got to do something for the off season I guess.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Have To Go To Work!

Today's Strip

There are times when a sleeping kitten is something to be feared.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I Am Pumped!

Today's Strip

Brian's tax marathon didn't effect him at all... Honest!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You Did Tell Them?

Today's Strip

Nobody ever lost any money underestimating Fran and Olive.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dealing With Prima Donnas

Today's Strip

For anyone who wasn't paying attention, Brian first rented his new office (with what for him is a perfect location) here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Stoat With A Stout

Just a silly little visual pun that's been bouncing around in the back of my head for about a month and I just had to get out of my system.

I Remember How I Lauged

Today's Strip

Monday, April 5, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

How To Train Your Dragon

Well I just went and saw How to Train Your Dragon and came out of How To Train your Dragon, and came out of it well pleased. I’ve been a fan of Chris Sanders since Lilo and Stich and for me this was the main selling point. It’s a shame that since this is a Dreamworks film they don’t want to use that as part of their advertising.

It’s taken me a while to become a fan of Dreamworks film while I certainly enjoyed Shrek as well as it’s sequel it also told me that Dreamworks used stunt celebrity casting and quickly dated pop references as a crutch. Shark’s Tale nearly had me write the studio off completely.

I didn’t even bother with the third Shrek movie, or Madagascar, and I was no hurry to see Kung Fu Panda so I was very much annoyed when I heard that it beat Wall-E for best. But then I saw Monster’s Vs Aliens due to a love of old fifties and found it to be very enjoyable and enough to finally get around to seeing Kung Fu Panda, which was brilliant. So while Dreamworks can still not rely on their brand name to get me to watch one of their pictures I am no longer biased against them.

So anyway, I’ll have to admit the initial previews of How To Train Your Dragon did not impress me. A lot of the usual stuff the marketers use to hook the viewer always reminds me of the line from Gypsy: “To have no talent is not enough. What you really need is a gimmick.” As I said it was Chris Sanders’ name that got me to go along with the thumbs up from several names I trust, I decided to give it a chance and use it as a pleasant diversion to my weekend.

And How To Train Your Dragon did not disappoint. It starts creating both their setting of a Viking village at the edge of nowhere that is constantly being attacked by Dragons as well as establishing the protagonist, Hiccup (yes really,) the frustrated and seemingly ineffectual son of Stoick, the village’s leader, (good pun there) as an outsider.

One night, during the latest attack he gets a lucky hit at one of the deadliest species of dragon shooting it down. Finding the beast later he resists killing it and instead helping it recover.

In the mean time his father is trying to stop the Dragon menace once and for all by leading a war party to find the dragons’ lair and since these parties usually have a mortality rate of about 100 percent. Hiccup and his fellow teenagers are being trained up as the next generation of canon fodder.

As I said this is a well constructed fantasy setting the Viking world is barren harsh and beautiful. All of the character design is extremely good. I was very happy with the design work all of the way through the lead dragon, Toothless, was convincing as a wild catlike winged predator, looking just a little a bit like Stitch (I guess Sanders couldn’t resist this as a way to sign his name.) Another nice touch I thought was that while it was never actually mentioned, there were several background Vikings who were clearly identifiable as the main characters’ parents. If I had one small knit pick, and considering this is a comical family film an irrelevant one, it was that since Toothless was such a convincing wild animal (other that its wingspan not being even close than enough but this is fantasy not sci fi) the other dragons were far too cartoony for my tastes. But again this is just me being an annoying perfectionist.

I liked the writing a lot especially the relationship between Hiccup and Stoic. Not to get into all of the fair and balanced nonsense but I always like it when the antagonist while clearly disagreeing with the protagonist is not necessarily wrong.

The voice acting was fantastic. As it was probably obvious from the beginning of this post, I have no patience for celebrity stunt casting. While I’m all for those celebrities getting the job for the right role (they became celebrities for a reason) I don’t like it when they are pretty much just there for marketing purposes and I always like it when I don't recognize anybody until the credits.

I’m embarrassed to say I was not familiar with Jay Baruchel before this but he was excellent as the lead. The supporting cast was equally good with Gerard Butler as Stoick, Craig Ferguson as Gobber the blacksmith and trainer and America Farena as Astrid (and yes it does appeal to my sense of humor to see a Viking warrior girl being played by an extremely cuddly Latina)

As a whole; “How to Train Your Dragon” ties with Kung Fu Panda for my favorite film out of Dreamworks and certainly one of my favorite fantasy films for a long time.

Of course since the protagonists were Vikings I almost wish it had ended like this:

“We are the toughest Vikings ever, now what we have been fighting for seven generations are on our side, and we’re coming for you."