Archive for January, 2017

A Monster Calls – Stunning Film Adapted from the Award-Winning Novel

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

MonsterCalls.poster.jpg12-year-old Conor, dealing with his mother’s illness, a less-than-sympathetic grandmother, and bullying classmates, finds a most unlikely ally when a Monster appears at his bedroom window. Ancient, wild, and relentless, the Monster guides Conor on a journey of courage, faith and truth. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jolleen M. comments, “This film is just amazing! The monster is very realistic, the plot is new, unique and compelling, and the movie moved me to tears.” Brianna B. adds, “This movie adaptation, while a bit confusing, is touching at times and portrays a plethora of different visual aspects. It’s interesting and keeps you wondering what will happen next.” See their full reviews below.

A Monster Calls
By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 12

This film is just amazing! The monster is very realistic, the plot is new, unique and compelling, and the movie moved me to tears.

This is an adapted story from the award-winning novel. The story begins when Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) meets aMonstercalls.a.jpg monster (Liam Neeson) during what Conor thinks is a dream. Conor already has enough on his plate with bullies at his school, his mother’s (Felicity Jones) illness and the pressure that his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) will take him away from his mother. Plus, Conor’s father is living far away where he cannot support his child through the mental and physical challenges that he  is undergoing.

Lewis MacDougall portrays Conor O’Malley extremely well. He draws the audience into his world and really makes them experience his pain. The way that MacDougall shows how Conor loves his mother and doesn’t want her to go makes everyone feel heartbroken. MacDougall pulls you in with his great acting skills monstercalls.b.jpgthat make this film enjoyable as your mood swings form tears of joy to extreme sadness throughout the whole movie.

The monster’s appearance looks extremely realistic. The monster’s body is very detailed with multiple branches sticking out of it and you see the branches grow and entangle everything they come across. I also love the sound effects. Whenever the monster wakes up and comes out of the ground, the sound of breaking branches and his growl are very realistic which make him seem completely real.

My favorite part of the movie is when Conor and his mother are together in his mother’s final moments and the monster is there watching over them. It is really touching to see them together, but sorrowful at the same time because, you know that the mother has to go. It really moved me seeing how much they love each other.monstercalls.c.jpg

The message of this story is that you have to learn to face the truth and accept it. You can’t hide from your problems and expect them to go away. You must accept the truth. You have to be strong and learn to let go and move on.

This movie is really spectacular and riveting. I give it 5 out of 5 monster stars. I recommend it for ages 12 to 18. There is too much drama and death for younger viewers. You can find this movie in theaters January 6, 2017. It is truly wonderful and you should definitely check it out.

A Monster Calls
Brianna Hope B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

This movie adaptation, while a bit confusing, is touching at times and portrays a plethora of different visual aspects. It’s monstercalls.d.jpginteresting and keeps you wondering what will happen next.

Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) is a 12-year-old boy who’s trying to cope with his mother’s terminal illness, being bullied at school and other problems. One night at exactly 12:07a.m., Conor is visited by The Monster (Liam Neeson) who, throughout the film, gives him advice on his situations and tells him stories.

I must say that the visuals have to be my favorite part of this film, from the live action to the CGI, to the visuals of water coloring. I love the detail everywhere, especially the attention to detail with the tree, the set and the wardrobe. It’s visually extremely pleasing. I also really enjoy how relatable the different situationsmonstercalls.e.jpg are. There are plenty of kids being raised by a single parent, dealing with a sick relative or having nightmares.  The relatable moments are not just for kids however, there are some for adults as well. This is a good film that will make you laugh, cry, and sometimes get mad about how Conor is treated. It has little comedic moments, but not a lot.  Thee are just enough to lighten the mood. Overall, I like this film a lot, but there are a few things that I don’t particularly enjoy. I’m confused about the need for the tree stories or the need for the tree at all. The truth that Conor has to confess to the tree does not measure up to the angst or drama that is presented. I also feel that the film is a bit too long. Some of the scenes are drawn out. Liam Neeson’s deep voice with music enhancements is incredible. He is one remarkable Monster. His voice is monstercalls.f.jpgstrong, confident, and a little bit scary in the beginning, but afterwards, you get use to it. Lewis MacDougall’s performance is outstanding.  He’s in that in-between stage of being too old to be considered a child and definitely too young to be a man.  A young man you could say, but its still a difficult stage and he is doing great.

I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18. The title would lead you to believe that this is one scary film, however it’s not too bad. It’s rated PG 13 for the scary scenes, mentions of terminal cancer and bullying.  I give this film 3½ out of 5 stars, for its sometimes confusing plot and length. This film is in theaters January 6th, so please check it out.

Never Again is Now – An Inspiring Documentary About the Rise in Anti-Semitism

Friday, January 13th, 2017

neveragain.d.jpgFrom the producers of The Blaze TV’s For the Record comes a documentary investigating the troubling rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, a story told through the eyes of a woman who fled to America in 2004 to escape it. Evelyn Markus was raised in Holland by parents who witnessed the growing anti-Jewish violence of the 1940s. Her parents survived the Holocaust when Allied soldiers liberated them in 1945. When Markus saw signs of the same disturbing trends returning to the Netherlands, she left the land her family called home for centuries. Today she confronts the hatred that drove her out, and embraces her life’s mission — to prevent one of history’s darkest chapters from repeating. The documentary is now available at The Blaze TV. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “I absolutely love this documentary. Never Again is Now not only tells inspirational stories of the Holocaust, but also brings to light problems that are taking place in the world today that many people know nothing about.” See his full review below.

Never Again is Now
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

I absolutely love this documentary. Never Again is Now not only tells inspirational stories of the Holocaust, but also bringsneveragain.aa.jpgto light problems that are taking place in the world today that many people know nothing about. In Europe, there is a rise in anti-Semitism, with no foreseeable end. This documentary informs you about this hidden threat in a compelling and passionate way.

Never Again is Now focuses on educating the world about what is happening in Europe. The stories they reveal are inspiring, but also dramatic, very sad and unbelievably real. Especially when the creator talks about how her door was marked with a pink Star of David, not just targeting her and her wife as Jews but indicating, in a Nazi fashion, that they are a gay couple.

The documentary starts with stories of families who lost someone in the Holocaust or who witnessed the horrible acts of neveragain.c.jpgNazi Germany first-hand. A unique aspect of the film shows the American Veterans who liberated cities from Nazi Germany’s hold and discovered the concentration camps. They never knew they existed, nor were they trained to ever deal with such things or to have empathy for the survivors. The movie then talks about the rise of anti-Semitism in countries such as Netherlands, France and United Kingdom. It talks about events that took place from 2001 to 2015, the rise of hate speech and assaults on Jewish people and Israel. The entire documentary keeps referring to one strong message, the necessity to inform people and not let those who try to destroy Judaism and destroy its communities win.

What Never Again is Now does so well is it tell the history of the Holocaust and draw a parallel to today, while delicately connecting the two. Many documentaries do either one but rarely both and this Neveragain.a.jpgtruly allows you to listen to people who experienced concentration camps and the Nazi rule that happened 70 years ago, is happening again. The narration is done by Evelyn Markus, who is also the creator of Never Again is Now. Her vision not only makes the whole story flow brilliantly, but has other excelling aspects. One of its most unique things it brings out is how many Islamic people were raised to believe Jewish people are horrible. It shows how these people grew up hating Jews, without even knowing anything about the atrocities of the Holocaust.

My favorite scene is when the film shows the Veterans who liberated a train heading to a death camp. We hear stories of WWII Veterans who fought bravely to free Europe from Hitler’s rule, but you never hear stories of how they handled liberating the concentration Neveragain.b.jpgcamps. A Veteran talks about how they had never heard the words concentration camp before and never were trained to be a humanitarian in any fashion. When they freed those who survived the train, they had to take them to a liberated city with artillery on its way. I love this scene because it just shows such a unique aspect I have never seen in a documentary before. The art direction is also beautiful. They make old black and white photographs look almost 3D and move just a slight bit to attempt to bring them to life.

Despite this being a film everyone should watch, it is very mature. I recommend it to ages 11 to 18. Parents should know that it does not hide the truth in any way. It talks openly and directly about issues and brutalities of the world. I give Never Again is Now 5 out of 5 stars for its fantastic narration, story, message, concept and special effects. This is one the most meaningful documentaries I have ever seen. I urge kids and adults to see it, not just because I’m Jewish, but because, when hate like this rises in the world, it eventually affects everyone, not just one ethnic group. This film is in limited release. For a list of screenings, go to http://www.neveragainisnowfilm.com

Monster Trucks – Fun, adventurous, quirky comedy. Perfect for the whole family

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Monster_Trucks.jpgHere’s a winner that you can share with the entire family. Monster Trucks is the story of a young boy who is looking for any way to get away from the life and town he was born into. Tripp, a high school senior, builds a Monster Truck from bits and pieces of scrapped cars. After an accident at a nearby oil-drilling site displaces a strange and subterranean creature with a taste and a talent for speed, Tripp may have just found the key to getting out of town and a most unlikely friend. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “This is the fun, adventuresome comedy that is perfect for the whole family. In this stupendous movie, there is a fun story line, quirky characters and terrific graphics.” Imani adds, “It is a very action packed, science filled and exciting. It’s a film that will have younger views hooked from the very beginning. The animation, cast and storyline all help tie this movie together in a way that is so amazing.” See their full reviews below.

Monster Trucks
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This is the fun, adventuresome comedy that is perfect for the whole family. In this stupendous movie, there is a fun story line, quirky characters and terrific graphics. The way they incorporate each and every person’s unique talents and personality traits is incredible. On top of that, there is an adorable comedic monster that is not scary but cute, silly and goodhearted.

This movie is about a teenager named Tripp (Lucas Till) and his tutor Meredith (Jane Levy). One day, Tripp finds a monster.f.jpgremarkable creature that has never been heard of before. He decides to keep the creature and names him Creech. Tripp makes a huge truck where he can keep Creech inside and use Creech as the engine. He then has to get Creech back home with the help of Meredith. The oil people, which only loves money, want him dead. If people find out about him they will want to study him and protect him. This would cause the company to shut down.

My favorite scene is when Creech Meredith and Tripp are hiding and doing a speed chase with the evil people who want to take Creech away from them to experiment on him. I love this because monster.d.jpgCreech is climbing walls, jumping on top of buildings and driving on top of the roofs. The graphics in this scene are spectacular and had me staring in awe at how well are executed. The characters have some hilarious jokes that had me laughing until my stomach hurt.
My favorite characters are Creech and Meredith. I love him because he is funny, adorable, sweet and silly. I usually do not like creepy squids but this one is adorable. He provides comic relief that will have you smiling and laughing all the way. Meredith is the smart, quirky kind one who just wants to do what’s right and help everyone that she can. Tripp is also very humorous and goodhearted and I love that about him. He brings the film to life and has you cheering for him throughout the movie.

I recommend this to kids ages 7 to 18. Kids will love the characters that they can relate to, the adorable monster Creech and the story. Adults will love the graphics and the well written jokes. It is perfect for the whole family as a silly, feel good movie. I give this 5 out of 5 Monster Truck Stars.

Monster Trucks
By Imani Baptiste-Green, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

I really enjoyed watching the film Monster Trucks. It is a very action packed, science filled and exciting. It’s a film that will monster.g.jpghave younger views hooked from the very beginning. The animation, cast and storyline all help tie this movie together in a way that is so amazing.

The story is about Tripp (Lucas Till) who lives in a small town that he isn’t all that fond of. He builds a Monster Truck from pieces of scrapped cars. After an unexpected accident at a oil-drilling site called Trevaax, a strange creature is let loose who meets Tripp and Meredith (Jane Levy). The three set out on a joyride to protect their new subterranean creature friend.

My favorite part about the film is when all three creatures reunite with each other-thanks to Tripp and the gang and are set off to return to their homes. I really like this part because it is almost a happy ending, even though it isn’t the end yet. Throughout the film, there are many pleasant scenes and I love the  positive way that we see how Tripp and Creech’s relationship grows. Friendship is a huge theme which is great because that is something that everyone benefits from.monstert.a.jpg

Without giving away the ending, the message of this film is that family and friends are very important no matter what they look like. Another message is to always fight for what you believe is right in the end. Tripp is skeptical about Creech at the beginning of the film, but as it progressed, so do his feelings for the friendly creature. They form a bond with each other to keep one another safe no matter what the circumstances. Another example is with one of the scientists who works for the “evil” oil-drilling company. He realizes towards the end that what his company is doing could be harming others and has a change of heart for the creatures. I recommend Monster Trucks for ages 5 through 13 due to the lively colors, action packed theme and fun filled excitement. I rate this film a 5 out of 5 stars for its kid-friendly, thrilling storyline and talented cast. This film opens nationwide in theaters on January 13, 2017.

Bunyan & Babe – Unique Storyline and Wonderful Message about Having a Voice

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Babe.Bunyan_1.jpgTravis (Johnny Orlando) and his sister Whitney visit their grandparents for the summer and stumble upon the evil plan of a greedy land developer (Kelsey Grammer) to steal the land of the town’s longtime residents.  While running from one of the developer’s goons, Travis falls through a magical portal which transports him to the world of American hero, Paul Bunyan (John Goodman) & his pet ox, Babe (Jeff Foxworthy).  Bunyan and Babe get wrapped up in a brand new adventure, and with the help of their new friends Travis and Whitney, they save the town.  Together they learn firsthand that you don’t have to be big to do big things. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jolleen M. comments, “This movie is really unique and interesting. I have never before seen a plot quite like this. The events that happen are quite unusual and I really enjoyed how the ending turned out.”  Katlyn M. adds, “I really enjoyed this movie which I found to be very inspiring. At a time where so many people feel their voices and opinions are not being heard, this movie can inspire kids and even adults to voice their opinions.” KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer Juanita wraps it up with, “I am not a huge fan of animation, however, the animated film Bunyan and Babe about an American folk hero, has changed my feelings and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.” See their full reviews below.

Bunyan and Babe
By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This movie is really unique and interesting. I have never before seen a plot quite like this. The events that happen are Babe_and_Travis.jpgquite unusual and I really enjoyed how the ending turned out.

The film follows Travis (Johnny Orlando) who encounters some challenges when he goes to his grandparent’s farm for the summer. By accident, he travels to a different world and gets some big help from the legendary Paul Bunyan (John Goodman) and his talking blue ox, Babe. When they get back to the normal world, they realize that he didn’t just end up in a different world for no reason. He is chased after witnessing Blackstone, a magician, hypnotize a store owner and force her to sell her land to him. Blackstone’s bodyguard is the one who chased him. Eventually, everyone realizes that Blackstone and his brother, Norm Blandsford (Kelsey Grammer) a greedy land developer, are working together. They realize the problem is bigger than they initially thought.

I love how John Goodman’s voice perfectly fits what I think Paul Bunyan might sound like. His voice is deep and strongBabe_and_Travis_Johnny_Orlando.jpg like a macho man, which seems really fitting. I also liked how Travis (Johnny Orlando) uses his voice to help us know what Travis is feeling. For example, when Travis wants to help Paul Bunyan find Babe, his voice sounds really determined, which shows the audience how persevering he is.

The animation is spectacular. I particularly enjoyed seeing how the body language of each character shows what they are feeling. I also enjoyed seeing Blackstone’s hypnotic device on his hand. It is amazing how the animators made the light look like it was going toward the character and not just staying on the screen of the device. I almost felt like I was being hypnotized myself!

My favorite part of the film is when Babe escapes and starts drinking the toxic water. It amused me that he was so Babe_the_Blue_Ox_Jeff_Foxworthy.jpgcareless. I couldn’t believe that he didn’t see how the color of the water was abnormal and it looked really gross. It was funny to me when Norm Blandsford sees Babe who is just lying there, out cold.

This film’s message is one that many children and even adults can relate to – even though you are small, you can still do big things. This doesn’t only mean small size-wise. It can also mean small, as in just one person in a big world. This message encourages people to keep trying and to never give up, no matter what challenges are in your way, such as being small. The message can also inspire people to not limit themselves as to what they can do, because of things they can’t control, such as being small, not pretty, or not being smart. This message is very important and could help a lot of people get over their insecurities and be more confident in themselves.

I really enjoyed watching this movie and I give it 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it to ages of 4 to 10. You can watch this fantastic film on Google Play on January 12 and in theaters February 3. You should definitely check out this awesome movie. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Bunyan & Babe
By Katlyn M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

I really enjoyed this movie which I found to be very inspiring. At a time where so many people feel their voices and Paul_Bunyan_Cooking.jpgopinions are not being heard, this movie can inspire kids and even adults to voice their opinions. I hope kids who see this movie will be encouraged to stand up for what they believe, think big and become heroes.  I will definitely watch this over and over.

Bunyan & Babe starts off like any normal 3D animated movie.  It has many famous voices you will recognize. In the beginning, a boy named Travis played by one of my favorite YouTubers, Johnny Orlando doesn’t want to go visit his Grandpa (John Goodman) at his farm. Travis loves to play video games and is annoyed by his sister. His sister Whitney (Lola Wayne Villa) is a smart and active girl. Just like many brothers and sisters, they fight and think that the other sibling is annoying.  Grandma (Kay Cole) and Grandpa are nice and sweet, like most grandparents.  I love the relationship that Travis and Whitney have with each other and with their Paul_Bunyan_John_Goodman.jpggrandparents.

Norm (Kelsey Grammer) is a mean and horrible person who wants to build something big and bad on all the land in the town. Iris, Norm’s secretary, is sweet and caring.  Before they get to their Grandpa’s house, they pick up Grandma who is protesting because Norm wants everyone to give him their property.  Travis runs into some trouble throughout the movie, but learns a very important lesson – you don’t have to be big to do big things.  The moral of this story is that you should fight for what you want, no matter what size you are.  I can relate to that, because sometimes people think that kids don’t have a voice. But, I know that isn’t true and I always try to make sure my voice is heard.    I give this movie five out of five stars because it has everything you could want in a movie.  It is inspiring, heartwarming and funny.  It teaches you to believePaul__Babe_and_Travis.jpg in yourself.  I recommend it for kids ages 5 to 18 and believe adults will enjoy this movie also.  This has instantly become one of the best animated movies I have seen in a long time.  I’m sure everyone that sees this movie will love it. I know I did!

Bunyan and Babe
Juanita Seon Leary, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I am not a huge fan of animation, however, the animated film Bunyan and Babe about an American folk hero, has changed my feelings and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. Of course, I am familiar with the story of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox which this is loosely based on. This is an entertaining and colorful adventure story with lots of comedy thrown in.  I enjoyed the combination of the small town Paul_Bunyan_and_Travis.jpgfeeling with the magical world of giants – Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox.

The story opens with twelve-year-old Travis (Johnny Orlando) engaging in the world of technology while his mother gets him off to visit his grandparents on their farm in Delbert County. Travis is not anxious to make this yearly visit and urges his mother to send his little sister Whitney (Lola Wayne Villa) without him. Travis does not get his wish and finds himself without his cell phone and video games as he rides in the pickup truck heading to the farm.

Farm life is not Travis’ cup of tea.  In a couple of days, he begins to get into the swing of things and enjoys the chores. Paul__Babe_and_Travis.jpgHis Grandfather surprises him with a bike which allows him to ride and explore the town where he discovers that a greedy land developer, Norm Blandsford (Kelsey Grammer) has been buying up the little country town and chasing the hard-working residents off their land. Travis has a run-in with one of Blandsford’s men and is chased into the forest where he stumbles upon a magic portal a hidden world where Paul Bunyan (John Goodman)  lives.  Because of his self-imposed exile for 100 years, Paul and Babe the Blue Ox (Jeff Foxworthy) reluctantly escort Travis back to the farm.  Bunyan and Babe get wrapped up in a new adventure and together with Travis and Whitney set out to save the town.Grandpa_Mark Hamill_1.jpg

In one scene Travis tells Paul Bunyan, he wishes that he could be a giant. Paul tells him “you don’t have to be big to accomplish big things.”  This is the main lesson of this film. It shows how working together with others with the same goal can accomplish great things. I recommend this film for ages 5 to 12 and adults may enjoy it also. I give Bunyan and Babe 5 out of 5 Giant Stars.  Bunyan and Babe will be available exclusively on Google Play beginning January 12 and in theaters Feb 3, 2017. Go check it out and enjoy the adventure.

Hidden Figures – What an Inspiration!

Friday, January 6th, 2017

hidden_figures.jpgBased on a true story. A team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Talia J. comments, “This absolutely fantastic film will inspire so many people to never give up on their dreams and talents. It shows that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.” Arjun N. adds, “The movie has a positive message about never giving up, no matter how much of a struggle. Despite the racist behavior and the challenges of the job, the trio never give up. For example, Katherine is constantly faced with the cold behavior of her colleagues.” Morgan B. wraps it up with, “OK, I never have an excuse now. This inspirational movie is about three women who overcame prejudice regarding race, feminism and intelligence.” See their full reviews below.

Hidden Figures
By Talia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This absolutely fantastic film will inspire so many people to never give up on their dreams and talents. It shows that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

The movie takes place in the 1960s where sexism and racial discrimination is still at a high. There is fear of the Soviet hiddenf.a.jpgUnion since they already have the technology to send astronauts into space, though there is still hope for America. This is a true story which revolves around three extremely intelligent African-American women – Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) who all work for the NASA program. They are the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell). The woman struggle with using their brilliance since they live in a world where the color of their skin defines who they are and who they are not going to be.

The acting is fabulous! Taraji P. Henson is made to play Katherine Johnson. Taraji highlights the braveness and intelligence of her character, adding a bit of a quirky side as well. I feel that I know her character like a friend. Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) is my favorite character out of them all.hiddenf.b.jpg She has this determination in her that is mind blowing. She can be very serious at times, but one of the most hilarious people at others. Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) definitely takes on the leader role. When watching this film you feel for her struggles and want her to succeed so badly. Octavia brings boldness and sarcasm that just makes you adore her. I felt the strong friendship between these woman.

I could tell how much time was spent in designing the set and costumes. The sets are so realistic that I felt transformed into that time period. I loved looking at the small details added to each set. Renee Ehrlich Kalfus designed the costumes which are so colorful and suit each character perfectly. It is so interesting to see how different the clothes were back then. The costumes helped add to it being the 60s.

My favorite scene is when Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) breaks down the colored woman’s bathroom sign to show that hiddenf.c.jpgeveryone can share the same restroom. Al Harrison is the head of the NASA launch program. This is my favorite scene because I loved seeing someone who looked beyond the color of people’s skin.

The main message of this film is to never give up on your dreams, even when people tell you that you can’t. The three woman look beyond their gender and their skin color. They look at the talents they have. One example of this is when Katherine Johnson is talking to Jim Johnson. Jim is surprised as to why they are having a woman do such important things at NASA. Katherine retorts with an inspiring line “Yes they let women do some things at NASA Mister Johnson. And it’s not because we wear skirts. It’s because we wear glasses!” I recommend this film for ages 9 to 18. The younger audiences will enjoy learning about the past and be inspired to shoot for the stars. The older audiences will like the comedy and the amazing story. I give this film a 5 out of 5 astronaut stars. It opens in theaters on January 6, 2017 so go check it out!

Hidden Figures
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Hidden Figures is a very inspirational movie. The acting and the informative material impressed me tremendously and thehiddenf.c.jpg costume design adds to the greatness of this movie.

It is based on a true story is about three African American women living in the 1960s. Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) are gifted in math and science and the three manage to work at NASA. They face many difficulties due to their color and gender. Despite working initially in the segregated computer room, the three manage to help America in the space race which was dominated by Russia. The trio also ensure the entry and the return of John Glenn (Glen Powell), who is aboard the Friendship 7 orbiting Earth.

Taraji P. Henson’s acting is extremely powerful as Katherine Johnson. She has the look of a mathematical genius. The scene where she explains her struggles to her boss is my most favorite scene in this movie and it brings out Taraji’s excellent acting.  Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughn is great at both drama and comedy. Janelle Monae’s depiction of Mary Jackson as a determined and steadfast lady is excellent and believable. Kevin Costner is another hiddenf.d.jpgstandout performer as Al Harris, head of the Space Task Group. His caring nature of not being a racist is one of the sides of the character which is presented well, as well as his portrayal of always being focused on the task. Glen Powell brings charisma and respect in the famous astronaut, John Glenn.

Theordore Belfi’s direction gives the movie room for all three of the women to show their hardships and triumphs. The music, composed by Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams appropriately enhances the setting of the movie. The costumes, for all the characters, are well designed and really look like attire from the 1960s. My only complaint is that only Katherine Johnson gets a proper back story, explaining her past,  but we don’t really learn about the background of the other two women. The movie excels at defining the contributions of all three women.hiddenf.e.jpg

The movie has a positive message about never giving up, no matter how much of a struggle. Despite the racist behavior and the challenges of the job, the trio never give up. For example, Katherine is constantly faced with the cold behavior of her colleagues. I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. The youngest audience members might be a bit bored since this is an informative type of movie, but if they are interested in math, science or history, then they should go and see it. This film is available in theaters January 6, 2017, so go and check it out for an inspirational true story

Hidden Figures
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

OK, I never have an excuse now. This inspirational movie is about three women who overcame prejudichiddenf.f.jpge regarding race, feminism and intelligence. This is also a story about fear and change. After seeing everything these women overcame my Mom will never let me say “I Can’t” again. I learned you can overcome any obstacle.

This film is inspirational, inquisitive and all around fantastic. I love that, along with a magnificent storyline, it also talks about math, technology, NASA, women’s rights, discrimination and what life was like in the 1960s. The wonderful technologies we take for granted today were missing such as high speed computers, cell phones, social media, color TV – to name a few. While enjoying the movie I learned about history and how people were afraid of women taking their jobs, because many were threatened because of how talented and brilliant these women were. This is also the period when Martin Luther King became the hiddenf.g.jpgspeaker for Black people as a spokesperson for equal rights. We also get a behind-the-scenes look at NASA and see how they worked during that era and how they did everything without the technology that we have today.

The acting is incredible. Taraji P. Henson (Katherine Johnson) is a pure genius who can do math equations that no one else can. She is very kind at heart and brings this side of herself out in Katherine Johnson. She is powerful in her own way. People tell her that she can’t, but she does everything she can to prove them wrong and succeeds. Taraji P. Henson is perfect in this role. She puts her heart and soul into this character.  By being herself, you know when she has something to say and you should listen when she talks because she speaks her mind and is always worth listening to. This is a very different role than what she playshiddenf.h.jpg on Empire. She is patient in this role but Cookie and Katherine have a goal and do whatever it takes to get to the finish line.

Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan) is helpful and headstrong. She overcomes many obstacles. She fears that she is going to lose her job and finds a way to educate herself as well as the other women employees so that they remain relevant to NASA. The lesson, which is relevant today, is education matters. Just by reading, she makes a lifetime career for herself doing what she loves.

Janelle Monáe (Mary Jackson) is inquisitive. She has an engineering degree, is brave and determined to accomplish her dreams. One of my favorite scenes is when she has to go to court to get permission to go to school. Kevin Costner (Al Harrison) is the Boss. He only cares about one thing, beating the Russians and getting a rocket up into space. He wants the best for NASA and the astronauts.  Just his name tells you his acting is A+. Jim Parsons (Paul Stafford) is very down to earth and does everything he can to make sure that the women know they are not wanted. This is a very different role than his character on the Big Bang Theory or the animated film Home. He is actually the villain here, who dislikes working women and people of color.

The film includes pictures and videos of the original rocket ships from the 1960s. The perspective from the astronaut’s point of view is also featured. It is difficult for NASA to go into space and watching some of that actual footage reminds me that our true history and it took place not that long ago. The Race To Space with Russia is a wonderful story. I had no idea that women were involved with NASA’s success. JFK, Martin Luther King, signs for white and black bathrooms, and protesters all add to this amazingly true storyline. Be sure to watch the end to find out what actually happened to all the characters in real life. The film is rating PG-13 but younger kids will love learning about rocket ships and how they were made. History is always easier to learn and remember when it is told in the form of a great story and this is one they will remember.

I recommend this for ages 9 to 18. You should know that there is mild profanity but, the whole story is so different from the life we have today. This film shows how much we have learned and grown since the 1960s. I found this film very interesting and intriguing and appreciate how beautifully constructed it is. Hidden Figures open nationwide January at a theater near you be sure to check out this dramatic and historical film.

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