Strange Magic Is Just That - George Lucas Meets Shakespeare

January 22nd, 2015

214144.jpgGeorge Lucas has turned his charms onto the tale, Strange Magic, a new animated film, that is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Keefer B. comments, “The animation and design are exquisite. The character designs look exactly like something George Lucas would create.” Samantha A. adds, “I have to admit, this movie is different from anything I have ever seen before, but I’m not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing.” See their full reviews below.

Strange Magic

Reviewed by Keefer C. B., KIDS FIRST! Critics, age 14


Strange Magic is an animated film about two worlds. One where there is happiness, singing and love in the air. In the second world, everything is evil, with mystery around every corner and its leader - a dark, heartless king called “the bog king” (voice by Alex Cumming) that bans all love in his dark world. These two worlds have always been separated until one fairy princess named Marianne, (voice by Evan Rachel Wood) crosses the barrier and changes everything.

I have to admit, this movie is different from anything I have ever seen before, but I’m not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing. It is a musical and most of the songs are songs that have been on the radio by popular artists. For example, Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You Stronger” and that is something I liked. But, something I am not a fan of are things that happen in the movie and how the movie is directed at children, but has some very mature things in it.

This movie is unpredictable which isn’t a good thing all the time. This movie takes a turn that I had no idea how it even happened, to be honest. I don’t even know how it got to where it ended. It all went so fast that I didn’t get time to understand what was happening at the moment. Other times, it is kind of cool seeing what is happening next. But overall, I didn’t exactly like how things move so fast and I never really got the concept of what was going on.

One thing that I love about the movie is that the characters are different. There are fairies, goblins and imps. I really liked that mythical feel of the movie.

This movie may look like it’s for kids but trust me, it’s not. There are things that I didn’t even understand so I doubt that kids and younger than me will understand what is happening at all. There are also some mature scenes in the movie that made me unsure if it is kid-friendly or not. For example, the husband cheats on his wife on their wedding day. That happened within the first 20 minutes of the movie.

I am recommending this movie for ages 10 to 13 because it still has a kid-friendly touch that would draw little kids in. But, like I said, it does have some mature scenes. I am giving this movie 3 out of 5 stars because it isn’t something I liked but I know that some kids would. Gary Rydstrom, the director and George Lucas, the writer do a good job on this film but it is just not something I personally enjoyed.

 

 

 

Paddington - A great Adventure! Lots of Twists and Turns and an Adorable Character

January 20th, 2015

Paddington.jpgFrom the producers of Harry Potter comes this 21st Century version of Paddington with all the charm that this classic character deserves. The storyline follows a young Peruvian bear who travels to London in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family, who offer him a temporary haven. KIDS FIRST! Critics Gerry O. comments, “This movie has a nice core of humor with an intriguing story that is intense, but lighthearted too. Breathtaking special effects, animation and a strong feel of adventure round out the show.” Brianna Hope B adds, “Paddington is so outgoing and adorable. You can’t help but love this bear. He has an innocent way about him, but still is a little mischievous and gets into trouble.” See their full reviews below.

Paddington
Reviewed by Brianna Hope B. KIDS FIRST! Critic, age 15

Paddington is a great adventure, with lots of twists and turns. This film is playful, comedic, enjoyable and definitely a great film for friends and family.

Paddington (Ben Whishaw, voice) is a rare breed of bear that travels all alone to London.  He wants to find a home after his is destroyed. While there, he discovers that it’s not what he expects, but finds a family that’s willing to take him in and look after him for just a little while. This is when everyone’s adventure begins.

Paddington is so outgoing and adorable. You can’t help but love this bear. He has an innocent way about him, but still is a little mischievous and gets into trouble. His visual effects and fur looks very real and life-like. Nicole Kidman’s character (Millicent) is very determined to add Paddington to her collection of stuffed animals.  She will stop at nothing to get him. She’s fierce, frightening and intimidating. I love the story line, humor, and definitely the action. I liked that the climax of this film is very unpredictable and shocks the audience. My favorite character would have to be Paddington. He truly thinks of the wellbeing of others and his curiosity is adorable. He reminds you of a child learning new things. A scene that I would call my favorite is when Paddington tries to return a wallet to a man that dropped out of his packet while walking out of an antique shop. Paddington chases him, trying to get the wallet to him. Finally he catches up with the man by falling on him from the air. When he falls on the man they both tumble down and about 30 wallets fall out of the man’s coat. Paddington catches a pickpocket and ends up in the paper on his first day in London. It’s a very comical scene that makes the audience crack up.

One of the messages of this film is that families are not just made up by the people who are related to us, but friends and even animals can be a part of our family.

I recommend Paddington for ages 8 to 16. However it’s great for the whole family and anyone who loves Bears. It’s rated PG and there’s nothing really you would need to look out for.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.  It’s a great film that makes you feel good. Paddington arrives in theaters on January 16th, so please check it out.

Paddington
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Critic, age 12

From the producers of the Harry Potter franchise comes another children’s film that many families will love for its humor, storyline, special effects and of course – the Bear! Paddington will be loved by families everywhere.

This movie has a nice core of humor with an intriguing story that is intense, but lighthearted too. Breathtaking special effects, animation and a strong feel of adventure round out the show.

The story starts when a very intelligent family of bears is sadly separated. An earthquake happens and the aunt must send her young nephew to London for a better home. After arriving in London, this young bear is taken in by a family but immediately starts running into challenges of fitting in to the human world.

This film is wonderful. I love the cast - lots of talented and wonderful people. Ben Wishaw plays the voice of Paddington and is excellent at making his character seem adorable and innocent, yet smart and caring at the same time. The humor is off-the-charts amazing and the camera angles and shots are one-of-a-kind. Some shots I could not get over and had to watch again and again.

My favorite scene is when Paddington tries to say his name to Mr. Brown, who is kind of the father of the family. But, Paddington says it in bear language. When Mr. Brown tries to repeat it, Paddington looks horrified and says, “How Rude!” It is a funny and lighthearted scene and kind of sets the right mood for this funny film.

This film is diffidently meant for kids but adults will enjoy it as well. I recommend it for ages 8 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Into The Woods
Reviewed by Raven Devanney

Into The Woods is a brilliant new film adapted from the award-winning Broadway musical. This lively tale tells the story of some of the most well-known Grimm’s Brother fairy tales, but with an unexpected twist. In the film we see the stories The Baker and his Wife, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk. All of their lives intertwine and it makes for a wild journey full of song, humor, heartbreak and wonderful lessons.

Into The Woods is a must-see this season and I am so pleased with how it turned out. Being a theater junky, I heard news that this musical was going to be made into a film and the anticipation began to grow. The execution of this film is flawless. It captures the feel of seeing a musical live, with the over-the-top theatrics and set design. It translates so well to the screen and allows the audience to fully immerse themselves into this incredible story. The costumes and locations for this film are beautiful and the music is excellent. I caught myself singing along with the movie more than once.

Something that I love about this film is that it isn’t the “classic” Disney version of these fairytales that most of us grew up with. It goes back to the authentic stories from the Grimm Brothers themselves, with the obvious twist here and there. In this film, the bad stuff that tends to be cut out of modern fairytales actually happens. For example, Cinderella’s step-sisters cut off bits of their feet to fit into the golden slipper, Rapunzel’s prince is blinded by blackberry thorns and there are no fairy godmothers. Rest assured, all of these misfortunes are done in very humorous ways. I also love that it takes all of these different fables and weaves them together so that everyone has a part in each others’ story. The final thing that really makes Into The Woods stand apart from other fairy tales is that not everyone gets a happy ending. You have to work with what you’re given and make the best of the situation.

The entire cast is wonderful and so talented. Meryl Streep plays The Witch, Anna Kendrick plays Cinderella, Emily Blunt - The Baker’s Wife, Johnny Depp - The Wolf, Chris Pine - Cinderella’s Prince. Every character has a solo and I’m so impressed with all of these actors’ amazing voices. I had no idea they could sing. This film brings in names and faces that are very recognizable and also incorporates actors that most of us have probably never seen. So, it’s a really nice mix of people that make up this cast.

My favorite scene is when the two Princes sing Agony. It is the most hilarious scene in the film and I laughed so hard I cried. Prince Charming and his brother are lamenting over their princesses, Cinderella and Rapunzel, and it is the cheesiest, funniest thing I have seen in a long time. The Princes are the most melodramatic people, making everything a big deal and this song highlights just how over-the-top they are. The entire audience was cracking up and after the film was over I could not stop singing Agony and laughing about how ridiculous the music number is.

Into The Woods is a film that all ages will enjoy. I cannot wait to see it again. Every aspect of it is so well done - the cast, the visuals, the music and even though a few moments could maybe be a bit scary for younger children, it is something for the whole family. I recommend it for ages 5 to 18 and give this film 5 out of 5 stars. Be sure not to miss Into The Woods. It opens in theaters everywhere on Christmas Day!

Into the Woods
By Shelby Ronea, KIDS FIRST! Critic, age 14

Into the Woods is a musical comedy about a journey The Baker and his wife must take in order to reverse the curse The Witch put on their house and have the child they always wanted. They must go into the woods and get four things - a slipper as pure as gold, hair as yellow as corn, cape as red as blood and a cow as white as snow - all before the blue moon rises. The most interesting thing about this film is how the screenwriter, James Lapine merges the stories of Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood into this brand new fairytale.

Cinematographer Dion Beebe has created incredible fairytale-like scenes that are just outstanding. I loved the scene when Cinderella goes to her mother’s grave and tells her that she wishes to go to the ball. All of the sudden, the tree and the leaves twirl her around to dress her in a beautiful golden dress and slippers. It’s fascinating how the camera moves around her to make the scene magical.

Of course, music plays a huge role in the film thanks to the brilliant work of Stephen Sondheim who has written perfect lyrics that capture the emotions of every scene. Meryl Streep’s character, The Witch, is the most memorable character. Her voice is powerful and beautiful. When she discovers that Rapunzel has fallen in love with a prince, she begs Rapunzel to stay with her. When The Witch sings “Stay with Me,” you realize that she isn’t as cold- hearted as everyone thinks. She locks Rapunzel in a tower because she is protecting her from the world.

The message of the film is that you should be careful of what you wish for. Sometimes what you wish for isn’t exactly what you really want. A secondary message is when you love something you should set it free. I recommend this film for ages 10 to 18 and give it four out five stars. Into the Woods comes out on Christmas Day to a theater near you!

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb - An Adventurous Journey That Is Bigger and Better Than Before

December 24th, 2014

NATM.jpgThis latest installment to the Night at the Museum series finds Ben Stiller returning as Larry who spans the globe, uniting favorite and new characters while embarking on an epic quest to save the magic before it is gone forever. Rebel Wilson joins the cast as a security guard, Robin Williams makes his final portrayal as Teddy Roosevelt and Owen Wilson plays Jedediah. KIDS FIRST! Critics Brianna B. comments, “This is a wild, adventurous and funny film. This last installment of the Night at the Museum trilogy is takes you on an adventurous journey and is defiantly a must see.” Simone S. adds, “The message of this film is that parents cannot hold onto their children forever.” See their full reviews below.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Reviewed by Brianna Hope B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

This is a wild, adventurous and funny film. This last installment of the Night at the Museum trilogy is takes you on an adventurous journey and is defiantly a must see. Robin Williams’ final on-screen portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt is amazing. He has a great sense of humor and is in tune with his character completely.

The magic that brought the characters to life in Night at the Museum 1 and 2 is in danger.  Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) must go on an adventure to unite and save them all. Will he be able to do it?

I really enjoy seeing this film. It has excitement and is bigger and better than before. Everyone is back, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan. They are joined by some electrifying new characters. A lot of attention to detail is paid to the wardrobe, set locations and the historical time pieces. The special effects are big and bold and definitely compliment the film in every way. It looks so real. My favorite character is newcomer Tilly (Rebel Wilson, Pitch Perfect). She is funny, talks a lot and says whatever is on her mind. She goes on funny tangents and her appearance is simply amusing. The cast also includes Dick Van Dyke and Rick Gervais.

Shawn Levy, directs this film and brings his skill to making it artistic and funny from pulling together a great cast, production designers and all the creative people involved in this film. Although the film has a number of characters, jokes and situations, it also has a simple message of teamwork. Sometimes, you need a good team of people working together to get the job done.

I recommend this film for ages 8 to 18. However, adults will enjoy it as well, especially if they have seen the previous two films. It’s rated PG for mild action and some rude humor. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a good adventure that will keep you entertained.

Join the wildest night yet and see Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, it’s in theaters on December 19th. So please check it out.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Reviewed by Simone S., KIDS FIRST! Critics, age 14

Hilarious, exciting and imaginative is how I would describe Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. I enjoy the Night at the Museum movies because I love anything to do with history. This movie brings some of history’s greatest characters to life in a fun and entertaining way.

Director Shawn Levy brings back the incredibly talented cast and adds a few new faces. Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) returns as head of the museum’s “special effects.” Larry begins noticing some strange behavior by the museum’s residents. He suspects the ancient Tablet of Akmenrah, the source that causes the museum’s exhibits to come to life, is somehow losing its powers. Larry decides that he must travel to the British Museum in London to find Akmenrah’s parents. He hopes the parents can help him solve the mystery of why the tablet is losing its magical powers. Larry’s plan does not turn out as smoothly as he hoped. Some of the residents of the New York museum secretly follow Larry to Britain. That’s when things go hysterically wrong.

Ben Kingsley( Akmenrah’s Dad) and Dan Stevens (Sir Lancelot) are wonderful newcomers to the cast but, Rebel Wilson shines as the weird and wonderful security guard Tilly. Her one-liners are a little puzzling at times, but I loved them. The original cast is just as great as they were in the last two movies. I laughed out loud at Owen Wilson’s Jedediah and Steve Coogan’s  Octavious as they go through their adventure.

My favorite part of the movie is when the exhibits in the British Museum come to life for the first time. The visual effects’ team does an excellent job in creating images that are realistic. The story has many sub plots so it may be difficult for a younger audience to keep up with how each part connects to the big picture.

The message of this film is that parents cannot hold onto their children forever. I recommend Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb for ages 8 to 15 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. Please be sure to check out Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb when it comes to theaters on December 19.

Annie - A Delightful Spin on the Classic Story About a Foster Girl Who Wins Our Heart

December 24th, 2014

Annie2014Poster.jpgThis film offers an updated version of the classic tale about Annie, a foster kid, who lives with her mean foster mom, who sees her life change when business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in. With a stellar cast and fabulous music, this is a lovely film to share with your children and grandchildren this holiday season. KIDS FIRST! Critic Kendyl P. comments, “Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis) is my favorite character because she is a young girl with great character and an infectious personality. She believes a “No, is just a yes that people don’t know yet.” Kayla P. adds, “The movie Annie is a fantastic movie. It is one of my favorite movies of all time.” See their full reviews below.

Annie
by Kendyl P., Age 12, KIDS FIRST! Critic

The movie Annie is a phenomenal one! This is a modern day version of the original classic about a young foster girl who is very hopeful that her parents are coming back for her one day. Annie almost gets run over by a van as she is running through the streets of New York, trying to stop a group of boys from harming a dog. Then Mr. Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) saves her life. Someone records the rescue and it is immediately posted all over the news and social media. Mr. Stacks is a businessman running for Mayor of New York, sees this positive publicity as a way to increase his chances of becoming mayor. He and his team decide to bring Annie over for lunch to take pictures of the two of them together. It turns out Annie ends up staying a little longer then they originally anticipate.

Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis) is my favorite character because she is a young girl with great character and an infectious personality. She believes a “No, is just a yes that people don’t know yet.” She has a big heart. When she is given the opportunity of a lifetime, she shares her experiences with her friends.

I really enjoy watching Annie and her friends clean and sing, “It’s a Hard-Knock Life.” Even though they are cleaning a very dirty foster home where the caregiver is not very nice to them, they continue to joyfully sing and dance while they clean.  This is a perfect example of making the best of a not so good situation.

Everyone needs somebody. Will Stacks thinks money, wealth and his successful business is all he needs. He realizes that there is more to life than money and a successful business. Annie really teaches Mr. Stacks how to – live and be happy.

Annie is an amazing movie for the entire family. I recommend this movie for boys and girls ages 5 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. It is in theaters now, so go check it out!

Annie
by Kayla P., KIDS FIRST! Critic, Age 12

The movie Annie is a fantastic movie. It is one of my favorite movies of all time. This modern day remake the old classic is about a young foster girl who is trying to find her parents. One day she is chasing after a group of kids who are trying to harm a dog. She trips and falls in the middle of the street. Williams Stacks (Jamie Foxx), who is running for Mayor, grabs her before a truck hits her. The rescue goes viral and Mr. Stacks begins to show favorable ratings in the polls. As a result, Mr. Stacks’ campaign manager thinks Mr. Stacks should spend more time with Annie to continue to increase his poll ratings. Mr. Stacks’ team believes this would surely be his ticket to becoming Mayor. During their time together, both Mr. Stacks and Annie, learn a lot about each other and themselves.

The message of this film is you can be and do anything you can dream of. During the movie, Mr. Stacks encourages Annie to work hard, because “the world is yours, if you dare to work at it.” Annie finds herself in a tough situation and she remembers what Mr. Stacks shared with her about working hard.

My favorite character is Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis) because she is very outgoing, not afraid to face challenges and she is a very optimistic young girl. Quevenzhane also sings very well.

The actors are perfect. They sing, dance and do a marvelous job bringing a modern day twist to this old classic.

This film is perfect for the entire family. I recommend it for boys and girls ages 5 to adults and give it 5 out of 5 stars. Annie is a must see this holiday season. It is playing in theaters now so don’t miss it.

Exodus: Gods And Kings - Grand! Truly The Most Epic Version Of The Story Of Moses

December 20th, 2014

Exodus_2.jpgRidley Scott has created quite an extraordinary adventure based on the Biblical story of Moses rising up against the Egyptian Pharoah Ramses and setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues. Starring Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton and Ben Kingsley, this film tells how one man’s daring courage took on a mighty empire. Using state of the art visual effects and 3D imagery, Scott brings new life to this classic story. KIDS FIRST! Critics Gerry O. comments, “Exodus: Gods and Kings is a masterpiece that everybody should watch. This film combines a story about religion with a sense of history, while still having a touch of action, suspense and even a perfect sprinkle of romance.”  Keefer B. adds, “The landscape of this film is colossal! If you get a chance, watch this on the big screen. Some of you will wait and watch it on you phone or laptop but that does the film a huge disservice. Whether its 3D or not, it’s amazing when watching Eygpt being built with swarms of people.” See their full reviews below.

Exodus: Gods and Kings
Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Critic, age 12

Not only does this film teach you about one of the most important things in Jewish history, it tells one of the greatest stories history has to offer. Exodus: Gods and Kings is a masterpiece that everybody should watch.
This film combines a story about religion with a sense of history, while still having a touch of action, suspense and even a perfect sprinkle of romance.

This movie is about an Egyptian prince named Moses that gets exiled from Egypt when it is discovered that Moses is Hebrew (Jewish). After surviving through a long travel, he starts a new life, gets married and has a child. One day, he climbs a mountain that is known as God’s mountain, where he gets knocked out and has an encounter with God who tells him to go to Egypt and free his people - the Jewish slaves, and take them back to the promise land.

This movie is stupendous! Of course it will appeal to Jewish people for this is a very big part of Jewish history, but I recommend this film for everybody. This tells a truly remarkable story about one man freeing four hundred thousand slaves from the Egyptian Empire with the help of what he believes to be God. While this is a whopping two hour long film, I didn’t want it to end. This story is one that requires time to tell it and is truly inspiring. On a personal note, as a Jew, this film helped me understand my culture better and, in a way, to live through this journey with the characters. This film makes me want to do more and find out more about this part of history.

My favorite scene is when Moses climbs this mountain that is known to be God’s and, after getting knocked out when rocks fall on him, he wakes up to a bush on fire. A boy that turns out to be God is standing in front of him, building a small pyramid out of little stone cubes and telling Moses to free his people, implying free the Jewish people from Egypt.

This movie is very mature. It takes a look at a very violent time in history. So, I would recommend it to ages 13 to 18. I also give it 5 out 5 stars for fantastic acting, directing, producing and breath-taking backgrounds and sets. If you have a chance to see this film in 3D, I strongly recommend it because the quality of the film is absolutely breathtaking. I hope that creators will continue with the rest of the books that are offered by Torah.

Exodus: Gods and Kings
Reviewed by Keefer C.B.

Grand! Truly the most epic version of this story. Moses( Christian Bale) goes through a journey of faith to set the slaves of Eygpt free from Pharaoh Rhamses (Joel Edgerton).

The actors in this film are superb. From Edgerton’s portrayal of arrogant Rhamese to Ben Kingsley’s portrayal as the wise and spiritual Nun. Every character has a distinct identity, especially my favorite character, Moses who goes through dynamic changes in this film thanks to an outstanding performance by Bale.

The landscape of this film is colossal! If you get a chance, watch this on the big screen. Some of you will wait and watch it on you phone or laptop but that does the film a huge disservice. Whether its 3D or not, it’s amazing when watching Eygpt being built with swarms of people. The desert locations they chose set the tone of the film. The most monumental scene is when the slaves walk through the Red Sea. It’s a race against time and tide that keeps you on the edge of you seat.

The story focus is on Moses’ relationship with a higher power. Some of the best scene are him talking or arguing with God, who is portrayed as a little boy (Isaac Andrews). However, in the film this character is identified as Malak which is the Hebrew term for Angel. This raises questions, “Is he talking to God? Is Moses imagining these conversations? Could it be that the boy he is talking to represents himself?” Not only does this show how extraordinary the storytelling is, it also results in the audience coming to their own conclusions. That shows that you don’t have to believe in a specific religion to enjoy this film. Which is an ambitious move on the director’s part, but I’m glad they did it.

My favorite scene is the last conversation Moses has with Malak. This is when Moses write down the Ten Commandments. I adore this scene because it’s a reflection of the journey that Moses went on. And, this is another great scene between Bale and Andrews.

The message of this story is, “how far will you go for your faith.” God has had enough of seeing his people suffer so he sends nine plagues to make Rhamese let his people go. Rhamese retaliates by killing more Hebrews. There is so much death. It leads to one to side with doing something even worse. By the end, one side wins but, when you really think about it, how many people died to get there?

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend this to 14 through 18-year-olds. This film contains extremely brutal images that most young kids won’t be able to handle. It’s necessary because the story focuses on showing the inhumanity of slavery. Other than that, check out this epic film in theaters December 12.

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

December 13th, 2014

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

Penguins of Madagascar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penguins of Madagascar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 11th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOR FILM BUFFS

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

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

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

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

FOR YOUNGER KIDS

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

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

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

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

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

HOLIDAY THEMED FAMILY DVDS

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

A Belle for Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

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

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

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

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

A Very Awesome Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! Holiday Show

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

A Very Merry Mix Up

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

FOR THE FAITHFUL

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

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic review

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

E-Books

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

THEATRICAL HOLIDAY MOVIE RELEASS

ANNIE
Dec. 19

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

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

BEYOND THE LIGHTS

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

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

INTO THE WOODS
December 25th

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

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

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

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