Penguins of Madagascar - A Wonderful Animated Film to Share with Your Younger Kids

December 13th, 2014

Here’s a super cute animated film that you can feel comfortable taking your younger kids to. The story follows a super spy team - the hilarious, covert birds of the global espionage biz - Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. These elitists of the elite join forces with a chic undercover organization, The North Wind. Led by handsome and husky Agent Classified, they set out to stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine, from destroying the world as we know it. KIDS FIRST! Critics Haley P. comments, “The movie Penguins of Madagascar is hilarious!  It is the funniest movie I have seen in a long time.” Brianna B. adds, “Besides the message of revenge not being good, I also like the message that everyone is a valuable member of a team.” And, Samantha A. had this to say, “You may have already seen the penguins in DreamWorks original movie Madagascar but now you are seeing them in their own movie comedy.” See their full reviews below.

Penguins of Madagascar

Reviewed by Haley P., KIDS FIRST! Critics, Age 12

The movie Penguins of Madagascar is hilarious!  It is the funniest movie I have seen in a long time.
This animated movie, in 3D as well as 2D, is about three penguins that grow up together, find another penguin that hatches from an egg and they all become best friends. They go on all their adventures together as a team. The youngest one, Private, tries his best to become an important part of the team.  An evil villain named David captures them for revenge.  He’s jealous because he used to be the main attraction in zoos until the penguins come along and stole his glory!  The penguins are rescued by a new elite team called the North Wind who claim they are the best at rescuing helpless animals.

There are so many funny scenes in this movie that it’s hard to pick a favorite.  I love when Kawalski’s (Chris Miller) status report says that they are in Ireland when they really are in Shanghai.  Another funny moment is when Classified (Benedict Comberbach) tries to explain his teams’ purpose and Skipper (Tom McGrath) keeps interrupting him by chomping on Cheesy Dibbles every time he speaks.  Also, when the villain reveals himself, expecting the penguins to be shocked, they don’t even know who he is. I can go on and on with funny moments but really, you have to watch the movie to see what else will tickle your funny bone.

My favorite character is Private (Christopher Knights) because he is cute and he finds his purpose in the end which makes him an important part of the team.  The other characters are equally fantastic. The writers have created a wonderful comedy script and I think this movie will keep you laughing.  The moral of the story is that your appearance on the outside shouldn’t matter, it’s who you are on the inside that counts, baby!

This movie is a good fit for ages 8 through 18. Boys, girls and even adults will enjoy this movie because it has a lot of “adult” humor. My parents laughed more than us kids!  I rate this movie a five out of five “dazzling” stars! The Penguins of Madagascar is in theaters now so, go check it out.

Penguins of Madagascar
Reviewed by Brianna B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

This animation is hilarious and has great cinematography. Seeing this film in 3D definitely adds to the excitement of the story line.

Skipper, (Tom McGrath, Voice) and his gang are up against, Dave (John Malkovich, Voice) who is an octopus that has his sights set on revenge. He believes the penguins have stolen his publicity and fame by being so cute. He plans to make Skipper and every other penguin pay for it being tossed out of every zoo. Dave plans to turn the penguins into monsters and release them in the streets of New York.

This film has great comedy with funny remarks. It’s funny from the very beginning. I like it when famous actors are referred to in the script. For example, Nicholas Cage is mentioned when talking to one of the octopi. It has great animation and the 3D aspect makes the characters seem as if they are coming right at you and you are a part of the action. This animated story travels to France, Hong Kong, Ireland and other places. The authenticity of the locations looks very believable. The voice actors have natural comedy to them. I like how sometimes the sound track plays but the characters don’t hear it. It is unheard by everyone except the audience.

My favorite character is Eva, (Annet Mahendru, Voice) who is an Owl. She controls her emotions and is the complete opposite of the penguins. She carries herself well and brings another personality to the film. My favorite scene is at the very beginning when the baby penguins chases the egg. It’s funny to watch the egg going everywhere as it  takes the Penguins to unknown territory.

Besides the message of revenge not being good, I also like the message that everyone is a valuable member of a team. It doesn’t matter how smart or how small the part is, everyone matters.

I recommended this film for ages 7 to 15. Both girls and boys will enjoy and love it. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. The comedy is great and it comes with a meaningful message.

The Penguins of Madagascar is in theaters now, so please check it out.

Penguins of Madagascar

By Samantha A., KIDS FIRST! Critics, age 11

Penguins of Madagascar
is an animated movie about a group of penguins (Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private) that go on globetrotting adventures. Their adventures take them to Antarctica, the Desert, Venice, Shanghai and New York City. In this movie, the Penguins meet an elite team called “The North Wind” led by a husky handsome dog, Agent Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch) and together, they must fight the evil Dr. Octavius Brine (John Malkovich)

You may have already seen the penguins in DreamWorks original movie Madagascar but now you are seeing them in their own movie comedy. You may not think it, but this movie does have a few very good messages. For example, don’t let anyone underestimate you and your true power and also, always speak up and be heard.

This movie is action packed. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if it was a good or a bad thing because it feels like it jumps from place to place. Sometimes that is good because, once the action REALLY gets going, it feels just right how everything goes so fast. One of the reasons I like this movie is because, even though it is action packed and funny, it also had sad parts. I like that because even though the penguins are supposed to be adventurous and strong, it is nice seeing their more sympathetic side.

Something I like (and always have liked) about the penguins is that they all have simple personality traits that define who they are. For example, Kowalski has his big brain. They are each so different but together they are a very cool team.
I commend the directors of this movie, Simon J. Smith and Eric Darnell, for a great job.   Other than things moving a bit too fast, everything else is simply great.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars because it is a great film and I recommend it for 6 to 13 year olds because it is funny and most little kids will understand the topic but there are some jokes that kids might not understand. This movie is great and
I loved it and so will you!

KIDS FIRST! 2014 Holiday Gift Guide -The Best DVDs for Kids and Families for 2014

December 11th, 2014

HolidayGiftGuide.jpgAs you head out for your holiday shopping this weekend, you are looking for the perfect gift for that niece, nephew, sister-in-law and of course, your own kids and family members. You know what the people closest to you want and need but those relatives who you don’t see that often are a bit of a challenge. We have compiled a collection of DVDs, Feature Films and E-Books that we think make great holiday gifts for your loved ones. Those that our KIDS FIRST! Film Critics have watched and reviewed have a link to their video reviews which gives you the benefit of the kids’ point of view.  Since kids are the audience for these films, it makes sense to listen to what other kids think about them. More film reviews are available at www.kidsfirst.org. Happy holidays, Ranny Levy, KIDS FIRST!

FOR ACTION FANS
Dawn of Planet of the Apes
A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species. MSRP: 39.99; Age Recommendation:  12-18 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review:

Harry Potter™ Hogwarts Collection
This collectible box set is sure to please fans who can now access all the Harry Potter films and exclusive behind-the-scenes content conveniently in one place. Included are all eight Harry Potter™ films, plus a whopping 45+ hours of previously released bonus material that contains the complete eight-part documentary series “Creating the World of Harry Potter.” MSRP: $249.99; Age Recommendation: 8-15 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review:

The Maze Runner
Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they’re all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow “runners” for a shot at escape. MSRP: $39.99: Age Recommendation: 12-18 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review:

X-men: Days of Future Past
The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class in an epic battle that must change the past - to save our future. MSRP:  39.99; Age Recommendation: 12-18 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review

FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

Earth to Echo
After receiving a bizarre series of encrypted messages, a group of kids embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help. Starring Teo Halm, Astro and Reese Hartwig. Rated PG for some action, peril and mild language. MSRP: 39.99; Age Recommendation: 8-15 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review

Ernest & Celestine
Deep below snowy, cobblestone streets, tucked away in networks of winding tunnels, lives a tiny mouse named Celestine. Unlike her fellow mice, Celestine is an artist and a dreamer, and has a hard time fitting in. When she nearly ends up as breakfast for a grumpy bear named Ernest, the two become fast friends and embark on an adventure that will put a smile on your face and make your heart glow.  MSRP: $34.95; Age Recommendation:  5-18

Frozen Sing-Along DVD
Experience Frozen, the hit musical comedy from Walt Disney Animation Studios, like never before in a new to DVD, full-length Sing-Along Edition! Follow the lyrics with a bouncing Frozen snowflake. Join Anna as she sets off on an epic journey – teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and a snowman named Olaf – to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. It’s pure enchantment – and full of fun for the whole family! Includes the making-of featurette “Breaking the Ice”, the Sing Along Version of the Film, the Original Theatrical Version of the Film, and “Get a Horse!” Mickey Mouse Short. MSRP: $29.99. Age Recommendation: 4-18 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The quest through Middle-earth continues in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug when the epic fantasy adventure is released as an Extended Edition on Blu-ray 3D™ and Blu-ray™. This extended cut of the second film in The Hobbit Trilogy includes 25 minutes of extra film footage that extends individual scenes,  more than nine hours of new bonus features. Both Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray include Digital HD copies of the Extended Edition. MSRP: $54.98 & $35.99. Age Recommendation: 12-18
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review

How to Train Your Dragon 2
It’s been five years since Hiccup and Toothless successfully united dragons and vikings on the island of Berk. While Astrid, Snotlout and the rest of the gang are challenging each other to dragon races (the island’s new favorite contact sport), the now inseparable pair journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace. Now, Hiccup and Toothless must unite to stand up for what they believe while recognizing that only together do they have the power to change the future of both men and dragons. MSRP: $24.96; Age Recommendation: 8-12 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review

Maleficent
MALEFICENT explores the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the classic SLEEPING BEAUTY and the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turn her pure heart to stone. Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Aurora is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy. Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land and is forced to take drastic actions that will change both worlds forever. MSRP: $36.99. Age Recommendation: 10-18.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review

Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition
Fall under the glorious spell of Disney’s Ultimate Princess Fairy Tale! The magic is real as you experience all the pageantry and power with incredible high-definition picture and thrilling, soaring sound! Beauty, wonder and adventure spin together in a grand legend that transcends time as Maleficent, one of animation’s most spectacular villains, sends the kingdom’s beloved Princess Aurora into an enchanted sleep. In a majestic story that awakens all your senses, Good Fairies arm brave Prince Phillip to defeat a fearsome fire-breathing dragon and rescue Aurora. But success in battle may not be enough, for the only way to awaken the Princess is with True Love’s kiss! MSRP: $36.99. Age Recommendation: 4-18

FOR FILM BUFFS

The Fault in our Stars
Hazel and Gus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel’s other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. MRSP:  29.99. Age Recommendation: 12-18 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review

Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
Step inside the imaginative story book world of the highly popular French novel La Mécanique du Cœur (The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart) and beguiled by the wildly inventive adventures of Jack and Miss Acacia as they leap from page to the screen. Directed by Mathias Malzieu and Stéphane Berla, this is a visually opulent animated fairy tale set in an exciting period full of fabulous inventions, enchanting music and marvelous adventures. This superbly animated movie brings to life a unique tale of love and the acceptance of others through an awe-inspiring cinematic adventure filled with whimsical characters, stunning CG animation and unforgettable musical numbers. MSRP: $16.97; Age Recommendation: 8-15

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series
All 45 wacky episodes, plus the Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special, have been meticulously re-mastered from the original film elements. Mecka-lecka hi, Mecka-hiney ho!  Pee-wee’s Playhouse is an educational, artistic and entertaining show that teaches kids strong ‘life lessons.’  With its innovative production design and Reubens’ rich original characters and humor, Pee-wee’s Playhouse is a magical place that sparks creativity and imagination—and brings joy to children and adults alike. Parents and grown-ups have always enjoyed the show’s many double entendres. Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Seasons 1 and 2 in a high-definition 4-DVD set. MSRP $149.99; Age recommendation: 5-18

Rio 2
It’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids in RIO 2, after they’re hurtled from that magical city to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets the most fearsome adversary of all - his father-in-law. All our favorite RIO characters are back, and they’re joined by Oscar® nominee Andy Garcia, Grammy® winner Bruno Mars, Tony® winner Kristin Chenoweth and Oscar/Emmy ® /Tony winner Rita Moreno. RIO 2 also features new Brazilian artists and original music by Janelle Monae and Wondaland. MSRP: $24.99; Age Recommendation: 5-12 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review:

FOR YOUNGER KIDS

Littlest Pet Shop: Passport to Fashion
Blythe Baxter has two amazing gifts – she can talk to animals and can create amazing fashion!  Together with her pet friends- Zoe the spaniel, Pepper the skunk, Sunil the mongoose, Russell the hedgehog, Penny the panda, Vinnie the gecko and Minka the monkey, Blythe is determined to make her dream of a career in fashion come true. Join Blythe and her animal friends as they visit exotic cities such as Paris, Rio and Shanghai and learn that true friends will support you no matter what! MSRP $14.93 DVD; Age Recommendation: 5-8

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Keys of Friendship  
This DVD includes “Rarity Takes Manhattan,” “Pinkie Apple Pie,” “It Ain’t Easy Being Breezies,” “Twilight’s Kingdom, Part 1,” and “Twilight’s Kingdom, Part 2.” A fun sing-along is included as a bonus feature. Since her arrival in Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle has learned the true meaning and value of friendship. With her very best friends — Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Fluttershy and, of course, Spike — Twilight goes on the greatest of adventures and comes back with even more lessons. All of this has earned Twilight her wings and the crown of a Princess and now you can learn what Princess Twilight Sparkle has learned and take with you The Keys Of Friendship. MSRP $14.97 DVD; Recommended age: 4-12
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Spooktacular Pony Tales   
Features six episodes and a sing-along. Every pony loves Halloween… the candy, the pumpkins, the costumes, the friends! Join your favorite residents of Ponyville — Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie and, of course, Spike — as they take on some of the spookiest adventures Equestria’s ever seen! Time to gather around and hold on tight, because these six exciting tales are a chillingly good romp. The DVD comes with pumpkin carving stencils and a color Halloween poster perfect for seasonal decorating. MSRP $14.97 DVD; Recommended age: 4-12
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review

Planes: Fire & Rescue Blu-ray
In this heart-pumping, laugh-filled follow-up to last year’s smash hit “PLANES,” world famous racer Dusty Crophopper joins an elite fire and rescue unit and learns what it takes to be a true hero. Featuring non-stop action, memorable characters and never-before-seen bonus features, “PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE” is this fall’s must-own animated family film! Bonus features include the all-new exclusive short “Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular;” the mock-umentary “Welcome to Piston Peak;” and more. MSRP: $39.99. Age Recommendation: 2-12 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review

Veggie Tales: Celery Night Fever
Bruce Onion (voice of Terry Crews) is a nefarious real-estate developer who plans to turn the serene, green Celery Park into a parking lot.  His unsavory scheme spurs Laura Carrot and Junior Asparagus to enact a bold plan: reuniting the long-lost ’70s band The Groovy Brothers to play at a fund-raising concert. The problem is, The Groovy Brothers haven’t spoken to each other in decades, and the members have little interest in getting back together.  Their long-simmering feud spills over to affect Laura and Junior.  It’s not just Celery Park that’s in jeopardy – if best friends can’t learn to forgive each other and accept each other’s faults, the veggies might lose their cherished community gathering spot. MSRP: $14.97; Recommended age: 5-10.

HOLIDAY THEMED FAMILY DVDS

10 Movie Romance & Family Collection
Stuff your stockings with love this holiday season with ten films overflowing with the hope of the season. For family movie marathons or snuggly date nights, each of these stories spread a little Christmas magic, reconnecting family and friends as well as rekindling long-lost loves. In the end, you’ll hold your loved ones a little tighter, find your heart a little brighter, and spread the true meaning of the holiday season. Includes 10 best-selling movies: Christmas in Canaan, Merry-In-Laws, 12 Days of Christmas, A Christmas Proposal, Holiday Baggage, Annie Claus, Holiday Engagement, Christmas Pageant, Moonlight & Mistletoe, Most Wonderful Time of the Year. MSRP: $29.93. Age Recommendation: 8-18

A Belle for Christmas

Dean Cain of Lois & Clark and The Dog Who Saved Christmas stars as Glenn Barrows, a recent widower doing his best to raise his young kids Elliot and Phoebe who really miss their mom. When the Barrows adopt an adorable puppy named Belle during the holiday season, it seems that their healing may have begun. But will Glenn’s dog-hating, gold-digging new girlfriend spoil their newfound happiness, or can Elliot and Phoebe pull off a daring Christmas Eve rescue of their beloved new pet? Haylie Duff costars in this heartwarming comedy about family, friendship, and a four-legged holiday miracle. DVD SRP: $19.98; Age Recommendation: 7-18

The Christmas Ornament
Newly widowed Kathy plans to skip out on decking the halls and trimming the tree this Christmas, trying to avoid anything that will bring back memories of her late husband. The only Christmas tradition she will observe is baking cookies for her friends, a passion since she was a child. When Kathy meets handsome Christmas tree shop owner Tim, their undeniable chemistry - along with an ornament Tim gives her that symbolizes hope - helps Kathy open up to the joys of the season again. With the support of her best friend Jenna Kathy begins to embrace the hopeful message of the ornament. Although Kathy wants to take a chance on Tim, she struggles to find the balance between preserving the memory of her husband and moving on with her own future. MSRP: $14.93; Age Recommendation: 10-18

Octonauts: Very Vegimal Christmas
On this very merry DVD, join the Octonauts as they celebrate the holidays! The Vegimals’ plans for a Christmas feast aboard the Octopod are interrupted when the Octonauts become entangled in a gigantic blob of sea snot! The holiday excitement continues when the Octonauts travel to Professor Inkling’s childhood home, an undersea mountain, but soon discover that a rockslide has endangered the local creatures, including Inkling’s nephew, Squirt!  Can the Octonauts rescue the creatures and save Christmas in time?
MSRP: $9.99; Age Recommendation: 5-8

Nine Lives of Christmas
Fireman Zachary Stone is a confirmed bachelor who doesn’t believe in love or commitment. When a stray, tabby cat named Ambrose shows up at his door, Zachary takes him in and slowly starts to see that a little companionship might not be so bad. Zachary’s commitment to solitude is further challenged when he meets Marilee who teaches Zachary how to care for his new feline roommate. With Christmas rapidly approaching, Marilee’s sister Jaclyn convinces her to add romance to her nose-to-the-grindstone life of work and school, while fire chief Sam encourages Zachary to understand the importance of love, marriage and having someone special with whom to share the holidays. MSRP: $14.93; Age Recommendation: 10-18

A Royal Christmas
As the only daughter of an expert tailor in Philadelphia, Emily Corrigan is a kindhearted young woman proud of her blue-collar background. She is a devoted seamstress at the family business and madly in love with her doting European boyfriend, Leo. As their first Christmas together approaches, Leo drops a bombshell on his unsuspecting girlfriend: he is actually Prince Leopold, heir to the throne of Cordinia, a small sovereign country. Emily is in shock and they fly to Cordinia to announce their engagement and spend the holidays with Leo’s disapproving mother, Queen Isadora. Less than enthusiastic about her son’s relationship with a commoner, Isadora makes Emily feel anything but welcome at their grand castle. Attempting to stay true to herself in a world where she clearly doesn’t belong, Emily wonders if love is enough to keep her newly royal relationship from falling apart before Christmas morning. MSRP: $14.93. Age Recommendation: 10-18.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Celebrate the magic of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer in the golden-packaged 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition. Newly produced bonus features teach fans how to draw Rudolph, Hermey and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster; present video sing-alongs of the musical holiday favorites Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Holly Jolly Christmas; and offer a video version of a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer pop-up book.  MSRP: 17.99; Age Recommendation: 2-18

Signed,  Sealed,  Delivered Christmas
Based on the highly successful Hallmark series Signed, Sealed, Delivered created by Touched By An Angel’s Martha Williamson, follows the four postal workers turned detectives in their next mystery as they track down the original recipient of a Christmas card from the past. MSRP:  $14.93

Saving Santa: Adventures of a Time-Traveling Elf
Bernard, a low-ranking elf dreams of joining Santa’s elite team of inventors, who make the magic of Christmas possible. But when one of Bernards inventions reveals the secret location of the North Pole to a billionaire scoundrel Santa and Christmas are in jeopardy leaving Bernard to time travel to rescue Santa in time to save Christmas. Voices of Martin Freeman, Tim Curry, Tim Conway and Ashley Tisdale. MSRP: 19.98; Age Recommendation: 5 - 12

The Snowman (special anniversary edition)
An Academy Award Nominee (Best Animated Short Film, 1982), this delightful animation weaves a spell of magical enchantment as a young boy’s snowman comes to life and escorts him on a magical flying visit to the North Pole. Absolutely superlative family enjoyment that Includes the original introduction by author Raymond Briggs. Bonus features include The Story of the SnowmanTM and an alternate introduction from David Bowie. MSRP:  $9.99; Age Recommendation: 4 - 18.

A Very Awesome Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! Holiday Show

Join DJ Lance Rock, Brobee, Foofa, Muno, Plex and Toodee as they dance, sing and decorate the tree to prepare for the arrival of Santa Claus! Filmed live at New York City’s The Beacon Theatre, celebrate the season with the colorful cast of characters singing their hits, including “It’s Wintertime,” “Every Snowflake’s Different, Just Like You” and a holiday version of everyone’s favorite “Party in my Tummy!” Includes special appearances by superstar Leslie Hall and the one and only Santa Claus! MSRP: $12.99. Age Recommendation: 2 - 8

A Very Merry Mix Up

Shop owner Alice Chapman (Alicia Witt) is nervous to meet her future in-laws at Christmas, especially because she is arriving ahead of her new fiancé, Will Mitchum (Scott Gibson). Alice’s trip becomes more stressful when her luggage is lost and her phone is damaged, leaving her no way to find Will’s family! As fate would have it, she meets her future brother-in-law, Matt Mitchum (Mark Wiebe), at baggage claim and is happy to get a ride home with him. As Alice meets Matt’s doting family, mom Penny (Susan Hogan), dad Joe (Richard Fitzpatrick) and Grandpa Charles (Lawrence Dane), she falls in love with their festive holiday traditions and warm welcome to their home. And when unexpected romance comes calling as Christmas approaches, Alice must decide if her “Merry Mix-Up” will actually turn out to be her destiny. MSRP: $14.93; Age Recommendation: 10-18

FOR THE FAITHFUL

Son of God
Now, the larger-than-life story of The New Testament gets a larger-than life treatment in the stand-alone feature SON OF GOD. Told with the scope and scale of an action epic, the film features powerful performances, exotic locales, dazzling visual effects and a rich orchestral score from Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer. Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus as the film spans from his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection. It marks the first motion picture about Jesus’ life since Passion of the Christ, released ten years ago. MSRP: $25.99; Age Recommendation: 12 - 18

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review

Black Nativity
Struggling to pay the bills, single mom Naima (Jennifer Hudson) sends her teenage son Langston (Jacob Latimore) to live with his estranged grandparents, Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett) in New York City. At first Langston resents their strict household, but with the help of new friends - and a little divine intervention - he embarks on an inspirational journey of self-discovery that brings the whole family together. MSRP: $14.99; Age Recommendation: 12-18 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review:

E-Books

25 Days of a Tropical Christmas
25 Days of a Tropical Christmas is a celebration of the holiday season incorporating beautiful illustrations with a variation of a classic melody. Similar to the 12 days of Christmas but extended with a tropical theme, this is a fun and entertaining read with beautiful beach- themed illustrations. Written by D.G. Stern and Illustrated by Susan Lane. MSRP: $1.99; Age Recommendation: 5-12

THEATRICAL HOLIDAY MOVIE RELEASS

ANNIE
Dec. 19

Business tycoon and mayoral candidate Benjamin Stacks launches a campaign to take in Annie, a young girl who has been living with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan since her parents left her as a baby. Starring Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis, Rose Byrne. Rating: PG

BIG HERO 6 (In 3D)
November 7
From Walt Disney Animation Studios, the team behind “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” comes “Big Hero 6,” an action-packed comedy-adventure about the special bond that develops between Baymax (voice of Scott Adsit), a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada (voice of Ryan Potter). When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he turns to Baymax and his close friends adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago (voice of Jamie Chung), neatnik Wasabi (voice of Damon Wayans Jr.), chemistry whiz Honey Lemon (voice of Genesis Rodriguez) and fanboy Fred (voice of T.J. Miller). Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called “Big Hero 6.” Starring: Maya Rudolph, James Cromwell, Damon Wayans Jr., T.J. Miller, Alan Tudyk, Jamie Chung, Genesis Rodriguez, Daniel Henney, with Ryan Potter as Hiro Hamada and Scott Adsit as Baymax. Not yet rated.

BEYOND THE LIGHTS

Nov. 14
A talented young musician on the brink of super stardom struggles with the pressure of her new-found success. Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Minnie Driver, Danny Glover, Aisha Hinds. Rating: PG-13

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES
Dec. 19
The Company of Thorin has reached Smaug’s lair; but can Bilbo and the Dwarves reclaim Erebor and the treasure? And, if so, can they hold on to it? Starring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and Richar Armitage. Not yet rated.

INTO THE WOODS
December 25th

Into the Woods is a modern twist on several of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy)—all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them.  Starring: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski and Johnny Depp.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB
Dec. 19
Larry spans the globe, while embarking on an epic quest to save the magic before it is gone forever. Starring Robin Williams, Dan Stevens, Ben Stiller. Not yet rated.

PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR
Nov. 18
Super spy teams aren’t born…they’re hatched. Discover the secrets of the greatest and most hilarious covert birds in the global espionage biz: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. These elitists of the elite are joining forces with a chic undercover organization, The North Wind. Led by handsome and husky Agent Classified (we could tell you his name, but then…you know). Together, they must stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine, from destroying the world as we know it. Stars: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Black Nativity: Extended Musical Edition - A Truly Inspirational Film and A Joy to Watch

December 9th, 2014

blacknativity.ED.jpgThis is truly an inspirational film and a joy to watch. Read and watch our review by Brianna Hope Beaton below.

Langston, played by Jacob Latimore, has to spend the Christmas holiday in New York City with his grandparents, Reverend Cornell Cobbs played by Forest Whitaker and Aretha Cobbs  played by Angela Bassett, who he doesn’t really know. While there, he has to go by their rules. He wants to get back home to his mother Naima played by Jennifer Hudson. He goes through some things and discovers the true meaning of faith, family and forgiveness.

This adaptation of Langston Hughes’ play is wonderful. I really like the storyline with its great messages and its attention to detail, even down to the Cobb’s family brownstone in Harlem. The acting is powerful and intense and, of course, I love the music. Executive music director, Ralph Saadiq shows his musical talent and has created great songs that tell the story in such a way that both the young and old can listen to and enjoy. I especially like the choir scene.

I recommend this film for ages 12 - 17. Of course, I think the whole family will enjoy this movie. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. It’s truly a musical event to be enjoyed during the holiday season.

Black Nativity: Extended Musical Edition is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.

Check out Samantha’s interview with Jacob Latimore, star of Black Nativity below.

#GivingTuesday Is Past But We Still Need Your Help

December 2nd, 2014

Dear Friends of KIDS FIRST!Thank you so much for your continued support of KIDS FIRST! and our KIDS FIRST! Film Critics. This year, we started a new fund campaignon #GivingTuesday, asking for your support. Our goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of this year. Please consider making a contribution. No amount is too big or too small. Even $10, the price of a movie ticket, will make a difference. You can easily make a donation online at our fundraise.com page.

This year marks a record number of film reviews by our youth reporters and a record number of people reached by our coverage. Thanks to our media partners -  Huffington Post, Workingmother,com, GRANDmagazine.com, Voice America Kids Network, Kidzworld.com, Kidsville News, SoCal City Kids and 48 additional national, regional and local publications both print and online - our coverage reaches more than 7 million every month! That’s a lot.

Our hard-working youth reporters are appearing on the red carpet at premieres interviewing celebrities and talking about the films. They attend press screenings, press junkets and work alongside seasoned entertainment reporters where they hold their own!

We have posted more than 1100 videotaped film reviews and celebrity interviews on our KIDS FIRST! YouTube Channel which gets more than 13,000 views monthly!

#GivingTuesday is past but we still need your help!
As you consider your charitable year-end giving today, we hope that you will help support KIDS FIRST! We depend on donations from our supporters to raise 15% of our annual operating budget every year. A tax-deductible contribution from you will support our 2014-15 annual fund drive.

Your donation helps supports the following programs:

  • KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, training, coaching editing and management of our awesome team.
  • KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp, scholarships for low income kids.
  • KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, curating a collection of independent, youth produced and studio films for our network of film festival venues.
  • Development of a new app for our KIDS FIRST! reviews.

Your support helps make these programs happen! KIDS FIRST! is unique in that it is the only non-profit media evaluation and assessment program that focuses on reviews by kids of media made for kids.

Help keep the lights on!

Every dollar makes a difference. Your 100% tax-deductible contribution ensures that KIDS FIRST! will thrive for many years to come. It’s easy to contribute, simply click through here to donate at fundraise.com. You may use any major credit card to donate online, or, if you prefer, you can mail us a check.

Thanks from everyone at KIDS FIRST!

Ranny Levy

Founder and President

ps. Don’t forget to check with your employer to see if they have a matching gift program to increase the value of your donation.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 - A Sure Hit With Teens and Tweens

November 23rd, 2014

HungerGames.Mockingjay.1.jpgThe latest installment of The Hunger Games trilogy, based on the best-selling books by Suzanne Collins was released this weekend to an eager youth adult crowd. With the Games now destroyed and in pieces, Katniss Everdeen, along with Gale, Finnick and Beetee, now end up in the so-thought “destroyed” District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her friends, Katniss becomes the “Mockingjay” and the symbol of rebellion for the people. KIDS FIRST! Critics Brianna Hope Beaton comments, “I completely love this film and the overall production. It’s intense and has such a grand feel to it. With scene after scene, it gets bigger and bigger and you see just how powerful one voice can be.” See her full review below.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
by  Brianna Hope Beaton, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

This much anticipated film is absolutely fantastic with some action and a stellar cast that will blow your mind!

This epic story continues with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peetar Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) who both play a big part in the lives of District 13′ers, each in their own way. They want to unite and save an entire nation. In order to do this, they need the help of their friends and new alliances.

I completely love this film and the overall production. It’s intense and has such a grand feel to it. With scene after scene, it gets bigger and bigger and you see just how powerful one voice can be. The aerial shots, emotions, excitement and the anticipation of what’s happening next basically keeps your eyes glued to the screen. I’ve read all the books and this adaption is very true to the original stories. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is incredible.  She becomes her character completely with a range of emotions -  anger, doubt, disbelief and feeling sorry. She is so convincing. My favorite character is Peetar. Although he is not on-screen time as much as the other characters, he plays a big part in the film. Peeta is what drives Katniss throughout the film as she struggles to get to him. Almost everything she does is a result of her wanting to save Peeta. I also like Peeta because, every time he is on screen, he seems to change and intensify the situation. My favorite scene is when Katniss sees Peeta for the very first time. She is shocked and, at the same time, grateful that he is alive. It is nice to see all of the questions that go though her mind through her own eyes. Katniss’ eyes reveal how she feels about Peeta.

I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18 and I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It is a little slow in the beginning, but I understand why. They have to bring you up to speed with what happened in the previous film. I cannot wait to see Part 2!

Satisfy your excitement and see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, It opens in theaters on November 21st, so please check it out.

Calling all Indie Filmmakers! Submit Your Films Now for a KIDS FIRST! Endorsement.

November 22nd, 2014

Submit.Nov.2014.Horiz.jpgFor all indie filmmakers, you have until November 30 to submit your films for a KIDS FIRST! Endorsement. To get your endorsement before the end of 2014, send it in today.

The sooner you get it to us, the quicker you get your endorsement.KIDS FIRST! has been supporting quality children’s media for 23 years and is the most highly respected media endorsement program in the country. Unlike an awards program which limits the number of winners, every title that meets our criteria and is approved by our kids’ juries receives an endorsement. Our base-line criteria includes:

NO gratuitous violence or abuse
NO inappropriate sexual behavior
NO bias in terms of race, gender, culture or religion
NO condescension toward children
NO replicable unsafe behavior

KIDS FIRST! Endorsed Titles Receive

  • The right to use the KIDS FIRST! endorsement seal and rating on all promotional and packaging materials..
  • A unique title landing page on the KIDS FIRST! website featuring reviews by our jurors, your trailer or sample clip, cover art and link to your website to purchase.
  • Consideration for a KIDS FIRST! Best Award
  • Coverage on the KIDS FIRST! Radio Show, KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions (100,000 listeners)
  • Promoted in KIDS FIRST! News (45,000 readers/mo)
  • Promoted on KIDS FIRST! Social media (450,000 reach)

For more information, go to http://www.kidsfirst.org/submit-a-title/ KF_logo.JPG

This the Season to Enjoy Music!

November 14th, 2014

As the holiday season approaches, we have something special to share with you - some of the fabulous music CDs that we’ve recently endorsed. This music will surely be enjoyed by your children but, like most wonderful music, adults will find it equally pleasing. In 2014, the knowledgeable music critic John Wood joined our ranks as a music judge and, of course, our KIDS FIRST! Critics added their two cents in addition. Take a look below. I’m sure you will find some fabulous choices to share with the youth in your universe this holiday season.

APPETITE FOR CONSTRUCTION  (AGES 2-5).  These songs provide an active participation point for whole-family engagement, celebrating imaginative play, building, dance, puppet making and more.  “We wanted to make something that wasn’t only about listening, but could actually be recreated and re-imagined at home,” explains Stein. “The Pop Ups are all about making things,” adds Rabinowitz.  “We want our fans to be able to engage in that experience for themselves and really take part in the record, and to experience The Pop Ups world.”  THE POP UPS.

  • Adult Juror Comments: Stop the presses! Late breaking news: The Pop Ups have done it again! Their latest album ‘Appetite For Construction’ is a fanciful, danceable explosion of ideas and get-down rhymes and rhythms. The group is in touch with its musical lineage and producer/arranger Jason Rabinowitz does a masterful job of paying/playing homage to a myriad of pop culture voicing and styles. The group has a special spark and presents a moving target of attention grabbing hip nouveau vaudeville. Oh, and by the way, I liked the album. This is a finely constructed and produced album from the first downbeat. Nothing unappealing unlike a banana.  Each song segues into the next seamlessly with a myriad of pop culture styles.  Their liner notes hit it on the head, “This album is dedicated to the simple joy of making things with family & friends!” The group knows how to integrate terrific music with creative voice work that they perform live with the puppet portion of their shows. They always present a moving target of attention-grabbing modern vaudeville. Top rate sound quality has layers of harmonies, excellent musicianship and masterful recording technique. Reviewed by John Wood.

Kid Juror Comments: The kids absolutely loved this CD, especially the upbeat music that made them dance. They liked the vocalist, the instruments and the fun music. The kids that reviewed the CD were ages 2-7. The slower songs were not as enthusiastically enjoyed as much as the faster paced ones but. overall they really enjoyed this. One 2-year-old came running in from another room dancing along to it. Their favorite song is “Getting the Job Done” and they repeatedly said, “give it a 5″ (rating). Audio. 40 min.; $12; Age: 2-5.

AS THE CROW FLIES  (AGES 2-5).  Family recording artist Dan Crow offers a brand new collection of original songs that celebrate his fun with travels around the world.  ALLS HOUSE FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT.

Adult Juror Comments: Dan Crow’s “As the Crow Flies” boasts the talents of a seasoned, much-traveled performer who knows his audience. The album is packed with outright fun and danceable hits that will have its audience on their feet and moving right along. Some of the highlights, supported by a band of all-stars, are the surf-inspired “Stevie’s Got a Maui Owie,” the multitude of fun available on the “Playground” and the timeless log of a little dog in “Greyfriar’s Bobby” complete with authentic Scottish instrumentation. A fun, inspired album the whole family will enjoy. There are lots of opportunities for participation, out and out fun, and movement. The children’s chorus is particularly appealing. The artist recalls growing up in his first house, the love of eating mac n’ cheese, the fun of traveling, anti-bullying and something we can all remember - waiting for the Tooth Fairy. The recording quality is terrific and the guest musicians and youth singers are all top notch. We love this one! `

Kid Juror Comments: This CD has a lot of fun and catchy songs. The lyrics don’t always make sense and are sometimes just silly but they will make kids want to laugh out loud and dance around the room. The instrumental part is a very strong part of the CD. It is what will make you want to get up and dance around. Even when the words are a bit too silly the instrumental section holds your attention. Although, young kids may not learn a lot from listening to the CD, they will enjoy the music and sometimes that is just as important as learning something new. I did learn something from the song “Bully Girl and Bully Boy.” The music styles are pretty similar throughout the CD. There is some rhyming and the songs touch on topics such as the tooth fairy and the playground, things kids can relate to.  I recommend this for kids ages 4 to 8. Audio. 40 min.; $12.99; Age: 5-8.

COOL KIND KID  (AGES 3-8).  Winner of more than 15 national awards, including Parents’ Choice and Teachers’ Choice. 17 original songs, each teaching a different social skill. The fun way for kids 2 to 9 to learn social skills to reject bullying. Kids are engaged as they learn “the kind kid is a COOL kid, not the bully.”  COOL KIND KID

Adult Juror Comments: This CD is a 17 set of character-affirming songs that present children with options to make positive choices in their daily existence of life, school and home with special attention paid t peer pressure. The songs are well produced and performed with a mix of adult and child performers. An array of musical styles from rock to pop to folk infuse the messages of manners, respect and making a stand with an accessible immediacy. The collection is a valuable teaching tool for parents and educators to integrate into their bag of tricks. The structure is sound. Every song has a behavior that ideally should be modeled - manners, standing up for what is right, following rules, kindness and similar. The content is age appropriate and, of course, emphasizes that it is “cool to be kind.”

Kid Juror Comments: This is a very cool music CD which includes 17 songs that demonstrate how to be polite and Well mannered, with a catchy beat! I honestly thought it may be a little cheesy but the CD pleasantly surprised me. The irst song of the album, “Cool Kind Kid,” is simply perfect for teaching younger kids about proper behavior.

All songs in the album not only send positive message but lead kids with an example. Music ranges from rock and roll to slow and soothing, to upbeat and modern. Each song is completely different from the last and concentrates on one
specific item. For example, one of my favorites, “When the Telephone Rings” talks about how to pick up and answer telephone correctly.

There are 17 songs in total. Each of the songs is about two to three minutes long. All somewhat tell a story and even though you may not realize, all teach you a lesson as well. Most of the songs are catchy. However, there are a couple that feel a bit forced and probably would have benefited from a better singer. But those are an exception and I do like the fact that the majority of the songs are sung by kids. Since I’m 12, the songs were a bit childish for me but I could see a class of preschoolers enjoying it and singing along. I also found it very smart to make this for such little kids, so when they grow up, they have good manners and a clear understanding between right and wrong.

My favorite song is “When the Telephone Rings.” The song is about being polite during a call, and I like it the most because the voice is very impressive and the lyrics are catchy. It all wraps up nicely as the song explores three different situations with a good sense of humor. These songs are for little kids, so I think the best age rating is 2 to 6. I don’t believe older kids would enjoy it or benefit from the message as much. Younger kids would not understand the purpose of it. I also give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed By Gerry Orz, age 12, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

LOVE BUG BY RAFFI  (AGES 2-5).  This 16 song collection embodies all of the qualities that have already established Raffi as a beloved and trusted icon for young listeners. These are songs about love (”Love Bug,” “Seeing the Heart”), nature (”In the Real World,” “Blue White Planet”), play (”Free to Play,” “To the Park”), chores (”Mama Loves It”), teamwork (”On Hockey Days”), imagination (”Magic Wand”) and the need to slow down and catch one’s breath amidst the accelerated pace of modern life (”Cool Down Reggae”).  ROUNDER RECORDS/CONCORD MUSIC GROUP

Adult Juror Comments: Let’s start with the obvious, ‘Love Bug’ is a terrific album filled with lovely and entrancing songs. I could say, ridiculously, where have you been for twelve years? And the answer might be, doing lots of fun and satisfying stuff. It’s like we never missed you, Raffi. The soothing voice and positive artistic sensibilities are sharper than ever. The love for the individual child and family, care for our world and the simple joys of playing ice hockey, and enjoying the park are just a sampling of this splendidly produced and performed 16-song set. And a nod to the updated lyrics to ‘This Land is Your Land.’ Beautiful guitar work. engaging production and that voice that makes a stadium performance sound like a personal concert in your living room. Pick this up, you won’t put it down.

I really like the choice of mainly acoustic instruments (guitars, banjo, fiddle, drums, bass piano and dulcimer). This music breathes. Raffi is one of the foundations of children’s music - a national treasure that generations have grown up with. There are terrific songs, exceptionally performed and spot-on for the target audience. The structure and continuity are near-perfect.

The title says it all: Love Bug! Raffi is all about love, respect, our planet and the power children have to change their surroundings for the better. Like Fred Rogers, he is true to himself, respectful of his audience and always in a gentle, loving way. He is a seeker of good intentions for the World we live in. Raffi’s voice is an instrument that soothes and draws the audience to scoot just a little bit closer. The kid choruses are lovely. The production fabulous. The musicians add so much energy and propulsion. I hope that children will see a bigger picture of their involvement and heir apparent to a smaller, brighter and more loving world.

Kid Juror Comments: The kids really enjoyed this CD. This is the first time I’ve heard a Raffi CD and, although the lyrics are very intelligent and often mature, the kids still were completely drawn in to the songs. They sang along almost immediately and they wanted to hear more. After the original review, I started playing it in the car when they were out of control and they would immediately calm down and start singing along. They especially love the first two songs. Based on the kids’ reactions, I recommend this CD to anyone. They particularly loved the Dogwood Song and Love Bug was their second favorite. Audio. 40 min.; $15; Age: 2-7.

Big Hero 6 - Suspenseful, Funny and Creative. Will This Be 2014’s “Frozen”?

November 5th, 2014

BigHero6.jpgFrom Walt Disney Animation Studios’ team that brought us Frozen, comes Big Hero 6, an action-packed comedy-adventure featuring Baymax, a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada. When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he turns to Baymax and his friends. Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called Big Hero 6. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O comments, “This film is wonderful! The humor is unique and not boring, making the audience always roar with laughter.” Harmony M adds, “The unpredictable plot makes the movie very exciting and hilarious. The movie is funny within the first few minutes which is really delightful…” Jeremy, age 7, adds, “Another thing I like about this film is that it kept me guessing what would happen next throughout the whole movie.”

Big Hero 6
Reviewed by Jeremy B., age 7, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Big Hero 6 is a really fun movie! It is suspenseful, funny and creative. The writers, Don Hall and Jordan Roberts, wrote an awesome script.  Each character has a different ability and a distinct personality. Yet, they all work very well together.  I really enjoyed learning about each character!

Big Hero 6 is an animated film about a boy genius named Hiro (Ryan Potter) whose parents have died and he spends all his time “bot” fighting with robots he creates. When Hiro’s brother, Tadashi, (Daniel Henney) dies, he discovers a robot named Baymax (Scott Adsit) that his brother designed as a personal health care assistant. When a villain steals one of Hiro’s inventions, Hiro must use his brain and technology to change Baymax into a robot superhero and, along with some friends, must stop the villain.

Big Hero 6 is a really incredible movie. It has a great mix of comedy, suspense and even a little bit of sadness. There is a lot of comedy from beginning to end.  All of the characters are funny and face some tough challenges. Another thing I like about this film is that it kept me guessing what would happen next throughout the whole movie. I was completely surprised by some of the things that happened because I had a different idea in my head of what to expect. The 3D effect is also great! The animation makes it seem as if I could reach out and touch objects and jump right in with them. My favorite part is when Baymax learns karate. It is so funny because he looks like a giant marshmallow and looks so cuddly you want to hug him instead of fight him.

Big Hero 6 has a really great message. It teaches us to make great friends and to always put your friends first! The characters have to trust in their friendship and stop arguing to defeat the villain.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars because it is funny, adventurous and really creative. Kids and adults will love it, especially those who like comedy and science experiments.  I recommend this film for children ages 4 to 18. This is a movie that the whole family will enjoy.

Big Hero 6
Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

This film is a fun and hilarious adventure with a very unique story that the whole family will love.

The story starts when a technology genius, Hiro, is accepted into a technology university but, at the same time, something bad happens to his older brother. While he grieves, he finds his brother’s medical robot, Baymax. Together they discover a deep and dark secret and they team up with four friends to get to the bottom of it.

This film is wonderful! The humor is unique and not boring, making the audience always roar with laughter. They don’t concentrate on one theme. Instead, they surprise us with many different things to spice up the story. However, in many ways, I feel the story is a bit too complicated. It takes the film about 30 minutes just to finish the back story which makes the climax and conflict a bit rushed. Otherwise, its a great film!

My favorite scene is when Hiro first discovers Baymax. Hiro stubs his toe which activates Baymax. First, Baymax squeezes around a bed and the way he does it makes the audience laugh to tears. Then Hiro trips, gets stuck and things fall on him. The entire scene is just pure comedy which makes it a very memorable scene and sets the tone for their relationship as the story unfolds.

I recommend this for ages 9 to 18 and give it 4.5 out 5 stars its amazing, unique animation, humor and interesting storyline.

Big Hero 6
By Harmony M. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The movie Big Hero 6 is adorable, funny, and downright enjoyable. The movie is about a young, intelligent, robotics fanatic named Hiro Hamada, voiced by Ryan Potter, who spends his days hustling adults in “bot fights” until his brother, Tadashi, voiced by Daniel Henney, introduces him to his college and friends. Hiro then spends his days trying to get accepted into his brother’s school to apply his knowledge of robotics to a greater cause. Hiro later develops a loveable bond between himself and an inflatable robot named Baymax, voiced by Scott Adsit. After Hiro encounters a dangerous force that threatens his future and safety of the city, he turns to Baymax and his friends to make a heroic group called “Big Hero 6″ to fight evil. The movie takes us through an action-packed adventure that provides laughter, tears, tension and relief.

The unpredictable plot makes the movie very exciting and hilarious. The movie is funny within the first few minutes which is really delightful because it avoids a slow beginning. Even though this movie is about superheroes fighting evil with intense superhero gear, it does not follow the typical superhero expectations because the heroes handle situations differently than expected. The movie provides realism and surprisingly does not sugar coat certain scenarios. There a certain times where one would think “wow, I’m surprised Disney did that” but that surprise is good because it makes the movie stand out from the rest in a new and different way.

The characters are so lovable, especially Baymax, an adorable robot whose only purpose is to make others feel better. Because of this, it is easy for the audience to get attached to the characters and engage with the movie emotionally. The movie is phenomenal and appeals to adults as much as children which is a very special aspect.
Not only does Big Hero 6 have clever dialogue, great special effects, lovable characters and nice music, but it also pays attention to little details and messages about education and friendship that contribute to an amazing movie as a whole. I will definitely watch this movie multiple times and recommend it ages 5 to 18. Be sure to check it out in theaters on November 7th.

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

October 27th, 2014

MLP_EG_RR_400x200_now_on_02.jpg

This movie Music rules and rainbows rock as Twilight Sparkle and her pals compete for the top spot in the Canterlot High “Mane Event” talent show. This latest installment of the My Little Pony franchise does not disappoint and is perfect for your younger set as well as the die hard Brony fans. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O, age 12 comments, “It is definitely a combination of adventure with a crème of comedy and a sprinkle of excitement all rapped up in a friendship sandwich.” Samantha A adds, “This movie teaches kids that friendship is stronger than any powers or spells. See their full review belows and catch Gerry and Haley’s interviews with Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Will Anderson, Jamie Foxx and more at the premiere below.teaches kids that friendship is stronger than any powers or spells.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This film does not have anything parents should be worried about and for extremely little kids who do not understand the ponies, they will enjoy the bright colors. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars for its original story, fantastic songs and those little characters that fans and Bronies love so much! If you want to see My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks, it comes out on DVD October 28.

My Little Pony, Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks
Samantha Alexander, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 11-years-old

My Little Pony, Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks is a movie about a group of friends (Twilight Sparkle, Apple Jack, Rainbow Dash, Pinky Pie, Flutter Shy, and Rarity) who battle three girls (new to the school) who use their dark magic to turn people against each other and then feed off of their negative energy. This movie teaches kids that friendship is stronger than any powers or spells.

I think that this movie is PERFECT for any little girl because it has singing, you get to see all of your favorite ponies (and even some new characters) AND it has a few great messages. There are three that come to mind: 1) there is no power greater than friendship, 2) never let anybody put you down and 3) always keep your head up.

Some of my favorite movies are animated movies because I think that it’s AMAZING how people can change their voices to sound like their characters. Sometimes they don’t even change their voices but still change the way they sound to match the characters’ expressions. Tara Strong does a great job with that when she plays the voice of Twilight Sparkle. Ashleigh Ball plays the voice of two characters, Apple Jack and Rainbow Dash. And, Andrea Libman also plays two characters, Pinkie Pie and Flutter Shy. They all are fantastic will give you yet ANOTHER reason to like this movie.

While this movie doesn’t teach any subjects like math, it teaches kids about teamwork, forgiveness and especially friendship. I think that this is one of the few kid’s movies that I have seen with actual role models and these role models would be all of the ponies. Even though they all have their little flaws (for example Rainbow Dash has a huge ego), they all show great personalities and each pony has a good quality that shows throughout the movie like Twilight Sparkle’s leadership skills.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids 4 to 7 because it is a movie that has singing,  and a lot of little jokes that kids will love. And, the best part is that it doesn’t have any bad scenes so it is completely kid friendly. This is also a movie that most kids over the age of 7 or 8 will probably not enjoy as much as those younger than that. Unless, of course you are a “My Little Pony” fan. This movie will have you singing songs and laughing all day long!
My Little Pony, Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks
Samantha A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 11-years-old
Video Review

My Little Pony, Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks is a movie about a group of friends (Twilight Sparkle, Apple Jack, Rainbow Dash, Pinky Pie, Flutter Shy, and Rarity) who battle three girls (new to the school) who use their dark magic to turn people against each other and then feed off of their negative energy. This movie teaches kids that friendship is stronger than any powers or spells.

I think that this movie is PERFECT for any little girl because it has singing, you get to see all of your favorite ponies (and even some new characters) AND it has a few great messages. There are three that come to mind: 1) there is no power greater than friendship, 2) never let anybody put you down and 3) always keep your head up.

Some of my favorite movies are animated movies because I think that it’s AMAZING how people can change their voices to sound like their characters. Sometimes they don’t even change their voices but still change the way they sound to match the characters’ expressions. Tara Strong does a great job with that when she plays the voice of Twilight Sparkle. Ashleigh Ball plays the voice of two characters, Apple Jack and Rainbow Dash. And, Andrea Libman also plays two characters, Pinkie Pie and Flutter Shy. They all are fantastic will give you yet ANOTHER reason to like this movie.

While this movie doesn’t teach any subjects like math, it teaches kids about teamwork, forgiveness and especially friendship. I think that this is one of the few kid’s movies that I have seen with actual role models and these role models would be all of the ponies. Even though they all have their little flaws (for example Rainbow Dash has a huge ego), they all show great personalities and each pony has a good quality that shows throughout the movie like Twilight Sparkle’s leadership skills.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids 4 to 7 because it is a movie that has singing,  and a lot of little jokes that kids will love. And, the best part is that it doesn’t have any bad scenes so it is completely kid friendly. This is also a movie that most kids over the age of 7 or 8 will probably not enjoy as much as those younger than that. Unless, of course you are a “My Little Pony” fan. This movie will have you singing songs and laughing all day long!