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Archive for October, 2021

Superman & Lois: Complete Season 1 * A Unique Take On Superman As A Husband And Father

Monday, October 18th, 2021

After years of facing supervillains, monsters, and alien invaders intent on wiping out the human race, the world’s most famous superhero (Tyler Hoechlin) and comic books’ most famous journalist (Elizabeth Tulloch) come face to face with one of their greatest challenges ever – dealing with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today’s society.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ayden P. comments, “Superman & Lois: Complete Season 1 is a unique take on Superman because it focuses on his life as both a husband and father. There are action sequences like we expect to see from a Superman show. Like a lot of other interpretations, the tone is very light and has a bright and hopeful nature, but it does have some high stakes, because it ventures into a new aspect of the superhero.” See his full review below.

Superman & Lois: Complete Season 1
By Ayden P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Superman & Lois: Complete Season 1 is a unique take on Superman because it focuses on his life as both a husband and father. There are action sequences like we expect to see from a Superman show. Like a lot of other interpretations, the tone is very light and has a bright and hopeful nature, but it does have some high stakes, because it ventures into a new aspect of the superhero.

The story follows Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechilin) and famous journalist Lois Lane ( Bitsie Tulloch) facing a big challenge, which is dealing with the stress, pressures and complexities that come from being working parents in today’s society. This is complicated by Superman’s already daunting job of being a superhero and Lois knowing his big secret.

In Superman & Lois, Clark and Lois return to Smallville where Clark grew up. The first season is about the family dynamics of raising two very different twins, Jordan (Alex Garfin) and Jonathan (Jordan Elsass). Jordan is moody and temperamental; Jonathan is happy and popular. The family experiences another change when the boys discover their father’s secretary identity and again, when one of the boys develops his own superpowers. This all happens as an ominous stranger comes to town. Superman & Lois incorporates everything you would expect from a Superman show.

The main difference is adding marriage and kids – the family element. This allows Clark to become more human in a way because he struggles with family issues like we all experience. I can see a bit of my own family in their conflicts. This brings out more of Superman’s human qualities; we see the man just as much as we see the superhero. The show’s CGI is more improved compared to other Arrowverse shows. For example, Superman has an improved suit, which looks good against the CGI. Also, the dynamics between the characters seems true. There is a natural flow to their dialogue, making them believable and more relatable.

The message of the show is that, even though Superman may have all these superpowers, they can’t help him with everything. Despite being Superman, Clark Kent still struggles with the being a “man” and  balancing his family life with his superhero persona.  Plus the fact that, no matter how different or how many issues a family may have, at the end of the day they still love and support each other.

Superman & Lois: The Complete Season 1 gets 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Superman & Lois: The Complete Season 1 releases on DVD October, 19 2021.

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Under Wraps * A Spine-Tickling Storyline, With Many Surprises Along The Way

Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

Friends Marshall, Gilbert, and Amy accidentally revive and release a mummy from its sarcophagus in the days leading up to Halloween. At first terrified, they quickly learn that the Mummy who they affectionately name ‘Harold’ is actually very sweet and in dire need of assistance. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ella M. comments, “Are you ready for a remake of a spook-tacular and adventurous mysterious story? Then you have got to check out Disney Channel’s new Under Wraps movie! It’s got everything – action, friendships, mysteries, and a lovable, friendly mummy! It has a spine-tickling storyline, with many surprises along the way. So, buckle up and get ready for a fun, chilling story that is perfect for the whole family!” See her full review below.

Under Wraps

By Ella M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Are you ready for a remake of a spook-tacular and adventurous mysterious story? Then you have got to check out Disney Channel’s new Under Wraps movie! It’s got everything – action, friendships, mysteries, and a lovable, friendly mummy! It has a spine-tickling storyline, with many surprises along the way. So, buckle up and get ready for a fun, chilling story that is perfect for the whole family!

This storyline follows three friends, Marshall, Gilbert and Amy, who mysteriously find a mummy in their neighbor’s basement. Accidently bringing it to life, they discover he is a kind mummy. Most films describe mummies as horrid, brain-eating, dead monsters. But this movie is special because, its mummy is not like the others. He is a kindhearted, affectionate and friendly mummy, ready to help his friends with anything that may come next. Upon finding out that their new friend Harold, the mummy, will turn to dust if not put back in his sarcophagus by midnight on Halloween, the three friends do everything to save their new mummy friend.

You’ll love the main characters. Marshall (Malachi Bartoh) is a sci-fi, monster enthusiast. Gilbert (Christian J. Simon) is a scared, yet honest friend. He is always trying to help his friends and embraces people for whom they really are throughout the movie. Amy (Sophia Hammons) wants to solve mysteries and get the inside scoop. She dreams of becoming an investigative journalist. Even though she’s the new kid in town, she is bold and is not afraid to stand up for what is right.  Malachi Barton connects with his character, Marshall, in a believable way. Christian J. Simon’s Gilbert is very funny; Christian is funny in real life as well. He makes giving a solid, amazing, thorough performance look easy.  Sophia Hammons gives a dynamic, well thought out performance and shows the variety of ways she can connect with different emotions while portraying Amy.  The costume for Harold is well thought out, with incredible special effects. He looks and seems like an actual mummy. My favorite character is Amy because she is very brave, incredibly smart and she is not afraid to speak her mind.

This message is to embrace people’s differences and to not judge a book by its cover. When Harold is brought back to life after thousands of years, people seem to fear him – when he’s really trying to help them out. You discover that all Harold wants is a friend and our three friends learn to accept him for who he is on the inside, beyond his wrapped-up-mummy-outside.

I give Under Wraps 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. Under Wraps is available now on Disney Channel and Disney plus.  This is a movie you don’t want to miss!

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Just Beyond Is So Thrilling! Just Right Amount Of Scary, Unusual And Supernatural

Monday, October 11th, 2021

Inspired by the writings of R.L. Stine, “Just Beyond” is an eight-episode anthology series that tells astonishing and thought-provoking stories of a reality just beyond the one we know. Each episode introduces viewers to a new cast of characters who must go on a surprising journey of self-discovery in a supernatural world of witches, aliens, ghosts and parallel universes. Stine, prolific author of young-adult horror fiction, including the “Goosebumps” and “Fear Street” series, has been scaring readers worldwide for over 35 years. The show’s creators referenced his popular page-turners while developing their new series of hair-raising stories. Episodes acknowledge teenage struggles, such as bullying, peer pressure and anxiety, through supernatural storylines that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Just Beyond is so thrilling! It has the just right amount of scary, unusual and supernatural. All of the storylines are so different and keep you wanting more.” See her full review below.

Just Beyond
By Katherine S, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

https://youtu.be/JfIUnVM3ZDY

Just Beyond is so thrilling! It has the just right amount of scary, unusual and supernatural. All of the storylines are so different and keep you wanting more.

Just Beyond has eight episodes running about 30 minutes, each with a unique storyline. Episodes include “Parents Are From Mars, Kids Are From Venus,” “Which Witch,” “My Monster,” “We’ve Got Spirits, Yes We Do,” “Standing Up for Yourself” and “The Treehouse.”

https://youtu.be/NGgM4FrfXaQ

This live action anthology seriesis loosely based on the graphic novel series by R.L. Stine, also titled “Just Beyond,” so fans of the series, or any R.L. Stine story should love the show. The costume design, especially for “Which Witch” and “My Monster” are incredible; Luna’s outfits are perfect for her character and the monster looks super realistic. And sometimes, the costumes even give references to past R.L. Stine work.

The music is very fitting as it is eerie and gives you the chills as you listen. The cinematography really adds to the storyline, as there are so many unique angles and points of view. This show has some very talented young actors, such as McKenna Grace, who plays Veronica, Lexi Underwood as Ella, Cedric Joe plays Sam, Gabriel Bateman as Jack and Megan Scott who plays Olivia. I loved all the episodes, but my favorite is “Leave Them Kids Alone,” because it just could happen.

https://youtu.be/U1IGHsqNjg8

The messages vary from episode to episode, but what stands out are: embracing uniqueness, not letting fear get the better of you and it matters more about what’s inside than outside. Some of the episodes contain scary parts that young kids might find frightening.

I give Just Beyond 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. This show begins streaming on Disney+ October 13, 2021. 

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Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights

Saturday, October 9th, 2021

Enjoy Nathalia J.’s experience at Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights. As they say, “Never go alone!!!” Halloween Horror nights is back! It’s time to face ghostly creatures in frightening panic zones. Are you ready to lose yourself in shocking live entertainment and escape to some of the park’s most thrilling highlights? Here’s an example of Halloween FUN FUN FUN 

What’s everyone’s been screaming for? Halloween Horror Nights is an annual event at Universal Studios Hollywood that runs on select nights throughout September and October. The immersive event transforms the entire theme park using inspiration from some of the biggest horror films, classic franchises and original storytelling. This year’s event brings together terrifying mazes, sinister scare zones, outrageous live entertainment and some of the park’s most exhilarating attractions.

I definitely watched my back as I made my way through frightening mazes inspired by the biggest names in horror, plus some of Universal’s own twisted creation. The Haunting mazes include: The Haunting of Hill House, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives, Halloween 4- The Return of Michael Myers, The Curse of Pandora’s Box, The Walking Dead Attraction and the terror tram: The Ultimate Purge. Step your way through live entertainment by the hip-hop dance show Jabbawockeez. And, don’t forget to feed your fear at select dining locations.

I experienced some of the parks most exhilarating rides and attractions throughout the night and you will too. 

You definitely need someone to hide behind and somebody to panic with, because, just as in horror films where the first to roam off meets a terrible destruction, there’s one thing to remember at Universal StudiosHalloween Horror Nights – never go alone!!! Make sure to purchase ahead of time. This event will sell out. Purchase your ticket before October 31. Online purchase from halloweenhorronights.com includes early event admission to select mazes beginning at 6 p.m. Gates open to the public at 7 p.m. each night. Warning! This event may be too intense for young children and is not recommended for children under the age of 13.  Happy Halloween!! 

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The Addams Family 2 * Take A Road Trip With Our Favorite Creepy Family This Halloween

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Everyone’s favorite spooky family is back in the animated comedy sequel, The Addams Family 2. In this all new movie we find Morticia and Gomez distraught that their children are growing up, skipping family dinners, and totally consumed with “scream time.” To reclaim their bond they decide to cram Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester and the crew into their haunted camper and hit the road for one last miserable family vacation. Their adventure across America takes them out of their element and into hilarious run-ins with their iconic cousin, It, as well as many new kooky characters. What could possibly go wrong?

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “It’s time to take a road trip with our favorite creepy family just in time for Halloween! In the follow up to the 2019 film, the Addams family brings the same amazing family values and fun in The Addams Family 2, which takes us on a new spooktacular adventure, complete with explosions, practical jokes, sibling rivalries and fun.” Kyla C. adds, “The Addams Family 2 has a fantastic storyline that is focused on Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz), who is stuck between two families, not sure which one she actually shares her DNA. She uses her impressive chemistry and scientific abilities to try to determine her destiny. Is her real father Gomez Addams (Oscar Isaac), who raised her, or the one who gives seemingly incontrovertible proof, Cyrus (Bill Hader).” See their full reviews below.

The Addams Family 2
By Tiana Sirmans, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

It’s time to take a road trip with our favorite creepy family just in time for Halloween! In the follow up to the 2019 film, the Addams family brings the same amazing family values and fun in The Addams Family 2, which takes us on a new spooktacular adventure, complete with explosions, practical jokes, sibling rivalries and fun. This film is just as entertaining as the first one.

The Addams Family 2 focuses on Wednesday Addams (Chloe Grace Moretz), who is feeling misplaced and not very “Addamsy,” so she is slowly pulling away from her family. To get his family closer, her father, Gomez Addams (Oscar Isaac) takes everyone on a road trip in a haunted RV. At the same time, the family is being followed by a creepy man, Mr. Mustela (Wallace Shawn), who is threatening to break up the family after it is discovered that Wednesday may not be an Addams. Gomez and Morticia Addams (Charlize Theron) have to find different ways to protect the family, which initiates a series of wacky adventures on this road trip.

The movie follows Wednesday as she learns about who she is, however, the main character is the entire Addams family: Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley (Javon “Wanna” Walton), Uncle Fester, (Nick Kroll), Cousin It (Snoop Dogg) and Grandma (Bette Milder). I love how the storyline focuses on family and how the Addams family will fight tooth and nail together to stay a family. The audience will not have a problem connecting with the characters as they all have a strong presence in this sequel and are well-developed. The audience will be spooked by the protective, yet, funny role, played by the family’s butler, Lurch (Director, Conrad Vernon). This film is hilarious. My favorite part is when Wednesday uses a voodoo doll to help Pugsley impress a group of girls by dancing and then tosses him into the Niagara Falls in true Addams’ fashion. The music keeps the film energetic and. of course, wouldn’t be complete without a concert performance by Cousin It.

The message of The Addams Family 2 is to love and accept each other and it reminds us that family goes beyond genetics.  Throughout the film, different characters try to force others to change qualities they dislike about them instead of accepting them as they are, and perhaps just working on themselves. 

The Addams Family gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. The Addams Family 2 creeps into theatres and On Demand October 1, 2021.

The Addams Family 2
By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Get ready to take an action-packed road trip across America when the Addams family comes back for another wild adventure! The Addams Family 2 has a fantastic storyline, characters and animation as well as strong themes. Families of all ages should be super pumped for this relatable and fun new film.

The Addams Family 2 has a fantastic storyline that is focused on Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz), who is stuck between two families, not sure which one she actually shares her DNA. She uses her impressive chemistry and scientific abilities to try to determine her destiny. Is her real father Gomez Addams (Oscar Isaac), who raised her, or the one who gives seemingly incontrovertible proof, Cyrus (Bill Hader). The battle is a constant inner conflict within Wednesday as she faces decisions that could change her life forever. Along with this main plotline, there are other problems and situations, like how Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) is showing strange symptoms or how Grandma (Bette Midler) is throwing a party when she’s supposed to be taking care of the house while the Addams are on vacation.

There are so many wonderful aspects that make The Addams Family 2 a must-see. The story is well-written with a conflict for each character and many strong subplots. The only slight weak point is that the story is a bit slow in starting. However, once the rising action begins, the film flies by in a flurry of adventure and humor. The funniness of this film is truly incredible. It is an action-based film, but still incorporates so much humor into every part. The locations are very accurate, despite being animated. For people who have visited some of these places, it is so cool to be able to see an animated representation of them.

Some of the places include Niagara Falls, Miami beaches, Death Valley, Texas deserts and the Grand Canyon. Besides the strong story and fun locations, the family-based conflicts are so relatable for real families. Everyday things such as siblings arguing, parent-child relationships, struggles to belong and not feeling like yourself are common within the Addams family. Wednesday and Pugsley Addams (Javon Walton) are constantly fighting; Gomez Addams feels as if he falls short in including Wednesday in things and Morticia Addams (Charlize Theron) tries her best to comfort everyone. The animation for all of the characters is outstanding. The voice acting is one of the more positive aspects of the film; all the actors sound exactly like their character and we can imagine what the character is feeling or thinking. Bill Hader, as Cyrus, makes a wonderfully mysterious character. Chloe Grace Moretz’s Wednesday is a seemingly cold character who opens up as the film progresses; her voice acting really is superb. 

The theme of The Addams Family 2 is to be yourself and to not force someone to be who they’re not. It also emphasizes being careful about who you trust with important things. There are some very mild insulting comments and, of course, some creepy science scenes.

The Addams Family 2 gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 6 to 18 plus adults. Addams Family 2 releases in theaters October 1, 2021, so check it out!

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Dear Evan Hansen * Outstanding Original Musical That Speaks Directly To The Heart

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021

Dear Evan Hansen is a 2021 American coming-of-age musical teen drama movie directed by Stephen Chbosky from a screenplay by Steven Levenson. It is based on the 2015 stage musical of the same name by Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul. Ben Platt plays the title role, reprising the performance that he originated on stage. The ensemble cast also includes Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Nik Dodani, Colton Ryan, Danny Pino, Julianne Moore, and Amy Adams.

The breathtaking, generation-defining Broadway phenomenon becomes a soaring cinematic event as Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner Ben Platt reprises his role as an anxious, isolated high schooler aching for understanding and belonging amid the chaos and cruelty of the social-media age.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Josephine M. comments, “The film musical Dear Evan Hansen, directed by Stephen Chbosky, is phenomenal and breathtaking. I really enjoyed watching this, because it is a true original, outstanding musical that speaks directly to the heart.” See her full review below.

Dear Evan Hansen
By Josephine M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The film musical Dear Evan Hansen, directed by Stephen Chbosky, is phenomenal and breathtaking. I really enjoyed watching this, because it is a true original, outstanding musical that speaks directly to the heart. Dear Evan Hansen is something extraordinary; it is not like any musical I have watched before and it has a really powerful message as it engages with the real world in ways that most musicals don’t.

Evan Hansen is an anxious, isolated high-school student who’s aching for understanding and belonging amid the chaos and cruelty of the social media age. He soon embarks on a journey of self-discovery when a letter he wrote for his therapy writing exercise falls into the hands of a grieving couple whose son took his own life. Evan is tossed in the tumult of a fractured, grieving family. Connor’s parents believe Evan was his best friend. But the reality is far different. Evan plays along with the charade, gaining the fame, adulation and love that he’s always dreamed of – all at the expense of Connor’s memory.

My favourite actor is Evan’s mother Heidi (Julianne Moore). Heidi is a single mom, working late-night nursing shifts to afford college for Evan. She desperately wants the best for him, even when he doesn’t notice her efforts. The film’s best scenes revolve around her; the first occurring when Cynthia and Larry offer to cover Evan’s tuition. She’s proud. And you can see the gears shifting inside of Heidi’s head before she declines. The film offers sympathy to all its characters by offering them the chance to sing their feelings out and make a case as to why they matter. 

The message of this film applies to teens trying to overcome social anxieties, reminding them that it’s okay to be anxious and depressed, and that being medicated for those things, if necessary, is normal and healthy. However, don’t change yourself just to fit into society; stand up for yourself. If something happens and you are caught up in the situation, be confident in yourself, no matter what. A note of caution: this film does address suicide, has some strong language and some suggestive references.

I give Dear Evan Hansen 4 out of 5 stars and recommend this film for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theatres now.

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