Archive for July, 2016

The Secret Life of Pets – Humor, Great Cast, Beautiful Animation and Original Story

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

TheSecretLifePets_1.jpgThe producers of Despicable Me, The Lorax and Minions bring us another family-friendly animated film in this story about a terrier named Max whose quiet life is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray mutt whom Max instantly dislikes. With vibrant animation and a great cast, this is one you can share with your entire family. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “What do you get when you combine a fantastic cast, beautiful animation, original story and hilarious jokes? You get this new animated masterpiece, The Secret Life of Pets.’ Mia A. adds, “I could not wait to see The Secret Life of Pets and I was not disappointed! I LOVED it! The Secret Life of Pets is an animated comedy that is both funny and sincere.” See their full reviews below.

The Secret Life of Pets

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

What do you get when you combine a fantastic cast, beautiful animation, original story and hilarious jokes? You get this new animated masterpiece, The Secret Life of Pets.

The Secret Life of Pets is predominantly a comedy however, there is much more to this story than nSecretPets.a.jpgicely delivered jokes. The film also dips into a cute romance story with a very strong main sense of adventure. Some action is involved to spice things up as well as some drama to keep the viewer at the edge of their seats and help see the relationship between the on-screen characters to their own pets.

The adventure begins when Max (Louis C.K), an ordinary house dog, gets a new doggy brother, Duke (Eric Stonestreet). The two don’t exactly become friends at first and when they end up at a park, they get separated and must go on a huge adventure where they meet many strange and interesting creatures as they journey back to their owner.
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This film is a rare case where there is truly nothing to complain about. The comedy appeals to all ages. In the audience, kids were laughing throughout the entire film and so were adults. The story is entertaining and never gets boring or drag on. And, it keeps creating new fun ways to entertain the viewers. I also enjoyed many small references to other films. The whole movie has a very relaxed feel, which is perfect.

The cast is legendary with Louis C.K, Kevin Hart (Snowball), Albert Brooks (Tiberius) and more – all making the characters truly come alive.  Visuals of downtown New York are stunning and greatly enjoyable. It is also worth mentioning that I greatly enjoyed theSecretPets.c_1.jpg classical soundtrack of the film which is very unexpected for an animated family comedy. But, it elevates the jokes in many places and spices things up without going overboard.

My favorite scene is when Duke and Max run into a sausage factory during their journey home. At the factory they, of course, eat many sausages and both overeat and imagine a heavenly sausage world. This goes back to the very relaxed feel of the whole film and the scene is completely random but seems to fit perfectly and made the audience laugh nonstop.

This film is meant for kids, but It appeals to adults too. I recommend it for ages 6 to 18. Some of the scarier animals may be a bit much for younger kids. I rank it 5 out of 5 because of its original idea, fantastic casting, new and funny characters, wonderful soundtrack and great sense of humor.

The Secret Life of Pets
By Mia A, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I could not wait to see The Secret Life of Pets and I was not disappointed! I LOVED it! The Secret Life of Pets is an animated comedy that is both funny and sincere. It is about a dog named Max (LouSecretPets.d.jpgis C.K.), his new brother Duke (Eric Stonestreet) and their friends.  Max doesn’t like Duke so he does things that he hopes will get him kicked out of the family home. One day Duke comes up with an idea that he hopes will get Max taken away. His idea backfires and causes Max and Duke to get caught and almost sent to the pound. Will Max and Duke get home? Will their friends find them and help them get home?

My favorite character is Gidget (Jenny Slate) who is a white little dog who likes Max. She is very sweet and kind, but when it comes to helping her friends, she will fight anyone. This is a funny trait of Gidget’s because she is a super sweet dog but she will fight to protect her loved ones.
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My favorite scene is when Duke and Max are in a wiener factory and there is a little song where the hot dogs come to life. Little kids might not like this scene because the singing hot dogs get eaten by Duke and Max and they eat the hot dog’s heads off.

Though there are many morals to this movie, the most important is “Do not judge someone before you get to know them.” Max doesn’t like Duke when he first comes, but later on he learns to appreciate him.

SecretPets.f.jpgThe Secret Life of Pets is a funny animated film about cute animals, but it may not appeal to younger audiences. There are some scenes that might be too scary for little kids.  Also, Max and Duke say this to save their lives but, be forewarned they do say “put their owner in the blender.”

I recommend The Secret Life of Pets for kids ages 5 to 15 due to the scary scenes. Older audiences may like this movie if they love animals and fun cartoons. I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars because it is entertaining and about my favorite subject…animals!

This movies opens nationwide July 8, 2016, go it in a theater near you.

The Legend of Tarzan – Returning to the Jungle to Help Save It

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Tarzan216209.jpgThis latest installation of the Tarzan mythology follows Tarzan who has acclimated to life in London and is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Harmony M. comments, “Alas, Tarzan lovers rise to the continuation of this legendary story, but take a seat because this film is disappointing.” See her full review below.

The Legend of Tarzan
Harmony Makhfi

Alas, Tarzan lovers rise up to the continuation of this legendary story, but take a seat because this film is disappointing. The film covers Tarzan’s life after he left Africa to live in England as John Clayton and returns to Africa to help his country. After a series of dangerous obstacles and captures, Tarzan fights to save his love Jane.

I found the film’s plot so confusing and disconnected that it was difficult to give a thorough tarzan.e.jpgsummary without looking it up. The film stars Alexander Skarsgard as Tarzan who, in the movie, is quite civilized, British and sophisticated despite the fact that he was raised by gorillas in the jungle. This disappointed me because it is one thing to make a bad movie but it’s even more disappointing when the film has a template to follow and doesn’t. In the original film, Jane is British but in this adaptation she is American. This really confused me because of its inconsistency with the original story. Another disappointing aspect is that the apes in this film were not his friends. They were his enemies. The back story of Tarzan is all about how he was raised by gorillas and how they are his family. I did not enjoy seeing Tarzan fighting the creatures that are supposed to be his family. tarzan.b.jpg

Looking past that inconsistency and hard-to-follow plot, on the positive side, the film has impressive visuals that make it quite entertaining. The characters are not ones you get attached to or gain a bond with and, me for that makes the movie lack the emotional connection it needs to really draw in the audience.

I feel as if the film doesn’t focus on appropriate things. It focuses a lot on business schemestarzan.g.jpgto get money rather than the emotional struggles and journeys in the jungle.

The film has little details and aspects that are alright, such as the casting, but I just did not find the movie compelling. I think it would interest people that like historical fiction and recommend it for tweens and teens. People between the ages of 30 to 60 would also enjoy it because of its complexity and historical background. I would not go out of my way to see this and rank it 2 out of 5 stars because I was so disappointed in it.

Independence Day: Resurgence: 20 Years of Evolution

Friday, July 1st, 2016

IndependenceDay.R.jpgWe always knew they were coming back. After Independence Day redefined the event movie genre, the next epic chapter delivers global spectacle on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “Twenty years ago one of the most epic action films was released – Independence Day. Now we finally got a sequel which I believe will again become one of the most exciting action films of the year.” See his full review below.

Independence Day: Resurgence
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Twenty years ago one of the most epic action films was released – Independence Day. Now we finally got a sequel which I believe will again become one of the most exciting action films of the year – Independence Day: Resurgence – with amazing acting, spectacular visuals and an original story.

As expected, Independence Day: Resurgence is an action film, but it goes into much more than that. This film has some romance, but it doesn’t go overboard. It just spices up the character development. The story also features a sense of adventure and, of course, a big element of sci-fi. ID.R.a.jpg

The story starts twenty years after aliens attacked Earth in 1996. On a moon base, they discover a very powerful and large ship that has the power to rip Earth in half. The human race must then stand up again to defeat the alien race. Even with the powerful technology that has been developed, the human race is threatened of extinction!

The is one disappointment, of course. This film does not have Will Smith, but it is explained why he is not there and many new characters are introduced in addition to the favorite original characters. The special effects are impressive and breathtaking. The detail on the ships maID.R.b.jpgkes you feel as if they really exist. I also greatly enjoyed the story. It is original and unexpected. The aerial CGI shots are spectacular and greatly add to the intensity of the whole experience. The soundtrack deserves special mention as it really makes your adrenaline pump and the audience feels as if the theater itself is shaking. Although there isn’t much comedy in the film, it is original and made the audience laugh in certain scenes.

My favorite scene is when the giant ship first attacks the moon base. The moon base has a powerful experimental laser that they quickly fire at the ship, but discover it does not do anything to the mother ship. What is also amazing is the size of the ship compared to the moon. That scene also introduces the aliens for the first time.
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The film is spectacular and not suited for all ages. It is rather intense and has quite a lot of gore. I recommend it for ages 11 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. This truly lives up to the glory of the first film with its beautiful special effects, original story, emotional acting and an unexpected ending. It is that rare case when the sequel is as good, if not better than the original. I applaud the creators and the director Roland Emmerich. This film opens nationwide on June 24 so go check it out.

CinemAbility – Portrayals of Disability Story Lines in Media

Friday, July 1st, 2016

cinemability_1024x442.jpgThis moving documentary examines the ever-changing portrayals of disability story lines in film, TV and the web to see if the media has had a hand in transforming the societal inclusion of people with disabilities. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “I love this film because it doesn’t just look at Hollywood as discriminating against handicapped people. Instead, it looks at movies and movements that have really pushed for equality and it also features handicapped actors who tell the viewer how Hollywood can make improvements.” See his full review below.

CinemAbility
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

There are many documentaries about the history of Hollywood, but none cover an important topic like this one this. CinemAbility shows the real history of handicapped actors in Hollywood and how many things need to be changed in the way they are treated.Cinemability.b.jpg

This is an educational documentary that will leave you inspired and interested. It also has some humor from actors who are interviewed and many older classic films. The film starts in the late 19th century showing the first handicapped people in films. It goes all the way up to recent films. Many actors talk about their opinions on the matter and what it is like being handicapped. The documentary shows you some films that heavily mock the handicapped as well as films that represent handicapped people very well.

I love this film because it doesn’t just look at Hollywood as discriminating against handicapped people. Instead, it looks at movies and movements that have really pushed for equality and it also features handicapped actors who tell the viewer how Hollywood can make improvements. Its 98 minuteCinemability.c.jpg length fits very well and keeps the viewer’s attention the whole time. The most inspirational point in this film is that it is directed by Jenni Gold, who is handicapped herself. She excels at showing that, no matter what people look like on the outside, they are first and foremost people on the inside with their own dreams and aspirations.

My favorite scene is when they talk about Ray Charles, a powerful musician who has been blind all his life. Ray, despite his disability, led a very productive life and became a very powerful and successful man. He proved that he is in charge of his life which is unique and interesting. Jamie Foxx also talks about what it was like to play Ray Charles and to be blind for twelve hours a day. It was inspirational and interesting to listen to him speak.

CinemAbility does have some mature topics, so I recommend it for ages 10 to 18 and give it 630_cinemability.jpg5 out of 5 stars for fantastic directing, entertaining elements, interesting and educational material and a unique concept. I have to mention that it took close to 10 years to complete this film and was mainly possible due to a partnership between the Geena Davis Institute on Gender Media and Gold Pictures, a company founded by Jenni Gold.

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