Archive for the 'Feature Film Reviews' Category

Pacific Rim: Uprising – Big Robots, Big Monsters, Amazing Visuals

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Jake Pentecost is a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity’s victory against the monstrous Kaiju. Jake has since abandoned his training only to become caught up in a criminal underworld. But when an even more unstoppable threat is unleashed to tear through cities and bring the world to its knees, Jake is given one last chance by his estranged sister, Mako Mori, to live up to his father’s legacy. Kamryn B. comments, “This action-packed film is pretty decent. I like that the plot continues from the last movie. The characters are as interesting as their story.” See her full review below.

Pacific Rim: Uprising
By Kamryn B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

This action-packed film is pretty decent. I like that the plot continues from the last movie. The characters are as interesting as their story. The one problem is the sequencing. Some scenes are pointless and are ordered in such a way that they don’t make sense. However, if you like fighting robots, you’ll love it.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is the sequel to Pacific Rim. It takes place ten years after the war, which took place in the first film, was won. Jake Pentecost (John Boyegas), a carefree, retired pilot, is living life in a messed-up world.  Through unwanted circumstances, he meets a 15-year old hacker named Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). With common personalities and different pasts, they create a bond that no one can break. With this new bond, old friends of Jake’s and new friends of Amara’s collaborate to fight the Kaiju for what is left of humanity.

This film is directed and written by Steven S. DeKnight, known for producing the Netflix series Daredevil. DeKnight pulls the story together without losing your attention on the main crisis with the Kaiju. My hats off to the special effects team. The robot close-ups are so realistic, it seems like you can reach out and touch them. The robot fights are also extremely real. The intense music by Lorne Balfe makes the movie extremely engaging. It is also surprisingly comical. Jake Pentecost’s sarcastic tone makes you question whether the group is really living in a life or death situation or not.

My favorite character is Amara. She has a spark from beginning to end in the movie. Her ability to create her very own robot or Jaeger is amazing. Her curiosity and her attitude about doing the right thing is pleasant to see in an action movie. Seeing the connection between Jake and Amara develop through out the film is a favorite part. The message of this film is that “despite who your family is, who you think you are or what you’ve done in the past, you can still be a hero.”

I rate this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. It opens nationwide in theaters Friday, March 23, 2018 so look for it.

Photo credit: Universal Pictures

 

Tomb Raider (2018) – A Most Enjoyable Video Game Adaptation!

Friday, March 16th, 2018

Lara Croft is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished years earlier. Hoping to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance, Croft embarks on a perilous journey to his last-known destination — a fabled tomb on a mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan. The stakes couldn’t be higher as Lara must rely on her sharp mind, blind faith and stubborn spirit to venture into the unknown. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “…one of the more enjoyable video game adaptations. The acting and the direction provide the same sense of adventure and excitement as the video game. This is sure to be a must-see watch for fans of Lara Croft or anything adventure related.” Morgan B. adds, “Mysteries, stupendous graphics, a terrific story and action all make this one awesome film! I love the original Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Tomb Raider has just topped it. The ending had me breathless.” See their full reviews below.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Tomb Raider is one of the more enjoyable video game adaptations. The acting and the direction provide the same sense of adventure and excitement as the video game. This is sure to be a must-see watch for fans of Lara Croft or anything adventure related.

The story follows Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander), an intelligent yet reckless thrill-seeker, who embarks on an adventure unlike any other, when she finds evidence of her father’s disappearance. Seeking to solve the mystery of Richard Croft (Dominic West), Lara enlists the help of Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), a ship captain. However, their adventure lands up in the worst when their ship crashes to Yamatai. Lara soon finds herself in the hands of Matthias Vogel (Walton Goggins), a rival archeologist who will do anything to unlock the tomb within Yamatai. Realizing the tomb will unleash global genocide, Lara must find a way to stop Vogel while discovering secrets about her father.

Alicia Vikander, as Lara Croft, is my favorite character and splendidly presents the character of Lara Croft and her struggle/rise to become the well-known “Tomb Raider.” Her acerbic wit and vulnerability add a relatable extension to the character. Dominic West, as Richard Croft, excellently delivers his love for Lara and adventure. His mystery adds to plot, which leaves you wanting to know more about it at every turn. Daniel Wu, as Lu Ren, is a capable and funny companion to Lara and he shows a caring need to help the poor. Walton Goggins, as Matthias Vogel, portrays a threatening, yet over the top performance as the main villain, and it works for the most part. His involvement in the Croft conspiracy is interesting as well.

Roar Uthaug incredibly directs the movie with a knowledge of the video games, resulting in a brisk pace from one scene to the next. My favorite scene is when Lara has to find a way out of a plane which is slowly falling off of a river bank. It is extremely intense and it reminded of me of fun, innovative levels from the Uncharted and Tomb Raider games. My problem with the movie is, despite a superb first half, the second half falls from an overreliance on CGI and over-the-top scenarios, often leading to unintentional comedy. It feels jarring when compared to such a first half.

The message of the movie is to always be hopeful, as this allows Lara to keep fighting, even in the toughest of times. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of its intense action. The movie releases in theaters on March 16, 2018 so check it out.

Tomb Raider
By Morgan B. Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Mysteries, stupendous graphics, a terrific story and action all make this one awesome film! I love the original Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Tomb Raider has just topped it. The ending had me breathless.

The astonishing graphics are crazy. The ancient tomb is amazing. Everything looks so realistic and very magical. I would love to travel through it and see the wonders inside. Another scene that has a lot of fantastic graphics is the one where Lara Croft and her new companion are caught in a humongous storm. The water looks stormy and crystal clear and I loved this scene because I felt cold and scared while watching it.

Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is the kind of girl that you don’t want to mess with. After all, she raids tombs and runs after villains, and these happen to be her best qualities. Also she has a kindhearted, lovable side that wants her father back desperately after his mysterious disappearance seven years ago. She shows both sides of her personality and makes sure that she isn’t too nice or too mean. Lara Croft is also a good role model for girls who want to stand up for themselves and people who want to learn self-defense. These are the reasons why she is my favorite character. Yes, she knows how to shoot a bow and arrow. Watching all of the various fighting styles and action scenes Alicia Vikander is able to pull off is entertaining.

My favorite scene is when Lara Croft and Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) are trying to escape the tomb and the tomb collapses. I also loved the fact that Lara shows a bit of both sides in this scene because she fighting and also knows that a dreadful fate awaits her father.

The story line is easy to follow and a bit cliché, but worth watching due to the scenery and of course the treasure hunt. The treasure and the underground cave are amazing discoveries. Watch your step because each step is a risk. After all, you might right set off a booby trap or two. The end leads you to believe that there will be more Lara Croft stories in the future.

This is a great first film to reintroduce this powerful female adventure seeking, action figure. The 2001 Lara Croft is very self-assured, tough, smart and fearless.  In this movie she is very young and not sure of herself, but she is quick learner, although a bit naive. She has  room to grow until she becomes the Angelina Jolie version. 2018 she is still not sure of herself

Tomb Raider has a few messages. They include: standing up for yourself when you’re in danger, helping others when they are in need, being yourself and not being afraid to do the impossible.  Another message is the value of a good education which helps Lara solve puzzles throughout the tomb.

I give this film5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Tomb Raider does have a lot of violence and intense action which is bit too much for younger kids. Tomb Raider comes out in theaters on March 16,  2018 so be sure to check it out.

Photo credit: © 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

A Wrinkle in Time – A Must Watch for Sci-Fi Fans

Friday, March 9th, 2018

Meg Murry and her little brother, Charles Wallace, have been without their scientist father, Mr. Murry, for five years, ever since he discovered a new planet and used the concept known as a tesseract to travel there. Joined by Meg’s classmate Calvin O’Keefe and guided by the three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, the children brave a dangerous journey to a planet that possesses all of the evil in the universe. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “A Wrinkle in Time is an enjoyable, yet somewhat flawed interpretation of the classic novel of the same name. The direction and special effects provide a world unlike any other. This is sure to be a watch for sci-fi fans.” Ryan R., adds, “I liked, but did not love this latest Disney film and here’s why…It is visually stunning, but unfortunately falls short in the storytelling.” See their full reviews below.

A Wrinkle in Time
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

A Wrinkle in Time is an enjoyable, yet somewhat flawed interpretation of the classic novel of the same name. The direction and special effects provide a world unlike any other. This is sure to be a watch for sci-fi fans.

The story follows Meg Murry (Storm Reid), a genial teen who is the daughter of famed scientist Alex Murry (Chris Pine). After her father disappears, she goes through a period of insecurity and despair. Four years later, a group of primordial celestial beings – Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) visit Earth to help Meg find her father. Meg’s brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and friend Calvin (Levi Miller) also join the quest to find Alex. However, Meg is also brought in to help fight the “It”, an entity of darkness that threatens to destroy people’s happiness.

Storm Reid, as Meg, excellently presents her inner struggle to be happy and accept herself and this adds a unique element to the story. As the movie progresses, she slowly rises beyond her doubts to become better. Chris Pine, as Alex, delivers an ardent love for science in his character and, while much of his character is witnessed before he disappears, the rest of his scenes add a performance filled with remorse. Deric McCabe, as Charles Wallace, is my favorite character due to his charismatic performance – full of comic relief. Levi Miller, as Calvin, encompasses a respectful companion who seems to be rather enamored by Meg. Oprah Winfrey, as Mrs. Which, is a wise mentor for Meg who guides her throughout her journey. Reese Witherspoon, as Mrs. Whatsit, is the least wise of the three celestial beings, but she provides a kind companion. Mindy Kaling, as Mrs. Who, represents an encyclopedia of character teeming with knowledge.

Ava DuVernay incredibly directs the movie, as you feel as if you are a part of the world through her use of word building to convey a story. My favorite scene is the resolution to the main conflict, as it feels like an appropriate conclusion. My problem with the movie is that is unevenly paced, with the first half of the movie following generic clichés, despite a great first 10 minutes. But the movie gets running as soon as the second half begins, going into uncharted territory unlike any other movie. I also feel that the scenes for Alex and some other plot points are limited, resulting in a few disjointed, convoluted narrative at times and that could throw off some audience members.

The message of the movie is about believing in yourself and accepting who you are. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. The movie releases in theaters on March 9, 2018, so check it out.

A Wrinkle In Time
By Ryan Rivera, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I liked, but did not love this latest Disney film and here’s why. This film is an adaptation of the book, “A Wrinkle in Time” written by Madeleine L’Engle. It is visually stunning, but unfortunately falls short in the storytelling. The protagonists are Meg Murry (Storm Reid) and her little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe). Their scientist father, Mr. Murry has been missing for four years. Meg has had a rough time at school ever since her father’s disappearance. Her younger brother, Charles Wallace introduces Meg to three mysterious astral travelers.  Meg is very skeptical of them at first, until she and Charles Wallace are informed by them that their father is not dead, but was taken by a dark force. Meg, Charles Wallace and her classmate Calvin (Levi Miller) go on an adventure with the three astral travelers, called the Misses.  Will Meg and Charles Wallace find their dad? Well you must see the movie to find out the answer.

I like the visuals, the cast and the message of this film. The visuals are very stunning. The scene where Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) becomes a leaf and gives the kids a ride looks very spectacular. It almost looks like this could be possible in real life. I also like the transitions of the worlds changing as a result of the characters’ actions. The visual effects bring this world to life. Another thing I like is the cast. Oprah’s, Reese Witherspoon’s and Mindy Kaling’s performances as the Misses are exceptional. They show different personalities which make them unique. Mrs. Whatsit is more negative, unlike Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), who is wise and uses quotes from famous people to relay her messages. Mrs. Whatsit is more direct and rude, unlike Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) who guides Meg when she is scared or unsure. Lastly, the messages in this movie are very important. They are about embracing your uniqueness, recognizing the importance of love and being brave enough to discover your inner warrior.

One thing I do not like is the pace.  In the first act, the pace is slow and that is fine, since it builds up the exposition. However, the final act of the movie feels very rushed and is unsatisfying.  I feel the script has some holes in it which made me feel like the movie is missing some important details. This is why I did not really love the film.

Even though this film is not “Pixar great” it still is a good movie to watch with your family. I give it 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to kids ages 7 to 15. Adults might like it as well. I recommend this to people who have read the book or like book adaptations and fantasy movies. A Wrinkle In Time comes out March 9, 2018 in theaters nationwide.

 

 

 

Love, Simon – Exceptional Love Story About a Closeted Gay Teen.

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

Everyone deserves a great love story, but for 17-year-old Simon Spier, it’s a little more complicated. He hasn’t told his family or friends that he’s gay, and he doesn’t know the identity of the anonymous classmate that he’s fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Calista B. comments, “I am not a big fan of love stories. I find them very cliché and not that enjoyable to watch. This movie is an exception! I actually really like the romance in this movie.” See her full review below.

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

https://youtu.be/C3irNzdt9dI

I’m not the typical 14-year-old girl. I am not a big fan of love stories. I find them very cliché and not that enjoyable to watch. This movie is an exception! I actually really like the romance in this movie.

This film is about a closeted gay teen named Simon (Nick Robinson) who, after learning about another gay kid on a school website, begins to search for him while also figuring out how to come out.

The most important aspect of this movie is, of course, the fact that this is a gay love story. I feel like this movie handles the whole thing very well and very respectfully. It’s a very positive and inspirational film. But it’s also a gay love story in mainstream media. This is not an Indie film. It is a story about LGBT love that is in wide release. I believe this movie makes a very big step in normalizing LGBT characters in mainstream media, made specifically for teens.

But this movie isn’t just amazing for that. I love this story in general. It’s kind of a mystery and comedy with a little touch of love. Who is Blue? You really get into the mystery. I remember tensing up and whispering to myself whenever I was scared for the characters. I became so invested in them and hoped it was the person I wanted it to be. It is also about friendship and how fragile our friendships can be and how we use and treat people.

The characters boil down to one trait as their whole personality, but I still liked them. I would have liked to see more depth in Simon’s friend circle. I like Abby’s (Alexandra Shipp) character the most. She’s Simon’s newest friend who has just moved from D.C. and it seems like every guy is interested in her. But she is not the typical “hot teen, mean girl,” she is kind. Simon, of course, is a total show stealer. Not surprising at all, Simon is a charming character who you wish you were best friends with too. You just want him to find Blue so he can be happy because, as the movie posters say, “Everyone deserves a great Love Story.”

My only issues with this movie come down to how weird the theatre teacher and the vice principal are. They are a little over the top. While I liked Ms. Albright (Natasha Rothwell), she swore at students (which isn’t allowed), even though they deserved it. And, it felt as if the vice principal (Tony Hale) clearly wanted to be seen as cool, but he ends up being way too invested in people’s love lives.

All in all, I love this romantic comedy and give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. It comes out March 16, 2018 so be sure to check it out.

Early Man – Unique Storyline, Exquisite Action Scenes, Rollercoaster Events

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

A plucky cave man named Dug, his sidekick Hognob and the rest of their tribe face a grave threat to their simple existence. Lord Nooth plans to take over their land and transform it into a giant mine, forcing Dug and his clan to dig for precious metals. Not ready to go down without a fight, Dug and Hognob must unite their people in an epic quest to defeat a mighty enemy — the Bronze Age. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha M. comments, “This fantastic, animated film from Nick Park and Aardman Animations had me laughing the entire time. Hands down, it is the best movie I have seen this year.” Morgan B. adds, “Early Man really caught my eye with all the quirky characters, fun scenes and the excitement throughout the film. It is sure to be a film that you will never forget.” See their full reviews below.

Early Man
By Samantha M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 18

This fantastic, animated film from Nick Park and Aardman Animations had me laughing the entire time. Hands down, it is the best movie I have seen this year. With a unique storyline, exquisite action scenes and a rollercoaster of events, your eyes don’t want to leave the screen.

Set in the Stone Age, when cavemen and wooly mammoths inhabited the Earth, Chief Bonbar and his tribe are driven out of their homeland by a Bronze Age army, led by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). Lord Nooth claims the Stone Age is over, and Chief Bonbar’s (Timothy Spall) tribe is forced to remain in the volcanic badlands outside of the new city. A young caveman named Dug (Eddie Redmayne)  tries to attack, but is knocked into a basket heading to the city. He tries to hide, but ends up being mistaken for a football player. When Dug and Lord Nooth finally meet, they make a deal: If Chief Bonbar’s tribe beats Lord Nooth’s team in a game of football, then the cavemen can have their valley back.

Dug looks at every situation with optimism. He cares about his tribe and will do absolutely anything for them. Even though he knows he could lose his valley, he constantly perseveres and doesn’t think about giving up. Hognob (Nick Park) is the funniest character in the film. He is Dug’s pet boar and, although he has no dialogue, he makes the weirdest noises. Hognob is so adorable that I want a pet boar now. The relationship Hognob and Dug share is loving and reminds me of the relationship I have with my pets.

The animation is ingenious, because each character is unconventional. With crooked teeth, messy hair and big eyes, these characters are ones you haven’t seen before. My eyes were peeled the entire time, because I couldn’t stop admiring the unique animation. My favorite part is when Dug tries to steal some balls from the Bronze Age city. Hognob distracts Lord Nooth and has to play the harp for him, while he takes a bath. Hognob tries to sing and play the harp, but it sounds so terrible that it makes you laugh.

The message of this film is to never give up under any circumstances. Don’t ever feel intimidated by somebody, because with teamwork and optimism, you can accomplish absolutely anything. Appreciate your differences and remember that nobody can bring you down.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because I have never laughed so hard while watching a film. I recommend it for kids ages 8 to 18, and adults would enjoy it too. It is perfect to watch with your family and friends, because it will put a huge smile on your face and show you how important it is to follow your heart.

Catch this film in theaters nationwide on February 16, 2018. Find out what it means to be an early man.

Early Man
By Morgan B. Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Get your footballs out and be ready to time travel back into the past! Early Man has to be a terrific film especially when the award winning people who brought you Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep Movie are behind it. Early Man really caught my eye with all the quirky characters, fun scenes and the excitement throughout the film. It is sure to be a film that you will never forget.

The claymation in Early Man is terrific. It is astonishing all the different movement these characters make. There is a huge variety of characters, including a giant mega-teeth mallard duck.

Set your time machines to the Stone Age because that is when Early Man takes place. I like that this film  takes place in the Stone Age because it helps with the character development, settings and their lifestyles. I love that the characters are different from the people that we normally see in movies and on TV, because they don’t have technology, furniture or much education. Also the setting is very different because there aren’t very many houses, billboards or fast food stands like we have today. Instead, they replaced all those things with trees, volcanoes, hills and a giant palace. Since the characters don’t have all these things, it makes their personalities very lovable and kind. The tribe wants food and a bit of love from the ones they care about. Lord Nooth only wants gold and a winning team of football players. Then he will be richer then the Queen.

Dug (Eddie Redmayne) is a kind a silly boy who loves his tribe. He is my favorite character because when I see Eddie Redmayne playing a caveman after he played the stupendous scientist Stephen Hawking in the film, The Theory Of Everything, shows what a diverse actor he is. Eddie Redmayne has come a long way from playing Stephen Hawking to Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beastss and Where to Find Them to a comical caveman saving the world.

Goona (Maisie Williams) is the beautiful and fearless girl who saves the day along with Dug. She loves soccer and is the best in her sport. They do indeed need a good coach and she is just the one. Hognob (Nick Park) is the adorable pet sidekick who helps his friend Dug no matter what. He is willing to be a football golly, a spy, a masseuse and most importantly a cuddly friendly pet for his owner. Fun fact: This is the first time that Nick Park will have directed by himself. He is also the producer and a cast member of the film.

Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) is the evil villain who we love to hate. He wants to keep all the land for himself. He also loves bronze coins and uses football games to get people to spend all their money on tickets and things that the games have to offer. One scene that I found to be visually astonishing is the football scene. I love that they spent so much time and effort on this scene and it all pays off in the end. I love the inside jokes that are in this scene and how each of the charters’ personalities shines. Also, when you really think of it the claymation in this scene is just mind-blowing. They had to move each character ever so slightly so they could capture a moment and they do it a million times to complete just this one scene in the entire master piece.

I recommend this for ages 5 to 18. Kids will love the silly charters and funny scenes while teens will like the story and relationship that the charters have. This is definitely a film for the entire family because there are jokes and puns for everyone. Also there is a bit of history so kids will have a bit of education while having a good time. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. It opens in theaters February 16, 2018 so be sure to check it out.

All Photos, courtesy of Aardman Animations

 

 

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