Archive for February, 2018

Early Man – Unique Storyline, Exquisite Action Scenes, Rollercoaster Events

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

A plucky cave man named Dug, his sidekick Hognob and the rest of their tribe face a grave threat to their simple existence. Lord Nooth plans to take over their land and transform it into a giant mine, forcing Dug and his clan to dig for precious metals. Not ready to go down without a fight, Dug and Hognob must unite their people in an epic quest to defeat a mighty enemy — the Bronze Age. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha M. comments, “This fantastic, animated film from Nick Park and Aardman Animations had me laughing the entire time. Hands down, it is the best movie I have seen this year.” Morgan B. adds, “Early Man really caught my eye with all the quirky characters, fun scenes and the excitement throughout the film. It is sure to be a film that you will never forget.” See their full reviews below.

Early Man
By Samantha M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 18

This fantastic, animated film from Nick Park and Aardman Animations had me laughing the entire time. Hands down, it is the best movie I have seen this year. With a unique storyline, exquisite action scenes and a rollercoaster of events, your eyes don’t want to leave the screen.

Set in the Stone Age, when cavemen and wooly mammoths inhabited the Earth, Chief Bonbar and his tribe are driven out of their homeland by a Bronze Age army, led by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). Lord Nooth claims the Stone Age is over, and Chief Bonbar’s (Timothy Spall) tribe is forced to remain in the volcanic badlands outside of the new city. A young caveman named Dug (Eddie Redmayne)  tries to attack, but is knocked into a basket heading to the city. He tries to hide, but ends up being mistaken for a football player. When Dug and Lord Nooth finally meet, they make a deal: If Chief Bonbar’s tribe beats Lord Nooth’s team in a game of football, then the cavemen can have their valley back.

Dug looks at every situation with optimism. He cares about his tribe and will do absolutely anything for them. Even though he knows he could lose his valley, he constantly perseveres and doesn’t think about giving up. Hognob (Nick Park) is the funniest character in the film. He is Dug’s pet boar and, although he has no dialogue, he makes the weirdest noises. Hognob is so adorable that I want a pet boar now. The relationship Hognob and Dug share is loving and reminds me of the relationship I have with my pets.

The animation is ingenious, because each character is unconventional. With crooked teeth, messy hair and big eyes, these characters are ones you haven’t seen before. My eyes were peeled the entire time, because I couldn’t stop admiring the unique animation. My favorite part is when Dug tries to steal some balls from the Bronze Age city. Hognob distracts Lord Nooth and has to play the harp for him, while he takes a bath. Hognob tries to sing and play the harp, but it sounds so terrible that it makes you laugh.

The message of this film is to never give up under any circumstances. Don’t ever feel intimidated by somebody, because with teamwork and optimism, you can accomplish absolutely anything. Appreciate your differences and remember that nobody can bring you down.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because I have never laughed so hard while watching a film. I recommend it for kids ages 8 to 18, and adults would enjoy it too. It is perfect to watch with your family and friends, because it will put a huge smile on your face and show you how important it is to follow your heart.

Catch this film in theaters nationwide on February 16, 2018. Find out what it means to be an early man.

Early Man
By Morgan B. Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Get your footballs out and be ready to time travel back into the past! Early Man has to be a terrific film especially when the award winning people who brought you Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep Movie are behind it. Early Man really caught my eye with all the quirky characters, fun scenes and the excitement throughout the film. It is sure to be a film that you will never forget.

The claymation in Early Man is terrific. It is astonishing all the different movement these characters make. There is a huge variety of characters, including a giant mega-teeth mallard duck.

Set your time machines to the Stone Age because that is when Early Man takes place. I like that this film  takes place in the Stone Age because it helps with the character development, settings and their lifestyles. I love that the characters are different from the people that we normally see in movies and on TV, because they don’t have technology, furniture or much education. Also the setting is very different because there aren’t very many houses, billboards or fast food stands like we have today. Instead, they replaced all those things with trees, volcanoes, hills and a giant palace. Since the characters don’t have all these things, it makes their personalities very lovable and kind. The tribe wants food and a bit of love from the ones they care about. Lord Nooth only wants gold and a winning team of football players. Then he will be richer then the Queen.

Dug (Eddie Redmayne) is a kind a silly boy who loves his tribe. He is my favorite character because when I see Eddie Redmayne playing a caveman after he played the stupendous scientist Stephen Hawking in the film, The Theory Of Everything, shows what a diverse actor he is. Eddie Redmayne has come a long way from playing Stephen Hawking to Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beastss and Where to Find Them to a comical caveman saving the world.

Goona (Maisie Williams) is the beautiful and fearless girl who saves the day along with Dug. She loves soccer and is the best in her sport. They do indeed need a good coach and she is just the one. Hognob (Nick Park) is the adorable pet sidekick who helps his friend Dug no matter what. He is willing to be a football golly, a spy, a masseuse and most importantly a cuddly friendly pet for his owner. Fun fact: This is the first time that Nick Park will have directed by himself. He is also the producer and a cast member of the film.

Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) is the evil villain who we love to hate. He wants to keep all the land for himself. He also loves bronze coins and uses football games to get people to spend all their money on tickets and things that the games have to offer. One scene that I found to be visually astonishing is the football scene. I love that they spent so much time and effort on this scene and it all pays off in the end. I love the inside jokes that are in this scene and how each of the charters’ personalities shines. Also, when you really think of it the claymation in this scene is just mind-blowing. They had to move each character ever so slightly so they could capture a moment and they do it a million times to complete just this one scene in the entire master piece.

I recommend this for ages 5 to 18. Kids will love the silly charters and funny scenes while teens will like the story and relationship that the charters have. This is definitely a film for the entire family because there are jokes and puns for everyone. Also there is a bit of history so kids will have a bit of education while having a good time. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. It opens in theaters February 16, 2018 so be sure to check it out.

All Photos, courtesy of Aardman Animations

 

 

America’s Musical Journey – Visually Breathtaking, Insightful Documentary About The Power Of Music And Its Importance In U.S. History

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

America’s Musical Journey celebrates the unique diversity of cultures and creative risk-taking that characterize America, as told through the story of its music. The film follows Grammy Award®-nominated singer and songwriter Aloe Blacc as he traces the roots of America’s music through the colorful locales and cultures where it was born. Visiting iconic cities such as New Orleans, Chicago, New York City, Nashville, Memphis, Miami and more, America’s Musical Journey explores the collision of cultures that gave birth to America’s diverse musical heritage. America’s Musical Journey is a MacGillivray Freeman film produced in association with Brand USA and presented by Expedia. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “America’s Musical Journey is a visually breathtaking, insightful documentary about the power of music and its importance in U.S. history, especially in some of its best-known cities.” See his full review below.

America’s Musical Journey
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

America’s Musical Journey is a visually breathtaking, insightful documentary about the power of music and its importance in U.S. history, especially in some of its best-known cities.

America’s Musical Journey follows singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc’s journey across the U.S.A. as he visits towns and cities important in music’s history. We visit places such as Nashville, Memphis, Miami, Chicago and see flash mobs, acrobats, dancing waiters and meet talented musicians along the way. Morgan Freeman narrates the journey and his deep and iconic voice is a perfect fit to accompany this colorful film.

I appreciate that this film shows its audience the music of different time periods. This shows younger audiences how much music has changed in only a couple of decades and should remind older audiences of the powerful legacies of artists like Elvis Presley and Louis Armstrong. This film helps keep those artists’ spirits alive so that their mark on the music industry never disappears.

My one complaint about this film is that it is too short for all it tries to accomplish. America’s Musical Journey introduces a person or location and then immediately moves on, leaving some parts of the film more interconnected than others. In this way, the film can be like one of the jazz pieces described in the film: sometimes all over the place, but always with lots of thought and creativity put into it.

I enjoyed seeing all the various locations larger than life on-screen. I like learning about towns I didn’t know about and, even more, about ones I thought I did and how important their imprint on music is. I was especially happy to see my own hometown of Washington D.C. featured in the film in a particularly flashy fashion.

The lesson of this film is that music is an important part of our past and present and, who we are as a country. Music can transport us to different worlds, tell stories and portray realities. Music does this in a way that is different from any other art form and holds a critical role in our culture for a long time.

I recommend this film for ages 3 to 18. It is educational and everyone will get something out of it in one way or another. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

 

 

 

 

Black Panther – Pure Marvel Action/Adventure Steeped in Timely Political and Social Issues

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country’s new leader. However, T’Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from factions within his own country. When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan Special Forces, to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a world war. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “Honestly, this movie is just amazing. There are so many things this movie does incredibly correctly. This might be one of the greatest Superhero movies of all time!” Benjamin P. adds, “Black Panther is easily one of the greatest comic-book films I’ve seen. Period.” Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror wraps it up with, “The film is pure Marvel action-adventure with a broad political and socially aware feeling. It is awake and unique. It may be a superhero film, yet it is also steeped in real political and social issues similar to those we face today, especially diversity and inclusion.” See their full reviews below.

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

Honestly, this movie is just amazing. There are so many things this movie does incredibly correctly. This might be one of the greatest Superhero movies of all time!

The story is about T’challa, prince of the secluded, incredibly advanced nation of Wakanda, who struggles to defeat an enemy wanting to take his throne. He teams up with some phenomenal females to secure his role as King.

This film is just visually incredible, especially the city of Wakanda. The city looks so amazing. All the buildings and creations are so cool. But that’s not all. The designs of the weapons and spaceships look very realistic and straight up awesome! Kudos to the visual effects team! I also loved the Black Panther suit. I love the idea of the suit absorbing hits into stored kinetic energy and using it as a shockwave like blast. The movie starts with a re-telling of the creation of Wakanda, but it was made out of sand. It looked so cool. In general, the aesthetic nature of this movie is just marvelous.

The nation of Wakanda also has a very interesting culture. I like that it blends futuristic technology with a tribal feel, in terms of the fashions, locations and culture. It may seem like an odd blend, but it works well. Even the music reflects this combination. Speaking of which, the music is also fantastic.

The characters in this film are multi-dimensional. I really enjoyed Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and Black Panther himself (Chadwick Boseman). Plus, Sterling K. Brown (one of my favorite actors) is also in it and, while he has a small part, it is a key role. Hands down, the best characters are the female leads. The Future is Female! And there are some cool dudes. This movie has some wonderful female characters that everyone can look up to such as Danai Gurira, who I already love from AMC’s The Walking Dead, plays the highly skilled warrior Okoye. Letitia Wright plays T’challa’s tech-savvy little sister, Shuri and Lupita Nyong’o plays Nakia. I love these women and I’m sure many young kids will too.

This movie also has very interesting messages. The whole movie presents engaging thoughts on whether or not you should enter in other nation’s affairs and the possible consequences of doing so. This is a pretty intriguing and well done storyline. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18. It opens in theaters February 16, 2018 so go check it out!

Black Panther
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Black Panther is a stunning first solo outing for its title character that wowed me with its strong ensemble cast, inventive visuals and multi-layered story.

Black Panther follows T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), King of Wakanda, an advanced and highly powerful territory that is disguised as a third-world country. He also protects his nation and its people as a masked vigilante called the Black Panther. After the death of his father, T’Challa is chosen to take the throne and receive the powers of the panther god. Just after his extravagant coronation, a threat finds its way into Wakanda’s borders by Erik Killmonger. Killmonger is a fierce and skilled soldier who wishes to replace T’Challa and usher in a new age for the country. T’Challa will be tested and must protect the throne from Killmonger.

My favorite character is Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s whizkid sister who helps him maintain the mantle of Black Panther and stay one step ahead of the villains he faces. Letitia Wright delivers hilarious one-liners with near perfect timing. She nails the rapport between Shuri and her brother, interacting in a way that is both believable and develops both their characters.

An outstanding performance in this film comes from Michael B. Jordan who is brilliant as Killmonger. He abandons the genre’s usual vague “destroy-the-world” motivation and creates a genuinely complicated character. Jordan has cutthroat moments that make you dread his presence, but his sinister manner is evened out by moments where you come to sympathize with his character.

The deep, emotional part of the film’s story is unexpected and caught me by surprise. It is an important moment for the main character and what drives his actions for the rest of the film. Sometimes, these comic-book heroes make poor decisions and have to fight against their own demons as well as the bad guys. This has been done before in both comics and film, but here we really see T’Challa change through his experiences.

I recommend this film to ages 12 to 18. There is some action and violence with spears and swords that feels more violent than what I’m used to from comic book films. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. This opens in theaters February 16, 2018 so, be sure to check it out. Black Panther is easily one of the greatest comic-book films I’ve seen. Period.

Black Panther
By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

In the latest production from Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), we see the original story of the Black Panther. We were introduced to the Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. This film depicts the story of King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and the Black Panther tribe.

When T’Challa returns home to the reclusive, beautiful and technologically impressive nation of Wakanda, a fictional country in Africa, he is named the new leader following the death of his father. True to custom, he is challenged by the tribesman and becomes the new King.

Elsewhere, a cousin unknown to him returns from the United States to challenge T’Challa’s reign, and chaos ensues. Warmonger (Michael B Jordan) and his political beliefs are diabolical and the opposite of T’Challa’s. As foes set forth to destroy Wakanda, Black Panther teams up with a C.I.A. agent and a neighboring tribe to prevent the country from a world war. The path from light to dark, and back to doing good in the world beyond Wakanda is refreshing.

The film is pure Marvel action-adventure with a broad political and socially aware feeling. It is awake and unique. It may be a superhero film, yet it is also steeped in real political and social issues similar to those we face today, especially diversity and inclusion.  The strong female characters – Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Ramonda (Angela Bassett) are phenomenal.

I love this film! From the casting, cinematography and directing, to the special effects and female empowerment, it is fulfilling. The action is believable, many of the fight scenes are based on African martial arts, although the CGI at times is a little whack. Overall, I was displaced, forgetting I was sitting in a theater. The costumes are fantastic with attention to detail befitting royalty. Wakanda forever!

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars for the cast, social and political awareness, technology focus and female empowerment. This film will appeal to ages 8 to 18, as well as adults. I caution younger viewing due to fight scenes which may be disturbing. It opens in theater February 16, 2018 so, check it out!

 

 

 

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That: Season 2 – Where Learning is Adventurous, Upbeat and Engaging

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Enjoy volume one of the second season of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! follows the adventures of 6-year-old best friends, Sally and Nick, as they are whisked off on extraordinary voyages of scientific discovery with the Cat in the Hat.  Thanks to the Thinga-ma-jigger and our friends, exploring has never been more exciting! In this season set, learn everything from space topics like gravity, what causes day and night, the planets, earth’s atmosphere to all about the human body like why do we sneeze, how and why the heart beats, why our stomach rumbles, how amazing our skin, and how important each different bone is in our body. The discoveries don’t end there though! Embark on more numerous adventures where we learn all about animals such as why animal ears come in many shapes and sizes, how different animals carry their babies, who are the fastest creatures in the world, why male crickets chirp, how polar bears survive the arctic winter, how a snow leopard balances, and so much more! So let’s go, go, go, go on an adventure, we’re flying with The Cat in the Hat today! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sahiba K. comments, “The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That: Season 2 portrays a dream-like world where learning is adventurous and engaging! Each episode takes you on a ride to a variety of places, some are even out of this world.” Jolleen M. adds, “Everything is upbeat and entertaining plus, you learn lots of new things. Even I learned some knew things from these episodes!” See their full reviews below.

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That: Season 2
By Sahiba Kaur, KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That: Season 2 portrays a dream-like world where learning is adventurous and engaging! Each episode takes you on a ride to a variety of places, some are even out of this world. The animation brings you into the realm of Dr. Seuss. I did not want to leave.

The story follows Sally (Alexa Torrington) and Nick (Jacob Ewaniuk) traveling through everyday life, curious and eager to understand the ways of the world. The Cat (Martin Short) always pops in at the right time to help them find the answers to their dilemmas. Together they hop on the Thinga-ma-jigger and fly on adventures to discover wonders.

Martin Short, the voice of the Cat, uses the perfect accent and voice to compliment the Cat’s personality. He emphasizes certain words to achieve the goofiness in his voice. Alexa Torrington and Jacob Ewaniuk are the voices of the children, Sally and Nick, who grasp the innocence and youthful spirit by their voices. Rob Tinkler voices Fish, Thing 1 and Thing 2. The way he changes the tone and pitch of the various voices is quite unique. The voices for Thing 1 and 2 are high pitched and humorous, while the voice for Fish is lower and more serious.

The animation offers a portal into Dr. Seuss’s world. The houses are crooked, yet appealing. The background hills, bushes and trees are slim and tall. The abstract Thinga-ma-jigger flies through the sky with its misshapen helicopter blades and bright red and orange colors.

My favorite part of this show is the Ca’s personality. He brings fun to learning and, when explaining different conceptions, he adds a sense of humor. For example, when explaining that the brain receives and sends signals from the nose, a phone rings in his hat asking for his nose. He is clumsy and modest about being smart. He makes the children laugh and ends each episode with a joke.

The message of this DVD is learning can happen anywhere and is always an adventure. I give this DVD 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 10. It is available now so, be sure to check it out.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That: Season 2
By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That episodes are very colorful, exciting and educational. This season is no exception! Everything is upbeat and entertaining plus, you learn lots of new things. Even I learned some knew things from these episodes!

Season 2 is mostly about science topics. These episodes have lots of songs, jokes and puns, and they can travel anywhere. They can shrink or enlarge themselves to learn about everything. Also, the characters are extremely energetic, which makes you feel energized and uplifted because they are having such a good time.

The voice acting is amazing. All of the characters laugh so much and have a great time. They all sound so happy and amazed at everything they learn. Martin Short, as the voice of The Cat is perfect. His laughs are so contagious and he laughs so often. The children, Sally and Nick (Alexa Torrington and Jacob Ewaniuk) are just as ecstatic and energetic. They laugh a lot as well and are very positive kids. Short, Torrington and Ewaniuk all have wonderful singing voices that enhance the episodes.

The animation in these episodes is bright, colorful and detailed. The animation perfectly suits the educational side of these stories, because you can learn about the object, while seeing it clearly. The music and songs are quite clever and pleasing. The music is a vital part to these episodes.

My favorite episode is “Bounce” because, in that episode they teach many different things besides the topic of rubber. It is interesting to learn everything related to and around rubber.

The message of this DVD is to go outside on adventures, after first asking your parents permission (of course) as Sally and Nick do, and to enjoy what’s around you. The Cat goes to Sally and Nick’s and makes them happy every time by teaching them about their surroundings and showing them around. These episodes inspire you to learn more and shows how learning about new things is fun and exciting.

I give this DVD 5 out to 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 13. It is available now so, definitely go  check it out.

Bilal: A New Breed Of Hero – Amazing Animation, Fascinating Historical Storyline

Friday, February 9th, 2018

A thousand years ago, one boy with a dream of becoming a great warrior is abducted with his sister and taken to a land far away from home. Thrown into a world where greed and injustice rule all, Bilal finds the courage to raise his voice and make a change. Inspired by true events, this is a story of a real hero who earned his remembrance in time and history. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “This film sets the bar for jaw dropping animation! The fight scenes and the flying eagle are astounding visual effects. The whole movie is surreal, because the animation looks so lifelike, yet is hand drawn.” See her complete review below. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan B. comments, “This film sets the bar for jaw dropping animation! The fight scenes and the flying eagle are astounding visual effects. The whole movie is surreal, because the animation looks so lifelike, yet is hand drawn.” See her full review below.

Bilal: A New Breed of Hero
By Morgan B. Bertsch KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Age 13

This film sets the bar for jaw dropping animation! The fight scenes and the flying eagle are astounding visual effects. The whole movie is surreal, because the animation looks so lifelike, yet is hand drawn.

The storyline is based on the real life historical figure of Bilal Ibn Rabah, a close companion of the prophet Mohammed. It reminds me a lot of the story of Jesus and Moses. Even if you are not religious, this film will still be enjoyable since it is always entertaining to learn about other cultures and beliefs.

There are many lessons in this film. The main take away is learning about the ties that keep you from becoming your true self. We are inundated with messages 24/7 from other people, TV, radio, the media, the Internet and, sometimes we lose track of who we want to be because of all those messages in our heads. This movie is very relevant today, because it reminds us to listen to our heart, slow down and think about what is really important.

There is some violence, which is inappropriate for younger children. The movie is about slavery and breaking free, not only from your physical chains but your mental chains as well. The graphics are detailed and I recommend that an adult watch with their child. Slavery and history are violent subjects which should be discussed, but at an appropriate age.

It is full of historical lessons including the purpose of idols, gold, slaves and greed. It shows how it is better to love and cherish people, rather than a phone, computer, car or idols. The story also deals with the bonding among siblings and the lengths they go to protect each other. I can relate to this as I would do anything to protect my sister. I admired the bond between Bilal and Ghufaira.

Bilal is a very caring person. He shows his love for his sister by defending her and giving her all he has. He is also true to his word. These qualities make Bilal a one-of-a-kind hero and hence, my favorite character. The best scene in this film is when the two armies go to the battle field to fight. I love this scene because the animation is just mind blowing. I couldn’t even tell if it was real or hand drawn. When I met the producers and writers of the film, I learned that the fight scene has 3251 plus fames in it. The animation is perfection. It is very detailed and clear. If this film ever enters an award ceremony it will win a prize, I’m sure.

I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18 and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Younger kids would be challenged to understand it but teens will get it completely. The morals and the history make it perfect for families to watch together. This opens in theaters February 2, 2018 so go check it out.

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