Archive for August, 2014

The Identical – A Powerful Message in a Faith-Based Film

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

TheIdentical.NewCover.jpgThe Identical is a heart-touching drama about twin boys who are separated at birth and one becomes a rock ‘n’ roll star while the other struggles to balance his love of music with pleasing his father. Taking place in 1936, during the Great Depression, this film faith-based film is likely to move you to tears. Stars Ashley Judd, Ray Liotta, Blake Rayne and Amanda Crew. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Brianna B, age 14, comments, “This film has great music, family principles and really zones in about finding and following your dreams.” See her complete review below and listen to it on our radio show, KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions next week.

The Identical

Reviewed by Brianna B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
The Identical is a great film with a powerful message and fantastic story line that always keeps you guessing. It’s really an enjoyable film to see.

Twins, Ryan Wade and Drexel Hemsley (Blake Rayne) are separated at birth, for financial reasons, during the Great Depression. A preacher and his wife adopt Ryan to give him a better life. Although the boys have different lives, they both share their passion for music. Drexel performs as a famous rock star while Ryan struggles between pleasing his parents and following his dreams.

This film has great music, family principles and really zones in on finding and following your dreams. I also like its captivating and unique story that is beautifully portrayed on the big screen. It’s set in 1936, way before my time, but I still enjoyed watching and listening to the music. Blake Ryan plays both of the twins and is able to keep their characters separate. At the same time, he projects the intense connection that twins have between each other. The wardrobe, hairstyles and historical props all contribute to the rich details that create this special period piece.

My favorite scene is when Ryan listens and looks at his twin brother’s record album and he does not notice that he looks and sounds exactly like him. This scene is funny because you question why he wouldn’t notice it. It seems so oblivious that you can’t help but feel bad for him. My favorite character is Ryan’s Mother, Louise Wade (Ashley Judd), because she is very kind and has a light spirit when you look at her and hear her beautiful voice. You somehow know that she only wants the best for her son.

The Identical also stars Seth Green (Dino) and Ray Liotta (Reece Wade) who contributes their exceptional acting abilities to this film with great humor and emotions.

I love the powerful message in this film which is to follow your dreams and not other peoples. It’s your life so work hard to fulfill your dreams and it will make you happy. I recommend The Identical for all the music lovers at heart and ages 10 to 18. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars as I really enjoyed the music, the story line and the message. The Identical rocks in to theaters on September 5th, so please check it out.

KIDS FIRST!’s partner, Kidstar Radio Launches Kickstarter Campaign on Labor Day

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

kidstar.jpgKidstar Radio Network, our partner that produces our KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions radio show, is launching a Kickstarter campaign Sept. 1 for a new international program called Voyage Earth.

“I’ve never been so excited in my life,” said Perry Damone, CEO of Kidstar. “International children have been interested and now we have a proper way to introduce them to Kidstar.”

Voyage Earth is Kidstar’s newest program idea. The program will consist of children creating radio packages about current events that will then be used by larger news corporations just like a news wire service.

These packages will include everything from gang violence in the south side of Chicago to even family problems in the London to ‘Foodie News’ from Kid Chef Eliana.

“I think that when we give children a voice to such a large stage, people will listen,” said Damone. “These kids create professional shows and it is about time we get them to the professional limelight. We give the children the tools to create the shows and then we let them be the driver.”

The Kickstarter itself will run from Sept. 1 to Oct. 10.

Some of the rewards include:

•    $25 – A personal thank you letter from the Kidstar staff and kids.
•    $50 – A starter radio kit that includes a headset with a microphone, instructions to start a YouTube account and a tote bag with a Kidstar hat.
•    $3,800 – An annual subscription to the Kidstar Radio Program for your school.Check it out,  https://www.kickstarter.com/

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

Tuesday, 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!

Monday, 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!