Archive for August, 2018

Operation Finale : Historical Drama That Evokes a Range of Raw Emotion

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

Fifteen years after the end of World War II, a team of top-secret Israeli agents travels to Argentina to track down Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi officer who masterminded the transportation logistics that brought millions of innocent Jews to their deaths in concentration camps. Hoping to sneak him out of the country to stand trial, agent Peter Malkin soon finds himself playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with the notorious war criminal. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abraham F. comments, “Operation Finale is horrifyingly intense as well as funny at times. The two main characters, Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) and Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) are terrifyingly realistic.” See his full review below.

Operation Finale
By Abraham Finer, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Operation Finale is horrifyingly intense as well as funny at times. The two main characters, Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) and Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) are terrifyingly realistic. The suspense feels like it’s on real stakes because this film is based on actual events. One criticism I have is that all the secondary characters are easily forgettable.

The story of this film focuses on a group of Israeli agents who are tasked with capturing and bringing back Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi Lieutenant who escaped justice after World War II to Israel. The agents spot him at his house after a spy tells them where he lives. They watch his daily routine until they memorize it and fake their car being broken in, to jump him. They take him back to where they are staying and take turns watching him. One day, the airport calls saying that they have to get a signature from Adolf Eichmann to let them board so they try to convince him to sign. Malkin tries a more friendly approach to make him sign and they get to know each other.

My favorite part in this film is when Malkin and Eichmann are getting to know each other. You get to see Eichmann’s side and how he interprets the holocaust. That is very interesting.

There are two big names in this film. Ben Kingsley plays Adolf Eichmann and Oscar Isaac plays Peter Malkin. Ben Kingsley has been in numerous award winning films such as Ghandi, which he won an Oscar for best actor. Oscar Isaac has been in Ex Machina, an Oscar winning film and the Star Wars series.

I recommend this film to anyone who wants to know more about the Holocaust or World War II. You should be aware that the adults in this film smoke and drink. I recommend Operation Finale for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. This film opens in theaters August 29, 2018 so look for it.

Photos © 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Rarity – Lessons, Morals And Fun All in One Bundle

Friday, August 17th, 2018

Friendship Is In Fashion!  Welcome to the Carousel Boutique, home of Ponyville’s own fashionista — not to mention Spike’s #1 crush — Rarity! But in addition to being up-to-date on the latest trends and styles, Rarity is particularly known for her generosity. See for yourself, as Rarity, along with her best friends, Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy and, of course, Spike, prepare for the Grand Galloping Gala, search for the loveliest of gems, investigate crimes, and more! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jolleen M. comments, “I love how My Little Pony always teaches kids different lessons and morals in an interesting scenario. It is always intriguing to watch. These episodes teach deep messages that are crucial to know.” Elle S. KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer adds, “This very wildly entertaining series is based off a sassy and sophisticated pony, Rarity. It’s easy to consider her as a fan favorite, because she is a trend setter, go getter and very creative character.” See their full reviews below.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Rarity
By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I love how My Little Pony always teaches kids different lessons and morals in an interesting scenario. It is always intriguing to watch. These episodes teach deep messages that are crucial to know.

This DVD is mainly about Rarity and some of the challenges she goes through. The other ponies make appearances and help her through her problems, but sometimes they are the cause. It is fascinating to see all of the ponies’ different takes on how the problems should be solved. They each have unique personalities, which sometimes clash, but may also be beneficial. This DVD is perfect to teach many great morals.

Rarity is either super confident or super stressed out. Tabith St. Germain, the voice of Rarity,  articulates these emotions really well, while maintaining the sophisticated character that Rarity is. St. Germain is the perfect voice for this character. Fluttershy (Andrea Libman) is the kind of character who is very quiet, sounds very timid and doesn’t use very much expression. Even though she is quite reserved, you can still sense her emotions. With the help of animating Fluttershy’s face, we are able to see Fluttershy’s emotions. Libman’s voice over goes from very quiet and reserved to a whole other range of emotions.

Rarity’s costumes are quite beautiful. They are unique to her personality, but with a little twist. I love the dresses that she comes up with, as well as the “ugly” dresses that the ponies closely monitor the making of. I thought it was so interesting to see the ponies’ characteristics and personalities come out even more in the ugly dress.

My favorite scene in this DVD is when Rarity shows off the dresses she likes in her fashion show and, when asked who is the designer, she confidently struts out in a dress of her own. On the contrary, everyone hates the other dresses she showed the first time when she shamefully came out as the designer. I love this scene because, she is so happy to be the designer of her work the second time. The first time she tried to please her friends and that made a huge mess of her work.

The message of this DVD is all about working with other people, knowing you can’t please everyone and forgiveness. Rarity learns all these lessons through her mistakes and the help of her friends. This DVD is very helpful for children experiencing problems of their own or just for learning new things. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. This is available now on DVD so, look for it.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Rarity
By Elle Stuart, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

This very wildly entertaining series is based off a sassy and sophisticated pony, Rarity. It’s easy to consider her as a fan favorite, because she is a trend setter, go getter and very creative character. There are plenty of cameos of primary cast members, so this DVD appeals to a wide audience. The show has so many characters with powers, big personalities and lots of problem solving that children will enjoy. All the characters encounter circumstances and challenges, yet remain positive, honest, fair and friendly.

This DVD starts out by showing us a very patient Rarity going through drastic measures to prepare for an upcoming fashion show. Things don’t go as planned. Most people will relate to putting others first or being flat out embarrassed which makes this completely relatable. Episode 2 is filled with suspense and action. Rarity is in sudden danger due to some greedy diamond dogs that want to strip her of her magical advantages. You won’t believe how she strategically deals with these dogs. Episode 3 is about mystery and fashion. Lastly, episodes 4 and 5 really tie together nicely because they focus on internal beauty and lasting relationships.

The production is bright and colorful with excellent animation. The menu allows you to play separate episodes or all at once. It is only available in English as there are no other language choices to make. There are no bonus features. It does teach some practical skills such as sewing in Episode One. Episodes Two through Five address lots of pro-social behaviors and fashionable commentary. The comedic timing is extraordinarily entertaining as are the fun songs about friendship. The message of this show is about being true to your self, accepting of change and to learn more about what is pleasing inside of you.

I rate this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12.  There are lessons to be learned in every episode, a fun sing-a-long and an overall loving and joyous show.

 

Crazy Rich Asians – Fantastic Visuals, Amazing Acting, Complex and Fun Storyline.

Friday, August 17th, 2018

The story follows Rachel Chu (Wu), an American-born Chinese economics professor, who travels to her boyfriend Nick’s (Golding) hometown of Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. Before long, his secret is out: Nick is from a family that is impossibly wealthy, he’s perhaps the most eligible bachelor in Asia, and every single woman in his ultra-rarefied social class is incredibly jealous of Rachel and wants to bring her down. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “The visuals in this film are fantastic. This film takes place mostly in Singapore and it looks gorgeous. From the street vendors, to the crazy mansions, to the wedding, which is fairytale phenomenal, this movie is just amazing to look at.” See her full review below.

Crazy Rich Asians
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

I usually dislike romantic comedies. Romance is probably my least favorite genre. I find it almost impossible to make rom coms interesting or unique. However, every once in a while, a movie like this appears. This movie is actually very enjoyable and made me laugh out loud.

The story follows Rachel Chu as she accompanies her rich boyfriend, Nick Young, to Singapore for a wedding. She meets his family and tries to get along with them. The plot is very straightforward, but it is compelling mainly through the dialogue and acting. Also the visuals.

The visuals in this film are fantastic. This film takes place mostly in Singapore and it looks gorgeous. From the street vendors, to the crazy mansions, to the wedding, which is fairytale phenomenal, this movie is just amazing to look at. I am also not a fashionista, but the outfits are just incredible. Kudos to the costume designer, Mary E. Vogt. There’s also a really cool scene near the beginning where someone sending a text is visualized as a stream of color traveling to the person’s phone. It looks really cool.  Now, a big part of this movie is the fact that the entire cast is Asian and yet, this is a mainstream Hollywood movie. Representation is very important to me and the last movie with a full Asian cast (that I remember) was in the nineties. This is what made me originally excited for this movie. Of course, this film isn’t only good because of the representation and it works a lot on other levels.

First, the acting. The actors in this film are amazing. There are two actors who truly caught my eye: Gemma Chan as Astrid Leong is mesmerizing on screen and Peik Lin Goh is played by Awkwafina, who is my new favorite comedy actor. I love her voice. These actors are the standouts for me, but everyone else is also great. There’s some really good mother-daughter emotional scenes. I almost teared up, which is something impressive. The dialogue in this film is also really great. It feels so natural. I feel like I’ll be quoting this movie a lot.

Nick’s Mom is the villain, but she is complex and believes she has her family’s best interest in mine. This is more than your basic Cinderella story. I love learning about other cultures through media and now, going to Singapore is on my bucket list! You might leave the theatre a little envious, but we can all dream.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. It comes out on August 15, 2018 so look for it.

Photos © 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC

 

 

Alpha – A Beautiful Film About Survival and Nature

Friday, August 17th, 2018

An epic adventure set in the last Ice Age, ALPHA tells a fascinating, visually stunning story that shines a light on the origins of man’s best friend. While on his first hunt with his tribe’s most elite group, a young man is injured and must learn to survive alone in the wilderness. Reluctantly taming a lone wolf abandoned by its pack, the pair learn to rely on each other and become unlikely allies, enduring countless dangers and overwhelming odds in order to find their way home before winter arrives. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C., comments, “This is a beautiful film about survival. I love everything about this live action film. The editing flows nicely and there are many visually stunning scenes.” See her full review below.

Alpha
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film critic, age 9

This is a beautiful film about survival. I love everything about this live action film. The editing flows nicely and there are many visually stunning scenes. The story is about survival, loyalty and, most importantly, following your instincts.

In this film, a boy named Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is attacked by a buffalo. His father thinks he died, so he leaves him on the cliff where he was attacked. When he finally makes it to the ground, a pack of wolves attack. One of the wolves is very hurt and he decides tries to help him. During the course of movie, they help each other in many different ways. At the end of the film, you discover a beautiful surprise about the wolf.

Please keep in mind that this film takes place in prehistoric times and the dialogue is not in English, but is subtitled in English. I could understand the movie perfectly, even though it isn’t in English. Keda becomes a man as the story unfolds. It is a coming-of-age story, wherein the boy and the wolf look out after each other as if they are  family. The boy tries to prove to himself and his tribe that he can become a man and can be strong. By bonding with the wolf, he accomplishes the unimaginable.

This type of film is uncommon in contemporary cinema. The editing is very well done and there is a flash back at the beginning that helps you understand the back story. The costumes are tribal, which makes the characters seem more believable and tribe-like. The landscapes are quite extraordinary. In so many ways, this film is truly beautiful. Everything that happens takes place in natural environments.

The message of this film is that we should bond with nature, follow our own instincts and preserve our innate quality of being kind. I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars because of the beautiful  landscapes and touching story. I  recommend it for ages 8 to 18, as well as adults.  I was very lucky to watch this movie with my dog, because I attended a special screening that allowed dogs, so that experience was truly unforgettable. Alpha opens in theaters August 17, 2018 so, look for it.

 

Dog Days – One Very Funny Story About 12 People and 4 Dogs

Monday, August 13th, 2018

Elizabeth is a charming anchorwoman who seeks advice from her dog’s therapist. Tara is a spunky barista who dreams of a life beyond the coffee shop. Daisy is a dog walker who’s enamored with a client. Garrett pines for a woman while trying to keep his adopt-a-dog business afloat. The beloved canines in their lives soon start to influence their careers, friendships and romantic relationships in funny and unexpected ways. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Zoe C. comments, “I love this film because it follows a bunch of intertwined relationships that all revolve around dogs. It’s one story about 12 people and four dogs.” See her full review below.

Dog Days
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

This live action film is very entertaining and exciting. I love dogs, so seeing all the dogs on the big screen was very exciting for me. It is really cool. I love this film because it follows a bunch of intertwined relationships that all revolve around dogs. It’s one story about 12 people and four dogs. I also really love the comedy. There are some sad moments, but the jokes are very funny.

This film has several storylines. One is about a girl named Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev), who hosts a show called “Wake Up LA.” She has a new co-host who she doesn’t  get along with and she is heartbroken because recently she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her. Later, we meet Tara (Vanessa Hudgens) who works as barista, thinks she’s looking for love, but instead finds a sweet adorable dog, a Chihuahua, outside the coffee shop that she adopts. Then, there’s Ruth and her husband Greg who are soon to become parents and give their dog to Ruth’s brother. Next are Walter and Tyler (Finn Wolfhard). Walter lost his pug and Tyler is helping him find it. Last are Gracie and Kurt who adopt a daughter who doesn’t  talk much until she finds an adorable pug.

Dog Days’ director, Ken Marino is a writer and actor as well. He combines all the stories so well and they all flow nicely. The performances are quite believable and the jokes are very funny. There is romance, but also other important relationships, friendship and love between brothers and family members. The actors are all quite wonderful. Their casual costumes make them very realistic. Los Angeles is the perfect location for this story, because it fits the storyline and the light and colors are perfect. I especially love all the scenes that the Chihuahua Gertrude appears in.

You don’t need to love dogs to like this film! The message is that we all need love and we can learn from dogs a lot about unconditional love. It does not have strong language, but some scenes may be not the most appropriate for kids under the age of 7, so please be cautious of that.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18 as well as adults. It is touching, funny, and  very entertaining. It is a not spectacular, elaborated production, but the story flows nicely and actors’ performances make this movie very enjoyable to watch. It opens in theaters August 8, 2018 so, put it on your radar screen.

Photo by Jacob Yakob / LD Entertainment - © New Tricks LLC

 

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