Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for August, 2013

“Epic” – Great Animation with a Wonderful Plot – On DVD/Blu-ray This Week!

Monday, August 19th, 2013

213070.jpgNew to DVD/Blu-ray this week is Blue Sky Studios’ animated feature film “Epic.” If you like fairy tales, then you will love this film. A teenager finds herself transported to a deep forest setting where a battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil is taking place. She bands together with a rag-tag group characters in order to save their world — and ours. Rated PG, it’s the perfect film to share with your whole family.

13-year-old KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Brianna B says, “I absolutely love this film. It has a great plot, and some really great characters. I like how the visuals are outstanding, and flawless.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critics also discuss Epic on the KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions Radio Show. See Brianna’s full review below.

Reviewed by Brianna B.
Full video review here.

This is a great animation with a wonderful plot that is full of twists and turns.
Mary Katherine (M.K.) (Amanda Seyfried-Voice) accidently finds herself in a world where tiny people exist. Once she is turned into one of them she tries to help their home, the forest, become whole again. Along the way she meets some very interesting characters. Will she get back home, or will she permanently have to live in the forest?

I absolutely love this film. It has a great plot, and some really great characters. I like how the visuals are outstanding and flawless. The 3-D animation is so wonderful that it makes this film 100 times better in making the forest come alive. The costumes really relate to where the characters are in the forest. The background music is very fitting with the rest of the film. The actors do a remarkable job portraying their characters.

I am surprised about how much I love this film. I think everything about this film is great. My favorite character is M.K., because she is very much like me, not in her situation, but the way she acts about everything. I can see myself easily relating to her. My favorite scene is when M.K. is talking to her Dad about how he is not normal and all she wants him to do is be her Dad without all the gadgets and gizmos. This scene is very touching, and teaches us that once in a while you need to be there for your loved ones, but you should also do your own thing.

Director Chris Wedge directs a fantastic animated film. Also Writers James V. Hart and William Joyce, along with others, do a good job writing the screenplay. Other great voice-over talents in this film are Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson and Beyoncé Knowles.
A couple of messages that are in this film are: 1) Everything happens for a reason and 2) Do not take what you have for granted. Be thankful for everything that you have.

I recommend “Epic” for ages 5 to 16. It is really one of those films that everyone can watch and enjoy together. There is no content that is inappropriate for younger viewers. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars. It is truly a wonderful film with amazing animation and great characters. I will definitely look forward to seeing it again.

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Lee Daniels’ The Butler – Puts a New Twist on Civil Rights

Monday, August 19th, 2013

LeeDanielsTheButler.jpgThis story follows the life of Cecil Gaines who serves eight presidents as a butler at the White House. We see how the civil rights movement, Vietnam and other major events affect this man’s life, family and American society. Starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, this movie hit a home run with KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 11-year-old Anthony A who says, “Cecil inspired me to speak more intelligently without saying the wrong things.” See Anthony’s full review below.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler
By Anthony A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Full video review available here

This movie is really cool because its shows history in a way that will make you interested in it. This movie also shows how hard it was to survive in the not-so-far-off past.

This movie is all about a person named Cecil who is black and the movie is set in a time before everyone was treated equally and had the same rights. Cecil’s father is killed by a white man, who didn’t get arrested; he is not even talked to by the police. Cecil goes to work for a lady as her butler but eventually runs away. Eventually, when he is older, he becomes the President’s butler. He serves for them and meets people. However, his son keeps getting arrested over and over again because he is standing up with Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement and that takes his focus away from his work.

The main characters in this movie are Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), Earl Gaines (David Banner), Gloria Gaines (Oprah Winfrey), and Louis Gaines (David Oyelowo). My favorite character is Cecil because he works so hard and just wants things to change. He says that a black man has never been promoted in the 21 years he has worked for the Presidents and he doesn’t think this is fair.

My favorite part in this movie is every time Cecil speaks to the Presidents. He is so truthful and so nice to them. He inspired me to speak more intelligently without saying the wrong things. He did work for seven presidents so he had a lot of practice.

I recommend this movie for ages 10 and up because this movie has a lot of adult language. The movie talks a lot about the struggle for equal rights for all men which is something that I remember from watching Lincoln. There is historical violence and a lot of terms that I didn’t fully understand.

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“Planes” – A Visual Spectacle and a Wonderful Family Film!

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Planes_1.jpgIf you thought “Cars” was brilliant, then you’ll be sure to love their latest animated adventure, “Planes!”  It’s an action-packed comedy featuring Dusty, a small plane with dreams of competing in an around-the-world race.  The only problem is that Dusty is a crop-duster who’s afraid of heights!  As you can imagine, this makes it very difficult for Dusty to achieve his dreams.  But, with the help of his best friends and a trained navy fighter plane named Skipper, Dusty finds new hope and inspiration.  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Molly J, thought that “the visual effects in this film are spectacular” and at times it feels as if you are flying right alongside Dusty. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Brianna Hope B says, “It is a great film. It has hope, adventure and good humor.” Their full reviews follow.

Reviewed by Brianna Hope B.
Video Review available here:

This film is too cute, funny and has great animation.
Dusty, (Dane Cook-Voice) is a basic crop-dusting plane with big dreams of competing in an aerial race. However he is afraid of heights, yes that’s right, heights! In order for him to even get up the nerve to compete and pursue his dreams; he needs the help of his mentor, Skipper, (Stacy Keach-Voice) and his friends.

“Planes” has a good story line and I really like it. It has hope, adventure and good humor with comedians Brad Garrett (Chug-Voice), Sinbad (Roper-Voice) and many more. All the voice actors do a great job portraying their characters. Of course, the 3D animation is spectacular with great detail and lots of lively colors. My favorite scene is when Skipper starts training Dusty and Chug and Dottie (Terri Hatcher-Voice) are talking too loud for Dusty to concentrate. Skipper yells at them to be quiet and they straighten up immediately, but keep talking. This is really funny. My favorite character is Roper, because he says and does the funniest things. He always seems to be rambling about something and is funny.

Writer, Jeffrey M. Howard, writes a comedic script that gives kids something to enjoy and feel good about. Another well known comedian voice cast who I enjoyed in this film is Cedric the Entertainer (Leadbottom-Voice).

As Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”  I really like this and believe this message is demonstrated throughout the film.

I recommend this film for ages 7 to 13. Kids who love Disney animation films will love this one as it is similar to other Disney films. It’s also a great film for the family to see although older teens may not be too interested in it.

I give “Planes” 4 out of 5 stars because I would like to see more originality and uniqueness, but overall it is a great film and I really enjoy watching it. I know you will too. Reviewed by Brianna Hope B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Reviewed by Molly J
Video review available here

Well folks, Disney’s done it again! “Planes” is truly a heartfelt underdog story that tells the audience to believe in themselves.  There are always plenty of obstacles in life, but if you dig deep, you can find the courage to become whatever you dream of.  In Dusty’s case, he dreams of becoming the fastest air racer in the world!  His closest friend is Dottie, a forklift and ace mechanic.  Although she tells Dusty that he isn’t built to race and that chasing his dreams is downright dangerous, Dottie always has his back, no matter what he decides.  I love Dottie because she is such a loyal friend to Dusty.  She is strong, super smart and practical.  When anyone messes with her friend, she lets them have it!

Skipper is also very protective of Dusty.  He was an ace flier in WWII and chooses to be alone and quiet until Dusty talks him into training him for the race.  He wants to train Dusty hard so that he races well and stays safe.  Skipper finds that he can learn a few things from Dusty, too.

The visual effects in the film are spectacular and, being 3D, there are plenty of scenes where the audience feels as if they are flying along with Dusty!  The race takes us to amazing places like India, Europe and Mexico.  The music is great too, combining old favorites with lots of new songs.  Since the racers come from countries all over the world, the music is based on the background of the characters, which includes Italian, Mexican and British music, plus many more types.

It’s no surprise that the director of Planes, Klay Hall, is an airplane enthusiast.  He started drawing airplanes at an early age and his father and grandfather were both pilots.  The executive producer of “Planes,” John Lasseter, is a two-time Academy Award-winning director.  He directed huge hits like “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Cars” and “Cars 2.”   The voice-over cast includes such big names as Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Teri Hatcher, Sinbad, Val Kilmer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

My favorite scene in the film is when El Chupacabra (El Chu), the legendary Mexican racer, sings to a female racer, Rochelle.  El Chu is trying desperately to win her affection but, keeps failing in hilarious ways.

I give “Planes” five out of five stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, although it’s fun for whole families to watch together, like mine did!  It comes to theaters Friday, August 9th, so be sure to check it out!

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“The Wolverine” Packs Lots of Violence and Action. Recommend for ages 13 and up.

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

TheWolverine_1.jpg“The Wolverine” picks up a few years after the 2006 film “X-Men: The Last Stand” leaves off. Logan is living alone in the mountains in fear that if he is around other people he will hurt them like he hurt Jean Grey (killed in X-Men: The Last Stand). When Logan is summoned by an old dying acquaintance from World War II, he decides to pay his respects and travel to Japan to say farewell to his friend. Soon after he arrives he realizes that he was called there for a different purpose. Yashida, the man from Logan’s past has brought him to Japan to offer him mortality so that Logan can finally be at peace. When he realizes that not all is as it seems with the powerful Yashida family, he has to face the tough decision whether to give up his life as Wolverine completely, or defend the Yashida empire. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Raven D recommends the film to X-Men fans or “anyone who wants some action and entertainment.” Her full review is below.

The Wolverine
by Raven Devanney
Video review available here.
I really like this film. I was a bit confused at the beginning because it’s been years since I first saw “X-Men: The Last Stand” which plays a big part in this film. Once I jogged my memory a bit, the plot was perfect. The 3D in this film is incredible because it isn’t over the top. It is very subtle in a way that makes the images clearer and more realistic, but doesn’t have things jumping off the screen. The plot twists are very nice even if they are a bit predictable. All in all I am very pleased with the outcome of “The Wolverine.”

My favorite character has to be Yukio played by Rila Fukushima. She is a very spunky character who is sent to find and bring Logan to Japan to say goodbye to her master. She has incredible martial arts skills and is a very funny character. She is very small, so you wouldn’t expect her to be a fighter, but she ends up calling herself Logan’s “bodyguard.” I also like Hugh Jackman’s character Wolverine/Logan. He is very hesitant to go to Japan because he has left his identity of Wolverine behind him but, when he sees that innocent people are going to be hurt, he fights for them. Although he is a very tough character, you can see that he has a soft side, which we wee through his many visions of Jean and his sleeplessness because he misses her.

My favorite scene is when Logan battles the Yakuza mob on top of a bullet train. It is such a fast paced, high action fighting sequence that it kept me on the edge of my seat. It was also very unique because it happens on top of a train moving hundreds of miles an hour, so the participants of the fight are almost flying through the air.

I recommend this film for ages 13+ for the action, violence and mature situations. This movie is perfect for X-Men fans or if you just want some action and entertainment. I give “The Wolverine” 5 out of 5 stars.

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“Grown Ups 2” – A Hurt Your Sides Summer Comedy

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

GrownUps2_1.jpgThe sequel to the 2010 blockbuster, “Grown Ups 2” follows Lenny, Eric, Kurk and Marcus after they start their new lives by moving back to the town where they grew up. The film takes place over the course of one day, the last day of school. Lenny plans a kick-start-to-summer party and, as the crew prepares for the festivities, things go awry. As usual, the grown ups are up to their old tricks of messing around like when they were younger, but now the kids are growing up and getting into trouble of their own. Starring comedic actors Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Chris Rock, this movie has all the makings for laughter. The only problem is the lack of real substance according to KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Raven D., age 15 whose full review is below. On the other hand, 11-year-old KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O thinks, “The sequel is better than the original, which is very rare for movies” but he warns that the audience is really 13 to 18 due to the sexual innuendos, violence and language. See Gerry’s review below as well.

“Grown Ups 2”
Reviewed by Raven Devanney
See her video review here.

I really enjoyed this film. It’s definitely one to see if you want some laughs, but as for intelligence or plot, this film is lacking. This movie relies so much on making rude, crass and taboo remarks that it forgets about clever comedy. It is still a very entertaining movie but some of the unrealistic violence is a little bit and seems like a desperate pull for comedic relief, when it really just left me cringing. I think everything in this film focuses so much on getting people to laugh that there isn’t really any true focus on plot or character development. However, I was entertained and think the cinematography is well done.

I have two favorite scenes, and although they are both short, they still make me chuckle just thinking about them. The first scene is when Eric, played by Kevin James, goes to a car wash with his wife expecting to have scantily clad cheerleaders scrub his car. Instead he ends up getting male cheerleaders in ill-fitting short-shorts sudsing up his windshield. It’s so hilarious because the cheerleaders are the well-known comedic music group “The Lonely Island” and the things they so are hilarious. Another scene that made my sides hurt from laughing is when Lenny and his friends go to their old high school hangout  and have a run in with a group of frat boys. It is so hilarious because Taylor Lautner plays the head frat boy and he does such a comedic job of playing a total numb skull that is overprotective of his turf. The boys do this ridiculous handshake and it’s so perfectly cheesy and stereotypical that it makes me crack up just thinking about it.

I recommend this film for ages 13+ because of the rude humor and heavy sexual innuendoes. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars because it is funny and entertaining, but I wouldn’t rush to see it again and it lacks intelligent comedy and wit.

“Grown Ups 2”
Reviewed by Gerry O.
See his Gerry’s video review here.

I was holding my breath waiting for this film to come out ever since I heard about it. I anticipated that I would laugh a lot and love “Grown Ups 2” just as much as the first Grown Ups! This movie would make you laugh your head off, and say “awww” a lot.

When I started watching this film, I thought this is probably not as funny as the first one, or not as good. Adam Sandler once again proved me wrong against all odds! The sequel is better than the original, which is very rare for movies.

This funny story begins when it’s a few years after the first “Grown Ups” when Lenny (Adam Sandler!) took his family and his friends back to his home town. The guys learned from their mistakes, hopefully, and everybody has moved on from what happened a few years ago and everybody is happy once again. During the course of the movie, they get themselves into a number of awkward and funny situations, but one of them leads to a bigger issue that makes a bunch of college students really mad. Even that doesn’t stop this amazing group of friends. When Lenny hosts a party, he puts his daughter Becky to bed, (Alexys Nycole Sanchez) and then the fun happens. The college students are under the false impression that Lenny and his crew wrecked their dorm, so they are seeking revenge. That was actually not Lenny’s fault at all! If you want to find out what happens to the college students and how much trouble the guys get into you have to watch the movie!

I absolutely love this movie! It’s funny, like every Adam Sandler movie ever made. It’s a good story line with a number of heartwarming moments where you can truly see and appreciate how much these families love each other and their friends. What’s also cool is this is Happy Madison’s first sequel as well! The movie has adult and kid jokes (mostly adult), which is a very good perk for a funny movie. So, teens will really like it, but adults…well adults, you are going to LOVE it. I can promise that you haven’t had a laugh like this in a long time,

I have to say my favorite scene is when Marcus is inside a huge tire. Lenny is supposed to stop the wheel after like five feet but he gets a call and decides that is more important. Marcus just keeps rolling and rolling and rolling. When he finally stops rolling all the guys are screaming, “Me next”!

Since this movie is a bit adult like, this is definitely most suited to kids ages 13 to 18. This movie is also dangerously funny! I happily give this film 5 out of 5 stars. You rock, Adam Sandler and Happy Madison Productions!

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