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Archive for October, 2015

Bridge of Spies – Legendary and An Immediate Classic

Friday, October 16th, 2015

BridgeOfSpies_1.jpg This drama, directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring Tom Hanks as a lawyer, James B. Donovan takes place in the late 50s, during the Cold War. Donovan is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “I don’t know how Steven Spielberg (director) does it but, he makes these stories come to life and helps you connect with the characters so that you cry, laugh and almost fall of your seat because it’s so intense!” Tre’ana H. adds, “Steven Spielberg, as a director, is one amazing fellow. He is known for so many films, but this one takes the hat off.  This movie is filled with drama and thrills and will keep you sitting straight up in your seat.” Jorge L. comments, “I strongly believe this movie will be a contender for Best Picture award at the Academy Awards.” Willie J. wraps it up, “It was worth the three year wait. Steven Spielberg has come back with one of his finest films ever, quite easily in his top 10. Bridge of Spies is an engaging journey that entrances you in its story and doesn’t let you go.”  See their full reviews below.

Bridge of Spies
Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

This film is nothing other than legendary and an immediate classic. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are back together again, to make another incredible dramatic and genius film. With historical facts, a heartfelt and dramatic story, this film is not only bound to be an Oscar contender, but I think this film may swoop any other film this year, and win the film of the year award.

This is a drama. Although it cracks jokes here and there, it really is primarily mainly a dramatic re-enactment of an historical event. The story itself is a large adventure with action and intense scenes filled with various human emotions and unpredictable actions that keep the viewer on the edge of their seat.

The story starts in the middle of the Cold War, in Brooklyn. A man believed to be a Soviet Spy is arrested and, because of American law, he is supposed to get a fair trial. The man responsible for defending him in court starts noticing things and instead of just making it look like a fair trial, he actually tries to help this ‘spy’ get the right sort of action.

I don’t know how Steven Spielberg (director) does it but, he makes these stories come to life and helps you connect with the characters so that you cry, laugh and almost fall of your seat because it’s so intense! The camera shots explore the scene from a variety of angles and go way beyond just showing one element. With each camera shot, you are prone to say, “nice shot.” For example, in one scene, they are on a bridge and, instead of showing a sky high view as you might expect, he shows it from the prospective of the people. It is snowing; you can’t see the other side or the people very well. You can just see a few lights and it is just so perfect. If you are a fan of Spielberg’s work as I am, you will be happy to see some of his famous wide shots which help scenes seem to float into each other.

As for the acting, Tom Hanks has done many roles and this is truly one of his best. He plays a character that does so many dangerous things and does them for a few people that he doesn’t even know. He shows extraordinary skill portraying this character, bringing out emotions we can relate to. Full and heartfelt, with each scene his character gets better and better to the point that you are just sitting there with your eyes wide and forgetting to breathe thinking, “What is he going to do next?”. When he is upset, you’re upset. When he is terrified, you’re terrified. He is perfect for this role and this is easily one of his best work.

For this film, I cannot choose a favorite scene. Each scene is so important in its own way. Each scene is so spectacularly done. Each scene is so entertaining whether it’s funny, intense or dramatic One of the scenes that was most impressive is when we see an American spy flying a plane, 70,000 feet over Russian territory. He is gathering intelligence and hoping to get some information about nuclear defenses. His plane is being attacked and the problem is, he was supposed to go down with the plane. The cockpit shatters and he goes into free fall. I love the scene because it looks like he is falling from 70,000 feet at an alarming rate. The execution of this is outstanding. It is clear and intense, which is why I love it so much.

The subject of this film is rather mature like the scenes near East Berlin during the time the Berlin Wall was being constructed. A part of Berlin is cut off from food and everything else. There are many other scenes featuring the impact of the Cold War. Because of these, I recommend this for ages 11 to 18. I enthusiastically give it 5 out of 5 stars because this film is legendary. It is mind blowing in so many parts and, I believe it is one of the best films I have ever seen.

Bridge of Spies
By Tre’ana H.,  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Bridge of Spies is a fantastic film that is based upon a true story that took place during the Cold War.  Steven Spielberg, as a director, is one amazing fellow. He is known for so many films, but this one takes the hat off.  This movie is filled with drama and thrills and will keep you sitting straight up in your seat.  You will want to know what is going to happen next because there is so much going on in this film. I got a little lost in the story but, once I got back on track, it was astonishing to watch the government in action.  James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) two-time Academy Award winner is phenomenal.  He is outstanding in whatever role he plays and he always commits and fulfills his obligation with greatness, as well as his sly comments.  The costume is formal and direct.

The film tells the story of an American lawyer, James B. Donovan who is asked by the CIA during the Cold War to represent Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) who is a spy that has been captured in the United States. He does not reveal any information to James because he wants him to have a fair trial. The twist to this involves an American pilot, Francis Gary (Austin Stowell), who is caught when on a mission in the Soviet Union. What a mess?

My favorite part is when James’s son Roger Donovan (Noah Schnapp) is filling up the bath tub and sink with water. He is doing this because, if there was a war of any type or danger, they will always have source of water for drinking and washing. I think that this is very smart and yet hilarious since the war hasn’t even start.

The message of the film is always treat someone fair because you never know when you may have to compromise or make an even exchange.  You should always treat people with dignity and respect.

I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18 because it is challenging to follow the storyline and it does contain some violent scenes. I enjoyed watching the film even though I am not big on spy movies.  I give this film 4 out of 5 Stars because it is very informative and  I became more informed.

Bridge of Spies
By Willie J, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

It was worth the three year wait. Steven Spielberg has come back with one of his finest films ever, quite easily in his top 10. Bridge of Spies is an engaging journey that entrances you in its story and doesn’t let you go. Led by Tom Hanks, this movie about an American lawyer who is recruited to lead trade negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, is a story they didn’t teach you in history class. But, it’s a story you won’t forget.One thing I have to get out of the way before I burst, is my love for Mark Rylance. He plays Abel, a Soviet spy who is caught, put on trial (with unfair treatment) and then used as bait to get back an American spy that was caught by the Soviets. Mark Rylance is one of the world’s greatest actors and I do hope this movie puts him on a bigger radar. The subtle depth to which he plays Abel goes so smoothly with the more humorous and determined way in which Tom Hanks plays James Donovan. It is a chemistry that can’t afford to be missed. Together, they lead this cast that also includes Alan Alda and Amy Ryan.

The most essential parts of this film are the writing and cinematography. Matt Charman and the Coen brothers have truly outdone themselves. The Coens, as you may know, have written such classics like No Country For Old Men, Fargo and The Big Lebowski. They are versatile writers who you wouldn’t think to have written this movie. Because, despite their versatility, this doesn’t seem like a movie where their darkly humorous and violent style could be intertwined. But I think it is forgotten that the Coens are masters of plot. The plot of this movie is so well structured and put together, and flows seamlessly with Spielberg’s direction. Furthermore, there is STILL plenty of their witty, banter-type, sarcastic dialogue, that provides more than enough gems of laughter. I must praise their innate ability to have well placed exposition, and not shower us with too much of it. The story is always moving, and is never at a stand still. It transitions from theme to theme and point to point so smoothly. The bridge scenes are arguably the most essential because they get us from place to place in the plot, and the writing takes us there with a serene intention.

To add to the brilliance, Janusz Kaminski (Cinematographer) creates beautiful and effective color palettes to conveyWillie1.jpg different tones so well. They’re obvious enough to have an effect on us and discrete enough not to be distracting. The mix of blues and greys and dark and light make for a more interesting watch, and each choice of cinematography is motivated. Of course, we have the patented Spielberg lighting designs (which never get old) and his trademark close-up zoom ins, and they are welcome.

This movie is very old fashioned in some ways. Unlike many movies today that try to give us a message or say something essential or bombard us with themes to mull over, this is just a story. It’s an extremely well told story, with some nice themes scattered across, and some history being taught – nothing more or less. It’s a mixture of a blockbuster and “artful” film, if you will. It is a movie I knew would be sensational, considering it is a collaboration between Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and the Coens. These four legends have each done their jobs well, as usual, and their talents and signature styles mesh well as one. This is model filmmaking.

I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars because the pacing is slow. There are moments where it could have sped up and further utilized Thomas Newman’s score (which is beautiful, but underused). I also feel the ending isn’t satisfying enough and could have been much more. Still, this movie is a great experience and it’s one you don’t want to miss. Luckily, it can be seen at a local theater near you.

Bridge of Spies
By Jorge L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

I strongly believe this movie will be a contender for Best Picture award at the Academy Awards.

The world is on the brink of war and one man has the power to maintain peace. His name is James Donovan, an insurance lawyer from Brooklyn, New York. The year is 1957 and the Cold War is in full swing. When a Soviet spy is caught in the United States, Donovan is hired to defend him in court. This all seems pretty easy but the anti-communists assume that he is guilty and, by association, James is also considered a communist. This puts his and his family’s lives in jeopardy as well as his career. Meanwhile, in the USSR, U.S. spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers is shot down while on a reconnaissance mission. These unlikely circumstances allow for both nations to be put into positions to negotiate the release of their counterpart. This leads to great debate on both sides.

This film is directed by Steven Spielberg and, it is great seeing him back in the director’s seat. With Spielberg, comes his famous style of shot composition and setting. This is evident from the very beginning. The cinematography is grainy, giving it the feel of being  filmed in the late 50s. Also, we get small glimpses of 50s Brooklyn as well as Soviet-controlled East Berlin. The color scheme really reflects the emotion that the audience should be feeling. For example, in moments of great tension and anxiety, the colors are less saturated and have a gloomy feel to it. All this makes it clear that Spielberg is back and ready to work.

The Story is based on a true story and with something so iconic as the Cold War and the U-2 incident, it has to be accurate and persuasive. The writers have created a script embedded with a 50s feel. The dialogue also gives a Cold War feeling. For example, one part of the film depicts Donovan’s son talking about preparing for a nuclear attack. Unless you personally experienced this era, it is hard to relate to the fear that children had at that time. However, this part allowed me to feel the what kids must have been feeling. The writers divided this film into two parts and this may have not been the best idea because, at times the movie ran on too long.

This film demonstrates the emotions felt during the Cold war while also allowing you to cheer on the defendant of this Soviet spy. With such a sensitive topic as war, it is clear why this movie is rated PG-13. Because of that, some profanity and the need for having some prior historical knowledge about the era, I recommend this movie to ages 13 to 18. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. I would have given it a 5th star if it hadn’t dragged on.

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Goosebumps Actually Gives you Goosebumps!

Friday, October 16th, 2015

goosebumps.jpgUpset about moving from a big city to a small town, teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) finds a silver lining when he meets the beautiful girl, Hannah (Odeya Rush), living right next door. But every silver lining has a cloud, and Zach’s comes when he learns that Hannah has a mysterious dad who is revealed to be R. L. Stine (Jack Black), the author of the bestselling Goosebumps series. It turns out that there is a reason why Stine is so strange… he is a prisoner of his own imagination – the monsters that his books made famous are real, and Stine protects his readers by keeping them locked up in their books. When Zach unintentionally unleashes the monsters from their manuscripts and they begin to terrorize the town, it’s suddenly up to Stine, Zach, and Hannah to get all of them back in the books where they belong.

By Nathaniel B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

I love this movie!  It starts when Zack (Dylan Minnette) and his Mom move from New York to Madison, Delaware not long after his Dad dies.  Their house is right next door to a very odd neighbor, but Zack meets the neighbor’s daughter, Hannah (Odeya Rush) and she shows him a really cool abandoned amusement park.

On his very first day of school, he meets a kid named Champ (Ryan Lee).  Later that night, Zack hears Hannah screaming next door and he calls Champ to help him check it out.  Champ thinks he’s coming over to meet girls and his reaction to finding out he’s been asked to help save Hannah is very funny.  They sneak in and that is when the adventure begins.
This story has many cool Goosebumps characters including Slappy (aka the Living Dummy), the Invisible Boy, the Haunted Car, the Abominable Snowman, Werewolf of Fever Swamp and the Blob that eats everyone.

The cinematography and special effects are amazing. I especially liked when the ink  flies off the pages of the book.  The monsters look great and have a lot of detail. They look very real.  I have to admit, I am a big fan of the Goosebumps books and they have excelled at making a movie that is true to the books.  I also love the acting. It is one of the perfect things about the movie. They react like some one really would in a similar situation.

This movie is kind of scary. There are some jump scares. But, it is funnier than it is scary.  There are many jokes such as when Champ says “Most teenagers aren’t afraid of death, but I was born with the gift of fear.  When I was four and put on a swing, I thought, so this is how it ends.”

I like the music. It really suits the mood of the film, creating suspense throughout the film. During Zach’s first day of school, the music is happy just like you feel on the first day of a new school year.

Goosebumps is a great story and will be enjoyed by many different ages. I definitely think you should check it out, especially if you love the books. I recommend this for ages 7 to 18 because younger kids could get scared. I give Goosebumps 5 out of 5 stars because I loved the story line, the great music, the acting and the special effects!

By Tre’ana H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I like this film because it is replete with action, adventure and comedy. Even though I unfamiliar with the Goosebumps TV and book series from the 90s, I enjoyed the eccentricity of this film. The movie keeps you in cliff hangers and makes you think about the possibility of all this craziness actually happening. The director, Robert Letterman really amazed me by how real he made the monsters look. R.L. Stine(Jack Black) is sensational and I don’t think any one else could have played him. He is a little weird though.

This film is about a boy named Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mom Gale (Amy Ryan) who moved to Madison, a small town outside of New York City. The next door neighbor’s daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) welcomes him to the neighborhood. R.L. Stine comes to the window and says “stay away from my daughter and don’t cross the gate” with an unpleasant facial expression. There is a reason why the dad is so strange. He is a prisoner of his own imagination. R.L. Stine protects his readers by keeping them locked up in their books.  When Zach unintentionally releases them, all the excitement begins. That’s all I can reveal.  You’ll have to go see the film to find out more. It is a must see.

My favorite part is when R.L. Stine is stuck between the two doors to get out the grave yard and the monster is chasing him and Hannah’s friends. He says, “go I will be fine” and  Champ (Ryan Lee) actually leaves him and runs away without turning back while the others try to get him out.

The costuming is original and modern. The monsters are bright, colorful and spooky looking.
The message of this film is that you should treat people the way you wish to be treated. Everyone’s aspirations are different but, be fair because it will take you a long way.

I recommend this film for ages 10 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 Stars because this film is an adventure comedy that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I loved this movie. It is just right. This film is not for a younger audiences because it might be a little scary for younger children. Check out this movie when it hits theaters Friday, October 16, 2015.

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My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Friendship Games – Fun, Magic and Adventure

Friday, October 9th, 2015

MLP.EquestiaGirls.Friendship.jpgThe latest installment of the film series. My Little Pony Equestria Girls, will come as a please addition to My Little Pony fans and newcomers alike. It is colorful with great animation, songs and loads of positive messages. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O., age 13 and a self-proclaimed Brony comments, “After two series consisting of seven seasons, almost 200 episodes and two movies, people might think the series is getting old. But, I think it is not even half way over. The third installment in My Little Pony: Equestrian Girls does not disappoint My Little Pony fans of all ages.” KIDS FIRST! adult reviewer, Eli B. comments, “This title approaches many social elements for children to consider. Throughout the film, characters prevail by using kindness, honesty, courage, teamwork, friendship, sacrifice and a little ‘Equestrian Magic’.” Mia A. adds, “As a true My Little Pony fan,  I was so excited when I heard that My Little Pony Equestria Girls Friendship Games had been released!  I was not disappointed.  This animated movie is so fun and entertaining! “See their full reviews below.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Friendship Games

By Eli B. KIDS FIRST! adult reviewer

This title is very colorful with great animation and songs. It teaches lots of positive lessons including kindness, forgiveness, courage and teamwork. This title approaches many social elements for children to consider. Throughout the film, characters prevail by using kindness, honesty, courage, teamwork, friendship, sacrifice and a little “Equestrian Magic”. This title will prompt any child to examine the way treating others affects everyone including themselves. The ponies face many challenges and through teamwork, courage and kindness, they find resolve.

This film also teaches that although cheating may seem easy and produce results, that trying and losing is better than winning dishonestly. Its great to see so many different and at times opposing characters come together to find the common goodness in everyone. This DVD has bonus features including audio commentary, animated shorts, sing-a-longs and deleted scenes. You can easily choose specific chapters to watch or stop and play as needed. 

Gerry.O.jpgMy Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Friendship Games
By Gerry Orz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

After two series consisting of seven seasons, almost 200 episodes and two movies, people might think the series is getting old. But, I think it is not even half way over. The third installment in My Little Pony: Equestrian Girls does not disappoint My Little Pony fans of all ages.

This movie is an adventure about the main characters. However, with most My Little Pony titles, friendship is a magic related thing. There is also a good amount of silly humor that viewers can enjoy and a small dose of drama which makes it more entertaining.

The story follows Twilight Sparkle, the only pony who seems to be able to go between the human and pony world. She hasn’t been in contact with any of her human friends and one day she arrives there.  However, it isn’t the Twilight they know. Additionally, the six friends are starting to get better control of their hidden magic powers which they need to learn to control for the friendship games (an athletic and academic competition between rivalry schools). If you would like to find out what happens, you have to watch the movie or read the book.

This film continues developing the positive reputation for the My Little Pony Friendship is Magic movies. The story is exciting, with many twists, and you still learn an important message. For this film, there are many. One of them is that, when help comes, accept it. The animation looks very tidy and, even though this is 2D animated, they are very creative with adding some 3D camera shots. The voice talent for Ashleigh Ball, Apple Jack and Rainbow Dash are spot on. Tara Strong who plays Twilight Sparkle makes us love the character, hate her and pity her all at the same time. The rest of the cast are also great at projecting the emotion of their characters. For example, in one scene with Applejack, she is helping her competition with archery and you don’t hear pity in her voice, you hear a kind, friendly tone, which Ashleigh Ball is so known for.

My favorite scene is when two of the main characters are fighting the enemy high school on a dirt bike course. It includes my favorite character, Rainbow Dash and another main character, Fluttershy. The race goes well at first. However when the other Twilight Sparkle accidentally releases some strange magic, the race goes haywire.

There is something you should be aware of. You don’t need to follow the TV show that the film is based on in order to understand the storyline of the film. However, it is probably best if you watch the first movie, My Little Pony: Equestrian Girls, in order to understand this story.

Age rating is surprising for My Little Pony. A lot of people think this show is meant for 2 to 6-year-olds. But really, it is suitable for older kids and event adults. Many of this show’s fans (including me) are 12 years old and older so, I recommend this for ages 2 to 18 and adults as well. Small children will enjoy the fun, bright, colors and the funny characters. But, older kids and adults enjoy the show as a fans. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars because it entertains people while teaching important messages. This film is out on DVD/Blu-ray on October 13 so check it out.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Friendship Games
By Mia A, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

As a true My Little Pony fan,  I was so excited when I heard that My Little Pony Equestria Girls Friendship Games had been released!  I was not disappointed.  This animated movie is so fun and entertaining!

If you haven’t seen the other My Little Pony movies, this plot will probably be confusing.  These My Little Pony movies need to be watched in chronological order just like the Hunger Games or Harry Potter.  This Friendship Games movie reminded me of the first My Little Pony movie because of reasons I can’t say because it would be a spoiler.Mia3.jpg

This movie is about Sunset Shimmer and her friends (Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, Pinky Pie and Applejack) at Canterlot High.  They are competing against Crystal Prep in the Friendship Games which are held every year.  This time, the human world’s Twilight is competing against them during the friendship games!   Who will win, Canterlot High or Crystal Prep?  Will the human Twilight ever come together with Sunset Shimmer and her friends?  In Equestria there are ponies and there is a portal that goes to the human world which is where this movie takes place.

If parents don’t want their kids to be watching movies about portals, this is not the movie for them because there is a portal in this movie and all the other My Little Pony movies.

The moral to this movie is that friendship is more powerful than magic or anything else. I really enjoyed this movie because of the design of the characters and settings.  The songs and music in this film also help set the mood and emotions.  I love all the characters because they all learn a valuable lesson such as how people make mistakes.  Even when the characters disagree and get in little fights, they always forgive each other.  These characters are good role models for younger kids because they learn and care.

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The Iron Giant Signature Edition – Remastered, rereleased, in-theaters and coming to DVD/Digital

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

TheIronGiant.jpgThe Iron Giant, the beloved animated film directed by Brad Bird, is being re-released in theaters this fall by Warner Bros. Pictures and Fathom Events. Known as The Iron Giant: Signature Edition, the re-release is a remastered version of the movie that also contains two bonus scenes. It played as a special engagement at 7 p.m. local time on Wednesday, Sept. 30, followed by an encore presentation at noon on Sunday, Oct. 4, in select theaters across America. For those who didn’t make it to the screenings, a high-definition digital version of The Iron Giant: Signature Edition will be available to purchase later this fall.

The Iron Giant, Bird’s directorial debut, premiered in the summer of 1999 to rave reviews but didn’t come close to breaking even at the box office. The film, which is based on Ted Hughes’ 1968 novel The Iron Man, tells the story of a young boy who finds a giant robot that fell to earth from space. Bird went on to direct The Incredibles and Ratatouille at Pixar, winning two Academy Awards, before breaking into live-action filmmaking with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “This film is truly wonderful. Brad Bird, the director, is famous for making some of the best animated films and I think this is one of his best work even through it is one of his first.” See his full review below.

The Iron Giant : Signature Edition

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The classic animated film, that millions and millions people loved, from the genius mind of Brad Bird, comes the sixteen-year-old, ultra-famous, The Iron Giant.

The Iron Giant has a lot of action. However, this isn’t just about explosions and fights. It is also a major drama with many twists and turns in the story that make it compelling and interesting. There is still a good amount of comedy to keep the viewer entertained. Actually, there is a fantastic amount of drama that keeps you at the edge of your seat and  still a good amount of comedy to make sure you enjoy it.

The story begins when a nine-year-old boy named Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal) accidentally finds a 200 foot Iron Robot from outer space. They become close friends until the government realizes its existence and tries to destroy the robot. It is up to Hogarth and his family to protect the Iron Giant from destruction.

This film is truly wonderful. Brad Bird, the director, is famous for making some of the best animated films and I think this is one of his best work even through it is one of his first. Considering it was made in 1999, the animation is excellent and, some of the more tricky shots, such as the giant explosion, all done wonderfully well, just as if it was made more recently. The message of the story is truly sweet and is an important one – Don’t judge a character by his appearance. The army looks at this giant iron creature from space and thinks it is there to kill them. Really, he has no idea why he is here. It’s as if he is just a young boy.

My favorite scene is the opening shot. It starts by showing the first satellite in space in the 1950s. Then, a meteor flies by the satellite straight into the ocean. This meteor holds the one and only Iron Giant. I loved it because the animation is just amazing. You can even see some 3D animation, which was very new at the time.

Because there are some dramatic and intense scenes, I recommend it for ages 7 to 18. I also give it 5 out of 5 stars since this film is a wonderful animated classic. The voice acting, the animation, the storyline and everything about this film is simply magical. I do hope there will be a sequel!



By Nathaniel B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

 “Sometimes, to truly understand how things end, you must first know how they begin.”  

Pan is a beautiful film full of fun and adventure – giant crocodiles jumping high into the air, beautiful mermaids gliding through the water and pirate ships sailing through the sky.  It all looks so real and the colors are so rich. I enjoyed every bit of it and think you will too! 

This Warner Brothers live-action feature, Pan, is an amazing film that is a great prequel to Peter Pan. This story starts when infant Peter (Levi Miller) is dropped off at a boys’ orphanage by his mother. He grows up with his friend Nibs (Lewis MacDougal) and is raised by evil nuns.  One night, 12-year-old Peter and Nibs get taken away to Neverland by pirates in flying boats. Nibs escapes from the boat by jumping onto a roof. Peter and the other kids from the orphanage have to mine fairy dust for the evil Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) in order to survive. He meets Hook (Garrett Hedlund) in a mine chamber while they are going to sleep. The next day he finds fairy dust but a man steals it from him and Blackbeard makes him walk the plank. When he gets kicked off the board, he flies before he hits the ground, surprising himself and everyone else. Peter’s adventures in Neverland are full of many more surprises, epic battles and answers to many of the questions he’s always wondered about.  

The incredibly talented Hugh Jackman is completely unrecognizable as Blackbeard. He’s ruthless but has an oddly compassionate side. He sends Peter to his death and, when he survives, he lets him live. He tells Peter, “We have an ancient prophecy that tells of a boy, a boy who would disappeared from his world until he was old enough to return and lead an uprising against me. A boy who could fly…

To find the right actor to play Peter, the filmmakers looked at thousands of kids in the UK, the United States, Canada and Australia before finding Levi Miller.  I think he does a good job playing this mischievous boy who wants to know where he comes from and where he’s headed.

Pan is suitable for ages 8 to18 because there is some violence but it’s not gory.  I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. Check it out in theaters October 9.

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