Archive for April, 2017

Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon – Fun, family-friendly DVD

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

The lovably simple residents of peaceful Kikoriki Island are thrown kicking and screaming into big adventure when their resident scientist invents an amazing device (a helmet called “the Improverizor”) which takes personality traits from one person and swaps them with someone else’s! But when spineless young Wally tries to use the untested device to cure his cowardice, he ends up even more spineless: by getting accidentally body-switched with a squirmy little caterpillar. Now he’s got more to fear than he ever dreamed, and so do his fellow villagers, as they’re dragged into a madcap adventure packed with plane crashes, mistaken identities, erupting volcanoes and angry natives on the warpath. Boy, do the Kikoriki crew wish they could switch places now: with anyone!

Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon
By Tristan T.     , KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon is a family friendly animated film based on the television series GoGoRiki. Directed by Dennis Chernov and originally voiced by Russian actors, this film is one of two DVDs that are being brought to American audiences by Shout! Kids Factory.

The story begins with the local scientist creating a machine called the “Improverizer” which swaps people’s personalities. But something goes terribly wrong when a young coward, Wally, gets ahold of the device. Wally’s friends and other Kikoriki residents go on a journey to help him return to his original body. It is a tale of finding yourself, learning to trust your own instincts and not rely on silly mechanisms like an “Improverizer” in order to change and grown and friendship.

The animation is done in CGI (Computer Generation Images) and is colorful and aesthetically pleasing. Each of the characters are based off of animals and their personalities are very fitting. Their bodies are egg-shaped and the DVD actually includes an egg decorating kit so you can make your own Kikoriki villagers at home. The animation is cartoony and fun, but some times I did feel it was a bit slow. As an illustrator myself, I found the landscaping and various imaginative backdrops were my favorite part of Kikoriki.

My favorite character is Wally. Wally started off as a coward and tried to use the “Improverizer” to change his personality. But in the end he learned that bravery comes from within. I found myself laughing several times during the film.

I feel Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon is appropriately rated PG for rude humor and mild peril. It also includes a few adult references and jokes, but nothing so noticeable I feel a younger child would pick up on.

I recommend this film for ages 6 to 12. I give this film 3 out of 5 stars. Available now on DVD.

KikoRiki: Legend of the Golden Dragon
Rohan Foxe KIDS FIRST! film critic, Age 11



KikoRiki: Legend of the Golden Dragon
is a funny animated film featuring lots of bright and hilarious characters. I like how it has lots of jokes referencing other films. It is a very interesting film with a cool animation style. I like how it includes lots of zany contraptions that make me laugh. It has an entertaining story filled with prophesies, volcanoes, treasure and jokes.

In the story, a young sheep named Wally gets tired of being a scaredy cat so he uses one of the town’s scientist’s inventions to get courage. He trips and accidently misuses the device and ends up in a caterpillar’s body. Meanwhile, the other residents of KikoRiki Island are taking a plane trip when their plane crashes and are lost. They find the native chameleon’s village and discover that Wally’s caterpillar-controlled body is worshiped as the golden dragon spoken of in a prophesy. Wally gets the same information from some hilarious treasure hunters and both groups try to get his body back.

This film is very funny and has very colorful characters. The story has many twists and turns that keeps it exciting entire time. I especially enjoyed how they have a slow buildup of action throughout the film, not all in one place. This film’s moral is to think highly of yourself. They also emphasize how you can do anything if you believe, friendship is important and good always comes out on top. I feel these are important morals because they teach a lot about self-respect.

My favorite part of the DVD is when what the characters are playing happens in real life. This is hilarious and shows that the writers have great imaginations. I also strongly enjoyed the part where Wally becomes a caterpillar because it is like a Rube Goldberg machine which I find very entertaining.

I really enjoyed this film. It is very entertaining and funny. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 15. I also think parents will enjoy this. It is available now on DVD so, check it out.

Going in Style – Funniest Movie We’ve Seen All Year!

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

A reboot of the 1979 movie that was directed by Martin Brest and featured George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg. Three seniors, who are living social security check to check and even reduced to eating dog food at times, decide they have had enough. So, they plan to rob a bank…problem is, they don’t even know how to handle a gun! A social commentary on growing old in America and what we are sometimes driven to, due to circumstances. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha M. comments, “Out of all of the movies that I have seen this year, this movie is by far the funniest. Within five minutes, my stomach hurt because I was laughing so much.” Arjun N. adds, “Going in Style is a great remake of the 1979 movie of the same name. I found the acting and humor to be funny and it will definitely appeal to all heist movie fans.” See their full reviews below.

Going In Style
By Samantha Marcus, Kids First! Film Critic, Age 17

Out of all of the movies that I have seen this year, this movie is by far the funniest. Within five minutes, my stomach hurt because I was laughing so much.

I love a comedic plot and Going In Style is exactly that – three older men try to rob a bank to obtain a better life. These lifelong friends, Willie, Al and Joe, are having personal struggles. Willie (Morgan Freeman) desperately needs a new kidney. Joe (Michael Caine) is losing his home. And, Al (Alan Arkin) is just pressured into robbing a bank. Joe thinks of making the idea a reality once their pensions are cancelled. Inspired by a robbery the men witnessed, Willie, Joe and Al are optimistic they can steal their deserved pension money, but are going to need help.

Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of Willie is incredible. Given that Willie needs a new kidney to better his life, Freeman’s despair is heart-wrenching and he connects with the audience in a unique way, because he remains hopeful that he will feel better in the near future. Michael Caine really suits the role of Joe whose fearless personality helps accelerate the success of the robbery. Alan Arkin plays Al who acts innocent at first, but once the robbery becomes a reality, you see his wild side emerge and it is quite hilarious.

The costumes worn by Willie, Joe and Al are extremely entertaining. They wear masks that resemble famous people! In addition to this, the bank they plan to rob is very fancy. Seeing famous people walk into an elegant bank with guns and large bags is humorous to watch. My favorite part is when Joe and Willie are watching television and The Bachelorette comes on. This scene had me laughing the entire time because I am a such a Bachelorette fan. Seeing these older men discuss Kaitlyn Bristowe’s final pick was unexpected, but gave me a good laugh.

The message of this film is to chase after your dreams, no matter how old you are. If 70 year old men can rob a bank, then you can too. All humor aside, the film illustrates that nothing is impossible and you can better your life if you want to. Hands down, this film deserves 5 out of 5 stars. There are a multitude of jokes, action scenes and the motivation that these three men possess to reunite with their families and better their lives is so strong. It motivates me to jump over any obstacle in my way and complete any task I need to. I recommend this film to kids ages 13 to 18, because it leaves you with a smile on your face. Even though it is about robbing a bank, kids know to not replicate that, so I’m not concerned about them heading out to rob their neighborhood bank. There are a few shooting scenes, so please be mindful about who goes to see this film. Adults will love this film as well, because they can relate to the personal issues these men face. This film opens nationwide on April 7th, 2017. It has something for everyone and if you have never seen three older men rob a bank, you definitely should.

Going in style
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Going in Style is a great remake of the 1979 movie of the same name. I found the acting and humor to be funny and it will definitely appeal to all heist movie fans.

This movie is about three elderly people, Willie (Morgan Freeman), Joe (Michael Caine) and Albert (Alan Arkin), whose pensions have been frozen by a corrupt bank. Desperate to save his house and family, Joe has an idea to rob the corrupt bank. Despite initially disagreeing, Willie and Albert agree to the plan. However, the three have a long way to go, and the three must face training to pull off the impossible heist.

Morgan Freeman as Willy presents a supportive friend with health ailments and expresses his love for his granddaughter with whom he communicates by internet. Michael Cane as Joe is the one who comes up with the plan and is very impressive because of his willpower to not lose his home. Alan Arkin as Albert is my favorite character as he steals the show with his charm and wit. Matt Dillon as Hamer portrays an intelligent cop who wants to track down these bank robbers. John Ortiz as Jesus delivers an interesting mystery as a foster pet caregiver gangster. Joey King as Brooklyn exhibits an energetic and youthful teen in Joe’s granddaughter.

The direction by Zach Braff is slow paced in the beginning and becomes fast paced towards the end. The movie seems to the drag a lot in the beginning but it comes around. The script by Theodore Melfi is funny and it balances out the humorous and dramatic scenes really well. My favorite scene is the chase after they rob a local convenience store. It is very hilarious and comedic, and had me laughing out loud.

The movie’s message is to never underestimate a person by their age or looks because the three friends are able to pull out an impossible heist in spite of their age and health issues. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 due to some scenes involving drugs and some language. This film opens in theaters on April 7th, so go and check it out for a fun laugh aloud heist comedy.

Smurfs: The Lost Village – Full of Creativity and Good Animation but the Story Falls Short

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a roller-coaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “Smurfs: The Lost Village is a fun family film full of creativity and good animation. The movie takes kids into a vibrant new world with a new crew of Smurfs. Unfortunately, some bland characters and stale laughs don’t live up to the visual achievement of this movie.” See his full review below.

Smurfs: The Lost Village
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Smurfs: The Lost Village is a fun family film full of creativity and good animation. The movie takes kids into a vibrant new world with a new crew of Smurfs. Unfortunately, some bland characters and stale laughs don’t live up to the visual achievement of this movie.

Based on the works of Belgian cartoonist Peyo, this film follows Smurfette as she struggles to discover her identity. Smurfette was a lump of clay created by the evil wizard, Gargamel, who is the Smurfs’ sworn foe. Whenever she tries to forget the terrible notion that she is not a true Smurf, something happens that reaffirms her of it. One day, while playing with a group of Smurfs, she sees something that may lead to the uncovering of a new faction of Smurfs. Smurfette, Hefty, Brainy and Clumsy set out on a journey together. With Gargamel on their heels, what they find could change the world around them forever.

The animation in this film is vibrant. The creatures in the forest surrounding the Lost Village are colorful and creative. The look and feel of the film overall pays homage to the original comics but also exploits the nuance and richness of modern computer animation techniques.

I don’t care for the story in this film. Other than the addition of the Lost Village and its inhabitants, it feels pretty formulaic. The story has a lot of the tro        pes of the original cartoon and that isn’t a bad thing, but the plot is predictable and the antics between Gargamel and the Smurfs in a full-length feature film grow old very fast. I would have liked to see this film take a different path than the adaptations before it, but it plays it safe.

The voice cast of this film includes a broad range of actors from Julia Roberts to Jack McBrayer. The film never really uses these actors to their full potential, sidelining many to bit cameos rather than real roles. Mandy Patinkin is a standout in this film as Papa Smurf, a wise guy who helps the Smurfs when they seek guidance. Patinkin is the perfect choice to play this role. His voice is both soothing and authoritative. Patinkin also has the right amount of charisma to voice this character.

The lesson of this film is that you will not be remembered for what you were good at, but the kindness in your heart. Smurfette has trouble finding a skill that will define her personality unlike her other Smurf pals. But that is not what is important in life. The way people will remember your legacy is by how you treated others. I recommend this film for ages 4 to 10 and you should be aware there is some crude humor. I give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.

The Zookeeper’s Wife – Shows how even in the worst of times, some people are kind-hearted beyond belief

Friday, April 7th, 2017

The time is 1939 and the place is Poland, homeland of Antonina Zabinski and her husband, Dr. Jan Zabinski. The Warsaw Zoo flourishes under Jan’s stewardship and Antonina’s care. When their country is invaded by the Nazis, Jan and Antonina are forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck. The Zabinskis covertly begin working with the Resistance and put into action plans to save the lives of hundreds from what has become the Warsaw Ghetto. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha M. comments, “This film is truly incredible because it shows how kind hearted people are. Given that the movie takes place in Poland during World War II, there is a lot of tension among the Jewish and German residents because the Jewish Holocaust is occurring. But, the main characters, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, still manage to take care of their zoo and try to keep the animals safe.”Lucia F. adds, “I really enjoyed The Zookeeper’s Wife…This movie was moving and beautifully done, but there are some scenes that were a little too intense for me.” See their full reviews below.

The Zookeeper’s Wife

By Samantha Marcus, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

This film is truly incredible because it shows how kind hearted people are. Given that the movie takes place in Poland during World War II, there is a lot of tension among the Jewish and German residents because the Jewish Holocaust is occurring. But, the main characters, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, still manage to take care of their zoo and try to keep the animals safe.

In the midst of World War II, Adolf Hitler’s power permeates in Poland, specifically in the Warsaw ghetto, where there are many Jewish inhabitants. Living in Warsaw is Antonina Zabinski (Jessica Chastain), her husband Jan Zabinski (Johan Heldenbergh) and their son. They are in charge of the Warsaw Zoo, where any animal you can imagine lives. Bombs are hitting the Warsaw Zoo, killing many of the animals. The zoo is almost completely destroyed, and the Zabinski’s decide to use it as a Jewish sanctuary.

Jessica Chastain’s portrayal of Antonina is quite believable. Antonina is a beautiful woman who loves animals more than she loves herself and she does her best to ensure that everything goes as planned. Johan Heldenbergh, who plays Jan, is very brave. He acts as an assistant to a German soldier and looks for creative ways to transport the Jews to safety. They put their lives on the line to save others, which truly is remarkable.

The Warsaw Zoo looks astonishing. It is huge! There are so many beautiful trees, and there are animals walking around with Antonina. I want to now have my own zoo someday!

My favorite part of the movie is when Antonina is riding her bicycle and she calls her camel to walk alongside her. This camel is hilarious because he makes strange noises and he hops so quickly. He acts as a police patrol for the zoo, which I think is extremely funny.

The message of this film is to help others. Antonina and Jan Zabinski try to help hundreds of Jews stay safe and do not put themselves first. Antonina and Jan live in imminent danger themselves and all they can focus on is making a difference, which I admire greatly.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars. It is so inspiring and there are animals in it, for which I have a great soft spot. Given that there are many casualties among animals and people, I recommend this film to ages 18 to adult. This film is not afraid to depict historical reality, so it may be difficult to watch some scenes, but this movie is now one of my favorites. Watch this film if you enjoy history and films that are based on true stories. It comes out on March 31, 2017 in theaters so, make sure to keep your eyes open for it. It is a movie you certainly don’t want to miss.

The Zookeeper’s Wife
By Lucia Funaro KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 18

I really enjoyed The Zookeeper’s Wife. It is a real-life story about love and caring under extreme conditions in the midst of war. Antonina Zabinska and her husband, Dr. Jan Zabinski, are so brave and generous. They saved the lives of almost 300 Jewish people by hiding them in their basement under their zoo during the German invasion in Poland in WWII. This movie was moving and beautifully done, but there are some scenes that were a little too intense for me.

The plot is a true story that occurred during the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany in 1939 to1945. The Warsaw Zoo, owned by the main characters, is bombed and so many animals unnecessarily slaughtered. The brave owners rescued and protected hundreds of local Jewish people from the Nazis. The main character is Antonina Zabinska (Jessica Chastain). She is the leader of this establishment and comes up with the idea to hide the Jewish people. The film tells a wonderful true story about this modest woman who accomplished an amazing feat.

The message is that an unassuming woman was able to save many human lives even though she would have been killed instantly by the Nazis if they knew she had sheltered these people. She does everything in her power to ensure almost everyone’s safety. I love how Jessica Chastain portrays Antonina. She remains calm about the situation and believes it is going to work out okay for everyone. Even though she is nervous about the advances of the Nazi zoologist Heck, she still tries to manage her nervousness when in front of the children. She has tremendous strength of character.

What really stood out for me was the opening scene when you see two cute lion cubs sleeping with a young child and her mother watching lovingly over them. Juxtaposed with that adorableness is a scene later where many of the animals are killed by the Nazis. It is extremely shocking and sad to see these beautiful animals so needlessly slaughtered. Another very intense, but effective scene is when two Nazi soldiers are flirting with a young teenage girl and then, you see the girl beaten up and blood running down her leg. Even though the attack on the girl is not shown, the aftermath of the rape shows the cruelty of the Nazis.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars because it effectively tells a beautiful, true story about the power one woman’s loving heart. This movie contains intense scenes, so I recommended it for kids 13 to 18. This film is in theaters now so, check it out.

Power Rangers (2017) – Beats All Other Installments in the Series!

Friday, April 7th, 2017

High school outcasts stumble upon an old alien ship, where they acquire superpowers and are dubbed the Power Rangers. Learning that an old enemy of the previous generation has returned to exact vengeance, the group must harness their powers and use them to work together and save the world. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “There have been many movies, shows and stories related to the Power Rangers series, but by far, Power Rangers (2017) beats all other installments in the series.” Arjun N. adds, “Saban’s Power Rangers is a great romp of Power Rangers’ fan service. I found the acting and special effects to be incredible throughout this movie.” See their full reviews below.

Power Rangers (2017)
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

There have been many movies, shows and stories related to the Power Rangers series, but by far, Power Rangers (2017) beats all other installments in the series. This doesn’t mean Power Rangers (2017) is perfect. The film has a fair share of flaws that could have been fixed, but for the most part, it leaves a pleasant and positive impression.

This film has plenty of action, with lots of comedic scenes to illicit frequent giggles from the viewers. Some romance blossoms between the characters and it is filled with a dramatic feel throughout the entire film. The story begins when five kids, despite having no previous connection with each other, all end up at a gold mine, where a strange rock with even stranger coins is revealed. Each of them take one coin and attempt to escape from the mine’s security. Sadly, while escaping, they get hit by a train in what would be a lethal crash. Yet, all five wake up the next day completely alive. More important, now they all share super hero strength, can jump really high and more. Soon the five learn that they are the Power Rangers and need to defend a crystal in Earth’s crust that allows life to exist on the planet, from an evil woman named Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks).

Power Rangers (2017) has entertainment value and fans of the brand will especially enjoy it. There are many aspects that come out perfectly. My favorite aspect, by far, is the cinematography. Every single shot in the 120 minute run time is wonderful, from twisting shots that give the viewer a first-person perspective, to shots flying through the air to give a sense of scale. Another aspect that the crew achieved successfully are the costumes. The Power Rangers look epic and the reveal of their costumes were cheered by viewers in the theater because of how iconic the designs are. The plot also has many good aspects. They don’t give the characters’ super powers and super suits at the beginning. For most of the film, you have five teenagers who are clearly mortal. This gives the viewer time to bond and connect with the characters and allows a sense of realism.

The plot does have its downsides. Even to people who have no idea who Power Rangers are, the story is quite predictable. From the first time they give information about the conflict in the story, I knew exactly how the adventure would turn out. One aspect that surprised me was the special effects. The designs of the monsters and robots all look very real and impressive, but their placements in the real world look forced and somewhat fake, and there are many times where it’s especially obvious to the viewer. Despite all these flaws, the acting is quite phenomenal. I love the way every character comes to life, and how the actors are able to transform. One character that I thought could be improved is the villain, Rita. The back story in Power Rangers (2017) is very vague, and turns her into another “good guy turned evil and now she is insane” example. This has been overused in movies, especially when it comes to stories about super-heroes. I do appreciate how diverse the background stories of these characters are and how in tune with today’s world they are as well.

My favorite scene has to be the compilation of clips where the five realize their powers. Of course, they wake up thinking that the previous night’s deadly train crash was simply a bad dream, but they soon start realizing something is very wrong. Not only are the stones from the previous night still in their pockets, but throughout the day, it becomes very clear that their strength has exponentially grown, and they are now stronger and more fit then the strongest people on Earth. I chose this scene because the acting and cinematography work together very well in these clips to show the true confusion on the characters’ faces. You really feel like you are part of the scene, instead of simply watching it.

This film has one major change from the older films. It is no longer appropriate for younger kids. They portray Rita in an almost horror-like way (which comes out stunningly) and, there are some scenes with adult language and slightly adult references. I recommend it for ages 12 to 18 and give it 3.5 out of 5 stars because of its many flaws, like the special effects, storyline and some of the characters. However, Power Rangers (2017) is still enjoyable to watch and really does justice to the series. It is in theaters now so, go check it out.

Saban’s Power Rangers
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Saban’s Power Rangers is a great romp of Power Rangers’ fan service. I found the acting and special effects to be incredible throughout this movie. This will appeal to all Power Rangers’ fans. This film is about five teenagers, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Billy (RJ Cyler), Zach (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G.), who are all misfits. The five come across stones of the Power Rangers, an order of people who protect Earth, and they take these stones. The next day they wake up with superpowers. They go back to find an underground lair with a robot Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) and a former Power Ranger in the form of a talking wall, Zordon (Bryan Cranston). Zordon warns them of an imposing threat, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), who has the power to destroy Earth. This group of misfits must learn to overcome their problems to become the Power Rangers and defeat Rita Repulsa.

Dacre Montgomery presents leadership yet also being a troublemaker in his role as Jason (Red Ranger), and instead of falling to the stereotypes of being the bland leader who gives rules, he presents a charisma in his character. Naomi Scott as Kimberly (Pink Ranger) is fantastic in presenting a fierce yet caring Power Ranger. RJ Cyler as Billy (Blue Ranger) is my favorite character in the movie due to his comic relief. Ludi Lin as Zach (Black Ranger) presents a careless, yet quick Power Ranger. Becky G as Trini (Yellow Ranger) completes the team of Power Rangers. Elizabeth Banks can be a little bit too over-the-top with her villainous Rita Repulsa, who is horrifying most of the time but funny in the most unintentional parts.

The direction of the movie by Dean Israelite is fast paced with every character and especially during the action scenes. The special effects by Zoilo Abad are exceptional with the details on the costumes taking the highlight. My favorite scene is the final battle with Rita Repulsa in the Power Rangers’ mech suits due to the breathtaking special effects.

The movie’s message is about teamwork being the solution to the problem because the team is only able to defeat Rita Repulsa by working together as a team and using tactics they learn together. I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 due to the intense action and language. This film is in theaters now, so go and check it out, if you want a mighty morphing time.

 

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