Bronies and Fans, Take Note: My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Rainbow Rocks Will Not Disappoint

September 29th, 2014

MLP.RainbowRocks.jpgMusic rules and rainbows rock as Twilight Sparkle and her pals compete for the top spot in the Canterlot High “Mane Event” talent show. This latest installment of the My Little Pony franchise does not disappoint and is perfect for your younger set as well as the die hard Brony fans. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O, age 12 comments, “It is definitely a combination of adventure with a crème of comedy and a sprinkle of excitement all rapped up in a friendship sandwich.” See his full review below and catch his interviews with Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Will Anderson and more at the premiere below.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Rainbow Rocks
Reviewed by Gerry O, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

What an addition to the “My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic” franchise! This film has references to the first movie, a bit of story from the last season of the show and even all the little extra characters that My Little Pony fans love!

It is definitely a combination of adventure with a crème of comedy and a sprinkle of excitement all rapped up in a friendship sandwich.

The adventure starts when a band performance is planned at Canterlot High where the kids can make bands and raise funds and three very unusual girls turn it into a super competitive battle of the bands. When they run out of things to do, Twilight’s friends from that world call to another world where Twilight is. Will they be able to come there and save them or will evil prevail?

This film is just fantastic! Hasbro was smart to include a lot of little fun things from the shows that fans adore including the beloved Derby Hooves pony who is really never part of the story, just in the background for fun. The songs are great as well. We hear not just the classic My Little Pony songs from the TV show. Instead, the music is very pop like which suits the story well. I imagine that sing-along coming to the fans shortly and being a smash hit. The show’s creators also connected to the first Equestria Girls movie which I thought was perfect.

My favorite scene is when girls are having a sleep-over at Pinkie Pie’s house. When Twilight gets out of bed and walks to the kitchen she finds Pinkie’s older sister feeding her pet boulder. I love this scene because, in the show, there is an episode where we meet this sister. So, I thought having her in the movie is a great idea and so unexpected.

This film does not have anything parents should be worried about and for extremely little kids who do not understand the ponies, they will enjoy the bright colors. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars for its original story, fantastic songs and those little characters that fans and Bronies love so much! If you want to see My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks, it comes out in theaters, near you, September 27th 2014.

Slugs as Heroes! Who Would’ve Thought? And, They’re Cool. Slugterra: Return of the Elementals

September 29th, 2014

Slugterra.Elementals.jpgThis film is a sleeper. We were all surprised how much we enjoyed it. In this film, a new member joins the Shane Gang. Junjie is a master of the mysterious slugslinging art of Slug Fu. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Brianna B, age 14, comments, “This animation is adventurous with specks of comedy and laughter throughout the film. It’s an enjoyable film to watch.” See her full review below.

Slugterra: Return of the Elementals
Reviewed by Brianna Hope Beaton, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

This animation is adventurous with specks of comedy and laughter throughout the film. It’s an enjoyable film to watch.

The Shane Gang is back and they now have the power and talents of five Slugslingers.  With new member Junjie, they discover that they and their world are in deep trouble. The Elemental Slugs are being corrupted by an evil force and the only way to stop them is to gather up all of the 5 elementals, before it’s too late.

Surprisingly, I really enjoy this movie with having all the Elementals coming together for a common cause. The aspect of the film that I love the most is that you never know what‘s going to happen next and it keeps you guessing. The action and anticipation makes it great especially when watching the fighting scenes. The film keeps moving at a good pace. It has lots of colors, but it is dark at times. The comedy keeps the film light and it never stays very serious for too long. Speaking of comedy, my favorite character is Pronto (Lee Tockar, voice), because he’s funny and he’s definitely the goof of the group. He is doing things that you wouldn’t think that he would do.

Other voice actors include Sam Vincent (Eli Shane), Shannon Chan-Kent (Trixie) and Andrew Francis (Kord Zane). They all have high energy and are true to their on screen characters. The interaction between all of the slugs is great. Director, Johnny Darrel, is no stranger to adventurous animations, he also directed Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5 (2009), Spider-Man (2003) and Heavy Gear: The Animated Series (2001).

Trust people who have proven they can be trusted and who’s good for you is one great message in this film. Trust is earned and not just given away.

I recommend Slugterra: Return of the Elementals for ages 8 to 14. It’s a film that’s perfect for a family movie night. Kids who love being courage and animation, this is your film. I give this film 4 out of 5 five stars because it interests me, it’s adventurous and funny at times. I love the message about trusting. Slugterra: Return of the Elementals is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. So please check it out.

The Maze Runner
Willie J., age 15, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

In a generation where the “teenagers face adversity in a dystopian future” is the popular piece of entertainment, The Maze Runner is a refreshing entry. Using the element of surprise and leaving unanswered questions, this film proves to be a very formidable mystery, action-thriller.

The acting in this film isn’t much different than many other films with teen or child ensembles. They give good performances and they all come off as veterans, especially Blake Cooper (Chuck) who, in only his second feature film, seems like he’s been acting on-screen for years. I found him very impressive. The leading performance by Dylan O’Brian is also very good but, is limited to his rather conventional and predictable character. The most impressive performance in the cast comes from Will Poulter who plays Gally. His performance earlier this cinematic season in The Giver was also impressive and his performance in We’re the Millers was hilarious so, he is really showing his range. His character is wonderfully written and wonderfully portrayed, so props to him.

The visual effects in the film are also quiet amazing. Enrique Chediak, whose beautiful cinematography was at its best in 127 Hours, gives this film a very crisp look. He doesn’t over do his shot composition nor does he try to give unnecessary landscape shots. He lets the beauty of the film come from the special effects, which is a smart move (although there are some genuinely stunning shots). The seemingly effortless movement of giant set pieces is a testament to the great work of the visual effects team.

But, the best aspect of this film is the writing. The secret this film has is what Alfred Hitchcock famously called the “MacGuffin.” It is a plot device that the main protagonist pursues with little or no explanation. This film starts with a boy entering the world but we don’t know why. We get to the middle of the film and we still don’t know why these kids are isolated, who is keeping them there or how big their obstacle is and what stakes are attached. Usually, in a movie of this kind, those questions are all answered in the exposition of the film. Even when this film ends, we are still uncertain about why what we just saw happened. What is the motivation and who is behind it? Then, in a wonderful plot twist we leave with questions that only a next installment can answer or maybe not.

This is the rare case of a film that makes us WISH FOR a sequel not because more books were written and a bunch of producers feel the need to adapt every book in series, but because we are generally interested in what happens next. That is why I give this film 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for anyone age 14 and up, as it is a little bloodier and more profane than your average pg-13 thriller.

The Maze Runner is a tense, suspenseful mystery thriller, that keeps you asking and on the edge of your seat.

Innocence - A Thriller for Your Older Teens Only

September 16th, 2014

Innocence.jpgInnocence is a thrilling new film based on the best selling novel by Jane Mendelsohn. After her mother dies unexpectedly, 16-year-old Beckett moves to the city with her father to get a fresh start. When she begins attending a prestigious preparatory school, Beckett becomes consumed by the past as a string of mysterious suicides unfold at Hamilton Prep and Beckett is determined to get to the bottom of it before this mystery claims another life, or even worse, her own.

Innocence
Reviewed by Raven Devanney
I really enjoyed this film. Director Hilary Brougher creates a suspenseful, psychological teen thriller while also keeping it very grounded and real. I love the cinematography. It’s dark and overcast, which is my favorite type of weather and the rainy feel of the film adds an eerie element of fear. The sound effects are also a huge part of the thrill and suspense. From attention grabbing bass to shrill and off-putting violin notes, the musical score and sound effects gave me chills and captivated me from the very beginning.

My favorite character is Beckett played by Sophie Curtis. She goes through so much over the course of the film and does a wonderful job of subtly showing what she’s going through. She’s in shock from watching her mother die, then she is trying to fit into a new home and a new school, and on top of that she witnesses a suicide and begins hallucinating and hearing voices! As if that is not enough to make someone lose their mind, I don’t know what is. She is very closed off and doesn’t want to speak out about what she’s going through, but you can still sense her inner turmoil. She is very relatable and unique from most leading ladies you might find in teen films. Not all of us can be bubbly and confident all the time. Beckett shows the shy, quiet side of young girls, but also proves that she has the power to take on whatever comes her way.

I recommend this film for ages 14 to 18. It is definitely in the horror/thriller category and will scare younger kids, plus it has mild language and sexual situations. I give Innocence 4 out of 5 stars. This film opens in theaters on Sept 19.

Dolphin Tale 2 - Based on a True Story with Lessons About Friendship and Hope

September 9th, 2014

DolphinTale2.jpgIn this sequel to the popular film, Dolphin Tale which follows the rescue and recovery of the beloved dolphin Winter, young Sawyer Nelson and the dedicated team at the Clearwater Marine Hospital face another crisis when her surrogate mother, the elderly Panama, passes away. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “I love this film! It is a fun and heartwarming movie that I think families will love too.” Samantha A., age 11 adds, “Dolphin Tail 2 is a movie based on a true story that teaches you about friendship, to NEVER give up and ALWAYS HAVE HOPE - literally. See their full reviews and Gerry O’s coverage from the World Premiere below.

Dolphin Tale 2
By Katherine S, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

I love this film! It is a fun and heartwarming movie that I think families will love too.  It is a sequel to the original film Dolphin Tale, where Winter, a stranded dolphin was injured and a team of people care for and give her a prosthetic tail. It is now three years later and Nathan Gamble and Cozi Zuehlsdorff return as Sawyer and Hazel along with star studded cast of Morgan Freeman as the Doctor, Ashley Judd as Hazel’s mom, Harry Connick Jr. and Kris Kristoferson as Sawyer’s dad and grandfather. This time, Winter’s mother dies and the team needs to find her a new companion or they will lose her to another aquarium.  Soon, they get a call about a new dolphin they are thinking of putting her with. Now the question is will it work out?

Sawyer is also faced with an opportunity of a lifetime, but he struggles with the decision to stay and care for Winter or, go on a new adventure.

My favorite part is when Sawyer swims in the tank with Winter and the real Bethanie Hamilton, who quest appears as herself. I also love when they rescue Mandy, another hurt dolphin and potential companion for Winter. And, the Pelican provides great comic relief – it is especially funny when they are x-raying a rescued sea turtle and the pelican goes crazy!

My favorite character is Sawyer who does an amazing job in this film, showing a range of emotions - looking worried, happy and confused as he faces tough decisions for Winter and for his future.

The sets in the film are spectacular – at both the ocean and inside the aquarium.  The Cinematography by Daryn Okada is awesome, especially the underwater photography.

One of the main messages in this film is “to never give up.”  Another is that “Change is good. But, to experience new things, sometimes you have to leave old things behind.”

Dolphin Tale 2 is a great family film. I recommend it for both boys and girls ages 6 to 18 but, adults will love it too because, who doesn’t love dolphins?  I rate this 5 out of 5 stars.

Be sure to check out Dolphin Tale 2 which will be in theaters nationwide on September 12.  Reviewed by Katherine Starr, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9.

Reviewed by Samantha A, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11Dolphin Tail 2 is a movie based on a true story that teaches you about friendship, to never give up and always have hope - literally. In this sequel to the first movie, Dolphin Tale, the Clearwater Rescue Team bands together because of a tragedy that involved the death of Winter’s best friend Panama, which leaves Winter without the only pool mate she has ever known. Winter goes in deep depression and the clock is ticking. They need to pair Winter with another dolphin fast.

Dolphin Tale 2 is one of those movies that might not catch your eye because it doesn’t appeal to you, or it just doesn’t look like much but trust me, I thought the same thing and this movie changed my mind fast. It’s one of my favorite movies now because it’s so much more than just an average movie about a dolphin that needs help. It’s also an educational, feel-good movie. And, it has messages about companionship and love, about never giving up and about exploring new possibilities. This movie is not only fantastic, it is also hilarious, mostly because of a crazy pelican that flies in and out of the aquarium and does unpredictable and wild things. For example, it steals food from unsuspecting visitors and stands guard over a wounded turtle that was found in wrapped in fishing line.

I was really excited to see Dolphin Tale 2 because the first one was so good. It is really fun seeing what happened to Winter and everybody at Clearwater Aquarium. This movie isn’t just heartwarming and fun, it is also such an emotional roller coaster when something unexpected happens (which is often).  My eyes were glued to the screen. I learned that dolphins have feelings to and, as Sawyer says “That’s not a bad thing”.

Dolphin Tale 2 is a phenomenal film. I would give it 4 out of 5 golden stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18 because some scenes are a little mature and might be scary for any kids under 7.

If I Stay - A Moving Film About a Teenage Girl and Her Life or Death Decision

September 3rd, 2014

IfIStay.jpgLife changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether or not to wake up and live an altered life, far different from what she imagined. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Raven D. comments, “If I stay is a beautiful, moving film about a teenage girl and the life or death decision she must make.” See her full review below.

If I Stay

Reviewed By Raven Devanney

If I Stay is a beautiful, moving film about a teenage girl and the life or death decision she must make. Mia is a teenage girl who has a wonderful, quirky family, a boyfriend who loves her to pieces and a bright, ambitious future. But, all of that changes when she and her family are in a fatal car accident. While Mia’s body is in a coma, her mind journeys back to all of her memories, triumphs, heart breaks and future. She has to make the decision on whether or not to fight and stay alive, or let go and leave this world. Will Mia stay?

I love this movie. It made me laugh, cry and it helped me to see all of the good in my own life that I should cherish, because you never know when it could all change. The cinematography is beautiful. Most of the film is filled with memories that Mia has and the way they are portrayed is very neat. The music is also beautiful. Mia is a cellist and a lot of the film focuses on her dreams of becoming a successful musician, so the film is filled with beautiful classical music.

My Favorite character is Mia played by Chloe Moretz. This film shows so many aspects of Mia’s life, so it’s easy to find something to relate to. She has a great passion for playing the cello and dedicates most of her life to it. She has difficulties relating to her parents and even her boyfriend since their musicals tastes are far more edgy than hers. She has to face her insane loss and she has to choose between many different things in life. There’s something about her life that I think anyone can relate to, so she’s a wonderful character. Chloe does a wonderful job portraying everything she’s going through and she moved me to tears many times.

This film makes me think about my own family and everything I would do for them. It makes me think of my life and all the joys and sorrows I’ve faced. There was not a dry eye in the audience because this film provokes unique memories for every individual. I felt especially connected to Mia’s family because I too have a younger brother and am very close with my parents, so I was very touched by Mia’s situation.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 because of the intense emotions and mature content. Make sure you check out. It is playing in theaters now.

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