Archive for June, 2018

ABC Monsters: The Complete Season – Fun and Educational Introduction to Early Language Skills

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Enjoy the complete season of ABC Monsters! Embark on one phonics adventure after another while learning each letter of the alphabet in this complete set! Twenty six cuddly ABC Monsters live within the walls of Capital Castle. Each monster represents a letter of the alphabet but should any of the monsters go missing for longer than a day, all the letters will be wiped out from every book in Capital Town! So it’s very important to make sure that all the ABC Monsters are safely back in Alphabet Gardens before the sun goes down. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. The ABC Monsters are naturally curious creatures and often wander off from Alphabet Gardens to try and find new and fun items, inevitably getting themselves lost in the process. When Alice, Brian and Cherry Berry set out to find the ABC Monsters, they learn to spell multiple items that start with that ABC Monsters letter as well as play other phonics games and sing songs! Get set for a spellbinding series of magical adventures that engages the imagination all while making learning the alphabet exciting and entertaining!

ABC Monsters: The Complete Season
By Ella Ladd, KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, age 14

ABC Monsters: The Complete Season is a fun and educational experience for young kids. It inspires them to learn, enjoy learning and even encourages them to participate in physical activity. It is creative and interesting all the way through. If I was a parent, I would use this DVD to help me teach my kid about the alphabet and early language skills.

I have reviewed other episodes of ABC Monsters previously and enjoy how each episode is different. For example, one of the episodes is based on introducing kids to the letter “A.” In this episode, the Alphabet Monsters are so excited about the archery competition when suddenly, all the arrows go missing! Alice, Bryan and Cherry Berry (the protagonists) go on a mission to find the missing arrows and the missing letter of the alphabet, which just so happens to be Letter “A.” On the way, they go on a lot of mini quests such as helping Amy the Alligator find her armband and help Farmer Alex find his apple. At the end of the episode, Alice, Bryan and Cherry Berry review everything we learned in the episode and include fun little songs and dances for us to do and sing.

Everything about this show is child friendly and appropriate for a young age group. The storylines are consistent without being repetitive and are quite easy to follow. This show would be very entertaining for young kids. The visuals are bright and colorful which will attract young viewers. The music is upbeat and cheery. The characters are adorable and likable. I think that all of these aspects are important in order for kids to enjoy watching a program.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 1 to 5. I believe that this show will intrigue kids with its cute characters and interesting plotlines. It will get them excited about learning, music and physical fitness. It will help parents teach their kids about spelling, grammar and phonics while keeping them hooked and wanting to learn more. This show offers quality entertainment for young children who need to be introduced to the alphabet. Parents can feel confident about using this DVD to enlighten their little ones about the English language. It is available on DVD now so, check it out.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Genuinely entertaining! Great performances and outstanding visuals.

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

Four years after the Jurassic World theme park was closed down, Owen and Claire return to Isla Nublar to save the dinosaurs when they learn that a once dormant volcano on the island is active and is threatening to extinguish all life there. Along the way, Owen sets out to find Blue, his lead raptor, and discovers a conspiracy that could disrupt the natural order of the entire planet. Life has found a way, again. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “, I was surprised by how much I liked this movie. It is genuinely entertaining and, I think it’s a good way to conclude the franchise, even though I know it probably won’t be the end.” Arjun N. adds, “Director J. A. Bayona captures each sequence with spectacle whether it is from his masterful use of shadows to his wonderful color contrasts.” See their full reviews below.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

I’ve never really been a huge fan of the Jurassic Park franchise. I felt it went on for way too long and it needed to end. But, I was surprised by how much I liked this movie. It is genuinely entertaining and, I think it’s a good way to conclude the franchise, even though I know it probably won’t be the end.

The story takes place three years after the events of Jurassic World.  When the island the dinosaurs inhabit is about to be destroyed by a volcano, Claire and Owen go to rescue the remaining dinosaurs.

So first I want to talk about visuals. It’s not really a surprise that the visuals are really good. The dinosaurs look great. Combine that with great sound and the fact that, you can essentially feel the scale and weight of the dinosaurs. It feels as if they are actually there. Along with some really cool shots of the island and the Lockwood Mansion, the presentation of this movie is fantastic. The shot that was used in the trailers of Owen running from the volcano with the dinosaurs and being encompassed by ash, looked really compelling to me. It is one of my favorite shots in the movie and the presentation helps a lot. But, there is one particular scene that they hold on a brontosaurus that really tugs at your heartstrings. It probably wouldn’t have been as good if it wasn’t for the way the shot was directed. (J. A. Bayona)

The actors in this movie are also really good. Chris Pratt as Owen stands out to me, but that’s mostly  because I really like Chris Pratt. But, Chris Pratt is still very good. He has great comedic timing and he is really funny in general. However, he’s the second best actor. Hands down, the best actor in the whole movie is Isabella Sermon as Maisie, the granddaughter of Benjamin Lockwood. This girl is absolutely amazing in this film. Talented child actors are hard to come by and wow, this girl is really fantastic. Her scenes are very compelling and she clearly is very invested in her role. I really felt for her, especially during the emotionally terrifying scenes. This is Isabella Sermon’s first role and she is great. I genuinely look forward to what she has next in store. She has a bright future ahead.

Now, I mentioned earlier that I felt this movie would be a good conclusion to the franchise. The Jurassic Park franchise has been around since the 90s and the series is still going. I feel like it’s been going for too long and I hope it doesn’t continue for much longer. I know the series is very popular, but a lot of franchises have worsened from going on for a long time just because of their popularity.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. It comes out June 22, 2018 so be sure to check it out.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a serviceably entertaining addition to the series, even if genuinely compelling thrills are a bit in short supply. Regardless, the enthralling direction and special effects provide for an outstanding visual experience. This is sure to be an essential watch for any sci-fi fan.

The movie follows the chaotic closing of the unethical, yet technologically advanced Jurassic World as park-created dinosaurs are forced to seclude themselves at Isla Nubar. When a dormant volcano threatens to extinguish the lives of those dinosaurs, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) join a rescue operation in the midst of a controversial debate over leaving the animals to die. However, the rescue team has alternate intentions to enslave and auction the animals, resulting in Owen and Claire urgently trying to free the dinosaurs before the rest of the rescue team gets to them.

Chris Pratt, as Owen, is my favorite character, with his never-ending charm that allows for well-timed banter with Claire. He is also great with his dramatic range, especially in his estranged relationship with raptor Blue. Bryce Dallas Howard, as Claire, equally entertains in her scenes with Owen, as well with leading her dinosaur protection group that eventually joins the rescue operation. Justice Smith, as Franklin, regales with his intelligently fast-talking nature and his phobia for all things nature related never get old. Daniella Pineda, as Zia, excellently presents her caring and rebellious stance to the dino-debate as she risks her life for the goodness in humanity. Isabella Sermon, as Maisie, breaks the norm of predictable child actors with a charismatic and emotional performance that gives even older actors a run for their money. Rafe Spall, as Eli, serviceably depicts his history with Claire while holding a mysterious motive. Last but not least, Jeff Goldblum’s short but sweet cameo, as Dr. Ian Malcolm, adds further nuance to the dino-debate.

Director J. A. Bayona captures each sequence with spectacle whether it is from his masterful use of shadows to his wonderful color contrasts. My favorite scene is the whole island escape, as it is one of the most thrilling scenes of any Jurassic Park movie. The sound design and wondrous special effects truly depict an apocalyptic level event. The flaws with the movie are mainly in its second half, which undercuts any of the well-thought out thrills of the first half by presenting one predictably illogical situation to the next, with an unnecessarily mediocre plot-twist. Even so, the consistent talent of acting and direction are enough to lighten the blow.

The message of this movie is to always be careful when playing with nature as it comes with consequences. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of intense action, horror and some gore. The movie releases in theaters on June 22, 2018, so check it out.

Incredibles 2 – Great Sequel! Worth the Fourteen Year Wait!

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Elastigirl springs into action to save the day, while Mr. Incredible faces his greatest challenge yet — taking care of the problems of his three children. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “Fourteen years after the first film was released, we finally have the continuation of the Pixar animated hit and I would dare say, every year of waiting was worth it because this film is truly incredible.” Sahiba K. adds, “Although bound to be compared to the original, Incredibles 2 creates a legacy and masterpiece in itself with a myriad of creativity and uniqueness. The story takes me back to my childhood and into the future with the retro, but futuristic feel created by integrating new superhero technology and vintage technology.” Rohan F. wraps it up with, “The Incredibles 2 is a great sequel to an amazing movie. The animation is brilliant, plus, the two main plots balance out well to create a well-rounded film.” See their full reviews below.

Incredibles 2
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Fourteen years after the first film was released, we finally have the continuation of the Pixar animated hit and I would dare say, every year of waiting was worth it because this film is truly incredible.

The story follows the Parr Family, as it looks like being super heroes (Supers) is against the law, but then an opportunity for Elastigirl to change people’s view of Supers occurs, while Mr. Incredible stays at home with the kids.

I always talk about the animation first, so let’s do that. The animation in the first movie was pretty good by 2004 standards. What I find interesting is that this movie looks really similar to the first. It feels as if it’s the same animation, just updated. That isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I actually like it. I love how you can actually see such small details such as the fabric textures on the clothes. You can see the sleep deprivation on the characters’ faces and not just in bags under the eyes. I really like seeing all these details.

Since the main characters are all super heroes, there’s lots of action. I feel like this movie is really creative with all the different powers, particularly those for Violet and Elastigirl. There’s lots of cool stuff they do with Violet’s force fields and Elastigirl’s stretching. They also introduce a group of new Supers who are very creative. From the design, to the powers, I think the group is a cool addition to the story.

Of course the elephant in the room is Jack-Jack. In the first movie, they show that Jack-Jack has powers. They never specify what powers he has. An important plot point in the movie is about Jack-Jack’s powers. However, now I’m even more confused. Off the top of my head, he has 11 powers and I may have forgotten some. The movie also has slight implications that this isn’t normal and now I’m incredibly curious. Hopefully it won’t take 14 years for an answer. Yes, I am ready for Incredibles 3!

This movie also excels in character development. Since the typical parent roles are switched, with the mom working and the dad staying at home watching the kids, it very subtly shows off both Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl’s character and motivations. It genuinely feels like a continuation, as it does address Mr. Incredible’s desire to be a super hero again. It also shows how raising a family is team work.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, as the movie is kind of dark at times. The movie opens in theaters June 15m 2018 so check it out!

Incredibles 2
By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Incredibles 2, directed by the legendary Brad Bird is a timeless classic that has been reborn fourteen years after The Incredibles! Although bound to be compared to the original, Incredibles 2 creates a legacy and masterpiece in itself with a myriad of creativity and uniqueness. The story takes me back to my childhood and into the future with the retro, but futuristic feel created by integrating new superhero technology and vintage technology.

The story picks off from where the Incredibles ends, when the Underminer threatens the city and superheroes are still illegal. To try and bring the superheroes back into business, a rich entrepreneur by the name of Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) enlists the help of Helen Parr, also known as Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) to win the people’s hearts once again. Bob Parr, also known as Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) stays at home to take care of his three super children.

The same voice actors play the same characters in The Incredibles and Incredibles 2 except Dash Parr, played by Huck Milner. It made me feel as though no time has passed since I was a young child watching The Incredibles. When I was watching this film, I didn’t realize the actor was different for Dash.

He has the same childish innocence and humor in his voice, as well as Dash’s famous sarcasm. Due to the fact that the same cast plays the same characters fourteen years later, Craig T. Nelson’s voice is more raspy, but it adds an element that elevates Bob Parr’s character. Bob is a lot more exhausted throughout the film and the raspy addition makes the character feel realistic and relatable.

The animation uses many of the features from the first film, while adding new perspectives and elements of modern filmmaking. The animated camera angles are a special component. During a variety of fight scenes and other relaxed scenes, the perspective switches from third person to first person quite often. This engaged me as a viewer and adds to the intensity and excitement of a superhero chase and being in a world with superheroes. The fight scenes are memorable with each one becoming better and more innovative than the last. The director, Brad Bird makes sure each of the superhero’s powers are used to the best of their ability. For example, Elastigirl acquires a new motorbike that can split apart while she provides the bridge keeping it intact, allowing for easy mobility in difficult situations.

The message of this film is that parents are heroes, whether or not they wear super suits. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. Be sure to check out this long-awaited sequel in theatres nationwide June 15, 2018.

The Incredibles 2
By Rohan F., Age thirteen, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The Incredibles 2 is a great sequel to an amazing movie. The animation is brilliant, plus, the two main plots balance out well to create a well-rounded film.

The Incredibles 2 continues the story of the Parrs, a super hero family that had to go into hiding because of a law banning supers. This film focuses on Elastigirl as she tries to end the anti-super laws that stop her from being a superhero. Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible struggles to keep the kids in check.

My favorite part is when Jack-Jack uses his powers to fight a raccoon because he thinks it’s a criminal. This scene is hilarious. I really enjoyed how Mr. Incredible is sleeping in the foreground, while all the action happens in the back. I also like the scene when Elastigirl chases after the new hover train. This scene is fast paced and funny.

The animation in this film is great. I specifically like the glass breaking, the water features of the house and Frozone’s ice. The glass and the water are both super realistic and I really like how they kept the same style as the original film for Frozone’s ice. I felt they underused Dash in this film though. His only part in this film is needing help with math. I feel this wastes Dash, because I really enjoy him as a character.

The Incredibles 2 has some very topical morals in it. It asks the question of whether a law should be followed if it is unlawful. It also focuses on the concept of “when enough people have the same idea and they fight for it, that things will change”.

 

The voice acting is quite good. You can hear the emotion in the actors’ voices, so you can really connect to their characters. The music in this film is truly brilliant. They wrote theme songs for Frozone, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl that are written like 60s super hero themes. These are scattered around the movie and really make a major comedic effect.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars because, while it’s not as good as the original, it is still an incredible film. I recommend it for ages 7 through 18 because it’s really a film a huge variety of different people will enjoy. I believe adults will really enjoy watching this film as well. It opens in theaters nationwide June 15, 2018 so, check it out.

Images ©2017 Disney•Pixar. and ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – The Best Documentary I’ve Ever Seen! I Still Hear Its Catchy Theme Song In My Head.

Monday, June 11th, 2018

Filmmaker Morgan Neville examines the life and legacy of Fred Rogers, the beloved host of the popular children’s TV show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dariana A. comments, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is the best documentary I’ve ever seen! I still hear its catchy theme song in my head.” See her full review below.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
By Dariana A., KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 12

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is the best documentary I’ve ever seen! I still hear its catchy theme song in my head. I usually don’t like documentaries because they are very slow paced. But this one has jokes throughout that makes it so much more interesting to watch. I not only learned a lot about Fred Rogers’ life and career, but also about how television shows were made and produced back in the 1960s.

This documentary is about Mr. Rogers and his television show for young children “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Produced by  Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville, we learn about Mr. Rogers’ ideas on how important it is to talk to children about every aspect of life and how television can be used as a positive influence. During his show, Mr. Rogers sings songs about specific topics so that kids, as young as pre-school age, can understand the topic of the day.

The film shows scenes from the actual show as well as behind the scenes. I really enjoyed the interviews with the crew from the show. Those parts made me belly laugh. The film brings back the original lessons of the show and re-promotes them. For adults, this film might make them remember watching the show as a child and they might find some episodes to share with their own kids. For children, this film might spark an interest in the show and make them want to watch it, just like I did. The film gives everybody something. One thing I love about the film is that it really goes in depth about Mr. Rogers’ sunny disposition and how he truly was like that in real life, even through all his struggles. It shows us that there are still kind people in the world. My favorite scene is when Mr. Rogers goes to Congress to try to get the funding to save PBS. That scene shows who Mr. Rogers really is, his personality and love for children. By the time he finishes his speech, I was tearing up and could hear the audience sniffing.

The message of this film is to love yourself as you are, just like Mr. Rogers says in his song. I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18 because it talks about topics such as divorce and war, in a serious way, which is not appropriate for very young children. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars because of its amazing message and all the cool inside facts about Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. This film opens nationwide June 8, 2018 so check it out. Reviewed by Dariana A., KIDS FIRST Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.

 

Ocean’s 8 – Best Comedic Action Movie Ever! Love Female Cast of Thieves…

Monday, June 11th, 2018

Danny Ocean’s estranged sister Debbie attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala. Her first stop is to assemble the perfect all-female crew: Lou, Rose, Daphne Kluger, Nine Ball, Tammy, Amita and Constance. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kamryn B. comments, “

Ocean’s 8 is the best comedic action movie ever! I enjoyed the way the movie flows, as if it’s a normal day stealing a billion dollar necklace.” Abraham F. adds, “I have never seen any other Ocean films and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised.  The dialogue is realistic and it is really funny.” See their full reviews below.

Ocean’s 8
By Kamryn B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Ocean’s 8 is the best comedic action movie ever! I like it because of the fantastic animation and storyline. I enjoyed the way the movie flows, as if it’s a normal day stealing a billion dollar necklace. The comedy is the icing on a cake. It makes the movie sweet and enticing to watch.

The movie’s main character is Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock). In the beginning, we see her being released from jail after five years. During that time, she has planned the greatest heist with hidden intentions. Debbie Ocean’s team includes one of her old friends, Lou (Cate Blanchett). Lou and other highly intelligent cheaters are all part of the team, Ocean’s Eight. As the heist unfolds, it exposes the twists and turns behind the storyline to the audience. Sandra Bullock’s charisma in this role draws you to love her even more. The beautiful Rihanna is also in the film as “9-Ball”, the Jamaican hacker. The amazing actress from 12 Years a Slave, Sarah Paulson plays a caring mother who loves to shop for home goods. In the mix of the film celebrities pop up everywhere. You just have to pay attention to notice them.

What I love about the film is the all women cast planning on doing something not good. Most heist movies are about men robbing banks, planning their moves and then executing them. Ocean’s 8 has the same idea, but without the men. The costumes at the Met Gala for each of them are simply amazing and match each character’s personality and abilities.

My favorite part is the ending when everything is pulled together, from Debbie Ocean’s release to the creation of Ocean’s Eight. My favorite character is Constance who is played by Awkwafina, because of her funny attitude throughout the film. Also, her pick-pocketing skills blew my mind.

Ocean’s 8 is a movie to enjoy just because it’s an amazing film. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Some jokes are questionable and there is some mild profanity, but nothing is extreme. I recommend it for ages 14 to 18 because of some language, alcohol and drug usage. It opens in theaters June 8, 2018 so check it out.

Ocean’s 8
By Abraham F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I have never seen any other Ocean films and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised.  The dialogue is realistic and it is really funny. There are some flaws. It does feel like a lot of other heist films. For example, it has a recruiting phase where one character is the hacker and another is talented at stealing things. Also Debbie Ocean has been in prison for five years plotting her plan, but her plan doesn’t take into account that technology changes.

Ocean’s 8 follows Debbie Ocean and her plan to steal a 150 million dollar necklace at the Met Gala. She has spent five years in prison and goes to her friend Lou, who helped her in past crimes and asks her to recruit people for the job. Her plan is to get Daphne Kluger, a world famous model, to wear the Cartier necklace and then they will create a fake one to replace it. After that, she would place one of the gems on the person that framed her with the intent of framing him and making it seem as if he stole it.

My favorite part is Rose’s character. She is entertaining and realistic when she tries to comfort Anne Hathaway’s character when her dress isn’t turning out the way she wanted. In another scene, she acts as if she isn’t interested in her and that makes her want Rose to be her designer.

There are a lot of big names in this film such as Cate Blanchett (Thor: Ragnarok, Lord of the Rings, Cinderella), Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, Colossal). The director is also a really big name too, Gary Ross who wrote Seabiscuit and the Hunger Games.

 There is some mild profanity but nothing too extreme. It is a heist movie, so there are lots of risky actions such as hanging from rafters and escaping prison. I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoyed any of the previous Ocean films or other heist movies. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, as well as adults. It opens in theaters June 8, 2018 so check it out.

 

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