Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for March, 2012

Cheers for ‘Growing Up with Hello Kitty’

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

GrowingUpWithHelloKitty1_2.jpgKIDS FIRST! youth film critics Camille Bajema (age 10) and Morgan Bertsch (age 7) give enthusiastic kudos to a couple of DVDs that are highly educational in their purpose. Growing Up with Hello Kitty – a two-DVD series released today – teaches kids about manners and about some very basic personal skills. The reason for Camille’s and Morgan’s enthusiasm is clear – it’s Hello Kitty, of course! The fact that it’s Hello Kitty whose experiences are the teaching moments is exactly what drew Natsumi Ueki and Robert Woodhead to the videos’ potential, and their company AnimEigo prepared the Japanese videos for the United States audience. Robert Woodhead visited on the KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions radio show to talk about the project, and shares more in the blog posted just before this one with Camille Bajema’s and Morgan Bertsch’s reviews (below).

Growing Up with Hello Kitty 1
Reviewed by Camille Bajema
(See her full review on video.)

I’m reviewing the movie Growing Up with Hello Kitty 1. This movie is about two sisters, Mimi and Hello Kitty, growing up. Throughout these six seven-minute episodes, Mimi and Hello Kitty learn how to answer the telephone, eat their vegetables, clean up their messes, change their clothes, sleep by themselves and help their mother with chores around the house.CamilleBajema_sml.jpg

I like this movie because Mimi and Hello Kitty learn to have a positive attitude toward doing things that their parents want them to. They also learn how to be more independent. Parents will like these movies for their kids because it teaches basic skills and to respect and listen to their parents.

These episodes are short, so they hold a young child’s attention.

I recommend this movie for girls aged 4 through 7. I give this movie four out of five stars.

Growing Up with Hello Kitty
Reviewed by Morgan Bertsch
(See her full review on video.)

Today, we’re going to learn about the movie Growing Up with Hello Kitty. She has six episodes in each of two DVDs. You guys will love these episodes, just like I did.

It teaches you these: Talking on the phone; eating their vegetables; and also saying, “I’m sorry.” And cleaning your own mess. Oh, and [Hello Kitty] also has a twin sister – which they are nothing alike – and she has friends. MorganBertsch.jpg

I loved it! Five twinkling stars. [It’s for] boys and girls, or anyone who’s a fan of Hello Kitty. The ages are 2 to 7. It’s coming out on March 27.

Photo: DVD box art for Growing Up with Hello Kitty 1 and Growing Up with Hello Kitty 2 (top), Camille Bajema (middle), Morgan Bertsch (bottom)

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‘Growing Up with Hello Kitty’ a Most-Special Project

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

RobertWoodhead.jpgGrowing Up with Hello Kitty comes to the United States courtesy of entertainment company AnimEigo after a chance discovery during a business trip to Japan. “My wife [Natsumi Ueki] was in Japan in a business meeting, and this title caught her eye,” says AnimEigo CEO Robert Woodhead. A fan of Hello Kitty, she brought the videos home to consider what the company might do with them.

Not only were the Hello Kitty videos different for AnimEigo in the fact that they were teaching videos, but, Woodhead says, “We had never done children’s video before.”

Each story is short, focused on something a small child needs to learn or is having difficulty with – like proper table manners, being patient, or “Don’t touch Daddy’s computer,” explains Woodhead. “They’re getting these messages from their parents all the time. This is a way to reinforce those lessons through characters they know and identify with. It’s a useful thing — it’s why they were made, in Japan.”

Preparing the videos for a U.S. market involved not just translating the words but adjusting the messages. “We had to make adjustments to deal with differences in culture between Japan and the U.S.” He points to having an omelet for dinner — which ended up staying in the new videos — as one such cultural difference.

This would be a very specialized project for the Wilmington, N.C.-based entertainment company, but resources were in their very backyard. “In Wilmington is one of the best voice directors in animation in the world,” Woodhead says. “We were confident we could hand the project to him, with the translated script and cultural notes.” Scott Houle’s final version is so well-dubbed, Woodhead says, that viewers can’t tell it was dubbed.

Growing Up with Hello Kitty is a series of two DVDs, each with six videos. “We picked the 12 most appropriate to the U.S.,” says Woodhead. All but two episodes made the cut; the two unused ones depicted too Japanese-culturally specific situations, such as how to bow properly. Both discs are being released on March 26.

The videos’ core audience is 2- to 9-year-olds. Woodhead expects the kids to be drawn to the Hello Kitty character, and anticipates parents being attracted to the educational quality. “It’s not just entertainment,” he notes. “It has positive messages.”

“One of the fun things about this business is, every so often we run into the opportunity to do a really interesting project. This is the most special one we’ve done,” Woodhead shares. “We thought it would be an interesting challenge, and expected it to be just a niche title. We had no idea it would hit the way it has.”GrowingUpWithHelloKitty1_2.jpg

Photo: Robert Woodhead, getting the creative juices flowing (top), Growing Up with Hello Kitty 1 and 2 DVD box art (bottom)

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‘John Carter’ Soars

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

JohnCarter.jpgIf an Earthling goes to Mars, who’s the alien? Civil War veteran John Carter has amazing powers in an environment inhabited by creatures twice his size when he’s transported to that distant planet. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures’ theatrical release brings to the screen another epic adventure from the same creative imagination that gave us the well-beloved Tarzan series, Edgar Rice Burroughs. John Carter is based on Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars, which predated Tarzan in publication by mere months but has taken much longer to make it to the screen. KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Gabriella Chu, age 15, shares insights on both the story and the film adaptation.

John Carter
Reviewed by Gabriella Chu
(See her full review on video.)

From Disney’s latest $250-million-film comes the exhilarating 3-D adventure of John Carter. This movie is based on the first of 11 novels of the series series A Princess of Mars, written about a century ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs. In this film, John Carter is a Civil War veteran who finds a medallion that teleports him to Mars. There, he makes allies and foes with the aliens he encounters and falls in love with the princess of Helium. At the same time, massive war is occurring between the aliens, so Mars is in a chaotic state, and there is also an antagonist who tries to use schemes to put Carter back on Earth. Can John Carter manage to stay with his princess despite these obstacles?

Writer and director Andrew Stanton wrote the magnificent screenplays for Toy Story 1, 2 and 3; Wall-E; and Finding Nemo; but John Carter is not one of his best works. Some parts are not well rendered and a bit corny, but I did enjoy the ending of the film because it is interesting and unpredictable, and I am sure this movie will become very popular. I also liked the main theme of the movie regarding to cultural differences. The movie shows how different the norms and appearances are for aliens on Mars compared to people on Earth, yet it is universal for both life forms to have good intentions.

The CGI animation is also impressive, for it details even on the smallest of aspects. Its vividness combined with the 3-D makes the movie pop to life, particularly during the action scenes. The CGI animation is very compatible with movies such as Avatar and Planet of the Apes. The cinematography is also beautiful since the landscape of the film is set in the desert, which makes the movie more interesting to me since I rarely see action scenes occur in such an isolated, dry and hot place.

As for the actors, all of them performed their roles well, but I think Taylor Kitsch was especially well suited to his heroic character John Carter.

GabriellaChu_3_1.jpgI recommend this movie to teens 13 and older because there are a few violent scenes. The movie is a great family film, especially for tweens and some teens. Overall, the movie is an entertaining cinematic experience. There is a myriad of action scenes and the entire film is in 3-D, which adds a lot of depth and makes the movie seem realistic. You will definitely be thrilled if you’re into science fiction movies and video games. Watch John Carter, as it is out in theaters now!

Photos: John Carter poster (top), Gabriella Chu (bottom)



Welcome ‘Tintin’ to Your Home on DVD

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

AdventuresOfTintin_DVD.jpgParamount Pictures now offers you on DVD and Blu-ray last year’s theatrical hit The Adventures of Tintin. Racking up an impressive list of award nominations, including an Oscar for the music, the film took home the International Animated Film Association’s Annie Award for Animated Effects in an Animated Production. The characters, although animation, look mroe like real people than cartoon. In fact, 12-year-old KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Brianna Beaton says, “I almost forget that I am watching an animated film, and several times I get lost in the moment and think it’s real life.” It’s an appreciation fellow KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Blake Hawes (age 15) shares in his review, too (which can also be seen on video).

The Adventures of Tintin
Reviewed by Brianna Beaton
(See her full review on video.)

This is a great animated film! I absolutely love it. The Adventures of Tintin has lots of action and mystery, and will keep you on the edge of your seat. I almost forget that I am watching an animated film, and several times I get lost in the moment and think it’s real life. I like Snowy, Tintin’s dog, because he is very loyal and will go anywhere with Master.
The fearless reporter, Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell), and Captain Haddock (voiced by Andy Serkis) set off on an adventure, hunting for a sunken ship, the Unicorn, which had been commanded by Haddock’s ancestor. Trying to find three scrolls, which contain clues to where the treasure is hidden, Tintin and his new friend, the Captain, become closer and closer friends as they get deeper and deeper into their adventure.

Steven Spielberg (War Horse) directs this outstanding film and reminds me there is a little kid in all of us. This film sends a great message that sometimes you just need someone to rely on when going through your own adventure. BriannaBeaton.jpg

I recommend this film for ages 8 to 13. And because of all the suspense and tons of action it has, I give this film 5 out of 5 stars.

The Adventures of Tintin is truly a great treasure and a must-see, so get your copy on DVD or Blu-ray and enjoy the adventure!

Photos: The Adventures of Tintin DVD box art (top), Brianna Beaton (bottom)

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New ‘My Little Pony’ Adventure on DVD

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

MyLittlePony_FriendshipMagic_1.JPGFull of optimism and cheerful color, the animated adventures of the My Little Ponies in their land of Equestria have delighting kids on their TV show for several years. Now released on DVD by Shout! Factory, the episode “The Friendship Express” is 20 minutes of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series. Sweet entertainment comes with a moral and the series’ signature valuable educational benefit; as 8-year-old KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Cheyenne Nguyen explains in her review of the movie, it “is about friendship and how evil could be disguised.”

My Little Pony: The Friendship Express
Reviewed by Cheyenne Nguyen
(See her full review on video.)

I totally love this movie. It has great music and adventures. This movie is about friendship and how evil could be disguised. Twilight Sparkle is on a mission to find all six gems of the magic spell to make the darkness pony vanish so the night will NOT last forever. There were other ponies that joined Twilight Sparkle to search for these gems. These other ponies have special gifts and this makes everything entertaining. They have to go to the Evergreen Forest and face many dangers and challenges.CheyenneNguyen.jpg

This movie is good for 4-8 years old. I recommend this age group because the story line is easy to follow and the music is upbeat. I give this movie 5 stars.

Photos: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic box art for the episode “The Friendship Express” (top), Cheyenne Nguyen (bottom)

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