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.

Against the Wild 2: Survive the Serengeti – Love Seeing All the Animals!

May 1st, 2016

AgainstTheWild2.jpgFor bickering siblings Ryan and Emma, it was going to be a fun weekend visit with their dad at his job in Africa. But when their small plane crash-lands in the Serengeti, they have only each other along with their fellow passenger, a Malamute named Chinook to rely on. The rescue teams are searching and brother, sister and one courageous dog have to learn how to conquer their fears and trust each other in the most beautiful yet untamed wilderness of all. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “There are tons of animals and it was really fun to see them in their natural habitats. We see lions, elephants, snakes, monkeys, giraffes and so many more. I learned a lot too.” See her full review below.

Against The Wild 2: Survive the Serengeti
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I really enjoyed this film. At first, I was a little worried that there would be no animals. I hate when movies advertise animals and there aren’t any in the film. I was wrong! There are tons of animals and it was really fun to see them in their natural habitats. We see lions, elephants, snakes, monkeys, giraffes and so many more. I learned a lot too. I actually had no idea that lions and hyenas are afraid of fire. All of these majestic, friendly and not so friendly animals were my favorite part of this film.

I really enjoyed this film. At first, I was a little worried that there would be no animals. I hate when movies advertise animals and there aren’t any in the film. I was wrong! There are tons of animals and it was really fun to see them in their Against.a.jpgnatural habitats. We see lions, elephants, snakes, monkeys, giraffes and so many more. I learned a lot too. I actually had no idea that lions and hyenas are afraid of fire. All of these majestic, friendly and not so friendly animals were my favorite part of this film.

This film revolves about a brother and sister, Ryan (John Paul Ruttan) and Emma (Ella Ballentine). They take an airplane to see their father and their plane gets shot down over the Serengeti. With the pilot injured and no one else to help them except a Malamute dog called Chinook, they have to rely on each other for survival.

My favorite character in this film is Emma because she is upbeat and tries her hardest to be positive, even though it is difficult. She is also a little scared and I could definitely relate to tAgainst.b.jpghat.  Emma and Ryan desperately want to go home to mom and dad. She portrays the character well and shows a bit of girl power, humor, wit and courage.

My favorite scene is when we see an aerial view of zebras, wildebeest and giraffes from the plane. This was an incredible scene because we got to learn more about the animals.

Some things about this movie bothered me. Emma had a cut on her face which moved from scene to scene. In one shot, it was on her left cheek and then, it was on the right. ContinAgainst.c.jpguity is a big deal on a film and this was a goof. Also, I found some of the fire scenes and, there are many, a little worrisome. I kept thinking, “Please, stop and clear all the grass away so you do not start a brush fire.” I thought more could have been done with content of the kids’ backpacks and what could help them. It lacked teaching and educational moments, to me. But, overall, I loved the film and seeing the cool animals.
This film is suitable for ages 6 to 18. My mom and dad liked it so, I think other adults would enjoy it as well. Younger children might find the lions, crocodiles and hyenas frightening because they all are all real and scary looking. I rate this film 4.5 out of 5 stars as it felt as if I was on a safari in the Serengeti in Africa.

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab Hits a Home Run for Stealth Learning

April 29th, 2016

thomasedison.Rockit.jpgOn the DVD, Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock It to the Moon, the Secret Lab Kids are ready to demo their new science song for web entrepreneur Mook Zookerboom when he learns that a satellite is coming down out of orbit, panics and heads for the airport. So the team must gather some data on gravity to convince him to return.  Then, when Von Bolt accidentally destroys the museum’s new moon rock, the Secret Lab Kids must find a way to replace it.  Enjoy these adventures and more with the Secret Lab Kids. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock It to the Moon is a fun, educational series that made me laugh while I was learning. This show teaches new cool stuff about gravity, nanobots and the birth of the remote control.” Giselle T. adds, “It truly makes education fun. Its language is easy to understand, giving young viewers the ability to process the information presented. This is an excellent educational series with each episode containing a different message.” See their full reviews below.

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock It to the Moon
By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10
Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock It to the Moon is a fun, educational series that made me laugh while I was learning. This show teaches new cool stuff about gravity, nanobots and the birth of the remote control.

Angie, Kent, JD and Nicky are back with Thomas Edison and Von Bolt the robot to solve all kinds of problems by going back in time to learn from pioneers in science throughout history.

In the first episode, Dancing Machine, Von Bolt is invited to try out for a dance competition. The gang and Thomas Edison realize that he’s not such a good dancer and decide to build a remote-controlled suit so Von Bolt can make it to the show. They use the virtual reality room to travel back to Spain in 1903 and discover how to use radio and remote control from Leonardo Torres y Quevedo, an engineer and mathematician who created one of the first designs for a remote-controlled device.TE.secret.a.jpgMy favorite episode is Murphy’s Law of Gravity. The kids are trying to impress web celebrity Mark Zoomerboom with their song about science. Instead he discovers a satellite is falling out of the sky and he panics. The kids must find a way to keep him calm to get their song to go viral. This episode was laugh-out-loud funny and there’s a cool gag with penguins to watch out for.

My favorite character in the series is Thomas Edison (Livingston Taylor) because whenever the kids are under pressure or doubting themselves, he comforts them and gives them good advice. I really hoped there would be an episode in this volume that showed how the kids found the lab but that is a loose end for me in the story line and I hope they work it in on a later volume.TE.secret.b.jpg

Some of the other episodes I liked are Rock It to the Moon because they talk about gravity. Another episode I enjoyed is Nanobots Byte because I didn’t know what nanobots were. They are really, really tiny robots - and the episode helped me understand how they work.

I like the music videos in this volume even more than the first DVD, Secret Lab Meeting. Some of them are really catchy and some of them are just kind of weird. I recommend Thomas Edison Secret Lab: Rock It to the Moon to ages 5 to 12. Kids will fall in love with this show pretty easily and I think there are some pretty advanced subjects that older kids might want to learn about.

I give Rock It to the Moon 3 out of 5 stars. I recommend you science fans watch this show that presents high-level science with high amounts of fun. Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock It to the Moon is in stores April 26th so, go check it out.

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab Rock It To The Moon
By Giselle Tellechea, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Very entertaining and informative, the animation is filled with vivid color which draws your attention. It truly makes education fun. Its language is easy to understand, giving young viewers the ability to process the information presented. This is an excellent educational series with each episode containing a different message. In the first episode, the robot teaches the viewers to never not do something because they are told not to and to just be happy doing what you love.TE.secret.c.jpg

The series teaches various things  from human anatomy to space science. For instance, they explain gravitational pull and how it differs from in space versus on Earth. I learned that the quantity of atoms doesn’t change but gravitational pull makes you weigh less on the moon and the closer the object, the greater the gravitational pull.  Jupiter has more mass than Earth which means it has more gravity and,  according to the show, it would be less fun there due to the fact that you couldn’t float around. The show uses comedy as well to get its point across.

Every episode has an adventure or a problem to solve. Writers Steven Banks, Steven Darancette and Brian Stampnitsky excelled at creating such a cute show that inspires its audience. In fact, it encourages kids to be scientists. Angie, played by Phillipa Alexander who has a lot of experience doing voice-overs for animated films and, it’s great to see her here. I like how they have included text when songs come up. It’s a small detail that helps you grasp the significance of the words in the songs.

My favorite scene is in the first episode. When learning about space, the characters portray what is being taught by some green aliens and one of them gets attached to the moon due to the fact the gravitational pull has increased as a result of the mass of the moon.  This part was just very funny. I recommend this animated film for ages 2 to 6 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. It is available on DVD now so, go check it out.

Ratchet & Clank: Based on the Popular Game & An Adventure Suitable For Younger Kids

April 29th, 2016

Ratchet.Clank_1.jpgRatchet & Clank tells the story of two unlikely heroes as they struggle to stop a vile alien named Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in the Solana Galaxy. When the two stumble upon a dangerous weapon capable of destroying entire planets, they must join forces with a team of colorful heroes called The Galactic Rangers in order to save the galaxy. Along the way they’ll learn about heroism, friendship, and the importance of discovering one’s own identity. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abigail Zoe L. comments, “From the beginning to the end, the film kept me on the edge of my seat, as it is an adventurous, funny, heartwarming and witty story.” Ryan R. adds, “From the beginning to the end, the film kept me on the edge of my seat, as it is an adventurous, funny, heartwarming and witty story.” See their full reviews below.
Ratchet & Clank
By Abigail Zoe L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 8

I love the animated movie Ratchet & Clank which is based on the popular Play Station video game. From the beginning to the end, the film kept me on the edge of my seat, as it is an adventurous, funny, heartwarming and witty story. One of the funniest scenes is when Dr. Nefarious shoots Chairman Drek with a laser gun and turns him into a sheep.

The story follows the main character, Ratchet who wants to be a member of the famously respected Galactic Rangers team but unfortunately, is told he doesn’t have the right “stuff.” According to Captian Qwark, Ratchet may have heart but physically just doesn’t measure up as he is too small. However, Ratchet meets and names a robot Clank who is similarly small and both human and robot not only become the best of friends but a powerful duo. Together they make it their mission to try to save the Solana Galaxy from the evil Chairman Drek.ratchet.a.jpg

My favorite part of the story is when we learn the robot doesn’t measure up to his own kind. In fact, he is considered a “defect” to be terminated because he’s small, thinks for himself and doesn’t want to hurt humans but wants to help them.

I particularly enjoyed all the various voices talent for the animated characters. My favorite is that of Ratchet’s and I was fortunate enough to personally meet and interview both James Arnold Taylor and Bella Thorne (the voices of Ratchet and Cora) immediately following the movie screening. I loved seeing how their actual facial characteristics and physical mannerisms are incorporated into their animated on-screen film characters.

There’s not just one moral to this movie but three stand out in my mind.  First, is to always believe in yourself and never give up. Second, as told to Ratchet, “To be a hero you don’t have to do big things just right things.” Third, if the right thing requires you to do the wrong thing then probably the right thing is the wrong thing to do. I love these golden ratchet.d.jpgnuggets that make the characters seem very real as cleverly penned by the director, Kevin Munroe.

All ages will like Ratchet &Clank and it’s particularly well suited for ages 5 to 12. There’s no bad language that make it appropriate for young audiences. The sophisticated storyline, fun adventure, basic struggle of good vs. evil and plenty of twists and turns will appeal to more mature audience, as well. It’s also a story about two underdogs who together try to rise to the challenge. Do they succeed? Well, you’ll have to see the movie to find out!

Finally and on a personal note, I just love the relationship between Ratchet and Clank - two orphans in the universe finding each other and creating a lasting bond. Together the dynamic human and robot duo try to do the right thing in the right way.

I can’t wait until the sequel or maybe even a TV series.  I give this film 5 out of 5 galactic stars. Go see this movie. You’re going to love it!

Ratchet and Clank
Reviewed by Ryan R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I was very entertained watching Ratchet and Clank, which is a CG animated movie based on the iconic PlayStation video game.  Its animations are delightful and it has a great plot. Ratchet and Clank prove that, if you want to do something, it is not the size of the individual that matters it’s the heart!

ratchet.e.jpgIn this movie, we meet Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor) who is the last of his kind, a foolhardy “lombax” who has grown up alone and dreams of being a Galactic Ranger, a well known hero. When he meets Clank (David Kaye), a small-sized robot who helps him accomplish his dream. Together they join forces with a team of interesting heroes called The Galactic Rangers in order to save every planet in the Solana Galaxy from being destroyed by the alien, Chairman Drek. I enjoyed this movie and I think other kids will enjoy this film.

I loved watching this movie because the CG animation is amazing and the colors are very vivid and rich. The characters look great.  It looks very child-friendly for younger audiences. I was satisfied with the comedy, because the jokes are funny and some of them are related to technology in our everyday lives. I enjoyed the plot of the movie because it tells a wonderful story of Ratchet and Clank without doing a disservice to the franchise. I also loved the voice acting performances of Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Bella Thorne, Rosario Dawson, Jim Ward, James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Armin Shimerman and Sylvester Stallone.  They all give stellar performances suitable for their characters. This movie also has a nice pace. It’s not rushed and doesn’t drag either. I can’t say anything negative I have to say about this film.
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This movie has messages about friendship, heroism, discovering one’s identity and the importance of listening to each other.  It also shows that you should think before you act.  These lessons can help kids learn about the importance of listening and understanding.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 4 to 18. I think adults might like this as well. I also recommend it to people who like family, action, adventure, movies based on video games and comedy movies. It’s in theaters April 29, so make sure you go see it with your kids.

This is a good film. The animation is well done but I found myself comparing it to other animated and it scores about average. I liked it although the storyline was too predictable for me, and the pace a bit slow. It is definitely better suited for a much younger audience. I recommend it for ages 3 to 7. It has good, clean humor and lots Albert.a.jpgof action scenes, which younger kids would enjoy.

The menu offers scene selection, trailers and setup. Or you can just play the film.  I enjoyed the scene selection feature because it makes it easy to return to where you left off. I enjoyed the trailer because it filled me in on what the movie looks like and gave me the general idea about the film before I started watching it.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to people who like action, adventure and children films. It is now available now on DVD so, so go check it out.

Albert Up, Up And Away!
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

I found this movie to be very cute, quirky and funny. At first this movie reminded me of Dennis the Menace as it starts off in super hyper mood, but as the movie moves forward Albert calms down. I found this movie to be very cute, quirky and funny.

albert.b.jpgI loved the graphics and all the detail that went into creating the village scenes. It is crisp and clear and has incredible dimension to it. I re-watched the scene when Albert flies down a hillside in a barrel several times because it is so amazing and laughable.

The characters are like most kids their age. You can see yourself hanging out with them. Albert is my favorite because of his great heart and his willingness to tackle anything, to do the right thing and make people happy. He is very trusting which gets him into all kinds of trouble. This makes him a believable kid because, really we all want to trust people and believe that they are all good at heart. Unfortunately, there are bad people in the world that muck it all up.

When they set out to find another statue for the town, their adventure begins and we meet new characters and find Albert getting into the middle of a diamond heist with pirates. The pirates amused me with their comedic lines. They reminded me albert.c.jpgof vaudeville comedy. You wanted to shout “boo” whenever you saw them. They are the villains you love to hate. You can tell what they are planning and I found myself yelling at the screen, “Albert don’t do it!”

The street market is full of rides, food and games. It made me think of summer and I wanted to join in on the fun. One of the many lessons learned here is “do not steal.” It’s a great lesson everyone should learn. Also, I know that it is hard for children to know who to trust and who not to. Another less is “you can’t trust everyone you meet.” Friendship is very valuable as friends can help you out. Last lesson: If you make a mistake, just admit it and have an adult help you figure out a solution.

This was a very funny film with lots of lessons and laughs. I love that this was released in countries other than the United States such as Denmark. They use words which are not in our everyday vocabulary such as cheeky, which is my new favorite word. I recommend this film for ages 5 to 18 and give it 4.5 out of 5 hot air balloon stars. It is quirky and funny and a cute comedy – sure to make you laugh out loud!

The Little Prince: The Planet of Bamalias – Not Your Average Fairytale!

April 26th, 2016

LittlePrince.Bamalias.jpgOn Planet Bamalias, the Little Prince will go through a terrible experience - he loses his memory. And can’t remember where and why he is there! Planet Bamalias is at the center of five other planets and all these planets depend on it for their survival. Fox tries to help him and slowly, the Little Prince remembers. But will he remember everything in time to save the Bamalias constellation?  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Shelby R., comments, “The Little Prince: The Planet of Bamalias is not your average fairytale. It is everything but predictable. Just when everything starts to be okay, the evil Snake appears and causes chaos.” See her full review below.

The Little Prince: The Planet of Bamalias
By Shelby R, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

The Little Prince: The Planet of Bamalias is not your average fairytale. With many twists and turns, The Little Prince must undertake a difficult journey to gain his memories back and stop the vicious Snake from fulfilling his evil plans to destroy planets. It is the fight between what’s right and what is worth fighting for. This is a fight worth watching.

This film is everything but predictable. Just when everything starts to be okay, the evil Snake appears and causes chaos. The most memorable moment is when The Little Prince has a flashback about saving his best friend, Fox.  Fox needed the Little Prince to help him get out of a volcano that the Snake threw him in. As they try to get out, the Little Prince finally realizes that he possesses power within himself to conquer all things. It was very sad because he had to decide what was more important friendship or love.

Usually my favorite characters are the heroes but here, Snake is my favorite. Although he is bad, there is just something enticing about the way he moves. I love how he disappears and reappears in a matter of seconds. The editor builds suspense by having dark music play just before he appears. The best characteristic of Snake is his ability to change his form and feed off of people’s fears.

This film stands out from others because the director doesn’t set a limit to his creativity and imagination. The plot is well developed and the setting takes place in a different galaxy where things are quite different. That is one of the reasons why I recommend this film to ages 4 to 10 because it is an escape from reality but it also discusses important lessons. One of the most important messages is that you should fight for what you believe in. Kids would really identify with the Little Prince because he is little kid trying to learn from his own mistakes and to do the right thing. Parents can really appreciate that this film is educational and encourages the viewers to never give up.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. The Little Prince: The Planet of Bamalias is now available through DVD so, go check it out.

April and the Extraordinary World – A Science Fiction Adventure

April 26th, 2016

April_1.jpgIt’s 1941 and France is asleep in the nineteenth century, governed by steam and Napoleon V, where scientists vanish mysteriously. April, a teenage girl, goes in search of her missing scientist parents. This non-mainstream films inspired by the works of French writer Jacques Tardi offers a bit of adventure and thrills that animation fans will love. Starring the voice talent of Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine and Jean Rochefort, it is available in limited theatrical release nationwide. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “April and the Extraordinary World has a magical, hand-drawn, animation style.  Although it has a very gray palate, the film is highly inventive and has a fresh feeling, compared to the computer generated animated films that we are now accustomed to.  You can see the dedication and effort of the creators in each frame of the film.” Benjamin P. adds, “April and the Extraordinary World is hard to describe but fun to watch. This is a science fiction film with sprinkles of history, science, comedy and action.” See his full review below.

April and the Extraordinary World
By Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

April and the Extraordinary World is a unique and creative animated feature film from France. Based on the steam-punk graphic novel by Jacques Tardi, the film is voiced by Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine and Jean Rochefort.  It is directed by Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci. Steam-punk is a genre that mixes science fiction and fantasy in a world powered by steam engine technology, usually of Victorian design.  This makes for a very cool animation style.

The film takes place in an alternate Paris of the 1940s, where France is ruled by a totalitarian regime. There are two Eiffel Towers and the Parisians go around in blimps powered by bicycles.  April is a third generation scientist.  Her grandfather and both her parents are chemists.  But, her parents disappear early in the film when hunted down by the authorities. The scientists of the world have been disappearing and her parents are the most recent casualties.  April lives in a secret hideout in the head of a massive public statue with her intellectual, talking cat, Darwin.  She is the last scientist to evade capture. The adventure heats up when a robotic rat tells her that her parents are still alive and being held captive in a jungle laboratory.  With the help of her Grandfather’s inventions, Darwin and Julius, a shady, police informer, April goes in search of her parents. Thus begins an incredible adventure.april.d.jpg

April and the Extraordinary World has a magical, hand-drawn, animation style.  Although it has a very gray palate, the film is highly inventive and has a fresh feeling, compared to the computer generated animated films that we are now accustomed to.  You can see the dedication and effort of the creators in each frame of the film.

The film also has a strong moral message about pollution, conserving the earth and responsible science. There’s a poignant scene where her Grandfather tells her to meet him at the “Oak”.  It’s the last tree in Paris and it’s exhibited in a conservatory!

April and the Extraordinary World has won a Cristal award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and was nominated for a Cesar last year as well.  It is 105 minutes.  april.f.jpgThe film is appropriate for 8 to 18 year olds. I give April and the Extraordinary World 4.5 out of 5 stars.

April and the Extraordinary World
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

April and the Extraordinary World is hard to describe but fun to watch. This is a science fiction film with sprinkles of history, science, comedy and action. April, an independent girl who doesn’t give up, and her talking cat Darwin take you along on a thrilling ride through a gloomy past that shows you how important science and history are to where we are today. This animated film made me think and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Inspired by the works of French writer Jacques Tardi, April and the Extraordinary World starts out in 1870 when Napoleon III wants to create an invincible army. His project fails and unleashes two super lizards into the world. This change in history causes a world many years later that relies on steam and coal. In that dark dystopia, we meet a girl named April, who has inherited a knack for chemistry from her ancestor, the scientist at the center of Napoleon III’s plot. April’s parents are about to discover, at last, an invincibility serum. They are about to test their creation when, they are pursued by the authorities and the ruthless inspector Pizoni (Bouli Lanners). April’s parents mysteriously disappear.

After April escapes the police and avoids going to an orphanage, she decides that she must live by herself on the streets with her cat Darwin. Ten years later, April gets a message from her father through a bionic rat spy and is convinced her parents are still out there. With the help of her cat, a street kid named Julius (Marc-Andre Grondin) who is not as he seems and her grandpa Pops (Jean Rochefort), she intends to find her parents.

My favorite part of this film is when Pops’ house turns into an almost spider-like vehicle so April can escape from a mysterious dark cloud that seems to be chasing her. The scene has high-octane action that kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire scene. My favorite character is Darwin the cat because he is very funny and is very loyal to April throughout the film.

This film is surprisingly good and different than most other animated films. The filmmakers make the steam-punk world look very cool and science fiction fans will enjoy it. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this movie for really little kids even though it’s animated. You have to know a little bit about science and history and there is gun play and scenes of peril. I give April and the Extraordinary World an age rating of 10 to16. Adults will also enjoy this film.

This film was made in France and thanks to GKIDS is distributed in the United States. This film has been released in two different versions - one in French with subtitles and one in English. They are both in limited release, so if you can it find playing at a theater near you, I highly recommend you see it. I give April and the Extraordinary World 4 out of 5 stars.

Jon Favreau’s 2016 Adaptation of The Jungle Book Reigns Supreme

April 18th, 2016

TheJungleBook.jpgFrom Disney animation comes the live action film, The Jungle Book, based on the classic books by Rudyard Kipling. A contemporary reboot of the beloved 1967 film, it captures your attention from the opening scene and holds through to the very end. Its stellar voice talent cast supports newcomer, young Neel Sethi who plays Mowgli. The story follows the man-cub Mowgli who flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ryan R. comments, “What I like most about this movie is the 3D animation and the voice acting. The animals look so realistic and the sets look amazing as well with very detailed backgrounds.” Willie J. adds, “Having now see three versions of the Rudyard Kipling classic, I can honestly say that Jon Favreau’s 2016 adaptation reins supreme. I know that may come as a far-fetched opinion for the faithful fans of the 1967 animated classic, but open your mind to the possibility that this version is above the rest.” Tre’ana H. wraps it up with, “ Director, Jon Favreau’s fantastic adaptation of the story and his devotion to the animals cherish exceeded my expectations. The special effects and 3D portrayal of all the animals are breathtakingly awesome.” See their full reviews below.

The Jungle Book
By Ryan R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I enjoyed watching the new Disney film, The Jungle Book with its vivid and realistic 3D animation.  It is slightly different from the 1967 animated film and has outstanding voice acting from Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken and others.

Junglebook.a.jpgIn this movie you meet Mowgli (Neel Sethi), the only man cub in the jungle and he wants to be a wolf, but in reality he’s not. He is raised by wolves and feels he has a nice life. One day, Shere Khan (Idris Elba) threatens Mowgli’s life. While the wolves argue about whether or not Mowgli should leave for the safety of the pack, Mowgli decides for them and leaves. He heads out to the “man village”. On his way, he meets many enemies and friends such as King Louie (Christopher Walken), Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and Baloo (Bill Murray).  What will happen next? Will he make it to the man village?  Does Shere Khan catch him? You just have to watch the movie to find out.

What I like most about this movie is the 3D animation and the voice acting. The animals look so realistic and the sets look amazing as well with very detailed backgrounds. The voice acting is superb.  Idris Elba and Scarlett Johansson are scary. Bill Murray is funny and Christopher Walken is scary and funny at the same time.  They and the other voice actors truly bring the animals to life in this film. The music adds even more energy and excitement to the film and makes the scenes more interesting.

Junglebook.b.jpgWhat I didn’t like about this movie is that there are many intense scenes. I jumped out of my seat a few times. This isn’t a movie for children younger than 9 years old. This is definitely a “know your kid” type of movie. I also didn’t like that King Louie wasn’t as friendly looking as in the original film, but besides that this movie is great and entertaining.

The themes of this movie are 1) you can’t deny who you are and 2) animals who stick together, survive together.  The wolves have their pack and Mowgli is raised as part of the pack. His natural instincts kick in and he makes inventions to make his life easier but is discouraged by the pack because “it is not the wolves’ way of doing things.” They are man’s way.  When he is in trouble, his manmade inventions save him.

I recommend this to kids ages 9 to 18.  As I said, this really is a “know your kid movie.” It contains some very intense scenes that will be frightening to those who aren’t accustomed to such things. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to people who like to watch action, adventure and comedy movies. It is in theaters now so, go check it out.

Junglebook.c.jpgThe Jungle Book
By Willie Jones, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Having now see three versions of the Rudyard Kipling classic, I can honestly say that Jon Favreau’s 2016 adaptation reigns supreme. I know that may come as a far-fetched opinion for the faithful fans of the 1967 animated classic, but open your mind to the possibility that this version is above the rest.

The darker, more realistic tone of this live-action adventure is a sharp contrast to the lighter tone of the 1967 musical comedy. That may be off-putting to some fans, but once you’re swept up in the visual splendor of the movie, the story becomes ever more engaging. Speaking of which, don’t be surprised if a few elements of the 1967 version’s story aren’t in this one or are rearranged.

Jon Favreu gives the story the proper grandeur it deserves. He uses lush art direction and sweeping cinematography to make the story look bigger. Visual effects aside, the aesthetic of the film gets across the monumental stature a family adventure should have. Combine the visuals with the score of John Debney and you’ll find beauty and thrills that bring back a child like wonder.Junglebook.e.jpg

One thing I really appreciate is the way the film treats the animals as characters, not denying them close-ups or treating them as spectacles. They are instead, portrayed as natural beings within the world of the screenplay. It enhances the brilliant voice acting of the cast. Speaking of which, I hope this film can rekindle the campaign to get voice acting a category with the major awards. Idris Elba is perfectly evil. Ben Kingsley and Bill Murray provide such natural and fitting voice work. And, Scarlett Johansson and Christopher Walken steal the show. Their scenes are the highlights of the movie and are easily the most memorable.

This movie is an overall construction of perfect cinematic elements. Disney has hit a grand slam with The Jungle Book as it will be etched in the memories of audiences for decades. I say this film is one of the best films of this decade and maybe even the last ten years.

With that said, I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It can be seen at a local theater near you.

The Jungle Book
By Tre’ana Hickson, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

After analyzing this film, I really appreciated it because it is family oriented and explores the relationship of a young man. This film made me wonder if something happened to my parents who would take care of me. I love the fact that the animated jungle animals look so real and talk like human beings. This film blends adventuJunglebook.f.jpgre, drama, fantasy and family in an entertaining story. I enjoyed this film because of the way it takes a classic story and turns it into something amazing. Director Jon Favreau’s fantastic adaptation of the story and his devotion to the animals cherish exceeded my expectations. The special effects and 3D portrayal of all the animals are breathtakingly awesome.

The story follows the man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi) who departs the jungle after a threat from the tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba). The panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) serves as his protector and keeps him out of harms way until Baloo the Bear (Bill Murray) comes on board and joins the team. Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery and meets creatures along the way who don’t have his best interests at heart. The film shows his innocence and you have to respect and honor him.

I loved the scene when Baloo the Bear and Mowgli go to the lake with Mowgli sitting on Baloo’s stomach as they float down the river.  I really adored this moment because it is hilarious and it reminded me of a special time I spent with my friends in the pool.  A bond is formed that you knew could not be broken.Junglebook.d.jpg

The message of this film is do not ever hold a grudge against someone because of something that happened in the past. Try to make amends because life is too short and precious.  Live each moment to the fullest. That is what Mowgli realizes and does. You should always give someone a chance to fit in.

I recommend this film for ages 7 to 18 because they will definitely be entertained.  I give it 5 out of 5 Stars because it is child friendly, hilarious, exciting and enjoyable it even though some terrifying moments exist. This movie opens in theaters Friday, April 15, 2016 so go check it out, you will not be disappointed.

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