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RBG

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
RBG       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
MAGNOLIA PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Topic - Family
Description - An intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With unprecedented access, the filmmakers explore how her early legal battles changed the world for women.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I have been a fan of Justice Ginsburg since she first came into focus in the 70s, as an advocate of women's rights. This documentary about her life offers insight into her personal history and the people around her who supported her for so many years. She is an inspiration in so many ways. Shy and somewhat introverted, she never let that keep her from pursuing a career path that was unique for woman at the time. She entered Harvard Law School in 1956, one of 9 women in a class of 500 men. I resonated with her story about the Dean reportedly asking the female law students, "How do you justify taking a spot from a qualified man?"

Justice Ginsburg proudly speaks about being born and bred in Brooklyn. In the 70s she co-founded the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU. We listen to Gloria Steinem and Nina Totenberg reveal tales of her past that make you realize how pivotal her involvement in the women's movement was. Filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West dig into the substance of this woman with a judicious zeal usually reserved for our deceased heroes. As a staunch feminist, her nomination to the Supreme Court could have been way-laid had not President Clinton been wowed by her in the first 15 minutes of her interview with him. Then, he knew that he had to put her on the Court.

The love story between Ruth and Martin Ginsburg is nothing less than awe-inspiring. I love how she tells about her undergraduate years at Cornell where there was a four to one ratio of boys to girls. "Every mother wanted to send their daughter there because, if you couldn't find a husband there, you were hopeless." She reveals that during her freshman year, she never dated the same boy twice. That is, until she met Marty, who was the first guy that recognized she had a brain. When President Carter brought her to the federal bench, Marty gave up his success career as a tax attorney in New York to move to DC to support her. He recognized Ruth for the super star that she is and later, when she was nominated to the Supreme Court, rallied on her behalf with endless enthusiasm. Also noted is that he was the cook in the family. Her children tell how they had to keep her out of the kitchen.

One thing I really like about this film is that it focuses on Justice Ginsburg's life long fight against gender discrimination. She experienced it first hand as a fresh law school graduate that could not get a job in any law office in New York City because "they didn't hire women." She has never given up the fight, and there have been many - for women in the military who were discriminated against for pay and benefits, for widowed men who couldn't get survivor benefits. She chose her plaintiffs carefully, picking a male to show that gender discrimination worked against both men and women.

Although this film may lack verve in terms of groundbreaking filmmaking, it is stunning beautiful in telling the story of a contemporary hero. 84-year-old Justice Ginsburg is an icon of our times. A woman who has weathered extremely difficult conditions and sits on the highest court in the country as someone dedicated to equality - for women, for people of different races and cultures - for all of us. She is a modern heroine and, as shy and quiet as she is - carries a big stick! I have been touting this film to all the young women and men in my universe and sending them to it. Most walk away stunned. My 20-year-old friends never even knew who she was before going to see the film. Many weep as they watch it. Now, that's something. That's important. If this film manages to get one young person's attention and give them the courage to stand up for what they believe, then these filmmakers have something to be outrageously proud of. I believe they have.

Reviewed by Ranny L., KIDS FIRST! Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - In one of the most divided political times in the recent history, it is good to look back to the previous decades and see the changes and inspiration that occurred in America. This documentary, RBG, tells you about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and not only inspires you, but motivates you to change the world just as she did.

At its core, this documentary will inspire people. It doesn't hide the many aspects of life's challenges. Throughout Ruth's life, there are moments of romance as well as drama. On the opposite side of the coin, there are many comedic moments, ranging from fun antidotes about Ruth's workaholism to Saturday Night Live skits.

Starting from her childhood to the present day, RGB reveals the essence of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is the female attorney who, not only fought for women's rights in the United States, but also spent years on as a Supreme Court Justice fighting for women's rights. This film truly gives real insight into the fight for women's education, equal payment in the workplace and equal treatment in every situation. Despite gender discrimination (which still occurs worldwide), few know the efforts women have gone through, in order to receive the same rights and treatment that men have. The film also shows many aspects of her personal family life as well as struggles she has survived, such as surviving cancer.

One of my favorite parts of the film is when it shows how political differences don't mean that two people cannot get along. Antonin Scalia, also a Supreme Court Justice, and Ruth were best friends for many years. Scalia was a staunch conservative and Ruth was always quite liberal. Often, in court, they differed in opinion. Yet, as the film shows, they were friends in real life, with no hard feelings despite their political differences. Their friendship delivers an important message for our nation today - that politics should not be something that breaks and blocks relationships.

RBG doesn't rely on a single narrator to explain the life of Justice Ginsberg, there are many people who talk about her. Throughout the documentary, the person we hear from the most is Justice Ginsberg herself telling her stories. Skilled research and editing incorporate real-life speeches at the Supreme Court, as well as many hearings when Ruth was a lawyer. This gives a unique realistic feel to the film. Instead of being lectured about the subject, you feel as if you are part of her story. This also has its downsides. The documentary flows chronologically, but it also focuses on many aspects of Ruth's life. In some ways, the film deals with so much information that it can become overwhelming.

While Ruth's story is something we all should hear, it is complex with many mature details and important subjects. I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18 as well as adults. It truly is a film that teenagers should see, as it demonstrates how anyone is capable of change. I give the film 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 10-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


DIGIMON ADVENTURE TRI: LOSS

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
DIGIMON ADVENTURE TRI: LOSS       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: DVD, AGES 8-18
Topic - Family
Description - Digimon Adventure Tri: Loss is the fourth in a series of six feature length movies. After the "reboot" and Meicoomon's rampage, Tai and friends arrive in the Digital World. They reunite with their partner Digimon, who have lost all their memories. As everyone discusses what they should do from here in the Digital World, Meicoomon suddenly appears and then disappears. She still has her memories for some reason as she wanders around, looking for Meiko. Meanwhile in the real world, Nishijima receives word that Himekawa has gone missing. As he investigates, he determines that there's been some hidden agenda behind her behavior up to this point. It has something to do with an event in the past that determined both their destinies... Special Features: "The Evolution So Far" - Star Joshua Seth Catches Us Up To The Events Of Digimon Adventure tri.: Loss Digimon Adventure tri: Loss is the sequel to Digimon Adventure tri: Confession.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This DVD will certainly entertain the viewer. It has many moving parts, flows well from beginning to end. Younger kids will not understand all the themes, unless they are familiar with the series. The protagonists are polite to each other and concerned for one another. They express emotions in an appropriate manner such as speaking directly about their feelings - "I was scared when you left me." Problem-solving is demonstrated by the characters working together. This concept fits the target age group. Viewers learn that when people work together, the results are positive. This film utilizes Japanese animation which is appealing to children. The color scheme is not brightly colored and the artwork is quite detailed. Young people need to have hope in this world and the theme that prevails here is of good overcoming evil. The storyline is very involved and mind-stimulating. The DVD's menu allows you to select specific scenes and there are bonus feature. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 13. Reviewed by Kimberly M., KIDS FIRST! Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Digimon Adventure Tri: Loss entertained me because of its wonderful animation and impressive voice acting. This is sure to be a watch for Digimon and anime fans.

The story follows the events after the reboot where all Digimon were forced to forget their partners. In wake of this, the shrewd Joe Kido (Robbie Daymond) sets out to hunt them while they are at their weakest. To defend themselves, the team must unite and strengthen their Digimon to match up to Kido's wits. During this, a hopeless Sora (Colleen O'Shaugnessey) tries to reunite with her estranged Biyomon (Cherami Leigh), as Kido targets her first.

Colleen O'Shaugnessey, as Sora, excellently presents her sorrow and selflessness for Biyomon. However, their sullen interactions become rather repetitive and forced as the story progresses. Miho Arakawa, as Meiko, splendidly portrays her reformation from saving Meicoomon, using this hope to brighten Sora. Robbie Daymond, as Joe Kido, is my favorite character due to his clever performance full of charisma as he proves to be a force to be reckoned with. Also, his deceiving escapes add a theatric grandeur to the character. Tom Fahn, as Agumon, exhibits his leadership through his care and demands of the other Digimon. Cherami Leigh, as Biyomon, depicts an equally well acted counterpart to Sora with her inability to pair with her. Kate Higgons, as Meicoomon, spectacularly reforms from being the main antagonist of the last movie to one that is heroic following the reboot.

The direction by Keitaro Motonaro wonderfully adapts with a similar approach to the source magna. My favorite scene is the resolution between Sora and Biyomon. Its conclusion adds a touching ending to this mixed bag of a plot. My only problems with this movie are in its inconsistent writing which switches from one tone to the next or even underplays many character arcs. Also, the amount of farcical humor could have taken a break to service the plot's serious developments.

The message of the movie is to always take care of yourself first before concerning others. Sora's insecurities increase while trying to reconcile with Biyomon, but this leaves her and other team members susceptible to attack. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18 because of its frequent action. The movie is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray, so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Runtime: 100 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 7-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 11.98
Media: DVD
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PUP STAR: WORLD TOUR

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
PUP STAR: WORLD TOUR       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
AIR BUD ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD, AGES 5-12
Topic - Family
Description - PUP STAR is back, with an all-new movie that takes the popular singing dogs on trip around the world, where Tiny and friends find fantastic new songs and meet exciting new canine singers that prove music really is the universal language.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - In some ways, this film reminds me of a combination of The Voice and American Idol, but with dogs as contestants and judges. I have to admit that I had some trouble getting into the film at the beginning, because it seems a bit too unrealistic. I had trouble imagining these dogs as music and rap stars. The beginning is a bit slow and then, someplace in the middle, it became much more entertaining. The songs and soundtrack are my favorite part of the film, but some of the dog characters really grow on you. Even though the storyline is quite predictable, it is entertaining. I really like that the tour goes to different countries. The characters are fun to watch and it has a great ending. It is a good film for families to watch together. I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 11. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This movie is definitely made for younger kids. The storyline isn't very complicated and it is pretty predictable, but still very enjoyable for the whole family.

The story is about the puppy celebrity Tiny, now a Judge on Pup Stars World Tour, and has selected a dog named Julio as her representative. The issue is, Julio is helping Bark, the villain from the first two movies, win Pup Stars.

Because almost the entire cast is comprised of talking dogs, the editing needs to look good. And, like previous movies, it really does look like the dogs are talking. I can't even imagine how difficult it must be to film and edit this movie. In the scenes where Julio performs, he does all these crazy moves and twists and - he looks really good. Kudos to the editors, Jason Dale and Nik Svab. They say it is difficult to work with kids and animals.

One thing I liked in the previous Pup Star movie is the song that Tiny sang. It really was an ear worm. In Pup Star: World Tour there are tons of new songs, with some really talented singers and interesting cultural backgrounds. Because each contestant is from a different country, the songs differ depending on the culture. I really like that about these songs. It fits well with the message they are trying to spread about being united through music. Shout Out to Brahm Wenger.

I feel that, in this movie especially, the writers work with the fact that dogs in this make believe world are actors, singers and similar. There are dog soap operas and there are also tabloids covering dog news. It is as if dogs are not our pets, but more like our equals. Some people already consider them their kids, so I guess it is not that far fetched. Little stuff like that really helps the world building. Also, one of my main issues with the second Pup Stars movie was that I felt the human characters were too oblivious and easily manipulated by the villain's plans. Thankfully, it's different here. The villain's plan is a little more complicated, so I could actually see how the human characters could believe what was going on. Also, I surprisingly laughed a lot. The way certain scenes are shot and acted is just hilarious!

Now, my one question is, how many more Pup Stars movies will there be? The ending of this movie serves really well as the conclusion to the series. But, my guess is that this won't likely be the last movie.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 18. If you like dogs and music from all over, I recommend this for you in particular. It comes out on May 5, 2018 so look for it.

By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Pup Star is back and bigger than ever, as the hit singing pup competition goes global! I am totally into this movie! It is absolutely hilarious - very entertaining, witty, sassy, incredible and completely a family Friday- night movie to enjoy. It is also perfect for dog lovers.

I love this heart-warming film because it is different, talking dogs... now that's pretty different. The dogs bring a fun and quirky style with the singing and dancing that will bring the best out of you. This is definitely a fun, big scale musical adventure.

The story follows Tiny, a charming Yorkie, as she joins the launch of the Pup Star World Tour as a celebrity judge. It takes the popular singing dogs on a trip around the world where Tiny and friends find wonderful new songs to sing from different countries. Each judge chooses their favorite contestant to compete for the new title of Global Pup Star Champion. This film literally makes you get up and dance. When the contest faces a severe threat from a trio of conspirators, you have go see the movie to find out how that is resolved.

Directed and written by Robert Vince, the lead characters and the talent that voices them include Tiny (Kaitlyn Maher), Julio (Jorge Diaz), Grandpa Growl (John Ratzenberger), Simon Growl (Steve Valentine), Bark (George Newbern), Shep (Reggie De Leon), Rover (Jonathon Mangum), Jimmy Kibble (Brian Hull), Steven (David DeLuise), Butch (Danny Woodbury), Raji (Maulik Pancholy), Lou (Makenzie Moss), Ming (April Hong), Juan (Steve Zaragoza), Kano (Diedrich Bader), Dog Gnarly (Ziggy Marley) and many more.

The dogs' costumes are glamorous, with all the sparkles, glitter and beautiful colors. The colors really bring great visual effects to the film. When all the dogs from different countries come out to sing in their cultural customs, it really drew my attention. I loved seeing all the different backgrounds and vibes in all of the dogs. The music is remarkable. It really fits the theme of the film and paints pictures of all the different cultures.

My favorite characters are Tiny, who unquestionably is the most adorable judge, Shep, the funny service manager and Julio, the Mexican pup with a big heart. Most importantly, all the characters are amazing. My absolute favorite part is when the cheaters (I'm not going to tell you who they are) get disqualified from the competition.

The message of the story is "cheaters never win; winners never cheat." I'll admit, I've never understood the utility of cheating. This film definitely calls you to action. It has a positive message that promotes positive social behavior. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and definitely recommend it for ages 5 to 14 years old, as well as adults. The film will be released on May 5, 2018 in Canada and USA so look for it!

By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Runtime: 87 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: DVD


AVENGERS: IINFINITY WAR

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
AVENGERS: IINFINITY WAR       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - s the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment - the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See it! When I reviewed Black Panther, I wholeheartedly admitted I am not the target audience for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This week, as I took my seat, I STILL thought I was not the target audience for Avengers: Infinity Wars and yet I would not have traded my seat for the universe. I felt as if my old friends had invited me to visit and I loved every minute of our time together.

This film rolls out like a reunion story, with old wounds and new challenges. The superhero liaisons are interesting and all the characters work together when every star system is on the line. My favorite character is Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Throughout the trials and travails, he is led by a moral compass. I also like seeing Thanos' (Josh Brolin) conflict and emotion. Yes, emotion. Thanos' quest to collect all six super powerful Infinity Stones is tough to watch - especially when revealed his plans to wipe out 50% of the population. When our superheroes realize he is on a genocide quest, the action truly ignites.

I love this film! It has all the feels. I cheered for the heroes and loathed the villains - and Thanos' crew are a creepy bunch. When I think about the behemoth task of directors Anthony and Joe Russo, I want to evoke the "mind-blown" emoji! More than 76 characters with multiple, simultaneous plotlines! The cast is immense, yet everyone has their featured and focused action. Speaking of which, the action is intense at times and the CGI creatures are wicked. The superheroes' costumes are like old friends or your favorite shoes that you can't wait to see again. It is rare for a summer blockbuster to truly deliver on its "epic" promise. This one delivers.

I give this 4.6 out of 5 stars for the cast, special effects, life lessons, awesome comedic pop culture references throughout, make-up (men and women) and female empowerment. This film will appeal to ages 8 to 18. I caution younger viewing due to fight scenes which may be disturbing to them. Stay for the end crawl! This opens April 26, 2018 in theaters nationwide. Look for it!

Reviewed by Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Wow! Just, wow!! Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building up to this movie for ten years. This movie is glorious. All I can say is, you will not be expecting what happens. It left me screaming inside. I still cannot believe it.

The storyline is about the Avengers and their allies needing to team up to stop the titan Thanos from collecting The Infinity Stones and destroying half the universe.

Now, because all the Marvel characters are finally coming together, Marvel fans will obviously be excited. And when basically every single character appears on-screen, the theater erupts into claps and screams of joy. I always love it when a studio or company can make people feel such excitement for their characters. It's just really cool.

This movie features lots of different locations that the characters travel to. I must admit, some of these locations are absolutely gorgeous and others, totally desolate, but still incredible. I love the shots in space and on different planets, especially the snowy planet that Thanos goes to at one point. In fact, the whole movie looks fantastic. Everything - from the costumes, the camera angles, the scale, the special effects - everything! I was so invested in the visuals the entire time.

Also, let's be honest, this is Marvel, we all expect this movie to be absolutely hilarious. And it is. No surprises there. I laughed so hard at Iron Man and Doctor Strange arguing, Star Lord being jealous of Thor and basically all of Spider Man and Drax's dialogue. Comedy always seems to be Marvel's greatest strength. The writing, in general, is fantastic. I love the interactions these characters have, even the dramatic moments. That's coming from someone who usually hates dramatic moments, because I hate being sad in movies.

This is a superhero movie, so obviously there are some pretty cool action scenes. And yeah, this movie has some awesome action scenes. Probably my favorite is the huge fight in Wakanda that is shown in the trailer. The fight is absolutely massive and straight up amazing. The shots and the way the characters work together are just glorious. I felt so immersed in all the action.

Since this movie is connected to the other Marvel movies in their Cinematic Universe, there is the possible question about whether you need to have seen all the other movies in order to understand this one. I would say, not all of them, but at least a few certain ones. I recommend that you brush up on your Marvel characters before you go, just to be ready.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, as it gets pretty dark. It opens in theaters nationwide April 27, 2018 so, check your local listings.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

As everyone knows, the hype for this movie was extreme. Even with expectations so high, I can honestly say that it is one of the most exciting and enjoyable movies I have ever seen. I was dazzled by this enormous spectacle of a movie. There are so many surprises, laughs and even sad moments. The production values, acting, special effects and writing are top-notch, of course.

The plot of the story involves Thanos, motion-captured and voiced by Josh Brolin, who is arguably the most evil bad guy yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This character is intent upon collecting all six Infinity Stones, crystals that control each aspect of existence (time, space, reality, power, mind and soul). The plot involves the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and others because each of them has an infinity stone that Thanos wants. If someone gets all six stones they can control reality and Thanos, concerned about overpopulation, wants to destroy half the population of the world. The whole team has to figure out how they can stop Thanos from getting all six stones, so they can save the world.

Besides the impressive production values, what people will most enjoy about this film is that it is a really funny movie. The jokes keep coming and simply don't stop, which definitely makes for a kid-friendly film. As in every Marvel movie, the music is terrific. Alan Silvestri of Polar Express fame wrote the rousing score. Last, the realistic makeup fooled me into believing that many of the characters were bleeding. Although, it's not really gory.

I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars for being a gorgeous and colorful blockbuster film. Of course I love everyone's acting, especially (let's be real) Benedict Cumberbatch, who is the best Doctor Strange. Am I right? The masterful special effects, the humor and even the many surprising emotional moments combine to tell an entertaining story of how everyone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe come together to save the world. I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18. It opens nationwide in theaters April 27, 2018, so go check it out.

By Lucia F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 19

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


SECRETS OF THE DEAD: SCANNING THE PYRAMIDS

SECRETS OF THE DEAD: SCANNING THE PYRAMIDS
PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 6-18
Topic - Family
Description - Passionate about ancient history, the global team of Scan Pyramids consists of particle physicists, experts in innovation and 3D technologies, and engineers in thermal imaging from Egypt, France, Japan, and Canada. For more than two years, they explored every corner of the pyramid, using non-invasive technologies including infrared cameras, 3D scanners and cosmological particle detectors located inside and outside the monument. Their search detected unknown cavities in the Great Pyramid of Khufu for the first time since the Middle Ages. Viewers are able to witness Scan Pyramid's adventures and successes in this extraordinary scientific and historical journey through time and space that led to this historic discovery. A production of Bonne Pioche T�l�vision in association with THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, Curiosity Stream, France T�l�visions, HIP Institute, and NHK. Directed by Florence Tran with the collaboration of Pascal Cuissot. Produced by Bonne Pioche. Stephanie Carter is executive producer for Secrets of the Dead.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This film is simply fascinating. We follow a remarkable scientific team of people using physics, science and technology to unlock the secrets of the pyramids. It is not only entertaining, but has so much educational value as well. It is amazing to watch as those involved in the scanned pyramid project unlock the secrets of the pyramids and find proof and real evidence. It flows well. The scenes of the pyramids are truly amazing! It's a real mystery and a great opportunity to see what lies within the Great Pyramid at Giza. This is an historic discovery that the whole family will enjoy learning about. I really like learning about the non-invasive way this team of scientists use technology to scan the pyramids and, once again, this film shows just how far technology has come even in the last 20 years. I give this 5 out of 5 and recommend it for ages 6 to 18 as well as adults. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 55 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 6-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 24.99
Media: DVD


BLUMHOUSE'S TRUTH OR DARE

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BLUMHOUSE'S TRUTH OR DARE       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - A harmless game of Truth or Dare among friends turns deadly when someone -- or something -- begins to punish those who tell a lie or refuse the dare.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Truth or Dare is a new thriller that has the audience questioning their real abilities and intentions behind the fun-filled game. I am a huge fan of horror and thriller films and was so excited to see the amazing acting and suspense behind this work. This film offers jump-scares, second guessing and is loads of fun to watch with friends.

Olivia (Lucy Hale) and a couple of her college friends take a trip to Mexico for a final getaway before graduation. Little did they know it would turn into something more. While there, they meet a stranger who convinces Olivia to play a harmless, fun game of "truth or dare" with the others. The game starts and so does chaos which follows the group back to their hometown, releasing all their deepest and darkest secrets. The rules are quite simple, but fearful: tell the truth or die; do the dare, or die. No one gets out alive if you don't play by the rules. Or do they?

Growing up, my friends and I always played the game "truth or dare" at sleepovers. This movie made me question what secrets are we all hide in this game? If the consequences were real, such as they are in this film, how would we react? My favorite part of this film is how I was able to somewhat relate to the characters. They are all teens, as am I. So, it really had me feeling as if I was in their shoes and made me question what I have done in order to survive. I adore the cast, because each one has something to offer to the character they play.

The message in this film is about being honest with your friends and family and to trust one another in any circumstance. Olivia and her friends are torn apart towards the beginning of the film, due to their belief about whether or not the game was real. Once their eyes are opened, they work together in hopes of beating the game and surviving.

I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars. It has a great storyline, cast and cinematography. I it for ages 13 to 18. I recommend seeing it with a group of friends to really get the full effect. Also, it would be more fun! It opens nationwide in theaters on April 13, 2018 so, be sure to check it out. Think about this film the next time you play "truth or dare" with your friends!

Reviewed by Imani B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Blumhouse's Truth or Dare is a somewhat disappointing thriller with lots of initial potential. However, the acting and direction allow for some fun thrills. Fans of thrillers and horror movies may want to check it out but proceed with caution.

The story follows teenage friends Olivia (Lucy Hale), Lucas (Tyler Posey), Markie (Violett Beane), Penelope (Sophia Ali), Tyson (Nolan Gerard Funk), Ronnie (Sam Lernie) and Brad (Hayden Szeto) on a trip to Mexico. Along the way, they encounter Carter (Landon Liboiron), an amicable person with a dark secret, playing a game of "truth or dare". This quickly takes a turn for the worst, once the game summons a curse among the friends. Upon returning home, the curse sequesters the friends, forcing them to play a deadly game of "truth or dare" - one which will result in death if lost. Realizing they are all being forced to play the same game, the friends try to find a way to remove the curse.

Lucy Hale, as Olivia, delivers a commanding performance as the main lead, willing to go to any lengths to stop the curse. She excels in presenting her unstable relationship with her best friend Markie. Tyler Posey, as Lucas, is extremely determined to save his friends using logic to outthink the curse. Violett Beane, as Markie, is excellent with what she is given, but her character could have been more aptly written. She denigrates a repetitive plot point used to propel her inconclusive relationship with Olivia. Sophia Ali, as Penelope, wonderfully presents her character's nonchalant attitude to circumstances, until it's her turn to play the game. Nolan Gerard Funk, as Tyson, prominently portrays a smart yet misguided teen. Sam Lernie, as Ronnie, is the most careless of the group. Hayden Szeto, as Brad, is my favorite character due to his clever comic relief. Landon Liboiron, as Carter, mysteriously presents his character's involvement in the story.

Jeff Wadlow directs the movie with some fun thrills, but also many that are predictable. My favorite scene is Olivia's first dare for Markie to break her hand. It is well-acted with a visceral intensity. The flaws in the movie are in its inconsistent writing, which completely steal all the potential we see initially. Most of the characters end up in situations that are unintentionally funny. The characters are written to be hate-able and bipolar for the sake of the movie's plot. The conclusion ends up feeling rushed and used as bait for a sequel.

The message of this film is to always be careful of strangers and unknown places. I give this film 2.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 because of the horror, sexual references and language. The movie releases in theaters on April 13, 2018, so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


BOXCARE CHILDREN, THE: SURPRISE ISLAND

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BOXCARE CHILDREN, THE: SURPRISE ISLAND       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: FEATURE, AGES 6-14
Topic - Family
Description - One of the most-read children's book series of all time comes alive on the big screen in the Boxcar Children - Surprise Island based on the second book from the series by Gertrude Chandler, featuring the voice talents of Martin Sheen, J.K. Simmons, Griffin Cluck, Joey King, Dane DeHaan and more! The Alden children have a home with their grandfather now - but their adventures are just beginning! The first surprise comes when they learn they'll be spending the summer on their private island. A kind stranger who lives there is always happy to help the children out, but does this new friend have a secret?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The film, The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island is based on the second book in the series by Gertrude Chandler. In this series and film, the children now have a home with their grandfather (Martin Sheen).

The first surprise comes when the children learn that they'll be spending the summer on a private island belonging to their grandfather. Once on the island they meet Joe, an overseer of the island. During their visit, they turn an old barn into their home base and explore throughout the island. The children encounter many surprises as they cope with living on their own (as they always have), survive a perilous event and have many other adventures. Near the end of the film, a final secret "surprise" involving Joe is revealed.

The success of the book series is a definite draw and the "Surprise" feature will definitely entice young people towards the film. In many ways, the film comes across as very sophisticated and smart. It does not "dumb down" to the viewer. It is equally enticing for adults for those reasons. It is also very scenic and takes the viewer away as they envision themselves on the island with these characters. One drawback is that the plot is slow in developing, which could be a problem for some viewers. The CGI visuals are amazing and the sound quality is exceptional, especially the song that plays during the closing credits.

I recommend this film for ages 6 to 14 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. Fathom Events will be offering a special after school screening in 700+ theaters nationwide on May 8, 2018 so, be sure to look for one near you.

Reviewed by Kimberly M., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Summer is just around the corner, and there's no better way to start it than by watching this alluring animated film. I could not stop smiling the entire time, because I felt as if I was at the beach, enjoying my summer vacation. With humorous jokes, unexpected challenges and adorable animals, you will become captivated for the full hour and a half. If you are trying to figure out your fun plans for summer vacation, all you need to do is watch this film.

The Alden children have just begun their summer vacation and are truly ecstatic. After running home joyfully to see their grandfather, the kids are presented with exciting news - they are going to spend summer break on their grandfather's secret island. Little do they know, their summer will be filled with marvelous adventures, since they have to do everything on their own. But, the kids end up meeting a boy living on the island named Joe, who has a hidden secret. Join Benny, Henry, Jessie and Violet (four orphaned brothers and sisters) as they have the vacation of a lifetime.

Benny, played by Carter Sand, is such an optimistic, inquisitive young boy. He always wants to help his family, such as asking to drive his grandfather's boat. Jessie, played by Joey King, is a responsible girl with a big heart. She looks out for Benny and gives him his teddy bear when he needs it. I admire her compassion, because she exemplifies the perfect sister. John Alden, played by Dane DeHaan, is humble and thoughtful. He plants an entire garden for the kids to admire. I cannot wait to have my own garden when I am older.

The animation is impeccable. For a few moments during the film, I felt as if I had time traveled from the movie theater to the beach. I could not help but envision myself next to waves, listening to the beautiful sounds of nature. My favorite part is when all of the kids make their own first dinner. Once they sit down at the table, they begin feeding their dog some bread. This is hilarious, because it reminds me of how I always feed my dogs extra food. Dogs are adorable, and, no matter how much food you give them, they will always beg for more.

The message of this film is that when you work as a team, anything is possible. No matter what challenges there are in this world, you can transcend them. Life is short, so we need to make the best of it. Next time you feel that the world is not on your side, just remember that everything happens for a reason. These kids teach us to enjoy summer vacation and to never give up. If they can do this, so can we.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 6 to 12. It is the perfect family-friendly film, because you will see how important family truly is to the Alden children. This film will be offered as an after school by Fathom Events for one day only, on May 8th, 2018. So, go check it out. If you are ever stuck on an island, don't worry. This film will show you how to make an island your next home.

By Samantha M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Surprises, mysteries and new things to explore sounds like a lot of fun for the Boxcar Children so I suggest joining them on this new adventure to a mysterious island. I really enjoyed the funny characters, amazing animation and unique story line - all of which bring this film and its story to life.

One thing that is mind blowing about this film is the animation. While I watched it, I noticed all the tiny details and how lifelike the characters look. I believed multiple times that I was actually exploring the island with them and felt like I was part of the action. The animation is that good. There is lots of eye candy to look at with great depth so it almost seems to be in 3D even though it isn't. This makes the film very enjoyable and it widens the age rage so older kids would enjoy it as well as younger ones.

Carter Sand as Benny is just adorable. He is very quirky and reminds me of my younger friends. I also like him because he is good hearted and loves his siblings as much as the whole wide world. That is a trait that I think we all should share. J. K. Simmons as Dr. Moore is superb. I did a Farmers commercial once with Mr. Simmons and found him as charming off screen as on. He was an absolute pleasure to work with.

Joey King as Jessie is a smart, lovely young lady. I have interviewed her many times and she is just adorable and personable. The only difference is that last time I saw her she was wearing reindeer ears and in this film she is the older sibling who knows how to cook. I like seeing her cook delicious foods from scratch such as clam chowder, cooked peas and carrots, apple pie and other foods. It made me hungry for dinner.

Martin Sheen as James Alden plays a gracious and kind character. Everyone would love a grandfather like him because he is so kind to others, especially his grandchildren. He is willing to do anything to make them happy and even takes them to a special island for the summer. That is what I call great grand parenting.

One thing that I don't like about this film is that the story is sometimes way too slow. Also, they have a mystery that they discover that goes unsolved. It is weird that the story didn't pursue that. It showed up and then they just dropped it. Other than that, the film is adorable and has a lot heart for families.

I recommend this film for ages 5 to 12 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. This will play in more than 700 theaters as an after school screening on May 8, thanks to Fathom Event. So, go check it out!

Reviewed by Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 6-14
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


NATURE: THE LAST RHINO
PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18
Topic - Education/Instructional
Description - This is the tragic story of the last Northern White Rhino who has survived against all odds, and how experts are working to save the rest of the species from extinction. Meet Sudan, the last male of his sub-species, the Northern White Rhinoceros. His harrowing journey is told through the international cast of characters who have been involved in Sudan's life, from when he was snatched as a calf from his mother's side in war-torn Central Africa, to his captivity as a prized exhibit in a cold, concrete zoo behind the Iron Curtain while poaching devastated his kind to extinction back home. Now at 43 years old and half-blind, Sudan is living out his days under 24-hour armed guard, on a protective sanctuary in Kenya. As his kind nears its last hour, scientists and animal experts turn to technology in a race to save the Northern White Rhino before it dies out forever.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This documentary is very interesting, educational and enjoyable. The film is about the Northern White Rhino in Kenya. I was unaware that there are only three left in the world and found that a bit sad, but amazing at the same time. It shows Sudan, the very last Male White Rhino and quite well known around the world because of his status. I was amazed at learning how Sudan is protected by armed guards. It made me happy to see how well Zack (a keeper) takes care of Sudan as if he is his own. This definitely is an enlightening film and made me want to research more about this species of Rhinos. The film is appropriate for ages 8 through 18 and I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Sudan was still alive when this film was made, at the age of 43. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about him. The sad fact is that Sudan has now passed away and hence, there are no more male White Rhinos alive. Hopefully, this show will teach children and, even adults, an important lesson about preserving endangered species. It is available on DVD now so, be sure to check it out. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 60 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 10-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 24.99
Media: DVD


JAMESTOWN
PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - Taking viewers back to 1619 Jamestown, Virginia, Alice, Verity and Jocelyn are among the first women to arrive in the English colony. Duty bound to marry the three men who have paid for their passage to the New World, they have little idea of what the future holds or the disruption their arrival is about to bring. Twisting storylines follow the new arrivals as they make an immediate impact and are thrust into a new world of love, desire, power and survival. While love triangles, bitter rivalries and fierce competition cause conflict for the residents, ultimately they are bound together by their resolute will to survive and thrive in their new lives. The cast includes: Sophie Rundle, Niamh Walsh and Naomi Battrick as the leading female roles. The male leading roles include Max Beesley, Jason Flemyng, Kalani Queypo and Raoul Trujillo. From the producers of Downton Abbey. Written by Bill Gallagher (Lark Rise to Candleford, The Paradise), a new episode of the series will be available each Friday on PBS MASTERPIECE Amazon channel by subscription.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Intrigue, greed, jealousy, love and revenge permeate this made-for-PBS series from the creators of Downton Abby about life in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. The show focuses on three British women who voluntarily traveled from England to Jamestown to marry men they had never met but who paid for their voyage. As the three women, fiercely independent in their own ways, strive to create new lives for themselves despite challenging and often brutal circumstances, the plots twist and turn. Each episode is filled with uncertainty and machinations as all the characters struggle to survive in The New World, a place beautiful and bountiful but demanding hard work and with an air of unease due to the heavy hand of the settlers' law-keepers and their uncertain relationship with the Native Americans. The theme of women's roles in society should prove thought-provoking for many viewers. The sets and costumes are impressive, as is the writing and acting with every character, even minor ones, vividly portrayed. With each of the eight episodes running a quick-paced 45 minutes, the series makes for engrossing, binge-worthy viewing. Extras on the PBS Masterpiece Amazon channel and PBS Passport streaming service include several shorts about historic Jamestown and the making of the show. Recommended for ages 14 to 18 and older for mature material, including violent and bloody images. 4.5 out of 5 stars. Review by Mike F.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 360 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: VIDEO


MICE WAR, THE

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
MICE WAR, THE
DAVID CHESKY
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Topic - Family
Description - This dazzling animated musical tells the story of Albert, a young and peaceful mouse suddenly caught in the middle of a war between the Blue Mice of the North and the Red Mice of the South. The reason for war? Blue Mice eat pink cheese, Red Mice eat yellow cheese!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The concept of mice and cheese of different colors and who likes what is entertaining and makes a social statement as well. The animation is excellent. It is very clear and colorful. The movement of the mice in the various musical numbers is charming and the orchestral music is outstanding. The story is pretty fundamental. It reminds the viewer that often when things are going well there will be devilish actions that cause turmoil. In the story, the blue mice community is doing well. Everyone is working and earning money. Then, General Kan decides that going to war will make more money for them. There is no real reason for a war between the Blue Mice and the Red Mice and General Kan cannot really provide a reason to go to war. He is challenged by one young mouse. The results give us a possible answer to why we eat yellow cheese. The story flows very well. Just as in real life, there is sometimes one person who is not content and causes problems. The vocabulary and sequence of events are suitable for target age. We see a very good example of how to resolve a situation when there are differences. I highly recommend it and give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Adults will enjoy it also. It is available now on DVD and digital. Reviewed by Juanita L. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewers.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This astounding, animated film had me smiling the entire time. With comical jokes, catchy tunes and an exquisite plot, you feel allured from beginning to end. Not only am I still pondering about how intriguing this film is, but I am also considering getting a pet mouse. There is a plethora of adorable mice and are sure to steal your heart.

Set in a war between the Blue Mice of the North and the Red Mice of the South, an adolescent mouse named Albert becomes entangled in a constrictive situation, because he is coerced into the military. Such aforementioned war is due to contrasting opinions on the color of cheese that should be eaten. The Blue Mice strictly consume pink cheese, while the Red Mice believe yellow cheese is best. Therefore, the Blue Mice initiate a compelling war, in order to prevent the Red Mice from instilling yellow cheese among the mice of the North. Find out how Albert attempts to encourage the cessation of a grandiose war.

Albert (Sarah Jane McMahon) is a strong-willed mouse who perseveres to the fullest extent in order to end the war for his community's benefit. I admire Albert for his willingness to stand up against the general, voiced by Gregory Jbara. The General is quite controlling over the mice, even though the King is supposed to possess the power. The King (Barrett Leddy) enjoys how the general consistently suggests newfound ideas, and therefore is easily persuaded. All of the characters juxtapose each other consummately.

Music plays a paramount role in the interactions between the characters and the events they encounter. This music is not what you hear on your everyday radio. It is orchestrated. I could not help but sing along and the songs remained in my head the next morning.

My favorite part is when the mice find out they are heading to war. The mice break out into song and dance, which is hilarious. I wish I was as talented as these mice. The message of this film is about not letting others easily persuade you. Everyone is unique in their own way, which makes society beautiful. This beauty can preserved by holding into your own opinions and ideas. Just because someone else wants to change your mind, does not mean you should. Follow your heart, and everything else will fall into place.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to kids ages 8 to 18, and adults will certainly love it too. This film is available now on DVD and Digital, so I encourage you to watch it with your friends and family. But, before you do, you might want to get some cheese.

Reviewed by Samantha M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
Runtime: 78 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 10
Media: VIDEO


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MIRACLE SEASON, THE       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
0
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Topic - Family
Description - After the tragic death of star volleyball player Caroline "Line" Found, a team of dispirited high school girls must band together under the guidance of their tough-love coach in hopes of winning the state championship.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Miracle Season is an inspiring account of a true story. The acting and narration respectfully accommodate the actual people involved. This is sure to be a worthwhile watch for any sports movie fan.

The story follows talented volleyball team, The Women of Troy, as they seek to win the championship. However, a tragic accident results in the death of team leader Caroline Found (Danika Yarosh). As a result, the team disbands in mourning, with coach Kathy (Helen Hunt) trying to lighten and reunite its hopeless members. Caroline's best friend Kelly (Erin Moriarty) chooses to become team leader and respect Caroline by espousing the championship. This results in a grueling training season where all team members must put aside their grief and work together to compete. With extreme stakes at hand, the team must win in order to fully respect Caroline's legacy and rectify their losses.

Helen Hunt, as Kathy, incredibly presents her tough-love attitude towards her team and their determination to win the championship. She performs wonderfully in depicting Kathy's attempt to imbue the team with a purpose in the most hopeless of circumstances. Erin Moriarty, as Kelly, excellently portrays her growth from novice volleyball player to motivating leader. Danika Yarosh, as Caroline, exceptionally characterizes her teenage friendship with Kelly, including some recklessness at times. This allows her accident to have an emotional weight to it. William Hurt, as Ernie, is my favorite character due to his character arc through his grief of his daughter's death, as he slowly pushes people closest to him away. His friendship with Kathy allows for a humanizing and emotionally charged redemption from his self-pity.

Sean McNamara directs the movie with a scenic chronological representation of the events that happened in real life. My favorite scene is one where Kelly and Ernie talk about their regrets, resulting in Ernie asking Kelly to stop being so harsh on herself. I love how it portrays a relatable aspect of life. The flaw with the movie comes in the first act, when it feels like another clich� teen drama. Fortunately, it improves once the more humanizing aspects of the story come into play. However, there is an overuse of mainstream music during much of the movie, which results in a few of the most emotional scenes being completely nullified.

The message of this movie is to always remain as a source of hope for others. Despite the extreme pressure the team faces, Kelly always finds a way to assure her teammates. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. The movie releases in theaters on April 6, 2018, so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The Miracle Season is a sports film based on a real life incident from 2011 when the captain of West High Schools volleyball team tragically died in a car accident. I found this film interesting because it remembers a teen, not an adult.

The storyline follows Kelly, who recently lost her best friend Caroline in a car accident. Now she has to lead the team. They have to fight through their loss and still play the game. They lose their first two games, but win the next fifteen games and are driven to win the state championship game in Caroline's memory.

Kelly is portrayed by Erin Moriarty who has appeared in the films Captain Fantastic and The Kings of Summer. Her coach Kathy Bresnahan is played by Helen Hunt, an Oscar-award nominee and winner, who has starred in the films Cast Away with and As Good As It Gets. These veteran actors bring the movie up as a whole.

An interesting thing about this film is that, even though it is a low budget film, it looks like a higher budget film. Also, it's based on a true story and is true to the original story including having videos of the actual games in the credits. Last, I found it interesting that the cast is mostly female, when sports movies usually feature all male teams.

I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. It opens April 6, 2018 so look for it.

Reviewed by Abraham F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


READY PLAYER ONE

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
READY PLAYER ONE       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - In the year 2045, the real world is a harsh place. The only time Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) truly feels alive is when he escapes to the OASIS, an immersive virtual universe where most of humanity spends their days. In the OASIS, you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone-the only limits are your own imagination. The OASIS was created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance), who left his immense fortune and total control of the Oasis to the winner of a three-part contest he designed to find a worthy heir. When Wade conquers the first challenge of the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends-aka the High Five-are hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This film remarkably resembles its subject. Like virtual reality, it takes you into a world which you would never see without the gear. Like VR, it shows the future of technology. Like VR, it has its ups and downs that can be improved upon. Finally, like VR, Ready Player One has the potential to either change everything or to simply bring us back to the past. Ready Player One entertains the audience with its adventure-packed explosions that run the plot of the film and add a surprising amount of comedy, which the actors deliver perfectly.

Ready Player One's adventure follows the quest to find an Easter Egg. This hidden object requires a lot of effort as it is hidden in the massive virtual world called The Oasis, which has a land size greater than Earth and access to multiple planets. The value of it makes it worth the search, as the finder gets half a trillion dollars as well as complete control of this massive online world. While many of the independent gamers fight for this egg, there is also a large corporation fighting to make it a money-making opportunity instead of a skill-based experience. To them, the richest should win. The race is on to get the egg and to make sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

My favorite scene is what should solidify this film's nomination for an Academy Award in visual effects. This scene contains a challenge that unlocks another step in finding the Easter egg. The challenge takes place in the classic horror thriller, The Shining. Not only did I immediately love this scene, due to its dedication to the great mind and creator of The Shining, Stanley Kubrick., but I love it because it visually breaks all the boundaries. Despite The Shining being a much older film, with the sets that probably no longer exist, Ready Player One completely recreates the setting from the film and perfectly places the characters' avatars in that world too. Just like the films Star Wars and Avatar, which took your breath away because of ahead-of-their-time visuals, this film and specifically this scene does as well.

Ready Player One excels at bringing the visual world that Ernest Cline describes in the book to the big screen. The surroundings and the story are packed with references to different movies, comic books, games and TV shows. It would take months of constant replay to catch every little detail, which defiantly will delight the fans that are craving nostalgia. The CGI really is what makes this movie stand out. Despite it being branded as live action, it has more runtime in the completely animated environment than it does in live action. However, these visual scenes do not look like the standard animation of Pixar. They look and feel, unmistakably like real life. In a way, Ready Player One fails to portray a virtual world, because it looks so real. The acting has its ups and downs. Inside the Oasis, where acting relies primarily on voiceover and basic body movement, it excels. Outside, where the actors are left to the task completely on their own, they feel rather flat and somewhat monotone. The romance that runs throughout the story feels somewhat forced, partly due to the acting and partly due to the story. Interestingly enough, the romance feels more natural in the virtual world, than it does in the real life. The score of the film is one of the many pleasant surprises. Without the video, the score would still leave audiences satisfied. It does not quite reach the masterful skill of John Williams, but Alan Silvestri, known for his soundtrack for the Back to the Future series, creates beautiful harmonies that sound incredible.

The book and film differ quite a lot in a positive way. While the book (one of my favorites) is a joy to read, in many ways it would not translate well into a film. For that reason, while the main story barely changes, the actual events are structured much better for the movie and make it much more interesting. Instead of watching a person playing a game, the viewer is offered an opportunity to watch someone jump over zombies in a ballroom. The book has mainly 80s references, but the film mixes it up much more to include references from the games and movies that became popular in the last few years, which really allows the nostalgic adults, as well as the kids, enjoy the film.

Even though the messages and possible future is shown in Ready Player One should be shown to kids, there are some things that are a bit mature. For that reason, I recommend this to ages 10 to 18. Despite some issues with acting, it makes for a great adaptation of the book while keeping important messages in place. The biggest accomplishment would be the mass scale of the lifelike CGI that truly makes you believe you're in the virtual world of the Oasis. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Ready Player One is a delightfully nostalgic, modern-day sci-fi classic filled with Spielbergian magic.

Based on Ernest Cline's bestselling book, Ready Player One follows Wade Watts, a teen living in dystopian Columbus, Ohio in the year 2045. Like much of the population, Wade plays the OASIS, a multiplayer game in an expansive virtual world created by the eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday died, he told players he left a hidden Easter egg that will win control of the OASIS and his shares in his company Gregarious Games. A malicious corporation called IOI wishes to turn the OASIS from an imaginative escape to an ad-filled wasteland. Wade's avatar Parzival teams up with his friend Aech, his crush Artemis and a pair of best friends named Shoto and Daito, to take down IOI by finding the egg before the company does and foil its evil agenda.

Ready Player One, true to the book, is full of 80s pop culture references from Halliday's early life and his icon status. At the same time, much of the film takes place in the video game and is visually vibrant and futuristic. Steven Spielberg brings the OASIS to life very well. He sneaks in visual gags from Robocop to Street Fighter. The OASIS has an insane color pallet that totally matches the idea of what that virtual world is. There is a lot of CGI used, but it is necessary to tell the story and the characters' avatars look very realistic.

As a huge fan of the book, this film adaptation still holds up for me. Quite a bit of what happens in the book is different on the big screen, but fans should not despair because the film remains true to the book's main themes. This film is also very funny. The entire ensemble gets great one-liners. This is refreshingly different from typical sci-fi and it makes the ride through Ready Player One even more fun.

I give Ready Player One an age rating of 11 to 18 for some language and heavily implied violence. Older kids and adults will enjoy the film's crazy visuals.

I rate Ready Player One 4.5 out of 5 stars. This film is excellent and I recommend it for anyone who is a fan of anything pop culture. Whether it is music, film, video games or anime, Ready Player One has something for you. This film opens in theaters March 29, 2018 so check it out.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Ready Player One is an epic, nostalgic film filled to the brim with pop culture references. It has characters you can really connect to and a digital world we all dream about. It has all sorts of exiting scenes such as races, puzzles, battles and so many others. Based on the book Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, this adaptation runs very smoothly into a film version.

The story takes place in the year 2045. James Halliday creates the OASIS, a completely virtual world that everyone uses to escape reality. After his death, a competition begins to find the Easter egg in the OASIS. Whoever finds the egg will have complete control over the OASIS. Wade and his friends try to win this competition and stop IOI from beating them for total control of the OASIS. It is filled with twists that make it hard to predict what will happen next even, after if you have read the book.

I love all the references to other films including The Iron Giant, King Kong, Batman, The DeLorean and Martin the Martian. The special effects are also incredible. I really enjoyed the effect whenever someone changes their skin in the OASIS. I also enjoyed the mix between animated and live action characters. This is impressive because it's hard to make these two styles be near each other without one being out of place. I really like how the world seems like a fantasy that people have today, yet is also a dystopia at the same time.

My favorite part is the introduction to the OASIS. This scene is really impressive and has so much squeezed into it. I also like the scene where the common people attack IOI. These scenes both show a huge variety of different characters from different parts of pop culture.

Mark Rylance's acting is incredible. He fills the role of James Halliday brilliantly. He is very erratic, yet sincere and makes the character relatable, even in extreme circumstances. The song choices are also great. I particularly like the use of the original King Kong theme.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and strongly recommend it to anyone ages 7 through 18 as well as adults. It is playing in theaters now so check it out.

Reviewed by Rohan F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


CHA CHA CHA - FRENCH LEARNING SONGS

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
CHA CHA CHA - FRENCH LEARNING SONGS
WHISTLEFRITZ LLC
Series: AUDIO CD, AGES 5-12
Topic - Family
Description - Parlez-vous cha, cha, cha? From samba and merengue to rumba and reggae, this wildly fun collection of songs with Latin and Caribbean rhythms adds an exciting twist to learning French that makes learning French as easy as un, deux, trois.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This is an upbeat and energetic learning tool for children ages 3 to 7. Join Fritzi the Mouse and friends as they teach us how to sing in French by using this amazing CD comprised of 15 fun songs! Get ready to feel the Island breeze through steel drums and rhythmic beats as you learn French versions of kid classics. You'll hear some old and some new tunes including Months of the Year, Numbers, Vowels, Days of the Week, Seasons, Bingo, Hide and Seek and On the Bridge of Avignon. The vocals are beautifully clear and performed by acclaimed singer Lynn Veronneau. The unique music, composed by Didier Prossaird, has an French Island influence that is undeniably catchy. Some of the songs are supplemented with children's vocals and chants to prompt participation and memorization by the listeners. The songs run between one and four minutes in length for a total of approximately 36 minutes of listening time. Included is an extensive vocabulary companion booklet with colorful illustrations of your favorite Whistlefritz friends! This CD has won awards from Dr. Toy, Parent's Choice Foundation and the National Parenting Publication. You can gain access to additional Whistlefritz media and educational tools via www.whistlefritz.com. I give this CD 5 out of 5 stars for its creative and unique sound. After listening to it, you'll surely be speaking French and humming these tunes throughout the day! I recommend this for teachers, parents or anyone with children who want to learn a second language in a friendly and fun way. Reviewed by Eli B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Whistlefritz: Cha Cha Cha is an upbeat album for the whole family that helps kids learn French in a new and fun way.

Each song on Whistlefritz: Cha Cha Cha teaches a different aspect of speaking the French language. Songs range from being about the seasons to the days of the week and even certain jobs.

This CD is great at teaching vocabulary. The songs are sufficiently repetitive in a way that will educate those new to French, but won't annoy those already familiar with the vocabulary being taught. Even if you don't wish to learn French, the songs are peppy and catchy. A lot of different instruments are used and every song has a different feel and vibe.

I recommend it for ages 3 to 18. As long as your child or you are ready to learn some French, you should enjoy this CD. I would recommend this as a segue even into beginning level adults learning French. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is a nice review of some things in French for me, as someone who already knows some, and both beginners and experienced speakers are certain to get something out of this CD.

Cha, Cha, Cha: French Learning Songs is a helpful, educational, kid-friendly collection of songs that encourage learning the language of French through the art of song. French is a beautiful language that is great to know. The fun songs on this track really add something special to the experience of learning.

I had an awesome time listening to these songs and following along with the booklet provided. The woman who sings has a lovely voice, which is complemented by the upbeat rhythms of the music. This CD is full of catchy tunes that are easy to learn and fun for kids to sing along to. The music is energetic, fun and an absolute blast. It is child friendly and, at the same time very educational. I have no doubt that kids who genuinely want to learn French will enjoy this immensely.

I give this CD 5 out of 5 and commend it for ages 2 to 8. I loved this CD and think that it is a unique and helpful way to assist young learners who want to broaden their horizons and learn a new language. It's available now wherever CDs are sold and online at Whistlefritz so, look for it.

Reviewed by Ella L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I really enjoyed listening to this CD. It is entertaining music that uses catchy and recognizable songs to teach French! It makes fun background music for little kids and they can do anything they want while listening to the music. By hearing the music at young age, they will learn French by immersion. It's like singing to kids and learning English without thinking about, just the way we learn English. It comes with the English words to the songs as well, so you can read those while listening if you like. I have to admit that it was a bit difficult for me to understand everything, because I don't know French. But kids under the age of five will probably get the hang of it quicker and will be singing the tunes without knowing they are singing in French. If you're older, you may like it the CD because the tunes are catchy and fun to listen to. I recommend this for ages 2 to 5 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. It is available now wherever CDs are sold and online at Whistlefritz.

Reviewed by Rachel K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Everyone get ready to move and grove to this terrific new CD! I adore the catchy beat of the music and how I found myself singing in French right away. Cha, Cha, Cha: French Learning Songs is musically creative and makes you want to dance and sing. Even if you don't know the French words, you soon will.

One thing that I really love about this is that it teaches you French in a wondrous way that kids, young and old will enjoy. Everyone likes music, so what better way to learn French than through song.

The songs are about the mouths of the year, different types of fruits, numbers and BINGO - the song that everyone loves. Since the songs are in French, the CD comes with a booklet that translates the lyrics into English, so you will understand every word. I enjoyed this factor because I now know how to say things like kiwi and October in French as well as English.

I recommend this for ages 4 to 13 and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Runtime: 40 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $ 14.99
Media: AUDIO

Buy Here (from WHISTLEFRITZ LLC)


PANDAS       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Topic - Family
Description - An American biologist embarks on a life-changing journey to China to help scientists breed giant pandas and introduce the cubs into the wild.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The fun family IMAX film, Pandas is wonderfully entertaining and educational. It is a documentary about the journey following one particular panda living in captivity, to its release into the wild. The movie begins when Chen Chen is just a pup, living with other baby pandas in captivity. Based on the black bear research of Ben Kilham, this lucky panda is released and followed in the wild. The American researcher, Jacob Owens and the Chinese researcher, Bi Wen Li work together to help bring Chen Chen into her natural environment. Along the journey, she has some awkward moments and challenging times. I won't tell you what they are because it would give away a big part of the movie.

My favorite scene is the beginning when we see Chen Chen and the other pandas playing together. In many ways, they seem just like little kids happily playing. My other favorite scene is when Ben Kilham is playing a peek-a-boo game with a black bear behind a tree (say that 10 times fast). The music, by Mark Mothersbaugh, is really child-like, which adds to the fun playfulness that we see with the pandas. The narration by Kristen Bell is spot on with her happy tone and soothing voice throughout the film. The sweetness in her voice adds to the enjoyment of the movie.

My favorite character has to be the adorable Chen Chen and also the researchers. Chen Chen is always entertaining because she is so cute, loving, has a great personality and is very curious. I especially love the part when the researchers say they will always be there for her whether it is in ten or 20 years.

The message of this film is that, through research, working with others and a lot of patience, pandas and other endangered animals raised in captivity can be successfully released into the wild. The message also is that it is important to save species from extinction because "once they're gone, they're gone"

I recommend this film for ages 5 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Abigail Zoe L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


TO THE BEAT

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TO THE BEAT       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
VISION FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - To The Beat follows 14 year old twins Mia and Mackie Castillo - dancers since they were toddlers. Beginning at just three years old, that's been their one true passion. They support each other through competitions and rehearsals, even though they dance different styles. Mia loves tap and Mackie loves jazz. When their favorite pop star launches an online contest to find the most unique dance group for his next music video, the twins each form their own team to compete for the chance to dance in the video - enlisting their friends and family to help gain online votes. Meanwhile, their arch rival and neighbor, Avery, the best dancer of all (who knows it too) uses her charm and resources to get the upper hand in the competition.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This magnificent film kept me dancing on my feet the entire time. I used to take hip-hop classes, so I couldn't help but dance along. It amazes me how talented the dancers are, and their dedication truly inspires me. I cannot believe some of the girls have been dancing since they were 3 years old. Even if you are not a dancer, you will certainly want to become one after watching this film.

Twin sisters Mia (Brisa Lalich) and Mackie Castillo (Laura Krystine) are passionate, 14-year-old dancers who constantly support each other in every rehearsal and competition. Although they have danced for their entire lives, both have distinctive dance styles. Mackie loves jazz and Mia is exceptional with tap. Their honed dance skills are put to the test when their favorite popstar arranges a contest for the best five dancers to appear in his upcoming music video. The girls must create their own routine in order to advance to the next stage. Mackie and Mia form separate teams and get help from their friends and family to receive the most online votes. When one of the best dancers, Avery(Jayden Bartels), decides to join the competition, tension arises among the girls, because Avery tries her best to get the upper hand in the competition.

Mackie is such a strong, independent girl. She constantly encourages her sister Mia to never doubt herself, even when Avery thinks she is the best dancer of them all. My favorite character, hands down, has to be Avery's mom (Martha Madison), because she wants to be in her daughter's music video. She loves Paula Abdul and embarrasses her daughters, but she is Avery's number one fan. Each character is vastly different, but they juxtapose each other quite well.

The dancers' outfits are impeccable. A few girls wear leotards; some wear leggings. But Mackie's team has the best outfits. During the final competition, Mackie's team wears silver jackets, which are very stylish. In addition, this film is set in Simi Valley, which is not far from where I live. I go to the Simi Valley Town Center sometimes, and I enjoyed seeing the girls walk around where I shop.

My favorite part is when Mackie and Mia execute their handshake. You can see how they have an unbreakable bond. I love how both sisters appreciate each other and never fight. I have a younger sister and, seeing how they truly respect one another, reminds me of my relationship with my sister. I love my sister more than words can say and you will love your sibling even more after watching this film.

The message of this film is that hard work certainly pays off. Treat your family with love and care, because they are always there for you, through thick and thin. Never let competition keep you from achieving your dreams and always remember to believe in yourself.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Actually, it is perfect to watch with your family. After watching this film, you and your family will be closer together. This film is available now on DVD and Digital. Gather up your family and friends, get on your feet, and get ready to dance to the beat.

Reviewed by Samantha M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The dances in To The Beat! are great. I love the choreography because it is so precise and very fun to watch. The competitors all have a different style of dance. I found myself dancing just like Mia and Mackie because their moves are contagious. Each dance shows a person's personality and they all have their own unique style. I love the pirouettes and the tap dancing. Avery knows what to do when it comes to ballet and Mia is my top pick for tap dancers.

The characters in To The Beat! are all very distinct. Ambitious dancers and a contest of a lifetime can lead to one big competition. There are dancers everywhere and every one of them wants a part in the next big music video. So you have to watch your back and make sure that you are ready to move and grove to the beat.

Mia (Brisa Lalich) is my favorite character. I love her tap dancing. She adds a lot of fun and beauty to her passion. She reminds me of my grandfather Kenneth because he was an expert tap dancer. Jumping and clicking his heels in the air was his trade mark. Mackie (Laura Krystine) is the kind and noble sister who wants what is best for her better half. Avery (Jayden Bartels) is the average teenager who likes to dress up and be a dancer, yet her intensions are not what they seem. Mandy (Veronica St. Clair) is the amazing older sister who always saves the day. She helps everyone and has dreams and passions of her own. Alyson Stoner plays one of the celebrity judges. In real life, she is adorable. She was my dance teacher at a studio called The Millennium Dance Complex. She has moves.

I had a wonderful time at press day talking to Brisa Lalich, Laura Krystine and Bryce Xavier. These terrific dancers and YouTubers know all about competitions and humor. I loved meeting them and having a few good laughs and getting an inside scoop on the sequel to this, To The Beat 2! I can't wait to see it. Be sure to check out my one on one interviews with them to learn more about their personalities.

The best scene in this film is the fantastic dance competition because the choreography is magnificent and all the dancers are perfectly in sync with one other. I also that the dance competition is on stage and everyone's friends and family are there to support them.

I recommend this film for ages 6 to 13 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. To The Beat! Comes out on DVD and digital March 13, 2018 so look for it!

Reviewed by Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

To the Beat is a wonderful dance movie for girls, with real stakes at hand. The acting and cohesive plot provide a urgent, yet vibrant feel to the film. This is sure to please all dance movie fans.

The story follows 14-year-old twins and talented dancers Mackie (Laura Krystine) and Mia Castillo (Brisa Lalich). Despite being from different dance backgrounds, the two always have each other's backs and have an extremely loving bond. When a famous pop star launches an online contest to find the best dance group for his next music video, the twins must form their own teams to compete for the video. The duo impresses the crowd with their ardent love of dancing. However, their egotistical arch rival, Avery (Jayden Bartels), the self-proclaimed "best dancer of all" also uses her charm and resources to get the upper hand in the competition.

Laura Krystine, as Mackie, excellently presents her talented dance moves and her love for her sister. Brisa Lalich, as Mia, like her sister portrays a dancer who loves it, rather than using it as a popularity stunt. The character really shines emotionally, when a huge plot twist regarding her involvement on the team takes place. Jayden, as Avery, is a fun villain to watch, especially as her power- hungry schemes unveil themselves. Veronica St. Clair is my favorite character due to how grounded her character is. She provides a moral support for the team, while also trying to pass her medical exams.

Jillian Clare directs the movie with a high-stakes feel, as you feel the pressure being put upon Mackie and Mia. My favorite scene is the final dance, because it is the culmination of what the movie has been building up to. My only problem with this film is that, while Avery feels like a threat to be reckoned with, I feel as if in the long run she doesn't do too much to turn the tide around once the final dance is about to happen.

The message of the movie is that, if you are going to do anything, do it for the love of it, rather than for popularity. Despite being underestimated at times, Mackie and Mia never give up their love of dance. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 10. The movie is out on DVD and digital now, so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


SHERLOCK GNOMES       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Topic - Family
Description - After a string of garden gnome disappearances in London, Gnome & Juliet look to legendary detective Sherlock Gnomes to solve the case of their missing friends and family.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Sherlock Gnomes is a frequently clever animated film that has a few fun moments, yet suffers from a jumbled story and too many characters to fully engage you in the movie as a whole.

Sherlock Gnomes is a sequel to Gnomeo and Juliet and brings together garden gnome versions of the famous detective and the Shakespearean couple from the first installment. Gnomeo and Juliet move to a new garden in London that disappoints their entire faction of gnomes. Gnomeo and Juliet are appointed the new leaders to turn the garden into a beautiful wonderland for their little village. Meanwhile, several gardens have been erased of all signs of gnomekind and soon, Gnomeo and Juliet's is too. The dynamic duo of the incredibly smart, but sometimes selfish detective and protector of London's garden gnomes Sherlock Gnomes and his trusty sidekick Watson are on the case and intend to catch the culprit and track down the missing gnomes, with the help of Gnomeo and Juliet.

Unfortunately the collision of these literary duos doesn't work very well. Their stories have very different characters and tones. The film makes clever references to Sherlock Holmes and his works that will be enjoyable for fans of the character's inspiration, but the collaboration still feels forced. Gnomeo and Juliet go through a storyline that feels out of place and their conversations have a repetitive message. The characters feel less developed against the more engaging Sherlock Gnomes.

My favorite character is Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp). He embodies the qualities of the literary detective and makes his portrayal of Sherlock his own, giving him a more fun and comedic manner. He also nails Sherlock's complex relationship with Watson.

I recommend this film for ages 5 to 9 due to some crude humor. Younger kids will enjoy the film's bright colors and caper elements and older kids and adults might enjoy some of the humor. However, this film lacks the vivid animation and nuance that offers the same wide appeal of other animated films. I give it 2.5 out of 5 stars because the story is a bit confusing, although it has some characters and good laughs. It comes out in theaters on March 23, 2018 so check it out.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


SPACESHIP THAT FELL IN MY BACKYARD, THE

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
SPACESHIP THAT FELL IN MY BACKYARD, THE
RUTH AND EMILIA
Series: AUDIO CD FOR AGES 5-8
Topic - Family
Description - When a shiny spaceship lands in Emilia's backyard, she meets URR from planet Goopda who has traveled to Earth to promote universal peace. The two learn about working together and making the world a better place as they sing their way through the day's adventures. Produced by Enrico Lopez-Ya�ez, Asst. Director, Nashville Symphony; Jeff Silverman producer of Mattel's Barbie "The Look." Composer: Ruth Weber.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The Spaceship That Fell In My Backyard is the newest release from mother-daughter team, Ruth and Emilia. Featuring strong engaging vocals and terrific production values this fun-filled musical odyssey will have everyone dancing in the streets... as long as there is no traffic and you've looked both ways four times! URR from the planet Goopda is here on a mission of universal peace (like we need it!) and our heroes share positive adventures of love, acceptance and care for planet Earth. A splendid time is guaranteed for all! This energized pop-rock music has some very fun arrangements and instrumentation. It is well produced. The vocals are well-performed and the musicianship is terrific. There are lots of positive messages about love, acceptance, friendship and caring - all very relate-able child oriented issues. The structure follows a theme about our heroes befriending an alien traveler and they share positive goals for the planet. On the plus side, the alien doesn't eat them! This CD is perfect for its intended audience and is created in a gentle loving way. There are safety tips, caring for the planet advice and words of wisdom about befriending people from foreign lands. It all proves that learning and fun can be one. The artists know their audience and intended age group well. I love the way it celebrates our individuality as people and cultures, our deep love and caring for the Earth and the joy and appreciation of our friends near and galactically far away. This CD, in association with their stage show presents a nice package that will get kids get excited about outer space, Earth stewardship and respect for other cultures. I highly recommend it and give it 4 out of 5 stars. My audience recommendation is ages 5 to 10, as well as parents. Reviewed by John Wood, KIDS FIRST! Adult juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This CD has lots of wonderful, catchy songs - all upbeat and inspirational. They tell the story of an alien crashing down in a little girl's backyard. They sing about friendship and having fun in life, brushing your teeth at night, saying no to drugs and not talking to strangers. I love how they make catchy songs about these good habits. The song helps you remember these habits.

The only concern I have about this CD is that some of the songs contain words in them that young listeners might not understand. Even though younger children might sing the words, it is always good to include words that young kids understand. Another issue I have is that some of the songs are sun really fast, making it hard to hear the words they are singing.

The CD is definitely informational and catchy and something that kids will definitely learn something from. I recommend it for ages 3 to 7 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. This CD comes out on March 23, 2018 so be sure to check it out!

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This CD tells a story through song and a blend of a variety of music types. Although it teaches positive lessons, this CD is a promising concept met by a somewhat disappointing result.

The storyline is about a young girl named Emilia whose backyard is the landing site for an alien ship from the planet Goopda. The spaceship is carrying an alien named URR. Emilia and URR learn about each others' lives and find they have more in common than they thought.

The CD struggles at keeping an overarching idea to justify an entire CD. It starts off with the thread about Emilia and her otherworldly visitors and then descends into a group of songs about world peace and bubble baths. It doesn't reclaim its original thread until much later and abruptly ends just when it starts to get interesting.

I recommend it for ages 3 to 7 and give it 2 out of 5 stars. Younger kids will enjoy the happy vibe and simple rhymes.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Reviewer, age 12
Runtime: 31 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 4-8
Suggested Retail Price: $ 10.99
Media: AUDIO


PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - Jake Pentecost is a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity's victory against the monstrous Kaiju. Jake has since abandoned his training only to become caught up in a criminal underworld. But when an even more unstoppable threat is unleashed to tear through cities and bring the world to its knees, Jake is given one last chance by his estranged sister, Mako Mori, to live up to his father's legacy.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This action-packed film is pretty decent. I like that the plot continues from the last movie. The characters are as interesting as their story. The one problem is the sequencing. Some scenes are pointless and are ordered in such a way that they don't make sense. However, if you like fighting robots, you'll love it.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is the sequel to Pacific Rim. It takes place ten years after the war, which took place in the first film, was won. Jake Pentecost (John Boyegas), a carefree, retired pilot, is living life in a messed-up world. Through unwanted circumstances, he meets a 15-year old hacker named Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). With common personalities and different pasts, they create a bond that no one can break. With this new bond, old friends of Jake's and new friends of Amara's collaborate to fight the Kaiju for what is left of humanity.

This film is directed and written by Steven S. DeKnight, known for producing the Netflix series Daredevil. DeKnight pulls the story together without losing your attention on the main crisis with the Kaiju. My hats off to the special effects team. The robot close-ups are so realistic, it seems like you can reach out and touch them. The robot fights are also extremely real. The intense music by Lorne Balfe makes the movie extremely engaging. It is also surprisingly comical. Jake Pentecost's sarcastic tone makes you question whether the group is really living in a life or death situation or not.

My favorite character is Amara. She has a spark from beginning to end in the movie. Her ability to create her very own robot or Jaeger is amazing. Her curiosity and her attitude about doing the right thing is pleasant to see in an action movie. Seeing the connection between Jake and Amara develop throughout the film is a favorite part. The message of this film is that "despite who your family is, who you think you are or what you've done in the past, you can still be a hero."

I rate this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. It opens nationwide in theaters Friday, March 23, 2018 so look for it.

Reviewed by Kamryn B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


GARFIELD: NINE LIVES
PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 5-18
Topic - Family
Description - Kids and parents can join Garfield, Jon, and Odie for two hilarious adventures in this new DVD. The two episodes on this DVD include: His Nine Lives - Do cats really have nine lives? Garfield explores his nine lives, from Cave Cat all the way through Space Cat. At the end of his nine tales, Garfield points out to his creator that the circumstances of his last life were stacked unfairly against him and Odie. His creator agrees and gives Garfield back not just one life, but nine more! Garfield in the Rough - Jon announces that he, Garfield and Odie are going on vacation! Garfield gets excited, but that enthusiasm quickly wanes when he discovers Jon planned a camping trip - what a choice! Life in the wild gets dangerous when an escaped panther enters their campground. Will the rangers be able to capture the panther before it finds the trio?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This DVD has two episodes about cats and their nine lives. The first episode is interesting but confusing. I like seeing Garfield, Jon and Odie, but got confused and lost interest towards the middle when it shows other cat short stories and their lives. It loses some of its appeal when other cats are featured instead of Garfield. As a big Garfield fan, I expected more of Garfield. Also, it is unclear whether Garfield is one of the other cats in some of those lives. It that sounds unclear, it's because I was confused. It ends well and has a happy ending, which I like. The second episode is much better, from beginning to end. It flows well and has no confusing issues. It reminds me why I love Garfield so much. This is more of what I expected. I rate this DVD 4 of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 through 18. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 48 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $ 6.99
Media: DVD
      Buy Here (Amazon.com)


BACKYARD WILDERNESS

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
BACKYARD WILDERNESS       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
IMAX FILMS
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8 TO 18
Topic - Family
Description - Backyard Wilderness will surprise and entertain viewers with the unexpected wonders of nature that are right under our noses - in our own backyards. Spanning a seasonal year around a suburban home, the film displays a stunning array of unique wildlife images and behavior - all captured by cameras mounted inside dens and nests, and moving along the forest floor and pond bottom, to reveal its inhabitants in rare and breathtaking intimacy. We follow Katie, a young girl, and her modern family living next to the woods who are blind to the real-life spectacle around them, absorbed by an array of electronic devices in their busy lives. Katie gradually discovers the intricate secrets that nature has hidden so close to her front door and we experience the joy she finds in her interactions with this new world. The film reminds us that Wi-Fi is not the only connection that matters and that sometimes in ordinary places, you can uncover extraordinary things that can transform you forever - you just need to step outside.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Backyard Wilderness is a spellbinding documentary capturing magical moments in nature that we rarely get to see on camera or in our day-to-day lives and puts them on a large and intense scale.

This 3D IMAX film follows Katie, a young girl who lives in a house surrounded by a bustling woodland of animals and plants. Katie and her family are oblivious to the fascinating occurrences in the world around them because they are consumed by the technology at their fingertips. At school, she is assigned a report on animals. She chooses the spotted salamander whose whole life cycle happens right outside her house and her adventure begins.

The cinematography in Backyard Wilderness brilliantly highlights the beauty and vastness of the forests which are the main setting and leaves you wondering how they were able to get such unique moments on film. The film brings exciting moments to the screen such as when a pack of coyotes chase some deer or when you witness the dangerous journey of spotted salamanders to their breeding ground.

My favorite scene is when a group of newly hatched baby wood ducklings exit their nest for the first time and try to fly. You will laugh and cheer at the same time and the filmmakers use a perfect song to score this fun and adorable scene.

The lesson of the film is that there is an active and energetic world around us that is always worth exploring. As a society, we have become so concerned with social media that we forget to notice what is happening right in our backyards. Katie's life changes when she lets go of her electronics and begins to explore the landscape beside her home.

I recommend this film for ages 5 to 12. You will learn a lot from this film about how certain species interact with one another and thrive. It is very educational and has a valuable message. Adults and older kids will still enjoy the breathtaking visuals. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. If you like nature documentaries and the larger-than-life world of IMAX with some cool 3D effects, I highly recommend it. Backyard Wilderness is playing around the country in select IMAX theaters now.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-15
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


ISLE OF DOGS

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
ISLE OF DOGS       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs is a movie to be reckoned with. This incredibly unique piece of stop motion animation is totally different from the norm of today's films. Written and directed by Wes Anderson, it stars the voices of Bryan Cranston as Chief, Edward Norton as Rex, Bill Murray as Boss, Liev Schreiber as Spots, Bob Balaban as King, Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg and Jeff Goldblum as Duke. It also stars Koyu Rankin as the young boy, Atari. It is the second animated film from Wes Anderson, after the wonderful Fantastic Mr. Fox.

In future Japan, where dogs are viewed as savage and disease ridden creatures, a young boy, Atari, searches for his dog, Spots. This dystopian world, created by his guardian, Mayor Kobayashi, disparages dogs but worships cats. Atari defies his guardian and along the way befriends some loyal, passionate pooches who help him on his fateful journey of finding his lost dog.

One thing I particularly adore about Wes Anderson's filmmaking is his irreverent humour and creativity. It's almost as if Anderson has a patent on an new genre of filmmaking, that's entirely his own. During the making of this film, Anderson was influenced by his love for Japanese cinema and two of the most monumental Japanese directors - Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki. In an interview about his many influences for the film, he states "with Miyazaki you get nature and you get moments of peace, a kind of rhythm that is not in the American animation tradition...". Later on, Anderson explains that during the scoring of the film he and his composer, Alexandre Desplat, had to rethink their approach to the soundtrack because the movie longed to be quiet. He later specifies that this aspect of the film also comes from Miyazaki.

The stop motion animation style pairs perfectly with the pure grittiness of its creativity. In most animated films you don't hear the roughness or coarseness of the actors' voices, but in Anderson's film you do and it is the most lifelike. Also, despite the humor, Anderson doesn't sugar coat the seriousness of the story. His films are always truthful and cut to the heart of the matter.

I recommend Isle of Dogs for ages 12 to 18, due to its violence and sophisticated humour. Younger kids might not understand the ironic tone. I give it 5 out of 5 stars for bringing an incredibly unique vision to the mostly mundane animation of today.

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Isle of Dogs is a genius concept that only Wes Anderson could conjure up and makes for an enjoyable animated film with a quirky aesthetic.

Isle of Dogs takes place 20 years from now in a futuristic Japan. A disease spreading among dogs ravages Megasaki City and the mayor issues a decree that banishes all dogs to a vast, sickening wasteland called Trash Island. The film focuses the story on a pack of dogs who spend their days roaming, trying to stay alive among fierce competition. A young boy named Atari crashes onto the island one day in search of his dog and the pack decides to help him.

Wes Anderson's direction is excellent. He thrives in stop-motion animation because he can meticulously craft each shot. His sometimes bizarre, yet charming style remains resonant, despite it being a change of pace from the stories he usually tells. Isle of Dogs is an homage to Japanese filmmaking, especially the films of Akira Kurosawa, and relies on Japanese language and culture to tell its story.

The film's voice cast includes a range of famous actors, including longtime Wes Anderson partners Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton, as a pug oracle, as well as Yoko Ono as Assistant Scientist Yoko-ono and Jeff Goldblum as Duke, one of the dogs in the film's showcase pack.

My favorite character is Chief (Bryan Cranston). He is a stray dog who goes through a moving transformation as he starts off dreading the idea of having a master. But through his adventure with Atari, Chief starts to learn what it is to care about people and open himself up to them. Cranston gives Chief a weariness that lets you know his character has been through a lot.

I recommend this film for ages 11 to 18, due to some violence involving dogs, some suggestive content and minor offensive language. Note that, despite animation and dogs as main characters, this is not a kids' film. It's really geared pre-teens to adults.

I give Isle of Dogs 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend this film for Wes Anderson fans and those who like a good adventure featuring man's best friend. Although this film misses the chance to develop really interesting ideas and characters, it is still fun and hilarious in all the right ways. Isle of Dogs opens in theaters March 23, 2018 so check it out.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Isle of Dogs is an essential Wes Anderson movie. The fluid voice acting and stop motion encompass a twee yet poignant story. This is sure to be a must watch for any dog lovers out there.

The story follows a future dystopian Japan where dogs are outlawed due to a disease outbreak. A young boy Atari (Koyu Rankin) crash lands to Trash Island in search of his dog. This initiates dogs Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray), and Duke (Jeff Goldblum) to help Atari on his quest. As a result, Mayor Kobiyashi (Kunichi Nomura) places a hunt to find Atari and suppress the dogs helping him. Meanwhile in Japan, a bevy of riots begin to circulate as people claim on the unfairness on the bans that Mayor Kobiyashi has placed as a possible cure is in the works for dogs.

Koyu Rankin, as Atari, debuts with an incredible performance, despite most of his dialogue not being translated. He effectively characterizes his love for his dog through tone and actions. Bryan Cranston, as Chief, excellently portrays his character development from a violent outcast to careful protector of Atari. Edward Norton, as Rex, is my favorite character due to the way he portrays his character's pragmatic approaches and smart wit. Bob Balaban, as King, effectively presents a wise yet outspoken companion. Bill Murray, as Boss, depicts a clever member of the pack. Jeff Goldblum, as Duke, characterizes his dog through the use of his hilarious gossip talks. Kunichi Nomura, as Mayor Kobiyashi, evokes a malicious yet sympathetic character.

Wes Anderson directs the movie full of his unconventional yet astonishing quality which only he himself can deliver. My favorite scene is a scene where Atari and Chief bond at a park of sorts. It is a touching scene which really forwards the care and friendship from a man's best friend. My only nitpick for the movie is that there could have been more characterization for the backstories of Rex, King, Boss, and Duke.

The message of the movie is to always be hopeful in the care of young kids. Despite all the odds the pack is faced with, they always provide hope for Atari to reunite with his dog. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 because of its infrequent bloody images and mature themes. The movie releases in theaters on April 13th, so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


TOMB RAIDER (2018)

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TOMB RAIDER (2018)       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - Lara Croft is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished years earlier. Hoping to solve the mystery of her father's disappearance, Croft embarks on a perilous journey to his last-known destination -- a fabled tomb on a mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan. The stakes couldn't be higher as Lara must rely on her sharp mind, blind faith and stubborn spirit to venture into the unknown.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Tomb Raider is one of the more enjoyable video game adaptations. The acting and the direction provide the same sense of adventure and excitement as the video game. This is sure to be a must-see watch for fans of Lara Croft or anything adventure related.

The story follows Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander), an intelligent yet reckless thrill-seeker, who embarks on an adventure unlike any other, when she finds evidence of her father's disappearance. Seeking to solve the mystery of Richard Croft (Dominic West), Lara enlists the help of Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), a ship captain. However, their adventure lands up in the worst when their ship crashes to Yamatai. Lara soon finds herself in the hands of Matthias Vogel (Walton Goggins), a rival archeologist who will do anything to unlock the tomb within Yamatai. Realizing the tomb will unleash global genocide, Lara must find a way to stop Vogel while discovering secrets about her father.

Alicia Vikander, as Lara Croft, is my favorite character and splendidly presents the character of Lara Croft and her struggle/rise to become the well-known "Tomb Raider." Her acerbic wit and vulnerability add a relatable extension to the character. Dominic West, as Richard Croft, excellently delivers his love for Lara and adventure. His mystery adds to plot, which leaves you wanting to know more about it at every turn. Daniel Wu, as Lu Ren, is a capable and funny companion to Lara and he shows a caring need to help the poor. Walton Goggins, as Matthias Vogel, portrays a threatening, yet over the top performance as the main villain, and it works for the most part. His involvement in the Croft conspiracy is interesting as well.

Roar Uthaug incredibly directs the movie with a knowledge of the video games, resulting in a brisk pace from one scene to the next. My favorite scene is when Lara has to find a way out of a plane which is slowly falling off of a river bank. It is extremely intense and it reminded of me of fun, innovative levels from the Uncharted and Tomb Raider games. My problem with the movie is, despite a superb first half, the second half falls from an overreliance on CGI and over-the-top scenarios, often leading to unintentional comedy. It feels jarring when compared to such a first half.

The message of the movie is to always be hopeful, as this allows Lara to keep fighting, even in the toughest of times. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of its intense action. The movie releases in theaters on March 16, 2018 so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This action movie had me at the edge of my seat the whole time. I loved it! I like that it is filled with lots of suspense and tense moments that make you feel as if you are inside the scenes. I love when a movie draws me in like that, because there are unexpected surprises. What also attracted me is the actors' work and the impressive way they portray the characters that make you feel as if you are with them and feeling what they are going through. The storyline and the actors combined make you forget what is going on around you and focus on the interesting film that is unfolding right in front of you.

The storyline is about Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander), the independent daughter of an adventurer who mysteriously disappears for years. Croft embarks on a journey to find her missing father, in hopes to solve the mystery of his disappearance. She goes off to a weird destination she reads about in one of her father's journals and leaves without hesitation. Even though the destination is a tomb on a mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan, she leaves with the drive to find out what happened to him. Lara must trust herself, mind, and spirit, to make it out alive of this adventure.

My favorite scene is when Lara is stuck on the airplane and about to fall into a waterfall. This scene marks the moment when I most felt as if I was living this tough moment with her and the one that completely drew me. It is a complex scene where she finds herself at the top of a waterfall almost falling and then, finds an old helicopter that she can hold unto. She gets on top of the helicopter, but later realizes that the old helicopter is breaking down and she has to get out of there as soon as possible. Watching her go through all that without falling made me feel super anxious and nervous, as if I was in the scene with her.

The important messages of this film are to never give up and to always fight for what you believe is the right thing to do. In the movie, Lara always has this drive to accomplish any goals she sets herself to complete. I think that is the secret for all challenges in general and all the objectives Lara reaches in the film. You need to believe in your abilities to achieve the goals you want and need to have the motivation that helps get you there. I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for people from 13 years old to 18, as well as adults. It opens in theaters March 16, 2018 so look for it.

By Alejandra G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Tomb Raider is one of the more enjoyable video game adaptations. The acting and the direction provide the same sense of adventure and excitement as the video game. This is sure to be a must-see watch for fans of Lara Croft or anything adventure related.

The story follows Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander), an intelligent yet reckless thrill-seeker, who embarks on an adventure unlike any other, when she finds evidence of her father's disappearance. Seeking to solve the mystery of Richard Croft (Dominic West), Lara enlists the help of Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), a ship captain. However, their adventure lands up in the worst when their ship crashes to Yamatai. Lara soon finds herself in the hands of Matthias Vogel (Walton Goggins), a rival archeologist who will do anything to unlock the tomb within Yamatai. Realizing the tomb will unleash global genocide, Lara must find a way to stop Vogel while discovering secrets about her father.

Alicia Vikander, as Lara Croft, is my favorite character and splendidly presents the character of Lara Croft and her struggle/rise to become the well-known "Tomb Raider." Her acerbic wit and vulnerability add a relatable extension to the character. Dominic West, as Richard Croft, excellently delivers his love for Lara and adventure. His mystery adds to plot, which leaves you wanting to know more about it at every turn. Daniel Wu, as Lu Ren, is a capable and funny companion to Lara and he shows a caring need to help the poor. Walton Goggins, as Matthias Vogel, portrays a threatening, yet over the top performance as the main villain, and it works for the most part. His involvement in the Croft conspiracy is interesting as well.

Roar Uthaug incredibly directs the movie with a knowledge of the video games, resulting in a brisk pace from one scene to the next. My favorite scene is when Lara has to find a way out of a plane which is slowly falling off of a river bank. It is extremely intense and it reminded of me of fun, innovative levels from the Uncharted and Tomb Raider games. My problem with the movie is, despite a superb first half, the second half falls from an overreliance on CGI and over-the-top scenarios, often leading to unintentional comedy. It feels jarring when compared to such a first half.

The message of the movie is to always be hopeful, as this allows Lara to keep fighting, even in the toughest of times. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of its intense action. The movie releases in theaters on March 16, 2018 so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


WRINKLE IN TIME (2018)

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
WRINKLE IN TIME (2018)       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 6-18
Topic - Family
Description - Meg Murry and her little brother, Charles Wallace, have been without their scientist father, Mr. Murry, for five years, ever since he discovered a new planet and used the concept known as a tesseract to travel there. Joined by Meg's classmate Calvin O'Keefe and guided by the three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, the children brave a dangerous journey to a planet that possesses all of the evil in the universe.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I enjoyed this, but had some disappointment as well. I wanted to like it more. Maybe it was all the hype. It seems a bit like a comic version of the story, especially the primordial celestial beings (Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who). Maybe it was the sequined eyebrows on Oprah. At any rate, it didn't quite hit it out of the park. Don't get me wrong, I would take my grandson to see it. I am not sure if I would take another adult. Great special effects! Reviewed by Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A Wrinkle in Time is an enjoyable, yet somewhat flawed interpretation of the classic novel of the same name. The direction and special effects provide a world unlike any other. This is sure to be a watch for sci-fi fans.

The story follows Meg Murry (Storm Reid), a genial teen who is the daughter of famed scientist Alex Murry (Chris Pine). After her father disappears, she goes through a period of insecurity and despair. Four years later, a group of primordial celestial beings - Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) visit Earth to help Meg find her father. Meg's brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and friend Calvin (Levi Miller) also join the quest to find Alex. However, Meg is also brought in to help fight the "It", an entity of darkness that threatens to destroy people's happiness.

Storm Reid, as Meg, excellently presents her inner struggle to be happy and accept herself and this adds a unique element to the story. As the movie progresses, she slowly rises beyond her doubts to become better. Chris Pine, as Alex, delivers an ardent love for science in his character and, while much of his character is witnessed before he disappears, the rest of his scenes add a performance filled with remorse. Deric McCabe, as Charles Wallace, is my favorite character due to his charismatic performance - full of comic relief. Levi Miller, as Calvin, encompasses a respectful companion who seems to be rather enamored by Meg. Oprah Winfrey, as Mrs. Which, is a wise mentor for Meg who guides her throughout her journey. Reese Witherspoon, as Mrs. Whatsit, is the least wise of the three celestial beings, but she provides a kind companion. Mindy Kaling, as Mrs. Who, represents an encyclopedia of character teeming with knowledge.

Ava DuVernay incredibly directs the movie, as you feel as if you are a part of the world through her use of word building to convey a story. My favorite scene is the resolution to the main conflict, as it feels like an appropriate conclusion. My problem with the movie is that is unevenly paced, with the first half of the movie following generic clich�s, despite a great first 10 minutes. But the movie gets running as soon as the second half begins, going into uncharted territory unlike any other movie. I also feel that the scenes for Alex and some other plot points are limited, resulting in a few disjointed, convoluted narrative at times and that could throw off some audience members.

The message of the movie is about believing in yourself and accepting who you are. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. The movie releases in theaters on March 9, 2018, so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

I liked, but did not love this latest Disney film and here's why. This film is an adaptation of the book, "A Wrinkle in Time" written by Madeleine L'Engle. It is visually stunning, but unfortunately falls short in the storytelling. The protagonists are Meg Murry (Storm Reid) and her little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe). Their scientist father, Mr. Murry has been missing for four years. Meg has had a rough time at school ever since her father's disappearance. Her younger brother, Charles Wallace introduces Meg to three mysterious astral travelers. Meg is very skeptical of them at first, until she and Charles Wallace are informed by them that their father is not dead, but was taken by a dark force. Meg, Charles Wallace and her classmate Calvin (Levi Miller) go on an adventure with the three astral travelers, called the Misses. Will Meg and Charles Wallace find their dad? Well you must see the movie to find out the answer.

I like the visuals, the cast and the message of this film. The visuals are very stunning. The scene where Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) becomes a leaf and gives the kids a ride looks very spectacular. It almost looks like this could be possible in real life. I also like the transitions of the worlds changing as a result of the characters' actions. The visual effects bring this world to life. Another thing I like is the cast. Oprah's, Reese Witherspoon's and Mindy Kaling's performances as the Misses are exceptional. They show different personalities which make them unique. Mrs. Whatsit is more negative, unlike Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), who is wise and uses quotes from famous people to relay her messages. Mrs. Whatsit is more direct and rude, unlike Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) who guides Meg when she is scared or unsure. Lastly, the messages in this movie are very important. They are about embracing your uniqueness, recognizing the importance of love and being brave enough to discover your inner warrior.

One thing I do not like is the pace. In the first act, the pace is slow and that is fine, since it builds up the exposition. However, the final act of the movie feels very rushed and is unsatisfying. I feel the script has some holes in it which made me feel like the movie is missing some important details. This is why I did not really love the film.

Even though this film is not "Pixar great" it still is a good movie to watch with your family. I give it 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to kids ages 7 to 15. Adults might like it as well. I recommend this to people who have read the book or like book adaptations and fantasy movies. A Wrinkle In Time comes out March 9, 2018 in theaters nationwide.

Reviewed by Ryan R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 6-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


DINO DANA- MEGA TOOTH

This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
DINO DANA- MEGA TOOTH
RIKKI COHEN
Series: INDIE SHORT, AGES 4-12
Topic - Family
Description - Introducing Dana, a feisty 10-year-old 'paleontologist in training' who (like Dan and Trek before her) who eats, sleeps and breathes dinos. So much so that her Dad made her a special backpack that she can transform into any dinosaur she wants. Dana's 12-year old sister Saara is up for playing dinosaurs. Fortunately for Dana, after a chance encounter with Trek, Dana can now see dinosaurs too! What's more, when Dana transforms her backpack, the dinosaurs think she's one of them. With ten new dinosaurs, including two prehistoric mammals, Dino Dana continues the tradition of imagining the awesomeness of the past into an adventure in the present.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I highly recommend this short. This exciting animated film held my attention the entire time. It is fun to explore the ocean with the two girls, trying to find the mysterious megalodon shark. It reminds me of the Star Trek TV show, with the space explorer costumes and the navigation equipment on the submarine. There is a sense of fear from knowing that this shark could chew through the submarine. The program shows a lot of imagination and has excellent educational value. It would help kids appreciate things such as the size and strength of dinosaurs. It also shows kids that their nearby aquarium is a great place to see marine life in live action. The storyline is fun, especially the chase scenes between the shark and the submarine. The most appealing thing about this show is the hint of a dangerous character. I believe children will enjoy this show due to its sense of adventure and discovery, with some science and history thrown in. The show flows well, makes sense and is very watchable. It has good scientific accuracy as far as the details of the sharks and the operation of the submarine. My favorite part is listening to the girls talk about whether the sharks' bite force is strong enough to penetrate the metal walls of the submarine. This gives the movie a scary element, enhanced with the music which reminded me of the movie Jaws. The message is about having respect and appreciation for mother nature's living creatures. It also demonstrates the importance of communicating clearly with your friends in life situations in order to accomplish a task. The girls tease each other in a good-natured way, without insulting one another. I rate this show 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12. It would be particularly suited to a festival or special event that focuses on marine science, anthropology or history. Reviewed by Jeff M. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Adult jurors.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 11 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 4-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: VIDEO


AMERICAN MASTERS: TYRUS
PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - People worldwide have seen the Disney animated classic Bambi and have been deeply moved by it, but few can tell you the name of the artist behind the film. Even fewer are aware of this pioneering artist's impact on American art and popular culture. Until his death at the age of 106, Tyrus Wong (1910-2016) was America's oldest living Chinese American artist and one of the last remaining artists from the golden age of Disney animation. The quiet beauty of his Eastern-influenced paintings caught the eye of Walt Disney, who made Wong the inspirational sketch artist for Bambi. Filmmaker Pamela Tom (A Tribute to Sir Sidney Poitier, Two Lies) corrects a historical wrong by spotlighting this seminal, but heretofore under-credited, figure. Born in Canton (now Guangzhou), China, right before the fall of the Chinese Empire, Wong and his father immigrated to America in 1919, never to see their family again. The film shows how he overcame a life of poverty and racism to become a celebrated painter who once exhibited with Picasso and Matisse, a Hollywood sketch artist, and 'Disney Legend.' Previously unseen art and interviews with Wong, movie clips and archival footage illustrate how his unique style - melding Chinese calligraphic and landscape influences with contemporary Western art - is found in everything from Disney animation (Bambi) and live-action Hollywood studio films (Rebel Without a Cause, The Wild Bunch, Sands of Iwo Jima, April in Paris) to Hallmark Christmas cards, kites and hand-painted California dinnerware to fine art and Depression-era WPA paintings. The film also features new interviews with his daughters and fellow artists/designers, including his Disney co-worker and friend Milton Quon, Andreas Deja (The Little Mermaid), Eric Goldberg (Aladdin) and Paul Felix (Lilo & Stitch), and curators and historians of Wong's work.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This American Masters program shines a much-deserved light on the life of Tyrus Wong, a Chinese American artist who emigrated to the U.S. at nine-years-old and struggled through poverty and prejudice to become an artist for Disney Pictures and Warner Brothers. Wong's masterful drawings and paintings combined classic Chinese styles with Western themes that was first recognized at Disney, with Wong's work directly inspiring the impressionistic style of the classic Bambi. Regrettably, due to prejudice, Wong was only credited as a background artist in the final film. But he was celebrated in his later years for his artwork, which included holiday cards and painted ceramic dinnerware. The program's 80 minutes fly by in a smoothly-edited collage of archival footage, movie clips, copious examples of Wong's art and interviews with Wong, his daughters as well as art and film historians. Fans of Bambi will likely wish there was a greater emphasis on the film and Wong's contributions, but overall this is a vivid and engaging portrait of a relatively unknown, yet influential artist who passed away in 2016 at age 106. Recommended for ages 12 to 18 and older. 4.5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Michael F., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 24.99
Media: CDROM


NATURE: THE CHEETAH CHILDREN
PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 5-18
Topic - Family
Description - Life on the African plains is a constant struggle, and for a single mother rearing her offspring, the odds seem to be stacked against them. This is an inspiring tale about motherhood and family, as we follow a cheetah family on the grasslands through the eyes of conservationist and cameraman Kim Wolhuter. The Malilangwe Game Reserve in Zimbabwe, where the film takes place, is a dangerous place for cheetah cubs, as the 200-square-mile area is filled with other predators. Cheetah mothers do not have partners or sisters to assist in feeding and protecting their cubs, and this mother cheetah is completely on her own, protecting her five newborn cubs and teaching them how to hunt some of the continent's fastest game. She has just over a year to teach their young to survive in the wilderness without her.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I love this movie! I have always been interested in wild animals and nature, especially big cats. This movie follows a mother cheetah and her five children and shows how the mom must protect her young ones and also teach them, within about a year and a half, to hunt and to survive on their own. The photographer had the amazing opportunity to gain the mother's trust enough to follow her and her little ones. There are sad moments because not all five baby cheetahs survive. It's a tough thing for the little ones to survive in a world with so many bigger predators. I was amazed at how mom has to hide her cubs to keep them safe. I learned amazing facts such as a cheetah can run up to 60 miles an hour. The movie made me sad, but it also made me happy to see that there are more than one of the baby cheetahs that survives. The photographer's work is quite extraordinary. I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 through 18, as well as adults. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 60 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 24.99
Media: DVD


GO HAPPY FEET!

This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
GO HAPPY FEET!
FAIRLEA POLMEAR
Series: INDIE SHORT, AGES 3-8
Topic - Family
Description - On the sunny coast of Western Australia five best friends and their puppet buddies live a life full of music, fun and dancing! They love to learn about healthy habits but recently things have started to go missing in Happy Feet Bay! The team must work together to solve the mystery.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I strongly encourage this piece to be included in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festivals. I think children will really enjoy this show because it includes audience participation and the actors' energy is contagious. The songs are tons of fun and educational as well. They include significant and relevant environmental lessons about recycling, reusing and even composting. This short incorporates lots of fun exercise activities, including yoga poses. It encourages the audience to follow along and get active. While some younger kids might not understand all of the concepts presented, it start informing them about issues that not only effect them now, but even more so in the future. It flows incredibly well and kept my attention the entire time. You should know that is in formatted as a fifteen-minute television episodic. The sound quality is excellent, especially when the characters are singing. The visual quality is superb and completely clear. The colors of the set are beautiful and really captivating. The sets are stunning and adorable. They use a lot of paper mache, which is excellently constructed. The costumes are eclectic and bright. I especially love how one of the characters (Krysia) makes her outfit out of items she finds. I really love the creative and charming puppets. I recommend this for ages 3 to 8 and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. This show comes from Australia and we are happy to present it in our foreign short category. Reviewed by Chandler D. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Jurors.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 15 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 3-8
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: VIDEO


DOGGONE ADVENTURE, A

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
DOGGONE ADVENTURE, A       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
VISION FILMS
Series: DVD, AGES 5-12
Topic - Family
Description - "Just Jesse the Jack" enlists a group of junior detectives and their dad, host of a popular TV show, to help him unravel the mystery behind his telepathic talents. But things get even more mysterious when they find themselves entangled in a world of UFOs and secret agents.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This adorable film had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I could not take my eyes off of the screen, because the movie is about dogs. I watched it with my Golden Retriever, who perked his head up whenever the dog barked. Dogs are my favorite animal and, even if you don't like dogs, I guarantee you will fall in love with them after watching this film.

Murphy, a small telepathic canine, becomes separated from his owner one night and encounters a group of young kids who spend their days solving mysteries to upload to their YouTube channel. Because Murphy possesses divine telepathic talents, a manufacturing worker comes along and captures Murphy to understand the complexities behind his dynamic, human-like brain. The kids must find a way to get Murphy back and undertake a precarious mission, filled with a multitude of secret agents and UFO's.

Jesse the Jack Russell Terrier, who plays Murphy, portrays him in an exceptional manner, because Murphy perseveres to the fullest extent and never gives up. A Jack Russell Terrier is a perfect dog to play the lead role. Even a small dog can achieve greatness, which demonstrates that, no matter what you set your mind to, you can achieve anything. Jenny Chaplin (Sydney Thackray) is the only girl out of the three friends, but she is hands down the strongest of them all. When the kids arrive at a 100-year-old haunted mansion, she insists on staying to find out more about the alleged ghosts that inhabit the house. I admire her strength and determination to resolve a formidable mystery.

The haunted mansion is quite astonishing. Although it is old with its broken door, windows, cracks and a plethora of mold, I am blown away by how intimidating it looks. The most menacing part is that there is a piano that plays by itself. Chills rolled down my spine when I saw this. I have never seen a scene like this before.

My favorite part is when Murphy runs away and watches TV through a window. In this scene, he begins to discover the mystery he will uncover. It is hilarious because he sits there and pants, as if he is out of breath. I love when dogs pant, because they are so calm and adorable. Murphy will definitely steal your heart with his charming smile.

The message of this film is that if you work together, nothing is impossible. Life is full of obstacles and unexpected events, but with collaboration and hard work, such obstacles are elementary. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 5 to 12, and adults will certainly love it too. It's a spectacular, convivial film to watch with your family and friends, because it will warm your heart. This film is available on DVD and Digital. You'll never guess how Murphy gets rescued.

Reviewed by Samantha M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - What can I say? I am a proud dog lover! This live action-packed, lovable and adventurous film is by Tony Randel. It reminds me of my dog BoBo! Just like BoBo, Murphy is a very energetic and brave dog. The only difference is that BoBo can't speak, like Murphy. I mean, that would be demented! Get ready to head down a road filled with a usual risky undertaking.

This story follows a group of kids who love investigating unsolved mysteries. After being separated from his owner, a telepathic canine comes across these kids. The dog is taken by a determined operative who wants his brains, because he has a mind of a human. So, the kids embark on a dangerous mission to get him back. Things get more puzzling when they find themselves twisted in a world of UFOs and secret agents. They go through a scary mansion that has been abandoned for nearly 90 years.

The lead characters are Murphy the dog (Jesse the Jack Russell Terrier), Ricky Hill (Jayden Hedden), Ricky's brother David Hill (Walker Mintz), Jenny Chaplin (Sydney Thackray), Jeremy Tinsdale (Jonathon Tysor), Shelton "the brain" (Dilantin Patton), Jack Bowser (Paul Logan) and Steven Hill (Kurt Yaeger).

The location is outstanding. The old abandoned mansion looks so horrifying with its cracks, broken windows and door, holes in the walls, tilting door step and a broken roof. The inside is old, moldy and creepy. The piano plays by itself. The oven opens and closes by itself. Clothes are falling. Tables move as if there is an earthquake. And ghoulish people live inside.

The location for the CIA is mysterious as well. The door is protected by unearthly people and there are many dark rooms inside the building. Inside the building is a much more open space with secret doors and weird paths to get to the different rooms.

My favorite character is utterly Murphy! Murphy is completely headstrong from the beginning of the movie through to the end. Murphy makes the movie exiting, intriguing and entertaining. When I discovered Murphy could talk I thought, am I delusional!

My favorite part is unquestionably when they rescue Murphy. In that part we see how they come together to save Murphy. It really takes true team work! You have to wait and see how Murphy is rescued. It will certainly take you on an adventure.

The movie's positive message shows how teamwork is a collaborative effort that achieves a common goal. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12 as well as adults. This film is available now on DVD and on Digital so, make sure to go check it out.

Reviewed by Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Runtime: 90 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: DVD


AMERICA'S MUSICAL JOURNEY

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
AMERICA'S MUSICAL JOURNEY       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
MACGILLIVRAY FREEMAN FILMS
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8 TO 18
Topic - Family
Description - In America's musical cities, musical stories come together to create a soundtrack that showcases the nation's diversity and its collision of cultures, culminating in a unique blend of sound, music and innovation unlike anywhere else in the world.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - America's Musical Journey is a visually breathtaking, insightful documentary about the power of music and its importance in U.S. history, especially in some of its best-known cities.

America's Musical Journey follows singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc's journey across the U.S.A. as he visits towns and cities important in music's history. We visit places such as Nashville, Memphis, Miami, Chicago and see flash mobs, acrobats, dancing waiters and meet talented musicians along the way. Morgan Freeman narrates the journey and his deep and iconic voice is a perfect fit to accompany this colorful film.

I appreciate that this film shows its audience the music of different time periods. This shows younger audiences how much music has changed in only a couple of decades and should remind older audiences of the powerful legacies of artists like Elvis Presley and Louis Armstrong. This film helps keep those artists' spirits alive so that their mark on the music industry never disappears.

My one complaint about this film is that it is too short for all it tries to accomplish. America's Musical Journey introduces a person or location and then immediately moves on, leaving some parts of the film more interconnected than others. In this way, the film can be like one of the jazz pieces described in the film: sometimes all over the place, but always with lots of thought and creativity put into it.

I enjoyed seeing all the various locations larger than life on-screen. I like learning about towns I didn't know about and, even more, about ones I thought I did and how important their imprint on music is. I was especially happy to see my own hometown of Washington D.C. featured in the film in a particularly flashy fashion.

The lesson of this film is that music is an important part of our past and present and, who we are as a country. Music can transport us to different worlds, tell stories and portray realities. Music does this in a way that is different from any other art form and holds a critical role in our culture for a long time.

I recommend this film for ages 3 to 18. It is educational and everyone will get something out of it in one way or another. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., SEASON 4
PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - Today's leading artists, politicians, activists, performers and journalists will discover surprising ancestral stories while learning their family history in the fourth season of the critically acclaimed series. Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, continues exploring the mysteries, surprises and revelations hidden in the family trees of 28 of today's most intriguing cultural trailblazers.<

In "FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., SEASON 4", comedian Larry David and politician Bernie Sanders discover they have more in common than they thought, tracing their roots back to Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. Comedic performers Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari and Maya Rudolph learn contrasting stories of assimilation and independence all over the globe. Actors Fred Armisen and Christopher Walken and musician Carly Simon each learn about a grandparent whose real identity and background had been a mystery to them. Author Ta-Nehisi Coates, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and author and activist Janet Mock see their basic assumptions about their families challenged, placing their ancestors -- of all colors -- into the greater context of black history.

Actors Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and William H. Macy trace their nonconformist ancestors through American conflicts -- the Civil War and the American Revolution, all the way back to the Puritan establishment. Journalists Bryant Gumbel and Suzanne Malveaux and producer and writer Tonya Lewis-Lee discover a tapestry of the unexpected as they delve into their ancestry, revealing slaves and free people of color, Civil War legacies, and forgotten European origins. Actor Lupita Nyong'o, NBA star Carmelo Anthony and political commentator Ana Navarro trace their African heritage, investigating the political choices of their fathers and discovering sometimes unexpected heritage. Also, actors Tea Leoni and Gaby Hoffmann both have lives shaped by family mysteries and are introduced to the identities and life stories of their biological ancestors, thanks to DNA detective work. DJ and producer Questlove, talk show host Dr. Phil, and journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault's family stories are rooted in the American south. Actors Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd and John Turturro, all with immigrant parents, gain greater understanding of the unique challenges their ancestors faced by way of prejudice and poverty at home and abroad.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The title speaks for itself. I really enjoyed watching people find out about their ancestors in this series. Most are really surprised and some, visibly shaken by the information that is shared. You get to see a side of your favorite or not-so-favorite celebrity that's really up close and personal. This series allows you to think about your own past and your own ancestors and the struggles they may have endured. I wondered if Professor Gates would ever interview non-celebrities. Maybe he has, but hasn't included that in his series because it wouldn't be of interest to the general population. This series helps us to understand how people lived many, many years ago and what their lives were like. Professor Gates even shows countries that may no longer exist or he shows pictures of one's ancestors that people have never seen and had no idea of their relationship with them. The DNA tests that are done at the end of each episode is an added feature that helps individuals understand more about who they are and where they and their ancestors came from. Finding your roots is a history lesson by itself. I've learned tidbits about the Civil War, American Revolution, the Holocaust, Quakers, World War II, Japan and Germany. I hope that watching this series encourages young adults to look for their own roots. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 as well as adults. Reviewed by Tina Bunch, KIDS FIRST! Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult review
Runtime: 600 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 39.99
Media: DVD


SPIRITED AWAY

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SPIRITED AWAY
SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: FEATURES, AGES 8-18
Topic - Family
Description - Chihiro's family is moving to a new house, but when they stop on the way to explore an abandoned village, her parents undergo a mysterious transformation and Chihiro is whisked into a world of fantastic spirits ruled over by the soceress Yubaba. Put to work in a magical bathhouse for spirits and demons, Chihiro must use all her wits to survive in this strange new place, find a way to free her parents and return to the normal world. Overflowing with imaginative creatures and thrilling storytelling, Spirited Away became a worldwide smash hit, and is one of the most critically-acclaimed films of all time.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Studio Ghibli's deluxe Spirited Away DVD Set is a delectation for the senses. This highly enjoyable Miyazaki masterpiece keeps your eyes transfixed throughout. Spirited Away was released in 2001 in Japan (2003 in US) and nabbed Best Animated Feature at the 2003 Academy Awards.

Spirited Away tells the story of a young girl, Chihiro, who, on the way to her new home gets sidetracked with her family and discovers a magical, unknown world. At the beginning of the film, they wander into an abandoned town where Chihiro's parents get turned into pigs. The rest of the film is a grand adventure where she tries to save her parents from the manipulative clutches of the Yubaba, the Sorceress and owner of the bath house of the gods.

The DVD set includes two discs, a Blu-Ray and a traditional DVD. It also includes bonus features, such as the "making of" Spirited Away, a Nippon Television special; Behind The Microphone, a behind-the-scenes look at the English translation and voiceovers; the original Japanese theatrical trailers; the original Japanese TV spots; and a wonderful booklet with statements from the filmmakers.

In the Nippon Television special, Miyazaki talks about the process of making Spirited Away at Studio Ghibli headquarters. This special gives us an inside look at Studio Ghibli and the thought process of Miyazaki. It shows us the art of creating the film and the dire time constraints in the animation process. Miyazaki tells us how he had to hire double the amount of animators in order to make the deadline for this film. He also goes into how there were so many late nights at the studio, so he had to entrust some of his work to one of his fellow coworkers.

In Behind the Microphone, we see how much effort goes into making the English language version of the film. Narrated by director John Lasseter (who spearheaded the English language translation), this wonderful short shows us how the English-speaking actors match their voices' to the movement of the characters' mouths in the animation.

This Spirited Away deluxe set is everything you could ask for. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18.

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
Runtime: 125 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 12.99
Media: DVD
      Buy Here (Amazon.com)


HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE (2018)

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE (2018)
SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: FEATURE, AGES 7-18
Topic - Family
Description - From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away, and acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki, comes the Academy Award�- nominated* fantasy adventure for the whole family. Sophie, a quiet girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. The vain and vengeful Witch of the Waste, jealous of their friendship, puts a curse on Sophie and turns her into a 90-year-old woman. On a quest to break the spell, Sophie climbs aboard Howl's magnificent moving castle and into a new life of wonder and adventure. But as the true power of Howl's wizardry is revealed, Sophie finds herself fighting to protect them both from a dangerous war of sorcery that threatens their world. *2005: Best Animated Feature, Howl's Moving Castle
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Studio Ghibli's deluxe Howl's Moving Castle DVD set is the key to all the magic in this world. This profoundly charming Miyazaki monument draws out all the negative energy in your body and fills you with its creative storyline. Howl's Moving Castle was released in 2004 in Japan and 2005 in the U.S.A. It won a myriad amount of awards including the Tokyo Animation of the Year Award in 2005 and was nominated for the 2006 Oscars for Best Animated Feature Film.

Howl's Moving Castle tells the story of an unconfident young woman, Sophie, who leads an unexciting life at her father's hat shop. All of that instantly changes when she is saved by Howl from two hooligans looking to heckle her. An evil witch known as the Witch of the Waste takes offense at her befriending Howl and casts a curse on Sophie, turning her into an old lady. Sophie's one hope of releasing the curse lies with a self-centered, troubled wizard and his comedic entourage.

The DVD set includes two discs, a Blu-Ray and a standard DVD. It also includes a mystical treasure trove full of valuable bonus features, such as Feature Length Storyboards; Behind the Microphone; Interview with Diana Wynne Jones (writer of the book Howl's Moving Castle); Miyazaki's visit to Pixar; The Birth Story of the Film Soundtrack; Explanation of CG; Original Theatrical Trailers; TV Spots; and an exclusive booklet with statements from the filmmakers.

In the Behind The Microphone special, Emily Mortimer, the English dub voice for Sophie, states that it's hard to build up emotion with voice acting because it's so quick. Billy Crystal expresses that there is never one layer to a Miyazaki film and that there is a lot of emotional depth among all the characters. We also hear from the other voice over actors - Jean Simmons, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall and Blythe Danner.

In Miyazaki's Visit to Pixar, Miyazaki talks with his biggest fan and friend, John Lasseter, the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar (now at Disney). Miyazaki starts by gifting Lasseter a giant model of the cat bus from My Neighbor Totoro, another Studio Ghibli classic. Later on, they interview Lasseter on his opinions of Miyazaki and his artistic animation style. He states that, in any of Miyazaki's films there are at least ten original ideas. Lasseter later expresses that Miyazaki's films always makes you think and question the world you live in.

This immensely marvelous Howl's Moving Castle DVD deluxe set will instantly break any curse that is hindering you and allow you to enjoy life to the fullest. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18.

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
Runtime: 119 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 7-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 15.9
Media: DVD
      Buy Here (Amazon.com)


KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE (2018)

KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE (2018)       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: FEATURE, AGES 7-18
Topic - Family
Description - From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and Ponyo, and Academy Award�-winning* director Hayao Miyazaki, comes the beloved coming-of-age story of a resourceful young witch who uses her broom to create a delivery service, only to lose her gift of flight in a moment of self-doubt. It is a tradition for all young witches to leave their families on the night of a full moon and fly off into the wide world to learn their craft. When that night comes for Kiki, she embarks on her new journey with her sarcastic black cat, Jiji, landing the next morning in a seaside village, where her unique skills make her an instant sensation. Don't miss this delightfully imaginative and timeless story of a young girl finding her way in the world, featuring the voices of Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo, Phil Hartman, and Debbie Reynolds.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Studio Ghibli's deluxe Kiki's Delivery Service DVD set is a treasure trove of magical proportions. This deeply amusing, Miyazaki classic captures your soul with its bewitching aerial perspective of Kiki's neighborhood. Kiki's Delivery Service was released in 1989 in Japan and 1990 in the U.S.A. It was bestowed a variety of awards, including Most Popular Feature at the 1990 Japanese Academy Awards.

Kiki's Delivery Service tells the story of a young girl, Kiki, who was born into a family of witches. At the age of 13, all witches must fly away from the nest for a certain extended period of time. This tradition is aimed to strengthen the witch's powers and make them more independent. On Kiki's journey, she ends up in a magnificent town in which no other witches live. At first, she has a hard time coping with the vastness of the town, but learns to be grateful when a bakery owner offers her attic for rent. Kiki makes a deal with the owner that if she delivers their goods via broomstick and does random chores around the shop she can work out of their attic rent free, with a bonus free breakfast. Thus, Kiki's delivery service is formed.

The DVD set includes two discs, a Blu-Ray and a standard DVD. It also includes a multitude of captivating bonus features, such as Feature Length Storyboards; Behind the Microphone; Creating Kiki's Delivery Service; Kiki and Jiji; Flying With Kiki; Producer's Perspective: Collaborating with Miyazaki; The Locations of Kiki's Delivery Service; Ursula's Painting; Original Theatrical Trailers; and even an exclusive booklet with statements from the filmmakers.

One of the best bonus features is Creating Kiki's Delivery Service, where we learn lots of wonderful inside information about the making of this film. Miyazaki tells how he wasn't originally the director for the film because all the creatives, including the director and screenwriter, had already been selected. Miyazaki expresses that he enjoyed making the time period vague in contrast with the artwork of the film. Miyazaki discloses that Kiki's Delivery Service was influenced by many cities including Stockholm, Ireland, San Francisco, Paris and a town in Italy. He later explains that Kiki's town was modeled after a charming, old town called Visby, in Sweden.

This enchanting Kiki's Delivery Service DVD archive is the most incredible thing since sliced bread. I give it at 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18.

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
Runtime: 105 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 7-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 12.99
Media: DVD
      Buy Here (Amazon.com)


BLACK PANTHER

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
BLACK PANTHER       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T'Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country's new leader. However, T'Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from factions within his own country. When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan special forces, to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a world war.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - In the latest production from Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), we see the original story of the Black Panther. We were introduced to the Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. This film depicts the story of King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and the Black Panther tribe.

When T'Challa returns home to the reclusive, beautiful and technologically impressive nation of Wakanda, a fictional country in Africa, he is named the new leader following the death of his father. True to custom, he is challenged by the tribesman and becomes the new King.

Elsewhere, a cousin unknown to him returns from the United States to challenge T'Challa's reign, and chaos ensues. Warmonger (Michael B Jordan) and his political beliefs are diabolical and the opposite of T'Challa's. As foes set forth to destroy Wakanda, Black Panther teams up with a C.I.A. agent and a neighboring tribe to prevent the country from a world war. The path from light to dark, and back to doing good in the world beyond Wakanda is refreshing.

The film is pure Marvel action-adventure with a broad political and socially aware feeling. It is awake and unique. It may be a superhero film, yet it is also steeped in real political and social issues similar to those we face today, especially diversity and inclusion. The strong female characters - Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Ramonda (Angela Bassett) are phenomenal.

I love this film! From the casting, cinematography and directing, to the special effects and female empowerment, it is fulfilling. The action is believable, many of the fight scenes are based on African martial arts, although the CGI at times is a little whack. Overall, I was displaced, forgetting I was sitting in a theater. The costumes are fantastic with attention to detail befitting royalty. Wakanda forever!

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars for the cast, social and political awareness, technology focus and female empowerment. This film will appeal to ages 8 to 18, as well as adults. I caution younger viewing due to fight scenes which may be disturbing. It opens in theater February 16, 2018 so, check it out!

Reviewed by Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Wow! Exciting! Thrilling! I thoroughly enjoyed Black Panther!, Marvel's block buster film with a person of color as its star. The storyline, the fine strong black cast and the visuals are all excellent. The camera work and visual special effects are woven together to create a fantastic movie mosaic.

T'Challa / Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his hidden, technologically advanced African home nation of Wakanda to be crowned king. He is threatened by not only internal strife but also outside forces. T'Challa's challenge is to save his people from a world war.

One of my favorite scenes happens when T'Challa, Nakia (Lupito Nyong'O) and Okoye (Danai Gurira) travel to Korea to retrieve a stolen object and its thief Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis). We see glamour and a bit of humor when Okoye is irritated by a wig she wears. They have a plan and, as plans often do, it goes astray. They are forced to fight and we see Okoye's wig go flying across the room as she goes into battle.

T'Challa's role model as a king is his father, until he learns of a negative deed. Then he is conflicted with what it means to be a good king. You have to see the film to find out how he resolves this issue.

I love the beautiful scenes with the water falls and forest. The GGI works well. The costumes are beautiful and extremely colorful. You can expect lots of action, violence and a sprinkling of romance.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Many adults will enjoy it also. The film opens in theaters nationwide on February 16, 2018. Be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Juanita S. L., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Honestly, this movie is just amazing. There are so many things this movie does incredibly correctly. This might be one of the greatest Superhero movies of all time!

The story is about T'challa, prince of the secluded, incredibly advanced nation of Wakanda, who struggles to defeat an enemy wanting to take his throne. He teams up with some phenomenal females to secure his role as King.

This film is just visually incredible, especially the city of Wakanda. The city looks so amazing. All the buildings and creations are so cool. But that's not all. The designs of the weapons and spaceships look very realistic and straight up awesome! Kudos to the visual effects team! I also loved the Black Panther suit. I love the idea of the suit absorbing hits into stored kinetic energy and using it as a shockwave like blast. The movie starts with a re-telling of the creation of Wakanda, but it was made out of sand. It looked so cool. In general, the aesthetic nature of this movie is just marvelous.

The nation of Wakanda also has a very interesting culture. I like that it blends futuristic technology with a tribal feel, in terms of the fashions, locations and culture. It may seem like an odd blend, but it works well. Even the music reflects this combination. Speaking of which, the music is also fantastic.

The characters in this film are multi-dimensional. I really enjoyed Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and Black Panther himself (Chadwick Boseman). Plus, Sterling K. Brown (one of my favorite actors) is also in it and, while he has a small part, it is a key role. Hands down, the best characters are the female leads. The Future is Female! And there are some cool dudes. This movie has some wonderful female characters that everyone can look up to such as Danai Gurira, who I already love from AMC's The Walking Dead, plays the highly skilled warrior Okoye. Letitia Wright plays T'challa's tech-savvy little sister, Shuri and Lupita Nyong'o plays Nakia. I love these women and I'm sure many young kids will too.

This movie also has very interesting messages. The whole movie presents engaging thoughts on whether or not you should enter in other nation's affairs and the possible consequences of doing so. This is a pretty intriguing and well done storyline. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18. It opens in theaters February 16, 2018 so go check it out!

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Black Panther is a stunning first solo outing for its title character that wowed me with its strong ensemble cast, inventive visuals and multi-layered story.

Black Panther follows T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), King of Wakanda, an advanced and highly powerful territory that is disguised as a third-world country. He also protects his nation and its people as a masked vigilante called the Black Panther. After the death of his father, T'Challa is chosen to take the throne and receive the powers of the panther god. Just after his extravagant coronation, a threat finds its way into Wakanda's borders by Erik Killmonger. Killmonger is a fierce and skilled soldier who wishes to replace T'Challa and usher in a new age for the country. T'Challa will be tested and must protect the throne from Killmonger.

My favorite character is Shuri (Letitia Wright), T'Challa's whizkid sister who helps him maintain the mantle of Black Panther and stay one step ahead of the villains he faces. Letitia Wright delivers hilarious one-liners with near perfect timing. She nails the rapport between Shuri and her brother, interacting in a way that is both believable and develops both their characters.

An outstanding performance in this film comes from Michael B. Jordan who is brilliant as Killmonger. He abandons the genre's usual vague "destroy-the-world" motivation and creates a genuinely complicated character. Jordan has cutthroat moments that make you dread his presence, but his sinister manner is evened out by moments where you come to sympathize with his character.

The deep, emotional part of the film's story is unexpected and caught me by surprise. It is an important moment for the main character and what drives his actions for the rest of the film. Sometimes, these comic-book heroes make poor decisions and have to fight against their own demons as well as the bad guys. This has been done before in both comics and film, but here we really see T'Challa change through his experiences.

I recommend this film to ages 12 to 18. There is some action and violence with spears and swords that feels more violent than what I'm used to from comic book films. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. This opens in theaters February 16, 2018 so, be sure to check it out. Black Panther is easily one of the greatest comic-book films I've seen. Period.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This movie surprised me because it was more violent than I had anticipated. Director and writer Ryan Coogler drives the remarkable story of Black Panther in an exciting and action-packed way. One of the beginning scenes shows Black Panther challenged by a rival tribe that attempts to kill him, but fails. The scene takes place on top of a waterfall, which gives you an idea of just how many things Coogler had to deal with to choreograph the fighting for that scene.

Black Panther is about a young boy, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) that becomes King of Wakanda after his father dies in an explosion. When T'Challa takes the throne, he and his people find out that someone stole a weapon made with the precious metal vibranium from a museum. They embark on a mission to find the weapon and its thieves. A character named Klaw (Andy Serkis) intends to sell the weapon. T'Challa's cousin Erik (Michael B. Jordan) also aided in stealing the weapon because Erik seeks revenge for T'Challa's father killing his dad. Without giving away the plot, Wakanda is threatened and, with the help of T'Challa aka Black Panther and his team, they fight to keep their nation alive.

What really stands out are the transitions from scene to scene because ach one is so unique. The soundtrack is unbelievably effective, fittin the movie perfectly with each song at the right place at the right time. I was surprised to find that Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) playing W'Kabi. This movie also includes some humor. My favorite character is Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) because he plays a really good guy.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Black Panther at a theater opens in theaters February 16, 2018, so be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Lucia F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 19

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


LOVE, SIMON

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
LOVE, SIMON       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - Everyone deserves a great love story, but for 17-year-old Simon Spier, it's a little more complicated. He hasn't told his family or friends that he's gay, and he doesn't know the identity of the anonymous classmate that he's fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I'm not the typical 14-year-old girl. I am not a big fan of love stories. I find them very clich� and not that enjoyable to watch. This movie is an exception! I actually really like the romance in this movie.

This film is about a closeted gay teen named Simon (Nick Robinson) who, after learning about another gay kid on a school website, begins to search for him while also figuring out how to come out.

The most important aspect of this movie is, of course, the fact that this is a gay love story. I feel like this movie handles the whole thing very well and very respectfully. It's a very positive and inspirational film. But it's also a gay love story in mainstream media. This is not an Indie film. It is a story about LGBT love that is in wide release. I believe this movie makes a very big step in normalizing LGBT characters in mainstream media, made specifically for teens.

But this movie isn't just amazing for that. I love this story in general. It's kind of a mystery and comedy with a little touch of love. Who is Blue? You really get into the mystery. I remember tensing up and whispering to myself whenever I was scared for the characters. I became so invested in them and hoped it was the person I wanted it to be. It is also about friendship and how fragile our friendships can be and how we use and treat people.

The characters boil down to one trait as their whole personality, but I still liked them. I would have liked to see more depth in Simon's friend circle. I like Abby's (Alexandra Shipp) character the most. She's Simon's newest friend who has just moved from D.C. and it seems like every guy is interested in her. But she is not the typical "hot teen, mean girl," she is kind. Simon, of course, is a total show stealer. Not surprising at all, Simon is a charming character who you wish you were best friends with too. You just want him to find Blue so he can be happy because, as the movie posters say, "Everyone deserves a great Love Story."

My only issues with this movie come down to how weird the theatre teacher and the vice principal are. They are a little over the top. While I liked Ms. Albright (Natasha Rothwell), she swore at students (which isn't allowed), even though they deserved it. And, it felt as if the vice principal (Tony Hale) clearly wanted to be seen as cool, but he ends up being way too invested in people's love lives.

All in all, I love this romantic comedy and give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. It comes out March 16, 2018 so be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


DENTURES OF DEATH

This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
DENTURES OF DEATH
ELIAS SOMMER
Series: STUDENT SHORT, AGES 11-18
Topic - Family
Description - In the center of this comedy is timid six-year-old Tommy, whose parents make the terrible mistake of letting insensitive great-uncle Will babysit the child. That same night, sleepless Tommy loses his first tooth, and with no one there to answer his questions, the boy's vivid imagination runs wild. Accepted: New York International Children's Film Festival, London Short Film Festival, Bucharest Short Film Festival, Edinburgh International Short Film Festival.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Extraordinary! This short film by a university student is very well produced with great visuals and imagination. The terror the young boy experiences while in his great uncle's care is thoughtfully portrayed and carefully constructed. The ending brings great satisfaction to the story and we see the great uncle isn't completely wacko. Because it could be somewhat frightening to younger children, I recommend it for ages 11 to 18 as well as adults. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Julie S. KIDS FIRST! Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 14 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 11-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: VIDEO


ALICE IN THE SKY WITH COMETS

This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
ALICE IN THE SKY WITH COMETS
CHRISTOPHE SAILLY
Series: INDIE SHORT, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - Alice, 9 years old, has a dream : later she will be an astronaut. But a serious eye disease makes it impossible. Until a surgeon and a strange hospital roommate make her see that dream differently.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Alice in the Sky With Comets is such an endearing film about a young girl whose dream is to go into space, but is dealing with her loss of vision. This film tackles the issues of gender inequality, women in science and female empowerment. It truly is a beautiful film that encourages young girls to follow their dreams and never lose hope. Alice, played by Emma Bergeron, captivates you from the get go with her imagination. She is such a strong female character with an extensive knowledge of astronomy beyond her age and is determined to make her dreams become real by becoming an astronaut. Despite the premature degeneration of her eyes, Alice still manages to hope that her eyes will heal after her eye surgery. Emma Bergeron portrays Alice's inspiration and ambitions in a heart-felt way. I hope to see Emma in more films in the future! The sound quality of the film is great and the camerawork, especially certain shots, really stand out. The shots that are shown through Alice's eyes are so well done. The sporadic, blurry shots seen through Alice's glasses are extraordinary and unique. The stop motion scenes practically take place in space. I love the way the cinematographer reveals parts of the story through Alice's eyes. The colors that Alice sees, especially through her yellow glasses, are so vivid and dazzling on screen. As for the sets, the scenes in the car are really well shot, especially the shots with Alice's father looking into his rearview mirror. The quality of the entire film is superb and would look great on the big screen. The subtitles would be easier to read on a large screen as well. This film tackles the issue of gender inequality, women in science, astronomy and female empowerment. It opens with a scene in Alice's classroom when Alice tells the teacher and the class that her dream is to become an astronaut. Without missing a beat, one of her classmates says that girls cannot be astronauts because they are not strong enough. Alice's teacher tells Alice that she can be whatever she wants to be. Alice's fascination with space and her knowledge of the universe is inspiring to young women. You should know that the dialogue is in French with English sub-titles. I believe this film might inspire young girls who are interested in astronomy or any kind of science. It empowers girls to follow their dreams and most importantly, the story is told from a girl's perspective. The story flows quite well and kept me engaged the whole film. There is a clear continuity in the story. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because it is very creative and unique and has a positive and beautiful message about following your dreams. I love how the children in Alice's class help bring her dreams to life by creating papier-m�ch� planets and an entire galaxy. I recommend this film to kids ages 12 to 18. There is some profanity in the film, which made me not recommend it for kids under the age of 12. Reviewed by Chandler D. KIDS FIRST! Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 27 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: VIDEO


WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT
PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 4-9
Topic - Family
Description - Based on the bestselling bedtime story book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, which has sold over 11 million copies globally, the film follows siblings Stan, Katie, Rosie, Max, the baby, and Rufus the dog, who decide one day to go on an adventure through whirling snowstorms, oozing mud, and dark forests in search of bears! Featuring the voices of Olivia Colman (The Night Manager, Broadchurch), Pam Ferris (Matilda, Call The Midwife), and Mark Williams (Harry Potter), this animated story is filled with stunning visuals sure to enchant viewers along with its story of perseverance, optimism, and love of nature.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This animated film, based on the best-selling storybook We're Going on a Bear Hunt written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, brings the story to life! The vibrant visuals and brilliant musical score add a special quality to telling the story of a group of five siblings and their dog Rufus who decide to go on a bear hunt while their parents go to aid Grandma and her broken down car.

Their big brother Peter leads them on their quest over the countryside, lakes, oceans, and mountains and through a treacherous snowstorm. Throughout, they sing the famous chant: "We're going on a bear hunt. We're going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We're not scared."

I love the children's positive outlook and excitement as they never give up, continue and approach their various destinations. As they encounter "long, wavy grass", "a deep cold river", "thick, oozy mud", "a big dark forest", "a swirling, whirling snowstorm" and "a narrow, gloomy cave", they also sing their other chant: "We can't go over it. We can't go under it. Oh, no! We've go to go through it."

When one of the siblings, Rosie and their dog Rufus become separated from the rest of the family, their adventure takes an interesting turn, delivering more than they ever expected. I really enjoyed the suspense the additional storyline adds to the film. It brings an extra excitement to the story. Do the paw prints add up to anything? You will have to see this film to find out!

I have fond memories of reading this story in my early teaching days as well as singing the chants with the children. Currently I read to children in the schools and look forward to sharing this film with them in addition to reading the story. The accompanying Adventure Field Guide is a perfect addition for children, teachers and families as a supplement to explore their own great outdoor adventures!

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 9 as well as parents, caregivers and teachers. It will be available on DVD February 13, 2018, so be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Terry Solowey, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult review
Runtime: 24 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 4-9
Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.45
Media: DVD
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EARLY MAN

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
EARLY MAN       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
LIONSGATE FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Topic - Family
Description - Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of Dug, along with sidekick Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth and his Bronze Age City to save their home.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This fantastic, animated film from Nick Park and Aardman Animations had me laughing the entire time. Hands down, it is the best movie I have seen this year. With a unique storyline, exquisite action scenes and a rollercoaster of events, your eyes don't want to leave the screen.

Set in the Stone Age, when cavemen and wooly mammoths inhabited the Earth, Chief Bonbar and his tribe are driven out of their homeland by a Bronze Age army, led by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). Lord Nooth claims the Stone Age is over, and Chief Bonbar's (Timothy Spall) tribe is forced to remain in the volcanic badlands outside of the new city. A young caveman named Dug (Eddie Redmayne) tries to attack, but is knocked into a basket heading to the city. He tries to hide, but ends up being mistaken for a football player. When Dug and Lord Nooth finally meet, they make a deal: If Chief Bonbar's tribe beats Lord Nooth's team in a game of football, then the cavemen can have their valley back.

Dug looks at every situation with optimism. He cares about his tribe and will do absolutely anything for them. Even though he knows he could lose his valley, he constantly perseveres and doesn't think about giving up. Hognob (Nick Park) is the funniest character in the film. He is Dug's pet boar and, although he has no dialogue, he makes the weirdest noises. Hognob is so adorable that I want a pet boar now. The relationship Hognob and Dug share is loving and reminds me of the relationship I have with my pets.

The animation is ingenious, because each character is unconventional. With crooked teeth, messy hair and big eyes, these characters are ones you haven't seen before. My eyes were peeled the entire time, because I couldn't stop admiring the unique animation. My favorite part is when Dug tries to steal some balls from the Bronze Age city. Hognob distracts Lord Nooth and has to play the harp for him, while he takes a bath. Hognob tries to sing and play the harp, but it sounds so terrible that it makes you laugh.

The message of this film is to never give up under any circumstances. Don't ever feel intimidated by somebody, because with teamwork and optimism, you can accomplish absolutely anything. Appreciate your differences and remember that nobody can bring you down.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because I have never laughed so hard while watching a film. I recommend it for kids ages 8 to 18, and adults would enjoy it too. It is perfect to watch with your family and friends, because it will put a huge smile on your face and show you how important it is to follow your heart.

Catch this film in theaters nationwide on February 16, 2018. Find out what it means to be an early man.

Reviewed by Samantha M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - coming soon

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 10-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


NOVA: THE DAY THE DINOSAURS DIED
PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 10-18
Topic - Family
Description - Reflecting NOVA's unparalleled 44-year-old commitment to long-form science programming, this installment examines the latest evidence surrounding one of the greatest mysteries in Earth's history - the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs. Through interviews, footage of scientists working at sites around the world, and stunning digital recreations of events from 66 million years ago, the program vividly brings to life the compelling scientific inquiry around this epic catastrophe. At the end of the Cretaceous Era, after 170 million years of dominance, over 700 species of dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record virtually overnight. In the 1980s, the hypothesis emerged that an asteroid impact was the catalyst. But the supporting evidence, including the exact nature of the global chain reaction an asteroid impact may have initiated, has been slowly emerging over decades. This show details the efforts of scientists to flesh out what happened in the days and weeks after the asteroid impact. Will they find the smoking gun that provides definitive proof? The program visits an unprecedented, multidisciplinary scientific expedition to drill into the Chicxulub Crater site off the coast of Mexico, the leading suspect for the impact site. It also travels to South Dakota, Argentina and other sites where paleontologists hunt fossils. Finally, the program visually reconstructs the hell on earth - tidal waves, dust clouds, sudden mountain formation -- that wreaked global havoc and doomed the dinosaurs.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I always love watching anything from Nova. In this documentary we meet Alice, a paleontologist and Ben, a biologist, who walk us through the day the dinosaurs died. From Ben's point of view, we experience extracting rock samples from the Chicxulub crater in the Gulf of Mexico. Alice takes us with her as she visits a magnificent fossil site in New Jersey. This documentary paints a very real picture of the whole scenario, showing new evidence that supports the theory of the dinosaurs' deaths and what happened to the rest of the world after the impact of the meteor that killed off the dinosaurs. It is breath-taking and intriguing. I recommend it for ages 10 to 18 as well as adults and give it 5 out of 5 stars. By Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 60 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 10-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 24.99
Media: DVD


PETER RABBIT

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
PETER RABBIT       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Topic - Family
Description - Feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter's classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer's vegetable garden.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I enjoyed watching Peter Rabbit, based on the classic book by Beatrix Potter. It is a wonderful combination of CGI and live action, telling a modern, funny version of the story of a rebellious Peter Rabbit.

Peter Rabbit (James Corden) along with his sisters, Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki) and Cottontail (Daisy Ridley) continue their family quest of sneaking into Mr. McGregor's (Domhnall Gleeson) vegetable garden.

One of my favorite scenes happens in the beginning when Peter Rabbit assigns roles, based on each rabbit's talent, to attack Mr. McGregor's garden. There's a lookout person to let Peter know Mr. McGregor's location in the garden and one rabbit serves as the catcher for the vegetables as they are harvested. It is very funny!

The animated characters are excellent. The rabbits look so real. You can see their hair moving in the wind and they have wonderful human-like actions. Bea (Rose Byrne) shows portrays a neighbor who believes that nature and humans can live together. She is the protector of Peter Rabbit and his sisters.

The story and the characters demonstrate a range of different emotions from both the humans and the rabbits. Mr. McGregor decides he must find a way to keep the rabbits out of his garden and resorts installing an electric fence. He does not foresee Peter Rabbit outsmarting him and using electricity against him. That is a hilarious scene and, if you want to know the outcome, you will have to see it yourself.

The visuals and music are funny and work well together. There are elements of mild violence, romance and a bit of rude humor. Kids will probably enjoy the funny animal characters. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. Many adults will enjoy it also. The film opens in theaters nationwide on February 9, 2018. Be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Juanita L., KIDS FIRST! Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Peter Rabbit is one of my favorite kid's movie of the year so far. It's an adorable film that is perfect for the whole family. I love this film because of the acting and CGI.

Peter Rabbit follows Peter Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton Tail and Benji as they get into mischief by taking vegetables from the garden next door. They take the vegetables from Mr. McGregor who tries desperately to get them out of their garden by using explosives and even an electric fence. The rabbits hang out with loveable characters like Bea. She helps the rabbits by giving them shelter when it rains and helps them get food.

Throughout the movie, we see great acting from all the actors and voice actors in the film. I love how Domhnall Gleeson acts like a soulless man with the rabbits who he is trying to kill, but with Bea, he acts like in he's love. I found that Mr. McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) really does seem to be in love with Bea. I also like how the voice actors portray the rabbits. Each one of them has a personality that is well portrayed in their voices and actions. For example, Cotton Tail is a memorable character because of how wild and reckless she is. The way Daisy Ridley voices her shows how wild she can be.

The CGI in this film is extraordinary. The animals look so realistic. If you really focus on the rabbits, you can see the individual hairs on them. You can also see it on the pig character that hangs out with the rabbits. During a fight sequence with Peter and Mr. McGregor, they actually look like they are fighting and not like he is fighting a fake bunny.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 7 to 12. This movie comes out on Friday, February 9, 2018 so be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Carla P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Adorable, humorous, charming and a heartwarming tale just in time for Easter and spring! You will be hopping as fast as you can to catch up with the rabbits and all the other animals that are, once again, calculating how to get into Mr. McGregor's Garden.

Peter Rabbit is based on the books by Beatrix Potter. Beatrix Potter lived from 1866 to 1943 and is one of the best-loved children's authors. She wrote and illustrated 28 books and each one has been translated into more than 35 languages. They have sold over 100 million copies. This is important because one of the main goals for the director and the cast was to stay true to her vision.

The beauty of this film is that the rabbits all look as if you could touch them because the animation is so life like. The scenes with the garden and house look like places that I would enjoy living because they look like a fairytale that came alive. Of course, if you don't share your vegetables your life will not be enjoyable.

The moral of the film is about getting along with others, telling the truth and being honest. Everyone makes mistakes and we need to find a way to fix them.

Thump, click, crack, snap, thud - all these noises, plus thousands of other sounds effects add to the humor of this film. The music is outstanding. I cannot wait to purchase the soundtrack. There is a combination of movie symphony music, sounds from the 80s, new original songs and a plethora of songs and sounds that will put a smile on your face.

Reviewed by Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


BULLIES (2018)

This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
BULLIES (2018)
DANIEL BYDLOWSKI
Series: SHORT, AGES 8-13
Topic - Family
Description - Eugene, a shy 10-year-old boy, is bullied every day until he discovers a secret underneath the school that keeps him safe, for now...
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Lovely short with an excellent message. Anyone can relate to bullying. There is none among us that hasn't been bullied at some time in their life. The message here is that you can't run from your problems your entire life. I identify with this film because, I was bullied at school when I was a kid. Later, I stood up to the bullies and learned that, when you try to run away from a problem, you spend your whole life running. This film really resonates with that lesson. I think kids will relate to the film's message and the performances by the main actors. They are exceptionally well done. The film flows well, makes sense and is very watchable. Its vocabulary is appropriate to its audience. The soundtrack is well done and whimsical in some parts. The cinematography is quite good. The production design, costumes, sets and locations all work quite well. I like the boy's connection to comic superheroes. It shows how he is looking for strength from wherever he can get it - even in his imagination. When he finds the hidden room under the school, it's super cool. All of a sudden, his tormenters can't reach him. And then, there's the question of the Great Bully Escapees! When does escape become its own prison? Of course, it has its upside - eating chocolate for dinner, carousing in the school after hours, not going to school. In the end, if you want to live life to its fullest, you have to face your antagonists. Talent in the film includes: Nick Alvarez, Conrad Bluth, Weston Nathanson and Allison Lane. If any concerns, there is some light screen tearing at the top of the film but it's barely noticeable. Most importantly, I believe children will get the core message of this film. I recommend it for age 8 to 13 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Angel U. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Jurors.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 28 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-13
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: VIDEO


ERIN'S GUIDE TO KISSING GIRLS

This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
ERIN'S GUIDE TO KISSING GIRLS
JULIANNA NOTTEN
Series: FOREIGN INDIE SHORT, AGE 10-18
Topic - Family
Description - Erin's Guide to Kissing Girls follows Erin Hallard, a spunky, headstrong twelve-year-old girl in her attempt to woo the coolest girl in school, Sydni Hunter. Erin's plan is to ask Sydni to the annual spring fling with the help of her best friend and partner in crime, Liz Johnson. However as Erin becomes wrapped up in her mission to get Sydni to go to the dance with her, it starts to put a strain on her friendship with Liz as Liz begins to feel less important in Erin's life.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This short film has a lot of heart and addresses a not uncommon issue for LGBT kids. Although it is the typical love story that we have seen before about unrequited love, this story shows it through the different lens of a girl in love with another girl. It will undoubtedly resonate with kids who are LGBT or aren't sure of their gender preference. I enjoyed the style of the film which reminds me of a Wes Anderson production, in the ways that the film treats itself. I like the film for the most part. The beginning is good but the conflict between Erin and Liz is not built up enough and the resolution at the end feels too fast. I would have liked to see a build up to the fight. The issues this film addresses are suitable for teens. It talks about things we all try to do in order to impress people we like and also shows that it's normal if you like someone even, if they are of the same sex. The cinematography is pretty good. I also enjoyed the music, impressive since it contains mostly original songs. The sets are suitable for the story, nothing earth shattering but they work. The set for the dance scene was a bit disappointing. But, all in all, it's a very good storyline, well told. It's good natured and kind and I think that tweens and teens will enjoy it. I give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 10 to 18. Reviewed by Angel U. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Jurors.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 15 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 10-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: VIDEO


FREAK FLAG

This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
FREAK FLAG
DIEGO SARDI
Series: INDIE SHORT, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - Freak Flag follows Abeline, an imaginative 8-year-old stifled by societal norms. She is under intense pressure from her Mother, school teacher and peers; she is not 'girly' enough for the girls and women, and not 'boyish' enough to be accepted by her male classmates. Abeline decides to push back and assert her independence by doing whatever her heart desires. She chops off her hair, changes her name to Brian, and refuses to cow. Eventually she realizes that pretending to be someone else stifles her as much as molding herself to society's expectations. She becomes her true self and does not fit in with either the boys nor the girls. But, she doesn't care. She is her own person. She can let her freak flag fly
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Yes! I wholeheartedly recommend this for the KIDS FIRST! Film Festivals. It delves into the subject of gender norms and how young girls and boys are supposed to act in a very touching way. For example, all Abeline wants to do is sword fight with her brother and have a pet lizard. According to her mother, these activities are unsuitable for her and she implies that those activities are best suited to boys. It is frustrating to see these gender norms still so present in today's society, especially in schools. This film, however, breaks those norms and encourages children to be who they are. It truly touched me, because I really felt Abeline's pain and could easily decipher the emotions she was feeling. The film encourages children who feel they are misfits, to be their own person and to be true to themselves. I love how this film tackles the subject of identity because, when you are a kid, you do not exactly know who you are yet and you are figuring out who you want to be. This film beautifully portrays a young girl who does not fit in and will not conform to the norm generally associated with being a girl. The production quality is quite good. The sound quality is really on point, but what stands out is the visual quality, which is absolutely spectacular. I love that the director chose to film with a RED camera because the cinematography is beautiful and the lighting is fantastic. Also, the score is fabulous. The dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. The locations are spot on. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Abeline runs into the woods. The cinematography is truly a pleasure to watch. There are a few shots that really stand out such as when Abeline gets a hair cut by her mother and we see Abeline through the round mirror she is staring into. Another shot that sticks out is when Abeline accidentally hits a bird when she is in the woods and the camera shows her lying on the ground next to the bird in an extreme close-up shot. It is memorable. Also, when Abeline is being scolded by her teacher, the camera focuses on her teacher, then on her and, in a surprising twist, we see a shot of her mother in place of her teacher. I would have liked to see more development of the relationship between Abeline and her mother, possibly accepting that she does not want to be just a pretty princess, but rather a warrior. The film flows very well and is easy to understand. The concepts are appropriate for the recommended age. The quality of this film goes above and beyond my expectations for a short film. I highly recommend it to KIDS FIRST! because it incorporates themes of breaking gender norms and being true to yourself. I think that older children who have more of a sense of identity will enjoy and relate to this film best. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Reviewed by Chandler D and Julie S. KIDS FIRST! Adult Jurors.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 12 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: VIDEO


WATTS SUPER SISTA GIRL

This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
WATTS SUPER SISTA GIRL
JON GARY
Series: AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENT SHORT, AGES 10-18
Topic - Family
Description - A 12-year-old girl from Watts (urban Los Angeles), deflects bullies and her mom's illness by creating a friendship with Super Sista Woman, a fictional super heroine with a series on TV/stream. This is like Pippa Longstocking meets Boyz in the Hood.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This comical film is a great spoof on superheroes. I like it film because it gives a tongue-in-cheek view of the rough life in Los Angeles neighborhoods, from the perspective of Venus, a young black girl who lives there. It shows the power of journaling to help kids express their thoughts and feelings, outside of their own heads. It's also a great way to record your life, for future reference. The film is well produced. The video and audio quality are quite acceptable. The costumes are very well done. I particularly like the homemade costumes that Venus wears. It shows a lot of imagination, using simple, in expensive materials that she probably found laying around. The costumes represent courage and the determination to succeed. The girl's hair decorations (ribbons and beads) are numerous and colorful and emphasize the importance of hairstyles to teens. Her hairdo really stands out as an artistic expression. The visual images of white substances arriving in a box and white powder flying around the kitchen fools the viewer. You expect the white substances to be illegal drugs, but it's actually just baked goods. The brother, Rasheed is funny singing rhyming rap songs while preparing food in the kitchen. It shows that rap can happen on or off the street! Another funny image of food is when a bully is gagged with a whole wad of licorice in his mouth. Venus has a private little sanctuary she relaxes in, away from her house. Here she dreams of a brighter future, where she can help the world both as a superhero (Super Sista Girl) and as the founder of a non-profit organization to fight cancer. She shows a lot of internal strength and is training to become a strong superhero. I like that the female protagonist has persistent hopes and dreams of a better life. I felt proud of her for bravely standing up and asserting herself to an arrogant teacher and male bullies in the park. A teacher negatively criticizes the girls for developing and speaking an Afro-American vernacular language He thinks they should speak a more real and widely accepted language. The girls argue his point to maintain their individuality and self-respect. The message of this film is to believe firmly in yourself, have pride in who you are, where you come from and where you are going in life. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. I especially recommend it for urban kids who will probably relate to it most. Reviewed by Jeff M. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Jurors
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 25 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 10-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: VIDEO


PUT THE PHONE DOWN

This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
PUT THE PHONE DOWN
JACALYN EVONE
Series: STUDENT SHORT, AGES 8-13
Topic - Family
Description - A mini documentary where kids address a generation of youth being tethered or addicted to cell phones.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This well produced short film captures the essence of a dilemma of national and international importance - texting and incessant cell phone use. It's reached almost epidemic levels among youth and young adults in the USA as well as other countries, interfering with live social engagement and interpersonal communication. This short captures yet the tip of the iceberg on this subject in a very nonthreatening, yet poignant way. It would provide a great discussion starter at a film festival or other youth / family event. I give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 13. Reviewed by Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 3 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-13
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: VIDEO


AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: INTO THE AMAZON
PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 8-18
Topic - Family
Description - Tells the remarkable story of the 1914 journey taken by President Theodore Roosevelt and legendary Brazilian explorer Candido Mariano Da Silva Rondon into the heart of the South American rainforest to chart an unexplored tributary of the Amazon River. Filmed on location in the Brazilian Amazon, the film features the voices of Alec Baldwin as Roosevelt, Wagner Moura (Narcos) as Rondon and Jake Lacy (Girls) as Kermit Roosevelt. "AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: INTO THE AMAZON" is written, produced and directed by John Maggio, narrated by Oliver Platt, and executive produced by Mark Samels. With six American adventurers, including his son Kermit, Theodore Roosevelt spent eight harrowing weeks in one of the most remote and inhospitable places on earth, battling tenacious insects, deadly rapids, fever, hunger and exhaustion on a quest to map an unknown river in one of the wildest and most beautiful places on earth. What was anticipated to be a relatively tranquil journey turned out to be a brutal test of courage and character. Before it was over, one member of the expedition had drowned, another had committed murder and a third was abandoned to perish in the jungle. Roosevelt would badly injure his leg and beg to be left behind to die. More than a dramatic story of adventure and survival, the program shines a light on two of the western hemisphere's most formidable men and the culture and politics of their two formidable nations.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This American Experience/PBS program dramatically relates the true story of Teddy Roosevelt's eight-week journey in 1914 to chart an unexplored river in the Amazon. With narration by Oliver Platt and Roosevelt's diary entries, voiced by Alec Baldwin, the tale is full of adventure, intrigue and disaster, a testament to the willful, zestful and imperfect spirit of the former President who had just lost his bid for a third term in a bitter campaign. The black and white photography and very generous archival stills and film footage effectively evoke the time period as well as the mystery of the unexplored reaches of the Amazon. Well-paced and informative, with historians weighing in and filling in the details, the program is at once a slice of history, an engrossing adventure narrative and a cautionary tale of dangerous bravado, the trip nearly resulting in Roosevelt's death. A few scenes of naked native Indians serve the anthropological authenticity of the program. No bonus features are included. Recommended for ages 12 to 18 as well as adults. I give this 4 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Michael F., KIDS FIRST! Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Runtime: 112 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 24.99
Media: DVD


PONYO

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
PONYO
SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: DVD, AGES 5-18
Topic - Family
Description - From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro,, and Academy Award�-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, comes a heartwarming adventure, now featuring hours of new bonus features never-before-released in North America. When Sosuke, a young boy who lives on a clifftop overlooking the sea, rescues a stranded goldfish named Ponyo, he discovers more than he bargained for. Ponyo is a curious energetic young creature who yearns to be human, but even as she causes chaos around the house, he father, a powerful sorcerer, schemes to return Ponyo to the sea.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Studio Ghibli's deluxe Ponyo DVD Set is an extraordinary sight to behold. This vastly entertaining Miyazaki creation enchants you with its spellbinding animation style. Ponyo was released in 2008 in Japan (2009 in US) and garnered several awards including the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. The English language version includes such voice over talent as Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin and Betty White.

Ponyo tells the story of a five-year-old boy, Sosuke, who finds and becomes friends with a puzzling goldfish that he names Ponyo. Later on, he discovers that Ponyo is actually a goldfish princess who desires to become a human. Throughout their journey they overcome her father's displeasure of humans. Ponyo becomes so transfixed and loving towards Sosuke that he must undergo a few challenges set forth by her parents to see if he is worthy of her affection.

The DVD set includes two discs, a Blu-Ray and a traditional DVD. It includes over five hours of riveting bonus features, such as Feature Length Storyboards; Behind the Microphone; The Five Geniuses Who Created Ponyo; Interviews with Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki (Producer); Theme Song Press Conference and Theme Song Music Video; Opening Event at Hibiya Scala-Za Theatre; Hayao Miyazaki Press Conference; Creating Ponyo; Ponyo and Fujimoto; The Nursery; Scoring Miyazaki; Producers Perspective: Telling the Story; The Locations of Ponyo; Original Theatrical Trailers; TV Spots; and even an exclusive booklet with statements from the director.

In the Creating Ponyo special, Miyazaki tells us that Ponyo was made for a younger audience, such as five-year-olds, because he wanted to make a movie that was easier than My Neighbor Totoro for young children to understand. Miyazaki believes that five-year-olds are more perceptive than they are able to describe. He later states that Ponyo represents someone who has been released from the constraints of society. By watching this special, we learn how much respect Miyazaki has for children.

The Producer's Perspective is an interview with the producer, Toshio Suzuki. In this special we learn all the steps that go into making a Studio Ghibli film. First Miyazaki and Suzuki review Miyazaki's image boards and decide which is the best. The storyboards are then sent to the animators. He later states that their method hasn't changed over the past 30 years. He finishes by saying that well developed characters are the foundation of any Miyazaki film.

In The Nursery special, Toshio Suzuki states that it was Miyazaki's dream to establish a Studio Ghibli nursery for the employees' children and, during this production, it became a reality. Suzuki goes on by saying that the storyline changed halfway through production from being totally set at the nursery to also taking place at an old folks home and the house on the hill.

This highly rich Ponyo DVD extravaganza is a must have for any Studio Ghibli fan. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18.

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
Runtime: 90 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.99
Media: DVD
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MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO 2018

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO 2018       Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: DVD, AGES 5-18
Topic - Family
Description - From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and Ponyo, and Academy Award�-winning* director Hayao Miyazaki, comes a classic tale of magic and adventure for the whole family. When Satsuki and her sister Mei move with their father to a new home in the countryside, they find country life is not as simple as it seems. They soon discover that the house and nearby woods are full of strange and delightful creatures, including a gigantic but gentle forest spirit called Totoro, who can only be seen by children. Totoro and his friends introduce the girls to a series of adventures, including a ride aboard the extraordinary Cat Bus, in this all-ages animated masterpiece featuring the voices of Tim Daly, Lea Salonga, and real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning, in one of their earliest roles.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - It is virtually impossible to not be charmed by this early feature film from Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki of the legendary Studio Ghibli. The story of two young sisters befriended by a huge, oval-shaped forest spirit named Totoro while their mother recuperates from an illness is disarming in its mix of the everyday with the fantastical and the director's unique East-meets-West style. The hand-drawn animation is impressionistic and the attention to detail is incredible, with great use of color and challenging elements such as water rendered convincingly. Throughout, the director's particular whimsy and taste for the quirky bubbles to the surface (a giant cat that acts as a bus), traits that Miyazaki would further explore in later works such as Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle and Ponyo. The Blu-ray DVD of the English-dubbed My Neighbor Totoro features real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning voicing the central protagonists and is pristine in both image and sound. Bonus features include several making-of shorts, extensive storyboards and an exclusive full-color booklet. Rated G, there is a brief consideration of death and a few intense moments. This is animation of the highest order: heartfelt, lovingly crafted, frequently amusing and occasionally poignant. Recommended for ages 6 to 18 and older. 5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Michael Fishman, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I love this film, there is no getting around it. It is wonderful. It is loved by everyone is my household, as are all of the Studio Ghibli films and works of Hayao Miyazaki. This particular English dubbed version came out in 2005 from Disney studios. The music in this movie is phenomenal and catchy. Since I've had my two-year-old, I have probably watched this movie several hundred times and, both of us are still sit and sing along with the story like it's the first time we've watched it. The story is so captivating. It's about two young girls that move to the country with their father, while eagerly waiting for their mother to be released from the hospital. On the first day in their new home, they encounter Soot Sprites. After this, you are instantly aware that there is something special about this new home. One day, the younger sister Mei encounters a forest spirit named Totoro and from there things get absolutely magical. Totoro is a giant smiling creature and he used scare my two-year-old quite a bit, but after a while he started to see how kind and caring Totoro is. There is a short film called Mei and the Catbus that serves as a mini sequel to My Neighbor Totoro, but it is only able available at the Studio Ghibli Museum in Japan. I recommend this film for ages 4 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars! It is truly one of our all time favorites! Reviewed by Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The anime movie My Neighbor Totoro is cute and funny, yet somehow still realistic. Even though some parts are sad, that adds to the plot and makes the story even better. It starts with two sisters, 4-year-old Mei and 12-year-old Satsuki. When Mei runs off and meets a large, mischievous forest spirit named Totoro, their lives are changed forever.

My Neighbor Totoro is directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Every scene is hand-drawn, unlike modern CGI movies. The rural setting and characters just feel real. In one scene, Mei trips and falls instead of running on. This gives a sense of reality, instead of edited perfection.

The story starts when Mei, Satsuki and their father move to a new house while their mother is in the hospital. They soon discover that their house is inhabited by forest spirits, such as the soot gremlins. Nearby, Totoro lives in a huge camphor tree and a magical, eight-legged cat bus is a normal mode of transportation for them.

After Satsuki and Mei get into an argument, Mei runs away. This part is so heartbreaking! With the help of Totoro...you'll see. The ending is a surprise you'll enjoy!

Hayao Miyazaki has also directed other enjoyable anime movies, such as Kiki's Delivery Service and Spirited Away. Recently, Hayao Miyazaki came out of retirement. I, for one, cannot wait to see another Miyazaki directed film!

My Neighbor Totoro is cute, funny and realistic. However, I feel that something is missing. Totoro sounds like the main character, but he is on the screen for only a few scenes. Therefore, the movie somehow seems incomplete. The fact that I want more from it only proves how captivating it is.

Overall, My Neighbor Totoro is an amazing movie. In 1988, when this movie came out, anime was not that popular. My Neighbor Totoro set off a craze for anime in the U.S. that has not stopped yet. The special features unravel the magic by describing how the characters were created, the real life inspiration for the movie's unique locations and more.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 8 to 12. You can view this on DVD or Blu-Ray now. If you enjoy anime, cute and quirky characters, or just a realistic movie, check this out!

Reviewed by Eden T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Even after 25 years, My Neighbor Totoro remains an instantly watchable animated masterpiece that holds new surprises from every time I watch it.

Satsuki and Mei are sisters who move to the Japanese countryside with their father. The children are fascinated with the quirks of their new house, as well as the vast nature surrounding it. Satsuki goes to school and Mei begins to explore a fantastical world beneath a large tree in the backyard. She meets three little creatures and names one of them Totoro. Mei tells her sister about the adventure, but Satsuki does not believe her. During the next few days, the sisters discover more and more about their neighborhood and adjust to their new way of life.

My Neighbor Totoro effortlessly crafts and develops so many different poignant stories. It is a coming-of-age tale, as well as a story about how we deal with change and about the bond between two siblings. Totoro, his little pals and the world they inhabit add a whole other layer to an already complete narrative. The magical elements intertwine with Satsuki and Mei's story. They bring light to the siblings, during a scary and dark time in their life. The elements of magic add some levity to less joyful parts of the film, giving closure to the audience as to the characters.

The film never reveals too much about Totoro and a lot about him remains a mystery, even after the credits roll. He is so adorably drawn and never feels threatening. He has no dialogue, excluding a few grunts here and there, but is still one of my favorite things about this film. He brings a kind of magic that resonates with you every time he is on screen.

The lesson of My Neighbor Totoro is to never lose faith in what you believe in. Mei's belief in the magic of Totoro never falters and for that, Totoro helps her and Satsuki not just because they are kind souls, but also because they both learn to believe in his magic.

I recommend this film for ages 4 to 18. It appeals to all ages and has practically nothing objectionable for young audiences. I think adults will marvel at the spellbinding animation and wonderful story. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. You need to see this special re-release if you haven't already fallen in love with this film.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

In 1988, Studio Ghibli released their third motion picture, My Neighbor Totoro. This film is often the first one you think of when you think of Studio Ghibli or director Hayao Miyazaki. The title character, Totoro is even on the Studio Ghibli logo. It has been 30 years since this film first came out and it still holds up as the beautiful and charming film it is famous for being.

The story is about two sisters named Satski and Mei, voiced by the Fanning sisters, who move to an old house in the countryside with their dad. After moving in, they become friends with a forest spirit they call Totoro.

Of course, I like to talk about animation first and it is just beautiful. Not surprising since, the animation in Studio Ghibli films is always incredible. The backgrounds are just amazing to look at and the forest looks gorgeous. The movement is very fluid and fast; and the characters are so expressive. I love everything about this animation!

The characters are wonderful too. The focus is mostly on the two leads, Satski and Mei. The two of them are very fun, sweet characters who feel like real children. That's always important to me - that kids in films act like real kids. I also have to mention Totoro himself is such an adorable creature. I found myself wishing he was real, so you could cuddle him. He's just so fluffy!

Also, the music in this film is just phenomenal. It's so beautiful and whimsical. There is one particular scene where I actually teared up a little, because the combination of the music and the animation is just so pretty. I also listened to some of the music after watching the film and added it to my playlist. Studio Ghibli always has such wonderful music to back up their films.

My one complaint, that isn't even that big, is that it doesn't feel like there's much of a conflict in the plot. What I mean is, it lacks real struggle. There is a slight conflict because the mom is in the hospital, but the film doesn't treat that like it is a big problem. It's just something there. But even with that, the movie is just so cute, I really didn't bother me.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. The film is available now on DVD so be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Runtime: 90 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.99
Media: DVD


FRONTLINE: PUTIN'S REVENGE

FRONTLINE: PUTIN'S REVENGE
PBS DISTRIBUTION
Series: DVD, AGES 12-18
Topic - Family
Description - The program draws on more than 60 interviews with heads of U.S. intelligence agencies, diplomats, Russian politicians, historians and journalists to trace how Putin went from low-ranking KGB agent to long-serving president of a newly assertive Russia with the ability to wage cyber-war in the U.S. and across the globe. With in-depth reporting from Moscow and Washington, D.C., PUTIN'S REVENGE is a riveting and revealing documentary that explores why Putin has sought to sow distrust in America's democracy.

The first part of the program is a portrait of what makes the Russian leader tick, and the events that shaped his belief that the U.S. has sought to undermine Russia dating back to the fall of the Soviet Union. It explores how Putin came to power and then carefully constructed his image, cracking down on independent media outlets and opponents. It also traces key turning points in Putin's relationship with the U.S. over the years, including how his fear of a U.S. policy of regime change intensified, and how he came to see Hillary Clinton in particular as an enemy trying to oust him - despite State Department insistence it was only promoting democracy, not trying to steer the outcome of Russia's election.

The second half delves into the riveting story of Russian involvement in the 2016 election, and how and why the Obama administration struggled to confront Putin about both election interference and, before that, Putin's actions in Ukraine. The program shows Donald Trump's repeated praise of Putin, how Russia is believed to have weaponized hacked emails to influence U.S. news cycles and exploit the gulf between Hillary Clinton's and Bernie Sanders' supporters, and how false stories picked up by Russian propaganda websites were then promoted by Russian trolls and bots on social media, and eventually found their way onto mainstream American news broadcasts.

Against the backdrop of investigations by the FBI and Congress into the role Russia played in the election, Putin's Revenge is the must-watch, inside story of how we reached this point, what drives Putin, and what might happen next
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Attention-Grabbing! This fact based, true-life story was so interesting to watch. Vladimir Putin is definitely a curious man. Anyone who wants to learn more about his history and ties to the U.S. should watch this documentary. Putin's history is very dramatic. He is a former KGB officer and Prime Minister, who took over the presidency of Russia on December 31, 1999, after the former president resigned. As President, he has implemented many changes to Russian politics, including reducing democracy and transitioning back to Soviet Union era policies. The first half of is about Putin's history. The second part is about the Russian involvement with the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election. It is eye-opening.

This documentary dives deep into the history of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, his ties to the United States, and the chronicled possible interference with the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, his "revenge." Part 1 tells the story about Vladimir Putin, the current Russian President, former intelligence officer for the Soviet Union's KGB and Russian Prime Minister. Did you know that he is a man infatuated with how he is perceived by others? He is obsessed with television, and has gone so far as to get top TV execs fired for airing shows that portray him negatively or comically. He now has complete control over what his country views on public television. Even the news channels are only allowed to show footage that has been approved by this President. Part 2 focuses on leaked emails, Facebook ads and fake news....all linked to Russian hackers. It addresses how cyber intrusions instigated by Russians affected how U.S. people voted. The saga continues as we hear about why and how this was executed. Your thoughts will be spinning as you watch this story unfold. This is a documentary, so the characters are real life as are the clothing they wear. It definitely held my interest and is professionally produced. I learned a lot about the Russian President and about the U.S. Presidents that have dealt with him in the past. There is so much information that I had never heard of prior to watching this film.

This is a documentary you do not want to miss! It takes a deep dive into Putin's past, his policies, his personal character and his involvement with the U.S. 2016 Presidential election. I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults, and give it 4 out of 5 stars. The DVD releases on January 30, 2018.

Reviewed by Amanda McNeely, KIDS FIRST! Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Attention-Grabbing! This fact based, true-life story was so interesting to watch. Vladimir Putin is definitely a curious man. Anyone who wants to learn more about his history and ties to the U.S. should watch this documentary. Putin's history is very dramatic. He is a former KGB officer and Prime Minister, who took over the presidency of Russia on December 31, 1999, after the former president resigned. As President, he has implemented many changes to Russian politics, including reducing democracy and transitioning back to Soviet Union era policies. The first half of is about Putin's history. The second part is about the Russian involvement with the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election. It is eye-opening.

This documentary dives deep into the history of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, his ties to the United States, and the chronicled possible interference with the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, his "revenge." Part 1 tells the story about Vladimir Putin, the current Russian President, former intelligence officer for the Soviet Union's KGB and Russian Prime Minister. Did you know that he is a man infatuated with how he is perceived by others? He is obsessed with television, and has gone so far as to get top TV execs fired for airing shows that portray him negatively or comically. He now has complete control over what his country views on public television. Even the news channels are only allowed to show footage that has been approved by this President. Part 2 focuses on leaked emails, Facebook ads and fake news....all linked to Russian hackers. It addresses how cyber intrusions instigated by Russians affected how U.S. people voted. The saga continues as we hear about why and how this was executed. Your thoughts will be spinning as you watch this story unfold. This is a documentary, so the characters are real life as are the clothing they wear. It definitely held my interest and is professionally produced. I learned a lot about the Russian President and about the U.S. Presidents that have dealt with him in the past. There is so much information that I had never heard of prior to watching this film.

This is a documentary you do not want to miss! It takes a deep dive into Putin's past, his policies, his personal character and his involvement with the U.S. 2016 Presidential election. I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults, and give it 4 out of 5 stars. The DVD releases on January 30, 2018.

Reviewed by Amanda McNeely, KIDS FIRST! Juror
Runtime: 120 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 24.99
Media: DVD



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