Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for August, 2023

The Monkey King * Modern Twist On The Classic Chinese Tale That Takes You On An Exciting Adventure Of Discovery And Growth

Saturday, August 19th, 2023

The Monkey King is an action-packed family comedy that follows a rebellious and charismatic Monkey and his magical fighting Stick on an epic quest for victory over 100 demons, an eccentric Dragon King, and Monkey’s greatest foe of all —his own ego! Along the way, a young village girl challenges his self-centered attitude and shows him that even the smallest pebble can have a big effect on the world.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mikella G. comments, “The Monkey King is a modern twist on the classic Chinese tale. It takes you on an exciting adventure of discovery and growth, while being packed with fun and suspense.” See her full review and interview below.

The Monkey King
Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

The Monkey King is a modern twist on the classic Chinese tale. It takes you on an exciting adventure of discovery and growth, while being packed with fun and suspense.

The storyline follows a journey of the Monkey King (Jimmy O. Yang). Although he is strong and powerful, the praise that he receives can sometimes go to his head. When he is faced with the ultimate challenge of defeating the Dragon King (Bowen Yang), he must learn to put his pride aside and work with the secretive, but friendly Lin (Jolie Haong-Rappapert) who can help him conquer this journey.

A huge standout is the character development in the film. The Monkey King changes a lot throughout the movie. He starts off conceited and relentless and, by the end, he’s changed for the better. His character learns multiple lessons along the way which helps teach young viewers about selflessness and understanding that sometimes the right answer isn’t always what’s best for you. 

I enjoy the creative storyline. The Director (Anthony Stacchi) and Producer (Peilin Chou) have incorporated aspects of traditional Chinese culture and tales to create a modern day version of The Monkey King that grasps multiple audiences. The townspeople are inspired by the Ming Dynasty, which was cool for me to see as I have been learning all about that during the past year. I always get excited when I’m able to connect and understand historical references! Lastly, the film’s animation is top notch! The quality is clear, and the color scheme really fits the aesthetic. The Monkey King feels so alive and vibrant, which definitely catches my attention.

The message of The Monkey King is that everyone has the power to create their own path in life.

I give The Monkey King 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. You can watch The Monkey King on Netflix beginning August 11, 2023.

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Dreamin’ Wild * Definitely Entertaining With Its Toe-Tapping Music And Sincere Performances

Thursday, August 3rd, 2023

Dreamin’ Wild, the true story of love and redemption, is about what happened to singer/songwriter Donnie Emerson and his family when the album he and his brother recorded as teens was rediscovered after thirty years of obscurity and was suddenly hailed by music critics as a lost masterpiece. While the album’s rediscovery brings hopes of second chances, it also brings long-buried emotions as Donnie, his wife Nancy, brother Joe, and father Don Sr. come to terms with the past and their newly found fame. 

Dreamin’ Wild
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

With its toe-tapping music and sincere performances, Dreamin’ Wild definitely entertained me and I believe will enrapture pop-rock fans as well as those who have never heard of Donnie and Joe Emerson.

The film tells a true story with immense heart. It is shot elegantly and the story is fascinating; the at-times flat narration is the only chink in Dreamin Wild’s armor.

Dreamin’ Wild opens in the rural Pacific Northwest, as singer/songwriter Donnie Emerson (Casey Affleck) and his family, are approached by a representative from Light in the Attic, who says he thinks the album Donnie and his brother Joe (Walton Goggins) recorded as teenagers is the next big hit. When the album, also named Dreamin’ Wild, makes its rounds, it is hailed by music critics as a lost masterpiece. And whereas the brothers see this stroke of luck as a second chance for stardom, it also unmoors other deep-seated emotions, fears, and hopes, as Donnie, Joe, and the family come to terms with the past, present and possible future.

The moving story is shot with clarity, care and craft; the lighting and framing do justice to the Emersons’ bucolic hometown as well as their eclectic and ethereal ‘jam space.’ Casey Affleck has somewhat patented the ‘damaged man exploring his trauma’ trope, perhaps because of his real-life experience fending off his demons with alcoholism. That takes nothing away from his deep performance as Donnie in Dreamin’ Wild. His portrayal of emotional damage and hope is enough to keep you gripped.

Walton Goggins is equally spectacular. Every dialogue-heavy scene is followed by the brothers jamming, and then another dialogue-heavy scene; this format gets a little tiring by the 60-minute mark, but the plot developments and emotional performances redeem the film’s at-times slow pace.

Dreamin’ Wild encourages following your dreams but staying grounded, being hopeful but never forgetting where you’ve come from, and caring for your family and yourself.

I give Dreamin’ Wild 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Dreamin’ Wild will release exclusively in theaters on August 4, 2023.

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