Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for June, 2012

‘Mirror Mirror’ Shines on Home Video

Monday, June 25th, 2012

MirrorMirror_bluray2.jpgIf you missed it in theaters a few months ago – or want to be able to revisit it at your leisure – Twentieth Century Fox is releasing Mirror Mirror on DVD and Blu-ray on Tues., June 26. In this updated version of the classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the dwarfs have new names – and much stronger personalities, as KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Julianna Noone, age 12, describes in her review (below). In fact, she says, “My favorite characters are the dwarfs, because they are funny and have more personality than the dwarfs in the classic story.” KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Anthony Aranda, age 9, find Mirror Mirror “has a lot more action than the classic Snow White and there are a lot more cool parts.”

There are, of course, extras on the DVD on top of a high-quality presentation of the movie. But it’s the Blu-ray version that really turns on the magic, including a behind-the-scenes featurette, a toe-tapping dance-along to the reworked Nina Hart song “I Believe in Love” performed by the film’s Lily Collins (Snow White) that plays over the end credits, interactive digital storybook, deleted scenes and much more.

Mirror Mirror
Reviewed by Julianna Noone
(See her full review on video.)

Do you love classic fairy tales, but wish the stories could be a little more up to date? Well, then you will love the new film Mirror MirrorMirror Mirror is an updated take on the classic fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The film stars Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich and My Best Friend’s Wedding) as the Queen, Lily Collins (Abduction and The Blind Side) as Snow White, Armie Hammer (J. Edgar and The Social Network) as Prince Alcott, and Nathan Lane (Birdcage and The Producers) as Brighton. The Seven Dwarfs are still part of the action, but they, too, are updated to be more relevant to today’s audiences. The dwarves are: Jordan Prentice as Napolean, Mark Povinelli as Half Pint, Joe Gnoffo as Grub, Danny Woodburn as Grimm, Sebastian Saraceno as Wolf, Ronald Lee Clark as Chuckles and Martin Klebba as Butcher. 

The Queen is left in charge of the kingdom after the King disappears. The Queen cares nothing for Snow White or the kingdom and is only interested in keeping herself rich and in power. To do that she must get rid of Snow White and find a way to make Prince Alcott love her. So you can see that the basis of the story remains true to the classic fairy tale, but don’t worry, there are twists along the way that keep the story fresh and exciting. Once the Queen believes Snow White is dead, she moves on with her plan to marry the prince and live happily ever after. Snow White and the seven dwarfs have other plans and the action picks up with their fight to save the prince and their kingdom.  Julianna.jpg 

My favorite part of the movie is when Snow and the dwarfs show up at the wedding to save the prince. The dwarfs all hide in various places, such as under tables and under men’s long coats, but the funniest part is when Chuckles hides under a woman’s umbrella dress and cracks up laughing when he sees her undergarments – it’s a very funny and well-shot scene. My favorite characters are the dwarfs, because they are funny and have more personality than the dwarfs in the classic story. These dwarfs bring a great deal of character to the movie. I also do love Snow White in this movie, because she is strong and plays a heroine in this version of the story.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars, because this is a well-written and humorous take on a classic story and, while the basis of the classic story is there, there are enough twists to the story to keep it funny and interesting. Also, there are quite a few “laugh out loud” scenes that will keep you smiling throughout the film. I would recommend this film for ages 5 to adult, especially those who are fans of classic fairy tales. Enjoy this entertaining twist on this classic story.  

Mirror Mirror
Reviewed by Anthony Aranda
(See his full review on video.)

I am reviewing a really funny and family-friendly movie called Mirror Mirror. This movie is about Snow White and the seven dwarfs. I really like this movie because it has a lot more action than the classic Snow White and there are a lot more cool parts. 

This movie is all about a girl named Snow White whose evil stepmother mistreats her and the people who live in the kingdom. Snow White gets help from seven unusual dwarfs to take back her kingdom and help her people.

Some of the main characters in the movie are Snow White, the seven dwarfs, the evil queen and Prince Alcott. My favorite character is Prince Alcott because he is a really funny character. He drinks a potion that gives him puppy love and he does some really funny things. When The Queen throws a book out the window, the prince runs down all the stairs to try and fetch it. It is really funny!
My favorite part in the movie is when the evil queen gets help from black magic and two puppets on strings go to where the seven dwarfs live to try and hurt Snow White. These puppets are dancing around trying to get the dwarfs while Snow White is running to help them. Snow White gets a sword and cuts the strings and the puppets fall down. Another really cool part of the movie is when The Queen goes into her mirror. She walks right though it and comes out of the water into a place out in the middle of nowhere where she does her black magic. That is really cool.

I would recommend this movie for ages 5 and up because there are some sword-fighting scenes and a few parts that might scare little kids. Kids older than 5 would enjoy this movie especially if they know the classic Snow White story.

Photos: Mirror Mirror Blu-ray box art (top), Julianna Noone (middle), Anthony Aranda (bottom)

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Keep Those Film Submissions Coming for the KIDS FIRST! Festivals

Monday, June 25th, 2012

KF_logo.JPGThe early deadline for KIDS FIRST! Film Festival submissions is extended to June 30! That most economical of times to submit a film for festival consideration will hold all the way through the month. Send us your application by June 30 and pay only $20-$40 per title (see the “submit a title” page on our website for an explanation of categories and fees). KIDS FIRST! screens films at more than 100 children’s film festival venues around the country.

Other deadlines for this submission period are:
July 10, for the regular deadline
July 20, for the late deadline
July 25, for the extended late deadline for CQCM members and Withoutabox

Deadlines refer to the date we receive your submission application, not your product, so there is still time to submit for the early deadline!

The next submission period will start in December, for the second of our two annual submission periods.

While we have two submission periods for films, we accept screenplays year-round. Fee is a flat $55.

All screenplay entries will receive written, detailed feedback, and we’ve heard from many screenwriters that they’ve found this a marvelous opportunity to make their screenplays even stronger. Screenplays are now eligible for our KIDS FIRST! Recommended logo, too – and will be considered for the KIDS FIRST! Best Screenplay Award.

Our KIDS FIRST! Best webpage is up and running. Check it out to see films and trailers of our nominated and winning titles. Most of our nominees from the 2012 KIDS FIRST! Best Awards have given us permission to highlight their nominated and/or winning film or trailer on our new KIDS FIRST! Best site. Check it out here. Congratulations to all our nominees for making great children’s films!

We will be giving KIDS FIRST! Best Awards twice per year. We’ve made this change to align with the twice-a-year submission schedule (now just mid year and late year instead of quarterly.)

Don’t miss out! Send in your submission application by June 30 to be eligible for early deadline entry fees!

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‘Brave’ Is Awesome

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Brave.jpgOne of the special characteristics that makes watching a Pixar film such a satisfying experience is the characters are so fully human, however unbelievable their form may be. Their emotions, their actions – the audience can relate to them, and so get pulled into the movie.

As the KIDS FIRST! youth film critics share in their reviews, below, Brave accomplishes this feat – perhaps better than any other. Says Cheyenne Nguyen, age 8, describing the interaction between the main character, Princess Merida, and her mother, “You can feel the love they have for each other but not knowing how to show it.” (Cheyenne also shares her experience meeting with the director and cast.) Morgan Bertsch, age 7, says, “It’s an up and down rollercoaster ride because every scene makes you experience a different feeling beating in your heart.” And the film is for all ages, as Raven Devanney, age 14, shares, “I laughed and cried hysterically throughout this whole film, and it even moved my parents to tears. Even my dad, and he never cries at films.”

Reviewed by Cheyenne Nguyen
(See a full review from Cheyenne and Morgan Bertsch on video.)

Brave is an animated Disney/Pixar movie in 3-D.

If you like adventure and love suspense, this is the movie.

This is the very first princess movie by Pixar. Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is a tomboy and loves all roughness from her father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly). Her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), is trying to raise her according to tradition, to behave like a lady.

Merida’s spirit is so strong and her mother is having a hard time talking to her. Neither one of them listens to each other.

You can feel the love they have for each other but not knowing how to show it. When one of them can’t speak, and only show their love in actions, this is when they understand each other’s feeling.

This movie is very funny with all the Scottish men, who are so silly with their kilts, some with no teeth and some with really crooked teeth. The triplets are hilarious.

The music is so relaxing with the beautiful Scotland sceneries. It’s also very festive when all the clans are having a get-together.

You can see Princess Merida’s and the bear’s hair strands as though they are real. The quality of Pixar 3-D is out of this Earth.

The part I did not enjoy is the fogginess and the darkness of the movie and the scary legends. Also, some of the accents are thick and I could not understand what they say. It seems like they smash all the words into one big word.

The message in this movie is, you can change your fate if you have the courage to do it.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this movie for kids ages 8 to 50. I see a lot of moms having tears and laughing at the same time.

Reviewed by Morgan Bertsch
(See a full review from Morgan and Cheyenne Nguyen on video.)

Brave is awesome by Disney/Pixar!

I got to see it tonight — the premier at Disney — it was the most enjoyable, fantastic experience! I loved the beginning short, with the little boy and the twinkling stars. I give it a moon-full of twinkling stars, it was that incredible.

Now let’s talk about Brave, shall we? It’s about a princess who wishes to change her fate. She also is a good girl in a bad sort of way. The film is awesome and I love it. It’s for families.

There is a witch, and when Merida decides she wants to change her fate, she is led to her by the Willow Wisps. The witch is half witch, half woodcutter. She is a master at sculpting bears from wood.

I love the three bears. They are adorable and really cute. If I had to add one thing to this movie, it would be more adventures with the three little bears. They were that cute!

My favorite scene in the movie is when the mother bear is learning how to fish. That is a great clip of the mother and daughter being together and learning something new.

Watching Brave, my emotions were all over the place. I was laughing, crying and frightened when the bear attacked. Then back to laughing, and it was hilarious. My feelings were great, and it’s an up and down rollercoaster ride because every scene makes you experience a different feeling beating in your heart.

Much of the animation looked real instead of animation, and that was amazing.

I think this is for ages 6 and up. I give it five twinkling stars plus another moon-full of stars for the beginning short, and that equals thirty hundred thousand stars.

Make sure you watch the end past the credits for another really good laugh. Watch it to the very end and don’t sneak out early.

Reviewed by Raven Devanney
(See her full review on video.)

Brave is a new Disney/Pixar film about a young princess who breaks tradition. Determined to change her fate, Princess Merida attempts to use a spell to change her mother’s opinion on marriage. But as Merida soon learns, not everything is as it seems when it comes to magic.

Brave is a visual masterpiece. And I honestly believe that it is the best Disney/Pixar film that I have ever seen. With such beautiful animation and an unsuspected story line, I believe that Brave will go down in history as one of the best animations ever.

I laughed and cried hysterically throughout this whole film, and it even moved my parents to tears. Even my dad, and he never cries at films. The emotion was so wonderful and so beautifully crafted, and the comedy was very spot on and hilarious. And it made for a wonderful emotional medley.

I think that my favorite character would definitely have to be Princess Merida because she is so strong and determined, even when she is faced with such challenges. I think that she is a character every young person should look up to. She’s also very determined to right her wrongs and fix her mistakes, which is something that every person should aspire to do.

My favorite scenes are watching the bear queen trying to figure out survival in the wilderness, because her facial expressions are so human. So kudos to the animators on that. And her personality – she still seems like she is in a castle, and it is very, very funny.

I think that the end of the film is the best part of the entire movie. It blew me away and it completely topped my expectations for any movie. But I can’t tell you about it; you’ll just have to go see it in theaters.

There are definitely some scary and some intense parts in this film, so parents, have caution when you’re watching it with your young children. But I definitely would recommend this film for all ages because it’s absolutely breathtaking and amazing.

On a scale of one to five stars, I would give Brave 20 stars, because it was, like I said, absolutely amazing. So grab all your friends and family and go see Brave, the new animated film, in theaters as soon as possible.

Photos: Brave poster (top); KIDS FIRST! youth film critics, top to bottom: Cheyenne Nguyen, Morgan Bertsch, Raven Devanney

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‘Rock of Ages’ Rocks

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

RockOfAges.jpgSunset Strip. It’s a name with the same sense of magic as that of the city it runs through: Hollywood. New Line Cinema’s release of Rock of Ages brings to theaters nationwide the Broadway stage hit built on the oft-told tale of young people coming to Hollywood in pursuit of a dream – in this case, to be a rock star. Add chemistry to the magic as their quest brings together small-town Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough, whose mastery of dance has earned her recognition as both a dancer and a choreographer) and city-boy Drew Boley (Diego Boneta, a successful singer in real life with gold and platinum records in Latin America, Brazil and Spain).

KIDS FIRST! youth critics Blake Hawes, age 15, and Raven Devanney, age 14, both give the musical a superlative “best” – and single out Tom Cruise for raves as hot rock ’n’ roller Stacee Jaxx. “He just kills in this movie,” says Blake. While Blake describes Cruise’s character as composed of different elements of rock stars from the ’60s and ’70s, Raven sums him up as “an egotistical, wild rocker.”RavenDevanney_and_BlakeHawes.jpg

Check out the full reviews by Blake and Raven on the KIDS FIRST! website, and see why they recommend Rock of Ages for ages mid-teen and up.

Photos: Rock of Ages poster (top), Raven Devanney and Blake Hawes (bottom, left to right)

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‘Miss Minoes’ Cat-walks into Our Hearts

Monday, June 11th, 2012

MissMinoes.jpgMiss Minoes has charmed audiences around the world, earning awards not just in its home of the Netherlands but at festivals as far-flung as the Artek International Children’s Festival in the Ukraine and the Chicago International Children’s Festival in the United States. Theatrically released in the U.S. last Christmas season, it is available on home video DVDs, Internet downloads and cable Video on Demand starting June 12. Ed Arentz, managing director of Music Box Films, which brought the film to the U.S., chats with KIDS FIRST! on our radio show Coming Attractions and shares more about the film in interview blog “‘Miss Minoes’ an Art-house Treasure for Kids,” posted separately from these reviews by KIDS FIRST! youth film critics Camille Bajema and Brianna Beaton.

“This film is a blend of fantasy and comedy that the whole family can watch together,” says Camille (age 10), noting that “there are so many funny parts.” The Dutch dialog of the original has been replaced with English dubbing, and Brianna (age 12) says the film is “easy to follow and enjoyable.” Brianna especially credits the acting of Carice van Houten, who, as the title character, “turns from a cat into a human and still has all her cat-like instincts.”

Miss Minoes
Reviewed by Camille Bajema
(See her full review on video.)

Miss Minoes was made in 2001 and filmed in The Netherlands. This film is a blend of fantasy and comedy that the whole family can watch together. I really enjoy this movie, based on the novel Minoes by Annie Schmidt and directed by Vincent Bal, because there are many cats in this film and I absolutely love cats. I also really like this film because there are so many funny parts, like when Miss Minoes is human but doesn’t know how to act like one.
This film is about a cat named Minoes (played by Carice van Houten) who gets turned into a human after drinking some chemicals from a deodorant factory. This part of the movie is a little confusing and hard to follow because they jump right into the story before the characters and plot have been developed. So make sure you pay close attention right at the beginning of the movie. Soon after [Minoes turns into a human], she meets a reporter named Tibbe (played by Theo Maassen), who writes for the local newspaper and is in desperate need of a good story in order to keep his job. Miss Minoes can talk to the neighborhood cats and helps Tibbe by organizing the cats to go out and find news, then bring it back, so she can tell Tibbe. He has lots of exciting stories to write about and becomes successful in his job. Throughout this film, Miss Minoes still acts like a cat though she’s a human from drinking the chemicals. Therefore, she still exhibits many feline behaviors such as nuzzling noses, sleeping in a box, climbing trees when she sees a dog, and climbing all over the rooftops at night. This is the funny part about her that makes you like her character.
My favorite scene is when Miss Minoes teaches Bibi (played by Sarah Bannier), who is Tibbe’s landlord’s daughter, to climb up on the roof. I like this part because I think it would be fun and adventurous to climb up on rooftops and in and out of windows! The part I don’t like in this film is when the villain named Ellemeet (played by Pierre Bokma), the owner of the deodorant factory, is shooting a gun at the cats in his garden. There is also more violence when Ellemeet kicks a cat in an alley and hits a cat’s paw with a bottle. Don’t worry, none of the cats get hurt. Ellemeet is a really bad guy, but he pretends to be nice to everybody and the animals. The townspeople think he’s a model citizen, but he’s anything but that! This film was originally [filmed] in Dutch and then they dubbed the voices, which doesn’t look too good.
I recommend this movie for boys and girls ages seven through twelve because there is some violence and suspense that might frighten younger children and the storyline is a little hard to follow. I give this film four out of five stars.

Miss Minoes
Reviewed by Brianna Beaton
(See her full review on video.)

This is a very cute, entertaining and enjoyable film with lots and lots of cats.

I like this film because it has a little humor and creativity. I love how Miss Minoes (Carice van Houten) turns from a cat into a human and still has all her cat-like instincts. To me, this is a very challenging role to be able to switch back and forth like that throughout the film. I really start to enjoy this film when Miss Minoes becomes friends with the humans and [I] see how she is communicating and reacting to them. This is really cool. I like how most of the background music is upbeat and goes beautifully with the specific scenes.

Miss Minoes is a Siamese cat that is curious and gets herself changed into a young woman by drinking some dangerous chemicals. She dresses and talks like a young woman, but also eats and climbs trees like a cat. She finds and helps a shy journalist, Tibbe (Theo Maassen), prove to his town that they have a villain for a factory boss who is not to be trusted. She gets all the latest and greatest information from all her little cat friends and passes it to Tibbe. Another main character is Bibi (Sarah Bannier), who is Tibbe’s closest friend but also is a kid.

Vincent Bal directs Miss Minoes, which is an adaptation of the 1970 novel by Annie M.G. Schmidt that was released in the Netherlands in 2001. This film is dubbed in English, is easy to follow and enjoyable.

A couple of great messages in this film are to respect each other’s differences and to not judge a book by its cover, because Miss Minoes’ outside appearance is a woman but underneath she is truly a cat. BriannaBeaton.jpg
Miss Minoes is great for ages eight to twelve and mostly girls who love cats; they will definitely enjoy this film.

I give this film four out of five stars because, although it’s a great cat film, I just think it has a little too many cats for a dog lover like me.

Miss Minoes is overall a good film and I’m sure you will like it as well. So don’t forget to get your copy on DVD — and always listen to your felines.

Photos: Miss Minoes poster (top), Camille Bajema (middle), Brianna Beaton (bottom)

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