Archive for July, 2018

Gravity Falls: The Complete Series – Honestly, one of the best shows ever. Perfect for binge watching with friends!

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Welcome To Gravity Falls! Twin brother and sister Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to the small town of Gravity Falls, Oregon to spend their summer vacation with their great uncle (Grunkle) Stan. Upon arrival, Grunkle Stan enlists the siblings’ help in running The Mystery Shack, a self-owned tourist trap that overcharges unsuspecting customers. While Dipper has a hard time getting used to his new surroundings, Mabel’s upbeat optimism comes in handy in her quest to find true love. But there may be more to Gravity Falls than meets the eye as Dipper and Mabel encounter strange occurrences and weird creatures. When Dipper stumbles upon an elusive book, he discovers it is the answer to uncovering the town’s mysterious happenings. Soon, Dipper and Mabel realize they must rely on each other to navigate this unfamiliar place. Meanwhile, Grunkle Stan guards a secret of his own: one that just might hold the key to unlocking the deeper mystery that is Gravity Falls. Includes All 40 Episodes! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. commented, “To be honest, this is one of the best shows I’ve ever watched. It is a perfect show to binge watch with friends due to the mysteries that keep you invested until they’re solved and the comedy is spot on.” Dariana A. adds, “Gravity Falls is a very thrilling series. It keeps you at the edge of your seat with new mysteries in every episode. With baffling things happening in every episode, all you want to do is keep on watching.” See their full reviews below.

Gravity Falls: The Complete Series
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

To be honest, this is one of the best shows I’ve ever watched. I could talk for hours about how fantastic this series is. It is short for television show standards, but it is a perfect show to binge watch with friends due to the mysteries that keep you invested until they’re solved and the comedy is spot on.

The story follows twins, Dipper and Mabel Pines, who are sent to Gravity Falls, Oregon for the summer with their Great Uncle Stan. Things change when Dipper finds a journal revealing that the town is filled with all kinds of paranormal creatures and the show follows the adventures that Dipper, Mabel and their friends undertake in this strange town.

It’s pretty much my tradition to discuss the animation and the animation in this show looks great. While I feel it is technically the weakest aspect of the show, it is anything but bad. The animation is still very charming and very atmospheric. There’s a nice “summer Oregon feel” to the world that makes the forest of Gravity Falls very inviting. Later episodes look great. The colors and scale of the setting quickly goes from great to amazing in the last few episodes. The character designs are also outstanding. I’m not sure why, but I really like how each character design has its own flare and shows off the individual personalities.

The best thing in the show is definitely the characters. Aside from the Pines twins, their friends, Wendy and Soos are truly cool. Wendy’s personality is pretty much just being the coolest person imaginable. And I’m not making this up. She’s laid back, incredibly skilled and just cool in general. As for Soos (one of the many characters voiced by the show’s creator, Alex Hirsch), he’s just the sweetest character and a great guy overall. I have to give credit to the voice acting as well. I mentioned that the show’s creator, Alex Hirsch voices Soos. He also voices Stan Pines, Old Man McGucket, a bunch of background characters and the show’s main villain. It’s pretty hard to tell, unless you know he’s voicing these characters. Another stand out actor is Kristen Schaal who voices Mabel. Mabel’s adorable, hyperactive energy is all due to Kristen Schaal. The relationship between Dipper and Mabel is the epitome of what anyone with a sibling would be envious of and hope to model.

This show is also a perfect show for those who like theorizing about shows because this show is jam packed with mysteries, clues, codes and more. It keeps you invested.  I recommend this show for ages 7 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. The DVD box set also has some pretty cool stuff such as audio commentaries, shorts and funny deleted footage. It is must buy if you are a Gravity Falls fan! Available on DVD July 24, 2018.

Gravity Falls: The Complete Series
By Dariana A. KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 12

Gravity Falls is a very thrilling series. It keeps you at the edge of your seat with new mysteries in every episode. With baffling things happening in every episode, all you want to do is keep on watching. Since this DVD includes all 40 episodes as well as the special features, you really can do just that!  Although it is a show about mysteries, the writers still find a way to insert comedy, so it has an element for every type of viewer.

This show is about the twins Dipper (Jason Ritter) and Mabel (Kristen Schaal) Pines who summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon with their Great Uncle Stan (Alex Hirsch), working in his tourist trap, The Mystery Shack. During their vacation, Dipper finds an elusive book that contains writings about all the mysterious occurrences that happen in Gravity Falls.

Gravity Falls is anything but a predictable show. It has an amazing blend of comedy and mystery that keeps you wanting to watch until the end. This DVD includes every episode plus some special features such as deleted scenes, behind the animation and interviews with the cast and creators of the show, looking back at the past 40 episodes. This show has the perfect blend of every element a TV show should have, with a little something for every type of viewer. For example, Dipper and Mabel are twins, but complete opposites. Dipper is very logical and nerdy while Mabel is an imaginative free spirit. So, even there you have two different elements many people can relate to. One of my favorite characters is Soos (Alex Hirsch). He works at the Mystery Shack and accompanies Dipper and Mabel on many of their adventures. He is always there for the young Pines and is the first person to believe Dipper about his findings in the book and even helps the twins hunt down the Gobblewonker. The cast of this show really makes the characters. Jason Ritter’s voice is on the deep side, but it adds so much more to the character and his relationship with Kristen Schaal (Mabel Pines) higher pitched voice. Alex Hirsch who wrote, produced and voices the characters Gruncle Stan and Soos really makes the show what it is because the whole story is based on his own summer experiences. My favorite episode is season 2, episode 19, Weirdmageddon 2: Escape From Reality because it is so sweet to see the brother sister relationship in the way that Dipper saves Mabel in that episode.

The message of this show is about asking questions and investigating thing you’re curious about, just like Dipper does. I give this series 5 out of 5 stars for being the most unique comedy mystery sci-fi fantasy cartoon show out there and recommend it for ages 10 to 14 and beyond, because it has something for people of every age. You can find Gravity Falls: The Complete Series on DVD now so, look for it.

Gravity Falls: The Complete Series
By Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Let’s not mince words here, people! Gravity Falls may be one of the finest western animations of all time.  Large claim, no?  Allow me to back up why this show deserves this recognition.

Gravity Falls follows the main characters, Dipper and Mabel Pines, preteen twin siblings who are spending their summer vacation visiting their Great Uncle or “Grunkle” (and local con man), Stanford Pines in the small town of Gravity Falls, Oregon.  Stan lives in and operates a local tourist trap called the Mystery Shack, where he employees the other two main characters – lovable loser and gentle giant Soos, and local teenage, cool girl Wendy.  Not all is what is seems in Gravity Falls, as our characters are made to tangle with everything from abducting gnomes, autonomous video game characters, vengeful apparitions, living wax statues, time travelling police officers, extra-dimensional eldritch entities and many more! All the while, Dipper and Mabel attempt to unravel the many mysteries of Gravity Falls with the help of a mysterious journal that they find which catalogues all of the creepy goings on in this sleepy town.

Interesting premise, no?  The sheer plethora of all the different, and mostly antagonistic creatures the protagonists run into is staggering, and not a single one of them is boring.  But, despite a great plot, it’s the shocking amount of attention given to tiny details that exemplifies the deep quality of this program.  The show contains a large amount of Easter eggs and tiny plot devices that carry through the entire the series.  In fact, almost every ending credit contains a different word cipher puzzle that contributes plot details to the series!  But, if you had to pinpoint the most distinguishing feature of this series, it’s most certainly the pitch perfect writing.  It’s truly one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen and my children (age 2 to 17) both agree.  The humor varies so dramatically between all the main characters, yet they seem to mesh perfectly.  I truly believe this series is enjoyable for kids aged 2 to 18 and virtually any adult.  And, despite being aimed at kids, the story (delicately woven over 40 episodes) is astoundingly deep and touching by the end.  It’s strong emphasis on interpersonal relationships and personal character arcs is second to none and makes for a story that invests you in virtually every character in the show.  Full disclosure, I cried on several occasions while watching this program.  Also, without spoiling any plot for the readers, this series contains a genuinely terrifying antagonist for older viewers.  However, this antagonist is not frightening for the younger crowd, so you’ve nothing to worry about in that regard.

If this series can galvanize the attention of every toddler, pre-teen, adolescent and adult that gave it a glance in my house, I have no issue recommending this to a wide audience. The Special Edition DVD set contains a full DVD devoted to extras, ranging from commentary, childhood stories, shorts and deleted scenes. Before receiving this Special Edition, I had seen the full series probably a dozen times. Getting the chance to relive the fun with all the extras has been a blast. I give this series 5 out of 5 stars and honestly, I believe this series will stand the test of time.

 

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies – So Hilarious! True to TV Show, More Songs and Characters

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

It seems to the Teens that all the major superheroes out there are starring in their own movies-everyone but the Teen Titans, that is. But de facto leader Robin is determined to remedy the situation, and be seen as a star instead of a sidekick. If only they could get the hottest Hollywood film director to notice them. With a few madcap ideas and a song in their heart, the Teen Titans head to Tinsel Town, certain to pull off their dream. But when the group is radically misdirected by a seriously super villain and his maniacal plan to take over the Earth, things really go awry. The team finds their friendship and their fighting spirit failing, putting the very fate of the Teen Titans themselves on the line.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
By Dariana Alvarez, KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 12

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is such a hilarious film. During the premier at the Chinese Theatre, the laughs echoed around the room. The film stays true to the TV show, with inside jokes about Robin’s baby hands and beautiful butt. Even with those things from the TV show, the film still makes sense if you haven’t watched the show before. And, there are new things for people who have watched the TV show.

This film is about the Teen Titans trying to get their own movie in order to become official superheroes. To do that, they need an arch nemesis and they come across Slade (Will Arnett). This causes them to get a movie deal with Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) who has some ulterior motives.

As an https://youtu.be/hfrC5nEl1eUoriginal viewer of the TV show, I can tell you that it’s classic Teen Titans with many added aspects. One of which is the songs. There are occasional songs in the TV show, but this movie is jam packed with amazing songs by Jared Faber that help keep it interesting and move the story along. They are so catchy that I could hear people singing them as they left the theatre. The jokes in this film only make it better. This film just keeps you laughing throughout and at the edge of your seat with all the action.

The cast is really spectacular! They have the original five from the TV show – Tara Strong (Raven), Greg Cipes (Beast Boy), Khary Payton (Cyborg), Hynden Walch (Starfire) and Scott Menville (Robin). They also have a couple of new voices, including Kristen Bell (Jade Wilson), Will Arnett (Slade), Nicolas Cage (Superman), Stan Lee (Stan Lee), Halsey (Wonder Woman) and Lil Yachty (Green Lantern) who also does a remix of Go! My favorite character would have to be Beast Boy, because he is so hilarious and is always there for all the Titans. My favorite line is Robin’s catchphrase, “Crack an egg on it… ca caw!” It’s just so ridiculously funny and random.

The message of this film is the classic: “You don’t have to be super to be a superhero, you just have to be yourself.” I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because it kept me laughing and smiling for an hour and a half. I recommend it for ages 7 to 14, because the jokes are more geared to older audiences, with some really more for adults. Check it out when it opens, July 27, 2018.

 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout: Full of Adrenaline-Pumping Action. Best MI Film Yet!

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions. Arms dealer John Lark and a group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for a simultaneous nuclear attack on the Vatican, Jerusalem and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. When the weapons go missing, Ethan and his crew find themselves in a desperate race against time to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ryan R. comments, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout is … full of adrenaline-pumping action! I believe that this is the best summer action / adventure film of the year and the best Mission Impossible film to date.” Talia J. adds, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the most action-packed films of the year, and perhaps of the entire Mission: Impossible franchise. The legendary Tom Cruise never fails in making cutting edge films and surely he has not let his fans down in this one.” See their full reviews below.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout
By Ryan Rivera, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

So far, this summer’s action and adventure films have been very boring. However, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is far from boring. It’s full of adrenaline-pumping action! I believe that this is the best summer action / adventure film of the year and the best Mission Impossible film to date.

In this film, we see Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he receives a mission he chooses to accept, but fails to complete, because of an ambush. As a result, Ethan and his IMF team must work together with the CIA and other familiar allies to stop Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), John Lark (Henry) and his group, known as the Apostles, from trying to execute a nuclear threat to the world.

What I really enjoyed about this film are the sound designs, stunts, plot, cast and all the mind-blowing illusions IMF uses to trick the bad guys. I must say, the sound design is fantastic. The audio for explosions and gunshots sound authentic. It sounds so real that I felt as if I was in the scene. The stunts are intense because, if you don’t already know, Tom Cruise does all of his stunts. When he performs them, it is hard to watch since he jumps off of many things such as planes and buildings. I felt so nervous that these stunts are real. The stunts are so nerve racking because most of the movie isn’t made with CGI’s, so most of the stunts are done exactly how the movie shows it. The story is very interesting. I like that you really don’t need to see the other films to understand what goes on in this one.

The cast overall is superb. Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames are excellent as the IMF, since every delivery is spot on. I like that Benji is the most nervous character and you feel what he feels when a dangerous event happens. Also I enjoyed the performance of Sean Harris, who really brings in the mystery of this character, since he doesn’t speak a lot until the end of the film.  Rebecca Ferguson, as Ilsa Faust, makes a great curious assassin, since she always goes the opposite way of the IMF and always finds something different and important, which helps the IMF. Also, Angela Bassett and Alec Baldwin’s performances as Erica and Alan are fantastic. I like how their relationship is shown as contradictors, because they both argue their own points. It is a shame we don’t get to see more of this in the film. Henry Cavill, as August Walker, is also  fantastic. I like how Ethan and August have different ideas about what they should do in the missions and they both try to incorporate their ideas, but those ideas come at a cost.

I really like how each scene feels more intense than the last scene. At one point, I thought that the movie was going to end a certain way and I was so nervous about what was going to happen that I almost fell out of my seat. Finally, what I extremely like about this movie is the tricks the IMF use to trick the bad guys. In certain scenes I was surprised that it was an illusion. My favorite illusion is the masked one where Benxi wears a mask that allows him to look like anyone.

This movie had a lot of great things going for it. The only thing I did not like about it is that it shows way too much in its trailer. However, it is fantastic. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to people who like action / adventure and thriller movies. I recommend it for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults. Make sure to see Mission: Impossible – Fallout when it opens July 27, 2018.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout
By Talia Jacnuk, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the most action-packed films of the year, and perhaps of the entire Mission: Impossible franchise. The legendary Tom Cruise never fails in making cutting edge films and surely he has not let his fans down in this one.

This film is a continuation of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. The story follows the agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he embarks on another dangerous mission with his fellow teammates, Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickle (Ving Rhames) to stop a catastrophic event from taking place.

I have been a very big fan of the Mission Impossible films for many years. I have watched them all and enjoy them very much. That being said, this film feels very different from the others. This storyline is very intricate and complex so, if you miss a piece of dialogue, it’s very easy to get lost. It has always been easy to grasp what’s happening in the other films in the franchise, but this one is quite overwhelming. There are a couple of new characters introduced including the spy August Walker (Henry Cavill) and they bring back characters from past films. If someone missed the last film, it will be almost impossible to keep up with the story line. I highly recommend rewatching the previous film, just to jog your memory.

One thing that makes this film different from past ones is the deep emotional connection Ethan Hunt faces in this film. It really goes deep into Ethan Hunt’s mind and shares his greatest fears with the viewer. I enjoy that this film gets more personal and cuts deeper into who Ethan Hunt really is as an individual and not just as an agent.

The action scenes are absolutely insane. There are car chases, motorcycle races, jumping off roofs, mountain climbing and way too many more for me to begin to describe. It’s a very big cliché, but I was actually on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film. The fighting scenes are very climactic and interesting. The scene I looked forward to watching most is the scene where Tom Cruise actually injured himself performing a stunt. Yes, he broke his ankle performing a stunt! And, the best part is, they kept that scene in the film. Tom Cruise has shown time and time again how he is devoted to this franchise. He is an extremely talented actor and makes the films jaw dropping. He brings much needed humor and intensity to this film.

This film is one to definitely go see. It is entertaining with its captivating fight sequences, goes deeper into Ethan Hunt’s psyche, and still keeps the story light and fun to watch. I recommend it to ages 14 to 18, as well as adults. You should know that there is lots of rough fighting and bloody shots that are inappropriate for younger children. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars. It opens in theaters July 27, 2018 so put it on your watch list.

 

Photos © Paramount Pictures and Skydance

 

 

 

 

Mama Mia! Here We Go Again – Beautiful Setting, Hilarious Storyline, Great Music

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

Discover Donna’s (Meryl Streep, Lily James) young life, experiencing the fun she had with the three possible dads of Sophie (Amanda Seyfriend). As she reflects on her mom’s journey, Sophie finds herself to be more like her mother than she ever even realized. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jolleen M. comments, “This film has many beautiful settings and hilarious scenes that had the audience laughing. I love the unique story line that is unpredictable and interesting.” Morgan B. adds, “This classic mother / daughter story is more heartwarming then ever. Plus, there are a few twists and turns that make it a perfect family friendly film that I thoroughly enjoyed.”   See their full reviews below.

Mama Mia! Here We Go Again
By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This film has many beautiful settings and hilarious scenes that had the audience laughing. I love the unique story line that is unpredictable and interesting. Although I enjoyed it, younger children might not understand some of the jokes. This film is for more mature audiences.

We learn more about Donna’s (Meryl Streep, Lily James). We learn about Sophie’s (Amanda Seyfried) three possible dads and what risks Donna took for Sophie. Sophie now is pregnant and finishing up her mother’s dream of fixing up the property to become a beautiful hotel.

Lily James has to do a lot of difficult acting in this film and she pulls through. She fits the personality of the younger Donna perfectly, which is great because it makes it easier to see the connection between younger and present day Donna. All the actors have amazing singing voices, whether they are singing solos or blending their voices with the others. They break out in song often and I wasn’t bothered about that at all. They are all great dancers and seem to really just have fun.

The sets are so pleasing to the eye. The setting on a Greek island with gorgeous views are amazing. All of the cities look authentic and colorful, which makes everything even more pleasing to watch. The costumes are colorful and flashy as well.

My favorite part of the film is when two of Sophie’s three possible fathers attend her party and they bring many guests. Sophie is so happy to see her fathers in that scene and to have everyone see how much hard work had been done to renovate the property. I also like this scene because, on the boats people, are climbing everywhere, dancing and singing together. This scene is really hyped up and has so much energy.

One message of this film is that family should always love you and be there for one another, no matter what. In this film, Sophie’s three dads all stick with her and support her, even though they are very busy. They never abandon her or her mother.

This is definitely an unpredictable and interesting film. To better understand it, it would be best to watch the previous one, Mamma Mia. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults. It opens July 20, 2018, so check it out!

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
By Morgan B. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Age 13

Songs, songs, and more songs! Mamma Mia, you have done it once again with your newest addition to the family tree being Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and boy, am I loving it. This classic mother / daughter story is more heartwarming then ever. Plus, there are a few twists and turns that make it a perfect family friendly film that I thoroughly enjoyed.

One thing I like about this film is that they bring old characters back and introduce new ones to keep the sequel fresh and interesting. This is one of the treasureable factors in the series, which makes it fun to watch and relatable for any generation.

Young Donna (Lilly James) is a free spirited, independent young woman, which is what I like about her. At the same time of being fun and silly, she can be on fire and refuse whoever stands in her way. This is one of her best qualities, Also, Donna’s fun spunk really shows in her daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), whom I admire greatly.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is without question a fighter. She has a kind heart and strong determination, which I admire. However, she is grieving the loss of her mother and needs a bit a guidance to help her through this dark time, which makes her character seem even stronger.

Sky (Dominic Copper), Rosie (Julie Walters), Tanya (Christine Baranski), Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Cher (Rudy Sheridan), Donna (Meryl Streep) and the rest of the case are all terrific co-stars and great singers. When the film ended, everyone in the audience applauded. I’m a big fan of ABBA songs and want to get the CD as soon as it comes out.

The best scene, with lots of dancing, singing and stunning views, is when Sophie and two of her mother’s friends sing about boys and about not looking into their cute little eyes. I still can hear them singing “don’t look into their angel eyes or you’ll get hypnotized.” Honestly, it is very funny and I loved this scene.

I should mention that the scenery is just stupendous. Wherever you look there is eye candy, since this film takes place on a Greek island. There is always a scenic view on screen. Another thing I love about the location is that it looks as if you are standing right there and could jump right into the screen. However, movies don’t work like that, so we have take a boat or plane to see these views in person.

I recommend this film for ages 8 to 18. Everyone who watches this will love the breathtaking scenery, fabulous acting and the music. This film is perfect for summer viewing by the whole family because, after all, it truly is all about family and the joy they bring. I give this 5 out of 5 ABA stars.  Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is in theaters now, so check it out.

Photos © Universal Pictures

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – Exceptional Animation, Wonderful Voice Talent, Fun Summer Film

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

Mavis surprises Dracula with a family voyage on a luxury Monster Cruise Ship so he can take a vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel. The rest of Drac’s Pack cannot resist going along. But once they leave port, romance arises when Dracula meets the mysterious ship Captain, Ericka. Now it’s Mavis’ turn to play the overprotective parent, keeping her dad and Ericka apart. Little do they know that his “too good to be true” love interest is actually a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, ancient nemesis to Dracula and all other monsters. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Alejandra G. comments, “This comedy film had me laughing the entire time with all the ways the creatures are portrayed and how the director, Genndy Tartakovsky, manages to bring them to life through the exceptional animations.” Arjun N. adds, “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation is an entertaining animated film filled with unique creativity. Wonderful voice acting and a distinctive animation style separate this from the majority of animated films. This is sure to be a worthwhile watch for all families.” Morgan B. wraps it up with, “Mummies, vampires and werewolves, oh my! I have adored this terrific series since the original Hotel Transylvania came out in 2012. After all, who can argue with these comical, good looking and kind monsters?” See their full reviews below.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
By Alejandra G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

This comedy film had me laughing the entire time with all the ways the creatures are portrayed and how the director, Genndy Tartakovsky, manages to bring them to life through the exceptional animations. I love how all the actors resonate with their creature, making it sound natural and fitting. I was excited waiting for this movie to come out since it is the third film in the Hotel Transylvania series. I have seen the previous films and, when I found out there was going to be a sequel, I practically counted the days to the premiere. 

The story follows the monster family embarking a vacation on a monster cruise ship. They mostly go so that Drac can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else vacations at his hotel. The whole pack starts to have fun by getting involved in all of the activities the cruise has to offer such as monster volleyball, excursions and tanning. But, the amazing vacation turns into a nightmare when Mavis realizes her father likes Ericka, the captain of the ship, who she suspects to be hiding something from Drac and his family.

My favorite scene is when Ericka, the captain of the ship, welcomes all the guests and informs everyone that the first time that a monster cruise has been created. Because monsters are not allowed to live and socialize with people that are not monsters, they have had the opportunity to take a cruise before. I like this scene because, in it the variety of creatures are shown and I was amazed at the creative animations that the creators designed and brought to life.

The important message of this film is that letting go of old grudges and being open to changes in your life are very important. This film is a reminder that one has to honor the past, but be willing to allow new aspects to take place in your life. For example, since his mother’s death, Drac has never fallen for anyone else. But when the family arrives for the cruise, the head of the pack starts having feelings for someone else, making it weird for the rest of the family. As time progresses, Mavis, her daughter and the rest of the family accept the fact that they have to let go of the past and be open to new changes in their lives. I recommend this film for ages 5 to 18 and I rate this 5 out of 5 stars. This film opens in theaters July 13, 2018 so look for it.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation is an entertaining animated film filled with unique creativity. Wonderful voice acting and a distinctive animation style separate this from the majority of animated films. This is sure to be a worthwhile watch for all families.

The movie follows Dracula (Adam Sandler) as his boring hotel business and lack of love continue to bring him down. Wanting to bring back his joy, daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) surprises Dracula and the rest of his best friend-monster pack with an adventurous monster cruise. Initially angered by this, Dracula slowly begins enjoying himself and even finds a new crush in the mysterious yet charming cruise captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). However, things take a left turn when former nemesis Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) hunts the cruise, threatening the lives of all monsters aboard.

Adam Sandler, as Dracula, is my favorite character as his transformation to being his old adventurous self is well-presented. His love for his daughter and kind acceptance of humans also provide for a nice central message. Selena Gomez, as Mavis, continues to shine by providing an equally strong father-daughter bond with Dracula. Kevin James, as Frankenstein, greatly presents a dumbfound friend to Dracula whose

deteriorating body assures for some inventive comedy. Steve Buscemi, as Wayne/Wolfman, regales with his signature voice highlighting the character’s parenting struggles with his many cubs. David Spade, as Griffin/Invisible Man, equally entertains despite not having a corporeal form. Last but not least, Keegan Michael-Kay, as Murray/ Mummy, completes the pack with his unique, child-like nature. Kathryn Hahn, as Ericka, adeptly portrays her mysterious past and interesting attraction for Dracula. Jim Gaffigan, as Abraham Van Helsing, exhibits a new take on the legend monster hunter.

Genddy Tartakovsky brings out his zany and fast-paced direction in new ways. In spite of that, this is nowhere as memorable and groundbreaking as his other works, such as Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory. My favorite scene is the opening one which quickly introduces us to the Dracula-Van Helsing rivalry and sets the stage for a grand adventure. The biggest flaw in the movie is that some of the humor comes across as farcical and this could dissuade adults from watching. Also, the plot is rather one-note and forgettable, especially when compared to the standard of Tartakovsky’s other work.

 

The movie’s message is to never discriminate against a person based on their looks and instead, appreciate them for who they are. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. The movie releases in theaters on July 13, 2018, so check it out.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
By Morgan B. Bertsch KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Age 13

Mummies, vampires and werewolves, oh my! I have adored this terrific series since the original Hotel Transylvania came out in 2012. After all, who can argue with these comical, good looking and kind monsters? I know I can’t.

This sequel is just as good as the original, because they keep it fresh and make it even better than the last by making fun new twists. In this case, that’s Dracula (Adam Sandler) falling in love or “zing” with the ship’s captain and old enemy of his great granddaughter Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). This new romance between Erika and Dracula is totally unexpected and very quirky, hence making the movie absolutely hilarious.

I found a new character to love in this series besides Mavis (Selena Gomez). Even though she is a terrific charter (who I admire greatly), I like Ericka just a tad better, because Ericka is not only a evil villain, but she also has a kind side that she shows towards Dracula (even when you think she was the exact opposite). I not only like her for that, but I also like her sense of humor and what she thinks of Dracula. She says, “I want to get close to him and kiss, but I can’t. Oh I just want to punch his stupid looking face.”

I really like the scene when two musicians battle it out for the greater good of monsters v. s.  humans or, in other words good v. s. evil. This scene is straight down the middle funny. I love that they have few old songs that adults know and kids dodn’t, so in other words – Easter Eggs. On top of that, the songs they chose are very comical. I found myself singing them after I watched the movie and even after I left the theater. Also I like fighting with songs, instead of weapons. It seems like that idea would do the world a whole a lot of good.

I recommend this for ages 6 to 18. Younger kids will understand that Dracula and Ericka like each other and will understand the jokes about this kind of love, because they are kid-friendly and very funny for both younger and older kids. Older kids and adults will understand some of jokes targeted at an alder audience and they will also like the animation. It is overall an enjoyable family-friendly film for the summer. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. It is in theaters now, so go and have yourself some monster fun before it is gone.

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