Archive for June, 2016

Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures – Great Way to Learn New Language Skills

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Kiwi.PhonicAdv.jpgIn this collection of twenty episodes, Twiki and Twini take the viewer on adventures to discover new words and new sounds. Each episode features a handful of words spelled out by the Kiwi birds Twiki and Twini.  Your little one will learn how to spell fun words such as “clown” and animal words like “dog”. Get ready to enter into an unexpected universe comprised of sounds, words and images. Filmed in HD Stop Motion Animation. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “The claymation is very lush and colorful and stands out in this quirky series. The animation brings the kiwi birds to life and, even though they never talk, you understand their personalities and relationship. I really like watching the two buddies, the short, round and sometimes grumpy Twiki and his tall cheery yellow sidekick, the clumsy, easygoing Twini. Additional fun side characters throughout the series keep the stories lively.” KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror Juanita S. adds, “Great way to learn new language skills! Each story is simple and to the point. Twiki and Twini present the concepts, sounds and spelling in entertaining ways.  Each story introduces new words and can be viewed independently.” See their full reviews below.

Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures is a fun, educational, colorful and well-animated series on DVD that does a good job of teaching young children about phonics and word building.

Kids can learn phonics along with Kiwi birds, Twiki and Twini, as they go on adventures including making a movie and trying to find a magic compass. My favorite episode in this volume, the latest in the Kiwi series, is The Little Robot. Twiki and Twini meet a blue robot in desperate need of energy and they have to go to the moon to find moon rocks to power him.

Another episode I enjoyed is The Magic Compass. The Kiwis find a magic compass that can change the seasons but a mischievous skunk steals it and Twiki and Twini need to find it so they can change the season back.

Each short episode of Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures teaches a few words revolving around a specific topic. For instance, one episode centers on housecleaning and another on art. The narrators spell and sound out the words used in each episode and review all of them at the end. Every episode is very playful and bright and the words stay in your mind because they use shapes and objects from the episode’s theme to spell out the words on your screen and make it more memorable.

Benjamin.jpgThe claymation is very lush and colorful and stands out in this quirky series. The animation brings the kiwi birds to life and, even though they never talk, you understand their personalities and relationship. I really like watching the two buddies, the short, round and sometimes grumpy Twiki and his tall cheery yellow sidekick, the clumsy, easygoing Twini. Additional fun side characters throughout the series keep the stories lively.

Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures was originally a French series and it’s fun to spot clues from European culture in the animation in some of the episodes. For example, when showing you how to spell coin, they use European money to make the letter “o.”

Kids will have a great time learning about phonics with Twiki and Twini. I give Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures an age rating of 3 to 6 or for anyone trying to learn to read and rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

Kiwi: 20 Phonics Adventures
By Juanita S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Juanita.jpgGreat way to learn new language skills! This series features 20 stories following Twiki and Twini, the colorful, claymation Kiwi bird characters who help young children develop language skills using phonics. Each story is simple and to the point. Twiki and Twini present the concepts, sounds and spelling in entertaining ways.  Each story introduces new words and can be viewed independently. Each story has a theme with related sounds and words. The menu allows you to select a particular story or view them all. Children 2 to 6 years old will enjoy watching this series and their parents can easily enjoy watching it with the children.

If you like crazy ducks, silly henchmen and a love story, this will quack you up

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

quackerz.jpgProduced by the Russian animation studio Rome, Quackerz is a comical, animated story about the Chinese legend of the Sun Duck who protects the sun. A conflict flares up between the local Mandarin Ducks and the Military Mallards, who land on the Chinese island, mistaking it for Hawaii. While the fathers fight and argue, Longway, the emperor’s son, and Erica, the commander’s daughter, meet and become friends. The kids must ally all the ducks to battle their foe, the daunting Ms. Knout, who seeks to destroy the Sun. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “This comical, adventures and fun movie is perfect for the whole family. The story is about Mallard military ducks vs. Mandarin ducks. I like the way it all plays out with all the different story lines, characters and all the jokes.” Brianna B. adds, “The visuals of this film are very clear and captivating with bright colors and depth. The many different outfits and accessories worn by the animals as well as the humans are exciting and fun. These are not your normal hats, gloves, scarves and belts.” See their full reviews below.

Quackerz
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Do you like crazy ducks, silly henchmen and a love story? Then, Quackers is just ducky for you. This comical, adventures and fun movie is perfect for the whole family. The story is about Mallard military ducks vs. Mandarin ducks. I like the way it all plays out with all the different story lines, characters and all the jokes.

The characters in this film are very detailed. They all have different, wonderful voices, which I enjoyed dearly. Robbie Daymond who plays Longway is spectacular. He fits the teenage duck and you can hear the frustration he feels as his desire is to spread his wings and see the world. Andrea Becker who plays Erica is magnificent.quackerz.a.jpg She connects with Longway and the two ducks are destined to be together. Enn Reitel who voices Peng Li is hysterical. It is sweet of him to be so protective of his son. Mallard Commander is tough, but he has a soft side and loves his daughter dearly. You can tell that he wants the best for Erica. The story is really about how far fathers will go to protect their children. The voice-over actors are simply amazing and they all have peculiarities that fit their characters and make them sound unique.

The animation in this film is amazing. I love that it is so detailed. I like the way they show the town where people live as well as the mountains the ducks call home. All of the cooking scenes with the henchmen have astoquackerz.c.jpgnishing details.

I loved the scene when Longway and Erica are flying and having such a good time. I am also a huge fan of romance. The ducks chewing gum and blowing pink bubbles in the air makes your heart go pitter patter and puts a smile on your face. You can just tell that these two are definitely love birds. The animation in this scene is very detailed. I am a tad bit jealous that she got a gorgeous blue firefly bouquet. It is so amazing.

I have a lot in common with Erica and can relate to her. She has girl power which makes her unique and fun. Erica is goodhearted, curious, adorable, smart and a tough cookie when needed. Those are just some quackerz.e.jpgof the qualities that I like about this awesome ducky.

This movie reminds me of Kung Fu Panda which also takes place in China, has talking animals and features the martial art of Kung Fu. Then, there is Romeo and Juliet’s feathered fathers who  keep the star-crossed duckies apart. It also reminded me of Rio because the Mandarin ducks cannot fly. This combination of movies put into one, has a slice of cake for everyone and I love that.

I recommend for ages 10 to 18. It is certainly family friendly. So, get a box of crackers and have a family adventure of your own. Be forewarned that there is some violence and the evil Ms. Knout could use a tad more feathers. I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 quacking flapping stars! Brought to you by Shout Factory, it is available on DVD and Digital Platforms July 14, 2016.

Quackerz
Brianna Hope B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

This animation has bright colors, clear visuals, great music and a story line that I’m sure you will find interesting.  A young Duck Longway (Robbie Daymond-Voice) is completely bored with his uneventful life on an island off the coast of China. His life turns around when a fight breaks out against the Mandarin Ducks and the Military Mallards. Soon after that a war breaks out against the Duck and human race. To top it all off, to keep the Sun in the sky to quackerz.d.jpgshine for everyone, one Duck must step up to the challenge. Will he succeed?

The visuals of this film are very clear and captivating with bright colors and depth. The many different outfits and accessories worn by the animals as well as the humans are exciting and fun. These are not your normal hats, gloves, scarves and belts.  Some of the belts are made of metal and the hats are very different from what you and I are accustomed to seeing. This film, for the most part, accurately displays the feelings and situations that tweens and teenagers feel and go through. I find many different aspects of a few characters to be very relatable. The flow to this film isn’t as smooth as I would like it to be. Also, many of the actions feel as though they are being thrown in haphazardly with no real meaning. The music is upbeat with catchy tunes and it connects you to each scene. One of my favorite scenes is when Longway learns to fly. It represents the freedom of flying and not being tied down to anyone or anything. It’s a great scene that shows individuality aquackerz.b.jpgnd captures what Longway wants from life. I really do not have a favorite character since no single character stands out to me as they are all basically pretty similar. There are a few comedic moments throughout the film, however not a lot.

I recommend Quackerz for ages 6 to 12. It’s for both girls and boys and I’m sure they will enjoy the special features including behind the scenes footage.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars. I would have like to see smoother transitions and actions that made sense in the sequences they are played in. Other than that, it’s a good film and I’m sure younger kids will enjoy it.  Quackerz is available on DVD and Blu-Ray, so please check it out.

They’re mean, green, creepy and they have magic – Powerful Magic!

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Warcraft_1.jpgIf you have played the videogame Warcraft, you’ll love this film. The storyline show the peaceful realm of Azeroth standing on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people and their home. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “Warcraft is stupendous and an adventure to remember. Wizards, kings, armies, exotic animals and orcs are all packed into great movie.” See her full review below.

Warcraft
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

They’re mean, green, creepy and they have magic – the most powerful magic in the world on their side. The orcs and Warcraft are coming and they are here to stay! Warcraft is stupendous and an adventure to remember. Wizards, kings, armies, exotic animals and orcs are all packed into great movie.

They have tusks and wear human skulls. The gigantic green, scary orcs made me cry and carwarcraft.1.jpge about their future existence. UGH!  Before this movie, I always found them to be distasteful and wished for their existence to cease. Now I am rethinking my thoughts and scurrying to think of a way for us all to co-exist.

Epic battle scenes, a heartfelt storyline and A+ graphics make this a must-see movie for the summer.   IMAX is the way to go. Two orcs, one on the left and one on the right and you are in the middle of them looking down upon an orc encampment.  The scenes when you are looking over their shoulders and seeing what they see as well as getting grewarcraft.5.jpgat over-the-shoulder scenes are what make this movie fantastic. The graphics are top notch and make you feel like you are part of the movie. While soaring on a griffin through the air or battling a huge white wolf you will forget everything and become a part of this film.

I am a gamer but I have never played Warcraft. There are some parts that could have used more of a back story. I found the wizards to be a bit confusing and would have liked to know their origin and had a better understanding of their powers. This seems to be the new normal, start in the middle of a story, make a movie and then have more movies to explain the beginning. This is a set-up for a franchise which I would enjoy following.

There are not many female characters in this movie and any that follow should definitely add more girl power. That being said, I found Paula Patton’s performance as Garona top-notch. She is a half human and half orc. I admire her strength, intelligence and quest to do the right thing. She is torn between two races and sees the good and evil in both.
Khadgar is wizard in training and his “can do, never give up” attitude is an inspiration to all humans. Ben Schnetzer is adorable and a great apprentice. I am glad he is on the side of the humwarcraft.6.jpgans.

The acting on the part of the humans is believable. Even though you want them to win, you also feel a strange connection to the orcs. Ages 11 to 18 will enjoy this film if they are into fantasy and adventure. The orcs are scary and will most likely frighten younger children. There are violence battles scenes which are epic but not suitable for younger audiences. I give this film 5 our of 5 green orc magic stars.  Brought to you by Blizzard Entertainment, it opens June 10.

Zootopia – Welcome to the Urban Jungle! Now Available on DVD/Blu-ray/Digital HD

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Zootopia.jpgFrom our friends at Walt Disney Animation comes Zootopia, the story about a city of anthropomorphic animals where a fugitive con artist fox and a rookie bunny cop must work together to uncover a conspiracy. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mia A. comments, “I thoroughly enjoyed Disney’s Zootopia because the animation took me into a beautiful world just like ours, but completely filled with animals.” Tre’ana H. chimes in with, “I really adored this film because it is very different from any ordinary film. The characters belong to the zoo animals’ collection. It is hilarious because all the animals act like humans and engage in everyday, normal conversations like we do.” See their full reviews below.

Zootopia
By Mia A, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I thoroughly enjoyed Disney’s Zootopia because the animation took me into a beautiful world just like ours, but completely filled with animals.

Zootopia is about a bunny named Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) who grew up on a carrot farm.  Judy always wanted to be a cop when she grew up even though she is a bunny and bunnies do not become policemen.  She goes to police training and then becomes a cop in Zootopia.

Zootopia is a land where all different types of animals, prey and predators, live together in peace.  When Judy gets to Zootopia she is not taken seriously as a Bunny Cop, so Judy has to finish a case in 48 hours or else she resign.  She teams up with a fox named Nick (Jason Bateman) to help figure out the case.  Will she get taken seriously as a cop and finish the case? You’ll have to watch it to find out.

My favorite character in Zootopia is Nick, a clever, funny and mischievous fox.  Nick got lots of laughs from the audience and I learned to care about him after his back story was revealed.Zootopia.a.jpg

My favorite scene is with the sloths.  Judy and Nick go to check a license plate and all the workers at the DMV are sloths.  The main sloth named Flash (Raymond S. Persi) says everything slowly. Judy is in a big rush and to make the process even slower, Nick tells Flash a joke.  This is one of the funniest scenes that got lots of laughs from the audience.

The film’s animation is incredible. It’s filled with lots of color and creative, minute details.  In one scene, Judy travels through the different zones of Zootopia and, in the rainforest zone, it starts raining and the rain hits the train.  This scene is filled with detailed zootopia.c.jpgcolors and light.

Zootopia is a mystery movie, but it is also a comedy.  The mystery part of this movie could be scary to little kids because there are dark scenes with intense action and it shows some animals going savage.

There are a couple scenes with nude animals.  This isn’t that bad because it only shows animals without clothes on.  It is funny though because the animals freak out even though, in real life, animals are always “nude”.

I rate this movie a 4.5 out of 5 stars because there are some scenes little kids might find scary but everything has a reason even if it doesn’t seem important at the time.  Since this is a Disney movie, some parents might think it is good for all ages. But, I recommend it for kids age 6 to 15 because of the fear factor. If your kids like mysteries and dark scenes then, that won’t be a problem. Disney’s Zootopia is now available on DVD/Blu-ray/HD Digital so check it out.
Mia’s interview with Animation Supervisor Kira Lehtomaki follows.

Zootopia
By Tre’ana H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

zootopia.b.jpgI really adored this film because it is very different from any ordinary film. The characters belong to the zoo animals’ collection. It is hilarious because all the animals act like humans and engage in everyday, normal conversations like we do. Directors, Byron Howard and Rich Moore have delivered a creative and amazing story filled with imagination.

In the city of Zootopia the animals live a diversified life. They all get along with each other until a plague hits some of the animals and they start to be aggressive with each other. A fugitive con artist / fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) and a rookie bunny cop named Judy Hoops, (Ginnifer Godwin) work together to uncover the conspiracy that is taking over their city. You will not believe the deception that is taking place.

My most memorable scene is when the bunny first goes to Zootopia. I liked this part best because, when she is on the train, you see the entire city of Zootopia. It made me feel like I was part of the scene touring Zootopia with Judy. This section of the filmzootopia.d.jpg shows each part of the city and reveals all the different scenery in each section. This is the coolest scene and is so beautifully detailed.

The setting of this story made me feel like I wanted to be a part of this world of Zootopia. The colors are very bright and it looks like an amusement park with plenty of animals.

The moral message of this film is that you should never let anyone bring you down or stop you from being the person you want to be. People may try to break you down, but you can’t let them.  You can be whatever you want to be in this world of freedom.

I recommend Zootopia for ages 6 to 18 and I give it 5 out of 5 Stars because it is child friendly, hilarious, exciting and everyone will enjoy it. Disney’s Zootopia is now available on DVD/Blu-ray/HD Digital so check it out.

Video editing by Miles DeVesty

Funny, Creative, Gender-Friendly and Visually Adorable: Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Miraculous.Lady.jpgMiraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir is a French CGI action/adventure animated series produced by Zagtoon and Method Animation. The series features two Parisian teenagers, Marinette Dupain-Cheng and Adrien Agreste, who transform into the superheroes Ladybug and Cat Noir, respectively, to protect the city from super villains. Set in modern-day Paris, the series focuses on teenage Marinette Dupain-Cheng and her classmate and crush Adrien Agreste. When evil arises, Marinette transforms into her secret superhero persona Ladybug, while Adrien transforms into his superhero persona Cat Noir, using powerful objects known as the Miraculous. Oblivious to each others’ true identities, the two work together to protect Paris from the mysterious villain Hawk Moth, who covets and attempts to steal their powers by using his akuma, butterflies infused with black energy, to influence and transform everyday citizens into supervillains.

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir

By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 11

What do a Ladybug, black cat and a hawk moth all have in common?  This new French cartoon is creative, funny, gender-friendly and visually adorable. I enjoyed it so much that I watched all seven episodes back to back. Each episode has a new villain and a creative story line. You will be totally entertained trying to guess what the new character is and what it will look like.


Cristina Valenzuela is the voice of a regular teenager Marinette Dupain. She has a ladybug in an earring and, when things miraculous.d.jpggo wrong and evil appears, she uses her ladybug Tikki to change into a half human and half ladybug. This new super hero, my favorite character, is adorable. Everyone loves ladybugs. Black and red might be my new favorite colors. She encompasses the virtues of saving people, helping people and compassion. As a ladybug, she is allowed one lucky charm which gives her one gadget. Then she sees in red and black which zeroes in on the different things she needs to do with the gadget to defeat the villains.

Cat Noir has super powers with the help of a ring that change him into a black cat that is Ladybug’s side kick. Of course, there a few crushes going on. Our superheroes have great best friends that help them in real life. After all, they are both shy until they become Ladybug and Cat Noir.
miraculous.c.jpg
These two teenagers are believable, every day teens. I found this endearing since it makes them both easily relatable. The other characters are regular teens that all have issues such as jealousy, unfair treatment, anger and things we all go through. Then there is a super villain named Hawk Moth who covets and attempts to steal their powers by using his akuma, butterflies infused with black energy, to influence and transform everyday citizens into supervillains. There are a lot of messages in this film which help everyone to see how easy it is to get upset but, once you chill and think about it, it will all work out.

Time breaker is my favorite episode because this supervillain can turn back time which would be handy. We are humans and make mistakes and it would be a great to get a redo and fix them.

I found the dialogue to be realistic and amusing. It is quick witted and yet has a few clichés miraculous.a.jpgwhich will have you laughing. There is a touch of anime in the graphics and writing.  The CG animation is crisp and all the scenes pop. If it was not a cartoon, you could easily see how this could be a real world. It found it enjoyable to watch.

Ladybug and Cat Nori are high school students, but I think that younger people would love watching this so I recommend it for ages 6 to 15. Super heroes, lady bugs, cats and villains appeal to a broad range of people. There are many anime fans who would love viewing this to.  I give this series 5 out of 5 Tikki spots on! Tahdah! Ladybug stars. This DVD collection of seven episodes is brought to you by Shout! Factory and is in stores now.

Kid movie news & Free DVDs:
Join KIDS FIRST! on Twitter Join KIDS FIRST! on Twitter Join KIDS FIRST! on Pinterest Join KIDS FIRST! on Facebook
Loading Search...