Up to date information about children’s entertainment - film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

Archive for the 'Feature Film Reviews' Category

Famed Soprano Renee Fleming Performs in DreamWorks new film, “Rise of the Guardians’

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Acclaimed soprano Renee Fleming has performed the original song “Still Dream” on the soundtrack for the upcoming Rise of the Guardian. “This is a truly beautiful film and I am honored to perform ‘Still Dream,’ which serves as the perfect finale for Alexandre’s incredible film score,” says Renee Fleming. One of the most beloved and celebrated musical ambassadors of our time, soprano Renee Fleming captivates audiences with her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry, and compelling stage presence. Known as “the people’s diva” and named 2012 Female Singer of the Year by the German Echo awards, she continues to grace the world’s greatest opera stages and concert halls, now extending her reach to include other musical forms and media. Ms. Fleming is a Three-Time Grammy® Award Winner. Last June, in a historic first, she sang on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

The film features a score by Four-Time Academy Award® nominated and Grammy® Award winning composer Alexandre Desplat. The original, end-credit song “Still Dream” was written and produced by Desplat, with lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. The complete score was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and features choral work by London Voices. To create the music and lyrics for the original song, Desplat and Lindsay-Abaire drew upon the film’s heroic and sweeping story as inspiration. “There is much more music in Rise of the Guardians than is found in the average live-action film,” says Desplat, who conducted the London Symphony Orchestra. “The goal with the score was to emphasize every moment of joy, sadness and soul so that audiences would be able to dive with the characters into their worlds. The main theme - conveying all the wonder of children’s dreams and their beliefs became the melody on which I wrote the song.”

Rise of the Guardians is an epic adventure that tells the story of a group of heroes; each with extraordinary abilities. When an evil spirit known as Pitch lays down the gauntlet to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must join forces for the first time to protect the hopes, beliefs and imagination of children all over the world. The film stars Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Chris Pine and Hugh Jackman.

Rise of the Guardians is directed by Peter Ramsey, written by David Lindsay-Abaire, produced by Christina Steinberg and Nancy Bernstein and executive produced by William Joyce and Guillermo del Toro. Link to trailer: http://www.riseoftheguardians.com/

Big Miracle - Inspiring Film Based on a True Story

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

BigMiracle_1.jpgNine-year-old KIDS FIRST! Film Critic loved this film. Watch his video review or read below what he had to say:

“This is one of the best movies I have ever seen that is based on a true story.  This movie is really awesome because there were so many people that came together to save three whales. It was really heart-breaking because a lot of people put their own lives in danger to save the lives of the whales. This movie is all about Adam and Nathan who are out and see three whales that are trapped under the ice and can’t find their way to the ocean. There is a small hole that the whales keep using to breathe so first they try digging that whole to make it bigger. Adam’s friend Rachel comes to help save the whales and do everything she can. She asks the governor for help but he says no so she tells the news about what he said. The governor then decides to help. They have to work fast because the hole keeps freezing and getting smaller and the ice leading to the ocean keeps freezing over making the distance even longer.   Some of the main characters in the movie are Adam, Rachel, and Nathan. My favorite character is Nathan because he is such a funny character at first and then he really starts to care about the whales. He also starts to spend a lot of time with his grandfather because his grandfather likes to spend a lot of time around the ocean and helps animals in need.  My favorite part in the movie is when everyone started to dig the holes to help the whales breathe and get back to the ocean. I really like this part because it really shows how everyone cares about saving the whales and how much people love the whales. A part that was really funny was when the Governor had to help save the whales because Rachel told the news that he wouldn’t help. It was funny to see him shaking the hand of a guy dressed up as a whale. I would recommend this movie for all ages because it is a really good movie. There are not any violent parts in this movie. This movie is a little sad but overall a really great family movie. Go out and see this movie in theaters on February 3rd. Review by Anthony Aranda, age 9, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

War Horse - Should You Take Your Kids To It?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

WarHorse.jpgThe acclaimed War Horse play and children’s book is now on the big screen! War Horse is a heartwarming tale about a father who buys a horse for his son on a whim. His son, Albert played by Jeremy Irvine, develops an unbreakable bond his horse, Joey. However, World War I approaches, and Joey is drafted into the military. Will the two ever reunite?

The movie has a charming story. When I interviewed the author of the children’s book War Horse, Michael Morpurgo, he told me that his book shows how war does not only produce a severe effect on people, but with animals too, specifically horses. It is interesting watching director Steven Spielberg’s translation of that theme onto film. One notable scene shows the horse, Joey, galloping fiercely through no man’s land, but is forced to slow down after he is tangled in a bunch of wires. After intense war, both opposing sides come together to untangle the horse! I found it touching because it shows that it takes both sides to solve a problem, and when the movie shows both soldiers cutting the wires from the horse, I thought of it as a symbol like they were ending their conflicts between each other. The cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, filmed the scene beautifully, which helped produce such an emotional effect on the audience.

The cinematography in general is wonderful, especially when Kaminski zooms in the feet of the horses and the faces of the horses as they gallop across the vast fields. Most of the beauty of the movie comes from the horses, and I think the horse trainers did an impeccable job, particularly ZelieBullen since she trained the main horse, Joey. I recommend this movie to teens ages 13 and up. It is a pleasant family film because it is not too brutal, yet it still packs in all of the action and intensity of war. The movie is a bit slow in the beginning, so younger teens may get bored, but it quickly picks up the pace as the war begins. This is a moving tale to watch and will bring the entire family together for the holidays.

Reviewed by Gabriella Chu, age 15, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

Video Review available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWkcjuxuJRw

We Bought a Zoo - Funny, sad and really cool

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

WeBoughtZoo.jpg9-year-old Anthony Aranda reviewed We Bought a Zoo for us and here’s what he had to say about it: I really like this movie; it was kind of funny, a little sad, but really cool.

This movie is all about Benjamin Mee, played by Matt Damon, who is living with his family in the city trying to deal with the death of his wife and raise his two kids. His son Dylan is not doing so well and keeps getting into trouble. He finally gets expelled and so they have to find him a new school. Benjamin decides that it’s time for them to move and start a new life and they find a really cool house out of the city and want to buy it. But they soon realize that this house comes with a zoo. His daughter Rosie loves the house though so they decide to give it a try.

Some of the main characters in the movie are Benjamin Mee, Kelly Foster, Duncan, Dylan, and Rosie. My favorite character is Benjamin because he is a really funny character. When he gets mad he does some really funny stuff like throwing a tantrum all by himself, which kept me laughing. He is also a really good dad even though he doesn’t exactly know what he’s doing.
My favorite part in the movie is when Benjamin Mee is inside the porcupine pit and he thinks they are nice at first but then the porcupine started running after him and he jumped over the fence and landed on pointy stuff. So when they tried to take them off he kept screaming! That was really funny.

I would recommend this movie for ages 10 and up because there are some scary parts in this movie that younger kids might not like. The movie is sad because the mom dies and the family is still trying to deal with that. The pictures that Dylan draws are kind of violent and scary and there is also some kissing in the movie that is not appropriate for younger viewers.  Go out and see this movie in theaters or buy it when it comes out on DVD

Credit: Anthony Aranda, age 9, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked - A Fab Family Film for Almost Every Age

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Alvin211283.jpg9-year-old Anthony Aranda reviewed this for us last weekend and he loved it. Here’s what he has to say:

This movie is awesome because there is a lot of action and everything the chipmunks and Chipettes do is so funny. The movie is all about Dave, the chipmunks and the Chipettes who go on vacation and have a really big adventure. They go on a cruise ship and Alvin keeps causing lots of trouble on the ship (like always). Alvin comes up with a really great idea to fly on top of a kite. All of the chipmunks and Chipettes are holding the kite while Alvin is flying but the wind picks up too hard. They start to fly away and Simon tries to help by tying the kite to Dave’s chair (while he is sleeping). This still doesn’t work and the chair and the chipmunks start to move down the deck of the ship. Eventually, the kite slips off the chair and the chair flips over. Dave wakes up to see the chipmunks and the Chipettes fly away on the kite.

Some of the main characters in the movie are Dave, the chipmunks (Alvin, Simon, and Theodore), the Chipettes (Eleanor, Jeanette, and Brittany), Zoe, and Ian. My favorite character is Alvin because he is always having fun and causing lots of trouble. I also like him because in the end he learns that he can still have fun while being responsible.

My favorite part in the movie is when the chipmunks and Chipettes meet Zoe on the stranded island. She invites them to meet her friends and when they get there they see that her friends are a bunch of sports balls. It’s really funny because it seems like she is a little crazy since she has been on the island for so long. We figure out later that there are spiAnthony.jpgders on the island that change a person’s personality and make them act differently. Later in the movie Simon gets bit by one of the spiders and then he starts acting like someone else. It is really funny.

I recommend this movie for all ages because it is super funny and there was no violence or parts that would scare anyone. It also shows how much family means and that most families would do anything for each other. Go out and see this movie in theaters on December 16th.

Reviewed by Anthony Aranda, age 9, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 - Should Your Teen See It?

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

307571_285243148169713_285240848169943_1081677_1713698878_n.jpgTwilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, reviewed by our 13-year-old critic, Daniel Menegaz is the first half of the final installment of the Twilight saga movies based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer that has gripped the nation since Twilight first came out on print. Here are Daniel’s comments: It is about the tortured love story between Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) the vampire. In this first part, Bella gets married, and then gets pregnant on her honeymoon. The movie ends with her opening her bright red eyes as a vampire. Having read Breaking Dawn, I thought it was fairly accurate to the story. Although, the book doesn’t have quite enough information to stretch into two movies, I found the movie a little boring. The movie has some heavy drama; in fact, that is something I didn’t like. All the characters seemed to be depressed at what should have been a happy moment. Other than that, the movie was fairly good. I really enjoyed the soundtrack and particularly the scenes. The movie has some very stunning nature shots. I think this movie is for ages 13 and up because of very inappropriate subject matter regarding the sex and Bella’s pregnancy. Overall, I would give this movie 3.5 out of 5 stars. If you are looking for a movie filled with drama, vampires, and werewolves, this is your movie.

Happy Feet 2 - Great Family Movie Displaying Happiness and Friendship

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

HappyFeet2.jpgI love this movie. It’s about Mumble (Elijah Wood) and Gloria’s (Pink) baby penguin named Erik (Ava Acres) who wanders off from all the other penguins. His father, Mumble tries to find him and while he is gone a big iceberg blocks the penguins from going anywhere.

Watch Anthony’s review here.
My favorite characters are Mumble, Erik and two krill named Will and Bill (Brad Pitt & Matt Damon). I like Mumble because he is really funny and he sometimes gets mad at Erik. I like Erik because he tries to get his father to take more chances and he is almost always happy. I like the two krill because they show how friendships take work. They split up in the movie, get lost and then find each other again and make a stronger friendship.My favorite part of this movie is when Will and Bill start tapping on the ice from underneath - kind of like how Mumble taps on the ice from above. Then, a whole bunch of other krill join in and they light up the ice with all of their tapping. I think this is really cool because it is neat to see all the lights and how they actually do that.

The animation and special effects in this movie are really cool. When the krill light up the sea, that is really cool. When some of the ice goes tumbling down the effects of that are really neat. The animation in this movie is awesome. The penguins look very real and they do a good job at making them talk.

I recommend this movie for ages two and up. This movie does have a few scary parts that might be frightening for kids younger than two. For example, when one of the elephant seals falls into a big hole his kids get really scared because they think he might get stuck down there forever. That part made me a little nervous. This is a great family movie that shows happiness and friendship. Go out and see this movie when it comes out in theaters on November 18th.

Reviewed by Anthony Aranda, age 9, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Real Steel - Violent but not Gory

Monday, October 10th, 2011

RealSteel.jpg“Real Steel” is the action packed, intense movie about Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) a robot boxer that could use some money at the current moment, who spends the summer with his 11-year-old kid Max Kenton (Dakota Doyo). When the two have no luck with a fantastic robot, they go to the junkyard looking for parts, and Max finds an old sparring bot that turns out to be a force to be reckoned with. I though the movie was very entertaining. The CGI really made the robots and the sets come to life. I also thought that the acting was good. The disbanded relationship between Charlie and Max was not only well acted, but provides some well-placed comic relief from the fight sequences. Although a great movie, it does have some violence. Even though the robot fights aren’t gory, the fighting is some replicable behavior that little kids could bring home. I recommend “Real Steel” for kids 13 and up, and it deserves a 4 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Daniel Menengaz age 13, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Dolphin Tale - Uplifting and Inspiring

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Dolphin TaleAnthony Aranda, our 9-year-old youth film critic viewed Dolphin Tale recently and couldn’t say enough positive things about it. Here are his comments:

This is a great movie based on a true story. This movie is great because the story is really encouraging and shows me that anything is possible.

The movie is about a dolphin named Winter who gets caught in a crab trap and her tail is badly injured. She gets taken back to the Clearwater Marine Hospital where everyone there tries to help her. Her tail is too badly injured to save so they try to make a new tail for her to help her swim. The movie takes us on Winter’s journey to swim again.

Some of the main characters in the movie are Winter the dolphin, Sawyer, Hazel and Dr. Clay Haskett. My favorite characters in the movie are Sawyer and Winter. I like them because they are really good characters in the movie and it is really cool to see them form such a special friendship. Sawyer is the only one that Winter trusts and he wants to do everything he can to help her. Anthony.jpg

I recommend this movie for all kids ages 5 to 18 because it’s such a good movie. A lot of people would like this movie because there are a lot of funny parts. It’s really cool to see Winter get better throughout the movie. Go out and see it in theaters when it premieres on September 23rd!

Review by Anthony Aranda, age 9, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Contagion - A Lesson in Germ-onomics

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Contagion.jpgIf you are into suspenseful films that ring remarkably true, then you will enjoy Contagion. Dr. Lipkin from Columbia University’s School of Public Health, who consulted on the film, based the virus on one which spread from pigs to farmers in the late 1990s. 14-year-old Gabriella Chu shares her comments on the film:

My eyes were glued to the screen from beginning to end. It documents the rapid spread of an unknown deadly virus around the world. Doctors and health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) race to find a vaccine to prevent more people from dying, while the government tries to keep society under control.

The fact that this movie is shot internationally made it more exciting to me. The background music of the movie adds a great deal to the serious and suspenseful mood. Contagion delivers a vital universal message to be very careful in dealing with germs. The movie shows several close-ups ofpeople coughing, bus poles and other places that are susceptible to germs. The makeup of the affected people is very impressive and life like. After watching this movie, I did not want to touch anything. The movie also shows that fear can be contagious and deadly like a virus. Since the movie is so realistic, it gives me a new perspective on epidemics affecting the world today. I am surprised by some things that I never knew about until I watched this movie. For example, the average person touches their face about 3,000 times a day! And I love the ending because that is when the movie reveals one of the biggest mysteries the doctors are searching for. If you want to find out what the mystery is, watch Contagion!

I recommend this movie to teens 13 and up. There are some disturbing images that may frighten younger children and they might not follow the storyline since it is fast-paced.

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