Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for January, 2012

‘Journey 2’ Is Worth the Journey to See It

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Journey2_TheMysteriousIsland.jpgA mythical island with beasts of surprising size (fist-sized elephants and train-sized centipedes) is the setting for a Treasure Island-like adventure that will be released in theaters Feb. 10. Fourteen-year-old Blake Hawes, a finalist in the 2012 KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Search (winners to be announced next week), thoroughly delves into the story and its presentation in his sensitive and observant review of the film.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Reviewed by Blake Hawes
(See his full review on video.)

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a fun and entertaining movie and offers some brilliant eye candy in some of the most impressive action scenes. Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) has a new man in his life, his stepfather Hank (Dwayne Johnson). This movie is more about the relationship between Sean and Hank than a mindless cliche adventure movie. Sean grew up with a lot of loss of loved ones and people coming in and out of his life. Sean has trust issues with his new stepdad and doesn’t want to get too close to him, for he’s afraid that he’ll leave him due to his unfortunate past. Hank wants to play a bigger role in Sean’s life and hopes to finally make a bond between them.

Then they uncover the mystery of the Mysterious Island and go on an adventure to find Sean’s long-lost grandfather (Michael Caine). The only way to get to the island is by flying by helicopter. The quirky and fun tour guide (Luis Guzmán) is the comic relief in this huge journey. His daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) is Sean’s love interest in the movie. The plot itself is easy to understand for younger audiences and it is fun to see how it plays out in the end. The movie is chockfull of massive set pieces, which all are creatively brought to life by cinematography and editing.

Hudgens doesn’t deliver the most believable performance of her career because of the fact that she acts more like a big-city girl than a hardened islander of their destination. But all in all, she has great chemistry between Hutcherson in the movie, and should be commended for it. Guzmán however, delivers some tongue-in-cheek jokes throughout the film. He’ll offer a couple of chuckles throughout the movie for older viewers, but most of his jokes will appeal to the younger audience. BlakeHawes_withDwayneJohnson.JPG

I like this movie because of its frantic action sequences and surprisingly well-suited soundtrack. This movie may be scary for younger viewers at points such as the lizard chase sequences. The intensity and the importance of the given situation during the final act of the movie gives the audience a very good reason to sit on the edge of their seats. Overall, I think the movie is very entertaining and has many great moments. I give it eight out of ten stars.

Photos: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island poster (top), Blake Hawes with Dwayne Johnson (bottom)

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Finalists Voice Their Enthusiasm in 2012 KF Film Critics Search

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

KF_FilmCritics_218x225.jpgThank you to all KIDS FIRST! supporters for viewing and voting for our 2012 KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Search. Your votes narrowed the field to these 24 finalists, and our panel of industry judges in reviewing their entries now.

While we’re waiting for the judges’ selection of the winners – which will be announced shortly – groove on this video we’ve prepared of all the finalists, taking an excerpt from their entry. A lot of positive energy and enthusiastic kids. Enjoy!

Finalists – 2012 KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Search

Alan Albert of Dunwoody, GA
Camille Bajema of Santa Fe, NM
Brianna Beaton of Clermont, FL
Morgan Bertsch of Northridge, CA
Caylee Boman of Fort Collins, CO
Kylah Bullock of Jonesboro, GA
Victoria Burns of Atlanta, GA
Verolyn Campos of Santa Fe, NM
Casey Chandler of Santa Fe, NM
Julia Chestnut of Highlands Ranch, CO
Aira Dani of Atlanta, GA
Delilah Dubois of Santa Fe, NM
Chloe Ford of Marietta, GA
Jared Gragg of Bloomington, IN
Blake Hawes of Kailua, HI
Jennifer Huntoon of Bloomington, IN
Hunter Willow Jones of Kutztown, PA
Cheyenne Nguyen of Northridge, CA
Julianna Noone of Warwick, NY
Kaden Butler of Loveland, CO
Kataya Rain of Santa Fe, NM
Talia Rashba of Oak Park, CA
Ajay Sharma of Bloomington, IN
Alyssa Willis of Bloomington, IN

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‘A Mile in His Shoes’ a Surprise Gem

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

AMileInHisShoes.jpgKIDS FIRST! youth film critic Sam Connan (age 10) had a chance to enjoy one of the special experiences of being a film critic: discovering the unexpected gem of a movie. That’s what he found A Mile in His Shoes to be – “really a very good movie” to which he gives a full five out of five stars.

Available now on DVD from Vivendi Entertainment and Nasser Entertainment, the powerful and positive family-friendly film is screening at the Beloit International Film Festival on Feb. 18. The screening is free, so if you’re near this southern Wisconsin town, consider making it a family outing.

A Mile in His Shoes
Reviewed by Sam Connan
(See his full review on video.)

I just finished watching A Mile in His Shoes, and when I was first sitting down to watch it, I thought, “Oh please, don’t be as bad as I think it’s going to be!” But that was unfair of me because, first of all, I didn’t know anything about it, and second of all, it was really a very good movie.

It’s about an autistic farm boy who has Asperger’s syndrome, and he likes to feed his pigs by throwing apples into a tub that is nailed sideways to a tree so his pigs can eat smashed apples. A baseball coach sees him doing that, so he has the kid try it with a real baseball, and the kid throws the ball so hard that it goes straight through the tub.

The baseball coach realizes that this kid is a natural pitcher, so he recruits the kid, whose name is Mickey.

Much of the movie is about Mickey’s troubles communicating with the world outside the farm, functioning in society.

Luke Schroder played Mickey in this, and I was very surprised when I went onto IMDb.com to find that there was really nothing on him. Then I realized that this movie was filmed just last year (2011), so this was probably his first film. But, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that he is going to be a gigantic star. He was so incredibly wonderful in this role. He doesn’t have much to his credit yet, but he will.

I liked the way that they show things through Mickey’s eyes. I don’t have Asperger’s, but they show it in a way that gives you a better idea of what it’s like to have Asperger’s and look around and comprehend what’s happening. I think that is very well done. SamConnan.JPG

I’d have to say that the age range is pretty much anybody. Very small kids might not like it because there’s a lot of talking, although some of the stuff that Mickey says is very funny.

All in all, I’d have to give this a five out of five stars, because this was really a wonderful movie. This is something I’d recommend to friends. It’s very good.

Photo: A Mile in His Shoes box art (top), Sam Connan (bottom)

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Heroic ‘Valiant’ Soars again on HDnet Movies kidScene

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Valiant.jpgThe title character in this Disney animated film is a small woodland pigeon who yearns to do noble duty in the war effort and join the Royal Homing Pigeon Service. KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Makai Weber Colvin (age 10) give the film five out of five stars “because it’s just so great for everyone,” and adds an enthusiastic “And I’ll bet you’ll love it, too.” Valiant is voiced by Ewan MacGregor, part of a stellar cast – it might be fun to try to match the voices of Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie and John Cleese to their avian characters. The 2005 film was nominated in 2006 for the Young Artist Award’s Best Family Feature Film – Animation. One of many classics brought to your home by HDnet Movies kidScene, a morning and Friday night programming block specifically for kids and families, Valiant screens on Fri., Jan. 20 and Sun., Jan. 29.

Reviewed by Makai Weber Colvin
(See her full review on video.)

I’m reviewing the movie Valiant, a Disney film. This movie is about a small, little bird that lives in a small, little town. But he wants to become a messenger bird. A messenger bird is a bird that carries important messages to people across the country. So, if a person was in the army, a messenger bird would go send the letter to the army and then they would send the letter back to the army back at home.

But the evil hawks are trying to stop that, and they have to fix it. They need new messenger birds, so they decide to train them. Valiant wants to be a messenger bird so badly that he goes to try out to be one. Nobody thinks he can be a messenger bird, because he’s so little. But Valiant is much bigger than he appears to be. MakaiColvin_180x250.jpg

This movie is a really good movie to watch with the whole family. The animation in this movie is very detailed. And I loved the picture of Valiant because he has colors right below his neck. They were pink and blue, and they were very cool to see.

I give this movie five out of five stars because it’s just so great for everyone. And I’ll bet you’ll love it, too.

Photos: Valiant poster (top), Makai Weber Colvin (bottom)

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Elmo Is Too Happy for Grouchland

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

ElmoInGrouchland.jpgThe Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, a 1999 film nominated in 2000 for the Young Artist Award’s Best Family Feature Film – Animation, is a Sesame Street mix of puppets and people. It would be fun viewing for toddlers and early elementary-school-aged kids, says 10-year-old KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Makai Weber Colvin. Another of the many classics brought to your home by HDNet Movies kidScene, a morning and Friday night programming block specifically for kids and families, it will run Jan. 23 through Feb. 27.

If you’re in the business of creating programming for kids, take note of the Kid, Youth and Parent Power conference presented by International Quality & Productivity Center in Orlando, Fla., March 26-28. The conference will focus on top business challenges and engaging the family with innovative, responsible marketing strategies. IQPC is offering a limited number of special package prices to KIDS FIRST! Contact [email protected].  

The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland
Reviewed by Makai Weber Colvin

(See her full review on video.)

I’m reviewing the movie The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. This movie is about Elmo and all of his friends from Sesame Street. Elmo has a very beloved blanket that he loves so much, but when the blanket gets lost and goes down the portal to Grouchland in Oscar’s trashcan home, Elmo has to get it back.

Trying to get the blanket back, Elmo falls down the portal into Grouchland. And he can’t find his blanket in Grouchland. Everybody’s grouchy in Grouchland, as you can guess. But he doesn’t really know how to act grouchy because Elmo’s always happy.

Elmo has to get his blanket back, so he has to get to the evil master who stole his blanket. The evil master does not want to give the blanket back but Elmo thinks he can get it back. He goes through amazing adventures through the woods and finds giant chickens and even goes through the Garbage Queen’s kingdom.

This movie has so many amazing adventures in it, you’d like to watch it. The music is very upbeat and joyful. Almost every scene has a song in it, and Elmo or one of the characters sings it. It’s very joyful, but also kind of grouchy since they’re in Grouchland.

My favorite character in this movie would probably have to be Elmo’s friend from Sesame Street, most likely Big Bird, because Big Bird says that they have to go save Elmo when they can’t find him. They don’t really know he’s in Grouchland until Oscar tells them he’s in Grouchland. They all go off on a mission to go find Elmo. MakaiColvin_180x250.jpg

This movie is not for older kids, and it might have been a little bit too young for me. I suggest this movie for two and up. Teens and ten-year-olds and nine-year-olds probably won’t be the most interested in it because it’s kind of a younger kid’s movie. But if you’re younger, I’ll bet you’ll love it. I give this movie three out of five stars.

Photos: The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland poster (top), Makai Weber Colvin (bottom)

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