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Archive for October, 2018

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Hallow – Funny, Spooky, Mysterious and Fun

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

While collecting junk one day, best friends Sonny and Sam meet Slappy, a mischievous talking dummy from an unpublished “Goosebumps” book by R.L. Stine. Hoping to start his own family, Slappy kidnaps Sonny’s mother and brings all of his ghoulish friends back to life — just in time for Halloween. As the sleepy town becomes overrun with monsters, witches and other mysterious creatures, Sonny joins forces with his sister, Sam and a kindly neighbor to save Sonny’s mom and foil Slappy’s plan. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “The movie is funny and spooky in equal amounts. There is mystery and discovery all combined in the storytelling.” Nathalie J. adds, “I believe the whole family will enjoy this film. The film is designed with so much fun reaction moments. It delivers on what Goosebumps fans have come to expect.” See their full reviews below.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
By Nathalia Marie J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Boo! Trick or treat! Who is ready for a perky piece of family entertainment? Giant spiders made of balloons, pumpkin-headed scarecrows, witches with glowing heads are the factual stars of Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. Who’s ready to pop some popcorn with a fresh drink and enjoy the film?

This very funny, energetic, colorful and well-crafted film is directed by Ari Sandel. The film follows best friends Sonny and Sam, who meets Slappy, a frisky talking dummy from an unpublished “Goosebumps “ book by R.L. Stine. Slappy hopes to start a family of his own. Well you will see how that unfolds. Slappy kidnaps Sonny’s mother and brings all of his frightening friends back to life, literally bringing Halloween back to life! Just in time for Halloween. As the Slappy town becomes infested with monsters, witches and other shadowy creatures, Sonny  joins powers with his sister, Sam and a concerned neighbor to save Sonny’s mom and stop Slappy’s strategy.

The lead characters are Kathy Quinn (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Sarah Quinn (Madison Iseman), Mr. Chu (Ken Jeong), Sonny Quinn (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Sam Carter (Bryce Cass) and  Slappy (Mick Wingert).

My favorite part of the movie is pretty much, the whole movie. This movie is one of those sequels where it gets restated in a new way, greater and sillier than before. I love how Slappy uses his magical powers to bring typical “Goosebumps” monsters to life.

Wow! Can I say the music in this film is surprising? Composer Dominic Lewis creates a perfect match to the Halloween theme. Every action coordinates with perfect music accompaniment. The music provides escalating emotions and had me jumping out of my seat a few times – in a good way, not a super spooky way. The animation has lively, attractive colors and put me in the spirit for Halloween.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 16, as well as adults. I believe the whole family will enjoy this film. The film is designed with so much fun reaction moments. It delivers on what Goosebumps fans have come to expect. Don’t miss this live-action film when it opens nationwide October 12, 2018.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween is spooky, fun and creative! It is very engaging and entertaining throughout the whole film.

The story is about a young boy, Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and his best friend, Sam (Caleel Harris) who finds a book. When they open it, a doll called Slappy comes out! The boys lose the book, but keep Slappy. The friends are very surprised and a bit scared when they discover that the doll can talk. He seems nice at the beginning. He wants to have a family. But later, the boy, his sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) and his best friend realize he is strange and don’t want him to be part of their family anymore. Slappy has his own personal agenda and decides to create his own family. He makes Halloween come to life as he invades the whole town with monsters and all the creatures as allies. This is a very scary Halloween for the town of Wardenclyffe, where the story takes place, as all creatures make real chaos. Sonny, Sam and Sarah team up with neighbor Mr. Chu (Ken Jeong) to find the book that Slappy from to figure out how to stop him. They discover that the book can suck up monsters and they are determined to save the city.

The story is based on R.L Stine’s books. This is where Jack Black comes in as he reprises his role from the 2015 film, playing the writer who came to help. His performance as the author is excellent. I love his voice work giving life to Slappy the Dummy.

The movie is funny and spooky in equal amounts. There is mystery and discovery all combined in the storytelling. There’s kind of a homage to horror films, as we see some classic monsters. My favorite scenes are the ones with the Halloween decorations coming to life in the store and the fight with the gummy bears that become real and attack Sonny and Sam.

The effects are very well done. This story focuses on the 3 main characters and the actors did a good job carrying the film. There’s a tribute to the books and literature. There’s a beautiful metaphor with the blank pages in the book which is powerful. It is so interesting and kind of reminded me that reality is scarier than fantasy and there will be more stories to be written. The message of this film is, “when we face our own fears we learn how not to be scared.”

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween opens October 12, 2018 and is the perfect movie for kids this Halloween. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 6 to 13 and grown ups as well.

Photos: © Columbia Pictures. All rights reserved.
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Venom: Fans of Superhero Movies May Want to Check This Out

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Journalist Eddie Brock is trying to take down Carlton Drake, the notorious and brilliant founder of the Life Foundation. While investigating one of Drake’s experiments, Eddie’s body merges with the alien Venom — leaving him with superhuman strength and power. Twisted, dark and fueled by rage, Venom tries to control the new and dangerous abilities that Eddie finds so intoxicating. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “Venom is a somewhat entertaining comic book-based movie watch… Fans of superhero movies may want to check it out.” See his complete review below.

Venom
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Venom is a somewhat entertaining comic book-based movie watch. The acting and directing provide for serviceable entertainment amid some of the movie’s ill-fated attempts. Fans of superhero movies may want to check it out.

The story follows former investigative and maverick journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) after he attempts a comeback following a scandal that left him jobless, despite good intentions. Eddie’s life furthermore takes on more complications, after accidentally becoming the host of an alien symbiote, giving him the carnivorous alter ego, Venom.  Soon, he must rely on and master his newfound powers to protect the world from the shadowy organization he so sought to destroy, because of their involvement in experimenting with other symbiotes, before it’s too late.

Tom Hardy, as Eddie Brock, is my favorite character and absolutely lives up to the hype surrounding his performance, even if a few of his deliveries come across as random,  due to an inconsistent script. Also, he further sells the voice of Venom, delivering numerous nuances underneath the carnivorous savage. Michelle Williams, as Anne Weying, does the best she can with an uninspired script, that doesn’t do her character justice, as Anne comes across as a stereotypical love interest. Despite this, she adds nuances to her characters’ emotions and occasional comedic remarks.  Once again, Riz Ahmed, as Carlton Drake, suffers from the same issue, but presents just enough threat to make his foe a formidable one. Still, his plotline involving the main lab corporation, remains one of the movie’s stalling points as it remains nothing more than a disinteresting evil lair. Jenny Slate, as Dora Skirth, fares better as the script provides more material to go around. Her vibrant expressions and remarks make her one of the movie’s most memorable assets.

Ruben Fleischer aptly directs the movie with an effective grasp on understanding the Venom character, which is the movie’s saving grace. The mix of horror, adrenaline-fueled action and black comedy provides for a unique experience, unlike any other superhero movie, despite not being as polished as most. My favorite scene is the SWAT action scene, as it is a great showcase of special effects and unique sound design. The choreography further sells the excellent pace towards Venom’s attacks. The other main flaw stems from the sub-par script, as it doesn’t compliment the all-star cast’s talents well. Aside from Eddie, every character is stereotypical and not as interesting to watch, with stilted dialogue further adding unintentional awkwardness to the characters’ relationships. At times, the movie’s plot

Michelle Williams stars in VENOM

progression becomes littered with holes and doesn’t match the brisk pace that the many action scenes provide. In fact, any of the movie’s plot, not involving the Venom symbiote, is met with a gruelingly slow pace, leaving us waiting for Venom to show up.

The message of this movie to always stand up for what’s right and be careful about it, in spite of anyone in your way. Eddie’s brutally honest responses to evil and the Venom alter-ego support this with a positive example. I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, because of intense action and language. The movie releases in theaters October 5, 2018, so check it out.

 

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The Rack Pack: Enjoyable watch for anyone looking for that nostalgic 80s goodness

Monday, October 8th, 2018

A children’s storybook author reminisces about his childhood adventures with his brothers and friends. In a time before kids spent hours watching television, on the computer, playing video games and texting, they went to the park to play with their friends. As military brats, these kids lived their own adventures. They lived a different sort of childhood that challenged their imaginations to soar to a different level. Following in their parents footsteps, they pretended to be soldiers as they played army in the woods. Life seemed simpler back then, until danger came to town. In our story, a cynical man comes across a Civil War General’s old map that may lead to long lost treasure buried deep in a mining tunnel. The kids come across the man and his team and learn about the treasure. Our heroes come up with a plan to try to find it first. ​Things take a serious turn when the kids are discovered. The thieves up their status and become kidnappers as they take one of the children’s fathers hostage. The kids, in full army gear, set out for a rescue mission. As they learn more about each other they form a bond of brotherhood and friendship called …THE RACK PACK. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “This is sure to be a enjoyable watch for anyone looking for that nostalgic 80s goodness.”  Elle S., KIDS FIRST! Juror adds, “The Rack Pack is a funny film that pays respect to our military, all while expressing independence for the youth. I appreciate the diversity and persistence of these school-aged children.” See their full reviews below.

The Rack Pack
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The Rack Pack makes fun of its goofy 80s vibe, but ultimately falls a bit flat with its underdeveloped plot. However, the acting and cohesive script provide vibrant energy. This is sure to be a enjoyable watch for anyone looking for that nostalgic 80s goodness.

The story follows the adventures of military nerd brothers Darrell (Nico Ford), Gerald (Hunter Lee Manning), and Loren (Wyatt Walter). Their escapades take a dangerous turn when they come under the contact of a Civil War treasure map. To compete, the cynical duo Ted (C. Thomas Howell) and DJ (Nick Vernon) race to obtain the map and sell it to criminals. However, the boys slip themselves to the thieves leading to their own dad (David Schifter) getting involved and kidnapped. In a race against time, the boys must save both their dad and map all while earning the legendary name The Rack Pack.

Nico Ford, as Darrell, excels with his sharp, yet reckless thinking. His banter with Tammy also add one of the movie’s funniest dynamics as she continuously dupes him. Hunter Lee Manning, as Gerald, sells the eldest brother dynamic with his wise mentorship even if he can come across as disloyal. As well as Wyatt Walter, as Loren, who wonderfully presents his cute youngest brother self always following his elders into trouble. David Schfiter, as Mr. Rackley, excels with his fatherly presence as he holds the family together through tough times and is always willing to take risks to save lives.  C. Thomas Howell and Nick Vernon, as Ted and DJ, allow for a charismatic villainous presence, with DJ being my favorite character as his comedic timing was perfectly handled. Last but not least, Cece Kelly, as Tammy, accelerates a fun side-plot as her biting remarks never got old.

Thomas J. Churchill talentedly directs the movie with great 80s gags and adventure with the Goonies being a big influence. My favorite scene is when the boys attempt to stop the duo’s perilous plans which result in some truly hilarious scenes as they rely on outsmarting than violent means. However, my problems with this movie stem from the plot of the movie in general which feels devoid of any emotional appeal or development. At times, it feels like there is zero plot. Thankfully, the movie’s quirky characters are able to hold attention as their wise cracks always bring something new to the table.

The message of the movie to always trust in your team as the Rack Pack always powers through and fights for what is right. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 10 as some scenes can come across as intense. The movie is available on DVD, so check it out.

The Rack Pack
By Elle S., KIDS FIRST! Juror

The Rack Pack is a funny film that pays respect to our military, all while expressing independence for the youth. I appreciate the diversity and persistence of these school-aged children. Yes, some rules are broken, pranks occur and sometimes a skunk just needs to let one rip. But, overall this movie makes your inner child smile. One of the most appealing things is finding out who the pack includes and why they were given this name. I like that there’s a bit of rebellious behavior, taking charge of adults and how the humor is all kid-friendly.

The film flows well. I like seeing the diversity in both race and genders, when it comes to forming a team – on both the child and adult side. I was drawn in from the beginning to the end. There are various characters and scenes that involve bullying. Some of that goes unresolved or are dealt with retaliation. There are moments when kids get revenge on adult thieves, but it is handled in a more imaginary and comedic way.

As a viewer, I wanted to see how the kids would find the villain and recover the treasure. The way the kids handle the situation lines up with what a tween or young teen would do if they were trying to confront a thief. I found the production value of this film above average for a lower budget film. I watched an online screener which included bonus footage showing bloopers and behind the scenes content on which was enjoyable.

The message of this film is that children can join forces and fight for not only their community, but for being respectful human beings. Children of all types can be their own advocates and fight for what they believe in. I think those are compelling messages to learn.

I love action films. There’s something about being covered in dirt and playing outdoors or “members only” zone where you can just let loose and be yourself. Self evaluation, action and adventures are a big part of this film. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 14. I do suggest parental guidance since there are some mild examples of fighting and weapons. Reviewed by Elle S., KIDS FIRST! Juror.

 

 

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My Hero Academia: Two Heroes: Great for current fans as well as Newbies!

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

All Might and Deku accept an invitation to visit a floating man-made city called I Island where they meet a girl and battle against a villain who takes the island hostage. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “I love this movie so much! It includes all the things I love about My Hero Academia – incredible action, hilarious comedy and wonderful characters.”  Angel U., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror adds, “I love this film and love the series in general. This film is great for current fans as it touches on a scene that happened in the TV show, which technically makes the film canon to the rest of the series. The characters and the story are quite appealing and kids will enjoy the subject matter, the animation and the characters.” See their full reviews below.

My Hero Academia: Two Heroes
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

I love this movie so much! It was an amazing experience that made me happy to be a fan of this amazing show. It includes all the things I love about My Hero Academia – incredible action, hilarious comedy and wonderful characters.

The story takes place between the second and third season of My Hero Academia, as Deku and All Might travel to the moving city, “I” Island, and must fight a villain who has taken the entire island hostage with the help of Deku’s classmates.

An important aspect of this movie is the fact that it takes places in between seasons of My Hero Academia. So the question is, “Can you watch this without having seen the show?” I’d say it probably is ok if you aren’t already following the show. The beginning of the movie is mostly exposition, so it explains everything you need to know to understand the world and the protagonist. However, the movie doesn’t explain smaller elements of the show, such as how Deku got scars on his hand and why Deku is surprised by a character that uses a certain power. Those are things you would need to have seen the show to understand. However, it doesn’t affect the story too much. Aside from Deku and All Might, no one’s powers are specifically explained, yet they’re shown in way that gives you a general idea of the power, which is kind of a downfall.

So first, animation. The show My Hero Academia already has fantastic animation, but this movie in particular looks amazing and that might be because of its budget. The fight scenes in the show were already amazing, yet the scale of the fights in this movie makes them awesome. What impressed me was that I got scared during these fights, yet I knew the movie wouldn’t connect to the main story. That’s when you know an action scene is cool.

Probably my favorite aspect of My Hero Academia are the characters. Every character is well defined and unique, in powers, appearance and personality. Unfortunately, my favorite character isn’t in the movie a whole lot, while my least favorite character is a main character in this movie. It didn’t bother me too much though, because the other characters are so funny and likable.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars, mainly because I am a huge fan. If you are just starting to enjoy anime, then this is a great series to start with. I recommend it for ages 11 to 18. You should go see it even if you’re not yet a fan. It is in theaters now but hurry because it has a limited run.

My Hero Academia: Two Heroes
By Angel Urquidi, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

My Hero Academia: Two Heroes follows the story of Izuku Midoriya who lives in a world where 80% of the population has a special power or, as they call it a “quirk.” Although Midoriya is “quirk-less,” aka born without powers, he still wants to pursue his dream of becoming a super hero. After an encounter with a villain, Midoriya is given a quirk by the number hero in the world All Might and now must attend UA, a high school that teaches up and coming heroes how to use and better, not only their quirk, but themselves.

This film takes place in between the 2nd and 3rd seasons of the show; however there is a recap at the beginning of the film to bring newbies up to speed. The storyline sort of reminds me of a PG Diehard where all the characters have to work together in order to save the day, while being outnumbered by the bad guys

I love this film and love the series in general. This film is great for current fans as it touches on a scene that happened in the TV show, which technically makes the film canon to the rest of the series. The characters and the story are quite appealing and kids will enjoy the subject matter, the animation and the characters. The movie starts off really fast, but it is easy to grasp and the continuity between scenes makes a lot of sense. The style feels like the show, but with a much bigger budget has bigger scenes. All the characters are likeable. However, if you are new to the series, the character Bakugou might be a little off putting. If you are a fan of the series, you will like all the new characters as well as the familiar ones. The animation is spectacular. I love that the show transcended television and made it to the big screen. Depending on where you watch it, theaters have either the English dub or Japanese subtitled version. I saw the English dubbed version and loved it.

The biggest flaw in the film is that we don’t see the whole class of UA that we are used to seeing. Out of all the characters in My Hero Academia’s roster, a good portion of them are missing. However, that flaw aside, I love this film. I love this story. The animation is amazing and, I’m not going to lie, I teared up a little during the final battle.

The message of this film is that, although whenever something changes drastically it can be scary, during the transition you have to look towards the future like All Might and Midoriya do. All Might, being the number one hero, must retire due to a previous injury, but he sees in Midoriya a new symbol of peace and justice that will take his place down the line. I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. There is some mild profanity such as “bastard,” but nothing too severe.

 

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Smallfoot: A Heartfelt Animated Film With Clever Laughs and Interesting Ideas

Monday, October 1st, 2018

A yeti named Migo is convinced that a human known only as “Small Foot” is real and has to prove to his tribe that it does exist with the help of Meechee and the S.E.S – Smallfoot Evidentiary Society. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “Smallfoot is a heartfelt animated film with several clever laughs and some interesting ideas at play.” Izzy C. adds, “There are so many creative little things like that throughout the whole movie, which really held my attention. The music soundtrack is awesome! I’ve already downloaded it. The music is one of the best parts of the movie.” See their full reviews below.

Smallfoot
By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Smallfoot is a heartfelt animated film with several clever laughs and some interesting ideas at play. This film follows Migo, a Yeti, who lives in a village full of them high atop a mountain amidst the snow. Migo is content with his village’s way of life and their beliefs that are scrawled in stone, until he makes a startling discovery. He encounters a being that proves the existence of the Smallfoot or, as we would call it, a human. This goes against the beliefs of his people and gets him banished from his home. From there, he consults a few Yetis who believe in the existence of the Smallfoot to help him prove to the rest of his village that he saw one.

I really like the character Migo, played by Channing Tatum, and Percy, played by James Corden, a TV host trying to influence a resurgence in his career and the Smallfoot whose existence Migo is trying to prove. These are members of two species who have to learn to communicate and get along because of the situation they’re in. The two characters have very different personalities and motivations that collide and the aftermath of their meeting is part of what makes this film so interesting. Even what you could call Smallfoot’s antagonist has relatable character motivations, as he is just trying to protect those close to him.

I do have problems with the flow of this film’s story. This film’s first act is largely uninspired with too much emphasis on slapstick humor and not enough on story. It feels like a series of comedic antics with some filler between them. The film really finds its Smallfooting in the second and third acts with some fun musical sequences and humorous encounters. Smallfoot also has a striking message about what we consider truth and why we believe what we do.

I recommend Smallfoot for ages 4 to 12 due to some mild bathroom humor and some images that could scare younger children. There is a scene with a bear that could be frightening, although it is played up for laughs. I think adults will also enjoy this film. I give the film 3 out of 5 stars. Go check this out because it’s a smart animated film that has lots of moving parts that all manage to come together to make something fun and adorable. Smallfoot comes out in theaters on September 28, 2018.

Smallfoot
By Izzy C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Smallfoot is a really good animated movie with really fun characters and some amazing songs. I might even call it a musical.

The story of Smallfoot is told by the many scenes and lots of songs. There’s a Yeti named Migo (Channing Tatum), who is sweet and nice, but he gets kicked out of his village by the leader, The Stonekeeper (Common). Migo is banished because he told the Yeti village that he saw a monster called a “Smallfoot.” As you might guess, a “Smallfoot” is just a human. Yetis believe that humans are fairytale creatures, but Migo saw one in real life. Nobody believes that Migo had a Smallfoot sighting.

Migo really did see a Smallfoot and the movie follows him trying to prove himself. At the same time, it shows the story of the Smallfoot, whose name is Percy (James Corden). Percy is a TV Host who needs a big story to save his show from being cancelled.

I love the scenery in this film, because it is all snowy. The story takes place in the Himalayas. I found the story interesting because it takes place way up in the mountains where old fables are told. I like the silly beliefs that the Yetis have such as believing the sun is a giant snail and that memories hold up mountains. There are so many creative little things like that throughout the whole movie, which really held my attention. The music soundtrack is awesome! I’ve already downloaded it. The music is one of the best parts of the movie.

This film is for everybody, especially kids like me who are really into adventure.  I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, as well as adults. I think parents will like it. It has some really funny humor and is like a musical comedy delight. Smallfoot opens in theaters September 28, 2018 so, look for it.

Photos: © Warner Bros Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

 

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