Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for April, 2019

Avengers: Endgame – A Cinematic Roller Coaster Ride for Everyone

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers — Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “This movie takes you on an epic, wild ride filled with action, laughter, love, heartache and tears.  As a superhero lover, there is nothing more thrilling than watching this movie – all three hours of it.” Zoe C. adds, “Avengers: Endgame is the epic conclusion of 11 years of films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is nothing less but spectacular! It is a constellation of the biggest Hollywood stars in one event that is entertaining, heartfelt and fun at the same time.” KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer wraps it up with, “. I’m not going to lie, Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film release from Marvel, is a cinematic roller coaster ride for everyone. I laughed. I cried. I loved every pop culture reference. Let us remember, I am not the target audience and I can’t wait to see it again.” See their full reviews below.

Avengers: Endgame
By Katherine S.,KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Can you say “epic”? This movie takes you on an epic, wild ride filled with action, laughter, love, heartache and tears.  As a superhero lover, there is nothing more thrilling than watching this movie – all three hours of it. Bringing all of the Marvel characters together in one movie is simply brilliant.

Avengers: Endgame is based on an awesome journey, post Thanos destruction, of half the Universe.  The Avengers are not used to losing, as they did when we last watched them together, so, they come up with a plan to finally defeat Thanos and save the Universe.

If you haven’t seen many Marvel movies, I recommend watching all of them – each worthy of a 4- or 5-star rating.  In Avengers: Endgame, we see many of the same characters as in other Avenger films.  Tony Stark (aka Ironman), played by Robert Downey Jr., and Steve Rogers (aka Captain America), played by Chris Evans, are probably on the screen the most. The special effects are out of this world. The sound effects make the theatre seats rattle, and the new costumes are super sleek.  My favorite character is Rocket because he is a funny, outspoken, genetically-engineered, spaceship-flying raccoon.  My favorite  scene is when Thor appears in a way we have never seen him before, and it made me laugh out loud. 

The message of Avengers: Endgame is about the characters’ hunger for the old days, teamwork and determination. Without the team and their determination, they are nothing.  Together they are able to be good and do good. Be aware that this movie has some mild profanity, intense violence (stabbings, decapitation, sliced throat, impalement, explosions), alcohol drinking and other risky behavior that kids might replicate.

I give this movie a 5 out of 5 stars and recommend this for ages 10 to 18, and for adults, for sure. Avengers: Endgame is in theaters on April 26, 2019.

Avengers: Endgame
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Avengers: Endgame is the epic conclusion of 11 years of films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is nothing less but spectacular! It is a constellation of the biggest Hollywood stars in one event that is entertaining, heartfelt and fun at the same time.

The basic premise is: the remaining super heroes from the previous film Avengers: Infinity War fight together against evil Thanos to restore peace based on their faith on humankind.

The story develops in three acts. Act 1 is very dramatic and gives the actors the opportunity to develop their characters in scenes that are not action related. We see the most human side of these heroes here. This Avengers film has the best acting of all. Among my favorites performers are Robert Downey Jr. who plays Iron Man and steals the show. Chris Evans, as Captain America, carries the spirit of the team and is always very enthusiastic. Brie Larson brings a lot of gravitas. I can’t mention other favorites, because it would be a spoiler. In this act the Avengers reflect about what might happen if they could turn back time and do things differently. We see how these characters react to loss and hope.

In Act 2 we see the action plan. The movie deals with the concept of time travel and references a lot of films also developed around concepts of present, past and future. During this act, the movie gets a little slow, despite the fun and dramatic action scenes. There are flashbacks and you need to follow carefully to figure out what happens. Even though this film’s run time is three hours, it’s necessary to fit everything in needed to develop the story.

The finale is a total extravaganza and makes this film a unique and total experience. The special affects are fantastic, especially in the Act 3 when we see most of the action scenes and intense battles. The music is very orchestral, but of course it includes contemporary pop and rock songs.

There are so many surprises that make the whole experience very enjoyable. There are also so many details and, although you don’t need to see the previous films to enjoy this one, there is a lot that is directly connected with the previous films, specifically Avengers: Infinity War.

The message of this film is: the world is in our hands and we have to do something to preserve it. We can have a second chance as long as we want to accomplish something. This is part of the beauty of Avengers: Endgame – a lot messages will resonate and touch you like no other super heroes movie does. I am very sad this is the last film, so there will not be another one like this one.

I recommend Avengers: Endgame to ages 10 to 18. This is not as violent as Infinity War, but obviously parental guidance is important younger viewers. Avengers: Endgame opens nationwide on April 26, 2019. Look for it!

Avengers: Endgame
By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is in full force, as is the promotion for what is expected to be a record-breaking film release. I’m not going to lie, Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film release from Marvel, is a cinematic roller coaster ride for everyone. I laughed. I cried. I loved every pop culture reference. Let us remember, I am not the target audience and I can’t wait to see it again.

As in past MCU films, the Avengers are a tight group of superheroes who are like a family and showcase the heart of family throughout time in this film. At the end of Avengers: Infinity Wars, the snap heard throughout the universe ended lives and destroyed families like nothing before. How Thanos (Josh Brolin), the villain, could win vs. our super heroes stymied many. The end credit scenes in Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), gave us a bit of a hint about who would live to save the day, but what would bring our heroes together? Again, it’s Thanos. The use of time and space is a creative set-up for this film and, without delivering spoilers, it truly has to be seen to be believed.

There is a great historical thread and deep family themes throughout the film. In many ways, it is funnier than the Guardians of the Galaxy films, too. There is a single frame in the film screaming girl power, and we learn more about the back story of many characters including Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). The film is an epic conclusion to a well-told story over the last ten years.

Note. This film is a full three hours long. Avoid the over-sized soft drinks or you will miss the action scenes within the film. You simply must see every frame within the last hour. If you don’t have the “Run Pee” app, now is a good time to download it!

I give this film 5 of 5 stars for the casting, costumes, special effects, family themes, humor, awesome comedic pop culture references, make-up (men and women) and female empowerment. This film will appeal to ages 8 to 18. I caution younger viewing due to fight scenes which may be disturbing to younger children. Be sure to look for Stan Lee – it has been confirmed this is his last film appearance. May he rest in eternal peace, protected by the Marvel Universe.

Floogals: Project Egg Hunt – Earthly Experiences And Adventures Leading To Experimentation, Discovery And Observation!

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Join the Floogals on a mission of discovery as they explore Earth and the funny “hoomans” who live there! Each day, Captain Fleeker, First Officer Flo, and Junior Boomer encounter something that sparks their curiosity, setting in motion the day’s research “project” and triggering an exciting adventure! In Project Egg Hunt, the Floogals mistakenly think Mom and Dad Hooman have accidentally dropped candy eggs in the garden when in fact they have placed them there on purpose to create an egg hunt for their kids. The Floogals think they are being helpful and tidy up the eggs! Once the Floogals realize their mistake, they must get all the eggs back on the ground before the kids arrive so their fun day won’t be ruined. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Damon F. comments, “I really enjoy the animation and admire how they have real people walking around with animated characters. It’s a very colorful, bright show with a new lesson in each episode.” Sahiba K. adds, “The characters are diverse, funny and kind and the storylines are clever yet simple thrills.” Eli B., KIDS FIRST! Adult juror wraps it up with, “The mix of crisp animation alongside “hoomans” (real actors) and live animals is really unique. These little aliens sometimes get into a bit of trouble, which they use problem-solving and teamwork to remedy as they learn something along the way.” See their full reviews below.

Floogals: Project Egg Hunt
By Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Floogals Project Egg Hunt is a DVD about tiny secret aliens from planet Floon that sneak around your house learning about humans or, as they call them, hoomans. I really enjoy the animation and admire how they have real people walking around with animated characters. It’s a very colorful, bright show with a new lesson in each episode.

The three Floogals in this series are Captain Fleeker (Rasmus Hardiker), the bravest of the group, First Officer Flo (Jules de Jongh), the smartest of the group and Junior Boomer (Hugo Harold-Harrison), who is clumsy and crazy in most episodes, which makes him very funny. These Floogals wander around a house, encountering new things that the ‘hoomans’ are doing. Then they spend the day researching what the object or activity is and sometimes try to help, often with hilarious results. At the end of each episode they send their report to their leader, who always likes it. So, they receive a strip of stickers based on their observations.

The episodes in this DVD are, Project Egg Hunt, Project Rainbow, Project Kite, Project Picnic and Project Tortoise. My favorite episode is Project Rainbow which is about the Floogals walking in the yard and, as they take cover from a sudden rain shower, they hear the girl “hooman” talk about a rainbow and they decide to investigate rainbows. I like this episode because I can relate to it, as I loved trying to find the end of the rainbow when I was younger. Another good episode is called, Project Tortoise which is about the Floogals discovering a tortoise and deciding to research it more, but when they look back at the tortoise he is gone. The Floogals must find him and bring him home. The title episode, Project Egg Hunt, is very funny because they almost ruin the egg hunt by trying to help. My favorite character is Junior Boomer because he is always being clumsy and causing accidents that sometimes helps the team in unexpected ways. The message of this DVD is, if you work together you can do anything.

I rate this DVD 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 5 because every episode teaches a new lesson and is very repetitive. Older kids and adults might find it amusing too. This DVD is available on Blu-Ray and standard DVD now so, check it out.

Floogals: Project Egg Hunt
By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Floogals: Project Egg Hunt, directed by Ruth Ducker is an imaginative, exciting space adventure that seems to take place right in my own backyard! The characters are diverse, funny and kind and the storylines are clever yet simple thrills. The story follows three Floogals – Captain Fleeker, First Officer Flo and Junior Boomer who are sent to explore and understand the interesting ways of the Hoomans.

The animation and voices add to the special aspect of each Floogal that makes them unique. For example, Junior Boomer is innocent and the youngest of the three which is shown by his bigger eyes and wide smile. The voice actors are able to capture the character’s personality in their voice. Dominique Moore voices First Officer Flo and expresses the sweetness of her character in her voice.

My favorite part is how the Hoomans are considered the mysterious aliens and the Floogals are there to learn about these queer creatures and their ways.

The message of this show is to help those you can and never miss a chance to learn something new. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8. It is available on
DVD now so, be sure to look for it.

Floogals: Project Egg Hunt
By Eli B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

This is a colorful and exciting DVD with five episodes, totaling 60 minutes of fun! The Floogals are a group of curious alien scientists named Fleeker, Boomer and Flo. Their curiosity is sparked by everyday earthly experiences and adventures that lead to experimentation, discovery and observation. The mix of crisp animation alongside “hoomans” (real actors) and live animals is really unique. These little aliens sometimes get into a bit of trouble, which they use problem-solving and teamwork to remedy as they learn something along the way. The menu offers the option to play all episodes or watch them individually. Eachepisode has a run time of 10 to 12 minutes and includes: Project Egg Hunt, Project Rainbow, Project Kite, Project Picnic and Project Tortoise. This DVD is a great educational tool and extremely entertaining. Children between the ages of 2 to 5 will definitely enjoy the songs and story lines. Adventure is everywhere they go. They’re the Floogals! 3, 2, 1 LET’S GO! I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars for outstanding animation, cohesiveness, interesting story lines, songs, educational and overall entertainment value. Reviewed by Eli B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

 

 

 

Munki and Trunk: Meet the Jungle Crew – Adorable Characters, Wonderful Animation

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Ain’t no mountain high enough, river wide enough, or banana big enough to tear these two apart! Our brave, curious monkey and big-hearted elephant live together in the jungle, as children imagine it: a playground with vines to swing on, trampoline mushrooms to bounce on, and a crew of jungle buddies to share endless adventures. Munki and Trunk explore their world together, facing fears, having fun and helping friends in a comedy adventure that’s brim-full of heart, and built on a bedrock of friendship. Includes 8 tree-crashing, rock-smashing, water-splashing, fruit-mashing episodes! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jolleen M. comments, “The characters are so adorable and hilarious. This is such a fun DVD to watch as it teaches the importance of friendship and teamwork. There is no dialogue, so the story can be understood universally.” Sahiba K. adds, “Although simplistic, the plots never fail to surprise me with the direction that they take, making me laugh, gasp and empathize with the characters. I fell in love with main characters again and again as every episode elaborate on their relationship.” See their full reviews below.

Munki and Trunk: Meet the Jungle Crew
By Jolleen Mejia, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The characters are so adorable and hilarious. This is such a fun DVD to watch as it teaches the importance of friendship and teamwork. There is no dialogue, so the story can be understood universally.

The only characters that are named are Munki (the monkey) and Trunk (the elephant). They are best friends and the main characters. The other characters include a giraffe, an ostrich, a baby ostrich, a chameleon, a rhino, a porcupine and a frog.

The animals communicate with each other through sighs and grunts. Brent Dawes, voice of Munki, and Alison Lambole, voice of Trunk, really bring their characters to life. Somehow they make it possible for us to understand their emotions or motives through small yelps and wails.

In terms of the animation, this is one of my favorite animated films. I love how realistic it looks with so much detail and additional adorable elements. The animators add great details to the patterns on the vegetation and the hairs on the animals. The animals closely resemble actual animals with the only difference being giving them bigger eyes.

My favorite parts of this DVD are whenever Munki and Trunk interact. They have such an amusing friendship. Since Trunk is an elephant and much bigger than Munki who is a monkey, Trunk throws Munki around or sometimes she catches him. Munki often jumps on Trunk’s back like a trampoline.

The moral of this show is centered on friendship and working together. Throughout all the conflicts and problems they work together. Although the pair is not the brightest in coming up with solutions, they succeed in the end. This message of friendship and teamwork is always a good message to be taught to children over and over again.

I enjoyed watching this hilarious DVD and it made me laugh. Munki and Trunk’s interaction is entertaining and I love the cute animation. I recommend this for ages 2 to 7 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. Munki and Trunk: Meet The Jungle Crew! is available on DVD now so check it out!

Munki and Trunk: Meet the Jungle Crew!
By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

Munki and Trunk: Meet the Jungle Crew! is a simple delight! Although simplistic, the plots never fail to surprise me with the direction that they take, making me laugh, gasp and empathize with the characters. I fell in love with main characters again and again as every episode elaborate on their relationship.

The story follows best friends Munki and Trunk who run into troubles as their playfulness unexpectedly backfires. These bumps in the road strengthen their love for each other. Several episodes also explore the beauty and differences between the two characters, a concept that teaches the importance of being unique.

The series is devoid of any dialogue, an aspect that is for the best. It makes the relationships of the jungle crew more authentic as the emotions surpass the language barrier between the different animals. Despite having no dialogue, the series masters individuality by giving side characters personality through glimpses of their lives. For example, a porcupine named Humph is always found in a bad mood, either disapproving Munki and Trunk’s antics or mowing his lawn. From these few scenes, one can determine that Humph is like the grumpy old man of the jungle who has his soft spots. Additionally, when one of the animals re-enters the plot like Humph, I became excited, because they are all humorous in their own way and different from each other.

The animation has its strengths, but also some weaknesses. There are several strong cinematography moments that create humor, shock and curiosity. For example, in one scene, it  cuts to a first person perspective with someone running, but is unclear where they are running to or why. The excitement of the moment glued me to my seat. The only criticism I have is with the brightly colored scenery in certain scenes. For instance, one scene involves Munki running through the prairie’s tall bright yellow grass. It is so bright that becomes blurred against Munki’s darker brown fur. Otherwise, the simple animation adds to the overall effect and specialty of the series.

The message is that friendship can lift you up in difficult times and bring out the best in you. I give Munki and Trunk: Meet the Jungle Crew! 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. It is available on DVD now, so check it out.  

Teen Spirit – Vivid, Enthralling and Momentous Film Filled with Important Messages

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

Violet is a shy teenager who dreams of escaping her small town and pursuing her passion to sing. With the help of an unlikely mentor, she enters a local singing competition that will test her integrity, talent and ambition. Driven by a pop-fueled soundtrack, Teen Spirit is a visceral and stylish spin on the Cinderella story. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Nathalia J. comments, “Can I say catchy! Teen Spirit, directed and written by Max Minghella, is ever-lasting, vivid, enthralling, remarkable and a momentous film. It is loaded with important messages that can be applicable during life. Let me warn you, it’s an entertaining ride. Get ready to sit back and enjoy some beautiful music.”  Zoe C. adds, “This is a different musical: Teen Spirit is not about the typical dream of becoming a star, but the situations and temptations you face throughout the journey. It is fueled with great acting and a powerful soundtrack. It’s definitively a nontraditional coming of age story.” Ivey H. wraps it up with, “The scenes are great to watch. I enjoyed the color scheme, lights, music and costumes which support the entire vibe of the movie. This film reminds me of other iconic movies such as Flash Dance and Footloose.  TheTeen Spirit helps you understand how the music /entertainment industry is full of “smoke and mirrors.”  The message is to keep people around you that you trust and that have your best interests at heart.” See their full reviews below.

Teen Spirit
By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The story follows a shy, stylish, and deep feeling youth named Violet (Elle Fanning). Wow! What a dream she has of pursuing her passion to sing and break free from her small town. With the help of an unexpected mentor, she enters a local British TV talent show that will test her patience and ambition. This film allows you to experience one of the most beautiful and emotional touching stories ever.

Elle Fanning stars as Violet in TEEN SPIRIT. Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / LD Entertainment | Bleecker Street

The lead characters are Elle Fanning (Violet), Millie Brady (Anastasia), Elizabeth Berrington (Lorene), Jordan Stephens and Rita Zmitrowicz (Hayley). My favorite part is undeniably when Violet executes a breathtaking performance during the finals. I enjoyed this moment because it really inspired me to take big leaps of faith just like Violet did. I also enjoyed this moment because it shows how far Violet has come to achieve her dream.

My favorite character is the inspiring and hard-working Violet, not only because she is the lead character, but because she inspires us to believe in yourself and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish a dream, big or little. An important aspect of the movie is the creative and story-telling music. I enjoyed numerous performances throughout the film because the songs aren’t just up-beat catchy tunes, they also tell a powerful and moving story which explains Violet’s past.

R Elle Fanning, TEEN SPIRIT, Credit: LD Entertainment | Bleecker Street

This film promotes many positive, heart-warming, uplifting and inspiring messages such as being true to yourself. For example, Violet has a dream that she wants to achieve, but she doesn’t change for anybody to accomplish that dream. She works hard to accomplish it though. Another important message is about how peer pressure influences you, but you most follow your heart and be strong.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, adults can enjoy as well. You can catch this film at your local movie theater on April 19, 2019. So look for it.

Teen Spirit
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film critic age 10

This is a different musical: Teen Spirit is not about the typical dream of becoming a star, but the situations and temptations you face throughout the journey. It is fueled with great acting and a powerful soundtrack. It’s definitively a nontraditional coming of age story.

Elle Fanning, TEEN SPIRIT, Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / LD Entertainment | Bleecker Street

Violet (Elle Fanning) loves singing, but, more than becoming a star, she wants something different in her life. She wants to escape from her small town and auditions for a popular singing competition in the U.K. called Teen Spirit. A stranger she meets in a small bar, Vlad, becomes her mentor; although her mother doesn’t like the idea at first, later she approves. With her mom’s blessing, Violet embarks on a journey in which she will face obstacles and make important decisions.

This is a good film for teenagers; the classic Cinderella story is retold in a modern world with current events and situations. Although I am slightly disappointed with the ending, the story flows slowly but nicely, and the music is enjoyable.  The ending should tietie the movie all together, but this one seems to be missing something. There are a couple of parts that I don’t feel are complete or well-developed and the storyline was kind of plain.

Elle Fanning is great in her role. Teens can connect to her character, Violet; Elle actually sings most of the songs, making this connection even stronger. It is very remarkable her ability to perform a “triple threat” meaning she can act, dance and sing. She also speaks a foreign language fluently (her character is of Polish descendent, and Violet exchanges some lines in this language with her mother).

The relationship between Violet and mentor, Vlad, ( Zlatco Buric) is key in the film. It is unconventional but somehow predictable.

This film is produced by a La La Land producer, and has elements in common but with a European flavor.

I love the wardrobe and the makeup is good as well. I love all the songs and the montage in the main audition scene.

The message of this film is that if you have a dream don’t lose yourself.  Stick to your dream and don’t let anything stop you from accomplishing it. I give Teen Spirit 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Teen Spirit opens nationwide on April 19, 2019

Teen Spirit
By Ivey H, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I enjoyed this dramatic, vibrant, pop culture movie!  Teen Spirit is written and directed by Max Minghella, a filmmaker from Hampstead, London, England. The music, costumes and storyline are very intriguing. I really like the way the director shot the scenes.

Elle Fanning, TEEN SPIRIT. Credit: LD Entertainment | Bleecker Street

The film is about a teenage girl, Violet, who has a complicated life. She has a single mom, and they are on the verge of losing everything. They both work multiple jobs just to survive.  Violet has many interests and is more of an introvert, although her passion is singing and dancing. She enters a local talent contest with the help of a friend she meets in a nightclub.  This friend has an interesting past. By entering the contest, Violet brings hope to her small town. The movie has some unexpected twists and turns. 

Violet is played by Mary Elle Fanning.  Her performance is amazing. She is a natural beauty, and I love her style in this film. This is a difficult and complex character to play. Violet is an introvert and a sort of sad young lady. You really feel for her and Maria, her mom, in their everyday struggles with life and school.  On a brighter note, the music and lyrics are so well done. I am really impressed with her ability to sing. Her voice is mesmerizing  — it gave me goose bumps!

Agnieszka Grochawska plays Violet’s mother Maria. They are both of Polish decent. Agnieszka is very intense in this role and also made me laugh in a few parts.  The bar friend and manager,  Viad, is played by Zlatko Buric. He plays a very important supporting role. I like the backstory with this character as it is unexpected. His character and relationship with Violet really pulls the plot together. 

The scenes are great to watch. I enjoyed the color scheme, lights, music and costumes which support the entire vibe of the movie. This film reminds me of other iconic movies such as Flash Dance and Footloose.  TheTeen Spirit helps you understand how the music /entertainment industry is full of “smoke and mirrors.”  The message is to keep people around you that you trust and that have your best interests at heart.

I give this film 4 out 5 stars. It is for an audience range of 12 to18. Adults will definitely enjoy this movie, too. I do not recall any bad language so I give it thumbs up for that. There are a few scenes with drinking, smoking and slightly risky behavior.  It opens in select theaters everywhere April 19, 2019.

Breakthrough – Heartfelt Story That is Easy to Connect to, No Matter Your Religion

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

Breakthrough is based on the inspirational true story of one mother’s unfaltering love in the face of impossible odds. When Joyce Smith’s adopted son John falls through an icy Missouri lake, all hope seems lost. But as John lies lifeless, Joyce refuses to give up. Her steadfast belief inspires those around her to continue to pray for John’s recovery, even in the face of every case history and scientific prediction. From producer DeVon Franklin (Miracles from Heaven) and adapted for the screen by Grant Nieporte (Seven Pounds) from Joyce Smith’s own book, BREAKTHROUGH is an enthralling reminder that faith and love can create a mountain of hope, and sometimes even a miracle. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “Despite not being religious and usually not enjoying movies like these, I like this movie. Every once in a while, everyone needs an emotional yet inspirational story and this is it.” Siaki S. adds, “Breakthrough is a phenomenal, inspiring film. I was intrigued by this film because of the powerful message it shares.” Zoe C. wraps it up with, “This is a very heartfelt movie that will make you cry and laugh at the same time. Based on a true story with a strong religious theme, Breakthrough is a perfect movie to enjoy with your family. It doesn’t matter what your religion is: it is very easy to connect with this story and to feel very emotional. I love the acting and all the positive messages it contains.” See their full reviews and interviews with cast and crew below.

Breakthrough
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Despite not being religious and usually not enjoying movies like these, I like this movie. Every once in a while, everyone needs an emotional yet inspirational story and this is it.

This movie is based on the true story of Joyce Smith and her son, John, after he falls through a frozen lake and ends up dead for about an hour. Yet, when his mother prays for him to be revived, he suddenly gains a pulse. The rest of the movie is about Joyce hoping for John to fully recover.

It is important to mention how this is a movie about faith in God and the love of a mother. I am not religious, so I must bring up the question: “Do you need to be religious to enjoy this movie?” I feel that you can enjoy this movie, even if you don’t believe in Christianity. The religious aspect is very prominent, however it’s not as forced as I originally predicted it would be. Plus, having strong faith in God actually makes sense in the context of this movie.

Chrissy Metz (Joyce Smith) stars in Twentieth Century Fox’s BREAKTHROUGH. Photo Credit: Allen Fraser.

In a movie like this, arguably the most important aspect is the acting. While the whole cast is pretty great, the main star, hands down, is Chrissy Metz as Joyce. Most of the emotion comes from her stellar acting. The scene where she prays over John’s body really hit me hard. Of course I can’t gloss over everyone else in this amazing cast. A particular favorite is Topher Grace as Pastor Jason Noble. He really helps lighten the mood when the movie needs some relief.

This movie is based on a true story and, since John Smith is still alive, one can guess how this film ends. Despite that, many moments in this movie are genuinely suspenseful. When John falls through the ice, it actually startled me, despite the fact that I knew what was about to happen. The actual climax is filmed in a very interesting way which is filled with tension.  

My one problem with the film is that it feels as if the dad doesn’t have much to do. He is present in his son’s life and he cares about him, yet it feels like the movie mostly forgets he exists. This movie definitely is more focused on the mom, yet that felt weird to me.

I give this movie 3 out of 5 stars and recommend for ages 10 to 18. It comes in theaters nationwide on April 17, 2019 so look for it.

Breakthrough
By Siaki S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Breakthrough is a phenomenal, inspiring film. I was intrigued by this film because of the powerful message it shares.

The film was inspired by a true story that hit the nation with unwavering faith, hope and prayer. John Smith, who the film is about, is played by Marcel Ruiz who grew up in the film industry and both parents are award-winning directors. John Smith, a courageous teen, is Latino who struggled with his identity and learned that love conquers all. John Smith is passionate about basketball and hopes to one day become a professional basketball player. His passion helped him endure this incident to the very end. Due to excruciating events that occur in this film, I realized and appreciate the miracles that I am able to witness and enjoy within my own life.

The film is directed by Roxanne Dawson, a theater arts major from University of California Berkeley who is also known as an actress (Baywatch, Star Trek). Breakthrough was written by Grant Nieporte a screen writer (Seven Pounds).

What I like most about this film is the friendship of family and friends who become family in a tight knit community. They join forces and focus on one major life threatening situation. This film portrays unity, love and compassion.

Another thing that I really enjoyed is when one rescuer, who didn’t believe in God, learned that there actually is a God and, from that moment on, it changes his life in many ways. The rescuer later received other signs that led him to believe in God.

John Smith’s mother is played by Chrissy Metz (This Is Us, Sierra Burgess Is a Loser) who portrays her in the most believable way. She delivers a powerful message about faith and perseverance. Chrissy builds a relationship with Pastor Jason-Noble (Topher Grace, That ‘70s Show). In Breakthrough, Pastor Jason-Noble is intricately involved in helping Chrissy deal with the situation and is an inspiration and light to many.

I give this film a 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 and as well as adults. Breakthrough comes out in theaters April 17, 2019 so make sure to look out for this inspirational, educational and motivational film at a theater near you.

Breakthrough
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

This is a very heartfelt movie that will make you cry and laugh at the same time. Based on a true story with a strong religious theme, Breakthrough is a perfect movie to enjoy with your family. It doesn’t matter what your religion is: it is very easy to connect with this story and to feel very emotional. I love the acting and all the positive messages it contains.

This is the story of a 14-year-old boy, John Smith (Marcel Ruiz) who suffers a terrible accident: when playing in a frozen lake, he drowns and is rescued by a fireman about 20 minutes later. He miraculously survives but is in serious condition. His mom never surrenders hope and prays with fervor to keep him alive.

I like the underwater scenes: I love how they look and how they are filmed. In the movie poster we see the main character under the water, and, despite knowing he will fall, I still jumped from my seat when the ice broke. I think it is amazing how a simple story can make such an impact on the audience.

The story is well narrated. There’s a song at the beginning of the film that could have been shorter, although it is good. It feels like a music video trapped in a film that is not a musical, but when the movie resumes, the narrative keeps you interested.

Chrissy Metz, who plays John’s mother, portrays the character so well, it made me cry; you feel the connection with her suffering, and it is very powerful. She confronts doctors, and, although John is in a medically-induced coma, she keeps her faith alive. She doesn’t get along with Pastora Jason Noble (Topher Grace) because she thinks he is too cool to be spiritual, but she bonds with this man who is very supportive and caring. John, of course, spends a good portion of the movie dormant, but he makes you pray for him because you want to see him alive.

The message of this film is never give up and always have faith. Another message is even if you don’t fully like someone it doesn’t mean you can’t set aside your differences and work together. I also think is important for young audiences to understand that accidents happen, and we need to be careful.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Breakthrough opens nationwide on April 17, 2019

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