Archive for May, 2015

San Andreas – Terrifying and Realistic

Friday, May 29th, 2015

SanAndreas.jpgIn the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his estranged daughter. Starring Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson, Carla Gugino, and Alexandra Daddario, this film addresses what might just happen should the big one hit California. To the credit of the marketing people for this film, they adjusted their promos to include information about how to prepare for natural disasters after the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal drove home the importance of doing just that.  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Will S. comments, “…in this film the interplay between the action scenes and the family scenes keep you emotionally involved.” See his full review below.

San Andreas
By Will S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I like this movie a lot. It is a good disaster film. San Andreas is directed by Brad Peyton and stars Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino and Paul Giamatti. While this movie is well done, it doesn’t quite compare with movies by the disaster movie king, Roland Emmerich. After seeing one of Brad Peyton’s other movies, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, I had my doubts, but he does a pretty good job here.

There are three reasons why I enjoyed this film so much. First, are the special effects. Special effects in a disaster movie can make or break it. In this film, the CGI is eye-popping. At certain moments, it feels like there is a little too much going on all at once. But at the same time, it makes you feel as if you are in an earthquake, which probably feels pretty overwhelming.

The second reason I like this film is the acting. The acting is pretty strong for a disaster movie.  Sometimes in disaster movies, it’s all about stunts and action sequences. In this film, the acting makes you feel invested in the characters and you are really rooting for them.

The last reason I like this film is the story. Though corny at times, when adding humor or romance into the big earthquake scenes, the interplay between the action scenes and the family scenes keeps you emotionally involved.

There is a bit of a downside. The dialogue, characters and the some of the story are very predictable and filled with clichés. While some of the lines are clever, they often seem out of place. There are lots of pretty standard panic, action lines such as “Run,” “Hold on,” and similar. The main characters are well fleshed out, though some of the cast seems like simple stereotypes representing selfishness and greed.

They spend a lot of time showing the destruction of the earth quake and less on the aftermath of the quake, such as having the main heroes trying to survive riots, gas leaks, crumbling buildings, etc. With all the devastation, it is a bit dull seeing the Golden Gate Bridge collapse for the 1000th time in a disaster flick.

It is humorous that scientific accuracy is thrown out the window. For example, they say the earthquake is a 9.1 but, according to what I’ve read, that magnitude cannot happen on the San Andreas fault.

I give San Andreas 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. If you like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Paul Giamatti and disaster movies, you’ll like this one.

Tomorrowland
By Clayton P. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Disney’s Tomorrowland is a most imaginative, elaborate adventure with a lot of heart.  The idea of the movie is fresh and unique.  Every dollar of the $190 million budget is put to use and is seen on the big screen. Directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles), Tomorrowland stars George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie and Raffey Cassidy.
The movie starts with the history of the two main characters, Frank Walker (George Clooney) and Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), and how they were recruited to visit Tomorrowland. Frank is a young inventor (played by the young actor, Thomas Robinson) who enters a contest at the 1964 World’s Fair with a “jet pack” that he assembles out of an Electrolux vacuum.  While he doesn’t win, he does meet a charming girl, Athena (Raffey Cassidy) who helps him get to the land of the future: Tomorrowland.  She gives him a special, temporary teleportation pin that allows him to be in the real world but also be in Tomorrowland at the same time.  It’s a space-time continuum trinket.  Twenty-five years later, Casey Newton, a teenager with a scientific-based mindset, is arrested for sabotaging a NASA launch pad.  When she collects her belongings after her Dad posts bail, a pin is among her things. She picks it up and is surprised when she is teleported to another dimension. She also meets Athena, who guards her on her journey to meet Frank. Athena has recruited Frank and Casey to fix the future of Earth using the technology of Tomorrowland.  Frank and Casey are chosen because of their scientific know-how as well as their optimistic, dreamer outlook on life. The rest of the movie is a miraculous, heart-pounding adventure with robotically engineered characters, great locations and lots of laser weapons and futuristic grenades.

The creativity of Tomorrowland is extraordinary.  The film is vibrant and bright.  The music, art direction and set design are amazing.  A lot of time, money and craft went into making this movie.  Also, there is a lot of humor in the film.  Like Brad Bird’s first wonderful film, The Iron Giant, Tomorrowland has a lot of heart. There is a lot of love put into this film and the message of the movie has a lot of love as well – love for human ingenuity, love for individual uniqueness and especially love for the Earth.   My favorite part of the movie is when the robotic agents try to terminate Frank and Casey at Frank’s house.  Frank’s creative, dangerous, extravagant security system saved their lives. A funny part of the film is the facial expressions of the leader of the robotic agents.  His smile is so creepy, funny and plastic at the same time.

I give Tomorrowland 5 out of 5 stars.  It is rated PG and, is appropriate for kids from age 6 to 18.

Pitch Perfect 2
By  Lainey A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I love this film because it is very funny and made me laugh constantly throughout the whole movie.  Pitch Perfect 2 employs enjoyable aspects from the original Pitch Perfect such as phenomenal music and amazing costumes, wicked humor, the commentators Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins) who are quite funny and the beautiful Beca (Anna Kendrick).

It is a bit racist in how it shows the three girls. Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) is an Asian who is more like a cartoon character than having any real personality.  Cynthia-Rose (Ester Dean) is a gay African American and Flo (Chrissie Fit) plays a South American.

This movie is about seven girls, soon to be eight, who make up the Bellas, an acapella group from Barden University.  They are known for their singing and dancing.  When they are performing in front of President and Mrs. Obama, Fat Amy has an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction. After much ridicule from the press, the group is suspended and is unable to compete or recruit any new members.  They are devastated and intent on winning the Acapella World Championship in Copenhagen in order to regain their competitive status. They have to compete against the German group, DSM (Das Sound Machine) which is definitely their biggest competitor.  The Bellas are joined by a new member, Emily (Hailee Steinfield), whose mom (Katy Sagal) was a previous member of the group.

Pitch Perfect 2 is directed and produced by Elizabeth Banks. The screenplay is very well thought out and the plot is easy to follow. It has several subplots that help keep the action moving.  The actors are hilarious in this repeat performance.  Rebel Wilson really stands out as Fat Amy because she is completely over the top and steals every scene she is in.  There are lots of cameo appearances which keeps the viewer looking for familiar faces.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and strongly recommend it for ages 13 to 18 years old, due to some crude humor and sexual innuendos.

Maya the Bee Movie
By Kayla P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Maya the Bee Movie is a cute and funny movie! It’s about a young little bee named Maya who is very curious and eager to learn about the beehive. As Maya explores the beehive without permission, she asks a bunch of questions. Maya quickly learns that she is completely different from the other bees. She repeatedly finds herself in trouble by Buzzlena, the queen’s assistant. As a result, Maya gets banned from the hive. Her friend Willie does not want Maya to be alone, so he leaves the hive and follows her. As Maya and Willie are out in the meadows, they learn that hornets and the other bugs and insects are not as bad as they have been told. While Maya has been banned from the beehive because of her curiosity, Buzzleana devises a plan to harm the Queen so that she can take control of the bees and the hive.

There are several different messages in this movie. The one that stands out the most to me is, “dare to be different.” In this movie, the bees have to follow specific rules, specific directions and they must do as they are told. Maya is different and she is told that she does not belong in the beehive. She works hard to find her place among the bees. She learns that she is an important bee in the kingdom and that her voice is important.

My favorite part is when Willie is mad at Maya and decides to fly back to the beehive. Willie is scared of everything. But, when a frog sticks out his tongue to try to capture Willie for dinner, Willie hits the frog’s tongue and flies away without looking back. That’s pretty impressive for a fearful bee.

My favorite character is Willie. Willie is a very loyal and a true friend. He supports Maya and helps her when she’s down and he’s not afraid to tell her when she’s not right. Willie is also very funny.

Maya and the Bee Movie is a wonderful movie! It has great messages for kids! I recommend this movie for boys and girls ages 5 to 10. I give this movie 3 out of 5 shinning stars!

Maya The Bee Review
By Adam C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

If you enjoy comedy mixed with great animation, then you will love Maya the Bee Movie. Maya is unlike other young bees her age. Instead of following orders, Maya has a mind of her own. For example, instead of staying within the safety of the beehive, Maya decides to go off on her own to visit the surrounding meadow wish she became friends with Flip the grasshopper. At some point, Maya’s curiosity led to her finding out that the Royal Adviser to the Queen Bee had stolen the Royal jelly saved especially for the Queen Bee which leads to the Royal Adviser’s kicking Maya out of the beehive. At this point, Maya has to survive on her own in the meadow and is soon joined by her close friend Willy who fears for her safety and cannot let Maya be by herself in the mysterious meadow. Together, the two bees become friendly with a variety of other insects and other creatures. Eventually, Maya and Willie learn that the Royal Adviser has stolen the Queen’s royal jelly because she was seeking to make war with the hornets. By the end of the movie, Maya, Willy, and their other young hornet friend Buzzy stop the Royal Adviser’s evil plans and, after recapturing the royal jelly, bring it back to the Queen who then makes a complete recovery. For her efforts, Maya is appointed as the Hive Ambassador by the Queen Bee and she and Willy are made responsible for observing the meadow and reporting new friends that arrive.

My favorite character in the movie is Maya (Coco Jack Gillies). Maya is easy to relate to for me because she is very much a free spirit, unable to sit still, who always wants to be in on the action. I also enjoyed hearing from Flip the grasshopper. Flip is always able to provide Maya with excellent advice such as telling her to always “bee positive.” The scenery is also colorful and beautiful and will be enjoyed by everyone.

My favorite part of the movie is when Maya and Willy are together out in the meadow attending the Jitterbug Hollow Musical Festival. There, they hear different insects  playing a large number of musical instruments while Flip the grasshopper sings “It Don’t Matter What They Say, Be Yourself Every Day.”

This film has many positive messages that apply to younger audiences. For me, the most powerful message of the movie s that a person should be himself and does not need to follow in the footsteps of others. The movie also show the strong bonds of loyalty between Maya and Willy who have to work together in order to stop the Royal Advisers’ plans. I also enjoyed the lesson that young people can make a huge difference in this world. In the movie, many grown-up bees and grown-up hornets are prepared to fight to see who would gain control of the meadow. In the end, it is too young bees and one young hornet who save everybody from being destroyed. I give Maya the Bee Movie 5 out of 5 stars. It is a great family movie. I recommend it for ages 4 to 10. I’m 9 and I enjoyed watching this movie and very much. I appreciated its excellent messages and wonderful music.

Maya the Bee Movie is in theaters now available on DVD on May 18. It is well worth the cost of buying it for a fun-filled night of family entertainment.

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