Jury Coordination and Notes

Is It Really Appropriate? Epic in Retrospect…

June 3rd, 2013

RATED_PG.svg.jpgAt KIDS FIRST! we use a different style, more specific, for determining age recommendation than the Motion Picture Rating (MPAA.) These ratings have meaning, and before you attend a film it’s important to read reviews - KIDS FIRST! reviews will give you a lot of insight and IMDB will also give you specifics on warnings related to the MPAA rating.

In case you don’t know the real meaning of the MPAA rating PG, it stands for “Parental Guidance Suggested” and the full description is:

Some material may not be suitable for children. Parents are urged to give parental guidance as the motion picture contains some material that parents might not find suitable for younger children.
Such films may contain only mild violence, language, drug references, brief nudity and/or implied or inferred sexual activity.

See what KIDS FIRST! has to say about Epic, our reviews, synopsis and recommendations by clicking here. Why do I bring this up? This weekend I attended a screening of Epic with my ten-year-old son. We prefer non-3D. The theater was relatively empty (probably because it wasn’t the 3D version) but in attendance were about 15-20 preschoolers with their moms. So it made me wonder, what does PG mean to them? In our KIDS FIRST! youth reviews of this film, our seven-year-old Film Critic, Adam C. points out that this film is “appropriate for ages six and up as there are some scary parts of the movie that I wouldn’t recommend to kids under the age of six.”

Throughout the film the mother next to us had to continually soothe her preschooler with “everything is okay,” and “see they are going to be okay.” While he told his mom, “I’m scared,” and asked “What is happening now mommy?” Clearly this young child was not prepared for the intense imagery, the suspense and extreme scenes of “good vs evil.” In fact, it’s unfair for any child his age to have to deal with evil and dark images and be expected to make sense out of them.

Please, save the good and evil messages, the battles and intensity for when your children can developmentally make sense of them. You will avoid many nightmares, confusion and the annoyance of others in the theater who do not sit with their older children to listen to your scared child and mommy explanations.

We loved Epic. It was exciting and colorful. It had a message beneath the message and if you are old enough, you know that the dark is needed to make the light continue - or at least your old enough to discuss the concept.

Hear more discussions about the film Epic on KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions Radio Show. You can also check out some of our KIDS FIRST! Film Critics’ video reviews by Brianna B. and Anthony A.

The Newest “Star Trek” Takes Us Back To The Early Days

May 21st, 2013

StarTrekID_1.jpg“Star Trek into Darkness” is the second movie based on the original TV series and, for those of us who grew up watching this show, brings back all our favorite characters - Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Sulu (John Cho.) The storyline is also reminiscent of those of the past but fleshed out with 3D, great character development, outstanding sound effects and good acting throughout. Our youth film critics were wowed by the film. Patrick N., age 13, commented that it “left me in awe and thrill.” It also brings attention to the close brotherly relationship between Captain Kirk and Spock. In the end, Patrick finds a new passion for “Star Trek” as you can see below.

“Star Trek into Darkness”

By Patrick N.

View Patrick’s full video review here!

Satirical, emotional and epic are the only words to describe the new movie “Star Trek Into Darkness.” I got a chance to visit the Paramount Lot for an exclusive screening of this movie, which left me in awe and thrill. Although this movie is a sequel to the previous “Star Trek” series, movie goers who are not familiar with the story will understand the plot clearly. The actors portray their characters very well thanks to the director, J.J Abrams. The scenery and set for the futuristic year of 2240 are so vivid and realistic, audience members will forget they are in the year 2013. This movie is also produced for the IMAX 3D, which puts all the explosions and fight scenes in your face.

The relationship of all the characters on the iconic Starship Enterprise are deep and meaningful. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachery Quinto) develop a brotherly love through the struggles they conquer. The Villain, Khan (Benedict Cumberpatch) is a scary two-faced character that will leave the audience guessing his fate until the very end. Not only does the main star achieve his role perfectly, but the co-stars also do an superb job. The writers, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof successfully add comedy to the script bringing an emotional roller coaster to the audience.

The set ranges from modern skyscrapers to futuristic spaceships. The designers portray the theme very well, using many computer generated images to create the year of 2240 in a way that make it seem so real. The 3D element is an added bonus because it brings the action up close. The beginning scene has a lot of running and fighting sequences and yet it is all filmed in such detail that the characters seem like they are going to run off screen.

After watching this movie, my passion for “Star Trek” has been sparked! I rate this movie 5 out of 5 because it balances the comedy and action scenes so well. It has multiple themes taking place but the on-going theme, “the power of friendship can build you or destroy you” is present throughout. This movie contains a handful of violence but is not bloody or graphic. The action sequences, violence and realistic make-up could be scary for younger audience members so, I recommend this for ages 13 to18. This movie has sparked an interest in “Star Trek” for me and hopefully it will do the same to you.

Be a Film Critic and Get Free Stuff!

May 6th, 2013

KF_FilmCriticsLogo1.jpgThis just in… KIDS FIRST! is now accepting kid’s reviews on any family film for the KIDS FIRST! Critics Go Local Campaign.

What does this mean to you? It means that your child can review any new theatrical release or film on DVD, PG-13 and younger, and for every review you submit, you will receive either a *free movie ticket or a free skin for your favorite mobile device from ZINGrevolution.com (while supplies last.)

It’s easy, fun and free — and you’ll be rewarded!

Visit the KIDS FIRST! Critics Go Local website to see some of our recommendations and for instructions to participate.

View, Review and Get Rewards

April 10th, 2013


Does your child love movies and love to talk about them? Do you love free stuff? KIDS FIRST! wants to hear from you!

In our KIDS FIRST! Critics Go Local, your child can be a film critic too. We now have five titles to choose from to review – and every kid who does a video review gets a prize!

Just send us your child’s video review of Chasing Mavericks, Life of Pi, Return to Nim’s Island, Parental Guidance or Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon and you will receive a free movie ticket or a free skin for your favorite mobile device from ZINGrevolution.com!

All of these films are now out on DVD/Blu-ray, so get your copy today and become a KIDS FIRST! Local Film Critic!

Click here to visit our KIDS FIRST! Critics Go Local website and see the details and instructions for participating. We can’t wait to hear from you!

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Not For Young Audiences

March 25th, 2013

IncredibleBurt.jpgThis new release tells the story of a Las Vegas magician named Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and his sidekick Anton (Steve Buscemi). Be forewarned that this film is rated PG-13 for a good reason. There are sexual situations, rude humor and some disturbing acts that I would not to expose younger kids to. 15-year-old KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Raven Devanney was a bit disappointed, saying the film is “entertaining and has a few hilarious moments, but it isn’t what I expected from a film with so much hype.”

“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”

Reviewed by Raven Devanney

Click here to see Raven’s full video review!

I’m actually not that impressed with this movie. When you think of Steve Carell and Jim Carrey (stars of this film) you think of all-out humor, but this movie is lacking in laughs. I feel like they put most of the funny parts of the film into the trailer and left nothing for the movie. I had such high expectations for this film and they were let down. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is entertaining and has a few hilarious moments, but it isn’t what I expected from a film with so much hype.

There is nothing special about the cinematography, it is a quality picture, just like any other 2D film you would see in a theater today. However, I do like the use of colors when it comes to costume and set design by Dayna Pink and Andrea Fenton because they show the more cheesy side of Las Vegas entertainment.

My favorite scene is the very end of the film when Burt and Anton pull their biggest stunt. It’s so funny when you see the “behind the scenes” work that goes into their trick because it seems so ridiculous and over-the-top-funny.

My favorite character is Rance Holloway played by Alan Arkin because he is such a witty character. Rance is the old magician who inspired Burt to become a magician and when Burt meets Rance later in life, it is very comical. Not only are their interactions funny, but also touching. Burt had lost touch with the wonder and amazement that magic brings and Rance is able to re-teach Burt a few old tricks that help him rediscover why he first became a magician.

Overall I give The Incredible Burt Wonderstone 3.5 out of 5 stars because it isn’t as incredible as I expected, but it does have an entertaining quality to it. I recommend this film for ages 13 and up.”

Beautiful, Original Take on Oz But Not for Your Youngest

March 11th, 2013

Oz.Great.jpgThe evergreen classic, Wizard of Oz gets a fresh new look in Disney’s new version, Oz The Great and Powerful starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. Here, we have the tall tale about a circus magician, Oscar Diggs (James Franco), who dreams of becoming a great wizard. He sets off in a hot air balloon only to encounter a tornado that sweeps him away to the brilliantly enchanting 3D world of Oz. Seeing this as an opportunity to make something of himself, Oscar (aka Oz) convinces the good people that he is the great wizard they have been waiting for. Once he realizes that being the king of this great land is more work and less play, he has to decide whether or not to stay and protect the people that look up to him most, or continue in his ways of being a scammer.

Our KIDS FIRST! Film critic, 15-year-old Raven Devanney recently attended an advance screening and shares her review below.

Oz the Great and Powerful

by Raven Devanney (age 15)

Click here to see Raven’s full video review!

This movie is beautiful! The CGI is breathtakingly clear and crisp and the 3D pops. I especially love the opening credits which are done in black and white and look like vintage pop-up books. I also love that when it shows dusty Kansas it is in black and white and the screen is small, but as soon as you reach Oz, the images morphs into vivid colors and the screen widens to reveal Oz in all its splendor.

The musical score in this film is wonderful. The composer, Danny Elfman, keeps it lively and whimsical, while diming the mood of the music when the moment is right.

My favorite characters are Oz, played by James Franco and Finley, voiced by Zach Braff. I like Oz because he is so cheesy and such a con man. He always plays girls and lies his way through every possible opportunity. But, Franco does it in a tasteful way that brings cleverness and humor to the film.

I also like Finley who is Oz’s assistant, an adorable little flying monkey. He is always making the funniest comments and is so honest. There is one scene when he is trying to distract someone, and he does the funniest things.

I like how original this plot is because there have been countless numbers of films, plays and stories based on the Wizard of Oz, but I haven’t seen one like this. It is a predictable story line which is usually a thumbs down for me, but this film is so good that it works. The land of Oz is so beautiful and uniquely designed, it is very visually pleasing.  There are definitely some jump scares in this film because of the wicked witches, baboons and the evil forest. So, parents taking children, be advised that they may get frightened.

I give Oz: The Great and Powerful 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 and up.

Check out other great video reviews from our KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Anthony Aranda and Cheyenne Nguyen!

Superheroes Unite! Bullying Is Everyone’s Problem.

February 25th, 2013

BystandersBullying films come and go, but some stay with you longer than others. They stay in your mind, your heart, they open you to new ways of looking at things.

How To Unmake A Bully: Bystanders, affected me in this way. It isn’t just a film about standing up to bullies, or about how to change everyone around you. It is a call to action. Reminding us as friends to notice and to care.

This recently endorsed title from MOVIEQUEST Productions is a must-see for all elementary school kids, administrators, teachers and recess staff. It tells the story of three friends who enlist classmates in a heroic journey toward providing super-powered backup to targets of bullying. One student battles his inner doubts as to whether or not he can ever be a hero. It is a sequel to the short film How To Unmake A Bully.

Both our Adult and Child KIDS FIRST! Jurors benefited from this film. “Kids use their “super powers” and huge imagination to fight against real life issues of bullying. They show us how being a bystander is just an opportunity to make a choice: to help or to ignore. By bonding together they effectively take the power out of the hands of kids making bad choices and face their fears as a team. This is a powerful message, empowering kids to help each other and know when it is right to ask for help from adults. Having an elementary-school aged kid myself, I know this would make a huge impression on him, but it’s clear that having other kids to back you up can make all the difference. I hope every school in America will show this to their students and staff, even parents. It makes me feel as if every child can be a hero - and now I know the perfect after-school program: superhero workshop!”

“This may not be the kids’ all-time favorite movie, but it does get them talking! It made them think and discuss ways to deal with bullying at school. One child admitted, “I never really thought that it was bad to just stand by and do nothing, but now I know it’s almost as bad as being the bully.” It seemed to change their outlook, and that’s a great thing! “My favorite part is how they work together and show examples of what can be done” said another Child Juror, while another confessed, “I was bullied last year and some friends stood up for me, so I know what it is like.”

Princesses Like To Rock Too!

February 5th, 2013

moeys.jpgCalling all Princesses! Do you like to rock? Are you ready for a Princess Revolution? If you are, you have to get yourself a copy of Moey’s Music Party: Princess Revolution. KIDS FIRST! recommends this rockin’ CD for kids (especially princesses) ages 1-5.

Moey’s Music Party, the award-winning children’s band, encourages tiara-rific girls everywhere to revel in their brainpower, independence, joy and style. Contains 15 rocking original songs that promote confidence and self-expression while tackling subjects like sharing, body image, keeping promises, and standing up to bullies. Princess Revolution! includes modern musical retellings of classic fairy tales such as “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Princess and the Pea” and “Snow White.”

Here’s what KIDS FIRST! Jurors had to say: Cute rock n’ roll take on music for your favorite princess. Princess theme, but music isn’t too girly, appealing to a wide range of pre-school aged girls. Fun, upbeat songs for your favorite princess. Familiar songs done in an unfamiliar way. Will have kids jumping and singing along. The perfect gift for your music-loving princess!

Kids loved the music too! “These are fun songs.” “I like princesses a lot.” “I know some of the songs, but not like on the CD.” “I like to dance to the songs and I took my princess dolls and let them jump on the bed too!” “I’d like to listen to the Jumping On The Bed song right now.”

Princess Revolution is available for sale from Lemonade Productions LLC at moeysmusicparty.com

Worlds Together, Another Award-Winning Series From Master Communications

January 28th, 2013

worldstogether.jpgThis summer I had the pleasure of reviewing the newest series from Master Communications, Worlds Together. Well known for their Families of The World series, Master Communication’s Worlds Together DVDs take a fresh approach toward cultural understanding.

KIDS FIRST! reviewed three titles in this series, Ethiopia, East Africa and West Africa. All three garnished our highest ranking of All-Star. These films are documentaries, but not in a traditional sense. Intertwining basic facts like geography, they also give you a rare glimpse into the culture of the people, people from different areas and different lifestyles within each region.

Here’s what some of our KIDS FIRST! Adult Jurors had to say: “This DVD teaches history, culture, geography and the diversity of the people living there. Shows the poverty, but also shows the beauty. Children can learn about other children that live in this far away place. Educational from beginning to end. I like how you see the characters at work and at play, they are working together and look happy. A child can see how their culture is different, but also the similarities, to their own.” “Educational and positive. It shows how people live in the different cities in West Africa, East Africa and Ethiopia, and teaches many facts from what languages are spoken to what foods they eat, to how they work and play. In addition to telling facts, it shows them so a child can visually see and understand. A great teaching tool for young children! The scenes near the river are breath-taking and the production quality is very good. A valuable educational film, not overwhelming and easy to follow.”

Geography loving KIDS FIRST! Child Jurors like these DVDs as well. Here are some of our kids’ comments: “Kids seem happy even though they only have things like balls and hoops to play with.” “I was surprised that kids were always smiling and happy even though they don’t have things like video games.” “It shows how they live, how they dress.” “I like to learn about different cultures.” “I like that it is a real documentary and shows how people dress and work.” “I didn’t know that Ethiopia had grass because TV never shows that part. I like seeing a better view of it.” “It wasn’t how I had pictured Ethiopia in my mind.”

You can purchase these titles directly from Master Communications at www.master-comm.com

Steps4Kids Teaches Simple Drawing Techniques

January 22nd, 2013


Does your kid love to doodle, but is frustrated that his house sometimes looks more like a boat? Being creative is one of the most important skills your child can have, but being able to express their ideas in pictures that others will recognize can give them a huge leap in self-esteem.

Steps4Kids, who brought us great DVDs to teach kids to write their ABC’s and to multiply, now offer us an easy-to-follow, colorful and fun product to teach kids basic drawing skills, called Steps4Kids To Draw.

KIDS FIRST! Jurors reviewed this product with their Junior Film Critics, and here is what they have to say:

This is an interactive drawing program. A narrator shows step-by-step how to draw different things including people, animals and objects. The narrator is very clear in how she explains her drawings and shows alternative ways of drawing the same things. She also gives options of how to enhance the drawing. It is easy to follow along and will motivate all ages to try because they make it looks so easy. Simple production, music and lighting are appropriate to the educational content.

This DVD helped kids draw people, shapes, things and animals. They like drawing the objects most. The kids enjoy trying to copy the different drawings and follow the video exactly. They also like to add their own enhancements. The kids wanted to draw along and each told stories about how they made things in their school. They were inspired to create and to discuss.To purchase this DVD, visit the Steps4Kids website by clicking on the producer link here.

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