Archive for the 'Feature Film Reviews' Category

Pup Star: World Tour – Entertaining, Witty, Sassy And Completely A Family Friday-Night Movie.

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Pup Star is back, with an all-new movie that takes the popular singing dogs on trip around the world, where Tiny and friends find fantastic new songs and meet exciting new canine singers that prove music really is the universal language. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “Because almost the entire cast is comprised of talking dogs, the editing needs to look good. And, like previous movies, it really does look like the dogs are talking. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to film and edit this movie.” Nathalia J. adds, “I am totally into this movie! It is absolutely hilarious – very entertaining, witty, sassy, incredible and completely a family Friday-night movie to enjoy. It is also perfect for dog lovers.” See their full reviews below.

Pup Star: World Tour
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

This movie is definitely made for younger kids. The storyline isn’t very complicated and it is pretty predictable, but still very enjoyable for the whole family. The story is about the puppy celebrity Tiny, now a Judge on Pup Stars World Tour, and has selected a dog named Julio as her representative. The issue is, Julio is helping Bark, the villain from the first two movies, win Pup Stars.

 

Because almost the entire cast is comprised of talking dogs, the editing needs to look good. And, like previous movies, it really does look like the dogs are talking. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to film and edit this movie. In the scenes where Julio performs, he does all these crazy moves and twists and –  he looks really good. Kudos to the editors, Jason Dale and Nik Svab. They say it is difficult to work with kids and animals.

One thing I liked in the previous Pup Star movie is the song that Tiny sang. It really was an ear worm. In Pup Star: World Tour there are tons of new songs, with some really talented singers and interesting cultural backgrounds. Because each contestant is from a different country, the songs differ depending on the culture. I really like that about these songs. It fits well with the message they are trying to spread about being united through music. Shout Out to Brahm Wenger.

I feel that, in this movie especially, the writers work with the fact that dogs in this make believe world are actors, singers and similar. There are dog soap operas and there are also tabloids covering dog news. It is as if dogs are not our pets, but more like our equals. Some people already consider them their kids, so I guess it is not that far fetched. Little stuff like that really helps the world building. Also, one of my main issues with the second Pup Stars movie was that I felt the human characters were too oblivious and easily manipulated by the villain’s plans. Thankfully, it’s different here. The villain’s plan is a little more complicated, so I could actually see how the human characters could believe what was going on. Also, I surprisingly laughed a lot. The way certain scenes are shot and acted is just hilarious!

Now, my one question is, how many more Pup Stars movies will there be? The ending of this movie serves really well as the conclusion to the series. But, my guess is that this won’t likely be the last movie.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 18. If you like dogs and music from all over, I recommend this for you in particular. It comes out on May 5, 2018 so look for it.

Pup Star: World Tour
By Nathalia Maria Jackson, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

  Pup Star is back and bigger than ever, as the hit singing pup competition goes global! I am totally into this movie! It is absolutely hilarious – very entertaining, witty, sassy, incredible and completely a family Friday-night movie to enjoy. It is also perfect for dog lovers.

I love this heart-warming film because it is different, talking dogs… now that’s pretty different. The dogs bring a fun and quirky style with the singing and dancing that will bring the best out of you. This is definitely a fun, big scale musical adventure.

The story follows Tiny, a charming Yorkie, as she joins the launch of the Pup Star World Tour as a celebrity judge. It takes the popular singing dogs on a trip around the world where Tiny and friends find wonderful new songs to sing from different countries. Each judge chooses their favorite contestant to compete for the new title of Global Pup Star Champion. This film literally makes you get up and dance. When the contest faces a severe threat from a trio of conspirators, you have go see the movie to find out how that is resolved.

Directed and written by Robert Vince, the lead characters and the talent that voices them include Tiny (Kaitlyn Maher), Julio (Jorge Diaz), Grandpa Growl (John Ratzenberger), Simon Growl (Steve Valentine), Bark (George Newbern), Shep (Reggie De Leon), Rover (Jonathon Mangum), Jimmy Kibble (Brian Hull), Steven (David DeLuise), Butch (Danny Woodbury), Raji (Maulik Pancholy), Lou (Makenzie Moss), Ming (April Hong), Juan (Steve Zaragoza), Kano (Diedrich Bader), Dog Gnarly (Ziggy Marley) and many more.

The dogs’ costumes are glamorous, with all the sparkles, glitter and beautiful colors. The colors really bring great visual effects to the film. When all the dogs from different countries come out to sing in their cultural customs, it really drew my attention. I loved seeing all the different backgrounds and vibes in all of the dogs. The music is remarkable. It really fits the theme of the film and paints pictures of all the different cultures.

My favorite characters are Tiny, who unquestionably is the most adorable judge, Shep, the funny service manager and Julio, the Mexican pup with a big heart. Most importantly, all the characters are amazing. My absolute favorite part is when the cheaters (I’m not going to tell you who they are) get disqualified from the competition.

The message of the story is “cheaters never win; winners never cheat.” I’ll admit, I’ve never understood the utility of cheating. This film definitely calls you to action. It has a positive message that promotes positive social behavior.  I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and definitely recommend it for ages 5 to 14 years old, as well as adults. The film will be released on May 5, 2018 in Canada and USA so look for it!

 

The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island – An All-Time Favorite Book comes to the Big Screen May 8

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

One of the most-read children’s book series of all time comes alive on the big screen in the Boxcar Children – Surprise Island based on the second book from the series by Gertrude Chandler, featuring the voice talents of Martin Sheen, J.K. Simmons, Griffin Cluck, Joey King, Dane DeHaan and more! The Alden children have a home with their grandfather now – but their adventures are just beginning! The first surprise comes when they learn they’ll be spending the summer on their private island. A kind stranger who lives there is always happy to help the children out, but does this new friend have a secret? A special after school event will take place at more than 650 theaters nationwide through Fathom Events and Shout! Factory. The screening will feature a special introduction and an exclusive short program with producer/director Dan Chuba about how the adaptation of a book to movie works and the process of animating! For details and to find a theater near you, visit: https://www.fathomevents.com/events/the-boxcar-children-surprise-island

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha M. comments, “Summer is just around the corner, and there’s no better way to start it than by watching this alluring animated film. I could not stop smiling the entire time, because I felt as if I was at the beach, enjoying my summer vacation.” Morgan B. adds, “Surprises, mysteries and new things to explore sounds like a lot of fun for the Boxcar Children so I suggest joining them on this new adventure to a mysterious island. I really enjoyed the funny characters, amazing animation and unique story line –  all of which bring this film and its story to life.” See their full reviews below.

The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island
By Samantha M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

Summer is just around the corner, and there’s no better way to start it than by watching this alluring animated film. I could not stop smiling the entire time, because I felt as if I was at the beach, enjoying my summer vacation. With humorous jokes, unexpected challenges and adorable animals, you will become captivated for the full hour and a half. If you are trying to figure out your fun plans for summer vacation, all you need to do is watch this film.

The Alden children have just begun their summer vacation and are truly ecstatic. After running home joyfully to see their grandfather, the kids are presented with exciting news –  they are going to spend summer break on their grandfather’s secret island. Little do they know, their summer will be filled with marvelous adventures, since they have to do everything on their own. But, the kids end up meeting a boy living on the island named Joe, who has a hidden secret. Join Benny, Henry, Jessie and Violet (four orphaned brothers and sisters) as they have the vacation of a lifetime.

Benny, played by Carter Sand, is such an optimistic, inquisitive young boy. He always wants to help his family, such as asking to drive his grandfather’s boat. Jessie, played by Joey King, is a responsible girl with a big heart. She looks out for Benny and gives him his teddy bear when he needs it. I admire her compassion, because she exemplifies the perfect sister. John Alden, played by Dane DeHaan, is humble and thoughtful. He plants an entire garden for the kids to admire. I cannot wait to have my own garden when I am older.

The animation is impeccable. For a few moments during the film, I felt as if I had time traveled from the movie theater to the beach. I could not help but envision myself next to waves, listening to the beautiful sounds of nature. My favorite part is when all of the kids make their own first dinner. Once they sit down at the table, they begin feeding their dog some bread. This is hilarious, because it reminds me of how I always feed my dogs extra food. Dogs are adorable, and, no matter how much food you give them, they will always beg for more.

The message of this film is that when you work as a team, anything is possible. No matter what challenges there are in this world, you can transcend them. Life is short, so we need to make the best of it. Next time you feel that the world is not on your side, just remember that everything happens for a reason. These kids teach us to enjoy summer vacation and to never give up. If they can do this, so can we.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 6 to 12. It is the perfect family-friendly film, because you will see how important family truly is to the Alden children. This film will be offered as an after school by Fathom Events for one day only, on May 8th, 2018. So, go check it out. If you are ever stuck on an island, don’t worry. This film will show you how to make an island your next home.

The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Surprises, mysteries and new things to explore sounds like a lot of fun for the Boxcar Children so I suggest joining them on this new adventure to a mysterious island. I really enjoyed the funny characters, amazing animation and unique story line –  all of which bring this film and its story to life.

One thing that is mind blowing about this film is the animation. While I watched it, I noticed all the tiny details and how lifelike the characters look. I believed multiple times that I was actually exploring the island with them and felt like I was part of the action. The animation is that good. There is lots of eye candy to look at with great depth so it almost seems to be in 3D even though it isn’t.  This makes the film very enjoyable and it widenes the age rage so older kids would enjoy it as well as younger ones.

Carter Sand as Benny is just adorable. He is very quirky and reminds me of my younger friends.  I also like him because he is good hearted and loves his siblings as much as the whole wide world. That is a trait that I think we all should share.  J. K. Simmons as Dr. Moore is superb. I did a Farmers commercial once with Mr. Simmons and found him as charming off screen as on. He was an absolute pleasure to work with.

Joey King as Jessie is a smart, lovely young lady. I have interviewed her many times and she is just adorable and personable. The only difference is that last time I saw her she was wearing reindeer ears and in this film she is the older sibling who knows how to cook. I like seeing her cook delicious foods from scratch such as clam chowder, cooked peas and carrots, apple pie and other foods. It made me hungry for dinner.

Martin Sheen as James Alden plays a gracious and kind character. Everyone would love a grandfather like him because he is so kind to others, especially his grandchildren. He is willing to do anything to make them happy and even takes them to a special island for the summer. That is what I call great grand parenting.

One thing that I don’t like about this film is that the story is sometimes way too slow.  Also, they have a mystery that they discover that goes unsolved. It is weird that the story didn’t pursue that. It showed up and then they just dropped it. Other than that, the film is adorable and has a lot heart for families.

I recommend this film for ages 5 to 12 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. This will play in more than 700 theaters as an after school screening on May 8, thanks to Fathom Event. So, go check it out!

 

​​Avengers: Infinity War – Truly Worth the Hype! This will Blow Your Mind!

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “Wow! Just, wow!! Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building up to this movie for ten years. This movie is glorious. All I can say is, you will not be expecting what happens.” Lucia F. adds, “I can honestly say that it is one of the most exciting and enjoyable movies I have ever seen. I was dazzled by this enormous spectacle of a movie. There are so many surprises, laughs and even sad moments. The production values, acting, special effects and writing are top-notch, of course.” KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror Kimbirly O. wraps it up with, “I love this film! It has all the feels. I cheered for the heroes, loathed the villains and found Thanos’ crew to be a creepy bunch. When I think about the behemoth task of directors Anthony and Joe Russo, I want to evoke the “mind-blown” emoji!” See their full reviews below.

Avengers: Infinity War
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Wow! Just, wow!! Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building up to this movie for ten years. This movie is glorious. All I can say is, you will not be expecting what happens. It left me screaming inside. I still cannot believe it.

The storyline is about the Avengers and their allies needing to team up to stop the titan Thanos from collecting The Infinity Stones and destroying half the universe.

Now, because all the Marvel characters are finally coming together, Marvel fans will obviously be excited. And when basically every single character appears on-screen, the theater erupts into claps and screams of joy. I always love it when a studio or company can make people feel such excitement for their characters. It’s just really cool.

This movie features lots of different locations that the characters travel to. I must admit, some of these locations are absolutely gorgeous and others, totally desolate, but still incredible. I love the shots in space and on different planets, especially the snowy planet that Thanos goes to at one point. In fact, the whole movie looks fantastic. Everything – from the costumes, the camera angles, the scale, the special effects –  is fantastic! I was so invested in the visuals the entire time.

Also, let’s be honest, this is Marvel, we all expect this movie to be absolutely hilarious. And it is. No surprises there. I laughed so hard at Iron Man and Doctor Strange arguing, Star Lord being jealous of Thor and basically all of Spider Man and Drax’s dialogue. Comedy always seems to be Marvel’s greatest strength. The writing, in general, is fantastic. I love the interactions these characters have, even the dramatic moments. That’s coming from someone who usually hates dramatic moments, because I hate being sad in movies.

This is a superhero movie, so obviously there are some pretty cool action scenes. And yeah, this movie has some awesome action scenes. Probably my favorite is the huge fight in Wakanda that is shown in the trailer. The fight is absolutely massive and straight up amazing. The shots and the way the characters work together are just glorious. I felt so immersed in all the action.

Since this movie is connected to the other Marvel movies in their Cinematic Universe, there is the possible question about whether you need to have seen all the other movies in order to understand this one. I would say, not all of them, but at least a few certain ones. I recommend that you brush up on your Marvel characters before you go, just to be ready.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, as it gets pretty dark. It opens in theaters nationwide April 27, 2018 so, check your local listings.

Avengers: Infinity War
By Lucia F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 19

As everyone knows, the hype for this movie was extreme. Even with expectations so high, I can honestly say that it is one of the most exciting and enjoyable movies I have ever seen. I was dazzled by this enormous spectacle of a movie. There are so many surprises, laughs and even sad moments. The production values, acting, special effects and writing are top-notch, of course.

The plot of the story involves Thanos, motion-captured and voiced by Josh Brolin, who is arguably the most evil bad guy yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This character is intent upon collecting all six Infinity Stones, crystals that control each aspect of existence (time, space, reality, power, mind and soul). The plot involves the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and others because each of them has an infinity stone that Thanos wants. If someone gets all six stones they can control reality and Thanos, concerned about overpopulation, wants to destroy half the population of the world. The whole team has to figure out how they can stop Thanos from getting all six stones, so they can save the world.

Besides the impressive production values, what people will most enjoy about this film is that it is a really funny movie. The jokes keep coming and simply don’t stop, which definitely makes for a kid-friendly film.  As in every Marvel movie, the music is terrific. Alan Silvestri of Polar Express fame wrote the rousing score. Last, the realistic makeup fooled me into believing that many of the characters were bleeding. Although, it’s not really gory.

I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars for being a gorgeous and colorful blockbuster film. Of course I love everyone’s acting, especially (let’s be real) Benedict Cumberbatch, who is the best Doctor Strange. Am I right? The masterful special effects, the humor and even the many surprising emotional moments combine to tell an entertaining story of how everyone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe come together to save the world. I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18. It opens nationwide in theaters April 27, 2018, so go check it out.

Avengers: Infinity Wars
By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

See it! When I reviewed Black Panther, I wholeheartedly admitted I am not the target audience for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This week, as I took my seat, I STILL thought I was not the target audience for Avengers: Infinity Wars and yet I would not have traded my seat for the universe. I felt as if my old friends had invited me to visit and I loved every minute of our time together.

This film rolls out like a reunion story, with old wounds and new challenges. The superhero liaisons are interesting and all the characters work together when every star system is on the line. My favorite character is Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Throughout the trials and travails, he is led by a moral compass. I also like seeing Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) conflict and emotion. Yes, emotion. Thanos’ quest to collect all six super powerful Infinity Stones is tough to watch – especially when revealed his plans to wipe out 50% of the population. When our superheroes realize he is on a genocide quest, the action truly ignites.

I love this film! It has all the feels. I cheered for the heroes, loathed the villains and found Thanos’ crew to be a creepy bunch. When I think about the behemoth task of directors Anthony and Joe Russo, I want to evoke the “mind-blown” emoji! More than 76 characters with multiple, simultaneous plotlines! The cast is immense, yet everyone has their featured and focused action. Speaking of which, the action is intense at times and the CGI creatures are wicked. The superheroes’ costumes are like old friends or your favorite shoes that you can’t wait to see again. It is rare for a summer blockbuster to truly deliver on its “epic” promise. This one delivers.

I give this 4.5 out of 5 stars for the cast, special effects, life lessons, awesome comedic pop culture references throughout, make-up (men and women) and female empowerment. This film will appeal to ages 8 to 18. I caution younger viewing due to fight scenes which may be disturbing to them. Stay for the end crawl! This opens April 27, 2018 in theaters nationwide. Look for it!

Images: Walt Disney Studios

Rampage – What it lacks in complexity, it makes up for in pure spectacle and fun!

Friday, April 13th, 2018

Global icon Dwayne Johnson headlines the action adventure “Rampage,” directed by Brad Peyton. Johnson stars as primatologist Davis Okoye, a man who keeps people at a distance but shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent, incredibly rare albino silverback gorilla who has been in his care since he rescued the young orphan from poachers. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry mutates this gentle ape into a raging creature of enormous size. To make matters worse, it’s soon discovered there are other similarly altered animals. As these newly created alpha predators tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with discredited geneticist Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “What Rampage lacks in complexity and story, it makes up for through pure spectacle and fun.” See his full review below.

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

Rampage is a healthy dose of CGI mayhem, anchored by the star power of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. What Rampage lacks in complexity and story, it makes up for through pure spectacle and fun.

Rampage is loosely based on the classic arcade game of the same name and follows Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), a primatologist (basically a monkey scientist) who takes care of a gorilla named George. Davis and George share a close bond with one another. When a sample of a mysterious substance lands in his enclosure, George inhales it. The good-natured gorilla turns into a building-sized behemoth. The same thing happens to a few other animals, making the threat even larger. With the help of a scientist with a tortured past and a sarcastic, Southern-accented government operative, Davis seeks out George to protect him from harm, while still trying to end the wrath of these animals.

My favorite part of this film is the extended high-action showdown. This part reminds me of what made the game so fun: seeing these behemoths battle on an expansive urban playground where skyscrapers are like jungle gyms. We get to see the monsters battle each other and all the plot threads unfurl into monster madness. The supporting characters get some memorable character moments and Davis Okoye comes into his own as an action hero.

Dwayne Johnson spews charisma with every line. So this, mixed with his great comedic timing, make him a good choice to play an action hero, which is exactly what he does here. Johnson makes lines that would normally sound poorly written and cheesy, quotable and cool. Johnson also brings to the screen Davis’s bond with George well, considering one half of the pair is entirely CGI. Johnson also delivers certain lines that manage to poke fun at Rampage’s insane concept.

I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18 due to suggestive content, language and violence. Rampage is more violent than average blockbuster and, there are a few scenes that I had a hard time watching. If you are a fan of the arcade game, be sure to look out for some Easter eggs that tie the film back to its source material.

I give Rampage 3.5 out of 5 stars. While not a cinematic masterpiece, if you’re looking for a big-budget battle of large creatures with entertainment to spare, this film is for you. Rampage opens in theaters April 13, 2018. Be on the lookout for it.

 

 

Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare – Jump-Scares, Second Guessing – Fun To Watch With Friends

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Olivia, Lucas and a group of their college friends travel to Mexico for one last getaway before graduation. While there, a stranger convinces one of the students to play a seemingly harmless game of truth or dare with the others. Once the game starts, it awakens something evil — a demon which forces the friends to share dark secrets and confront their deepest fears. The rules are simple but wicked — tell the truth or die, do the dare or die, and if you stop playing, you die. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Imani B.G. comments, “I am a huge fan of horror and thriller films and was so excited to see the amazing acting and suspense behind this work. This film offers jump-scares, second guessing and is loads of fun to watch with friends.” Arjun N. adds, “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare is a somewhat disappointing thriller with lots of initial potential… Fans of thrillers and horror movies may want to check it out but proceed with caution.” See their full reviews below.

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare
By Imani B. G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Truth or Dare is a new thriller that has the audience questioning their real abilities and intentions behind the fun-filled game. I am a huge fan of horror and thriller films and was so excited to see the amazing acting and suspense behind this work. This film offers jump-scares, second guessing and is loads of fun to watch with friends.

Olivia (Lucy Hale) and a couple of her college friends take a trip to Mexico for a final getaway before graduation. Little did they know it would turn into something more. While there, they meet a stranger who convinces Olivia to play a harmless, fun game of “truth or dare” with the others. The game starts and so does chaos which follows the group back to their hometown, releasing all their deepest and darkest secrets. The rules are quite simple, but fearful: tell the truth or die; do the dare, or die. No one gets out alive if you don’t play by the rules. Or do they?

Growing up, my friends and I always played the game “truth or dare” at sleepovers. This movie made me question what secrets are we all hide in this game? If the consequences were real, such as they are in this film, how would we react? My favorite part of this film is how I was able to somewhat relate to the characters. They are all teens, as am I. So, it really had me feeling as if I was in their shoes and made me question what I have done in order to survive. I adore the cast, because each one has something to offer to the character they play.

The message in this film is about being honest with your friends and family and to trust one another in any circumstance. Olivia and her friends are torn apart towards the beginning of the film, due to their belief about whether or not the game was real. Once their eyes are opened, they work together in hopes of beating the game and surviving.

I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars. It has a great storyline, cast and cinematography. I it for ages 13 to 18. I recommend seeing it with a group of friends to really get the full effect. Also, it would be more fun! It opens nationwide in theaters on April 13, 2018 so, be sure to check it out. Think about this film the next time you play “truth or dare” with your friends!

Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare is a somewhat disappointing thriller with lots of initial potential. However, the acting and direction allow for some fun thrills. Fans of thrillers and horror movies may want to check it out but proceed with caution.

The story follows teenage friends Olivia (Lucy Hale), Lucas (Tyler Posey), Markie (Violett Beane), Penelope (Sophia Ali), Tyson (Nolan Gerard Funk), Ronnie (Sam Lernie) and Brad (Hayden Szeto) on a trip to Mexico. Along the way, they encounter Carter (Landon Liboiron), an amicable person with a dark secret, playing a game of “truth or dare”. This quickly takes a turn for the worst, once the game summons a curse among the friends. Upon returning home, the curse sequesters the friends, forcing them to play a deadly game of “truth or dare” – one which will result in death if lost. Realizing they are all being forced to play the same game, the friends try to find a way to remove the curse.

Lucy Hale, as Olivia, delivers a commanding performance as the main lead, willing to go to any lengths to stop the curse. She excels in presenting her unstable relationship with her best friend Markie. Tyler Posey, as Lucas, is extremely determined to save his friends using logic to outthink the curse. Violett Beane, as Markie, is excellent with what she is given, but her character could have been more aptly written. She denigrates a repetitive plot point used to propel her inconclusive relationship with Olivia. Sophia Ali, as Penelope, wonderfully presents her character’s nonchalant attitude to circumstances, until it’s her turn to play the game. Nolan Gerard Funk, as Tyson, prominently portrays a smart yet misguided teen. Sam Lernie, as Ronnie, is the most careless of the group. Hayden Szeto, as Brad, is my favorite character due to his clever comic relief. Landon Liboiron, as Carter, mysteriously presents his character’s involvement in the story.

Jeff Wadlow directs the movie with some fun thrills, but also many that are predictable. My favorite scene is Olivia’s first dare for Markie to break her hand. It is well-acted with a visceral intensity. The flaws in the movie are in its inconsistent writing, which completely steal all the potential we see initially. Most of the characters end up in situations that are unintentionally funny. The characters are written to be hate-able and bipolar for the sake of the movie’s plot. The conclusion ends up feeling rushed and used as bait for a sequel.

The message of this film is to always be careful of strangers and unknown places. I give this film 2.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 because of the horror, sexual references and language. The movie releases in theaters on April 13, 2018, so check it out.

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