Archive for the 'Feature Film Reviews' Category

Ferdinand – Surpassed our Expectations! Definitely Worth Sharing This Holiday Season!

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Ferdinand is a young bull who escapes from a training camp in rural Spain after his father never returns from a showdown with a matador. Adopted by a girl who lives on a farm, Ferdinand’s peaceful existence comes crashing down when the authorities return him to his former captors. With help from a wisecracking goat and three hedgehogs, the giant but gentle bovine must find a way to break free before he squares off against El Primero, the famous bullfighter who never loses. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “This movie has a good amount of star power with John Cena, Kate McKinnon, David Tennant, Daveed Diggs and more. The voice acting is probably one of the best things about this movie. Everyone sounds like they’re having so much fun and that they clearly love their roles.” Sahiba K. adds, “Ferdinand’s compassion is contagious and, with his big innocent eyes and smile, he brightened my day. The animation is visually appealing and adds happiness and joyfulness to every aspect of this film.” See their full reviews and Calista’s interviews below.

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

I have to say, I really enjoyed this movie. It is definitely much better than I originally thought. I assumed it would be a bit bland, but I was pleasantly surprised.

This is the story about a bull named Ferdinand who dislikes violence. He is taken in by a girl named Nina and her dad. Due to being at the wrong place at the wrong time, he is taken to a ranch where they plan to put him in a bull fight. He is determined to escape and find his way back home. This is an adaptation of an old picture book from 1936, which I think is pretty interesting.

First, let’s discuss the animation. I find the animation to be quite Disney-esque. It is fast, fluid and, best of all, colorful – just the way I like animation. The color scheme is very aesthetically pleasing. The flowers especially look amazing, as silly as that sounds. This movie has a good amount of star power with John Cena, Kate McKinnon, David Tennant, Daveed Diggs and more. The voice acting is probably one of the best things about this movie. Everyone sounds like they’re having so much fun and that they clearly love their roles. That really helps every character feel so likeable. The voices of the horses are an excellent example. Their accents and mannerisms are hilarious.

Speaking of hilarious, this movie is actually really funny, a lot more funny than I originally expected. I assumed the humor would a bit like the general humor in most modern animated movies. Another thing I find interesting is that the movie is surprisingly kind of dark. Considering the whole story is about bullfighting, a few scenes are actually very serious. Certain scenes made me think to myself “this is a kids movie?!” I really didn’t expect that. Honestly, a lot of things surprised me, which I’m really happy about. Since I never want movies to be bad, I love it when a movie surpasses my expectations.

Finally, I love the cast of characters. Lupe the goat, the hedgehogs and the horses are my favorite characters, but every character has something about them that makes them so interesting. The other bulls are likeable characters and so is the bullfighter villain. Even smaller side characters really made this movie. I love the message this movie puts out: peace over violence. I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. It comes out December 15, 2017 so go check it out.

Ferdinand
By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Ferdinand, directed by Carlos Saldanha is a spoonful of sugar! Ferdinand’s compassion is contagious and, with his big innocent eyes and smile, he brightened my day. The animation is visually appealing and adds happiness and joyfulness to every aspect of this film. The music adds an exhilarating effect to the action scenes and made my heart pump faster and faster.

The story follows a timid, lovable bull named Ferdinand who loves flowers. He is born a fighter at a ranch, but has no desire to hurt anyone. He runs away and is taken in by a farmer and his daughter. Together, they grow up and through a series of events, Ferdinand is misunderstood and separated from his home and must do everything he can to return to his family.

John Cena plays Ferdinand and keeps a softness in his voice that reinforces Ferdinand’s serene aura. Kate McKinnon plays Lupe, a hilarious, exuberant goat. The way she manipulates her voice made me laugh. The antagonist, Valiente, voiced by Bobby Cannavale, has an animosity against Ferdinand that is clear and terrifying.

The animation is sublime and gorgeous. There are many scenes where Ferdinand is sitting on his favorite hill, gazing into the distance. The landscape is intricately detailed. You can see the cracks on the cliffs and shadows with the pinkish orange sunset with the trees, flowers and grass swaying with the wind. These scenes transcend words and made me feel the peace and serenity that Ferdinand experiences. Ferdinand’s expressions are priceless, revealing his feelings exquisitely. His ears flap when he is excited and his smile is enormous. The animation is excellent throughout.

My favorite part is Ferdinand’s personality. Ferdinand would never hurt a fly and loves everyone and everything. He always does what is right and, no matter how anyone treats him, he considers everyone his friend.

The message of Ferdinand is don’t be afraid of who you are and let your true self shine. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 15. Ferdinand opens in theaters nationwide December 15, 2017 so be sure to put it on your holiday viewing list.

The Post – Surpasses Any Expectations And Delivers On A Much Higher Level.

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Katharine Graham is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper — The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee, Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers — and very freedom — to help bring long-buried truths to light. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “The story comes to life under the masterful direction of Steven Spielberg. His most famous techniques are clear from the very first shot and continue throughout the film. In fact, the first scene, which takes place in the jungles of Vietnam, will remind you of Saving Private Ryan due to the heart-thumping sound design and chaotic cinematography that puts you right on the battlefield.” Clayton P. adds, “The Post is very timely and reflective of our own time.  In this day of “fake news” and media bashing, this film is a refreshing story of the integrity of newspaper organizations. Spielberg tries to show the importance of a free press in combating government malfeasance.” See their full reviews below.

The Post
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

There are very few films every year that keep you excited and entertained while delivering impressive visual achievements. The Post does not belong in this category because it far surpasses any expectations and delivers on a much higher level. Every single aspect of this film -from acting to directing to editing – are all superb.

The Post has many things to offer, but the biggest would be the drama surrounding this very real story. It feels like an adventure, even though it takes place on East Coast. It is sprinkled with just the right amount of funny moments here and there, with hilarious and perfectly timed jokes. Out of all the spectacular cinematic achievements, none of them would be possible without the exciting and truly eye-opening story. It dives into a major leak of top-secret information, ranging multiple U.S. presidents, all relating to the Vietnam War. At first, the film seems to be about the two newspapers, The New York Times and the Washington Post, both attempting to get this story. Later, it turns into a fight between freedom of the press and censorship as the Nixon Administration attempts to block both newspapers from publishing any information about their secrets.

The story comes to life under the masterful direction of Steven Spielberg. His most famous techniques are clear from the very first shot and continue throughout the film. In fact, the first scene, which takes place in the jungles of Vietnam, will remind you of Saving Private Ryan due to the heart-thumping sound design and chaotic cinematography that puts you right on the battlefield. The cast has their own achievements. Tom Hanks (Ben Bradlee) and Meryl Streep (Kay Graham) work perfectly together and truly become their characters. John Williams, the Composer for the film, manages to take the spotlight from the visual scenes and put them into the music. His original score sounds incredible and you’ll find yourself swallowed by the soothing and memorable tones. But what really looks impressive in The Post is the film grain. The quality looks like a modern film, yet the colors and the lighting make it feel like the 60s which adds to the realism of the story.

The cinematography defines my favorite scene, the climax of the film. Kay Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, has to make the final decision whether the paper should publish the leaked documents or not. She is on the phone with multiple business partners, her editor (Ben Bradlee), and many journalists of the paper as well as some of her board advisors. Easily, this makes for the most intense scene in the entire film and truly brings Meryl Streep’s character to life. Throughout the phone conversation, the camera angles make it feel like one long shot across multiple locations. Finally, at the moment she makes her decision, the camera slowly zooms into her eyes and mouth to show wonder, fear, curiosity and more – all at once. Finally, as Kay makes her decision, the camera zooms out and the feeling of intensity immediately leaves the room. Despite being just a few minutes long, it feels like an eternity and you, as a viewer, can’t help but clench your fist in anticipation of what her decision will be.

The story has many mature elements and the concept itself is complicated at times. The messages related to journalistic oppression are very important for all ages. I recommend this to ages 10 to 18, as well as adults. I give it 5 out of 5 stars for perfect directing, astonishing acting, and cinematography so beautiful it belongs in an art gallery along with many other films directed by Steven Spielberg.

The Post
By Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic , age 18

Spielberg’s The Post is a paean to the American ideal of freedom of the press.  This highly intense, suspenseful film tells the story of Katherine Graham, owner of The Washington Post and its historic role in the publishing of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the films stars Meryl Streep as Katherine Graham, Tom Hanks as the Post’s editor, Ben Bradlee and a top ensemble cast.

Set in the classic age of newspapers and network television, before the internet age, The Post  is a coming-of-age story on two fronts.  The Washington Post goes from being a regional media outlet to a national newspaper of note.  In the process, Katherine Graham, goes from being a society hostess to a strong female corporate owner.  A former government analyst finds proof of a government cover-up regarding American involvement in Vietnam and leaks the information to The New    York Times and The Washington Post.  Graham’s editorial team is in favor of publishing the material because it’ll put the newspaper on the map, so to speak.  Her legal and financial team are against it and warn that she could go to jail for contempt and lose the newspaper.  What follows is an intense examination of all the pros and cons of the issue.

One of the most fascinating parts of the film is seeing the inner workings of creating a newspaper – the old printing presses, the dyes, the plates with all the metal letters and etchings of pictures.  Spielberg clearly loves the traditional craft of printing a newspaper.  The John Williams music is perfect for the suspenseful plot. The acting is impeccable.  Both Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks have such amazing craft that they imbue their roles with intelligence and humanity. The beginning of the film sets up the true-to-life plot and players. Because of this, the beginning of the film may be difficult for younger viewers because they aren’t aware of the politics of the 1970s.

The Post is very timely and reflective of our own time.  In this day of “fake news” and media bashing, this film is a refreshing story of the integrity of newspaper organizations. Spielberg tries to show the importance of a free press in combating government malfeasance. The Post is appropriate for ages 15 to 18. Younger teens may find the film boring if they are not interested in politics or media. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars for its exceptional use of real life suspense.  It is available in theaters  January 12, 2018 so check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coco – Fantastic Animated Feature About Mexican Tradition

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Hector, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abraham F. comments, “It is nice to see Disney / Pixar incorporate different cultures into their movies. Pixar’s animations, story line and character development really excel here. I am glad to see all that in an animated film geared for kids and families.” Imani G. adds, “Coco is a fantastic, family-friendly, historical movie that is quite spectacular with its many historical references about the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead. It is filled with comedy and sentinel scenes, vibrant colors and much more!” Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror wraps it up with, “The cast is entirely Hispanic and the music is rooted in heritage and the life traditions within a multi-generational family. Considering this film is about crossing over into Día Los Muertos, the land of the dead, the liveliness of the film and animation is breathtaking.” See their full reviews below.

Coco
By Abraham F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Coco is a notable movie from Pixar which I found very funny. It is nice to see Disney / Pixar incorporate different cultures into their movies. Pixar’s animations, story line and character development really excel here. I am glad to see all that in an animated film geared for kids and families.

The storyline is about a 12-year-old boy named Miguel that wants to be a musician, but his family won’t allow it. So he practices his guitar in secret. On the Day Of The Dead he visits his favorite musician’s grave and plays the guitar. Then, he finds himself in the land of the dead. He goes on many adventures to try to get his family’s blessing and ends up on a big adventure to find his father.

Anthony Gonzalez plays Miguel the protagonist. This is his first time playing a major role. Benjamin Bratt  has been in a few major roles such as El Macho in Despicable Me 2. In this film, he portrays Ernesto De La Cruz, the famous musician.

There are many interesting things about this movie. First, the name was changed to Viva in Brazil because in Portuguese means poop. Also, when Miguel’s walking down the street, you can see pinatas of Buzz Lightyear and Woody. Last, when grandma explains why their family doesn’t enjoy music, you see a Pizza Planet truck drive by.

The message is to do things that you believe in, not what people tell you to do. I recommend this film for ages 6 to 12 years old and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. It exceeded my expectations and is really well made. This movie is available in theaters on November 22, 2017 so go check it out.

Coco
By Imani Baptiste-Green, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Coco is a fantastic, family-friendly, historical movie that is quite spectacular with its many historical references about the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead. It is filled with comedy and sentinel scenes, vibrant colors and much more!

Due to past family history, Miguel’s (Anthony Gonzalez) family completely banned music from their lives. But, Miguel has a passion for it and wishes to become an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to find his true talent, Miguel finds himself in the colorful Land of the Dead, where his deceased family members are. After meeting the charming trickster Hector (Gael García Bernal), the two go off in search of the famous musician to discover the real history of Miguel’s family. Join the two on their fascinating adventure.

My favorite aspect of this film is the storyline and the thrilling holiday, Day of the Dead. I recently learned about this interesting holiday in school, but this movie helped increased my knowledge of it even more! For example, in Mexico they see dying as a beautiful thing instead of bad. Also, they use colorful paper called “papel picado” to tell stories. Viewers of this film will learn about the Spanish culture and how they view things.

The message of this film is that family is important, no matter the circumstances and we should encourage each other’s dreams. Although Miguel’s family shunned and erased music from their lives, they were able to accept it and make it part of their tradition once more. This is a very powerful message because it shows how important family is in supporting each other’s dreams. I think that this film will open the eyes of many and even change their perspective about life.

I recommend this film for ages of 5 to 18 as well as adults. I am 16 and loved every aspect of it!  I give this film 5 out of 5 rate this film stars for its amazing storyline, cultural history, awesome cast, vibrant colors and much more. Coco opens in theaters on November 22, 2017. Please be sure to check it out.

Coco
By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Juror

When Coco opens in the United States, it will likely follow the radiant opening in Mexico with record-setting audiences. The use of color and authentic characters is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from the studio. The cast is entirely Hispanic and the music is rooted in heritage and the life traditions within a multi-generational family. Considering this film is about crossing over into Día Los Muertos, the land of the dead, the liveliness of the film and animation is breathtaking.

The film centers around Miquel, a curious 12-year-old boy who is a delight, even when he gets into a bit of mischief. The magic of Disney is well at work when Miquel leaves his family in search of his passion and the man he believes holds the keys to his life’s future success. In search of his muse, Miquel partners with a man he thinks is evil, only to learn he doesn’t know the truth. As the facts unfold, it is in technicolor and splendor. Coco offers a fantastic walk into a new world and, while it twists and turns, Coco is a complete delight.  The story has lessons in ethics and may be overwhelming for younger children since it is centered on the annual Día Los Muertos celebration, the Day of the Dead. Beyond sugar skulls, I can see future merchandising in the alebrijes!

As with many Disney films, the theme of family is front and center. In this original and unique story, it transcends generations and left me wondering what my great, great, great grandmother would be like and if she would be proud of me. Beyond Miquel, my favorite character is his great, great grandmother, both versions of her! This film has all the feels and left me wanting more. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. And, it wouldn’t be Disney if I didn’t cry. It opens nationwide in theaters on November 22, 2017 so check it out.

 

 

 

 

Justice League – Spectacular Special Effects and Acting

Monday, November 20th, 2017

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickl          y to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes-Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash-it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abraham F. comments, “This movie is spectacular in two main ways, the comic book references and the special effects.” Kamhai B. adds, “This movie is definitely meant to please and entertain all the DC Universe fan’s. In other words, for me this movie is just plain great.” See their full reviews below.

Justice League (2017)
By Abraham F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This movie is spectacular in two main ways, the comic book references and the special effects. There are so many of them such as The Flash and Superman racing. Also the CGI costumes look so real for Cyborg and Steppenwolf.

Justice League is about Bruce Wayne/Batman tracking down parademons. Meanwhile in Atlantis, Themyscira Steppenwolf invades and steals the mother boxes from them, killing a lot of Amazonian and Atlanteans troops in the process. Batman hears this news from Diana/Wonder Woman and decides to form a team to stop Steppenwolf from stealing the last mother box.

Batman (Ben Affleck) returns as the best Batman yet. He stands out from the other characters with his two Oscars, one for best picture and another for best screenplay. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) also has an award for best actor from Teen Choice Awards. Award-winning actor J. K. Simmons plays Commissioner Gordon and, for the five minutes he’s on screen, is awesome.

The budget of this movie is $300,000,000, so the special effects should be stupendous and that is correct. For Cyborg’s character, his whole body looks like it is actually made out of metal and is glowing. The costume for The Flash looks damaged and made out of nasa grade material.

My favorite part of this movie is when The Flash and Superman are about to race. This is my favorite part because it is such a big comic book reference, which is why I like DC more than Marvel.

The message of this movie is to stand up as a leader because your friends will support you. This message is very positive for people that are reluctant to stand up. This film has a few iffy thing such as Aquaman drinking a whole whisky bottle and smashing it, but there are no risky things kids might imitate after watching it. There is some mile profanity. This movie is dark, yet funny and is riddled with references. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 10 to 18. This movie is in theaters now, so go check it out.

Justice League
By Kamhai B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age,13

This movie is definitely meant to please and entertain all the DC Universe fan’s. In other words, for me this movie is just plain great. I really enjoyed how we got to see all the main Justice League characters in one big movie. Who wouldn’t? Seriously, the way costumes are designed to the great acting is amazing.

One part I really enjoyed is when Batman starts swinging around and driving his Batmobile around town, because it shows the audience how cool Batman really is. Another part I really enjoyed is when Flash is introduced. Flash is that one character who ends up bringing all the comedy to the film, which I think is great.

The storyline in this movie is about how Batman (Ben Affleck), Superman (Henry Cavil), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Auqaman (Jason Momoa) come together to save the day. They have to battle a dangerous alien race who is trying to destroy Earth so they can rule all. Throughout the movie we experience a lot of funny moments such as when Flash shows that he likes Wonder Woman and again when they’re fighting the villain. There are also some really cool CGI effects that wow’d me.

The creators of this movie should be quite proud of their creation, because I believe Justice league will be a big hit. Everybody in the movie theater enjoyed the movie. You could tell by listening to their laughs and their clapping at the end of the movie how much they loved it. While watching it, I noticed that the CGI was similar to a video game, which I think suits this movie very well. I would have to say this is the best DC movie I have seen so far. Along with the cool graphics, the acting stands out, which I found very enjoyable. Also there are some really cool plot twists.

I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18 because there is some mild profanity and some mature scenes at the beginning. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. It is playing in theaters now so be sure to check it out, whether or not you are a DC fan!

Wonder – A Touching Film About Differences and Acceptance

Friday, November 17th, 2017

Based on the New York Times bestseller, Wonder tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to discover their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B., comments, “This is a movie I was anticipating since I saw the first trailer. The trailer alone had me in tears, so I already knew it was going to touch my heart. Well, wouldn’t you know, my assumptions were correct.” Benjamin P. adds, “Wonder is an uplifting film that translates to the screen very well, thanks to some spot-on casting and good performances across the board.” Juanita L., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer wraps it up with, “This film has messages of limitless love and developing and building friendships as Auggie says, “If you really want to see who people are…just look.” See their full reviews and Benjamin’s interview with the author of the book and film producer below.

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

This is a movie I was anticipating since I saw the first trailer. The trailer alone had me in tears, so I already knew it was going to touch my heart. Well, wouldn’t you know, my assumptions were correct.

The story is about 10-year-old Auggie Pullman, a kid with facial deformities due to a gene disorder. He is starting 5th grade, middle school and struggles to fit in at a new school. Seriously, middle school is tough for everyone, so add to that being different and being home-schooled until 5th grade. It’s a minefield.

This movie is an adaptation of the book “Wonder” which is a popular read in middle school. No, I didn’t read the book, but now I want to, since I love this movie for multiple reasons. First, the acting is fantastic, particularly the emotional scenes, which is probably why I cried so much. This movie has some pretty good star power. Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and of course, Daveed Diggs, who stars in Hamilton, are all part of this cast. I absolutely love the characters in this film. A lot of the supporting roles actually have important parts and each character is unique and likeable as well. All except Julian’s mom, the only character that isn’t really redeemable. Still, Auggie’s parents, his sister, his friends, his teachers, and, of course, Auggie himself, Jacob Tremblay, make this movie exceptional. Not only that, the teachers and the principal at his school are so much better than teachers at actual schools. A big theme and important message, is the way parents raise their kids. I believe this is a true and good message.

One thing that makes this story unique is the different perspectives of other characters and their lives. Certain characters come off as mean, but you see through their life through their eyes and get a different view. Although the main focus is Auggie, characters like his sister get nice subplots that contribute to providing extra context of the character, but not drawing our attention away from the main plot. Some may complain that the entire story revolves around Auggie and I can understand those impressions. However, I think of it as a way of showing that Auggie changed many people’s lives for the better. The script is also really well done, with a good balance of funny and emotional writing.

I definitely give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. This movie comes out November 17, 2017 in theaters nationwide so go check it out.

Wonder
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Wonder is an uplifting film that translates to the screen very well, thanks to some spot-on casting and good performances across the board.

Based on a popular novel by R. J. Palacio, Wonder follows Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a boy with a craniofacial disorder. He lives with his parents and his older sister. His mom enrolls Auggie in the fifth grade at a nearby school after years of homeschooling. Hesitant but confident, Auggie struggles to make new friends and encounters bullies. The movie follows different perspectives of people in Auggie’s life throughout the school year. Another key plotline follows his sister Via. She loves her brother, but sometimes feels like her parents ignore her. Now her grandmother, the only person who puts her first, is gone and her best friend has abandoned her for a new group of friends from summer camp. The movie triumphantly brings these and other viewpoints together for a full, rich storytelling experience as Auggie’s personality leads people to care less about what he looks like, but the kind of person he is on the inside.

 

 

Seeing A-list stars such as Julia Roberts, who plays Auggie’s mom, portray characters from one of my favorite books piqued my interest for this adaptation, but I did not expect the film to be so excellent in its execution. It maintains the spirit of the novel, without feeling sappy, thanks to the direction and screenwriting from Stephen Chbosky, the author and director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The emotion onscreen is just as raw as conveyed in the book and the scenes carry the same poignant effect. Just like with the novel, you fall in love with these characters and care about what happens to them. Jacob Tremblay is especially fantastic as Auggie and shows a compelling range of emotion. He brings confidence to the character and represents his softer sides as well.

The lesson of Wonder is that it shouldn’t matter what a person looks like, but who they are on the inside. Auggie is bullied for what he looks like, but people should not be judged by appearance, but rather by their character.

I recommend Wonder for ages 7 to 18. There are some scenes with characters in peril, as well as some scenes of bullying. Bullying is a hard topic to watch on film, but kids should be aware that it is an issue. I give Wonder 4 out of 5 stars. It is available in theaters now so be sure to check it out.

Wonder
By Juanita L., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I enjoyed watching Wonder, based on the book by R.J. Palacio. It is a very uplifting story about Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a young boy with a facial difference who enters private school for the first time in fifth grade. Auggie has been home-schooled by his mother who decides it is time for him to have a real school experience. We can feel Auggie’s pain as he gets a taste of the best and the worst of human nature. He goes through 27 surgeries. Some of the students he meets are kind and accepting, others are not sure and some are just cruel. Auggie wants to do normal things and he is upset and afraid to face the kids’ reactions to his appearance.

One of my favorite scenes happens in the beginning when the director of his new school (Mandy Patinkin) introduces Auggie to a small group of students before school starts, thinking this will help ease the transition. I felt this was a wonderful way to help Auggie feel comfortable. You will have to see the film and decide if you think it works.

Auggie’s parents (Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson) along with his sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) provide unbelievable love and support to him. It is almost not real. The story and the characters show us a range of human emotions. Auggie wants to be treated like a normal kid.  Via wants her parents to give her some attention and ask about the day SHE HAD at school.  Mom has put her life on hold to care for Auggie and now sees a chance to complete her dissertation. Auggie’s father tries to be a supportive, understanding and caring father. This film has messages of limitless love and  developing and building friendships AS Auggie says, “If you really want to see who people are…just look.”

The visuals and music are excellent and bring an element of fun. The elements of bullying and some of the emotion around Auggie’s beloved dog might be intense for younger children. I recommend Wonder for ages 9 to 18 as well as adults. Be inspired and experience Wonder at your local theater when it opens November 17, 2017.

 

 

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