Digimon Adventure Tri: Loss – Wonderful Animation, Impressive Voice Acting

April 27th, 2018

Digimon Adventure Tri: Loss is the fourth in a series of six feature length movies. After the “reboot” and Meicoomon’s rampage, Tai and friends arrive in the Digital World. They reunite with their partner Digimon, who have lost all their memories. As everyone discusses what they should do from here in the Digital World, Meicoomon suddenly appears and then disappears. She still has her memories for some reason as she wanders around, looking for Meiko. Meanwhile in the real world, Nishijima receives word that Himekawa has gone missing. As he investigates, he determines that there’s been some hidden agenda behind her behavior up to this point. It has something to do with an event in the past that determined both their destinies… Special Features: “The Evolution So Far” – Star Joshua Seth Catches Us Up To The Events Of Digimon Adventure tri.: Loss Digimon Adventure tri: Loss is the sequel to Digimon Adventure tri: Confession. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “Digimon Adventure Tri Loss entertained me because of its wonderful animation and impressive voice acting. This is sure to be a watch for Digimon and anime fans.” See his full review below.

Digimon Adventure Tri Loss
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Digimon Adventure Tri Loss entertained me because of its wonderful animation and impressive voice acting. This is sure to be a watch for Digimon and anime fans.

The story follows the events after the reboot where all Digimon were forced to forget their partners. In wake of this, the shrewd Joe Kido (Robbie Daymond) sets out to hunt them while they are at their weakest. To defend, the team must unite and strengthen their Digimon to match up to Kido’s wits. During this, a hopeless Sora (Colleen O’Shaugnessey) tries to reunite with her estranged Biyomon (Cherami Leigh) as Kido targets her first.

Colleen O’Shaugnessey, as Sora, excellently presents her sorrow and selflessness for Biyomon. However, their sullen interactions become rather repetitive and forced as the story progresses.  Miho Arakawa, as Meiko, splendidly portrays her reformation from saving Meicoomon, using this hope to brighten Sora. Robbie Daymond, as Joe Kido, is my favorite character due to his clever performance full of charisma as he proves to be a force to be reckoned with. Also, his deceiving escapes add a theatric grandeur to the character. Tom Fahn, as Agumon, exhibits his leadership through his care and demands of the other Digimon. Cherami Leigh, as Biyomon, depicts an equally well acted counterpart to Sora with her inability to pair with her. Kate Higgons, as Meicoomon, spectacularly reforms from being the main antagonist of the last movie to one that is heroic following the reboot.

The direction by Keitaro Motonaro wonderfully adapts with a similar approach to the source magna. My favorite scene is the resolution between Sora and Biyomon with its conclusion adding a touching end to this mixed bag of a plot. My only problems with this movie are in its inconsistent writing which switches from one tone to the next or even underplays many character arcs. Also, the amount of farcical humor could have taken a break to service the plot’s serious developments.

The message of the movie is to always take care of yourself first before concerning others. Sora’s insecurities increase while trying to reconcile with Biyomon but this leaves her and other team members susceptible to attack. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18 because of its frequent action. The movie is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray, so check it out.

 

Molang: Season 2 – Molang and Piu Piu are back again with Tales of Happiness and Friendship

April 27th, 2018

Join Molang, a round, fluffy, and happy rabbit, and his friend, Piu Piu, a poised, timid, and reserved yellow chick, as they explore everyday life. Despite their many differences, Molang and Piu Piu enjoy a special friendship. They have amazing times together ranging from the ordinary to the extraordinary. From finding themselves in the middle of the jungle, going to the circus or enjoying a rainy day, Molang and Piu Piu embrace every daily adventure together. Who knew dancing in the rain with your best friend could be so much fun? No matter what happens, every single moment with these two is filled with sheer happiness. Embark on 52 lovable adventures with Molang and Piu Piu! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sahiba K. comments, “The adorable, warm-hearted duo of Molang and Piu Piu are back in Molang Season 2 directed by Marie-Caroline Villand and Stephanie Miziak! The writers compose plots that are incredibly simple, yet engaging and expressive.” KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror Kimberly M. adds, “The show demonstrates positive social skills such as how to get along with others. Themes covered in all the shows include happiness, friendship, caring and respect. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it quite appealing and engaging.” See their full reviews below.

Molang: Season 2
By Sahiba Kaur, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

The adorable, warm-hearted duo of Molang and Piu Piu are back in Molang Season 2 directed by Marie-Caroline Villand and Stephanie Miziak! The writers compose plots that are incredibly simple, yet engaging and expressive. The directors are skilled in easily conveying the plot, jokes and emotion without the use of dialogue.

These stories take Molang and Piu Piu on adventures near and far, as they help others and bring joy to the lives of everyone they touch. They often run into a friend or neighbor who could use a helping hand or a mood boost. Molang and Piu Piu find unique solutions to everyday experiences and make many friends along the way.

The lexicon of Molang and Piu Piu is incomprehensible, so the animation, sound effects and music work together to transcend words. The animation uses simple images to convey the characters’ ideas and concepts. For example, when Piu Piu or Molang have a solution to a complication, a thought bubble pops up to show it in a quick image. The sound effects are either bright or dark, based on the mood of the scene. For example, when Piu Piu gets stressed, which is quite often, he screeches in distress. Furthermore the music, composed by Nicholas Varley, is very adventurous and upbeat, especially during the traveling scenes. It is lively and adds all the more to the jovial ambience.

The art of the animation is pure and simple, yet gives a relaxed and easy going aura. The colors are soft, not too bright or too dark, making the visuals sweet and appealing. Many of the objects such as the houses, characters, trees, vehicles and hills are all rounded creating the huggable, lovable world of Molang.

For me, the most appealing part is the happiness that surrounds each and every episode. Piu Piu and Molang are inseparable and their friendship is beautifully strong. This foundation sets the mood of each episode and their kindness reaches out to my heart.

The message of Molang Season 2 is to brighten the days of those around you and to help those in need. I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 10. It is available on DVD now so, be sure to check it out.

Molang: Season 2
By Kimberly Mullins, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.

This charming DVD takes you from point A to point B quickly in a manner appropriate for the target age. There is no language spoken except an alien language spoken by visitors. We follow a day in the lives of Molang and Piu, Piu and how they get along on Earty. The show is filled with bright colors along with characters and images that are drawn big and simple. This is an animated series with 52 five-minute adventures. The menu allows one to select a specific episode. You can also select different languages. The show demonstrates positive social skills such as how to get along with others. Themes covered in all the shows include happiness, friendship, caring and respect. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it quite appealing and engaging. I highly recommend this for ages 1 to 5 and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

 

 

Pocoyo: Season 2 – We love Pocoyo. He’s a unique, funny, kind-hearted toddler with charisma that goes on for days!

April 27th, 2018

Meet Pocoyo, the unforgettable little boy with a very big personality! Your child will learn through laughter with Pocoyo and all his friends Elly, Pato, Loula and Sleepy Bird! Complete your first season with this second volume of 26 episodes! Join Elly as she is stricken with a case of the Elly Spots, and Pato and Pocoyo must give up their picnic in order to help look after her. Then our friends are playing with a model airplane which shoots off into space. This calls for an adventure to go retrieve it and the gang meets some aliens along the way! From surprise parties to superhero days, every day is an adventure with Pocoyo and friends! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Rohan F. comments, “I really enjoy how the whole show is shot in first person, from the perspective of the narrator. This makes the viewer feel very involved in Pocoyo’s world. Each episode has a good moral such as sharing, being kind, cleaning up after yourself and not taking other people’s things without permission.” KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror, Rachael V. adds, This whole series focuses on getting through strange or difficult situations via laughter. It really emphasizes the importance of taking a minute to collect your thoughts and laugh away the negativity. I truly love that.” See their complete reviews below.

Pocoyo: Season 2
By Rohan Foxe, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Pocoyo is a unique show for kids. It has cool, clay-like characters and takes place in an entirely empty world. The bright, colorful characters stand out against the plain, white background. The animation style is very clear and calming which fits the personalities of the characters quite well. I like the decision to use very normal toys such as trains and blocks along with unusual characters. It creates a nice contrast.

This is a DVD set with 50 episodes.  Each episode follows Pocoyo and his friends Elly, Pato, Loula, Baby Bird, Sleepy Bird and Caterpillar who find something or make something new and then, they all use the item. I like how many possibilities this format provides.

My favorite episode is Guess What? In this episode, Pocoyo and his friends play a game with the narrator. In the game, Pocoyo makes a shape with the things around him. Then, the narrator must guess what the object is. Another episode I really like is Mr. Big Duck. In this episode, Pato finds a pair of sunglasses. The narrator says they make him look like an adult, so he refuses to play with his friends because they’re too childish. Eventually, they convince him that being a kid is more fun, so he plays with them. This episode is really funny. I like how his friends react.

I really enjoy how the whole show is shot in first person, from the perspective of the narrator. This makes the viewer feel very involved in Pocoyo’s world. The show is very repetitive, which is perfect for its target audience. I really like how the characters move. They move their limbs as if they are actually made of clay. They stretch and move in impossible ways and it’s very cute and hilarious.

Each episode has a good moral such as sharing, being kind, cleaning up after yourself and not taking other people’s things without permission. The music also fits the show quite well. It sounds fun and almost as if it is being played by a child. I really like Pocoyo’s voice. It really fits his character, even though he doesn’t speak much. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to kids ages 2 through 7.

Pocoyo: Season 2
By Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Pocoyo is a funny, kind-hearted toddler with charisma that goes on for days! He has many friends that he goes on adventures with, but my son (2 years old) really loves Sleepy Bird. Sleepy Bird is a cute little bird that is seemingly always asleep and even flies with her eyes closed. My son giggles his little heart out whenever she comes on the screen. Watching Pocoyo interact with his friends is great. They are all so kind to each other. This whole series focuses on getting through strange or difficult situations via laughter. It really emphasizes the importance of taking a minute to collect your thoughts and laugh away the negativity. I truly love that. It’s such a wonderful thing to teach a child. The show’s animation is computer generated with a very straightforward design. The simplicity of the characters and sets are eye catching, yet don’t over-stimulate the viewer or take attention away from the stories. The music is cheerful and enjoyable. I recommend this DVD for ages 2 to 5 and it 5 out of 5 stars.

 

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

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!

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.

 

 

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