My Little Pony – Still Great For Kids With Bright Colors, Simple but Hilarious Jokes and Educational Morals.

February 15th, 2017

Join Twilight Sparkle and her best pony pals as they explore one of the most beautiful places in Equestria. In the Crystal Empire, Twilight must find out if there is a spy in the empire. She also dedicates herself to helping a reformed pony learn the magic of friendship. Meanwhile, the Mane Six will work together to ensure a ceremony for Cadences and Shining Armor’s new baby goes as planned. With the power of friendship, there is nothing the ponies can’t do! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “I love watching the My Little Pony series and this season does not disappoint. I was captivated by the unique plot and relatable characters.” Linda D. adds, “These episodes are educating, exciting and captivating. I felt happy throughout the entire film and learned more about friendship.” Imani B. wraps it up with, “It is a very positive story. I always have a strong liking towards this group of ponies’ adventures because of their fun and exciting personalities. Friendship is the main theme of this collection…” See their full reviews below.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Exploring the Crystal Empire
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

I love watching the My Little Pony series and this season does not disappoint. I was captivated by the unique plot and relatable characters. This new season has around 110 minutes of fun and exciting adventures that are both entertaining and educational.

The main theme of My Little Pony is to educate both kids and adults about friendship and everyday issues. It teaches these lessons in a variety of ways, with each and every episode having its own independent adventure that contains hilarious comedy and even action from time to time.

There are five episodes total on DVD and they all focus on adventures around the Crystal Empire, a city in the My Little Pony world. Each adventure is completely different from the others. One is a time travel adventure, another is about protecting the Crystal Empire from freezing weather and another is about making friends with a creature that everyone assumes to be a monster. Despite the differences in each episode, they are all entertaining, unique and have wonderful messages behind them.

The production quality of this animated series has never gone down, but instead continues to improve. One key thing that surprises me most is the plot and the message behind the plot. This season fantastically creates new and interesting elements to continue the exciting journey of the characters. Speaking of characters, the voice-over work is still as emotional, original and natural as it was in the first episode.

Out of the five episodes, my favorite is the last one called The Times They are A Changeling. In this episode, one of the characters discovers a creature known as a changeling that can take the form of any other character. Unlike the rest of his species, he is not driven by hate and anger. The changeling struggles to prove to others that he is not a monster but just someone who wants a friend. This is a fantastic moral because it talks about how one specific person does not reflect what their entire race or nation is doing and should not be judged for the actions of others. It is a marvelous message that I feel is very important for both kids and adults to listen to in today’s world.

My Little Pony is still great for kids, with bright colors, simple but hilarious jokes, and educational morals. But this series also appeals to adults with its compelling stories, relatable characters and morals that can apply to adults as much as they do to kids. I give My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Exploring the Crystal Empire 5 out of 5 stars for its beautiful animation, wonderful episodes, entertaining plot and compelling morals. This DVD is available now so, go check it out.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Exploring the Crystal Empire
By Linda D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

I love this My Little Pony DVD! These episodes are educating, exciting and captivating. I felt happy throughout the entire film and learned more about friendship. This film follows an alicorn, a unicorn and a pegasus, named Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) and her pet dragon, Spike (Cathy Weseluck) on their adventures in saving Equestria and the Crystal Empire.

In the first episode, Twilight Sparkle and Spike go on a quest to save the friendship between the ponies from Starlight Glimmer. Starlight Glimmer goes back in time to make sure Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball) never creates a sonic boom. Twilight Sparkle has to figure out a way to stop Starlight Glimmer and save the friendship between the ponies.

In the second episode, the eight ponies attend a Crystalling for Twilight’s baby brother, Shining Armour (Andrew Francis) who is also an alicorn. A baby, named Flurry Heart, cannot control her powers and destroys the crystal heart, a major part of the Crystalling ceremony. The team now must work together to fix the heart before the ceremony begins. In the final episode, an unexpected friendship forms between Spike and the feared changeling.

The greatest feature of this film is the value of friendship. I learned many lessons, including how you can be friends with anyone, how you can reconnect with old friends, and how you can make a friend of an enemy. Another great quality of the film was the many different personalities of the ponies, which simulated the diversity of the real world. My favorite character in this film was Rainbow Dash because she is loyal, strong, and courageous. My favorite part is when Twilight Sparkle and her friends first meet Flurry Heart, because she is so cute and everyone surprisingly finds out she had strong magical powers.
I give this film 5 out of 5 stars because I was both informed and entertained by Twilight Sparkle and her friend’s adventures. I would recommend this film for ages 4 to 10 because children this age may be excited to learn about friendship from mystical creatures. This film is out on DVD now, so make sure to watch it.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Exploring the Crystal Empire
By Imani B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

I really enjoyed My Little Pony: Exploring the Crystal Empire. It is a very positive story. I always have a strong liking towards this group of ponies’ adventures because of their fun and exciting personalities. Friendship is the main theme of this collection of five episodes and a sing-along. Viewers are invited to join the Equestria crew for fun filled magical adventures filled with great spirit, along with interactive scenes which younger ages will enjoy.

Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) and her friends go on an adventure to explore the wonderful Crystal Empire. They are encountered by old enemies and obstacles, but are able to make new friendships along the way.

I have two scenes that are my favorites. The first is when Twilight finally connects with Starlight resulting in her to change her unfriendly ways and learn the true meaning of friendship. This is a very good representation showing how people are able to change no matter what the circumstances. Also, it represents how new friendships can be made within or without conflicts. My other favorite scene is the sing-along with all of the Equestria girls. I really like the songs because the ponies explain how friendship can change the world and make it a better place. Without friendship, the magic in Equestria isn’t complete! Some other positive aspects of the movie are how every episode deals with friendship and the growth of it. Also, every episode has vibrant colors, great animation and, of course, a great cast!

The message prevalent in this DVD collection is about how strong friendships are for the entire world. Twilight Sparkle, along with her other friends, make is very clear throughout the film how powerful their friendship is. They discuss how they would not know what they would do without each other. Friendship is a powerful source of magic that the kids learn about throughout this film which makes it so fun and magical.

I rate this film 4 ½ out of 5 stars for its wonderful animation, bright colors, music and interesting storyline. I recommend this film for ages 5 through 10 because of its kid friendly theme. Parents will enjoy watching this as well because it is very family friendly. My Little Pony: Exploring the Crystal Empire is available now on DVD.

The LEGO Batman Movie – Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman

February 10th, 2017

There are big changes brewing in Gotham, but if Batman (Will Arnett) wants to save the city from the Joker’s (Zach Galifianakis) hostile takeover, he may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up. Maybe his superhero sidekick Robin (Michael Cera) and loyal butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) can show him a thing or two. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “The LEGO Batman Movie is a superb superhero movie which serves as a great homage to many aspects of Batman history.” Na’im S. adds, “The LEGO Batman Movie is fantastic! I was laughing throughout the entire film! I really enjoy all of the jokes and comedy that was put into it.” See their full reviews below.

The LEGO Batman Movie
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

The LEGO Batman Movie is a superb superhero movie which serves as a great homage to many aspects of Batman history. I really liked the animation, voice acting and humor in this movie. This exactly what a Batman fan would want.

This movie is about Batman/Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett) who is the crime fighting vigilante of Gotham. Despite all his glory, he feels lonely. He wants to be part of a family, despite his selfish behavior. His butler, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) soon brings him an adopted kid, Richard Grayson (Michael Cera). Richard grows fond of Batman, and the two go to fight crime, with Richard’s superhero name being Robin. Once the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) attacks Gotham with a various variety of villains, Batman must team with Robin, Alfred and the new commissioner of the GCPD, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) to stop the attack. During this, Batman must also learn to accept his new family.

Will Arnett delivers a show-stealing performance as Batman, my favorite character in the movie, and he is great in switching between the dark vigilante of Batman and the charismatic billionaire of Bruce Wayne. Also, he greatly presents the aspect of wanting a family. Ralph Fiennes as Alfred is impressive as a caring guardian for Bruce. Michael Cera portrays another excellent performance as Robin, and his nerdy characteristics are put into play. Zach Galifianakis is good in presenting the Joker with his humor and villainy. Rosario Dawson also manages to deliver with her heroic motives.

The animation by Stewart Alves is incredible. It improves on the what The LEGO Movie did right, and the color pallet used for Gotham really fits how Gotham looks like. The movie’s humor impressed me. The movie has a ton of fourth wall breaks. The characters in the movie even act like they know they are movie characters which adds to the fun. The movie even makes jokes about other movie franchises. My favorite scene in the movie is when Batman just happens to chill for a moment and watches a bit of Jerry Maguire. It really gave a good laugh.

The movie has a good message in working as a team. When Gotham is invaded by large number of criminals, the only way to fix the problem is to work as a team. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18 years old. This is a movie which will appeal to all ages. This film opens in theaters on February 10rd, so go and check it out for a unique superhero experience.

The LEGO Batman Movie
By Naim Smith, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11


The LEGO Batman Movie is fantastic! I was laughing throughout the entire film! I really enjoy all of the jokes and comedy that was put into it. But I wish they would have added some more jokes into the movie that younger kids would appreciate because after all Batman is a superhero and little kids love superheroes.

This movie is about Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Will Arnett). Batman has been fighting crime for a very long time, but he is starting to do and say some very bad things to the people around him because he is very lonely without a family. Because of his loneliness Batman adopts a son, Robin (Michael Cera), which forces him to be more responsible and take care of his son. Usually, Batman doesn’t want to work with others but he is forced to during the film.
This movie is made by the same production company as The Lego Movie so if you liked that movie then you will definitely love this movie. But, if you haven’t seen The Lego Movie you will probably still enjoy this movie.

My favorite part of the movie is the use CGI, which made each scene in the movie really entertaining. The action in this movie is so incredible that when I watched the movie in IMAX I was blown away. I recommend that you do not sit in the front unless you want your eyes to actually fall out.
This movie teaches kids how to work together with others, be responsible, and be kind to others. Even though this is a superhero movie, it was not directed towards little kids because of the humor and violence. I give the movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend this movie for kid’s ages 6 to 18 and also adults would really enjoy it. Go check this movie out in theaters February 10, 2017.

This Beautiful Fantastic – Stunning visuals, character development and spellbinding script.

February 8th, 2017

A reclusive young woman who dreams of becoming a children’s author finds an unlikely mentor in the rich curmudgeon who lives next door. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ella L. comments, “This film has stunning visuals, character development and a spellbinding script that turns it into a cinematic masterpiece.” See her full review below.

This Beautiful Fantastic
By Ella L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This Beautiful Fantastic is an incredible cinematic experience that I’ll never forget! It is a stunning movie that brings two lonely people together to enjoy the beauty of nature. I love seeing each character grow throughout the film.

This incredible film is about an aspiring author with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) named Bella (Jessica Brown Findlay). She befriends her next door neighbor, Alfred (Tom Wilkinson), when she is told she will be evicted from her house if she doesn’t tend to her garden. With the help from Alfred and Vernon (Andrew Scott), Bella’s personal chef, they try to find a way to tend to the garden and, in doing so, discover how a garden influences them.

This film has stunning visuals, character development and a spellbinding script that turns it into a cinematic masterpiece. The flowers in Alfred’s garden add to the visual appeal of the film because of its juxtaposition to Bella’s garden. The set design also creates visual appeal, with sets such as Bella’s canopy bed and the setup of the garden. The garden is what inspired the film’s title because Bella describes it as “beautiful, fantastic.” The cinematography is gorgeous as well. An example of this is when the downpour starts and a rainbow reflects over Bella’s face.

In this movie, the characters grow alongside each other. Alfred starts off as a grumpy and mean old man, but grows to be kind, gentle and treats Bella as though she is his daughter. Bella is introduced as timid and scared of nature, but she overcomes her fear when she befriends Alfred and learns to care for the garden. Throughout the movie, you also see Bella become less and less OCD. At the end, she leaves her door open versus, in the beginning she checks the door five times before leaving the house. There is also a change in Vernon. In the beginning, he is very nervous and acts as a “slave” towards Alfred. But by the end, he becomes less scared and more independent.

The music adds an ethereal effect to the movie, such as when Alfred watches Bella tend to the garden. Also, when Billy (Jeremy Irvine) shows Bella the mechanical bird, Luna, he is making. The music in this scene adds a very magical tone.

I love how eloquent the script is. An example of this is when Billy talks to Bella about a statue he is studying called The Ecstasy of Theresa. He describes it as “destroying logic with emotion.” His detail in explaining the statue shows how impactful art can be to a person.

This film demonstrates how much another person can help you thrive and adore the importance of nature. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for people ages 10 to 18 and adults will enjoy it as well. This movie comes out March 10, 2017 in theaters nation wide, so check it out.

French for Kids: Les Saisons – Cute Characters, child friendly songs and wonderful immersion language lessons

February 1st, 2017

French for Kids: Les Saisons covers the seasons from l’hiver (winter) to l’automne (autumn), in a year-round language-learning celebration. This lively French immersion video engages children with colorful backgrounds, animation, catchy songs, live-action footage and lots of fun! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “French for Kids: Les Saisons (The Seasons) is a fun, colorful DVD language course from Whistlefritz that is perfect for helping your kids learn French.” See his full review below.

French for Kids: Les Saisons
By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

French for Kids: Les Saisons (The Seasons) is a fun, colorful DVD language course from Whistlefritz that is perfect for helping your kids learn French.

Les Saisons follows Fritzi, a cute and cheery mouse who attends a birthday party and then wonders when his own birthday is. His friend Marie helps guide him through the year and tells him all the special traits of winter, spring, summer and fall so he can figure it out. I had fun joining Marie and Fritzi in a well-paced lesson and jovial sing-a-long about the seasons – all in French.

The entire program runs 35 minutes and, while it’s about the seasons, it also covers vocabulary on saying “hi,” saying your name and other basic phrases as well as special vocabulary about holidays. This program really helps children understand by repeating words over and over and singing about the words to make it fun. The teacher Marie pronounces everything very slowly and clearly. A group of kids also repeat key words and contribute to a better understanding of what is going on onscreen. This DVD mixes animation and live action together successfully to make sure kids can follow the pronunciation but also have fun with its cast of animated characters. The lesson also includes footage of kids doing several pastimes related to the season being discussed which keeps things interesting. For instance, when they talk about fall, they shows kids jumping into piles of leaves.

This DVD has a special features video that explains Whistlefritz’s inventive philosophy about immersion and what exactly learning by immersion means. I recommend you watch that before showing kids the DVD.

I give French for Kids: Les Saisons an age recommendation of 2 to 8. There is nothing objectionable about this DVD, but I think it is most comprehensible for children at least 2-years-old. French for Kids: Les Saisons 4 out of 5 stars. This is an excellent resource for your child to begin to learn some basic French. This DVD is available on Amazon and other places where DVDs are sold. Do check out some of the other titles from its producer, Whistlefritz while you’re at it.

A Dog’s Purpose will make you laugh, cry and question the true purpose of life.

January 27th, 2017

AdogsP.poster.jpgA devoted dog discovers the meaning of its own existence through the lives of the humans it teaches to laugh and love. Reincarnated as multiple canines over the course of five decades, the lovable pooch develops an unbreakable bond with a kindred spirit named Ethan. As the boy grows older and comes to a crossroad, the dog once again comes back into his life to remind him of his true self. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “Only a few movies truly make me cry and, within the first 15 minutes, this became one of them. This was done not by blasting sad emotions with sad music at the viewer, but by building a real connection with the characters.” Maria G. adds, “This charming, appealing film had me on a rollercoaster of emotions. It has many beloved scenes that captivates the audience’s heart such as when Ethan saves Bailey from a steaming heat car and adopts the dog as his new companion.” See their full reviews below.

A Dog’s Purpose
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

There are many movies that focus on a dog’s world but not about what the dog is actually thinking. A Dog’s Purpose does the opposite, by focusing on the dog and a dog’s place in the world. This perfect story will make you laugh, cry and question the true purpose of life. The movie sets out to inspire the audience and does it by taking the main character through an emotional and long adventure filled with comedy, drama and even some romance.

The story begins with a happy puppy entering the world, ready to play and explore. Sadly for the puppy, his life doesn’t AdogsP.a.jpglast long. After passing away, the puppy is surprised to come back as a puppy again. This time in a different body. Soon, he becomes a family pet named Bailey and specifically, is a best friend to the son of the family. As time passes, the boy grows up and heads to college. Bailey passes away once again, but this time he’s happy to have lived a long life with a human he loves. Bailey comes back again and again and again. Each time Bailey comes back as a different dog breed (or gender) with a different life purpose. Finally, after many lives, he realizes that his main purpose is to spend time with the people he loves and to help them in their lives as much as he can.

Only a few movies truly make me cry and, within the first 15 minutes, this became one of them. This was done not by blasting sad emotions with sad music at the viewer, but by building a real connection with the characters. The story doesn’t put a smile on everything. It is realistic and very sad and depressing at times. People who own dogs, like me, ADogsP.b.jpgwill never look at their dogs the same way. They will look at them as true companions and family members.

I really enjoyed the voice-over (Josh Gad) for Bailey and his other incarnations. His voice-over work is phenomenal and suits all the dogs in the story so well. The cinematography is also spot on. It often shows specific scenes from the dog’s perspective which is a genius idea and truly allows one to have a deeper connection with the character. The entire cast evokes emotion and  keep a complex story entertaining.

The scene where Bailey/Ellie swim in the water is my favorite because it is an action-packed scene that is exciting but also very sad. Another reason to bring up this scene is that it is the scene that has elicited accusations of animal abuse by some animal activists. In this scene, you can clearly see the dog is not in distress. The dog is happy and greatly enjoying the activity as is the case for almost every single scene in the film. Throughout, you see things happening to the main character which would make anyone wantADogsP.c.jpg to adopt a dog. The message of dog adoption is so strong that it makes me wonder why animal rights activists are boycotting this film when it does nothing but hurts this wonderful and inspirational story to come out and support animal adoption. A Dog’s Purpose will inspire hundreds, if not thousands, to go out and adopt dogs to take care of and love.

A Dog’s Purpose has some brutally sad facts about the world around us which would be too much for younger kids. There is also mild violence in several scenes, so I recommend it for ages 9 to 18. I give it 5 out of 5 stars for its beautiful message about the purpose of life, its call to action for dog adoption, spectacular voice-over work, emotional acting and unique cinematography. It opens in theaters nationwide on January 27, 2017 so, go check it out.

A Dog’s Purpose
By Maria Guerrero, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

This charming, appealing film had me on a roller-coaster of emotions. It has many beloved scenes that captivates the ADogsP.d.jpgaudience’s heart such as when Ethan saves Bailey from a steaming heat car and adopts the dog as his new companion. Additionally, throughout multiple scenes you see the heartwarming relationship and bond between dogs and their owners. For example, Maya has such a strong bond with her dog that the dog can guess what she is thinking.

The storyline of this film is about a caring dog (Josh Gad) following him through several lifetimes with several different humans as he discovers the purpose and the reason for his journey. Throughout his several lifetimes, every time he is reincarnated he comes back as a different breed, in a different decade and with a new owner. Although he meetsAdogsP.m.jpgseveral different owners and faces a different experience every time he is reincarnated, he is mostly impacted by Ethan (Bryce Gheisar) who is a young caring boy that rescues him. As Ethan matures and faces the challenges of life, their relationship will be lost but they are reunited in future years.

The idea and structure of this film is very creative and rare. Great attention is paid to all the details and ideas that make up this film. My favorite concept is how it’s told from the point of view and perspective of the dog. I love that you can hear the dog’s thoughts as he experiences several lives. I really like that every time he reincarnates he is a different breed of dog. For example, in one life he is a male German Shepherd who works with the Chicago Police Department and in another he is a college women’s companion. All these different point of views make this film great, although it might get a bit repetitious every time he is born.

The protagonist of the film, Ethan, is played by three characters as they portray his different ages. Young Ethan is played ADogsP.e.jpgby Bryce Gheisar (Walk the Prank, The Bus Stop). Young high school football star Ethan is played by K.J Apa (Riverdale).  Adult Ethan is played by Dennis Quaid (Vantage Point, Frequency, The Day After Tomorrow).

Although this film is told by a dog and is about his experiences, there are several morals and messages that the viewer can take in.  As the dog experiences five different decades from the 60s to the 90s, it tries to find its calling in life. This can be reflected in society, in the sense that each and everyone of us has a mission here on earth. Just like the loveable dog trying to figure out its journey and purpose, people also can relate to the goal of discovering what their calling is. Teenagers can particularly relate to this as they are maturing and discovering who they are as a person. I personally can connect with this moral and my philosophy in life is in sync with it – we all have a special unique purpose in this world.

I give A Dog’s Purpose 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a great film to watch with your friends and family. Its perfect for ages 6 to 18. Young adults and adults will also enjoy watching this heartfelt film about man’s best friend. This film comes out January 27, 2017 so, go check it out.