Paddington – A Beloved British Icon That Delivers Charm and Class, Out April 28 on DVD

April 24th, 2015

215175.Paddingtom.DVD_1.jpgThis 21st Century version of Paddington comes with all the charm that this classic British character deserves. Now out on DVD, it has lots of insightful bonus features to enhance the viewing experience. The storyline follows a young Peruvian bear who travels to London in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family, who offer him a temporary haven. KIDS FIRST! Critic Samantha comments, “This movie is great movie that is funny and enjoyable in every way.” Kamren adds, “This movie is hilarious and heartwarming. Paddington has so many good parts it is hard to choose just one.” See their reviews below.

By Kamren W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 8

Paddington is a British film based on the book A Bear Called Paddington, by Michael Bond. This movie is about a young bear from Peru and his crazy adventures in London, England. The movie shows how one family learns to love and accept Paddington as their own.

This film stars Tim Downie as Montgomery Clyde, Ben Wishaw as Paddington, Hugh Bonneville as Henry Brown Sally Hawkins as Mary Brown, Nicole Kidman as Millicent (Montgomery’s daughter). All of the actors and actresses have British accents, even Nicole Kidman who is Australian. This to me, makes the film seem more authentic.

This movie is hilarious and heartwarming. Paddington has so many good parts it is hard to choose just one. One of my favorite scenes is when Paddington is in the bathroom and he mistakenly floods it. This is my favorite because it shows how curious Paddington is. The part that I disliked is when the explorer’s daughter (Nicole Kidman) wants to do something mean to Paddington.

The visual effects don’t look real but they are exciting. I like the realness of Paddington the bear. The visual effects team, Framestore does a fine job in making this bear warm and cuddly from his wet nose to his flowing fur. I love that Paul King (Director) stays true to Michael Bond’s original story. Paddington contains a hidden message about being caring and working together, without having too much drama.

This movie is rated PG for mild language. I did not understand some of the British wording, so I recommend this film to kids ages 6 to 18. This is a great film for the whole family to enjoy together. Younger kids will enjoy the many adventures Paddington experiences and older kids and adults will appreciate the entire story. The film proves that a family feature does not have to be too silly or mean. This is a total feel-good movie. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. The DVD/Blu-ray has a few bonus features which show how the movie was made, gives you insight into the characters and more.


Samantha A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Paddington is a heart-warming family film about a small curious bear living in Peru with his aunt and uncle. They have been talking about a trip to England for 40 years but never got around to actually going, because they never had a good enough reason to go. One day, they get a reason to go but it’s very tragic and unfortunately, only Paddington can go on this long and tiring journey by himself.

This DVD of the movie contains many bonus features that are very fun to watch and give a different perspective on the movie and its characters. Some of the bonus features include a lyric video to the song “Shine,” one of the songs featured in the film, by Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams. Another bonus features lets you “meet the characters.” This is basically and inside look at the actors and their feelings about the movie while it was being made as well as the finished product. There are also two bonus features about Paddington coming to life during animation and another about how Paddington evolved from the pages of the book and then became a very well-loved animated character.

Another thing that is great about this movie are the actors – Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Nicole Kidman. Their performances are outstanding and extremely entertaining. While watching the movie you can see their characters progress and watch them change in thoughts and feelings. It’s something I always like to see in movies because it makes it all that much more interesting to watch. Another reason I like the actors in this film is because their roles tell a little bit about them when they are not acting. This is part of the “meet the characters” bonus feature.

This movie is great movie that is funny and enjoyable in every way. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 15. At times, the humor is “silent humor” and some things are hard to understand but they are funny if you “get” them. It is certainly a great film for the whole family!

The Longest Ride
By Keefer C. B., KIDS FIRST! Critic, age 14

This heartfelt film takes two love stories and combines them into one. Luke (Scott Eastwood) and Sophia (Britt Robertson) are two people with different goals that stay connected after saving an old man, Ira (Alan Alda), from a car accident. Sophia visits Ira in the hospital and reads letters that reveal the history of love and challenge between him and his wife Ruth (Oona Chaplin).

The most investing and romantic tale is Ruth and Ira’s which starts in the 1940s. Their story is the highlight of the film. However, the film’s greatest aspect is it’s downfall. As I listen to Ruth and Ira’s tale, I’m captivated by their story and feel wrenched away from the lovers as I am brought back to Luke and Sophia touching story line. I understand the concept is used to connect the two similar love stories, that eventually intertwine. But, the film’s main focus is towards Luke and Sophia and I feel the real story is about Ruth and Ira.

Both stories have huge potential for being their own film. At times, it feels as if the film makers force these two stories together to make them work as a whole. I know this script is based on a popular book, by the same name, written by Nicholas Sparks. I also know that a book and a movie are two different things and are perceived in two different ways.

Every actor in this film puts on believable performances. The heart and tender romance between each couple is honest and loving.  I love a good romantic film and the couples in this movie are a lovely addition to the world of cinema.

My favorite scene is when Ira is given a simple portrait of his wife’s face. Ira and Ruth spent their life together collecting irreplaceable works of art, but this painting reminds him that the true work of art is the life they made together. This is one of the rare times that a film made me cry.

My favorite character is Ira (Alan Alda and Jack Huston). Both Jack and Alan’s  performances are outstanding. Jack, who plays the young version of Ira, shows the supportive loving husband. Alan, who plays the older Ira, starts out as a bitter old man but, as he shares his story with Sophia, he becomes more open. Both performances make for one great character.

There are many morals in this movie. The one that stands out to me is, “Focus on the things you have, rather than the things you don’t.” Ruth and Ira try everything to have children, but can’t. They’re distraught, but remember they have each other and that’s enough.

I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend this to 14 through 18-year-olds. There are sensual scenes and partial nudity in the film that are inappropriate for younger kids, but it’s a memorable film for couples ages teen through adult. There’s plenty of love and passion to makes this a another great romance film. This can be seen in theaters April 10th.

Women in Gold
By Willie Jones

Who would have known The Green Lantern and Queen Elizabeth would make such a touching pair? Of course I’m talking about characters that Ryan Reynolds and Helen Mirren have played. They have an unexpectedly heartwarming chemistry in Woman in Gold. 

Woman in Gold is about the quest of a lawyer named Randol and an heir named Maria who attempt to get back a painting that belongs to Maria. The painting is of Maria’s aunt, and was stolen by Nazis after they killed Maria’s family and Maria fled. 

I was completely invested. The story is enough to take my heart, for I can easily empathize. But then you have the performance of Helen Mirren to wrench your heart. Don’t get me wrong, Ryan Reynolds has one of the best scenes in the film and gives one of his finest performances ever (if not his best), but it is Helen Mirren that makes this movie. She’s gone from a French accent (The Hundred Foot Journey), to an Austrian accent for this film. In the past, her British accent hasn’t been too bad either … (yes, that was a joke).

The passion and vulnerability with which Dame Mirren plays Maria had me holding back tears. She’s so emotionally present, and emotionally versatile. She’ll make you laugh or cry or brim with anger, but she always delivers. 

The sentiment of the film must also be attributed to director Simon Curtis, who makes his directorial debut with this film. He is a very visual director, he likes to tell the story in imagery and pictures. Curtis has an amazing feel for timing. When to cut to a flashback, how long to keep the flashback, how to tie it in with the main plot, etc. 

The flashback scenes, by the way, are stunning. The sepia/golden cinematography is gorgeous to look at, and is very intelligent. It certainly adds an element of nostalgia that plays towards Maria, our eyes, and the emotion of the story.

Woman in Gold is a fantastic directorial debut for Simon Curtis. The film touches you deeper than you think it might, and the journey is one you won’t regret. For that reason, I give Woman in Gold 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for children 13 and up. It can be seen at a local theater near you. 

Furious 7
By Brandon C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Furious 7 is the seventh installment of the Fast and the Furious movie series. This movie is also the last movie to feature leading actor Paul Walker who died last year in a car crash. The movie pays homage to Paul at the end of the movie by having a montage of different clips from the original Fast and the Furious movies with Paul Walker, ultimately leading up to a final message at the end of the movie simply saying, “For Paul.”

Furious 7 is an action-packed fun movie with B+ actors all around. It is the perfect summer blockbuster that is released pre-summer. The movie revolves around Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) as he and his crew are hunted down by an angry Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Shaw is the brother of Owen Shaw from Fast and Furious 6, who was defeated by Dominic and his crew.

There is an enormous amount of talent in this movie from Dwayne Johnson playing Luke Hobbs, to Paul Walker playing Brian O’Connor, to Michelle Rodriguez playing Letty Ortiz. Another great thing about this movie is that there is no one location for the movie, as the movie takes place in Los Angeles, London and even in the Middle East.

The action is fantastic, as director James Wan and editor Christian Wagner have created something spectacular for the eyes. Also, the music is superb throughout the entire movie. Musical director Brian Tyler selects great music applicable to every scene and every action, which gives everything a great and awesome flow. I loved seeing Dwayne Johnson perform the Rock Bottom in one of his scenes against Jason Statham. Also, Ronda Rousey’s appearance is a personal highlight.

However, there are some big lowlights in Furious 7. The dialogue could use some improvement. The story gets stuck due to the dialogue and the actors seem to just throw out one-liners over and over again to fill up time. Also, the fights are too unrealistic. After every brutal fight, the characters have only small bumps and a little bit of blood on their faces, which is completely unrealistic.

Overall, this movie is intended for dudes. I recommend it for guys age 13 to 18 because of how it portrays women, includes lots of cars and lots of fighting

Rediscovering the True Meaning of Home

March 28th, 2015

From Dreamworks comes a new animated feature, Home with an adorable misfit from another planet who lands on Earth, makes friends with the locals and everyone discovers the true meaning of the word Home. Starring Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Steve Martin, this film is filled with music and humor and is perfect for you to share with the younger members of your family. KIDS FIRST! Critics Harmony M. comments, “The film serves as great entertainment with its loveable characters, hilarious dialogue and feel good tone.” Madeline R. adds, “The message of this film is that family is important and it’s good to face your problems or fears instead of running from them.” See their full reviews and Gerry O’s interviews with cast and crew below.


By Harmony M., KIDS FIRST! Critics, age 15

From DreamWorks, comes the delightful film Home. The film serves as great entertainment with its loveable characters, hilarious dialogue and feel good tone. The film is about an alien species, called the Boov, that invade planet Earth in an attempt to hide from an evil monster called the Gorg. By doing so, the alien race makes themselves at home and relocates all the humans elsewhere. While all the humans are transported, a young girl named Tip gets left behind and later encounters a Boov named Oh. Oh and Tip join together in search of Tip’s mother who got taken away during previous alien invasion. A lot unfolds when Tip’s mother is not the only one who needs saving.

It is very enjoyable and even shocking to hear familiar voices in the film such as Jim Parsons who plays Oh, Rihanna who plays Tip, Steve Martin who plays Captain Smek and Jennifer Lopez who plays Lucy. Jim Parsons is delightful as the voice of Oh. They couldn’t have chosen a better actor for that role. Oh is an overly friendly, silly, trouble-making, outcast, who not only steals the hearts of the audience with his facial expressions and personality, but also with a voice that fits that perfectly. Fans of The Big Bang Theory will be so pleased to see his character, Sheldon in cartoon form. Home is Rihanna’s first role in an animation film. Considering that, her portrayal of the sassy and adventurous Tip are spot on.

I find it very unique that the Boovs change colors depending on their emotion, especially because I have not seen that feature in any other type of film. The dialogue is really funny because the Boovs speak with improper grammar which adds a comedic touch that all ages will love. The futuristic technology shown in the movie is fascinating, it will be especially appealing to the younger crowd.

The film is entertaining to watch and one I would enjoy watching again. Although the film is very good, it’s not good enough to be a new classic or one that will be very memorable in the long run. It is cute, friendly, very funny, has amazing messages and puts you in a good mood.  I recommend this uplifting film to people of all ages, especially between the ages of 5 and 11. Overall, I give the film a 4 out of 5 stars. It is playing in theaters now.

By Madeline R. KIDS FIRST! Critics, Age 10

Home is a new animated family film from Dreamworks.  The screenplay was written by Tom Astle and Matt Ember and he film was directed by Tim Johnson.

I love this movie!  It is a fun, action-packed adventurous movie the whole family can enjoy together.

Home is about an alien named Oh who runs away from his own people, the Boovs who are trying to hide from the Gorg.  He lands on Earth and meets an adorable and feisty girl named Gratuity Tucci, who everyone calls Tip.  Oh and Tip form an unlikely friendship and go on an exciting adventure together to find Lucy, Tip’s mom.

Home features a star studded cast.  Jim Parsons is brilliant as the voice and personality of Oh and Steve Martin is hilarious as the voice of the Captain Smek, the cowardly leader of the Oh’s.   Rihanna plays the fun, yet determined Tip and Jennifer Lopez plays her sweet Mother, Lucy.

As a special bonus, both superstars perform original songs for the film which adds a lot of emotion and drama.  Be sure to listen for Rihanna’s new single “Towards the Sun” and Jennifer Lopez’s new song “Feel the Light”.

The animation is spectacular.  I love how Oh and Tip ride in Tip’s newly “fixed” car powered by multi-flavored slushis.  My favorite scene is when Tip tries to teach Oh jokes to help make him feel better.  She does the “Interrupting Cow” Knock Knock joke. It’s really funny because it takes him a while to get it!

The message of this film is that family is important and it’s good to face your problems or fears instead of running from them. Home is great for families of all ages, especially for families with kids between 4 and 14.  I give Home 5 out of 5 stars. I love it and think you will too!  Home is in theaters nationwide now.