Batman: Assault on Arkham - A Comic-Book Based Film That Follows the Bad Guys

August 19th, 2014

214071.jpgIf you’re a fan of the game series, then you’ll love this movie. It is extremely violent, just like the games and thus, we recommend for older teens and adults. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic and comic book expert, Keefer B. comments, “The characters are dynamic. As much as I love heroes, I adore villains. A protagonist is nothing without an antagonist and these criminals take the cake.” Anthony A. adds, “This movie is a funny movie but has a lot of violence. It also has a lot of gore and a ton of action.” See their full reviews below.

Batman: Assault on Arkham
Reviewed by Keefer B.
Vigorous! This is your typical entertaining comic book film, only this time you’re cheering for, and looking from, the bad guys’ point of view.

Amanda Waller (C.C.H. Pounder) assembles a team of six criminals, called The Suicide Squad. Their mission is to break into Arkham and retrieve The Riddler’s (Mathew Gray Gubler) cane. However it does not go according to plan.

This film is rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language and I admire this film’s judgment. Not long ago, I wrote a blog about the rating system and how leisurely the ratings are letting mature content into PG-13 films without forewarnings. I can’t complain since this film gives us a clear heads up! I will say, one of the film’s characters towards the end says, ”Mother…” and then the audio cuts off. I don’t believe that counts for using the “F” word.

The characters are dynamic. As much as I love heroes, I adore villains. A protagonist is nothing without an antagonist and these criminals take the cake. Batman villains are unlike your regular, “Want to take over the world” bad guys. They are complex criminals that are assassins, deranged psychologically, destined to kill and maim for fun, and sometimes all of the above at once. What’s even better, these characters are lesser known villains such as Killer Shark (John DiMaggio), Captain Boomerang (Greg Ellis) and more - all with their own vendetta both personal and business. This creates engaging conflict between the characters.

The artistry in the animation never ceases to amaze me. Batman’s universe is dark and brooding with lots of shadows and dim lights. Colors like red, green and purple are done in darker shades and tones instead of normal bright tones. The characters all have costumes and designs that define them. Joker (Troy Baker)’s bright colored suit stands out from the rest of the characters while still looking like a part of the world he lives in.

My favorite Character is Deadshot (Neal McDonugh). Deadshot is the leader who only wants to be with his daughter. He’s cunning, a sharp shooter and deadly. He even manages to get into Joker’s mind and outsmart him. That’s impressive.

My favorite scene is when the squad is up against Batman (Kevin Conroy). This takes place in a building full of confiscated belongings from the criminals of Arkham. So if you’re a comic book fan, like me, see how many different Easter Eggs you can spot. Plus this is one of the rare times you see Batman do what he does best.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommended it to 13- through 18-year-olds. As I mentioned earlier, there is content that is inappropriate for younger kids. This film is out on DVD and Blue-ray now.

Batman: Assault on Arkham
Reviewed by Anthony A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This movie is a funny movie but has a lot of violence. It also has a lot of gore and a ton of action. I really enjoyed this movie and I hope you will too.

This movie is all about a squad that is called The Suicide Squad which is a squad of super villains. They have to listen to a government lady named Amanda Waller who wants to kill the Riddler. If anyone from The Suicide Squad tries to run or doesn’t listen or, if they try to kill Amanda they will die. All the members have a bomb in the back of their neck which she will set off and blow their heads clean off if they disobey. So they all go to Arkham to try to kill the Riddler for her.

The main characters in this movie are The Joker (Troy Baker), Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch), Batman (Kevin Conroy), Deadshot (Neal McDonough), Killer Frost (Jennifer Hale), Captain Boomerang (Greg Ellis), The Riddler (Matthew Gray Gubler), Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder), King Shark (John Dimaggio) and Black Spider (Giancarlo Esposito). My favorite character in the movie is Deadshot because he may be a bad guy but he is more like a good guy. He will do anything for his daughter, even if he has to kill a few people. I guess that explains why he is in prison.

My favorite part in the movie is when The Joker gets out of jail and kills a few people because it is really cool and has a good amount of action. It also had a little gore and involves a smoke bomb. It is really cool and since The Joker’s out of jail, no one is laughing but him.

I would recommend this movie for ages 12 to 18 because it has a few bad words, a few inappropriate scenes and has killing and gore. This is available in DVD/Blu-ray now.

The Giver
By Samantha Alexander, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The Giver is based the book by Louis Lowry. It tells the story of what seems like a perfect community where there is no pain or suffering - a simple, secluded world where there are no differences and no choices. A young boy named Jonas is selected to become the receiver of memories and he learns from an elderly man about the pain and suffrage, from the outside world, that has been kept from everyone. Jonas soon figures out that his whole life has been a lie and tries to change the way his secluded community is governed.

This movie is very captivating. I had my eyes glued to the screen the whole time, not wanting to miss a second of the story. I was so excited to see this movie because The Giver is one of my favorite books and I think the movie is just as good, although a bit different.

Like most movies that are based on books, there are some big parts of the storyline that the movie misses that I feel would have helped people who hadn’t read the book understand the story better. Although at certain points in the movie it doesn’t matter that parts are missed, because the missed parts are replaced with something equally as great. Then sometimes, the missed parts aren’t replaced and it takes the movie in a whole other direction. That’s why even if you read the book some parts in the movie will be a total surprise. I enjoyed watching the movie and seeing which parts of the book are included and what surprises are added by the movie’s producers.

The actors and actresses in this film are fantastic. Brenton Twaites (Jonas) was born for this role. I really like how bold and brave his character is throughout the whole movie. Meryl Streep fits the role of the chief elder perfectly. Odeya Rush is great as Fiona. I love the fact that she stands with Jonas through thick and thin. Lastly is Jeff Bridges who plays the role of The Giver, he is phenomenal. His character isn’t very outspoken but has a strong on-screen presence and he says a lot just using body language and facial expressions. He has true acting talent.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars because of its great acting, a great story line and definitely worth seeing in theaters with a best friend. I recommend it for 10 to 13-year-olds because the storyline is a bit mature and I don’t think kids under age 10 would understand the story.

The Hundred-Foot Journey - Inspiring, Funny and Delicious!

August 4th, 2014

HundredFootJourney.jpgSteven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey have partnered with Juliet Blake to produce this remarkable film starring Helen Mirren in a role perfectly suited for her as Madame Mallory, proprietress of a celebrated French restaurant. An Indian family opens their own restaurant across the street much to her chagrin and leads to confrontations that are hilarious and awkward. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “This has a lot of cooking with a bit of love spiced in with the cooking, there are some fantastic one-liners that make the audience roar with laughter and this is all included in a fantastic adventure.” Shelby R adds, “This film is not only about food and competition. It is about how a commonality can bring others together do something extraordinary.” See their full reviews below. Here is our coverage from the premiere which includes interviews with Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey (producers) and more. Enjoy

The Hundred-Foot Journey
By Shelby R, KIDS FIRST! Critic

Lasse Hallstrom, the director of Dear John, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Safe Haven and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, makes a heartfelt comedy about the struggles of an Indian cook trying to become a successful chef in France that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Om Puri plays Papa, one of my favorite characters, because he is stubborn, loveable and cares deeply for the well-being of his children and tries to make the best decisions for them. In the beginning, he and his children are in the middle of nowhere and a stranger takes the family under her wing. Papa finds a place for them to start a restaurant and Hassan thinks he is crazy for making an Indian restaurant hundred feet away from a popular French restaurant. Papa proves them wrong by making the restaurant very popular.

Hallstrom explores the different flavors and spices that educate the senses by showing the audience that the sacred culinary traditions being perfected by adding Indian spices and unusual ingredients. A memorable scene is when Hassan asks Madame Mallory to make an omelet with him. Madame Mallory has rejected his ability as a chef in the past and she questions him every time he adds something unusual to the omelet.  With one bite she can no longer deny that Hassan is a gifted chef and tries to give him an offer he can’t refuse.

Music adds the extra spice to the movie. When watching Hassan and his family makes their traditional meals the audience feels like they are in the middle of a family party but it is different because when Madame Mallory expects nothing less than perfection, which makes the audience feel like they are at a very classy and fancy restaurant. One of my favorite scenes is when Madame Mallory yells at Papa for having his Indian music up too loud and instead of Papa turning down his music, he turns it up louder just to make her even more upset.

This film is about only about food and competition it is about how a commonality can bring others together do something extraordinary. One lesson from this film is that you should always follow your dreams even when the people closest to you might not agree with your dream. Everyone will enjoy firework displays, colorful Indian costumes and the beautiful countryside of Paris, mouthwatering cuisines.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. The Hundred-Foot Journey is playing now in theaters nationwide.

The Hundred-Foot Journey
Reviewed by Gerry Orz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

What a fantastic way to wrap up the summer! I am not the biggest fan of romance films, which is what I expected from this film initially. However, The 100 Foot Journey is a funny, inspirational and delicious adventure that everyone will love.
This isn’t just a romance film. This has a lot of cooking with a bit of love spiced in with the cooking, there are some fantastic one-liners that make the audience roar with laughter and this is all included in a fantastic adventure.

The story starts when an Indian family that cooks at a school, has to leave the school for very sad reasons. They end up in France where they start a restaurant. However, across a 100 foot wide road, there is another, very different restaurant. A huge adventure starts with the chefs, the owners, and some other people too. If you want to find out what happens you got to watch the film!

This film is produced by a great partnership of Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey based on a famous novel, so it was bound to be a masterpiece, and it is! The actors are funny. They are very much in touch with their characters and they all fit their parts perfectly! The directing is very precise and it makes me want to read the book that the movie is based on!

My favorite scene is when they are a bit competing and there is a montage of different cooks/chefs from the two restaurants cooking pretty and yummy looking food. It shows you that, even though both restaurants are very different, both can make excellent food! It made me hungry and I swear I could smell it at times.

This movie has some adult oriented references and also some scenes little children won’t understand so a good age rating is 8 to 18. I also give it a solid 5 out of 5 stars for fantastic directing, cast, editing, ideas, and of course producing!

Guardians of the Galaxy
Reviewed Shelby R.
Video review here:

The sweet sounds of 80’s music, amazing stunts, hilarious one liners, a talking raccoon and a loving, giving tree named Groot are some of the highlights I like most about this film. Marvel has created a 3D futuristic adventure-comedy that explores the true meaning friendship. Chris Pratt plays Star-Lord who is a really good at making enemies and finds himself in trouble when Gamora, Rocket and Groot are after him for stealing the most powerful orb in the galaxy.

One of my favorite scenes is when Star-Lord distracts Ronan from destroying the universe by singing Sweet Child and dancing. Everyone asks him what is he doing and he explains that this is what people do on Earth and he challenges Ronan to a dance off. A memorable moment is when Ronan comes charging toward the guardians and he says “Star-Lord.” Star-Lord replies finally because everyone is always calling him by his real name, Peter Quill and he wants a cool superhero. It is funny that he is excited by people calling him his alias when he should be worried about getting blown to pieces.

Alexandra Byrne, (known for designing costumes for Thor, The Avengers and Finding Neverland) has changed the look of costumes for Sci-Fi and adventure movies. Every costume has more depth for each character especially that of Star-Lord. In the opening scene, you see Star-Lord with a dark maroon cape and metal mask and then, when the aliens try to kill him he escapes by flying via his built-in rocket shoes. The cinematographer, Ben Davis, creates a galaxy never seen before. Throughout the movie I felt as if I was sucked into another galaxy filled with unique aliens and different landscapes.

The moral of this film is that friendship is more important than anything. James Gunn shows how desperate all of the characters are to get 4 billion units and then get rid of each other. But, they are meant to do something greater together and that is to protect the galaxy and learn how to love others. I recommend this film for kids 12 to 18 and I give this five stars out of five stars.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Reviewed by Gerry O, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Video review here:

This is a funny and action packed adventure that fans of Marvel will adore! When I heard about this film, I thought this will be another add on to the series of films based of super hero comic books, and well, maybe it was time for something fresh, but Guardians of the Galaxy pleasantly surprised me – it is a fantastic adventure that many people will enjoy.

The film has something interesting for everyone - a sense of adventure with a side of romance and perfectly timed jokes as well as can’t-beat action all rolled up in one film.

The story starts with a young boy who just experienced a tragic loss and has been abducted by aliens. What do you think they do to him? Train the boy to be an outlaw. Twenty years later, he finds a powerful object and teams with other outlaws to make sure it doesn’t get in the wrong hands. Can they succeed or would he switch to the “dark side?” You have to watch the movie to find out

This movie is stupendous. The jokes aren’t everyday flat jokes, they are one-of-a-kind, ironic humor all the way. The special effects are crystal clear and pretty amazing and, to add to all that, the story is nicely done and plays smoothly. However, even though the jokes are a bit more unique, the rest is rather normal. One item I craved for and didn’t get was to see something unique that would separate this film from the rest of the comic book-based films. However, I still greatly enjoyed it.

My favorite scene is when StarLord (as he calls himself) is about to face a huge enemy that may destroy billions of lives. What does he do? He starts a dance off! The villain is very confused which gives enough time for the crew to plan something to save everyone!

This movie has some gore and a lot of very intense scenes so I recommend it for ages 10 to 18. I also give it 4.5 out of 5 star for over all a good film, but not much different from a lot of others.

My Little Pony Offers a Timely DVD about Friendship and Fun

July 12th, 2014

friendship is key

My Little Pony is a perennial favorite with kids of a certain age and adults as well, as I discovered last year at the premiere of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. A huge following of 20 and 30-year-olds arrived in costume to celebrate the feature film debut of this iconic series. About this DVD Gerry O, age 12, a self-proclaimed fan comments, “This collection has more than just favorite characters - there are a lot of family matters, some good lessons, a lot of comedy and some pretty thrilling moments as well as great and catchy music.” Kendyl P, age 12, adds, “(This DVd) is an adorable collection of episodes complied on one DVD! While watching the different episodes it reminds me of the fun times my sister and I shared when we were younger watching My Little Pony on television.” Their full reviews are below.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: The Keys of Friendship
Reviewed by Gerry O, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This is a fantastic collection of My Little Pony episodes. My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Keys of Friendship is a collection of the best episodes from My little Pony including a sing-along. If you are as big of a fan as I am, you will be very entertained by this collection.

This collection has more than just favorite characters - there are a lot of family matters, some good lessons, a lot of comedy and some pretty thrilling moments as well as great and catchy music.

The episodes show, as usual, the pony friends learning about friendship. However, Twilight, who recently became an alicorn (unicorn and Pegasus) doesn’t feel like she is doing enough of her job as a princess. However, she will become more important than ever when an ancient beast comes back from his prison to rain chaos in Equestria! (The country where ponies live.)

I thought this was a very smart choice of episodes since the DVD contains about half of the full season. These episodes really are exciting and, even though some people may not know it, pretty funny and really show some good lessons. For example, in one episode about family, ponies argue a lot but at the end they are still just a family.

My favorite episode is when one of them learns that she is a cousin of another friend. When they realize there may be an error, they go on a road trip to find out the truth. On the way there, the family argues and feels bad that they may look like a dysfunctional family. At the end, they see that even though they argue, they are still a great family. I like it because so many families in real life feel like that and we all need to understand that it happens with everyone. Nobody is perfect.
There is nothing parents should worry about and even infants will like the bright colors of the show and its wonderful sounds. I give this DVD an age rating of one to 18. I also give it 5 out of 5 stars.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: The Keys to Friendship

By Kendyl P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 12

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: The Keys to Friendship is an adorable collection of episodes complied on one DVD! While watching the different episodes it reminds me of the fun times my sister and I shared when we were younger watching My Little Pony on television.

This DVD includes four different episodes and each one offers a different friendship lesson. The DVD is filled with beautiful music, great family lessons, a bonus sing along and wonderful comedy!

My favorite character is Rarity; she is a beautiful pony! Rarity and I have some similarities - she likes fashion, enjoys working with her friends and working hard to get the job done – just like me!

My favorite episodes are Twilight Kingdom, Parts 1 and 2 when Twilight has to defeat the evil monster but has to find her own special power! I enjoyed watching the ponies work together to help Twilight discover her special gift.

The message of this series is everyone has a special talent or character trait that makes him or her unique and important. After each episode, one of the ponies does something brave and commendable by putting its friend first. The pony then receives a little object, as a reminder, and it is very useful at the end of the show.

I love the voices of actors, Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball and Andrea Libmar in this DVD Their voices are perfect for their characters.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: The Keys to Friendship is the perfect show for little girls. I highly recommend this movie for girl’s ages 2 to11. They would love this movie! I give it 5 out of 5 shining stars. You can purchase this DVD in stores near you July 29, 2014.

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Reviewed by Raven Devanney

It’s been years since the Decepticons and the Autobots battled for the fate of the humans in Chicago and human defenses against alien forces are at an all-time high. A government branch of humans is targeting all Transformers, Autobots and Decepticons alike, with the help of a menacing assassin. While all of this is going on, Cade Yeager, a struggling inventor from Texas tries to make enough means to keep his property and put his daughter Tessa through college.  While looking for parts to help his inventions, he stumbles upon a broken down, rusted truck and decides to fix it up. To his surprise, the truck turns out to the mighty Optimus Prime. Cade fixes him and decides to help him defeat the forces coming for Earth yet, again once he realizes what the government is doing to Transformers. Now, the fate of the entire human race lies in the hands of Optimus and this family of humans and, without them, we might just face extinction.This film is entertaining and visually very well done. Director Michael Bay uses the first IMAX Digital 3D camera, making the images more immersive and stunning than anything that’s been seen on the big screen so far. It’s very intense to be sitting in the IMAX Theater seeing these 50 ft. robots captured in such a realistic way. If you’ve seen any of the previous films from this franchise you know that they are nothing short of action packed. The cinematography and CGI is able to show the intense battle scenes and large scale attacks in a breathtaking, edge-of-your-seat way. One thing that I don’t like about the visuals is the inconsistency of the Transformers from film to film. The main characters look the same but some of the Autobots that are introduced in this film are designed completely different than in any of the previous films. Their faces are constructed to have features that look extremely humanesque and it is strange to see them next to Optimus and BumbleBee who still have the classic Transformer look. Another inconsistency is that, in the last film, every time a Transformer was hit they would spill a blood-like-liquid, but in this film, if they are injured, the liquid that comes from the wounds is bright green.

It is very strange to see a Transformer film without Shia Labeouf but, I am quite impressed with Mark Wahlberg and the way he tackles this role. I think he’s a fantastic actor and really grounds the film. I’m also a fan of Nicola Peltz and think she is decent in this film. However, I am really sick of the way girls are portrayed in this franchise. Every single leading lady looks like a Victoria’s Secret model, is completely helpless about 75% of the movie, can never figure out how to help them self and has to be told to run before they do. Near the end, they have one moment of courage and that’s pretty much all. It’s a formula that is completely predictable in all of the Transformer films, but alas, it’s what sells.

Like I said before, this film is entertaining and it enjoyable. It kept me engaged, concerned for the characters, shocked and, I’ll admit, I did almost cry near the end. However this film is peppered with extremely cliché and honestly annoying lines and interactions. From the very beginning, Tessa is introduced as a stereotypical film version of a teenage girl. She rolls up with her friends screaming and giggling about how excited they are to party and be crazy. The whole interaction is cheesy and unnecessary and sets her up to look like a bimbo. After that, her boyfriend, who looks suspiciously similar to the Hemsworth brothers, comes to save the day and the rude, inappropriate and just plain stupid things he says to Tessa’s father drove me insane. There are several lines in the film that prompted me to say to myself, “Really? Was that really necessary?” The last irritating thing is the fact that they really drove the whole “American Way” and patriotism to the ground. In every seen at Cade’s ranch there are at least two American flags shown and it is constantly mentioned that they’re just good ole’ Texas folk, protecting America with cries of: “Don’t mess with our country!” “Think of your country!” “Fight for your country!” Previous films were less centered on our nation and more about the human race as a whole.

Despite my qualms regarding this movie, it is entertaining and the visuals are extremely well done. I give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend this film for ages 13 to 18 due to the violence and language. However, if you have seen the previous films and are under 13, then this film should be suitable for you. If you’re a fan of Transformers, action or just want to experience the first film to ever use the million dollar IMAX Digital 3D camera, be sure to check out Transformer: Age of Extinction in theaters now.

Earth to Echo Brings Back the Sci-Fi Feel of the 80s

June 25th, 2014

For those of use who hold a special place in our hearts for the sci-fi films of our youth such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, this film may seem like a blast from the past, only with new and fun twists. The story follows a group of kids who embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry Orz comments, “This movie brings the old sci-fi feel of the 80s back to life. It has the same style, which is my favorite.” See Gerry’s full review and interviews with cast and creators below.

Earth to Echo
Reviewed by Gerry Orz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This is an adventure Hollywood has been waiting for. This is not just another story about helping an alien to get to its home planet, Earth to Echo is an emotional and fun adventure that many kids will love and cherish for generations.

The story has a little sprinkle of romance, displays a true friendship, thrills when they discover Echo, and, of course, will pump you up with adrenaline. If you are the type of person that likes action – this film has plenty of it since there are also BAD guys chasing after them.

The adventure starts when four young kids have to move out of their homes because a highway project is going to demolish them. On their last day together, they follow maps that randomly appeared on their phones. What they find is greater than any of them anticipated. Now, if you want all the juicy details – you have to watch the film.

This movie brings the old sci-fi feel of the 80s back to life. It has the same style, which is my favorite. It relates a lot to the legendary film, E.T and I see Echo as a sort of E.T. Jr. character. However, the story starts rather abruptly. It feels like there is no well-defined beginning. Otherwise this is great adventure that kids will love and perhaps even look for their own Echo’s in the neighborhoods.

The directing, I think, is very unique since it seems as if the movie is shot from the kid’s prospective. There is a lot of complexity around this type of technique but I believe the end result is well worth the time and the effort that was put into the movie.

My favorite scene is when they are escaping BAD guys. The thing they find, which they name Echo is in danger because of those bad guys. They are about to crash into a truck, but Echo takes the truck apart in midair and puts it back together behind them! The special effects are amazing and it also shows that Echo is very protective of her friends.

I recommend this movie for ages 6 to 18. Younger kids may not understand the full complexity of the film. I also give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Earth to Echo
By Kendyl P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Video review here.

Earth to Echo is a mind blowing movie. If you are a fan of movies like E.T. or discovering aliens from space, this movie is perfect for you. Earth to Echo is about a group of friends, Tuck (Astro), Alex (Teo Halm), Munch (Resse Heartwig) and Emma (Ella Wahlesedt) who are forced to move because of the construction of a big freeway near their houses. Before they move, their cell phones start acting up. It turns out to be a map and they follow it. It leads them to an alien that is trying to get back home but can’t go. It’s up to Tuck, Munch, Alex and Emma to save the day.

My favorite character is Alex because he is very helpful and cool. He sticks by the alien’s side and he really cares about him. He is like the alien’s best friend. My favorite part is when small parts of the space ship fly in from all over the neighborhood to form a really large spaceship and the main part of the ship is in Alex’s backyard. I really enjoyed watching that.

The actors, Astro, Teo Halm, Resse Heartwig and Ella Wahlesedt do a great job expressing different emotions in the film. The message of this film is “true friendships can last a lifetime.” The friendship the boys have continues long after they go their separate ways.

This is a great film. I recommend this film for kids age 9 to 16 and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Earth to Echo
By Kayla P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12
Video review here

Earth to Echo is a fantastic family movie to watch this summer. This film is about three boys, Tuck, Alex and Munch who have a very close friendship. Unfortunately, their homes are being demolished because there are plans to build a major highway right through the middle of their community. As the boys prepare to pack up and leave their community, their cell phones began receiving strange pictures, which they learn is a map. The boys decide to follow the map and discover a robot named Echo. After communicating with Echo, the boys learn he is trying to build a key to unlock his space ship to go home. While the boys are helping Echo, they learn the real reason why their homes are being demolished. They may be able to save the community from being destroyed.

Tuck and his friends are told to stop trying to help Echo. They learn that by helping Echo they are also helping the families in their community. The message of the film is “do the right thing.” You might face some opposition by some people, but you still have to do the right thing that will benefit all people.

My favorite scene is when Tuck, Alex and Munch discover Echo. At first they think he is a beeping machine. Every time Echo beeps Munch starts running for his life and acts crazy. He is my favorite character because he brings a lot of the humor to this film.

The actors are spectacular. They make the film come alive and make you feel like you are on the journey with them. Earth to Echo is the perfect summertime movie for the entire family.  I recommend this film for kids ages 7 through 18. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars. Earth to Echo will be in theaters July 2, 2014, don’t miss it.

The Signal - A Sci-Fi Thriller Unlike Most

June 18th, 2014

If you’re a sci-fi fan and are tired of the same old thing then, this film might be just the thing for you. A trio of MIT students take off on a road trip and are drawn to an isolated area by a computer genius. When everything suddenly goes dark, Nic regains consciousness - only to find himself in a waking nightmare. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Raven D., age 16 comments, “This is one of the weirdest films I have ever seen but, I love it.” See her full review below.

The Signal
Reviewed by Raven Devanney, age 16

Best friends Nic and Jonah embark on a road trip with their close friend Haley to help her move to California. Along the way, Nic and Jonah continue corresponding with a computer genius known to them as Nomad. Nomad previously hacked into their college’s computer system and, being computer programmers themselves, they aim to one-up this mysterious hacker. They trace the IP address from the emails they’ve been receiving and intend to confront who ever is “messing” with them. But when they are lead to a small abandoned home in a desolate area, things take an unexpected turn. When Nic awakes from unconsciousness he finds himself in a government testing facility and what he learns is more shocking than anything he could have ever imagined.

This is one of the weirdest films I have ever seen but, I love it. The cinematography is absolutely incredible. Most of the film is centered more around the visuals than the  dialogue. This film shows a lot of flashbacks and memories throughout that are shown mostly in slow motion and the film work is very artistic and thoughtful. The soundtrack is incredible. Since there is little to no dialogue, at times the music often carries the emotion and intent of the film. The music contains quite a bit of ambient noise and definitely has a spooky sci-fi feel to it. Not only is the music a vital part to the film, but there are almost always strange, off-setting, whirring sounds that play in the background. It gives the feel that something is about to happen which is a nice way to add some edge and unease.

The reason I say this is one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen is because I can honestly say there were very few moments when I completely knew what was going on in the film. This movie does not explain what is happening throughout the whole thing, it gives no real background info on the characters, what happened to them, where they really are, nothing. Throughout the movie I kept thinking that there would be a big reveal and everyone would say “Oh, I get it now!.” But, that came in a very surprising way. There is a big reveal at the very last minute of the film but honestly, it left my friend and I with more questions than before. Although I spent the 95 minutes of this film terribly confused, it isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s brilliant. Director William Eubank only gives the audience as much information as the character Nic has in this film. And, after suffering major head trauma and being told very little, Nic has barely any information to work off of or any idea what is going on. So in a sense, the audience is being forced to feel what Nic is feeling complete with his frustration and confusion. It’s a very immersive movie experience and, like I said, it’s brilliant.

Unfortunately I can’t share my favorite scene, or any scene really without taking away from actually watching the film. But I can talk about the incredible cast and characters. There are very few speaking roles in the film, only six actually. But these six characters are fantastic. Of course there is the main trio, Nic, played by Brenton Thwaites, Haley, played by Olivia Cooke and Jonah, played by Beau Knapp.

Nic is an interesting character and also the main one. I’m assuming he suffers from MS or some degenerative disease because in the beginning of the film he is walking around with forearm crutches and mentions that he’ll need a wheelchair but, in flashbacks you see him running and walking around freely. However this is never explained. He is such a great character because as I mentioned before, he is confused about what is going on throughout 95% of the film. Brenton does a phenomenal job portraying this sense of panic and frustration at being so lost. His actions and reactions seem so authentic to his character and he has a wonderful way that invites the audience to join him in his ups and downs. Jonah is also a really great character. He is very quirky but also crazy intelligent and, although he is not in a large portion of the film, he is able to shed some light on what is potentially happening to them. I love Haley because Olivia Cooke plays my favorite character on “Bates Motel” so it is really cool to see her playing a more mature role. Haley is what drives Nic to do pretty much everything he does in the film because the two of them are in a relationship. It is very nice to have such sentimental and caring interactions throughout this film since everything else is quite intense. I can’t discuss the rest of the characters without, again, taking away from your movie watching experience.

I wholeheartedly recommend this film for ages 13 to 18 because of the difficulties around following the plot, some very intense and violent situations and also, there is a lack of dialogue. You’re just viewing images from the past and present which may be confusing and not very entertaining for a younger audience. At first, I was very hesitant about this film because it starts off a bit slow and is, as you know, confusing as heck, but after watching it all the way through I give The Signal 5 out of 5 stars and am eager to see it again. If you’re into sci-fi film, aliens or just want a mind-bending experience, then check out The Signal in theaters now.