Month: December 2021

You boy! What day is this?

The Year of Grace 2021 has finally come to an end and I think I speak for most of us when I say: Showed Improvement, Less Virus Next Time.

Still though. Marginally less existential dread this go round and that’s always welcome.

Personally, this was a HUGE year for me. Oh yeah, you know what I’m talking about.


That’s right. I binged the ENTIRE series of Yes Minister.

Oh, and I also finally quit my awful job and published my first novel.

Sarcastic Map of Wartime Europe

“Wow, that wouldn’t happen to be When the Sparrow Falls, currently available in all good bookstores?”

[Comm] Unshavedmouse alt

“That’s the one.”

Sarcastic Map of Wartime Europe

“The same When the Sparrow Falls that was voted one of the ten best Science Fiction novels of 2021 by The Times?

[Comm] Unshavedmouse alt

“Do you know, I think it was?”

Sarcastic Map of Wartime Europe

“Wow! Must have done GREAT at the Hugos!”

[Comm] Unshavedmouse alt


[Comm] Unshavedmouse alt


Anyway, huge thanks to everyone who read the book, your support means so, so much. Special thanks to Wrath of the Iotians, Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi, Max Gladstone and The Quill to Live crew who were so, so supportive and really went above and beyond promoting Sparrow. Thank you all.

Anyway, movies

In 2021 I reviewed 1 Canon Disney movie, 1 MCU movie, 2 X-Men movies, 1 animé, 2 live action movies, 3 non-Disney animated features, 1 Bats Versus Bolts and 2 animated series.

Yeah, fine, I reviewed fewer movies than probably any year in the blog’s history BUT, you can’t deny there wasn’t a lot of shameless, book related self-promotion (on a serious note, Book 2 has been pushed back to April 2023 due to supply chain issues so I will try to update more regularly).

Whereas 2020 represented (I felt), a high watermark in terms of the quality of the movies I reviewed, 2021’s crop ranged from the mostly mediocre to the truly, catastrophically bad. Picking a best movie is a genuine challenge. Logan is one of those really good films that I…just…don’t…enjoy or want to see again so that leaves Evangelion as my pick for favourite movie that I reviewed this year.

Screenshot 2021-10-24 at 22.59.34

I mean, you know I’m lying. But shush.

Worst movie? You know what it was. I don’t even need to say its name. Shout it out, on three. One! Two! Three!


Incredible film. Jaw-droppingly terrible. Genuinely impressively awful.

So that’s it. I hope you all had a wonderful year and that 2022 will be even better. Oh, speaking of.


What, you think I’m getting old alone?

Anyway, have a wonderful, safe and happy Christmas.

Nollaig shona daoibh go léir,


Balto (1995)

Back in my review for Roller Coaster Rabbit I called Steven Spielberg the “Forrest Gump of American Animation”. Pick any seminal development in the history of the medium over the past forty years or so and chances are Spielberg is involved somehow, showing LBJ his ass. But the problem with history is that a lot of it is really, really, really sad and few things ring a tear from my dusty old eye ducts like the collapse of traditional hand-drawn animation in the face of CGI like a proud old Mesomamerican Empire succumbing to hordes of plastic-faced, eyebrow-raised, pop culture spouting Spaniards. Perhaps the earliest death-knell of the hand-drawn animated feature was heard all the way back in 1995, ostensibly when the Disney Renaissance was still going strong. Balto, the third and (as it would prove to be) final film produced by Spielberg’s Amblimation studio was one of the biggest box office flops of the year, tanking so hard that Amblimation closed as an animation studio and now lives in quiet seclusion as a Self-Storage company based in Acton. Because, well, let’s just say 1995 was a bad year to be competing in the market of feature length animation.

You will know them by the trail of dead in their wake.

This was the first of many high profile examples of hand-drawn animation competing and failing against CGI movies which ultimately led to the near extinction of traditional hand-drawn feature animation, at least in America. But I think Balto’s failure can’t just be attributed to its unfortunate status as the first notch in CGI’s gun barrel. For starters, I know for a fact that I actively avoided this film. See, from the moment The Little Mermaid lit the touch paper, every studio in Hollywood had been trying to cash in on Disney’s success with their own Disney-esque movies. And I steered clear of them because Disney inculcates brand loyalty like a psychotic mother stroking her child’s hair and whispering “no one shall ever love you as I do, little one, least of all whatever whore you end up marrying”. In my defence though, most of the wannabe Disneys were god-awful and the more “Disney-like” they tried to be, the worse they tended to turn out. And Balto, even from a cursory look at the poster, wants to be Disney so, so hard it’s honestly a little sad. So I think that many people, like myself, had learned to distrust non-Disney movies that were clearly trying to be Disney movies. For as wise Mr Beaver once said: “if you meet anything that’s going to be Disney but isn’t yet, or used to be Disney once and isn’t now, or ought to be Disney but isn’t, you keep your eyes on it and get ready to leave a bad review on Rotten Tomatoes”.

As unexpected as the movie’s initial failure was its equally remarkable afterlife. Its home video sales were robust enough to spawn two sequels, meaning that there was definitely an audience for this film, just not one willing to go out in public to watch it. Which I find inexplicable.

“Oh Mouse. Sweet, innocent Mouse.”
“Ah. The furries. Got it.”