Archive for the 'Feature Film Reviews' Category

Earth: One Amazing Day – Beautiful and Touching Reminder of the Amazing Planet – Earth!

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

From BBC Earth Films, the studio that brought you Earth, comes the sequel – Earth: One Amazing Day, an astonishing journey revealing the awesome power of the natural world. Over the course of one single day, we track the sun from the highest mountains to the remotest islands to exotic jungles. Breakthroughs in filmmaking technology bring you up close with a cast of unforgettable characters. Told with humour, intimacy and a jaw-dropping sense of cinematic splendor, Earth: One Amazing Day highlights how every day is filled with more wonders than you can possibly imagine- until now. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jolleen M. comments, “Earth: One Amazing Day is a beautiful, informational film that makes you really appreciate Earth and know more about it. This film captures nature in all its beauty and is simply breathtaking. This film is very touching, suspenseful and pleasurable.” Rohan F. adds, “The film features amazing cinematography, stunning graphics, and the audio quality at the screening I saw was brilliant thanks to the Dolby theatre vast speaker system. It had different layers of sound played at the same time creating a very realistic vibe.” See their full reviews below.

Earth: One Amazing Day
By Jolleen Mejia, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Earth: One Amazing Day is a beautiful, informational film that makes you really appreciate Earth and know more about it. This film captures nature in all its beauty and is simply breathtaking. This film is very touching, suspenseful and pleasurable. There is comedy, action, adventure, romance and non-fiction all in one film. There is something for everyone to enjoy!

This film explores all the aspects of one day on Earth. It follows the lives of different animals including iguanas, baby lizards, zebras, giraffes, lions and many more. The film shows all the struggles in nature, but also the wonderful and amazing parts. It makes you see the beauty of nature and makes you curious about what’s out there.

The people who responsible for filming this, Robin Cox, Kevin Flay and Flying Glass used their cameras to capture the beauty of Earth. Doing this is a real challenge, but they managed to capture so much detail and were able to get incredible close ups. They recorded at different angles, which makes the whole film visually pleasing and close to what it’s like if you were actually there. I also loved the narration of Jackie Chan and Robert Redford. Their voices are very mellow, blends in with the music and overall just fits perfectly for this film.

The events that capture are very cool. I especially like how the camera work shoots at different angles so you get a different perspective on the world. The film’s visuals are very colorful and intriguing. My favorite part is when the giraffes fight over the land and the ladies. I like this scene because I learned something new. I had no idea that giraffes could bend their necks so much or that they would just swing their heads around to fight. It was really amusing to see their heads swinging around everywhere, but a little sad to see that they were bleeding.

The message of this film is to acknowledge the Earth and realize how lucky we are to be here. There are so many wonderful things happening around us that we don’t notice. The film reminds us to stop and smell the roses and to make sure to protect the earth’s beauty so future generations can enjoy it as well.

I loved watching this film so much. It really touched my heart and made me realize how beautiful the Earth is, on just one amazing day. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 18. I’m sure that everyone will enjoy this film, even adults. Definitely make sure to check it out. It opens nationwide in theaters October 6, 2017.

Earth: One Amazing Day
By Rohan D. Foxe, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 12

Earth: One Amazing Day is an incredible feature length documentary that is a sequel to Earth, an acclaimed movie based on Planet Earth, the famous series of BBC wildlife documentaries shown on networks and in schools worldwide.  The film features amazing cinematography, stunning graphics, and the audio quality at the screening I saw was brilliant thanks to the Dolby theatre vast speaker system. It had different layers of sound played at the same time creating a very realistic vibe.

Earth: One Amazing Day follows a huge variety of animals and the challenges they must face during a single day. It shows how animals are impacted by the rhythms of the sun and how it provides life to all creatures. It starts off early in the morning following marine iguanas. It then brings you to midday where we get an amazing view of a giant panda and her cub eating bamboo. Next, we get a view of a zebra and her foal attempting to cross a rushing river to get to where the grass will grow next. It continues telling different stories for every animal it shows.

My favorite scene is when it shows a group of bears scratching on trees to music. The scene is hilarious and is very well edited so that the bear’s movements appear to go to the music.

The documentary is narrated by Academy award-winner, Robert Redford. The pauses he leaves between his words are timed brilliantly creating a dramatic atmosphere for each tale. Earth: One Amazing Day was directed by Richard Dale, Peter Webber, and Fan Lixin. This is currently one of the biggest collaborations on a film between China and the United Kingdom. The Chinese version is voiced by Jackie Chan who is known across the world for his martial arts movies.

The music matches the scenes seamlessly. I love how they tell a short story with each animal and how it makes the viewer invested in each and every one of them. They use clips taken over the course of several days and make them appear as one scene.

The moral of this film is that there is beauty all around us that can be seen every day. We must only look around us to see it. I feel that this is an important and inspirational message to appreciate our world, this isn’t being said enough.

I give Earth: One Amazing Day 5 out of 5 stars for its unbelievable graphics and storytelling. I recommend it to children ages 6 to 18 and think that adults will also really appreciate the beauty of this documentary.

 

 

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House – Engaging Historical Drama

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Lifelong G-Man Mark Felt, aka “Deep Throat,” leaks information to the press that helps to uncover the Watergate scandal of 1974. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tristan T. comments, “While educational, offering a peek into the often hidden parts of our nations’ government, this film is also entertaining.” Kimbirly O, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror adds, “Given this film is created from Felt’s 2006 autobiography and published a year after he revealed his identity as “Deep Throat” to Vanity Fair, the film does not deliver on the juicy details and unveiling I expected. The most appealing part of the movie is the historical retrospective of the film.” See their full reviews below.

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House
By Tristan T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

While educational, offering a peek into the often hidden parts of our nations’ government, this film is also entertaining.  The writer/director, Peter Landesman shows authenticity while keeping us engaged. It is based on the true story about the anonymous whistle blower in the Watergate scandal from the 1970s, who we later learned was Mark Felt.

I really enjoy time-era pieces.  This is a historical drama based in the 1970s, so between the costuming and set props, it is fun to learn more about life during that time in history. 

Not surprising, one of my favorite characters is Mark Felt (Liam Neeson).  He always plays more stoic roles, where he is demanding, but deserving of respect.  It is funny to see him look older with white hair, and I did miss that he did not have any action scenes in this film. But, I also like that we catch a glimpse into his personal life too – one that is relatable, and sometimes full of conflict and pain.

There is not one particular scene that is my favorite. What I enjoyed the most is when Mark Felt had secret meetings with his colleagues Ed Miller (Tony Goldwyn) and Charlie Bates (Josh Lucas).  It was nice to see their loyalty to each other and to their work.  When learning about Watergate, this is often an unknown part of the process.

This quote from Peter Landesman speaks of why this film took so long to hit the screens. “In my worldview, events are not about history—events are about human beings. I’m fascinated by people under pressure and in crisis, and what happens to them and what they do.”  I find it interesting that this film was started in 2005 and did not come to completion until now.  This speaks to how much investigating they did for the production.

This film is rated PG-13 for language, although I didn’t find it overly profane.  I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18, provided the viewer has some understanding the Watergate scandal. Otherwise I think they will get bored.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.  It opens October 13, 2017 in select theaters so be sure to check it out.

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House
By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

The opening of the film lead me to believe deep secrets would unfold. Mark Felt (Liam Neeson) encounters his former colleague Bill Sullivan (Tom Sizemore) and they exchange words recapping what appears to be a professional rivalry for the viewer’s benefit. This film is an historical drama about men (FBI employees) whose job is to analyze every detail and research and report discrepancies. There are times when things do not add up. Mark often comments, “The President has no power over the FBI.”

Given this film is created from Felt’s 2006 autobiography and published a year after he revealed his identity as “Deep Throat” to Vanity Fair, the film does not deliver on the juicy details and unveiling I expected. The most appealing part of the movie is the historical retrospective of the film. At times, the details are unappealing, as the characters are hard to follow. The film flows well, although it took me a few minutes to determine which characters were members of the FBI and who else was in the room. As the film moves on, the characters develop into an amazing working team. I empathized with Mark Felt throughout the film. I felt the Director could have given us more insight into the walls of the institution where Felt worked for 31 years, and whose integrity he sought to protect from the interference of the Nixon White House officials.

When J. Edgar Hoover dies and Felt is passed over for his position, L. Patrick Gray III (Marton Csokas), a close Nixon ally, replaces Hoover as head of the FBI. Mark’s integrity and hard work for more than 30 years are overlooked by the good-old-boy White House network. Leadership knows Mark is dangerous, given what he knows. When the Watergate break-in occurs, the FBI demands a 48-hour wrap and Mark knows this is the beginning of the end of the position he has served loyally and with integrity, even if he decides that spilling secrets is the best way to protect the FBI and manage his way out of an unmanageable situation.

While the office scenes are bland and the meetings with Bob Woodward (Julian Morris) in the parking garage seem contrived, there is substantial interest during sessions with Time Magazine’s reporter Sandy Smith (Bruce Greenwood), who realizes Mark Felt is breaking his tight-lipped manner as Felt finally gives way. He tells Mark, “The FBI must be terrified of you.” The characters are hard-hitting FBI employees. Their job is to serve and protect, even if it means keeping secrets to protect their peers, boss or the White House administration. For the most part, the characters are seen as positive stand-up men. It is only when Mark Felt makes a decision that  we see his character stray, yet it is portrayed with shocking beauty. This film, based on true-facts, is brilliant. Many times, I found myself wanting to research more about this era, and the real men portrayed in the film.

The movie works hard to humanize Mark Felt, his family and fellow G-men. The subplot family story is warm, while most of Mark Felt’s career interactions are harsh and direct. The film challenges the viewer’s memory of historical facts. Is he a hero or a villain? Whatever you see, there is no doubt Mark Felt is the most impactful whistle-blower in American history so far. Many times, the film appears black and white and a bit grainy. In order to capture the times, I believe this is purposeful. As with any sleuth-type film, the graininess adds to the mystery. Another sign of the times, excessive smoking. While a total turn-off to this reviewer, it was prevalent in the 70s. The historical retrospective of this dark time in American history is invaluable. As the story unfolds, I was glued to the screen. The burden and power of the American landscape is presented in contrast with dark figures who believe secrets are best kept.

This film, with very adult themes, showcases a moment in history which is almost anti-climatic. The story focuses on the Watergate break-ins of the 70s and the ways and means the White House and other organizations lived and worked with secrets. Dare we say it parallels politics today? Because of the subject matter and fine details of “who’s who” in the puzzle of facts, I recommend this only for mature teens. Many adults will find this tale riveting, especially those old enough to be aware of Nixon’s presidency in the 70s. I recommend this film for ages 16 to 18 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. This film may prompt teens to research more about Mark Felt and his place in history. Reviewed by Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

 

 

Marshall – Sleek Legal Drama With Great Performances and Excellent Screenplay

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Young Thurgood Marshall faces one of his greatest challenges while working as a lawyer for the NAACP. Marshall travels to conservative Connecticut when wealthy socialite Eleanor Strubing accuses black chauffeur Joseph Spell of sexual assault and attempted murder. He soon teams up with Sam Friedman, a local Jewish lawyer who’s never handled a criminal case. Together, the two men build a defense while contending with racist and anti-Semitic views from those who deem Spell to be guilty. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “Don’t be fooled by the snazzy vintage costumes, the real heart of Marshall’s success is its screenplay and the chemistry between its lead actors.” See his full review below.

Marshall
By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Marshall is a sleek legal drama with great performances from Chadwick Boseman as the title character and Josh Gad. Don’t be fooled by the snazzy vintage costumes, the real heart of Marshall’s success is its screenplay and the chemistry between its lead actors.

This film follows pioneering Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in his earlier years as a lawyer for the NAACP. A white socialite in Greenwich, Connecticut, accuses a black man of rape and attempted murder. The NAACP believes the man, Joseph Spell, is innocent and sends Marshall to defend him. Marshall enlists local lawyer Sam Friedman (Josh Gad) whose previous track record involves tax or insurance cases. Friedman worries about his family’s safety due to the unrest the controversial trial causes. Sam and Thurgood must work together to defend Spell…and each other.

This film is very good and so is its screenplay. The touches of comedy bring a welcome balance to its serious topic and difficult history. There is an array of good lines for Boseman and Gad. Several other actors get a chance to shine as well. I appreciate that Marshall takes its subjects seriously, but doesn’t take on a dreary tone doing it. The scenes in the courtroom are intense and keep you interested in the action. As the case develops, these scenes get more and more engaging.

While Boseman is very good as Thurgood Marshall, his performance is disappointing considering how hyped his portrayal has been in the film’s ad campaign. He gives Marshall a suave personality but the script limits his ability to show off his range and really take the character on a journey. On the other hand, Josh Gad is a standout as Sam Friedman. He plays to his comedic strengths as Marshall’s sidekick while also giving a genuinely good dramatic performance as a central and evolved character. He is a nice foil to Boseman and their chemistry reminds me of a buddy cop comedy.

The lesson I take from the film is that you have to follow your moral compass even when it’s hard. Sam’s unwillingness to join the case makes sense. He is just starting out and worried that it could ruin his reputation. The fact that he does it anyway is a testament to the person Friedman must have been in real life.

I give Marshall an age rating of 14 to 18 because of some racial and offensive language and suggestive and violent content, including depictions of the alleged assault. And my verdict on Marshall? 4 out of 5 stars. Marshall opens in theaters on October 13, 2017 so go check it out.

 

 

Victoria and Abdul – Mind-Boggling Story Revealing Racism at the Turn of the 20th Century

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Abdul Karim arrives from India to participate in Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee. The young clerk is surprised to find favor with the queen herself. As Victoria questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance that her household and inner circle try to destroy. As their friendship deepens, the queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes, joyfully reclaiming her humanity. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha M. comments, “This incredible, historical film opened my eyes and made me better understand the world I live in. Given that racism is still a prevalent issue in today’s society, it was mind-boggling to see it in Britain, at the turn of the 20th century.” Lucia F. adds, “How could the Empress of the British Empire and a poor Indian clerk possibly have anything at all in common? The fact that there is much that they share is a major theme in Victoria and Abdul.”

Victoria and Abdul
By Samantha M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

This incredible, historical film opened my eyes and made me better understand the world I live in. Given that racism is still a prevalent issue in today’s society, it was mind-boggling to see it in Britain, at the turn of the 20th century. I admire how this film brings the past to the present, and made me question how racism can dissipate in the future.

This film carefully documents the relationship between Queen Victoria and her beloved servant, Abdul Karim. Queen Victoria reigned in the United Kingdom from 1837 to 1901. She was the longest serving monarch in world history. In addition to being a queen, she was also the Empress of India. Because of this, Abdul Karim and his friend Mohammed are sent from India to Britain to deliver a sacred coin: the Mohur. Abdul and Mohammed believe they are only going to remain in Britain for a short period of time, but they end up going on the adventure of a lifetime.

Judi Dench, who plays Queen Victoria, exceptionally portrays a queen who is tired of her constriction. All she wants to do is have Abdul be her full-time servant, but because of his origins, Queen Victoria’s staff does not approve. Ali Fazal, who plays Abdul Karim, considers the queen a very special person and his kindness towards her is impeccable. He teaches her the Quran and shares his culture with her. As time goes on, both develop a strong friendship, which is truly heartwarming.

The setting is remarkable. I’ve never seen the Taj Mahal, Scotland or the queen’s palace. This film takes the audience to all these places. After seeing the beauty in other countries, it makes me want to travel the world. My favorite part of this film is when Queen Victoria eats with her staff. She eats very quickly and, once she finishes her food, regardless if the others are done or not, the servants take all of the food away. It’s hilarious to see people still eating their meals and have their food taken away in the blink of an eye.

The message of this film is that no race, culture or religion is subordinate to another, even though individuals are from many different backgrounds. Britain is usually portrayed as one of the most powerful countries, but not in this film. We have to learn to not categorize others as inferior because of their lifestyle. Differences make society beautiful. If we were all the same, everything would be boring.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to kids ages 15 to 18 as well as adults. There are undertones of adult subject matter throughout the film. Queen Victoria is infatuated with much a younger, married man, which is why an older audience is more suitable for it. Check it out when it opens in select theaters on September 22, 2017. I guarantee you’ve never seen anything like this before.

Victoria and Abdul
By Lucia Funaro, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 18

How could the Empress of the British Empire and a poor Indian clerk possibly have anything at all in common? The fact that there is much that they share is a major theme in Victoria and Abdul.  One example is that they are both in “prison.” You first see scenes with Abdul and Queen Victoria in their native habitats: waking up, doing their jobs and, we see that they both exist in confined situations. Abdul works in an actual Indian prison, doing a very boring job and Victoria later says she is “in prison” because she cannot do what she wants to do, which is to explore the world. In one surprising scene, Victoria actually falls asleep at the table at her Golden Jubilee dinner! Abdul catches her eye and he becomes a window to the wonderfully exotic world of Indian culture.

Every British character in this story, except Victoria, is a terrible racist. The Royal staff of Queen Victoria disapproves of her friendship with Abdul and are constantly conspiring to sabotage their relationship. In contrast, Queen Victoria is fascinated by India, the languages, architecture and just about everything. She wants to explore India, but she cannot because if she does, she likely will be assassinated by the oppressed Indian people. Her son and heir Bertie (later King Edward VII) is the most hateful of all. One of the first things he does as king is to burn all evidence of his mother’s 14-year friendship with Abdul that exists among his mother’s papers and photographs.

One of the things that really stood out for me in this movie was the dialogue. Many wonderful actors are very lucky to bring life to this well-crafted screenplay. Judi Dench, as Queen Victoria, is really funny and dramatic at the same time. Ali Fazal, as Abdul, is amazing because he shows the care, love and respect the character has for the Queen. Of course, Michael Gambon is appropriately arrogant as the Prime Minister (although his distinctive voice keeps bringing Dumbledore to mind!)  Eddie Izzard, as Queen Victoria’s son Bertie, is also phenomenal as the worst villain in a movie full of them – very realistic and believable. The director Stephen Frears and the writer Lee Hall are amazing because they capture an important piece of history in an entertaining way. (When I found out Lee Hall wrote Billy Elliot, I knew this movie was going to be great.)

I give Victoria and Abdul 5 out of 5 stars because it tells the remarkable story about how two people from very different worlds come together as friends. I recommend this movie ages 13 to 18 because there are no intense moments and the plot is slightly complex. There are only funny, sweet, beautiful and some sad moments. You can see Victoria and Abdul in theaters when it opens on September 22, 2017.

Victoria and Abdul
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Victoria and Abdul is a surprisingly humorous historical drama with great performances from its two main leads.

Victoria and Abdul opens in India when Abdul (Ali Fazal) is chosen to take a long voyage to England to present a special coin to Queen Victoria (Judi Dench). During the ceremony, something sparks their long, close and unusual friendship which is the subject of the film. Victoria and Abdul follows the queen in the final years of her rule. She is 81 years old and finds little happiness in her day-to-day life until Abdul arrives. Abdul teaches her how to speak and write in Urdu and soon becomes her “munshi,” a spiritual adviser. Many in the queen’s household do not approve of their friendship because of Abdul’s origins. Nevertheless, their friendship thrives.

Judi Dench plays a quite believable Queen Victoria and brings out both the stubborn and kind sides of her character. Dench really shows a range of emotions and truly brings out the personality of this historical figure. Dench makes Victoria’s loneliness so convincing that I felt her pain. Her rudeness makes sense considering every day she is followed by a selfish posse of unfaithful followers. When Abdul arrives, the kinder parts of her character come alive.

Ali Fazal portrayst a very likable Abdul, but he feels poorly developed in comparison and never really gets a chance to shine. I also have to give props to Eddie Izzard who plays Queen Victoria’s son Bertie. He is a believable villain and keeps up a terrible personality until the final frame. Despite the talented cast, this film feels disjointed. There’s too much going on and too many characters to keep up with. Victoria and Abdul never quite fully develops the relationship between the title characters and the film suffers because of it. It also tends to be melodramatic at times, especially at the end.

I recommend it for ages 13 to 18. This films talks about some subjects that could be unsettling to explain to a younger child. Little kids will probably not enjoy the film as much as tweens, teens and adults because they won’t know the history and the context. I give the film 3.5 out of 5 stars. At its core, this film is about how one friendship overcomes prejudice and racism. Victoria doesn’t care what other people think about Abdul. He is her friend and that’s all that matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The LEGO Ninjago Movie – A Clever Animated Film With Humor For All Ages

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

The battle for NINJAGO City calls to action young Master Builder Lloyd, aka the Green Ninja, along with his friends, also secret ninja warriors. Led by Master Wu, as wise-cracking as he is wise, they must defeat the evil warlord Garmadon, who also happens to be Lloyd’s dad. Pitting father against son, the epic showdown tests these fierce but undisciplined modern-day ninjas as they learn to check their egos and pull together to unleash the inner power of Spinjitzu. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “The LEGO Ninjago Movie is a clever animated film that stumbles in its first act but quickly reclaims its footing for a highly enjoyable finish.” Ryan R., adds, “This film is really fun, because it has humor for all ages and the special effects look very interesting and cool.” Calista B. chimes in with, “Of course, I have to start this review by mentioning the visuals. This movie is stop motion animation, made using LEGOs. And, aside from a few live action parts, EVERYTHING is made out of LEGOs. And it looks amazing.” Morgan B. sums it up with, “What do you get when you mix a crazy cat, stealth ninjas and an evil villain? The LEGO Ninjago Movie which is an action packed adventure.” See their full reviews below.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Surprisingly, I found this movie really enjoyable. I say surprisingly because, I am not a fan of Ninjago. Yet I managed to find it as funny and charming as the previous LEGO Movies.

The movie follows the story of the Green Ninja Lloyd, as he struggles to cope with his father, Garmadon, being an evil villain. This affects how the citizens of Ninjago see him and how they treat him. After Garmadon takes over Ninjago, the ninjas go on a journey to find the ultimate weapon to save Ninjago.

Of course, I have to start this review by mentioning the visuals. This movie is stop motion animation, made using LEGOs. And, aside from a few live action parts, EVERYTHING is made out of LEGOs. And it looks amazing. Like The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, this movie looks so good. The city of Ninjago, the subtle Japanese atmosphere, the expressions, they all look great. Since this movie has a lot of action as well, it took over four years to make. It is so impressive and I can’t imagine what patience it took to create.

Similar to the other LEGO Movies, this film manages to be both hilarious, yet deep and meaningful. The story is all about a kid’s life being influenced by his dad’s bad choices, which is a heavy subject. It is handled very seriously and maturely. Kudos to the writers, Dan and Kevin Hageman as they’ve made an amazing product. The movie has moments where Garmadon and Lloyd talk about their relationship and their broken family. That is really well done. The voice actors are also really great. Kumail Nanjiani as Jay is a particular stand out to me. For some reason, I found his voice very adorable and energetic. Honestly, all the voice actors show a lot of energy and effort.

Now, as I previously mentioned, I don’t know much about Ninjago. I was nervous I wouldn’t understand this movie because I don’t follow the series. But thankfully I can say that is not the case. I know almost nothing, yet I got the general idea of the story. So, if you’re worried about not understanding the story, you’re in luck. This movie can stand alone. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. As for who I think would enjoy this movie, I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, and remind you that you don’t need to like Ninjago to enjoy it. This movie comes out in theaters on September 22, 2017 so, look for it.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie
By Ryan R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

The LEGO Ninjago Movie is a very cool and funny movie that is perfect for the whole family.

In this film, you meet Lloyd (Dave Franco), the green ninja, but outside of his ninja life, his dad is Garmadon (Justin Theroux), an evil ninja trying to rule Ninjago, Lloyd’s homeland. When Lloyd is at school he has to deal with bullying and is treated like an outcast because of his father. After a particular incident (can’t elaborate because it is a spoiler), Garmadon and Lloyd are forced to work together and go on an adventure. Joining them on this adventure to find their inner power are Lloyd’s friends, Kai (Michael Pena), Cole (Fred Armisen), Nya (Abbi Jacobson), and Jay (Kumail Nanjiani). The question is: will they find their inner power?

This film is really fun, because it has humor for all ages and the special effects look very interesting and cool. My favorite scene is when a real-life cat comes to Ninjago and starts terrorizing all the LEGOs. The cat looks like it really is destroying all the ninjas and civilians. I additionally like the water effects they use, instead of the using the traditional LEGOs, like they did in The LEGO Movie. I love the comedy because it has adult humor without making it obvious to kids and it’s not inappropriate. My favorite character is Garmadon because he always says Lloyd’s name wrong throughout the film. He also exaggerates when he tells his flashback story and it made me laugh a lot. It will definitely make you laugh as well. I must say this film doesn’t drag and there are a couple of New York anchors that make surprise cameos in this film. However, there is one thing I would like to point out. There are a few intense scenes, so this a know-your-kid kind of movie. This film also contains mild violence and rude humor.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to kids ages 5 to 18. I think adults may like this as well. People who like action, adventure, family, children, LEGO and comedy films will also enjoy it. This film comes out September 22, 2017 in theaters nationwide, so go check it out. The LEGO genre is rising and you should go see it, because they are stepping up their game. This is a must-see film.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Age 12

What do you get when you mix a crazy cat, stealth ninjas and an evil villain? The LEGO Ninjago Movie which is an action packed adventure. I want to watch The LEGO Ninjago Movie again and again because the animation is fantastic and uses real life LEGOs.

This story, told through the eyes of a young boy, captures your heart with friendship, parent controversies and team work. The voiceovers are magnificent. It’s as if you can feel the characters’ emotions from the tone of their voices. This film has terrific characters such as Master Wu (Jackie Chan). I love Master Wu and the way that Jackie Chan portrays this character as someone who knows some amazing karate moves to help their students. My favorite character is Master Wu because he is hilarious and tells some good jokes, even when he doesn’t know that he is making them. Guess what? A crazy fact about Jackie Chan (who has been acting since he was 7-years-old) is that he performs his own stunts and has broken every bone in his body. He is remarkable. I talked with him in person at LEGOLAND California just a few days ago. During our conversation, I discovered that his goal is to introduce children to martial arts and teach them how to find inner peace. Jackie Chan also plays Mr. Liu in The LEGO Ninjago Movie.

Cole (Fred Armisen) is a very kind and musical ninja at heart. When I met Fred Armisen, I discovered that he is very musical and knows how to sing Jingle Bells very well. I love the way that he connects with Cole through music and I love that they both love being ninjas, even when not on camera. Cole is a ninja who is very calm and quiet, yet when it is time to lay a bet no one is better for the task than him.

Lloyd (Dave Franco) is an amazing ninja who tries his best to do what is right and find a way to eradicate the evil Garmadon (Justin Theroux). Lloyd is the kid in school who no one likes because his dad is the evil villain Garmadon. During the daytime, Lloyd deals with bullies. Then at night and when he is needed most, he turns into a ninja with his friends Cole, Jay, Kai, Nya and Zane.

Jay (Kumail Nanjiani) is the anxious, yet adorable kid who I love and, who in real life he thinks that the cat was a pain to shoot with. When they were shooting they used two identical, twin cats and it was very hard to shoot them for technical reasons. Kai (Michael Peña) loved the shoot and thought it was a dream come true because, when he was hired he automatically became a ninja inside and out and he loves that feeling. Zane (Zach Woods) says that he was practically born with a robot voice and that he didn’t have to practice at all for this role. Nya (Abbi Jacobson) told me that we all are ninjas and that we don’t have to worry about not being cool or amazing, as we are all those things at heart.

The best scene in this film is when Garmadon and Master Wu have a gigantic martial arts battle and fight each other for good vs evil. I love this scene because it is spot on with the timing and the ending was quite shocking. I recommend this film for ages 6 to 18 as well as adults. People will love it because of the adventure. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars.  You can see The LEGO Ninjago Movie on September 22 when it opens in theaters nationwide.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

The LEGO Ninjago Movie is a clever animated film that stumbles in its first act but quickly reclaims its footing for a highly enjoyable finish.

The storyline follows Lloyd, who on the surface is a typical 16-year-old. It’s Lloyd’s parentage that makes him different. He is the son of a ruthless warlord named Lord Garmadon. You’d think that Lloyd is the man himself considering how his fellow high school students constantly pick on him. Garmadon left when Lloyd was an infant and Lloyd has hated his father ever since. Advised by the noble Master Wu, Lloyd and five of his friends disguise themselves as ninjas in elaborate giant robots to fight against Garmadon’s attacks on their city. Wu sends Lloyd and his friends on a perilous journey to find weapons that can help them defeat a creature that poses an even bigger threat to the fate of Ninjago City than Garmadon and his goons.

My favorite character in this film is Lloyd (Dave Franco). This character has an emotionally rich back story that changes how you see him and made me sympathetic towards his character. Lloyd is surprisingly complex and the film shows how difficult it is for Lloyd to not give in to the negativity going on around him. Despite his evil roots, he comes out good-natured and more aware of the world around him than ever. Justin Theroux is great as Lord Garmadon. He gives the character a big personality. It’s a nice change of pace from his more dramatic work and you can tell he is having a lot of fun voicing this character. The father and son dynamic between Lloyd and Lord Garmadon is an excellent element of the story. The scenes they share are so funny and they do play off one another really well.

The action scenes in this film are very well executed. The fights feel well choreographed and they never lose my interest. The giant robots are cool to look at and fit each of the characters’ personalities and true powers, making them more than just machines.

I recommend this film to ages 4 to 12. Lord Garmadon could be a little frightening to younger children. I also think many adults will enjoy this film because there are some one-liners that are custom built for their amusement. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. You can see it in theaters when it opens September 22, 2017 so, keep your eyes out for it in a theater near you.

 

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