Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for October, 2012

‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ Available to Come Home

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

ET_Blu_ray.jpgMany people who attended the 1982 Cannes Film Festival remember E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial as an overwhelming force that so captured everyone’s heart and interest that “phone home” was the catch-phrase along the Croisette. The darling of that prestigious film fest that year, E.T. (one of the KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Search Competition Official Titles, now out on DVD and Blu-ray) has stood the test of time and eqully delights a new generation, as our youth film critics’ reviews attest: “This quirky family classic is a favorite of mine,” says Blake Hawes, age 15. Julianna Noone, age 12, rates it “six out of five stars because it’s absolutely amazing, entertaining and enjoyable.” “This is the best sci-fi film” says Cheyenne Nguyen, age 8. “Steven Spielberg, even in the 1980s, went above and beyond to create something new,” says Victoria Burns, age 14, comparing the film’s special effects favorably to what has evolved now, 30 years later.

E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
Reviewed by Blake Hawes
(See his full review on video.)

E.T. the Extra Terrestrial is an instant classic. It is one of Steven Spielberg’s best movies: an adventure about a young boy named Elliott and his new alien friend E.T. trying to get E.T. back to his planet. It is a heartwarming journey full of memorable scenes and incredible lighting and photography.

This quirky family classic is a favorite of mine and is a part of my childhood. E.T. has some of the most amazing music I have ever heard in film. “Heartlight” by Neil Diamond is the main theme of this movie, and a good one at that.

The storyline and character development are extremely well done. By the end of the film, you have an emotional attachment to the majority of the characters. The scene where Elliott and E.T. are riding bikes and then suddenly start to float into the air over a silhouette of the moon is fantastic photography at its finest.

Overall, I give the movie five out of five stars. I find this movie suitable for all ages.

E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
Reviewed by Julianna Noone
(See her full review on video.)

If you love films about aliens, then this classic film is for you. Directed by Steven Spielberg, this film is as good today as it was when it was released 30 years ago. Also, this film has a star-studded cast, including Dee Wallace as Mary, Peter Coyote as Keys, and an adorable drew Barrymore as Gertie.

Follow along as Elliott, played by Henry Thomas, finds a lost alien that he names E.T. Can Elliott help E.T. find his way home? You’ll just have to watch to find out.

My favorite character is E.T. because E.T. is just the most adorable thing ever. He’s just so cute and so funny.

Also, my favorite scene is when Elliott realizes that his plant is coming back to life and he’s, like, “Oh, my gosh, E.T. could be alive again.” And so he goes over to the coffin, opens it, and he’s, like, “Oh, E.T.” and E.T. goes, “Home phone, phone home” and he just starts yelling “home” and “phone.” It’s absolutely hilarious. Elliott has to go running and get a blanket and wrap it around his head so no one will know E.T. is alive. He’s so happy after that. So, I love that scene.

The cinematography and special effects in this film are absolutely amazing. I am so impressed with how they made E.T. look so cute and so real. Also, the music adds such great effect to this movie. I think it is great; they did a great job.

I think that this film is for people of all ages because it’s such a great film and it’s a classic. I think everyone is going to enjoy this. It’s very entertaining.

Also, I think that this film is rated six out of five stars because it’s absolutely amazing, entertaining and enjoyable. I love it.

Look for this film out on DVD and Blu-ray everywhere near you.

And remember, wherever you are in the world, you can always “phone home.”

E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
Reviewed by Victoria Burns
(See her full review on video.)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a family movie that moves you to tears. Steven Spielberg, even in the 1980s, went above and beyond to create something new.

E.T. is accidentally left on Earth, and flees to avoid being captured. By chance, he meets, Elliott, portrayed by Henry Thomas. They form an extraordinary bond that boggles many minds.

E.T. is found and captured by an unknown government agency. But he still continues to try to “phone home.”

And the rest, you’ll have to see for yourself.

I give this movie five out of five stars and I recommend it for ages 7 to 70 because of its heartfelt bond between man and alien.

E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
Reviewed by Cheyenne
(See her full review on video.)

This is the best sci-fi film, directed by Steven Spielberg. This movie is about a boy named Elliott who meets an alien named E.T. Elliot’s little sister, named Gertie, is too young to understand why E.T. is on planet Earth. Elliott and Gertie have to go through a lot of twists and turns because they have to keep E.T. a secret.

The best scene in this movie is when Elliott and E.T. are touching fingers. It’s such a touching and magical moment.

The message in this movie is Elliott and E.T. are so connected that they do not have any barriers.

My favorite character in this movie is E.T. because he’s so magical, loving and caring.

I give this movie five out of five stars. This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. I give this age range 3 and up because some little kids might always say, “E.T. phone home.”

Share this page on:

Titles Announced for the 2013 KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Search

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

KF_FilmCritics_218x225.jpgKIDS FIRST! Film Critics Search competition for our 2013 youth film critics (ages 7 to 14) is now open. Check out the KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Search webpage forthe approved titles plus tips on how to submit, guidelines, official rules and a short video from our youth film critics sharing their experience.

Filmmakers love our program, too. Kenn Viselman, creator of recent release The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, and the film’s marketing professional Eileen Potrock, told us, “The KIDS FIRST! Film Critics came ot our junket and our premiere, and were among the most eloquent and informed reporters to attend. The training that KIDS FIRST! gives to these children provides not only professional skills, but poise and confidence as well. They are a great source of empowerment for young people and a wonderful outlet for anyone who works with children and families.”

And sharing her view of the experience from the parent’s perspective, the mother of one of our first KIDS FIRST! youth film critics, says, “My daughter’s experience with KIDS FIRST! has opened many doors for her within her own person, allowing her to strive for excellence in her written and oral presentations and to always ask the deeper questions about messages and meanings in media directed to children. Her confidence in public speaking has greatly increased as well as her feelings of value and worth of her own opinions and thoughts.” (Sarah Jane Geraldi, mother of Raven Devanney, a 2011 KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Search winner.)

The contest is open until midnight, Dec. 31, but the earlier you submit your entry, the better your chance to win. Entries are posted on a public website where friends, family and everyone interested can vote for their favorite review. The top 24 will be finalists, which we’ll announce the beginning of January, and the winning 12 will be chosen from among the finalists by a celebrity panel of judges. Winners will be announced the middle of January.

2013 KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Search titles:
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
The Princess Bride
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
Big Top Scooby-Doo!
Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups

Halloween Treat ‘Frankenweenie’ a Family-friendly Scare

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Frankenweenie.jpgA Halloween movie that is “heartwarming and hilarious” (KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Talia Rashba, age 11) AND “will have your hair stand up while watching the movie” (KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Cheyenne Nguyen, 8 years old) – Disney’s Frankenweenie impressed all our KIDS FIRST! youth film critics as a great family entertainment. It does, after all, have director Tim Burton’s singular touch of superb storytelling and a laudable moral with an uncanny use of the macabre.

The craft and dedication that went into making the film also impressed our KIDS FIRST! youth film critics. Describing the stop-motion animation, Morgan Bertsch, age 7, shares, “All the puppets took 24 movements to just capture 1 second of film. That’s crazy!” And, says Anthony Aranda, age 10, “The 3-D is awesome because it makes everything pop out.”

Reviewed by Talia Rashba
(See her full review on video.)

I absolutely LOVE this movie! It is a heartwarming and hilarious movie that I thoroughly enjoyed viewing.

Frankenweenie is a touching story about a boy named Victor and his dog Sparky. When Victor sadly loses his dog in an accident, he is heartbroken, but then he becomes determined to bring his dog back to life with the power of science. He has to hide his creation from everyone because people would freak out if they knew he had brought his dead dog back to life. But when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town have to stop the monstrous destruction of the town.

Victor (Charlie Tahan) is a smart and clever 10-year-old boy who loves science, making films and inventing things in his attic. He lives with his parents and his dog Sparky in the town of New Holland.

Sparky is a fun-loving and playful dog who loves his owner Victor very much. He loves chasing after balls and being the star of Victor’s homemade movies.

Mr. Frankenstein (Martin Short) is Victor’s dad, a friendly talent agent who is very outgoing and who likes to give advice to his son. He is proud of Victor’s accomplishments, but he is concerned he doesn’t have any friends besides Sparky. He would prefer his son to be more social and he encourages him to join the baseball team.

Victor’s mom, Mrs. Frankenstein (Catherine O’Hara), is a loving and supportive mother who encourages her son to do what he loves most, which is science. She loves her family, reading books and watching movies with her husband.

All of the actors’ performances are fantastic, including Atticus Shaffer, who plays Brick on the sitcom “The Middle,” film star Winona Ryder and Oscar-winner Martin Landau.

The thing I love the most about this movie is that it is a stop-motion picture. Stop-motion means that each character is a puppet and the animator must stop and position the puppet and take a picture each time, and once that is all put together, it creates filmed action. I think the stop-motion animation in this movie came out great. What’s really interesting is that all of the characters from Frankenweenie are based on Tim Burton’s very own drawings.

This movie is very funny, heartfelt and packed with action. To make it even better, this movie is in 3-D. Even though it is rated PG, there are some parts that are a little scary and, honestly, a little creepy! I really think Frankenweenie will appeal to adults because of the relatable humor. I recommend this movie for anyone from the age of 6 to 70 years old. I am giving this movie five out of five stars!

You can see Frankenweenie in theaters October 5th. Trust me, you don’t want to miss seeing this movie.

Reviewed by Cheyenne Nguyen
(See her full review on video.)

This scary stop-motion animated movie will have your hair stand up while watching this movie.

Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) is a bookworm who loves science. He lives in a small town name New Holland. His only real friend is his dog Sparky. Victor’s Mom (Catherine O’Hara) and dad (Martin Short) are both very supportive of his hobbies, which is making movies. However, his dad wants him to be outside more and play a sport. He is able to convince Victor to play baseball. This is where Victor loses his best friend, Sparky.

My favorite part of this movie is to see how Victor is surrounded by his classmates and teachers. They are Elsa (Winona Ryder); Toshiaki (James Hiroyuki Liao); Edgar (Atticus Shaffer); and Weird Girl (Dee Bradley Baker), who believes that her cat poops can predict the future. However, Victor’s favorite person is his new science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau).

Mr. Rzyskruski’s science lecture gives Victor the idea of using lightning to bring back life, and Victor is able to bring back Sparky. However, his classmates copy his formula and create “Mad Science.”

The message in this movie is science is neither good nor bad. It’s what you make of it. It can be bad if you have bad intention. It can be very good if you heart is in the right place. Science comes from the head to the heart.

The quality of the stop-motion animation is unbelievable. Each character is made out of clay and the filmmakers are able to make them come to life.

There’s awesome cinematography – the light and shadows create a very spooky, scary, horror, black-and-white movie.

The only part I did not like is when Sparky is hurt. It is too hard to watch your best friend hit by a car.

My favorite character is Weird Girl. She is so funny with her cat poops.
I rank this movie four out of five stars (due to some scary parts). 

I give this an age range of 8 and up.

Reviewed by Morgan Bertsch
(See her full review on video.)

This is a great movie if you want a little Halloween fright and scare.

This was Director Tim Burton’s debut for Disney, and I must say I really enjoyed this movie but it is kind of creepy. This is a stop-motion animation, black-and-white, 3-D movie. This was originally a short that Tim Burton did in 1984. It took him 27 years to bring this to the big screen in a full-length motion picture format.

The dog Sparky is my favorite character. The way the puppeteers brought him to life and acting like a real dog is amazing. Especially when you think that the original Sparky is only four inches tall and all of the rest of the set was built around him. All the puppets took 24 movements to just capture 1 second of film. That’s crazy!

Martin Landau plays the science teacher and he does a great job. The way he describes lightning is hysterical. He is Victor’s mentor.

Catherine O’Hare, Martin Short and Winona Ryder bring the voices of the characters to life. The voices are all very believable.

This movie is about a boy, Victor, and his dog Sparky. Sparky acts like a real dog and his favorite thing to do is to chase balls. However, he does have a crush on the dog next door.

Victor Frankenstein, who is heartbroken for having caused Sparky’s mishap, decides he must see Sparky again. Once you get to know Sparky, you will see that the name totally fits him.

My least favorite character is Mr. Whiskers as vampire-cat. He is way too creepy and tries to kill Sparky.

Don’t you just hate it when people copy-cat you? Wait till you see what Victory’s classmates do. Edgar “E” Gore and Weird Girl are my favorite kids.

I enjoy how other monsters get mixed into the story. I love the whole disaster of characters, from Mummies and Godzilla to vampires, sea monkeys, rats, gremlins and all the monsters. The monster rampage through the festival is tons of fun. You’ll recognize many of your favorite monsters, too.

I give it four-and-a-half twinkling stars.

The age range is 7 and up. Anybody younger could find this a little too scary and it might make them cry.

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

I think this movie is awesome because it has lots of action and it was really funny, too. It was even cooler because it was done in 3-D and it was also pretty neat that the whole movie was in black-and-white.

This movie is all about a kid named Victor who has a dog named Sparky, and Sparky is Victor’s best friend. Sadly, Victor’s dog Sparky gets hit by a car and Victor is really sad. One day in science class, his teacher gives him an idea on how he can bring his dog back to life. So he goes home to try it and it works!

The 3-D is awesome because it makes everything pop out. My favorite part in 3-D is when Victor brings Sparky back to life, because the thunder comes straight at me. But I wish there was more 3-D because I always feel like they don’t put enough 3-D in the movie.

The main characters in the movie are Victor, Sparky, Mrs. and Mr. Frankenstein, Bob, Weird Girl, Edgar and Mr. Burgemeister. My favorite character in the movie is Victor because he cares so much about his dog and he goes through a huge adventure to save him. He is also a really smart and funny character.

My favorite part is when the bullies and some other people use Victor’s idea and make dead things of their own come alive. Of course, the things they try to bring back from the dead don’t turn out right because they didn’t make them out of love like Victor did. The next thing you know, there’s a 70-foot turtle, a bat cat, a weird thing I can’t explain, and sea monkeys that can come on land. It is really crazy.

I would recommend this movie for ages 4 and up because my sister saw it and she thought it was a good movie. There are some scary parts that kids under 4 might not like. Overall, it is a great film and I would highly recommend this movie for you. Go out and see this in theaters on October 5th.

Share this page on:

It’s a Battle for Education in ‘Won’t Back Down’

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

WontBackDown.jpgA two-hour-long movie would be expected to have its high points and low points, but KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Anthony Aranda says his favorite “part” is, actually, the entire two hours. The 10-year-old sees this as a film that, he says, “can teach people a lot.”

And this Twentieth Century Fox release has sparked some discussion by parents who, also, want to make sure their kids’ schools are the best they can be. In today’s economic climate of budget cuts, it’s a strong reminder of how important education is.

Won’t Back Down
Reviewed by Anthony Aranda
(See his full review on video.)

This movie is awesome. I love it because it has lots of emotion and it’s all because a kid has a terrible school and needs a new one so her mom and a teacher help, and I think that is great.

This movie is all about a kid who has a terrible school. So her mom and a teacher who works at the school think it’s a bad school, so they go against the school to try to make a better one. They have to go through a lot to help the mom’s daughter as well as the other kids at the school.

Some of the main characters in the movie are Jamie (the mom, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal), Malia (the daughter, played by Emily Alyn Lind), Nona and Michael. My favorite character is Jamie because she cares so much about her daughter that she works very hard to make a new school for her daughter and to shut down the other school named Adams. How she does this is by writing down tons of paperwork, and instead of sleeping she has to go to every house to see if they could team up with her. Luckily, she has a partner named Nona.

I could not pick a favorite part because the movie is so good that the whole movie is my favorite part. If I have to pick a favorite, I would probably say when Jamie has a big party to try to convince people to go against the school. There are cookies, a news team, shirts, FREE rulers and, to top it all off, Jamie gives a speech on why they should shut down Adams and build a new school.

I would recommend this movie for ages 7 and up because it’s really made for an older audience. I still like it a lot and I think that my brother might like it, too, and he’s 7, so 7 and up is good. The moral of the movie is really good and can teach people a lot. Go out and see this movie; it comes out in theaters on Sept. 28.

Share this page on:

Family Fun at ‘Hotel Transylvania’

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

HotelTransylvania.jpg“I am so happy to see a Halloween movie that is actually for everyone,” says KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Morgan Bertsch, age 7. Hotel Transylvania is full of monsters that are unfriendly toward humans, of course – after all, what are monsters for? Even in the childhood classics from Grimm – but our KIDS FIRST! youth film critics find it a fun entertainment for this Halloween season. “I love the creative designs on how they make all the monsters to be so nice and fluffy instead of mean and scary. The voices are brilliant; the special effects are so awesome,” says Cheyenne Nguyen, age 8. And Anthony Aranda, age 10, puts it succinctly, “This movie is awesome because it has lots of funny parts and has action, too.”

Parents (and kids, too) can relate to Dracula’s struggles as a parent, trying to shield his daughter from the unpleasantness and dangers that life may throw at her. She is, after all, only 118 years old!

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

This movie is awesome because it has lots of funny parts and has action, too. I think this movie is great and funny. And it is even cooler because it is done in 3-D.

This movie is all about a guy named Dracula who has a child named Mavis, and Dracula had to build a hotel where all monsters could be safe and so his daughter could be safe. The movie is awesome in 3-D. It really pops out but I would like it if they put more 3-D because it would be a lot better than it already is. One of my favorite parts in the 3-D is at the beginning of the movie, when Dracula is singing to his daughter and looks so cool when he’s hissing that I want to reach out and touch it.

The main characters in the movie are Dracula, played by Adam Sandler; Mavis, played by Selena Gomez; Jonathan; Frankenstein; and Murray, the mummy. Adam Sandler is a really funny actor and I think he does a great job at Dracula. My favorite character in the movie, though, is Jonathan because he is really funny. He has to dress up as a monster so everyone else in the hotel won’t know he is human and so he won’t get cooked. He also is a nice guy and does lots of risky stuff and I like that.

My favorite part is when Dracula is setting up the tables for his daughter’s birthday and makes them float to the spot, so Jonathan comes and plays with the tables. He makes them fly and Dracula chases him with another table and they zoom all around the room. Dracula is using his powers to try to make Jonathan stop but Jonathan makes it every time through all the obstacles and they both have lots of fun. It’s a fun scene.

I would recommend this movie for ages 3 and up because at the beginning the dad is doing a song and does something that might scare really young kids. But overall this is a great film for almost all ages and I would highly recommend it. Go out and see this movie in theaters; it opens on September 28th.

Hotel Transylvania
Reviewed by Cheyenne Nguyen
(See her full review on video.)

Hotel Transylvania is super hilarious and this movie lets us see how humans are viewed by monsters.

The plot in this movie is the overprotective-father-and-his-teenage-daughter relationship and ZING at first sight. Dracula (Adam Sandler) runs Hotel Transylvania, a castle known to be completely cut off from humans. On his daughter Mavis’ (Selena Gomez) 118th birthday, he invites his monster friends — such as the Mummy (CeeLo Green), Frankenstein (Kevin James), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade) — to come and celebrate. However, his party is very predictable and boring.

Mavis is now 118 years old and wants to experience the world and does not want to be in a kiddie’s birthday party. Mavis is not having any fun at her own party. However, the party begins when a backpacking human named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) accidentally stumbles into the castle.

My favorite part of this movie is when Dracula slashes out at his friends and point out all the annoying things for each monster and they are all offended. The truth is not very pretty sometimes. However, it does have many feel-good moments in his tantrum.

The quality of the 3-D in this movie is awesome; you can see all the details of the monsters popping right in front of you! I jumped out of my seat several times.

I love the creative designs on how they make all the monsters to be nice and fluffy instead of mean and scary. The voices are brilliant; the special effects are so awesome.

The message in this movie is not to judge anyone until you get to know them.
The only part I did not like is how the monsters view the humans as fat and mean.

My favorite character is Jonathan. He is so fun to be around and always focuses on the good side of people or monsters.

I rank this movie four out of five stars (due to some scary parts). 

I give this age ranged 5 and up.

Hotel Transylvania
Reviewed by Morgan Bertsch
(See her full review on video.)


Just in time to get you in the fall Halloween spirit.

I’ve just finished watching the pre-screening for Hotel Transylvania in 3-D. Here is how it goes: An overprotective vampire must let his daughter, Mavis, grow up, and on her 118th birthday her father promised that she could get out into the real world. However, he’s had a change of heart and doesn’t want Mavis anywhere near humans. As a matter of fact, that’s why Dracula built Hotel Transylvania — to get him and his monster friends away from humans. The hotel is only for monsters to stay in. NO humans allowed.

Dracula (played by Adam Sandler) and his family run the hotel. The vampires are adorable when they turn into the cutest bats ever.

All the guests at the hotel are monsters. They are fresh, amazingly fun, and all with very different personalities. They are all making party preparations to celebrate Mavis’ (played by Selena Gomez) birthday. The graphics for these creatures are fantastic. The 3-D really brings them out of the screen and into life. Although monsters are usually scary, these monsters are really funny and you end up really liking them. I would love to have them all come to my house for dinner.

Jon Lovitz, Fran Drescher, Molly Shannon, Kevin James, CeeLo Green, David Spade, Sadie and Sunny Sandler and many others all do an incredible job doing the voices — which really match each individual character.

The cinematography is crisp and clear. It looks real. There are fast action scenes, a few I wish went slower because I think I missed some of the amazing graphics.

My favorite scene is the flying table race. Oh, did I mention a human named Jonathan (played by Andy Samberg) who accidentally came to visit?

We learn a new word which will probably be heard everywhere: ZING ! You will know when it hits you.

The music is hip, quirky and definitely makes you want to dance.

The lessons we learn are: Do not judge people by their looks. Give everyone a chance; you might just find out you have more in common than you think. Everyone has a different path to follow so do not expect everyone to be alike; what a boring world that would be!

Halloween movies are usually scary, but this one is great for the whole family. The younger ones will think the monsters are cute and it might make Halloween a little easier on them when they see the monsters walking around in October.

The age range is 5-100. I think everyone will be able to find a favorite character that they love. There is a big variety to choose from.

I give this movie five twinkling stars. I am so happy to see a Halloween movie that is actually for everyone.

Don’t forget to follow your ZING!!! 

Share this page on:
Entertainment News for Kids:
Join KIDS FIRST! on Twitter Join KIDS FIRST! on YouTube Join KIDS FIRST! on Instagram Join KIDS FIRST! on Tik Tok Join KIDS FIRST! on Facebook