Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

The Lion King – A Work Of Art That Lives Up To The Original In A New Way

July 14th, 2019

Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny on the plains of Africa. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother — and former heir to the throne — has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is soon ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. Now, with help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba must figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Brad M. comments, “There are a multitude of dazzling aspects in The Lion King, but the most stunning is the heavy and effective use of CGI. From the beginning to the end of the film, the computer-generated imagery creates animals that are incredibly realistic and authentic.” Elle C. adds, “This CGI masterpiece brings a new twist to the story visually, as well as musically. The opening scene sets the tone for the whole movie, bridging the original animation with this new live action take, into one beautiful panoramic view of the film’s setting.” Zoe C. adds, “There are stunning visuals, a powerful story of betrayal, coming of age, re-birth and the circle of life. The idea of what it really means to be a king and all the original sentiment is intact. I love all the animals and think it is really impressive how they filmed this movie.” Calista B. wraps it up with, “There’s no denying that the original Lion King from 1994 is a classic. Gorgeous animation, amazing story and absolutely timeless music… How can you remake something that’s already so timeless? Well to me, the end result is okay at best.” See their full reviews below.

The Lion King
By Brad M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

The Lion King is a hilarious and entertaining new Disney movie! This work of art lives up to the original animated version of The Lion King in a new and engrossing way. If you are a fan of Disney or just love movies in general, you will be infatuated by this new incredible film.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala and Donald Glover as Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This movie follows heir to the throne, Simba, as he learns about ruling his Kingdom in the heart of the African savanna. The king of the lions, Mufasa, wants nothing more than peace in the savanna and to protect his son. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. Mufasa’s diabolical brother, Scar, is hungry for power and blood. This hairy beast will stop for nothing in order to obtain the throne. Simba and his new-found friends must act fast to put an end to his malicious uncle’s plans.

There are a multitude of dazzling aspects in The Lion King, but the most stunning is the heavy and effective use of CGI. From the beginning to the end of the film, the computer-generated imagery creates animals that are incredibly realistic and authentic. This new lively take on a classic story is incredibly refreshing and engaging. Another factor I immensely enjoyed was the voice acting. Billy Eicher, who plays Timon and Seth Rogen, who plays Pumbaa, are absolutely hilarious. Every other line spoken from their mouths had me dying of laughter. Chiwetel Ejiofor, the actor who plays Scar, is perfect for his role. He left the audience completely despising his character, which is perfect for a villain the caliber of Scar. The only moment in the film that is slightly disappointing is the song Hakuna Matata. I think it is too different from the original version and not as intriguing. On a separate note, the writers wrote a touching and adorable script. I was delighted by the father-son relationship between Simba and Mufasa. The interactions and playful nature seen through their characters is heart-warming.

The Lion King reveals that bravery is an important attribute, but is only effective when executed in a selfless manner. This underlying message is valuable for our everyday lives. Parents should be aware that this film has a fair amount of violence.

I give The Lion King 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommend to kids ages 8 through 18. Make sure to check out this film when it pounces into theaters July 17, 2019. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it.

The Lion King
By Elle Cohen, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The live-action adaption of The Lion King is bound to be a Disney classic. This CGI masterpiece brings a new twist to the story visually, as well as musically. The opening scene sets the tone for the whole movie, bridging the original animation with this new live action take, into one beautiful panoramic view of the film’s setting. The entire film looks so realistic that it’s almost like a nature documentary.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of Florence Kasumba, Eric André and Keegan-Michael Key as the hyenas, and Chiwetal Ejiofor as Scar, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The well-known storyline hasn’t changed much:  Mufasa (James Earl Jones) is the head of his pride and the King of “all that the light touches” in the African Serengeti. His son, Simba, (the younger, JD McCrary and mature, Donald Glover) is brave, but mischievous. Simba’s Uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is bitter and angry that Simba is the heir to his brother’s throne. In order to get Mufasa and Simba out of the way, Scar manipulates the hyenas into joining forces. He then arranges an “accident” to kill Mufasa and take over the kingdom. Scar blames Simba for Mufasa’s death, and Simba runs away—but it’s Mufasa’s love and wisdom that brings Simba back to assume the throne. 

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of John Oliver as Zazu, and JD McCrary as Young Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 29, 2019…© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


The intense and serious aspects, and the comedic scenes, come together to create a beautiful balance. James Earl Jones reprises his role as Mufasa, bringing the comforting and strong tone we expect from the leader of the pride. His touching relationship with his son is the centerpiece of this film. Meanwhile, Ejiofor’s, Scar, performs “Be Prepared” as a powerful villainous anthem, interpreting the character as  very complicated and intense. Florence Kasumba’s turn as Shenzi is also a fierce and threatening leader of her pack of hyenas.

The comedic acting is brilliantly funny.  The comedy duo of Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumba, are the highlights of the movie. Their playful banter brings  a sharp wit to some of the most intense scenes in the film.

While hyenas Keegan Micheal Key and Eric Andre’s dysfunctional comedy shone a spotlight on the hyena crew, John Oliver’s Zazu was a funny take on Mufasa’s right hand bird.

The real star of the show is the incredible CGI animation that brings these animals to life. Their expressions and movements are so realistic and animal-like, but the personification of these seemingly wild animals seems so natural. Cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel of The Right Stuff, and Jon Favreau, director of The Jungle Book, make sure the entire movie was visually stunning.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of James Earl Jones as Mufasa, and JD McCrary as Young Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 29, 2019…© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The songs from the original movie feature heavily, and while they are performed and produced in a more pop-oriented way, the score is more sweeping and orchestral. Classics like “ Can You Feel the Love Tonight?,” and “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” are  performed by pop stars Beyonce and Donald Glover, and produced by Pharrel Williams. Hans Zimmer provides a dramatic score, that works with the feeling of the new film.

The message in this film is that we may doubt ourselves, but it’s important to remember who we are, and that our friends and family can help remind us.  There are some violent and intense scenes, so I wouldn’t recommend it for very young viewers.  But kids from ages 6-18 would enjoy it, as well as adults. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because Disney has created a brand new, can’t-miss classic. The Lion King will be released on July 19 in theaters nationwide.

The Lion King
By Calista Bess, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

There’s no denying that the original Lion King from 1994 is a classic. Gorgeous animation, amazing story and absolutely timeless music. So making a remake was understandably going to be tricky.  How can you remake something that’s already so timeless? Well to me, the end result is okay at best.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voice of John Kani as Rafiki, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I almost feel like I don’t need to explain the plot as it’s the same story as the original. There are barely any changes and, even then, the changes are very minor. So if you’ve seen The Lion KIng (1994)  then you’ve seen The Lion King (2019). However there’s one major change that in my eyes makes the remake suffer significantly and that’s the graphics.

I should preface this by saying I do prefer animation to CGI “realistic graphics” because I feel animation just looks better. But my main concern is that realistic graphics ruin the storytelling greatly. The Lion King is a very emotional story. And when you have such an emotional story you need to connect and feel for the characters. The original was able to pull this off perfectly with fantastically detailed facial expressions. Unfortunately, because of the realistic graphics, the characters in The Lion King (2019) show little to no emotion. This kills basically every important scene, as I didn’t feel invested in it. I kept thinking to myself –These lions do not look interested in what’s happening. The realism also has another consequence: I could not tell the difference between the lions at times. At times I thought is that Nala or Simba’s Mom? Because the original is animated, they can differentiate the lions through things like their fur color, eyes and facial structure. The CGI remake does not have this ability.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba, and James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It also felt like the creators tried cutting down on the more “animated” scenes. The Mufasa ghost scene doesn’t have Mufasa’s spirit appear; instead they just have his voice come from the clouds and sometimes lightning will strike to form his face. I feel seeing his full appearance is more powerful.

The songs suffer as well. “Be Prepared” is severely cut down which is disappointing, because it’s a favorite song from the movie. The “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” segment in the original has all this crazy choreography that integrated the various animals in unique ways that can only be done in animation. In the remake they just run around. I was actually somewhat bored, if it wasn’t for John Oliver as Zazu.

I give this movie 2 out of 5 stars and  recommend it for ages 5 to 18. The Lion King (2019) comes out July 19, 2019.

The Lion King
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I love this film! There are stunning visuals, a powerful story of betrayal, coming of age, re-birth and the circle of life. The idea of what it really means to be a king and all the original sentiment is intact. I love all the animals and think it is really impressive how they filmed this movie.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba, Billy Eichner as Timon and Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The story of The Lion King is about a little cub named Simba who is going to become king. One day, a wild stampede puts Simba’s life in danger and his father, Mudasa, dies after he rescues him. Mudasa’s evil brother Scar makes Simba believe it is his fault and forces him to abandon the kingdom. Simba carries guilt and feelings of not being brave when he runs away, leaving everyone, including his best friend Nala behind. He goes to a new land where he meets Timon and Pumba and they become the best of friends. His life is good, but lacks purpose. From there, Simba’s friend Nala comes to find help and meets Simba after so many years. Scar’s reign is despicable and all the animals are trying to stop Scar’s evil plans. Simba needs to become the king he was meant to be.

I love the comedy in this film. I also love how, in one scene, they play a little piece of “Be Our Guest” – that’s actually my favorite scene in the film and it is not in the original. I definitively think this is a perfect visual recreation of the original. I love that they chose The Lion King to be the next Disney Classic to turn into live action. Lately, Disney been only doing Princess stories, so I like that they chose animals this time. I absolutely adore the animals and I feel like they fascinate you during the entire film. This is not a reinvention of the story; it is pretty much just taking the original to the real world. The way the live action blends with digital imagery is fantastic. This photo realistic Africa on the big screen is splendorous.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba, Shahadi Wright Joseph as Young Nala and James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There are so many messages in the film: stay true to yourself, being compassionate is more important that being powerful, and we can’t change our past. It is very inspiring to hear again “Hakuna Matata.” This words have been an important motto for people since the original Lion King was released in 1994. The song was composed by Elton John and was nominated for an Oscar. There’s a new Elton John song – “Never Too Late,” and other surprises in this new one. All the beloved classic songs play in this 2019 version, which makes the audience very happy.

I give this film 5 of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 13, and adults as well. Never forget: Hakuna Matata. The Lion King 2019 opens July 19, 2019, so look for it.

Get in the Mood for Summer Camping with The Cat in the Hat!

July 5th, 2019

It’s the first day of summer vacation and The Cat in the Hat whisks Nick, Sally and Fish off on the greatest great outdoor camping adventure ever! Our gang gets back to nature as they hike through the Fickle Fern Forest, camp out overnight, trek over Mt. Weewobble and canoe down the Tickle Drop River… just in time for Fish to meet up with his family for a grand reunion. Along for the ride are Little Cats A, B and C, who discover there’s wonder in nature once their electronic devices are powered off! Nick and Sally help keep the Little Cats out of trouble, while Fish tries to keep his jacket pressed and the mud out of his fancy fishbowl… all while getting up close to some of nature’s most awesome sights, and learning how best to respect them. After being lulled to sleep under the stars by a chorus of animals, the morning brings Everyone agrees it really has been the Greatest Great Outdoors Adventure Ever! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “This DVD features the incredibly talented and funny Martin Short as the voice of the Cat in the Hat!  The illustrations and animation are what you would expect from the Cat in the Hat’s world and I especially enjoyed the fantastical wilderness scenes. ” Morgan B. comments, “I absolutely love all the different things I learned about from this DVD! The animation is spot on in this show which brings out a lot of cool stuff.” Alejandra G. adds, “ This series is very enjoyable for kids to watch. The plot is well designed for kids to understand and relate to the stories.” Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror adds, “What a great DVD to get you in the mood for the upcoming summer vacation! I’m a big fan of the Cat in the Hat and his shenanigans. This one does not disappoint!” See their full reviews below.

The Cat in The Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!
By Selene Weiss, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Looking for adventure this summer?  Look no further than the new DVD The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!  Join The Cat in the Hat, Nick, Sally and Fish on their trip to Fish’s family reunion.  Along the way they are joined by the Little Cats as well as an appearance by Thing 1 and Thing 2!  Plenty of trouble ahead for this group.

On the way to Fish’s family reunion his fancy new fishbowl starts to leak.  The Cat in the Hat tries to fix this problem for his friend and as usual lands the group in more trouble.  The “thingamajig” heads to a crash landing and Thing 1 and Thing 2 appear to help their friends.  The group starts on a wilderness trek to help Fish make his way to his family when they discover the joys of nature.

This DVD features the incredibly talented and funny Martin Short as the voice of the Cat in the Hat!  The illustrations and animation are what you would expect from the Cat in the Hat’s world and I especially enjoyed the fantastical wilderness scenes.  The river scenes in particular are my favorite animation on this journey.

The message of this adventure is to enjoy the great outdoors and don’t get lost in your screen-time.  Interacting with people, things and the world around you is more important than viewing life on a screen.  The Little Cats learn this lesson several times on this DVD.

I rate this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12.  The DVD is available now so look for it.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

I absolutely love all the different things I learned about from this DVD! The animation is spot on in this show which brings out a lot of cool stuff. In this collection, the Cat in the Hat, Nick, Sally, Fish, Thing One and Thing Two are all back for new and exciting adventures about camping. It makes the perfect summer DVD for kids who love Dr. Seuss’s terrific characters and stories. I enjoyed watching this so much because it is interesting and enjoyable and shows so many different people from all around the world. I imagine that kids from everywhere will enjoy this since camping is something everyone can do.

My favorite scene features a crafty squirrel who borrows food. We are in the great outdoors and have to remember that humans are in animal territory so, they need to be kind to the animals. The voice actors truly fit their characters, especially Martin Short as the Cat in the Hat. Mr. Short’s energetic voice over suits the Cat so well. His voice is very unique which makes his character always so fun, happy, encouraging and knowledgeable. He makes watching the show a treat.

Electronics rule the world today, so camping is great way to get back to nature.  Leave the phones at home and go outside and enjoy the world. This is the great lesson on this DVD. I would like to go camping this year for a fun vacation. It might even start a family tradition that my family and I would enjoy – time away from electronics exploring the wonderful world we live in. It is so easy to sit and worry that everything will go wrong, but things tend to always work out. Spend less time worrying and more time enjoying life is a message I took away from this.

There is no fishing on this camping trip since the goal is to take Fish to his family reunion. We see family members coming together from all difference places to get reacquainted with one another and connect in new ways.  It is always fun to see our family members from far away, listen to their stories about the past and learn about others in your extended family. I’m going to make this part of my summer plan.

I recommend this DVD for kids ages 4 to 12. You can learn a lot about camping, friendship and family reunions while watching this adventure. It is very catchy and perfect for summer. If you’re looking for something to do this summer, then this will give you some wonderful ideas. I give this terrific DVD 5 out of 5 camping adventure stars. This fun DVD is available now so, go check it out.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!
By Alejandra G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

To start off, this DVD impacts children in a positive way with its great vocabulary and important lessons that are taught in each episode. This series is very enjoyable for kids to watch. The plot is well designed for kids to understand and relate to the stories. I can understand why kids are attracted to it. The way the show is made, with all the colorful objects and cute plots draw the kids in quite easily and, in that moment, their life seems interesting.

All the episodes on this DVD have different stories and plots, but the format and the meaning is pretty much the same. All the adventures are different, but every one teaches the lesson that you can play and have fun in nature enjoying the most awesome sights. You can have a great time without damaging the environment yet, you still need to respect and take care of it. Along with that, the viewer experiences some great adventures that are unforgettable.

My favorite scene is at the end of one episode when The Cat in the Hat, Nick, Sally, Fish and all his family gather together in one musical finale extravaganza where they are all celebrated as true adventurers. I like this scene because it is very creative, has great songs and the little musical finale is so well organized. It definitely gets children’s attention since it really stands out.

The important message gleaned from these episodes is that people and children can have fun without electronic devices. This DVD teaches kids about the wonder in nature. It shows how phones, computers and other electronic devices are not more fascinating than the activities you can do in nature. It shows you how to share quality time with the people you love and learn about your surroundings.  This DVD is available now so, go check it out. It’s just in time for summer vacation.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!
By Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Juror

What a great DVD to get you in the mood for the upcoming summer vacation! I’m a big fan of the Cat in the Hat and his shenanigans. This one does not disappoint! It’s entertaining for the whole family and children, ages 3 to 9 will love it! I like that all the characters such as the Fish are included in this fun outdoor adventure. It also has a great story line from the beginning to end and it’s just so fun to watch. I found myself laughing out loud more than a few times. I also like that it is rather original and the animation and soundtrack are great. I give this 5 out of 5 stars and think that the adults will also enjoy watching this one with their young children. This is available now, be sure to go check it out.

Spider-Man: Far From Home – Bigger and Better than Its Predecessor

July 1st, 2019

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “Spider-Man: Far From Home is bigger and better than its predecessor, Homecoming and another exciting entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Far From Home is a blast that’ll have you on the edge of your seat and is a nice palette cleanser after the despair of Endgame and Infinity War.” Veronica S. adds, “The performances and the comedy are this film’s high points. Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio and Tom Holland as Peter Parker absolutely steal the show and are both a pure joy to watch. This is Gyllenhaal’s first Marvel flick, and it looks like he was born to be in one. Spider-Man:  Far From Home, like most Marvel films, is hilarious; all the side characters had several lines that got the entire theater laughing.” Madison M. chimes in with, “The message of Spider-Man: Far from Home is that the world doesn’t need another you, it needs  someone who can be better. Throughout the movie Peter is constantly reminded of Tony Stark (Iron Man) after his death in Endgame and Peter feels that he needs to be the next Iron Man. Then Happy reminds him that no one could ever be Iron Man and that Peter needs to be a better Spider-Man.” Newcomer Navah W. wraps it up with, “The special and visual effects that take place are beyond awesome! They include four of the five elements of science – earth, fire, water and wind. The fighting scenes that take place in the cities that the students visit cause so much destruction of boats, bridges, buildings, cars and planes that it made me think, “Wow! Does this really get destroyed during the making of this movie?” See their full reviews below.

Spider-Man: Far From Home
Benjamin Price, Kids First! Film Critic

Spider-Man: Far From Home is bigger and better than its predecessor, Homecoming and another exciting entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Far From Home is a blast that’ll have you on the edge of your seat and is a nice palette cleanser after the despair of Endgame and Infinity War.

With pressure from being a superhero mounting every day, Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man (Tom Holland), needs a break. He’s ready to go on a school trip through Europe and confess his feelings for classmate MJ (Zendaya). Peter’s easy going summer is mangled when creatures called Elementals attack the first stop on his trip. Peter is appointed by the head of S.H.I.E.L.D, Nick Fury to assist Quentin Beck in taking the monsters down. Beck, a.k.a Mysterio, is ready to sacrifice anything to vanquish the Elementals after they destroyed his home and killed his family. Peter sets out to protect his friends and the world at large from the coming supernatural threat.

Tom Holland plays a great Spider-Man. Far From Home relies on him being likable and relatable and this time around, somewhat vulnerable too. Holland does all of these things really well. This film doesn’t work if you’re not invested in Peter Parker, but lucky for us, this version is perhaps the best incarnation of the character yet. The awkward, yet sweet interactions between Peter and MJ are a highlight of this film.

Far From Home has a fun atmosphere, even when the stakes are tense and thrilling. The comedy is sharp and witty, but the emotional nuance of Peter’s arc is well-executed. Peter has to face the responsibilities of being a “friendly neighborhood Spider-man” and step up to fill the void left by his recently fallen mentor and friend Tony Stark, a.k.a Iron Man. Stark expected the best from Parker and trusted him with numerous gadgets and resources to continue to do good after he was gone. Parker has to live up to those expectations, while also mourning the loss of his friend.

I recommend this for ages 12 to 18 for some violence, peril and language. Spider-Man: Far From Home is a great teen comedy with a touch of science fiction, romance and heroism. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend you see this film when it swings in theaters July 2nd.

Spider-Man: Far From Home
By Veronica S., KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Spider-Man: Far From Home is one of the most exciting movies in theaters right now. Its thrilling action will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire runtime, and you’ll leave the cinema smiling. Thisis the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it truly did not disappoint.

This film follows your “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”, aka Peter Parker, leaving New York City to go on a school field trip throughout Europe. On his trip, he plans to spend time with his friends, tell his crush how he feels about her, and go sightseeing around the several countries he’s visiting. But his plan will soon come to a halt when Nick Fury warns him about a new threat coming to Earth. With the help of a new superhero named Mysterio, Peter Parker will have to decide whether to enjoy his teenage years and have fun on his trip or to save the world, risking his identity in the process.

The performances and the comedy are this film’s high points. Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio and Tom Holland as Peter Parker absolutely steal the show and are both a pure joy to watch. This is Gyllenhaal’s first Marvel flick, and it looks like he was born to be in one. Spider-Man:  Far From Home, like most Marvel films, is hilarious; all the side characters had several lines that got the entire theater laughing. Something else I admire about this film is how well it encapsulates teenage life and all of the awkward, exciting, and confusing moments being a teenager brings. The film portrays teens very realistically, and I have to commend the director, Tom Watts, for this. The special effects are marvelous, especially in scenes dealing with Mysterio.

With many highs, this film also has its lows. My main problems with the movie are the heavy exposition scenes and the dialogue. The way it feeds the audience information and tells backstories is poorly written which makes the scenes feel unnatural. The predictability of the story took me out of the film several times, but the movie still contains many moments which utterly shocked the entire audience. Although it has its lows, the highs fully outweigh them.

All in all, Spider-Man:  Far From Home is a fun-infused thrill ride that you will not want to miss. If you enjoy the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you will absolutely adore this one. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11-18, but adults will also appreciate it. Check it out in theaters on July 2, 2019. 

Spider-Man: Far from Home
By Madison Moy, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

What I like about Spider-Man: Far from Home are the special effects, the quality of the storyline, the fight scenes and the fact that Spider-Man is my favorite superhero! I can’t just point out one specific part. The MCU never disappoints.

Spider-Man: Far from Home is about the after-math of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame and how everyone that is destroyed in the snap that they call “The Blip” comes back the same age. It’s been five years so, instead of their being 21 and graduated, they are still 16 and have to re-do their sophomore year of high school. So, the school year ends and the class is going on a summer vacation to Europe. Peter doesn’t want to be Spider-Man on this trip, but coincidently Nick Fury happens to need Peter’s help as Spider-Man. He fights along Quentin Beck (Mysterio) and, while in the comics Mysterio is the bad guy, it seems his role is reversed in this movie. While all this is happening, Peter is trying to tell MJ (the girl he really likes) how he feels.

My favorite part of Spider-Man: Far from Home is when Peter walks with MJ to give her a gift and tell her about how he feels. As he gets ready to tell her, she interrupts and asks him if he is Spider-Man. It’s a very funny scene.

Spider-Man in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: ™ FAR FROM HOME.

The message of Spider-Man: Far from Home is that the world doesn’t need another you, it needs  someone who can be better. Throughout the movie Peter is constantly reminded of Tony Stark (Iron Man) after his death in Endgame and Peter feels that he needs to be the next Iron Man. Then Happy reminds him that no one could ever be Iron Man and that Peter needs to be a better Spider-Man.

I give Spider-Man: Far from Home 5 out of 5 stars. It is a great cinematic movie with great performances and is a lot better than Spider-Man: Homecoming. I recommend it for ages 13 to18, plus adults because of the language and violence. Make sure to go see Spider-Man: Far from Home in theatres everywhere when it opens Tuesday July 2, 2019.

Spider-Man: Far from Home
By Navah Wallace, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The live action thriller movie Spider-Man: Far from Home is mind blowing and hilarious!I definitely enjoyed this movie. The action-packed fights between the superheroes are explosive, like bombs going off everywhere. The characters travel to adventurous places and weird sci-fi things begin to happen.   

The storyline follows Peter Parker preparing for a high school field trip with his classmates to exciting cities in Italy and France. Peter is planning to finally wow MJ, the girl he really likes. However, he becomes frustrated when he is called on mission as Spider-man and tries to avoid the mission by “ghosting” Nick Fury’s calls. Ultimately, that does not work and he finds himself trapped and forced into the mission.

The special and visual effects that take place are beyond awesome! They include four of the five elements of science – earth, fire, water and wind. The fighting scenes that take place in the cities that the students visit cause so much destruction of boats, bridges, buildings, cars and planes that it made me think, “Wow! Does this really get destroyed during the making of this movie?” However, I realized later it is simply special and visual effects, because I have learned that drones are used to make you think something is really happening when it is not. In addition to all the action, I also wondered if the superheroes did their own stunts or if there are multiple stunt doubles. Therefore, I did some research and found out that there are several stunt performers.

The message in this movie is about illusion versus real. In other words, everything is not what is seems to be, and people will believe anything, so trust no one. My favorite part of the movie is when Peter Parker gets to shoot his shot with MJ. You should know that there is some profanity and risky situations that kids may try to imitate, so parent guidance is suggested.

I give Spider-Man: Far from Home 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. I also think adults will be amazed and enjoy it as well. It opens in theaters nationwide July 2, 2019, so be sure to check it out.

Yesterday – An Unbelievable Plot And A Film Filled With The Beatles Music

July 1st, 2019

Jack Malik is a struggling singer-songwriter in an English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie. After a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed. Performing songs by the greatest band in history to a world that has never heard them, Jack becomes on overnight sensation with a little help from his agent. KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer Kimbirly O. comments, “Imagine a world without music from The Beatles. As I type these words, I realize how far-fetched this sentence appears and, as a music lover, it’s preposterous! The Beatles have influenced thousands of musical artists who followed in their hallowed footsteps post-Liverpool. While unbelievable, this is the premise behind Director Danny Boyle’s (Oscar-winning Director, Slum Dog Millionaire) latest film, Yesterday.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. adds, “The movie is creative in many ways, including using locations that inspired several Beatles’ song titles such as Eleanor Rigby’s grave and Penny Lane.  My favorite character is Ellie, Jack’s manager. She is sweet, funny and beautiful. My favorite part is when Jack searches for The Beatles on the Internet.” Ethan P. wraps it up with, “This is a very entertaining and funny movie!  This film has two hours of comedy, romance and music.  I really enjoyed watching this movie and listening to some of The Beatles classic songs.” See their full reviews below.

Yesterday
By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Imagine a world without music from The Beatles. As I type these words, I realize how far-fetched this sentence appears and, as a music lover, it’s preposterous! The Beatles have influenced thousands of musical artists who followed in their hallowed footsteps post-Liverpool. While unbelievable, this is the premise behind Director Danny Boyle’s (Oscar-winning Director, Slum Dog Millionaire) latest film, Yesterday. When a 12-second global power outage occurs, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel, EastEnders) is riding his bicycle, collides with a bus, and lands in the hospital with serious injuries. During his recovery, he casually utters statements, which are song lyrics from the Fab Four, and no one gets it. His confusion leads him to Google, where Jack types “The Beatles,” only to received definitions of beetles. Try as he may, he can find no reference of The Beatles anywhere and, throughout the film, we learn other brands are also nonexistent in this alternate universe, such as Coke. Jack suddenly realizes he is the only person on Earth who remembers The Beatles.

(from left) Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) and Ellie (Lily James) in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

Things get very interesting as Jack has always been a struggling musician. Think kid’s birthday parties, lackluster music festivals and coffee shops. He is lovingly looked after by his lifelong friend Ellie (Lily James) who is also his manager, roadie and his only faithful supporter. If this level of closeness was not enough, we also witness unrequited attraction between the two main characters and, since the script comes from Richard Curtis (Love Actually), we know where this is headed.

Jack decides to learn the songs of The Beatles and make them his own – and he finds success! So much success, Ed Sheeran (playing himself) discovers him. Along with the pop superstar, comes his agent (Kate McKinnon), a money-grubbing, tremendously offensive yet also a funny woman who thinks she found the proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow. Things don’t quite ‘Come Together’ entirely.

Himesh Patel as Jack Malik in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

Things get ridiculous as Jack and Ed Sheeran embark on a world tour and meet a few interesting people along the way. The song selection is impeccable with “‘Help” providing an accurate reading of the song’s rarely spoken meaning, appropriate to the character and plot. The “Long and Winding Road” of the film is truly a musical journey.

I give this film 3 of 5 stars for the some of the casting, the humorous interludes, Kate McKinnon’s performance, UNBELIEVABLE MUSIC (kudos to whoever had to manage clearances for this film – WOW!) and female empowerment. This film will appeal to ages 12 to 18 and introduce or re-introduce the music of The Beatles to younger generations. This writer found herself toe tapping, singing along and loving all the memories this music holds. Check it out when it opens in theaters June 28, 2019.

Yesterday
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This movie is very entertaining. It has great songs, great singing and a little romance. The acting really pulled me into the story.

(from left) Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) and Ed Sheeran (playing himself) in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

Yesterday is about a man named Jack who  wants to become a famous singer. While riding his bike, the world’s power goes out and Jack gets hit by a bus. After recovering, his friends give him a new guitar and he tries it out by singing a song by The Beatles. His friends have never heard the song before or even know who The Beatles are. So, Jack gets an idea to claim those songs as his own, so he can become famous.

This new world that Jack now lives in, is crazy. It does not have The Beatles. And John Lennon is alive. Can you imagine?  The movie is creative in many ways, including using locations that inspired several Beatles’ song titles such as Eleanor Rigby’s grave and Penny Lane.  My favorite character is Ellie, Jack’s manager. She is sweet, funny and beautiful. My favorite part is when Jack searches for The Beatles on the Internet. 

(from left) Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) and Debra (Kate McKinnon) in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

The message of Yesterday is to follow your dreams, put love first and tell the truth. It has a bit of bad language and a lot of drinking, but hey, it takes place in England, so I guess that is to be expected. It has some negative behavior and other risky things that kids might try to do.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18. Adults will like this as well. This movie is in theaters June 28, 2019.

Yesterday
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

This is a very entertaining and funny movie!  This film has two hours of comedy, romance and music.  I really enjoyed watching this movie and listening to some of The Beatles classic songs.

(from left) Jack Malik (Himesh Patel, on tv screen) and Ellie (Lily James) in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

Yesterday is about a British musician name Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) who writes his own songs. Jack is not a successful musician and is about to give up his career as a singer/writer, but his long time friend Ellie (Lily James) encourage him to continue with his dreams to keep writing and singing.  One night, while Jack is riding his bike, the entire world suffers a 12 second blackout.  Jack gets hit by a bus and sent to the hospital.  For some reason, after the global blackout, The Beatles are erased from history; they don’t exist.  No one knows who The Beatles are except Jack.

The combination of comedy, romance and music is really good.  Not only does Himesh Patel sing all The Beatles songs himself, he has an extraordinary voice and plays several instruments tas well. My favorite part of this movie is seeing Ed Sheeran as himself.  Ed visits Jack and invites him to sing with him.  Ed’s manager Deborah (Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live) is extremely funny.  She becomes Jack’s manager and helps him make a great album singing The Beatles’ songs.  Jack becomes super famous. 

(from left) Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) and Ellie (Lily James) in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

My favorite scene is when Jack sings “Help!” on top of a roof, in front of huge crowd.  I also love the cast, because they are all very funny. For example Jack’s best friend Rocky is played by Joel Fry, who is hysterical and James Corden plays as himself and he is always very funny to watch. . 

The moral of this movie is not to lie.  In the movie Jack lies by telling the world he wrote all the songs and becomes famous.  Also, he is in love with Ellie and doesn’t have the courage to tell her.  Lying can get you into more trouble than you are already in.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to18. This movie comes out in theatres June 28, 2019. Look for it.

The Lion Kid – Funny, Thought-Provoking And Courageous.

June 30th, 2019

Kidd Mane is a lion cub without a home – that is, until he wanders into the western settlement of Tuckerville, which happens to be a town without a sheriff! Meeting folks and making friends, Kidd applies for the job and, with a little help from the long-suffering town council – Judge Ryker, Miss Scarlet, and Miss Clarabelle – he becomes the new sheriff of Tuckerville! Unfortunately, this puts Kidd at odds with the notorious town founder, Mr. Bucktooth Tucker! With a new sheriff in town, Tucker’s crooked schemes are in jeopardy – until he resolves to run Kidd out, just like he did to the previous sheriff. Teaming with his devious lawyer, Jeb Easton, and recruiting two brutish thugs, Cliff and Gnash McGavin, Mr. Tucker pulls out all the stops to retain control of Tuckerville! On a collision course with the town’s old guard, it’s up to Sheriff Kidd and his loyal deputy, Tibs, to stand strong and turn back Mr. Tucker’s threat – or lose Tuckerville forever! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Elle S. comments, “This is very appealing, due to its excellent production and storyline.  Children will enjoy the animated animals talking and being expressive. There’s also a wild western location they will enjoy.” SaniyaRain adds, “Another good thing The Lion Kid teaches is that we should believe in ourselves. This is when the film shows that we should always have courage. For example, Mane doesn’t back down to the people who try to run him out of the sheriff position. He stands up to them and for what is right.” Morgan B. chimes in with, “My grandfather would be so happy that they are bringing westerns back and I am to wear to my “Howdy Sheriff” hat and my horseback riding. On top of that, I absolutely love westerns and the innovation in this film.” Kimberly M., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer wraps it up with, “The production quality of this film is excellent. The CGI visuals are of a Dreamworks’ animation quality. The sound quality is clear and suitable for most people, as is the soundtrack.” See their full reviews below.

The Lion Kid
By SaniyaRain F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The animated film The Lion Kid is full of surprises. The story focuses on a lion named Mane who is looking for a job. The first surprise is that he is not what we think when we think of in lions:  He’s nice, not mean, and he’s friendly.

Mane is traveling alone in a new town and meets a member of the town council who wants him to become the sheriff.  Mane is interested in the job, but he doesn’t realize that becoming the sheriff will bring him problems. Not everyone in the town is happy about this idea. There is a man who is running the town, and everyone is too scared to stand up to him.  The problems Mane has to face will teach him that he is able to be strong and brave.

The animation is basic. There are not many special effects in this movie, and it doesn’t look as real as some animated films. The cinematography is like the town: simple. I have to say that the movie is a bit slow at times. I was looking for more action and adventure, since it is set in a Western town. I thought it might have a little more violence, but I’m glad that it doesn’t because a lot of kids’ movies have too much.

I will say that I learned a lot, though. Some of the things I learned, I already knew, like that sometimes life is a big challenge. At first Mane faces challenges because no one wants to hire him without experience. That is why I was surprised when he becomes the sheriff. It is almost like he is forced into becoming the sheriff, and when he does, Mane promises to do his best and makes rules for people to follow.

Another good thing The Lion Kid teaches is that we should believe in ourselves. This is when the film shows that we should always have courage. For example, Mane doesn’t back down to the people who try to run him out of the sheriff position. He stands up to them and for what is right. He shows that doing what’s right is the best thing to do. I was happy to see that Mane does not back down and doesn’t run away.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 5 to 8. The Lion Kid releases July 2, 2019, so give it a shot and watch it because there’s always something to learn.

The Lion Kid
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

My grandfather would be so happy that they are bringing westerns back and I am to wear to my “Howdy Sheriff” hat and my horseback riding. On top of that, I absolutely love westerns and the innovation in this film.

The animation in this film is actually very dimensional and very colorful. Both combine to make a brand new world, filled with animals that can talk such as aardvarks, elephants and lions (of course). Oh my! And on top of that, flying high are sky-high balloons that can float up into the air, evil villains and so much more, which is a brand new twist on the Western tale. Speaking of villains, we have Tucker the evil villain, who wants to take over the whole town and the Lion Kid comes in to save the day. He’s my favorite character in this film. He’s not only kind and courageous; he’s adorable. All characteristics of good lions of course. He’s also the character who tells the moral of this story, which is that you need to stand up to the villains and, of course bullies, and tell them that they can’t take over your town or your life. I actually love this character because of that.

I would have to say that one of the off things about this film is that when the characters talk, some of their mouths move a little weird and it seems dubbed. Other than that Dream Machine Animation, which created this film and James Snider, who directed it, did a terrific job.

I recommend this for ages 4 to 10, because of the lessons that we learn and the animation will captivate the audience. They will love the characters and the animation. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. This movie comes out July 2, 2019. Be sure to look for it.

The Lion Kid
By Elle S., KIDS FIRST! Youth Reviewer, age 16

This is very appealing, due to its excellent production and storyline.  Children will enjoy the animated animals talking and being expressive. There’s also a wild western location they will enjoy.

There are honest characters that I wanted to root for. The villainous characters entertain, but I still want them to be exposed. The content and language is suitable for its target age group. Some words might be a bit advanced for some kids, but are not at all inappropriate. The main villain, Mr. Tucker expresses hope for continued inequality and uncivil treatment. His comments are more thought-provoking than violent.

The storyline involves problem solving and is thought provoking. There are plenty of lessons to be learned that most will find relatable. I like the message that it doesn’t take experience to recognize and protest against unfair treatment.

The Lion Kid is one of my favorite new films. I found it funny, thought-provoking and courageous. Kidd Mane is sure to become a fan favorite, because he has the heart for any job. He stumbles upon a town called Tuckerville. Oddly enough, this town is without a sheriff. Kidd is nervous, but he accepts the job with honor.

There are important messages in this film about facing fears, being an honest and hard worker and standing up for equality. Kidd Mane (aka The Lion Kid) is awarded the chance to transform a shattered community. He has support from his fellow animals, especially deputy Tibbs. Manipulation and rumors threaten Kidd’s mission to transform this oppressed western town.

I recommend The Lion Kid for ages 8 to 12, as they would really appreciate the continuous learning and acts of courage throughout this film. Most will find the problems addressed easy to relate to. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. It will be released July 2, 2019 so look for it.

The Lion Kid
Reviewed by Kimberly M., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

This animated tale tells of a lion that comes to the town of Tuckerville to take on the job as the sheriff.  The town readily accepts Sheriff Mane as their new law enforcer. But some local politicians, such as Mr. Jeb Tucker, are envious of this young, new sheriff and he attempts to sabotage Mane’s good name with falsified orders. The setting is of the Old West with the narrow, wooden, two-story buildings, old-fashioned carriages and outfits reminiscent of that time period. The only thing disconnected from the Old West setting is the airborne (Argonaut) carriages.  In the end, Mr. Jeb Tucker’s feelings’ about Sheriff Mane come full-circle for very good reason.

The production quality of this film is excellent. The CGI visuals are of a Dreamworks’ animation quality. The sound quality is clear and suitable for most people, as is the soundtrack. The animated location of The Old West is pretty accurate for its time, as are the costumes. The dialogue is appropriate for its target audience. There is no overly complicated jargon.

Taking all that in consideration, this production could be a bit more sophisticated. The scenes are a bit long and drawn out at times. As an adult viewer, I wondered if a young child would notice that and lose interest in some scenes. The Lion Kid appears to be modeling a Dreamworks’ production such as Shrek, but its humor and overall liveliness isn’t quite on the same par, although it is still entertaining. I would love to see more wit to the characters’ repartee.  The plot is rather straightforward and suitable for a young audience.

Parents should know that there are a couple of places when a character calls the donkey bureaucrat a “jackass,” as a play-on-words. Unfortunately, this “blurs the line” in terms of mild profanity.

I recommend this for ages 7 to 12 and give it 3.5 out of 5 stars as I did enjoy the themes and animation of this film. It releases July 2, 2019 so, check it out.

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