Archive for February, 2017

The Great Wall – A Fun Monster Movie and Visual Treat

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

When a mercenary warrior (Matt Damon) is imprisoned within the Great Wall, he discovers the mystery behind one of the greatest wonders of the world. As wave after wave of marauding beasts besiege the massive structure, his quest for fortune turns into a journey toward heroism as he joins a huge army of elite warriors to confront the unimaginable and seemingly unstoppable force. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “I really like the special effects, cinematography and costume design in this movie. This is one movie that monster movie fans will appreciate.” Carla P. adds, “The cinematography is spectacular. The scenes and landscapes are stunning. There is a beautiful scene when William and Tovar ride their horses through the mountains. I saw this movie in 3D and it felt as if I was actually there.” See their full reviews below.

The Great Wall
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

The Great Wall is a fun monster movie and a good visual treat. I really like the special effects, cinematography and costume design in this movie. This is one movie that monster movie fans will appreciate.

This movie is about William (Matt Damon), a traveler who comes to China with his friend Pero (Pedro Pascal) to find black powder. When they try to enter the Great Wall, the Chinese soldiers of the secret military group, Nameless Order, capture them and escort them to General Lin (Jing Tian) who holds them captive. A wave of alien monsters, known as Taoties, attacks the Great Wall. William and Pero heroically fight and save the order and earn the respect of the General, but they plan to betray the Nameless Order with the help of Sir Ballard (Willem Dafoe), another foreigner in search of black powder. Torn between joining his friends by betraying the Chinese and taking on the responsibility of saving them from this monster attack, William must make a choice.

Matt Damon portrays a believable noble warrior who needs to make a correct choice to redeem himself. Pedro Pascal, as Pero, is my favorite character as he delivers a show-stealing performance with a mixture of comedy and villainy. Jing Tian excellently presents her patriotism and the trust she has towards her people. Willem Dafoe nicely presents a greedy man who will do anything for the black powder.

The special effects for the creatures by Andrew Baker are well executed with many impressive details. During the battle scenes, the creatures look real with excellent slow motion shots. The cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh and Xiaoding Zhao is colorful with outstanding shots of the desert and the Great Wall.

My favorite scene is the first battle scene because of the organized battle tactics of the Nameless Order. My only issue with the movie is that some of the line deliveries are a little off.

The Great Wall has a good message about redemption. William is, by no means, a true role model, but he is able to redeem his wrongs by helping the Chinese. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18 as some battle scenes may be too frightening for younger audiences. This film opens in theaters on February 17rd, so go and check it out.

The Great Wall
By Carla P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

I like the movie The Great Wall because of its beautiful cinematography, great acting and its message. However, I don’t like that the writers lean toward a romantic relationship between two of the main characters that never happens. The romantic relationship in The Great Wall movie is unneeded.

The Great Wall, starring Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe and Andy Lau, is an epic, historical, fictional, action-adventure film, telling the story of how two adventurers, William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) are searching for black powder. After being attacked by some weird monsters, they end up at a Chinese military base. The leader, Commander Lin (Jing Tian), running the military group named “The Nameless Order” is trying to keep China safe from beasts that attack every 60 years.

The cinematography is spectacular. The scenes and landscapes are stunning. There is a beautiful scene when William and Tovar ride their horses through the mountains. I saw this movie in 3D and it felt as if I was actually there. In one of the scenes, William falls off the Great Wall and I got scared since it felt so real. The CGI of the monsters looks very realistic. When the monsters attacked, I felt as if they were over me.

This film has a star-studded cast. Matt Damon, who playing the lead role of William, shows his fighting and darts skills. I like the scenes of him battling the enemy with his combat skills. I also like how the actor for Commander Lin acted as a fierce fighter with amazing expert skills. Tovar is very entertaining with his funny comments and saying words in Spanish in the middle of some situations.

My favorite characters are Commander Lin and Tovar. Commander Lin is very independent and fierce in a time when women are expected to stay home and take care of their children without any power. Tovar is a very humorous, even in serious situations.

There are multiple messages in this film. One message is to be strong and not to have fears. This film also teaches girls to be confident, fierce and to fight for your people.

I recommend this movie to ages 12 to 17 since it does contain some mild profanity and moderate portrayals of violence. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. You can find this movie in theaters now so, go check it out!

Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About Space – Filled With Rhyming Lyrics, Stealth Learning And A Fun Storyline

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

The Cat in the Hat joins Nick and Sally who are exploring the backyard when something extraordinary finds them – a flying robotic dog! The robot lands and does some exploring of his own, gulping up rock samples and photographing the Cat, Nick, Sally and Fish before blasting off back into space! What was that thing? Where did it come from? Where is it going? The Cat in the Hat fires up his Space-ama-racer and whisks Nick, Sally and Fish off on a cosmic adventure in search of the robot. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tristan T. comments, “Young children will appreciate the rhyming lyrics and easy to follow story line. Parents can be assured their children are learning within a fun environment.” Abigail Zoe L. adds, “I really enjoyed this DVD. The animation is colorful, the storyline is engaging and the characters are fun to watch. I like how the Cat rhymes and sings. I also like learning about space and the solar system. My favorite character is Rover the Dog who explores different planets and takes pictures of them.” See their full reviews below.

Cat in the Hat knows a lot about Space

By Tristan T. , KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 14 years old

The Cat in the Hat knows a lot about Space
is a delightful animated film that incorporates learning with fun. Young imaginations soar as Cat in the Hat leads Nick and Sally through space on this easy to follow, yet engaging film.

 

It is just another day playing in the backyard for Nick and Sally, until they are once again joined by the always lovable Cat in the Hat and his trusty pal, Fish. They soon have a visitor from outer-space – a flying robotic dog. The Cat in the Hat prepares his Space-ama-racer and takes Nick and Sally on an adventure to follow this space dog on a cosmic mission. The team encounters many obstacles along the way and must work together to help their new space dog friend and find their way back to planet Earth.

My favorite character is Space Rover because he has fun while learning and exploring his environment. Much like a real dog, Rover uses his senses to guide him and sometimes this gets him into some sticky situations. Thankfully the Cat in the Hat, Nick, Sally and Fish are there to help him out. This teaches the value of teamwork and problem-solving skills.

While Cat in the Hat knows a lot about Space is not considered a musical, the characters do break into an occasional song. I find these songs enjoyable and they actually add another level of fun to the experience. The Cat in the Hat (Martin Short) has a goofy voice that kids feel comfortable with and he uses words and phrases that are age appropriate, making the story easy for young audiences to follow. In line with other Dr. Seuss videos, this also speaks in rhyme throughout, but never to the point where I felt it was annoying. The animation is simple and plain, but still visually appealing. It is consistent with other Cat in the Hat videos.

I recommend this film for ages 2 to 8. Young children will appreciate the rhyming lyrics and easy to follow story line. Parents can be assured their children are learning within a fun environment. The Cat in the Hat knows a lot about Space does not disappoint, as it is right in-line with the other Dr. Seuss stories. I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars. It is available now on DVD.

The Cat And The Hat Knows A Lot About Space
By Abigail Zoe Lewis, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

I really enjoyed this DVD. The animation is colorful, the storyline is engaging and the characters are   fun to watch. I like how the Cat rhymes and sings. I also like learning about space and the solar system. My favorite character is Rover the Dog who explores different planets and takes pictures of them. His tail squirts out fire when he flies, which I think is hysterical.

The story is about the adventures of Cat in the Hat with Sally, Nick and Fish as they follow a robot dog into space. They meet up with Rover’s owner, Astronaut Audrey who guides them to different planets, through Asteroid fields and space junk. We learn that when Rover is on different planets he brings back rock samples to the space station so Astronaut Audrey can study them. The cool thing is that not only do the characters learn facts about space but so do we!

My favorite part of the DVD is when Rover the Dog goes to Nick and Sally’s house and spends time digging in the yard, taking photos of flowers and everyone. I laughed my head off when Rover takes a picture of Fish which causes him to freak out! Fish freaks out because he thinks he’s going to be eaten. Oh do I love Martin Short as the voice of The Cat in the Hat. He’s super animated and super funny. I can’t think of a better voice.
The message of this collection is that space is fun and, as The Cat in The Hat says,“Space is planet Earth’s biggest backyard.” This means that space has a lot for us to explore and learn about such as: Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system. Mars is half the size of earth and has no gravity. Dust storms can cover the entire planet of Mars and last for days. Jupiter is the biggest planet, has no surface to land on and has a red spot that is a storm which has lasted for years. Also, the sun is so large that you can fit all the planets in the solar system into it. Wow! My head is spinning with all this exciting new information!

There are a lot of great songs and rhymes by the Cat in the Hat. Fish is really funny, has lots of personality and attitude, but at the same time is always worried. This DVD is extremely enjoyable. Not only does it teach kids about space but it has a dog. Who doesn’t like a cute robot dog? I recommend it for ages 4 to 7 and give it 4 out of 5 stars (or should I say) cat hats for its humor, colorful animation and educational lessons. The DVD is available now wherever DVDs are sold so, be sure to check it out for your budding scientists!

 

My Little Pony – Still Great For Kids With Bright Colors, Simple but Hilarious Jokes and Educational Morals.

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Join Twilight Sparkle and her best pony pals as they explore one of the most beautiful places in Equestria. In the Crystal Empire, Twilight must find out if there is a spy in the empire. She also dedicates herself to helping a reformed pony learn the magic of friendship. Meanwhile, the Mane Six will work together to ensure a ceremony for Cadences and Shining Armor’s new baby goes as planned. With the power of friendship, there is nothing the ponies can’t do! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “I love watching the My Little Pony series and this season does not disappoint. I was captivated by the unique plot and relatable characters.” Linda D. adds, “These episodes are educating, exciting and captivating. I felt happy throughout the entire film and learned more about friendship.” Imani B. wraps it up with, “It is a very positive story. I always have a strong liking towards this group of ponies’ adventures because of their fun and exciting personalities. Friendship is the main theme of this collection…” See their full reviews below.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Exploring the Crystal Empire
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

I love watching the My Little Pony series and this season does not disappoint. I was captivated by the unique plot and relatable characters. This new season has around 110 minutes of fun and exciting adventures that are both entertaining and educational.

The main theme of My Little Pony is to educate both kids and adults about friendship and everyday issues. It teaches these lessons in a variety of ways, with each and every episode having its own independent adventure that contains hilarious comedy and even action from time to time.

There are five episodes total on DVD and they all focus on adventures around the Crystal Empire, a city in the My Little Pony world. Each adventure is completely different from the others. One is a time travel adventure, another is about protecting the Crystal Empire from freezing weather and another is about making friends with a creature that everyone assumes to be a monster. Despite the differences in each episode, they are all entertaining, unique and have wonderful messages behind them.

The production quality of this animated series has never gone down, but instead continues to improve. One key thing that surprises me most is the plot and the message behind the plot. This season fantastically creates new and interesting elements to continue the exciting journey of the characters. Speaking of characters, the voice-over work is still as emotional, original and natural as it was in the first episode.

Out of the five episodes, my favorite is the last one called The Times They are A Changeling. In this episode, one of the characters discovers a creature known as a changeling that can take the form of any other character. Unlike the rest of his species, he is not driven by hate and anger. The changeling struggles to prove to others that he is not a monster but just someone who wants a friend. This is a fantastic moral because it talks about how one specific person does not reflect what their entire race or nation is doing and should not be judged for the actions of others. It is a marvelous message that I feel is very important for both kids and adults to listen to in today’s world.

My Little Pony is still great for kids, with bright colors, simple but hilarious jokes, and educational morals. But this series also appeals to adults with its compelling stories, relatable characters and morals that can apply to adults as much as they do to kids. I give My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Exploring the Crystal Empire 5 out of 5 stars for its beautiful animation, wonderful episodes, entertaining plot and compelling morals. This DVD is available now so, go check it out.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Exploring the Crystal Empire
By Linda D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

I love this My Little Pony DVD! These episodes are educating, exciting and captivating. I felt happy throughout the entire film and learned more about friendship. This film follows an alicorn, a unicorn and a pegasus, named Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) and her pet dragon, Spike (Cathy Weseluck) on their adventures in saving Equestria and the Crystal Empire.

In the first episode, Twilight Sparkle and Spike go on a quest to save the friendship between the ponies from Starlight Glimmer. Starlight Glimmer goes back in time to make sure Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball) never creates a sonic boom. Twilight Sparkle has to figure out a way to stop Starlight Glimmer and save the friendship between the ponies.

In the second episode, the eight ponies attend a Crystalling for Twilight’s baby brother, Shining Armour (Andrew Francis) who is also an alicorn. A baby, named Flurry Heart, cannot control her powers and destroys the crystal heart, a major part of the Crystalling ceremony. The team now must work together to fix the heart before the ceremony begins. In the final episode, an unexpected friendship forms between Spike and the feared changeling.

The greatest feature of this film is the value of friendship. I learned many lessons, including how you can be friends with anyone, how you can reconnect with old friends, and how you can make a friend of an enemy. Another great quality of the film was the many different personalities of the ponies, which simulated the diversity of the real world. My favorite character in this film was Rainbow Dash because she is loyal, strong, and courageous. My favorite part is when Twilight Sparkle and her friends first meet Flurry Heart, because she is so cute and everyone surprisingly finds out she had strong magical powers.
I give this film 5 out of 5 stars because I was both informed and entertained by Twilight Sparkle and her friend’s adventures. I would recommend this film for ages 4 to 10 because children this age may be excited to learn about friendship from mystical creatures. This film is out on DVD now, so make sure to watch it.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Exploring the Crystal Empire
By Imani B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

I really enjoyed My Little Pony: Exploring the Crystal Empire. It is a very positive story. I always have a strong liking towards this group of ponies’ adventures because of their fun and exciting personalities. Friendship is the main theme of this collection of five episodes and a sing-along. Viewers are invited to join the Equestria crew for fun filled magical adventures filled with great spirit, along with interactive scenes which younger ages will enjoy.

Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) and her friends go on an adventure to explore the wonderful Crystal Empire. They are encountered by old enemies and obstacles, but are able to make new friendships along the way.

I have two scenes that are my favorites. The first is when Twilight finally connects with Starlight resulting in her to change her unfriendly ways and learn the true meaning of friendship. This is a very good representation showing how people are able to change no matter what the circumstances. Also, it represents how new friendships can be made within or without conflicts. My other favorite scene is the sing-along with all of the Equestria girls. I really like the songs because the ponies explain how friendship can change the world and make it a better place. Without friendship, the magic in Equestria isn’t complete! Some other positive aspects of the movie are how every episode deals with friendship and the growth of it. Also, every episode has vibrant colors, great animation and, of course, a great cast!

The message prevalent in this DVD collection is about how strong friendships are for the entire world. Twilight Sparkle, along with her other friends, make is very clear throughout the film how powerful their friendship is. They discuss how they would not know what they would do without each other. Friendship is a powerful source of magic that the kids learn about throughout this film which makes it so fun and magical.

I rate this film 4 ½ out of 5 stars for its wonderful animation, bright colors, music and interesting storyline. I recommend this film for ages 5 through 10 because of its kid friendly theme. Parents will enjoy watching this as well because it is very family friendly. My Little Pony: Exploring the Crystal Empire is available now on DVD.

The LEGO Batman Movie – Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman

Friday, February 10th, 2017

There are big changes brewing in Gotham, but if Batman (Will Arnett) wants to save the city from the Joker’s (Zach Galifianakis) hostile takeover, he may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up. Maybe his superhero sidekick Robin (Michael Cera) and loyal butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) can show him a thing or two. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “The LEGO Batman Movie is a superb superhero movie which serves as a great homage to many aspects of Batman history.” Na’im S. adds, “The LEGO Batman Movie is fantastic! I was laughing throughout the entire film! I really enjoy all of the jokes and comedy that was put into it.” See their full reviews below.

The LEGO Batman Movie
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

The LEGO Batman Movie is a superb superhero movie which serves as a great homage to many aspects of Batman history. I really liked the animation, voice acting and humor in this movie. This exactly what a Batman fan would want.

This movie is about Batman/Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett) who is the crime fighting vigilante of Gotham. Despite all his glory, he feels lonely. He wants to be part of a family, despite his selfish behavior. His butler, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) soon brings him an adopted kid, Richard Grayson (Michael Cera). Richard grows fond of Batman, and the two go to fight crime, with Richard’s superhero name being Robin. Once the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) attacks Gotham with a various variety of villains, Batman must team with Robin, Alfred and the new commissioner of the GCPD, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) to stop the attack. During this, Batman must also learn to accept his new family.

Will Arnett delivers a show-stealing performance as Batman, my favorite character in the movie, and he is great in switching between the dark vigilante of Batman and the charismatic billionaire of Bruce Wayne. Also, he greatly presents the aspect of wanting a family. Ralph Fiennes as Alfred is impressive as a caring guardian for Bruce. Michael Cera portrays another excellent performance as Robin, and his nerdy characteristics are put into play. Zach Galifianakis is good in presenting the Joker with his humor and villainy. Rosario Dawson also manages to deliver with her heroic motives.

The animation by Stewart Alves is incredible. It improves on the what The LEGO Movie did right, and the color pallet used for Gotham really fits how Gotham looks like. The movie’s humor impressed me. The movie has a ton of fourth wall breaks. The characters in the movie even act like they know they are movie characters which adds to the fun. The movie even makes jokes about other movie franchises. My favorite scene in the movie is when Batman just happens to chill for a moment and watches a bit of Jerry Maguire. It really gave a good laugh.

The movie has a good message in working as a team. When Gotham is invaded by large number of criminals, the only way to fix the problem is to work as a team. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18 years old. This is a movie which will appeal to all ages. This film opens in theaters on February 10rd, so go and check it out for a unique superhero experience.

The LEGO Batman Movie
By Naim Smith, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11


The LEGO Batman Movie is fantastic! I was laughing throughout the entire film! I really enjoy all of the jokes and comedy that was put into it. But I wish they would have added some more jokes into the movie that younger kids would appreciate because after all Batman is a superhero and little kids love superheroes.

This movie is about Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Will Arnett). Batman has been fighting crime for a very long time, but he is starting to do and say some very bad things to the people around him because he is very lonely without a family. Because of his loneliness Batman adopts a son, Robin (Michael Cera), which forces him to be more responsible and take care of his son. Usually, Batman doesn’t want to work with others but he is forced to during the film.
This movie is made by the same production company as The Lego Movie so if you liked that movie then you will definitely love this movie. But, if you haven’t seen The Lego Movie you will probably still enjoy this movie.

My favorite part of the movie is the use CGI, which made each scene in the movie really entertaining. The action in this movie is so incredible that when I watched the movie in IMAX I was blown away. I recommend that you do not sit in the front unless you want your eyes to actually fall out.
This movie teaches kids how to work together with others, be responsible, and be kind to others. Even though this is a superhero movie, it was not directed towards little kids because of the humor and violence. I give the movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend this movie for kid’s ages 6 to 18 and also adults would really enjoy it. Go check this movie out in theaters February 10, 2017.

This Beautiful Fantastic – Stunning visuals, character development and spellbinding script.

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

A reclusive young woman who dreams of becoming a children’s author finds an unlikely mentor in the rich curmudgeon who lives next door. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ella L. comments, “This film has stunning visuals, character development and a spellbinding script that turns it into a cinematic masterpiece.” See her full review below.

This Beautiful Fantastic
By Ella L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This Beautiful Fantastic is an incredible cinematic experience that I’ll never forget! It is a stunning movie that brings two lonely people together to enjoy the beauty of nature. I love seeing each character grow throughout the film.

This incredible film is about an aspiring author with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) named Bella (Jessica Brown Findlay). She befriends her next door neighbor, Alfred (Tom Wilkinson), when she is told she will be evicted from her house if she doesn’t tend to her garden. With the help from Alfred and Vernon (Andrew Scott), Bella’s personal chef, they try to find a way to tend to the garden and, in doing so, discover how a garden influences them.

This film has stunning visuals, character development and a spellbinding script that turns it into a cinematic masterpiece. The flowers in Alfred’s garden add to the visual appeal of the film because of its juxtaposition to Bella’s garden. The set design also creates visual appeal, with sets such as Bella’s canopy bed and the setup of the garden. The garden is what inspired the film’s title because Bella describes it as “beautiful, fantastic.” The cinematography is gorgeous as well. An example of this is when the downpour starts and a rainbow reflects over Bella’s face.

In this movie, the characters grow alongside each other. Alfred starts off as a grumpy and mean old man, but grows to be kind, gentle and treats Bella as though she is his daughter. Bella is introduced as timid and scared of nature, but she overcomes her fear when she befriends Alfred and learns to care for the garden. Throughout the movie, you also see Bella become less and less OCD. At the end, she leaves her door open versus, in the beginning she checks the door five times before leaving the house. There is also a change in Vernon. In the beginning, he is very nervous and acts as a “slave” towards Alfred. But by the end, he becomes less scared and more independent.

The music adds an ethereal effect to the movie, such as when Alfred watches Bella tend to the garden. Also, when Billy (Jeremy Irvine) shows Bella the mechanical bird, Luna, he is making. The music in this scene adds a very magical tone.

I love how eloquent the script is. An example of this is when Billy talks to Bella about a statue he is studying called The Ecstasy of Theresa. He describes it as “destroying logic with emotion.” His detail in explaining the statue shows how impactful art can be to a person.

This film demonstrates how much another person can help you thrive and adore the importance of nature. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for people ages 10 to 18 and adults will enjoy it as well. This movie comes out March 10, 2017 in theaters nation wide, so check it out.

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