Dr. Seuss never gets old – Now, he’s teaching science to preschoolers.

June 23rd, 2016

Join Sally and Nick and the Cat in the Hat to learn about weather (and things like that)! First, the kids are painting a picture of a rainbow but can’t seem to remember all the colors to use. Lucky for them, Cat takes them to Color-ga-lore to meet King Kaleidoscope, a rainbow expert. A musical number teaches them the proper color order as well as how rainbows are actually made! Then it’s time to jump in some puddles with Nick and Sally! But wait, where did the giant puddle disappear to? With the help of Cat’s Seussian camera, they see that their puddle has turned into water vapor. So off they go to Bluey Blue Sky to follow their puddle. They learn the water cycle process and when they return home their puddle is back! Weather is just the start of this trip with the Cat so come on board the Thinga-ma-jigger and hold onto your hat!

The Cat in the Hat: Oh, Say What’s the Weather Today?
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

I think that it is quite funny that the moms let Nick and Sally go everywhere with The Cat in the Hat. I get a little worried about that. That just goes to show how trustworthy the Cat in the Hat is. The moms have to be very trusting to trust a worthy cat like that.

This 90 minute DVD is filled with seven adventures that are all about the weather which effects everyone, every day. I love that it has fun activities for children to do in between the episodes. It easily keeps you focused while teaching you about the weather in a fun and entertaining way.

Dr. Seuss is loved by all children around the world and this DVD is voiced in many different languages.  What started out as silly children’s book is something that children worldwide now share.

Sometime science can be boring, confusing and seem like a whole different language but now we have The Cat in the Hat making science and weather concepts easy to understand and remember. Learning can be fun and exciting when watching animations that make it easy to remember. I recently interviewed Julie Stall, the producer of this series and she understands what makes children laugh and smile and has done an amazing job bringing Dr. Seuss books to life in over 60 animated episodes.

Martin Short is the cat’s meow. He is the voice of The Cat in the Hat and has been in this role for over six years. His ability as a great character actor who can do many voices makes him a perfect fit for this role. I had the pleasure of meeting him in person a short time ago and found him very pleasant, easy to talk to and extremely funny.

I’m so impressed by Alexa Torrington who voices Sally, the cute adorable little girl who goes off on learning adventures with the Cat. She has played the same character for over six years and is now a young adult, yet her voice sounds the same as when she started as a young girl. Sally is kind hearted, curious, and clever and loves learning. She is endearing and cute to watch.

Jacob Ewaniuk voices Nick, the little boy who follows the Cat. He has also kept his voice consistent to his character. Nick is inquisitive, humorous and compelling to watch.

I love to learn and this DVD taught me lots of lessons such as how clouds are formed, how wind power works, what the water cycle is and much more. One of the most intriguing lessons on this DVD is Chasing Rainbows because you get to learn two lessons in one. I love rainbows and this entire lesson is all about rainbows and has a catchy song that is still stuck in my head. I learned all about the colors of the rainbow and where they come from.

Of course there is also the Fish voiced by Rob Tinkler. I adore Fish. Fish asks great question that make you think. He should hide the answers and make finding them a little trickier, although they are perfect hiding places for younger children. Then we have the cutest thing ever - Thing One and Thing Two. They always seem to be helpful and ready for The Cat in the Hat’s whistle to lend a helping hand. All three of these characters add a little something to this series and they are all adorable, quirky, humorous sidekicks for The Cat in the Hat.
I recommend this series to ages 3 to 12. Younger kids will love the animation. Older kids will have science lessons reinforced and fun, cute cartoons to watch. I rate this 5 out of 5 Thinga-ma-jigger red and white top-hat stars. The Cat in the Hat: Oh Say, What’s the Weather Today is available now from N Circle Entertainment.

Just Keep Swimming, Finding Dory is Fun for the Whole Family!

June 17th, 2016

findingdory.jpgAfter 13 years, Dory and Nemo return to the big screen. 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 Gerry O. comments, “Finding Dory brings back the fantastic characters, amazing jokes and the fun story with important morals. This movie, much like Finding Nemo is an adventurous comedy, but that isn’t all that this film has to offer. It also has a good amount of child-friendly action.” Ryan R. adds, “The animation is amazing, the humor hilarious and witty and the plot is so heartfelt. It does not disappoint.” Harmony M. wraps it up with, “The anticipated sequel Finding Dory is adorable and fun, but not a match for the original. It’s a brilliant and enjoyable movie on its own.” See their full reviews below.

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

It has been 13 years since easily the greatest animated film came out. Now, the very hyped up sequel has been released. Finding Dory brings back the fantastic characters, amazing jokes and the fun story with important morals. This movie, much like Finding Nemo is an adventurous comedy, but that isn’t all that this film has to offer. It also has a good amount of child-friendly action. On top of that, the movie features many important morals that teach kids lots of good lessons. Mind-blowing animation by Pixar also impresses the audience.

Finding Dory follows one year after the events of Finding Nemo. Nemo, (Hayden Rolence), Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) are all back in the coral reef, living happily. However, everything changes whenfindingdory.a.jpg Dory gets a memory about her past and her family. They all then go on a quest to the far away coast of California to find Dory’s parents. On the search for her parents they meet new friends and see old friends. Many events lead up to one main event. Do they find Dory’s parents or not? If you want to find out, you have to watch the film.

As much as I enjoyed this sequel, I was disappointed as it felt like Finding Dory made some of the same mistakes that Star Wars: The Force Awakens made. Both were massively hyped films to continue a successful franchise. Both movies seemed to repeat a lot of the story line from the previous film. The events in Finding Dory are almost exactly like the events of Finding Nemo. This makes it very boring and quite predictable for people who saw the first film. On top of that, Finding Nemo is a fantasy but is done much morfindingdory.d.jpge true to science. Some of the moments in Finding Dory feel forced even for a fairy tale. On top of that, the jokes in Finding Dory are somewhat repetitive, lack originality and, only a few times, are actually funny. What is especially enjoyable are the scenes with Ty Burrell’s voicing the Beluga character. The first film was a complete success in its comedy. You could see Finding Nemo twenty times and still laugh. With Finding Dory, I’m not sure someone would watch it multiple times.

However, there is one thing I really adore about this film - the cast. Since it’s been thirteen years after Finding Nemo, the quality of the voice acting was a big question. But after watching the film, I can say it feels like it was made directly after Finding Nemo in 2003. What is most impressive - Hayden Rolence who voices Nemo. Of course, since it’s been thirteen years, the actor who voiced Nemo can no longer do the findingdory.c.jpgsame voice so they had to find a new kid. Hayden is stupendous in this role and I could not notice a difference between the two.

My favorite scene is when they introduce my new favorite character, Hank (Ed O’Neill), an octopus. Hank finds Dory and agrees to take her to where they think her parents are in return for something that Hank needs. This scene is hilarious and the dialog between the octopus and Dory is delightful.

Finding Dory is meant for kids and thus, has nothing parents should be worried about. Because of a few action scenes, I recommend it to ages 4 through 18. I give it 4 out of 5 stars because the story is so similar to the original and seems rushed and even a bit boring at times. But the voice acting and amazing animation by Pixar makes it all worth the wait.

Finding Dory
By KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Ryan R. age 12

I love the new Disney / Pixar film, Finding Dory which is the sequel to Finding Nemo. Fans of Finding Nemo will absolutely love this sequel.  The animation is amazing, the humor hilarious and witty and the plot is sofindingdory.e.jpg 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 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?”

This film’s humor is so hilarious, I laughed my pants off and that’s why I love it so much. Some of the jokes are also funny for adults, which I also liked. I love the animation because Pixar makes the sea life in this film look so realistic and the colors are so rich and vivid. The characters are adorable, kid-friendly and nice. Pixar has done it again. They made me feel all kinds of emotions - happiness, fear and sadness, just to name a few. I love the film from beginning to end. It is really fantastic. .

Ellen DeGeneres is child-like and goofy. Her portrayal of Dory really excels. However, my favofindingdory.b.jpgrite character is Hank, the octopus (voiced by Ed O’Neil) who gives an outstanding performance). He can camouflage into anything.  I love how he has that ability. I also like how he makes so many hilarious jokes.  He assists Dory on her adventure to find her family so he can leave the Marine Life Institute and go to Cleveland. We see how Hank’s personality slowly changes throughout this film because of Dory. I just love how Dory grows on him and how he helps her no matter what.

Also, I noticed that all the characters in this film have some type of disability in some way or another and all of them learn to overcome it. That is a very important message in this film.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to kids ages 4 to 18. You should be aware that there is one short scene that involves an octopus that may scare some children but it is very brief. I also recommend this film to people who like children, family and action movies. And, I think that adults will enjoy this. Make sure to see this film when it opens Friday June 17.

Finding Dory
By Harmony Makhfi, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16


The anticipated sequel Finding Dory is adorable and fun, but not a match for the original. It’s a brilliant and enjoyable movie on its own. The only problem is the bar was set in Finding Nemo. Basically, it is fun, but nowhere near as compelling as Finding Nemo. Considering the amount of time that has passed since the first one, they did everything they could to keep things consistent with the original which is a big plus.findingdory.g.jpg

The film focuses on the forgetful, yet friendly blue fish Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) and her journey to find her family. The plot is connected with a series of flashbacks from Dory’s childhood and in bursts of random memories which is different and unexpected. I really like how they connected scenes and referred to experiences from the first film and I love that they even have many appearances from the original characters.

The film provides outstanding humor as Pixar always does, giving people of all ages unforgettable enjoyment. I was extremely relieved to see the same style of animation and camera work in the second film because I feared that, after all these years, they would try to advance the details and tweak findingdory.f.jpgthe animation. However, it is safe to say the film resembles the first and the consistency is very comforting.

In comparison to the other sequels Pixar and Disney have created, Finding Dory is very impressive. The movie can be a bit of a let down if one’s mindset is on the expectations from the first one, but it is a fun adventure on its own.

I was concerned whether Dory could successfully carry the role of a main character since she had previously played a supporting role, but she carried it out well. The supporting cast really stands out and brings the comedy to life and their pleasant personalities bring a fun element to the film.

One of the best aspects of this film is the focus on character development rather than thefindingdory.h.jpg fun journey. Pixar provides more than just comedy and entertainment for the kids. The film contains thoughtful messages and shines a light on mental disabilities.

While the film is not as good as you expect it, it is not as bad as you feared. The film is definitely worth watching. I recommend it for ages 5 to 18. People who saw the first film will particularly enjoy it. Otherwise it might be difficult to fully understand. I give this film a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Check it out when it opens in theaters June 17th.

TMNT - An action-packed movie with lots of comedy, suspense and thrills.

June 16th, 2016

I’ve never been a fan of Teenage Mutan Ninja Turtles but this latest film seems to have turned a corner in its intent and has many redeeming qualities. The storyline is nothing spectacular – keep someone from overtaking the world but, somehow, this is a kinder, gentler TMNT. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Na’im S. comments, “This is an action-packed movie with lots of comedy, suspense and thrills. In this film, there are many characters that were in the first TMNT movie as well as the original cartoon such as Shredder and Casey Jones. Bebop and Rocksteady make their first debut in this film and it is a hilarious debut, because the actors who play those characters are very funny.” See his full review below.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
By Na’im Smith, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

“Shhhh! You have to sneak up on them.” I’m talking as quiet as a ninja because I’m reviewing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows! If you liked the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, then you’d better hurry up and buy tickets for this next movie, because it’s even better! This is an action-packed movie with lots of comedy, suspense and thrills. In this film, there are many characters that were in the first TMNT movie as well as the original cartoon such as Shredder and Casey Jones. Bebop and Rocksteady make their first debut in this film and it is a hilarious debut, because the actors who play those characters are very funny.

In this film, Shredder has returned, but this time without a mask. Shredder (Brian Tee) is the evil mastermind that everybody hates. Brian Tee is the perfect actor to play Shredder because he never breaks character and makes the audience believe he is really scary. While Shredder is being transported to prison, many unexpected things happen and the Ninja Turtles go through a lot of trouble to find and defeat him once and for all.

Fenwick (Will Arnett) is the person who takes credit for defeating Shredder in the first movie even though it was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, because the Turtles can’t show their faces in public.

Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) is a scientist with a hilarious laugh. Baxter Stockman works with Shredder and the Foot Clan to try and take over the world.

Motion capture is used to create this film which means that the actors put on sensors and the sensors capture their movements and put them onto the screen. So, the film is part animation and part live action. It is nice to see an appearance by Carmelo Anthony, a New York Knicks NBA player because the setting is in New York City and seeing him in Madison Square Garden makes the movie seem even more realistic.

I give this film 5 out of 5 bold stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Adults who liked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when they were younger will also very much enjoy this film. This film is rated PG-13 for mild profanity and violence.

Free Family Film Series This Summer in Santa Fe at the Violet Crown

June 15th, 2016

free_family_film_series.jpgThe Violet Crown Cinema in Santa Fe has brought back their Free Family Film Series this summer. A new film screens each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. throughout June, July and August. It is Free to attend. Tickets are available at the cinema on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity is reached. The titles playing through June include: A Little Princess: June 14 & 16; Explorers: June 21 & 23; The Sandlot: June 28 & 30.  This is a great chance to be able to see these films on the big screen! When did you do that last? KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Bison B. comments, “These are all great movies for the whole family to enjoy.  Each one has very unique stories and experiences which make it very difficult to pick a favorite.  I truly loved each one.” His full review is below.

Violet Crown’s Free Family Movie Series
By Bison Branch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

The Violet Crown theater is showing ten classic movies for families throughout June, July and August. The five that I’ve seen are Explorers, The Sandlot, A Little Princess, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Wizard of Oz.  These are all great movies for the whole family to enjoy.  Each one has very unique stories and experiences which make it very difficult to pick a favorite.  I truly loved each one.

This week’s feature is A Little Princess.  I have to say this movie definitely surprised me. It was shot in 1995.  Although it is not my exactly type of movie, I found myself totally into it.  This film is about a girl who is sent to a very strict boarding Exploreres.jpgschool while her dad fights in World War I. Moving from a beautiful place in India to New York City, she faces many challenges while sharing a kind heart.

Next up is Explorers which was shot in 1985.  When I watched Explorers, I found myself mesmerized by not only the story line, but the creativity throughout the film.  Ethan Hawke plays Ben Crandall and gives a stunning performance. He truly becomes his character.  This film is of the sci-fi / adventure genre. Explorers is based on three middle school boys who dream of alien life in the universe and meeting those alien life forms.  It is definitely one of my favorites.

The following week is the classic summer film, The Sandlot. I really liked The Sandlot. It was shot in 1993 and is about a group of kids who love to play baseball.  One day they decide to play with a friend’s father’s ball signed by Babe Ruth.  That is where the story begins. This film is great for everybody who likes to get a good laugh, but wants to see  growth in the character’ personality.

One films that has already played are Fantastic Mr. Fox which says it all in the title. It’s simply fantastic!  This is an animated film created in 2009 that is about a family of foxes that are in an all out war with farmers.  I loved this adventure Sandlot.jpr_1.jpgcomedy. There is not one boring part of the film.

The other film that kicked off this series is The Wizard of Oz, made in 1939.  It is one of the first movies in color and is a musical.  The Wizard of Oz is about a girl

(Judy Garland) who gets trapped in her house during a tornado and is teleported to Oz, a beautiful land full of witches and munchkins.  In order to return home, she must go on a quest to have an audience with the powerful wizard of Oz. Along the way, she meets friends that teach her important lessons.

Even if you have seen these films before, I highly recommend sharing them with your family at the Violet Crown. As we grow up, we find new meaning and have more in common with different experiences and characters. And, what a great opportunity to watch these classic films on the big screen! How often does that happen. to find out what other films will be playing in July and August visit http://santafe.violetcrown.com/movies

Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures – Great Way to Learn New Language Skills

June 14th, 2016

Kiwi.PhonicAdv.jpgIn this collection of twenty episodes, Twiki and Twini take the viewer on adventures to discover new words and new sounds. Each episode features a handful of words spelled out by the Kiwi birds Twiki and Twini.  Your little one will learn how to spell fun words such as “clown” and animal words like “dog”. Get ready to enter into an unexpected universe comprised of sounds, words and images. Filmed in HD Stop Motion Animation. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “The claymation is very lush and colorful and stands out in this quirky series. The animation brings the kiwi birds to life and, even though they never talk, you understand their personalities and relationship. I really like watching the two buddies, the short, round and sometimes grumpy Twiki and his tall cheery yellow sidekick, the clumsy, easygoing Twini. Additional fun side characters throughout the series keep the stories lively.” KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror Juanita S. adds, “Great way to learn new language skills! Each story is simple and to the point. Twiki and Twini present the concepts, sounds and spelling in entertaining ways.  Each story introduces new words and can be viewed independently.” See their full reviews below.

Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures is a fun, educational, colorful and well-animated series on DVD that does a good job of teaching young children about phonics and word building.

Kids can learn phonics along with Kiwi birds, Twiki and Twini, as they go on adventures including making a movie and trying to find a magic compass. My favorite episode in this volume, the latest in the Kiwi series, is The Little Robot. Twiki and Twini meet a blue robot in desperate need of energy and they have to go to the moon to find moon rocks to power him.

Another episode I enjoyed is The Magic Compass. The Kiwis find a magic compass that can change the seasons but a mischievous skunk steals it and Twiki and Twini need to find it so they can change the season back.

Each short episode of Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures teaches a few words revolving around a specific topic. For instance, one episode centers on housecleaning and another on art. The narrators spell and sound out the words used in each episode and review all of them at the end. Every episode is very playful and bright and the words stay in your mind because they use shapes and objects from the episode’s theme to spell out the words on your screen and make it more memorable.

Benjamin.jpgThe claymation is very lush and colorful and stands out in this quirky series. The animation brings the kiwi birds to life and, even though they never talk, you understand their personalities and relationship. I really like watching the two buddies, the short, round and sometimes grumpy Twiki and his tall cheery yellow sidekick, the clumsy, easygoing Twini. Additional fun side characters throughout the series keep the stories lively.

Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures was originally a French series and it’s fun to spot clues from European culture in the animation in some of the episodes. For example, when showing you how to spell coin, they use European money to make the letter “o.”

Kids will have a great time learning about phonics with Twiki and Twini. I give Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures an age rating of 3 to 6 or for anyone trying to learn to read and rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures
By Juanita S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Juanita.jpgGreat way to learn new language skills! This series features 20 stories following Twiki and Twini, the colorful, claymation Kiwi bird characters who help young children develop language skills using phonics. Each story is simple and to the point. Twiki and Twini present the concepts, sounds and spelling in entertaining ways.  Each story introduces new words and can be viewed independently. Each story has a theme with related sounds and words. The menu allows you to select a particular story or view them all. Children 2 to 6 years old will enjoy watching this series and their parents can easily enjoy watching it with the children.

If you like crazy ducks, silly henchmen and a love story, this will quack you up

June 14th, 2016

quackerz.jpgProduced by the Russian animation studio Rome, Quackerz is a comical, animated story about the Chinese legend of the Sun Duck who protects the sun. A conflict flares up between the local Mandarin Ducks and the Military Mallards, who land on the Chinese island, mistaking it for Hawaii. While the fathers fight and argue, Longway, the emperor’s son, and Erica, the commander’s daughter, meet and become friends. The kids must ally all the ducks to battle their foe, the daunting Ms. Knout, who seeks to destroy the Sun. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “This comical, adventures and fun movie is perfect for the whole family. The story is about Mallard military ducks vs. Mandarin ducks. I like the way it all plays out with all the different story lines, characters and all the jokes.” Brianna B. adds, “The visuals of this film are very clear and captivating with bright colors and depth. The many different outfits and accessories worn by the animals as well as the humans are exciting and fun. These are not your normal hats, gloves, scarves and belts.” See their full reviews below.

Quackerz
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Do you like crazy ducks, silly henchmen and a love story? Then, Quackers is just ducky for you. This comical, adventures and fun movie is perfect for the whole family. The story is about Mallard military ducks vs. Mandarin ducks. I like the way it all plays out with all the different story lines, characters and all the jokes.

The characters in this film are very detailed. They all have different, wonderful voices, which I enjoyed dearly. Robbie Daymond who plays Longway is spectacular. He fits the teenage duck and you can hear the frustration he feels as his desire is to spread his wings and see the world. Andrea Becker who plays Erica is magnificent.quackerz.a.jpg She connects with Longway and the two ducks are destined to be together. Enn Reitel who voices Peng Li is hysterical. It is sweet of him to be so protective of his son. Mallard Commander is tough, but he has a soft side and loves his daughter dearly. You can tell that he wants the best for Erica. The story is really about how far fathers will go to protect their children. The voice-over actors are simply amazing and they all have peculiarities that fit their characters and make them sound unique.

The animation in this film is amazing. I love that it is so detailed. I like the way they show the town where people live as well as the mountains the ducks call home. All of the cooking scenes with the henchmen have astoquackerz.c.jpgnishing details.

I loved the scene when Longway and Erica are flying and having such a good time. I am also a huge fan of romance. The ducks chewing gum and blowing pink bubbles in the air makes your heart go pitter patter and puts a smile on your face. You can just tell that these two are definitely love birds. The animation in this scene is very detailed. I am a tad bit jealous that she got a gorgeous blue firefly bouquet. It is so amazing.

I have a lot in common with Erica and can relate to her. She has girl power which makes her unique and fun. Erica is goodhearted, curious, adorable, smart and a tough cookie when needed. Those are just some quackerz.e.jpgof the qualities that I like about this awesome ducky.

This movie reminds me of Kung Fu Panda which also takes place in China, has talking animals and features the martial art of Kung Fu. Then, there is Romeo and Juliet’s feathered fathers who  keep the star-crossed duckies apart. It also reminded me of Rio because the Mandarin ducks cannot fly. This combination of movies put into one, has a slice of cake for everyone and I love that.

I recommend for ages 10 to 18. It is certainly family friendly. So, get a box of crackers and have a family adventure of your own. Be forewarned that there is some violence and the evil Ms. Knout could use a tad more feathers. I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 quacking flapping stars! Brought to you by Shout Factory, it is available on DVD and Digital Platforms July 14, 2016.

Quackerz
Brianna Hope B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

This animation has bright colors, clear visuals, great music and a story line that I’m sure you will find interesting.  A young Duck Longway (Robbie Daymond-Voice) is completely bored with his uneventful life on an island off the coast of China. His life turns around when a fight breaks out against the Mandarin Ducks and the Military Mallards. Soon after that a war breaks out against the Duck and human race. To top it all off, to keep the Sun in the sky to quackerz.d.jpgshine for everyone, one Duck must step up to the challenge. Will he succeed?

The visuals of this film are very clear and captivating with bright colors and depth. The many different outfits and accessories worn by the animals as well as the humans are exciting and fun. These are not your normal hats, gloves, scarves and belts.  Some of the belts are made of metal and the hats are very different from what you and I are accustomed to seeing. This film, for the most part, accurately displays the feelings and situations that tweens and teenagers feel and go through. I find many different aspects of a few characters to be very relatable. The flow to this film isn’t as smooth as I would like it to be. Also, many of the actions feel as though they are being thrown in haphazardly with no real meaning. The music is upbeat with catchy tunes and it connects you to each scene. One of my favorite scenes is when Longway learns to fly. It represents the freedom of flying and not being tied down to anyone or anything. It’s a great scene that shows individuality aquackerz.b.jpgnd captures what Longway wants from life. I really do not have a favorite character since no single character stands out to me as they are all basically pretty similar. There are a few comedic moments throughout the film, however not a lot.

I recommend Quackerz for ages 6 to 12. It’s for both girls and boys and I’m sure they will enjoy the special features including behind the scenes footage.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars. I would have like to see smoother transitions and actions that made sense in the sequences they are played in. Other than that, it’s a good film and I’m sure younger kids will enjoy it.  Quackerz is available on DVD and Blu-Ray, so please check it out.

They’re mean, green, creepy and they have magic – Powerful Magic!

June 12th, 2016

Warcraft_1.jpgIf you have played the videogame Warcraft, you’ll love this film. The storyline show the peaceful realm of Azeroth standing on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people and their home. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “Warcraft is stupendous and an adventure to remember. Wizards, kings, armies, exotic animals and orcs are all packed into great movie.” See her full review below.

Warcraft
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

They’re mean, green, creepy and they have magic - the most powerful magic in the world on their side. The orcs and Warcraft are coming and they are here to stay! Warcraft is stupendous and an adventure to remember. Wizards, kings, armies, exotic animals and orcs are all packed into great movie.

They have tusks and wear human skulls. The gigantic green, scary orcs made me cry and carwarcraft.1.jpge about their future existence. UGH!  Before this movie, I always found them to be distasteful and wished for their existence to cease. Now I am rethinking my thoughts and scurrying to think of a way for us all to co-exist.

Epic battle scenes, a heartfelt storyline and A+ graphics make this a must-see movie for the summer.   IMAX is the way to go. Two orcs, one on the left and one on the right and you are in the middle of them looking down upon an orc encampment.  The scenes when you are looking over their shoulders and seeing what they see as well as getting grewarcraft.5.jpgat over-the-shoulder scenes are what make this movie fantastic. The graphics are top notch and make you feel like you are part of the movie. While soaring on a griffin through the air or battling a huge white wolf you will forget everything and become a part of this film.

I am a gamer but I have never played Warcraft. There are some parts that could have used more of a back story. I found the wizards to be a bit confusing and would have liked to know their origin and had a better understanding of their powers. This seems to be the new normal, start in the middle of a story, make a movie and then have more movies to explain the beginning. This is a set-up for a franchise which I would enjoy following.

There are not many female characters in this movie and any that follow should definitely add more girl power. That being said, I found Paula Patton’s performance as Garona top-notch. She is a half human and half orc. I admire her strength, intelligence and quest to do the right thing. She is torn between two races and sees the good and evil in both.
Khadgar is wizard in training and his “can do, never give up” attitude is an inspiration to all humans. Ben Schnetzer is adorable and a great apprentice. I am glad he is on the side of the humwarcraft.6.jpgans.

The acting on the part of the humans is believable. Even though you want them to win, you also feel a strange connection to the orcs. Ages 11 to 18 will enjoy this film if they are into fantasy and adventure. The orcs are scary and will most likely frighten younger children. There are violence battles scenes which are epic but not suitable for younger audiences. I give this film 5 our of 5 green orc magic stars.  Brought to you by Blizzard Entertainment, it opens June 10.

Zootopia – Welcome to the Urban Jungle! Now Available on DVD/Blu-ray/Digital HD

June 7th, 2016

Zootopia.jpgFrom our friends at Walt Disney Animation comes Zootopia, the story about a city of anthropomorphic animals where a fugitive con artist fox and a rookie bunny cop must work together to uncover a conspiracy. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mia A. comments, “I thoroughly enjoyed Disney’s Zootopia because the animation took me into a beautiful world just like ours, but completely filled with animals.” Tre’ana H. chimes in with, “I really adored this film because it is very different from any ordinary film. The characters belong to the zoo animals’ collection. It is hilarious because all the animals act like humans and engage in everyday, normal conversations like we do.” See their full reviews below.

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

I thoroughly enjoyed Disney’s Zootopia because the animation took me into a beautiful world just like ours, but completely filled with animals.

Zootopia is about a bunny named Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) who grew up on a carrot farm.  Judy always wanted to be a cop when she grew up even though she is a bunny and bunnies do not become policemen.  She goes to police training and then becomes a cop in Zootopia.

Zootopia is a land where all different types of animals, prey and predators, live together in peace.  When Judy gets to Zootopia she is not taken seriously as a Bunny Cop, so Judy has to finish a case in 48 hours or else she resign.  She teams up with a fox named Nick (Jason Bateman) to help figure out the case.  Will she get taken seriously as a cop and finish the case? You’ll have to watch it to find out.

My favorite character in Zootopia is Nick, a clever, funny and mischievous fox.  Nick got lots of laughs from the audience and I learned to care about him after his back story was revealed.Zootopia.a.jpg

My favorite scene is with the sloths.  Judy and Nick go to check a license plate and all the workers at the DMV are sloths.  The main sloth named Flash (Raymond S. Persi) says everything slowly. Judy is in a big rush and to make the process even slower, Nick tells Flash a joke.  This is one of the funniest scenes that got lots of laughs from the audience.

The film’s animation is incredible. It’s filled with lots of color and creative, minute details.  In one scene, Judy travels through the different zones of Zootopia and, in the rainforest zone, it starts raining and the rain hits the train.  This scene is filled with detailed zootopia.c.jpgcolors and light.

Zootopia is a mystery movie, but it is also a comedy.  The mystery part of this movie could be scary to little kids because there are dark scenes with intense action and it shows some animals going savage.

There are a couple scenes with nude animals.  This isn’t that bad because it only shows animals without clothes on.  It is funny though because the animals freak out even though, in real life, animals are always “nude”.

I rate this movie a 4.5 out of 5 stars because there are some scenes little kids might find scary but everything has a reason even if it doesn’t seem important at the time.  Since this is a Disney movie, some parents might think it is good for all ages. But, I recommend it for kids age 6 to 15 because of the fear factor. If your kids like mysteries and dark scenes then, that won’t be a problem. Disney’s Zootopia is now available on DVD/Blu-ray/HD Digital so check it out.
Mia’s interview with Animation Supervisor Kira Lehtomaki follows.

Zootopia
By Tre’ana H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

zootopia.b.jpgI really adored this film because it is very different from any ordinary film. The characters belong to the zoo animals’ collection. It is hilarious because all the animals act like humans and engage in everyday, normal conversations like we do. Directors, Byron Howard and Rich Moore have delivered a creative and amazing story filled with imagination.

In the city of Zootopia the animals live a diversified life. They all get along with each other until a plague hits some of the animals and they start to be aggressive with each other. A fugitive con artist / fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) and a rookie bunny cop named Judy Hoops, (Ginnifer Godwin) work together to uncover the conspiracy that is taking over their city. You will not believe the deception that is taking place.

My most memorable scene is when the bunny first goes to Zootopia. I liked this part best because, when she is on the train, you see the entire city of Zootopia. It made me feel like I was part of the scene touring Zootopia with Judy. This section of the filmzootopia.d.jpg shows each part of the city and reveals all the different scenery in each section. This is the coolest scene and is so beautifully detailed.

The setting of this story made me feel like I wanted to be a part of this world of Zootopia. The colors are very bright and it looks like an amusement park with plenty of animals.

The moral message of this film is that you should never let anyone bring you down or stop you from being the person you want to be. People may try to break you down, but you can’t let them.  You can be whatever you want to be in this world of freedom.

I recommend Zootopia for ages 6 to 18 and I give it 5 out of 5 Stars because it is child friendly, hilarious, exciting and everyone will enjoy it. Disney’s Zootopia is now available on DVD/Blu-ray/HD Digital so check it out.

Video editing by Miles DeVesty

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

June 7th, 2016

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

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

May 25th, 2016

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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