Archive for January, 2014

“WADDJDA” – A Treasure of a Film About Girls and Women in Saudi Arabia

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

wadjda.jpgWADJDA, the first film shot in Saudi Arabia tells the story of an enterprising Saudi girl who signs on for her school’s Koran recitation competition as a way to raise the funds she needs in order to buy the green bicycle that has captured her interest. Nominated for an Academy Award in the Foreign Language category, this is a unique film that offers insight into another culture and understanding of the oppression of women that live there. “It’s mind-blowing to me that a movie about the oppression of women was made in the exact environment it depicts,” comments KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Cassandra H.  See her full review below.

WADJDA
Reviewed by Cassandra Hsiao
Video review available here.

A poignantly triumphant movie, the storyline of “WADJDA” is just as phenomenal as the story of how the film came to be. In short, “WADJDA” represents quite a number of firsts. It’s the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, a country where cinema is prohibited. Writer and director Haifaa Al Mansour is Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker. It is also the first submission from Saudi Arabia for the Foreign Language Category for the 2014 Academy Awards.

Set in a country known for its repression of women, the movie follows our title character—a 10-year-old spirited girl—in her journey to buy a new bicycle so she can race her best friend, neighbor and crush Abdullah. Even though Wadjda’s mother warns her to stay away from both bikes and boys because of their culture’s strict customs, Wadjda is determined to buy her bike with her own hard-earned money, no matter what the consequences. This, in turn, leads to joining a Koran competition at school. If she wins, she will have more than enough to buy a bike and therefore beat the boy next door.

Subtly, the film explores the repercussions from this society in which girls should only be seen, not heard and, in public, only their eyes should be seen, with the rest of their faces covered by black veils. Wadjda tests boundaries in her search for freedom of expression. Although she discovers the contradictions in her world, she’s determined to challenge women’s traditional roles. The movie covers major topics such as polygamy and child-brides, as well as smaller oppressions such as the restriction of driving and rules of women in the presence of men.

It’s mind-blowing to me that a movie about the oppression of women was made in the exact environment it depicts. On DVD, the making-of featurette explores in-depth the struggles and challenges that faced director Haifaa Al Mansour. The line, “respectable girls go inside,” is said to Wadjda in the film, and Mansour confronted the same problems. She had to direct her cast out-of-sight using a walkie-talkie to communicate with her cast and a monitor to watch the filming. She could not be seen working with men and often, when religious officials would come to inspect the bustle, production would be halted and moved to another location. It took close to five years to make the movie, but the effort is worth it.

First timer Waad Mohammed is perfect as the fun-loving rebel Wadjda. This film is rated PG and I recommend it for ages 10 to 18. The pace may be slow for kids under ten. This is truly a landmark film that the world needs to watch. I give it five out of five stars. Perhaps the most uplifting message is that although the plot is fiction, the remarkable story behind the movie is not, and that shows that revolution is possible. This film played in theaters last year and will be released on February 11 on DVD/Blu-ray.

Reviewed by Cassandra H, age 14, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Journey to the South Pacific – An Underwater Spectacular in Imax 3D

Friday, January 17th, 2014

JourneytoSouthP.jpgDirectors Stephen Judson and Greg MacGillivary who specialize in these big format nature films really surpass themselves in this incredible Imax 3D film about the South Pacific. You will take an underwater voyage to Indonesia where you learn about its inhabitants such as giant rays and whale sharks as well as efforts being made in the region for ocean conservation. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O says,” Not only that but this film is in 3D as well, together making a spectacular IMAX adventure that make you feel like you’re in the movie.” See his full review below

Journey to the South Pacific
Reviewed by Gerry O, age 11, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic
Video review available here.
Interview with the director available here.

This documentary, as you can guess from the title, is about fish and sea. Unlike many documentaries, this one doesn’t just educate you it also tells you a warming story.

This film has a lot of different things that everyone would love. It has education, geography, comedy, music, fish, culture and many more things everyone would enjoy.

The story begins when a young boy lives on an island in gorgeous Indonesia. What is very unique about the story is that it follows a boat that travels to different islands and takes kids from each on a “floating school” where they dive, play fun games and, of course, learn about fish. When the young boy goes on this boat, he leaves home for a couple months for a wonderful aquatic adventure.

My favorite scene is when they talk about the corals singing and they show different marine species making sounds with music-like voice overs and, the funny thing is, they do it in a chorus-like rhythm. I love it because it’s light hearted and funny.

Unlike most new movies, this film was taped on a real film, not digital. This gives more in-depth colors. And, it’s shot on Imax film which is ten times larger than 35mm which gives better quality because of the larger frame. Not only that but this film is in 3D as well, together making a spectacular IMAX adventure that make you feel like you’re in the movie. The director does a wonderful job as does the narrator. I’m impressed.

This movie is definitely suitable for ages 1 to 18. Younger kids would not understand it completely but they would still enjoy the colors and the music. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars.  This movie is available in select Imax theaters nationwide.

The Nut Job – An Animated Feature for Younger Kids

Friday, January 17th, 2014

TheNutJob.jpgThis animated feature is sure to charm your youngest kids and even some pre-teens. The story is about Surly, a curmudgeon, independent squirrel who is banished from his park and forced to survive in the city. Lucky for him, he stumbles on the one thing that may be able to save his life, and the rest of park community, as they gear up for winter  – Maury’s Nut Store. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Anthony A (age 11) loved it and recommended it for ages four to 10. See his full review below.

The Nut Job
Reviewed by Anthony Aranda
Video Review here.

This movie is pretty cool. It is funny and has a good amount of action. It is really good and I think you would like it too.

This movie is all about a squirrel named Surly who, at the beginning, fends for himself and only himself (with his friend Buddy) until his actions contribute to the burning of the large tree where all the squirrels live, along with what little food they have left. He is banished to the city and soon finds a shop full of nuts. He makes a deal with another squirrel named Andie that he would get half and they would get half. They run into a lot of obstacles such as mouse traps, rats, guns and people.

The main characters in the movie are Surly (Will Arnett), King (Stephen Lang), Grayson (Brendan Fraser), Raccoon (Liam Neeson), Andie (Katherine Heigl) and Precious (Maya Rudolph). My favorite character in this movie is Precious because she is such a funny dog and helps Surly and loves him after a while. She is also really funny.

My favorite part in the movie is when Surly and Buddy meets Precious because, as I said she is my favorite character, and she is so funny. She thinks she has to hate the squirrels because her owners don’t want animals in their shop but she soon realizes she loves them. She starts showing them tricks likes fetching, playing dead, sitting and she thinks that her tail is amazing because it wiggles a lot. She says it has a mind of its own!

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend this movie for ages 4 to 10 because it is really suitable for a younger audience. I think younger kids will really love it.

Kid movie news & Free DVDs:
Join KIDS FIRST! on Twitter Join KIDS FIRST! on Pinterest Join KIDS FIRST! on Facebook
Loading Search...