Storks – Original Comedy, Beautiful Soundtrack, Great Voice Acting, Spectacular Animation

September 22nd, 2016

storks.b.jpgFrom Warner Bros Animation comes Storks, about those eloquent birds known for delivering babies, but have moved on from delivering babies to packages. When an order for a baby appears, the best delivery stork must scramble to fix the error by delivering the baby. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “Storks is a film unlike most other animated comedies. Not only does it appeal to kids, with fantastic morals and fun and silly humor, it appeals to adults as well.” Morgan B. adds, “It is one of the cutest movies that I have seen this year. It has humor, an original story line, family and the cutest thing ever - babies.” See their full reviews below.

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

Storks is a film unlike most other animated comedies. Not only does it appeal to kids, with fantastic morals and fun and silly humor, it appeals to adults as well. This makes Storks a true family comedy that also has beautiful animation, wonderful voice acting and a unique story.

Storks is predominantly a comedy. The story itself is an adventure, but there also some drama here and there to keep things exciting and, just to make sure you never get bored, there are also a few action scenes that are both intense and hilarious.

This movie starts out showing storks delivering babies. This all changes when one Stork decides to stop delivering babies and starts storks.c.jpgproducing and delivering goods instead. One young stork named Junior (Andy Samberg) discovers that a baby was accidentally made and tries to eliminate the problem by delivering the baby. On the way, they meet old friends, new friends and also make enemies.

The humor in this film is fantastic. Not only is it original and never gets boring, the funniest parts are when characters in the film point out something that shouldn’t be possible. That, combined with a great soundtrack and perfect voice acting, makes for very funny scenes. The animation in Storks contains a lot of bright colors as well as many beautiful scenery shots. The voice-over cast really suits their roles, even if their character has only three lines, they make the nonexistent character come to life.

My favorite scene is when Junior and his partner, Tulip (Kate Crown) are captured by a pack of wolves. The wolves fall in love with the baby and the two are able to escape and grab the baby. What I love about this scene is that the wolves form different vehicles using their bodies. It is hilarious to watch the wolves talk to each other and see the characters point out how impossible it is. This makes the scene hilarious and also, is very action packed. While laughing, the viewer is on the edge of their seat in excitement.

Storks is meant for kids, but can appeal to adults too. I recommend it for ages 6 to 18 plus adults. There are some dramatic scenes that may be too intense for younger kids. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars for original and hilarious comedy, unique plot, beautiful soundtrack, wonderful voice acting and spectacular animation. It opens in theaters September 23, 2016 so be sure to check it out.

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

I love this movie so much. It is one of the cutest movies that I have seen this year. It has humor, an original story line, family and storks.d.jpgthe cutest thing ever - babies. The story is unique, fun and adventurous, all of which make it a perfect family film that you will want to watch again and again.

The voiceovers really fit the characters perfectly and bring this film to life. One of my favorites is Tulip played by Katie Crown who is perfect for this part because she is silly, fun, bubbly and just wants to help. But every time she tries to help, chaos always finds a way to happen. My other favorite character is Junior. Andy Samberg plays this part perfectly as a determined, hysterical and ambitious character. Tulip and Junior make the perfect odd team. Then there is the Gardner Family - Mrs. Gardner (Jennifer Aniston) who I have had the pleasure of meeting, Mr. Gardner (Ty Burrell) and their son Nate Gardner (Anton Starkman). This family is adorable and funny. They build their house to be a giant carnival slide for the storks to deliver their new baby. I would love my house to look like that. Last but not least, there are the bad guys - Hunter (Kelsey Grammer) and his sidekick Pigeon Toady (Stephen Kramer Glickman) who is a friend of mine. These two characters are humorous and play the villains we love to hate so much. Toady is very small, but you know what they say “dynamite comes in small packages.”

The animation in his film is colorful, fast paced and a joy to watch. You can see every feather and hair on every bird and human. This film is also gender friendly with strong female as well as strong male characters. These are two of the main reasons why I really liked it.

My favorite scene is when The Wolf Pack (Keegan-Michael & Jordan Peele) trstorks.j.jpgy to take an adorable little baby named Diamond Destiny to raise her as a wolf. I love this scene because it is one of the funniest scenes in the movie. The wolves actually become a submarine, boat, plane and so much more. It is humorous and silly and you can’t help but laugh along with the rest of the audience.

I recommend this for ages 5 to 18. Adults will enjoy this as well. Everyone will love the babies, the comedy and the overall cuteness of this film. Adults will want to spend more time with their children after watching this film. The children will want a new baby sibling to play with so they can see real storks in action. I give this film 5 out of 5 adorable ninja skilled babies.

Beauty And The Beast - One Of The Best That Disney Studios’ Has Ever Made

September 19th, 2016

Beauty.jpgDisney’s class film, Beauty And The Beast releases its 25th Anniversary Edition September 20. Universally acclaimed as one of Disney’s finest animated features and honored in the Walt Disney Signature Collection, the story follows brave, independent Belle on the adventure of a lifetime as she sets out to rescue her father and finds herself in the enchanted castle of a mysterious beast. This timeless tale overflows with unforgettable characters and Academy Award(R)-winning music (Best Song, Best Score, 1991)! It took more than 600 animators, artists and technicians three and a half years to complete the project. This was the first animated Disney feature scripted by a woman, Linda Woolverton and marked the first time each animator was credited on screen specifically for the character he or she brought to life. Disney’s animation department won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award for the design and development of the Computer Animated Production System used to make the film. It truly is a treasure. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “With its humor, spectacular animation, character design, story and adventures, this story is truly one of, if not, the best that Disney Studios’ has ever made.” See his full review below.

Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

It’s been 25 years since this wonderful Disney Animated film found its way to viewers and beauty.a.jpgforever captured their hearts. Since then, there have been dozens of other animated classics, but none leave the impression that Beauty and the Beast does. With its humor, spectacular animation, character design, story and adventures, this story is truly one of, if not, the best that Disney Studios’ has ever made.

Beauty and the Beast has many different genres, the main one being romance. Along with that is a sense of adventure and excitement. The film also has its share of exciting scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat almost the entire time, even if you saw it many times before.

It begins when Belle (Paige O’Hara), a young girl in a village, has to rescue her father from a big beauty.b.jpgand scary Beast living in a dark castle. Belle then has to stay in the castle for the rest of her life to free her father. It turns out that the Beast is, in fact a prince, under a dark and magical curse. This curse makes him a horrible Beast and the only way to break it is to find a girl that will fall in love with him. The Beast and Belle start bonding and falling in love.

Beauty and the Beast is an extraordinary masterpiece for many of the reasons I mentioned, but what impresses me the most is the animation. Despite its now 25 years old and way before the first computer animation, there are scenes in the film where it incorporates 3D like effects and looks almost exactly like today’s computer animation. To think that it was actually drawn by hand is spectacular and astonishing. On top of that, the beauty.c.jpgvoice over work is simply phenomenal, from singing to talking, each emotion and role is played ideally. Speaking of music, the songs in this animated classic are fantastically done from the beat to the lyrics, to the actual voice-over artists singing the songs, to very well-orchestrated scenes.

The DVD also comes with several very cool bonus features. The most exciting to me is the sneak peak of the 2017 live action version of Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. It shows the cast reading lines, some special effects and even several sets. If that is not enough to spark viewers’ curiosity, there are also many facts about Beauty and the Beast as well as some footage of the actual recording booths where the original cast recorded their lines. beauty.d.jpgI also enjoyed the part when it talks about how Walt Disney never really got to do this Gerry_Orz.2014.LR.jpgstory, even though he wanted to, and thus in 1991, his creative team did it to honor his wishes.

My favorite scene is when Belle goes down to eat dinner in the castle for the first time. In this castle, all the servants are magically turned into utilities. Just to name a few, there are talking clocks, teapots, knives, a stove, wardrobes, candles and more. They all do a big musical number with the classic song, “Be my Guest”, which sounds spectacular and the aniated musical number has many parts that are just hysterical.

Despite some violent scenes, it is still perfect for kids. I recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Younger kids may find the Beast scary or may not enjoy the more intense scenes. I give Beauty and the Beast 5 out of 5 stars for absolutely phenomenal animation, an exciting and detailed story, beautiful songs and emotional voiceover work. Here’s to another 25 years with a new generation!

Unlike any film you’ve ever seen, a live worship experience on camera

September 18th, 2016

Hillsong.jpgHillsong: Let Hope Rise captures the on-stage energy and off-stage hearts of the Australia-based band Hillsong United. This film presents an entirely a new motion-picture genre: the theatrical worship experience. The film explores Hillsong’s humble beginnings and astonishing rise to prominence as an international church whose songs are sung every Sunday by more than 50 million people worldwide. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Shelby R. comments, “Although this is a Christian band, I believe that people who are looking for healing, have different beliefs or are music lovers will appreciate the real life stories and how their music is changing the world.” See her full review below.

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise
By Shelby R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

Watching Hillsong: Let Hope Rise is the most surreal movie going experiences you will ever have. It’s not a film. It’s not a documentary. It’s a live worship experience being captured on camera.

Hillsong United originated in the late 1990s in Sydney, Australia. The band itself is made up of faithful members of the Hillsong Church. This Christian band creates music that not only worships God but also instills hope to their listeners. AndHillsong.a.jpg now, they tour many countries and continents singing songs of worship targeting the younger generation.

Unlike popular concert films like One Direction: This is Us and Katy Perry: Part of Me, it is not filled with costume changes and performances. The purpose is to discuss the process of creating music that is truly meaningful. Many of their popular songs are featured in the film and have lyrics at the bottom of the screen to encourage the audience to sing along.

You may recognize Michael John Warren (director) from his other films like Shrek the Musical, Rent: Filmed On Broadway, Drake: Better Than Good Enough and Nicki Minaj: My Time Now. Warren digs deeper by interviewing band members, Senior Pastor Brian Houston and Bobbie Houston. Together, they share how the church has transformed their lives and why they value their music so much.

“We are the biggest band that you don’t know.” Joel Houston, band leader and son of Brian Houston, explains. For almost Hillsong.b.jpga decade, Hillsong United has been number one and two for U.S. Christian albums sales. Joel continues to say “This film isn’t for us. The band isn’t for us. It’s for God.” The band members emphasize that the songs are carefully crafted to express their deep feeling of admiration for God. Day in and day out, the band devotes all of their time to finding the perfect sound and lyrics. One song could take months or even longer to be completely finished. That also means, months and months away from their loved ones.

Shelby.jpgMusic is one of the most powerful creations known to man. It is beautiful to observe these concert goers really receiving music and allowing it to affect them. I found myself shedding a few tears because it is so moving. This film is so personal and I felt like I was among the thirty thousand people at their annual conference.

The most important lesson you can take away from this film is to stay true to who you are and what you believe. I recommend this to ages 12 to 18 as well as adults. Although this is a Christian band, I believe that people who are looking for healing, have different beliefs or are music lovers will appreciate the real life stories and how their music is changing the world.

This film comes out Friday September 16th. Check out your local theater for listings.

Exciting and Adventurous Kid-Friendly Version of Robinson Crusoe

September 17th, 2016

TheWildLife_1.jpgThis kid-friendly version of the book-based classic Robinson Crusoe features Tuesday, an outgoing parrot who lives with his quirky animal friends in paradise. However, Tuesday can’t stop dreaming about discovering the world. After a violent storm, Tuesday and his friends wake up to find a strange creature on the beach: Robinson Crusoe. Tuesday immediately views Crusoe as his ticket off the island to explore new lands. Likewise, Crusoe soon realizes that the key to surviving on the island is through the help of Tuesday and the other animals. It isn’t always easy at first, as the animals don’t speak “human.” Slowly but surely, they all start living together in harmony, until one day their comfortable life is overturned. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kamhai B. comments, “If you compare this movie to the book it is completely different.  Unlike the book, when Robinson Crusoe is shipwrecked on an island, there are no cannibals.” See his full review below.

The Wild Life
By Kamhai Beard, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

I enjoyed this movie because it is exciting and adventurous.  One exciting part is when pirates come to the deserted tropical island and rescue Crusoe.  Another adventurous scene is when the tree house sets on fire after stray cats throw lit lanterns at Crusoe. I enjoyed that movie is narrated by the parrot Mak (David Howard).

If you compare this movie to the book it is completely different.  Unlike the book, wildlife.a.jpgwhen Robinson Crusoe is shipwrecked on an island, there are no cannibals. They do make mention of the cannibals when he and his dog Rufus (B.J Oakie) first get there. The animals make scary noises in reference to the cannibals. So basically, it’s a kid friendly version of the book and now, all of a sudden, there are animals talking, pirates and paradise.  When Robin Crusoe (Matthias Schweighofer) gets shipwrecked on the island, the animals start to make hilarious statements about him.

The story is about an English man named Robinson Crusoe who gets shipwrecked on an island and has to learn how to survive in the wilderness along with his animal friends Kiki (Marieve wildlife.b.jpgHerington), Carmelo (Colin Metzger), Pango (Jeff Doucette), Epi (Sandy Fox) and Scrubby (Joey Camen).  But as easy as that sounds, it takes months to complete it and, by then the stray cats have had hundreds of kittens and that creates problems. When this happens you discover how smart these old animals really are.  They even learn how to fire a musket.

The movie graphics are great. The CGI animations are colorful, alive and very vibrant. When you get to see the whole tropical island paradise, lots of colors just pop out. I recommend this movie to the ages 5 through 13.

I like that they have so many different characters who all love to help sea creatures and find out more about them. It is really great that they are helping young kids learn about the ocean and spark their curiosity about the creatures who live octonauts.a.jpgthere. One of the best features of this collection is that at the end of each episode they have a creature report which reinforces, through song, all the informational things for that episode and includes a clip of what the actual real creatures look like.

Even though there are many different characters which I enjoyed very much, my absolute favorite is Shellington (Keith Wickham). He is goodhearted and very inquisitive about oceanic creatures. The way he voices this character truly adds brilliance and friendliness to it. There is also Tweak (Jo Wyatt), a smart southwestern rabbit, Captain Barnacles (Simon Greenall), a kind polar bear, Dashi (Teresa Gallagher), an adorable dog, Peso (Paul Panting), a goodhearted penguin and Kwazii (Rob Rackstraw), a daredevil cat pirate. There is a wonderful gang of all kinds of animals and vegimals (Michael Murphy) who are just too cute for words. Their different personalities aloctonauts.b.jpgl come together as they help some fascinating creatures of the sea.

My favorite episode is with Marine Iguanas. I loved it because it is fun to watch and I had no idea that these creatures even existed and learning about them was incredible. This episode also involves a bit of a mystery and is very quirky. I learned quite a lot and loved seeing what they looked like in person in the creature report at the end.

I recommend this show for ages 4 through 18. Younger kids will love the animation and will learn about some terrific creatures. Older kids and adults will learn new things about these stupendous creatures and might even learn about a couple they never knew about before. I give this DVD 4.5 out of 5 oceanic starfish.

The Untold Story Behind the Miracle on the Hudson - Sully

September 8th, 2016

sully.poster.jpgThis story, based on the real life story that took place on Thursday, January 15th, 2009 when the world witnessed the “Miracle on the Hudson” as Captain, Chesley Sullenberger, nicknamed “Sully” glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. However, even as Sully was being heralded by the public and the media for his unprecedented feat of aviation skill, an investigation was unfolding that threatened to destroy his reputation and his career. Tom Hanks portrayal as Sully is the heart and soul of this film. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “Out of all the intense films released this year so far, Sully is the best one, hands down. Out of all the nonfiction films released this year, Sully is the greatest. From spectacular directing to emotional acting, Sully is easily one of the best films of 2016.” See his full review below.

Sully

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

Out of all the intense films released this year so far, Sully is the best one, hands down. Out of all the nonfiction films released this year, Sully is the greatest. From spectacular directing to emotional acting, Sully is easily one of the best films of 2016.

Interestingly enough, although this film may have a few action scenes, it shouldn’t be branded as an action movie. It is sully.b.jpgfull-on intense drama, with two or three jokes that are original and funny, but don’t turn the film into a comedy. The story itself can also be considered an emotional and physical dramatic adventure that changes the lives of the characters forever.

Sully begins when U.S. Airways flight 1549 lands in the water in the Hudson river after both engines are destroyed by birds. Luckily, not one passenger is injured and this is due to the skill of both rescue teams and pilot Sully Sullenbrger (Tom Hanks) and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles (Aaron Eckhart). Unfortunately, the nightmare is not over. Even though all passengers are in safety, it is still a major question if Sully should have landed the plane in the water and if he might have had enough speed and altitude to reach the runway sully.a.jpgat an actual airport.

This is a very famous story that happened in 2009, but many people do not know what happened after the plane water landed. Sully truly shows all the events of this flight. Another amazing aspect of the film is the acting. Both Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart do phenomenal portrayals of the pilots. Not only do the two look so much like the actual people, they also got their personalities right too. The two actors excel in the scenes where they keep imagining the crash, and it clearly affects them day after day. Clint Eastwood has directed many wonderful films, but Sully, without doubt, is one of his best. The story does not feel like it lasts 96 minutes and I was surprised when it ended. Sully really does keep you on the edge of your seat using cinematography that makes you feel like you are a part of the movie, acting that is emotional and dramatic and even special effects that make it look sully.f.jpgvery real. Something to note, the film was shot with IMAX cameras so seeing it in IMAX theaters gives you the best possible experience.

My favorite scene is the actual plane crash. From taking off, to the passengers sully.g.jpggetting into rescue boats, this scene keeps your heart beating very fast. I personally suffer from a fear of flying and it pumped me full of adrenaline. I could not blink until I found out what happened next. The special effects of the plane going down in the middle of New York looks very realistic and intense. On top of that, the emotional acting of not only the pilots, but the passengers and the flight attendants brings even more drama to the scene. It is easily the most intense scene in the whole film and, because of cinematography, it makes you feel like you are a part of it, is borderline scary.

Sully is a very mature story. And though it lacks adult content, language or gore, it is geared for a mature audience because of its intense and dramatic scenes. It may be too intense for younger viewers so I recommend it for ages 12 to 18. I definitely give Sully 5 out of 5 stars for its spectacular directing, wonderful cinematography, emotional acting and realistic special effects.

A Romantic Story Certain to Evoke Tears from the Most Reserved Viewer

September 2nd, 2016

lightbetweenoceans_1.jpgBased on the novel by M.L. Stedman, this film has an unlikely story about a lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia who raise a baby they rescue from an adrift rowboat. Although slow paced, the emotional complexity of the film makes it all worth while. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “When you watch a romantic film, you expect it to achieve skilled levels of drama, acting, entertaining and relatable story to keep the viewer engaged, but still have a realistic romantic plot. The Light Between Oceans is a spectacular romance story that is truly perfect in many ways.” See his full review below.

The Light Between Oceans
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

When you watch a romantic film, you expect it to achieve skilled levels of drama, acting, entertaining and relatable story to keep the viewer engaged, but still have a realistic romantic plot. The Light Between Oceans is a spectacular romance story that is truly perfect in many ways.

The Light Between Oceans tells a dramatic story with many romantic elements. There are couple of jokes but it should not be considered a comedy in the slightest. The characters do embark on a large and emotional adventure throughout the light.c.jpgstory, so this film can also be considered an adventure.

The story begins when Tom (Michael Fassbender), a WW1 veteran comes back to his home, Australia. After suffering in the War, he takes a job of a lighthouse keeper, living completely alone on a small island. However, he meets a girl named Isabel (Alicia Vikander) and they quickly fall in love. After getting married and moving to the island, they try to start a family but lose two babies prematurely. Everything changes when a baby mysteriously washes up on the shore and they must decide to keep her or report this phenomena to the authorities.

The story is based on a book and the story itself is fantastic. In this film however, many scenes are unnecessary and cause it to feel stretched out. For example, there are flashback scenes about the baby’s father, light.a.jpgwhich would be nice in the book, but in a film are not necessary and drastically increase the run-time. There are also some scenes that seem to be there for no reason and could be cut out to make the film more enjoyable. Despite those issues, the acting is emotional and fits the characters. Michael Fassbender and Alica Vikander truly make you believe their characters, Tom and Isabel, are deeply in love. Another aspect is the film’s heart-wrenching drama, which the entire cast brings to life. From sadness, to anger, to just plain awkwardness, they demonstrate their emotions wonderfully. On top of that, the cinematography is exquisite, especially of the lighthouse, the waves and the beach. It truly shows beautiful parts of Australia not widely known

My favorite scene is when the boat landfalls onto the island with the baby. Isabel is heavilylight.g.jpgtraumatized from losing two babies, so seeing a live baby changes her mood quickly and, it is interesting to see how the characters react to the situation. I also like this scene because it displays the actors’ outstanding performances and is also easily one of the most important scenes in the film.

Although this film lacks any adult language, it still has a considerable amount of adult content so I recommend it to ages 13 to 18. Younger kids may be too young for the content and may not even understand the plot. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars due to its length but still, the acting and beautiful cinematography makes it all worth while.

ABC Monsters: Party in Capital Castle! Starring MNOP

September 1st, 2016

ABCMonsters.MNOP.jpgKIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer Ruth A. comments, “Kids ages 3 to 6 will simply love ABC Monsters: Starring MNOP because the episodes are quick paced, entertaining and fun!  Meanwhile, their parents will embrace these video episodes as a tool for helping children increase their pre-reading skills such as letter recognition, letter formation, visual tracking, and vocabulary recall. Learning the letters of the alphabet and developing pre-reading skills is always easier when it feels more like play rather than effort! Watch along as friendly talking monsters in the shape of letters make learning fun by using repetition, word games, brightly colored animation and age appropriate songs.  Throughout these 4 stories, cartoon characters Alice, Brian and Cherry Berry work together to find missing letter monsters and return them to their home in Alphabet Gardens in the Capital Castle.  This DVD, focuses on the letters M, N, O and P. Very enjoyable, but I would have like to seen a more racially diverse group of human characters represented.”  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “This animated cartoon adventure has the perfect blend of silliness, singing, puzzles, mysteries, exercise and games. I enjoyed the colorful animation and all the different activities that keep your mind entertained. The letters are all adorable.” See her full review below.
ABC Monsters: Starring M N O P

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

What would the world be like without the letters M N O P? Chaos! We use these letters every day and, in this DVD, preschoolers and kindergarteners help solve a mystery to find a different missing letter in every episode. This is a fun filled show containing four episodes, each one about the relationships of letters and how important they all are. Each episode focuses on a specific letter and uses words from that letter throughout the show.abcmonsters.b.jpg

This animated cartoon adventure has the perfect blend of silliness, singing, puzzles, mysteries, exercise and games. I enjoyed the colorful animation and all the different activities that keep your mind entertained. The letters are all adorable. It teaches children how to spell, write, count, directions, phonics and the importance of letting peers know where you are.

My favorite episode to watch is Odd Jobs and Octopuses. I love this episode because it is silly. I like all the fun words that we learn and it is really cute. I love the way that it incorporates many different ways we use the letter O. The letter O is very quirky.  The way he solves the problems with all his odd jobs is original. All the letters get together to help O. This episode also teaches teamwork and that is a very important lesson for children to learn.
The voiceovers are quite believable and easy to listen to.  The voices vary enough to make it easy to see differentiate between the letters. All the character are adorable and make you want to play along with thabcmonsters.a.jpgem, sing the catchy songs, exercise, dance and do the fun games.

My favorite character is Alice because she is so adorable, sweet and helpful. I love the ways she supports her friends Brian and Cherry Berry while they try to find the missing letters. Brian is very funny and just too cute for words. I love how he assists Alice and Cherry Berry by telling them what words mean. Cherry Berry is a magical fairy with a jester stick that is friends with Alice and Brian. She is very helpful and is willing to help Alice and Brian find the missing alphabet letters.

The graphics are bright, silly and colorful. The directors, Au Loong and Cheong Siew Wai have created a fast paced, entertaining show that captures your attention from beginning to end. You are sad to see it end.

I recommend this show for ages 3 to 7. Older kids will likely enjoy watching it too as it reminded me of being younger and reinforced that learning can be fun. Cute, singing Monsters always make people smile. This really is one cute, adorable, quirky and fun learning experience all rolled up into one DVD of four episodes. I give this DVD 4 ½ out of 5 ABC Stars.

MacGillivray Freeman Films deliver a completely spellbinding film, now on Blu-ray

September 1st, 2016

humpbackwhales.jpgHumpback Whales incorporates the best that IMAX films have to offer - impossible photography, entertaining music and an instructional narrative that, when combined, creates a positive visceral experience. The musical score is brilliantly constructed to create an emotional connection between viewers and the whales. The song “Best Day of My Life” paired with pristine video footage of effortless swimming, lunging and breaching invokes a jubilant mood.  The haunting, yet mesmerizing songs of the hunchback whales are also highlighted. Narrated by Ewan McGregor, this documentary is educating, motivating and inspiring.  The Special Features are as compelling as the main feature! “The Search” showed the difficulties in finding the humpback whales, leading the production crew to Tonga, Alaska and Hawaii. The photographers, researchers and director’s enthusiasm for an accurate and complete portrayal of the whales is contagious. The only thing missing is the spray of fresh ocean water! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “Of course, this is an awesome movie. It is made by the award-winning documentary filmmakers MacGillivray Freemen Films, the same people (Shaun and Greg Mac Gillivray) who made Everest and National Parks Adventure which are beautifully executed.” Abigail Zoe L. adds, “What I particularly like about this show is how much fun information you learn about humpback whales. For instance, did you know that humpback whales can weigh 50 tons, be longer than a 50 foot school bus and have a wing span greater than most Lear jets?” Miles T. wraps it up with, “This movie is especially interesting because how it’s told in 40 minutes and tells you everything you need to know about these magnificent creatures.” See their full reviews below.

HUMPBACK WHALES
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

You are sitting on a quiet beach watching the waves roll into shore. Suddenly in the middle of the ocean a giant leaps in the air, does a complete 180 degree twirl and splashes back down into the depths of the ocean. As quickly as the ocean frenzy started, it all stops and goes back to calmness. You have just witnessed a humpback whale.

The narrator for this movie is two-time Golden Globe nominee Ewan McGregor who I love and adore. His pace and soothing voice set a calm tone for this film. Stephen Judson’s’ writing is easy to understand and memorable.

Of course, this is an awesome movie. It is made by the award-winning documentary filmmakers MacGillivray Freemen Films, the same people (Shaun and Greg Mac Gillivray) who made Everest and National Parks Adventure which are beautifully executed. I love the amazing places they take us because they always make you want to get more involved in the world around you and spend more time outdoors.


Listening to all their different songs and how they change them reinforces our grasp of their communication skills and genius. Only the males sing. The movie also has other music with a tropical vibe by Steve Woods and Calum Graham which puts you in the mood to hang out in the ocean with the humpbacks.

Tonga, which is east of Australia, is where whaling was once a prevalent way to make money. They have since stopped and found that tourism brings in more money and saves the whales. In the 1970s, there were only 50 breeding female humpbacks left. Today, the number has grown to the 2,000s. This once-almost-extinct mammal is still only 40% of the population it once was. We are making great progress.

There are three countries where whaling is still allowed today - Japan, Norway and Iceland. Additionally, boating accidents and pollution such as trash, fishing nets and other items lead to their demise.

The earth is 71% waters and oceans. We should all look after the ocean creatures and our planet. This movie reinforces and reminds us that the humpback whales exist and need our help to survive. Along with kidsfirst.org you should add OneWorldOneOcean.com to your must see viewing list.

I recommend this film to kids ages 7 thru 18 who will find it entertaining, educational and beautiful. All 40 minutes will hold your full attention. Adult will love the epic underwater and aerial photography. I give this film 5 out of 5 Humpback Whale Star fish.

Humpback Whales
By Abigail Zoe Lewis, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 9 years old

The Humpback Whales Blu-ray DVD is amazing, stunningly beautiful and a spectacular educational ocean adventure. For the first time in IMAX, it offers an up-close look into the incredible lives of humpback whales by a team of researchers.

What I particularly like about this show is how much fun information you learn about humpback whales. For instance, did you know that humpback whales can weigh 50 tons, be longer than a 50 foot school bus and have a wing span greater than most Lear jets? Or, that they can dive to the depths of 1,000 feet in the ocean and migrate up to 10,000 miles round-trip every year? And, did you know that male humpback whales sing?humpback.a.jpg

Sadly, we also learn that for hundreds of years and up until the 1970s, humpback whales were killed for their oil. Fortunately, because of the generous support of the Pacific Life Foundation we are learning the importance of the humpback whales and the importance of protecting them.

My favorite thing in this show is learning that the male humpback whales communicate through song. Their songs are known as the “Music of the Deep.” It is also what motivated countries across the world to form a ban to stop the killing of humpback whales in 1978. Up until this time, these marine mammals were becoming extinct.

This film is wonderfully narrated by two-time Golden Globe nominee Ewan McGregor and produced by Academy Award nominated filmmakers at MacGillivray Freeman Films. The accompanying music is moving and sets the mood perfectly. I also loved seeing the beautiful scenery as we follow a team of researchers journeying into the waters of Alaska, Hawaii and the distant stunning islands of Tonga.

The message of this film is that humpback whales should be protected, respected and asks what can we do to help them survive. So what can we do to help? Glad you asked. The film tells us that this is possible by encouraging ships to slow down or be re-routed and to keep trash out of the ocean. However, there is also a life moral message about how it is our turn to be the guardians of these magnificent creatures.

This Blu-ray DVD is a wonderful, educational, ocean adventure for both children and adults. Young viewers will enjoy the beautiful scenery and more mature viewers will appreciate the many amazing things there are to learn about humpback whales. The Blu-ray DVD includes a special feature by the film’s director who discusses the making of the movie which you won’t want to miss. I recommend this for ages 5 to 18 and give it five out five stars. I hope you watch this film so you too can experience the magnificence of humpback whales.

Humpback Whales
By Miles T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This movie is alive and interesting with the truth about humpback whales. This movie is especially interesting because how it’s told in 40 minutes and tells you everything you need to know about these magnificent creatures. It allows you to look up or ask some friends about humpback whales. Throughout this story, you learn how they move around, all about their calves, the dangers they face and especially, how humans work against and with them at the same time. It talks about how people are the main enemy of the whales because of ocean trash. But it also tells us how we can help them and what you can do. It brings hope and information to everyone who watches this film.

The Blu-ray DVD has an extra scenes feature and boy is it interesting. It talks about how thhumpback.b.jpge movie was made, where they went and a lot of other interesting things. I love the way everyone said they had a good time making the film and that they are so happy. It’s also very similar to the actual movie, but they talk to the camera and tell you about themselves.

Ewen McGregor, the narrator, is quite enthusiastic throughout this film. He tells us interesting things about the whales and how they do all these incredible things. You may not think it, but there is amazing animation in this film. They show how the whales eat, and sometimes show the whales moving. It’s really detailed and for a moment made me think it was really the live whales.

My favorite part of this film is when they talk about the migratory paths of the whales. I especially liked learning whales’ fingerprints. This film moral is quite a sad one I would say about not doing things that kill the whales. For example, drive slower and don’t throw trash into the ocean.

If I was a whale lover, which I’m not, I would rate this 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this for ages 5 to 18 and adults may enjoy it too. I think that younger kids may be scared by the death scenes which we unfortunately have to endure. You can find this movie on Blu Ray/DVD.

Disney’s Jungle Book is Now Available on DVD/Blu-ray/Digital HD

August 29th, 2016

TheJungleBook.DVD_1.jpgFrom Disney animation comes the live action film, The Jungle Book, based on the classic books by Rudyard Kipling. A contemporary reboot of the beloved 1967 film, it captures your attention from the opening scene and holds through to the very end. Its stellar voice talent cast supports newcomer, young Neel Sethi who plays Mowgli. The story follows the man-cub Mowgli who flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ryan R. comments, “What I like most about this movie is the 3D animation and the voice acting. The animals look so realistic and the sets look amazing as well with very detailed backgrounds. What I liked about the bonus features on the Blu-ray disc is a feature called, The Jungle Book Reimagined which shows ideas for the remake of The Jungle Book and Neel Sethi’s experience while acting on the set.” Willie J. adds, “Having now see three versions of the Rudyard Kipling classic, I can honestly say that Jon Favreau’s 2016 adaptation reigns supreme. I know that may come as a far-fetched opinion for the faithful fans of the 1967 animated classic, but open your mind to the possibility that this version is above the rest.” Tre’ana H. wraps it up with, “ Director, Jon Favreau’s fantastic adaptation of the story and his devotion to the animals cherish exceeded my expectations. The special effects and 3D portrayal of all the animals are breathtakingly awesome.” See their full reviews below.

The Jungle Book (Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Reviewed by Ryan R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

I enjoyed watching the Blu-ray/DVD combo of The Jungle Book about Mowgli (Neel Sethi) who is the only man cub in the jungle. He wants to be a wolf, but in reality he’s not. He is raised by wolves and he feels he has a nice life. Then one day Shere Khan (Idris Elba) threatens Mowgli’s life. While the wolves argue about whether or not Mowgli should leave for the safety of the pack, Mowgli decides for them and leaves. He ventures out to find the man village. On his way to the man Junglebook.a.jpgvillage, he meets many enemies and friends like King Louie (Christopher Walken), Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and Baloo (Bill Murray).  What will happen next?  Will he make it to the man village?  Does Shere Khan catch him? You just have to watch the movie to find out.

What I liked about the bonus features on the Blu-ray disc is a feature called, The Jungle Book Reimagined which shows ideas for the remake of The Jungle Book and Neel Sethi’s experience while acting on the set. This shows the relationship between Neel and the director. There is also a bonus audio commentary feature from the director, Jon Favreau, which is great because you get to hear what he was thinking when making the movie. Another added bonus allows you to go to the scene selection and select the scene you want, plus there is a setup feature so you can insert your own settings. There is also a DVD version included and a download code to download a digital copy if you would prefer to use that versus the discs.

What I like about this movie are the CGIs which are so realistic that you think the sets Junglebook.f.jpgare real because they are so incredibly detailed. The animals look realistic as well and the backgrounds are very intricate.  But, as I learned in the Blu-ray feature “I am Mowgli”, it shows that it was all done on green screen, which makes this film more incredible because most of it isn’t real!  The voice acting is superb.  Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken and many others truly bring the animals to life with their outstanding voice over work. Speaking about Christopher Walken, another bonus feature is “King Louie’s Temple Layer by Layer”.  It shows you how the “I Wan’na Be Like You” scene was created. It is very interesting to watch how the orchestra, Christopher Walken, the storyboard and green screens worked together to make that sequence.  Finally, the music is superb and adds so much more energy and excitement to the movie. It just makes the scenes more interesting than they would be without such compelling music.

What you should know about this film is that there are many intense scenes. Even I jumped out of my seat a few times. This isn’t a movie for children below age 9 and is definitely a “know your kid” type of movie. I also didn’t like how King Louie doesn’t look as friendly as in the original movie. Aside from that, this movie is truly outstanding entertainment.

I recommend this film to kids ages 9 to 18.  People who like action, adventure and comedy movies will surely enjoy this. It does have intense scenes and will make you jump but I give it 4 out of 5 stars and love all the bonus features on the DVD/Blu-ray/Digital HD which is available August 30, 2016.

The Jungle Book

By Tre’ana Hickson, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

After analyzing this film, I really appreciated it because it is family oriented and explores the relationship of a young man. This film made me wonder if something happened to my parents who would take care of me. I love the fact that the animated jungle animals look so real and talk like human beings. This film blends adventure, drama,Junglebook.e.jpg fantasy and family in an entertaining story. I enjoyed this film because of the way it takes a classic story and turns it into something amazing. Director Jon Favreau’s fantastic adaptation of the story and his devotion to the animals cherish exceeded my expectations. The special effects and 3D portrayal of all the animals are breathtakingly awesome.

The story follows the man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi) who departs the jungle after a threat from the tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba). The panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) serves as his protector and keeps him out of harms way until Baloo the Bear (Bill Murray) comes on board and joins the team. Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery and meets creatures along the way who don’t have his best interests at heart. The film shows his innocence and you have to respect and honor him.

I loved the scene when Baloo the Bear and Mowgli go to the lake with Mowgli sitting on Baloo’s stomach as they float down the river.  I really adored this moment because it is hilarious and it reminded me of a special time I spent with my friends in the pool.  A bond is formed that you knew could not be broken.

The message of this film is do not ever hold a grudge against someone because of something that happened in the past. Try to make amends because life is too short and precious.  Live each moment to the fullest. That is what Mowgli realizes and does. You should always give someone a chance to fit in.

I recommend this film for ages 7 to 18 because they will definitely be entertained.  I give it 5 out of 5 Stars because it is child friendly, hilarious, exciting and enjoyable it even though some terrifying moments exist. This movie opens in theaters Friday, April 15, 2016 so go check it out, you will not be disappointed.

The Jungle Book
By Willie Jones, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Having now see three versions of the Rudyard Kipling classic, I can honestly say that JoJunglebook.c.jpgn Favreau’s 2016 adaptation reigns supreme. I know that may come as a far-fetched opinion for the faithful fans of the 1967 animated classic, but open your mind to the possibility that this version is above the rest.

The darker, more realistic tone of this live-action adventure is a sharp contrast to the lighter tone of the 1967 musical comedy. That may be off-putting to some fans, but once you’re swept up in the visual splendor of the movie, the story becomes ever more engaging. Speaking of which, don’t be surprised if a few elements of the 1967 version’s story aren’t in this one or are rearranged.

Jon Favreu gives the story the proper grandeur it deserves. He uses lush art direction and sweeping cinematography to make the story look bigger. Visual effects aside, the aesthetic of the film gets across the monumental stature a family adventure should have. Combine the visuals with the score of John Debney and you’ll find beauty and thrills that bring back a child like wonder.

One thing I really appreciate is the way the film treats the animals as characters, not denying them close-ups or treating them as spectacles. They are instead, portrayed as natural beings within the world of the screenplay. It enhances the brilliant voice acting of theWillie1.jpg cast. Speaking of which, I hope this film can rekindle the campaign to get voice acting a category with the major awards. Idris Elba is perfectly evil. Ben Kingsley and Bill Murray provide such natural and fitting voice work. And, Scarlett Johansson and Christopher Walken steal the show. Their scenes are the highlights of the movie and are easily the most memorable.

This movie is an overall construction of perfect cinematic elements. Disney has hit a grand slam with The Jungle Book as it will be etched in the memories of audiences for decades. I say this film is one of the best films of this decade and maybe even the last ten years.

With that said, I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It can be seen at a local theater near you.