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KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
AMERICAN DREAM AND OTHER FAIRY TALES, THE

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AMERICAN DREAM AND OTHER FAIRY TALES, THE - 1 SOUL PRODUCTION
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18
Description - Abigail Disney looks at America's dysfunctional and unequal economy and asks why the American Dream has worked for the wealthy, yet is a nightmare for people born with less. Using her family's story, Disney explores how this systemic injustice took hold and imagines a way toward a more equitable future.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Have you ever wondered if the cast members and staff at the "happiest place on Earth" are actually happy themselves? Well, The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales is the documentary you need to watch! It's eye-opening, and shocking, and exposes the wealth inequality among employees at Disneyland and other companies in the United States.

The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales follows philanthropist and co-director, Dr. Abigail Disney, the great-niece of Walt Disney and the granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, as she embarks on a journey to bring awareness to pay gaps between the rich and poor workers at companies such as Disney. The story starts in 2018 when Dr. Disney is contacted by Disneyland employees for help because they are struggling to afford food, housing, and even cover medical expenses.

This documentary uses videos of protests, court proceedings, cast member interviews, and experiences to tell the stories of how employees that help create the magic at Disneyland don't have fair and equal pay and how that needs to change. My favorite part of this documentary is seeing how all the workers featured were willing to share their stories, rally, protest, and even host food drives for workers to help make a difference. While most would be scared to make a film like this, I love the bravery it took for Dr. Disney to speak up and make these issues public, especially since the fight is against the company that bears her name and family legacy. It's a documentary that is sure to stun its audience.

The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales highlights how companies must have fair and equal pay for all employees. It's not right for people to work hard to make CEOs and others rich at a company and still have to be on food stamps and homeless. While there isn't anything for parents to look out for, I wouldn't recommend showing it to young viewers to avoid ruining the magic of Disney for them.

While the topics covered in The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales are very serious, somehow Dr. Disney and co-director Kathleen Hughes courageously deliver this bold film in a very easy-to-understand and entertaining format. I give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This inspiring documentary will debut first in Orlando, Florida, starting on September 16, 2022. It will be available in additional markets and video-on-demand on September 23, 2022.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
RAILWAY CHILDREN

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RAILWAY CHILDREN - BLUE FOX ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - Inspired by one of the most beloved British family films of all time, Railway Children is an enchanting, moving, and heart-warming adventure for a new generation. 1944 -- As life in Britain's cities becomes increasingly perilous, three evacuee children -- Lily (Beau Gadsdon), Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and Ted (Zac Cudby) Watts -- are sent by their mother from Salford to the Yorkshire village of Oakworth. There to meet them on the train station platform are Bobbie Waterbury (Jenny Agutter, reprising her iconic role in the original film), her daughter, Annie (Sheridan Smith), and grandson Thomas (Austin Haynes), and with their help the evacuees are soon settling into their new life in the countryside. When the children discover injured American soldier Abe (KJ Aikens), hiding out in the railyard at Oakworth Station, they are thrust into a dangerous quest to assist their new friend who, like them, is a long way from home.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A heart-wrenching and adventurous new film set partway through World War II, Railway Children is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. The excellent acting highlights the emotional plot twists in the well-written script, and the time period is clearly depicted through costumes and props. Grab some popcorn, grab some tissues and get watching!

Railway Children follows three kids, Lily (Beau Gadson), Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and Ted (Zac Cudby) who are sent away to the countryside in England for safety during the war. There, although missing their mom immensely, they live happily with a temporary family. One day, while playing hide and seek in a train station, they discover a person living in one of the abandoned train carts. At first, they believe it is a German spy, but they later come to learn a lot about the boy, Abe (KJ Aikens), and his story. However, when Lily receives news that Abe could be more than he's let on, they have to decide whether to help him illegally or turn him in.

Railway Children is an epic combination of emotion and action. It pulls you in and keeps you watching and then slams you with grief. All of the actors who play the five leading kids, Lily, Pattie, Ted, Thomas (Austin Haynes) and Abe, are fantastic at conveying the sadness to the audience. Beau Gadson as Lily stands out as being a strong and emotional actress. In addition, the costumes, props and accents help express the settings and develop the characters. One example is the school uniform. Although they are all basically the same, each character has a spark in their outfit that matches their personality. This could be the hairstyle, headpiece, belt, scarf or shoes. The kids' costumes look absolutely adorable on screen, especially on the little siblings.

The message of Railway Children is that you can always make a stand and fight for what's right. Lily is a strong-willed older sister who is determined to help Abe no matter the cost. Teamwork is also encouraged in this film. What seemed like life or death disputes at school quickly dissolve when another kid is in need of their help. There is some minor inappropriate language and violence.

I give Railway Children 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18 plus adults. You can watch Railway Children in theaters only on September 23, 2022.


Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
HEATHERS: THE MUSICAL

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HEATHERS: THE MUSICAL - 101 STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Welcome to Westerberg High, where Veronica Sawyer is just another one of the nobodies dreaming of a better day. But when she's unexpectedly taken under the wings of the three beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams of popularity finally start to come true. Until JD shows up -- the mysterious teen rebel who teaches her that everyone fears being a nobody, but its murder being a somebody...
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Bring Broadway to the small screen with Heathers: The Musical! Sit in the front row and witness the musical that took the world by storm. The witty and creative production continues to revolutionize theater and lives.

Heathers: The Musical is a musical theater adaptation of the 1988 film Heathers. When Veronica (Ailsa Davidson) wants to fit in with the cool crew at her new school, the most popular girls, the Heathers, (Madison Firth, Vanka Panka, Teleri Hughes) take her under their wing. As Veronica realizes that being popular isn't all it's cracked up to be, she tries to escape the clique she's become a part of, and soon finds that it'll be much more difficult than she thought.

Heathers: The Musical brings the off-Broadway production to audience's homes. The recording of the musical makes it easy for theater fans of all ages to re-watch their favorite play. The film really captures the magic of the theater and hits every mark. The live audience reaction adds to the feeling that viewers are in an opera house, watching the production live. The acting is colorful and easily defines the characters' personalities. Veronica dangles in the morally gray character. She's awkward and funny, but will cross the line between innocence and murder. Meanwhile J.D. (Simon Gordon) is someone who may not be the best boyfriend, but he's a character we can't help but love. All of the actors' performances are outstanding; they emphasize character development, belt out high notes and dance to difficult choreography. It's clear that every actor is a triple threat and enjoys performing for live audiences. The standout performance is Ailsa Davidson, as Veronica. She is a star and captures every scene she is in. Each musical number is fantastic and gives insight to each character and their life. The most recognizable song is "Candy Store." This performance upholds its reputation and proves why it is the most famous song of the soundtrack.

The message of the film is a reminder to be yourself. Veronica craved to be popular and, once she thought she had good friends and changes her entire personality, she realizes that what she really wants is to be herself. This film is inappropriate for younger audiences due to crude language, partial nudity, heavy sexual innuendo, murder and suicide.

I give Heathers: The Musical 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It launches on the Roku Channel September 16, 2022.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FISHTALES: SEAL WORLD

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FISHTALES: SEAL WORLD - WOW NOW ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Alba the seal is leaving Fishtale Reef to go to Seal School in the big bay! All her friends in Fishtale Reef work around the clock to prepare the best farewell party for the adorable seal in Fishtales: Seal World! The latest in the acclaimed Fishtales series. Available on IN demand, DISH, and Comcast. Exclusively streaming for FREE on the FamilyEntertainment.TV app - available on Roku, Amazon and Apple TV.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World is a very sweet show. It's geared for a younger audience than me, but I believe it will be a favorite among younger kids. Parents will like it too as aspects of it are educational.

The latest in the acclaimed Fishtales: Seal World series, the storyline of Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World follows Fifi, a bubbly pink fish, and her best friend Lily, a whale, who get news about one of their friends moving away. They go visit the Magic Pearl who is the only one that can confirm if this is true and if so, why? It turns out that Alba the seal is leaving Fishtale Reef to go to Seal School in the big bay! Fifi and Lily struggle with keeping the secret, but once the secret comes out they decide that they're going to throw Alba the best surprise farewell party ever.

I really like the way Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World quietly sneaks in life lessons threaded throughout the storyline. It's smart and yet subtle; perfect for a kids' TV show. I love how vibrant and colorful the entire show is - the backgrounds and the characters -- both in looks and personality. I also appreciate how detailed the characters are. Fifi is a fish and, obviously, her parents are the same type of fish, but you can clearly tell who is who because of the slight changes in color, eyelashes or headpieces. I really like how they paid so much attention to these small things. The same applies to the backgrounds. There are two rooms that look almost exactly the same, but have small differences, barely noticeable, but enough so you can appreciate it.

The message is that you have to be happy for others and want the best for them. Lily and Fifi are obviously sad that Alba is leaving, but at the same time, are happy she gets to live out her dream of going to Seal School. There are some really nice lessons for young children in the film - touching topics like secrets, not getting what you want and similar.

I give Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World will be available on VOD and DVD beginning September 6, 2022. Go check it out!

By Alma K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Fishtales: Seal World is a film that really shows how people, or fish, can care for each other. It really speaks to my heart; what makes it amazing is how it has so much love and support for all the characters.

This show is about a fish named Fifi and a baby whale named Lily. They find out that Alba, the seal, is leaving and plan a surprise party for her called "Operation: Secret Party." All of this has to be kept secret from Alba the seal.

There are so many cool things to talk about in Fishtales: Seal World. First, there are so many minor characters, which is so amazing. Throughout the show the main characters, Fifi and Lily meet many diverse characters that help them out and give them advice. Second, there's even a moment where the characters of the show break the fourth wall and address the audience. For example, it asks kids to figure out a word starting with the letter "P" that means: asking nicely. Third, the animation is quite good and differs from other animation I've ever seen; it really showcases the marine life in a different, more kid friendly way. The voice actors, starting with Sarah Taylor, KJ Schrock and Simon Hill, are all so impressive. It can often be hard to figure out how a sea creature might speak, yet these actors manage to pull it off. The voice actor for Tickles, a starfish, has a very bland animated face but the voice actor really brings him to life by giving him more excitement and joy than his face portrays.

The message of this film is that secrets should stay secrets, especially if they're not yours to tell. We should always trust and care for each other.

I give Fishtales: Seal World 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. It is available now on DVD and digital.


Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 19.99 Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MAIKA: THE GIRL FROM ANOTHER GALAXY

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MAIKA: THE GIRL FROM ANOTHER GALAXY - WELL GO USA INC.
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 8-12
Description - After losing his mother to illness and his best friend to an unexpected move, a young boy discovers a crashed spaceship and makes a new friend with awesome powers (although she does need a little help with her earthly social skills). Together, they embark on a zany, fun-filled adventure while taking on the bad guys and helping Maika find her way home.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy is an adorable and impeccably-filmed story of friendship and exploration. It's the perfect sci-fi adventure for the whole family this September.

Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy follows the story of Hung (Phu Truong Lai), a young boy in Vietnam. After Hung's mother Hang (Elyse Dinh) passes away from lung disease, and he loses his best friend My to an unexpected move to Saigon, he discovers a crashed spaceship and makes a new friend, Maika (Chu Diep Anh), with powers. Together, they embark on fun-filled adventures while taking on various villains like the head of an aeronautical company before helping Maika find her way back to her home planet.

Ham Tran's direction truly ties this film together; even though the film is based on a Czechoslovakian TV series that became a cultural sensation in Vietnam in the 1980s and '90s, it comes across as an original film. My favorite part of the film was the special effects, as I think it should be in a sci-fi film. When Maika does her "magic," purple beams emanate from her fingers; it is beautiful! The performances by Chu Diep Anh as Maika and Hung by Phu Truong Lai steal the show; I was moved by Lai's emotive performance in the initial scenes where his mother is hospitalized, and An's chirpy, bubbly character stole my heart.

Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy promotes finding your own adventures, fostering positive friendships, and overall being a good, virtuous person. There is one scene to watch out for where Maika, unaware of Earthly social norms about clothing, pounces on Hung naked; she is shown from the neck up, though.

I give Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy 4 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy debuts on digital outlets on September 6, 2022.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
WOMAN KING, THE

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WOMAN KING, THE - SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - The Woman King is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (Oscar�-winner Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. Some things are worth fighting for....
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Woman King is a scintillating portrayal of powerful women protectors driving change in one of world history's most pivotal and often heart-rending times: the era of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Yet even through the beautifully-filmed and well-choreographed battle scenes, moments of love triumph and make this film worth watching.

Set in the 19th century in the West African kingdom of Dahomey, The Woman King follows the all-female group of warriors, the Agojie, and their general, Nanisca (Viola Davis) as they fight, not just against the rival Oyo and Mahi tribes, but foreigners who wish to destroy their way of life and take their people. Along the way, Nanisca must grapple with her past... and Nawi (Thuso Mbedo), a young girl among the ranks of the Agojie who turns out to shape Nanisca's future.

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood outdoes herself. Beyond being a film that does its bit to rectify historical exclusion of African narratives in Hollywood, The Woman King is a superb crowd-pleaser, with familiar thematic beats of moralism, love, and community and a fresh-enough take on the "historical war film." The sets transport viewers to pre-colonial Benin, and the cinematography, especially the use of light (inside the palace barracks) and color (the earthy tones of Dahomey's villages), further enhances the viewing experience. The background score by Lebo M. and Terence Blanchard draws on traditional West African music. It's simply goosebump-inducing to watch the Agojie charge into battle accompanied by soulful singing and the djembe and marimba. Good Lord -- can Viola Davis do no wrong? The highly-proclaimed actress is perfect for the role of the ruthless, defensive, protective leader; the emotional depth Davis taps into is frankly impressive. She hits all the notes -- trauma survivor, bereaved mother, sister in arms -- impeccably. Davis' character's more conservative, regimented, typically "top brass" attributes are beautifully offset by Thuso Mbedo's portrayal of Nawi, the newest recruit who seems to challenge every rule so carefully enforced by Nanisca (and isn't afraid to confront Nanisca as an "arrogant old woman"). Nawi and Nanisca's relationship flowers in a way that will make viewers say "aww" and though the two tussle every so frequently, the duo becomes the most lovable part of the film -- a tough contest. A close second favorite is Izogie (Lashana Lynch), a more experienced member of the Agojie, who is equal parts hilarious, profound, and sweet. My favorite line of Izogie's is essentially, "We all have a lot to cry about; it is better to laugh."

The Woman King promotes liberty, staying true to yourself, standing up for what is right, keeping your head held high (but your arrogance in check), obeying authority while also making wise decisions for yourself, and protecting those you love. Nanisca fights against King Ghezo's (John Boyega) vision to sell their prisoners of war to the Europeans for guns and other "valuable" goods, acting as a strong voice against racism and the commodification of humans.

I give The Woman King 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Woman King releases in theaters on September 16, 2022.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Female power at its finest! The Woman King is a vibrant celebration of the fierce determination and courage of women. This action film combines a powerful story, vibrant characters, humor and melodrama and--believe it or not--it's inspired by true events.

In the early 1800s, an all-female military regiment battled against slave trading and protected the African kingdom of Dahomey. They were called the Agojie, and they served their king. Although they were the king's wives, they were confined to stay celibate. Leading the group of brave warriors is General Nanisca, gracefully played by Viola Davis. A young girl, Nawi (Thusi Mbedu), decides to be part of the army and through her journey we discover how the Agojies operate. She develops an intriguing relationship with Nanisca who trains the next generation of fighters and reminds us of a mother figure to all the brave army. When the kingdom of Dahoney faces the imminent threat to their freedom of European colonialism, they must fight for their lives.

In a movie industry crowded with latex-wearing super heroes, the down-to-earth tone and naturalistic cinematography encourages us to stay connected with the story. The score immerses us in an epic adventure while the audience vibrates with the sounds of the orchestra. The performances in this movie were absolutely captivating and energetic. The ensemble of actresses embodies diversity and personalities, some being more charismatic and stronger; others more vulnerable and funny. Viola Davis is the perfect actress to portray Nanisca and her mannerisms bring all the gravitas required to play this role. Thusi Mbedu plays Nawi with fragility and forcefulness, and Lashana Lynch in her role of Izogie refreshes the screen with subtle humor and flawless charisma. The script by Dana Stevens is based on a story by actress Maria Bello; together, Stevens and Bello remarkably find the most fascinating facts in the true events and deliver a powerful storyline with fictional poetic license. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood delivers an entertaining film, if somewhat overwhelming, with some crowd pleasing elements that may push the film as a big commercial success.

The Woman King shows women can serve their own passions like loyalty to their own country and principles and not focus on pleasing men. The message of the film is we can decide our own destiny, and that some things are worth fighting for. There are some strong violent scenes and brief nudity.

I give The Woman King 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 and up. The Woman King opens September 16, 2022 in theaters.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The Woman King is one of the best movies of this year! This is a story for all women that shows just how remarkable we are when we put our minds to it.

The Woman King is about the incredibly strong and incredibly daring all-female unit of warriors who protect the powerful kingdom of Dahomey (Africa). We follow the fierce General Nanisca (Viola Davis) as she trains new recruits and battles foes that threaten their kingdom to protect their freedom and survival.

This movie delivers on all aspects of a great movie - action, costumes, music, acting, storyline and more. It's based on the true historical events surrounding the remarkable warriors of Dahomey in the 1800s. The music is rhythmic and powerful, reflecting the African culture, ranging from lighthearted to intense. The sets and locations are breathtaking. The village is vibrant with color and bustling with activity. The palace, specifically the women's area, is stunning and feels like we are being transported back in time to a secret world. The acting is spectacular in so many ways. While watching, the acting shows that the women were not just an elite army, but they were sisters. Kudos to the stunt doubles as well, because this movie wouldn't be what it is without their incredible skills. Viola Davis (General Nanisca), Thuso Mbedu (Nawi), and Lashana Lynch (Izogie) all stand out for portraying their roles. Viola Davis, as General Nanisca, shows such depth in her character; she's caring, stern, loyal, adamant, sensitive and sturdy. Nawi (Thuso Mbedu) comes of age and finds herself as a young woman suddenly thrust into a soldier's role. Lashana Lynch, as Izogie, is one of my favorite actresses in this movie because her character brings an aura to wherever she goes.

The primary messages include the importance of fighting for what's right, discovering and embracing the strength of women, and working together to achieve a common goal. Strong topics of sisterhood and hard work are additional themes. Be aware that there is profanity, some very intense battle scenes, partial nudity and scenes showing sexual assault.

I give The Woman King 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. This movie releases in theaters September 16, 2022.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
PINOCCHIO (2022)

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PINOCCHIO (2022) - DISNEY+
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - A live action and CGI retelling of the beloved tale of a wooden puppet who embarks on a thrilling adventure to become a real boy. Other characters include Geppetto, the woodcarver who builds and treats Pinocchio as if he were his real son; Jiminy Cricket, who serves as Pinocchio's guide as well as his "conscience"; the Blue Fairy; "Honest" John; Sofia the Seagull and The Coachman.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Our favorite wooden puppet, Pinocchio, is headed your way more real than ever in Disney's upcoming musical adventure of the same name! Fans will get to enjoy a breathtaking new version of the song "Wish Upon a Star," live-action adventures, and real-life CGI elements with this new adaptation of Pinocchio's story. We even get to learn how he gets his name. Pinocchio is perfect for the entire family to enjoy.

Narrated by Jiminy Cricket, (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the film follows elderly woodcarver Geppetto (Tom Hanks) as he creates a kind-hearted puppet named Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) from white pine to become the son he never had. One night, Geppetto wishes upon a star for his creation to come to life. The Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) later appears in a stunning illuminated blue fairy dress to make his wish come true. Pinocchio must now prove he is brave, truthful and unselfish, so he can become a real boy, which sends him on an adventure full of mischief.

Academy Award� winner Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks have created another stellar film together. Pinocchio is the star, but his "conscience," Jiminy Cricket, also plays a key role in protecting him and guiding him to make the right decisions. He has his hands full as Pinocchio's journey leads him to join a puppet show, get swallowed by a whale, and narrowly avoid being turned into a donkey. Tom Hanks gives a phenomenal performance as Geppetto and shows his acting mastery as the sole actor onscreen, with all the other characters appearing in CGI. He is almost unrecognizable as Geppetto. One of my favorite parts is when all of Geppetto's clocks go off at the same time and each one has a connection to a Disney character or film. It was fun guessing the different films. The film stays true to the vibrant period-specific costumes that the characters wear. The music numbers and performances are engaging and fun.

Blue Fairy delivers the message of Pinocchio herself when she tells Pinocchio that, regardless of what you are made of; it's what in your heart that counts. Pinocchio's mission is based on him wanting to become a real boy to make his father proud of him, but learns that what is your heart and what you do with your life matters most.

I give Pinocchio 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Pinocchio's journey to becoming a real boy debuts on Disney+ September 8, 2022, as a Disney Day exclusive release.

The best film of the year arrives! The beloved tale Pinocchio graces screens once more in this beautiful live action plus CGI retelling from Disney. Audiences will fall in love with this story all over again.

Pinocchio follows Geppetto (Tom Hanks), who builds a puppet in loving memory of his son who has passed away. He names the puppet Pinocchio, and wishes on the Blue Star to transform the puppet into a real boy. When the wish is granted, and Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) comes to life, he learns what it means to be "a real boy."

This movie captures viewers' hearts and won't let go. The CGI animation is a cross between realism and classic Disney style art. While Pinocchio is clearly made of wood, his face is sweet with bright and big blue eyes, and the way he moves and bounces along is the perfect combination of realistic and animated. Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the cutest insect you'll ever see-- adorable and witty. Every character has brilliant expressions. Pinocchio is wide-eyed and curious, and the Fox (Keegan-Michael Key) is creepy and bares his teeth every chance he gets. The filmmakers examine these characters deeply and emphasize their traits and personalities in their body movements and expressions. The writing is as creative as it gets. Jiminy makes hilarious jokes and side remarks, and there's some modern comedy. Having comedian Keegan-Michael Key tell a Chris Pine joke is a highlight of the film. Another fantastic detail is all the clocks in Geppetto's shop. At the stroke of midnight, some familiar faces like Simba, Snow White, and Roger Rabbit appear. Keep your eyes open to spot all your favorite Disney characters.

Pinocchio has had several retellings since the iconic animated film in 1940. However, many studios don't understand how to handle the story. Pinocchio will look too realistic, and it becomes very creepy and unsettling, or the theme of film won't strike audiences as it should. Having the tale of Pinocchio back in the hands of Walt Disney Studios and Robert Zemeckis at the helm proves that, fittingly, Disney filmmakers best grasp the concept of what the story is all about.

The lesson Pinocchio learns is that it's what's in your heart that counts, not what you're made of. Pinocchio always believed that to be considered a real boy, he would have to transform from puppet to real boy; and to do this, Pinocchio has to prove that he understands the emotions and has the conscience of a real boy. Pinocchio grasps the concept of what it means to love and have friends, and he realizes that's enough for him.

I give Pinocchio 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. It begins streaming on Disney+ September 8, 2022.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The upcoming musical fantasy film Pinocchio, by filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, is engaging and fulfilling. This nearly two-hour long film brings viewers back to the original 1940 film, with a bit of a twist on the backstory and characters alongside Pinocchio. The film offers a legendary cast, which includes Tom Hanks (Geppetto), Keegan-Michael Key (The Fox), Luke Evans (The Coachman), and more.

The storyline follows Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) as he embarks on a thrilling adventure to fulfill his one true dream of becoming a real boy. Tom Hanks as Geppetto, the woodcarver, builds and treats Pinocchio as if he were his real son. The turning point in this film arrives as Pinocchio and his "conscience," Jiminy Cricket, both end up trapped in some sort of containment. After Jiminy Cricket is finally able to free himself, he immediately rushes to help Pinocchio. After being set free, they decide to make a run for it and get Pinocchio home. However, their plan quickly goes wrong and viewers will see in what way.

My favorite character is Jiminy Cricket (Jimmy Gordon-Levitt.) Jiminy, the long-time fan favorite, is not only Pinocchio's "guide" and sidekick, but Pinocchio also views him as a best friend. Jiminy's ultimate goal is to help Pinocchio become a real boy. However, with Jiminy's dedication to Pinocchio known to those who don't agree with Pinocchio's wish, such as Mangiafuoco, Jiminy becomes a threat which doesn't make his job to help Pinocchio any easier. Even though he is put in multiple difficult situations, Jiminy still manages to always find a way out with Pinocchio and proves his unmatched loyalty and resilience.

My favorite part of Pinocchio is the moment Pinocchio and Jiminy reunite with Pinocchio's father. It is the exact moment I feel a gush of hope and eagerness that Pinocchio will finally get his chance at his dream. Shortly after, this hope is diminished by uncertainty after his father is severely injured. However, through the power of his singing and with a single teardrop, Pinocchio is able to bring his father back--for me, those 15 minutes were the most aching and nerve-racking moments of the entire film. Finally, Pinocchio and his father embark toward home. Although he doesn't get exactly what he wants, Pinocchio gets his family back.

Pinocchio has many unexpected moments that will inspire different emotions. The message of this film is: You may not always get precisely what you wish for, but sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture and decide if what you want is what you truly need.

I give Pinocchio 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. This film is set to be released on Disney + on September 8, 2022. Make sure to check it out!

By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
JOURNEY TO YOURLAND
JOURNEY TO YOURLAND - PETER BADAC
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - Riki, a 10 year old boy, runs away from home, following a mysterious emergency signal sent by a shiny stone. The strange artifact seems to have a mind of its own and it takes Riki to the breathtaking parallel world of "Yourland" where wonderful machines roam golden deserts, monkeys and ravens talk and science peacefully coexists with nature. From Slovakia
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Journey to Yourland is a fantastic film! It is captivating, engaging and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The animation is awesome, the colors beautiful, and the story line is uplifting.

Riki's (Erik Konicek) family is splitting up and he feels misunderstood. He decides to run away and, with the help of a shining stone, he ends up in a parallel and magical world called Yourland where machines roam golden deserts, monkeys and ravens talk, and science peacefully coexists with nature. The stone merges with Riki's heart and leads him to the king's daughter (Greta Luprichova) and General Tidling's (Tyler Collins) talking monkey (Juraj Kemka). The three of them are on a mission to save Yourland from a climate crisis and help Riki get back home. Riki has to learn who to trust and who not to trust in order to successfully save Yourland and return to earth.

This film is beautifully made and the message in the story is relevant to today. The story line is well developed and engaging. It is easy to become involved with this story. It is fantastical, yet it mirrors what many kids feel about being misunderstood and not listened to by their parents. The ending is pleasing and rewarding. The animation really excels in quality; every character is well defined and the backgrounds are beautifully made. The characters are visually and emotionally pleasing and easy to relate to. The backgrounds are extraordinarily beautiful and suit the story. The parallel world of Yourland is not only similar to Earth, it is also bright and beautiful. The background music is quite exquisite and really enhances the story's development. Hats off to music composer Martin Hasak whose music makes you want to sing and dance, plus you feel the tension and mood of the story line. It is one of my favorite parts of the film, after the wonderful animation. The characters are well developed; it is easy to like the good guys and dislike the bad guys. The voices are extremely well suited to the characters. Kudos to the production team, led by director and writer Peter Budinsky. My favorite part of the film is scene where the yellow blob-like creatures, the bollers, transport Emma over the ocean and then wipe out the enemy ravens.

The film's message is that one can make a difference and effect changes in the world.

I give Journey to Yourland 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. This is a perfect film for a youth and family film festival - lots of stuff to generate conversation between kids and parents. Reviewed by Pam L., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Journey to Yourland is a fantastic film! It is captivating, engaging and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The animation is awesome, the colors beautiful, and the story line is uplifting.

Riki's (Erik Konicek) family is splitting up and he feels misunderstood. He decides to run away and, with the help of a shining stone, he ends up in a parallel and magical world called Yourland where machines roam golden deserts, monkeys and ravens talk, and science peacefully coexists with nature. The stone merges with Riki's heart and leads him to the king's daughter (Greta Luprichova) and General Tidling's (Tyler Collins) talking monkey (Juraj Kemka). The three of them are on a mission to save Yourland from a climate crisis and help Riki get back home. Riki has to learn who to trust and who not to trust in order to successfully save Yourland and return to earth.

This film is beautifully made and the message in the story is relevant to today. The story line is well developed and engaging. It is easy to become involved with this story. It is fantastical, yet it mirrors what many kids feel about being misunderstood and not listened to by their parents. The ending is pleasing and rewarding. The animation really excels in quality; every character is well defined and the backgrounds are beautifully made. The characters are visually and emotionally pleasing and easy to relate to. The backgrounds are extraordinarily beautiful and suit the story. The parallel world of Yourland is not only similar to Earth, it is also bright and beautiful. The background music is quite exquisite and really enhances the story's development. Hats off to music composer Martin Hasak whose music makes you want to sing and dance, plus you feel the tension and mood of the story line. It is one of my favorite parts of the film, after the wonderful animation. The characters are well developed; it is easy to like the good guys and dislike the bad guys. The voices are extremely well suited to the characters. Kudos to the production team, led by director and writer Peter Budinsky. My favorite part of the film is scene where the yellow blob-like creatures, the bollers, transport Emma over the ocean and then wipe out the enemy ravens.

The film's message is that one can make a difference and effect changes in the world.

I give Journey to Yourland 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. This is a perfect film for a youth and family film festival - lots of stuff to generate conversation between kids and parents. Reviewed by Pam L., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
LADY ADA'S SECRET SOCIETY
LADY ADA'S SECRET SOCIETY - SHANNON FEWSTER
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - Four girls rebel against their hyper-traditional boarding school by pranking it using technology they invented, hacked or "borrowed" while staying only one step ahead of their Headmistress. From Canada
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - If you want to see a fun and uplifting film, watch Lady Ada's Secret Society! It is one big adventure with rebellious teenage girls who love technology and dress up as monsters and warriors, and "perfects" who always follow the rules, which means no use of technology. The ending is a big surprise that left a smile on my face.

Four girls rebel against their hyper-traditional boarding school by pranking its no technology rules. Tina (Maia Jea Bastidas), Ava (Ella James Farlinger), Rebelle (Glenna Walters) and Frances (Claine Quete) are four tech geeks that find themselves at Lady Booring's School Of Traditional Wisdom for Young Ladies, a traditional boarding school that does not allow the use of technology. The wicked headmistress, Mrs. Hein (Terri Hawkes), insists that the school teach only grace, balance, manners and a little math and science. In order to keep from getting bored, the girls form Lady Ada's Secret Society whose mission is to give them the opportunity to develop their own technology and use it to play pranks on the rest of the school. As a result of their antics, the school is threatened and the girls must choose if they will save the day.

This is an excellent film for youth and families. It is action packed with a good message. It is a lot of fun to watch. The production is polished and professional. The camera work is flawless; the audio is excellent. The story line is very coherent and pace is fast! One exciting scene follows another, complete with a surprise ending. The costumes range from pristine school uniforms to make believe characters, including monsters and warriors. They fit the characters to a "T." The sets are perfect for the story. The boarding school set is spot on, complete with a secret room where the members of Lady Ada's Secret Society meet and plan their next adventure. The background music makes the film even more entertaining, especially the scene where the girls distract the headmistress and change the dance music from the foxtrot to techno. The actors playing the four girls are extremely well suited for their roles; they are very believable as contemporary teenagers. Kudos to the creator / writer / producer, Shannon Fewster, for creating a fun and timely script and bringing it to the screen. My favorite is when Tina talks to her father online about her feelings towards another girl in the school. She is so afraid about what he will say, but he is so loving and accepting.

The messages of the film are: it is important to be well rounded; have fun; be yourself even if you are different from the others around you.

I give Lady Ada's Secret Society 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. By Pamela L. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - f you want to see a fun and uplifting film, watch Lady Ada's Secret Society! It is one big adventure with rebellious teenage girls who love technology and dress up as monsters and warriors, and "perfects" who always follow the rules, which means no use of technology. The ending is a big surprise that left a smile on my face.

Four girls rebel against their hyper-traditional boarding school by pranking its no technology rules. Tina (Maia Jea Bastidas), Ava (Ella James Farlinger), Rebelle (Glenna Walters) and Frances (Claine Quete) are four tech geeks that find themselves at Lady Booring's School Of Traditional Wisdom for Young Ladies, a traditional boarding school that does not allow the use of technology. The wicked headmistress, Mrs. Hein (Terri Hawkes), insists that the school teach only grace, balance, manners and a little math and science. In order to keep from getting bored, the girls form Lady Ada's Secret Society whose mission is to give them the opportunity to develop their own technology and use it to play pranks on the rest of the school. As a result of their antics, the school is threatened and the girls must choose if they will save the day.

This is an excellent film for youth and families. It is action packed with a good message. It is a lot of fun to watch. The production is polished and professional. The camera work is flawless; the audio is excellent. The story line is very coherent and pace is fast! One exciting scene follows another, complete with a surprise ending. The costumes range from pristine school uniforms to make believe characters, including monsters and warriors. They fit the characters to a "T." The sets are perfect for the story. The boarding school set is spot on, complete with a secret room where the members of Lady Ada's Secret Society meet and plan their next adventure. The background music makes the film even more entertaining, especially the scene where the girls distract the headmistress and change the dance music from the foxtrot to techno. The actors playing the four girls are extremely well suited for their roles; they are very believable as contemporary teenagers. Kudos to the creator / writer / producer, Shannon Fewster, for creating a fun and timely script and bringing it to the screen. My favorite is when Tina talks to her father online about her feelings towards another girl in the school. She is so afraid about what he will say, but he is so loving and accepting.

The messages of the film are: it is important to be well rounded; have fun; be yourself even if you are different from the others around you.

I give Lady Ada's Secret Society 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. By Pamela L. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
MUGIZH
MUGIZH - SPP BHASKARAN
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - Kavya a 12-year-old girl embraces solitude and exists like an island within herself. Her parents decide to make inroads into that island, wanting her to face her fears head-on. Being completely aware that the 'doggie zone' is a realm that is completely out of bounds for her, they still go ahead and bring a puppy home. Well, what transpires when this darling monster steps into this household? Does the wall within Kavya break, and when this decision of the parents backfires, do demons pile up adding to the already existing fears within Kavya? Or does this mammoth experience transform her, and does it propel her to blossom, exuding the first ever enriching fragrance of life? Her parents are at the threshold of assessing their parental skills and decisions. ' Mughizh', is about a family's life journey, where each member finds a new fragrance that would change the prism they view life for posterity.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The Indian feature film, Mugizh is a breath of fresh air, filled with cultural information and psychological intrigue. The dialogue is in Tamil with English subtitles and I loved it. The gentle rollout of emotional reactions to upsetting dynamics gives the viewer an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of, not just Indian family life, but of what it means to be a compassionate human being.

The story follows Kavya (Shreeja Vijay Sethupathi, a 12-year-old girl and an only child in an Indian family as she overcomes her fears with the help of her father (Vijay Sethupathi). Once she blossoms she learns that there are other risks to life and love that must be comprehended. Mugizh is about a family's life journey, where each member finds a new fragrance that changes the prism they view of life forever.

I like all of the characters, even with their flaws; each one is beautifully expressed by the actor and the director manages their interpretations of the story very well. In a small way I dislike the prolonged amount of time spent depicting the family's sorrow over their loss, which makes the story become slow and extended. An argument could be made that it is necessary to deepen the drama.

The cinematography is excellent; it offers realistic images to support emotions without words, while endearing characters, including the dogs, to viewers. The puppy shots and embraces between family members made me fall in love with everyone in this family. The costumes, beautifully and simply reveal the dress of current day in middle class India. They are age appropriate, with a natural elegance of at-home wear for the Indian mother, Radhika, plus typical attire for the children at school and what the father, Vijay, wears to work. The costume designs are so well thought out that one hardly notices them, except in a visually pleasing way. Most of the film is set in an urban middle class location, which is actually part of the storyline. For example, the second story window is used as a measurement of passing time and growth for the dog - as we observe it from being a tiny pup to a teenage dog, as Scobby goes from being unable to see who is entering the veranda to being able to spot people as he looks down at them entering the home. The street also serves as a stage where Kavya reveals her fear of animals and finally experiences the story's climactic tragedy. This compact set design all happens in a small, well selected envelope.

The music paves the way for so many loving and despairing feelings. Song lyrics match the moods of the narrative and underscore the tempo of the film. I love the Indian lyrics and harmonies elegantly placed to help viewers empathize. Where there is no music, it is intentional and equally effective, although it drops out without sound effects, breaking the flow at times. Instrumentation is a modern mix of primarily western instruments like guitar, accordion and piano. Toward the end a more eastern flavor arises, using flutes and breathy singing. Ambient synthesizer sounds and whistling also fill the audio to emphasize anticipation or joy. As a film composer I enjoyed the music tremendously as it lifted spirits with harmony and magic.

The character development begins when daughter, Kavya, mother (Regina Cassandra) and father stroll down their neighborhood street setting the stage for conflict and resolutions to come. The mother often plays the antagonist as she reacts emotionally to her daughter, and they make the conflict intense, needing to be resolved by the father. By the end of the film I had a strong sense of what this family was like.

It is clear that the producers and director have superb sensitivity toward the topic matter and the actors. Although the topic matter may be viewed by older children as simplistic and the production design and costumes, ordinary, the meaning of this film is profoundly instructive and compassionate. In the face of everyday ups and downs, the importance of empathy and nurturance to all people who suffer the bitter sweet existence of life is epic. My favorite parts of the film are when the father resolves emotional issues with his wife and daughter by getting a puppy for Kavya. I also love the music throughout!

The message of this film is that patience, experience and love can resolve almost any problems that arise in the course of time.

I give Mugizh 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. It is a wonderful reminder that not all parents or children are cut from the same cloth and that all people share a sentient understanding of love. It is educational, multicultural, spiritual and addresses grief. By Nancy K., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Indian feature film, Mugizh is a breath of fresh air, filled with cultural information and psychological intrigue. The dialogue is in Tamil with English subtitles and I loved it. The gentle rollout of emotional reactions to upsetting dynamics gives the viewer an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of, not just Indian family life, but of what it means to be a compassionate human being.

The story follows Kavya (Shreeja Vijay Sethupathi, a 12-year-old girl and an only child in an Indian family as she overcomes her fears with the help of her father (Vijay Sethupathi). Once she blossoms she learns that there are other risks to life and love that must be comprehended. Mugizh is about a family's life journey, where each member finds a new fragrance that changes the prism they view of life forever.

I like all of the characters, even with their flaws; each one is beautifully expressed by the actor and the director manages their interpretations of the story very well. In a small way I dislike the prolonged amount of time spent depicting the family's sorrow over their loss, which makes the story become slow and extended. An argument could be made that it is necessary to deepen the drama.

The cinematography is excellent; it offers realistic images to support emotions without words, while endearing characters, including the dogs, to viewers. The puppy shots and embraces between family members made me fall in love with everyone in this family. The costumes, beautifully and simply reveal the dress of current day in middle class India. They are age appropriate, with a natural elegance of at-home wear for the Indian mother, Radhika, plus typical attire for the children at school and what the father, Vijay, wears to work. The costume designs are so well thought out that one hardly notices them, except in a visually pleasing way. Most of the film is set in an urban middle class location, which is actually part of the storyline. For example, the second story window is used as a measurement of passing time and growth for the dog - as we observe it from being a tiny pup to a teenage dog, as Scobby goes from being unable to see who is entering the veranda to being able to spot people as he looks down at them entering the home. The street also serves as a stage where Kavya reveals her fear of animals and finally experiences the story's climactic tragedy. This compact set design all happens in a small, well selected envelope.

The music paves the way for so many loving and despairing feelings. Song lyrics match the moods of the narrative and underscore the tempo of the film. I love the Indian lyrics and harmonies elegantly placed to help viewers empathize. Where there is no music, it is intentional and equally effective, although it drops out without sound effects, breaking the flow at times. Instrumentation is a modern mix of primarily western instruments like guitar, accordion and piano. Toward the end a more eastern flavor arises, using flutes and breathy singing. Ambient synthesizer sounds and whistling also fill the audio to emphasize anticipation or joy. As a film composer I enjoyed the music tremendously as it lifted spirits with harmony and magic.

The character development begins when daughter, Kavya, mother (Regina Cassandra) and father stroll down their neighborhood street setting the stage for conflict and resolutions to come. The mother often plays the antagonist as she reacts emotionally to her daughter, and they make the conflict intense, needing to be resolved by the father. By the end of the film I had a strong sense of what this family was like.

It is clear that the producers and director have superb sensitivity toward the topic matter and the actors. Although the topic matter may be viewed by older children as simplistic and the production design and costumes, ordinary, the meaning of this film is profoundly instructive and compassionate. In the face of everyday ups and downs, the importance of empathy and nurturance to all people who suffer the bitter sweet existence of life is epic. My favorite parts of the film are when the father resolves emotional issues with his wife and daughter by getting a puppy for Kavya. I also love the music throughout!

The message of this film is that patience, experience and love can resolve almost any problems that arise in the course of time.

I give Mugizh 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. It is a wonderful reminder that not all parents or children are cut from the same cloth and that all people share a sentient understanding of love. It is educational, multicultural, spiritual and addresses grief. By Nancy K., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
LITTLE SAMUEL
LITTLE SAMUEL - SADHU BURLINGTON
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGE 8-18
Description - The storyline follows a young boy in southern India who dreams of playing cricket. His family does not have enough money to buy him a bat so he devises a devious way to pay for one by stealing. In the end, he has to make a decision between getting a bat, which will allow him to follow his dreams, and telling the truth about how he acquired it.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Little Samuel is an action packed film and a delight to watch. Set in southern India with terrific landscapes and characters that feel real and generate our empathy. The insight we get from this film into this culture is remarkable.

The storyline follows a young boy in southern India who dreams of playing cricket. His family does not have enough money to buy him a bat so he devises a devious way to pay for one by stealing. In the end, he has to make a decision between getting a bat, which will allow him to follow his dreams, and telling the truth about how he acquired it.

The film gives us insight into the culture and people of southern India and their way of life. I like that the story line addresses the power of being honest and that the end does not justify the means. The cinematography is quite lovely; it was easy for me to get drawn into the film and feel as if I am visiting a village in southern India. The colors are vivid and gorgeous; the attire worn by the characters is characteristic of southern India; the background music seems typical from the area and fits the storyline. What truly stands out is the character development, especially of the young boy, but it is easy to identify with all the characters that range from young children to village elders. My favorite part is the wedding scene for the children's tutor. The clothing, lighting and music are fantastic in this scene.

The message of the film is that it is always better to tell the truth and face the consequences, even if it interferes with achieving your dreams.

I give Little Samuel 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. By Pamela L., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Little Samuel is an action packed film and a delight to watch. Set in southern India with terrific landscapes and characters that feel real and generate our empathy. The insight we get from this film into this culture is remarkable.

The storyline follows a young boy in southern India who dreams of playing cricket. His family does not have enough money to buy him a bat so he devises a devious way to pay for one by stealing. In the end, he has to make a decision between getting a bat, which will allow him to follow his dreams, and telling the truth about how he acquired it.

The film gives us insight into the culture and people of southern India and their way of life. I like that the story line addresses the power of being honest and that the end does not justify the means. The cinematography is quite lovely; it was easy for me to get drawn into the film and feel as if I am visiting a village in southern India. The colors are vivid and gorgeous; the attire worn by the characters is characteristic of southern India; the background music seems typical from the area and fits the storyline. What truly stands out is the character development, especially of the young boy, but it is easy to identify with all the characters that range from young children to village elders. My favorite part is the wedding scene for the children's tutor. The clothing, lighting and music are fantastic in this scene.

The message of the film is that it is always better to tell the truth and face the consequences, even if it interferes with achieving your dreams.

I give Little Samuel 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. By Pamela L., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
INTO THE SPOTLIGHT
INTO THE SPOTLIGHT - CATHARINE WARREN
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - A gifted young songwriter finds fame but loses herself along the way. With the help of her parents and friends, will she find her way back to what truly matters?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Have you ever wondered about how sudden fame and fortune could change your life? What if you found a magic way to achieve it? Into the Spotlight is a wonderful, action packed film of the journey of a teenage girl who must decide what truly makes her happy.

The story follows a gifted young songwriter who finds fame, but loses herself along the way. With the help of her parents and friends, will she find her way back to what truly matters?

This is a delightful film for children and families. The lesson on being true to oneself is important at any age. The storyline is easy to follow and believable. Laura Banks (Kate Larson) is a talented teenage songwriter (but a reluctant singer) who finds a magic microphone. Her friends, Ben (Raphael Ruggero), David (Justin Sterner), Riley (Marisa Lynae Hampton), and Jackie (Alena Pitts) have a band and they decide to compete in the school's talent show. This is a fun story that made me laugh and cry at the same time. The cinematography is beautiful - with vivid colors. It was easy for me to be fully absorbed in the movie. When Riley gets sick from a tainted cookie provided by their arch-rival Violet (Isabelle Almoyan), Laura is talked into filling Riley's singing spot and becomes an instant star, including being recruited by a talent scout (Karen Abercrombie) to go to Nashville to pursue stardom. Laura finds out that the true choice is not whether to pursue stardom, but whether to be true to herself. The costumes are very typical of teenagers and teenage rock stars. The sets and locations are beautiful. It makes me what to live or visit Nashville. The music is fun and catchy and really fits the film. The character development is pretty believable and the actors are all well chosen for their roles. It is easy to be friends with the good guys.

Kate Larson, who plays the role of Laura, is also the screenwriter. Lisa Arnold, who directs, is an award winning veteran of the film industry. My favorite part is the scene when Laura and Ben are at the vintage clothing store trying on outfits and posing for the camera. It is too much fun!

The message of the film is that making the choice to be honest and true to oneself is the most important thing you can do.

I give Into the Spotlight 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. By Pam L., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Have you ever wondered about how sudden fame and fortune could change your life? What if you found a magic way to achieve it? Into the Spotlight is a wonderful, action packed film of the journey of a teenage girl who must decide what truly makes her happy.

The story follows a gifted young songwriter who finds fame, but loses herself along the way. With the help of her parents and friends, will she find her way back to what truly matters?

This is a delightful film for children and families. The lesson on being true to oneself is important at any age. The storyline is easy to follow and believable. Laura Banks (Kate Larson) is a talented teenage songwriter (but a reluctant singer) who finds a magic microphone. Her friends, Ben (Raphael Ruggero), David (Justin Sterner), Riley (Marisa Lynae Hampton), and Jackie (Alena Pitts) have a band and they decide to compete in the school's talent show. This is a fun story that made me laugh and cry at the same time. The cinematography is beautiful - with vivid colors. It was easy for me to be fully absorbed in the movie. When Riley gets sick from a tainted cookie provided by their arch-rival Violet (Isabelle Almoyan), Laura is talked into filling Riley's singing spot and becomes an instant star, including being recruited by a talent scout (Karen Abercrombie) to go to Nashville to pursue stardom. Laura finds out that the true choice is not whether to pursue stardom, but whether to be true to herself. The costumes are very typical of teenagers and teenage rock stars. The sets and locations are beautiful. It makes me what to live or visit Nashville. The music is fun and catchy and really fits the film. The character development is pretty believable and the actors are all well chosen for their roles. It is easy to be friends with the good guys.

Kate Larson, who plays the role of Laura, is also the screenwriter. Lisa Arnold, who directs, is an award winning veteran of the film industry. My favorite part is the scene when Laura and Ben are at the vintage clothing store trying on outfits and posing for the camera. It is too much fun!

The message of the film is that making the choice to be honest and true to oneself is the most important thing you can do.

I give Into the Spotlight 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. By Pam L., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SONGBIRDS

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SONGBIRDS
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SONGBIRDS - GRAVITAS VENTURES
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18
Description - The Songbirds guitar museum hosted the world's largest collection of vintage guitars. Covid-19's devastating blow to the music industry forced the museum to permanently close. This documentary film explores the final hours and cultural impact of this special collection.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Songbirds is a touching documentary film about the world's largest collection of vintage guitars housed in the museum of the same name located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The film is written and directed by Dagan Beckett, who has a special connection with the place and was able to write, produce and film the documentary in record time: just two weeks before the museum closed its doors in 2020. The result is a love letter to the guitars, to his hometown and to a legacy that extends the life of the museum in a sort of digital memento.

Beckett is a professional musician and also a filmmaker, so combining both disciplines generates a fascinating work for all music lovers, young and old. Over 1,500 guitars, including rare and vintage are part of the collection and displayed throughout the film. The narration combines interviews with historians, artists, visitors and workers with footage of the museum with music clips of live bands that performed at the venue. The audience discovers how guitars are made, how they change through the years and why they mean so much to artists. Opened in 2017 and closed due to the pandemic, Songbirds was a museum like no other, but the maintenance of these relics requires a lot of effort and the operative cost was impossible to maintain during the pandemic, forcing Songbirds to close and relocate the guitars.

What I love the most is how Songbirds captures the emotion of how visitors experienced the opportunity to visit, work or simply be around this unprecedented collection of guitars that hold so much history and beauty. The documentary provides the viewer with the joy of discovering all these treasures, and the stories behind them, which produces a connection to these guitars through images and testimonies. For musicians like Joe Bonamassa, Vince Gill, John 5 and John Schneider, among others, Songbirds was like an artist's playground--while having all these special guests in the film sharing their thoughts was another challenge for the director.

Songbirds has received five awards including a regional EMMY in the Documentary Film-Topical category and is part of the official selection of multiple film festivals around the world. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, and I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Songbirds is now available on multiple streaming platforms in VOD including iTunes.

By Zo� C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
BREAKING

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BREAKING - BLEECKER STREET MEDIA
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - When Marine Veteran Brian Brown-Easley is denied support from Veterans Affairs, financially desperate and running out of options, he takes a bank and several of its employees hostage, setting the stage for a tense confrontation with the police. Based on the true story.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Breaking is an intense and emotional film, filled with many levels of suspense that constantly grab the audience's attention.

Breaking, based on a true story, follows the main character Brian (John Boyega), an ex-Marine struggling after being discharged due to injury. After being turned down for financial support by the Veteran Affairs office, Brian has had enough. In order to get money he feels his only choice is to lock himself in a bank with two of its employees as hostages. While doing so, Brian manages to get the attention of police officers, FBI agents, firefighters and newscasters in order to make his situation known to the VA offices.

Breaking has an outstanding storyline. The execution of the meaning and message behind it--about how dysfunctional the VA offices can be-- is done really well. It definitely has an effect on audiences and educates us on this extremely important topic. Furthermore, the acting in this film is phenomenal--every single actor has such strong talent. They really lock you in with their words and emotions. Brian's character, especially, has so many different layers to him, and each one is showcased so well, and feels so believable. Finally, Abi Damaris Corbin's direction is one of my favorite aspects of the movie. Each angle feels so specific and his direction sets the tone strongly. For instance, a scene would zoom in on particular things, which not only highlights those actions, but makes the film feel overall more realistic and natural.

The message of Breaking is to never give up on what you believe is right. This film includes profanity and gunshots.

I give Breaking 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Breaking in theaters August 26, 2022.

By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
SUMMERING

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SUMMERING - BLEECKER STREET MEDIA
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - As their last summer before middle school comes to a close, four best friends face the uncertainties of growing up and embark on their biggest adventure yet.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - We all know what it's like to face change and challenges. And we always desire the best possible outcome from a predicament. Summering tells a relatable story about young girls finding their way through a challenge, while delivering a distinctive storyline.

Summering focuses on four best friends Dina (Madalen Mills), Lola (Sanai Victoria), Mari (Eden Grace Redfield), and Daisy (Lia Barnett) who are about to start middle school. With that comes plenty of questions and new challenges. On the weekend before school starts, the girls find themselves embarking on a peculiar adventure. These four best friends must work together to find the answer to their mystery and prepare for this new chapter in their lives.

Even though the characters in Summering are facing a fictional and fantasy-like situation, the plot is still somewhat relatable. These four best friends have to explore themselves and find out who they really are as they are growing older. They know that it is best to go on this journey together, but they worry about what obstacles will get in the way. Dina, Lola, Mari and Daisy also all have specific issues present in their life, making their friendships even more crucial. Anybody that is going through significant changes, no matter if they are young or old, can find something applicable to their lives in this story. The plot of Summering does seem a bit incomplete and choppy at certain parts of the film--the main mystery and conflict aren't really resolved which can leave viewers confused after watching. The background music of the film is particularly interesting as it matches the tone of the film and the events taking place in the scenes. Summering has a darker style, and the dark music compliments that--"props" to Drum & Lace for providing this high-quality soundtrack.

The message of Summering is that a lot of times opposites attract. Dina, Lola, Mari, and Daisy need each other to balance themselves out. Each brings something different to the friend group, ultimately bringing them all closer together.

I give Summering 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. This film has minimal mild language and a middle school to high school demographic would enjoy it. You can find Summering in theaters now. So make sure you check it out!

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 14

Just in time for back-to-school season, the new adventure film, Summering, is here to throw a plot twist into your summer adventures! Summering has a strong cast and loads of twists and turns. Even when the movie seems to be slowing down, something surprising happens.

Summering follows four best friends who are reaching the end of their summer break. With many events and drama amongst family members, including keeping secrets, the characters try to make the best of their last week of summer. One particular day, they head to the woods to leave memorabilia at a tree. While in the woods, the kids come across a man's dead body and set off on a mysterious adventure to discover his identity.

The leading young ladies in Summering are Daisy (Lia Barnett), Dina (Madalen Mills), Lola (Sanai Victoria) and Mari (Eden Grace Redfield). Overall, this movie is very interesting with multiple plots. Even though the plot doesn't answer many of the questions that are being uncovered, it still portrays the friendships and adventurous side of the four main characters. The parents in the film are interesting, too; they love watching their kids grow up together and seeing how they are just like them when they themselves were younger. There is a scene where the parents are peering upstairs and enjoying hearing their kids laughing and having fun together. Fun fact: This was the first film director, James Ponsoldt, has made for a young audience.

Summering touches on how friends are always there for you--the four girls are always finding ways to help and support each other when needed. And this film delivers the messages that things can always change, and that telling and knowing the truth is important. For example, Daisy's mother was not honest and kept a huge secret from her. The truth would have been less harmful and possibly saved Daisy from making poor decisions. Things parents must look out for are kids using a gun, a bar scene, creepy flashing images, the showing of a dead body, and the topic of suicide.

I give Summering 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Summering is now playing in theatres.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9 Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
PETITE MAMAN

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PETITE MAMAN - NEON
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - C�line Sciamma continues to prove herself as one of the most accomplished and unpredictable contemporary French filmmakers with her follow up to PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE, the uniquely emotional, PETITE MAMAN. Following the death of her beloved grandmother, 8-year-old Nelly accompanies her parents to her mother's childhood home to begin the difficult process of cleaning out its contents. As Nelly explores the house and nearby woods, she is immediately drawn to a neighbor her own age building a treehouse. What follows is a tender tale of childhood grief, memory and connection.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Petite Maman is a warm bundle of cinematic magic. Director Celina Sciamma's French coming of age sci-fi hybrid never gets too bogged down in tedious specifics of its fantastical set-up. Petit Maman bends time to tell the story about the bond between a daughter and her mother that transcends it.

Petite Maman, which I had the pleasure of seeing at the Middleburg Film Festival, centers itself around a little girl named Nelly (Josephine Sanz) and her family, reeling after the death of a loved one, as they spend some time in Nelly's mother's childhood home. Nelly's mother leaves the family behind in the midst of the immense grief she's suffering, leaving her husband and daughter with little idea of when she'll return. In the meantime, Nelly ventures into the woods, where she meets and begins to pal around with a young girl, who she learns, by some twist of cosmic fate, is a much younger version of her own mother, who faces trials of her own. A single stretch of woods bridges decades between them. Together, they try to help each other cope in these moments of personal turmoil and Nelly can maybe get to understand why her mother left and what she's going through. This movie quite literally follows its two leads after their meeting, making food, building forts, making believe. Petit Maman uses those pastimes of youth to hit audiences with a surprisingly layered exploration of something as monumental as grief from a kid's perspective.

I loved, loved, loved the setup of this movie--it doesn't ever seek to explain how Nelly and this younger version of her mother meet in terms of time and space, but it uses that heightened concept to speak to something more human. Here, two children reckon with fear and their powerlessness in the conflicts they face, and in the comfort and security they give each other lies the courage to face them.

The lesson of Petite Maman is just to be there for the people you love in times of great difficulty.

I give Petite Maman 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. It's an understated, but moving little gem that I hope doesn't escape people's radar. Petite Maman is currently streaming on various VOD platforms including iTunes and Vudu.

Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
KUNG FU GHOST

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KUNG FU GHOST - VISION FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - When a charming but na�ve young woman inherits her late -Grandfather's estate, she soon discovers the house's ghostly inhabitants who have taken a pledge to protect her family's century-old secrets and powerful artifacts. Now, to guard the future, she teams up with spirits of the past to fight treasure-hunting criminals and discovers the power of life itself.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Kung Fu Ghost is a fun movie that is both action-packed and a love story. The cinematography is strikingly beautiful and it is filled with both kung fu fighting and teenager love which makes it appealing for a cross section of people and ages.

The story follows a young Vietnamese woman named Daisy (Jennifer N Linch) who inherits her grandfather's US estate. She plans to stay in the house only long enough to sell it and return to Vietnam to re-open her grandmother's restaurant. However, she discovers that her deceased grandfather's (David S. Dawson) ghost haunts the house along with his friend William (Noah Sargent). They are protectors of a magic relic. The film tells the story of the lengths the ghosts take to protect the girl and the relic from harm.

It is easy to be drawn into this film. The story flows seamless from scene to scene. The characters are believable and are very well developed and it is easy to be empathic to what everyone is going through. The vocabulary and concepts are suitable for the target audience and, although the kung fu fights are realistic, they are in the realm of martial arts and not particularly violent. There certainly is no bloody, gory violence. The cinematography is outstanding. The images are clean and crisp and the outdoor scenes are exquisite. The background music is also beautiful. I like how the film teaches us a bit about teenage Asian culture.

The message of the film is about honoring our elders and being open to new experiences.

I highly recommend Kung Fu Ghost for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It releases on DVD August 2, 2022.

By Pamela L., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Kung Fu Ghost is a unique film that incorporates different messages and the basics of learning something new. If you like to watch films with a good message that everyone can relate to, then you should check this out.

The story follows Daisy (Jennifer N. Linch) who has just inherited her grandpa's house, but discovers that the house is haunted and she has to stay there for a whole week. During her stay she encounters ghosts who have come to protect Daisy's family's secrets and special artifacts. When robbers come to steal these artifacts, Daisy has to learn how to defend herself and how to keep her family secrets safe.

This film is very family friendly. Although this film isn't a big budget production, I like how they got creative and used what they had. For example, Daisy's grandpa's house doesn't look like how you would expect it to look, but without all the cobwebs and trash all over the place, it is still a very nice house. At times in the film it is difficult to understand the dialogue because the characters speak too low or their pronunciation is off. When Daily first arrives at her grandfather's house you can barely understand what she is saying. But for the most part, the actors' performances are believable. My favorite character is William (Noah Sargent), because he is mysterious and he adds more suspense to the film, plus he is a nice guy. Anytime he appears in a scene, he makes you anticipate what is going to happen next.

The message of the film is that if you try hard enough you will succeed. In the beginning Daisy isn't a person that people would call "strong," so when she has to learn to defend herself it's not easy at first. In the end she learns how to do defend herself and proves people wrong.

I give Kung Fu Ghost 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases on VOD and DVD August 2, 2022. Be sure to check it out!

By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Kung Fu Ghost is a film with many good qualities - a unique storyline and inclusion of up-and-coming new actors that do a fair job portraying their characters.

The storyline follows a young woman named Daisy (Jennifer N. Linch) who has moved from Vietnam to California after inheriting her late grandfather's (David S. Dawson) estate. Quickly after she arrives, she discovers that the estate is haunted by the spirit of her grandfather and a ghost named William (Noah Sargent). The ghostly inhabitants vow to protect her family's secrets and special artifacts, but when treasure-hunting criminals threaten the future, she teams up with the ghosts to try and stop them.

Kung Fu Ghost is a film with a lot of potential. I like that it shows us some new talent like Jennifer N. Linch, David S. Dawson and Noah Sargent. These actors are clearly passionate about this project and it shows in their performances. Jennifer N. Linch shows fear, admiration, shock, anger, disappointment and so many other emotions. Her reactions to certain situations are realistic, which makes the audience more interested in the story. You can also tell that the actors were well prepared for their roles. Kung Fu Ghost has a few editing flaws, such as the scenes where Daisy is on a video call with her aunt. The picture of Daisy's aunt is noticeably edited onto the phone. An honorable mention is Jennifer N. Linch, who serves as the director and producer, and also plays the lead role. Not only does Jennifer N. Linch have all of these credits for this film, but she also specializes in various martial arts, which is incorporated into the film. Adding this element to the Kung Fu Ghost makes it feel more authentic.

The message of Kung Fu Ghost is to give people a chance before you judge them. Although Daisy is quick to not want anything to do with her ghost grandfather, she finds that she can rely on him more than she initially thinks.

I give Kung Fu Ghost 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Viewers who enjoy movies about ghosts and spirits may find Kung Fu Ghost particularly fascinating. You can find Kung Fu Ghost on VOD and DVD August 2, 2022.

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
THIRTEEN LIVES

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THIRTEEN LIVES - UNITED ARTISTS RELEASING
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Thirteen Lives recounts the incredible true story of the tremendous global effort to rescue a Thai soccer team who become trapped in the Tham Luang cave during an unexpected rainstorm. Faced with insurmountable odds, a team of the world's most skilled and experienced divers - uniquely able to navigate the maze of flooded, narrow cave tunnels - join with Thai forces and more than 10,000 volunteers to attempt a harrowing rescue of the twelve boys and their coach. With impossibly high stakes and the entire world watching, the group embarks on their most challenging dive yet, showcasing the limitlessness of the human spirit in the process.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I absolutely loved this film by Ron Howard! Thirteen Lives is based on the true story of thirteen people who got stuck in a flooded cave in Thailand in the summer of 2018. The storyline is action-packed and extremely suspenseful. It felt like my heart was racing a million miles a minute while I watched it.

Thirteen Lives takes us on the journey of twelve boys and their soccer coach getting stuck in the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand. The boys wanted to visit the cave; however, little did they know that there was an approaching monsoon that would soon after flood the entire cave. People from all over the world were watching their rescue attempt with the many challenging obstacles they had to overcome. Will someone find them inside the cave? If they do, will the boys get out of the cave in time before they starve, or run out of oxygen?

The acting in this film is phenomenal. The portrayal of these young boys, their coach and their rescuers is so believable that you feel like you are there along with them. The cast includes Colin Farrell as John Volanthen, Viggo Mortensen as Richard Stanton, Joel Edgerton as Richard Harris and Tom Bateman as Chris Jewell. The production team, led by director Ron Howard also delivered. The way the film is made makes you feel like you're actually in the cave with the rescue workers. It took a lot of effort and coordination, which is very impressive. Over 5,000 people, including cave divers, doctors, rescuers, Navy SEALS, farmers and others contributed to helping the boys. They put their own lives at risk to help the boys and their coach, whom they didn't even know! Without those people playing a part in this rescue who knows if they would have saved them. My favorite part is when the farmers give up their crops so water can flood them and divert the water from going into the cave. It took a lot of heroism and sacrifice to lose their entire crop in order to give the boys a better chance of surviving.

The message of this film is that working together is essential. You should be aware that there is a lot of blood in some scenes and there is some bad language used a couple of times.

I give Thirteen Lives 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in select theaters on July 29, 2022, and starts streaming on Prime Video August 5, 2022.


Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SEA BEAST, THE

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SEA BEAST, THE - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - In an era when terrifying beasts roamed the seas, monster hunters were celebrated heroes - and none were more beloved than the great Jacob Holland. But when young Maisie Brumble stows away on his fabled ship, he's saddled with an unexpected ally. Together they embark on an epic journey into uncharted waters and make history. From Academy Award winning filmmaker Chris Williams (Moana, Big Hero Six, Bolt), The Sea Beast takes us to where the map ends, and the true adventure begins.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Sea Beast is an amazing animated film that I and my family loved! It has lots of hilarious moments and some sad moments. The cast is first class, and the movie is about fantasy, family and comedy.

The storyline follows an orphan girl named Masie (Zaris Angel Hator) who wants to be part of a ship's crew, but is too young to participate. However, after the ship almost sinks, Masie has an opportunity to be accepted by the crew and their leader Jacob (Karl Urban).

The Sea Beast is a fantastic movie. It has an exceptional combination of sad, funny and happy scenes. One of the sad scenes is when Masie tells the crew why she is an orphan living at a big orphanage and how her parents passed away when she was very young. There are also several funny scenes such as when Masie and Jacob travel inside of one of the sea beasts and explore the insides of the monster. Another funny one is when a sea beast named Red starts playing with Jacob, making him go up and down on a rope. One of my favorite scenes is when Masie finds a tiny sea creature and wants to keep it, although Jacob doesn't quite agree with her wishes. I love the animation; it looks so realistic. All the characters are wonderfully drawn and developed. Masie is terrific because she is so brave and persistent. She never gives up her dream of becoming a sea beast hunter or helping those she trusts and loves the most. There isn't much background music, but at times the music matches the scene perfectly like when everyone from the ship is at a bar and Masie tries to become one of them.

The message of The Sea Beast is that "No matter who you are or what you look like you can do anything! And don't always believe the past."

I give The Sea Beast 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is available now on Netflix.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
LUCK

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LUCK - APPLE TV
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Luck centers around the story of Sam Greenfield, the unluckiest person in the world. When she discovers the never-before-seen Land of Luck, Sam must unite with the magical creatures there to turn her luck around. When she ages out of foster care, Sam discovers the Land of Luck and embarks on a quest that could change her luck forever. Bob becomes Sam's partner in the quest to find a lucky penny in hopes of preserving his lucky life.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Luck is a new film with so many twists and turns that it will have you captivated from the start. The high-quality animation supports an interesting storyline, making Luck a unique cinematic experience.

Have you ever heard the saying, "If it weren't for bad luck, you wouldn't have any at all"? Well that describes Sam (Eva Noblezada) in a sentence. Growing up as a foster child from a very young age and never finding her forever home, it seems as if Sam is doomed to a life of one unfortunate moment after the other. After forming a close bond with a young foster girl named Hazel (Adelynn Spoon), who reminds Sam a lot of her younger self, Sam realizes she wants nothing more than for Hazel to have a life much luckier than her own, even if it means sacrificing her happiness. After discovering a black cat she befriended can talk, Sam follows him into the Land of Luck to see if she can turn it all around.

Luck is an enjoyable movie to watch. The animation and visual effects in Luck are very impressive and give it a really fun vibe. The vibrant colors and action scenes really draw the audience into the adventure. The creative team translates the story beautifully from paper to screen. Kiel Murray and writing duo Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger keep the plot moving in an unpredictable way. With Sam sliding from the human world into the Land of Luck where there are creatures of every kind, the unexpected can and does happen, keeping the audience's attention throughout the movie. Kudos to casting director Jason Henkel for bringing together a star-studded cast for this film. Each of them portrays their characters in an authentic way. Although it's hard to imagine anyone having so much bad luck, Eva Noblezada makes us feel every emotion Sam feels throughout the movie, whether she is let down because of yet another unfortunate event, or optimistic at the thought of making someone else's day better.

The message of Luck is that even if it seems things never go exactly your way, if you stay persistent and never give in to what seems like misfortune, you'll be able to take whatever life throws your way. Sam experiences so many let downs and setbacks throughout her life, but she learns to always try plan B and plan C to achieve her goals. In the end, she realizes these experiences are what shape her into the resilient young woman she is.

I give Luck 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, though everyone in the family will enjoy it. Luck releases on AppleTV+ and in theaters on August 5, 2022. Make sure you check it out!

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 14

Luck is a heartwarming film with great characters, a fantastical setting and a sweet story. I love this film! It made me think about good and bad luck in a whole new way; perhaps bad luck is not so bad after all!

Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada) is not very lucky, yet she wants her friend Hazel (Adelynn Spoon) to have all the luck she has never had. As Sam sets out on her own she is determined to find a lucky penny for Hazel to complete her collection of lucky trinkets. When her path is crossed with a black cat, Bob (Simon Pegg) and a lucky penny is found, Sam's luck changes. But before she can get that lucky penny to Hazel, bad luck returns when the penny goes down the drain, along with Sam's luck. Sam runs into Bob again and a pursuit begins for a new lucky penny which finds Sam in the land of luck.

There are many great moments in this film - Sam's spate of bad luck in her new apartment; her pursuit of the incredibly lucky black cat, Bob; her ill-fated job as a giant leprechaun shining pennies; Sam leading the "bunnies" in a choreographed dance set to Madonna's "Lucky Star!" (My favorite). Director Peggy Holmes gives life to the characters with her talent as a choreographer and keeps the story interesting with her skills as screenwriter pulling it all together to make a heartwarming film that speaks to hope and optimism, good and bad luck! Skydance Studios delivers animated characters in a vibrant and familiar way -- from the movement of Sam's hair to the fire of Babe the Dragon (Jane Fonda). Luck is partly set in a fantastical world of Luck where the backgrounds are colorful and magical in the land of good luck and dark and clunky in the land of bad luck -- even though they are mirror images of each other. I instantly related to all the characters, from the genuinely friendly leprechaun Gerry (Colin O'Donoghue), to the hilarious Jeff the Unicorn (Flula Borg), to the stern no-nonsense Captain (Whoopie Goldberg) and the easy-going, self-appointed mayor of the land of bad luck, Rootie (John Ratzenberger). Each one has fun, zippy dialogue and a distinct personality. The musical score propels the action, setting a quiet mood at one point or expressing the woefulness of being unlucky or the exuberance of being lucky at another.

This is the kind of story that is healing for our times. It's timeless in its optimistic message about facing challenges, helping others before yourself, and never giving up on luck -- good or bad!

I give Luck 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It releases on Apple TV+ August 5, 2022. Make sure you check it out!

By Madeleine H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Luck is a cute and relatable movie for all ages. The animation is very well executed, and the plot is also very different than a traditional animated movie.

Sam (Eva Noblezada) is the unluckiest girl in the world. That is, until she meets Bob (Simon Pegg), a lucky cat, and gets accidentally transported to the magical Land of Luck.

Luck's world building is spectacular--the animation is so vivid and beautiful. The colors are vibrant, and the textures are so unique and striking. I also love the character designs of all the characters in the Land of Luck--the bunnies are adorable, and the leprechauns are all different and memorable. In the Land of Luck headquarters, it explains how and where luck (and bad luck) is made and all of the sections/offices that are created are hilariously relatable. The plot is so creative--I haven't seen many movies that deal with the age-old topic of luck and superstitions. This movie has a lot of star-power, including Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Fonda and John Ratzenberger, and the most entertaining performances come from Flula Borg, Jane Fonda and Simon Pegg. Flula Borg, as the voice of Jeff, has a hilarious -- although a bit stereotypical - German accent that's perfect for his character. Jane Fonda is very lovable voicing The Dragon. Simon Pegg as Bob the "lucky cat" is a joy to watch and hear. Although he's grumpy at first, the audience grows to love him.

The messages of Luck are to never lose hope even when times are hard and to find the good in the bad.

I give Luck 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. It comes out on Apple TV+ August 5, 2022.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Luck is a cute and lovely animated film. It's exciting and adventurous, while still feeling enjoyable and fun.

The storyline follows the life of Sam (Eva Noblezada), who has the most terrible luck. She just recently grew out of the foster care system, and often feels very lonely. However, one evening, as she's sitting all alone, Sam encounters a cat, which leads to a whole new mysterious world of luck that she never could have even imagined.

The entire Land of Luck idea brings a whole new imaginative world to life, and the concept is so unique from other films. Something that really stands out to me in this film is the quality of the animation. Everything feels so realistic, almost as if it isn't animated. This is a strong aspect that gives the viewer the illusion that they are actually there. All the backgrounds are beautiful and vivid. For example, in the area outside the Land of Luck, all the colors are quite vibrant and everything has a magical feeling to it. Plus, in the bad luck level, the tiki juice bar has such a fun vibe. The interior design of that is colorful and it lightens the mood of a not-so-lovely area. All the characters, both humans and special creatures are very lifelike. I really enjoy how each character has a distinct personality, and yet they have a lot of similarities with others in the group. Bob (Simon Pegg) is very high-strung, but loving as well. The Captain (Whoopi Goldberg) is all about taking charge and doing things her way; however, she eventually learns to love others. I really like the storyline and, although the story is geared for a younger audience, it definitely captured my attention. It has such a creative concept, especially when it comes to all the different types of creatures. The film has a calm feeling to it, but at the same time, it left me always wanting to know what would happen next.

The message of Luck is that balance of both good and bad things are necessary for the cycle of life.

I give Luck 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. You can watch Luck on Apple TV+ starting August 5, 2022.

By Mikella G, KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 16

If you're looking for an adventure filled movie with awesome voice acting, remarkable animation, and a great script with a sweet message for you and your family to watch, then I recommend Luck.

Luck follows Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada), the most unlucky person in the world. After finding a lucky penny on the street and then losing it due to her bad luck, Sam accidentally follows Bob (Simon Pegg), a lucky black cat, into a land of luck where she meets leprechauns, unicorns, magical rabbits and other crazy animals. There she must work together with these creatures in order to retrieve a lucky penny and turn her luck around for good.

The animation in this film is outstanding and very realistic looking. But, by far the best thing about this movie is the voice acting. I especially love the Irish accent Simon Pegg uses for his cat character Bob. Bob is one of my favorite characters. I love how practical he is throughout the film; sometimes it feels like he's the only sensible character. Another favorite character is Jeff (Flula Borg). He is just SO funny. My favorite scene when he is introduced, because he's dressed in a purple jumpsuit and just living his best life - it's hilarious. He doesn't care about what others think either. A detail that I love about him is that he speaks in Swedish sometimes. Somehow that really completes his character. All the characters grow a lot during this film, but I especially love the friendship that develops between Sam and Bob. What is really great is that Bob isn't a very affectionate character and yet Sam brings out the best in him with her bubbly and outgoing personality.

The message of Luck is that you can decide your own destiny. Sam grew up thinking that her life was one filled with bad luck and that was set in stone, but she eventually realizes that she can change her destiny and go down whatever path she chooses.

I give Luck 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It releases on Apple TV+ on August 5, 2022.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS

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DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS - WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - In DC League of Super-Pets, Krypto the Super-Dog and Superman are inseparable best friends, sharing the same superpowers and fighting crime in Metropolis side by side. When Superman and the rest of the Justice League are kidnapped, Krypto must convince a rag-tag shelter pack--Ace the hound, PB the potbellied pig, Merton the turtle and Chip the squirrel--to master their own newfound powers and help him rescue the superheroes. Dwayne Johnson stars as the voice of Krypto the Super-Dog in Warner Bros. Pictures' animated action-adventure feature film "DC League of Super-Pets," from director Jared Stern. The film also stars the voices of Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, and John Krasinski.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - DC League of Super-Pets is sure to be a fan favorite for kids who love superheroes and animals! This animated movie is full of classic crime fighting battles as well as heartfelt messages, making it a perfect family movie.

Superman (John Krasinski) and Krypto (Dwayne Johnson), the Super-Dog, have been best friends since birth. When the entire Justice League is kidnapped, Krypto must create a crime fighting league of his own, so he enlists the help of shelter pets Ace (Kevin Hart), Merton (Natasha Lyonne), PB (Vanessa Bayer) and Chip (Diego Luna) to save the Justice League and all of Metropolis.

The animation is beautiful! The characters' designs, especially the pets, are so adorable and keep a cartoonish and comic book-like feeling. The humor is great; it pokes fun at other studios (like Marvel Studios) and also at itself (DC Comics), making it relatable to teens and adults who have seen the more serious Marvel and DC movies. The voice acting is outstanding. Everyone fits their roles so well and they really bring their characters to life, displaying each one's unique personality. The actors that stand out the most are Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Natasha Lyonne and Kate McKinnon. Dwayne Johnson as Krypto and Kevin Hart as Ace are a dynamic duo as their chemistry is so apparent - no doubt due to the many times they have worked together in other films. Natasha Lyonne perfects the voice of Old Lady Merton. Her comedic timing is spot on. Kate McKinnon, as Lulu happens to be my favorite character, but I can't say why as I don't want to give away any spoilers. What I can say is that her role appears to be written specifically for her.

The primary message of DC League of Super-Pets is that friendship, teamwork and love is stronger than any superpower. There are also themes of moving on and making room for new loved ones. Plus, this movie may inspire people to adopt animals from a shelter. I know I'm ready to!

I give DC League of Super-Pets 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus pet and superhero lovers! It releases in theaters July 29, 2022.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Fun for kids and families, DC League of Super-Pets is a fantastic addition to the DC superhero film franchise. My favorite DC superhero characters have come to life as pets in this new action-packed film and I love it.

After Superman's home, Kyrpton, is destroyed, he is sent to earth with a trusty companion, his super-pet Krypto. As Superman and the Justice League are kidnapped by a hairless hamster, Lex Luther's pet, Lulu, Krypto and his unlikely pet friends ban together to save them.

It is great seeing Batman (Keanu Reeves), Superman (John Krasinski), Green Lantern (Dascha Polanco), The Flash (John Early), Aquaman (Jemaine Clemente) and Cyborg (Daveed Diggs), aka the Justice League, in cartoon form. This film is perfect for a family movie nigh with the perfect mix of action, comedy and adventure. DC League of Super-Pets brings back arguably the best Hollywood duo to the big screen, Kevin Hart and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. As their characters are familiar and recognizable throughout the story I love how the writers shape them with new personalities, quirks and even genders. It is like rediscovering these classic superhero favorites all over again. My favorite character is Ace, played by Kevin Hart who embodies his pit-bull character really well. The comedy and punch lines land every-time, which is greatly appreciated.

The message in DC League of Super-Pets is that growth is inevitable, good for you and good for those around you. Be forewarned that this film contains some suggestive language.< p>I give DC League of Super-Pets 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters July 27, 2022. You don't want to miss it!

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

DC League of Super-Pets is a wonderful new film with great voice-acting, awesome animation, and a fantastic message. The whole family will love it!

The story follows Krypto (Dwayne Johnson), a super dog owned by the one and only Superman. Superman has been hanging out with his girlfriend, Lois (Olivia Wilde) too much, and Krypto feels left out. But after Superman is kidnapped along with the rest of the Justice League by evil guinea pig, Lulu (Kate McKinnon), Krypto meets a group of pound animals and he must learn to work together with them to save the Justice League, and the world.

The animation of the pets in this movie is terrific; all their crazy superpowers are animated so well. Kevin Hart's portrayal of Ace is one of my favorites. It's really funny when he's trying to escape from the pound. I also love PB (Vanessa Byer) and Ch'p (Diego Luna) because they make up a lot of the funniest scenes in the movie. There's one scene when both of them are they're trying to create an epic training montage, because you have to have an epic training montage, obviously. But it goes horribly wrong and their powers start going insane and they all start flying everywhere! Their friendship with Merton the turtle (Natasha Lyonne) is really fun to watch. One of my favorite things is the soundtrack. It's a combination of old and new songs that are all equally fun pump-up songs, with lyrics that are quite familiar to most people. This movie is very sweet and some scenes may even bring the waterworks as they did for me. My favorite scene is when Superman ditches Krypto to go on a date with Lois. Another scene I really like is the scene with Krypto singing Taylor Swift's song, "Bad Blood," while eating strawberry ice cream on the bed and watching The Great British Bake Off.

The message of DC League of Super-Pets is that sometimes you have to sacrifice for the people you love. It's a message that is seen throughout the movie through love between friends or pet and owner.

I give DC League of SuperPets 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters July 29, 2022.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

DC League of Super-Pets is not only "dog-tastic," it's "fun-tastic" as well! I can't remember watching another movie with so much spontaneous laughter and applause from a screening audience. This animated story will be one your family will want to watch again and again.

In DC League of Super-Pets, Krypto the Super-Dog (Dwayne Johnson) and Superman (John Krasinski) are inseparable best friends, sharing the same superpowers and fighting crime in Metropolis. When Superman and the rest of the Justice League are kidnapped, Krypto must convince an unlikely group of animal shelter heroes that they need to band together to help him rescue their human superhero counterparts. The movie trailer for DC League of Super-Pets gives audiences an accurate portrayal of the movie, in this rare instance, as well as interesting glimpses of the delightful characters and humorous situations which develop.

Our new heroes come to life in this animated action adventure film from Director Jared Stern who is also one of the writers. The cast is notably talented and Krypto's other canine member Ace (Kevin Hart) teaches him that love is unconditional and that you can't have justice without truth. This movie really has a fabulous ensemble cast and there are too many individuals to mention, and they all contribute to the hilarity of this story. Like the many pets they portray, the characters are fun, loyal and show us that we all need a best friend. My favorite scene is one where Krypto is jealous and gets up to some serious antics when he is home alone. It's set to the song "Bad Blood" by Taylor Swift, which plays in the background when he indulges his feelings. Dwayne Johnson really brings his character to life and writers Jared Stern and John Whittington must have pets at home, as they capture the canine spirit perfectly. There is also the competitiveness between Batman and Superman, which underlies some of the humorous scenes and interaction.

The message of this film is that love is unconditional, even if it hurts. Krypto and his alter-ego, Bark Kent, are jealous of Lois Lane (Olivia Wilde). He learns that change and accepting new friends can expand the possibilities of love. Before the movie starts there is a segment about Best Friends Animal Society (bestfriends.org) and how you can become a superhero to homeless pets. As a person who has adopted two homeless pets, I can't tell you how meaningful it is for DC Super League of Pets to recognize the love that these animals can bring into our lives just as Krypto experiences in the film!

I rate DC League of Super-Pets, 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, but of course adults will enjoy the humor and storyline as well. It is available in theaters July 29, 2022, so don't miss this tail-wagging adventure!

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The new animated film DC League of Super-Pets absolutely hits the mark for younger kids with a cute and sweet storyline that make it very family friendly. It's predictable, but still fun to watch, especially because the cast is outstanding!

DC League of Super-Pets is about how Superman's (John Krasinski) dog, Krypto (Dwayne Johnson) and his pet friends save Justice League. When Superman falls in love, Krypto feels like he isn't needed any longer by Superman. Superman notices that and tries to get Krypto a friend, but he can't find one until he checks out the pet adoption center. When Superman is kidnapped, Krypto and his animal buddies have to rescue him and save the Justice League.

The graphics of this animated film are pretty neat. Add to that a super soundtrack and great voice actors. Each actor, from Dwayne Johnson's Krypto, John Krasinski's Superman and Kevin Hart's shelter dog, Ace and you've got a great cast of characters, whether they are being funny or serious. Additional starring roles are played by Keanu Reeves, Ben Schwartz, Kate McKinnon, Diego Luna and more. My favorite character is Krypto because of how funny and cute he is, which is no surprise since Dwayne Johnson excels at that! My favorite scene of Krypto's is when Superman is getting ready for date night and Krypto thinks Superman's girlfriend is going to replace him so, he starts crying while watching his favorite show that he and Superman would watch together. Another fun part is when he eats quarts of ice cream.

The moral of DC League of Super-Pets it that it's not about what you do, it's about who you are. Krypto learns this when he can't use his powers, but that isn't the problem. His father says he is the problem.

I give DC League of Super-Pets 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theatres on July 29, 2022.

By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!

Who doesn't love a good superhero movie? Krypto and his new friends are here to save the day and, in the process, entertain the audience. With a hilarious script and fresh characters, there is never a dull moment in DC League of Super-Pets.

DC League of Super-Pets is about Krypto (Dwayne Johnson), the strong and powerful super-dog sidekick to Superman (John Krasinski). Superman and Krypto have been inseparable for years. But when Superman starts getting closer to his girlfriend, Lois Lane (Olivia Wilde), Krypto feels out of place. Before Krypto and Superman have the chance to see eye-to-eye, Superman and the rest of the Justice League get kidnapped. Finding himself without powers, Krypto has to learn to accept help as he teaches a group of shelter animals how to master their new powers, in order to save Superman.

DC League of Super-Pets is one of the most humorous and entertaining movies I've seen all year. One of the first things audiences will notice when watching DC League of Super-Pets is the comical tone. The script is very sarcastic and each character has their own moment to make the audience laugh. When Krypto and Ace (Kevin Hart) have scenes together, there's always a lighthearted banter between them. As Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are best friends in real life, it surely makes them perfect for these roles; they both sound very natural and their comedic timing is impeccable. Along with the two of them, the other animals all have unique personalities that help them support each other. I commend the casting director, Ruth Lambert, for choosing actors that fit each role so well. In addition to the humor in the film, DC League of Super-Pets has multiple monologues and impactful scenes with important messages. When Krypto is feeling that all is lost and Ace goes to comfort him, we learn about Ace's past during a heartfelt monologue. He teaches us that if you care about someone, you should put them first no matter what. The pacing of DC League of Super-Pets makes it easy to follow and enjoyable. The story is thoroughly explained and it's an appropriate length.

The message of DC League of Super-Pets is that there's no such thing as perfection. Krypto is so used to being perfect with his powers that he has difficulty accepting anything else. He has to learn that Ace and the rest of the shelter pets aren't flawless, but that's what makes them who they are.

I rate DC League of Super-Pets 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It's a great film for families and anyone can find something to enjoy. DC League of Super-Pets releases in theaters on July 29, 2022. Make sure you check it out!

By Maica Nesmith, KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 14

DC League of Super-Pets is a highly comedic movie. As expected with superhero movies, this film is filled with action and adventure, except from the most unlikely heroes and villains. Yet, there's something about furry friends that makes any movie feel more lighthearted. With a great message, engaging plot and talented cast, this is a film you'll want to watch again and again.

This film is about a dog named Krypto (Dwayne Johnson) who is Superman's sidekick and also his best friend. They fight crime with each other, sharing the same powers. When Lex Luthor's guinea pig, Lulu (Kate McKinnon), takes away Krypto's powers and captures the entire Justice League, she tries to free Lex Luther from captivity so the two of them can take over the world. Krypto soon discovers that a pack of shelter animals has gained powers of their own, so he teaches them how to use and control their powers. Now Krypto and the shelter animals need to work together as a team if they want to stop Lulu's evil plan.

This is an amazing film to watch. Something I like about this film is the comedy. All the characters in this film are actually sarcastic and have a great sense of humor. When something serious is happening the characters find a way to make us laugh in the middle of an intense moment. I also like the character development for Krypto. In the beginning, Krypto is used to working by himself and not sharing with anyone else other than Superman. But, because he needs help from the other animals to save the Justice League and has to help them learn to live with their new powers, he has to share and communicate better. My favorite character is Ace (Kevin Hart), because he is kind and caring towards others, even if he doesn't seem that way at the start. He tries to be strong and tough in front of the others, but his actions throughout the movie show that deep inside, he isn't what he seems on the outside.

The message of this film is that sometimes you have to do anything for the people you love, even if it means sacrificing yourself. In the film we see multiple acts of heroism from different characters which shows how they would do anything for the people they really care about.

I give DC League of Super-Pets 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters July 29, 2022. Be sure to check it out!

By Giana Nesmith, KIDSFIRST Film Critic, Age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
LIGHT & MAGIC

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LIGHT & MAGIC - DISNEY+
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8-18
Description - Granted unparalleled access, Academy Award�-nominated filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan takes viewers on an adventure behind the curtains of Industrial Light & Magic, the special visual effects, animation and virtual production division of Lucasfilm. Learn what inspired some of the most legendary filmmakers in Hollywood history, and follow their stories from their earliest personal films to bringing George Lucas' vision to life. The series is directed by Lawrence Kasdan, and the executive producers are Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Justin Wilkes, Lawrence Kasdan, Kathleen Kennedy and Michelle Rejwan.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Light & Magic is a documentary series that will blow you away! Go behind-the-scenes with renowned filmmakers and take a peek at some of the greatest special effects used in cinematic history.

Light & Magic introduces audiences to the VFX company, Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm, who have produced many of the greatest special effects in movies. George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron are just a few of the filmmakers that talk about their experience working with Industrial Light & Magic and how this visionary company changed the way films are made.

This series has something for everyone. Never-before-seen content from Titanic, Harry Potter, and Avengers is provided in Light & Magic. Rare sketches and concept art are shown, and it's enough to thrill even an average fan. Hearing how all of these blockbusters like Avatar and Jurassic Park came together firsthand from the filmmakers is incredible. Directors who have taken the world by storm explain in detail where their visions came from and how Industrial Light & Magic helped the visions come to life. By the end of the series, viewers will feel like they worked on the movies themselves. The show, featuring several testimonials and anecdotes from the films' editors, producers and VFX artists, helps audiences truly understand how it "takes a village" to make a movie. For any aspiring young actors, cinematographers, and directors, Light & Magic is a must watch. A standout piece of the series is the introduction of the StageCraft, the immersive and adaptable video screens used in shows like The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi. It just goes to show how much technology has evolved over the decades and how George Lucas and Lucasfilm have been instrumental in its evolution.

The purpose of Light & Magic is to engage its viewers with tales of how green screens and VFX began, and how various technologies have impacted and revolutionized cinema.

I give Light & Magic 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. All six episodes of Light & Magic premiere on July 27, 2022, exclusively on Disney+.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Light & Magic is a good docu-series to watch, especially if you have ever dreamed of making movies. You can venture behind the scenes of movies created by Lucasfilm, the legendary company founded by George Lucas, which makes all of their Star Wars films and more. Discover how movie magic, or the creation of special effects, is made in each of the six 1-hour episodes.

This series showcases the filmmakers from Industrial Light and Magic, which is the special effects division of Lucasfilm. Light and Magic delivers a deep understanding about the background of some very popular movies, including Star Wars, Transformers and Indiana Jones. It shows how the filmmakers persevere even when things are hard and seem almost impossible. The filmmakers have faith in their vision and share how they follow their dreams when other people say it's not going to work out. It's inspiring for anyone who wants to work in film or other ambitious creative endeavors. Light and Magic mostly focuses on George Lucas' vision, Star Wars, since he's the founder of both Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic, and it is directed by Lawrence Kasden.

In a series that is all about making great movies, of course the production value is great. The music enhances the mood, captivates the audience, builds tension, and makes the resolution more clear. Dramatic music plays as the filmmakers explain how their project wasn't working out, but energetic music plays when the problem works itself out in the end. These episodes feature over 13 people, including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Dennis Muren, Ron Howard and many more. These are industry experts that any aspiring filmmaker should know about as they begin their own journey in making movies. Light and Magic also shares many clips from movies as examples to help bring their points to life for the audience.

The message of this docu-series is to persevere even when you are doubtful. This message is something that anyone can relate to, but especially artists who must have faith in their vision. Even people who created great hit movies have once doubted themselves, and new filmmakers can relate to that idea.

I give Light & Magic 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. All six episodes are available on Disney+ beginning July 27, 2022.

By Samantha P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

A long time ago in a galaxy, or warehouse, far, far away from a massive studio, a brave alliance of technological wizards challenged the creativity and standards of special effects in the motion picture industry. These unsung heroes came together and accepted the visionary challenge and used their ingenuity to create and build Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) which is an iconic part of the Star Wars' lore.

If you have any interest in the behind-the-scenes of making Star Wars, special effects or digital imaging, then Light & Magic is a series not to be missed! The archival footage gives viewers a peak behind the wizards' curtains into creating movie MAGIC and collaborative storytelling. Experience what inspired some of the most legendary filmmakers to let their imagination soar into any galaxy or dimension beyond.

Interviews with legendary directors including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis and Jon Favreau add to the depth of this series and truly illuminate how instrumental digital filmmaking has become to storytelling. The rebel alliance at ILM created a digital revolution in the film industry which expanded into other areas of industry as well, which was truly life changing for many. Viewers get to experience snippets of various special effect scenes from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Terminator, Forest Gump, Jurassic Park and Mandalorian to name just a few! These groundbreaking artists under the guidance of visionary George Lucas show us that, just because something hasn't been done before, doesn't mean it can't be done. Lawrence Kasdan directs this documentary series and is in a unique position to guide us through the history of imagination and technological change.

The essence of this series illustrates that anything is possible. This ragtag group of artists accomplished things together that were light years ahead of current standards. Their hard work and dedication to the project and their craft truly produced something that is still magical today.

I rate this documentary series 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The six episode series launches on Disney+ July 27, 2022. Don't miss the magic and incredible journey behind the scenes!

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
STRONG FATHERS, STRONG DAUGHTERS

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STRONG FATHERS, STRONG DAUGHTERS - PURE FLIX ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - When a wealthy businessman learns of his daughter's sudden engagement to a missionary, he embarks on a quest to keep her closer to home, but when his efforts go awry he must reconsider what it means to be a strong father.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters is a fantastic mix of romance, comedy and family life. The film is simply a must-see. Strong acting supports a well-developed plot.

The storyline of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters follows Steve Parston (Bart Johnson), the father of three kids and husband of Connie Parston (Robyn Lively). The couple's eldest child, Abby Parston (Carrie Wampler) returns to the family home in California after living in Mexico for months. Having had big plans to be business partners with Abby for years, Steve is shocked and unsupportive when she announces other plans. Will Steve learn to live without his daughter at home, or will he ruin everything with her in his refusal to move on?

The story of this film is very impressive, with each character having their own engaging subplot. Rather than awkwardly pausing the primary storyline to build on each of these subplots, the smaller stories develop in the midst of the main story, without viewers realizing it. As a result, there are characters that are cared for, many loose ends to be wrapped up and countless extra comedic and romantic bits in between. One of the best characters, Crystal (Arden Myrin), the wedding planner, is a perfect addition to the film. She is extremely enthusiastic about her job and very excited to be getting business; she brings lots of light to some of the bleaker, sadder scenes. These sequences provide the right balance of negative and positive energy. Another important aspect of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters is the relatable family. This film truly demonstrates how, although family members disagree and argue, each person is seriously trying to help one another and do the best they can. Each of the three daughters goes through one or more realistic conflicts that they solve with guidance from their inner selves as well as from those around them. With a variety of difficult situations shown throughout the film, every viewer will have at least one struggle that is similar to something they, or someone they know, has dealt with. So many different connections allow Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters to reach many diverse audiences. The actors use these connections to make their character even easier to identify with. In particular, Kayla DiVenere gives an amazing performance as Zoey, the middle child in the family.

The message of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters is that you have to let people make their own choices, whether you agree with their decisions or not. Steve tries to prevent Abby from making her own decisions, and ends up realizing that it is not his choice to make. There is some minor language to be aware of.

I give Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters exclusively on PureFlix beginning August 1, 2022.

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters is an emotional depiction of the ups and downs of the relationship between a father and a daughter. It's a superb summer watch.

Wealthy businessman, Steve Parston (Bart Johnson) just locked in a huge new deal based on his daughter Abby's (Carrie Wampler) pitch deck. Soon after celebrating this achievement, he learns of Abby's sudden engagement to Oz (Brandon Prado), a selfless missionary based in Mexico. Steve embarks on a quest to keep Abby closer to home and make her a partner in his new venture. However, when his efforts go awry, he must consider what it means to be a strong, supportive father.

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters director David de Vos guides this film quite well, especially with the actors' performances and the cinematography, by Rick Pendleton. Each actor seems comfortable in their role, especially Robyn Lively as Steve Parston's wife, Connie. The Mexican angle seems a bit underdeveloped; it is rather inconsequential that we learn that Oz and his family are Mexican and run an orphanage in Mexico until the final scenes of the film. I'm not sure that this addition is meaningful and if so, why it doesn't it come up earlier. The writing is a bit stilted at times, but the emotion with which Bart Johnson, in particular, plays his role helps lift the film back up.

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters is all about trust and respect in relationships. It encourages parents to let go of their children when they wish to fly away, and it promotes altruism, both professionally and in personal relationships. Note that Christian missionary work is referred to, and we see children acting out in the film at times.

I give Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters 4.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters releases August 1, 2022 in theaters.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters teaches important lessons about family values. This family-friendly movie doesn't only benefit children; it also teaches fathers about letting go of their daughters, and to know when to step in to ensure a positive future. Based on the bestselling book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by author Dr. Meg Meeker, the movie shares heartwarming values that make the whole family comfortable watching it together.

Actors Robyn Lively and Bart Johnson play Connie and Steve, the parents to Zoey, Abby, and Bridget in the movie. The movie starts with Abby, the oldest daughter, coming home from a business trip and surprising the family with the fact that she's engaged. Not only is she giving up her career path at her dad's office, but she is also running away to Africa with her future husband to care for the poor as missionaries with the church. Steve struggles with finding a way to let Abby accomplish her own dreams and start a new path, instead of continuing the dream they have always had together, even the dreams of what her future wedding would look like.

Robyn and Bart who play the believable role of husband and wife, are married outside of the movie, it turns out! I can imagine how this would add more depth to their roles. Abby and her fiance Oz are played by Carrie Wampler and Brandon Prado. While these are the main characters, other actors that are important to the movie include Kayla DiVenere (as Zoey), Arden Myrin (as Crystal), David Barrera (as Carlos), and Maria Canals-Barrera (as Bella.) This movie is funny to watch, and the set design is exciting and colorful. Learning about the Mexican culture through the bright colors and fun decorations was also very interesting. The writing seemed predictable, though, without too many major twists. Not to give any spoilers, but I could imagine how it would end from the beginning.

The message of this movie is that families can persevere to solve different problems and to build strong futures together. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters has alcohol consumption and breaking the rules with social media. In one scene, a daughter sneaks out to a party with boys against parent permission.

I give Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch it on Pure Flix starting on August 1, 2022.

By Samantha P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
INTO FLIGHT ONCE MORE

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INTO FLIGHT ONCE MORE - SOUND BEGINNINGS
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8-18
Description - Into Flight Once More, narrated by Gary Sinise, brings the history of June 6, 1944 to the present through the lens of one squadron and their epic recreation journey across the North Atlantic to Normandy for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. Along the way we meet some of the last remaining D-Day veterans and younger generations of men and women who have re-charted their path to honor their sacrifice and thank them for their service.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Into Flight Once More is an engaging, educational documentary about honoring the veterans of World War II.

Into Flight Once More follows the flight of restored vintage aircraft to the beaches of Normandy to mark the 75th anniversary of D Day. For those who are unaware, D Day marks the Allied powers siege on the beaches of Normandy to take back Nazi-occupied France. It is often marked as a major turning point in World War II that ensured an Allied victory.

Within the film, we get to see some of the brave pilots and servicemen who helped secure victory on that historic day. We also follow the teams of crafts persons and aviation enthusiasts who dedicated sweat, tears and valuable time to making sure this show of appreciation for those who served went down as planned. The intercutting of footage is very effective in this film. Not only is there some striking aerial footage where the camera is seated on the wing, but it also includes some black and white archival video captured during almost a century ago. There are also animated portions that illustrate the intricacies of the feat that took place on D Day. The frequent visual reserves keep the documentary consistently interesting. This film reminds us that we have a thin window of opportunity to show our appreciation for the sacrifices our WWII veterans made, as mentioned frequently in the documentary by many who participated in this commemorative flight. The chief reason for making sure this flight happened is to demonstrate a level of admiration to these veterans for their bravery and to do it while they're still here.

The lesson of Into Flight Once More is to understand and appreciate the sacrifices of those who fought and those who died to preserve our freedoms and way of life here in the U.S.A.>p>I recommend Into Flight Once More for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It helps to have some understanding of D Day because that puts the ultimate value of this endeavor in perspective. I give Into Flight Once More 4 out of 5 stars. I implore you to seek this one out. It's currently streaming on several video on demand platforms.


Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
GABBY GIFFORDS WON�T BACK DOWN

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GABBY GIFFORDS WON�T BACK DOWN - BRIARCLIFF ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down tells the extraordinary story of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, her relentless fight to recover following an assassination attempt in 2011, and her new life as one of the most effective activists in the battle for gun violence prevention and in promoting understanding of the language condition aphasia. Featuring extensive verite� filming of Gabby and her husband, astronaut-turned-Senator Mark Kelly; interviews with President Barack Obama and other friends and colleagues; and exclusive access to stunning videos taken in the weeks following her near-death experience, this film is the story of a rising star transformed by an act of violence, and a close-up portrait of the marriage that sustains her.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A beautiful portrait of resilience and optimism, Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down is an uplifting film about Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and speaks to a timely political issue for audiences of all political affiliations. Giffords' passion and perseverance are not only inspiring, but also enrich the film through her interviews; archival footage and sound bites from her husband and mother are also well-placed and add greatly to the film.

Gabby Giffords is shot through the head at point-blank range at a Tucson, Arizona, Safeway in 2011 while hosting a meeting called, "Congress on Your Corner." That moment, that one bullet, would change her life entirely, as she went from a powerhouse to a nearly vegetative patient. The film shows some admittedly difficult-to-watch clips of Giffords' recovery in the hospital. She suffered from aphasia, which took away her language ability, and her doctors weren't sure if she would ever speak again. Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down follows her journey of recovery and also shows glimpses of her career and the path she took post-recovery. We see a strong, intelligent, inspiring, and spirited woman who has achieved, and is continuing to achieve, a great deal.

The film is edited masterfully and tells a rousing and moving story that enraptures viewers from the first frame. One of the most unique parts of Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down is that we see Gabby speaking in all stages of her journey -- hearing Giffords' voice is one of the most compelling aspects of the film, and it adds many endearing, bittersweet, and motivating moments. And what a journey: She gave up her big job to come home and run the family business, then transitioned to a TV commercial star, then to an Arizona Democrat--while staying an enthusiastic and charming cheerleader throughout. I especially love the scenes where Giffords is singing with her mother; not only does it show the strength of their bond, but Giffords is more at ease because, as with many who have aphasia or other brain-related injuries, her speech is most fluid when singing.

Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down is a film about perseverance. Even though watching Gabby go through the relearning process is difficult for viewers, it is also empowering -- it shows us that the human spirit, when set on achieving something, will achieve it... and how! Today, she is giving speeches, lobbying for change, and at the forefront of one of America's hottest discussions: the gun debate. Though there are mentions of the NRA and a decent amount of focus is placed on Giffords--Gabby's organization against gun violence--this film, much like Giffords herself, is not particularly bent toward one political ideology or party. There are mentions of politics, violence, and a good bit of gory imagery.

I give Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down is available now in theaters.


Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FIRE OF LOVE

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FIRE OF LOVE - NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ENTERTAINMENT - LA
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Katia and Maurice Krafft loved two things -- each other and volcanoes. For two decades, the daring French volcanologist couple roamed the planet, chasing eruptions and documenting their discoveries. Ultimately, they lost their lives in a 1991 volcanic explosion, leaving a legacy that forever enriched our knowledge of the natural world. Director Sara Dosa and the filmmaking team fashion a lyrical celebration of the intrepid scientists' spirit of adventure, drawing from the Kraffts' spectacular archive. FIRE OF LOVE tells a story of primordial creation and destruction, following two bold explorers as they venture into the unknown, all for the sake of love.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A superb film for nature-lovers and a great film to study for budding documentarians, Fire of Love explores a dynamic relationship between volcanologists, with beautiful editing and archival footage; however, its pace somewhat undermines the beauty of the film.

In Fire of Love, we are introduced to Katia and Maurice Krafft, Alsatian French volcanologists and spouses. From the beginning, it is evident that Maurice is the one who jumps in with abandon, and Katia is the one who takes calculated, measured risks. Through footage and some interviews, director Sara Dosa shows the Kraffts in their daring exploits, filming, photographing and recording volcanoes--and getting within feet of lava flows.

The National Geographic documentary team behind this film has evidently spent a sizable portion of time collecting stunning natural footage and archival video and sound to tell the story of this legendary duo. They team successfully assemble a great audiovisual gallery.... But the film needs something more. There are times where inserted music and natural footage seems to take over the storyline and bring things to a halt. We get heartwarming glimpses of the couple's dynamic with one another--for the majority of the Fire of Love, we see the Kraffts at work, discussing their pursuits--but it would have been great to see more of them talking to one another, reflecting one-on-one. The film seems to waver between their relationship and their work, without discussing the intersection of both very clearly. For example, a question I wish was answered better by the film was how the two maintained a work-life balance. The most compelling, moving part of Fire of Love is the couple's blazing end--they died in a 1991 volcanic explosion in Japan--and it was captured with such deep emotion that I was left speechless.

Fire of Love is all about companionship, teamwork, and following your passion. There are of course some daring stunts performed in the film--the Kraffts, after all, are in a dangerous line of work.

I give Fire of Love 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Fire of Love is available in theaters now.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The film Fire of Love is a documentary full of information about volcanoes and the live story of Maurice and Katia Krafft. It takes the audience through a range of emotions including love, fear and curiosity. You're sure to leave this movie with a new appreciation for volcanoes. Most of all, you will be inspired to follow your dreams.

This documentary follows a couple, Maurice and Katia Krafft, who are volcanologists. Their interest in volcanoes started at an early age, and their love for volcanoes is what brought them together. In the film, we see close-ups of erupting volcanoes and, at times, the devastating aftermath. Maurice and Katia traveled across the globe studying them and, in most cases, risking their lives to do so.

The great thing about this film is that most of the photographs and videos included were actually taken by Katia and Maurice. This gives the film an authentic feel as we get to observe volcanoes through the eyes of volcanologists. From France, Maurice and Katia mostly speak French throughout the film, though Katia speaks some English. However, the film is narrated by Miranda July, which helps the audience better understand what is happening. In the film, we learn about Maurice's peculiar dreams. For example, he wanted to canoe down a river of lava into the water, and he wanted to live on the volcanoes; if only he could eat rock. Something else I really like about the film is the relationship between Katia and Maurice. Even though Maurice wants to do these things that even Katia thinks are crazy, she still wants to be with him. She loves him and doesn't want him to do it alone, even if it means dying together.

The message of Fire of Love is that curiosity is stronger than fear. Even though it is very dangerous to get as close to an active volcano as they do, that doesn't stop them. Some of the videos and photographs in the film may be disturbing to younger viewers, but it is a wonderful documentary to watch with your family.

I give Fire of Love 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It is available now in in theaters. Be sure to check it out!

Giana N., KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, Age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



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