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Archive for July, 2019

The Lion King – A Work Of Art That Lives Up To The Original In A New Way

Friday, July 19th, 2019

Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny on the plains of Africa. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother — and former heir to the throne — has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is soon ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. Now, with help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba must figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Brad M. comments, “There are a multitude of dazzling aspects in The Lion King, but the most stunning is the heavy and effective use of CGI. From the beginning to the end of the film, the computer-generated imagery creates animals that are incredibly realistic and authentic.” Elle C. adds, “This CGI masterpiece brings a new twist to the story visually, as well as musically. The opening scene sets the tone for the whole movie, bridging the original animation with this new live action take, into one beautiful panoramic view of the film’s setting.” Zoe C. adds, “There are stunning visuals, a powerful story of betrayal, coming of age, re-birth and the circle of life. The idea of what it really means to be a king and all the original sentiment is intact. I love all the animals and think it is really impressive how they filmed this movie.” Calista B. wraps it up with, “There’s no denying that the original Lion King from 1994 is a classic. Gorgeous animation, amazing story and absolutely timeless music… How can you remake something that’s already so timeless? Well to me, the end result is okay at best.” See their full reviews below.

The Lion King
By Brad M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

The Lion King is a hilarious and entertaining new Disney movie! This work of art lives up to the original animated version of The Lion King in a new and engrossing way. If you are a fan of Disney or just love movies in general, you will be infatuated by this new incredible film.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala and Donald Glover as Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This movie follows heir to the throne, Simba, as he learns about ruling his Kingdom in the heart of the African savanna. The king of the lions, Mufasa, wants nothing more than peace in the savanna and to protect his son. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. Mufasa’s diabolical brother, Scar, is hungry for power and blood. This hairy beast will stop for nothing in order to obtain the throne. Simba and his new-found friends must act fast to put an end to his malicious uncle’s plans.

There are a multitude of dazzling aspects in The Lion King, but the most stunning is the heavy and effective use of CGI. From the beginning to the end of the film, the computer-generated imagery creates animals that are incredibly realistic and authentic. This new lively take on a classic story is incredibly refreshing and engaging. Another factor I immensely enjoyed was the voice acting. Billy Eicher, who plays Timon and Seth Rogen, who plays Pumbaa, are absolutely hilarious. Every other line spoken from their mouths had me dying of laughter. Chiwetel Ejiofor, the actor who plays Scar, is perfect for his role. He left the audience completely despising his character, which is perfect for a villain the caliber of Scar. The only moment in the film that is slightly disappointing is the song Hakuna Matata. I think it is too different from the original version and not as intriguing. On a separate note, the writers wrote a touching and adorable script. I was delighted by the father-son relationship between Simba and Mufasa. The interactions and playful nature seen through their characters is heart-warming.

The Lion King reveals that bravery is an important attribute, but is only effective when executed in a selfless manner. This underlying message is valuable for our everyday lives. Parents should be aware that this film has a fair amount of violence.

I give The Lion King 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommend to kids ages 8 through 18. Make sure to check out this film when it pounces into theaters July 17, 2019. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it.

The Lion King
By Elle Cohen, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The live-action adaption of The Lion King is bound to be a Disney classic. This CGI masterpiece brings a new twist to the story visually, as well as musically. The opening scene sets the tone for the whole movie, bridging the original animation with this new live action take, into one beautiful panoramic view of the film’s setting. The entire film looks so realistic that it’s almost like a nature documentary.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of Florence Kasumba, Eric André and Keegan-Michael Key as the hyenas, and Chiwetal Ejiofor as Scar, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The well-known storyline hasn’t changed much:  Mufasa (James Earl Jones) is the head of his pride and the King of “all that the light touches” in the African Serengeti. His son, Simba, (the younger, JD McCrary and mature, Donald Glover) is brave, but mischievous. Simba’s Uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is bitter and angry that Simba is the heir to his brother’s throne. In order to get Mufasa and Simba out of the way, Scar manipulates the hyenas into joining forces. He then arranges an “accident” to kill Mufasa and take over the kingdom. Scar blames Simba for Mufasa’s death, and Simba runs away—but it’s Mufasa’s love and wisdom that brings Simba back to assume the throne. 

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of John Oliver as Zazu, and JD McCrary as Young Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 29, 2019…© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


The intense and serious aspects, and the comedic scenes, come together to create a beautiful balance. James Earl Jones reprises his role as Mufasa, bringing the comforting and strong tone we expect from the leader of the pride. His touching relationship with his son is the centerpiece of this film. Meanwhile, Ejiofor’s, Scar, performs “Be Prepared” as a powerful villainous anthem, interpreting the character as  very complicated and intense. Florence Kasumba’s turn as Shenzi is also a fierce and threatening leader of her pack of hyenas.

The comedic acting is brilliantly funny.  The comedy duo of Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumba, are the highlights of the movie. Their playful banter brings  a sharp wit to some of the most intense scenes in the film.

While hyenas Keegan Micheal Key and Eric Andre’s dysfunctional comedy shone a spotlight on the hyena crew, John Oliver’s Zazu was a funny take on Mufasa’s right hand bird.

The real star of the show is the incredible CGI animation that brings these animals to life. Their expressions and movements are so realistic and animal-like, but the personification of these seemingly wild animals seems so natural. Cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel of The Right Stuff, and Jon Favreau, director of The Jungle Book, make sure the entire movie was visually stunning.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of James Earl Jones as Mufasa, and JD McCrary as Young Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 29, 2019…© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The songs from the original movie feature heavily, and while they are performed and produced in a more pop-oriented way, the score is more sweeping and orchestral. Classics like “ Can You Feel the Love Tonight?,” and “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” are  performed by pop stars Beyonce and Donald Glover, and produced by Pharrel Williams. Hans Zimmer provides a dramatic score, that works with the feeling of the new film.

The message in this film is that we may doubt ourselves, but it’s important to remember who we are, and that our friends and family can help remind us.  There are some violent and intense scenes, so I wouldn’t recommend it for very young viewers.  But kids from ages 6-18 would enjoy it, as well as adults. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because Disney has created a brand new, can’t-miss classic. The Lion King will be released on July 19 in theaters nationwide.

The Lion King
By Calista Bess, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

There’s no denying that the original Lion King from 1994 is a classic. Gorgeous animation, amazing story and absolutely timeless music. So making a remake was understandably going to be tricky.  How can you remake something that’s already so timeless? Well to me, the end result is okay at best.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voice of John Kani as Rafiki, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I almost feel like I don’t need to explain the plot as it’s the same story as the original. There are barely any changes and, even then, the changes are very minor. So if you’ve seen The Lion KIng (1994)  then you’ve seen The Lion King (2019). However there’s one major change that in my eyes makes the remake suffer significantly and that’s the graphics.

I should preface this by saying I do prefer animation to CGI “realistic graphics” because I feel animation just looks better. But my main concern is that realistic graphics ruin the storytelling greatly. The Lion King is a very emotional story. And when you have such an emotional story you need to connect and feel for the characters. The original was able to pull this off perfectly with fantastically detailed facial expressions. Unfortunately, because of the realistic graphics, the characters in The Lion King (2019) show little to no emotion. This kills basically every important scene, as I didn’t feel invested in it. I kept thinking to myself –These lions do not look interested in what’s happening. The realism also has another consequence: I could not tell the difference between the lions at times. At times I thought is that Nala or Simba’s Mom? Because the original is animated, they can differentiate the lions through things like their fur color, eyes and facial structure. The CGI remake does not have this ability.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba, and James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It also felt like the creators tried cutting down on the more “animated” scenes. The Mufasa ghost scene doesn’t have Mufasa’s spirit appear; instead they just have his voice come from the clouds and sometimes lightning will strike to form his face. I feel seeing his full appearance is more powerful.

The songs suffer as well. “Be Prepared” is severely cut down which is disappointing, because it’s a favorite song from the movie. The “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” segment in the original has all this crazy choreography that integrated the various animals in unique ways that can only be done in animation. In the remake they just run around. I was actually somewhat bored, if it wasn’t for John Oliver as Zazu.

I give this movie 2 out of 5 stars and  recommend it for ages 5 to 18. The Lion King (2019) comes out July 19, 2019.

The Lion King
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I love this film! There are stunning visuals, a powerful story of betrayal, coming of age, re-birth and the circle of life. The idea of what it really means to be a king and all the original sentiment is intact. I love all the animals and think it is really impressive how they filmed this movie.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba, Billy Eichner as Timon and Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The story of The Lion King is about a little cub named Simba who is going to become king. One day, a wild stampede puts Simba’s life in danger and his father, Mudasa, dies after he rescues him. Mudasa’s evil brother Scar makes Simba believe it is his fault and forces him to abandon the kingdom. Simba carries guilt and feelings of not being brave when he runs away, leaving everyone, including his best friend Nala behind. He goes to a new land where he meets Timon and Pumba and they become the best of friends. His life is good, but lacks purpose. From there, Simba’s friend Nala comes to find help and meets Simba after so many years. Scar’s reign is despicable and all the animals are trying to stop Scar’s evil plans. Simba needs to become the king he was meant to be.

I love the comedy in this film. I also love how, in one scene, they play a little piece of “Be Our Guest” – that’s actually my favorite scene in the film and it is not in the original. I definitively think this is a perfect visual recreation of the original. I love that they chose The Lion King to be the next Disney Classic to turn into live action. Lately, Disney been only doing Princess stories, so I like that they chose animals this time. I absolutely adore the animals and I feel like they fascinate you during the entire film. This is not a reinvention of the story; it is pretty much just taking the original to the real world. The way the live action blends with digital imagery is fantastic. This photo realistic Africa on the big screen is splendorous.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba, Shahadi Wright Joseph as Young Nala and James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There are so many messages in the film: stay true to yourself, being compassionate is more important that being powerful, and we can’t change our past. It is very inspiring to hear again “Hakuna Matata.” This words have been an important motto for people since the original Lion King was released in 1994. The song was composed by Elton John and was nominated for an Oscar. There’s a new Elton John song – “Never Too Late,” and other surprises in this new one. All the beloved classic songs play in this 2019 version, which makes the audience very happy.

I give this film 5 of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 13, and adults as well. Never forget: Hakuna Matata. The Lion King 2019 opens July 19, 2019, so look for it.

The Day Henry Met: Season Two – Explore Life and Friendship. Be Curious. Learn from Others!

Friday, July 19th, 2019

Every day Henry meets something new! I wonder what Henry’s going to meet today? Henry is a 4-year-old boy who always wants to learn and find out more. In each episode, Henry has a friendly chat with whatever he meets and discovers something new…”Hello, Caterpillar. How do you turn into a butterfly?”  “Hello, Bear. What is hibernation?” “Hello, Telescope. What is a constellation?” No matter what Henry meets, they’re always delighted to talk, laugh and share their amazing world with him. After finding out so many amazing things about his new friends, Henry lets his imagination run wild and imagines himself. As a Paleontologist discovering dinosaurs. As a skateboarder learning how to jump, flip and grind. As a show jumper to help a horse win a top prize. As a teacher learning all about school. As a detective solving cases. And more! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “Henry is an inquisitive and playful little boy who loves to learn!  Every day he meets new friends, whether they are a human, animal or an object, they are all of interest to him.”  Ethan P. adds, “I like this DVD because the music is very catchy and the episodes are short and entertaining… The moral of these episodes is not let people, well in this case things, underestimate your abilities to do something you want to do or be.  Henry is always positive; he can do whatever his imagination tells him to do.” Siaki S. wraps it up with, “ Siaki S. wraps it up with, “I like this DVD and it reminds me to be more like Henry – be creative, active and enjoy the moment that is given to us. Henry reminds us to never give up and that is true in life.” See their full reviews below.

The Day Henry Met: Season Two
By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Henry is an inquisitive and playful little boy who loves to learn!  Every day he meets new friends, whether they are a human, animal or an object, they are all of interest to him.  The Day Henry Met DVD has 26 episodes to inspire curiosity.  Who or what will Henry meet next?

My favorite episode is The Day Henry Met… A Dinosaur Bone as I love the museum setting and the fact that he travels back in time.  This episode is both educational and fun.  There are so many good moments in this series including The Day Henry Met… a Violin, a Tennis Racquet and an Ice Cream Van.  Can’t forget The Day Henry MetA Comic BookSuper Henry appears to make the city safe and happy.  Love all the fun characters and situations in this episode. 

The voices in this series reflect all of the diverse characters that Henry meets and really bring the characters to life.  This series, directed by Gary Gill, is playful and will appeal to younger children.  The illustrations are reflective of children’s drawings and are quite appealing.  It is so imaginative that it makes you view the world around you in a different light as Henry talks to whomever or whatever he meets each day.

The message of this series is to explore life, friendship, be curious and learn from those around you.  There is something to learn in every situation, even if you are with a dustbin or a sponge!

I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8.  Reviewed by Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.

The Day Henry Met; Season 2
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 10

The storyline is about a 4-year-old, red-head boy named Henry, who has a big imagination.  In every episode Henry meets something new.  He talks to different objects, animals or things.  Once Henry interacts with the objects such as a violin, a skateboard, a camera, a horse or a bear, these things or animals make Henry’s imagination go wild.  For example, Henry imagines such things as being a conductor or a detective.  Henry also wants to learn and find out more about the objects he interacts with.  At the end of each episode, Henry’s mom calls him and Henry’s imagination ends by him saying goodbye to the objects he was talking to.

The animation style of this DVD is simple and plain, looking as if it is hand drawn. Basically, all the objects have eyes and a mouth, including the house.  What caught my attention is that Henry has a voice like a 12-year-old.  He sounds much older than a little kid.  I like how friendly his chats are with the different animals and objects.  The episodes are so short that I didn’t lose interest while watching them.  My favorite episode is “The Day Henry Met A Dustbin” because, out of all the episodes, this particular one is the most realistic one for my age.  Henry wants to be a garbage man so he can help his trash can and all the other trash cans in his neighborhood to be emptied, because the garbage man who had that route is sick and cannot pick up the trash that day.

I like this DVD because the music is very catchy and the episodes are short and entertaining. The Day Henry Met; Season Two has 26 episodes of cute little stories.

The moral of these episodes is not let people, well in this case things, underestimate your abilities to do something you want to do or be.  Henry is always positive; he can do whatever his imagination tells him to do.

I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8, but adults can watch it with their kids and might find it interesting.  This DVD is available now, so look for it.

The Day Henry Met Season 2
By Siaki Sii, KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 16

This series of episodes is definitely full of laughs and fun to watch, which I didn’t expect it to be. It took me by surprise.  This DVD is definitely colorful, entertaining and a big “yes” to capture younger kids’ attention spans quickly. The show is produced and directed by Susan Broe and Gary Gill who are definitely tuned into the younger audience.

This story follows a little 4-year-old boy, Henry, who is eager and excited about life and learning new things. He’s always discovering interesting facts and tactics in every episode. One of my favorite episodes is called “Running Shoes,” because Henry becomes an athlete, as well as an opponent to the running shoes, to help the running shoes compete against himself in the 100 meter dash and finish the competition. Although the shoes are just a pair of shoes, he wants to give the shoes meaning. As Henry is inches away from winning, he scurries over to the running shoes to put them on and finish the race.

I like this DVD and it reminds me to be more like Henry – be creative, active and enjoy the moment that is given to us. Henry reminds us to never give up and that is true in life.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 10, as well as adults. Adults will enjoy it all the messages that remind us to be better and always try harder – to be just like Henry in many different ways. This DVD is available now, so look for it.

Get in the Mood for Summer Camping with The Cat in the Hat!

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

It’s summer vacation and The Cat in the Hat whisks Nick, Sally and Fish off on the greatest great outdoor camping adventure ever! Our gang gets back to nature as they hike through the Fickle Fern Forest, camp out overnight, trek over Mt. Weewobble and canoe down the Tickle Drop River… just in time for Fish to meet up with his family for a grand reunion. Along for the ride are Little Cats A, B and C, who discover there’s wonder in nature once their electronic devices are powered off! Nick and Sally help keep the Little Cats out of trouble, while Fish tries to keep his jacket pressed and the mud out of his fancy fishbowl… all while getting up close to some of nature’s most awesome sights, and learning how best to respect them. After being lulled to sleep under the stars by a chorus of animals, the morning brings Everyone agrees it really has been the Greatest Great Outdoors Adventure Ever! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “This DVD features the incredibly talented and funny Martin Short as the voice of the Cat in the Hat!  The illustrations and animation are what you would expect from the Cat in the Hat’s world and I especially enjoyed the fantastical wilderness scenes. ” Morgan B. comments, “I absolutely love all the different things I learned about from this DVD! The animation is spot on in this show which brings out a lot of cool stuff.” Alejandra G. adds, “ This series is very enjoyable for kids to watch. The plot is well designed for kids to understand and relate to the stories.” Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror adds, “What a great DVD to get you in the mood for the upcoming summer vacation! I’m a big fan of the Cat in the Hat and his shenanigans. This one does not disappoint!” See their full reviews below.

The Cat in The Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!
By Selene Weiss, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Looking for adventure this summer?  Look no further than the new DVD The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!  Join The Cat in the Hat, Nick, Sally and Fish on their trip to Fish’s family reunion.  Along the way they are joined by the Little Cats as well as an appearance by Thing 1 and Thing 2!  Plenty of trouble ahead for this group.

On the way to Fish’s family reunion his fancy new fishbowl starts to leak.  The Cat in the Hat tries to fix this problem for his friend and as usual lands the group in more trouble.  The “thingamajig” heads to a crash landing and Thing 1 and Thing 2 appear to help their friends.  The group starts on a wilderness trek to help Fish make his way to his family when they discover the joys of nature.

This DVD features the incredibly talented and funny Martin Short as the voice of the Cat in the Hat!  The illustrations and animation are what you would expect from the Cat in the Hat’s world and I especially enjoyed the fantastical wilderness scenes.  The river scenes in particular are my favorite animation on this journey.

The message of this adventure is to enjoy the great outdoors and don’t get lost in your screen-time.  Interacting with people, things and the world around you is more important than viewing life on a screen.  The Little Cats learn this lesson several times on this DVD.

I rate this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12.  The DVD is available now so look for it.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 10

I like this DVD because it is very entertaining and useful.  The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping has a duration of one hour and you can watch it in English or Spanish.

This DVD is about two kids named Nick and Sally pretending to camp in their backyard on their first day of summer vacation.  The Cat in the Hat (Martin Short) comes to visit them with his friend Fish who has a family reunion at the time.  The Cat in the Hat tellls Nick and Sally that he is going to set up a camp at Fish’s family reunion.  Nick and Sally are very excited because they really are going camping. The Cat in the Hat takes his hat off and his three little cousins come out of the hat, Little Cat A, Little Cat B and little Cat C.  During their journey to Fish’s family reunion, The Cat in the Hat teaches the kids and the little cousins a lot about nature, insects and the beautiful landscape, with the help of a special electronic device.  Meanwhile, Fish is worried about his special suit not getting ruined during their journey to the reunion and his fancy fish bowl not getting muddy (so he can show it off to his family).  Unfortunately, this trip is not going the way Fish wanted to go.

The animation on this DVD is the same as other Cat in the Hat movies.  The songs are catchy and pleasant to listen to.  The show features Martin Short, from The Three Amigos, as the voice of the Cat in the Hat.  My favorite scene is when the Cat in the Hat, Fish, Nick and Sally are flying in the air in the Thingamajigger singing “Go, go, go, go on an adventure.”

The moral of this show is “no matter how you dress, how look, or what you have, your family will  love you for who you are.”  Family doesn’t care about your appearance or your possessions.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!
By Alejandra G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

To start off, this DVD impacts children in a positive way with its great vocabulary and important lessons that are taught in each episode. This series is very enjoyable for kids to watch. The plot is well designed for kids to understand and relate to the stories. I can understand why kids are attracted to it. The way the show is made, with all the colorful objects and cute plots draw the kids in quite easily and, in that moment, their life seems interesting.

All the episodes on this DVD have different stories and plots, but the format and the meaning is pretty much the same. All the adventures are different, but every one teaches the lesson that you can play and have fun in nature enjoying the most awesome sights. You can have a great time without damaging the environment yet, you still need to respect and take care of it. Along with that, the viewer experiences some great adventures that are unforgettable.

My favorite scene is at the end of one episode when The Cat in the Hat, Nick, Sally, Fish and all his family gather together in one musical finale extravaganza where they are all celebrated as true adventurers. I like this scene because it is very creative, has great songs and the little musical finale is so well organized. It definitely gets children’s attention since it really stands out.

The important message gleaned from these episodes is that people and children can have fun without electronic devices. This DVD teaches kids about the wonder in nature. It shows how phones, computers and other electronic devices are not more fascinating than the activities you can do in nature. It shows you how to share quality time with the people you love and learn about your surroundings.  This DVD is available now so, go check it out. It’s just in time for summer vacation.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!
By Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Juror

What a great DVD to get you in the mood for the upcoming summer vacation! I’m a big fan of the Cat in the Hat and his shenanigans. This one does not disappoint! It’s entertaining for the whole family and children, ages 3 to 9 will love it! I like that all the characters such as the Fish are included in this fun outdoor adventure. It also has a great story line from the beginning to end and it’s just so fun to watch. I found myself laughing out loud more than a few times. I also like that it is rather original and the animation and soundtrack are great. I give this 5 out of 5 stars and think that the adults will also enjoy watching this one with their young children. This is available now, be sure to go check it out.

Spider-Man: Far From Home – Bigger and Better than Its Predecessor

Monday, July 1st, 2019

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “Spider-Man: Far From Home is bigger and better than its predecessor, Homecoming and another exciting entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Far From Home is a blast that’ll have you on the edge of your seat and is a nice palette cleanser after the despair of Endgame and Infinity War.” Veronica S. adds, “The performances and the comedy are this film’s high points. Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio and Tom Holland as Peter Parker absolutely steal the show and are both a pure joy to watch. This is Gyllenhaal’s first Marvel flick, and it looks like he was born to be in one. Spider-Man:  Far From Home, like most Marvel films, is hilarious; all the side characters had several lines that got the entire theater laughing.” Madison M. chimes in with, “The message of Spider-Man: Far from Home is that the world doesn’t need another you, it needs  someone who can be better. Throughout the movie Peter is constantly reminded of Tony Stark (Iron Man) after his death in Endgame and Peter feels that he needs to be the next Iron Man. Then Happy reminds him that no one could ever be Iron Man and that Peter needs to be a better Spider-Man.” Newcomer Navah W. wraps it up with, “The special and visual effects that take place are beyond awesome! They include four of the five elements of science – earth, fire, water and wind. The fighting scenes that take place in the cities that the students visit cause so much destruction of boats, bridges, buildings, cars and planes that it made me think, “Wow! Does this really get destroyed during the making of this movie?” See their full reviews below.

Spider-Man: Far From Home
Benjamin Price, Kids First! Film Critic

Spider-Man: Far From Home is bigger and better than its predecessor, Homecoming and another exciting entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Far From Home is a blast that’ll have you on the edge of your seat and is a nice palette cleanser after the despair of Endgame and Infinity War.

With pressure from being a superhero mounting every day, Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man (Tom Holland), needs a break. He’s ready to go on a school trip through Europe and confess his feelings for classmate MJ (Zendaya). Peter’s easy going summer is mangled when creatures called Elementals attack the first stop on his trip. Peter is appointed by the head of S.H.I.E.L.D, Nick Fury to assist Quentin Beck in taking the monsters down. Beck, a.k.a Mysterio, is ready to sacrifice anything to vanquish the Elementals after they destroyed his home and killed his family. Peter sets out to protect his friends and the world at large from the coming supernatural threat.

Tom Holland plays a great Spider-Man. Far From Home relies on him being likable and relatable and this time around, somewhat vulnerable too. Holland does all of these things really well. This film doesn’t work if you’re not invested in Peter Parker, but lucky for us, this version is perhaps the best incarnation of the character yet. The awkward, yet sweet interactions between Peter and MJ are a highlight of this film.

Far From Home has a fun atmosphere, even when the stakes are tense and thrilling. The comedy is sharp and witty, but the emotional nuance of Peter’s arc is well-executed. Peter has to face the responsibilities of being a “friendly neighborhood Spider-man” and step up to fill the void left by his recently fallen mentor and friend Tony Stark, a.k.a Iron Man. Stark expected the best from Parker and trusted him with numerous gadgets and resources to continue to do good after he was gone. Parker has to live up to those expectations, while also mourning the loss of his friend.

I recommend this for ages 12 to 18 for some violence, peril and language. Spider-Man: Far From Home is a great teen comedy with a touch of science fiction, romance and heroism. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend you see this film when it swings in theaters July 2nd.

Spider-Man: Far From Home
By Veronica S., KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Spider-Man: Far From Home is one of the most exciting movies in theaters right now. Its thrilling action will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire runtime, and you’ll leave the cinema smiling. Thisis the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it truly did not disappoint.

This film follows your “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”, aka Peter Parker, leaving New York City to go on a school field trip throughout Europe. On his trip, he plans to spend time with his friends, tell his crush how he feels about her, and go sightseeing around the several countries he’s visiting. But his plan will soon come to a halt when Nick Fury warns him about a new threat coming to Earth. With the help of a new superhero named Mysterio, Peter Parker will have to decide whether to enjoy his teenage years and have fun on his trip or to save the world, risking his identity in the process.

The performances and the comedy are this film’s high points. Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio and Tom Holland as Peter Parker absolutely steal the show and are both a pure joy to watch. This is Gyllenhaal’s first Marvel flick, and it looks like he was born to be in one. Spider-Man:  Far From Home, like most Marvel films, is hilarious; all the side characters had several lines that got the entire theater laughing. Something else I admire about this film is how well it encapsulates teenage life and all of the awkward, exciting, and confusing moments being a teenager brings. The film portrays teens very realistically, and I have to commend the director, Tom Watts, for this. The special effects are marvelous, especially in scenes dealing with Mysterio.

With many highs, this film also has its lows. My main problems with the movie are the heavy exposition scenes and the dialogue. The way it feeds the audience information and tells backstories is poorly written which makes the scenes feel unnatural. The predictability of the story took me out of the film several times, but the movie still contains many moments which utterly shocked the entire audience. Although it has its lows, the highs fully outweigh them.

All in all, Spider-Man:  Far From Home is a fun-infused thrill ride that you will not want to miss. If you enjoy the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you will absolutely adore this one. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11-18, but adults will also appreciate it. Check it out in theaters on July 2, 2019. 

Spider-Man: Far from Home
By Madison Moy, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

What I like about Spider-Man: Far from Home are the special effects, the quality of the storyline, the fight scenes and the fact that Spider-Man is my favorite superhero! I can’t just point out one specific part. The MCU never disappoints.

Spider-Man: Far from Home is about the after-math of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame and how everyone that is destroyed in the snap that they call “The Blip” comes back the same age. It’s been five years so, instead of their being 21 and graduated, they are still 16 and have to re-do their sophomore year of high school. So, the school year ends and the class is going on a summer vacation to Europe. Peter doesn’t want to be Spider-Man on this trip, but coincidently Nick Fury happens to need Peter’s help as Spider-Man. He fights along Quentin Beck (Mysterio) and, while in the comics Mysterio is the bad guy, it seems his role is reversed in this movie. While all this is happening, Peter is trying to tell MJ (the girl he really likes) how he feels.

My favorite part of Spider-Man: Far from Home is when Peter walks with MJ to give her a gift and tell her about how he feels. As he gets ready to tell her, she interrupts and asks him if he is Spider-Man. It’s a very funny scene.

Spider-Man in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: ™ FAR FROM HOME.

The message of Spider-Man: Far from Home is that the world doesn’t need another you, it needs  someone who can be better. Throughout the movie Peter is constantly reminded of Tony Stark (Iron Man) after his death in Endgame and Peter feels that he needs to be the next Iron Man. Then Happy reminds him that no one could ever be Iron Man and that Peter needs to be a better Spider-Man.

I give Spider-Man: Far from Home 5 out of 5 stars. It is a great cinematic movie with great performances and is a lot better than Spider-Man: Homecoming. I recommend it for ages 13 to18, plus adults because of the language and violence. Make sure to go see Spider-Man: Far from Home in theatres everywhere when it opens Tuesday July 2, 2019.

Spider-Man: Far from Home
By Navah Wallace, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The live action thriller movie Spider-Man: Far from Home is mind blowing and hilarious!I definitely enjoyed this movie. The action-packed fights between the superheroes are explosive, like bombs going off everywhere. The characters travel to adventurous places and weird sci-fi things begin to happen.   

The storyline follows Peter Parker preparing for a high school field trip with his classmates to exciting cities in Italy and France. Peter is planning to finally wow MJ, the girl he really likes. However, he becomes frustrated when he is called on mission as Spider-man and tries to avoid the mission by “ghosting” Nick Fury’s calls. Ultimately, that does not work and he finds himself trapped and forced into the mission.

The special and visual effects that take place are beyond awesome! They include four of the five elements of science – earth, fire, water and wind. The fighting scenes that take place in the cities that the students visit cause so much destruction of boats, bridges, buildings, cars and planes that it made me think, “Wow! Does this really get destroyed during the making of this movie?” However, I realized later it is simply special and visual effects, because I have learned that drones are used to make you think something is really happening when it is not. In addition to all the action, I also wondered if the superheroes did their own stunts or if there are multiple stunt doubles. Therefore, I did some research and found out that there are several stunt performers.

The message in this movie is about illusion versus real. In other words, everything is not what is seems to be, and people will believe anything, so trust no one. My favorite part of the movie is when Peter Parker gets to shoot his shot with MJ. You should know that there is some profanity and risky situations that kids may try to imitate, so parent guidance is suggested.

I give Spider-Man: Far from Home 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. I also think adults will be amazed and enjoy it as well. It opens in theaters nationwide July 2, 2019, so be sure to check it out.

Yesterday – An Unbelievable Plot And A Film Filled With The Beatles Music

Monday, July 1st, 2019

Jack Malik is a struggling singer-songwriter in an English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie. After a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed. Performing songs by the greatest band in history to a world that has never heard them, Jack becomes on overnight sensation with a little help from his agent. KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer Kimbirly O. comments, “Imagine a world without music from The Beatles. As I type these words, I realize how far-fetched this sentence appears and, as a music lover, it’s preposterous! The Beatles have influenced thousands of musical artists who followed in their hallowed footsteps post-Liverpool. While unbelievable, this is the premise behind Director Danny Boyle’s (Oscar-winning Director, Slum Dog Millionaire) latest film, Yesterday.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. adds, “The movie is creative in many ways, including using locations that inspired several Beatles’ song titles such as Eleanor Rigby’s grave and Penny Lane.  My favorite character is Ellie, Jack’s manager. She is sweet, funny and beautiful. My favorite part is when Jack searches for The Beatles on the Internet.” Ethan P. wraps it up with, “This is a very entertaining and funny movie!  This film has two hours of comedy, romance and music.  I really enjoyed watching this movie and listening to some of The Beatles classic songs.” See their full reviews below.

Yesterday
By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Imagine a world without music from The Beatles. As I type these words, I realize how far-fetched this sentence appears and, as a music lover, it’s preposterous! The Beatles have influenced thousands of musical artists who followed in their hallowed footsteps post-Liverpool. While unbelievable, this is the premise behind Director Danny Boyle’s (Oscar-winning Director, Slum Dog Millionaire) latest film, Yesterday. When a 12-second global power outage occurs, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel, EastEnders) is riding his bicycle, collides with a bus, and lands in the hospital with serious injuries. During his recovery, he casually utters statements, which are song lyrics from the Fab Four, and no one gets it. His confusion leads him to Google, where Jack types “The Beatles,” only to received definitions of beetles. Try as he may, he can find no reference of The Beatles anywhere and, throughout the film, we learn other brands are also nonexistent in this alternate universe, such as Coke. Jack suddenly realizes he is the only person on Earth who remembers The Beatles.

(from left) Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) and Ellie (Lily James) in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

Things get very interesting as Jack has always been a struggling musician. Think kid’s birthday parties, lackluster music festivals and coffee shops. He is lovingly looked after by his lifelong friend Ellie (Lily James) who is also his manager, roadie and his only faithful supporter. If this level of closeness was not enough, we also witness unrequited attraction between the two main characters and, since the script comes from Richard Curtis (Love Actually), we know where this is headed.

Jack decides to learn the songs of The Beatles and make them his own – and he finds success! So much success, Ed Sheeran (playing himself) discovers him. Along with the pop superstar, comes his agent (Kate McKinnon), a money-grubbing, tremendously offensive yet also a funny woman who thinks she found the proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow. Things don’t quite ‘Come Together’ entirely.

Himesh Patel as Jack Malik in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

Things get ridiculous as Jack and Ed Sheeran embark on a world tour and meet a few interesting people along the way. The song selection is impeccable with “‘Help” providing an accurate reading of the song’s rarely spoken meaning, appropriate to the character and plot. The “Long and Winding Road” of the film is truly a musical journey.

I give this film 3 of 5 stars for the some of the casting, the humorous interludes, Kate McKinnon’s performance, UNBELIEVABLE MUSIC (kudos to whoever had to manage clearances for this film – WOW!) and female empowerment. This film will appeal to ages 12 to 18 and introduce or re-introduce the music of The Beatles to younger generations. This writer found herself toe tapping, singing along and loving all the memories this music holds. Check it out when it opens in theaters June 28, 2019.

Yesterday
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This movie is very entertaining. It has great songs, great singing and a little romance. The acting really pulled me into the story.

(from left) Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) and Ed Sheeran (playing himself) in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

Yesterday is about a man named Jack who  wants to become a famous singer. While riding his bike, the world’s power goes out and Jack gets hit by a bus. After recovering, his friends give him a new guitar and he tries it out by singing a song by The Beatles. His friends have never heard the song before or even know who The Beatles are. So, Jack gets an idea to claim those songs as his own, so he can become famous.

This new world that Jack now lives in, is crazy. It does not have The Beatles. And John Lennon is alive. Can you imagine?  The movie is creative in many ways, including using locations that inspired several Beatles’ song titles such as Eleanor Rigby’s grave and Penny Lane.  My favorite character is Ellie, Jack’s manager. She is sweet, funny and beautiful. My favorite part is when Jack searches for The Beatles on the Internet. 

(from left) Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) and Debra (Kate McKinnon) in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

The message of Yesterday is to follow your dreams, put love first and tell the truth. It has a bit of bad language and a lot of drinking, but hey, it takes place in England, so I guess that is to be expected. It has some negative behavior and other risky things that kids might try to do.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18. Adults will like this as well. This movie is in theaters June 28, 2019.

Yesterday
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

This is a very entertaining and funny movie!  This film has two hours of comedy, romance and music.  I really enjoyed watching this movie and listening to some of The Beatles classic songs.

(from left) Jack Malik (Himesh Patel, on tv screen) and Ellie (Lily James) in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

Yesterday is about a British musician name Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) who writes his own songs. Jack is not a successful musician and is about to give up his career as a singer/writer, but his long time friend Ellie (Lily James) encourage him to continue with his dreams to keep writing and singing.  One night, while Jack is riding his bike, the entire world suffers a 12 second blackout.  Jack gets hit by a bus and sent to the hospital.  For some reason, after the global blackout, The Beatles are erased from history; they don’t exist.  No one knows who The Beatles are except Jack.

The combination of comedy, romance and music is really good.  Not only does Himesh Patel sing all The Beatles songs himself, he has an extraordinary voice and plays several instruments tas well. My favorite part of this movie is seeing Ed Sheeran as himself.  Ed visits Jack and invites him to sing with him.  Ed’s manager Deborah (Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live) is extremely funny.  She becomes Jack’s manager and helps him make a great album singing The Beatles’ songs.  Jack becomes super famous. 

(from left) Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) and Ellie (Lily James) in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

My favorite scene is when Jack sings “Help!” on top of a roof, in front of huge crowd.  I also love the cast, because they are all very funny. For example Jack’s best friend Rocky is played by Joel Fry, who is hysterical and James Corden plays as himself and he is always very funny to watch. . 

The moral of this movie is not to lie.  In the movie Jack lies by telling the world he wrote all the songs and becomes famous.  Also, he is in love with Ellie and doesn’t have the courage to tell her.  Lying can get you into more trouble than you are already in.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to18. This movie comes out in theatres June 28, 2019. Look for it.

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