Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for July, 2011

HDNet Movies Brings ‘Babe’ and ‘Yellow Dog’ to Steal Your Heart

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Babe.jpgWhen HDNet Movie’s kidScene plays the 1995 movie Babe (airing Aug. 19), it’s not only a chance to root for the most appealing piglet since A. A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh’s sidekick but a chance to be awed by the exceptional feat of Babe’s trainer, Karl Lewis Miller. As KF Film Critic Gabriella Chu (age 14) expresses in her review, it’s hard to tell where the animatronics leaves off and carefully orchestrated live action comes in. And Gabriella finds more great animal acting in Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog (premieres Aug. 1).

Reviewed by Gabriella Chu
(and see her review on video)

Babe is a marvelous family classic! The movie tells the story of an innocent piglet who befriends animals on a farm and becomes especially close to a sheepdog named Fly. With Fly’s help and all of the animals on the farm, Babe enters a sheepherding competition. Will Babe win the competition even though he is just a piglet? Watch the movie for yourself!GabriellaChu_3_1.jpg

I liked this movie a lot because all of the animals are great actors and have personalities similar to people. At times I wondered if the animals were just extremely well-trained or if the use of animatronics was this effective. The dubbing was also wonderful. The format the movie uses to tell the story is like a children’s storybook, with each chapter telling an interesting story with a moral. The movie is also well directed. I especially liked the scene where Babe is trying to steal the farmer’s alarm clock, because director Chris Noonan used suspenseful music to make the audience feel the anticipation more.

I recommend this movie to children ages 4 and up because very little kids will still be able to enjoy it. Babe delivers a positive message that you can do anything despite your appearance.

Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog
Reviewed by Gabriella Chu
(and see her review on video)YellowDog.jpg

Are you a dog lover and into adventure? Then
Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog is the movie for you! This movie tells the story of a young boy named Angus who adopts a stray dog and names him Yellow. Angus, his father, and Yellow set sail one day, but a huge storm causes their boat to topple. Rescue teams are only able to find Angus’ father. Stranded on an island far from civilization, Angus’s and Yellow’s survival skills are put to the test. Will they get rescued? Watch this movie to find out!

I liked this movie because it is a heartwarming tale. The movie builds anticipation in the rescue team’s pursuit to find Angus and Yellow. I was especially impressed with Yellow’s acting! His facial expressions and actions resemble that of a person’s.

I recommend this film for children ages 7 and up. Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog is an uplifting journey and is a splendid family film.

Both films are among the many classics brought to your home by HDnet Movies on kidScene, a morning and Friday night programming block specifically for kids and families.

Photos: Babe (top), Gabriella Chu (middle), Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog (bottom)

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The Kids Are Still Talking About KF’s Film Critics Boot Camp

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

BootCamp2011_AnthonyAranda_3.jpgThe memories and insights will last a lifetime even as last week’s KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp becomes history. Kids ages eight to 13 immersed themselves in film amid the heady atmosphere of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif., guided throughout by filmmaker Janet Davidson, a long-time KIDS FIRST! stalwart.

“The best thing for me was getting to interview Nolan Sotillo and Janelle Ortiz from Prom because I was really nervous and then they ended up being, like, super nice, and it was really easy to talk to them,” says 13-year-old Raven Devanney, naming the actors who played Lucas Arnaz and Ali Gomez, respectively. “It was really fun.”

The stars made a similar impression on eight-year-old Anthony Aranda, who says, “Interviewing Nolan Sotillo and Janelle Ortiz is one of my favorite memories.”

Boot Camp-ers attended the red carpet event when Disney premiered its new Winnie the Pooh movie. “We got to see it early,” Anthony exclaims about the premiere, after describing a unique aspect of the red carpet event: “It’s usually a red carpet,” he explains, “but this time it was a honey-colored carpet. Because Winnie the Pooh likes honey.”BootCamp2011_RavenDevanney.jpg

“Being able to interview people on the red carpet [is a special memory for me] ’cause I had never interviewed anyone in person,” says Raven. “And it was a great experience.” It took some preparation, she adds, but it was pretty easy. “We got there about an hour early. All the campers sat at the table with Janet [Davidson, boot camp director] and Ranny, pitching ideas of questions to ask.” The confab was really helpful. “People would tell me questions that I hadn’t even thought about asking.”

It was a week of fun, says Anthony. And he’s got a special way to share his memories with his friends. “We were watching The Lion King 3D, and before [the screening], they gave us a picture of Pumbaa.” In fact, he adds, “The person who drew Pumbaa was there.” Anthony has a video, too, and he’s been showing that, too, to his friends at the year-round school he attends. “I’ve shown some people, and they think it was cool.” It was also “really cool” to see The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D, plus, he relates, “After we saw the movie, some of the producers came by, so we learned [about] making a 3-D movie.”

“Getting to meet a bunch of new people and make friends was really cool,” says Raven, who came to Southern Cal for the week from her home state of Colorado. “It was a really great experience all around. Being able to see the movies and then go home and write a review and then come into camp the next day and film them in front of everyone and being able to watch them back on the big screen was cool, too – being able to see what you look like on TV.”

It was hands-on learning, and everyone got to participate. Before filming their reviews on video, campers would read their reviews and everyone would share their suggestions. And when they’d film, Raven says, “Janet would give us suggestions on how to improve our filming.”

Experience itself provided her with lessons she feels are valuable: “It’s OK to be nervous [for an interview], because as long as you smile it’s a lot easier for the talent that you’re interviewing. And it’s good to research the people before you interview them.”

Photos: Anthony Aranda (top) and Raven Devanney (bottom) at KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp 2011

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Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

SamConnan_KennedySpaceCenter.JPGDisney/Pixar’s spring release of Mars Needs Moms had space authorities from NASA involved in its production! Looking to get insights into NASA’s role in the movie, KIDS FIRST! arranged for KF film critic Sam Connan to visit the Kennedy Space Center. Sam got a chance to explore some of what the movie’s young hero Milo goes through while learning what lies behind NASA’s interest in working with filmmakers.

Sam Connan at Kennedy Space Center

Hi. I’m Sam Connan, reporting from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, for KIDS FIRST!. The Kennedy Space Center is a wonderful way to spend the day if you want to get away from the amusement parks and get some science into your visit to Florida. I went there on business, but ended up having a wonderful time.

There’s a guided tour that you can take, and I highly recommend it. You get to see the real mission control for the Apollo mission, and a real Saturn Five rocket, as well as the launch pad itself. I personally didn’t get to see the launch pad because they were fueling up the shuttle Atlantis for the last flight in the manned space flight program. To find the guided tour, just go through the main building and go right. There’s usually a long line in front of a big tour bus.

Now I know that some young, aspiring astronauts are really bummed out because that’s the last manned rocket launch, but it isn’t. I talked to someone in the Exploration Space exhibit (an exhibit about the past and future of space exploration), and he assured me that NASA is going to initiate a new manned space program and they hope to have people on Mars by 2030. To find Exploration Space, just go straight past the main building to the picnic benches and then go to your left and there’s a big sign.

There is a shuttle launch simulator, which is very cool. They kind of scare you in the “Mission Briefing,” saying that it’s like you’re in a tin can that can be squished at any moment, and that the rocket’s going to tip forwards, and that it feels like an elephant is sitting on you because of the G-force, etc., but it’s not that bad. It’s actually fun. However, you do go directly vertical, so if you do have any of the conditions that they mention in the warnings, you’ll want to pay attention to that. To find the shuttle launch simulator, just look for a big building with a bunch of ramps on the side next to a life-sized space shuttle.

NASA will sometimes get involved with movies. Now I know what you’re thinking: “What could the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have to do with making movies?” Well, they can do one of two things: First, if someone is making a space movie and wants to work on the space center, or second, the people making the movie just want to be as realistic as possible, so they’ll ask NASA some questions about whatever it is they need to know about. NASA worked on the recent Disney/Pixar film “Mars Needs Moms,” and I expect that they did the second thing — helped to make the movie as realistic as possible.

There is also the Rocket Garden, a large courtyard with about twenty rockets and capsules. To find it, just go in the main entrance and go all the way to the left; it’s hard to miss.

As a completing factor of your Space Center experience, you’ll want to check out the I-Max theater, where there are two informational movies continuously playing every day.

All in all, I loved my experience at the Kennedy Space Center, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to have an informational but fun time.

Photo: KIDS FIRST! film critic Sam Connan turns astronaut at Kennedy Space Center.

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KIDS FIRST! Kids Shine at the ‘Winnie the Pooh’ Premiere

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Premiere_1.jpgWith flash bulbs popping and microphones extended to talent whose voices were, perhaps, more recognizable than their faces, the lucky kids at KIDS FIRST! Boot Camp plied their media skills at the pre-camp special event: Walt Disney Studios’ red carpet celebration for the new Winnie the Pooh movie opening this Friday (which gets an all-star rating from KIDS FIRST!).

Reviewing the film at the screening that followed the red carpet appearances were seasoned KIDS FIRST! film critics Anthony Aranda (eight years old), Makai Colvin (nine years old) and Raven Devanney (13 years old). Be sure to check out their reviews.

ChristopherRobinsRoom.jpgWith the live set of Christopher Robin’s room (pictured here) in the background, Boot Camp-ers mingled with co-director Stephen Anderson and many of the actors whose voices give life to the beloved characters – Tom Kenny (Rabbit), Craig Ferguson (Owl) Jim Cummings (dual role of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger) — and some of the often unsung talent of the wonderful animation, like Andreas Deja, supervising animator of Tigger. TomKenny_AnthonyAranda.jpg

Then, taking with them all the behind-the-scenes insights from these conversations, Boot Camp-ers headed to Disney’s theater — and all the excitement culminated with the premiere of the movie itself.CraigFerguson_RavenDevanney.jpg

Photos (top to bottom): Winnie the Pooh movie premiere at Walt Disney Studios, live set of Christopher Robin’s room, Anthony Aranda interviewing Tom Kenny (voice of Rabbit), Raven Devanney interviewing Craig Ferguson (voice of Owl)

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Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
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