Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for May, 2015

San Andreas – Terrifying and Realistic

Friday, May 29th, 2015

SanAndreas.jpgIn the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his estranged daughter. Starring Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson, Carla Gugino, and Alexandra Daddario, this film addresses what might just happen should the big one hit California. To the credit of the marketing people for this film, they adjusted their promos to include information about how to prepare for natural disasters after the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal drove home the importance of doing just that.  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Will S. comments, “…in this film the interplay between the action scenes and the family scenes keep you emotionally involved.” See his full review below.

San Andreas
By Will S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I like this movie a lot. It is a good disaster film. San Andreas is directed by Brad Peyton and stars Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino and Paul Giamatti. While this movie is well done, it doesn’t quite compare with movies by the disaster movie king, Roland Emmerich. After seeing one of Brad Peyton’s other movies, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, I had my doubts, but he does a pretty good job here.

There are three reasons why I enjoyed this film so much. First, are the special effects. Special effects in a disaster movie can make or break it. In this film, the CGI is eye-popping. At certain moments, it feels like there is a little too much going on all at once. But at the same time, it makes you feel as if you are in an earthquake, which probably feels pretty overwhelming.

The second reason I like this film is the acting. The acting is pretty strong for a disaster movie.  Sometimes in disaster movies, it’s all about stunts and action sequences. In this film, the acting makes you feel invested in the characters and you are really rooting for them.

The last reason I like this film is the story. Though corny at times, when adding humor or romance into the big earthquake scenes, the interplay between the action scenes and the family scenes keeps you emotionally involved.

There is a bit of a downside. The dialogue, characters and the some of the story are very predictable and filled with clichés. While some of the lines are clever, they often seem out of place. There are lots of pretty standard panic, action lines such as “Run,” “Hold on,” and similar. The main characters are well fleshed out, though some of the cast seems like simple stereotypes representing selfishness and greed.

They spend a lot of time showing the destruction of the earth quake and less on the aftermath of the quake, such as having the main heroes trying to survive riots, gas leaks, crumbling buildings, etc. With all the devastation, it is a bit dull seeing the Golden Gate Bridge collapse for the 1000th time in a disaster flick.

It is humorous that scientific accuracy is thrown out the window. For example, they say the earthquake is a 9.1 but, according to what I’ve read, that magnitude cannot happen on the San Andreas fault.

I give San Andreas 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. If you like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Paul Giamatti and disaster movies, you’ll like this one.

Tomorrowland starts off showing a young high school girl named Casey (Britt Robertson) who is told that the world is being polluted, destroyed and slowly ending. She asks why something is not being done about it. One day, she finds a mysterious pin which takes her to a world not in the future, past or present, not on Earth. It is  somewhere beyond our knowledge, known as Tomorrowland. She embarks on adventure trying to get there and meets many people including Frank Walker (George Clooney) who is a former child genius and actually lived in this place for some time.

This film is truly an enjoyable experience to watch. Director Brad Bird does an extraordinary job making this a master piece. From the perfect cast to the original story, it is breathtaking to watch. The cinematography is perfect – not too modest and not to forced either. The cast is inspiring. George, Britt and the rest of the cast make jokes, deliver dramatic moments, and everything in between. The relationship between the main characters are sad at times, happy at times. They are heartwarming and draw you in. Disney has really outdone itself so many times and they surprise us again with a very original and nicely done film which will become the next phenomena.

My favorite scene is when Casey, Frank and a girl named Athena (you must watch the film to learn more about this very special character) go to Paris and they launch something out of the Eiffel tower. It is action-packed, funny and stunning to watch. The special effects are out of this world and thrilling.

There are so many moral messages. The main one is “nothing is impossible and never stop questioning the world around you.” In the film, Casey never stops asking questions and, because of this, a very surprising thing happens.
I recommend this film for kids ages 8 to18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. This film is truly one of the greatest films of the year and wonderfully executed. It opens in theaters on May 22 so don’t miss it.

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Pitch Perfect 2 – Perfect Comedy for Girls Night Out

Friday, May 15th, 2015

PerfectPitch2.jpgThe Bellas return in this sequel to Pitch Perfect. After a humiliating command performance at Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas are taken out of the ACA-Circuit. In order to clear their name, and regain their status, they take on a seemingly impossible task: to win an International competition no American team has ever won. In order to accomplish this, they need to strengthen the bonds of friendship and sisterhood and blow away the competition with their amazing aca-magic. Starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Hailee Steinfield, it a comedy ripe for girls night out!

Pitch Perfect 2
By Keefer C. B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

This is a fun and compelling sequel. The Barden Bellas are back! Because of a embarrassing performance they become a laughing stock and, in order to restore their title they, enter a world competition which no American team has ever won.

If you loved Pitch Perfect then you are going to enjoy this film even more. Pitch Perfect 2 has updated music, new characters and a lot of laughs. You can see the first film to get in touch with the characters and story, but it’s not necessary.

The highlight of the entire film is the musical performances. Think of the last film and multiply it by 1,000. The Barden Bellas are now a tiny fish in a big pond up against a capella groups from all over the world. Even the famous group Pentatonix have a cameo appearance. This allows the film to showcase grand productions from all corners of the Earth.

The cast embrace their roles and voices. This is a character driven franchise. Like the first film, you have to buy into the absurdity of these over-the-top characters in order to enjoy it. After you do that, you will find the comedy funny and can fall in love with these characters. Actors like Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and many others make this film what it is. I also have to mention the comical cameos from Snoop Dogg, David Cross and even Keegan Michael Key who add to the amusement of this film.

The comedy style is shock humor and pop cultural references. This leads to a lot of jokes being hit or miss. Most of the shock humor comes from the two announcers, Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins. Their comments are insulting but the comedy comes from the fact that these people could not exist and still keep their jobs.

My favorite character is Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), the newest addition to the Bellas team. I love Steinfeld as an actress and I usually associate her with dramatic roles and not much for comedy. This film shows that not only can she carry a note but also be very funny.

I have a tie for my favorite scene. The first one is when the Bellas’ German rival team, Das Sound Machine performs at the world competition with Light’ em Up by the Fallout Boys. The other scene is equally good because it is Fat Amy singing a love song to her boyfriend, Bumper (Adam DeVine). One scene is epic, the other hilarious. Both are absolutely incredible.

The moral of this story is,  “Stay in touch with your true voice.” The Bellas, as a team, loose who they are, so they go to a retreat to understand each other. With the help of an old Bella member, they find their voice and become the great team they were before.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to 13- through 18-year-olds  There is adult humor and language that younger audiences shouldn’t watch, but for the older crowd it’s a  thoroughly entertaining film. This film opens in theaters May 15.

Pitch Perfect 2
By  Lainey A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I love this film because it is very funny and made me laugh constantly throughout the whole movie.  Pitch Perfect 2 employs enjoyable aspects from the original Pitch Perfect such as phenomenal music and amazing costumes, wicked humor, the commentators Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins) who are quite funny and the beautiful Beca (Anna Kendrick).

It is a bit racist in how it shows the three girls. Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) is an Asian who is more like a cartoon character than having any real personality.  Cynthia-Rose (Ester Dean) is a gay African American and Flo (Chrissie Fit) plays a South American.

This movie is about seven girls, soon to be eight, who make up the Bellas, an acapella group from Barden University.  They are known for their singing and dancing.  When they are performing in front of President and Mrs. Obama, Fat Amy has an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction. After much ridicule from the press, the group is suspended and is unable to compete or recruit any new members.  They are devastated and intent on winning the Acapella World Championship in Copenhagen in order to regain their competitive status. They have to compete against the German group, DSM (Das Sound Machine) which is definitely their biggest competitor.  The Bellas are joined by a new member, Emily (Hailee Steinfield), whose mom (Katy Sagal) was a previous member of the group.

Pitch Perfect 2 is directed and produced by Elizabeth Banks. The screenplay is very well thought out and the plot is easy to follow. It has several subplots that help keep the action moving.  The actors are hilarious in this repeat performance.  Rebel Wilson really stands out as Fat Amy because she is completely over the top and steals every scene she is in.  There are lots of cameo appearances which keeps the viewer looking for familiar faces.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and strongly recommend it for ages 13 to 18 years old, due to some crude humor and sexual innuendos.

Maya the Bee Movie
By Kayla P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Maya the Bee Movie is a cute and funny movie! It’s about a young little bee named Maya who is very curious and eager to learn about the beehive. As Maya explores the beehive without permission, she asks a bunch of questions. Maya quickly learns that she is completely different from the other bees. She repeatedly finds herself in trouble by Buzzlena, the queen’s assistant. As a result, Maya gets banned from the hive. Her friend Willie does not want Maya to be alone, so he leaves the hive and follows her. As Maya and Willie are out in the meadows, they learn that hornets and the other bugs and insects are not as bad as they have been told. While Maya has been banned from the beehive because of her curiosity, Buzzleana devises a plan to harm the Queen so that she can take control of the bees and the hive.

There are several different messages in this movie. The one that stands out the most to me is, “dare to be different.” In this movie, the bees have to follow specific rules, specific directions and they must do as they are told. Maya is different and she is told that she does not belong in the beehive. She works hard to find her place among the bees. She learns that she is an important bee in the kingdom and that her voice is important.

My favorite part is when Willie is mad at Maya and decides to fly back to the beehive. Willie is scared of everything. But, when a frog sticks out his tongue to try to capture Willie for dinner, Willie hits the frog’s tongue and flies away without looking back. That’s pretty impressive for a fearful bee.

My favorite character is Willie. Willie is a very loyal and a true friend. He supports Maya and helps her when she’s down and he’s not afraid to tell her when she’s not right. Willie is also very funny.

Maya and the Bee Movie is a wonderful movie! It has great messages for kids! I recommend this movie for boys and girls ages 5 to 10. I give this movie 3 out of 5 shinning stars!

Maya The Bee Review
By Adam C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

If you enjoy comedy mixed with great animation, then you will love Maya the Bee Movie. Maya is unlike other young bees her age. Instead of following orders, Maya has a mind of her own. For example, instead of staying within the safety of the beehive, Maya decides to go off on her own to visit the surrounding meadow wish she became friends with Flip the grasshopper. At some point, Maya’s curiosity led to her finding out that the Royal Adviser to the Queen Bee had stolen the Royal jelly saved especially for the Queen Bee which leads to the Royal Adviser’s kicking Maya out of the beehive. At this point, Maya has to survive on her own in the meadow and is soon joined by her close friend Willy who fears for her safety and cannot let Maya be by herself in the mysterious meadow. Together, the two bees become friendly with a variety of other insects and other creatures. Eventually, Maya and Willie learn that the Royal Adviser has stolen the Queen’s royal jelly because she was seeking to make war with the hornets. By the end of the movie, Maya, Willy, and their other young hornet friend Buzzy stop the Royal Adviser’s evil plans and, after recapturing the royal jelly, bring it back to the Queen who then makes a complete recovery. For her efforts, Maya is appointed as the Hive Ambassador by the Queen Bee and she and Willy are made responsible for observing the meadow and reporting new friends that arrive.

My favorite character in the movie is Maya (Coco Jack Gillies). Maya is easy to relate to for me because she is very much a free spirit, unable to sit still, who always wants to be in on the action. I also enjoyed hearing from Flip the grasshopper. Flip is always able to provide Maya with excellent advice such as telling her to always “bee positive.” The scenery is also colorful and beautiful and will be enjoyed by everyone.

My favorite part of the movie is when Maya and Willy are together out in the meadow attending the Jitterbug Hollow Musical Festival. There, they hear different insects  playing a large number of musical instruments while Flip the grasshopper sings “It Don’t Matter What They Say, Be Yourself Every Day.”

This film has many positive messages that apply to younger audiences. For me, the most powerful message of the movie s that a person should be himself and does not need to follow in the footsteps of others. The movie also show the strong bonds of loyalty between Maya and Willy who have to work together in order to stop the Royal Advisers’ plans. I also enjoyed the lesson that young people can make a huge difference in this world. In the movie, many grown-up bees and grown-up hornets are prepared to fight to see who would gain control of the meadow. In the end, it is too young bees and one young hornet who save everybody from being destroyed. I give Maya the Bee Movie 5 out of 5 stars. It is a great family movie. I recommend it for ages 4 to 10. I’m 9 and I enjoyed watching this movie and very much. I appreciated its excellent messages and wonderful music.

Maya the Bee Movie is in theaters now available on DVD on May 18. It is well worth the cost of buying it for a fun-filled night of family entertainment.

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