Archive for November, 2017

The Snowman & The Snowman and the Snowdog – A Magical Holiday Duo

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

These two films are based on the books by Raymond Briggs. The Snowman is about a young boy who wakes up to find a thick blanket of snow has covered the ground as far as the eye can see. Filled with excitement, the boy decides to build a snowman using a tangerine for his nose, coal for his buttons and eyes, and tops him off with a hat and scarf. Later that night, the snowman comes to life! The young boy and the snowman embark on a magical adventure of discovery where the snowman explores the young boy’s world and in return he takes him flying to his home in the North Pole. Upon arriving at the North Pole, the two join a party as the guests of honor to a very special person. The Snowman and the Snowdog is the charming sequel to The Snowman. On the 30th anniversary of the original film, Briggs gave his blessing to a sequel and the magic began all over again, this time with a new set of friends. When a young boy and his mother move into a new house, the boy discovers a secret box hidden under the floorboards of his bedroom. In the box, he finds a hat, scarf, some lumps of coal and a shriveled tangerine – it’s a snowman-making kit! Later that day it starts to snow and the boy builds a snowman and with the little spare snow leftover, a snowdog. That night they come to life and take him on a wonderful adventure. As dawn breaks they fly home, but before the boy returns to bed a magical surprise awaits him. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “I really got into the Holiday Spirit after watching these two movies. I found them both to be charming and sweet little short films.” Sahiba K. adds, “Each aspect of these two short films from the animation, to the music and the cinematography is lovable and got me into the holiday spirit.” Eden T. wraps it up with, “The detail in these movies is stunning! Even though there is no talking, the artistry makes up for that. Each scene is hand-drawn, which must have been a technical pain for the scenes in motion!” See their full reviews below.

The Snowman & The Snowman And The Snowdog
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

I really got into the Holiday Spirit after watching these two movies. I found them both to be charming and sweet little short films.

The Snowman is based on the children’s book by Raymond Briggs. The story is about a young boy who builds a snowman that later comes to life. It’s a simple story, but a lot of the charm comes from two aspects. First, the animation stands out among other animated films. That’s because this film’s animation looks like a picture book. Congrats to the director Hilary Audus who keeps the original look of the books, which is rather neat. I love the subtle details like the movement and the backgrounds. Second, there is no talking throughout the entire movie. It’s narrated by music. Now, obviously, if a movie is going to have just music, the music has to be good. And yes, the music is really good. It sounds very whimsical and beautiful thanks to the wonderful work by Andy Burrows and IIan Eshkeri. The only time anyone really speaks, is at the opening and in the song, halfway through the movie. Speaking of this song, called “Walking in The Air,” it is really good. It is very calming and magical.

The second film on this DVD is the sequel, The Snowman and The Snowdog. A kid moves into the house that originally belonged to the boy from the first movie and shortly after that, his dog died. Fast forward to winter and the kid finds the items used to build the original snowman. The child rebuilds the snowman and builds a new snowdog and then that night, the snowman and the snowdog come to life.

The animation is in the same picture book stle, which is nice considering this film and The Snowman were made 30 years apart – The Snowman in 1982 and The Snowman and The Snowdog in 2012. This film is also wordless, excluding a song. I didn’t like this song as much as “Walking in The Air,” but it is still good. It just doesn’t match the beauty of “Walking in The Air.” This DVD is a great film to get your family into the holiday mood. I give both of these films 4 out of 5 stars. And I recommend them for ages 4 to 18. This double feature DVD is available now so, go check it out.

The Snowman & The Snowman and the Snowdog
By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

The Snowman and The Snowman and the Snowdog double feature, based on the books by Raymond Briggs, is heart-warming and delightful! The peaceful and calming music had me feeling relaxed and cozy. The snowman’s soft smile and his innocence lit up my face and made me want to give him a hug. Each aspect of these two short films from the animation, to the music and the cinematography is lovable and got me into the holiday spirit.

The story of The Snowman follows a young boy who builds a happy snowman. That night, the boy watches his snowman come to life and together they go on a magnificent journey. The Snowman and the Snowdog continues the story many years later when a new boy, whose dog has just passed, moves into the house where the happy snowman was originally built. He finds a snowman making kit and rebuilds the snowman along with a snowdog to accompany him. Again, they both come to life and take the boy on another miraculous journey.

The animation is soft. Almost everything appears to be shaded with colored pencils. The shading uses multiple colors which makes even the simplest objects, like a wall, interesting and gentle to look at. When the boy is outside, it snows most of the time. The snow is beautiful and is everywhere, in front of the characters and behind them. It adds a very realistic, yet tranquil effect. The outlines of different objects are subtle also, adding to the animation’s serene quality. The music is peaceful and communicates emotion, because there is no dialogue. It reflects the boy and snowman’s thoughts so that nothing has to be said. For example, when they are feeling playful, the music is upbeat and faster, but when something sad or curious interrupts their playfulness, the music slows down and has a lower tone. Therefore, the music engrossed me in following their journey and I could easily understand the characters’ feelings. The animated cinematography of certain scenes is simply beautiful. For example, the snowman flies with the boys high in the sky and, the way the city is shown from above, made me feel like the snowman was carrying me too.

My favorite parts are always when the snowman takes to the sky because the music, animation and cinematography all come together to create a magical experience. The message of these two short films is to subtly introduce the concept of loss. I give this double feature 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 18. It is available now on DVD so check it out.

The Snowman And The Snowman And The Snowdog
By Eden T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 9

This double feature DVD includes heartwarming films about the winter season that never ceases to amaze me. I like both movies because they remind me of myself during the holidays. For example, when the boy has to scrounge up snow for his snowman, I thought about when I tried to do the same thing! This DVD includes two movies: The Snowman and The Snowman and The Snowdog.  I love both equally!

In The Snowman, a young British boy in a classic 1950s English rural home builds a snowman on Christmas Eve. At midnight, the snowman comes to life and takes the boy on a flying trip around the world! The scenes become grander and grander until you think nothing more can happen! After all of this is over, they travel back home. The next morning, the boy…well, you’ll see. The ending brought meaningful tears to my eyes!

The sequel movie, The Snowman and The Snowdog picks up where the first movie left off. It takes place in modern times with another boy who has recently moved into the exact same English house (now renovated). Less than a year after moving in, the boy discovers under a floorboard a time capsule left behind by the previous boy. This box includes a picture of the same snowman and the original objects used to decorate it. The lad builds the snowman according to the picture and the Snowman is reborn! Still, the boy isn’t finished. While saddened with the recent loss of his dog, he also builds a Snowdog! They travel around the world in similar fashion as the first boy, but there is a surprise ending!

The detail in these movie is stunning! Even though there is no talking, the artistry makes up for that. Each scene is hand-drawn, which must have been a technical pain for the scenes in motion! These movies are based on Raymond Briggs’ classic picture books.  Besides young children, adults who have read the books in their youth will also appreciate these quality films. The unexpected ending is truly memorable!

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for kids ages 2 to 6 and adults who enjoy fine art. This movie is available both on DVD and VOD. So, enjoy this winter delight!

 

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Holiday Hearts – Beautiful Animation and Enjoyable Characters

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

Gather Around For Six Hearth-Warming Holiday Tales! Tis the season to celebrate with family and your very best friends. But you know that no holiday in Equestria is complete without a little adventure. Join Twilight Sparkle, Spike, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and Fluttershy as they embark on six exciting adventures sure to put you in the holiday spirit! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “The animation of My Little Pony is fluid, unique and, best of all, colorful. The colors in My Little Pony are amazing. I love the different combinations of colors on all the different characters and how every pony has distinct color combinations.” Carla P. adds, “This DVD is a great way of putting you in the holiday mood.  I love these episodes because of the cute characters and the message in each episode.” See their full reviews below.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Holiday Hearts
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

I really enjoyed watching the episodes on this DVD. A few are a little bit too young for my taste but I still had fun watching them.

This DVD is a collection of six episodes from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Most of the episodes aren’t connected and you might actually need to have knowledge of the show to understand what’s going on all of the time. That’s a bit of a problem since I don’t watch the show on TV. I originally thought this DVD could be a good introduction to new fans, but by the third episode, Twilight Sparkle had wings all of a sudden, her house was destroyed and she became a princess. None of this was explained and it left me very confused. So this DVD definitely feels like it’s for people who already have knowledge about the show.

Although I didn’t know everything that was happening, I still really appreciate My Little Pony for its great characters and animation. Let’s start with the animation. The animation of My Little Pony is fluid, unique and, best of all, colorful. The colors in My Little Pony are amazing. I love the different combinations of colors on all the different characters and how every pony has distinct color combinations. My favorite designs are probably Rainbow Dash’s and Twilight Sparkle’s. Now, characters development is always important and I think My Little Pony has some great characters. The main focus of the show is on six characters, or “The Mane 6”, as the fan base calls them. Each of them are equally fascinating and all are quite different from each other, which makes the show more enjoyable. Each of them is special. My favorite of The Mane 6 is Fluttershy. I found her really likeable and absolutely adorable. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to get enough screen time.

I have to say my favorite episode of this collection is A Hearth’s Warming Tail, which is a parody of A Christmas Carol. The episode excels in parodying the story, yet making it fit the My Little Pony Universe. However, what drives this episode for me are the songs. I love all five of the songs in this episode. I might even listen to them on my own time. I give this DVD 4 out 5 stars and recommend it for anyone ages 4 to 12. The DVD is available now and would make an excellent gift for a My Little Pony Fan!

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Holiday Hearts
Reviewed by Carla P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This DVD is a great way of putting you in the holiday mood.  I love these episodes because of the cute characters and the message in each episode.

This DVD is a collection of episodes from the show, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It’s a compilation of the holiday-based episodes from the show that follows Twilight Sparkle and her friends from Ponyville (Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and Fluttershy) as they explore Hearts Warming Eve.

The voice actors in these shows are quite extraordinary. I love how the voice actor for Twilight, Tara Strong, has such a matter of fact voice that matches Twilight’s character. I’m impressed by Ashleigh Ball’s voice acting as both Rainbow Dash and Applejack. She pulls off a great southern accent so that I actually believed she was Southern. All the voice actors portray exactly how I might imagine these characters would actually sound if they came to life. 

I love how the animators pay attention to detail. Every character is quite unique. They don’t all look the same, even though they are the same type of pony. The main characters are also all different. Rarity and Twilight are both unicorns, but both are very different in the way they are imagined.  Rarity looks way more fashionable with her wavy hair, while Twilight looks a little bit more ordinary.

The message of this show is to be yourself. Each one of the characters has different interests and styles, but they still all get along. Their uniqueness plays a huge role in the storyline of the show.

I recommend this to ages 5 to 10 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. This DVD is available now so go check it out.

 

Coco – Fantastic Animated Feature About Mexican Tradition

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Hector, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abraham F. comments, “It is nice to see Disney / Pixar incorporate different cultures into their movies. Pixar’s animations, story line and character development really excel here. I am glad to see all that in an animated film geared for kids and families.” Imani G. adds, “Coco is a fantastic, family-friendly, historical movie that is quite spectacular with its many historical references about the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead. It is filled with comedy and sentinel scenes, vibrant colors and much more!” Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror wraps it up with, “The cast is entirely Hispanic and the music is rooted in heritage and the life traditions within a multi-generational family. Considering this film is about crossing over into Día Los Muertos, the land of the dead, the liveliness of the film and animation is breathtaking.” See their full reviews below.

Coco
By Abraham F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Coco is a notable movie from Pixar which I found very funny. It is nice to see Disney / Pixar incorporate different cultures into their movies. Pixar’s animations, story line and character development really excel here. I am glad to see all that in an animated film geared for kids and families.

The storyline is about a 12-year-old boy named Miguel that wants to be a musician, but his family won’t allow it. So he practices his guitar in secret. On the Day Of The Dead he visits his favorite musician’s grave and plays the guitar. Then, he finds himself in the land of the dead. He goes on many adventures to try to get his family’s blessing and ends up on a big adventure to find his father.

Anthony Gonzalez plays Miguel the protagonist. This is his first time playing a major role. Benjamin Bratt  has been in a few major roles such as El Macho in Despicable Me 2. In this film, he portrays Ernesto De La Cruz, the famous musician.

There are many interesting things about this movie. First, the name was changed to Viva in Brazil because in Portuguese means poop. Also, when Miguel’s walking down the street, you can see pinatas of Buzz Lightyear and Woody. Last, when grandma explains why their family doesn’t enjoy music, you see a Pizza Planet truck drive by.

The message is to do things that you believe in, not what people tell you to do. I recommend this film for ages 6 to 12 years old and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. It exceeded my expectations and is really well made. This movie is available in theaters on November 22, 2017 so go check it out.

Coco
By Imani Baptiste-Green, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Coco is a fantastic, family-friendly, historical movie that is quite spectacular with its many historical references about the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead. It is filled with comedy and sentinel scenes, vibrant colors and much more!

Due to past family history, Miguel’s (Anthony Gonzalez) family completely banned music from their lives. But, Miguel has a passion for it and wishes to become an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to find his true talent, Miguel finds himself in the colorful Land of the Dead, where his deceased family members are. After meeting the charming trickster Hector (Gael García Bernal), the two go off in search of the famous musician to discover the real history of Miguel’s family. Join the two on their fascinating adventure.

My favorite aspect of this film is the storyline and the thrilling holiday, Day of the Dead. I recently learned about this interesting holiday in school, but this movie helped increased my knowledge of it even more! For example, in Mexico they see dying as a beautiful thing instead of bad. Also, they use colorful paper called “papel picado” to tell stories. Viewers of this film will learn about the Spanish culture and how they view things.

The message of this film is that family is important, no matter the circumstances and we should encourage each other’s dreams. Although Miguel’s family shunned and erased music from their lives, they were able to accept it and make it part of their tradition once more. This is a very powerful message because it shows how important family is in supporting each other’s dreams. I think that this film will open the eyes of many and even change their perspective about life.

I recommend this film for ages of 5 to 18 as well as adults. I am 16 and loved every aspect of it!  I give this film 5 out of 5 rate this film stars for its amazing storyline, cultural history, awesome cast, vibrant colors and much more. Coco opens in theaters on November 22, 2017. Please be sure to check it out.

Coco
By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Juror

When Coco opens in the United States, it will likely follow the radiant opening in Mexico with record-setting audiences. The use of color and authentic characters is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from the studio. The cast is entirely Hispanic and the music is rooted in heritage and the life traditions within a multi-generational family. Considering this film is about crossing over into Día Los Muertos, the land of the dead, the liveliness of the film and animation is breathtaking.

The film centers around Miquel, a curious 12-year-old boy who is a delight, even when he gets into a bit of mischief. The magic of Disney is well at work when Miquel leaves his family in search of his passion and the man he believes holds the keys to his life’s future success. In search of his muse, Miquel partners with a man he thinks is evil, only to learn he doesn’t know the truth. As the facts unfold, it is in technicolor and splendor. Coco offers a fantastic walk into a new world and, while it twists and turns, Coco is a complete delight.  The story has lessons in ethics and may be overwhelming for younger children since it is centered on the annual Día Los Muertos celebration, the Day of the Dead. Beyond sugar skulls, I can see future merchandising in the alebrijes!

As with many Disney films, the theme of family is front and center. In this original and unique story, it transcends generations and left me wondering what my great, great, great grandmother would be like and if she would be proud of me. Beyond Miquel, my favorite character is his great, great grandmother, both versions of her! This film has all the feels and left me wanting more. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. And, it wouldn’t be Disney if I didn’t cry. It opens nationwide in theaters on November 22, 2017 so check it out.

 

 

 

 

Justice League – Spectacular Special Effects and Acting

Monday, November 20th, 2017

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickl          y to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes-Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash-it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abraham F. comments, “This movie is spectacular in two main ways, the comic book references and the special effects.” Kamhai B. adds, “This movie is definitely meant to please and entertain all the DC Universe fan’s. In other words, for me this movie is just plain great.” See their full reviews below.

Justice League (2017)
By Abraham F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This movie is spectacular in two main ways, the comic book references and the special effects. There are so many of them such as The Flash and Superman racing. Also the CGI costumes look so real for Cyborg and Steppenwolf.

Justice League is about Bruce Wayne/Batman tracking down parademons. Meanwhile in Atlantis, Themyscira Steppenwolf invades and steals the mother boxes from them, killing a lot of Amazonian and Atlanteans troops in the process. Batman hears this news from Diana/Wonder Woman and decides to form a team to stop Steppenwolf from stealing the last mother box.

Batman (Ben Affleck) returns as the best Batman yet. He stands out from the other characters with his two Oscars, one for best picture and another for best screenplay. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) also has an award for best actor from Teen Choice Awards. Award-winning actor J. K. Simmons plays Commissioner Gordon and, for the five minutes he’s on screen, is awesome.

The budget of this movie is $300,000,000, so the special effects should be stupendous and that is correct. For Cyborg’s character, his whole body looks like it is actually made out of metal and is glowing. The costume for The Flash looks damaged and made out of nasa grade material.

My favorite part of this movie is when The Flash and Superman are about to race. This is my favorite part because it is such a big comic book reference, which is why I like DC more than Marvel.

The message of this movie is to stand up as a leader because your friends will support you. This message is very positive for people that are reluctant to stand up. This film has a few iffy thing such as Aquaman drinking a whole whisky bottle and smashing it, but there are no risky things kids might imitate after watching it. There is some mile profanity. This movie is dark, yet funny and is riddled with references. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 10 to 18. This movie is in theaters now, so go check it out.

Justice League
By Kamhai B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age,13

This movie is definitely meant to please and entertain all the DC Universe fan’s. In other words, for me this movie is just plain great. I really enjoyed how we got to see all the main Justice League characters in one big movie. Who wouldn’t? Seriously, the way costumes are designed to the great acting is amazing.

One part I really enjoyed is when Batman starts swinging around and driving his Batmobile around town, because it shows the audience how cool Batman really is. Another part I really enjoyed is when Flash is introduced. Flash is that one character who ends up bringing all the comedy to the film, which I think is great.

The storyline in this movie is about how Batman (Ben Affleck), Superman (Henry Cavil), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Auqaman (Jason Momoa) come together to save the day. They have to battle a dangerous alien race who is trying to destroy Earth so they can rule all. Throughout the movie we experience a lot of funny moments such as when Flash shows that he likes Wonder Woman and again when they’re fighting the villain. There are also some really cool CGI effects that wow’d me.

The creators of this movie should be quite proud of their creation, because I believe Justice league will be a big hit. Everybody in the movie theater enjoyed the movie. You could tell by listening to their laughs and their clapping at the end of the movie how much they loved it. While watching it, I noticed that the CGI was similar to a video game, which I think suits this movie very well. I would have to say this is the best DC movie I have seen so far. Along with the cool graphics, the acting stands out, which I found very enjoyable. Also there are some really cool plot twists.

I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18 because there is some mild profanity and some mature scenes at the beginning. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. It is playing in theaters now so be sure to check it out, whether or not you are a DC fan!

Wonder – A Touching Film About Differences and Acceptance

Friday, November 17th, 2017

Based on the New York Times bestseller, Wonder tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to discover their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B., comments, “This is a movie I was anticipating since I saw the first trailer. The trailer alone had me in tears, so I already knew it was going to touch my heart. Well, wouldn’t you know, my assumptions were correct.” Benjamin P. adds, “Wonder is an uplifting film that translates to the screen very well, thanks to some spot-on casting and good performances across the board.” Juanita L., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer wraps it up with, “This film has messages of limitless love and developing and building friendships as Auggie says, “If you really want to see who people are…just look.” See their full reviews and Benjamin’s interview with the author of the book and film producer below.

Wonder
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

This is a movie I was anticipating since I saw the first trailer. The trailer alone had me in tears, so I already knew it was going to touch my heart. Well, wouldn’t you know, my assumptions were correct.

The story is about 10-year-old Auggie Pullman, a kid with facial deformities due to a gene disorder. He is starting 5th grade, middle school and struggles to fit in at a new school. Seriously, middle school is tough for everyone, so add to that being different and being home-schooled until 5th grade. It’s a minefield.

This movie is an adaptation of the book “Wonder” which is a popular read in middle school. No, I didn’t read the book, but now I want to, since I love this movie for multiple reasons. First, the acting is fantastic, particularly the emotional scenes, which is probably why I cried so much. This movie has some pretty good star power. Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and of course, Daveed Diggs, who stars in Hamilton, are all part of this cast. I absolutely love the characters in this film. A lot of the supporting roles actually have important parts and each character is unique and likeable as well. All except Julian’s mom, the only character that isn’t really redeemable. Still, Auggie’s parents, his sister, his friends, his teachers, and, of course, Auggie himself, Jacob Tremblay, make this movie exceptional. Not only that, the teachers and the principal at his school are so much better than teachers at actual schools. A big theme and important message, is the way parents raise their kids. I believe this is a true and good message.

One thing that makes this story unique is the different perspectives of other characters and their lives. Certain characters come off as mean, but you see through their life through their eyes and get a different view. Although the main focus is Auggie, characters like his sister get nice subplots that contribute to providing extra context of the character, but not drawing our attention away from the main plot. Some may complain that the entire story revolves around Auggie and I can understand those impressions. However, I think of it as a way of showing that Auggie changed many people’s lives for the better. The script is also really well done, with a good balance of funny and emotional writing.

I definitely give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. This movie comes out November 17, 2017 in theaters nationwide so go check it out.

Wonder
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Wonder is an uplifting film that translates to the screen very well, thanks to some spot-on casting and good performances across the board.

Based on a popular novel by R. J. Palacio, Wonder follows Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a boy with a craniofacial disorder. He lives with his parents and his older sister. His mom enrolls Auggie in the fifth grade at a nearby school after years of homeschooling. Hesitant but confident, Auggie struggles to make new friends and encounters bullies. The movie follows different perspectives of people in Auggie’s life throughout the school year. Another key plotline follows his sister Via. She loves her brother, but sometimes feels like her parents ignore her. Now her grandmother, the only person who puts her first, is gone and her best friend has abandoned her for a new group of friends from summer camp. The movie triumphantly brings these and other viewpoints together for a full, rich storytelling experience as Auggie’s personality leads people to care less about what he looks like, but the kind of person he is on the inside.

 

 

Seeing A-list stars such as Julia Roberts, who plays Auggie’s mom, portray characters from one of my favorite books piqued my interest for this adaptation, but I did not expect the film to be so excellent in its execution. It maintains the spirit of the novel, without feeling sappy, thanks to the direction and screenwriting from Stephen Chbosky, the author and director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The emotion onscreen is just as raw as conveyed in the book and the scenes carry the same poignant effect. Just like with the novel, you fall in love with these characters and care about what happens to them. Jacob Tremblay is especially fantastic as Auggie and shows a compelling range of emotion. He brings confidence to the character and represents his softer sides as well.

The lesson of Wonder is that it shouldn’t matter what a person looks like, but who they are on the inside. Auggie is bullied for what he looks like, but people should not be judged by appearance, but rather by their character.

I recommend Wonder for ages 7 to 18. There are some scenes with characters in peril, as well as some scenes of bullying. Bullying is a hard topic to watch on film, but kids should be aware that it is an issue. I give Wonder 4 out of 5 stars. It is available in theaters now so be sure to check it out.

Wonder
By Juanita L., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I enjoyed watching Wonder, based on the book by R.J. Palacio. It is a very uplifting story about Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a young boy with a facial difference who enters private school for the first time in fifth grade. Auggie has been home-schooled by his mother who decides it is time for him to have a real school experience. We can feel Auggie’s pain as he gets a taste of the best and the worst of human nature. He goes through 27 surgeries. Some of the students he meets are kind and accepting, others are not sure and some are just cruel. Auggie wants to do normal things and he is upset and afraid to face the kids’ reactions to his appearance.

One of my favorite scenes happens in the beginning when the director of his new school (Mandy Patinkin) introduces Auggie to a small group of students before school starts, thinking this will help ease the transition. I felt this was a wonderful way to help Auggie feel comfortable. You will have to see the film and decide if you think it works.

Auggie’s parents (Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson) along with his sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) provide unbelievable love and support to him. It is almost not real. The story and the characters show us a range of human emotions. Auggie wants to be treated like a normal kid.  Via wants her parents to give her some attention and ask about the day SHE HAD at school.  Mom has put her life on hold to care for Auggie and now sees a chance to complete her dissertation. Auggie’s father tries to be a supportive, understanding and caring father. This film has messages of limitless love and  developing and building friendships AS Auggie says, “If you really want to see who people are…just look.”

The visuals and music are excellent and bring an element of fun. The elements of bullying and some of the emotion around Auggie’s beloved dog might be intense for younger children. I recommend Wonder for ages 9 to 18 as well as adults. Be inspired and experience Wonder at your local theater when it opens November 17, 2017.

 

 

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