Archive for June, 2019

Toy Story 4 – Funny, Colorful, Joyful and Impeccably Made

Friday, June 14th, 2019

Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy named Forky. The adventurous journey turns into an unexpected reunion as Woody’s slight detour leads him to his long-lost friend Bo Peep. As Woody and Bo discuss the old days, they soon start to realize that they’re two worlds apart when it comes to what they want from life as a toy. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “I absolutely love this film! It is funny, colorful, joyful and impeccably made. This sequel to Toy Story is not like the other ones.” Nathalia J. adds, “Do you ever look back at your first day of kindergarten? Well, that’s how Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the whole gang set off on their extremely enjoyable and wowing adventure.” Katherine S. adds, “It is so amazing that the Toy Story saga has been going on for 24 years and that so many of the main characters are voiced by the same actors as the previous movies including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Annie Potts.  The voices behind some of the new characters include Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks and Tony Hale.  We all thought that Toy Story 3 had the perfect ending, but this movie is even better.” Jada P. wraps it up with, “My favorite part of Toy Story 4 is definitely when Woody and Forky find their friendship through many changes of plans and difficulties… The plot, characters, and voice acting are all groundbreaking.” See their full reviews below.

Toy Story 4
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

My biggest shock of all was getting photo bombed by Tom Hanks while shooting my stand-up. I have to say that he is truly a very nice man.

This movie is the best Toy Story film yet! It has our favorite old characters, very funny new characters, a fun and emotional story line and a fantastic new director.

Toy Story 4 begins with Bonnie making a new friend in her kindergarten orientation and bringing it home. His name is Forky and, when he comes alive, all he knows is how to be trash.  Forky spends most of his time trying to escape and eventually does so from a moving RV when his family is on vacation. Our hero Woody is forced to go after Forky to make sure Bonnie is happy and to convince Forky that he is Bonnie’s toy.  During their travels they encounter several new toys and a few old ones as well.

Featuring Ally Maki as the voice of Giggle, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

It is so amazing that the Toy Story saga has been going on for 24 years and that so many of the main characters are voiced by the same actors from the previous movies including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Annie Potts.  The voices behind some of the new characters include Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks and Tony Hale.  We all thought that Toy Story 3 had the perfect ending, but this movie is even better. The director, Josh Cooley, is brilliant as he is able to pull out the best performance from all of the actors, to the point that you think that the toys are real people, not just animated characters. My favorite part is when Buzz finds his inner voice.

Featuring the voice of Annie Potts as Bo Peep, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The message of Toy Story 4 is about transitioning from one situation to another through bravery, perseverance and friendship. You should know that there are a few risky things that kids might try to imitate such as jumping out of a RV, messing with a car and going under a carousel.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 15. Adults will love this movie as well.  This movie opens nationwide in theaters on June 20, 2019.

Toy Story 4
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I absolutely love this film! It is funny, colorful, joyful and impeccably made. The animation is a lot better too! This sequel to Toy Story is not like the other ones, which I like; so it does not repeat the first three. Toy Story 4 goes one step forward and closes the circle, sort of.  There will be always room for more toy adventures.

PICK ME! — Funny men Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele provide the voices of Ducky and Bunny, respectively. Directed by Josh Cooley and produced by Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen (associate producer)  ventures to U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2018 Disney Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

In this new film there are some awesome new and unique characters. And there is a transformation of an old character, but you need to see the movie to find out which one I mean!

The story is basically about a little girl, Bonnie, who gets all of Andy’s toys because he goes to university. Bonnie loves all her new (at least new for her) toys, but she doesn’t play with Woody often. He feels sad but doesn’t want to show it. Then one day comes, and it’s Bonnie’s first day of kindergarten. In class she feels lonely but Woody, breaking all laws (toys don’t go to school because they can get lost) comes in her backpack. Woody gets some material and Bonnie makes, literally, a new best friend: Forky. But there’s one problem: Forky thinks he’s made out of trash and consequently he has issues. When Bonnie’s family goes on a road trip, Forky feels he doesn’t belong—he gets lost, and from there the toys have to face multiple obstacles to rescue Forky.

The story is mainly focused on Forky and Woody and some new characters that you meet. What is interesting is that you don’t really see the the other group of old toys that much. Like every Toy Story film, the toys work together to help fix a conflict. But this film focuses on a completely different character, Bonnie, and not on Andy. Woody will go to infinity and beyond to rescue Forky. His sense of loyalty is contagious, and Forky is so funny with his issues. Completely different characters, brand new conflict and new frontiers make this film unique. 

Featuring Annie Potts, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key as the voices of Bo Peep, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Bunny and Ducky, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I also love the colors which are beautiful. Something I find very interesting is that the animation is so well done that you sometimes forget that you’re watching an animated movie. I loved the new characters like Duke Caboom, and I think Keanu Reeves is the only person who could bring life to Caboom with a distinctive voice. I also like the character of Gabby Gabby; she was very interesting, intriguing and the more you find out about her the more you want to know.

The message of this film is be loyal, be the best you can be and listen to your inner voice, so that you can decide your own destiny.

I recommend watching other Toy Story movies before this one if you haven’t already. I love this film so I would give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5-10 and adults as well.  Toy Story 4 opens in theatres June 21, 2019

Toy Story 4
By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The toys are back on the big screen with an all-new adventure in Toy Story 4. Do you ever look back at your first day of kindergarten? Well, that’s how Woody(Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the whole gang set off on their extremely enjoyable and wowing adventure. That’s right, the whole gang is back with some new friendly faces. This animated, adventurous, fresh and amusing film is directed by Josh Cooley. Get ready for a treat, as it is nothing short of magical.

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Joan Cusack return as the voices of Woody, Buzz and Jessie, and comedian Tony Hale lends his voice to Forky. Directed by Josh Cooley and produced by Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen, “Toy Story 4” ventures to U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Toy Story 4 is a computer-animated comedy produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. The story follows Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang as they embark on a road trip with Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) and a new toy named Forky (Tony Hale). The adventurous journey turns into an unexpected reunion as Woody’s slight detour leads him to his long-lost friend Bo Peep (Annie Potts). As Woody and Bo discuss the old days, they soon realize that they’re worlds apart when it comes to what they want from life as a toy. Get ready as the old and new friends reveal how big the world can be for a toy.

The lead characters in the film welcome both veteran and new voices, including Woody, Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), Forky, Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), Bo Peep, Buzz Lightyear, Rex (Wallace Shawn) and many more talented actors.  The animation is groundbreaking, bright and beautiful. I was taken back by all the colors and little details which make it so believable. For example, in one scene the gang is at an actual carnival. The rides and games seem to so real, I definitely felt as if I was part of the joy ride. 

My favorite character is undeniably Forky, because he brings excitement and laughter to the film. I love how Forky creates a plan and fails in a hilarious way, because Woody saves the day for Bonnie. If I could give Forky two character traits, it would be outrageous and funny.

My favorite scene from Toy Story 4 is when Woody encounters Bo Peep after ten years and he introduces himself to her new friends. When he tries to give her a hug, a motorized car skunk comes through with Bo Peep’s sheep controlling the car. Woody’s reaction is priceless. His eyebrows are up and his eyes are wide open.

(L-R) Trixie, Buttercup, Mr. Pricklepants, Dolly, Buzz Lightyear, Hamm, Rex, Aliens, Jessie, Slinky Dog, Bullseye and Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

There is some risky actions in this film that younger children might try to imitate, such as jumping out of a moving vehicle, popping the tires, going into a store when it’s closed and jumping across shelves. This film shares many important messages about friendship, helping others, love and most importantly, never leave a friend stranded.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 16, as well adults. Toy Story 4 opens in  theaters nationwide June 21, 2019. Make sure to check it out!

Toy Story 4
By Jada Pace, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Featuring Keanu Reeves as the voice of Duke, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I absolutely LOVE this film! Not only does Toy Story 4 contain hilarious humor, but also emotional scenes, which make the film well balanced with seriousness and laughter throughout and make an interesting storyline. I love the way the characters use their feelings and gut to help lead themselves throughout the story.

In the film, Bonnie makes a new toy out of recycled materials in kindergarten and instantly falls in love with it. But her new toy, Forky, feels like he is not meant to be a toy.  Instead, his heart’s desire is to belong to the trash. This results in Forky trying to escape to the trash at every chance he is given. Fortunately, Bonnie’s other toy, Woody, stops Forky from running away, but then the toys find themselves lost on the search for their beloved Bonnie. Will they fine Bonnie or stay lost in the woods for good? You will have to see the film to find out!

Christina Hendricks lends her voice to Gabby Gabby. “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019…©2019 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

My favorite part of Toy Story 4 is definitely when Woody and Forky find their friendship through many changes of plans and difficulties. Their journey shows how things can change over time. I also really enjoyed the animation and how clear the voice actors voices are during the movie. The plot, characters, and voice acting are all groundbreaking.

The message of this film is to always follow your heart and do what your heart desires. It is always important to do what you feel is better for you.  I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12.  Toy Story 4 releases in theaters, June 21, 2019. Be sure to look for it!

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet – Fun Songs and Parodies for Each Letter of the Alphabet

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

It’s time for A to Z with Sesame! Little ones will love to learn their ABCs with classics such as “The Beetles Perform Letter B” and “C is for Cookie” plus animation, parodies, and the best from recent seasons covering all 26 letters. Celebrating the alphabet alongside their furry friends are Norah Jones duetting with the letter Y, Tori Kelly trying a little kindness, and Pharrell Williams belting it out for the letter B. Maya Angelou stops by to talk hugs, Sheryl Crow helps “I” soak up some sun, and Ricky Gervais attempts a lullaby. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Every single scene of Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet is lovable. This DVD has the funniest songs and parodies for each letter of the alphabet.” Ethan P. adds, “This DVD is about learning the alphabet. Mostly all of the characters from Sesame Street sing the alphabet and encourage the kids to sing along. There are about three scenes or songs for each letter so that you can understand how to use each one.” Ivey H. chimes in with, “All of my favorite characters make an appearance such as Big Bird, Bert, Elmo, Cookie Monster, the Grouch and many more. The music, songs and lyrics are fun to sing along with and are education as well.” Will C. wraps it up with, “There’s even a bonus feature, Elmo’s Amazing Alphabet Race and ABC-themed printable activities. Since it’s a compilation of segments from over the years, there’s a wide range of styles representing older and newer segments.” See their full reviews below.

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Every single scene of Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet is lovable. This DVD has the funniest songs and parodies for each letter of the alphabet. Each part has so many cute characters and great lessons for the whole family. Your children will love to learn their ABC’s with all of their favorite characters.

The DVD includes many of our favorite Sesame Street characters including Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster as well as some of our favorite people in real life including Maya Angelou and Pharrell Williams. I love the songs because it makes you want to sing along. Also, some of the songs are parodies, which I very much enjoy. My favorite part is when Elmo can’t sleep so Ricky Gervais comes in and sings a “celebrity lullaby”.

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet has two hours of fun for everyone!  It spends approximately five minutes on each letter. We see a wide range of themes from Tori Kelly singing about kindness to Chance the Rapper in a play with Cookie Monster. In all cases, we are learning about the alphabet with so many talented artists. It’s a mix of old and new Sesame Street episodes such as Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus singing a song together to Sia singing about how she loves songs.

Throughout this DVD, there are a lot of positive messages. My favorites are learning is fun and using your voice in a fun way.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 7. Adults will also like all of the parodies of the songs. This DVD is available now. I totally recommend buying this for your young kids.

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 10

I enjoyed the Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection on DVD because it is funny, even for me, and I’m 10. It is made for small children, but I still could not stop laughing and enjoying the music.

This DVD is about learning the alphabet. Mostly all of the characters from Sesame Street sing the alphabet and encourage the kids to sing along. There are about three scenes or songs for each letter so that you can understand how to use each one. There are also very different types of scenes and songs, each of them really cool and fun, so it keeps you entertained.

The songs are very catchy, and the scenes are really funny and cute. I like how they use celebrities like Chance the Rapper. I think kids will enjoy seeing these celebrities because they know them. My favorite part is when Sia sings for the letter “S”, and it shows her face, because she has not shown her face before on TV. One funny scene is when two detectives confuse the “W” for an “M” when trying to find the criminal W.

The message or point of this DVD is to teach kids how to use the letters of the alphabet and how they sound — the scenes are put together from all of Sesame Street‘s “Letter of the Day” specials. This DVD makes it fun for kids to learn the alphabet. I believe these songs can make the process of learning the alphabet simple and fun, and that students will like the characters. I can see it might be particularly helpful for kids with special needs or learning disabilities.

I give Sesame Street Awesome: Alphabet Collection 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 5. This DVD is available now so look for it.

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection
By Ivey H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 1

The Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection DVD is just that – awesome! It really brought back amazing childhood memories of watching the show.

This particular collection teaches kids the alphabet. Not only is it educational, but provides a source of entertainment which will keep kids interested while learning. All of my favorite characters make an appearance such as Big Bird, Bert, Elmo, Cookie Monster, the Grouch and many more. The music, songs and lyrics are fun to sing along with and are education as well. I love how everything in the video relates to the topic of learning your ABC’s. There is lot of repetition, which is a great technique for learning. Something else that caught my eye is how they use different types of animation, such as clay and paper. I really enjoy the mix of puppetry, real people, animals and insects. Some episodes even have celebrities singing along. Look out for Norah Jones, Tori Kelly, Cheryl Crow and many others.  

All the Muppet characters are so cute and adorable. My favorite is Cookie Monster (Frank Oz, David Rudman), because he brings laughter to this collection. My favorite skit is when Cookie Monster sings about the letter “C” and how cookies are good enough for me. Ryan Dillon plays the role of everyone’s favorite loveable character – red, fluffy Elmo. Carol Spinney plays another fan favorite – Big Bird. They use many real life animals to help you associate with the words that are being taught. This video is very bright, colorful and cheery. You will enjoy every minute.

I recommend this for ages 2 to 7, depending on the maturity level of the child. It’s always a good refresher for anyone who is having trouble with their letters or spelling to review the basics. The star rating I give this is 4 out of 5 stars.

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection
By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection is a fun introduction to the alphabet for preschoolers. This is a two-hour compilation of animation, pop-culture parodies and favorite segments for each letter of the alphabet. The all-star lineup of celebrity guests is enough to hold the interest of parents too.

Sia, Pharrell Williams, Maya Angelou, Tori Kelly, Chance the Rapper and others introduce Elmo and his friends to each letter of the alphabet. There’s even a bonus feature, Elmo’s Amazing Alphabet Race and ABC-themed printable activities. Since it’s a compilation of segments from over the years, there’s a wide range of styles representing older and newer segments.

Even though I’m not in this film’s target audience, I still found it entertaining to see various celebrities on the same screen, with puppets, helping kids learn the alphabet. My favorite segment is Ricky Gervais singing Elmo a lullaby for the letter “N”, that’s anything but relaxing!

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for children ages 2 to 5. Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection is available now on DVD and digital download from Shout! Kids and Sesame Workshop. Look for it.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 – Love, love love this movie! Everything about it is Dog-tastic!

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

Max the terrier must cope with some major life changes when his owner gets married and has a baby. When the family takes a trip to the countryside, nervous Max has numerous run-ins with canine-intolerant cows, hostile foxes and a scary turkey. Luckily for Max, he soon catches a break when he meets Rooster, a gruff farm dog who tries to cure the lovable pooch of his neuroses. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “Love, love, love this movie!  Can’t wait to see it again this Friday.  This film is absolutely hysterical. Both the audience and I laughed throughout the screening.  Everything about this film is dog-tastic, from the screenwriting to the art, animation, sound, special effects and characters.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. adds, “I absolutely love this family-friendly animated sequel. It has so many superstar voice actors and the animation is dramatic and ingenious. The creators introduce new zany and lovable characters.” Kendall M. wraps it up with, “The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a phenomenal, all-around fantastic movie. The film is enjoyable and puts a smile on your face. It’s a movie for everyone to enjoy with their friends and families. The movie has different aspects to it. It is also cool to see how the pets interact with each other and seeing how they work together as a team.” See their full reviews below.

The Secret Life of Pets 2
By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Love, love, love this movie!  Can’t wait to see it again this Friday.  This film is absolutely hysterical. Both the audience and I laughed throughout the screening.  Everything about this film is dog-tastic, from the screenwriting to the art, animation, sound, special effects and characters.

(from left) Duke (Eric Stonestreet), Liam and Max (Patton Oswalt) in Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” directed by Chris Renaud.

Secret Life of Pets 2 continues with the story of Max and Duke, but this time Katie gets married and has a son named Liam. At first, Max doesn’t really like having Liam around, because he never leaves him alone. Then they start to bond. Max starts to really care about Liam and vows to protect him. Katie decides to take a family trip to a farm and this introduces a whole new cast of characters and funny situations on the farm.  Max meets Rooster, a brave dog who rules the farm and teaches Max how to handle a lot of his issues.  Meanwhile, back in New York City, all of Max and Duke’s pet friends continue with their crazy antics, including rescuing a white tiger from the circus and Chloe helps transforming Gidget into a cat, to get out of a messy situation.  My favorite character is Snowball, the white rabbit. His superhero scenes rescuing the tiger with his new pal Daisy are hysterical. 

Max’s voice is portrayed by Patton Oswalt and Duke is, once again, performed by Eric Stonestreet. The introduction of Rooster, voiced by Harrison Ford, adds a lot of depth and meaning to Max’s outlook and the film.  The animation is breathtaking, from the first scenes in Central Park, to the various scenes around the farm. The cast are all very talented portraying their various vocal roles. Brian Lynch’s screenplay pulls it all together, with amazing humor for every character.

(from left) Chloe (Lake Bell) and her owner in Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” directed by Chris Renaud.

The message of this film is to be brave and embrace change.  Max worries about the changes a baby will bring to his family, but learns to love Liam and become his best friend. Max continues to learn about changes at the farm and how to deal with them, as Rooster advises, “Some stuff happens and then it’s over.”  Accept and move on, because change can be positive.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 18, but adults will enjoy it as well as evidenced by all of the audience laughter.  This movie opens in theaters June 7, 2019. Look for it!

The Secret Life of Pets 2
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I absolutely love this family-friendly animated sequel. It has so many superstar voice actors and the animation is dramatic and ingenious. The creators introduce new zany and lovable characters.

Max (Patton Oswalt) grapples with some pre-exam anxiety at the veterinarian in Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” directed by Chris Renaud.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is about a bunch of New York city pets and their daily adventures – from parks to farms and more – while their owners are away at work. The writers are very creative.  They are successful intertwining different stories throughout the entire movie. For example, when Max and Duke get a new kid named Liam, they take a trip out to a farm where they meet a new character named Rooster. Snowball meets a darling new friend named Daisy and the two of them save a white tiger named Hu.  My favorite part is when Pops is doing puppy school.

The best thing about this film is that you don’t have to see the previous movie to enjoy the sequel. I think The Secret Life of Pets 2 blows The Secret Life of Pets out of the water with its incredible music and star-studded cast. The voice actors include Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Harrison Ford and Eric Stonestreet.

Snowball (Kevin Hart) in Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets 2, directed by Chris Renaud.

The messages in The Secret Life of Pets 2 are: It is okay to be afraid and 2. Teamwork is important. Note that it does have some mild violence, a couple fight scenes and some chase scenes. There are a few risky things that kids might try to imitate such as running into forests unsupervised, fighting wolfs and saving a wild animal. But, really, it’s pretty tame.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 15, as well as adults. I highly recommend this to all pet lovers. This film opens in theaters June 7, 2019 so look for it.

The Secret Life of Pets 2
By Kendall M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a phenomenal, all-around fantastic movie. The film is enjoyable and puts a smile on your face. It’s a movie for everyone to enjoy with their friends and families. The movie has different aspects to it. It is also cool to see how the pets interact with each other and seeing how they work together as a team.

(from left) Max (Patton Oswalt), Duke (Eric Stonestreet) and Liam in Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” directed by Chris Renaud.

The storyline is about different pets going on adventures and exploring New York City. The protagonist Max goes through changes in his life, when his owner gets married and has a child. On the other hand, a cute bunny named Snowball and a puppy Daisy go on a crazy adventure saving a tiger from an evil circus owner. The movie has crazy, funny jaw-dropping moments that you don’t want to miss.

(from left) Hu, Max (Patton Oswalt), Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) and Snowball (Kevin Hart) in Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” directed by Chris Renaud.

Some of the highlights of this are the cast and storyline. Big ups to writer Brian Lynch for a great screenplay. The message of the film is to always look out for each other, not just family and friends, but others we may not know. In this movie, these pets always have each others’ backs and really look out for one another. As human beings, we should do a better job of that, especially in our society. It would make the world a better place.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to18, as well as adults. Note that it  has some rude humor. It opens in theaters nationwide June 7, 2019.

Floogals: Season 1, Volume 1 – Wonderful Series Introducing Kids to How the World Works

Saturday, June 8th, 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.  Includes 26 Super Adventures! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Will C. comments, “Floogals: Season 1 Volume 1 is a lot of fun for little kids! This DVD has 26 11-minute episodes filled with humorous scientific exploration for preschoolers. It combines live-action with 3-D cartoon animation to create a show parents can enjoy along with their young children.” Katherine S. adds, “Floogals Season 1 Volume 1 has so many episodes to enjoy. The Floogals are tiny happy aliens that zoom in from outer space and end up in a child’s toy bin.  And from Project Ice to Project Piano, the Floogals are always finding everyday items to explore. “ See their full reviews below.

Floogals: Season 1 Volume 1
By Will Chuhta, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Floogals: Season 1 Volume 1 is a lot of fun for little kids! This DVD has 26 11-minute episodes filled with humorous scientific exploration for preschoolers. It combines live-action with 3-D cartoon animation to create a show parents can enjoy along with their young children. At 9, I’m well out of the target age range for this series, but there are still some parts I found really funny, and I could see myself watching it with my little cousins.

The main characters are three alien explorers who come to earth to observe “hooman” behavior with often amusing results. Since the Floogals are aliens, they haven’t encountered common things like dogs, babies, mirrors, and beds. The preschool audience this show is aimed at will be delighted that they know more than the Floogals do! But the show seems to be less about teaching kids about the actual objects the Floogals discover and more about showing the aliens working together to use the scientific process.

The voice actors for Flo, Fleeker, and Boomer make it believable that they don’t understand what all these common objects are. The animation is convincing especially when the animated characters move objects in the real world, like when they hide inside a real teapot or bowl of fruit. My favorite part is when they run away from a balloon that they think is a monster!

This series has a lot of positive messages about teamwork and the joy of discovery. Even when things go wrong, the Floogals are always ready to encourage and support their teammates.

They don’t always get to the right answer on their first try, but they’re always learning, just like real scientists!

I give this series 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 5, but parents won’t mind watching along with their kids as well. Floogals: Season 1 Volume 1 is available on DVD May 7, 2019.

Floogals: Season 1, Volume 1
By Katherine Schell, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This DVD is very good for a young audience. It entertains kids by showing them how to find, question, and explore everywhere they go. There are 26 different adventures and each is filled with the cute animated Floogal characters – covering over four hours of fun.

Floogals Season 1 Volume 1 has so many episodes to enjoy. The Floogals are tiny happy aliens that zoom in from outer space and end up in a child’s toy bin.  And from Project Ice to Project Piano, the Floogals are always finding everyday items to explore.

This DVD is for a younger audience because the skills that the Floogals are learning are geared towards children pre-K through first grade. The characters are fun to watch as they have adorable faces and wear vibrantly colored space suits. My favorite character is Junior Boomer because he is funny, slightly clumsy, and always hungry.

Throughout this DVD there are a lot of positive messages, which include the fun in being curious, the benefit of learning and of course, teamwork. This DVD has no bad language and no bad behavior. There is nothing risky or dangerous that kids might try to do.

I give this DVD a 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6. This DVD is available now. I totally recommend buying this for your young kids.

Dark Phoenix – Exciting, Action-packed Ending to the Current X-Men Series

Friday, June 7th, 2019

This is the story of one of the X-Men’s most beloved characters, Jean Grey, as she evolves into the iconic Dark Phoenix. During a life-threatening rescue mission in space, Jean is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants of all. Wrestling with this increasingly unstable power as well as her own personal demons, Jean spirals out of control, tearing the X-Men family apart and threatening to destroy the very fabric of our planet. The film is the most intense and emotional X-Men movie ever made. It is the culmination of 20 years of X-Men movies, as the family of mutants that we’ve come to know and love must face their most devastating enemy yet — one of their own. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I really like the moral of the movie: you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. Jean Grey needed to know how strong and powerful she is, because she doesn’t have a choice. Another message is about how family will always be there for you and will help you through tough times.” Will C. adds, “Dark Phoenix is an exciting, action-packed ending to the current series of X-Men films. The humor, special-effects and solid acting make this a great choice for a summer movie. If you’re not familiar with the most recent X-Men movies, you might want a refresher, before you see this one. I watched a quick recap on YouTube and it helped me become familiar with the characters.” Abraham F. chimes in with, “Dark Phoenix is a conclusion to the X-men franchise. The best aspect of this film is the actors. Sophie Turner, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender put up some great performances, as always. But, this film lacks the sort of intensity and depth that makes you want to care about the characters.” See their full reviews below.  

Dark Phoenix
By Ethan Persten, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I really like this movie.  I love super hero movies, especially Marvel movies.  Unfortunately, I was a lot younger when I watched the previous X-Men movies, so I don’t remember them that well.  When I was watching Dark Phoenix, I was a little lost on the background of the characters.

Sophie Turner stars as Jean Grey in Twentieth Century Fox’s DARK PHOENIX. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Dark Phoenix is about the super hero team we all know as X-Men. The main character is the one and only Jean Grey portrayed by Sophie Turner who we also know as Sansa, The Queen of the North from Game of Thrones. The movie shows how Jean Grey meets Professor X (James McAvoy) after a fatal car accident and how she joins the X-Men team.  Professor X sends Jean and the X-Men team off on a rescue mission in space.  They have to rescue a group of NASA astronauts. During the rescue mission, Jean suffers an accident, causing her to start losing control of her emotions and power.  Her uncontrolled emotions are mostly anger and rage, which accounts for the title of the movie, Dark Phoenix, because you see a bit of the dark side of Jean Grey. The villains in the movie are a group of aliens that lost their planet in an explosion, so they come to planet Earth to kidnap Jean and acquire her powers.

Besides Sophie Turner and James McAvoy, this movie has another well-known actress, Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), who we know as Katniss Evergreen in The Hunger Games.  In this film, we see a different Mystique, showing her good side and her protectiveness for her team.  The sound and visual effects are amazing. My favorite scene is when the X-Men team rescue Jean and have to fight off the aliens. There are some sad parts such as the loss of some characters, which, of course, you need to watch the film in order to know which ones are gone.

Sophie Turner and Jessica Chastain in Twentieth Century Fox’s DARK PHOENIX. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.

I really like the moral of the movie: you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. Jean Grey needed to know how strong and powerful she is, because she doesn’t have a choice. Another message is about how family will always be there for you and will help you through tough times. The X-Men and Professor X are Jean Grey’s family.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults.  I don’t recall any profanity in the film, but there is a far amount of graphic, bloody death scenes.  The film opens nationwide in theaters June 7, 2019.

Dark Phoenix
By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Dark Phoenix is an exciting, action-packed ending to the current series of X-Men films. The humor, special-effects and solid acting make this a great choice for a summer movie. If you’re not familiar with the most recent X-Men movies, you might want a refresher, before you see this one. I watched a quick recap on YouTube and it helped me become familiar with the characters. Even though I haven’t seen any of the previous films, it wasn’t as confusing as I thought it would be, and I still understood enough to enjoy it.

Sophie Turner and Jessica Chastain in Twentieth Century Fox’s DARK PHOENIX. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Dark Phoenix is in the same timeline as X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse. It centers on the powerful mutant, Jean Grey. In 1992, the X-Men are sent on a space mission to retrieve a crew from a solar flare. Jean Grey, a.k.a. Phoenix, saves them by going inside and closing up the holes. While doing this, she absorbs a cosmic force and becomes Dark Phoenix. Some aliens find out that their source of power was absorbed and taken to Earth, so they morph into the shape of humans and start doing normal bad guy stuff – they want to take over the world, destroy the world, which is basically all any of the bad guys want to do in these comic book movies!

My favorite thing about this movie is definitely the incredibly awesome fight scenes! The special effects are very impressive and I love how they show all the mutants using their abilities together. There’s a scene on a train where my favorite character, Nightcrawler, uses his powers of teleportation to fend off the aliens. I was looking forward to seeing Quicksilver, but he actually isn’t in the film much. I’m disappointed because he really could’ve helped the storyline along.

Director Simon Kinberg and Michael Fassbender on the set of Twentieth Century Fox’s DARK PHOENIX. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.

Parents should know that there’s plenty of violence and some blood, and a main character meets a distressing end. There’s not a lot of bad language, but there is one big, dramatic F-bomb that kids might be tempted to imitate. The message of this film is that you should be prepared to face the consequences of your actions. Charles Xavier is presented as a flawed hero who makes choices both good and bad, so if you’re looking for a movie where the main characters do no wrong, this might not be for you!

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Adults who like comic book movies should enjoy it too. Dark Phoenix opens in theaters everywhere Friday June 7, 2019.

Dark Phoenix
By Abraham Finer, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Dark Phoenix is a conclusion to the X-men franchise. The best aspect of this film is the actors. Sophie Turner, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender put up some great performances, as always. But, this film lacks the sort of intensity and depth that makes you want to care about the characters. Also, the visual effects are lackluster. It has the most exposition by one character, which is so constant that you feel like you’re having the entire movie spoon fed to you.

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Raven/Mystique in Twentieth Century Fox’s DARK PHOENIX. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.

Dark Phoenix follows Jean Grey, an X-man. She is infused with what is thought to be a solar flare. When Hank runs a test on her, the stats are off the charts, even though she was exposed to the solar flare. She fights with her emotions to prevent hurting her friends and people she loves. She figures out a repressed secret about herself and goes to Eric for guidance, only to be rejected.

My favorite scene is the train fight scene, because it provides some great action and develops the story a bit. It shows the teamwork between the X-men. We see the baddies crawling over the train, trying to reach Jean, with all of the mutants holding them back. I have an issue with this scene though. When Nightcrawler lets a guard die, he gets infuriated and releases his anger on the bad guys. This scene bothers me, because Nightcrawler is generally pretty passive and, because he lets one person die, he turns into Azazel, a villain in X-men: First Class.

Sophie Turner and Jessica Chastain in Twentieth Century Fox’s DARK PHOENIX. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

This movie has some great stars. Sophie Turner who plays Jean Grey / Phoenix is easily recognizable for her role as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones. Co-star James McAvoy who plays Professor Charles Xavier is known for his past performances as the Professor in the previous X-man films. Michael Fassbender plays Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr and is well-known for his role in the Alien films and the Steve Jobs biopic.

The message in this movie is that even though everyone around you is saying you’re bad, doesn’t mean you are. I recommend this movie to people that liked the previous X-men films or other action films. There is not much risk in this film. I recommend it for ages 14 to 18, as well as adults and give it 2 out of 5 stars. It opens in theaters nationwide June 7, 2019. Check it out.    

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