Archive for April, 2014

Rio 2 – A Musical With a Message – What Goes On in the Amazon Affects Us All!

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

This sequel to the 2011 movie Rio, takes the loveable Blue Macaws, Blu, Jewel and their three kids on an adventure in the wilds of the Amazon. They are faced with adversity in the form of an overbearing father-in-law but, more importantly, some humans who are cutting down the trees where the Macaws live. “I like the story line which has lots of humor as well as some amazing songs which really enhance the film,” comments KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Brianna B, age 14. And critic Jeremy B (age 7) adds, “Another thing I really enjoy is the setting. The Amazon is so colorful and beautiful. The brightly colored birds and butterflies are incredible!” Their full reviews are below.

Rio 2
Reviewed by Brianna Hope B, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Video review available here.
Cast interviews available here.

Rio 2 is a wonderful animation with great comedy for the entire family. Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway) are back in Rio 2 with their three children. Their kids really need to learn to live like actual birds so Jewel insists that the family take an adventure to the Amazon where she is from. However on this trip there are some dangers that could lie ahead for them like meeting the revengeful Nigel (voiced by Jemaine Clement) and other things. Will they survive the jungle?

I like that this film is a clear continuation of the first one. It’s just not about Blu and Jewel but it also lets us know more about their family and their roots. I like the story line which has lots of humor as well as some amazing songs which really enhance the film. I love the romance and really love all the dancing in the rain forest. It’s so pretty, especially in 3D. The animation is stunning with lots of bright colors and spectacular attention to detail, especially of the Amazon.

I truly like everything about this film but my favorite part is in the beginning when we hear the first song, “What is Love” by Janelle Monae. This song puts me in an upbeat and happy mood. I knew immediately that this was going to be a great film. My favorite two characters are Pedro (voiced by Will I Am) and Nico (voiced by Jamie Foxx). These two are so hilarious to watch especially when Nico tries on different items he wants as a hat.

Director, Carlos Saldanha, directs a much bigger and better film in Rio 2 with sounds, exciting new songs and great comedy. A message in this film is that “Family is extremely important and you need each other to support each other.”

I recommend this film for ages 6 to 15 and anyone that loved the first Rio. The whole family will definitely enjoy it. I give it 5 out of 5 stars because everything about it is great.

Rio 2 3D
Reviewed by Jeremy B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 7.
Video review available here.

Rio 2 (3D) is an adventurous, exciting and funny animated film.  It has a lot of music, dancing and fun! The music director (John Powell) chose fun and festive music that plays throughout the film.  Be careful, you might want to get up and dance right along with the characters!

The story line is about Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), his wife Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and their children who travel to the Amazon to find other Blue Macaws who might be family.  Once they arrive they find that some bad people are cutting down trees where the Blue Macaws live.  They must work together to stop the humans and save the rainforest.

I really enjoyed this film. The 3D animation is incredible!  The images pop right off the screen in front of you. I like the new characters added in this film from the first Rio movie, especially Eduardo the father-in-law (Andy Garcia) who is very funny. I also like that some of the old characters reappear such as Nigel (Jemaine Clement), Nico (Jamie Foxx) and Rafael (George Lopez). They bring lots of humor and excitement to this film.  Another thing I really enjoy is the setting. The Amazon is so colorful and beautiful. The brightly colored birds and butterflies are incredible! There lots of great parts in this movie but my favorite part is when the Blue Macaws and the Parrots play soccer in the Pit of Doom.  It is so crazy and suspenseful!

This film has a couple really good messages. One is that it teaches us to always put family first.  If Blu does not learn this he will end up alone.  Another one is to believe in yourself.  Blu has to prove to himself that he is important no matter what anyone else tells him.  You have to watch the movie to see what happens in the end!

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars.  It is funny, exciting and adventurous.  Kids and adults will love it, especially those who love nature, music and Brazil!  I recommend this movie for ages 5 to 18. I think young children will Anreally like the music, the colorful setting and all the animals throughout the film.

Additional video review by KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O.
Additional Rio 2 cast interview by Gerry O.
Interview with Rachel Crow (Carla) from Rio 2.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Conspiracy, Secrets and Adventure

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Captain America returns in this political thriller with a compelling story line where Steve Rogers, awakening after decades of suspended animation tries to catch up with pop culture while facing a world of multiple threats and moral complexities. This film is rated PG-13 for good reason with lots of violence, gun-play and action throughout. “This film has everything I look for in a superhero film. The characters are already established which allows the writers to explore these characters and to introduce more personalities.” comments KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Keefer B. See his full review below.

Captain America: Winter Soldier
by Keefer C. B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13.
Video review available here.

Another action packed Captain America movie, full of twists and turns and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Captain America aka Steve Roger (Chris Evans) has new enemies to fight – not only a deadly adversary, Winter Solider (Sebastian Stan) but S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. Roger can’t trust anybody in his battle to crack the secrets of the world in which he now lives.

This film has everything I look for in a superhero film. The characters are already established which allows the writers to explore these characters and to introduce more personalities. I get a kick out of their relationships and the witty remarks they share with each other. Action is essential in a film like this and I appreciate how the Captain’s shield is used in these sequences. How it bounces back and forth, hits a target and returns to Roger is impressive. The camera angles show everything that’s going on. It’s fast paced, entertaining and not just mindless violence.

The story, while based on the comic book, stands on its own. This film captures the sheer mystery and conflict between the characters. Even if you’re a not comic-book fan, you can still be shocked by the twists this film throws at you.

My favorite character is one I’ve loved for a long time, Falcon aka Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie). As a fan of Marvel, I’m ecstatic to see this character re-imaged. Mackie performs exceptionally in this part; he is dignified, smart and an expert in high flying combat. Seeing him soar though the skies and fight alongside Captain America ignites my inner geek.

My favorite scene is when Nick Furry (Samuel L. Jackson) is out-numbered and fights for his life during a car chase. This has amazing action and shows Jackson being awesome. It’s primitive, but it’s true.

The moral here is, “You don’t have to destroy an old philosophy to create a new one.” Captain America is stuck in his old ways. Fury says “You need to look at the world as it is, not as you would like it to be.” While to some extent that’s true, Roger needs to show them that sometimes it’s not.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend this for 11 to 18-year-olds. There is violence and occasional language, but kids can enjoy seeing their stars and stripes hero back in action and be excited for “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Best Marvel Flick Yet – Comic-Book Nostalgia Mixed with Conspiracy and Adventure

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

CaptAmerica.jpgWhether you are a Marvel fan or not, you’ll find the latest installment of Captain America to be a great political thriller with a compelling story line. There are a few twists, some expected, some not. The story revolves around Steve Rogers struggling to embrace his role in the modern world, dealing with S.H.I.E.L.D., and battling the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier. This is rated PG-13 for good reason. From the very start, there is lots of action and violence but it’s not graphic. “The special effects are completely off the charts!” comments KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. See his full review below.

Captain America: Winter Soldier
Reviewed by Gerry O, age 12, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic
Video review available here

I heard there was a comic book where Captain America (Chris Evans) is a soldier working with another super hero before he turned into a super human. I expected movie to be like that but I was brutally wrong. “Captain America: Winter Soldier” is a cool movie many Marvel fans and non-fans will enjoy.

This film has lots to offer for all fans. This blockbuster includes action, romance, conspiracy, adventure, comedy, thrill and, of course, super heroes.

The story starts when Captain America is doing his thing – saving everyone. Soon however, Shield starts to act more privately about a new project that is being formed. Something is going on that worries Captain America. What is it? And how does he fix it? To find the answer to these questions you must watch the movie.

This movie has a great cast (Robert Redford, Scarlett Johansson) and a great concept. However, because we all know how amazing this super hero is, the ending is somewhat predictable. Some moments drag a bit but the special effects are completely off the charts. The story line is well conceived. However, I would have liked this movie more if it was not told from Captain America’s point of view. I think this film would be fantastic if it was told from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)’s point of view. Some camera shots are so fast that they are a bit difficult to follow but overall, the special effects are spectacular! The technology alone in this movie will satisfy even the most discerning sci-fi fans.

My favorite scene is when Captain America is in an elevator and all kinds of people equipped with weapons enter on different floors. This is when Captain America realizes for the first time that something is not right. Finally, Captain America asks, “Does anybody want to get off before we start this?” Then, all people in the elevator attack him. It’s an amazing action scene. I don’t think this has ever been done before – such a complex fight scene in the tight space inside an elevator. The director and editors make the whole movie not only very engaging but very funny too which is a great mix of emotions.

This film has tons of action, gunplay, death and some intense violence, so I recommend it for ages 9 to 18 and I would rank it 4 out of 5 stars.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Reviewed by Brianna Hope Beaton, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14.
Video review available here.

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is a great Sci-Fi film with lots of adventure and action. Steve Rogers AKA Captain America (Chris Evans) is quietly living in Washington D.C. trying to adjust to his new world. However one of his S.H.I.E.L.D. associates is not doing so well and is being attacked. A lot of things are happening that are putting the world, as we know it, in danger. Steve gets help from Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to reveal what is going on and try to save millions of lives.

This film is easy to understand and follow, even if you’re not a die-hard Marvel follower. It’s good! I like the overall story line, the pace of the film and the costumes. The fighting scenes and stunts are well choreographed and really keep the action going. The actors’ performances are truthful and show real dedication to the characters to the point that you totally dislike the villains. My favorite actor is Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon) because he is funny with some of the expressions and words he uses. Also, I like his Falcon suit that gives him the ability to fly around like a bird. I have a lot of favorite scenes in this film, but one that stands out is the elevator scene. It starts off with Captain America on the elevator and at each floor more and more people get on. Captain America senses that something is about to happen and knows he will have to defend himself as usual. So, right before the fight breaks out, he gives says, “Before we start, does anyone want to get off?” I like this scene because it has lots of action in such a small and confined space.

A message that I get from this film is “Stand up for what is right even if not that many people are standing with you.” It’s a good message and one I can relate to.

I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18 and anyone who loves The Avengers and Marvel. It’s rated PG-13 for some very intense violence scenes with a lot of gunplay.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Lemurs – Strange Creatures You Will Never Forget

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

IslandLemurs.jpgIsland of Lemurs: Madagascar comes out in theaters April 4.  Academy Award® winner Morgan Freeman narrates Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, which profiles nature’s greatest explorers – lemurs. Shot in IMAX 3D, the film explores the remote world of Madagascar and its primate inhabitants – lemurs – who first arrived as castaways millions of years ago and have evolved into hundreds of diverse species, now endangered. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O, says, “I love this film. The most mind-blowing part is how the camera crew gets so close to the wild, and sometimes posing, lemurs.” See his full review below.

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar
Reviewed by Gerry O, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12.
Video review available here:
Interviews at junket:
Interviews at premiere:

I thought this movie would be a story of a specific lemur living in Madagascar, but I was very wrong. Nothing could have prepared me for the wonderful adventure I experienced. “Island of “Lemurs: Madagascar” is a fantastic documentary that every animal or nature lover will enjoy.

This documentary has more to offer than lemurs. It has action, comedy, adventure, thrill, education and so much more. Of course, who could possibly know that there are so many species of lemurs – the unforgettable bamboo lemur, the brown lemur, the hustle lemur and the adorable and my personal favorite – the mouse lemur.

The story begins when a scientist by the name of Dr. Patricia Wright goes to Madagascar to study lemurs. She goes to the wildest part of the vast jungles to look for one thing: bamboo lemurs, which were thought to be extinct. Lucky she proves them wrong and spends many years saving their species from extinction. We join her on her adventure and learn about the real dangers to the cute and furry animals and hear about her stories in Madagascar.

I love this film. The most mind-blowing part is how the camera crew gets so close to the wild, and sometimes imposing, lemurs. There are some angles that look simply impossible to accomplish with wild animals. The film is enhanced by the narration of Morgan Freeman which makes this documentary truly unique. The filmmakers are so smart, using simple ways to get their dream shots. The entire cast of lemurs (no, they are not paid actors) are adorable and, the coolest thing is, they are not trained. Every lemur in the movie is wild.

My favorite scene is when they talk about the adorable, but powerful hand-sized, smaller primate, the mouse lemur. This little guy is captured in a trap that does not hurt him and then is taken to a place where they study and scan him. Then, he is released back to the wild with a story to tell his family.

This movie is meant for all ages but does have a bit of intensity. So, I recommend it to kids ages 6 to 18. This move also easily deserves 5 out of 5 stars. The only thing I would add is that it was too short. I wish it was longer because it is so good and interesting.

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