Alice Through the Looking Glass – A Magical Fantasy in the Tim Burton Tradition

May 25th, 2016

Alice.ThruLooking_1.jpgBased on the book by Lewis Carroll, Disney brings us Alice Through the Looking Glass directed by James Bobin and produced by Tim Burton. The story follows Alice who returns to the whimsical world of Wonderland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass is a magical fantasy adventure film in the great Tim Burton tradition.  It is also a refreshing, feminist take on the classic Lewis Carroll story.” See his full review below

Alice Through The Looking Glass
By Clayton Pickard, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass is a magical fantasy adventure film in the great Tim Burton tradition.  It is also a refreshing, feminist take on the classic Lewis Carroll story. This sequel to 2010’s blockbuster, Alice in Wonderland, again stars Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth (Queen of Hearts) and Anne Hathaway as Mirana. New to the cast is Sasha Baron Cohen as “Time.”


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In the real world of 18th century England, Alice Kingsleigh is a captain of an English merchant ship.  She is about to lose her commission when she re-enters Wonderland for the second time. She is given a warm welcome by all her old friends: the White Rabbit, TweedleDee and TweedleDum, the Cheshire Cat and Mirana. She learns that her best friend, The Mad Hatter, is depressed because he misses his parents and his siblings. She decides that the only way to help him is to find his family. They are presumed dead, but the Hatter doesn’t believe so. She then goes in search of the chronosphere, a time travel device located at Time’s castle. What follows is an epic journey in search of “The Hatter’s” parents.

Alice Through the Looking Glass is very creative and colorful. Tim Burton is one of the producers, so this is not surprising. The costumes and the makeup are top notch. The special effects are inventive, especially the sequence at Time’s castle. Time has an amazing castle, which is run by a group of creatures called “seconds,” which are made of nuts, bolts and gears. These “seconds” can combine to make even bigger creatures called “minutes.” These “minutes” can combine to make a enormous, alice.2.jpgtransformer-like creature called “hours.”

Clayton.jpgThere is a lot of smart wordplay based on the character Time. Think of all the puns having to do with time and they are all in the movie. Sasha Baron Cohen as Time steals the whole film. He is very funny, exciting and works well with this great ensemble cast. My favorite line of the film is when The Mad Hatter exclaims “dream or reality - who’s to say which is which.” This sums up the message of the movie and the magic in all Tim Burton movies.alice.5.jpg

Alice Through The Looking Glass is an enchanting adventure/fairy tale for the whole family. It is appropriate for ages 8 to 18. I rate this film 4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Another Astonishing Marvel Fantasy - X-Men: Apocalypse

May 24th, 2016

xmen.a.jpgX-Men: Apocalypse comes out May 27 and, according to our reporters, is worth the wait. The storyline follows Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel’s X-Men universe who has amassed the powers of many other mutants, becomes immortal and invincible. Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto, to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Raven with the help of Professor X must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “There are so many eye candy moments and graphics that are truly some of best that I have ever seen. I need to watch this movie again just to catch them all. They are so amazing. Every minute is shock and awe.” See her full review below.

X-Men: Apocalypse
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Marvel has come out with another astonishing film, X-Men: Apocalypse. After the first five minutes of the movie, I wanted to yell, “Rewind it!” I want to see that again.

xmen.b.jpgThere are so many eye candy moments and graphics that are truly some of best that I have ever seen. I need to watch this movie again just to catch them all. They are so amazing. Every minute is shock and awe. The stunts are fabulous and make all the mutants’ super powers come to life.  Mind boggling graphics and mouth dropping stunts, now that is what I call a movie.

The story line starts in ancient Egypt when the first-ever mutant thinks he is a God because he possesses super strong powers. Apocalypse thinks he is the ruler of the world. He can transfer his conscience into other mutants and gain their powers, which enable him to live forever. He believes that the world that is ruled by the weak should be ruled by the strong. This is why he decides that he will start an apocalypse and the weak will die and the strong will live.  Apocalypse plans to rule the entire world.

My favorite character and scene is the moment when Quicksilver saves as many students as he can from death using his power of super-fast speed. I laughed during this scene because he ate pizza at the same time he was rescuing them.  And, of course, the slow motion graphics are stupendous.

My favorite character, because I am a girl and believe in girl power, has to be Jennifer Lawrence who plays Mystique. Her costume is awesomely cool. Her character is a strong, believable leader who stands by her principles. She also has my favorite super power, transforming herself into other people.xmen.c.jpg

On the other hand, I do love Even Peters who plays Quicksilver who is absolutely dreamy. I have a huge crush on this humorous, adorable, dreamy gamer. He is a snazzy dresser. Kudos to the custom designers and make-up artists who help bring his character credibility. Magneto is at his best when he is angry and we gain insight into just how deep his issues go. Ben Hardy as The Angel is simply stunning. I want his wings, both sets. They are simply amazing. In this film, we meet some new characters and an abundance of super powers, which makes you wonder which one would be right for you. There are guest appearances, which brought applause and cheers from the audience at my screening. Sorry, no spoilers. I can’t tell you more than that.

Morgan.SM.jpgThe story line answers many questions about the origin of the X-Men and how they became who they are. It answers many questions, which have arisen from previous X-Men movies.

I recommend this film for ages 10 to 18 because the story line is too complicated for younger audiences and there is a fair amount of scary violence. Oftentimes the characters are in great peril and danger. I rate this film give 5 out of 5 ever changing mutant stars.  It opens in theaters May 27 so, if you like action and adventure, comic-book based films, be sure to check it out.

Mack & Moxy: The Great Helpee Heroes - Fun and educational while teaching about humanitarian causes and beliefs.

May 23rd, 2016

Mack.Moxy.jpgThis all new TV show/DVD features Mack, a lovable, moose-like lummox, and Moxy, a feisty whirlwind of a raccoon/fox go-getter, on four exciting adventures! Together with a helpful Trooper, Mack & Moxy set out to rescue another Great Helpee in a far off mystical place called HelpeeLand. Along the way, Mack & Moxy meet a new Friend in Need who ends up teaching us a new important cause. Guest celebrity, Josh Duhamel (Transformers, All My Children), helps the Heroes’ mission in support of Save the Children, providing quality preschool programs to underserved children around the world since 1932. In this DVD, Mack & Moxy introduce us to Save the Children, American Red Cross, Feeding America and World Wildlife Fund. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abigail Zoe L. comments, “I learned a lot about different ways to care for others, compassion, important causes and the joy of helping others. In short, I learned what it is to be a humanitarian.” See her full review below.

Mack & Moxy: The Great Helpee Heroes
By Abigail Zoe Lewis, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 8

The Mack & Moxy: The Great Helpee Heroes DVD is great! It is as entertaining as it is educational. I learned a lot about different ways to care for others, compassion, important causes and the joy of helping others. In short, I learned what it is to be a humanitarian.

This DVD features four different episodes from the new children’s TV show, Mack & Moxy. In each episode the main characters go to HelpeeLand to save a “Great Helpee” from evil Shelfish Sheldon. This greedy character wants to steal all the happiness in the world just for himself.mack.b.png

On their journey, they always meet a friend in need who introduces them to a new and important cause. For example, in “Feeding Rainbow” we learn about the charity organization, “Feeding America” that provides hunger-relief through food banks/pantries for those who can’t afford to purchase their own food. In the episode “Always be Prepared,” we learn the importance of Emergency Preparedness and about the American Red Cross organization. Basically, we learn  things about what to do in scary situations such as, if there is a fire, we should not grab a thing, “get low and go” and have a plan of action.

My favorite episode is a “Ty-Grrrr’s Tale” because it is about saving tigers and I love animals. We also learn about the World Wildlife Fund that helps raise awareness and money to help and protect animals.

I love that each episode has a special celebrity guest. My favorite actor on this DVD is, Josh Duhamack.a.pngmel who plays the Admirable in the episode, “Save The Children.” He reminds us the importance of early education. I really like Josh because he’s funny and entertaining.
The message of this DVD, like the show, is about inspiring children to become great humanitarians.

I actually had an opportunity to visit a live taping of the show and interview both the creator of the show, Brahm Wenger and Kelly McQuinn, the Co-Executive Producer. One of theAbigail.jpg things they shared was that the show teaches children in the language that they know. They explained that this is done with the show’s bright colored characters, fun music, songs, dance and awesome stories that teach humanitarian lessons. They also shared how excited they are to be part of America’s first kid’s TV show about causes.

I believe 3 to 8-year-olds will really like this DVD and TV show with its adventurous stories, fun music and lively characters. I give the show five out of five stars, or should I say humanitarian stars.  Finally, I hope that you too will find a cause from this DVD or in your own life that inspires you to become one of the next generation’s great humanitarians. This DVD is available in stores on May 24, 2016 so be sure to check it out.

If your kids loves dinosaurs, this is a must watch! Outstanding!

May 22nd, 2016

DinoDan_2.jpgIn this DVD collection we join junior dinosaur expert Trek Henderson as he imagines dinosaurs in the real world, especially baby dinosaurs. I enjoyed the way this DVD uses CGI of dinosaurs in the story. This show is truly entertaining and educational. It is very colorful and teaches a great deal about dinosaurs and how they live in their environment. We learn all about several species of dinosaurs - Edmontosaurus, Triceratops, Brachiosaurus and Spinosaurus. Trek teaches us about what they eat, how they care for their babies, how their foot prints give paleontologist information about how they lived and more. It is also quite entertaining in the way Trek’s imagination put the dinosaurs into the world now. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. commented, “I found this collection to be entertaining and educational. Each episodes features a different dinosaur and you get to see what a real one would look like and learn different traits about them.”

Dino Dan: Dino Babies, Trek’s Adventures
By Morgan B, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

There are a bunch of Dinosaur movies, TV shows and cartoons but it is rare to see real life like Dinosaurs. I found this collection to be entertaining and educational. Each episodes features a different dinosaur and you get to see what a real one would look like and learn different traits about them.

The dinosaurs are fascinating. Adult dinosaurs would be very expensive to feed and way too hard to keep confined so, they roam the neighborhood.  Ok, don’t worry, they are friendly.

dinodan.a.jpgTrek, the little boy whose these adventures are about, only keeps adorable baby dinosaurs in his back yard. His Mom tries to make sure to always have dino treats on hand so Trek can use the food to figure out different things about dinosaurs. Can they fly? Do they eat eggs? What is their favorite thing to eat? What do their foot prints look like?

Getting foot prints from a dinosaur takes a lot of hard work and “Dino Footprints” was my favorite episode. I watched the various ideas Trek used to get foot prints and found them very humorous. Hanna and her Dad help him look like a dinosaur that is a predator. The predator then gives chase and tricks the other dinosaurs into stepping into the clay and thereby, making a foot print.

My favorite character is Trek Henderson because he is hilarious. Trek is also kind, smart dinodan.b.jpgand curious. He has all the traits that everyone should have. I also love the fact that he cares about the different dinosaurs and their families. He has the cutest backpack that looks just like a dinosaur. This back pack will be on my birthday list this year. Trek is very creative.

When he doesn’t have Dino bait, he puts his head together and finds a way to make some. My favorite dinosaur is the baby Plesiosaur. Plesiosaur dinosaurs swim in cold water. This is another adorable baby dinosaur that is so cute and I wish I could have one as a pet. I already have a fish tank that she could live in. This dinosaur is also my favorite color – blue. It is just meant to be and I would name her Annalisa.

I recommend this DVD for ages 4 to 11.It is easy to watch although older kids might wdinodan.c.jpgant more factual content and drama to keep them interested. I give this 4.5 out of 5 Roaring Dino egg stars. This DVD collection of eight episodes is brought to you by N Circle Entertainment and is available in stores on May 3, 2016 so, go check it out.

Dino Dan: Dino Babies, Trek’s Adventures
Reviewed by Juanita S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Dino Dan: Dino Babies uses great story lines in each episode. I enjoyed the way each episode has a real life familiarity. For example “Switched at Nest” tells us how dinos care for not only their young but other species young. “Dino Tooth Fairy” examines the various species teeth. The vocabulary and material are very well suited for the intended age group and they do a great job explaining terms and answering why dinosaurs do the things they do. I enjoyed the introduction of each episode with a situation that causes Trek to work on the solution and, in the process, he uncovers information about dinosaurs that he shares with the audience.

We see many positive role models. Trek and his friends demonstrate a friendship and willingness to work together on their school project. They all recognize Trek’s expertise when it comes to Dinosaurs.

This is exceptionally well produced. It has excellent options on the menu that are easy to use, allowing you to view all episodes or select a specific chapter.

I definitely give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12.

Angry Birds – A Laugh Out Loud Kind Of Movie

May 17th, 2016

AngryBirds.jpgLoosely based on the hugely popular app which has had billions of downloads, this film holds its own. In the 3D animated comedy, The Angry Birds Movie, we finally find out why the birds are so angry. The movie takes us to an island populated entirely by happy, flightless birds - or almost entirely. In this paradise, Red, a bird with a temper problem, speedy Chuck and the volatile Bomb have always been outsiders. But when the island is visited by mysterious green piggies, it’s up to these unlikely outcasts to figure out what the pigs are up to. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mia A. comments, “I absolutely loved this family friendly cartoon because it made me laugh out loud! The animation in this movie is exquisite. It is so detailed that you can clearly see all the feathers on the birds and tiny waves of the ocean.” See her full review below.

The Angry Birds Movie
By Mia A, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I absolutely loved this family friendly cartoon because it made me laugh out loud! The animation in this movie is exquisite. It is so detailed that you can clearly see all the feathers on the birds and tiny waves of the ocean. When they show scenes of the town you can see the patch work on the houses and the real looking scenery. Each character is unique because the creative animation matches their personalities.

angry.a.jpgThis movie is about, Red (Jason Sudeikis), a red bird who never fit in and has anger issues. One day, he has to go to an anger management class and meets the birds Bomb, Matilda, Chuck and Terence, and they all become friends.

Then, pigs come to the island on an unexpected visit. They have parties with the birds and they give the birds weird gifts like trampolines and motorcycles and generally cause havoc in the town. A horrible turn of events happens and Red and all of the other birds need to save the day.

My favorite scene is when Red attends anger management class. Matilda, the instructor talks with all the birds about their issues. They participate in many funny exercises such as poetry writing and yoga. This is a funny scene. Red has the wrong attitude and is definitely negative and Matilda the instructor demonstrates some anger issues too.

My favorite character is Terence (Sean Penn), a giant red and black bird who doesn’t really talk as much as he grunts. His facial expressions are particularly funny. Terence gets a lot of laughs from the audience and appears to be a crowd favorite.

The Angry Birds Movie is definitely a comedy. Almost every scene, even the sad ones, have  funny lines. There is some humor that would make sense to older kids and adults but noangry.b.jpgt little kids. There are some parts that some adults might not feel comfortable with some of the content. For example, when the pigs slap their butts and joke about reproducing.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars because of the humor and recommend it for ages 4 to 18. It is a fun and silly animated movie about angry birds. Who doesn’t love angry birds? If you like the game Angry Birds or just want to have a good laugh, then The Angry Birds Movie is the movie for you. It opens in theaters nationwide May 20, 2016 so, go check it out.

Funny, Creative, Gender-Friendly and Visually Adorable: Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir

May 16th, 2016

Miraculous.Lady.jpgMiraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir is a French CGI action/adventure animated series produced by Zagtoon and Method Animation. The series features two Parisian teenagers, Marinette Dupain-Cheng and Adrien Agreste, who transform into the superheroes Ladybug and Cat Noir, respectively, to protect the city from super villains. Set in modern-day Paris, the series focuses on teenage Marinette Dupain-Cheng and her classmate and crush Adrien Agreste. When evil arises, Marinette transforms into her secret superhero persona Ladybug, while Adrien transforms into his superhero persona Cat Noir, using powerful objects known as the Miraculous. Oblivious to each others’ true identities, the two work together to protect Paris from the mysterious villain Hawk Moth, who covets and attempts to steal their powers by using his akuma, butterflies infused with black energy, to influence and transform everyday citizens into supervillains.

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir

By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 11

What do a Ladybug, black cat and a hawk moth all have in common?  This new French cartoon is creative, funny, gender-friendly and visually adorable. I enjoyed it so much that I watched all seven episodes back to back. Each episode has a new villain and a creative story line. You will be totally entertained trying to guess what the new character is and what it will look like.


Cristina Valenzuela is the voice of a regular teenager Marinette Dupain. She has a ladybug in an earring and, when things miraculous.d.jpggo wrong and evil appears, she uses her ladybug Tikki to change into a half human and half ladybug. This new super hero, my favorite character, is adorable. Everyone loves ladybugs. Black and red might be my new favorite colors. She encompasses the virtues of saving people, helping people and compassion. As a ladybug, she is allowed one lucky charm which gives her one gadget. Then she sees in red and black which zeroes in on the different things she needs to do with the gadget to defeat the villains.

Cat Noir has super powers with the help of a ring that change him into a black cat that is Ladybug’s side kick. Of course, there a few crushes going on. Our superheroes have great best friends that help them in real life. After all, they are both shy until they become Ladybug and Cat Noir.
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These two teenagers are believable, every day teens. I found this endearing since it makes them both easily relatable. The other characters are regular teens that all have issues such as jealousy, unfair treatment, anger and things we all go through. Then there is a super villain named Hawk Moth who covets and attempts to steal their powers by using his akuma, butterflies infused with black energy, to influence and transform everyday citizens into supervillains. There are a lot of messages in this film which help everyone to see how easy it is to get upset but, once you chill and think about it, it will all work out.

Time breaker is my favorite episode because this supervillain can turn back time which would be handy. We are humans and make mistakes and it would be a great to get a redo and fix them.

I found the dialogue to be realistic and amusing. It is quick witted and yet has a few clichés miraculous.a.jpgwhich will have you laughing. There is a touch of anime in the graphics and writing.  The CG animation is crisp and all the scenes pop. If it was not a cartoon, you could easily see how this could be a real world. It found it enjoyable to watch.

Ladybug and Cat Nori are high school students, but I think that younger people would love watching this so I recommend it for ages 6 to 15. Super heroes, lady bugs, cats and villains appeal to a broad range of people. There are many anime fans who would love viewing this to.  I give this series 5 out of 5 Tikki spots on! Tahdah! Ladybug stars. This DVD collection of seven episodes is brought to you by Shout! Factory and is in stores now.

If You Are a Marvel Fan, You Will Have the BEST TIME Watching Captain America: Civil War

May 6th, 2016

CaptainA.CQ.poster.jpgThe time has come!  Marvel’s latest super hero film lands in theaters just in time for summer viewing. Based on the Civil War comic series which pits two favorite characters against each other – Captain America and Iron Man – this film’s story unfolds in a two and a half hour epic that, according to our KIDS FIRST! reporters, is worth every minute. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Brandon C., comments, “I have never had as much of a great time as I had watching Captain America: Civil War. Is that a great amount of hyperbole? Probably yes. But, hear me out.” Gerry O. adds, “The length of the film is very long (142 minutes) with many characters and with that Captain America: Civil War still ends up being so far, one of the best films of 2016.” Ryan R. concludes with, “The movie Captain America Civil War is finally here and let me tell you, “It is awesome!” I loved watching this movie for its amazing special effects, the high impact action scenes and the acting.” See their full reviews below.

Captain America: Civil War
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Captain America: Civil War can easily be considered an action film, but it doesn’t stick to just that. The dramatic plot excites with careful writing and spectacular twists and turns. Of course, there can never be a superhero film without jokes here and there, but they don’t push it over the limit and keep the audience entertained.

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The length of the film is very long (142 minutes) with many characters and, with that Captain America: Civil War still ends up being so far, one of the best films of 2016.

Captain America: Civil War starts off with several Avengers attempting to stop the robbing of a strong bio-weapon. The mission’s going well, however, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) accidentally kills dozens of civilians. The avengers must now sign a document saying that the UN (United Nations) can dictate where and what to do. The event becomes a disaster when a bomb goes off outside their headquarters. The Avengers are now split. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) agrees to accept whatever the UN has to say and not interfere. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) wants to find the terrorist. Eventually, this split gets worse and worse. To find out who wins, what happens and who ignites the bomb, you need to watch the film.captain.g.jpg

The length of the film may be one big thing about it that some people will see as negative - two and a half hour run time can be trying. However, it perfectly fits this film. The plot unfolds as very thick, complex and long. To try to squeeze it in a shorter run time would make the story feel rushed and confusing. There are other negatives to this film. Much like Captain America: Winter Soldier, the fight scenes go way too fast. Camera shots are only a split second long in the most intense fight scenes, making it very hard to understand what’s going on. On top of that, there are a few plot holes in the film. And then, the viewer comes to the point that defeats all the other negatives: the final fight scenes. These fight scenes between characters combine exciting soundtrack, emotional acting, spectacaptain.d.jpgcular visual effects, smooth choreography and more. At times, up to 12 characters fight each other in the same scene and the end result is nothing less than epic!

My favorite scene features one of the fight sequences. It takes place in an airport with so many different superheroes including Black Panther, Spider man, Ant man, Iron Man, Captain America and many more. The feeling the viewer gets from it can only be called pure adrenaline. There many exciting moments in this film, but these perfectly put together fight scenes are easily the most exciting.

The film is not meant for young kids in the slightest. I recommend it to ages 13 through 18. I give it 5 out of 5 stars because, despite a few flaws - dramatic interactions between characters, emotional acting and nothing less than perfect fight scenes easily make up for those flaws.

Captain America: Civil War
Review by KIDS First! Film Critic, Ryan R. age 12


The movie Captain America Civil War is finally here and let me tell you, “It is awesome!” I loved watching this movie for its amazing special effects, the high impact action scenes and the acting. In this film, the government’s political interference regarding the Avengers’ activities and the repercussions that happen when they are trying to save lives causes Captain America and Iron Man to take opposing sides. The rift between them forces the other Avengers to choose sides, even though they don’t want to. Now are you behind Team Captain America or Team Iron Man?captain.c.jpg

Actors Chris Evans (Captain America), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Don Cheadle (War Machine), Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Paul Bettany (Vision) all give great performances that are dramatic, witty and comedic when necessary. Not to mention the stellar performances from the two newcomers Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Holland as Spiderman.  Chadwick Boseman’s performance as Black Panther is very regal, strong and makes him one character not to mess with.  Tom Holland is an excellent choice for Spiderman.  I love how he portrays the character.  He is funny, clever and his interactions with Iron Man are great. I can’t wait to see the next Spiderman spinoff starring him. I also enjoyed the spcaptain.b.jpgecial effects, which are amazing and, in some instances, just jaw dropping!  The character’s costumes look fantastic as well.  The only characters I missed in this movie were The Hulk and Thor.

The moral of this film is “don’t jump to conclusions.” For example, when Bucky is accused of something, everyone in the government tries to kill him. Captain America tries to discover who did it, so he can prove the government wrong.  Another moral theme is “vengeance won’t make you feel whole and satisfied.” One of the Avengers learns this lesson at one point in the movie.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to people who like action, adventure, comic book-based and comedy movies. I recommend this film to kids ages 9 to18 and I think adults might like this as well. Some scenes may be a little intense for younger audiences. Make sure to see this film, which comes out May 6

Captain America: Civil War
By Brandon C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

After about eleven years of watching and reading Marvel - from comics to video games to movies to TV shows - I have never had as much of a great time as I had watching Captain America: Civil War. Is that a great amount of hyperbole? Prcaptain.f.jpgobably yes. But, hear me out.

Captain America: Civil War is based on the Civil War comic series which feature Marvel heroes Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) facing off in an incredible battle. The comic series had multiple issues and pulled several elite characters into it, creating an epic battle along with an epic concept. Captain America: Civil War does not disappoint.

The film’s plot revolves around the idea that there have been too many casualties surrounding The Avengers - including their battles in New York, Washington and Sokovia. The United Nations present the remaining superheroes (as Thor and Hulk have disappeared) with a document called the Sokovian Accords, which state that the heroes can do their jobs only when they are told to do so and if they act outside of their boundaries then they will be arrested. Tony Stark and several others agree to sign the document, while Steve Rogers declines to sign. The superheroes form their teams throughout the movie and they eventually clash in a captivating and entertaining battle.

Captain America: Civil War includes the debuts of great characters such as Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and the new Spider-Man (Tom Holland). I cannot say enough how incredible of a job Tom Holland does as Spider-Man, as he is just one of the many actors in this film that creates intrigue and entertainment with their characters. As far as the storyline goes, tcaptain.h.jpghe audience is presented with an excellent conflict which only furthers the anticipation as to who is going to win the battle. With other Marvel films, the good guys face the bad guy(s) and the good guys usually win. While some may get hurt, they usually end up fine at the end. In Captain America: Civil War, the audience does not have that luxury of just siding with “the good guys”. Both teams present great points and deliver spectacular dialogue that keeps the audience involved in whatever is going on.

Technically, Marvel Studios proves once again that it knows how to make a film. Everything, from the lighting, to the camera shot variety is darn perfect. While the introduction is a bit messy and hard to follow, it is a minor setback in an otherwise great film. On a personal note, the fight choreography is what stood out for me. I like realistic approaches to stories and films. In Captain America: Civil War, some of the fights feel almost too real as every punch and kick means something. Every blow and action creates a devastating impact that is so compelling you needed to just sit back in awe of what is transpiring.

In conclusion, Captain America: Civil War will get you on the edge of your seats and leave you fully entertained and satisfied. I believe the movie is intended for the other side of 13-year-olds, as the action scenes are very intense and the occasional cursing is rough as well. I give this movie 5 out of 5 Captain America shields because of its brutal fight scenes, beautiful story, flawless visuals and incredible dialogue.

Sing Street - Never Do Anything Halfway, Do it Right!

May 4th, 2016

SingStreet.jpgThis touching film follows a boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s who escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes. It touches on so many different themes while delivering a strong story about a boy and his music. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Giselle T. comments, “This movie left me speechless. Its different components are what made the movie outstanding. It shows the life of the poor as well as how emotional the life of a teenager can be.” See her full review below.

Sing Street

By Giselle T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

This movie left me speechless. Its different components are what made the movie outstanding. It shows the life of the poor as well as how emotional the life of a teenager can be. The different personalities coming together and bonding show how distinctive all these young adults can be, while sharing such a powerful art.

Sing Street is about a teenage boy living in a rural neighborhood and how he copes with his hurdles. Throughout his difficult moments he meets a girl that brings out a whole new side of him. One of the kids in the band known as Eamon (Mark McKenna) involved his pet rabbits in all the meetings with the band. He haSings.a.jpgs this weird obsession with them and has about ten of them. It is hilarious how, everywhere he goes, he holds a bunny.

The location plays a huge part in this movie. It takes place in Ireland, in a poor community where everyone just looks forward to leaving for the city or sailing to London to find hope. The high school they go to is religious and only for males. It’s also very liberal in the sense kids smoke everywhere and do whatever they want at lunch, but it is very strict about uniform policies and respect. For instance, at one moment the main actor Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, referred to as Cosmo in the film, wears make up to school to make an image for himself with his band. The priest who is also the principal of the school, forces Cosmo physically to remove it.
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Most importantly, I found this movie to be very inspirational. One of its messages is “never do anything halfway, just do it right.” As mentioned earlier, Cosmo meets a girl, Raphina, who motivates him to do something for her when, in fact, he benefits from it the most. She helps him manage his problems. One of the things she says that will always stick in my mind is to not only be sad, but make your sadness happy. Although you are in a bad place, make the best out of it. Write a song or express it in some way. I recommend this film for ages 14 to 18 and rate it 5 out of 5 stars. Viewer discretion is advised due to explicit language and violence.

One Of The Greatest Minds Of All Time - Srinivasa Ramanujan

May 4th, 2016

Manwhoknew.jpgBased on the true story about an mathematician, unknown outside the academic community, it’s a story waiting to be told – almost a century after his death in 1920. Growing up poor in Madras, India, Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar earns admittance to Cambridge University during WWI, where he becomes a pioneer in mathematical theories with the guidance of his professor, G.H. Hardy. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Lainey A. comments, “This live action feature film is incredible!  I fell in love with the main characters and enjoyed the true story. This biographical movie is very dramatic.” See her full review below.

The Man Who Knew Infinity
By Lainey A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

This live action feature film is incredible!  I fell in love with the main characters and enjoyed the true story. This biographical movie is very dramatic.

This movie is set during WWI and takes place in India and at Trinity College in Cambridge. Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel) is 25 years old, lives in India and is recently married. He is an exceptional mathematician that receives mathematical Manwho.a.jpgformulas by meditating and in his sleep. His mentor encourages him to send his work to the professors at Trinity College.

Dr. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) is very impressed with Ramanujan’s work and tells him to come to England so Hardy can help create publications of his mathematical formulas. Ramanujan leaves India and travels to Cambridge, England, sadly leaving his mom and loving wife at home. When he arrives at Trinity College, he misses his family and the foods he was accustomed to having at home.

Making things more difficult, some of the professors are jealous of how smart Ramanujan is and are prejudiced because he is Indian. He comes up with many formulas, but Dr. Hardy says that no one will publish his work without proof of how he came up with the mathematical formulas since he only says, “It comes to me.”

manwho.b.jpgThroughout the film, the relationship between Dr. Hardy and Ramanujan develops into a very strong one.  Dr. Hardy, in particular, is transformed because of knowing and eventually caring for Ramanujan.  Dr. Hardy, a devout atheist, does not believe in God and doesn’t believe in anything that cannot be proven scientifically.  He does not understand how his student comes up with all of these formulas and struggles with Ramanujan being as brilliant as he appears to be.

This movie is amazing in so many ways and also very inspirational and emotional.  I couldn’t help but fall in love with Dev Patel’s version of Ramanujan’s character.  He is so extraordinary and seems like such a nice person who I would want to know and be friends with.  My favorite scene is when Ramanujan is meditating and is given another formula.  His excitement in receiving this information is contagious.

manwho.d.jpgThe settings and scenery are very appropriate for the time this takes place and made me feel as if it could be during WWI. The costumes are well thought out for scenes in both India and Cambridge, and they definitely fit the time period.

I give this film five out of five stars because it is entertaining, informational and has a very interesting plot. I recommend this movie for ages 12 to 18. It may be difficult for younger audiences to follow, but I do believe that people should watch this movie to learn about other cultures and times and, of course, they should enjoy this very inspirational true story.

Lily’s Driftwood Bay – Starring the Adorable Lily and an Unlikely Cast of Characters

May 2nd, 2016

LilysDriftwood.jpgThis adorable new show certainly charmed our KIDS FIRST! reporters. It follows the life of the adorable Lily, a five-year-old who lives with her dad and she creates a cast of characters in her imagination that live in Driftwood Bay. Lily’s imagination is quite the thing. Every day, she finds a new treasure on the beach which sparks her to create interesting things. Accompanied by Gull, the clever seagull, a new adventure begins as they go across the way to Driftwood Bay. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “Ah, to sit and look out over the sandy beach at the ocean every day, then your pet gull cries out, “Look, look!” and you spot something buried in the sand.” Jasmyn D. adds, “Lily’s Driftwood Bay is a cute and adorable show that all children will love! The animated characters are so cute because they look like a child colored them. Lily’s character is very dainty and her personality is as bright as the sun.” See their full reviews below.

Lily’s Driftwood Bay: Meet Lily
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Ah, to sit and look out over the sandy beach at the ocean every day, then your pet gull cries out, “Look, look!” and you spot something buried in the sand. Every day is a new find and a new adventure for Lily who leaves the world and goes off into her imagination to Driftwood Bay, an adorable little place for her to play and discover a use for her new treasure.

The cast of characters are unique, cute and quirky, looking just like something a child would dream up. It includes Captain Salty, the dog with a sailing ship.  Bull who is made from messy balls of string and squeaky mice.  Lord Stag is a puffin. lily.a.pngHatsie is the train conductor and we meet lots of whales. Lily, with her red hair and a cute Irish accent looks like a paper doll and is my favorite character.  I love how she can take a small found object from the beach and think of so many different uses for it. Then, it is turns into a grand adventure.

I laughed so hard while watching the episode Bulls Might Fly. Lord Stag and Bull actually try to hang guild. Everyone has doubts, but you are in for grand and shocking surprise. It shows that even though you might be afraid to do something, it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

The lessons learned in these fun stories are easy for young kids to understand. Lessons such as, you should tell the truth. Even if you break something, you can get help in fixing it. A boat is too big to fix by yourself. When you lose something, it is easier to find with help from others, especially if you can’t sleep without it. You should always apologize if you are wrong.  Friendship is important. Be creative and use your imagination. Always put things back where they belong, so you can find them later.

This collection of short episodes is perfect for children as young as two. They are only ten minutes long and are quite easy to follow. I enjoyed watching all ten episodes, but I was just getting into them when they ended. For older kids, they may be too repetitive because the beginning and the end are the same in every episode. I recommend this DVD for ages 2 to 7 and give it 4 out of 5 shining starfish!

Lily’s Driftwood Bay: Meet Lily
By Jasmyn D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Lily’s Driftwood Bay: Meet Lily is a cute and adorable show that all children will love! The animated characters are so cute because they look like a child colored them. Lily’s character is very dainty and her persoLily.b.jpgnality is as bright as the sun. She seems so outgoing and loves an adventure. The opening captures your attention immediately where you see Lily making things out of objects she finds at the beach.

This season contains ten episodes and runs approximately 75 minutes long. Lily’s Driftwood Bay is a Northern Irish children’s television series that premiered on Nick Jr. in the UK and Ireland in 2014. Creator Colin Williams really has made something special that I truly believe children will love as they follow Lily on her fun adventures with her friends Gull, Salty, Hatsie and more. Every day the sea washes up a new treasure which sparks Lily’s imagination about what might be happening on Driftwood Bay. The voice talent also excels. Orlagh O’Keefe is the voice of Lily. Peter Mullan voices Salty the dog. Paul Currie is the voice of Gull. Tameka Empson voices Hatsie the Hen. Many  of these voice over actors Lily.e.jpghave been in major movies or TV shows. Peter Mullan appeared in Hercules, The Jungle Book, Harry Potter and War Horse. Paul Currie is best known for Big City Park and Big and Small.

The show is very interactive and well suited for its audience. My favorite scenes in the show are when Lily comes back with new things. It’s not a show I would watch and I’m a teenager and it’s more suited for kids ages 4 to 7. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars and think that  girls will like it more than boys since it is a bit girly. The DVD is available now so, go check it out.

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