Super 4: Wonderful Story Lines And Exciting Characters, All Set In Medieval Times

December 2nd, 2016

Super4.Kingsland.jpgEmbark on a series of adventures with the Super 4 as they travel throughout Kingsland, a world of chivalry, dragons, quests, tournaments and castles! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “This is set in medieval times, a period I always take joy in watching with its knights, dragons, castles and, of course, a catapult. The background and castles put you the mood to grab your sword and defend the castles.” Arjun N. adds, “This movie has a good message about people working as a team and that, as a team, they can solve any problem. The team is faced with various dangers and they work together to overcome these dangers.” See their full reviews below.

Super 4: Welcome to Kingsland
By Morgan B., Kids First Film Critic, Age 12

I love this DVD with its seven, fun-filled episodes with wonderful story lines, exciting characters and fun animation. The animation is similar to what LEGO movies use, but it is different and transports you to a new place.

The stories usually start off at King’s castle and the characters leaving on an adventure. The PLAYMOBIL characters are super4.a.jpgyoung, quirky and still trying to figure out their abilities. They all have clothing that matches their various characters which adds to making them look realistic. The Super 4 leader is a prince who is the brave knight, Alex (Damien Ferrette). A rambunctious and quirky pirate, Ruby (Laetitia Lefebvre) has their backs at all times although she is a bit of a thief. A shy and adorable fairy, Twinkle (Sarah Natochenny) is still learning how to use her magic wand. An intelligent and boastful scientist, Gene (Franck Lorrain) stands out from the others because he is a scientist from the future. Also, there is a silly girly girl, Leonora Princess (Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld) who loves her brother but can be a bit of a burden at times. She is very kind and clever and tries to help the Super 4 save the day and the kingdom.

This is set in medieval times, a period I always take joy in watching with its knights, dragons, castles and, of course, a catapult. The background and castles put you the mood to grab your sword and defend the castles. Gene makes this a unique story line. His futuristic vehicle with computers, wheels and an engine sure beats walking or riding horseback. He always tells the viewers facts and science knowledge to help them solve the super4.b.jpgproblems.

The voice talent are perfectly matched for their characters. The fairy is a bit high pitched perhaps but, one thing I like is that you can always tell who is talking because their voices are re all so distinct. The episode “Princely Wedding” is humorous because the Princess is put under a love spell and falls in love with the Black Knight and Super 4 must figure out what is going on. She wants nothing to do with them because she is madly in love and will not listen to anyone, but her “love” is a sworn enemy of the kingdom. She is a girly girl, so this episode is totally out of character for her. I smiled from ear to ear in the “Baby Dragon” episode when Gene, the mature scientist, is singing a lullaby and is attached to the baby.

The lesson learned here is that we all need each other to conquer problems. You should never give up as there are always different ways to look at things. When you do, you can find a solution. I recommend this to kids age 5 to 12. The episodes are short enough to keep young ones’ attention and the unique animation, story lines and science information will entertain older kids.  I give this 5 out of 5 super PLAYMOBIL stars. You can find this DVD wherever DVDs are sold.

Super 4: Welcome to Kingsland
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Super4 is a decent Playmobile series that is more suitable for younger kids. The voice acting kept me in interested, but, the childish jokes were definitely not suited for teens. Also, the CGI is not as sophisticated. Despite that, it is very super4.c.jpgwatchable by a younger audience.

The story line follows the adventures of four characters who go on adventures in Kingsland. The four characters include Prince Alexander (Damien Ferrette), Twinkle the fairy (Sarah Natochenny), Ruby the pirate (Laetitia Lefebvre) and Gene the scientist (Franck Lorrain). The team face certain challenges such as opposing kingdoms and dragons in six different episodes.

Damien Ferrette delivers a decent performance as Prince Alexander and expresses the character’s adventurous side quite well. Sarah Natochenny plays a fun Twinkle the fairy, showing the magical side of the character well. Ruby the Pirate (Laetitia Lefebvre) presents a very believable pirate that likes to steal. Gene the Scientist (Franck Lorrain) is the most interesting character due to his intelligence and wittiness.

The movie’s CGI is not as sophisticated as most of today’s animated TV shows, which bothered me a little. Most movies super4.d.jpgtoday, such as the Pixar movies have realistic animations of the characters. The animation here seems a bit choppy and the characters are not very detailed. Despite this, I appreciate the efforts of the animation team because the characters are very well done. My favorite part would be the scenes involving the dragons. I think that the dragons are a great, fantastical element.

This movie has a good message about people working as a team and that, as a team, they can solve any problem. The team is faced with various dangers and they work together to overcome these dangers. This show would appeal more to anyone interested in Playmobil line of toys. I give this show 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8 years old. This series is available on DVD so, go check it out.

Loving - Stunningly Realistic Portrayal of Racism and Love in the 20th Century

December 1st, 2016

loving.jpgThis film, which received a standing ovation at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2016, tells the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who fought the Supreme Court to legalize interracial marriage. It captures intimate details of their private lives, which was recorded on film in the mid-‘60s. Most importantly, the story doesn’t dwell on the Civil Rights aspect but on the personal love story between these two people. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kamhai B. comments, “When I watched this movie, it changed my perspective or at least my way of thinking about love. After watching it, I thought about the life I live today and I realize that without the Lovings, the world would be a much different place.” Juanita S., KIDS FIRST! Adult juror adds, “I can relate to the story because I grew up in Virginia and I was about nine-years-old when Richard and Mildred began their struggle.  My mother, who I credit with wisdom and foresight, realized that in Virginia equality among the races was going to be a challenge. She knew that Virginia’s laws would challenge integration in all areas, particularly in schools. We moved from Norfolk, Virginia to Philadelphia, PA in 1959.” See their full reviews below.”

Loving
by Kamhai Beard, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Before I get started with my review, let me tell you something. Love is the key to everything. If any of you have seen this film, you know the main idea of the story already. But if you haven’t, let me bring you up to speed. This is a sad yet romantic film. When I watched this movie, it changed my perspective or at least my way of thinking about love. After watching it, I thought about the life I live today and I realize that without the Lovings, the world would be a much different place.

loving.c.jpgThis movie is about the true story of an interracial couple who fell in love. In the beginning of the movie, we see Mr. Loving (Joel Edgerton) building a new home for himself and his wife. Little did they know that the police were going to soon find out about their marriage and shortly after, they would end up in jail. Back in 1967, in the state of Virginia, interracial marriages were illegal. But love has no color so Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga) and Richard Loving decide to fight for what they believed in. When the police find out, they try to stop them. As you watch this movie, it makes you think about love, not differences. Now get this - after watching this movie some of the actors from the film came on stage and told us more about the movie. I learned that when Peggy, the Loving’s daughter first meet Joel Edgerton (who plays her dad in the film), she called him daddy and began to cry. loving.b.jpg

The filming crew truly captures the reality of the times in so many ways.  I recommend this film for ages 10 through 18 and older. Children 10 would not have learned about this subject yet, but when you’re 10 you already start learning about the racism in their country in social studies. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars because it was better than my expectations. It has a good storyline and a good setting and, most importantly, the titles really catches the meaning of the film. This film opens in theaters November 4, 2016 so be sure to check it out.

Loving
Juanita S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Loving, a film based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving written and directed by Jeff Nichols, captures what I have said many times - “love knows no color.” I can relate to the story because I grew up in Virginia and I was about nine-years-old when Richard and Mildred began their struggle.  My mother, who I credit with wisdom and foresight, realized that in Virginia equality among the races was going to be a challenge. She knew that Virginia’s laws would challenge integration in all areas, particularly in schools. We moved from Norfolk, Virginia to Philadelphia, PA in 1959.

Loving opens with a beautiful scene of Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga) on an acre of land that Richard purchases and shares his plan to build a home for his love and future wife.  I found it very interesting that the community where Richard and Mildred lived at that time, Central Point, Virginia was more integrated than other towns in the South. The problem was the Commonwealth of Virginia, with its law against interracial marriage.

Loving vs. Virginia is a historical civil rights case that went all the way to the Supreme Court and changed not only the lives of Richard and Mildred Loving but also reaffirmed the people’s right to marry no matter their color. Richard Loving and Mildred Loving, along with their supportive family members show determination and courage. In one scene, when the attorney Cohen asks Richard Loving what he wants to say to the Supreme Court, he replies “Tell them I love my wife.”

Loving is a love story that inspires. It truly captures the feelings and surroundings of that time. I recommend it for ages 12 to 18 and adults will most likely enjoy this as well. I give it 5 out of 5 stars for a compelling story, well told. This film opens nationwide on November 4, 2016 so go see it and experience what loving is all about.

Fantastic Beasts explores a new era of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World

November 24th, 2016

FantasticBeasts_1.jpgThe year is 1926, and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident, were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “It has been fifteen years since Harry Potter: The Sorcerer’s Stone was released. Now, 15 years later, we have a film explaining so many parts of the Harry Potter’s universe that will be loved by everyone who sees it.” See his full review below.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

It has been fifteen years since Harry Potter: The Sorcerer’s Stone was released. Now, 15 years later, we have a film explaining so many parts of the Harry Potter’s universe that will be loved by everyone who sees it.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an extraordinary adventure. There are dozens of elements that help make thisFantasticB.a.jpg story so exciting. In some scenes, there are romantic elements between characters and fantastic comedy that will make anyone laugh. To make even picky viewers sit on the edge of their seat, the movie also offers spectacular action scenes.

The story starts when Newt (Eddie Redmayne), a magizoolagist (study of magical creatures), goes to New York looking for a rare animal breeder. While there he accidentally gets all his magical creatures taken by a No-Maj/Muggle (non-magical person). It is now up to him and some new friends to get the creatures back. As they collect his creatures, they discover there is a grave danger to New York City that could threaten the existence of magical world. FantasticB.b.jpg

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is slightly different than the previous Harry Potter movies, although it takes place in the same universe. The story is much more complex than the previous movies. While the previous films all had individual stories, they also continued a continued plot about Harry Potter. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them does not have that and instead begins and wraps up the plot in one movie. Since there are so many elements to the plot, things get slightly confusing. At the end, they reveal the bad guy. The problem is, we don’t really know he’s the bad guy. They don’t show at the beginning or throughout the film who the bad guy is and exactly what the he did. Throughout the story you are introduced to several antagonists and it feels like it FantasticB.c.jpgis up to you to figure out who is the actual villain. The person at the end of the movie seems completely random. Although you can figure out, it is some evil villain based on how the characters are talking and you have no idea who the character is. If you watched the film two or three times, you might easily understand the story and, most likely, enjoy it much more. But, when you watch it one time, you might feel slightly confused and not completely understand what happened.

A big perk about this film is the acting. Eddie Redmayne plays the main character and he is marvelous as Newt. Newt is a FantasticB.d.jpgvery quiet and an enthusiastic genius, which Eddie Redmayne excels at portraying, as always. The whole cast excels in their rolls, even if those with only five minutes of screen time. Something else I love about this film are the costume and set designs. The movie takes place in the 1920s and it truly looks like that time period from the police uniforms, to business men and even the children. Just like in the previous Harry Potter films, the cinematography and special effects are spectacular. There is a huge aerial shot of some sort of giant magical creature that looks so realistic it makes you feel you are in 1920s New York City along with the main characters. One more thing that could have been better is the sound. The sounds of monsters and creatures are spectacular and beautiful to listen to, but the actors’ dialogue is hard to hear at times. The FantasticB.e.jpgactors often give very important information about the plot, but you can’t hear it because it is muffled by other sounds.

My favorite scene is when we look inside the suitcase Newt brings with him. Just like many other things in this Harry Potter world, it is much bigger inside then it seems. Inside his suitcase “world” he has dozens of different magical creatures that he nurtures including some that are the last of their kind. His goal in his career is to write a book about magical creatures and the good things about them, since every other magical creature book discussing them focuses on how to defend yourself. That suitcase is his “workshop” of where he learns everything.FantasticB.f.jpg

There are some scenes that are either too dramatic, too intense or too violent for younger kids and so, I recommend it for ages 10 to 18. I give it 4 out of 5 stars because, despite having some issues with sound and storyline, the phenomenal acting, beautiful cinematography and unique visual effects make this film a very enjoyable one. On top of that, if you have never watched a Harry Potter film, or never read the books, you can still easily enjoy the story and understand the terminology.  This film is in theaters now so, go check it out!

Moana – An Original and Creative New Disney Animated Film With Heartwarming Scenes

November 23rd, 2016

Moana.poster_1.jpgMoana Waialiki is a sea voyaging enthusiast and the only daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators. When her family needs her help, she sets off on an epic journey. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mia A. comments, “Moana is a fun and creative movie full of adventure and heartwarming scenes. This is not the typical Disney movie because most of the original plots that are in every Disney princess movie don’t apply here.” Carka P adds, “I like this film because it shows how brave girls can be… Against her father’s permission, Moana has to leave her Village and embarks in an ocean adventure to save her people.” Arjun N. wraps it up with, “Moana is an excellent movie that is a colorful visual treat with lots of creativity. The voice acting, stellar animation and a good message impressed me.” See their full reviews below.

Moana
By Mia A, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Moana is a great movie! It is an original and creative movie by Disney and I absolutely love it. Moana is a fun and creative movie full of adventure and heartwarming scenes. This is not the typical Disney movie because most of the original plots that are in every Disney princess movie don’t apply here. For instance, Moana’s parents are still alive at the end of the movie, and she doesn’t have a boyfriend. It has a very unique plot.

Moana is about a young girl named Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) who lives on an island in the Pacific Ocean. She is the chief’s daughter who loves the sea, but she is forbidden to go beyond the reef. She wants to have a better idea of who she is because she is torn between her village and the sea. One day Moana decides to go on a mission to find Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) a demi-god tomoana.a.jpg help restore their crumbling world.

The animation is right on point. I appreciate the creative and very detailed animation because it helped the audience really get involved in and enjoy the movie. The water is animated incredibly well; it moved and looked extremely real. I also enjoyed the hair because in some animated movies, people’s hair doesn’t move. All the hair in this movie had body and went damp when it got wet. The islands have detailed grass and trees. In far out shots looking at the islands you can see all the trees with their leaves and the ridges on the rocks and cliffs. The animation looks a lot like real photographs.

My favorite character is Moana. Moana is brave and confident. She follows her heart and stands up to people who think she is wrong. She would be a great role model for kids.moana.b.jpg

The moral to Moana is “believe in yourself you can do whatever you dream.” Both Maui and Moana both don’t really know who they are. When they talk to each other and learn to like one another, they develop confidence and they succeed in fulfilling their dreams.

I recommend ages 5-18 to see Moana because almost all ages that like Disney wukk like this movie. Even my dad enjoyed it and he is 60! There could be some scary parts for smaller kids, but nothing too bad. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars! Go see Moana in theaters near you!

Moana
By Carla Paz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

I like this film because it shows how brave girls can be.  Moana is the daughter of the Chief of a Village in the Pacific Island who’s destined to become the leader of her tribe.  At a young age, Moana was taught by her Grandma to love the sea and she told her stories about how the islands were made.  Moana’s father always told her to not go beyond the lagoon in the ocean since it’s moana.c.jpgdangerous. He was concerned about losing her.

Against her father’s permission, Moana has to leave her Village and embarks in an ocean adventure to save her people.  The demigod Maui took the heart of the maker of all lands Te Ka and Moana has to find him to give back the heart to Te Ka, otherwise their land is going to be ruined.

Moana is produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios in a unique CG animation style that looks very realistic, like virtual reality.  The voice over actors are all quite wonderful, especially Rachel House. I love how she portrays her character Grandma Tala because her voice delivers such grant emotion.  Also, Dwayne Johnson portrays his character Maui very well with a very adventurous tone.  I like how they animate Te Ka with extraordinary animation effects.  The writers really make this story about an emotional heroine quite a fantastic story. I got emotional when I saw this movie because of the relationship between Moana and her grandma. I commend the directors, John Musker and Ron Clements for delivering such a great film with outstanding visuals and moana.d.jpgsound.

My favorite characters are Grandma Tala because she has so much faith in Moana. She doesn’t mind that people call her crazy for loving the sea. I also love Moana because she is very brave and courageous. I like how, even though her father is afraid for her she still goes to fight for her people.

The message of this movie is to believe in yourself, follow your heart and fight challenges. Moana believes in herself when only one other person does. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars because of its inspiring message. I recommend it to ages 6 to 18. This is the perfect movie to see over the holidays with family and friends. You can find this movie at your local movie theater on November 23!

Moana
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Moana is an excellent movie that is a colorful visual treat with lots of creativity. The voice acting, stellar animation and a good message impressed me. However, I didn’t care for the slow exposition. Despite this flaw, this movie is still a fun experience to watch.

The story is about Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the daughter of the respected chief on Motunui Island, wanting to venture out into the sea. One day, danger faces Motunui Island and Moana must go out to save it. Moana is chosen to reunite the Heart of Te Fiti, which was stolen by the legendary demigod, Maui (Dwayne Johnson). Moana teams up with the arrogant Maui in order to reunite the Heart of Te  Fiti and both face various dangers.

Auli’I Cravalho delivers an excellent first performance and steals the show as Moana showing her adventurous and determined side, distinguishing Moana from the rest of the Disney characters. It is surprising that this is her first performance because of how well she performs. Dwayne Johnson also steals the show in his charismatic and funny performance as Maui. Dwayne Johnson, as usual, puts his best work into his characters. Rachel House delivers an outstanding performance as Gramma Tala, who is important in Moana’s call to adventure.

John Muskers and Ron Clements’s direction keeps the movie flowing from one place to another whether it is a lush island or the windy seas. The animation is some of the best I have seen, particularly the water effects. The bright colors of the various locations also impressed me. I have rarely ever seen a movie with such good use of colors. My favorite scene in the movie is the fight scene between Maui and a giant crab. I can’t spoil it, but it is uniquely creative.  The movie is not all perfect. The exposition showing Moana growing up is a little slow and drags, but this is only 10 minutes of the movie. The rest of the movie is amazing.

The movie has a great message about how Moana never gives up. She is constantly reminded that she can’t perform such adventurous tasks, but she always tries her best to face the challenges. I give this movie 4 ½ out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18 years old. This film opens in theaters on November 23rd , so go check it out.

Just Keep Swimming - Finding Dory, Now on DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital HD is Fun for the Whole Family!

November 14th, 2016

Finding.Dory.jpgAfter 13 years, Dory and Nemo return to the big screen and now is available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD. The friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish reunites with her loved ones and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ryan R. comments, “I loved watching the brand new Blu-ray DVD Combo of Disney Pixar’s film, Finding Dory which is the sequel to Finding Nemo.  Fans of Finding Nemo will absolutely love this sequel.” Morgan B. adds, “Who knows what this crazy blue tang fish will do. This movie is about overcoming obstacles and finding your way through life. Even though Dory has short memory loss, somehow she always finds a way to make it work.” See their full reviews below.

Finding Dory Blu-Ray DVD Review
By Ryan R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

I loved watching the brand new Blu-ray DVD Combo of Disney Pixar’s film, Finding Dory which is the sequel to Finding Nemo.  Fans of Finding Nemo will absolutely love this sequel. The animations in this film are amazing, the humor is hilarious and witty, and the plot is so heartfelt.  It does not disappoint. Dory, is a forgetful but fearless blue tang fish (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) suffers from short term memory loss and she has struggled with this for her entire life. Then one day something happens to Dory that triggers her memory and she remembers that she has a family.  She tries to find them with the help of Nemo (voiced by Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks). The question is will Dory find her family, or will she forget to find them?

In the Blu-ray DVD Combo, aside from having the actually film, there are many bonus features which talk about how findingdory.c.jpgFinding Dory came to be. In What Were We Talking About it shows us the difficult routes the filmmakers had to make a narrative that worked involving Dory and her short-term memory loss. There are also bonus features that have interesting facts about how this movie was made. For example, in Animating and Acting it shows us how the director, voice actors and animators worked together to make the animations and performances believable. Another thing that is included is a theatrical short called Piper which is about an adorable hatchling venturing from her nest for the first time to dig for food.  Additionally, there are directors commentaries, deleted scenes (which are fun to watch), and many more. You can also use the scene selection option, pick what language you want the movie in, and play the movie.  If you want to know more about these features, you should buy this Blu-ray DVD Combo.

I love this Blu-ray DVD Combo because of its many features which are interesting and funny. My favorite one was called, findingdory.g.jpgThe Octopus That Nearly Broke Pixar, this talks about how Hank was the most difficult Pixar character to create because it didn’t have the same formula as other Disney characters. They also explain how Hank took two and a half years to make, which is a long time since it usually takes nine months to create a character.  I also like how it shows and gives an explanation of why the deleted scenes didn’t make the final cut.

I give this Blu-ray DVD Combo of Finding Dory, 5 out of 5 amazing stars. I recommend this to kids ages 5 to 18 and I think adults might like this as well.  I also recommend this to people who like action, adventure, animation, comedy, and family movies.  You can find it on DVD/Blu-ray/Digital HD on November 15, 2016.

Finding Dory
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST Film Critic Age 12

“What would Dory do?” Who knows what this crazy blue tang fish will do. This movie is about overcoming obstacles and finding your way through life. Even though Dory has short memory loss, somehow she always finds a way to make it work.findingdory.h.jpg Hence “Just keep swimming.” This movie is available on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on Oct. 25. You can get the Disney PIXAR movie in Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and on On-Demand on November 15th just in time for the holidays.

I enjoyed this movie but I thought it was missing the silliness and the humor of the first movie Finding Nemo. I found myself worrying and wondering rather than laughing and having a good time. At the same time it had a unique story line and the way it all played out was entertaining.

My favorite new Character is Hank the septopus (Ed O’Neill). He is introverted while Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is very outgoing and this combo was fun to watch. The fact that Hank also wanted to be in a small habitat in the aquarium and not in the ocean where he could be free was hilarious.findingdory.e.jpg

The bonus features in this film include deleted scenes, crew interviews, and some screen savers. They were all fascinating and they all kept my interest. I loved the deleted scene (Meeting Hank) is when Dory fist meats Hank and he is trying to help Dory get to her parents, but they can’t find them anywhere. This scene was very quirky and I found myself laughing and giggling in two seconds flat. I liked this scene more than the one they used in the film because Hank was very silly and sarcastic. Then my favorite interview (Skating and Sketching with Jason Deamer) is when one of the animators was describing what he thought of as key points for all the characters in the film. I liked this scene because we actually got to see the shapes and objects the illustrator sees when he draws the characters. The way they showed this gave you a look into what he thinks the charters look like and gave us a different perspective. My favorite screen saver was the Open Ocean exhibit it was very colorful, playful, and fascinating all rolled up into one really cool clip.findingdory.a.jpg

I love the flash back scenes were we learn about Dory and her back story. These scenes are my favorite because we see who her parents are and how she got lost. Jenny (Diane Keaton) Dory’s mom was very sweet and she just wants her daughter to be happy and not feel left out. Charlie (Eugene Levy) Dory’s dad is the kind of dad that everyone would love to have. He loves his family and he wants the best for his adorable daughter Dory who suffers short term memory loss. I had the pleasure of meeting Eugene Levy and his daughter and they are just sweet hearts and a fun interview. The adorable younger Dory (Sloane Murray) is just too cute for words. Her voice really matches the character because she sounds so childlike and innocent which made her perfect for this part.

This movie is rated PG but I think younger kids will love the septopus, the seals, the beluga whale and all the new quirky characters. Some of the content is sad and serious and might worry a younger audience if they are sensitive. Just remind them you will always be there and you will never forget them. I give this film 4 ½ out of 5 starfish. You can find it on DVD/Blu-ray/Digital HD on November 15, 2016.

Almost Christmas Addresses The Challenges of Bringing The Family Together

November 14th, 2016

Almostchristmas.poster.jpgAlmost Christmas follows a dysfunctional family gathering together for their first Christmas since their mother died. KIDS FIRST! Adult juror Juanita S. comments, “I enjoyed Almost Christmas because Christmas is my favorite holiday and it brought back memories of my family’s gatherings.  I could identify with Walter Myers (Danny Glover) in his attempt to bring his somewhat dysfunctional family together at Christmas time and his desire to honor his deceased wife and preserve some traditions. I feel traditions are special.  What is not appealing is the suggestive material, drug use violence and profanity.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. adds, “Almost Christmas is a heartfelt story about a family at Christmas time. The comedy is well thought out  and the story line is terrific. This film is perfect for families who are enjoying the holiday season with each other.” See their full reviews below.

Almost Christmas
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Age 12

Almost Christmas is a heartfelt story about a family at Christmas time. The comedy is well thought out  and the story line is terrific. This film is perfect for families who are enjoying the holiday season with each other.

The film is more about family than Christmas. There is no caroling, present wrapping or cookies. We just watch family Almostchristmas.g.jpgmembers trying to find ways to put their differences aside and get along. The all-star cast is magnificent particularly Danny Glover as Walter, Gabrielle Union as Rachel, Mo’Nique as Aunt May) and many more. My favorite scene is when the uncle (J.B. Smoove) decides to fix the outdoor Christmas lights on the house and the kids watch him. After his wife warns him to get off the roof and let someone else fix the Santa Clause, he falls off the roof and lands on his face. This scene made me laugh so hard especially when the kids got out their phones to record it and post to their social media.

I adore Mo’Nique as Aunt May. She was adventurous and always willing to try new things even when the rest of the family is not. She doesn’t put up with any jazz from the four adult children. She is brutally honest and very humorous. She is the one who makes sure the family sticks together like glue.Almostchristmas.f.jpg

All Walter (Danny Glover) wants for Christmas is to have his four children get along for five days. Walter is not quite sure how to do this because his wife usually dealt with such things, but since she is no longer around he finds that he needs to step up and make Christmas fantastic for his family. The only problem is that the children don’t get along with each other all that well.

The message is about families getting along. This family wants to spend their first Christmas together since their mother passed away, but families can be difficult. The message, beautifully demonstrated throughout the film, is that families should spend more time together and enjoy this time together.

I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18 because there is some drinking and some profanity. You should also know thatAlmostchristmas.e.jpg this film discusses loss and how it hurts so it might not be appropriate for everyone. Other than, that this film is family friendly with great humor and story line. I give this film 5 out of 5 Christmas Carol stars. This film opens in theaters on November 11, 2016 so go check it out.

Almost Christmas
Juanita Seon Leary, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I enjoyed Almost Christmas because Christmas is my favorite holiday and it brought back memories of my family’s gatherings.  I could identify with Walter Myers (Danny Glover) in his attempt to bring his somewhat dysfunctional family together at Christmas time and his desire to honor his deceased wife and preserve some traditions. I feel traditions are special.  What is not appealing is the suggestive material, drug use violence and profanity.

Almost Christmas opens with a journey of the Myers’ lives and brings you to witness the five days before Christmas.  It moves quickly and I did not understand some things in the beginning of the film until later. Walter Myers lost his wife the previous year and attempts to bring his family together for the upcoming holidays. Will they survive?

The behaviors modeled by the characters are a mixture. Walter Myers is a man who worked hard and provided for his Almostchristmas.b.jpgfamily, wife, two daughters and two sons. He is having a difficult time dealing with the loss of his wife and is unaware of the struggles his children are having. Cheryl (Kimberly Elise), the oldest daughter, pretends that her life is perfect when, for real, her marriage to Lonnie (J.B. Smoove) is one affair away from being over.

The youngest daughter Rachel (Gabrielle Union) is trying to get through law school while dealing with a recent divorce and struggling to get by. Christian, the oldest son, is happily married with two great kids but is obsessed with his political campaign. Evan (Jessie T. Usher), the youngest son, is in college and is currently fighting an addiction to painkillers.

One of my favorite parts is the heartfelt conversation between Aunt May (Mo’ Nique) and Walter (Danny Glover) over a piece of sweet potato pie Walter bakes. Aunt May lets him know not only does he love and care for her sister, his wife, butAlmostchristmas.a.jpg he also allows her to pursue her life and career.

Almost Christmas displays perseverance with Walter Myers’ attempt to make a sweet potato pie as good as his beloved deceased wife. It has many comedic elements throughout. Director David E. Talbert use multiple themes of loss, financial struggles, parenting and divorce as vital roles in developing the story.  Almost Christmas has colorful visuals, especially the costumes of Aunt May which are beautiful and look fabulous o her. The music is fun and memorable, the locations are quite realistic locations and the emotions the film evokes resonate with most of us.

I give this film 4 out 5 stars and recommend it for 14 to 18-year-olds as well as adults. You can see Almost Christmas at local theaters beginning Friday, November 11, 2016!

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Legend Of Everfree - Amazing Storyline, Fantastic Characters And Terrific Animation

November 12th, 2016

MLP.EqGirls.Legend.cover.jpgWhen Canterlot Highschool goes on a trip to Camp Everfree, they are surprised to find a magical force is causing strange things to happen around camp. With the help of the Mane 6 and especially Sunset Shimmer, Twilight Sparkle must confront the dark Midnight Sparkle within herself and embrace her newfound magical abilities to save the camp. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “This film is one of my favorites of this series. I love the story line and how it fits perfectly with the rest of the series.” See her full review below.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Legend of Everfree

By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

My Little Pony has caught up with sci-fi and now has dimensions where the ponies are teenagers. WOW! This is an awesome concept! I love this colorful DVD with its amazing storyline, fantastic characters and terrific animation. This film is one of my favorites of this series. I love the story line and how it fits perfectly with the rest of the series. The animation is fantastic. I love that they mix it with a little bit of Japanese anime. It really brings this film to life.

The cast is so fun and entertaining. Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) is a loving main character. She shows this by helping MLP.EqGirls.Legend.b.jpgher friends and trying to find ways to make the world a better place for everyone. She does this despite the fact that she is dealing with her evil dark side that came out in the last film. Plus, things at Camp Everfree are going wrong and strange things are happening all around camp. Sunset Shimmer (Rebecca Shoichet) is thoughtful, generous, wants to help everybody and wants to solve the mystery. She also helps Twilight Sparkle overcome her fear and gain more confidence about herself. Rainbow Dash and Applejack (Ashleigh Ball) is daring, adventurous and a total tomboy. She tries to do the most outrageous and dangerous stuff with her friends including rock climbing and archery. Applejack is brutally honest and cares deeply for everyone. She can be a bit mean at times, but she just wants you to know the truth about everything. She once told Rarity that her idea MLP.EqGirls.Legend.c.jpgof a runway was dumb because they were in a forest and no one but her would use it. Pinkie Pie (Andrea Libman) is hyper and loves to throw parties anywhere, anytime and any place. She brings marshmallows to everything to make s’mores. She tries her best to be fun and bring life to the party. She even dares Rainbow to eat as many marshmallows as she can fit in her mouth in one bite while they are telling scary stories by the campfire.  Fluttershy (Andrea Libman) is shy, quiet and loves animals with all of her heart. She even goes to help a bird get back into its nest when she is in a hurry. Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain) loves to sew clothes for all her friends and is a complete girly girl at heart. She even wants a runway where she can show the other campers the clothes she has made.MLP.EqGirls.Legend.a.jpg

Sunset Shimer is my stand out character. She wears a crown that has a spell cast on it and ends up with a demon inside her that she must fight off. Her character is compassionate. I like that she is always battling her caring side against her evil side. She is thoughtful of others. The way she tries everything in her power to help Twilight Sparkle overcome her fear is a great reminder to take good care of your friends and family, which is the theme of this film.

This is filled with magnificent songs that provide a musical theater vibe because the girls sing throughout the movie. They all have beautiful voices. You will want to learn the lyrics and sing along with them. They are so heartfelt that they really make you feel the emotions the characters are feeling. I recommend this film for ages 7 to 16. Younger kids will love the story and fun characters. Older kids will find it inspiring. I give this 5 out of 5 pony stars

Arrival: Extremely High Wow Factor - A Must Go for any Sci-Fi Fan

November 11th, 2016

Arrival.poster.jpgWhen mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team is brought together to investigate, led by expert linguist Louise Banks. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers and, to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “This movie can only be described as something that starts out with a very simple idea and ends up turning into a complex and exciting story. Arrival is a truly sci-fi movie that you watch with your mouth open in amazement that gets better by the minute with an unforgettable and unpredictable ending.” See his full review below.

Arrival
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

This movie can only be described as something that starts out with a very simple idea and ends up turning into a complex and exciting story. Arrival is a truly sci-fi movie that you watch with your mouth open in amazement that gets better by the minute with an unforgettable and unpredictable ending.

Arrival begins when twelve UFOs touch down in random places on Earth. The whole world is panicking and the United Arrival.a.jpgStates looks to a talented linguist named Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and a gifted Theoretical Physicist named Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to help translate what the aliens really want from us and what their purpose on Earth is. Once the new team starts uncovering the information about the mysterious species, they find very surprising things that go against everything we once knew.

The movie is great overall but the ending is what really makes Arrival so legendary. The special effects are spectacular and the acting is extraordinary. Amy Adams excels in her role of Dr. Banks. What I most liked about the movie is how it all comes together. Without spoiling anything, I will say that the ending is mysterious and can be interpreted in hundreds of different ways depending on what angle you look at it from. The only other movies that have arrival.c.jpgsuch perfect endings and make you actually think deeply about  what exactly is happening are Interstellar and Inception. Another thing about this film that blew me away is the cinematography. From giant aerial shots of 1500 foot UFOs to a fleet of battleships about to start an attack, the cinematography truly adds to the intensity and amazement of the film. My one small criticism has to do with the last few minutes. The creators stretch it out about five minutes too long in their attempt to show in very deep detail what exactly happens at the end. I feel like they could have shortened it and explained the ending instead of stretching it out, but that only lasts a couple of minutes and is hardly noticeable. Another huge perk is the sound editing and the soundtrack. The sounds of the UFOs and the aliens are intense and the music perfectly suits the story. This combination makes your heart thump and works wonders with surround sound.
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My favorite scene is when the aliens first start writing in their language. They write using something that resembles ink that stays in the air. It is truly beautiful and unique. It is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen before in a sci-fi movie with aliens. I also like this scene because it is when they start talking about their language and how they talk backward and forward at the same time. If they think like this, they can write and create a complex sentence in a split of a second, which amazed me. I also admired how the story treats their language almost like an art form and not just a way of communication.

There is a presence of some mature language in a few scenes as well as very intense and dramatic moments, so I recommend it for ages 13 to 18. I give it 5 out of 5 stars despite one small hiccup because of just how it makes you think about life and the future and gets your adrenaline pumping. This film opens in theaters November 11, 2016 so be sure to go check it out, especially if you are a sci-fi fan like me.

Mech X4: Fun-filled adventure show with an amazing cast, great graphics and a fascinating storyline

November 8th, 2016

mechX4.jpgMech-X4 is an American comedy television series created by Steve Marmel. The series stars Nathaniel James Potvin, Kamran Lucas, Pearce Joza and Raymond Cham. The series is scheduled to premiere on November 12, 2016, on Disney XD. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “I … was pleasantly surprised because this is not your typical Disney TV show. It made me feel like I was watching a movie with its wonderful storyline, graphics and acting. In this incredible show, there is an amazing cast, graphics and an awesome story line – all of which are quite believable.” See her full review below.

Mech-X4
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Amazing! I got a sneak peek of the first episode of Mech-X4 and was pleasantly surprised because this is not your typical Disney TV show. It made me feel like I was watching a movie with its wonderful storyline, graphics and acting. In this incredible show, there is an amazing cast, graphics and an awesome storyline – all of which are quite believable. This fun-filled adventure show airs on Disney and Disney XD Saturday, November 12 so be sure to check it out.

This show stars Ryan Walker (Nathaniel James Potvin). With his dreamy eyes, he is a typical teenage boy who finds outmechx4.a.jpg that he is a technopath.  While chit chatting with Nathaniel, I discovered that he loves his super power which is being the master of all technology.  His personality matches his character perfectly as he is fun and easy to talk to. His new-found superpower awakens a 150 foot robot called Mech-X4 and its job is to protect the city from crazy monsters.

Ryan Walker then recruits his friends to help. Harris (Kamran Lucas) is the brains of the group. In real life, he has been doing Martial arts since he was 5 years old and he does most of his own stunts. Harris is cautious and protective of his friends and the new-found robot.  Harris is a geek who wants to make sure that everyone has their facts straight before they jump into things. He is amazing at martial arts and play his character quite believingly.

Spyder (Pearce Joza) is adventurous and ready for anything. I also met him and found his easy going nature quite mechx4.b.jpgenjoyable. In real life, he loves snowboarding. He provides the comedic relief for the group and is extremely funny. He loves all the gadgets for the robot and, since this is all new for them, sometimes things don’t work out as planned.

Ryan also recruits his brother Mark (Raymond Cham) to help. He is not a mechanic in real life, like his character and the two of them are exact opposites. Mark’s main job is to be the mechanic and fix everything. Mark is usually the leader in his family so he has to get used to the fact that he needs to let his brother shine and he has to stand back a bit. Raymond loves the idea of mixing two animals together to get cool and creative monsters for the show. He wishes he had the super power to see free movies at the box office. Skateboarding is his thing.

I was lucky enough to be able to meet all these fantastic actors and visit with them about their roles in this show. They are all so grateful to be a part of this magnificent show. The one thing that is missing is girl power. Disney already gave the green on Season 2 before Season 1 even airs. WOW ! And, the guys told me to keep a look out for girl power coming soon.Morgan.SM.jpg

The graphics of this show are spectacular. I love the way the robot and monsters all seem so realistic. It feels like you really are there and as if you are going on this adventure with Ryan and his friends while protecting the world. I love all the amazing places they shot in Canada, the wonderful acting and the insight into each character.

My favorite scene in this episode is when Ryan, Spyder, Mark and Harris are fighting a gigantic snake/octopus monster with the robot. It is filled with action, adventure and a little comedy. Plus the graphics are incredible and realistic.

I recommend this series for ages 8 to 18 because the action and comedy. I also think adults will enjoy it, especially the story line and the characters. According to Steve Marmel and Anupam Nigam, Executive Producers of the show, their target audience is a wide range. They want parents to enjoy watching this TV show with their kids. Be sure to check out my amazing interviews and learn more about the cast on our YouTube Channel. I give this TV show 5 out of 5 gigantic robot stars.

Doctor Strange Will Confuse You, Make You Ponder Time Itself and Is Easily the Greatest Superhero Film Ever Made

November 7th, 2016

DoctorS.Poster.jpgMarvel’s Doctor Strange follows the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Based in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange acts as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilizing a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel Cinematic Universe. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “This superhero movie will disorient you, confuse you, make you ponder time itself and is easily the greatest superhero film ever made.” Benjamin P. adds, “Doctor Strange is an excellent introduction to magic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with mind-bending visuals and a great performance from Benedict Cumberbatch, who perfectly embodies the character of Dr. Stephen Strange.”  Miles T. wraps it up with, “This is one of my favorite Marvel movies because it might have the best animation in the world.” See their full reviews below.

Doctor Strange
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

This superhero movie will disorient you, confuse you, make you ponder time itself and is easily the greatest superhero film ever made. Doctor Strange combines humor, action and science fiction to make a legendary film unlike any other.

There are dozens of elements that make Doctor Strange so great. One of the main parts of this film is the action. The action is highly supported by the dramatic interactions between characters. There is also a large amount of perfectly timed humor. It’s so light and enjoyable that it makes you laugh every time. On top of that, there is even a small element of DoctorS.a.jpgromance in Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange begins when a very talented neurosurgeon, Steven Strange, (Benedict Cumberbatch) gets in a bad car accident and gets injured. His injuries make it impossible for him to continue practice medicine and he desperately looks for a cure. His search takes him to India where he meets a group of people that do magical things. He joins their group to be healed, but as he trains in their art, he learns there is much more then what meets the eye in the reality he lives in.

Perfect. That is the only word that can describe Doctor Strange. Easily the most breathtaking part is the special effects. There are scenes where they warp and distort the world around them in such elegant and spectacular ways that it makes you feel slightly disoriented. That is not where the special effects end though. The powers they have look magical and so realistic, you won’t think it is done by CGI. The DoctorS.aa.jpgacting is another perk for the film. Benedict Cumberbatch excels as Doctor Strange, not only in the intense action scenes but also in the comedy scenes. He truly makes the character come to life and the entire cast portrays the story perfectly. On top of that, the costume design and makeup is another huge achievement in the movie. There are parts where even slight details on a character’s face or costume add huge additional meaning to the story. The costumes in general are beautiful and amazingly well constructed.

My favorite scene is when Doctor Strange discovers how to warp and twist time. He tries it on an apple he is eating and you watch the apple turn from half eaten to ripe and new, to fully eaten and slowly decaying. I love this scene for so many DoctorS.aaa.jpgreasons, primarily the extraordinary special effects. This is an example of how well they integrate set design, the live footage and the CGI. This is not the only scene where they integrate these so well. On top of that, just looking at how Doctor Strange discovers this power is very entertaining and enjoyable to watch.

Although Doctor Strange is a great movie, it is clearly not meant for young kids. There are lots of scenes containing gore and violence and scenes that are dark in general. For that reason, I recommend it for ages 12 to 18. I also absolutely give it 5 out of 5 stars for its phenomenal special effects, beautiful costumes and sets, breathtaking acting and exciting story.

Doctor Strange
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Doctor Strange is an excellent introduction to magic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with mind-bending visuals and a great performance from Benedict Cumberbatch, who perfectly embodies the character of Dr. Stephen Strange.DoctorS.b.jpg

This film centers on an egotistical neurosurgeon named Stephen Strange. After a terrible car accident ruins his hands, he searches for treatment that can help him heal and return to the operating room. He ends up in Nepal and meets Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who saves him from being robbed and shows him to Kamar-Taj, a place where healing is done through spirit.

At first, Stephen thinks it is all a hoax, but The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a teacher of the mystic arts shows him what he’s capable of. When the world’s sanctums are under threat from Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a former student of The Ancient One, Stephen must step up and become the sorcerer supreme.

My favorite part of this film is when the New York sanctum is under attack. This scene is rewarding as a comic book fan, as you finally get to see DoctorDoctorS.c.jpg Strange don the Cloak of Levitation, a trademark for the character.

My favorite character in this film is The Ancient One. This character is very wise and helps Stephen become Doctor Strange. Benedict Cumberbatch excellently captures the arrogant personality of Stephen Strange at the beginning of the film as well as the changes the character undergoes throughout the movie.

The special effects in this film are crazy, at times psychedelic. This makes the action scenes all the more captivating. I recommend you see this in IMAX 3D. It’s worth the extra money for the visuals. In fact, there is more than an hour of IMAX footage in this film. Michael Giacchino’s almost gothic score captures the trippy nature of this film.DoctorS.g.jpg

I like that this film doesn’t take itself too seriously and has a sense of humor. My only problem with this film is I feel there is a little too much going on plot-wise. I give Doctor Strange an age rating of 12 to 18 because of its fantasy violence and language and a scene involving a car crash.

I give Doctor Strange 4 out of 5 stars. Make sure to stay after the credits for not one, but two post-credit scenes.

Doctor Strange
By Miles T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This movie is filled with the type of CGI everybody wants in every movie. I was trying to turn my head around it the whole movie since it is so detailed. 160 million dollars went into this film making the Marvel Universe much wider a possibility. DoctorS.d_1.jpgDoctor Strange makes the mind confused and entertained at the same time. Along with the fact that it is in IMax 3D, which makes it that much better, the settings are something you would imagine in a Harry Potter property.

In this movie, Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is hurt in a car accident and wants to get healed but his hands are too damaged. He asks the one and only recovered person who had the same medical condition how he relieved it and goes to the place he refers him to and discovers a place of magic and wisdom.

This is one of my favorite Marvel movies because it might have the best animation in the world. Yes, this movie takes place around the world. I really cannot explain the amazingness of this animation. It is so detailed that it looks totally real. DoctorS.f.jpgHowever, the music does not compare with Guardians of the Galaxy. If it did, this movie would be my favorite movie. The acting is impeccable. The animation is stunning. And the plot is enjoyably complicated. Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams deliver incredible performances as they show struggle, heartbreak and wisdom. One of the biggest holes in this movie is the characters. Doctor Strange is deep and well defined, but all the other characters come out of nowhere. It would have been better had they made the characters deeper and more profound.

The moral of this story is that no matter what anybody else does, you can always do what you want to do. That’s my take away. You might have a different message that you get from the film.

I recommend this movie for kids ages 7 to 18 and adults will love it too. If you are one of those parents who don’t let their kids see Marvel movies, you should know that I caught no cursing. I give this movie 4 ½ out of stars because the characters aren’t so deep and the music could be better. But, everything else is spot on! Even the post-credit scenes have really interesting things that set new things up for more future movies.

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