KIDS FIRST! has endorsed 597 total FeatureFilm titles

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KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL

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JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL - COLUMBIA PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - The gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world's most dangerous game.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This film is pretty entertaining and hilarious, and a surprisingly impressive sequel. It's a good example of "stupid fun," and I mean that in a good way. And it is surprisingly emotional too.

This film takes place in an unknown time, sometime after the 2017 Jumanji. Spencer has gone back into the game and the other three players need to go back to rescue him. However, due to the console being broken, Spencer's grandpa, Eddie and his friend Milo enter the game along with Martha and Fridge, instead of Bethany.

Now, an issue with sequels is the possibility of new viewers being confused and alienated, due to not having seen the first one. However, because Martha and Fridge have to explain the rules of the game to Eddie and Milo, the movie explains the rules to the audience, without it seeming forced.

Speaking of Eddie and Milo, they're a pretty fun inclusion to this film. As a formula changer they work really well and they easily steal the show. They both have a nice chemistry and, having Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart (of all people) acting like elderly men, makes it even funnier. Honestly, the cast is perfect. Of course, all the returning actors are great, especially Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, since they're now playing new characters. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Awkwafina is in this film. She's recently become one of my favorite actresses, so I was really happy when she showed up.

Since this film is a comedy, you're probably wondering how good the comedy is. Overall, this film is pretty hilarious. In the beginning, most of the comedy comes from Eddie and Milo being confused about the game. While this is pretty funny, it does become somewhat repetitive. Thankfully, the film has a lot of really nice details, such as Eddie admiring his tattoos in the game and Fridge freaking out over cake, due to events from the first movie. Plus, the action scenes are really energetic and fun. They are the perfect definition of "stupid fun." They're absolutely ridiculous, but you're still having a blast.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. If you liked the first film I bet you'll like this. The film opens in theaters nationwide December 13, 2019. Look for it.

By Calista Bess, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Jumanji: The Next Level keeps things playable, perhaps surpassing the first. The ensemble cast and direction add newfound levels of entertainment. Anyone interested in the Jumanji franchise must catch this on the biggest screen possible.

The game has changed as the gang returns to Jumanji to rescue one of their own. The players will have to explore parts unknown, from the salty deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to win the world's most dangerous game.

All of the returning original cast is great, and there is a longer setup that allows for further characterization. Alex Wolff and Morgan Turner, as Spencer and Martha, continue their budding romance as Spencer struggles to manage long-distance dating. Madison Iseman and Ser'Darius Blain, as Bethany and Fridge, show their maturity and growth since the first, especially Bethany who is more inclusive and less cliquey. Danny DeVito and Danny Glover, as Eddie and Milo, add heart and dynamic as their grouchy and forgetful antics are always a good laugh. As you may know from the trailers, the roster of characters makes it back, but not everyone is in the same avatar they were last time. Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan effectively play this change. Awkwafina makes a debut and standouts among this roster as her signature fast mouth is always hilarious.

Jake Kasan directs, as he did the first, and this is even better than the first in terms of stylistic choices and pacing. In fact, it captures the feel of a videogame better than the first. Every sequence feels like a level and the special effects are impressive, especially in the bridge chase which is inspired by the likes of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the monkeys add pure adrenaline rush. This is truly my favorite scene in the movie.

The message of this film is about teamwork, as the gang is willing to sacrifice themselves to rescue Spencer and leave no one behind. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 due to action, suggestive content and some language. The movie releases in theaters on December 13, 2019, so check it out.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Jumanji: The Next Level is one of the most entertaining films I've seen in a while and is an excellent sequel. The movie is funny when it knows to be and serious when called for as well. I do have a concern for this series though, because the entire premise is the same as the original and it could wear out in the near future. Also, some of the tonal switches are really sudden and it throws you off on how to feel in those scenes.

Jumanji: The Next Level takes place two years after the events of the first Jumanji movie. The four friends - Martha, Spencer, Fridge and Bethany - have all gone their separate ways. Over winter break they plan to get back together at a cafe called Nora's. When Spencer gets home he finds out his grandfather is staying with them as he recovers from hip surgery. The night before the meet-up Spencer is feeling lost and goes to find the Jumanji game console, which we thought had been destroyed. The following morning Martha, Fridge and Bethany show up at Nora's and wait for Spencer. They call him and he doesn't pick, which makes them suspicious. So they go to his house where he cannot be found anywhere. Suddenly they hear ominous drumming so they check the basement where a fixed Jumanji console sits.

My favorite part of this movie is the expansion of the already interesting video game world. They keep the video game aspect of the non-playing characters that serve the same purpose as the first film, but give them slight alterations like a classic video game. They also expand on the weaknesses and skills of each of the characters based on what's coming, as a video game should.

This movie has some amazing star power! My personal favorites are Danny DeVito and Karen Gillan. Danny DeVito is a veteran actor who has starred in films such as The Rainmaker and L.A. Confidential. On the other side of the age spectrum is Karen Gillan, an amazing young actress known for playing Nebula in the MCU and Amy Pond, the companion to the Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who.

The message of this movie is the same as the original Jumanji - be yourself because ultimately that's what matters most. This movie will appeal most to fans of the first installment of the series and The Fast and Furious movies. I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18, but adults will enjoy it as well. I give Jumanji: The Next Level 3.5 out of 5 stars. It opens in theaters December 12, 2019. Look for it.

By Abraham F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TWO POPES, THE

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TWO POPES, THE
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TWO POPES, THE - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - An intimate story of one of the most dramatic transitions of power in the last 2,000 years. Frustrated with the direction of the church, Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) requests permission to retire in 2012 from Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins). Instead, facing scandal and self-doubt, the introspective Pope Benedict summons his harshest critic and future successor to Rome to reveal a secret that would shake the foundations of the Catholic Church. Behind Vatican walls, a struggle commences between both tradition and progress, guilt and forgiveness, as these two very different men confront their pasts in order to find common ground and forge a future for a billion followers around the world. Inspired by true events.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love this movie. Even though the subject of this movie is based on a religious story, it is filled with humor, sport and a fascinating storyline. The acting is also magnificent and the best part of the movie.

The Two Popes is inspired by true events telling the story of Pope Benedict being elected following the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005 and Pope Francis being elected in 2013 when Pope Benedict resigned. During this time, the Catholic Church is losing followers and is in the midst of various scandals. Cardinal Bergoglio, who ultimately becomes Pope Francis, is one of Pope Benedict's harshest critics as he is frustrated with the Catholic Church and wants to retire. Pope Benedict invites Cardinal Bergoglio to Rome not to discuss his retirement, but to discuss other matters, including a scandal that the Catholic Church is facing that could ruin its stability.

I liked this movie a lot more than I thought I would and I learned a lot about the Papal election process. Even if you are not Catholic, you will still like it. The movie also uses real footage of some of the events.

Jonathan Pryce (Pope Francis) and Anthony Hopkins (Pope Benedict) are absolutely brilliant playing their parts. As a bonus, they even look like the real life popes that they are playing. My favorite character is Pope Benedict because he slips a joke in whenever he can - even if the joke is not funny.

The message of The Two Popes is that it's okay to have different opinions and if you work hard enough together you can find common ground. This movie has some bad language, some disturbing violent images and some discussion of child abuse. It is rated PG-13.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this for ages 12 to 18, and adults will really like this movie. This movie is on Netflix December 20, 2019.

Reviewed by Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
QB
QB - MURAT KARAMANOGLU
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - The world. Kemal H�nal was an electrical technician. He believed in the existence of aliens all his life. When he retired, he tried to send signals to aliens with his radio telescope, which he invented from scrap electronic parts. In 1979, Nasa launched the SETI project to resolve messages from extraterrestrial planets. Kemal H�nal said, "Let's see who will find them first.. One night he heard a signal napping in his chair. (Sounds) He had succeeded. He listened to the message over and over again. He was tired. He reached for his bed with the happiness of success. He didn't wake up in the morning. He did his duty and said goodbye to Earth. Ata and his mother open the door and enter the house inherited from Kemal H�nal. The house is dusty and quiet since nobody has been around for a long time. The curtains open, the room is filled with light. Open the door to the attic and float up the stairs. It is on the space floor of Kemal Bey. He finds his grandfather's diary next to old magazines. Kemal H�nal sit in his favorite chair and start reading. Meanwhile, Ata's mother is on a stool trying to open the insurance. With the arrival of electricity, the radio telescope of Kemal H�nal starts to work and the last recorded signals are heard. The horse wants to silence the sound. Flips the buttons, presses the buttons. The mechanism prepared by Kemal H�nal and sending radio messages to space works again in the meantime. We see the signals rise from the big dish on the roof to the sky. (Effect) Signals move away from the world with the speed of light.Corot-Exo7 constellation. Planet Gobor. Gobor was hit by a large meteor, and most adults lost their lives. Children hiding in shelters are the new rulers of the planet. They are seeking a different planet to sustain their lives. They received the message from Kemal H�nal. They send QB to Earth. His mission is to search for the depleted uranium in the Earth and, if he returns with uranium, run the warships and take over the Earth. Ata met the children of a private school camping in Olympos. Pinar immediately fused with Kaan, Tan and Gizem. The children believe in Ata's alien story and wait for the QB. Ata and the other children spend pleasant days with an alien friend who looks like an Earthling. QB found the uranium he was looking for, by the way. He must leave the world and fulfill his duty. Acts. Aware of the danger of his separation from the Earth with uranium, the children pursue the QBi. A relentless pursuit begins. A big surprise awaited them all
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - What an interesting story. Very imaginative. Well produced with great visuals and audio. Lots on unexpected twists and turns. This has the added benefit of an intergenerational connection, a space adventure and kids pursuing their dreams. The acting is quite admirable. I particularly enjoyed the child actors. The visual effects are well executed, a bit corny at times, but in a fun way. The shots of earth from space are particularly well done. This was made in Turkey and hence the dialogue is in Turkish with English sub-titles, which have some poor translations at times, but nothing that detracts from understanding the storyline. I give this 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. Reviewed by Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
DARK WATERS

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DARK WATERS
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DARK WATERS - FOCUS FEATURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - From Participant (Spotlight, Green Book), DARK WATERS tells the shocking and heroic story of an attorney (Mark Ruffalo) who risks his career and family to uncover a dark secret hidden by one of the world's largest corporations and to bring justice to a community dangerously exposed for decades to deadly chemicals.

Corporate environmental defense attorney Rob Bilott (Academy Award�-nominee Mark Ruffalo) has just made partner at his prestigious Cincinnati law firm in large part due to his work defending Big Chem companies. He finds himself conflicted after he's contacted by two West Virginia farmers who believe that the local DuPont plant is dumping toxic waste in the area landfill that is destroying their fields and killing their cattle. Hoping to learn the truth about just what is happening, Bilott, with help from his supervising partner in the firm, Tom Terp (Academy Award�-winner Tim Robbins), files a complaint that marks the beginning of an epic 15-year fight--one that will not only test his relationship with his wife, Sarah (Academy Award�-winner Anne Hathaway) but also his reputation, his health and his livelihood.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Dark Waters is a compelling look at one man's fight against the corrupt practices of a multi-billion dollar company.

Based on a true story, Dark Waters follows Rob Bilott (Mark Ruffalo), a corporate lawyer who gets a call from a family friend named Wilbur (Bill Camp) about a disturbance on his farm in West Virginia. Over 100 of Wilbur's cows have died and he suspects it has something to do with the creek running through his property. Wilbur's hunch becomes a frightening truth as Rob investigates decades' worth of wrong-doing by the DuPont chemical company.

Mark Ruffalo portrayal of Rob Bilott is excellent. He's plays the legal scenes with conviction, but he feels more like a vessel to receive information than a fully- formed character. We see plenty of Bilott's moral standards, but we rarely get a sense of what drives him to do the work he does or who he is emotionally. It makes it harder to fully connect with and invest in his character. A performance worth noting with much less screen time is Bill Pullman as lawyer Harry Dietzler. Pullman gives Dark Waters a boost of energy. He's not comedic relief, but he's certainly a breath of fresh air.

Todd Haynes's direction is both impressive and overbearing. Haynes has a flair for stylistic flourishes in his other films and here the moody, muted lighting that clouds much of the film creates a feeling of anxiety that makes every step of Rob's journey and what he discovers uncomfortable in a way that's very effective. By the same token, the color scheme is dark and dreary throughout and the film ends up with a dull sheen and a tone that feels at times heavy-handed.

An aspect of the filmmaking I love is the use of tracking shots to show not only the lives that DuPont destroyed, but the communities too. Dark Waters is unflinching when it comes to depicting the consequences of DuPont's malpractice. It tells and more specifically, shows it, in a way that rightfully stirs up an audience reaction of anger and injustice.

I recommend Dark Waters for ages 12 to 18 for some shocking images and brief language. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. If you're looking for a good or feel-good time at the cinema for the holidays, this isn't it, but Dark Waters is definitely an informative and important film. Dark Waters opens in theaters November 27, 2019.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR

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TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM
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TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM - MAGNOLIA PICTURES
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - This artful and intimate meditation on the legendary storyteller examines her life, her works and the powerful themes she has confronted throughout her literary career.
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:

HOUSE OF CARDIN
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HOUSE OF CARDIN
HOUSE OF CARDIN - 2 OF EACH, INC.
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Millions know the iconic logo and ubiquitous signature but few know the man behind the larger than life label. Ultimately we seek to answer the question: Who is Pierre Cardin? What is the story behind this legendary icon? House of Cardin is a rare peek into the mind of a genius, an authorized feature documentary chronicling the life and design of Cardin. A true original, Mr. Cardin has granted the directors exclusive access to his archives and his empire, and unprecedented interviews at the sunset of a glorious career.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This exuberant documentary (French with English subtitles) from directing team P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes (Mansfield 66/67, Dear Mom, Love Cher) provides a well-rounded portrait of fashion designer Pierre Cardin, still sharp, spirited and working at age 97. Alternating between interviews and a plethora of archival footage, the filmmakers deftly illustrate Cardin's wide-ranging creativity, which evolved from radical and influential women's wear into men's clothing and beyond, eventually encompassing lamps, furniture, theaters, a car and even an airplane. The filmmakers provide welcome context throughout as the Cardin brand is shown growing globally over the decades from his beginnings in the Paris fashion world of the 1940's. The filmmakers utilize brisk, snappy editing and a myriad of examples of Cardin's clothing and designs to provide a comprehensive overview of the Cardin style. For those not familiar with Cardin, the documentary does an admirable job at conveying the unique flourishes that defined his approach. While effusive throughout, the film does not shy away from a critical consideration of the controversial licensing of the Cardin brand, nor his open lifestyle. Recommended for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. 5 out of 5 stars. Review by Mike Fishman, KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This exuberant documentary (French with English subtitles) from directing team P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes (Mansfield 66/67, Dear Mom, Love Cher) provides a well-rounded portrait of fashion designer Pierre Cardin, still sharp, spirited and working at age 97. Alternating between interviews and a plethora of archival footage, the filmmakers deftly illustrate Cardin's wide-ranging creativity, which evolved from radical and influential women's wear into men's clothing and beyond, eventually encompassing lamps, furniture, theaters, a car and even an airplane. The filmmakers provide welcome context throughout as the Cardin brand is shown growing globally over the decades from his beginnings in the Paris fashion world of the 1940's. The filmmakers utilize brisk, snappy editing and a myriad of examples of Cardin's clothing and designs to provide a comprehensive overview of the Cardin style. For those not familiar with Cardin, the documentary does an admirable job at conveying the unique flourishes that defined his approach. While effusive throughout, the film does not shy away from a critical consideration of the controversial licensing of the Cardin brand, nor his open lifestyle. Recommended for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. 5 out of 5 stars. Review by Mike Fishman, KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer
Juror Recommended Age: 14-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
AERONAUTS, THE

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AERONAUTS, THE
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AERONAUTS, THE - AMAZON STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - In 1862, pioneering meteorologist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) teams up with daredevil balloon pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) to advance human knowledge of the weather and fly higher than anyone in history. While their voyage to the very edge of existence helps the unlikely pair find their place in the world, they face physical and emotional challenges in the thin air, as the ascent becomes a fight for survival.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love The Aeronauts because the visual effects are so realistic and you feel as if you're actually there, living in that timeline! This is such a dramatic and romantic film. It's so rich in remarkable acting and amazing back-stories of characters. The actors really bring life to their roles, making it seem like they aren't actors at all, but actual people in the 1800s.

The storyline is about a young widow Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) and a scientist James Glashier (Eddie Redmayne). Amelia is a brave and courageous woman who wants to make a difference. James is a scientist who wants his ideas to be heard. They both go into a gas-air-balloon to try to make discoveries which would change the world entirely. In this epic journey, and what seems to be a crazy idea at the time because, James says he wants to try and predict the weather, they learn about themselves and each other. The more you watch the movie the more you learn about the characters' pasts, which is just one of the reasons why I love this film.

My absolute favorite part of the film is when James goes to visit his father, Arthur Glaisher (Tom Courtenay) and they talk about how beautiful the twinkling stars are at night. The costume designer, Alexandra Byrne has made some amazing costumes. I really love them. They really suit the 1800s setting. An absolutely remarkable detail in this film is that everything done in the balloon actually happened. This film is inspired from a true story and the balloon actually aloft in real life during producing the film.

The message of this film is to live life at its fullest because, life is short. You can't change in the world if you don't try.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 13 to 18, as well as adults. You can find this film in the theatres December 6 and on Amazon Prime December 20, 2019.

Reviewed by Bella B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
FROZEN II (2019)

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FROZEN II (2019)
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FROZEN II (2019) - WALT DISNEY ANIMATED STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she'll set out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In Frozen, Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world. In Frozen II, she must hope they are enough. From the Academy Award�-winning team--directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez--and featuring the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad, Walt Disney Animation Studios' Frozen 2 opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2019.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I must admit. I love Disney. I loved the very original Frozen and love Frozen II! The music is captivating, as are the loveable characters we fell in love with when Frozen debuted in 2013. The core characters, Princess Anna (Kristen Bell), Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel), Olaf (Josh Gad), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf and Sven are back and living seemingly normal, happy lives in Arendelle. Olaf ratchets up the comedy and has a plethora of entertaining lines and musical trips down memory lane.

Everyone has grown-up a bit since we last saw the fine people of Arendelle. Kristoff can't get out of his own way in his desire to propose to Anna and life seems to be merry for all, until a calling is felt by Queen Elsa and the group goes in search of answers in the Enchanted Forest, a forbidden place. Along the way, we meet new characters including Mattias (Sterling K. Brown), Yelana (Martha Plimpton) and Honeymaren (Rachel Matthews). They all have a part as Anna and Elsa's quest to learn their family history begins and it gets a little dark as many ventures into the past can be.

When it comes to music, I predict "Into the Unknown" is going to become this year's "Let It Go." I'd be willing to predict the Golden Globe and the Academy Awards nomination for Best Original Song. I also predict Disney will sell millions of iguanas over the holidays. Disney's sequel to Frozen has a built-in fan base, and the Disney marketing machine partnered with the world to ensure we know the film opens just before Thanksgiving, in plenty of time to entertain the entire family!

I give this film 4.5 of 5 stars for its beautiful animation, music and comedy. I would have loved more character development, especially for the new characters. This film will appeal to ages 3 to 18. There is one segment which may appear scary to younger children. Frozen II opens in theaters November 22, 2019. See it!

Reviewed by Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror, Ageless

We have dived into the unknown with Disney's latest installment to its chilly universe of Frozen with Frozen II. As a big Disney fan, I can honestly say Frozen was never one of my favorites, as after a while I think we can all agree that building a snowman is anything that you'd like to hear again. I must say though, this sequel is filled with tons of hilarious and amazing surprises.

The film starts in the past, giving us a peek at Elsa and Anna as children, playing with snow in their rooms. We see their parents and get to know them a little better as they tell the sisters a story about an enchanted forest that neighbored the kingdom of Arendelle. What happens next sends the story full-throttle into a whirlwind of emotions as Elsa sets out on a dangerous, but remarkable path of events, that ultimately teaches the pair of sisters how to fix what's been broken and to make things right.

In Frozen, we watched Elsa take the throne of Arendelle and come to terms with her magic. Despite this, we just barely got to see who Elsa truly was. Frozen II gives us everything that we missed out on in the first film, and powerfully gives us an inside look at her mannerisms, thought process, hardships and more. We see her struggle more with her truth, and more specifically her past, as she's itching to know who she really is and where she possibly came from. She's not the only character we see develop though, as Olaf turns into a far more mature little snowman and offers tons of fun facts and questions for audiences to hear along the way. Much like her sister, we see a very different Anna in this film. With crazy mood swings, endless bravery and one big leap of faith, we see the princess grow from fear and confusion into confidence and faith. There is no doubt that you'll get to enjoy all the new sides to these iconic characters.

There are a handful of new characters, one of which is the cute little salamander, Bruni. Surprisingly enough, he is quite the powerful and pivotal character. And of course, how can we forget about Sven and Kristoff? This legendary duo smashes it on the big screen with their great chemistry and 80s rock ballad--oh, yeah. You might want to prepare yourself for some crazy Kristoff vocals.

Disney once again knocks it out of the park with their incredibly detailed animation. Every frame of the movie feels immersive and looks stunning. I still can't wrap my head around the countless amount of hours it must have taken to create a flowing stream of water, and it is done so flawlessly. The soundtrack itself is quite catchy. I've been humming multiple songs to myself since I left the theatre and I only just realized it. With its perfect moments of tenderness and just the right amount of hilarity, Frozen II is set to be a hit for families everywhere.

Frozen II is rated PG for its action, peril and some thematic elements. I recommend this film to ages 5 to 18, as well as adults and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is playing in theaters now, so don't miss it.

Reviewed by Michelle C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 21
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Frozen II is a beautiful continuation of one of the greatest animated films ever made. We know the story and characters from the 2013 film, so it's not as original, surprising and innovative as the first one, but as the story evolves so does the animation. The characters grow in their arc, becoming more mature, with stronger relationships and technically, Frozen II is a much better film than its predecessor.

Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven have become a family. Now, they try to discover the origin of Elsa's powers in order to save their Kingdom because it seems as if Elsa has awakened some powerful spirits. They leave Arendelle, their hometown, and embark into a Nordic odyssey, in the impetuous fall, where they will face dangers and will meet new characters.

During the film's 103 minutes, we are delighted with seven new songs, most of them as iconic as those in the previous film and 19 score tracks. "Into the Unknown" stays with you and I'm sure we will hear this beautiful composition at the Oscar ceremony. Frozen II feels like a musical at times and that just makes the movie better.

The story is well narrated and easy to follow for little ones. Sisterhood is a powerful force and the bond between Anna and Elsa only strengths during the whole movie.

Frozen II is absolutely eye candy with a beautiful color palette similar to the original adding the warm tones of autumn. The filmmakers traveled to Finland, Iceland and Norway for inspiration. They consulted with a botanist in Oslo to make sure the forest resembles the authentic vegetation there. The animation is not just beautiful, but also a great representation of the Nordic folklore and the geography of the places.

We can also appreciate the advances in technology in the new characters. Among the most challenging to animate are Nokk, the water spirit and Gale, the wind spirit. The costumes are very detailed and gorgeous and, even Olaf gets to wear one!

The actors from the original cast reprise their roles and Jason Ritter makes his Disney debut as the voice of Ryder. My favorite characters are Brunni, the salamander and Olaf played by Josh Gad. Olaf is very funny and his character becomes bigger in this sequel. My favorite scenes are the ones where the characters are discovering the elements in the forest, because each one represents a new challenge.

The message of the film is about creating your own destiny and not being afraid of growing up.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16, as well as adults. Frozen II opens November 22, 2019. Be sure to check it out!

Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I love Frozen II so much, because the animation is so fantastic and it is so great to see all the characters come back together for a whole new adventure. In the first movie Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) rediscovered being sisters. In this movie, which takes place three years after the original, their closeness as sisters is stronger than ever.

The movie starts off in the past with Anna and Elsa's parents telling Anna and Elsa about the enchanted forest. Their mom sings them a lullaby about a secret place full of magical powers. Then we fast forward to present time and Elsa hears a mysterious voice that calls her into the North Woods and the adventure begins. Along the way they meet the Northuldra, a tribe of people who live in the enchanted forest that are connected with the elements. On this journey Anna and Elsa find out about their parents' past and Elsa finds out who and what she really is.

Frozen II has seven new original songs and all new characters that help Elsa on her journey to discover who she is and the origin of her powers. "Lost in the Woods" sung by Kristoff; it is so funny because it has all these inside jokes from old music videos. There are also two great songs sung by Elsa - "Into the Unknown" and "Show Yourself." Plus, Olaf (Josh Gad) also has a really fun song called "When I am Older'' and Anna sings a song too.

Throughout this movie Olaf become smarter and much funnier. It's a really great experience to see that happen to our favorite little lovable snowman. This movie has a lot of comedy, adventure and touching moments.

The message of this film is to follow your heart and listen to your gut, because if you do, there could be a huge adventure waiting for you. Another important message in the movie is that family is important and will always be there for you; so don't ever turn them away when they offer to help.

I give Frozen II, 5 out of 5 snowflakes and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Adults will love it too! You can catch it in theaters November 22, 2019. Look for it.

Reviewed by Lindalee R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Frozen II is an exciting animated adventure with lots of laughs! The bright, lively animation really gives character to everyone in this movie. The new songs and exciting story make this film a great choice for the whole family.

Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) set off on a quest with their friends Olaf (Josh Gad), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and trusted reindeer Sven. They're following a mysterious voice that only Elsa can hear; in hopes of finding the enchanted forest their father told them about when they were kids. Along the way, they encounter spirits of air, water, earth, and fire, and they learn of a mysterious fifth spirit that they must find. Elsa and Anna work together to right a wrong from the past, even though this may mean sacrificing everything.

Frozen II has lots of great new songs that help tell the story, but nothing as catchy as those in the original film. There is no main villain or antagonist, just a lot of angry spirits to deal with. The audience at the screening I attended really loved the sequence where Olaf treats some new characters to a hilarious recap of the first Frozen movie. The costume designers must have had a lot of fun designing the intricate costumes and Elsa and Anna both change clothes lots of times throughout the film. The animators have done some pretty incredible things, from making a horse out of water, to creating a flaming salamander. My favorite part is a funny song Olaf sings about how everything will make sense when he's older.

The message of this film is that when you feel that you've lost all hope, you should do the next right thing. Parents should be aware that some beloved characters are in grave danger and young children might be upset by what befalls them. There are some really dark moments when even the usually optimistic Anna thinks all is lost. However, there are some great messages about bravery in the face of danger and doing the right thing despite the cost to yourself.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for children ages 6 to 12 and I believe adults will like it too. You can see Frozen II in theaters everywhere starting November 22, 2019.

Reviewed by Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, A

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BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, A - SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - Two-time Oscar�-winner Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America's most beloved neighbor.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. He seemed like the nicest man on the planet. Casting the nicest actor on the planet as Fred Rogers was brilliant. Mr. Hanks brings the deliberate-speaking teacher to life in a way I can't describe. I'm betting Tom Hanks will be nominated for many awards for this role. He becomes Fred Rogers in the film.

Kindness is so simple. This film is a beautiful and timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. In the film his character is named Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) and he is grumpy and not interested in an assigned puff-piece profile of Fred Rogers. Throughout the film, he works through his skepticism, and learns kindness, and decency from America's most beloved neighbor.

The real lesson is learned by Lloyd as he works through issues of fathers, his own (Chris Cooper) and his new role as a father. The film is moving and brings forth many emotions - from grief to sadness to joy, and everything in between. Lloyd's wife, Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson) is the bridge between Lloyd's family pain and his future as a better Dad.

Lloyd spoke to my heart and begs the audience to feel emotions and be kind, clean up family messes and listen to others when help is needed. I believe every person who sees this film will be moved. The depth of Fred Rogers reach is felt on a public subway. I have not been able to forget this scene since I screened the film.

I give this film 4 of 5 stars for its beautiful theme, set design and character development. At times, it is slow, yet is parallels Mr. Rogers' pace so I'm not sure if this was intentional or a flaw. This film will appeal to ages 12 to 18, as well as adults. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens in theaters on November 22, 2019. See it!

Reviewed by Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror, ageless
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - It's definitely A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood when Tom Hanks portrays the iconic Mister Rogers. The message is timely and needed now more than ever. This movie is not what I expected. You learn about Mr. Rogers' through his relationship with a man who didn't want to be his friend or neighbor. It's a message that we all need to hear.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is based on a true life story about the relationship that develops between Fred Rogers and a cynical reporter who is loath to interview him for a piece on American heroes. In the movie, the reporter is Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) who gives an amazing performance. Through his interactions with Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), Vogel begins to understand that part of him is broken. The healing process begins as their friendship develops and you see Fred Rogers teaching him to understand, accept and voice his emotions and feelings. It is beautiful. Tom Hanks is masterful in this role at bringing out the transformation of his friend.

In addition to Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys, the cast has other powerful performances, notably Chris Cooper who plays Lloyd's dad, Jerry Vogel. Christine Lahti, as Lloyd's Editor Ellen, pushes him to work on the hero piece and adds a touching element to the movie as well. The film is directed by Marielle Heller and written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. Music plays an important role in this movie and is by Nate Heller. The scenes of Mr. Rogers playing the piano along with the behind-the-scenes of the television show during filming of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood are particularly moving.

The message of this film is that anyone can change the world with words. It's a powerful message that we often forget. Listen and think before you speak, as your words impact others. Fred Rogers finds a positive way to help others express their feelings, which is not an easy thing to do, although he makes it look easy. Forgiveness and redemption are another theme in this film.

I rate this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 18 and adults will love it as well. The film opens in theaters November 22, 2019 so don't miss it this Thanksgiving season!

Reviewed by Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
CHARLIE'S ANGELS

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CHARLIE'S ANGELS - COLUMBIA PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska are working for the mysterious Charles Townsend, whose security and investigative agency has expanded internationally. With the world's smartest, bravest, and most highly trained women all over the globe, there are now teams of Angels guided by multiple Bosleys taking on the toughest jobs everywhere.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This film was immensely entertaining and a joy to watch. While I'm unable to judge this film as a reboot, I can judge this as a girl power film.

The story follows a trio of women known as Charlie's Angels as they attempt to track down a dangerous piece of technology that can kill people with electric pulses.

This film is a reboot of a very well-known franchise. Charlie's Angels was originally a TV show in the 70s. While I knew very little about the franchise, my mom is a huge fan. From what I've gathered, this movie is a pretty loving remake, with some neat callbacks. This is definitely a film that can be enjoyed by people who aren't fans. It is the perfect film for those who want a fun female-empowerment movie.

Speaking of which, this film is very much about the friendship between the three Angels - Jane, Sabina and Elena. Jane is played by Ella Balinska. Sabina is played by Kristen Stewart and Elena is played by Naomi Scott. The three have amazing chemistry, each with their own unique personality and characteristics. I love all three of them a lot. You really do buy that these women have become good friends and they work well together. Of course, the Angels aren't the only amazing characters in this cast. Elizabeth Banks, who also wrote and directed this film, plays Bosley and she's a really fun character. Elizabeth Banks plays a perfect mentor. There's also Jonny Smith, who seems to be a throwaway character at first, but he is weirdly endearing. The actor, Chris Pang, is strangely charismatic and he ended up being one of my favorite characters in the film.

The film consists of a lot of awesome action and espionage scenes. There's some really impressive and honestly quite tense action segments and the espionage is really fun and clever. The gadgets they use are designed really well, in that they are both creative and stylish. Honestly this whole film has a really nice aesthetic, especially the house where the final fight takes place. There are all these bright colorful lights and glass walls with images projected onto them that look amazing.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. It releases on November 15, 2019. Look for it. Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FORD V FERRARI

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FORD V FERRARI - TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Ford V Ferrari is a pure adrenaline rush from start to finish. It's an absolutely thrilling film that fires on all cylinders.

Ferrari dominates the annual 24-hour race at Le Mans for much of the 1960s. Ford decides to throw their hat in the ring, in hopes that a victory at Le Mans will raise their struggling sales. The former racer turned car designer Carrol Shelby (Matt Damon) and his difficult, but passionate racer pal Ken Miles (Christian Bale) are both brought on to help Ford craft a car to get to the finish line.

Beneath the technical polish and gloss of Ford V Ferrari, the friendship between Shelby and Miles is the heart of the film. Christian Bale and Matt Damon are a large part of what makes this film work so well. This is their first movie together and yet, they interact with the ease of old friends. Their performances complement each other. You get really invested in this on-screen duo with an absurd amount of charm exuding from the screen.

We all love a good underdog and this film is a classic underdog story. Ford V Ferrari isn't just about the race at Le Mans, but more about the human struggles encountered to get there. Pride and jealousy constrict Miles and Shelby at times, but the rigid corporate system of Ford Motor Company poses a greater challenge. Ford V Ferrari is an expansive, mesmerizing real-life story that feels perfect for the cinematic medium.

Ford V Ferrari puts you in the driver's seat with the racers, but not in the way I was expecting. The stellar sound design and mixing are some of the best and extremely transportive. They give the racing sequences not just an immersive quality, but a transcendent one. James Mangold's direction is excellent. He gives you sequences that put you on the edge of your seat and capture your gaze. More so, Mangold has a strong grasp on pacing. The film knows when to slow down and emphasize character and emotion and when to boost its engine and hightail it to the next scene. In a film this long, it's remarkable that it feels as breezy as it does. Even if you know this story start to finish, the skill, technically and narrative in which it's told make this ride one easily worth taking.

I recommend Ford V Ferrari for ages 7 to 14 for language. Even if you're not a race car fanatic, there's a good chance you'll love this film. I happily give it 5 out of 5 stars. This is easily one of my favorites of the year. Ford V Ferrari zooms into theaters November 15, 2019.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 24

Ford v Ferrari is an emotionally charged fast-track to the world of automobile racing. You'll be on the edge of your seat as you learn about race car driver and American automotive designer Carroll Shelby and the amazingly fearless British race car driver and engineer Ken Miles, who build a revolutionary race car for the Ford Motor Company. Together they strategize and compete to best the race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the world's oldest endurance race - the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The entire cast of this film is superb and their performances are hopefully award-winning. The cast is lead by Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles. Both actors are inspiring to watch; their interaction and relationship is gripping as they hurtle through space and time. Each actor contributes to this magnificent story and fuels the emotional journey. There are so many breakout performances in this film that they each deserve a Lap of Honour.

Ford v Ferrari is directed by James Mangold and casting is by Ronna Kress. The production team enhanced this story with exquisite film editing, carefully chosen locations, excellent wardrobe, stunts and effects. You really feel as if you are there in the 1960s, experiencing this time and mindset.

There are so many messages in this film, including the value of teamwork, perseverance, loyalty, honor and questioning and knowing who you are. On the race track lives depend on the pit crew and your support team in life is equally important to your ultimate direction.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The film opens in theaters November 15, 2019, so don't miss it!

Reviewed by KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Selene W., age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


LADY AND THE TRAMP (2019)

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LADY AND THE TRAMP (2019) - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Lady and the Tramp tells the story of an upper-middle-class American cocker spaniel named Lady (voiced by Tessa Thompson) who meets a street-smart, downtown stray Schnauzer called the Tramp (voiced by Justin Theroux), and the two embark on many romantic adventures including that iconic spaghetti smooch scene. Directed by Charlie Bean and written by Andrew Bujalski and Kari Granlund, and produced by Walt Disney Pictures, the film is a live-action adaptation of Walt Disney's 1955 animated film of the same name, which was based on the Cosmopolitan magazine story of "Happy Dan, The Cynical Dog" by Ward Greene. It is dedicated to Chris Reccardi, co-creator of the Modifyers, and a storyboard artist who died in May 2019.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Lady and the Tramp (2019) is a beautiful re-telling of the Disney animated classic from 1955. Lady, a Cocker Spaniel loves the comfort of home and lives with a nice family, but after the arrival of a baby, she feels left out. Tramp, a Scottish Terrier, is a street dog who loves to be free and believes he knows humans (or at least he thinks he does). They are not loyal like dogs. The two meet when Tramp is running away from the dog catcher Elliot (Adrian Martinez).Tramp advises Lady of a terrible rule: when the baby moves in, the dog moves out.

When Lady's owners leave the house, she is under the care of a family member, Aunt Sarah, who is not into dogs and Lady ends up in the street. Tramp saves her from a dangerous situation and both dogs develop a friendship. They embark on an adventure and, despite their differences, they get to know humans better and understand the value of home.

The original film was the 15th animated Disney movie and the first on cinemascope. This 2019 remake is Disney's first film in a new format called Univisium. I have never watched the original, but this new live-action version is absolutely worth seeing. The characters are very well cast, both humans and dogs. The film was shot in Georgia and the locations are beautiful. The art direction and photography create a warm and romantic atmosphere and recreates the U.S. in the beginning of the 20th century.

My favorite scene is definitively the spaghetti scene. It is romantic. The way the restaurant owner and server treat Lady and Tramp with a special dinner and serenade is delightful. I can understand why is so iconic; it represents a genuine bond between two characters and how they come closer, despite their differences. It is also overwhelming how the humans, which are not owners, manifest their love for dogs.

The voice-over actors give great personalities to their characters and the animators make the scenes real and believable using CGI. Elliot (Adrian Martinez) is very determined as a dog catcher and Martinez captures the perfect tone to make this character unique. I also love Ivette Nicole Brown as Aunt Sarah. She plays a sort of villain character in a very realistic way as well. I love the music from composer Joseph Trapanese, it suits nicely the film well and transports the audience into the era this takes place.

The message of the film is: dog's love is unconditional and they all deserve a home. I give Lady and the Tramp 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18 and adults as well. Lady and the Tramp starts streaming on November 12, 2019 on Disney+.

Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 1
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
JOJO RABBIT

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JOJO RABBIT - FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - A World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Wow! I was stunned by this film. I heard people talking about it after seeing it at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year and couldn't wait to see it. Taika's masterful control of a highly charged subject, the Holocaust, turning it into a dark comedy is pulled off in the most remarkable way. The cast is superb, starting with Roman Griffin Davis, whose innocence draws you in from the opening scene and somehow he holds onto it, even as he discovers truths that threaten his ideals and beliefs that he has held fast. His invisible friend Adolf Hitler, played by Taika Waititi, comes in like a big surprise. You want to laugh at his antics, and not laugh because he is Hitler. In the end, you laugh, because the entire film makes you do that. Scarlett Johansson, as Jojo's mom is warm and slightly off kilter. You se her passion for her young son and for "doing the right thing." You're not surprised at what happens to her, as horrific as it is. Thomasin McKenzie, as Elsa, the young Jewish girl living in the attic plays her role beautifully and her relationship with Jojo develops realistically as his eyes are opened to the idea that Jews are not what he's been told at Hitler's youth camp. The ending is satisfyingly appropriate. We can only imagine what happens next. 5 out of 5 stars and recommended for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Reviewed by Julie S., KIDS FIRST! reviewer.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I really love Jojo Rabbit. It is a work of art and definitely deserves so many nominations for the award season. It is a beautiful story told in a very original way, but some people may not fully understand everything, especially if you don't know much about World War II.

This storyline is about a boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) who lives in Nazi Germany and is in one of Hitler's youth training camps. He constantly talks to his imaginary friend, who is a child-like version of Adolf Hitler. One day, he finds out that his mom (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin Mackenzie) in their home. As the film goes on, Jojo discovers the truth about the Nazi world and the Jews as well. By discovering Elsa and the development of their friendship, Jojo starts questioning his ideals and loyalties.

This film is a dark comedy and a satire of one of the most horrific events in history, the Holocaust. This was a very dark time in the world and somehow Taika Waititi (the director) turns this tragic time into a remarkable comedy. The narration in this film is really good and the story unfolds very easily. I didn't really know much about World War II, and the film doesn't really address why Hitler was bad, but this is not a documentary. It doesn't refer to many facts of the Holocaust; it really addresses Jojo's struggles and is a story about tolerance and how love overcomes bigotry.

The acting is very good. I especially love the performance of Taika Waititi who plays the imaginary Hitler. Sam Rockwell plays a very intriguing role as Captain Klenzendorf and Scarlet Johansson is a very loving mother you immediately connect to immediately. Roman Griffin David is the perfect Jojo in this, his acting debut.

One thing that really caught my attention was the music because there are Beatles' songs in German. I like the paradox because the Beatles are, to me, a great expression of love. I really love the idea of using Beatles' songs and found it very creative. The director was inspired by the idolatry Beatles' fans have for this British band. The bright colors contrast with the sadness of the era, representing the illusion of wellness that a lot of Germans felt while they were being brainwashed by the Nazis. The cinematography creates a very warm atmosphere and the wardrobe also shows the elegance of the era.

I like these types of film where they make you research about things that you may not have known about before. After seeing this film I was a little confused, but after doing some research I really saw the beauty of the film. One of my favorite scenes is when Jojo and his mom are on a bike ride together.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, as well as adults. Jojo Rabbit opens November 8, 2019. Be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
LAST CHRISTMAS

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LAST CHRISTMAS - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Kate (Emilia Clarke) harumphs around London, a bundle of bad decisions accompanied by the jangle of bells on her shoes, another irritating consequence from her job as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. Tom (Henry Golding) seems too good to be true when he walks into her life and starts to see through so many of Kate's barriers. As London transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, nothing should work for these two. But sometimes, you gotta let the snow fall where it may, you gotta listen to your heart ... and you gotta have faith.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Last Christmas is a Christmas tale with an out-of-place musical hook that works better than it should. For a film that hinges much of its story on a single Christmas song, I found myself unexpectedly moved by it. It has a touching story about doing good for others, which we're all capable of, and not letting hardship keep you from reaching your full potential.

Kate (Emilia Clarke) finds her life at a standstill, mostly homeless and frequently drunk with a loss of ambition or drive. She is about to get fired from her job as an elf at a Christmas-themed store when she meets the jovial, yet mysterious Tom (Henry Golding), who helps usher her into a new era of her life. Kate begins to help those she has done wrong and view the world in a more positive light as the Christmas holiday draws near.

Emilia Clarke gives a surprisingly layered performance as Kate. Her character is written fairly blandly, but Clark gives it depth when the screenplay doesn't. Henry Golding plays Tom with exuberance and energy. His thoughtful approach to life makes him a nice foil to Kate's blatant cynicism. Emma Thompson puts on a Slavic accent in a scene-stealing comedic performance as Kate's painfully honest and worrisome mother. There are some moments in this film that are painfully reminiscent of other films in the rom-com lexicon, but there's a consistent charm here throughout, more earnest than contrived. This charm is amplified by the likability of its two leads, Clarke and Golding.

The film's sound tracked is from the music catalog of singer George Michael. They serve as smooth transition between scenes, but at times feel tacked-on and gimmicky and don't fit in with the rest of the film. Last Christmas has a third act that turns the movie on its head and, while the shift isn't shockingly surprising, it's well-executed and re-contextualizes much of what has come before.

I give Last Christmas 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18 due to sexual references and language. There's nothing too scandalous, but it's still worth noting. If you're a fan of this genre, you'll probably love this film and its holiday charm is hard to resist. In the end, we go to the movies to be entertained and in that respect; Last Christmas certainly gets the job done. This film comes out in theaters everywhere November 8, 2019. Look for it.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
PLAYING WITH FIRE (2019)

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PLAYING WITH FIRE (2019) - PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-18
Description - When straight-laced fire superintendent Jake Carson and his elite team of firefighters come to the rescue of three siblings, they quickly realize that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet -- babysitting. As their lives, jobs and depot get turned upside down, the three men soon learn that children -- much like fires -- are wild and unpredictable.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like this movie because it is very entertaining and super funny. Playing with Fire is a 96 minutes filled with shenanigans. John Cena makes the audience laugh and it is weird to see him with a head full of hair.

This movie is about four smoke jumpers played by John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, Tyler Mane and John Leguizamo, who save three kids from a cabin on fire. The three children are siblings and two of them, Will and Zoe, are under the age of 10. Their older sister Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand, X-Men) is taking care of them. The smoke jumpers bring the kids to their depot until their parents can come to get them. The kids constantly mess with all the equipment at the fire depot, which distracts the smoke jumpers from doing their jobs.

The storyline includes comedy and sometimes sad moments. The visuals are perfect. The fire scenes looks real. The child actors are great at portraying their characters. My favorite scene is when Will is feeding peanut butter to the smoke jumpers' dog and he accidentally spreads it on the firefighter truck. Will drops the industrial soap and takes the fire fighter hose to clean the mess and the truck makes lots of foam.

The moral of this film is that family fulfills your life, in addition to working hard to accomplish your professional goals. Jake's (John Cena) priority is his career. He works hard to achieve and accomplish his title in the firefighter department and forgets to have fun or remember that there are people around him that love him.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 18 and adults can enjoy it too! Playing with Fire comes out in theaters on November 8, 2019.

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, are 11

Playing With Fire is one of the greatest family movies I have ever seen! It is a family-friendly, feel-good movie with an important message - family is the most important thing to help you keep going. There is a lot of comedy in this movie that makes the audience laugh out loud.

The story line is both adventurous and exciting. There is lots of action, but it is not violent. The characters are super funny and the acting is phenomenal! If I had to recommend any film to watch with friends and family, it would be this one. Some parts are sad, but there is also plenty of action and comedy to keep the audience engaged.

Playing With Fire is about four smoke jumpers, which is an elite team of fire fighters. Jack and his friends are specially trained to jump into dangerous wildfires, so they can rescue people and fight fires. Their lives are perfect, until they find three kids trapped in a fire and this special group of men is forced to hang onto them until they can find their parents. Until then, they have to fight fires and take care of the kids. What could go wrong?

The cast in this film is amazing! The casting director, Rich Delia, not only picked some big names to be in this film, but also found some talented new-comers. The whole cast portrays their characters really well and they are hilarious too! Superintendent Jack Carson, head of the smoke jumpers, is played by John Cena, a well-known actor and WWE wrestler. Keegan- Michel Key, a famous comedian, plays Lieutenant Mark, a friend of the Superintendent and another smoke jumper. Jack's soft-hearted friend, Rodrigo, is played by John Leguizamo. Brianna Hildebrand plays Brynn, the oldest of the three kids. This film also has a dog named Masher, that is Jack's fierce firehouse dog. Masher is very well trained and his interaction with the kids is hilarious. Andy Fickman directs the film.

I give Playing With Fire 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, as well as adults Playing With Fire opens in theaters November 8, 2019!

Reviewed by Eva W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Playing with Fire is a funny and a fantastic Nickelodeon movie. It has so many funny moments and cool stunts. There is also some scenes that are very emotional. It is very fun and up beat. It is an enjoyable movie for the whole family to watch.

The storyline is about fire superintendent Jake Carson and his elite team of firefighters coming to the rescue of three siblings and realizing that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet--babysitting. The three siblings, Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand), Will (Chrisian Convery), and Zoe (Finley Rose Slater) cause trouble all over the fire depot and are uncontrollable, much like fires. There are lots of hilarious moments that everyone will laugh at, and sad moments where you might cry.

The cast of Playing with Fire, especially John Cena, Keegan Micheal Key, John Leguizamo, and Brianna Hildebrand, elevates the film and makes it amazing. They all put there own little twist on there character and it is really cool how they performed all of their stunts. The cinematography and special effects is fantastic as well. The director, Andy Fickman, did an outstanding job directing everything and everyone. The screenwriter, Dan Ewen, also wrote a funny and a great script.

The message of this movie is that family and friends are important. When someone needs some help, they try to help them like a family. The firefighters have to treat the siblings like they're their kids and teach them what and what not to do. All of them have to stay together for a little while and start to grow on each other.

I would recommend this movie for ages 6 to 12 (adults might like it too). Younger audiences would find it more fun and exciting than teenagers would. I give this movie a 4 out of 5 star rating. You can find this movie in theaters on November 8, so go watch it.

Reviewed by Leandro R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
HARRIET

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HARRIET - FOCUS FEATURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America's greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth reviews
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Harriet is an absolutely terrific movie with superb acting, vivid scenery and authentic 1800s costumes. The movie pulled me into the story line such that I really loved and hated some of the characters by the end of the movie.

Harriet is about the life of Harriet Tubman, an American abolitionist and political activist. She was born into slavery, along with her whole family. One day, she decides that she has had enough and wants to be free, along with her husband who is already free. She escapes from her cruel masters and flees to Pennsylvania on her own. She then becomes a conductor of the Underground Railroad.

Going into the movie, I didn't know that much about Harriet Tubman, other than she was an escaped slave and part of the Underground Railroad. She was much more than that! And I am quite surprised that there has not been a movie made about her story before this. There are some fantastic actors in this movie, including Cynthia Erivo who plays Harriet Tubman, Leslie Odom Jr. (William Still) and Janelle Monae (Marie Buchanon). My favorite character is Harriet Tubman, because she was such a courageous woman and Cynthia Erivo made me believe she was actually Harriet Tubman.

There are so many positive messages in this movie, but my list includes the importance of family, the impact of a courageous women and the power of faith in hard times. This movie has some profanity, a few gory scenes and dead bodies. As you might expect in a movie taking place in a time when slavery existed, there are risky things that kids might try to imitate.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Adults will also like this movie. This movie opens in theaters November 1, 2019.

Reviewed by Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Harriet is a sincere tribute to the real-life freedom fighter. Excellent performances and a developed story add layers of entertainment. Anyone interested in documentaries or the subject material must watch this.

The story tells the heroic tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America's most influential figures. The film recounts how her courage and intelligence freed hundreds of slaves and changed history as we know it.

Cynthia Erivo, as Harriet Tubman, brings out something award-worthy. This actress of Broadway fame launches her star potential to greater heights as she perfectly captures Tubman's appearance on top of her distinguishing characteristics. The film is truly a vehicle for Cynthia's many talents. Other cast members include Leslie Odom Jr. as William Still and Janelle Monae as Marie. While Odom Jr.'s role is relatively one-note as someone Tubman sends runaways to, Monae adds heart to Marie as she settles Tubman for city life. As the film progresses, a heartbreaking scene sticks its landing due to the dynamic between the two.

Kasi Lemmons aptly directs, as the story is told chronologically. However, the cinematography does leave a little bit more to be desired, as it lacks nuance and something of interest, during extended dialogue-heavy scenes. Due to this, I felt the runtime and was left desiring the thrilling rescues that follow. It is worth mentioning that you must be interested in American history, or else you will truly remain bored during its two-hour runtime. My favorite scene is Tubman's first escape, because a thrilling scene follows where Tubman jumps downstream into the river rather than get captured. It is truly a testament to Tubman's courage and agility.

The message of this film is that Tubman always stands for justice and treats even her opponents fairly; really everything Tubman stands for speaks truth in heroic qualities. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 due to violence, thematic content and language, including racial slurs. The movie releases in theaters on November 1, 2019, so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

There are a lot of good things to take away from this movie. After seeing this film, I have a very different perspective of Harriet Tubman. I learned that she was a very strong woman.

The storyline is about Harriet Tubman's amazing journey in leading slaves to freedom and how she fought for what she believed in. Harriet Tubman's real name was Araminta Ross; she chose her new name to symbolize her freedom. Harriet had a very strong belief in God and used that to guide her. She walked 100 miles to reach freedom and made 13 trips getting other slaves to freedom. She freed 70 slaves and traveled 1,300 miles total. The bad guys called her 'Moses the slave stealer,' but she was doing the right thing.

This film is very well made. Everything looks very realistic and the actors truly embody their characters. Harriet takes place at a farm starting in 1840. The woman who becomes Harriet Tubman began her life as a slave at the Thompson plantation in Maryland. The movie retells the events of her life very accurately. Cynthia Erivo, who gives a wonderful performance, plays Harriet Tubman. Joe Alwyn plays her master, Gideon, who's portrayal of the bad guy really made me hate him. Janelle Monae plays Marie, a very good friend of Harriet's. Leslie Odom Jr. plays William Still, who helps Harriet find a home and a job when she gets to freedom.

I give Harriet 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this film for ages 14 to 18, because it has a lot of very violent scenes, including some where people are killed. It also shows how horrible slavery actually was. Some of these scenes are heartbreaking and very difficult to watch. There is also a lot of racially offensive language.

Harriet comes out in theaters November 1, 2019 so be sure to look for it!

Reviewed by Eva W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL

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MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is the great bad queen! As you may recall, Maleficent is the evil queen from Disney's Sleeping Beauty. As her character came to life, it is a dark reminder of how electric this actress is, and how good it is to be bad!

Jolie rocked this role in 2014's Maleficent, a film re-imagined from the character's point-of-view. It was dark and scary, and the costumes reminded me of Halloween.

This film centers on a clash between Maleficent and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), Mother of Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), a human royal from a nearby kingdom who wants to marry Aurora (Elle Fanning), Maleficent's human goddaughter.

While Aurora is Queen of the Moors and she and Prince Phillip both prefer peace to violence; their hope of building a bridge between the human kingdom and the magical creatures that live on the moors is not to be.

What should have been a celebratory engagement dinner becomes a waged war. Queen Ingrith's disrespect begins with her meal choice and escalates to providing iron cutlery, which equates to death to faeries. Throughout the verbal barbs which ensue, there are references to racist and current political regimes, including the current U.S. border crisis.

Maleficent is injured and saved by another winged creature. She awakes to learn she is not the single of her kind. In fact, the story gets a bit disjointed as a back story is revealed to explain the change of venue, and introduces hundreds of winged creatures from all over the planet.

As Maleficent's new tribe decides to fight, Queen Ingrith is preparing for war far below the royal castle walls. The intricate detail to new characters and warfare means the fight is ahead and the architect is revealed. In the beginning, we are lead to believe Maleficent is evil, dark and scary - oh contraire! Maleficent has scary powers, but the true villain is yet to be divulged.

The costumes are beautiful, especially the makeup on Angelina Jolie, which is spectacular. The story moves about a lot. In fact, I feel it harms character development. It's Disney so, of course, there is a cute furry animal that will become plush merchandising gold.

I give this film 3 of 5 stars for its lack of character development and a shifting storyline. The casting is exemplary, especially the humorous takes when Maleficent is made to be more human. Costumes, hair and makeup are stunning. This film will appeal to ages 9 to 18, and introduces elements of Sleeping Beauty. Make no mistake; some of the scenes will be scary to younger children. There is a lot of CGI violence and many off-screen deaths. It opens in theaters October 18, 2019 so check it out.

By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The visuals in the film are beautiful: The costumes are stunning and the whole movie is so beautiful to watch. We see the splendor of castles and the reign of the humans. The Dark Fay is this obscure underground place that despite its dreary appearance becomes a place for truth. The music from Geoff Zanelli enhances the scenes transporting us to this mythical place.

The story flows very nicely; it is like watching how a great fairy tale comes to life in the big screen, but Maleficent: Mistress of Evil doesn't take us beyond the impact of the first movie. It is very well done and reiterates there's no black or white but areas of gray. The message of this film is that love does not always end well.

I give Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16. It releases in theatres on October 18, 2019.

Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 11

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is totally intriguing because of how unpredictable the storyline is. The writers applied their creativity and the CGI brings it all to life. The visuals along with the emotional impact made watching this film an exciting experience.

This film is the sequel to Maleficent (2014). It is best to watch Maleficent first and then watch Maleficent: Mistress of Evil to have a better understanding. This series is based on the story of Sleeping Beauty and the writers add their own twists, so you might be unfamiliar with the plot even if you know the plot of Sleeping Beauty. The story starts off with Prince Philip's proposal to Aurora. Their marriage will unite two kingdoms, the Moors and Ulstead. The problem is that the queens of the kingdoms are not on good terms so the marriage does not happen smoothly.

Angelina Jolie plays the powerful and bold Maleficent. Angelina Jolie is perfectly cast for this role with her strong cheekbones and how she commands all the attention. Through subtle changes in her eyes and facial expressions she shows a lot of emotion. Elle Fanning plays sweet and innocent Aurora. Fanning is a wonderful actor as well who can be soft and tough at the same time.

The CGI of the fairies and creatures is very realistic. They are colorful and the habitat that they live in is pleasing to look at as well. I especially love the CGI for Maleficent's wings. They move as one with Angelina Jolie and also help convey her emotions. Maleficent goes through many costume changes and they are all stunning, even though they have a limited number of colors to work with. The costumes highlight her power and confidence. The costumes for Aurora are very flowery and emphasize her innocence. The costumes for Aurora are also symbolic later on in the film.

I simply cannot choose a favorite part of the film. There are so many parts where I cried and laughed. I don't want to spoil anything so all I can say is that I love the scenes where Maleficent gets to use her strong wings.

There are multiple prominent messages and even more underlying messages that can be found in this film. One of the main messages is about looking past appearances to communicate with others. Many of the humans judge the creatures based on what they look like. They stereotype and assume the actions of these creatures, which creates unnecessary apprehension. This can also be applied to our world today, so it is wonderful that the film brings awareness to this problem.

I love the crazy ride that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has brought me on and you will love it too! I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Even Disney adult fans will enjoy this. Be sure to watch when it comes out in theaters on October 18, 2019.

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil explores the world of its archetypal big-bad title character--the witch from the iconic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty--but fans who met her in Disney's 2014 live action film will be disappointed with the overstuffed plot and uneven tone in this film.

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) protects the Moors, a place inhabited by a vast array of magical creatures from fairies to humanoid trees. Her daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) accepts a marriage proposal from Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), prompting talks of peace and unity between the Moors and Phillip's kingdom. Maleficent wearily meets her daughter's in-laws, King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). The already tense evening escalates when King John becomes cursed and Maleficent is believed to be at fault. She flees, but Aurora refuses to go with her. Maleficent goes on a journey of self-discovery and must restore order between humankind and her kind.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is so steadfast in the gritty approach it takes to its fairy tale world; it often undermines the magic that makes these stories so enduringly popular. When it comes to fairy tales, realism and gloom is not what has kept them in the public consciousness for centuries.

Maleficent does have some high points. The costume and production design are phenomenal, further suspending you in this world. There are some pretty awe-inspiring shots from Maleficent's point of view as she soars through the sky. There are also some interesting ideas about family and parenting here; far more interesting than the exploits of the tribe of fellow fairies Maleficent meets. If any of the individual ideas presented were given room to breathe and develop, the film would be much better for it. Instead, there's a lack of focus that clouds much of the runtime and it's clear the film doesn't quite know what it wants to accomplish. They pack too many characters and subplots into one film.

One of the costs is screen-time for Maleficent. The film doesn't give Angelina Jolie much to do this time around and I was surprised at the scarce amount of dialogue she is given. When she's training herself to smile or going verbally head-to-head with Queen Ingrith, Jolie shines. Jolie is magnetic onscreen and the film should have utilized her powerful presence more. One consolation though is Michelle Pfeiffer delving into the role of a villain. Her passive-aggressive manner mixes well with a jaded, nihilistic worldview and she's a lot of fun to watch.

I recommend Maleficent: Mistress of Evil for ages 11 to 17 due to mass fantasy violence. For a film about peace and togetherness, it's pretty violent and pushes the envelope on its PG rating. I give it 1.5 out of 5 stars. The film comes out in theaters October 18, 2019.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 14

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a very emotional and fantastical movie with a unique take on the classic fairytale of Sleeping Beauty. Since I saw the first live-action Maleficent movie and the original Disney's Sleeping Beauty, I was really eager to see how the second Maleficent would compare to those, and this sequel does them justice. I am glad that we get to know more about Maleficent, the "villain" of the story.

This movie successfully switches between the happy and dark sides of the ongoing feud with the mythical creatures and the humans. Also, the amount of effort and detail that went into the art direction and special effects pays off to make the film even better. From the sets to the mysterious woodland creatures, everything is colorful, vibrant and beautifully detailed, which makes it feel like you are in another world.

It is fun to see Angelina Jolie play Maleficent again because she provides the perfect balance of strength and sweetness. The movie also introduces us to many new characters, such as Prince Phillip's evil mother, Queen Ingrith, and the Dark Fey, a group of winged creatures similar to Maleficent.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil spends a lot of time on the execution of the Queen's plot to take down Maleficent and other magical creatures, but never really explains how the Queen is able to get the information she needs to fulfill her plan. Some parts of the plot needed to be developed more but seemed rushed to get to the epic battle scene. Also, because there is so much going on with the battle plot, there isn't really an opportunity to find out a lot more about Maleficent. The first film was all about Maleficent, which is what made it so great. In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, her character is more on the sidelines up until the end.

The moral of this movie is that anyone can be good or bad and not to judge a book by its cover, because villains can come in many different forms.

The film has a lot of beautiful visuals and lighthearted magic, but there are also some very dark scenes. I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, as well as adults. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil hits theaters on Friday October 18, 2019 so check it out.

By Jordan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ADDAMS FAMILY, THE

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ADDAMS FAMILY, THE
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ADDAMS FAMILY, THE - MGM STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - Members of the mysterious and spooky Addams family -- Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley, Wednesday, Uncle Fester and Grandma -- are readily preparing for a visit from their even creepier relatives. But trouble soon arises when shady TV personality Margaux Needler realizes that the Addams' eerie hilltop mansion is standing in the way of her dream to sell all the houses in the neighborhood.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Addams Family is a thoroughly hilarious watch for families. Even adults can have fun as the film boasts humor for all ages. Excellent voice acting and consistently funny script impress. It truly has something for everyone.

The story follows the iconic family in their first animated adventure. Being the kookiest family on the block, several homeowners lend massive disgust for their unconventional ways, teaming up to bring them down. Amidst this is a funny and iconic tale about what it means to be a good neighbor.

The Addams family cast all boast great performances. Oscar Isaac, as Gomez, presents his patriarchal side and his interactions with Pugsley provide great humor. Likewise, Charlize Theron, as Morticia, who cares greatly for Wednesday. Pugsley and Wednesday, played respectively by Finn Wolfhard and Chloe Grace Moretz, are a lot of fun to watch together as they do not get along. Wednesday is my favorite character because her over-analytical self is always enjoyable to watch. Also, Snoop Dogg's cameo is well worth price of admission; it's truly unexpected and works.

Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, known for films such as Shrek 2, aptly direct this film. However, the animation does leave a bit more to be desired; as I felt elements lack refinement and detail, especially compared to current animation. My favorite scene is when Lurch, a creature alike Frankenstein, sings. It's truly hilarious and works amidst his roster of piano playing. The film loses traction once, focusing on the homeowners who lack the characterization of the Addams. Also, Pugsley feels rather undeveloped when compared to Wednesday. I feel that more time could have been devoted to characterizing him.

The message of this film is about accepting others for who they are and learning to resolve differences. Even though The Addams Family is played for outlandish humor, the film realizes the importance of this message and hopes for everyone to accept one another. I give The Addams Family 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18 due to its macabre humor. The movie releases in theaters on October 11, 2019, so check it out.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ABOMINABLE

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ABOMINABLE
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ABOMINABLE - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - After discovering a Yeti on the roof of her apartment building, teenage Yi and her two friends embark on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family. But to do so, they must stay one step ahead of a wealthy financier and a determined zoologist who want to capture the beast for their own gain.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - To say I love this film would be an understatement! DreamWorks' Abominable is more than a film--it is an experience! It is like a 4D movie without the glasses or vibrating chairs.

Abominable introduces us to a Yeti named Everest, voice by Joseph Izzo, and a young girl named Yi, voice by Chloe Bennet. Everest is being hunted by a scientist and bad guys. Yi is attempting to cope with the death of her father--unfortunately she is trying to push away friends and family that love her. You could say both the Yeti and Yi are being pursued in different ways. Yi befriends Everest and goes on a journey to take him home to Mount Everest. Together, they escape on a magical and surprising adventure that brings them both home, literally and figuratively speaking. Yi and Everest are joined by Yi's friends Jin, voice by Tenzing Trainor and Ping, voice by Albert Tsai.

In the theatre, I sat immersed by the sights and sounds of this film. I felt the violin, performed by Mark Berrow, as if I was at a live performance. The CGI animation is by far the best I've ever experienced. The detail and vibrant colors of the trees, flowers, water and mountains almost make me forget I am indoors. An interesting fact is that Tenzing Trainor is the grandson of Nepalese Tenzing Norgay, one of the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest. As the characters in this film try to accomplish this same feat, I am further drawn into this movie and impressed with the choice of casting. I'm equally impressed by the over 60 people responsible for the visual effects. One of my favorite parts is a magical moment when an avalanche of realistic-looking, giant blueberries occurs: "got blueberries in places blueberries should never be!" And Jin's two giant blueberry buttocks are hilarious.

Just as Yi is considering giving up the climb, they come across a river of koi, swimming upstream. The koi illustrate the film's message of perseverance.

Abominable has minimal violence. There are no moments of profanity or adult situations. I give Abominable 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 18, and adults will enjoy it as well. You can find this film in theaters nationwide, September 27, 2019.

Reviewed by Ian C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Abominable is a heartwarming watch for families. Excellent voice acting and breathtaking visuals are the show-stealers. It truly has something for everyone.

The story follows teenager Yi (Chloe Bennet) as she encounters a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building. She and her good friends, Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) and Peng (Albert Tsai), name him "Everest" and embark on a quest to bring the magical creature home. But they will have to stay one-step ahead of Burnish (Eddie Izzard), a wealthy man intent on capturing a Yeti, and zoologist Dr. Zara (Sarah Paulson) to help Everest.

Chloe Bennet is great as Yi, with her voice work providing emotion and wit. I especially enjoyed her dynamic with Everest as the two start to relate with one another. This is really the film's heart and best elements. Tenzing Norgray Trainor and Albert Tsai, as Jin and Peng, are great companions and provide effective voice work. Peng is always hilarious, providing comic relief, while Jin comes to his own in his effective character arc that captures the spirit of being brave. Eddie Izzard, as Burnish, utilizes his comedic charm and blunt accent to great degree. Sarah Paulson, as Dr. Zara, is also a formidable threat as there is more than meets the eye with her.

Jill Culton revitalizes DreamWorks Animation with a nice blend of adventure and comedy, which has engaging narrative choices. Some scenes are realized so beautifully, especially the one involving Coldplay's Fix You. My favorite scene is Jin's trip to Everest, as it captures his arc effectively and features a great sense of humor. However, the film loses steam by the end and drags quite a bit. You will feel the 90 minute runtime as the group sequesters. Also, I feel that complex themes dealing with loss and grief are sidelined by the amount of humor. And, it is a children's movie after all, so I appreciate the effort to explore this territory.

The message of this film is in knowing when to reach out to others. Yi tries to accept others in her life by empathetically communicating. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. The movie releases in theaters on September 27, 2019, so check it out.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

I like the new film Abominable because the storyline is heartwarming and the characters are very funny.

The story follows a magical yeti who escapes from a lab in China, and who is running away from a crazy scientist trying to catch him. The yeti soon meets a young girl named Yi who lives with her mother and grandmother. Yi and the yeti become good friends. Yi names the yeti "Everest" and helps him to get home to Mount Everest with the help of two boys, Jin and Peng, who are cousins. While the team are trying to help this cute animal, a group of the scientist's guards chase the team through out the movie. Everest is what they call an "abominable" creature. The scientist wants to catch him because Everest is exotic and special.

The CGI animation is just absolutely incredible. The background has stunning landscapes of some of China's historical landmarks. The yeti is very cute and funny. He acts a bit like a dog. The intense music tells you when the action is about to start. Some parts of the movie include violin solos since Yi plays the violin.

The moral of this story is to love your family for who they are and for what they do for you. Family always comes first, no matter what. The message is also about perseverance and never giving up.

I give Abominable 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults may enjoy this film as well. This awesome movie releases in theaters September 27, 2019 so go watch it before the tickets are all sold out!

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Abominable is a great animated film, fun for the whole family! It is very heartfelt. I really love its beautifully animated scenes, especially those with violin playing laced in. This film mixes both fantasy and adventure. The feel of the movie is soothing and delivers positive vibes.

The plot is very deep, creative and well-thought-out. The story follows a rare never-before-seen Yeti who escapes a mean zoologist and wealthy art collector. The art collector wants to display the Yeti to the world and yet the zoologist has her own plans. What will become of this lovable creature?

The Yeti escapes and finds his way to the rooftop of a young woman named Yi. She is an independent misfit going through a difficult time. Yi is played by Chloe Bennet who does an excellent job with the voice over and with the emotions of this young character. Yi lost her dad and she keeps herself busy in order to not think of her loss. When she discovers the Yeti, her life is forever changed. Yi decides to help the Yeti named "Everest" (Joseph Izzo) get back to his home. Even the neighbors get caught up into the commotion and accidentally end up on this journey with Yi.

Yi's family is so cute! I love the character Nai Nai played by Tsai Chin. It reminds me of my nanna and she is so comical. Peng is played well by Albert Tsai, creating a character so obsessed with social media and his phone, just like so many of us kids today. There is a lot of great comedic timing from the actors and there are many beautiful scenes throughout. A couple of my favorite scenes happen when they face obstacles escaping the bad guys--especially, the fields of yellow flowers that turn into a tidal wave, and the tree that has amazing pink flowers and lights that bloom. It's a wonderful, magical scene with the violin playing along. There are beautiful historical sites and scenes depicted of real places in China. The colors are so bright and vibrant that you stay on the edge of your seat. The director and writer Jill Culton has created phenomenal animation that blew me away.

I give Abominable 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. You should go to the big screen and check this out! The release date is September 27, 2019.

Reviewed by Ivey H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Abominable is a fantastic movie that leaves you wanting more. The story is really funny and jam-packed with lots of emotion. The characters are easy to fall in love with, and the animation is visually stunning and very detailed. The music is beautiful to listen to, and it captures the tone and essence of this work of art. Producer Suzanne Fitzer hired all the right people: All of the voice actors--especially Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, and Tenzing Norgay Trainor--are very talented. Director and writer Jill Culton wrote this eloquent movie and directs it perfectly. Editor Susan Fitzer put everything together amazingly well.

The storyline is about a teenage girl named Yi that finds a magical yeti on the rooftop of her apartment. Yi names the yeti "Everest" after its home on famous Mount Everest. With the company of her friends Jin and Peng, Yi travels all across China to take Everest where he belongs. They are also running from the people who were keeping Everest secured. Part of the story takes place in Shanghai, China, and the film shows multiple well-known landmarks, too.

The message is to not give up on your dream and to keep going, no matter what comes your way. Abominable also teaches the value of family.

Abominable is a fun adventure movie for the whole family to watch. There is no violence or adult content, but the story touches on and deals with the topic of death. I rate Abominable 5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 9 to 18 (adults might like it, too). You can see it at your local movie theater starting September 27, 2019, so go watch it!

Reviewed by Leandro R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
AD ASTRA

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AD ASTRA
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AD ASTRA - TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I feel transported to the moon and Neptune! This movie is not only a great story, Ad Astra is a roller coaster of emotions and a ride that makes the movie-going experience beyond the usual thrill. It's totally immersive and I enjoy that, and I recommend to experience it in IMAX for best results.

It put me at the edge of my seat and is so exiting. The pace, in general, is slow. But there are a lot of action peaks that certainly shake your emotions. The visuals are stunning and the acting overwhelming. Probably, what I enjoyed the most is that in this futuristic voyage, where imagination floats, the human condition remains grounded.

In Ad Astra, astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) joins a mission in which he will be sent to outer space to find his father, who disappeared 30 years ago and is associated with a threat to humanity. Roy's journey is also personal - they have a dysfunctional father / son relationship, but share a strong bond for the love for outer space.

The car chase on the moon, when space pirates attack, is one of my favorite scenes. It is original and out of this world, literally. I also love the scenes when Roy is floating out of the spaceship.

The cinematography (Hoyte Van Hoytema) and visual effects are the most remarkable technical aspects of the film. The movie has a heart and Brad Pitt's performance makes us remember that, despite all advances in technology and stunning visuals, the core will be always humankind. There are a lot of close ups and drama, and the journey is not only beyond the frontiers of Earth, but inside of our souls. I did not find some secondary characters' interactions as important as they should be. The music composed by Max Richter is very atmospheric and keeps us suspended.

Ad Astra is very unique because of the story; it's not like any film you have seen in the past. I definitively recommend seeing this film if you love space, or maybe just want to see something different. One thing that I really liked is how futuristic it is, in a near future that is not that far from us.

I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to18+. Finally, the message of this film is there's no greater journey than knowing ourselves. Ad Astra opens in theaters nationwide September 20, 2019. Look for it. By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This film is nothing like what I anticipated and I mean that in a good way. I had a lot of fun discussing the themes of this movie.

The movie follows Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) as he's tasked with finding his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) in hopes of stopping a series of electrical surges that threaten the world.

Now, while the whole cast is pretty fantastic, a good majority of the film revolves around Roy McBride. There are a lot of scenes where he's by himself while narrating. And these are probably the most interesting scenes in the movie. And it's not just because of the acting. The film is filled with voice over narration from Roy and these narrations are very interesting to think about. Since Roy is essentially prohibited from emoting, the narration sort of acts as his solution to that. I think that works really well, especially since, when he actually does emote, even slightly, it hits you really hard.

Speaking of the narration, that, along with the incredible ambient music gives the tone a very eerie, atmospheric vibe which fits the feeling of isolation in the vastness of space and the monotone acting. There's also a lot of ideas in this film that are really creative and worthy of discussion. For example, in this movie there are commercial flights to the moon. So when Roy actually gets to the moon, you can see recognizable restaurants in the background, implying the moon is essentially a travel location. This is such a neat idea and something I really wish was expanded upon. Not only that, but this film has some really thought-provoking themes relating to legacies, searching for something greater and repressing your emotions. For most of the film, people see Roy in relation to who his father was. And these scenes, along with some spoiler-y moments, led me and my mom to have an entire discussion about how certain people will never be able to fully escape the legacy of their ancestors, as their ancestor and that ancestor's name will always weigh on them. Not just that, but the way space is used as a metaphor for taking what you have in life for granted is intriguing.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. It comes out September 20, 2019. Look for it. By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Are you ready for a thrilling movie experience? Ad Astra delivers this and more with terrific acting, great cinematography and amazing sound.

The film's title draws its name from the Latin phrase "ad astra" and means "to the stars." This science fiction movie is about an astronaut named Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) who goes into space to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones), who was also an astronaut. When his father went to work on something called the Lima Project, he went missing and died, or so Roy thinks. He is called in and told that his father might be alive and is sent across the solar system to find him.

Ad Astra is so intense - almost too intense for me. The amazing performances from Brad Pitt, as Roy McBride, and Tommy Lee Jones, as Roy's father, are so believable and they made want to both love and hate the characters by the end of the movie. The special effects are realistic, and the sound is astonishing, as you can hear every move made. My favorite character is Roy because of his perseverance.

The message of the movie is: if something is hard, work through it. The intensity of the movie comes from some profanity, bloody images, dead bodies and violence (including some murderous actions). Obviously, these scenes include risky things that kids might try to do.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, as kids any younger might get scared (like me!). Adults will also like this movie. This movie opens in theaters September 20, 2019. By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Ad Astra has a very strange and artistic viewpoint of space. This film is personally not really my taste in film, but there are definitely moments that catch my eye. The way the visual effects pull this film together is completely mind blowing. They create the look of space and planets being realistic as if they are right in front of you.

Ad Astra tells the story of Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) who works for Spacecom. Roy sets out on an expedition across the solar system to find his father and his dad's doomed expedition in order to solve a mystery that is threatening the universe.

I would like to acknowledge Brad Pitt's acting. Brad Pitt plays a major role in this film and, boy, he pulls it off outstandingly! You can definitely tell that he brings his all to bringing the concept to life. However, the ending could have been a little bit more put together. I was a little confused throughout the whole movie and the ending did throw me off more than other parts. Also, they could have given more information on a few characters--some randomly appear and leave which leaves you wondering what happened to them.

Ad Astra delivers a very inspiring message: Never give up hope and keep fighting for what you love no matter what someone or the world tells you.

Ad Astra has some blood and gore, though there is hardly any profanity, except for one word and one gesture. I give Ad Astra 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend this film for ages 10 to 18 and adults would enjoy it. All in all, I recommend you check this film out. Ad Astra is in theatres September 20, 2019. By Madison W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Ad Astra is an engrossing odyssey about outer space and the inner life of an emotionally distant astronaut.

A massive surge of energy hits Earth leaving chaos in its wake. The surge is traced deep into space, and the suspected culprit is the father of Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) who disappeared years ago in search of extraterrestrial life. Roy is sent deep into the reaches of the solar system to find his father. The fate of the planet hangs in the balance, and it's up to Roy to avert further catastrophe.

Roy is calm and collected to an unusual extent. This calm demeanor assists him at work, but impairs his personal life. In the hands of a less-skilled performer, Roy McBride would feel bland, but Brad Pitt's performance is nuanced and subtle, showing that what is going on under the surface is the key to McBride's character. Pitt's reserved performance gives his small and spare spurts of visible emotion greater magnitude.

It's fascinating to see what an auteur like director James Gray does with Ad Astra. Gray takes his time, indulging in the aesthetics of the individual environments that Roy visits and offering up numerous wide shots of the endless void of space. The visual splendor on display from Gray--and also the remarkable cinematography from Hoyt van Hoytema--are jaw dropping to behold. I was surprised by the quality of the few action set pieces in the film. Whether it's a chase on rovers with space pirates across the lunar surface or a bare-knuckled brawl in zero gravity, the set pieces are strangely well executed for what is, in essence, a meditative character study.

Ad Astra has the sensibilities of an art film colliding with a familiar galactic adventure narrative. Gray uses the interstellar voyage to tell a story about dealing with the absence of a parent and overcoming the burdens of the past. McBride's quest to find his father becomes a quest to find himself.

Ad Astra has a larger reliance on science than fiction. The setup of this futuristic concept through world building grounds the film in a sense of reality. The setup is so well executed that the rest of the film pales in comparison.

I give Ad Astra an age rating of 11 to 18 for sci-fi violence and a little bit of language. Although I enjoyed it, the film will resonate more with adults. I give Ad Astra 3.5 out of 5 stars--it is an artfully done, well-made sci-fi flick that demands to be seen on the big screen. It opens in theaters September 20, 2019 so look for it.

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


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
DOWNTON ABBEY (2019)

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DOWNTON ABBEY (2019) - FOCUS FEATURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Downton Abbey is a 2019 British historical period drama film that acts as a continuation of the British television series of the same name. The film is written by Julian Fellowes, creator and executive producer of the television series, and directed by Michael Engler. Much of the original cast returns. The film, set in 1927, depicts an official state visit by the King and Queen to the Crawley family's English country house in the Yorkshire countryside. As the Royal staff descend on Downton an assassin has also arrived and attempts to kill the monarch. The family and servants are pitted against the royal entourage, including the Queen's Lady-in-Waiting who has fallen out with the Crawleys, especially the Dowager Countess, over an inheritance issue.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This is probably one of my all time favorite movies! Downton Abbey stands alone as a film and it doesn't matter if you watched the TV series or if you are totally new to the story. I have not seen the TV series and enjoyed very much this long format installment. It is elegant, well narrated and the performances are fascinating. From the beginning you are transported to early in the 20th century - the clock, the train, the letters. Very elaborate and detailed art direction combines with beautiful cinematography that makes this so pleasant to watch.

This is the story of the Crawley Family, a wealthy family that owns a state in the countryside in England, and all the employees that live with them. They are exited to receive the visit of the Queen and King of England, but their efforts to serve and all preparations are sabotaged by the monarchy protocol that insists the royals will bring their own servitude. During this very expected visit, all the people in Downton Abbey, from upstairs to downstairs, get involved in a series of events that ends up changing their lives.

We see the devotion and commitment every character has for this royal visit, which I found inspiring. Everyone is determined to perform their duties exceptionally well. I loved the performances by Hugh Bonneville (as Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham), Tuppence Middleton (as Lucy) and especially Maggie Smith (as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham). She is charming and funny.

The cinematography (Ben Smithard) and the sets (Donal Woods) revive the splendor of an era that I can't believe existed not long ago. I love the costumes; they are rich and elaborate. John Lunn has composed beautiful music that is touching and intriguing at the same time and is a perfect fit for the movie. It is very classy.

The message of this film is that we all have to be true to ourselves and do what is important, for the passion of what matters. There are some jokes that I did not understand or are more suitable for grown ups, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this very classic story.

I give Downtown Abbey it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 16+, because there are some mildly intense scenes. It opens in theaters September 20, 2019. Look for it. By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Looking for royal intrigue and aristocratic shenanigans? Then, Downton Abbey is your cup of tea.

This film is the continuing story of the Crawley Family who are the wealthy owners of Downton Abbey. The story unfolds as the entire family and their staff are in an uproar at the approaching visit of King George V and Queen Mary. Their upcoming visit is a great honor, but also a challenge when the family and estate need to economize. There is much intrigue and maneuvering over wealth and power from inheritance disputes as well as currying royal favor. Downton's staff are in a fracas when the royal staff invade and take charge of the upcoming visit and there is much plotting below the stairs as well.

The majesty of Downton Abbey is its own character in the film and there is gorgeous footage of the estate. The entire cast is talented and noteworthy, but I particularly enjoyed the sarcasm of Violet Crawley, played by the indomitable Maggie Smith, as she is "an expert in every matter." Violet's verbal jousting with Maud Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton) is my favorite storyline in this film. The movie is directed by Michael Engler and the screenplay is written by Julian Fellowes. One can't forget the majesty created by cinematographer Ben Smithard and production designer Donal Woods. Anna Robbins is the costume designer for the film and exquisite style takes on a role of its own.

The message of this film is about the importance of family and its continuity and traditions. The movie offers a glimpse into the past and the family's efforts to maintain their traditions into the future.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 through 18, plus adults. Parents need to be aware that there is some mature content. Downton Abbey opens in theaters September 20, 2019. Look for it as you will be utterly delighted. By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

All the way from TV to new movie comes Downton Abbey, a place of joy and mystery as well as love and honor. As a fan of the show I am so glad to see they made a movie and let us know how everything ends.

One of the things that Downton Abbey is known for is the costumes. Each one sparkles from head to toe and they all simply terrific. Each costume and actor looks elegant and yet, very simple at the same time. That in turns reveals their true personalities in the end.

All the characters are very unique and they all share one thing in common, a love for the place they live, Downton. Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith), who can be very as stubborn at times, is the best person to call when it comes to needing a smart and witty person. I love that she can turn any situation into a funny one, in literally ten seconds flat.

Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) is the middle sister in family. She is very compassionate in times of need. This is one the many reasons why she is such a great assist to her family and the people around her. Robert Crawley or the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) owns Downton and wears his title to the fullest extent. He is not only a great father, but also a great man and a very helpful person in general.

Lady Mary Talbot (Michelle Dockery) is my personal pick of choice, when it comes to whom to have as your friend at Downton. She is the heart and soul of this magnificent place and, when it comes to keeping things running, that is exactly what she does. Not only does she help around the house, but she also gives the best advice, which is exactly why I pick Lady Mary to the new leader of Downton.

My favorite scene is when the Queen of England is being served dinner by the House of Downton for the first time ever. This scene shows a lot about the people who work there and also a lot about the Queen herself.

One issue I have with Downton Abby is that it reveals too many details about what happened to the Crawleys as their life had moved on. I hoped that they would keep some of it secret, so that we could wonder about it for just a while longer. Maybe they could have made a sequel to this movie, if they hadn't answered so much. I recommend this for ages 12 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. It opens September 20, 2019 in theatres. By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Downton Abbey is absolutely marvelous. It made me laugh. It made me cry. The acting is magnificent and the scenery, cinematography and costumes are all stunning.

Downton Abbey is set in the 1920s and is about a wealthy family named the Crawley's that live in the countryside of England in a castle called Downton Abbey. They receive word that the King and Queen of England are coming to spend the night at Downton Abbey as part of their royal tour. The movie entertains us with the chaos of the family and the house staff preparing for the royal visit as well as the family's sometimes serious and hilarious interactions.

There are six seasons of Downton Abbey that previously aired on TV, but it is not necessary to have watched them to enjoy or follow the plot of this movie. I did not watch the TV series before seeing the movie and still loved it. I left the movie feeling so happy. It has amazing actors, like Michelle Dockery, Imelda Staunton and Maggie Smith. My favorite character is Violet Crawley or "Granny" (Maggie Smith), because almost everything she says is so funny.

The message of the movie is about the importance of family. Another message is that people in wealthy families have their own challenges. It has no bad language, but parents should know that there are some mature scenes.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, because kids any younger might not understand the movie. Adults will also love this movie, hopefully as much as me. This movie opens in theaters September 20, 2019. Look for it.

Reviewed by Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
MAKING WAVES: THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUND

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MAKING WAVES: THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUND - GERRY ORZ
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - An exploration of the history, artistry, and emotional power of cinema sound, as revealed by legendary sound designers and visionary directors, via interviews, clips from movies, and a look at their actual process of creation and discovery.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The greatest crime in the world of cinema is against the world of sound. Despite sound making up half of every film from the last century, it receives one measly percent of attention from the audience and film industry. This documentary uncovers the hidden world of cinematic sound in its history, its art and its complexity - showing a side of film one has never been seen before.

Although being a documentary with a core purpose of education, its masterful editing and layout makes it an entertaining experience for those who have a passion for film and those who have seen very few films in their lives. Instead of simply looking at the technical aspects of sound editing and sound design, Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound makes a relatable documentary by looking at the people who simply wish to discuss their deep passion for the art of sound. This allows the film to incorporate drama, action, intensity and even comedy while still teaching the audience about sound in cinema.

Starting with the roar of 1933s King Kong to the drumming of Black Panther (2018), this documentary explores in depth the big revolutions of sound design in film throughout history. Some particularly fascinating references include the wholly organic sound design of every creature, explosion and spaceship in Star Wars (1977) and the quiet artful water-splashing in Roma (2018). Not only that, but the documentary also discusses the many branches of cinematic sound. From dialogue editing to SFX and even ambiance (sounds of the environment), each department of the soundscape of cinema gets covered in this documentary.

My favorite part of the film lies towards the end and features Ben Burtt, a sound designer who has worked on several Star Wars films, Indiana Jones films, Wall-E, and much more, garnering him two Academy Awards. Yet, despite his many achievements, his discussion about his life makes his interview so unforgettable. Burtt discusses how after winning an Oscar for his first project, Star Wars: A New Hope, he felt massive pressure to maintain that success in future projects. Not only that, he discusses his challenges in separating from work and returning home every day for dinner. This segment gives an intimate hidden look at the intimate challenge many artists in the film world face: disconnecting from their craft. The scene truly humanizes these sound designers and editors as people too, with lives that exist distinctly outside filmmaking.

Midge Costin, the director and producer of this documentary has taught at the world-famous USC School of Cinematic Arts for many years and it shows - one can enter with no knowledge of sound in cinema and come out nearly an expert. Watching a film after this documentary feels distinctly different because the secret subtlety of the many brilliant aspects of sound design now become clear. After watching this documentary, one can begin to understand the impressive complexity that sound artists go to in developing a world in a film, on the subconscious level. Not only that, the documentary presents ideas in a very visual way. Even technical concepts such as the difference between mono, stereo, four-point and modern Dolby 5.1 surround sound can easily be understood by hearing it in auditory examples, but also in visually showing how the different systems operate. Truly, this documentary takes the massive subject of cinematic sound and breaks it down into simple subjects that nearly anyone can understand.

This documentary tailors ideally to adults, young and old, although older kids will also enjoy this thoroughly. For that reason, I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults. I give Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound a solid 5 out of 5 stars for making an entertaining, profound and enlightening experience that truly engulfs one into the extensive soundscape of cinema. Premiering in theaters in Los Angeles and New York City Oct. 25, the film will then roll out in cities across the country.

Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TALL GIRL

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TALL GIRL - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE 12-18
Description - Tall Girl is the 2019 Netflix original comedy about Jodi, the tallest girl in her school, who has never quite felt comfortable in her own statuesque skin. All of that changes when she falls for the handsome (and equally tall) foreign exchange student Stig who, of course, gets Jodi's quirky, best, male friend Dunkleman and his hippie mom as a host family. As a result, Jodi gets embroiled in a surprising love triangle, which helps her realize she's far more than her insecurities about her height have led her to believe.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Netflix's new movie Tall Girl is a wonderful coming-of-age story that touched my heart. It is really a perfect teen movie, as it deals with insecurity, friendships, relationships, high school, bullying and finding the confidence to believe in oneself.

What I particularly like about the film is that it has a great positive message that, even if you can't change something about yourself, you should embrace your uniqueness since that is what makes you special. For instance, the main character Jodi, played by the amazingly multi-talented Ava Michelle, is very tall at 6 foot 1 inch, and has been bullied her whole life because of it. Kids tease Jodi in school with comments like, "How's the weather up there?," which naturally hurts her feelings. However, one day, a tall and handsome foreign exchange student Stig (Luke Eisner) comes to her high school and takes an interest in Jodi. This relationship along with her best friend Dunkleman (Griffin Gluck) and her beauty queen sister Harper (Sabrina Carpenter) help Jodi find the confidence to believe in and truly accept herself.

My favorite scene is when Jodi and Stig sing the song "Stand Tall" together. It is an original song that Luke Eisner wrote with his band Viola about his father fighting cancer. The song incorporates perfectly into this movie with new lyrics by both Luke and Ava that they recorded in a bathroom. There is also a lot of humor in the movie. Specifically, Dunkleman is very funny and does impressions of Kevin Hart and other people.

The talent is off the charts in this movie. Luke Eisner is incredibly handsome and has the smoothness of a young George Clooney. His Swedish is authentic and I just can't get his gorgeous voice out of my head now. Ava Michelle's voice is wonderful too; together they harmonize on a couple of songs that I just love listening to. Ava is also a great pianist. I also found Griffin's humor hysterical and, after interviewing him with other actors from the cast, I could immediately see that he has stellar improv chops. Sabrina Carpenter perfectly captures a high school beauty queen. I don't think there's anything that Sabrina Carpenter cannot do!

What sticks out in mind about this movie is that it is of the utmost importance to believe in yourself. The movie also reminds us to never trade your integrity by just hanging out with the popular crowd.

This film has several fantastic, timeless moral messages including "accepting and believing in yourself and don't compromise your integrity." It's perfect for teen audiences. I believe both boys and girls will like this movie and I recommend it for ages 10 to 18 as there is some kissing in it. I give Tall Girl 4.5 out of 5 stars and can't wait to see it again! It premieres on Netflix on September 13, 2019. Look for it.

Reviewed by Abigail Zoe L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
JULIANA & THE MEDICINE FISH
JULIANA & THE MEDICINE FISH - JEREMY TORRIE
Series: FOREIGN INDIE FEATURE, AGES 13-18
Description - After the sudden death of her mother, twelve year-old Juliana (Emma Tremblay) is forced to repair an awkward relationship with her father as well as deal with the impending bankruptcy of the family business: a fishing lodge on majestic Lake of the Woods. In a last-ditch attempt to save the lodge, Dad (Adam Beach), organizes a high-stakes fishing derby. Juliana is powerless to help until she finds a world record Musky lurking in the waters around the lodge. Juliana devises a plan to catch the beast and save the family business. When Juliana seeks the counsel of an old Native Ojibway guide she learns that this particular Musky is an ancient 'medicine fish' with a spirit-essence crucial to the survival of the lake, and all other Muskies. Will she capture the mythic beast and save the lodge? Or will she allow the Musky to live and sacrifice her home? What medicine does this Magical Musky hold?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This is a powerful story of how a young girl overcomes the death of her mother and the flaws of her father to succeed in the world. This makes it an uplifting story as you follow the tragedies that befall her and how she overcomes them. The storyline addresses the girl's relationship issues with her father and a situation with their family business and home being threatened with by foreclosure. The question is, can a fishing competition solve all their problems? I like how spiritual beliefs intertwining nature and man's progress are woven throughout the film. I like how the bond between father and daughter grows stronger as the storyline progresses. Dealing of a death in the family death is also handled well. I did find the film a little longer than I would have liked. The camera work is really well done, particularly the images on the water and under the water. The wider panorama by the lake and surrounding country show nature at its best. The background music is subtle and blended well with the scenes. The sad singing during the desperate search for the mother and acknowledging her passing is hauntingly appropriate. The flash backs for the girl are well executed, especially the sudden appearance of her mother lying in the water. It came across as how a person experiences grief for a loved ones. The main child character is really believable. Her acting is both engaging and believable throughout the film. The father is also played well, as the portrayal of a flawed person. The message of this film is that you can overcome adversity with courage, hard work and good friends. Also, people can change for the better given a chance by loved ones who believe in them. There is also a message about returning the big fish to the lake because it's the right thing to do and is done in lieu of winning the competition. While in context of the film and its setting, viewers should be aware the film contains the following. 1) some very mild profanity; 2) several scenes where adults smoke cigars or discuss acceptance of tobacco; 3) use of hip flash for drinking alcohol by an adult; 4) some gambling; 5) use of matches and lighting a smoking object by a child; 6) unsupervised use of boats by a child; 7) unsupervised swimming in a lake by a child. The film reminded me that nature in this part of the world is very interesting and diverse. It certainly made me want to search out the area and experience its grandeur. I particularly enjoyed the Native perspective the film portrays and recommend it for KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, especially those that value Native stories. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Reviewed by Richard L, KIDS FIRST! Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BENNETT'S WAR

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BENNETT'S WAR - ESX ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Marshall Bennett (Michael Roark) is a young soldier with the Army Motorcycle Unit who survives an IED explosion in combat overseas, and is medically discharged with a broken back and leg and sent back to the U.S. When he gets home to his family farm, he discovers that his dad, Cal Bennett (Trace Adkins), is behind in the mortgage and may lose the farm. Against all odds, Marshall Bennett pledges to help his family by the only means he knows how, as a motocross racer.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Bennett's War is inspirational and exhilarating with its storytelling. It is buoyed by unique performances and apt cinematography. The movie is a worthwhile watch in theaters at full price.

The film follows Marshall Bennett (Michael Roark), a riding prodigy who rode for the Army Ranger Motorcycle Unit. One accident cost him a broken back and leg. After being medically discharged, he is told that one more accident could mean he may never walk again. When he gets home to his family farm, he discovers that his dad Cal (Trace Adkins) is behind in the mortgage and may lose the farm. All odds in his way, Bennett pledges to help his family by doing the one thing he does best, get back on his bike and ride.

Michael Roark, as Marshall, triumphantly portrays the hero. His love for bikes and service for the military add inspirational layers for all to follow. His honor to help his dad is also extremely touching. Roark well rounds all these angles with nuance. Trace Adkins, as Cal, soars with his deep, gravelly voice adding character. The scene with Allison Paige who plays Sophie, Marshall's wife, and Cal is my favorite scene in the movie. In this scene, Sophie is worried about Marshall participating in motor cross racing. Cal's speech of his wife, who was a fighter pilot, is full of emotion and stellar acting between the two. Allison Paige also steals the show with a relatable romance and dedication to help Marshall. My favorite character in the movie is Ali Afshar's Cyrus. Afshar is uniquely hilarious, and his back story with Marshall adds an interesting mentor dynamic. Hunter Clowdus and Brando Eaton, as Chris and Kurt Walker, are formidable foes challenging Marshall with their macho appearance and physical prowess.

Alex Ranirevelo directs with fast-paced racing scenes being the main highlight. All the stunts are 100% real, adding the layer of excitement. Nowadays everything is too CGI and, it's good to see old school approaches like this. The flaws are in some rushed character development, especially as Sophie agrees with Marshall's decision to race. Also, some of the special effects during the war scenes are not very impressive. Despite this, they are short and serve to develop Marshall better in the long run.

The message of this film is about never giving up. Marshall moves forward from his injuries to pursue what he loves doing and to pay off bills. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, due to brief war scenes and language. The movie releases in theaters on August 30, 2019, so check it out.

By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

This inspirational film had everyone on the edge of their seats. The racing is suspenseful; it draws you in. Everything else in between, the hardships and rivalry, is raw. I love how realistic it is.

The story starts follows Marshall Bennett, a soldier in the Army Motorcycle Unit. He has a father, a wife and a newborn son at home. Out in the field, he gets involved in a shootout. As he tries to make a getaway with his injured friend on the back of his motorcycle, an IED explodes. He is fortunate and survives with only a broken back and a broken leg. But one more bad fall and he might never walk again. Back at home, he works at a shop repairing bikes. His family struggles financially and he looks to motorcycle racing, despite the risks.

Michael Roark (Marshall Bennett) and Allison Paige (Sophie Bennett) are incredible actors. The emotions and pain seep right to the audience. In the more cheerful scenes, the satisfaction and gratitude is felt through the screen. Trace Adkins (Cal Bennett) is a beloved country singer and performs really well when acting. All of these great actors coming together make the pain and suffering realistic. It makes you appreciate the sacrifices made by those in the military.

The costumes for the soldiers and racers all look very professional. The music, as well as the absence of music, works with the actors to convey certain moods. The film has an overarching serious mood to it. Marshall Bennett is dead set on winning his races and making a comeback, so there is only one comedic scene.

My favorite scene is the comedic scene with Cyrus (Ali Afshar) and the rivals that tamper with Marshall Bennett's bike. Cyrus walks over to them, knowing what they've done, and decides to pull down one of the guys' pants. He proceeds to punch the guy in the face. It's funny and shocking because Cyrus is a small dude surrounded by lots of macho rivals, yet he still acts very boldly. After Cyrus hits the guy, he turns around to walk away and laughs. He isn't able to walk away and gets beat up right after.

The purpose of this film is to give hope and inspire people to take risks. It's all about going for your dreams and giving everything you've got. Although Marshall Bennett is badly injured and one more fall could disable him forever, he still gets back on his bike.

I give this wonderful film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Even adults will enjoy this. Definitely be sure to check this film out when it comes out in theaters August 30, 2019.

By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BUNUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF THE TURTLES

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BUNUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF THE TURTLES - GKIDS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 13-18
Description - Paris, 1930. The infamous surrealist filmmaker Luis Bu�uel is left penniless after the scandalous release of L'Age d'Or leads to a falling out with collaborator Salvador Dal�. On a whim, Bu�uel's good friend, sculptor Ram�n Ac�n, buys a lottery ticket and promises to devote his winnings to fund Bu�uel's next film. Incredibly, Ram�n wins the jackpot, sending the two friends to the remote mountains of their native Spain to film the documentary Las Hurdes: Land Without Bread. Driven by mad artistic impulse and haunted by childhood memories, Bu�uel must confront the specter of mortality looming over the lives of his subjects -and his own.

In a stranger-than-fiction tale befitting the master filmmaker, Bu�uel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles tells the true story behind a fascinating episode in cinematic history, utilizing sensitive performances as well as excerpts from Bu�uel's filmography to present a deeply affecting and humanistic portrait of an artist hunting for his purpose.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This is an incredibly unique film. It's rare to see such mature animation like this, and I've been wanting more mature animation for a while. So I was incredibly entertained.

The film is about the Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel and it follows him as he films his documentary, Las Hurdes, which is a documentary about the Las Hurdes region in Spain.

Now, I love animation. However, I am slightly peeved that 2D animated movies are not very popular anymore. So I was excited to learn that this film is 2D. Not only that, but it is incredibly stylized and beautiful 2D. I've always liked aesthetics pertaining to historical generations of filmmaking. So it's not surprising that I love this art style. One thing I find interesting is that many scenes in the film have clips from the actual Las Hurdes documentary, sliced in with animated recreations of the scenes. I can't really explain why, but I really like this detail.

Another interesting aspect of the animation is the imagery. Luis Bunuel is often associated with surrealism and I assume that's why the movie includes several strange and nonsensical sequences. There's also a consistent theme involving religion, which I didn't really understand if I'm being honest, but it is interesting.

A major aspect of this film is Luis's relationship with the anarchist painter, Ramon Acin. The film was made thanks to Ramon, so it's understandable that the film heavily focuses on their friendship. It's interesting to see their conflict on the purpose of the film, and in general it makes for some compelling drama.

In a way this can serve as an introduction to Luis Bunuel and his work. I never knew of him before this film. However, now I'm somewhat intrigued by him and his work. Although, there is something I should warn people about. Despite the film being animated, this film is absolutely not a kid's movie. There are lots of dark jokes, mature themes and a surprising amount of animal violence. It is important to point this out as many people assume all animated films are for little kids, when that couldn't be further from the truth.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. If you're a fan of history, the art of film or both, and you can stomach some uncomfortable subject matter, I highly recommend this. It comes out on August 16, 2019.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



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