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Archive for the 'Film Critics Blog' Category

Wildcat * Inspiring Documentary That Can Turn Your Heart From Empty To Full At The Drop Of A Dime

Wednesday, December 28th, 2022

Wildcat follows the emotional and inspiring story of a young veteran (Harry Turner) on his journey into the Amazon. Once there, he meets a young woman (Samantha Zwicker) running a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center, and his life finds new meaning as he is entrusted with the life of an orphaned baby ocelot. What was meant to be an attempt to escape from life turns out to be an unexpected journey of love, discovery and healing.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D., comments, “Prepare to be inspired by a new documentary, Wildcat, directed and produced by Melissa Lesh and Trevor Beck Frost, leaves viewers in a whirlwind of emotions and can turn your heart from empty to full at the drop of a dime.” See his full review below.

Wildcat
By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

https://youtu.be/a_0F-1Y7ZWA

Prepare to be inspired by a new documentary, !Wildcat, directed and produced by Melissa Lesh and Trevor Beck Frost, which leaves viewers in a whirlwind of emotions and can turn your heart from empty to full at the drop of a dime. This is a film that you are not going to want to miss.

Struggling with depression and PTSD as a result from his time spent as a British soldier in Afghanistan, young Harry Turner attempts to escape his world in order to restore peace to his troubled life.  That escape lands him deep within the Peruvian Amazon where he teams up with American scientist Samantha Zwicker, and together they work diligently to save injured and orphaned wildlife at Hoja Nueva Rehabilitation Center. The film focuses mainly on the duo’s efforts to rehabilitate and “re-wild” orphaned ocelots, and their work seems to put purpose back into their lives. Harry continues with his mental struggles throughout the film and, although his efforts at Hoja Nueva are helping him overcome these challenges, the film highlights for us that these struggles may never truly be defeated.

There is so much to love and appreciate in Wildcat.  The cinematography is terrific as it takes us to one of the most remote and biodiverse places on our globe, allowing viewers to get close up views of some incredible species of animals. The story demonstrates that beauty can indeed be woven into the lives of those who have dark days.  And since I absolutely love cats and our family has been involved in cat rescue for many decades, I commend Harry and Samantha for their efforts in wildcat conservation and highlighting for us how difficult yet rewarding this line of work can be.

Wildcat is a true masterpiece. There are so many important thoughts to take with you after watching the film, and yet the film’s most important message is about hope and courage.  Mental illness is a life threatening disease, but, with some hope and a whole lot of courage, someone suffering from this condition can learn to cope with their disorder.  There is certainly also the message about the importance of conservation and the willingness to volunteer in order to protect and restore our fragile ecosystems.  We need more wildlife warriors and this film just may be a call to action for those conservation minded people. Parents need to be aware of some adult language throughout the film and at times some of the scenes display some very dark moments for Harry.

I give Wildcat 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12-18. Adults will also absolutely love this film. Wildcat releases on December 30, 2022, on Prime Video.

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Little Foot 3 * A Fun, Family-Friendly Mystery – Filled With Adventure That Grabs Your Attention

Saturday, December 10th, 2022

Say it isn’t so! Little Foot has a foot odor problem! Will King Arthur defeat Little Foot’s crawly, stinky, creepy foot cooties just in time for the Yeti Snow Party? Join the adventure and find out in Little Foot 3!

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mikella G. comments, “Little Foot 3 is a fun, family-friendly mystery – full of adventure and definitely grabs your attention… Something that I really enjoy about the movie is its adventurous storyline. Little Foot’s expedition is a constant process.” Avalon N. adds, “Little Foot 3 is one that I think younger kids would enjoy. The storyline is very unique, maybe a little repetitive. However, it is a funny story with many different and diverse characters.” KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer Elizabeth V. wraps it up with, “This film is all about how you should never give up. I really enjoyed the animation of this film and the vibrant colors for the characters. It is amazing that the film’s 14 voices are all made by five voice actors.” See their full reviews below.

Little Foot 3
By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 16

Little Foot 3 is a fun, family-friendly mystery – full of adventure and definitely grabs your attention.

Little Foot 3 follows Little Foot the Sasquatch who goes into space with his snowman friend. While he’s there, he visits Santa, who reveals to him that he’s suffering from something called shadow toes. This is when your feet have a terrible odor, making you, and every room you enter smell. Throughout the film we follow Little Foot as he undertakes a journey to end his shadow toes. 

Something that I really enjoy about the movie is its adventurous storyline. Little Foot’s expedition is a constant process. He is always meeting fun new characters, some of which are helpful, and some — not so much. Either way, it’s entertaining to see Little Foot interact with all these different personalities. Additionally, the picture quality stands out. All the colors are very vibrant and fun. However, I will say that the audio track isn’t always in synch with the characters’ lip movement. At times it’s very noticeable and can be quite distracting. This takes away from enjoying the film, because viewers are distracted. Lastly the storyline has a lot of creativity. They take already well-established characters like Snow White and Santa Claus, and put their own twist on them, by giving them different personalities or traits.

The message of the film is to never lose hope in finding a solution. 

Little Foot 3 gets 3 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 8. You can watch Little Foot 3 on DVD and VOD beginning December 6, 2022.

Little Foot 3
By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Little Foot 3 is one that I think younger kids would enjoy. The storyline is very unique, maybe a little repetitive. However, it is a funny story with many different and diverse characters.

This storyline is about a Yeti named Little Foot (Simon Hill) who has a foot odor problem. He treks all over the galaxy in search of King Arthur (Kelsey Painter) who can cure his sickness. He needs his foot to be odor free for the Yeti Snow Party. On his way he meets many characters in faraway parts of the galaxy including Santa (KJ Schrock) and Mr. Fox (John Thompson) from Robin Hood. It is a standalone sequel to Little Foot 1 and 2

Little Foot 3 has a very impressive cast of voice actors. One thing that is so amazing is that there are only five voice actors, yet there are 14 voice parts! However, until I watched the credits I had no idea some actors voice multiple characters. The storyline is quite repetitive; every scene mostly involves Little Foot meeting someone and finding out where King Arthur is. There is one character that simply made me laugh every time — Misty the Snowman; he never speaks and only makes sounds. Yet somehow Little Foot understands every sound he makes. The animation style is very unique; it uses a blurred background and the animated characters have very big heads.

The message of this film is to never give up and keep on searching as you may find what you are looking for.

Little Foot 3 gets 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. Little Foot 3 releases on DVD and VOD December 6 2022.

Little Foot 3
By Elizabeth V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

I found Little Foot 3 entertaining and designed well for its target age. It is a funny and heartfelt story about a Yeti named Little Foot who has a foot odor problem. He embarks on a journey to cure it in time for the Yeti Snow Party. This film is all about how you should never give up. I really enjoyed the animation of this film and the vibrant colors for the characters. It is amazing that the film’s 14 voices are all made by five voice actors.

Little Foot 3 gets 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. It releases on DVD and VOD December 6, 2022. By Elizabeth V., KIDS FIRST! 

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Color Quest AR * Fantastic! The Ultimate Creativity App Combining Digital Drawing, Coloring And Augmented Reality Features

Friday, December 2nd, 2022

Color, learn, and discover fun characters that come to life in your exciting augmented reality quest for health! Stayhealthy’s new educational app includes fruits, vegetables, and a magical look into the human body with engaging new characters every month! Color your favorite character, press the magic button, read a fun health fact, and see your new creation come to life and dance in front of you in augmented reality (AR). Keep on coloring to unlock all the characters to win badges, play bonus games, and become the ultimate Magic Health Master in this coloring adventure!

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kyla C. comments, “Color Quest AR is a fantastic, interactive new app that I highly recommend.It is the ultimate creativity app, with a combination of digital drawing, coloring and augmented reality features that blew my mind.” See her complete review below.

Color Quest AR
By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Color Quest AR is a fantastic, interactive new app that I highly recommend.It is the ultimate creativity app, with a combination of digital drawing, coloring and augmented reality features that blew my mind.

In Color Quest AR, you can choose one of three fun characters available for free, or purchase any of other themed characters for a fee. Then, you proceed to the coloring screen, where you choose between various colors and brush sizes and use your finger to color in your chosen character. Once satisfied with your character, head on over to the augmented reality feature, where you can look through the screen and watch your personalized character come to life in front of you, no matter where you are!

There are apps for digital coloring; there are apps for augmented reality. But this one-of-a-kind app allows you to pursue both interests in a single app. My jaw dropped when I first saw my personally-colored character appear in front of me. I am so impressed by how real it truly seems. Your character just pops up in front of you, wherever you are. Another detail of the app that stands out is the wide variety of color options. There are six main colors, with five shades within each color option. In addition, there are four brush sizes. This allows you to color smaller areas without going outside of the lines, and use the brush more efficiently in larger areas. Even the eraser feature has different thicknesses, making it easier to make deletions. Color Quest AR has so many additional features that I can’t even begin to name them all. An important one to call attention to is the educational aspect. While the character is being loaded into augmented reality, a health fact pops up. These involve animals, parts of the body and many fun facts. This helps hold your attention during the time the loading circle spins. There is also a music video with the app’s characters, and background music options to immerse yourself in. If you look in the menu, you can even click to find a playlist that’ll spark your creativity and motivate you as well.

Color Quest AR excels at developing creativity, problem-solving skills and patience while also being educational and tons of fun. It is totally child-safe. One thing I will note is that there are optional in-app purchases. While the app can still be enjoyed and used without these paid features, be sure that your child doesn’t accidentally buy something without permission.

I give Color Quest AR 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. Color Quest AR is available now anywhere you get your apps.

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Limitless With Chris Hemsworth * Entertaining And Educational As Hemsworth Tests The Limits Of The Human Body And Finds What May Lead To A Longer Life

Saturday, November 19th, 2022

A different way we can live better for longer: regenerating damage, maximizing strength, building resilience, shocking the body, supercharging memory and confronting mortality.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “This six episode docu-series is entertaining to watch, and, at times, educational – in a very fun way. Limitless With Chris Hemsworth tests the limits of the human body and finds what may lead to a longer life.” See her full review below.

Limitless With Chris Hemsworth
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

This six episode docu-series is entertaining to watch, and, at times, educational – in a very fun way. Limitless With Chris Hemsworth tests the limits of the human body and finds what may lead to a longer life.

Limitless With Chris Hemsworth follows — you guessed it — Chris Hemsworth, occasionally with his friends and family, on a six-episode journey to find ways to boost longevity and quality of life.

It’s fascinating to see some unexpected ways we could achieve longevity and a better life. Of course, not all of these actions can and/or should be imitated by the average person, but there are ways that you can modify what’s in the episodes and apply it to your own life.  Examples include fasting for one day a month or turning the shower on cold for the last 30 seconds or spending time in a sauna – these practices can help lead to a longer life. Some of the episodes include Stress-Proof, Memory, and Strength.

My favorite episode is Acceptance, where Chris gets to experience firsthand what it’s like to be old and how to accept that. I really found it interesting to watch Chris Hemsworth outside of the MCU and be just himself. It adds something more personal and makes the audience feel connected to him in a new way.

The message of Limitless With Chris Hemsworth is to accept aging because it’s a part of life, and yet there are ways to make life healthier and longer lasting. There are some very risky things done in this show that should not be done without expert supervision.

I give Limitless With Chris Hemsworth 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This series comes out on Disney+ November 16, 2022.

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The Pay Day * A Supremely Well-Shot Entertaining Heist Film With Suspenseful Storyline

Friday, November 18th, 2022

Set in a post-pandemic world, The Pay Day follows a broke and frustrated IT technician (Kyla Frye) who is charged by a crime boss (Simon Callow) to embark on a one-woman heist to steal valuable data worth millions on the black market. As if the dangerous pitfalls of her mission weren’t enough, the sting gets more complicated when a charming con artist (Sam Benjamin) interrupts her mission attempting to swipe the loot for himself.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “A supremely well-shot entertainer, The Pay Day is a perfectly pleasant film for those looking for a heist film, even though there are some stilted dialogues and scenes that drag.” Mikella G. adds, “A stand out in this movie is the suspenseful storyline. I could never anticipate what was going to happen next. Just as I thought I figured it out, something completely different happened. For example, Jennifer and Cameron’s (Sam Benjamin) relationship goes through many different levels, and just when I thought I understood where their relationship was going, it turns out completely different.” See their full review below.

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

A supremely well-shot entertainer, The Pay Day is a perfectly pleasant film for those looking for a heist film, even though there are some stilted dialogues and scenes that drag.

The film follows a frustrated and recently-fired IT technician (Kyla Frye) who is charged by a crime boss (Simon Callow) to embark on a one-woman heist to steal valuable data worth $500 million on the black market.  Like all good heist films, it’s about people who feel neglected in society. Frye’s character is being evicted, and she feels that the whole world is against her. This opportunity to steal data is her chance to make it big. When a suave conman (Sam Benjamin) interrupts her mission to steal the loot for himself, matters grow even more complicated.

The cinematography in The Pay Day as well as the casting are two of the high points. Frye’s portrayal of a harried, desperate programmer looking for a way to make some cash is equally stirring and entertaining… though the film does focus on the latter more, due to the writing. This heist film sometimes wants to be a comedy and other times a romantic film, which makes it feel a little disjointed and somewhat like a series of sketches. For example, random flirting between Benjamin and Frye occupies 20 minutes of the film while Frye tries to extract files from a computer — whose, we don’t know yet. Speaking of random things, there are a bunch of odd elements in the film that seem either implausible or infantile to the point of being ridiculous, like a scene where a character survives a shot to the heart and another with a stilted and suggestive exchange about pomegranates. It’s largely the writing that makes the first half of the film drag, save for some scenes that really hit it out of the park. There are also tons of stereotypes thrown in, and some will make you cringe. For example a crime boss lounging with his cronies in a dimly lit bar; Pink Panther-esque background music; the typical green zeroes and ones speeding across the screen of a computer being hacked; and a scene where the protagonist sprints through sterile white walkways of every generic office complex.

The Pay Day promotes resourcefulness and resilience. There are some sexually suggestive scenes and discussions of smoking and alcohol.

I give The Pay Day 4 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Pay Day releases in theaters on November 14, 2022.

The Pay Day
By Mikella Giustino, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The Pay Day is a mysterious, intense film that is filled with questions and surprises. It is unpredictable, and has a crazy turn of events.

The Pay Day follows the life of Jennifer (Kyla Frye), a struggling computer tech trying to get out of debt. She is approached by Gates (Simon Callow) who runs big undercover money-making operations and he offers her a deal that she cannot resist. However, on Jennifer’s mission she discovers that there’s quite a bit of information that she was blind too, and she must learn to adapt to these quick changes and obstacles that are thrown her way.

A stand out in this movie is the suspenseful storyline. I could never anticipate what was going to happen next. Just as I thought I figured it out, something completely different happened. For example, Jennifer and Cameron’s (Sam Benjamin) relationship goes through many different levels, and just when I thought I understood where their relationship was going, it turns out completely different. This is a great aspect of the film, because it keeps the audience interested and engaged.

Furthermore, the pace of the film is great; It held my attention the entire time, and doesn’t feel too long or too short.  At some points, the storyline gets confusing due to the structure of the film. There are a few flashback moments, and then it reverts back to preset time, but it’s not always clear that the switch is taking place [7] so at times it feels like there is a lot going on. Lastly, each character is very strong; each has its own unique personality and the chemistry between all of them is evident.

The message of this film is that, when you listen to your heart, it will always lead you to do the right thing in the end. This film does have loud violent noises, including gunshots.

I give The Pay Day 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for  ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch The Pay Day in select theaters beginning November 14, 2022.


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Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams * Inspiring And Innovative, Exploring A Creative World That Shaped Our Lives

Thursday, November 17th, 2022

Salvatore: Shoemaker Of Dreams is a portrait of a man whose vision, passion, and craftsmanship made him “shoemaker to the stars,” an architect of Hollywood magic, and an enduring cultural, fashion, and artistic influence.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mikella G. comments, “Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams is a striking documentary that’s inspiring and innovative. It welcomes you into a creative world that shaped multiple aspects of life today.” See her full review below.

Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams
By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 16

Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams is a striking documentary that’s inspiring and innovative. It welcomes you into a creative world that shaped multiple aspects of life today.

Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams follows the life of Salvatore Ferragamo, the incredible shoemaker with insane intellectual talent. By the age of 16 he was off to America where his career exploded as he built a huge reputation in the film business. Although he provided shoes for some of the biggest icons in history, life wasn’t always the easiest for him. However, Salvatore Ferragamo remains one of the most loving, caring and well-known shoemakers to this day.

I really enjoy the storyline of this film; it’s not only extremely inspiring, but educational as well. It shows viewers how you can do anything that you put your mind to. I also appreciate the fact that it includes interviews with people who know Ferragamo and understand his culture. It really emphasizes the importance of his childhood and how that shaped him. Additionally, the structure of the film is really helpful. Using actual video clips from Ferragamo’s life, plus close friends and family members that explain his history is a really nice feature. This allows us to view Ferragamo on a more personal level.

Plus, the quality of the more dated clips still have great sound and picture  quality, which gives it a modern feeling, while remaining authentic to the time period. I also enjoyed the soundtrack and background music. The music is subtle and really makes a difference. In most of the montages, there is light piano playing in the background which elevates the film and really sets the mood/tone.

The message of Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams is to always follow your heart, passions and dreams.

I give Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams in select theaters November 18, 2022.


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Transformers: Earthspark * An Action-Packed Adventure With Heartwarming Friendships And Strong Family Bonds

Tuesday, November 15th, 2022

A new species of Transformers must find their place and purpose among Autobots, Decepticons, and the human family who adopts them.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Madeleine H. comments, “I like the series Transformers: Earthspark!   It is an action-packed adventure with heartwarming friendships and strong family bonds that I enjoyed with my whole family.” See her full review and red carpet interviews below.  

Transformers: Earthspark
Madeleine H. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I like the series Transformers: Earthspark!   It is an action-packed adventure with heartwarming friendships and strong family bonds that I enjoyed with my whole family. 

Fans familiar with the Transformers franchise will enjoy the familiar characters and meet some new ones.  Anyone new to Transformers will quickly become acquainted with their history while discovering the first bots born on Earth along with a brother and sister duo, Robby Malto (Sydney Mikayla) and Mo (Zion Broadnax), who share a unique bond.  Robby and Mo recently moved from Philly to small town Witwicky where their mom, Dot Malto (Benni Latham) has taken a job as a park ranger and they have left their friends behind.  When Robby, frustrated with his new life, decides to bike back to Philly, his sister Mo, who is never left out of his adventures, follows along.  A strange encounter with Autobots and some unusual spiderbots has them tumbling off a bridge and discovering a secret cave.  Their curiosity and sense of adventure lead them to forming a bond with the first earthborn bots, Twitch (Kathreen Khavari) and Thrash (Zeno Robinson) who they are emotionally connected to.  Through some humorous activities and harrowing adventures Twitch and Trash become the vehicle bots that suit their personalities and are part of the Malto Family.

The production quality is superb with vivid animation and crisp colors; the images are so realistic. For example, the texture of Mo’s hair looks real. The voice acting is excellent with each character distinct and believable.  Robby is voiced by a female but sounds like a teen boy and when Mo and Robby take a tumble their grunts and groans sound believable. And of course, the action is exciting and explosive!  When the Transformers click into action the battles are fast and furious.

The sound effects really enrich the story and propel the action. The Autobots whirl and rev into their Transformer selves. In terms of the storyline, the amazing bond that Robby and Mo share is special, and the strength and determination of Mo is truly inspiring. It’s so great to see a female protagonist take the lead.  Another strong female character is Skywarp (Nicole Dubuc); she is smart, self-assured and fierce.  There are old school favorites from previous films in the franchise like Optimus Prime (Alan Tudyk), Mr. Malto (Jon Jon Briones) and Bumblebee (Danny Pud) who I love seeing here.

The message in these episodes revolve around togetherness and learning to fit in. These episodes are sure to be great fun with the classic struggles with the Autobot Decepticons Transformers robots, the togetherness of the human Malto Family, and the first Transformers robots to be born on Earth – the Terrans, who are learning how they fit in.

I give Transformer: Earthspark 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults.  Transformers: Earthspark premieres on Paramount + Friday, November 11, 2022.


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Circuit Breakers * So Many Messages And So Many Distinctive Stories That Showcase Incredible Technology

Friday, November 11th, 2022

Follow the futuristic anthology as it tackles children’s issues through a sci-fi lens. But not everything is what it seems, and their curiosity leads to chaos.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avalon N. comments, “Circuit Breakers is a show that I would watch over and over again. It has so many messages throughout the series and so many distinctive stories that showcase incredible technology that was created specifically for this show.” See her full review below.

Circuit Breakers
By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Circuit Breakers is a show that I would watch over and over again. It has so many messages throughout the series and so many distinctive stories that showcase incredible technology that was created specifically for this show.

This show has seven episodes in the first season, each with different characters, unique technology and new messages. One of the story lines is about a dancer trying to get onto a dance team; another features a kid who is willing to do anything to get onto the track team.  Most episodes revolve around a person trying to achieve a goal and using new, innovative technology to do so.

Circuit Breakers makes very fine use of advanced technology, implementing computers and robotics that I have never seen before. One of these features a mirror that tells you if you’re doing your dance moves correctly and gives an overall percentage; it also uses a memory machine that takes you back to previous memories using a photo from a phone. The way this machinery is portrayed is very impressive as well. It looks like something that people may use right now, even if they don’t.

Another thing I found very extraordinary is the inclusion of many diverse characters, with each episode featuring a new set of characters. This gives a new light to each episode and lets a large variety of actors get a chance for a bigger role in the series. Finally, the cinematography is exceptional quality; each scene is clearly focused and uses so many angles for us to observe the action.

There is a different message in every episode; some of them are: never cheat your way to victory and be happy with what you have.

I give Circuit Breakers 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases on Apple TV+ November 11, 2022.

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Gratitude Revealed * A Thought-Provoking Piece With Gorgeous Footage, But Falters To Keep Viewers Engaged

Saturday, November 5th, 2022

An epic journey forty years in the making, Gratitude Revealed from acclaimed filmmaker, Louie Schwartzberg, the director of cult hit Fantastic Fungi, takes us on a transformational, cinematic Experience of how to live a more meaningful life full of gratitude through his intimate conversations with everyday people, thought leaders, and personalities revealing gratitude is a proven pathway back from the disconnection we feel in our lives; disconnection from ourselves, our planet, and each other.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “A thought-provoking piece, Gratitude Revealed shows promise in its concept and features gorgeous footage, but falters to keep viewers engaged in the film past the midway mark.” See his full review below.

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

A thought-provoking piece, Gratitude Revealed shows promise in its concept and features gorgeous footage, but falters to keep viewers engaged in the film past the midway mark.

Composed of stunning nature footage and high-profile interviews, Gratitude Revealed shows us how to live a more meaningful life full of thankfulness through filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg’s conversations with everyday people and eminent personalities. Featured are chats with figures like Norman Lear, Deepak Chopra, Jack Kornfield and more. The film makes the point that we need a pathway back from the disconnection we feel in our lives, within ourselves, and with others.

The thought behind this film is remarkable. However, the substance of the film is revealed painfully slowly, and some of the insights are rather obvious. It is unfortunate that the film lacks momentum and vibrancy beyond cinematography, as this makes it a difficult watch for young viewers accustomed to a faster pace of cinema. If it was the intent of the filmmaker to slow down viewers caught in the rat race of life, he certainly achieved it… almost too well.

The camera work and editing in Gratitude Revealed are the highest points of the film, along with the cachet of the big names Schwartzberg speaks with. I especially love the way the interviews are framed. I feel that some of the interviews are way too long and tedious. It sometimes feels as if the nature shots are being used to compensate for the repetition of certain points. This leads to Gratitude Revealed feeling less like a documentary and more like an experimental film.

Gratitude Revealed promotes finding joy in the small things in life and just “being.” It’s a beautiful message that is perfect for the Thanksgiving season.

I give Gratitude Revealed 3.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Gratitude Revealed releases on VOD November 1, 2022.

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The School for Good and Evil * Explores The Boundaries Of Good And Evil With Fast-Paced Action, Constant Comedy And Incredible Visuals

Saturday, October 29th, 2022

Best friends Sophie and Agatha find themselves on opposing sides of an epic battle when they’re swept away into an enchanted school where aspiring heroes and villains are trained to protect the balance between Good and Evil.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kyla C. comments, “I’m a huge fan of the series, so I was extremely excited when I saw the first trailer for the film. The School for Good and Evil lives up to my every expectation. The casting is spot on; the appearances and personalities of all the characters match the book’s descriptions. In addition, the ideas of what people often think of as “good” are contrasted throughout the film.” See her full review below.

The School for Good and Evil
Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie) are best friends, despite having completely different personalities. Sophie loves dresses and flowers and has the style of a princess. Agatha is friendly but prefers darker color clothing and has a less sunny personality. When the two of them hear the supposed myth of The School for Good and Evil, Agatha laughs but Sophie sees an opportunity to change her life and fulfill her dead mother’s wishes. They are taken to the school, but when they’re placed in the wrong schools, Agatha in The School for Good and Sophie in the School for Evil, they’re thrown into a world of surprises.

This film is an adaptation of the first book in The School for Good and Evil series, written by Soman Chainani. I’m a huge fan of the series, so I was extremely excited when I saw the first trailer for the film. The School for Good and Evil lives up to my every expectation. The casting is spot on; the appearances and personalities of all the characters match the book’s descriptions. In addition, the ideas of what people often think of as “good” are contrasted throughout the film. Every detail, however small, perfectly matches the school. At the School for Good the students wear dresses or armor to represent princesses and princes. Its environment is bright, colorful and happy and its classes teach make-up and wish-granting. In contrast, the School for Evil’s environment is dark, gloomy and suspenseful and its classes include uglification and possession of powers. This contrast is important for plot elements later in the film and also creates an interesting environment for the social aspects of the story.

There is comedy throughout The School for Good and Evil that helps maintain an intriguing social storyline. The actors play a big part in executing the script’s comedy. Sofia Wylie uses Agatha’s personality to pull off her character’s funny moments. Another element worth mentioning is the beautiful sets and locations. The School for Good and Evil is a magnificent building with spectacular landscapes in the background including a moat, mountains and rivers. The sets of the indoor halls and classrooms match the exterior, providing a perfect background for the story.

The message of The School for Good and Evil is that every person has good and evil in them, and it is up to you to decide how you want yourself to be represented. By the end of the film, certain characters begin to realize that “good” or “evil” doesn’t have to define them. Friendship is emphasized by the film’s two protagonists, who ride an emotional rollercoaster throughout the film. There is one scene in which minor inappropriate language is used. There are also scary and intense moments.

I give The School for Good and Evil 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch The School for Good and Evil on Netflix beginning October 19, 2022. 

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