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KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
FROM CRADLE TO STAGE

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FROM CRADLE TO STAGE - PARAMOUNT PLUS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 14-18
Description - Directed by Dave Grohl and inspired by his mother, Virginia Hanlon Grohl, and her critically-acclaimed book, From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars, the Live Nation Productions FROM CRADLE TO STAGE is a dynamic personal exploration of the special relationship between successful musicians and their moms. The six-part series will debut exclusively on Paramount+.

Honest, humorous and emotional, each episode features a famous performer and their mother, alongside Dave and Virginia, as they take an impassioned journey home and explore each artists' upbringing and the tools they received as a young talent to survive the turbulence of success.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - From Cradle To Stage is the ultimate music documentary series! From rock, to country, to pop, we learn so much about our favorite musicians and the women that raised them. A plus is that we get to see their adorable baby pictures.

This new series is based on the book by the same name written by Virginia Hanlon Grohl, mother of David Grohl, drummer of Nirvana and guitarist for the Foo Fighters. The two discuss what it was like raising and being raised as a rock star. They also team up with Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, Pharell Williams, Miranda Lambert and their mothers to talk about the childhoods of these incredible artists. The show answers a loaded question, "What was it like to raise a musician?"

This show is so creative. Virginia's and David travel around the United States to learn more about their musical friends. It's so interesting seeing rare videos and pictures of the stars, along with first-hand stories about their formative years. From Cradle To Stage shows how the love of music runs in the veins of these artists from an early age. You see how Virginia's love of music spread to David, who grew up surrounded by music. It's very insightful to watch how a mother's love and support encouraged her child to pursue a mutual love for music. Although worrisome, these mothers always encouraged their children to pursue doing what they love. It's heartwarming to gaze upon the mothers' collection of framed platinum records and Rolling Stone magazines.

The moral of the series is to always have your child's back. In the music industry, where some become famous Grammy winners and others are not as lucky, these mothers always supported their children. Whether or not the parents supported the rock 'n' roll lifestyle and fame their child pursued, they always put their child's happiness first. Always asking, "How can we help?" There are some warnings for this series in regards to adult language and mentions of alcohol and drugs.

I give From Cradle To Stage 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for older teens plus adults. It is available on Paramount+ May 6, 2021.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 14-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
JUSTICE SOCIETY: WORLD WAR 11

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JUSTICE SOCIETY: WORLD WAR 11 - WARNER BRO. HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 11 - 18
Description - The Justice Society of America , a group of heroes aiding the allies in World War 2, acquire an ally from the future who sends them on an adventure that changes history.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - What could possibly go above and beyond the Scarlet Speedster himself? Justice Society: WWII! This new action-packed, animated feature film packs much more than a super-sonic punch; showing crazy character development and fascinating emotional exploration. The film relives a classic art style that will not only make you feel nostalgic, but continuously make you feel like you are on the edge of your seat, dying to find out what will happen next. The movie extinguishes any sense of repetitive stories; providing new never seen before action.

Justice Society: WWII follows everyone's favorite speedster, the Flash (Matt Bomer), as he accidentally uses his speed to travel to WWII, finding himself in a cluster of situations. When he meets Wonder Woman (Stana Katic) and proves his loyalty, the Flash must fight his way next to the Justice Society to defeat the Nazis and find his way home. Every character exceeds expectations, yet Black Canary (Elysia Rotaru) and Hawkman (Omid Abtahi) are truly the "scene stealers," demonstrating remarkable chemistry that you will never forget.

Justice Society: WWII pushes the boundaries for modern day 2D animation. The action scenes really display the power of animation and how real it can seem. At times you forget you are even watching a movie because the animation is so immersive and hypnotizing. Another exquisite subtle detail about the movie is the writing. Jeremy Adams and Meghan Fitzmartin wrote a story exploring new angles of these classic characters that we have never seen before. Although the writing is extremely on point; the time period falls short. Throughout the film the WWII time period feels a little sugar-coated and doesn't really demonstrate the impact of the violence during that time. Justice Society: WWII soars faster than Jay Garrick does, checking all the boxes with extravagant character development and extraordinary animation you will never get tired of.

The film has themes of friendship, and the idea that you can do anything you want if you work as a team. It is rated PG-13 for violence and some bloody images. The WWII time period brings with it many sensitive topics, animated violence and some mild curse words. The film can be intense at times, really targeting its viewership to older DC fans.

Justice Society: WWII is clearly one of the best DC animated films, therefore I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can find Justice Society: WWII on Blu-Ray or your nearest digital retailer, so make sure to check it out!

By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Justice Society: World War II is a good film because it mixes the superhero genre with real life. The film features some classic heroes like Wonder Woman (Stana Katic), Superman (Darren Criss) and Flash (Matt Bomer) and has them in a real life time period. The animation is a little different from what I expected with Flash appearing older than Superman and Wonder Woman's face not as soft, her voice deeper and her mannerisms more robotic.

The story follows a group called the Justice Society of America aiding the allies during World War II. While on the mission they meet a hero from the future, Flash, from and team up with him in order to end the war and help him return home. As they work to assist the allies and rescue innocent citizens, another unexpected war erupts. This all happens as Steve Trevor keeps proposing to Wonder Woman and she keeps saying no because it is not the right time.

This film has a great idea and introduces some retro characters with an updated plot line to a new generation of DC fans. All of the film's voice over actors are terrific. In addition to Stana Katic, Matt Bomer and Darren Criss, we get Omid Abtahi as Hawkman, Elysia Rotaru as Black Canary, Matthew Mercer as Hourman and Chris Diamantopoulos as Steve Trevor. It helps with continuity of these films when some of the same voice actors are used as they are here, especially when other characters are introduced and those characters mirror ones that we already know. In this film, Flash is my favorite character. It was good to see him in a more serious role, even though he still has some classic Flash silliness. Stana's take on a more "take-charge" Wonder Woman is the star of this film. Since this version of Wonder Woman hasn't been around humans as much, she is a bit more aggressive in her tactics.

The message of this film is to not wait to live your life even when other things are going on in the world. Tomorrow is not promised so don't be afraid to do things that make you happy. You can fight for good causes and live your life at the same time.

Justice Society: World War II gets 3.5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 11 to 18. Adults who love superheroes can watch this as well. Justice Society: World War 11 is available now on digital platforms and Blu-ray/DVD.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
CEREBRUM

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CEREBRUM - SP DISTRIBUTION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - An artist agrees to help his estranged father work on a memory-transfer technology that would help Alzheimer's patients. However, when his dad dies under mysterious circumstances, he sets out to unravel the truth and further his research.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The new movie Cerebrum is a sci-fi film that gives viewers a sense of what a path to insanity looks like. With an interesting concept, deception and lies, and the pursuit to uncover the truth, Cerebrum will keep your eyes glued to the screen until the end. For thought-provoking, mind-altering entertainment, this is the movie to watch.

Cerebrum is about a man named Tom (Christian James) who returns to his father's home despite their tough, unfavorable relationship. Not long after arriving, Tom finds that his father Kirk (James Russo) is working on creating digital brains so that Alzheimer's patients would never lose their memory. Enticed by a monetary payoff, Tom gives in to his father, agrees to become a guinea pig for this secret, untested procedure, and ends up committing a crime that he can't remember. Working with Chloe (Alexxis Lemire), he has to uncover the truth before it's too late.

This movie has a well-executed tone. The story is chaotic and dangerous, and is complemented by darkness and dusky colors. The setting for most of Cerebrum takes place in a dark and messy lab. This creates tension and gives the movie an eerie feel. Along with the settings, the characters' wardrobe also matches the film's tone. Tom always wears dark colors that match his character's personality and the film's plot. The background music, arranged by Edward Antonio, enhances the sense of conflict. For instance, in one scene where Tom and Andy (Anirudh Pisharody) are fighting outside, the music keeps building and building until the end of their fight. It emphasizes what is going on, which makes the scene more memorable. Although Cerebrum intends to highlight the process of sharing memories between people, the parts of the storyline where people actually exchange minds is somewhat confusing. Even if you are paying close attention, if you miss one thing, you could be thrown off entirely. Despite this, the film kept me interested until the end.

The message of Cerebrum is that the truth will always come out. Even though many people accuse Tom of committing the crime, he still perseveres to uncover what really happened and eventually, others learned the truth as well. There is some profanity, so a parent should be aware of that.

Cerebrum is a captivating film, especially for fans of science fiction. It's definitely unlike anything I've ever seen before. I rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. Cerebrum releases to VOD May 4, 2021. Make sure you check it out!

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
CRAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

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CRAPPY MOTHER'S DAY - UNCORK'D ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Three generations of women come together on Mother's Day. Things don't go as planned.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Crappy Mother's Day is sure to get some laughs out of you and it comes out just in time for Mother's Day.

If you think your family is crazy, think again. When three generations of women, Sarah (Kristen Krak), Totie (Jackie Debatin) and Grandma (Vivien Landau) attempt to celebrate Mother's Day, things go from bad to worse - immediately. From a senile grandmother to whacky uncles to a grandpa who is buried in the backyard, keeping the family together for a single day proves a difficult task, especially when Sarah brings her fianc� into the mix. You don't need to be a master chef to figure out that this is a recipe for a really "Crappy Mother's Day."

Director Dan Karlok lets go of the reins and allows slap stick comedy to insert itself at every turn of the movie. Though the comedy is hilarious, some of the scenes are a bit longer than needed and a bit random. The acting is wonderful, making this family look absolutely wacky and wild. None of the relationships seem normal. Kristen Krak, as Sarah, really appears to be the only normal person in the family. Addison Anderson, as James, plays a very fun character that breaks out of his shell as the movie develops. Bill Rutkoski, the crazed fianc� of Totie, is very believable. I certainly wouldn't want him for a stepdad. Vivien Landau plays the perfect mean, old grandma. John Rutkoski and Mike Rutkoski, as Uncle Lenny and Uncle Donny respectively, nail the Planet of the Apes-obsessed uncles. My favorite characters are Grandma and Aunt Sonny (Marie Lenzie) because they are the most entertaining. They are always arguing and fighting in humorous ways, like two old, senile bats that love tormenting each other.

The message that is your family is the only family you have and, as crazy as you think they might be, they love you. Also, when getting married, be prepared for your newly expanded family and find something in common, even if it's just Planet of the Apes boxers. There is profanity, some mature topics and heavy drinking.

I give Crappy Mother's Day 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. This film releases on VOD May 4, 2021

Reviewed by Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TRUFFLE HUNTERS, THE

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TRUFFLE HUNTERS, THE - SONY CLASSICAL
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men, seventy or eighty years young, hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle-which to date has resisted all of modern science's efforts at cultivation.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - With all of the chaos in the world, this down-to-earth film, The Truffle Hunters, is perfect to sit down and watch with a bag of popcorn and enjoy. There are dogs, adventure, scandal and more-what's not to like? The Truffle Hunters is a documentary any dog lover will particularly enjoy, as well, since dogs feature prominently in the search for these underground delicacies that mainly grow in woods.

The Truffle Hunters follows four truffle hunters: Carlo Gonella, Sergio Cauda, Aurelio Conterno and Angelo Gagliardi about their work finding truffles along with their dogs. This documentary takes viewers on a journey into the behind-the-scenes process of sniffing out truffles. It is an analytic and emotional exploration of how this indulgent treat is procured. These four truffle hunters are in their older years in life, but still carry an inspirational passion for what they do. Their dogs are no less amazing: Birba, Biri, Charlie, Fiona, Nina and Yari. There are so many elements to this film that make it unique, for example, the cinematography, done by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw. The different camera angles and perspectives allow you to get a bird's eye view from atop a tree of a man and his dog charging on the snowy terrain or you could be seeing from the POV of a dog hunting and sniffing for truffles along with your human. These different perspectives allow audiences to really embody some of the characters.

The Truffle Hunters was really fascinating to me, because I had no idea what truffles taste like, but after watching this documentary I can't help but imagine. Before the truffle ends up in a wealthy person's mouth, we are shown what happens along the way: the unbreakable bond between hunter and dog; the questionable transactions between hunter and seller; the selling itself, and oh-so-much sniffing by wealthy people looking for an expensive treat. My favorite part of The Truffle Hunters is with Carlo, and his loyal dog Titana. Every scene with them in it is sure to pull on your heartstrings.

Perhaps "enjoy the finer and simpler things in life" is what everyone will take away from The Truffle Hunters. Or maybe the message is, "sometimes it is good to stop and smell...the truffles." This documentary does contain some description of mild violence, smoking and drinking.

I give The Truffle Hunters 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Reviewed by Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
RK/RKAY

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RK/RKAY - 101 STUDIOS
Series: FEATURES, AGES 15-18
Description - RK is a filmmaker, making a new film, in which he also plays the lead character of Mahboob. Its a quaint film, like a tribute to the cinema of the sixties. People close to him are not really sure why RK wants to make this film.. Edit begins and RK has a sinking feeling that this film is not going to come together, that this time he has really screwed up. His nightmares warn him of an impending disaster. Sure enough, one afternoon RK gets a call from the edit room- something terrible has happened. Mahboob has run away, run out of the film. Nobody can really understand why would he leave, where would he go. But he is not there anymore in the rushes- missing from the film negative as well. The fact is Mahboob was running away from his killers, and somehow he left the film and arrived in our world. RK finds him, brings him home- but Mahboob has no idea where he is from, or that he is any different from people around him. Slowly, he is told. They must convince him to go back to the film, so that RK can finish his film.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A mind-bending film, RK/RKAY is a multi-layered film, shot and edited with care for small details. You'll be tuned in, trying to figure out where the plot will go next, throughout the duration of the film.

The storyline follows filmmaker RK (Rajat Kapoor) who is in the process of directing and starring in his film. He plays the lead character of Mahboob. The film opens with a nostalgic vignette for 1960s Bollywood films - the clamor on set, a high-maintenance actress as the female lead Gulabo (Mallika Sherawat) and a slight sepia tone. Everything seems to be going just fine when the editing for the film begins, but RK gets a call from the editing room. Mahboob has run out of the film and has somehow entered the real world, fleeing from the film's cartoonish killers when RK finds him and brings him home to sort things out. RK must convince Mahboob to go back into the world of the film, as that is where he belongs.

RK/RKAY is a crowd-funded film, but you cannot tell from the incredible production quality. Director Rajat Kapoor is an experienced short and feature length film director and his expertise, even with a low budget, is evident. I am blown away by the cinematography, script and overall production quality. The film-within-a-film premise requires clear dialogue to avoid confusion, and RK/RKAY delivers. Even though it is a Hindi film, the subtitles are clear and you can easily follow what's happening. I also love the cinematography; the film makes amazing use of light and shadows as well as colors. The film that RK is producing has a bit of a sepia or golden tint to it, as does Mahboob when he enters the real world. Depending on their mood, characters may be placed halfway, completely, or not at all in the shadow. Though the film tends to drag a bit in the second half, the whole production effort is impressive enough that one gets pulled back into the film.

RK/RKAY promotes messages of finding yourself, being dedicated to your projects, and staying true to love.

I give RK/RKAY 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15-18, plus adults. RK/RKAY premieres in the US and Canada on May 14, 2021, in theatres and virtually.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 15-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SECRETS OF THE WHALES

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SECRETS OF THE WHALES - DISNEY+
Series: DOCUMENTATY, AGES 8-18
Description - Filmed across 24 locations over three years, this saga ventures into the world of whales to reveal life and love from their perspective and explores the cultures of orcas, belugas, narwhals, sperm whales, and humpback whales.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Have you ever been told that our oceans are very mysterious and that they hold many secrets that are likely to be hidden forever? Well, that's certainly true - our oceans are indeed mysterious and some of the most amazing secrets hidden deep within our oceans have recently been discovered and are ready to be shared with the world in a new National Geographic four-part documentary series. Secrets of the Whales spotlights four species of whales and uncovers their secrets and stories of survival with "first time" evidence and never-before-seen coverage. This series is epic and one you are going to want to witness!

Secrets of the Whales brings alive the visions of both Academy Award winning filmmaker and conservationist James Cameron and acclaimed National Geographic Explorer and Photographer Brian Skerry as they share their knowledge and research finding of some of the most intelligent giants living on our planet. Filmed across three years and in 24 locations, this documentary series, narrated by award-winning actress Sigourney Weaver, takes viewers on an amazing journey into the lives of orcas, humpbacks, belugas, and sperm whales. From Cameron and Skerry's work we gain such an expansive understanding and appreciation of whale family dynamics, social bonds, communication and tradition. It's the "secrets these mammals share which help them prevail."

This series has me completely captivated throughout all four episodes. Seeing the variety of marine life within their natural habitat is just jaw-dropping. With such stunning photography and action-packed video footage, the cinematography in Secret of the Whales is the best I've ever seen. As each scene is presented to viewers, you get a sense of being right there and consumed within each moment. To pick a favorite episode within this series would be impossible, since each episode is so unique with new secrets of the whales being unveiled to viewers.

The common message within all four episodes of Secrets of the Whales is centered around culture. These whale families must work together in a sophisticated manner if they are going to survive and be successful as a species. Whales are highly evolved creatures that have the complexity of family bonds, language, feeding patterns, emotions and interesting secrets. It is critical that these traditions be taught to offspring and passed down throughout the generations.

I give Secrets of the Whales 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults, especially those interested in marine ecology and conservation will certainly appreciate these films as well. Secrets of the Whales will begin streaming on Earth Day April 22, 2021 on Disney+. What a great way to celebrate Earth Day. Don't miss this series!

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

If someone came up to you and asked whether you liked reading facts or fiction, chances are you'd probably say fiction. And I can relate. Let's face it, the real world can be boring, but Secrets of the Whales definitely is not. Its pictures and views are absolutely outstanding; it has pretty unknown facts; and, best of all, it hooks you in! Kudos to the creators of Secrets of the Whales for making it something I can't stop watching.

This show is a classic documentary series that gives an inside look into the lives of whales. From raising their young, to getting them food, to teaching them to swim and where they live, Secrets of the Whales is an in-depth show that doesn't miss a fact.

The show is amazingly entertaining; it's like a dramatic show, but with a little less drama and featuring whales instead of humans. We learn that whales feel emotions and grieve as well. Drama like this is definitely a factor that got me hooked into the show. One thing I need to call attention to is the images and cinematography. National Geographic Explorer and Photographer, Brian Skerry brings expansive knowledge and research to the film. Cinematographer Brian Armstrong's images are clear and relevant, always providing a highly appreciable visual match to the story. Narrator Sigourney Weaver also has a clear voice and talks slowly as well as loudly, so we can hear her and understand her well.

When I watched this show, I definitely learned a lot about the lives of whales. They are a lot smarter than we think. This was a very educational experience. It is definitely a family-friendly show.

I recommend Secrets of the Whales for ages 6 to 18, plus adults and give it x out of 5 stars. Secrets of The Whales is produced by National Geographic and releases on Disney+ on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. Be sure to check it out.

By Apruva S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ARLO THE ALLIGATOR BOY - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Arlo the Alligator Boy is an American 2D animated adventure musical film by Ryan Crego in his directorial debut. Arlo is a young humanoid alligator that travels to the big city in hopes of reuniting with his estranged father and meets a colorful cast of characters along the way.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Arlo the Alligator Boy is a new movie that grabs your attention with fun characters and catchy songs. Talented actors and singers, combined with great writing make this a movie you don't want to miss!

The storyline is about a half-boy/half-alligator named Arlo (Michael J. Woodard), who was abandoned as a baby. He is raised by a woman named Edmee (Annie Potts) that protects him from the world and gives him everything he needs. But as Arlo gets older, he yearns to find his family, and figure out who he really is. So, Arlo sets out on a journey to find his father in the Big Apple (New York City) and meets Bertie (Mary Lambert) and some new friends that help him along the way.

My favorite element of this film is the music. The casting team, led by Ruth Lambert and Robert McGee put together a wonderful cast. I can't tell if they cast good actors that could sing, or good singers that could act, because they are equally talented in both. My favorite song is "Better Life" performed by Ansel (Vincent Rodriguez III). It's upbeat and there are some high notes that make it memorable, really setting it apart from the other songs. All of the characters are very different, each with its own special qualities. The animation has subtle and unsubtle parts for each character. My favorite character is Marcell whose random outbursts and fragmented statements are hilarious and relatable. If I was in the same situations he was in, I would probably respond in similar ways. The voice actors really surprised me with how terrific their performances are. They made this a movie something I would definitely watch more than once.

The message of Arlo the Alligator Boy is that it's okay to let go of whatever is holding you back, and sometimes letting go is the best thing for you. Arlo has to let go of Edmee if he wants to find his dad; and Bertie has to let go of her unfortunate past if she wants to embrace a new, better version of herself. There is some mild violence, but it contributes to the comedic aspects of the film.

Arlo the Alligator Boy is a great movie! I rate it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. Adults will also enjoy watching this with their kids, as it's a great family film. Arlo the Alligator Boy comes out on April 16, 2021 on Netflix worldwide. Check this new movie out, you're in for a treat.

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13


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


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
YEAR EARTH CHANGED, THE

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YEAR EARTH CHANGED, THE - APPLE TV
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 718
Description - Narrated by David Attenborough, never-before-seen footage shows how our living in lockdown opened the door for nature to bounce back and thrive. Across the seas, skies, and lands, Earth found its rhythm when we came to a stop.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Perfectly timed for Earth Day, The Year Earth Changed is a mesmerizing portrait of the natural world in a year of lockdowns and quarantine. It's a must-watch for nature lovers, and even if you aren't a nature lover, you'll love the cinematography!

Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, The Year Earth Changed is a documentary featuring exclusive footage from five continents that shows you a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic - the planet was given a much-needed break! The BBC Natural History Unit compiled film from Jalandhar, India of the Himalayas on the horizon, of clear skies in polluted places like Los Angeles and China, of birdsongs in San Francisco, of whales in Glacier Bay and of hippos walking to the gas station in South Africa, among many others. The crew even got the chance to film a leopard, which adapted from its nocturnal routines to hunting in the daylight, within feet of their camera.

The Year Earth Changed is a beautifully constructed film, and the care taken in creating it and obtaining accurate facts is evident. There's little I can mention that would detract from the glory of elephants and humans living side-by-side, of Japanese deer running across the city to their old grazing patch, and of capybara finding new pastures in the homes of Argentina's suburban families. This is simply an amazing family watch.

The Year Earth Changed puts forth perhaps the most convincing argument that the pandemic has actually had an upside to it, showing real evidence of natural change and organisms thriving in their habitats, unbothered by humans. The message of the 48-minute film is to respect nature and recognize that after this pandemic, we need to do all we can to be kinder to the Earth.

I give The Year Earth Changed 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids age 7 to 18, plus adults. You can watch it now on Apple TV+!

Reviewed by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST!

Over the past year, humans across the globe have had to adapt while taking a pause due to the pandemic lockdown. Interestingly so, while our lives were a bit on hold, something very interesting and exciting has happened right under our noses. The absence of humans in a variety of ecosystems around the world has had a profound effect on the natural world. The Year Earth Changed is a compelling new, one-hour documentary that takes us on a journey to over 30 cities across five continents, detailing nature's response to the global pandemic. The film highlights for viewers that this global experiment is our "call to action" in making positive change for Mother Nature.

The Year Earth Changed is a magnificent documentary emphasizing the immediate need for reducing man's footprint on the natural world. The film shows us firsthand how we are able to transform the health of the planet by making adaptations in the way we live our lives. David Attenborough, narrator of the film, explains how striking changes on and below the surface of the earth, as well as within the atmosphere, can take place when humans allow more of a balance between them and nature. One year's worth of amazing research for this documentary displays how simple things such as the reduction of travel, crowds at beaches, and people within cities can improve our fragile ecosystems. The Year Earth Changed is a timely film and critical for us all to see!

This film is so uplifting and has a great deal to rave about. The beautiful photography, drone shots and elusive video footage are incredibly captivating. The flourishing habitats that are captured in this documentary certainly give us something to smile about. Executive producer Alice Keens-Soper and director Tom Beard have given the world something very special - a new appreciation for what humans can do to help preserve our global ecosystems. Every example we are presented with in The Year Earth Changed is inspiring and heartfelt. I can only hope that this story of change can be globally presented for all to witness.

The message in The Year Earth Changed is simple - man and nature must find a balance. If we are to share our planet with the variety of species that occupy it, we must live harmoniously. Modest changes in the way we live are vital for the future of our natural world. The speed at which nature is disappearing is alarming and, if we are unable to coexist, species will be lost forever. The Year Earth Changed is a "wake up call," and it's critical that its message be shared.

I give The Year Earth Changed 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. Adults would also love this documentary. The Year Earth Changed begins streaming on April 16, 2021 on Apple TV+. A great way to celebrate Earth Day is to encourage everyone to watch this film!

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 7-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
DREAMBUILDERS

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DREAMBUILDERS
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DREAMBUILDERS - SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: FEATURE, AGES 7-13
Description - Minna's life is turned upside down when her dad's new fianc�e Helena and her daughter Jenny move in. Her new stepsister Jenny turns out to be horrible and Minna is frustrated. She wants her gone! One night, Minna discovers a world behind her dreams in which the dreambuilders create our dreams on theater stages and finds out how to manipulate Jenny's dreams. But interfering with people's dreams has dire consequences and when Minna goes too far one night, Jenny can't wake up. Minna must enter the dream world one final time to face the dreams she has created in order to save Jenny and her new family.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The film Dreambuilders is a very creative movie. It is very whimsical and bright and takes you on a fun adventure behind the scenes of our dreams!

The plot of this film takes in the concept of modern family issues. When Minna's ( Robyn Dempsey) life is turned upside down upon the arrival of her new stepmom Helene (Karen Ardiff) and mean daughter Jenny (Emma Jenkins). Minna is able to find the backstage to her dreams and tries to sabotage Jenny's dreams to stop her from ruining her life. When a dream creation goes wrong, Minna finds herself and her dream worker friend Gaff (Luke Griffin) helping to bring back Jenny.

Throughout the animated movie each scene is colorful and bright. The set designs are so whimsical and creative. I love each design and the idea of our dreams. The dreams are created for each person with actors, sets and scripts. There is a whole new world behind the backstage of dreams. The ideas are super fun. My favorite part of the movie is when Minna finds this hidden world. Each character is very unique and has a certain style that makes them different. The storyline is also quite sad because it addresses family issues. The hardship between the two families eventually wears off until they all learn to love each other. There is beautiful background music playing throughout the film. The songs all have a story behind them relating back to the scenes in the movie. The movie did become a bit predictable at times, but it is still original, entertaining and worth watching.

The message is to be careful what you wish for. Minna wants a specific life with just her dad. When others show up, she is unsure and does not take into account the sadness and harm she would bring to her family by messing with others' dreams. You should know that this film includes a sensitive topic of families like divorce, fighting and new family members. There are also some frightening and intense scenes.

I give Dreambuilders 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 13. Reviewed by Avery P., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Dreambuilders is a unique movie because it uses something that we have in real life and dreams. It gives us a unique twist on how dreams are created. The movie is really imaginative when it shows how dreams are created and the design of the dream-stage. The story line is about step-sisters and family, which is very common, but the use of dreams is something that makes it different from other family-focused animated movies. A plus is that Dreambuilders has some great animated aspects. There is lots of vivid color and imagery, which gives you something to look at when the storyline is lulling.

The story revolves around Minna's (Robyn Dempsey) dad, John (Tom Hale), getting a new love interest, Helene (Karen Ardiff). When Helene and her daughter, Jenny (Emma Jenkins) move in with Minna and her dad, Minna has to share her room with her. What's worse is that Jenny doesn't like Minna's hamster and she wants the hamster out of the house! As all of this is going on, Minna discovers she has a special gift and she tries to use her gift to get what she wants, but things don't go as planned.

The actors, for the most part, pull off their characters really well. However, every time Minna cries it sounds fake and she has no tears. It's hard to believe the emotion here when we don't see it on the screen. This isn't enough to distract from the great animated aspects, which are mostly believable and true to what we expect from the characters. My favorite character is Minna because she is the most developed. For example, when we learn more about her relationship with her hamster and how they have bonded we see how important it is to her and why. Although this is animated, the characters look very realistic, not overly cartoony. When I imagine the characters, the animation matches what I imagined. My favorite part is seeing the roller coasters and being introduced to Gaff (Luke Griffin), an alien dreambuilder, who explains dreambuilding and dreamscapes to Minna. Being a kid, things like roller coasters and colorful aliens serve their purpose of keeping my attention.

I think the message here is to be careful of your actions because they can cause unwanted consequences. The more extreme your actions, then the more extreme the consequences can be. Another message is that it is easy to be selfish and to think only of yourself. It takes effort to think about others. This movie can help people think about their actions before doing something. Minna could have found a way to talk to Jenny before messing with her dreams. However, since Dreambuilders is a fantasy, there's little risk of kids imitating the behaviors seen in the film.

I give Dreambuilders 2.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 13, plus adults.

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

Dreambuilders is a creative comedic animated family film. This film is a funny, thought-provoking film with a humorous theme. This film talks about dreams and family tension and how to deal with them.

Directed by Kim Hagen Jensen and Tonni Zinck this film centers on Minna (Robyn Dempsey), a young girl who has the ability to create and control other people's dreams. However, she missuses her gift to teach her bother and stepsister a lesson.

The story is great to watch, but there isn't a great deal to think about. The merging of live action and animation elements is where this film shines the most. The characters are charming and their interactions are well executed such as when Minna enters the dream world one final time to face the dreams she has created in order to save Jenny and her new family. It has a good plot with outstanding background music that compliments the film. My favorite actor is Robyn Dempsey who voices Minna. I enjoyed her charismatic and humorous characterization of Minna and her accent. One scene that I particularly like is when Gaff (Luke Griffin) helps Minna even though it is a close call with his boss. I dislike when Jenny (Emma Jenkins) looks at something of Minna's that she wasn't supposed to look and then gets angry at her.

The message is that, even though you assume you don't like somebody, in your heart you always will. This film promotes positive behavior and family-friendly.

I give Dreambuilders 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults.

By Rosabella P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

I absolutely love Dreambuilders! It has such a captivating story line. It also mentions a lot of things that happen in everyday life that some people can relate to.

Dreambuilders is an animated film about Minna (Robyn Dempsey) and the dreamworld. Minna isn't too happy when her dad's (Tom Hale) new fiance (Karen Ardiff) and her daughter, Jenny (Emma Jenkins), move in with them. Minna accidentally discovers a world behind her dreams created by dreambuilders. Once she sees how these dreambuilders control dreams, she decides to manipulate Jenny's dreams, until she realizes she takes things too far.

Minna is smart, adventurous, and brave. Throughout the film, Minna shows these traits by continuously outsmarting the dreamworld. Jenny is snobby, rude, and spoiled, although she does have character development. The interactions between Minna and Jenny are entertaining as they don't seem to be too fond of each other. They are practically opposites. But you know what they say, opposites attract. John, Minna's dad, is a loving and patient character. He shows his love for his family many times, and is patient even when his situation isn't always the best. The voice acting is excellent. It portrays the different emotions well. The creativity in the animation and graphics are insane! It's definitely a key factor in keeping the audience entertained throughout the film. The setting takes place primarily in Minna's cozy countryside home, and the colorful dreamworld.

The message of this film is that taking things for granted can lead to consequences.

I give Dreambuilders 5 of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 8 to 18.

By Taia P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 7-13 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
DOZER'S PET DIESEL
DOZER'S PET DIESEL - UNITED NATURES MEDIA
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - During production of a documentary about dogs a secret is uncovered that puts humans back in their place, with nature.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The "dogumentary" Dozers Pet Diesel is captivating, especially for dog fans and owners. It explores the behavior of the man's best friend and reveals information that is beyond interesting, including a twist about the canine underworld, aliens and the X-files.

This documentary interviews dog owners and gives inside information about military dogs and why they do typical doggy stuff. You may learn facts that you may not have known before and you can pass them on to your family and friends.

The content is entertaining and very factual. It zooms in on dogs, which is fun, and shows dogs and their owners in different circumstances and places. It shows dogs rafting down a river, dogs in a Buddhist monastery, dogs in quarantine and dogs lying at their humans' feet. One person who talks about how he and his dog worked for the CIA and how the CIA used dogs as undercover agents to send secret messages going back to 1970 under the code name Caninenet. This film was shot in Warburton, Australia. The locations are varied from beautiful outdoor environments filled with beautiful trees, creeks and forests to indoors or on someone's lawn. We see lots of regular people and their dogs. The camera work is mostly quite good although it is a bit fuzzy at times. The audio quality is also quite good, even in challenging conditions. I really like that it talks about all different types of dogs and what makes them similar or different. I particularly like the close-ups on the dogs, but the CIA part is definitely intriguing.

The message is that dogs really are man's best friend, with a few mysteries. You should be aware that this is some mild profanity and some partial nudity (a man on a toilet). There is also mention of a small dog that got eaten alive by an eel. Plus, there are some statues that have revealing clothing on.

I give Dozers Pet Diesel 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It is a great film for the whole family! Reviewed by Ava H. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The "dogumentary" Dozers Pet Diesel is captivating, especially for dog fans and owners. It explores the behavior of the man's best friend and reveals information that is beyond interesting, including a twist about the canine underworld, aliens and the X-files.

This documentary interviews dog owners and gives inside information about military dogs and why they do typical doggy stuff. You may learn facts that you may not have known before and you can pass them on to your family and friends.

The content is entertaining and very factual. It zooms in on dogs, which is fun, and shows dogs and their owners in different circumstances and places. It shows dogs rafting down a river, dogs in a Buddhist monastery, dogs in quarantine and dogs lying at their humans' feet. One person who talks about how he and his dog worked for the CIA and how the CIA used dogs as undercover agents to send secret messages going back to 1970 under the code name Caninenet. This film was shot in Warburton, Australia. The locations are varied from beautiful outdoor environments filled with beautiful trees, creeks and forests to indoors or on someone's lawn. We see lots of regular people and their dogs. The camera work is mostly quite good although it is a bit fuzzy at times. The audio quality is also quite good, even in challenging conditions. I really like that it talks about all different types of dogs and what makes them similar or different. I particularly like the close-ups on the dogs, but the CIA part is definitely intriguing.

The message is that dogs really are man's best friend, with a few mysteries. You should be aware that this is some mild profanity and some partial nudity (a man on a toilet). There is also mention of a small dog that got eaten alive by an eel. Plus, there are some statues that have revealing clothing on.

I give Dozers Pet Diesel 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It is a great film for the whole family! Reviewed by Ava H. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
SAVING THE EARTH1 - DEVIL REBIRTH
SAVING THE EARTH1 - DEVIL REBIRTH - SONGKAI LI
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - This film tells the story of the rebirth of the Dark Lord due to human desire and greed, which plunges the entire Fantasy Land into an unprecedented crisis. The human female hero Dina became the guardian chosen by the Bright Sword. The Bright Goddess united the human brave, the elven family and the animal tribe through three Bright Gems symbolizing "wisdom", "courage" and "kindness". The story of resisting the invasion of darkness and regaining the light of the continent.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Saving the Earth1 - Devil Rebirth is a Chinese film based around the birth of a Dark Lord. The setting is a mystical realm where elves, humans and animals exist. The film follows the path of Dina who obtained the Bright Sword which is meant to rival the Dark Lord.

Saving the Earth1 - Devil Rebirth focuses on the human Dina who accidently stumbled upon the Bright Sword - a mystical sword with unfathomable power. Dina comes to know that the Dark Lord, a powerful evil force, has been reborn and seeks to take over the world. Dina receives the advice of an elder on how to defeat the Dark Lord by means of collecting three Bright Gems that bring out the true power of the sword. However, the three gems are separated between the elves, the animals and the humans that all despise each other. The story follows Dian's path as she collects the gems and meets new friends along the way.

This is a film designed for a school-aged audience. The story is entertaining and, even though it happens it rather quickly, it is fun to see how three species that hate each other are forced to work together for the betterment of their continent. However, the audio has some issues. On many occasions, the sounds do resemble the actions closely enough. There are incongruities with the audio when some characters speak.

The entire cast is made up of children, which allows the child viewer the film to put themselves into the scenario. There are also a handful of quirky jokes that children will find funny. For instance, in Dina's first fight she cuts the pants off of her attacker to reveal his "unmanly" underwear. The story flows pretty well. There are a few plot holes, but nothing significant that detracts from the overall storyline. The character development is pretty good. Each main character develops enough that the audience understands their purpose and why they make the choices that they do. The film's original language is Chinese and some phrases get lost in translating to English subtitles. Sometimes they do not make grammatical sense, but they make enough sense that you can figure out what is happening. With regards to vocabulary, the film has simple word choices with the exception of the use of "presumptuous."

The production quality is quite good and the film excels at catching the beauty of nature. However, some scenes are subpar, particularly when editing is required as it is blatantly obvious that an edit was made. For example, in the final battle when the Dark Lord arrives, he is floats into the scene and it is clear that he has been edited into that scene. The costumes are another place with inconsistences. The elves wear rather nice costumes that resemble elves from other films and the humans have rather nice armor. Then, with the animals, some of the costumes consist of the carcass of a dead animal, which is not rally suitable for younger audiences, and others are face paint or animal onesies. With a rather easy plot to follow, the film pieces itself together. If you can overlook the audio mistakes and problematic editing, then the film is rather entertaining for younger audiences.

The film teaches some good lessons of cooperation and acceptance. The three Bright Gems symbolize wisdom, courage and kindness - all traits that are essential in everyday life. Also, the story surrounds three subgroups that despise each other and they learn to work together and appreciate each other. These lessons are important, not only for the plot of the film but for children to learn. The film encourages you to use your wisdom, courage and kindness in everyday life. There are some questionable scenes parents should be aware of. First are the animals wearing "dead carcasses" as their costumes. However, the carcass costumes are clearly made of plastic and the characters don't acknowledge that their costume is a dead animal. There is also a scene where a boy hits a girl so hard that it looks like she coughs up blood, but the fluid that comes out of her is barely visible.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 15. Reviewed by Ray R. and team.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Saving the Earth1 - Devil Rebirth is appealing because of the unique storyline and special effects. This is a plot that I have never seen before, and I was left wondering what could possibly happen next. The special effects contribute to the storyline, shocking me every time.

The story line is all about a young girl named Dina, who is chosen by the Bright Sword to be its owner. Since she is chosen by the Bright Sword, this means that she must defend the animal tribe, the elves, and the humans against the Dark Lord. But before she is able to utilize the Bright Sword to its full capacity, she must find all of the Bright Gems.

I love how unpredictable the story line is. I truly haven't seen a storyline quite like this one, so it intrigued me. I was very impressed by the cinematography of this film. You can tell that this is a high quality production. Although there are some scenes, like the opening of the film where the audio doesn't match the visuals, that aren't as well edited; but there are more scenes such as the slow motion shots that are made with high quality. The costumes are all very unique and well thought out. They suit the story line and the time period. The costumes are very detailed and high quality. The sets and locations are quite beautiful. Most of them are outdoors, in a forest. I love that the sets fit the storyline seamlessly and contribute to the authenticity of the film. The background music is a major part in setting the mood for the various scenes. The sound effects paired with the visual effects add to the realistic look of the film. The music drives the action in the film by building up the tension and creating suspense. The visual effects aren't the best, but they contribute significantly to the film. The special effects are essential to the plot of the story and add to the experience of watching the film.

The actors in this film are amazing. The majority of the talent are children, and they are surprisingly all amazingly competent actors, singers and dancers. I was very impressed with all of the actors in the film. I learned a little bit of Chinese from watching this film, just by hearing some words repeated. The dialogue is in Chinese with English subtitles. My favorite part of the film is whenever Dina is able to show that she is worthy of the Bright Sword.

The message of this film is about unity and peace. The different groups, who were former enemies, need to work together in order to defeat evil. You should know that it shows kids doing risk y things that kids might imitate. There is a lot of fighting in the film as well as the use of weapons.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It is a family friendly film that would entertain both children and parents. I believe that this is a film almost anybody would enjoy watching. Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
GODZILLA VS. KONG

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GODZILLA VS. KONG - WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Legends collide as Godzilla and Kong, the two most powerful forces of nature, clash on the big screen in a spectacular battle for the ages. As a squadron embarks on a perilous mission into fantastic uncharted terrain, unearthing clues to the Titans' very origins and mankind's survival, a conspiracy threatens to wipe the creatures, both good and bad, from the face of the earth forever.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like Godzilla vs. Kong and rate it as the best action movie of 2021 so far. It keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat. I really like the amazing graphics and the computer generated image effects.

This movie is about two strong titans who won't back down from their throne. It happens that Godzilla's and Kong's ancestors were enemies centuries ago. While Kong is captive in a semi-artificial environment dome, Godzilla comes out of the ocean and walks in the city destroying everything that crosses his path. This is not the heroic Godzilla we watched from his last movie. No one understands why Godzilla is so angry. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), who takes care of Kong and Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) helps Kong find a safe place to live, which is the core of the Earth. While Kong is being transported on a huge ship, Godzilla senses Kong in the ocean. That's when the first extraordinary and intense battle of these two titans begins.

This film has amazing CGI. Godzilla's rough skin and red eyes make it look like he is real. Kong looks like an actual gigantic ape. You can sense his soul in his eyes. He surprises the audience by having a special bond with an orphan named Jia (Kaylee Hottle), the only person able to communicate with him. The sound effects are amazing. The cast are all outstanding including a more mature Millie Bobby Brown who plays Madison Russell and a funny Julian Dennison who plays Maddie's friend Josh.

The moral of this movie is that greed and excessive pride lead to an unnecessary rivalry situation. We need to leave the past in the past and start fresh. Unity is the key in this film.

I give Godzilla vs. Kong 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Godzilla vs. Kong opens March 31, 2021 on HBO Max and in theatres.

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

Godzilla Vs. Kong pits two cinematic titans against each other in a fight for the ages but one that relegates its undercooked human characters to the sidelines, as it should, in favor of spectacular clashes, monster to monster, in all their big-budget glory.

Following the events of 2017's Kong: Skull Island and 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Godzilla has become the alpha to the similarly-powered titans roaming the earth. Meanwhile, Kong has left his island home with one of its natives, a little girl named Jia (Newcomer Kaylee Hottle), as he is monitored and researched by a team of specialists trying to keep him from Godzilla's grasp. Well, you read that title, so you know that's not happening, and indeed it doesn't! Godzilla begins attacking after years of stability between humanity and skyscraper-sized creatures. Kong's greatest champion among the researchers, Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), is approached by an old colleague (Alexander Skarsg�rd) and is convinced to take Kong to an underground world called Hollow Earth. Hopefully, in this habitat he can thrive and find more of his kind, free of the threat of Godzilla and others like him. It's not before long on this journey that Godzilla senses his primate competitor and arrives to dispatch Kong.

There've been several Kong/Godzilla solo efforts in recent years in the lead-up to this face-off, and somehow it is all worth it. Although there are flaws--the two main plotlines feel disconnected and previous story developments abandoned--they don't compare to the immense joy it is to watch these titans go at it. That would be enough: a mildly enjoyable large-scale romp, the cinematic equivalent of smashing two well-loved action figures together. However, Adam Wingard's direction elevates the action sequences. Consistently satisfying and, better yet, consistently surprising--watching Kong leap from building to building, dodging Godzilla's atomic breath, or Godzilla getting Kong's ax launched at him doesn't grow stale.

Godzilla Vs. Kong humanizes Kong as someone who's lost his family and now the home he protected. I didn't expect to feel emotionally attached to a 400-foot ape, but there you go. Whether you're team Godzilla or team Kong, I have no doubt, you'll find some enjoyment in the shenanigans they unleash. I was entertained--and if this matchup means anything to you, I think you will be too!

I give Godzilla Vs. Kong 3 out of 5 stars and an age rating of 12 to 18 for mass--and I mean, mass--destruction, some mild language, and the injuries each of the titular creatures sustain. Godzilla Vs. Kong is out March 31, 2021, simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max.

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
GIRL WHO BELIEVES IN MIRACLES

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GIRL WHO BELIEVES IN MIRACLES - ATLAS ENTERPRISES INC.
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Unlike most people, young Sara Hopkins is willing to take God at His word. So when she hears a preacher say faith can move mountains, she starts praying. What begins with a mysteriously healed bird leads to people suddenly cured of their misery and misfortune all over town. But the overwhelming crush of notoriety and press attention soon takes its toll on Sara. Will her family be able to save their miracle girl before it's too late?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth commens
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Girl Who Believes In Miracles is a lukewarm Christian movie with a weak storyline. The few heartwarming scenes aren't quite enough to keep this film afloat. With a strong performance by the ensemble's youngest actress, the movie does not have enough storytelling to deliver a wholly satisfying movie experience.

The Girl Who Believes In Miracles centers around a little girl named Sarah (Austyn Johnson) who has seen God and can grant miracles. She helps cancer patients, and even blind and paralyzed teens. All the while, Sarah's fame increases, with people knocking on her door to grant miracles. Sarah's health declines, too, but she keeps up her faith.

The movie makes it clear from the beginning that Jesus is praised, and that this is not a modern version of the Messiah's story. It is unclear, though, why Sarah holds this power to grant miracles as she has done nothing significant except have faith. The Girl Who Believes In Miracles is confusing in this way and may leave the audience wondering, "Can anyone be a Messiah?" However, the actors deliver empowering performances. In the scenes in which Sarah's health weakens, her suffering is absolutely heartbreaking. Austyn really has the audience pulling for her. Sarah's grandfather, Sam (Peter Coyote), also has a heartfelt monologue in which he talks to God and says he would rather die than Sarah. His love shines through, along with his pain, creating a tear-jerking scene.

The moral of this film is to always let faith guide you. Even as Sarah's health declines, she never loses her faith. She stands by God and understands that everything happens for a reason, unlike her family who try to fight the ticking clock. As a Christian, I did find the film somewhat offensive in its message that anyone with faith can perform miracles.

I give The Girl Who Believes In Miracles 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters April 2, 2021.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FRANCESCO

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FRANCESCO - DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 13-18
Description - Through his work on climate change, immigration, religious tolerance and other issues, the Pope has embodied the meaning of inspired leadership.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Francesco is a wonderful and complex film that showcases one of the world's most famous figures. The audience has a clear visual of Pope Francis's thoughts about modern issues. With exclusive interviews and audio recordings, this documentary is not to be missed.

Francesco is a documentary composed of rare videos, interviews, tweets and audio tape recordings about Pope Francis and his ideas about contemporary problems. The issues addressed are refugee camps in Lesbos, migrants and he also talks about his ideas on homosexual marriage.

There's so much to learn from this film. It really gives insight on how the Pope thinks and how he has changed ideas for the Catholic religion. Giving his opinion on homosexual marriage is a huge statement; he believes they are entitled to have a family like any other person. This shows how he has come to embrace everyone with open arms. Pope Francis stands out from popes before him, which is why this documentary is so important. He isn't just a figurehead; this film shows how relatable he is as well. He is well aware of his impact on the world, such as how he helped the Muslim refugees in Greece. The film shows that Pope Francis doesn't see religion, race or sexual orientation as barriers, he just sees people. I loved seeing so many never before seen videos and recordings in this film. We see the Pope in Lesbos helping out whoever he can, and see how a woman thanks him for his help.

This film shows that not everyone is as they first appear to be. The media often portrays the Pope in a godly manner. In this film we see that he does not think that of himself. He seems to be like any other guy, just doing the work of God. There are no triggers for this film, but mature topics discussed include immigration, religion and homosexual marriage.

I give Francesco 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages (13 to) 18 plus adults. It releases on DVD March 28, 2021.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
A WEEK AWAY

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A WEEK AWAY
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A WEEK AWAY - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Nowhere left to go, Will Hawkins finds himself at camp for the first time. His instinct is to run, but he finds a friend, a father figure and even a girl who awakens his heart. Most of all, he finally finds a home.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A Week Away is a total breath of fresh air! This film is set to be the feel-good teen rom com of the year with hilarious one-liners and catchy tunes. This is definitely a new Netflix knockout.

A Week Away follows juvenile delinquent Will (Kevin Quinn) as he goes to camp Aweegaway as a way to escape juvie. At the camp, he meets Avery (Bailee Madison). Soon, Avery tears down Will's walls and shows him the ropes. The two of them, along with the rest of the campers, breakout in song and dance. The large dance numbers and intimate ballads balance out the storyline perfectly.

The cinematography is absolutely breath-taking. The shots of the early morning at the camp and the gorgeous dancing between Avery and Will at the dock are stunning. The sun shines down on the two as they dance together. The choreography is spectacular. The upbeat dance numbers with large groups make you want to dance with them. The songs are also incredible. After watching this movie, you'll definitely want to add the whole soundtrack to your playlist. Along with this film's spectacular visuals, the performances stand out. The intimate scenes between Avery and Will leave you rooting for these young teens from the lovely garden scene where Avery confesses how she's exhausted of trying to be perfect, to Will's vulnerable moment as he comes to terms with being loved and accepted.

The moral of the film is that your past doesn't define your future. Once the truth about Will's checkered past comes to light, he runs away, believing that Avery would reject him. She, on the contrary, accepts him with open arms. Over the week that the film takes place, Will's character develops dramatically, as he learns to love himself and learns how God and faith guides souls.

I give A Week Away 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It is available on Netflix March 26, 2021.

Reviewed by Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

A Week Away is a teen rom-com musical. It has attractive, lakeside outdoor settings, amazing choreography and solid faith-based messages.

This movie follows a teenage boy named Will (Kevin Quinn) who is a bit of a troublemaker. He takes his actions a bit too far by stealing a police car, and when caught has the choice of going to a juvenile detention center or going to a faith-based camp with one of his foster families. He chooses camp Aweegaway, a place where some of the teens are only a week away from a life-changing experience. While at camp, Will meets Avery (Bailee Madison), who may very well be the catalyst for that change.

At several points during the storyline, A Week Away can be a bit cheesy and predictable, but this is a rom-com musical so it can only go in so many directions - and it's still fun! On the musical front, this movie has an impressive soundtrack. Kudos to the songwriter, Adam Watts, for the original songs in this movie. The choreography is splendid as everyone has a dance during the singing, and it is perfectly in sync with everything else. The setting for this movie is beautiful! The cabins have so much attention to detail; the forest is very realistic; and the lake is gorgeous. Now I want to go to Camp Aweegaway! Kevin Quinn, who plays Will, possibly drew inspiration for this role from his character in Bunk'd, also about a camp. Bailee Madison is so believable as sweet and faithful Avery, who becomes Will's love interest. My favorite character is Avery's dad (Dave Koechner) because he is kind, silly and pretty inspiring. He is such a good dad role model.

The two primary messages for this movie are that nobody's perfect and always keep your faith. There are a couple of examples of bad behavior in the movie, like someone stealing a car and running away from home.

I give A Week Away 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for ages 9 to 18. It comes out on Netflix March 26, 2021.

Reviewed by Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
HERO DOG: THE JOURNEY HOME

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HERO DOG: THE JOURNEY HOME - LIONSGATE FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - Chinook, the Alaskan malamute, must lead a shipwrecked blind man out of the wilderness while the man's children launch a rescue mission of their own.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Hero Dog: The Journey Home is a new family-friendly adventure that will warm your heart. Directed by Richard Boddington, this film is sure to tug at your heartstrings as it follows the journey of a shipwrecked blind man who is courageous enough to attempt to find his way home through rugged terrain led by "man's best friend." This breathtaking journey is filled with a great deal of suspense and will have you sitting on the edge of your seat.

Blind Royce Davis (Steve Byers) and his newly appointed seeing-eye dog Chinook are en route to his sister Susan's (Natasha Henstridge) house deep within the Canadian wilderness. He boards a boat to cross the lake to get there. Royce's sister Susan (Natasha Henstridge) and his two children Erin (Morgan DiPietrantonio) and Max (Zackary Arthur) await his arrival but the boat never arrives. The boat's captain has suffered a heart attack and Royce and Chinook set out to find their way home while Royce's children launch their own mission to find their dad.

It's hard not to enjoy a movie where the lead role is played by "man's best friend." Chinook steals the show with his courage, knowledge and ability to become the eyes for his human. Although Chinook doesn't belong to Royce Davis, this dog knows his role and his instincts are put in place right from the beginning of the film. Chinook surely has the star power in this film. Since I am a huge nature lover, I truly appreciated the cinematography in this film. The landscapes are amazing, especially during the fall months in which the movie is filmed. The nature scenes are spectacular and the wildlife within them are well appreciated. I also enjoyed Max's survival skills and his will to want to put those skills to use in helping to find his dad.

Hero Dog: The Journey Home provides viewers with the strong message about hope and strength. Many people struggle with a variety of disabilities which can be life threatening at times. These challenges can certainly be overcome when you allow hope and strength to lead the way. Of course, Royce Davis has significant help from his furry friend Chinook, but without his will to survive, he may have fallen victim to his disability.

I give Hero Dog: The Journey Home 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18; adults will love it too as this is the perfect family movie. Hero Dog: The Journey Home will be available on Digital, On Demand and DVD March 23, 2021. This is a great film so don't miss it!

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
CHAOS WALKING

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CHAOS WALKING - LIONSGATE FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - In the not-too-distant future, Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) discovers Viola (Daisy Ridley), a mysterious girl who crash lands on his planet, where all the women have disappeared and the men are afflicted by "the Noise" - a force that puts all their thoughts on display. In this dangerous landscape, Viola's life is threatened - and as Todd vows to protect her, he will have to discover his own inner power and unlock the planet's dark secrets. From the director of The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow and based on the best-selling novel The Knife of Never Letting Go, Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland star with Mads Mikkelsen, Demi�n Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, Kurt Sutter, and David Oyelowo in Chaos Walking.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Chaos Walking is an amazing film that demonstrates bravery at every corner, has a very intricate and complex plot, and has subtle but amazing dialogue!

The storyline follows a boy, Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) who is about to become a man. In his world, he has been brought up to believe that all the women have been killed by the Spackle and all the men are affected by "the Noise" - a force that puts all their thoughts on display. One day, Todd stumbles upon a spaceship that crashed into his village, believing there are no survivors. Little does he know there is one survivor - Viola (Daisy Ridley). Seeing that she does not have the Noise, he tries to protect her, but he isn't the only one that discovers her.

One of the best parts of this film is the graphics. From a tree to a mountain, everything looks so vivid and real. Because this story takes place in a dystopian society, the setting is something imagined to be "foggy." The sets are magnificent and provide a background for every scene exceptionally well. As for talent performances, both Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland are marvelous. Tom's brave face really sold me on his character Todd. With Daisy, her charming smile and presence shows how empathetic, sad, happy and a sometimes flirty she is.

This film demonstrates the true meaning of bravery and what one sometimes goes through in order to be called brave. Although this movie is rated PG-13, it really pushes the rating to its limits. There are frequent uses mild profanity, which are used aggressively and often as name-calling. There is also quite some bad behavior, such as killing animals and there are scenes with violent images, of shooting and stabbing, although nothing is too graphic.

I give Chaos Walking 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Chaos Walking premieres digitally March 5, 2021.
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
COURIER, THE

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COURIER, THE - LIONSGATE FILMS
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 14-18
Description - The true story of a British businessman unwittingly recruited into one of the greatest international conflicts in history. Forming an unlikely partnership with a Soviet officer hoping to prevent a nuclear confrontation, the two men work together to provide the crucial intelligence used to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I absolutely love the movie The Courier directed by Dominic Cooke. It focuses on the efforts of the detective, private investigator or amateur sleuth to solve the mysterious circumstances of an issue by means of clues, investigation, and clever deduction. I really enjoyed watching The Courier, and, as my first time watching a true-life spy thriller, I found it very interesting.

The Courier is a true-life spy thriller, the story of an unassuming British businessman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) recruited into one of the greatest international conflicts in history. At the behest of the United Kingdom's MI-6 and a CIA operative (Rachel Brosnahan), Greville forms a covert, dangerous partnership with Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) in an effort to provide crucial intelligence needed to prevent a nuclear confrontation and defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.

This is a slow-burning film about the friendship that then blossoms between these two men as they routinely risk their lives for the greater good. There's an earnest, well-intentioned message about wider political change starting on a smaller scale, too. It's a timely concept, but the underdeveloped bond between Greville and Alex failed to grab me with quite the force that the filmmakers intended, given where the plot takes them and us. Greville Wynne is my favorite character because he is a hero, and a humble one at that. Although the thrills and intrigue of his story aren't that remarkable, it's the time he spends in a Russian prison accused of spying for the West that sets him back. Greville Wayne is perfect for the mission: He's fleet but not flashy, charming but not memorable, and dependable but unremarkable in every way. Benedict Cumberbatch proves yet again he's a star, and Merab Ninidze is equally brilliant at his Russian counterpart. That's not always an easy balance to strike, but it makes The Courier incredibly entertaining while not losing sight of the real people who risked their lives in the Cold War. It's definitely worth checking out, and I can see it catching on with audiences. The production design, costumes and cinematography are on point and very well executed.

This film tells the kind of true story that filmmakers crave, the kind that exists on the periphery of a major historical event, switching its focus to a more human angle. Its closest sibling would be Spielberg's Bridge of Spies. The story at its center is a fascinating one that theatre director Dominic Cooke steers credibly.

I give The Courier 4 out of 5 stars and recommend this thriller movie for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. The Courier will be available on Netflix beginning Friday, March 19, 2021. Save the date!< p>By Josephine M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

The Courier is a historical fiction movie that perfectly captures the events of the threat of a nuclear weapon attack that took place back in the 1960s. While this is based on a real event that happened, the people that worked on this movie used their creative license to their advantage resulting in a riveting film.

The Courier is about a British businessman named Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) who is enlisted to go undercover to get intelligence on a nuclear missile attack that's being plotted against Cuba. Under the leadership of Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan) and Dickie Franks (Angus Wright), he forms an alliance with Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze). Together, they try to stop the planned nuclear weapon attacks.

The Courier is a very unique film that really dives deep into the topic it's discussing, the threat of nuclear attacks on Cuba. It is based on an actual historical event, known as the "Cuban Missile Crisis." When I looked up the historical images of Greville Wynne and Oleg Penkovsky I was surprised that Benedict Cumberbatch and Merab Ninidze look so similar to them. Major props to Alena Garetovskaya, Lucy Amos and the rest of the casting team. Although there are points in the film where I couldn't make out what they were saying, the emotional impact of what is going on is definitely clear. For instance, the scenes towards the end where Greville is in jail and has a conversation with his wife Sheila (Jessie Buckley). Benedict and Jessie both convey their disappointment and tiny ray of hope that both of their characters have. The setting of this film, which is dark and grey, makes the story seem very authentic, because the topic is very dark and dangerous with almost an ominous feel. My favorite part of this film is when Oleg and Greville go see the ballet, Swan Lake. Greville is obviously very moved by the performance to the point that he is crying. The Courier is supposed to be a serious and momentous film and for the most part, it is, but that scene made me laugh.

The message of The Courier is to never stop fighting for what you believe in, no matter who tries to tell you otherwise. Oleg knew that he would be arrested and executed if he got caught learning and transporting information about the attack. Greville knew that leaving Oleg to take all the fault and retribution wasn't the right thing to do. Everyone told them that these weren't good ideas and that they would be in too deep. But did that stop them? No. They decided to do what they knew was right, and take the risk. There are some mature and gory scenes along with suggestive language in this film, which explains its PG-13 rating.

I rate The Courier 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. The Courier is opens in theaters March 19, 2021. If you love learning about history, and love a good thriller, hurry and get your tickets!

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
I'M FINE (THANKS FOR ASKING)

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I'M FINE (THANKS FOR ASKING) - TO BE DETERMINED
Series: FEATURE, AGES 14-18
Description - When a recently widowed mother becomes houseless, she convinces her 8-year-old daughter that they are only camping for fun while working to get them off of the streets.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I'm Fine (Thanks for Asking) is a fantastic film that sheds a new light on the struggles of poverty and the virtues of being a single mother. Director, writer and star of the film, Kelley Kali, creates an excellent, heart-wrenching story that captures the turmoil and strife that people are currently facing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The film features Danny (Kelley Kali), a recently widowed mother who is struggling to make ends meet. She convinces her eight-year-old daughter, Wes (Wesley Moss), that they are camping while they live in a tent. After promising her daughter that they will have a home by the end of the day Danny skates around Los Angeles trying to find different ways to make enough money to secure an apartment.

My favorite part of this movie is the acting. Each character is distinguishable and genuine. The large variety of filming locations stands out as well. It showcases the marginalized communities in Los Angeles, a city that is often associated with glamor and success, which can also be tied back to Danny who tries to constantly make things look better than they truly are. Although Danny makes several poor decisions, it is difficult not to sympathize with her struggles. The direction of this film is especially admirable because of the emotion the directors, Kelley Kali and Angelique Molina, elicit from viewers as they watch Danny go around town pleading for help and toiling to keep her and her daughter's head above water.

This movie addresses issues that are often neglected in overlooked communities. I'm Fine (Thanks for Asking) successfully conveys the gravity of the difficult decisions people encounter when destitute. Although the subject matter is rather dark, the message is still inspiring and thought-provoking. Parents should know there is some mature content such as death, strong language, drug use, violence and blood.

I rate I'm Fine (Thanks for Asking) 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. This film is premiering at the SXSW 2021 Film Festival from March 17, 2021.

Reviewed by Abigail L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

I'm Fine (Thanks for Asking), directed by Kelley Kali and Angelique Molina, is an incredibly enlightening film about hardship. Everything, from the cinematography to the heartfelt dialogue to the acting, is top tier. This film is well made and sheds light on an important topic .

I'm Fine (Thanks for Asking) is about a widowed mother that convinces her daughter they're camping to hide that they're homeless. This movie represents the struggle of many single parents, especially when juggling their financial responsibilities while trying to parent as well.

Right off the bat, I must mention that Kelley Kali's emotionally driven character is so well acted that she honestly steals the show and my heart. By making the mother so likable, the audience can't help but root for her! Also, the cinematography for the ocean scene is just breathtaking; the build-up for it is masterfully scripted so that when we see Kali scream underwater it hits us that much harder. Another thing worth mentioning is that the plot is very realistic - there is no magical element that whisks them away when life gets too tough to deal with.

The message of this film is that, no matter what happens, you have to put one foot in front of the other, because there is light at the end of the tunnel and it's not an option to give up. You should know that there is some profanity and sexual references in the film. So it is best suited for older teens and adults. In telling the story this way, the truthful message we take away sticks with us.

I rate I'm Fine (Thanks for Asking) 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 16 to 18, plus adults. This film premieres at the SXSW Film Festival on March 17, 2021, so catch it there.

By Joshitha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 14-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
STRAY

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STRAY - MAGNOLIA PICTURES
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Stray explores what it means to live as a being without status or security, following three strays as they embark on inconspicuous journeys through Turkish society. Zeytin, fiercely independent, embarks on adventures through the city at night; Nazar, nurturing and protective, easily befriends the humans around her; while Kartal, a shy puppy living on the outskirts of a construction site, finds companions in the security guards who care for her. The strays' disparate lives intersect when they each form intimate bonds with a group of young Syrians with whom they share the streets.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Stray is a brilliant film about three beautiful dogs living on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey. Director Elizabeth Lo gives a unique perspective that allows viewers to venture into dogs' lives and learn a lot about the country of Turkey and the people there, as well. Through the eyes of the dogs we learn about their lives on the streets and the lives of others they interact with. We gain a better understanding of the people as we overhear conversations the citizens are having which tell us a lot about the personal lives of the people there and the living conditions. For both the dogs and some of the people, there is danger and the struggle to survive. There are also touching moments. It is an unforgettable film that helps people understand a different part of the world, the people and animals that live there, and that they all have the same basic needs of food, shelter, and friendship.

This documentary follows three dogs named Zeytin, Nazar and a puppy named Kartal. The camera follows the dogs at their level which is a very ingenious and a creative touch. As the camera rolls, we follow along and see how these dogs interact with other dogs and the humans they encounter. Not only do we get to experience a stray dog's life, but the lives of a young group of boys also living on the streets. The dogs in Istanbul are allowed to roam around the city freely since the citizens fought to save them. We're taken into these dogs' lives and live it with them, seeing all the sights and sounds they see.

One of my favorite scenes in Stray is when Zeytin is in the park and notices another dog approaching. You can tell from the beginning, when we first get to know Zeytin, that she is a sweet dog. She doesn't seem to mind the other dogs she comes in contact with and is friendly towards them. Watching Zeytin and the other dogs in the park was very enjoyable. I just loved watching them run around and being very playful. It is a scene that could have been in any part of the world. I also enjoyed watching the puppy, Kartal. The puppy's expressions are very sweet and, the way people react to Kartal, it adds a nice touch to the film.

The message in this film is to step up for what you believe in. The citizens of Turkey made sure their voices were heard, so that dogs can freely roam, and are not to be held captive or destroyed. Every life is worth something. The dogs provide comfort to many people there. There are some warnings. Some scenes can be graphic that go with life on the streets. Some of the topics and language spoken by some of the people is also for older viewers.

I give Stray 5 out of 5 stars. I was glued to the screen and I am now a much bigger fan of documentaries after watching this film. I plan to watch more in the future. I recommend this film to ages 13 to 20. Magnolia Pictures will release Stray in theaters and On Demand on March 5, 2021.

Reviewed by Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON

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RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON - WALT DISNEY ANIMATED STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. However, when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned, and it's up to a lone warrior to track down the last dragon and stop the Druun for good.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - In terms of world-building, Raya and the Last Dragon is probably one of Disney's best. This animated film has a fascinating setting and mythology; however the story falters a little.

This film takes place in Kumandra, a world comprising five divided nations. When an evil force known as The Druun sends Kumandra into a state of despair, Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) sets out on a journey to find the last dragon, and defeat The Druun for good.

First, the animation in this film is strong and very realistic; perhaps a little too realistic to the point where some shots look like photographs. This might be a pet peeve of mine, because I don't like ultra-realistic animation. Sure, it is impressive, technologically speaking, but I find stylized animation to be much more striking and memorable. Aside from that, it's very beautiful. I really like the colors, and how each location is so visually distinct.

Raya and the Last Dragon feels a lot more dramatic and serious in tone than most other Disney films. On the one hand, I really enjoy this as I believe we need more serious kids' movies. However, I'm assuming the producers were concerned about this film being "too dark for kids" because there is a lot of really unfunny comedy in the beginning. This comedy mostly comes from Sisu (Awkwafina), the last dragon. And while I'm usually a fan of Awkwafina and her comedic timing, she's just not given any good material here. The jokes don't fit with the setting or tone, and they really bog down Sisu's first few scenes. Yet once the comedy slows down, she becomes a more dramatic character which I enjoyed.

I have a few concerns with the themes of Raya and the Last Dragon. The message that, instead of being divided, we need to come together and stand united is fine. However the execution of that message is a bit questionable. No spoilers, but let's just say a certain character really deserved some repercussions for all the problems they caused. I do understand that the moral is that we should learn to trust each other, but I feel like that message is used as an excuse to not properly redeem a character.

I give Raya and The Last Dragon 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. It comes out on March 5, 2021 in theaters and on Disney+ with Premiere Access.

By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

A groundbreaking film for representation, storytelling, and world-building, Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon is a must-watch for viewers of all ages. This is Disney's first film with a Southeast Asian female lead - YAY!

Raya and the Last Dragon is an absolutely enrapturing film! The film is set in the realm of Kumandra, where humans and dragons used to live together until a force called the Druun attacked, a miserable, swirly, "mindless" plague "born of human discord" (much like any modern issue). The Druun turns humans into stone and breaks Kumandra into warring factions. The dragon-protectors, who were the leaders of the dragons in ancient Kumandra, all added bits of their powers to a single, Infinity Stone-esque blue gem, which, thanks to the actions of Raya (Kelly Marie Tran), princess of the land of Heart, is scattered in pieces across all the realms. Six years later, we catch up with Raya (whose father has been turned into stone) and her crew of interesting companions on her mission to retrieve all of the gemstones. Her most significant companion is the sassy dragon-protector Sisu (Awkwafina). Sisu grows closer to Raya throughout the film, becoming her BFF, confidant, life coach, comic relief, sounding board, and more. Raya has to face off against her frenemy Namaari (Gemma Chan), who goes way back in Raya's life, and there are deep fractures in their relationship.

Raya and the Last Dragon has a sufficiently intricate world inspired by various Southeast Asian cultures, and its beauty lies in that characterization: simple yet imaginative. The animation is... okay. It's certainly up to Disney standard but nothing extremely new in the wheelhouse for this project. Tuktuk, Raya's interesting armadillo-like vehicle of choice, is probably the most inventive creation of animation in the film. Yes, that's including the dragons. I was hoping for a little less Mushu and more Hookfang; Sisu and her dragon siblings look pretty meek and kind of like characters we've seen before. As far as the voice acting goes, Awkwafina's portrayal of Sisu steals the show; it almost makes up for the animation! Her sarcastic humor, smooth delivery, and superb comic timing all work perfectly for the role. As for Raya, and the power and individuality with which Kelly Marie Tran dealt with the role also are wondrous.

Raya and the Last Dragon teaches teamwork and perseverance. There's some action, violence, and certain thematic elements to watch out for, but, overall, a lovely family watch!

I give Raya and the Last Dragon 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. Raya and the Last Dragon is out now on Disney+ and in theatres! Go watch it!

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Trust me; you don't want to miss Raya and the Last Dragon from Walt Disney Animation Studios. This movie is a sweeping adventure of magical proportions and an emotional journey that touches your heart as you join the characters on their quest.

Raya and the Last Dragon is a story of a legendary kingdom known as Kumandra, where people and dragons live peacefully until an evil force overcomes them. The dragons sacrifice themselves to save humanity and the kingdom is divided. Raya's family protects the legacy of the mystical dragon gem and, when evil returns Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) is called upon to search for the last dragon Sisu (Awkwafina). There is treachery and mistrust between the fractured kingdoms and they must learn to trust each other again to unite and conquer evil.

Awkwafina plays the dragon Sisu and her eccentric personality provides a great deal of humor and playfulness, as well as emotion, in the story. A powerful performance is given by Kelly Marie Tran as Raya and, her breadth of character, adds to the intensity of emotion and majesty in the film. The music is dramatic and drives the epic feel of the story with an original score written by James Newton Howard.

The making of this movie came about from over 400 individual homes of talented artists at Walt Disney Animation Studios and was a completely unprecedented production experience based on story ideas by Bradley Raymond. The film is directed by Don Hall (Big Hero 6) and Carlos Lopez Estrada (Blindspotting) and is visually as magical as you would expect. Larry Wu (Big Hero 6, Frozen II), as Head of Environments created sumptuously detailed background for the five various kingdoms, which I loved!

The message of this film is that combined trust and faith empowers people. It is only through the teamwork of Raya's unlikely companions that band together to defeat evil and the kingdoms are united once again. Raya learns that she must take the first step in some situations, even before she may be ready. Forgiveness and redemption are also a theme in this story.

I rate Raya and the Last Dragon 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 15, plus adults. Raya and the Last Dragon opens in theaters and on Disney+ for Premiere Access March 5, 2021. Don't miss this heartwarming story and adventure!

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
MOXIE

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MOXIE - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Fed up with the sexist and toxic status quo at her high school, a shy 16-year-old finds inspiration from her mother's rebellious past and anonymously publishes a zine that sparks a school-wide, coming-of-rage revolution.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love the coming-of-age movie, Moxie! It has comedy, drama and a terrific message, while handling very serious topics. The cast is perfect, and the music gives the film a lot of energy.

Moxie is based on the novel by the same name by Jennifer Mathieu and follows a 16-year-old girl named Vivian (Hadley Robinson) who prefers to be under the radar. This all changes when Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Pe�a) comes to her high school. After witnessing Lucy "holding her head high" during an encounter with another student, Vivian notices all of the horrible ways that girls are being treated at her school and decides to publish an anonymous zine that sparks a fire in all of the other fed-up girls at her school.

Amy Poehler directs the movie and plays Vivian's mom. She also happens to be my favorite character, because she is very clever, inspiring and is not a "traditional mom." The rest of the cast plays their characters so well. We see Vivian's journey from follower to leader. Lucy is such a bold and confident woman, standing up for what is right. Seth (Nico Hiragra) comes across as a really cool love interest of Vivian's and male ally to the female revolution. Patrick Schwarzenegger's portrayal of Mitchell Wilson is terrific, as I just hated him in the movie. The supporting characters are very diverse as we see people of all shapes, sizes and races, including a girl in a wheelchair, which I rarely see in movies, plus an all-girl band.

The key messages in this film are: to be the change you want to see, and friendship can support that change. You should know that the film has some mild profanity, shows underage drinking and handles some mature subjects.

I give Moxie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. It comes out on Netflix March 3, 2021.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
WALKING WITH HERB

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WALKING WITH HERB - PURE FLIX ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Sixty-five-year-old Joe Amable-Amo thinks nothing much in his background distinguishes him from other guys his age. He is struggling with his faith after tragedy hits. As the former amateur golfer's life continues to unfold, Joe is besieged with his marriage, working as a bank executive, and gearing up for retirement. But as he is about to discover, life has a way of throwing a curveball that changes everything. Joe is working at his desk when he receives a message from God on his computer screen that tells him he has been chosen to deliver an inspirational message to the world that the seemingly impossible is possible. God tells Joe he is going to play in World Entire golf championship, and if his faith is strong enough, he will win. As Joe embarks on a spiritual journey along with God's personal messenger and motorcyclist, Herb, Joe learns to make a difference, he must learn to face his fears, have confidence in his abilities, and commit to God before he can succeed.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth reviews
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Walking With Herb shows how sports movies can convey powerful messages. One of my favorite parts of this film is when Herb (George Lopez) tries to restore Joe's (Edward James Olmos) faith through golf. I also really enjoyed the acting, and how all of the actors convey the message of faith in a realistic and natural way without being preachy.

The storyline follows Joe, a 65-year-old amateur golf champion, and bank executive, who experiences deep personal loss causing a crisis in his faith in God. His wife (Kathleen Quinlan) is also frustrated that he hasn't been attentive to fixing things around the house and especially in their garden. His daughter's business is also failing. I appreciate that this storyline is rich and complex.

Walking With Herb really excels in its portrayal of characters who are quite complicated. One of my favorites is Edward James Olmos's (Stand and Deliver, Battlestar Galactica) portrayal of Joe. Joe's character experiences significant personal growth over the course of the film. The dialog in this film feels natural and realistic, especially during the emotional scenes. It doesn't feel overly melodramatic at all. Through Joe's friendship with Herb, he is able to overcome his grief and make peace with his religion. My favorite scene is when he wakes his wife to show her a beautiful surprise outside. The cinematography in Walking With Herb is beautiful in how it uses different angles and lighting as well as close-ups depending on the actor on screen.

The message of Walking With Herb is about maintaining your faith in God despite challenges and hardships you may experience in your life. You should know that it does have heavy religious themes.

I give Walking with Herb 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters April 30, May 1 and May 3 through Fathom Events.

By Samantha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Full of faith, belief and second chances comes the new indie film Walking With Herb. This movie will make you laugh, cry, and will take your breath away with each heartfelt second. If you've ever wondered about what's going on in the world above the clouds, Walking With Herb is the movie for you.

Walking With Herb is about Joe Amable-Amo (Edward James Olmos), who is a bank executive and former golfer. He struggles with his faith after a terrible event takes place. Faced with doubts about himself and his belief in God, Joe is stunned when God tells him that he's been chosen to play in a world championship golf tournament. As he is guided by Herb, God's special personal messenger, Joe learns that all you need to do is have faith.

While I was watching Walking With Herb, I noticed a lot of creativity in the storyline. I don't know how anyone connected God to winning a golf tournament, but somehow the director, Ross Kagan Marks, found a way to make the whole story seem logical. Even though the story works, I didn't enjoy that the film seems a bit rushed. I understand that you only have so much time when making a movie, but I would've enjoyed seeing a bit more development of the emotional arc of the characters other than Joe. It also almost felt like the story was on a straight line once Joe received the message from God. There are no plot twists or turns until the end. Lastly, I love the relationship between Joe and his wife, Sheila (Kathleen Quinlan.) The relationship between the two actors feels very genuine and real. Their conversations flow, and they have the sass of an older married couple.

The message of Walking With Herb is to continue to always have faith, no matter what. This message is shown throughout the movie as Joe turns back to God, even after all that happens to him and his family. His faith is also what leads Joe to do so well in the Golf tournament. If he did not believe in God and himself, he wouldn't have been able to go from not golfing for years to one of the world's best golfers.

I give Walking With Herb 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. This film will be released in theaters April 12, 2021.

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


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SPONGEBOB: SPONGE ON THE RUN

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SPONGEBOB: SPONGE ON THE RUN - PARAMOUNT HOME ENTERTAINMENT Click to purchase directly from the producer
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - Set before the events of the television series, SpongeBob goes on a trip to Kamp Koral and meets some new friends. However, when his pet snail Gary gets kidnapped by Poseidon and taken to the Lost City of Atlantic City, he and his new best friend Patrick must go on a rescue mission to save him from the dastardly plan of Poseidon before it is too late. The movie will also reveal the first time our beloved characters (as kids) met at Camp...a magical moment that brings meaning to the power of true friendship.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The outstanding film SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run, written and created by Tim Hill, portrays the true meaning of friendship. The story touched my heart. Although this film is animated, each of the characters and their feelings feel so real to me. The compassion in this film matches perfectly with the humor. At some points, the suspense is so high that I was on the edge of my seat!

The protagonist, SpongeBob (Tom Kenny), has always loved and cared for his pet snail, Gary (Tom Kenny). When the King of the Seas (Matt Berry) is in need of a snail, SpongeBob's arch enemy, Plankton (Mr. Lawrence), takes Gary away in order to get rid of SpongeBob. Plankton wants the secret recipe for the famous crabby patties, but SpongeBob keeps ruining his master plans for stealing it. SpongeBob and his trusty friend Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) take a journey to the Lost City of Atlantic City in order to rescue Gary from the King's palace. Unfortunately, SpongeBob and Patrick get into a life threatening situation with no one there to help them. How will his friends save the day? Maybe even plankton will come to the rescue!

Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke's voice overs are, hands down hilarious. There wasn't a scene in the whole film where I didn't laugh! Both have such unique, varied and energetic voices which bring to life their individual characters. Tom Kenny adjusts his voice to make Gary sound absolutely adorable. His voice makes me think of my own pet, that I love so much. The animations are beautiful and filled with deep and vibrant color. The characters' facial expressions perfectly match the liveliness of the actors' voices.

The message of this film is that true friends will always have your back, no matter what. Friends will always be there during your times in need and everyone needs true friends. This sweet message encourages everyone to be kind and loyal. There is no violence that is gory although there is an axe that is never used. There is no harmful language or stereotypes. Most of the characters are a good influence.

I give SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. This is a great family movie. It releases on Paramount + March 4, 2021. Look for it!

Reviewed by Nyara, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FATHER, THE

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FATHER, THE
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FATHER, THE - SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 13-18
Description - A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A beautifully-made and moving film, The Father depicts dementia in its raw, brutal essence and will surely make an imprint on your soul.

The French-British film centers around aging Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), an Englishman who "has his ways," as his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) says. As Anthony develops dementia and his condition worsens, Anne finds it difficult to balance her life with caring for her father. The film traces how the two of them go about their lives together and how the disease progresses. The Father is told in a jumbled manner because our perspective of the film is as Anthony would see it: All out of order. Anne's husband Paul (Rufus Sewell) and another man who Anthony thinks is her husband, a woman, and several caretakers all appear and disappear throughout the film. Even the settings shift, and you're never really sure where you are. Director Florian Zeller and his crew design both Anne and Anthony's apartments to look relatively similar which enhances that perspective of disorientation.

Anthony Hopkins has always played cerebral roles, so this more emotional one is unique in his repertoire. He sheds tears, flies into fits of rage, and immerses himself in the character of a strong-willed man slowly losing his grip on what's happening. The last scene is especially poignant and hard-hitting; no spoilers, though! Olivia Colman's portrayal of Anne is one that many who have dealt with a relative suffering from a progressive mental illness will identify with. It's incredibly realistic, and, at times, you forget that she's an actress playing a character. Anne herself is layered, especially in how she copes with Anthony's dementia, first keeping her emotions bundled up, escalating to emotional breakdowns, and eventually to some scary fantasies. Colman deals with these feelings beautifully, immersing herself much like Hopkins does. Director Florian Zeller isn't actually a director by profession; he's a playwright, and this film was adapted from his play Le P�re. He's a master storyteller, and you couldn't tell this is his first gig as a director. His attention to detail (especially with sets, something I'm sure he took from his career in playwriting), combined with his personal experiences (his grandmother was diagnosed with dementia when Zeller was 12) make this film an earnest yet unsettling project.

The Father cries out to its viewers to enjoy life while they have their senses and to show compassion toward those who have begun to lose (or have already lost) a clear view of the world. It's a sobering portrait of mental illness and yet an empowering film for those coping with their individual struggles. There is some profanity, slight violence (Paul slaps Anthony), and Anthony and Anne's father-daughter relationship gets a bit abusive at times.

I give The Father 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults; younger kids could watch the film if they feel comfortable with themes like mental illness. The Father releases on-demand on March 12, 2021.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The Father is an excellent depiction of the reality for many elderly people. This film offers insight into the minds of those that suffer from dementia and how they think. We see how this illness affects not only the patient, but their loved ones.

The Father follows Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), an elder suffering from dementia. The motion picture shows how his mind plays tricks on him. He forgets names easily and he sees his daughter differently, as in with a different face. He also imagines people are there that do not exist. All the while, his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) struggles to find her father the perfect caretaker.

This film really is an eye-opener to the reality of dementia. Not only is Anthony forgetful, but his attitude changes rapidly in the blink of an eye. In one scene, he is all happy and jazzy as he converses with a young woman, and then he is angry and demands that he doesn't need a caretaker. He believes that he can outlive his own daughter and even talks about what he would say at her funeral. In another scene, he even forgets his name and calls out for his mother. This film is perfect for the loved ones of dementia patients. The movie offers the perspective, ideas, and confusion the victims go through. It also serves as a guide by showing how Anne deals with her father's outbursts and how her love stands strong to always help him. Not once does she give up on her father, insisting he deserves the best care.

The moral of this film is that love conquers all, even the impossible. With the decline of Anthony's mental health, he always has family by his side. Anne always does what is best for her father, including finding the best caretaker in London. Once Anthony is in a home, his nurse has the patience and love to answer his questions, comfort him and put his needs first. There are warnings that go along with its PG-13 rating. Mild profanity is sprinkled throughout the film, along with realistic depictions of mental illness.

I give The Father 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 17 to 18, plus adults. It premieres on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu February 26, 2021.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

The Father is practically a psychological horror movie, depicting the decaying psyche of an old man, battered by dementia. Yes, The Father tends to be pretty grim, but its excellent lead performance from Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins and the film's structural fluidity set it apart from similarly bleak dramas about the deteriorating mental functions of a senior citizen.

The story follows Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) who, at first glance, is an ordinary elderly man in the waning years of his life, pacing around his apartment, awaiting his daughter's arrival (Olivia Colman) to discuss her new living arrangements. This all serves as a prelude to the mental and emotional fireworks to follow. From there, everything becomes a lot less concrete. Faces of loved ones morph; the layout of Anthony's apartment shifts; Anne gains a husband; and Anthony is introduced to an in-home care person who bears a striking resemblance to his youngest daughter who may or may not be dead. As dementia wreaks havoc on his brain and mind, Anthony's only attachment to reality becomes a watch he keeps misplacing, an almost perfect metaphor for Anthony's spiraling-out-of-control sense of reality.

The Father commits itself to depicting dementia through often surreal ripples in the consciousness of its protagonist. The first sign that things are amiss in Anthony's flat is a quite alarming moment and so, so well-executed. What happens is a slight, but perceptible alteration to what we've been told by Anthony's daughter about why she's come to see her father, that becomes a dire sign for what's to come. A miniscule shift in our perception of events, as filtered through Anthony, balloons into far more concerning and substantial lapses in memory that we witness through Anthony's point of view.

Anthony Hopkins' performance is a consistently surprising lead performance, representative of a film that is just as unpredictable. He doesn't play it too big, even in the very erratic and sporadic launches between an almost effortless effervescence and the prickly, defensive edge that comes to the surface whenever his self-sufficiency comes into question. Hopkins not only has to channel a frequently changing demeanor, but also a changing frame of mind. He goes from distant--resigned in his cloud of seemingly eternal confusion--to "in-your-face," saying truly cruel things to his daughter to finding himself reduced to tears, calling out for his mother. Hopkins' performance stays in line even in its frequent transformations in his mind and mood. Everything feels of a piece with that character and what we know about him. And he is just as compelling when he putters down a hallway as when he explodes at his daughter, the person who cares for him most.

I give The Father 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18 for some language. You can see The Father in theaters March 12, 2021, and it will be available on Video On Demand platforms starting March 26th.

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



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