Archive for April, 2015

Monkey Kingdom – Raising Awareness and Funds for the Habitat of Monkeys

Friday, April 17th, 2015

214176.MonkeyK.jpgThis documentary from Disneynature follows a newborn monkey and its mother as they struggle to survive within the competitive social hierarchy of the Temple Troop, a dynamic group of monkeys who live in ancient ruins found deep in the storied jungles of South Asia. Directed by Mark Linfield and Alastair who also directed Bears and narrated by Tina Fey. KIDS FIRST! Critic Haley P. comments, “This is a great nature documentary, especially if you like monkeys and, contributions from ticket sales of this movie will help save the monkeys in south Asia.”  Brooke S. added, “This movie is an outstanding film.  It made me happy, sad, angry and even touched my heart.  I also laughed and cried on some parts.“ See their full review below.

Monkey Kingdom
Reviewed by Haley Powell, KIDS FIRST! Critic, Age 12

Monkey Kingdom opened my mind to learning about animals in the wild! This is a great nature documentary, especially if you like monkeys and, contributions from ticket sales of this movie will help save the monkeys in south Asia.

Monkey Kingdom begins with an explanation of how a certain group of monkeys live. Specifically, it focuses on Maya and her baby, who are considered the lowest of the group. It discusses their lifestyle, their routines and how they have to deal with the different seasons and the weather.  They also talk about their struggle for survival. Finding food, especially for the ones at the bottom of the tree, is a challenge.  These monkeys have a king and three queens. It is amazing that even though they are monkeys, they still have a social hierarchy.

My favorite part of this movie is when all the monkeys are playing with each other and swinging from their homemade “original” jungle gym.  I also like the part when the lower class runs out of food and have to find a way to survive.  They locate the humans’ house and raid their kitchen.  They even confiscate all the eggs from the hen house!!  It is hysterical to see a monkey running off with a sub sandwich.

My favorite character is Kip, Maya’s son!  He is a cute baby monkey that is so innocent and, most of the time, has no idea what is going one.  He depends on his mom for protection.  Maya is on the low end of the social hierarchy.  She is a female monkey with a nice personality unlike the three sister queens who act as if they own everything.  I love how Maya protects her baby at all costs.  Tina Fey is a wonderful narrator for this, giving a clear understanding of what is taking place.

The thrust of this documentary is to raise money to help maintain the habitat of monkeys that live in the jungles of South Asia.  I recommend this film for kids age 6 through 18. Both boys and girls will enjoy it because, who can resist watching monkeys play. I rate this movie a five out of five dazzling stars! Be sure to check it out when it comes out in theaters on April 17, 2015.

Monkey Kingdom
By Brooke S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Monkey Kingdom is directed by Mark Linfield and Alstair Fothergill and narrated by Tina Fey.  It is a documentary about an adorable baby monkey named Kip, his sweet mother Maya as they struggle to survive.  The film follows other monkeys in the troop and their daily lives also.

The movie takes place in ancient ruins in the Jungles of Asia.  During the movie you will meet lots of monkeys.  For instance, Kumar, who is an outsider and has tons of personality.  Then there is Raja who is the King of the troop and very strong, always has an attitude and lets every one of the monkeys in the troop know he is in charge.  Raja has three sisters who are the queens.  They are sassy, bossy and act like Cinderella’s stepsisters.  The queen’s act like they actually run the troop.  Next, there is grandpa.  Grandpa is so calm, and kind of lazy.  He likes to sit around and waits for everyone to bring him food.  It is amazing how monkeys are so much like people.  Socially, they have groups like lower and upper class, and everyone seem to know their roles.  It is so unfair how some of the monkeys are treated. It breaks my heart to see anyone or anything treat like that.

This movie is an outstanding film.  It made me happy, sad, angry and even touched my heart.  I also laughed and cried on some parts.  The directors appear to have a lot of patience because I can tell it took a long time to get so much footage of the monkeys.  The camera crew capture some awesome shots of the monkeys in trees and even underwater.  Tina Fey does a fantastic job narrating the film.  She brings loads of humor and the voices to the animals.  She even changes her voice on parts that are very sad and dangerous.

I really love nature movies.  Monkey Kingdom has become one of my favorites.  I also think it is amazing that Disney donates money to help our environment.  In the future, I want to help raise money to help our environment as well.  Animals are beautiful creatures and we should always help to keep them happy and safe.

The message in the movie is: no matter how bad things seem or how hard things get, never give up. I recommend this movie for ages 4 to 18 and even adults.  I rate the movie 5 out of 5 golden stars.

The Longest Ride
By Keefer C. B., KIDS FIRST! Critic, age 14

This heartfelt film takes two love stories and combines them into one. Luke (Scott Eastwood) and Sophia (Britt Robertson) are two people with different goals that stay connected after saving an old man, Ira (Alan Alda), from a car accident. Sophia visits Ira in the hospital and reads letters that reveal the history of love and challenge between him and his wife Ruth (Oona Chaplin).

The most investing and romantic tale is Ruth and Ira’s which starts in the 1940s. Their story is the highlight of the film. However, the film’s greatest aspect is it’s downfall. As I listen to Ruth and Ira’s tale, I’m captivated by their story and feel wrenched away from the lovers as I am brought back to Luke and Sophia touching story line. I understand the concept is used to connect the two similar love stories, that eventually intertwine. But, the film’s main focus is towards Luke and Sophia and I feel the real story is about Ruth and Ira.

Both stories have huge potential for being their own film. At times, it feels as if the film makers force these two stories together to make them work as a whole. I know this script is based on a popular book, by the same name, written by Nicholas Sparks. I also know that a book and a movie are two different things and are perceived in two different ways.

Every actor in this film puts on believable performances. The heart and tender romance between each couple is honest and loving.  I love a good romantic film and the couples in this movie are a lovely addition to the world of cinema.

My favorite scene is when Ira is given a simple portrait of his wife’s face. Ira and Ruth spent their life together collecting irreplaceable works of art, but this painting reminds him that the true work of art is the life they made together. This is one of the rare times that a film made me cry.

My favorite character is Ira (Alan Alda and Jack Huston). Both Jack and Alan’s  performances are outstanding. Jack, who plays the young version of Ira, shows the supportive loving husband. Alan, who plays the older Ira, starts out as a bitter old man but, as he shares his story with Sophia, he becomes more open. Both performances make for one great character.

There are many morals in this movie. The one that stands out to me is, “Focus on the things you have, rather than the things you don’t.” Ruth and Ira try everything to have children, but can’t. They’re distraught, but remember they have each other and that’s enough.

I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend this to 14 through 18-year-olds. There are sensual scenes and partial nudity in the film that are inappropriate for younger kids, but it’s a memorable film for couples ages teen through adult. There’s plenty of love and passion to makes this a another great romance film. This can be seen in theaters April 10th.

Women in Gold
By Willie Jones

Who would have known The Green Lantern and Queen Elizabeth would make such a touching pair? Of course I’m talking about characters that Ryan Reynolds and Helen Mirren have played. They have an unexpectedly heartwarming chemistry in Woman in Gold. 

Woman in Gold is about the quest of a lawyer named Randol and an heir named Maria who attempt to get back a painting that belongs to Maria. The painting is of Maria’s aunt, and was stolen by Nazis after they killed Maria’s family and Maria fled. 

I was completely invested. The story is enough to take my heart, for I can easily empathize. But then you have the performance of Helen Mirren to wrench your heart. Don’t get me wrong, Ryan Reynolds has one of the best scenes in the film and gives one of his finest performances ever (if not his best), but it is Helen Mirren that makes this movie. She’s gone from a French accent (The Hundred Foot Journey), to an Austrian accent for this film. In the past, her British accent hasn’t been too bad either … (yes, that was a joke).

The passion and vulnerability with which Dame Mirren plays Maria had me holding back tears. She’s so emotionally present, and emotionally versatile. She’ll make you laugh or cry or brim with anger, but she always delivers. 

The sentiment of the film must also be attributed to director Simon Curtis, who makes his directorial debut with this film. He is a very visual director, he likes to tell the story in imagery and pictures. Curtis has an amazing feel for timing. When to cut to a flashback, how long to keep the flashback, how to tie it in with the main plot, etc. 

The flashback scenes, by the way, are stunning. The sepia/golden cinematography is gorgeous to look at, and is very intelligent. It certainly adds an element of nostalgia that plays towards Maria, our eyes, and the emotion of the story.

Woman in Gold is a fantastic directorial debut for Simon Curtis. The film touches you deeper than you think it might, and the journey is one you won’t regret. For that reason, I give Woman in Gold 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for children 13 and up. It can be seen at a local theater near you. 

Furious 7
By Brandon C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Furious 7 is the seventh installment of the Fast and the Furious movie series. This movie is also the last movie to feature leading actor Paul Walker who died last year in a car crash. The movie pays homage to Paul at the end of the movie by having a montage of different clips from the original Fast and the Furious movies with Paul Walker, ultimately leading up to a final message at the end of the movie simply saying, “For Paul.”

Furious 7 is an action-packed fun movie with B+ actors all around. It is the perfect summer blockbuster that is released pre-summer. The movie revolves around Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) as he and his crew are hunted down by an angry Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Shaw is the brother of Owen Shaw from Fast and Furious 6, who was defeated by Dominic and his crew.

There is an enormous amount of talent in this movie from Dwayne Johnson playing Luke Hobbs, to Paul Walker playing Brian O’Connor, to Michelle Rodriguez playing Letty Ortiz. Another great thing about this movie is that there is no one location for the movie, as the movie takes place in Los Angeles, London and even in the Middle East.

The action is fantastic, as director James Wan and editor Christian Wagner have created something spectacular for the eyes. Also, the music is superb throughout the entire movie. Musical director Brian Tyler selects great music applicable to every scene and every action, which gives everything a great and awesome flow. I loved seeing Dwayne Johnson perform the Rock Bottom in one of his scenes against Jason Statham. Also, Ronda Rousey’s appearance is a personal highlight.

However, there are some big lowlights in Furious 7. The dialogue could use some improvement. The story gets stuck due to the dialogue and the actors seem to just throw out one-liners over and over again to fill up time. Also, the fights are too unrealistic. After every brutal fight, the characters have only small bumps and a little bit of blood on their faces, which is completely unrealistic.

Overall, this movie is intended for dudes. I recommend it for guys age 13 to 18 because of how it portrays women, includes lots of cars and lots of fighting

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