Archive for May, 2016

Alice Through the Looking Glass – A Magical Fantasy in the Tim Burton Tradition

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Alice.ThruLooking_1.jpgBased on the book by Lewis Carroll, Disney brings us Alice Through the Looking Glass directed by James Bobin and produced by Tim Burton. The story follows Alice who returns to the whimsical world of Wonderland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass is a magical fantasy adventure film in the great Tim Burton tradition.  It is also a refreshing, feminist take on the classic Lewis Carroll story.” See his full review below

Alice Through The Looking Glass
By Clayton Pickard, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass is a magical fantasy adventure film in the great Tim Burton tradition.  It is also a refreshing, feminist take on the classic Lewis Carroll story. This sequel to 2010’s blockbuster, Alice in Wonderland, again stars Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth (Queen of Hearts) and Anne Hathaway as Mirana. New to the cast is Sasha Baron Cohen as “Time.”


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In the real world of 18th century England, Alice Kingsleigh is a captain of an English merchant ship.  She is about to lose her commission when she re-enters Wonderland for the second time. She is given a warm welcome by all her old friends: the White Rabbit, TweedleDee and TweedleDum, the Cheshire Cat and Mirana. She learns that her best friend, The Mad Hatter, is depressed because he misses his parents and his siblings. She decides that the only way to help him is to find his family. They are presumed dead, but the Hatter doesn’t believe so. She then goes in search of the chronosphere, a time travel device located at Time’s castle. What follows is an epic journey in search of “The Hatter’s” parents.

Alice Through the Looking Glass is very creative and colorful. Tim Burton is one of the producers, so this is not surprising. The costumes and the makeup are top notch. The special effects are inventive, especially the sequence at Time’s castle. Time has an amazing castle, which is run by a group of creatures called “seconds,” which are made of nuts, bolts and gears. These “seconds” can combine to make even bigger creatures called “minutes.” These “minutes” can combine to make a enormous, alice.2.jpgtransformer-like creature called “hours.”

Clayton.jpgThere is a lot of smart wordplay based on the character Time. Think of all the puns having to do with time and they are all in the movie. Sasha Baron Cohen as Time steals the whole film. He is very funny, exciting and works well with this great ensemble cast. My favorite line of the film is when The Mad Hatter exclaims “dream or reality – who’s to say which is which.” This sums up the message of the movie and the magic in all Tim Burton movies.alice.5.jpg

Alice Through The Looking Glass is an enchanting adventure/fairy tale for the whole family. It is appropriate for ages 8 to 18. I rate this film 4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Another Astonishing Marvel Fantasy – X-Men: Apocalypse

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

xmen.a.jpgX-Men: Apocalypse comes out May 27 and, according to our reporters, is worth the wait. The storyline follows Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel’s X-Men universe who has amassed the powers of many other mutants, becomes immortal and invincible. Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto, to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Raven with the help of Professor X must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “There are so many eye candy moments and graphics that are truly some of best that I have ever seen. I need to watch this movie again just to catch them all. They are so amazing. Every minute is shock and awe.” See her full review below.

X-Men: Apocalypse
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Marvel has come out with another astonishing film, X-Men: Apocalypse. After the first five minutes of the movie, I wanted to yell, “Rewind it!” I want to see that again.

xmen.b.jpgThere are so many eye candy moments and graphics that are truly some of best that I have ever seen. I need to watch this movie again just to catch them all. They are so amazing. Every minute is shock and awe. The stunts are fabulous and make all the mutants’ super powers come to life.  Mind boggling graphics and mouth dropping stunts, now that is what I call a movie.

The story line starts in ancient Egypt when the first-ever mutant thinks he is a God because he possesses super strong powers. Apocalypse thinks he is the ruler of the world. He can transfer his conscience into other mutants and gain their powers, which enable him to live forever. He believes that the world that is ruled by the weak should be ruled by the strong. This is why he decides that he will start an apocalypse and the weak will die and the strong will live.  Apocalypse plans to rule the entire world.

My favorite character and scene is the moment when Quicksilver saves as many students as he can from death using his power of super-fast speed. I laughed during this scene because he ate pizza at the same time he was rescuing them.  And, of course, the slow motion graphics are stupendous.

My favorite character, because I am a girl and believe in girl power, has to be Jennifer Lawrence who plays Mystique. Her costume is awesomely cool. Her character is a strong, believable leader who stands by her principles. She also has my favorite super power, transforming herself into other people.xmen.c.jpg

On the other hand, I do love Even Peters who plays Quicksilver who is absolutely dreamy. I have a huge crush on this humorous, adorable, dreamy gamer. He is a snazzy dresser. Kudos to the custom designers and make-up artists who help bring his character credibility. Magneto is at his best when he is angry and we gain insight into just how deep his issues go. Ben Hardy as The Angel is simply stunning. I want his wings, both sets. They are simply amazing. In this film, we meet some new characters and an abundance of super powers, which makes you wonder which one would be right for you. There are guest appearances, which brought applause and cheers from the audience at my screening. Sorry, no spoilers. I can’t tell you more than that.

Morgan.SM.jpgThe story line answers many questions about the origin of the X-Men and how they became who they are. It answers many questions, which have arisen from previous X-Men movies.

I recommend this film for ages 10 to 18 because the story line is too complicated for younger audiences and there is a fair amount of scary violence. Oftentimes the characters are in great peril and danger. I rate this film give 5 out of 5 ever changing mutant stars.  It opens in theaters May 27 so, if you like action and adventure, comic-book based films, be sure to check it out.

Mack & Moxy: The Great Helpee Heroes – Fun and educational while teaching about humanitarian causes and beliefs.

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Mack.Moxy.jpgThis all new TV show/DVD features Mack, a lovable, moose-like lummox, and Moxy, a feisty whirlwind of a raccoon/fox go-getter, on four exciting adventures! Together with a helpful Trooper, Mack & Moxy set out to rescue another Great Helpee in a far off mystical place called HelpeeLand. Along the way, Mack & Moxy meet a new Friend in Need who ends up teaching us a new important cause. Guest celebrity, Josh Duhamel (Transformers, All My Children), helps the Heroes’ mission in support of Save the Children, providing quality preschool programs to underserved children around the world since 1932. In this DVD, Mack & Moxy introduce us to Save the Children, American Red Cross, Feeding America and World Wildlife Fund. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abigail Zoe L. comments, “I learned a lot about different ways to care for others, compassion, important causes and the joy of helping others. In short, I learned what it is to be a humanitarian.” See her full review below.

Mack & Moxy: The Great Helpee Heroes
By Abigail Zoe Lewis, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 8

The Mack & Moxy: The Great Helpee Heroes DVD is great! It is as entertaining as it is educational. I learned a lot about different ways to care for others, compassion, important causes and the joy of helping others. In short, I learned what it is to be a humanitarian.

This DVD features four different episodes from the new children’s TV show, Mack & Moxy. In each episode the main characters go to HelpeeLand to save a “Great Helpee” from evil Shelfish Sheldon. This greedy character wants to steal all the happiness in the world just for himself.mack.b.png

On their journey, they always meet a friend in need who introduces them to a new and important cause. For example, in “Feeding Rainbow” we learn about the charity organization, “Feeding America” that provides hunger-relief through food banks/pantries for those who can’t afford to purchase their own food. In the episode “Always be Prepared,” we learn the importance of Emergency Preparedness and about the American Red Cross organization. Basically, we learn  things about what to do in scary situations such as, if there is a fire, we should not grab a thing, “get low and go” and have a plan of action.

My favorite episode is a “Ty-Grrrr’s Tale” because it is about saving tigers and I love animals. We also learn about the World Wildlife Fund that helps raise awareness and money to help and protect animals.

I love that each episode has a special celebrity guest. My favorite actor on this DVD is, Josh Duhamack.a.pngmel who plays the Admirable in the episode, “Save The Children.” He reminds us the importance of early education. I really like Josh because he’s funny and entertaining.
The message of this DVD, like the show, is about inspiring children to become great humanitarians.

I actually had an opportunity to visit a live taping of the show and interview both the creator of the show, Brahm Wenger and Kelly McQuinn, the Co-Executive Producer. One of theAbigail.jpg things they shared was that the show teaches children in the language that they know. They explained that this is done with the show’s bright colored characters, fun music, songs, dance and awesome stories that teach humanitarian lessons. They also shared how excited they are to be part of America’s first kid’s TV show about causes.

I believe 3 to 8-year-olds will really like this DVD and TV show with its adventurous stories, fun music and lively characters. I give the show five out of five stars, or should I say humanitarian stars.  Finally, I hope that you too will find a cause from this DVD or in your own life that inspires you to become one of the next generation’s great humanitarians. This DVD is available in stores on May 24, 2016 so be sure to check it out.

If your kids loves dinosaurs, this is a must watch! Outstanding!

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

DinoDan_2.jpgIn this DVD collection we join junior dinosaur expert Trek Henderson as he imagines dinosaurs in the real world, especially baby dinosaurs. I enjoyed the way this DVD uses CGI of dinosaurs in the story. This show is truly entertaining and educational. It is very colorful and teaches a great deal about dinosaurs and how they live in their environment. We learn all about several species of dinosaurs – Edmontosaurus, Triceratops, Brachiosaurus and Spinosaurus. Trek teaches us about what they eat, how they care for their babies, how their foot prints give paleontologist information about how they lived and more. It is also quite entertaining in the way Trek’s imagination put the dinosaurs into the world now. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. commented, “I found this collection to be entertaining and educational. Each episodes features a different dinosaur and you get to see what a real one would look like and learn different traits about them.”

Dino Dan: Dino Babies, Trek’s Adventures
By Morgan B, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

There are a bunch of Dinosaur movies, TV shows and cartoons but it is rare to see real life like Dinosaurs. I found this collection to be entertaining and educational. Each episodes features a different dinosaur and you get to see what a real one would look like and learn different traits about them.

The dinosaurs are fascinating. Adult dinosaurs would be very expensive to feed and way too hard to keep confined so, they roam the neighborhood.  Ok, don’t worry, they are friendly.

dinodan.a.jpgTrek, the little boy whose these adventures are about, only keeps adorable baby dinosaurs in his back yard. His Mom tries to make sure to always have dino treats on hand so Trek can use the food to figure out different things about dinosaurs. Can they fly? Do they eat eggs? What is their favorite thing to eat? What do their foot prints look like?

Getting foot prints from a dinosaur takes a lot of hard work and “Dino Footprints” was my favorite episode. I watched the various ideas Trek used to get foot prints and found them very humorous. Hanna and her Dad help him look like a dinosaur that is a predator. The predator then gives chase and tricks the other dinosaurs into stepping into the clay and thereby, making a foot print.

My favorite character is Trek Henderson because he is hilarious. Trek is also kind, smart dinodan.b.jpgand curious. He has all the traits that everyone should have. I also love the fact that he cares about the different dinosaurs and their families. He has the cutest backpack that looks just like a dinosaur. This back pack will be on my birthday list this year. Trek is very creative.

When he doesn’t have Dino bait, he puts his head together and finds a way to make some. My favorite dinosaur is the baby Plesiosaur. Plesiosaur dinosaurs swim in cold water. This is another adorable baby dinosaur that is so cute and I wish I could have one as a pet. I already have a fish tank that she could live in. This dinosaur is also my favorite color – blue. It is just meant to be and I would name her Annalisa.

I recommend this DVD for ages 4 to 11.It is easy to watch although older kids might wdinodan.c.jpgant more factual content and drama to keep them interested. I give this 4.5 out of 5 Roaring Dino egg stars. This DVD collection of eight episodes is brought to you by N Circle Entertainment and is available in stores on May 3, 2016 so, go check it out.

Dino Dan: Dino Babies, Trek’s Adventures
Reviewed by Juanita S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Dino Dan: Dino Babies uses great story lines in each episode. I enjoyed the way each episode has a real life familiarity. For example “Switched at Nest” tells us how dinos care for not only their young but other species young. “Dino Tooth Fairy” examines the various species teeth. The vocabulary and material are very well suited for the intended age group and they do a great job explaining terms and answering why dinosaurs do the things they do. I enjoyed the introduction of each episode with a situation that causes Trek to work on the solution and, in the process, he uncovers information about dinosaurs that he shares with the audience.

We see many positive role models. Trek and his friends demonstrate a friendship and willingness to work together on their school project. They all recognize Trek’s expertise when it comes to Dinosaurs.

This is exceptionally well produced. It has excellent options on the menu that are easy to use, allowing you to view all episodes or select a specific chapter.

I definitely give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12.

Angry Birds – A Laugh Out Loud Kind Of Movie

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

AngryBirds.jpgLoosely based on the hugely popular app which has had billions of downloads, this film holds its own. In the 3D animated comedy, The Angry Birds Movie, we finally find out why the birds are so angry. The movie takes us to an island populated entirely by happy, flightless birds – or almost entirely. In this paradise, Red, a bird with a temper problem, speedy Chuck and the volatile Bomb have always been outsiders. But when the island is visited by mysterious green piggies, it’s up to these unlikely outcasts to figure out what the pigs are up to. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mia A. comments, “I absolutely loved this family friendly cartoon because it made me laugh out loud! The animation in this movie is exquisite. It is so detailed that you can clearly see all the feathers on the birds and tiny waves of the ocean.” See her full review below.

The Angry Birds Movie
By Mia A, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I absolutely loved this family friendly cartoon because it made me laugh out loud! The animation in this movie is exquisite. It is so detailed that you can clearly see all the feathers on the birds and tiny waves of the ocean. When they show scenes of the town you can see the patch work on the houses and the real looking scenery. Each character is unique because the creative animation matches their personalities.

angry.a.jpgThis movie is about, Red (Jason Sudeikis), a red bird who never fit in and has anger issues. One day, he has to go to an anger management class and meets the birds Bomb, Matilda, Chuck and Terence, and they all become friends.

Then, pigs come to the island on an unexpected visit. They have parties with the birds and they give the birds weird gifts like trampolines and motorcycles and generally cause havoc in the town. A horrible turn of events happens and Red and all of the other birds need to save the day.

My favorite scene is when Red attends anger management class. Matilda, the instructor talks with all the birds about their issues. They participate in many funny exercises such as poetry writing and yoga. This is a funny scene. Red has the wrong attitude and is definitely negative and Matilda the instructor demonstrates some anger issues too.

My favorite character is Terence (Sean Penn), a giant red and black bird who doesn’t really talk as much as he grunts. His facial expressions are particularly funny. Terence gets a lot of laughs from the audience and appears to be a crowd favorite.

The Angry Birds Movie is definitely a comedy. Almost every scene, even the sad ones, have  funny lines. There is some humor that would make sense to older kids and adults but noangry.b.jpgt little kids. There are some parts that some adults might not feel comfortable with some of the content. For example, when the pigs slap their butts and joke about reproducing.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars because of the humor and recommend it for ages 4 to 18. It is a fun and silly animated movie about angry birds. Who doesn’t love angry birds? If you like the game Angry Birds or just want to have a good laugh, then The Angry Birds Movie is the movie for you. It opens in theaters nationwide May 20, 2016 so, go check it out.

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