Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – An Absolute Blast! Mind Blowing Stunts and Gadgets!

July 30th, 2015

MissionImpossible.RN_1.jpgThis highly anticipated sequel in the Mission Impossible series stars Tom Cruise as Ethan who, along with his team take on the most impossible mission yet – eradicating the Syndicate, an international rogue organization as highly skilled as they are committed to destroying the IMF. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Keefer B. comments, “This film has incredible car chases, mind blowing stunts and gadgets that even James Bond would beg for. Every scene is better than the last.” See his full review below.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
By Keefer C. B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

A roller coaster of non-stop excitement! Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) faces a new threat called the Syndicate, a network dedicated to establish a new world order via terrorist attacks. Ethan has another problem - his agency, IMF, is shut down. Now, his team consists of rogue agents with the most impossible mission yet.

I’m just going to be frank, this is my first Mission Impossible film and Rogue Nation makes me want to see more. As a movie lover, I get excited when I’m introduced to new film franchises and boy was this an introduction. Having no history with the franchise, it did not damage my extreme enjoyment.

The film itself is an absolute blast. When the credits rolled, I felt as if I’d just come off an amusement park ride. This film has incredible car chases, mind blowing stunts and gadgets that even James Bond would beg for. Every scene is better than the last.

Action is not the only thing that fuels this movie. It also has tremendous actors. Some of the feats pulled in this film are absurd and stretch your belief system. Performers like Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg successfully help you buy into these impossible situations. Even the characters they play are aware of the insanity but they treat it like an everyday occurrence because it’s their job. Like magicians, there is a charm and elegance from the performer, so you don’t catch the strings and mirrors.

Even if you haven’t seen other Mission Impossible films, I bet you recognize the iconic music. Many films and TV Shows have satirized it and who can blame them? The theme is grand! Many composers have added their own touch to it like Danny Elfman and even Hans Zimmer. This film’s track is composed by Joe Kraemer and is one of the best versions, if not the best. The music starts out with two notes and then grows. As the music got louder, my pulse rose until the title came up and the Mission Impossible theme burst through the speakers. The music really gets you into the mood.

My favorite character is Benji (Simon Pegg). I love the characters that have the gadgets and technology to help our hero. Benji is not only a loyal friend to Ethan, but their history makes the interactions between them funnier and sincere.

My favorite scene is when Cruise is under water switching the security codes. When you hear about actors doing their own stunts, one man comes to mind - Tom Cruise. Cruise is known for his authenticity with stunts. (That’s really him hanging on to the outside of the plane - with safety precautions of course) You’d think he’s at his limit. Well, according to the director (Christopher McQuarrie), in this scene Cruise held his breath for six minutes. I looked it up! Even McQuarrie thought it was, “too real.” While you’re watching the scene, you’re holding your breath as well.

The moral of the story is, “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.”
Ethan has teamed up with Lisa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), an agent who may or may not be part of the Syndicate. Ethan is unsure if he can trust her, but he knows if he stays with her, the closer he is to stopping the Syndicate.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend this to ages 10 through 18. There is, of course, violence and language but nothing you wouldn’t expect in a PG-13 film. Your mission is to see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. It is in theaters July 31.

Paper Towns
By Harmony M. KIDS FIRST! reporter, age 16

The highly anticipated film, Paper Towns is a great, complex, well thought-out movie that sadly falls a little short from my expectations. The film is great and entertaining, no doubt about that, but the ending does not seem to do justice for the amazing build up.

Paper Towns, adapted from the famous book by John Green, is about a shy teenage boy named Quentin whose long developed love for his mysterious neighbor, Margo influences him to join her mission to get revenge on the people who have betrayed her. After a long night of adventurous mischief, their completely different personalities connect and Quentin realizes that he may be the only one who really understands Margo and decides he cannot get over his love for her. The next day, Margo goes missing and it is when Quentin gathers her clues and uses his ambition of love to search for her.

This film is the hardest film I have ever reviewed because it left me with mixed emotions. The character that the movie revolves around is not one that the audience gains a connection with. Margo, who is amazingly well played by the wonderful Cara Delevingne, is not loved by or emotionally connected to the audience, which is intentionally used to provide unexpected depth but doesn’t leave the viewer with any sort of attachment to the character. The movie is wonderful, but disappointing because the ending is not a happy or sad, it is a confusing in-between where you feel that no one really gets anything out of it. However, many would appreciate that because it shows realism and avoids a cliché ending.

The film has great cinematic value and proves to be of great quality but I can understand how people can either love it or dislike it due to the unpredictable ending and feeling like there is no climax. Most films are either good or bad based on the quality of the aspects such as storyline, dialogue, acting, sets, music or costumes. This film’s aspects are good but the depth and realism may not give the audience what they want and lead to some people appreciating that and some people not. Because of that, I definitely recommend people watch it and decide for themselves if they think it is good or not.

On the other hand, the movie is hilarious while also maintaining the complexity to make the audience think. The film is really well written and directed. It is extremely satisfying for all the John Green fans to see the reappearance of Nat Wolff and a cameo of Ansel Elgort, which made the theatre gasp and squeal. At times I also found myself laughing really hard and not wanting the movie to end. The acting, cinematography, music and dialogue are works of art. I recommend the film for people between the ages of 13 and 30 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. It is in theaters July 24 so go check it out.

Pixels – Hilarious! Perhaps the Funniest of the Year

July 21st, 2015

Pixels.jpgThe highly toted film, Pixels opens this weekend to much applause. When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games. Directed by Chris Columbus and starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Michelle Monaghan, this is sure to be a hit with families looking for their summer entertainment. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “This film is fantastic! The special effects are absolutely mind blowing.” Mia adds, “The computer animation is fantastic. The animation is realistic, detailed and just so incredible. “ See their full reviews below.

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

From Donkey Kong to Pac-man, from Adam Sandler to Josh Gad, this film really has anything you could imagine. Pixels is the funniest film of the year so far!

This is, of course, a comedy. However, along with that, there is a lot of drama and a hint of romance all packed into one huge adventure made for the entire family to enjoy.

The story features Brenner (Adam Sandler) who installs electronic equipment for a living. However, when an alien species attacks in the form of 1980s classic video games, Benner and his friends are the only ones capable of stopping them. And, to do so, they must beat the aliens, as if they were in the game.

This film is fantastic! The special effects are absolutely mind blowing. There are no boring scenes and some special effects are simply mind-blowing fantastic. I still can’t figure out how they did it some of them. The acting is spot on. One scene I really liked is where two kids are competing on classic arcade machines with Donkey Kong loaded on them. The director makes it so you see them playing, their points and the screen as well as the reflection of the games in their eyes. It looks amazingzing!

My favorite scene is when they are facing Pac-Man in mini coopers that are designed to be the ghosts who chase and destroy Pac-Man. When Brenner is the only one left and Pac-Man just gets a power up which allows him to eat the ghosts, Brenner pulls of an awesome and insane stunts to run away and it is action packed and just stupendous to watch!

This film is good for kids, adults and gamers of course. I do believe people in their 30s and 40s would like this the most because they can understand a lot of the older game references. I don’t think younger kids should watch this due to the adult language and mature references. I recommend it for ages 9 through 18 and older and give it 5 out of 5 pixelated stars.

By Mia A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This detailed movie directed by Chris Columbus is a fun summer movie full of action! Pixels starts off in 1982 when 3 young teens compete in the Video Arcade World Championships. After the championship, Sam’s (Adam Sandler) life goes downhill. Years later his best friend, now the President of the United States, calls on Sam to help with an alien invasion that could destroy the world. Sam and his team have to defeat the 1980 video games in real life.

The plot is very interesting, unique and original and could lead to a very good sequel. The computer animation is fantastic. The animation is realistic, detailed and just so incredible. I know some people don’t dig Adam Sandler but I really think he is very good in this role.

The audience was so into the movie. They clapped at achievements and laughed at all the funny parts. It was so cool to hear their connection with the movie.

The actors are great and very hilarious. All the actors work like a team. One of my favorite characters is Eddie also known as Fire Blaster (Peter Dinklage). He is very funny and he is very committed to his character.

My favorite part of the movie is when Sam, Violet (Michelle Monaghan) and Will (Kevin James) go up against Donkey Kong. All of the computer animation is incredible. It is so realistic and I found myself wishing I had been part of the action on set when the characters all jumped over the barrels and up the ladders.

This movie is an interesting blend of comedy, science fiction and action. Even though there is some inappropriate language and questionable jokes and in one scene kind of inappropriate dance moves, I still enjoyed this film. Since this movie is new, funny, has amazing computer animation, is well casted and transformed me, I give it 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend this movie for 11 to 18-year-olds and think adults will enjoy it too. I do believe some younger kids still could enjoy this film. It just depends on how much they understand the jokes and if they recognize the video games from the 1980s. To be the first to see this creative movie, watch Pixels in theatres July 24.

All Work All Play - Esports Adventure!

July 21st, 2015

AllWorkAllPlay.jpgThis documentary about the lives and struggles of people who become professional gamers offers insights that will surprise and shock you. KIDS FIRST! Film Gerry O. comments, “It doesn’t just inform you about the subject matter, it tells a story which is an adventure in heart.” See his full review below.

All Work All Play
Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Many people are of the opinion that Esports is a thing of the future … or is it? Not many people know what Esports even is.  This is the movie for gamers and non-gamers who want to learn about Esports in general and take a peek into the life of professional gamers

This film is a documentary, educational and thrilling at time.  It doesn’t just inform you about the subject matter, it tells a story which is an adventure in heart.

The story follows primarily one team, but in a way, an entire competition called Intel Extreme Masters, which is one of the largest worldwide competitions for pro-gaming teams, focusing mainly on the video game, League of Legends. Players battle and only one team can win. The story follows American teams “Cloud 9” and “TSM” for the most part but other teams as well as they fight to become the champion.

I thought the film tells the story extremely well as it describes Esports to everyone - people who know everything about video games and people who don’t know the first thing about them. I enjoyed the way the film was put together although, at times, the editing is a bit sloppy. I did like the fact that they didn’t tweak the story to try and fit some sort of a standard – the creative team behind All Work All Play found a great adventure and heartwarming story in the presence of one of the main participants - Michal Blicharz – programming director at ESL.

My favorite scene is when the world’s greatest team from South Korea, which is undefeated, gets demolished by China’s newest team. This is a team was considered unstoppable by the underdog in the semifinals! I liked this scene because it shows you first-hand that being overly cocky can hurt you in the long run and nothing is over until it’s over!

This really is a great story good for all ages, but kids from 9 to 18 would understand most of what is going on and probably enjoy it best. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars because it is well executed except a few editing bloopers. It is available July 21, 2012 in select theaters.

Ant-Man – Comedy and Action Combined

July 20th, 2015

The Ant-man is one of the lesser known Marvel characters and, with this new film, has quickly become a new favorite for many. The storyline reveals his origins and how he develops his astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength. And, of course, like any super-hero movie, how he has to work to save the world. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Harmony, age 16, comments, “From Marvel comes the newest superhero thriller, Ant-Man with a mixture of comedy and action that brings pleasure for people of all ages.” Tre’ana, age 11, adds, The technology is so transparent that it is truly believable. The visual and sound effects blew my mind.” See their full reviews below.

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

From Marvel comes the newest superhero thriller, Ant-Man with a mixture of comedy and action that brings pleasure for people of all ages. The film is about a scientist, Dr. Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas, who gets forced out of his own company and left searching for someone to bravely take on the missions he requests. With his invention of a super suit which provides superpowers, shrinking abilities and the control of an army of ants, Pym finds his talent, Scott Lang, to be the one and only “Ant-Man.” Seeking redemption for his past criminal behavior, Scott accepts the challenge to save the world and fight off enemy scientist, Darren Cross from using his similar suit for evil. Things take a turn when the world is not the only thing that needs saving.

The film’s many wonderful aspects start with the amazing performances from actors including, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Corey Stoll. I always know an acting performance from an antagonist is amazing when I actually believe the person is evil in real life. The acting job from Corey Stoll proves to be great when I find it hard to believe that he can be nice in real life. With his past experience in many comedic films, Paul Rudd easily and naturally portrays the witty character Scott without seeming fake or cheesy.

The movie is uplifting and funny in so many ways. The movie throws out jokes about other Marvel characters and icons, which are surprising and hilarious. The film is authentically different in style from the typical superhero or even Marvel film.

The film does include lots of violence and scenes with foul language which is why I’d definitely say the film is for people 13 years of age and older. Furthermore, I would recommend the film to people of ages 13 to 18. Adults will enjoy this as well. The film guarantees laughter and entertainment to people of all interests, including those who are not fans of Marvel or superhero movies. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars. Check it out coming to theatres on July 17th.

By Tre’ana H., age 11, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Ant-Man is a superhero who will definitely catch your eye. I can’t compare with the other Marvel films since I haven’t seen them but this film is fantastic. In the beginning there is some drama, but that transcends and goes deep into a sci-fi, action-pack film. Do you really need the 3-D glasses? The technology is so transparent that it is truly believable. The visual and sound effects blew my mind. The Ant-Man costume is equipped with aero-dynamic illusions that makes you speechless. The cast is swift with hilarious dialogue.

This film is about Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a scientist who wants Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to be Ant-Man. Dr. Hank Pym is amused about Scott past cat burglaries. He comes up with this outrageous scheme to set Scott up. Scott has just been released from prison and is trying to stay on a righteous path. The only thing he wants to do is spend time with his daughter, Cassie Lang (Abby Ryder Fortson), but he is having a hard time with her mother, Maggie Lang (Judy Greer) and her new boyfriend Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) because he does not have a job to pay his child support. Scott is not confident about being Ant-Man and he feels as though this task is not for him. Do you think Scott will be Ant-Man? Do you think he will get a chance to spend time with his daughter? Ant-Man opens in theaters on July 17, 2015.

My remarkable moment is when Luis (Michael Pena) says he does not get scared. So Scott (Paul Rudd) puts the Ant-Man suit on, shrinks and jumps on Luis’s shoulders. Luis is so scared he runs around the house like a chicken screaming and bumping into things. It is so humorous the whole audience starts laughing.

The message of the film is if someone gives you a task to accomplish and you feel in your heart you can do it and make a difference, stay on the mission until you accomplish the issue. The results will be more rewarding.

I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18 and I give it 5 out of 5 Stars because it is adventurous and a great Marvel comic movie.

Minions – A Refreshing Summer Movie

July 20th, 2015

Minions_1.jpgWho didn’t fall in love with the Minions when we first saw them in Despicable Me? Now, they have a movie all of their own with the ever-so-talented Director Pierre Coffin voicing all 899 minions in this film. The story shows Stuart, Kevin and Bob being recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kayla P. comments, “Minions is a wonderful summer movie. It is filled with action and funny moments that will entertain many.” See her full review below.

By Kayla P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Minions is a wonderful summer movie. It is filled with action and funny moments that will entertain many. It begins with a single yellow organism at the dawn of time, which evolves into minions. The Minions travel through different periods of time and encounter people from T-Rex to Napoleon. The minions exist to serve. When they find themselves without a leader they fall into depression. Kevin has a plan to help his Minion friends find a new leader. He convinces Bob and Stuart (Pierre Coffin) to accompany him as they search for a new boss. Soon their journey leads them to villain-con and they find themselves with the biggest, baddest and the world’s first female villain, Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock).

My favorite part is when Bob is the King of England for a few hours and he has to make a speech. At the beginning of the speech he shouts, “King Bob!” and everyone starts to cheer for him. Then, he delivers his speech and, of course, he speaks in Minion-speak. Once Bob finishes his speech everyone is appalled and stands in complete silence. Bob then grabs the microphone and shouts, “King Bob”! Then everyone cheers. Bob sticks his hand out and drops the microphone and walks away.

My favorite character is Bob. He is very adorable and he is the baby of the group. Bob is frightened by the real world and tries hard to be brave for his Minion buddies. Bob has a little stuffed bear name Tim that he is very attached to. Whenever he is in a fight and drops Tim he runs back to get him.

The message of this movie is never give up! Throughout the movie the Minions are really determined to find themselves an evil villain to serve and when they do, they work hard to do whatever it takes to make their boss happy.

Minions is a wonderful movie! I recommend it for boys and girls ages 5 to 18-years-old. I give this movie 5 out of 5 golden stars. Minions opens in theaters July 10, 2015.

1913: Seeds of Conflict – Eye-Opening and Enlightening

June 29th, 2015

1913.SeedsConflict.jpgBreaking new ground and laying bare old myths, this PBS program, directed by award-winning filmmaker Ben Loeterman, explores the little-known history of Palestine during the latter part of the Ottoman Empire, a time of relative harmony between Arabs and Jews. Living side by side in the multi-lingual, cosmopolitan city of Jerusalem, Jews, Christians and Muslims intermingled with a cultural fluidity enjoyed by all. How did this land of milk and honey, so diverse and rich in culture, become the site of today’s bitter and seemingly intractable struggle? Was there a turning point when things could have been different? Weaving the raveled threads of Arab and Jewish narratives back together, “1913: SEEDS OF CONFLICT” provides new and fascinating insights into events that took place in Palestine which presaged a century of unrest. KIDS FIRST! juror, Juanita S. comments, “I enjoyed the film because it gave me answers to some questions I have about the conflict between Jewish and Arabic people.” See her full review below.

1913 Seeds of Conflict
Juanita S., KIDS FIRST! adult juror

The film is very eye opening about a very old and difficult conflict between Arabs and Jews and who owns Palestine. I enjoyed the film because it gave me answers to some questions I have about the conflict between Jewish and Arabic people.  It enlightened me about the geography.  I was not aware of the area called Ottoman and what was the Ottoman rule.

The film opens with the re-discovery of a film from 1913 that documents a time in history that few people know about.  I have often wondered what is the cause of this hatred between Jewish and Arab people?

The actors who portray the characters, Albert Antebi, a Sephardic Jew known as the Jewish “pasha”, Ruhi al-Khaalidi, the scion of a Palestine family and Jerusalem’s elected representative to the Ottoman Parliament, Khalil Sakdkini, a Christian schoolmaster and voice for Palestinian culture and Arthur Ruppin, a German Zionist who opens the Palestine Office to strategize the shape of a Jewish homeland that was to come are very authentic and speak in the native language.

I had to pay attention and read the subtitles.  Normally, I really do not like films with subtitles. However, 1913 Seeds of Conflict has very interesting and historical information.  The ending leaves you thinking about how something very small can trigger something very enormous.

I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18. The film meets the baseline KIDS FIRST! criteria and I rate it 4 out of 5 stars. PBS Distribution is releasing it on DVD on June 30.

Max – Heartwarming Story About Man’s Best Friend

June 23rd, 2015

Max.214210.jpgNot all dogs are created equal. This story features a U.S. Marine dog that served in  Afghanistan and suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome. When he returns to the U.S., he has issues not uncommon to humans who’ve experienced similar experiences. This original story will pull on the heart-strings of any animal lover. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “Max is truly an inspirational adventure many will love and enjoy.”

Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This movie is about a marine who faces challenges on and off the battlefield. However, this marine is not a human. This marine is a dog, a dog that inspires many.  Max is truly an inspirational adventure many will love and enjoy.

This movie is truly a thriller with a pinch of mystery, however in the form of an adventure that is full of dramatic scenes. There is action with a sparkle of romance spicing up the story as well. At the end, and at its core, it is an inspirational and heartwarming story.

Max starts off when a soldier named Kyle, his squad and his search dog Max are heading to a town in Afghanistan to do their mission. On the way there, they get ambushed and Kyle passes away. Max is traumatized and develops post dramatic stress disorder. The only person who seems to have a positive affect on Max different is Kyle’s younger brother. Soon the two bond and start an epic adventure that holds a answer to a mysterious question. If you want to know what it is you have to watch the film!

This film tells an original story and very nicely too. Actors of all species are wonderful in portraying their parts and showing all the varied emotions of those characters. The director makes the story unfold smoothly. I think that some parts of the film are a little bit stretched out. However, Max will make you laugh, cry, gasp and awe. It is a joy to watch.

My favorite scene is when Max and Kyle’s little brother, Justin are just starting to get to know each other. Justin brings Max to his group of friends and they race down the hill together. Justin quickly picks up speed and not only does Max easily follow but, he also guides Justin down a safe path. I like the scene because it’s really the first time that Max and Justin work as one and it shows the full range of skills that Max has.

This film is rather violent and also has some very mature scenes. The story itself is sad at times and it does contain a bit of gore and intense violence, so I recommend it for ages 11 to 18. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. For even with its minor imperfections, the creators did a wonderful job showing a heartwarming  and original story that generation after generation can be inspired by.