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Archive for November, 2012

‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2’ Is Not Just for Die-hard ‘Twi’-Hard Fans

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Twilight_BreakingDawn.jpgWith The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, night finally sets on the Twilight series of films adapted from Stephenie Meyer’s novels. Bella and Edward not only have found true love with each other, but are building a family. The final challenge they face comes because of their baby daughter, Renesmee, who is seen as a threat to the Volturi. KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Raven Devanney, age 15, gives the film a carefully considered “by far the best film in the Twilight Saga.” Not a Twilight fan to begin with, and very observant of the many details that defy logic (over and above a storyline that is, of course, not meant to be realistic), Raven shares that she got totally caught up in the ending scene. “I actually enjoyed it,” she says. Raven and fellow KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Brianna Beaton discuss the film on this week’s KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions show on VoiceAmerica Kids Channel.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
Reviewed by Raven Devanney
(See her full review on video.)

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is the final installment in the Twilight series, adapted from Stephenie Meyer’s novels. This dramatic ending concludes the tale of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) on their journey, defying the odds of love.

I have never really been a fan of the Twilight series, never read any of the books or waited in line at the midnight premieres. I’m not a huge fan of dairy products, and this series contains an awful lot of cheese, but food jokes aside, I didn’t completely dislike this film. Don’t get me wrong – there are definitely some parts that are way too dramatic, but overall I would say this is by far the best film in the Twilight Saga. The cinematography and special effects aren’t anything different from the previous films, so I think they are pretty well done. However, I was very confused when I saw Renesmee (played by Mackenzie Foy). I couldn’t tell if she was real or not because she looked so computer edited.

I also have a problem with Bella’s makeup in the opening scene. This movie picks up right where it left off in the last film, where the final scene was Bella lying on the table after she gave birth. When this movie starts, it is Bella waking up on the table two days after the birth of her daughter. But her makeup and hair are perfect. If she had been unconscious for two days, how would she have on spotless makeup? Another detail that I noticed that didn’t seem right was Edward and Bella’s new home. Who made it? And who could design, build and furnish an entire home in only two days? I am pretty sure vampires don’t have superhuman-carpenter powers. One last visual detail that is weird for me is Renesmee’s room. When you first see it, it’s a nursery, but then a day or two later it’s completely different and completely refurbished. How on earth do the Cullens afford to refurbish their homes every week?!

I can’t say I have a favorite character because the acting done by each character is a little farfetched. I understand that the storyline itself is far from realistic, but I feel like all of the actors over-play their roles. I do have a favorite scene, though. The final battle scene completely shocked me, and made me actually enjoy the movie. I haven’t read the books, so I had no idea what to expect, but I got completely sucked into it. I watched this film with my friend – who isn’t a Twilight fan, either – but she and I were squealing in shock during the ending scene. After the movie, I felt like such a nerd because I got so into the film, but in all honesty I actually enjoyed it. No, I will not become a Twi-hard fan now, but I do have a lot more respect for this series now. And I’m thinking about reading the books.

This film is the most violent and sexual out of the whole series, so I recommend it for ages 13 and up. Obviously, if you’re a huge Twilight fanatic, you’re going to see this movie no matter what anybody else tells you. And if you completely despise the movies (which I’m sure some of you probably do), you’re not going to see the film no matter what you’re told. But if you’re in the neutral category of loving/hating Twilight like I am, give it a shot and you might actually be surprised. Overall, I give The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 four out of five stars because it definitely surpassed my expectations.

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Tom and Jerry’s Wacky Take on Robin Hood

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

TomAndJerry_RobinHood.jpg“Who doesn’t love Tom and Jerry?” asks KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Morgan Bertsch, age 8. And who doesn’t love Robin Hood? Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse, recently released by Warner Home Video on DVD and Blu-ray, combines both favorites in a rollicking adventure with all the familiar good guys and bad guys.

“The story is the traditional story of Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, with Jerry Mouse as Robin Hood’s sidekick,” explains 11-year-old KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Camille Bajema. Enjoying the movie’s “wacky humor,” she adds, “I think that the animation in this film is actually pretty good because it’s not too perfect and it’s a little goofy, like the characters.”

Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse
Reviewed by Camille Bajema

I really love the wacky humor in this movie.

The story is the traditional story of Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, with Jerry Mouse as Robin Hood’s sidekick. When the King comes back home from war, he finds his brother has taken over the kingdom and has decided to kill him. Tom Cat must kill Jerry Mouse so he doesn’t find out and alert Robin Hood. When Maid Marian, Robin Hood’s true love, and Jerry Mouse (and, later, even Tom Cat) find out about this, they must join forces and help Robin Hood and his men escape from jail in time to save the good king and overthrow the bad one.

My favorite character in this film is Tom Cat. I’ve always loved Tom & Jerry, and Tom has always been my favorite character because he’s always trying to catch Jerry, but the little mouse always outwits him and Tom ends up looking like a fool!
My favorite scene in this film is when Jerry is ordered to bring a poem to Maid Marian, and of course everyone loves her. Tom and Jerry watch her sing together, but then realize that they’re supposed to be fighting!

Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse is directed by Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone and is produced by Tony Cervone.

I think that the animation in this film is actually pretty good because it’s not too perfect and it’s a little goofy, like the characters!

I recommend this film to people between the ages of three to thirty because I think that the humor and silliness of the Tom & Jerry films can appeal to just about everyone!

I give Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse four-and-a-half out of five stars because it gets a bit repetitive. Overall, I really enjoyed this film!

Tom & Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse
Reviewed by Morgan Bertsch
(See her full review on video.)

I like the twist on the classic Robin Hood. I love the high-flying adventure, and also the sword-fighting was amazing.

This was classic Tom & Jerry animation, and who doesn’t love Tom & Jerry?

My favorite characters are Droopy Dog and Jerry, because Jerry was pretty brave for a mouse! And Droopy Dog because he has the cutest voice ever. My favorite scene is when Maid Marian is singing, because she has a great voice.

The age range is 4 and up, as long as the little ones know that this is not real. I give it five twinkling stars.

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‘Life of Pi’ a Great Story of Hope and Determination

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

LifeOfPi.jpgThe raves that are greeting Life of Pi are nothing new for the multiple award-winning director Ang Lee, but part of the credit also goes to advances in technology that enable the film’s special effects. Says KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Brianna Hope Beaton, age 13, “The visual effects are amazing.”

Young Pi is moving with his family from India to Canada, where his father will sell the animals from the zoo they had had in India. The boat on which they are traveling is shipwrecked by a violent storm, and the survivors eventually whittle down to just Pi and a Bengal tiger. Says KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Cheyenne Nguyen, age 9, “The special effect of the tiger is the best part. It seems so real, I thought that the tiger is actually in the boat with Pi.”

Brianna cautions that very young children may be a little frightened at some of the animal scenes. As Cheyenne says, “It’s too hard to watch the survival of the fittest.” But both rate the film highly. “I love the message and the visual effects. This is a great story of hope and determination,” says Brianna.

Life of Pi
Reviewed by Brianna Hope Beaton
(See her full review on video.)

This is truly an amazing story, with a great adventure that is hard to believe.

Pi (Suraj Sharma), an Indian boy, is on a ship with his family who is moving to Canada. One night, there is a terrible storm that sinks the ship and only Pi, a hyena, zebra, orangutan and a Bengal tiger whose name is Richard Parker survive. They are all in one of the small lifeboats trying to stay alive. After a while, it becomes only Pi and Richard Parker who are adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Pi is now trying to survive, but is in fear of Richard Parker.

Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, this adventure is created in 3-D and is one of my new favorites. The visual effects are amazing and capture the marine life really well, with all its beautiful colors. I like the way this film is set up like someone is telling it as a story; this really keeps my attention. One of my favorite scenes is when a big whale comes out of the ocean; it is so big and pretty to see. It is incredible. I also like the way we learn how the tiger is named Richard Parker. It is somewhat funny and unusual.

I would love to know how director Ang Lee directs all the animals in this film; it is truly amazing how they act. David Magee (screenplay writer) does a remarkable job transforming a great novel into an amazing script. Other members of the cast in Life of Pi include Vibish Sivakumar (Ravi Patel) and Rafe Spall (The Writer).

A big message I found is to never lose hope no matter where you are in life. Pi is in the middle of the ocean for many, many days with a big storm and a tiger, but thru it all he never loses hope to be rescued.

I recommend this film for ages 8 to adults. Younger ages may be a little frightened when they see some of the animal scenes, but other than that, this is a must-see. You can enjoy it with your family and friends.

I give Life of Pi five out of five stars. I love the message and the visual effects. This is a great story of hope and determination.

Believe the unbelievable and see the amazing adventure in Life of Pi. It triumphs into theaters on November 21st.

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

Life of Pi is the most amazing 3-D-quality movie that shows underwater footage and sea life.

Life of Pi is based on a popular novel by Yann Martel that sold over 7 million copies. It’s about a boy name Piscine Patel, known as “Pi” (Suraj Sharma). He has a good life growing up in his father’s zoo in Pondicherry, a French colony. Due to hard times, they have to close down the zoo and move some of the animals to Canada with them.

The move to Canada is in a big Japanese cargo ship, and all the animals are at the bottom of the ship. The big storm hits the ship and sinks the ship. The survivors are Pi, the tiger (Richard Parker), zebra, hyena, orangutan and a rat. They are all in a small lifeboat from the cargo ship. After several days, the only two survivors are Pi and Richard Parker. They are afraid of each other but need each other to survive.

There are so many scenes with great cinematography. The most memorable ones are the underwater footage, and the sinking of the cargo ship is so real and clear. The 3-D brings out the glowing of the jelly fish and the blue whale vividly.

The special effect of the tiger is the best part. It seems so real, I thought that the tiger is actually in the boat with Pi.

The part I did not like is when the animals are fighting each other. It’s too hard to watch the survival of the fittest.

The acting in this movie is so great. Suraj shows a lot of emotions with his eyes, and he stays in his character, and the audience can feel his emotions. It’s so amazing to see his weight loss as the days go by at sea.

My favorite character is Richard Parker. He helps Pi survive the shipwreck and at times he seems more human than creature.

The lesson in this movie is anything is possible. Pi survives over seven months in the Pacific Ocean with just faith and Richard Parker.

I rank this movie four out of five stars

I give this movie an age range of 8 and up.

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‘Rise of the Guardians’ Brings More Great 3-D to Theaters

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

RiseOfTheGuardians_withMorgan.jpgCalling in the voice talents fo Alec Baldwin and Hugh Jackman, among others, DreamWorks Animation put together a company of superheroes made up of such childhood idols as the Easter Bunny (under the slightly different name of E. Aster Bunnymund), Santa and the Tooth Fairy. If that sounds a little mixed up, eight-year-old KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Morgan Bertsch finds that to be part of the 3-D movie’s charm. “It mixes up holidays, so you can watch it year around and get into the mood for the seasons,” she says. And there are plenty of heroes to go around: The Guardians need to protect the children from losing hope, but it’s the children who keep the world safe by having hope.

Paramount Pictures will be releasing Rise of the Guardians (the last of the titles it will be handling for DreamWorks) on November 21, just in time for Thanksgiving.

Rise of the Guardians
Reviewed by Morgan Bertsch
(See her full review on video.)     

This movie is brought to you by DreamWorks. It arrives in theaters Nov. 21. As a KIDS FIRST! film critic, I got to see it before everyone else at a preview.  I have seen a lot of movies, and this movie had the most amazing graphics and best 3-D I have ever seen. I felt like I was in the same room as the scenes.  The snowflakes come right at you and make you feel like it is really snowing on you.

The Man in the Moon needs the help of The Guardians to defeat the evil Pitch.

The Guardians are amazing. The animators and writers did a stupendous job of creating believable characters.

The Guardians consist of Santa, who is from Russia. He is jolly and lives in an amazing castle. He has the cutest elves with jingle bells on their heads. They are very funny and helpful.

The Easter Bunny is tough. He’s from Australia and has a boomerang. His adorable eggs actually have legs and can run around.

The Tooth fairy is very different. She is a bird. She has pink wings and blue and green feathers. Her baby birds that help her are the sweetest little creatures.

The Sandman is the one who makes all your dreams come true while you are sleeping. The graphics for his amazing talents were fabulous.

Jack Frost was one of my favorites. Everything he touches turn into frost. The animation of the frost covering everything was absolutely beautiful.

Pitch wants the world to be dark and sad and to lose all hope.

The children keep the world safe by having hope. Santa has a magic globe, which is bright with lights as long as the children believe, but once they stop believing their light goes out.

The intricate design of the scenery was the best I have ever seen. Everything, from the smallest detail to the large wandering dinosaurs, is breathtaking.  

This movie is humorous, adorable and magical.

My favorite scenes are when the Easter Bunny goes on a sleigh ride with Santa Clause and also when the baby eggs are running around.  The sandman’s magic makes your heart glow.

The message is to stop and find out what makes you special. You have to find out what it is that you do best and find your center so you know how to make yourself and others happy.

I love this movie. It mixes up holidays, so you can watch it year around and get into the mood for the seasons.

I recommend this for ages 6 and up. Pitch is frightening. The oversized Santa might be too much for the little ones because — I am not joking — he looks like you are right next to him.

I give this movie five *****out five twinkling stars.

Photo: Morgan Bertsch at the Rise of the Guardians red carpet premiere

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‘Lincoln’ a Tall Accomplishment

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Lincoln.jpgKIDS FIRST! youth film critic Anthony Aranda, age 10, makes a valuable observation when he says, “… the history is important to kids like me.” The movie Lincoln depicts the President during the Civil War, a pivotal time in United States history. “… it’s a really good movie to teach more about the Civil War,” Anthony says. He also feels the movie shows him this President, who has become almost a mythological figure in many depictions, as a “regular person.” Heavily researched, Lincoln‘s depiction of the man may provide a new perception amonth the older folks in the audience as well. Says KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Morgan Bertsch, age 8, “I thank Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks for making this fabulous movie.”

Reviewed by Anthony Aranda

Lincoln is pretty good but it was made for an older audience. I usually don’t watch too many movies that are this serious, but the history is important to kids like me. This movie is all about President Abraham Lincoln, and in the movie it’s the middle of the Civil War so Lincoln is trying to make peace between the North and the South. He creates the Thirteenth Amendment so there will be peace in the country.

The main characters in the movie are Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln’s wife and Lincoln’s son. My favorite character is, of course, Lincoln because he is a good guy but he needs to spend time with his family more. He is too distracted by the Thirteenth Amendment that he almost forgets about his family. He really loves his family, but he also really loves the citizens of the country.

My favorite part in the movie is when Lincoln’s son is riding in the White House with a goat and a carriage. Another funny part is when one of Lincoln’s advisors walks in looking for the President and sees his son sitting, reading the paper like a grown up. There were some scary parts during the movie when the soldiers were fighting and getting hurt. This was a sad part for me, also, to watch.

To me, the movie is more than just what we know from the history books. I think it shows me a little more about Abraham Lincoln as a regular person. And it’s a really good movie to teach more about slavery and the Civil War, which is a really important part of our history.

I would recommend this movie for ages 12 and up only because the movie was meant for an older audience and there is some pretty graphic stuff in there. But if you love history, this is a great movie for you. Go out and see this movie in theaters now.

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

I thank Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks for making this fabulous movie. Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field do a fantastic job on their characters, as Abraham Lincoln and Mrs. Lincoln. He was the 16th President, who really wanted to abolish slavery. They really studied on their characters. And you will learn about the voting process.

Also, they really studied their characters and they really took them very seriously, and really show a bunch of emotions with them. I think they do a great job.

This is actually a time piece with an amazing all-star cast. And also, the costumes are fantastic!

There’s a little bit of language and also parts of violence, but the history lesson is everything that everyone should learn. And also, the PG-13 rating is OK, but you will know that kids will really learn a lot from this movie.

I give it five twinkling stars.

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