Archive for May, 2011

KIDS FIRST! Home Screening Club

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

BandsOnRun_DVD.jpgYour opinion (and your kids’) matter, so we invite you to join the KIDS FIRST! Home Screening Club. Get the DVD and host an exclusive screening for your family and your friends’ families. Then share your feedback with us – from the kids and the adults. It’s as easy as popping popcorn, and there’s no charge to be a member or participate.

We’re kicking off the KIDS FIRST! Home Screening Club with a new film entitled “Bands on the Run: The Rubber Band Movie,” which E One Entertainment released on DVD May 31. The first 100 people to sign up will get a free DVD of the film for their home screening.

When you send us your review of the DVD, you will be entered into a drawing for one of the two HD TVs that we are giving away.

Then, we’ll continue every month with a drawing to give away a prize to someone who sends in their feedback – written reviews, videotaped reviews, comments from your audience and/or photos of your event. The prize will vary from a HD camera to an HD TV.

The screenings are very limited, so your chances to win are very good!

A little about Bands on the Run: The Rubber Band Movie:
If your kids are into rubber band bracelets, it’s no stretch to imagine they’ll be into Bands on the Run: The Rubber Band Movie. Five specialty shaped rubber bands are carelessly left behind on a deserted stretch of desert highway after the box they are in is jostled off the delivery truck. Attempting to “follow that truck” and get back on track to the toy store that’s expecting them, they get run over by a speeding car which turns out to be a good thing, as they happily roll along, stuck to the spinning tire as it unknowingly carries them where they wanted to go. Runtime 50 minutes. Ages 4-8.

KIDS FIRST! Home Screening Club

More Merry Martial Arts: ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

KungFuPanda2.JPGPo, that immensely huggable martial arts hero, is back. Kung Fu Panda 2 is directed by Jennifer Yuh, who stepped to the helm here after being storyboard artist for the original Kung Fu Panda. Jack Black’s voice is again perfectly cast as the ungainly panda, joined by a host of other actors whose names and faces are as well-known as their voices, among them Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen and martial arts master himself, Jackie Chan.

“This movie is so awesome. All the characters from the first movie are back, along with some new faces. The animation is phenomenal and Jack Black does an exceptional job as the voice of Po!” says KIDS FIRST! film critic Raven Devanney (age 13). And fellow KIDS FIRST! film critic Gabriella Chu (age 14) shares, “Watching this movie in 3-D felt so life-like, espcially thte action scenes. There are so many action sequences and they all are very intense.”

Check out Raven‘s and Gabriella‘s reviews on YouTube, and read their full reviews below:

‘Kung Fu Panda 2’
Reviewed by
Raven DevanneyRavenDevanney.JPG

The lovable yet ferocious panda is back in Kung fu Panda 2. Po and the Furious Five are here to save China, and things get a little crazy!

This movie is so awesome. All the characters from the first movie are back, along with some new faces. The animation is phenomenal and Jack Black does an exceptional job as the voice of Po!

My favorite character is Tigress, played by the brilliant Angelina Jolie, because you get to experience the softer side of Tigress.

All the battles in this film are amazing because they are not only action-packed, but are also hilarious. This movie should be viewed by ages 5 and up because this movie is a lot more emotional and sad than the first film and there is a little bit more death.

Overall, I give Kung Fu Panda 2 two thumbs up!! 

‘Kung Fu Panda 2’
Reviewed by
Gabriella ChuGabriellaChu_3.jpg

The Kung Fu Panda is back with more adventure! This movie is an irresistible action comedy that’s pure fun. In case you have not watched the first Kung Fu Panda before, the protagonist, Po, is a panda who transforms from noodle-shop employee to kung fu master, joining the Furious Seven (a group of heroes who fight villains). In this sequel, Po finds himself conflicted with his past. He starts to question where he has come from and why his father is a goose instead of the panda. He also has to defeat evil Lord Shen, a peacock who plans to use a secret weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. Will Po be able to defeat Lord Shen even when conflicted with this past? You will have to watch this movie for yourself!

Watching this movie in 3-D felt so life-like, especially the action scenes. There are so many action sequences and they all are very intense. My favorite sequence is the one where Po finds his inner peace because the movie is in slow motion and incorporates scenes of his past as well as scenes from Master Shifu’s technique of inner peace. The slow motion emphasized Po’s technique, and made the scene much more interesting. I also thought the humorous voice of Po, Jack Black, is perfect for his role as a lively and entertaining panda. The movie also has inspiring messages, such as: Look to the future instead of the past, and discover who you are. However, I did not think this movie was as good as the first one. I did not find the story as touching and upbeat. I also didn’t find the voices of the characters recognizable, except for Po and the Tigress’s voice. In addition, the colors of the movie were not very vibrant. They did not fit the comical mood of the movie so much.

Overall, though, I think this is a great animated family comedy. I would recommend it to children ages 8 and up because younger kids might not be able to follow the storyline. You should definitely go see this if you are into adventure!

Photos: Kung Fu Panda 2 poster (top), Raven Devanney (middle), Gabriella Chu (bottom)

‘Broken Hill’ Makes Beautiful Music from Unlikely Relationships

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

BrokenHill_DVD.jpgAn Australian high schooler dreams of making his life in music. In fact, Tommy daydreams in music, mentally creating orchestral performances out of the sounds that surround him – such unlikely noises as post-hole diggers in the rugged Outback and construction site clamor. As Broken Hill enacts these imaginings, we experience the artistic beauty that inspires Tommy.

Reviews by KIDS FIRST! film critics Gabriella Chu (age 14) and Raven Sky Devanney (age 13) share how well Broken Hill connects with its audience. “I love this movie because it is very creative. I never heard someone play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” so authentically until I heard Tommy and the inmates improvise with the song and make it sound so awesome by using all kinds of instruments – from buckets to violins. The final piece Tommy’s band plays is also excellent,” says Gabriella. Below are the full reviews from both teens. 

‘Broken Hill’
by Gabriella ChuGabriellaChu_3.jpg

Broken Hill is a wonderful movie. The first few minutes of the movie instantly capture my attention! It tells the story of a teenage boy named Tommy (played by Luke Arnold) who dreams of starting a band to get into music school but is distracted from his goal because he likes a girl in his class named Kat (played by Alexa Vega), and he is also discouraged by his father. Tommy and Kat end up doing community service at a jail after they pull a juvenile prank and get caught by the police. The two do not get along initially, but they gradually become friends and form an original band with the prison inmates. Is Tommy’s band good enough to get him into the Sydney Conservatory music school? You have to watch this movie for yourself!

I love this movie because it is very creative. I never heard someone play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” so authentically until I heard Tommy and the inmates improvise with the song and make it sound so awesome by using all kinds of instruments — from buckets to violins. The final piece Tommy’s band plays is also excellent. I think the original music by Christopher Brady and the orchestrator David Long are fantastic! I also like how director Dagen Merrill shows how Tommy hears music everywhere. Just by listening to things in nature such as grasshoppers, the wind, and rivers, in the middle of the Australian desert, Tommy can replace these normal noises with the sounds of instruments to compose a beautiful symphony in his mind. I am impressed at the way the director made this comparison.
 
It is difficult for me to hear everything the actors are saying because most of them have an Australian accent. Other than that, I think this is a great movie. I would recommend it to children ages 11 and up because the movie contains some deep messages that may be hard for younger kids to understand, such as music can be found everywhere and music can lift anyone’s spirits. This movie will suit most viewers, especially those who are interested in music. 

For Tommy, the prison band seems his last chance to put together the audition performance he needs to get into the prestigious music conservatory, though he keeps his goal a secret from everyone but his private music maestro. The prisoners are not so enthusiastic at first about the band, but are persuaded to participate by another inmate, Kalai, who seemingly feels he owes Tommy for an earlier act of kindness. There are many strands of relationships that develop around Tommy, as KIDS FIRST! film critic Raven Sky Devanney shares:

‘Broken Hill’
By Raven Sky DevanneyRavenDevanney.JPG

Broken Hill is an amazing movie about a boy from Australia who wants to become a composer but his father disapproves, so he makes a band with local prisoners.

I really really like this film. It is funny and touching and super great! The cinematography was nice and it is pretty funny in the beginning when Tommy is imagining the orchestra.

I really enjoyed watching the relationship grow between Kat and Tommy throughout the film. My favorite character is the drumming prisoner because he was clueless and hilarious.

I was really shocked, in the end, after Kalai escaped and there was no closure between him and Tommy. It left me wanting more.

This film is for ages 12 and up because it is a little mature for younger kids. Broken Hill is a great movie for teens. I give this film a thumbs up!

Released for home viewing by E One Entertainment, Broken Hill is available on DVD May 17.

Photos, from top to bottom: Broken Hill, Gabriella Chu, Raven Sky Devanney

Rubber Band Bracelets Shape the Movie ‘Bands on the Run’

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

BandsOnRun_DVD.jpgIf your kids are into rubber band bracelets, it’s no stretch to imagine they’ll be into Bands on the Run: The Rubber Band Movie, a DVD release from E One Entertainment scheduled for May 31 (with 10 limited-edition bands as a bonus feature!). Five specialty shaped rubber bands are carelessly left behind on a deserted stretch of desert highway after the box they’re in is jostled off the delivery truck. Attempting to “follow that truck” and get back on track to the toy store that’s expecting them, they get run over by a speeding car – which turns out to be a good thing, as they happily roll along, stuck to the spinning tire as it unknowingly carries them where they wanted to go.

Shapes and dialog coordinate perfectly in this 50-minute animation, rendered in very elementary form that the youngest of ages can easily follow, although some of the dialog hits a little above that level in wordplay and message. Each of the novelty bands has a unique talent they are proud to show off (“I sparkle,” flower-shaped Daisy repeatedly reminds the others), but it’s an ordinary rubber band they meet after a second mishap sends them to a recycling center in a garbage truck who really snaps them into focus. “We all have different talents, but we’re all made from the same stuff,” Stretch tells the novelty bands. “We’re a team.”

As a team, now, all six continue on their journey to the toy store – and, they hope, the wrist of a novelty-rubber-band-loving child.

The Classic ‘Superman’ Airs in May on HDNet Movies

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Superman_02.jpgThe Superman comic book character created in 1936 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster was an almost immediate hit, yet in spite of that fact and its popularity as a 1950s TV series, it wasn’t until 1978 that Superman got his chance on the big screen. A skinny Christopher Reeve won the role on a “super” screen test, then buffed up 40 lbs of muscle in preparing for the filming. As KIDS FIRST! film critic Raven Sky Devanney (age 13) points out, standards have changed in the ensuing years, but this is still a film to appreciate.

‘Superman’
Reviewed by Raven Sky Devanney
(and see her review on video)

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No … It’s Superman!!! And not just any Superman movie, it’s the original! This American classic provides entertainment for the whole family.RavenDevanney.JPG

This film is entertaining and it is interesting for me to see how movies back then were made, but it is a little cheesy. For instance, the extremely over-exaggerated facial expressions from Superman are just too much. It is more of a comedy than an action movie for me. I understand acting methods were a bit different when this film was made, but it seems like Superman is just too perfect and it doesn’t give him a very interesting or deep personality and it makes him really predictable. However, this film is enjoyable and is a must-see at least once in everyone’s life.

This movie is good for all ages but should be watched as a family because it is fairly long [2 hours 23 minutes] and a little confusing in the beginning. Over all, I give this classic a thumbs up!

Directed by Richard Donner, the film took a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and earned John Williams a Grammy Award the next year for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special. Of its several Oscar nominations in 1979, its win was a Special Achievement Award for visual effects.

Superman is one of many film classics being brought to your home by HDNet Movies, a KIDS FIRST! sponsor. HDNet Movies offers subscribers a premium movie viewing experience in true HD, including the best classics of the 1950s-1970s, favorites from the 1980s and 1990s, to recently released theatrical films. Additionally, HDNet Movies offers kidScene, a morning and Friday night programming block specifically for kids and families. HDNet Movies kidScene can be followed at hdnetmovies.com and via Facebook at facebook.com/HDNetMovies.

Launched in 2001 by Mark Cuban and General Manager Philip Garvin, the HDNet networks are available in the U.S. via AT&T U-verse, Charter, DIRECTV, DISH Network, Insight and Verizon FiOS.

Photos: Christopher Reeve as Superman (top); Raven Sky Devanney (bottom)

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