Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – Visually Stunning, Wildly Imaginative

July 25th, 2017

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets is the new adventure film from Luc Besson, the director of The Professional, The Fifth Element and Lucy, based on the comic book series which inspired a generation of artists, writers and filmmakers. In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha-an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tristan T. comments, “From the start, it is visually stimulating. Between the wildly imaginative alien characters and the vivid and breathtaking scenery it captures the audience from beginning to end.” Arjun N. adds, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets fascinated me because of the excellent, ahead of its time special effects. The stunt work is top level. The spectacular direction delivers flair to the story.” See their full reviews below.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
By Tristan T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. From the start, it is visually stimulating. Between the wildly imaginative alien characters and the vivid and breathtaking scenery it captures the audience from beginning to end. It is truly a fun and entertaining film to watch.

Based on the comic book series “Valerian and Laureline,” Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, follows two agents Valerian (Dane DeHaan)and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) as they race to capture the villain and save Alpha and the future of the universe. It is both exhilarating and comical to watch their pursuit.

One complaint I have is that there is so much more to be explored in Alpha and the universe you become engrossed in. For instance, there is a virtual reality called The Marketplace that is so amazing. If you visit www.valerianmovie.com, you get a glimpse of it. I am crossing my fingers we will see a sequel from the writers, Pierre Christin, Jean-Claude Mezieres and Luc Besson.

My favorite character is General Okto-Bar (Sam Spruell). I appreciate his character arc and the way he develops throughout the film. He is very relatable and, even though he plays a general, he shows a level of connection with others not often found in that position. The legendary director, Luc Beeson, from The Fifth Element and Lucy, to name a few, made this an extraordinary film to watch.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence, some language and suggestive humor. I recommend it for ages 11 to 18, but I truly think everyone in your family will enjoy it. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It is playing in theaters now so, go check it out.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets fascinated me because of the excellent, ahead of its time special effects. The stunt work is top level. The spectacular direction delivers flair to the story.

The storyline is about Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne), who are operatives that maintain order in the human territories. Under operation from Commander Filitt (Clive Owen), the team embarks on a mission to Alpha, the City of a Thousand Planets. While on the mission, the team meets shapeshifter Bubble (Rihanna), who helps them. However, a mystery at the center of Alpha could threaten the existence of every person in the city. Only Valerian can unlock the secret beneath the threat.

Dane DeHaan as Valerian bravely presents his character who tries to save the universe, while at the same time impress his partner, Laureline. Dane is excellent in his battle scenes, especially in the final showdown. Cara Delevingne, as Laureline, expresses her extreme love and confidence in her effort to rescue Alpha. Clive Owen as Commander Filitt seems heroic, but puzzles Valerian with his classified files. He is my favorite character. Rihanna, as Bubble, can transform into any shape to help the team. She also represents a slave who craves freedom. Sam Spruell as General Octo Bar is noble and firm in how he presents his orders and also tries to solve the mystery of the classified files of Commander Filitt.

The direction by Luc Besson is splendid. Innovative camera techniques are used to present most of the locales, especially in The City of a Thousand Planets. My favorite scene is when Valerian takes a shortcut across the city. It is a treat to watch, due to how the environments switch. My only problem in this film is that it jumps everywhere following various sub-plots, which makes it difficult to follow. Despite that flaw, the special effects make it worthwhile.

The film’s message is that it is sometimes necessary to break conventional rules for a worthy cause. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of its intense action and brief language. The movie releases in theaters on July 21st, so check it out for one, ahead of its time sci-fi film.

 

 

Kiwi: Season One

July 23rd, 2017

Learn phonics skills with Twiki and Twini! In this collection of 26 episodes, Twiki and Twini take us on fun and educational adventures to discover new words and new sounds. In each episode, Twiki and Twini encounter different objects themed together such as animals, trucks, and more! As each object is presented in the episode, your little one will then watch as Twiki and Twini spell the word out phonetically in fun, illustrative letters that resemble the word being spelled out with their friends. For instance, when spelling out chicken the letters resemble a chicken with its feathers and legs. Each adventure continues with a total of four to five words being spelled out in each episode. In this Season 1 collection, your little one will learn how to spell colors like red and blue to food words like fruit to animal words like snake . The fun and learning never end with Twiki and Twini! Get ready to enter into an unexpected universe comprised of sounds, words, and images. ” KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror, Eli B. comments, “Twiki & Twini are curious little birds that lead us to lots of discoveries! There are plenty of relevant and silly sounds along the way. The stories are led by the narration and interaction with the kiwis via a child and an adult. This gives a sense of inquiry and offers soft guidance simultaneously.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Carla P. adds, “I like that this DVD teaches vocabulary and spelling to little kids. They learn how to spell words correctly and expands their vocabulary. This show is great for learning words that used in daily life.” Na’im S. wraps it up with, “This DVD is about friendship, education and fun… All of the adventures have a different storyline and include lots of word building exercises and other educational things to help learn different things such as spelling and grammar.” See their full reviews below.

Kiwi: Season One
By Eli B., KIDS FIRST! Juror

Kiwi is a stop-motion, animated educational children’s series with two very funny and lovable kiwi birds, Twiki & Twini, as the lead characters. In each episode, the kiwis go on adventures discovering new worlds of words and sounds. For example, some of the focus words include “cow,” “fruit,” “map,” “house” and “blue.” Words are spelled out phonetically and are used in clear and cohesive imagery and storyline. Twiki & Twini are curious little birds that lead us to lots of discoveries! There are plenty of relevant and silly sounds along the way. The stories are led by the narration and interaction with the kiwis via a child and an adult. This gives a sense of inquiry and offers soft guidance simultaneously. I really enjoyed this DVD and recommend it for children ages 2 to 6. The menu offers “Play All” or “Stories, individually” (26 of them at 11 minutes each). I give this 5 Star out of 5 stars.

Kiwi: Season One
Reviewed by Carla P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I like that this DVD teaches vocabulary and spelling to little kids. They learn how to spell words correctly and expands their vocabulary.  This show is great for learning words that used in daily life.

Kiwi: Season One teaches little kids vocabulary and spelling. This DVD has 26 episodes that teach new words and sounds so kids can learn how to spell words correctly and expand their vocabulary.

The series features two kiwi birds named Twiki and Twini who go on adventures and teach kids how to spell out words in a fun way. They encounter new animals, objects and other items as they teach kids how to spell out each word. The objects or animals are all related to a particular theme. There is barely any speaking by the characters in the show, but there is great narration that gets the kids intrigued with the story.

The animation is a stop motion clay animation (claymation) technique similar to other popular kid’s shows such as  Pingu. Claymation is not used a lot today since currently computer generated imagery (CGI) is used more frequently. However, the show does features some computer animation like the graphics when word are spelled out on the screen.

There are not too many other characters, but my favorite character is the recurring rabbit in the first few episodes. The rabbit eats a lot and even tries to eat a whole cake! The rabbit is very funny and had me chuckling the whole time.  The premise of this show is to teach little kids phonics, vocabulary and spelling.  It’s great for preschool learning and for introducing kids to spelling words that are used in everyday conversations. I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 3 to 6. This DVD is available now so, go check it out.

Kiwi: Season 1
By Na’im S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This DVD is about friendship, education and fun. This series is about two kiwis named Twiki and Twini, who go on different adventures throughout different episodes. All of the adventures have a different storyline and include lots of word building exercises and other educational things to help learn different things such as spelling and grammar.

This show is directed towards little kids, ages 2 to 5. I watched this DVD as if I was younger and I would definitely like it as a younger kid. I would enjoy watching it, but I would probably get out of my seat and start playing around and doing the things that they tell me to do and try to spell the words. This show is best to watch before bedtime because you might stay seated and repeat what they tell you to say. I watched it with a 5-year-old and a two-year-old and got to observe them watching it. The 5-year-old said she loved every part of it and she started dancing to the music. The 2-year-old was a little more descriptive and loved the way the characters interacted with each other.

The graphics are really good for a animated show. It does remind me of music video style graphics because they often stand in front of a white background and there isn’t much going on in the different places they explore.

I give this show 3out of 5 stars because of the graphics and because I felt the  episodes were too short at 5 minutes. Because the episodes so short, they don’t pack a lot of things in which makes it kind of boring. I recommend this DVD for ages 2 to 5. It is available now on DVD, so go check it out.

 

 

Dunkirk – A Visual Masterpiece with a Timely Topic about British Pride

July 23rd, 2017

Evacuation of Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, and France, who were cut off and surrounded by the German army from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France, between May 26- June 04, 1940, during Battle of France in World War II. Samantha M. comments, “This unique film altered my perspective on daily life. It fascinates me how history has shaped our world. Viewing this film made me appreciate the security that we have in our country today.” Michelle C. adds, “Dunkirk offers the most intense, beach set cinematic experience since the iconic film Jaws. In this new adaptation of such a strong battle, Christopher Nolan’s talent as director and writer shines through, creating a visual masterpiece that leaves you mesmerized.” Lucia F. wraps it up with, “This movie is very timely, considering Brexit, in its subject matter of national British pride…This movie is (Christopher) Nolan’s love letter to England and the men and women who gave their lives to guard and protect her.

Dunkirk
By Samantha M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

This unique film altered my perspective on daily life. It fascinates me how history has shaped our world. Viewing this film made me appreciate the security that we have in our country today.

Based on the historical account of World War II, Dunkirk highlights the tension within the British Empire, France and Belgium, as the German army begins to make brutal attacks. In hopes of keeping Dunkirk intact, the allied soldiers are evacuated by boats and must fight for their lives at sea.

Fionn Whitehead plays the lead British soldier, Tommy, and his acting is incredible! He doesn’t have many lines, which makes his acting stand out. You can empathize with Tommy just by looking into his eyes and see the pain he’s experiencing as he is fighting for his life. Harry Styles plays Alex, another one of the British soldiers. Styles doesn’t have many lines either, since Dunkirk heavily emphasizes war battle scenes rather than dialogue. When Alex does speak, his words are powerful. In one of the scenes, he tries to convince the other soldiers that Gibson (Aneurin Barnard) is a German spy. Alex’s anger is discernible. You can see how long he has been hiding his emotions and how much the war is taking a toll on him.

Dunkirk is set on the beaches of Northern France. The views are breathtaking, but it is depressing to see such a beautiful place being bombed. However, it does motivate the soldiers to protect their country, which is why the director, Christopher Nolan, emphasizes the soldiers’ surroundings.

My favorite part of the film is when the soldiers are being fed bread with raspberry jam. They look incredibly happy to be eating after days of stress. This scene makes me appreciate how much I have. All I want to do is help these soldiers, get them to safety and thank them for all their hard work.

The message is to never give up and to recognize the impact World War II made on our country. Hard work pays off. We should never forget our fallen soldiers and appreciate how they changed our lives and countries for the better.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars. Since there is little dialogue, it can be confusing at times, but it is unique. I recommend it to ages 16 to18, and adults will enjoy it too. There are many fatalities, gunshots and dead bodies, so it is not particularly for little kids. It depends on your tolerance level. Check out this film in theaters nationwide when it opens on July 21, 2017. You won’t want to miss it.

Dunkirk
By Michelle C., KIDS FIRST! Critic, Age 19

Dunkirk offers the most intense, beach set cinematic experience since the iconic film Jaws. In this new adaptation of such a strong battle, Christopher Nolan’s talent as director and writer shines through, creating a visual masterpiece that leaves you mesmerized.

The battle of Dunkirk was a short one, May 26 to June 4, 1940. Despite its minimal timeframe, it was deadly. WWII Allied soldiers were hiding, surrounded on all sides by the German Army and had to be evacuated on the beaches of Dunkirk, by way of an operation famously known as Operation Dynamo. On the ground, British Army Privates Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and Alex (Harry Styles) are two of the men desperately fighting and struggling to remain alive and safely evacuate the beach, by whatever means available. Across the ocean, local sailors Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) and his son Peter (Toms Carney) had been recruited by the Navy to help with the evacuation. From yet another perspective, members of the Royal Air Force including Farrier (Tom Hardy) attempt to shoot down the German bombers, in order to help the stranded troops evacuate the beach and ocean safely.

Let’s talk about the production of the film. The cinematography, as expected from talented director and writer Christopher Nolan, is groundbreaking. Congratulations to Hoyte van Hoyterman for creating a visual masterpiece. Everything looks incredibly realistic and breathtaking, keeping you on your toes throughout the film. The scene that is the most memorable to me, is when one of the Air Force pilots soar through the sunset sky as the troops cheer in victory. I assure you that it will give you goosebumps and make you teary-eyed.

The sound effects and the music by Hans Zimmer make the movie that much more tangible. The bombing begins from the very start of the film, preparing you for an emotional rollercoaster. They are so loud that it sounds as if they’re coming from the back of the theater. If you listen closely, there’s a ticking clock throughout the entire film, (minus the ending, which I will keep under wraps for you to discover) hidden within each song, creating increased tension and suspense. By the end of the film, I was already down to the nub of my fingertips, so prepare to be antsy!

Harry Styles’ performance is quite impressive, particularly since he is a known as a singer, not an actor. It is refreshing to see his excellent performance her, as he is the one with the most lines and delivers them eloquently, equal to an experienced actor. Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy also delivered remarkable performances. Dunkirk relies heavily on emotions since it barely has any dialogue, so it is important to have the story delivered by the visuals and the acting, which they achieved flawlessly.

Dunkirk opens in theaters nationwide on July 21, 2017. It’s 107 minutes long and is Rated PG-13 for intense war experiences and some language. Because of the stunning cinematography and storyline, I rate Dunkirk 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Go check it out, whether you are a history buff or not, this film will remind you how history affects us.

Dunkirk
By Lucia F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 18

This movie is very timely, considering Brexit, in its subject matter of national British pride. Director Christopher Nolan reaches back to one of England’s greatest points of pride before the U.S.A.’s entry into the war, namely, the against-the-odds evacuation from the town of Dunkirk, France to preserve 400,000 British troops.

This movie is Nolan’s love letter to England and the men and women who gave their lives to guard and protect her. Back in England, one representative patriot is a duty-bound father, played by Mark Rylance, whose boat, like many other boats in England, is requisitioned by the Royal Navy evacuate the stranded in Dunkirk. His story connects with that of two RAF pilots sent on a mission to protect the skies while the naval operation is undertaken.

The only drawback of the film is that none of the characters is fleshed out enough to make the audience connect with them on a more emotional level. But this is, after all, war. Nolan’s realistic account is both a visual and auditory masterpiece. The scenery is magnificent. I have never seen a movie in which there are so many scenes without dialogue. One of the most remarkable sequences is the aerial flight sequence. I actually felt as if I was flying! IMAX adds to the already impressive immersive quality of the movie.

I recommend this film for ages 15 to 18 because it gets a bit intense. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars because it tells the incredible true story about how all of England came together to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of young soldiers. By the way, teenage girls will agree with me that Harry Styles isn’t too shabby. This is s his first movie and his realistic acting is truly amazing. This film opens in theaters nationwide Friday, July 21, 2017 so, go check it out.

 

 

 

Mily Miss Questions: Season 1 – Questioning Everything on Her Wacky and Interesting Adventures!

July 12th, 2017

Join Mily, a funny and inquisitive 8-year-old girl, as she embarks on adventures hoping to answer the many questions she has about life, people, and the world.  In this collection of twenty four episodes, join Mily and her friends as they investigate everyday situations from learning how to deal with fear to playing by the rules to using your imagination and so much more.  Whenever a particular situation raises a question worthy of examination, Mily is immediately on the case!  From one episode to the next, through everyday situations, Mily introduces young viewers to the art of questioning in order to further develop an inquisitive mind. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jolleen M. comments, “These wonderful animated episodes are very interesting and teach a lot of social skills. You can learn a lot of things science-wise, plus you can learn things about being confident, telling the truth and knowing that you are beautiful and unique.” Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror adds, “This is a great program for all children, but even more so for that child in your life that never seems to run out of questions.” Na’im S. wraps it up with, “I showed it to my 5-year-old cousin to see what she thought about it. She thinks that the show is well made and loves the story lines, the ending and how entertaining it is.” See their full reviews below.

Mily Miss Questions: Season 1
By Jolleen Mejia, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

These wonderful animated episodes are very interesting and teach a lot of social skills. You can learn a lot of things science-wise, plus you can learn things about being confident, telling the truth and knowing that you are beautiful and unique. There are very deep messages in this series, which is awesome, but the animation lacks detail.

In each episode Mily has a different question that she wants answered or a different problem to be solved. She travels her neighborhood, goes to her friends, asks her family and learns as much as she can. Eventually she understands and gets her questions answered.

The director, Alexis Ducord impressed me by how he developed the plotlines, the different personalities of the characters and the types of questions that Mily asks. The questions are appropriate questions for the targeted audience. I love how the questions are answered. You really get a deep understanding, most of the time. Sometimes the question is not fully answered and leaves you hanging. But most of the time the answers are great.

The animation comes up short when the characters talk, either their mouths don’t move in sync with the words or sometimes the audio is late. I really love all of the facial expressions and the body language that indirectly portrays emotion.

My favorite episode is number 3, when Mily isn’t accepted onto the swim team. She says to herself that she will never set foot in a pool again and gives up her dream of swimming. But she soon realizes that to succeed you have to make mistakes. Sometimes you might not get accepted, but you have to keep trying and not give up. This episode is a really deep one and gets the message across very clearly.

The DVD Mily Miss Questions: Season 1 has great educational, animated episodes that I recommend for kids ages of 5 to 9. This series teaches a lot of valuable morals in a very interesting way. I give this DVD 3 out of 5 stars because some questions aren’t fully answered and the animation could use improvement. Yet, I still enjoyed watching this DVD and you should too. You can find it on DVD July 4, 2017.

Mily Miss Questions: Season One
By Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Juror

Mily is an adorably funny 8-year-old with a curious mind. She’s always going on adventures in an attempt to answer various questions that she has about, well everything! I love all of her wacky and interesting adventures with her friends and family. They really make you want to be part of the fun. This is a great program for all children, but even more so for that child in your life that never seems to run out of questions. Something quite wonderful about this show that I particularly love is that, every once in a while I learn something new as well. It’s nice to watch a kid’s show that peaks your adult interest. The animation is neat and includes live backgrounds which are interesting and intriguing. The sound is mixed very well and the stories are just wonderful. I recommend this DVD for ages 5 to 12 and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Mily Miss Questions: Season One
By Na’im S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This DVD is about a young girl who goes on adventures with her friends to solve different questions. Mily is an 8-year-old girl who is very curious about all kinds of things and definitely will not take “no” for an answer. While Mily goes on her adventures, she also teaches people about the importance of education and learning true facts. On this DVD, there are 24 different and unique episodes which I think is a perfect amount of episodes. Since the episodes are so short, you could just sit in front of the TV and watch all of them. They are only seven minutes each, but I didn’t notice that they were so short because there is so much going on that I thought it was a 30 minute show. I really enjoyed them. I think that this show isn’t directed only towards younger kids because I’m 11 and I enjoyed watching this also.

I showed it to my 5-year-old cousin to see what she thought about it. She thinks that the show is well made and loves the story lines, the ending and how entertaining it is. My 2-year-old cousin likes the fact that it features an 8-year-old that little kids can relate to. Really, all ages can relate to her and her younger sister. All of the different episodes show strong friendship and bravery, which I think is a great message. Kids can watch this show over and over because when you watch it once, you don’t necessarily get all the details of the story, but after watching an episode multiple times you start to notice the things that you missed.  The only thing that I don’t like is that some of the episodes are a little slow paced,  but overall I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8. Kids over the age of 8 would enjoy it, but not as much. This is available on DVD now so, go check it out.

 

 

 

 

War For the Planet of the Apes – Brutal But Breathtaking Special Effects And A Sincere, From The Heart Message

July 12th, 2017

Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Willie J. comments, “We’ve come a long way in the world of cinema since Charlton Heston told those darn dirty apes to get their stinkin’ paws off of him.” Alejandra G. adds, “This science fiction film had me fascinated with the breathtaking special effects and the animation from the get go. It’s impressive how much technology has improved and the differences of the effects in the previous Planet of the Apes films compared to this new one is incredible.” Talia J. wraps it up with, “War for the Planet of the Apes is an action-packed, thrilling movie that will both pull on your heartstrings and intrigue you to the very last second.” See their full reviews below.

War for the Planet of the Apes
By Alejandra Garcia, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

This science fiction film had me fascinated with the breathtaking special effects and the animation from the get go. It’s impressive how much technology has improved and the differences of the effects in the previous Planet of the Apes films compared to this new one is incredible. It’s insane how today, everything looks so realistic. I also like this film because of its sincere, from-the-heart message.

War for the Planet of the Apes is about Caesar and his apes who are forced into deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a cruel Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both of their species and the future of the planet.

My favorite scene from this film is when all the apes are attacked by the military and lots of them are killed. Their leader Caesar, of course, becomes furious and wants to do something about it. He decides to go off to fight the soldiers that attacked his family while defending themselves. I love this scene because it shows how the leader of the apes really cares for his family. Also, the apes that look up to him see him as a role model and can follow in his footsteps and morals.

The important message of this film is that no family is perfect. Unpleasant things can happen that make their relationships worse. Family members can go through tough times, but in the end, family is family and love will always be there. So if there’s fighting and family members are struggling through something, they will figure things out and help each other sort things out. In this film, the apes are all there for each other all the time. If someone needs help, they all help. If someone is fighting or arguing, they all help figure it out. They support each other. I think it’s an amazing idea that this message is taught by the apes because lots of people can learn from this and apply it to their own lives.

War for the Planet of the Apes
By Talia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

War for the Planet of the Apes is an action-packed, thrilling movie that will both pull on your heartstrings and intrigue you to the very last second.

This film is about an ape, Caesar (Andy Serkis) who embarks on a journey to avenge his loved ones. He is joined by other apes including Maurice (Karin Konoval), who is wise beyond his years, Rocket (Terry Notary) who is full of strength and many others. Caesar struggles as he deals with the chaos left by his old friend Koba, making sure he does not turn into the monster he was.

One thing that I thoroughly enjoyed is how this movie explains, at the onset, what happened in past films. I have not seen that in many films. For those who do not know, War for the Planet of the Apes is the third film in the brilliant Planet of the Apes franchise. The first film introduces Caesar and we hear the back story about the virus that caused apes to become smart and killed humans. The second movie shows what happened when Apes and humans tried to figure out how to live together peacefully, but this ended badly. If someone has not yet watched those two films, it is described in the beginning of this movie and sets the stage for what is going on.

This film is a war movie, so if you do not like gruesome moments and lots of blood, this is not your film. The first two films are much lighter than this one. The director, Matt Reeves, wanted a whole new feel. There is a lot more fighting, murder, suicide and blood than in the previous films. It is also quite depressing. The director not only wanted this last movie to end with a bang, but he wanted the audience to realize something about humanity.

Although this is a war movie, there is lots of unexpected humor. There is one very important character that had every single audience member holding their stomach because everyone was laughing so hard. This character is an Ape and he calls himself “Bad Ape” (Steve Zahn). He absolutely steals the show. Up until this Bad Ape comes into view, the movie is very dark and serious, but when he is introduced, the feel of the movie gets much happier. He is definitely the comedy relief the film needs.

The motion capture technology is out of this world. They completely transported me into the world these apes lived in. There is so much detail and emotion in the apes’ facial features. Andy Serkis, who plays Caesar, truly brings his character to life, filled with emotion.

The music is also incredible. Composer Michael Giacchino wrote an incredibly beautiful score. If not for his beautiful music, the movie would have lacked the emotion it has. At one point, the combination of music and acting brought me to tears. It is truly special.

There are many lessons in this film. The most important one is that you are stronger together. The apes have a motto that states “apes together strong.” In the past films, Caesar made it very clear that he believed that apes are weaker alone and they need to be together to survive. Another lesson that is offered in this film is to not give into your dark side. This goes back to the idea of vengeance. Caesar has to deal with being the leader of his group, while at the same time fighting his own battles.

I recommend this film for ages 14 to 18 and adults will love it as well. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars because of the extreme violence. This film comes out on July 14th so go check it out.

War For the Planet of the Apes
By Willie J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

We’ve come a long way in the world of cinema since Charlton Heston told those darn dirty apes to get their stinkin’ paws off of him. That actor in a costume has since become an actor in a suit that’s digitally modified. In terms of effects, there has been a lot of advancement from the first film in this series. But in terms of quality, I’m afraid there’s been inconsistency. The first entry of this century’s “Ape” trilogy was a solid film, the second not as good but mildly entertaining and now, we have this one. War For the Planet of the Apes is a mediocre end to this trilogy.

I’ll admit I am not a fan of this series, not even the original. I don’t quite like the concept. However, I give every film its fair shake. With this one, there are some moments I genuinely feel are fantastic, but those don’t make up for the rather strenuous over-direction in certain times. Director Matt Reeves tends to heighten moments to a point of climactic musicality where it just doesn’t fit. As an audience it’s rather confusing and feels forced. Every important or emotional moment doesn’t need to be accompanied by a dramatic score or emphasized with perfectly framed cinematography. More times than not, less is more.

There are parts of the script that make no sense and throw away logical progression or sensory  moments for the sentimental. There are moments that are too unbelievable and elements that are unnecessary. A plot element about a disease that plagues earth could have been done away with, yet it is used to cover up an illogical plot hole.

The acting is fine with Andy Serkis leading the way. Woody Harrelson does not ham it up too much for which I’m very grateful. Most of the cast is enhanced by beautiful animation which fills in many facial expressions and reactions that are very realistic. Although the acting is credible. It isn’t the best thing, the score is. Michael Giacchino’s beautiful score evokes both suspense and a sense of calm. His music is the main source of catharsis. He also composed the scores for both the films Inside Out and Up. His familiar quiet piano keys are also featured in this score.

With that said, I give the movie 2.5 out of 5 stars, because it does have moments of grand entertainment and intrigue, however it can be overdramatic with unnecessary moments. I recommend it for ages 12 to 18. It opens nationwide in theaters on July 14, 2017 so be sure to check it out if you are a fan of the series, or not.

 

 

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