Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for August, 2019

The Angry Birds Movie 2 * A Fast-Paced Slapstick Sequel That Fans Will Particularly Enjoy

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

The flightless birds and scheming green pigs take their feud to the next level. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Damon F. comments, “The Angry Birds Movie 2 is an amazing sequel about a large group of birds who live on an island called Bird Island. These birds are always trying to fight their rivals, the pigs, who live on an opposite island called Pig Island. The first movie Angry Birds, was about the how rivalry between the islands first began. In this movie, while the two islands are still at war, a third island of eagles decide to join in, but in a more destructive fashion. The two enemy islands now must team up to stop the eagles from destroying them both.” Will C. adds, “The Angry Birds Movie 2 is a fast-paced slapstick comedy that fans of the first movie may enjoy. I liked seeing all the same characters again, plus a few new ones that were very funny. You won’t find the old angry Red in this movie, though. Now he’s a hero and everyone loves him. Personally, I prefer the Red of the first film, with his explosive outbursts.” See their full reviews below.

The Angry Birds Movie 2
Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The Angry Birds Movie 2 is an amazing sequel about a large group of birds who live on an island called Bird Island. These birds are always trying to fight their rivals, the pigs, who live on an opposite island called Pig Island. The first movie Angry Birds, was about the how rivalry between the islands first began. In this movie, while the two islands are still at war, a third island of eagles decide to join in, but in a more destructive fashion. The two enemy islands now must team up to stop the eagles from destroying them both.

In this film there is a subplot about three cute hatchlings who accidentally lose some eggs while playing around. Throughout the movie it shows them trying their best to bring them back home safely before their parents realize what they have done.

This movie is based on a popular game by Rovio Entertainment called “Angry Birds”. In the game, you play as the birds use a giant slingshot to take back eggs from the pigs. The slingshot and other items from the game are replicated in the movie in some appealing animation.

Throughout out the movie there are a lot of different references to old TV shows and movies. For example, the way Red builds his team is similar to the character introductions in Ocean’s 11. I found this cool and funny.

My favorite scene in this movie is when the three hatchlings are trying to get the eggs off a cloud. They miss it and keep going up higher and higher. As they leave the planet and enter space, the song “Major Tom” by David Bowie starts playing. This scene is hilarious because the animated characters are put in front of a realistic space picture and they look completely out of place. My favorite character in this film is Chuck. I like him because he is very fast and almost instantly gets things done. Chuck is also very funny because he is very possessive about his sister. The message of this movie is that sometimes you need to work with your enemies to win.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 18 because there are a bunch of different jokes that will appeal to kids and adults. I think adults will enjoy watching this with their kids. This film opens in theaters August 17, 2019.

The Angry Birds Movie 2
By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The Angry Birds Movie 2 is a fast-paced slapstick comedy that fans of the first movie may enjoy. I liked seeing all the same characters again, plus a few new ones that were very funny. You won’t find the old angry Red in this movie, though. Now he’s a hero and everyone loves him. Personally, I prefer the Red of the first film, with his explosive outbursts.

In the first Angry Birds movie, the birds and pigs were at war. In The Angry Birds Movie 2, they have to team up against a common threat. As the movie begins, the pigs and birds are still happily fighting each other, but then a mysterious frozen ice ball lands on Pig Island. King Leonard Mudbeard realizes he can’t fight this himself and calls a truce with the birds. Together, they find out that a very angry bird named Zeta is trying to destroy their islands to create her own paradise. The rest of the movie involves their plan to sneak onto Zeta’s Island and crush her island-destroying machine.

There are a lot of funny sequences where the voice actors really excel, including a subplot where baby birds rescue a group of eggs. The animation is really well done – it brings the characters to life as well as creates a beautiful world of islands.

The message of this film is that teamwork is always better than fighting. Parents should know that there’s some mildly crude humor, like butt jokes. A bathroom scene with potty humor got the most laughs at the screening I attended.

I rate this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for children ages 7 to 12. Angry Birds 2 opens in theaters everywhere August 13, 2019.

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The Art of Racing in the Rain * Happy, Sad, And Funny With Lovable Characters

Saturday, August 10th, 2019

Dog lovers believe their canine family members understand language, comprehend events, have opinions, exude loyalty. In “The Art of Racing In The Rain”, wise old dog Enzo Swift shares thoughts about the life experiences which prepared him to protect his family in times of greatest need. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sahiba K. comments, “The Art of Racing in the Rain, brings the beloved novel to life but ultimately lacks memorability. The changes made in the movie make it a common story that is too well known. However, the losses in the screenplay are covered by clever character development and the lovable dog, Enzo.” Brock T. adds, “The production values for this film are high. The cars are super dynamic and fast. Director Simon Curtis brings the book to life in an appealing way and make you feel like you are at the race track. All the cast deliver wonderful performances.” Eva W. continues with, “The Art Of Racing In The Rain is a fantastic movie. Some scenes are very emotionally heavy and I don’t believe this film is suitable for young kids. There are parts that a younger child simply will not understand. I know because I am ten years old.” Zoe C. wraps it up with, “The Art of Racing in the Rain has happy moments, sad moments, funny ones and more. It has it all! At first, I didn’t know what to expect because, what does a dog have to do with racing? Well, there’s actually a lot more to the story than you would expect, and I absolutely fell in love with this film and all its characters.” See their full reviews below.

The Art of Racing in the Rain
By Sahiba Kaur, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

The Art of Racing in the Rain, brings the beloved novel to life but ultimately lacks memorability. The changes made in the movie make it a common story that is too well known. However, the losses in the screenplay are covered by clever character development and the lovable dog, Enzo.

L-R: “Enzo” and Milo Ventimiglia in Twentieth Century Fox’s, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The story follows the golden retriever Enzo (Kevin Costner) and his adventures alongside his owner Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia). They walk through life together and in doing so, Enzo learns the secrets of living happily.

Milo Ventimiglia has positives but also some negatives when taking on the role of Denny. In morose scenes, he fails to fully express the pains of his character while in loving and joyful scenes, he excels. However, from the beginning, Ventimiglia plays a large role in developing an unspoken apprehension that builds between Denny and his father-in-law, Maxwell (Martin Donovan). Donovan’s one look aroused tension in me. Whenever the two characters interact, I felt uneasy as if something wrong was bound to occur. This development of the characters is one of my favorite parts. Everything that happens is intentional so that the audience is aware of what each character is capable of doing.

L-R: “Enzo” and Milo Ventimiglia in Twentieth Century Fox’s, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The movie mostly lives up to the expectations that the novel sets with a few weaknesses to note. Enzo’s narration is kept to a minimum as the entire movie could not be narrated by the dog. So to make up the loss, the relationships and development of Denny and his family are heightened. Music and cinematography techniques are incorporated to help bolster Enzo’s emotions and are highly effective tools. In several scenes, the music is lyrical, providing insight into what Enzo might wish to say. Similarly, the cinematography provides insight with a first person view from Enzo. It often switches to this perspective when there are emotions by other characters only Enzo can see. Thus it made me feel as if I was Enzo, observing intimate moments and experiencing his emotions. These techniques work well but with Enzo’s role slightly lessened, the story weakens and does become more mundane and predictable.

The message is “that which we manifest is before us,” or we make our own destiny. I give The Art of Racing in the Rain, 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Be sure to check it out when it opens in theatres August 9, 2019.

The Art Of Racing In The Rain
By Brock Taylor, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

L-R: “Enzo” and Amanda Seyfried in Twentieth Century Fox’s, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The Art Of Racing In The Rain is a spectacular movie.  It takes on many emotions: happy, sad, thrilling, scared, then feeling all those emotions again.  The movie is based on the best-selling novel by Garth Stein.  

The Art Of Racing In The Rain is about a dog named Enzo (Kevin Costner, voice) who knows how to race cars really well. The dog studies the track and is great at helping – the best in fact. Enzo’s owner Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia) is trying to make it big as a race car driver and providing for his family. Enzo helps his owner Denny with knowing the track and also with navigating things in life. The film follows Denny and the people he loves – his wife, Eve (Amanda Seyfried), their young daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), and his best friend, Enzo. 

L-R: Amanda Seyfried, “Enzo” and Milo Ventimiglia in THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The production values for this film are high. The cars are super dynamic and fast. Director Simon Curtis brings the book to life in an appealing way and make you feel like you are at the race track. All the cast deliver wonderful performances. My favorite part of The Art Of Racing In The Rain is when Denny gets to see his daughter again, and wins quality time with her.  This is dynamic.  My least favorite part is when the dad can’t be at the house for a significant life event, which made me sad.  I wish he could be there for comfort.

The message of this film is that when you get torn apart, you have to get back up.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Adults might like this too. It opens in theaters nationwide on August 9, 2019 so look for it.

The Art Of Racing In The Rain
By Eva Wassom, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

L-R: Amanda Seyfried and “Enzo” in THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The Art Of Racing In The Rain is a fantastic movie. Some scenes are very emotionally heavy and I don’t believe this film is suitable for young kids. There are parts that a younger child simply will not understand. I know because I am ten years old. Plus, there are scenes that are hard to watch and a few that are just plain scary. I definitely would not let my 8-year-old brother watch this movie.

The storyline is about a dog, Enzo (Kevin Costner, voice) who belongs to a race car driver named Denny (Milo Venimiglia). As Denny starts to have a family, Enzo is not pleased to have other people in the apartment. But as time goes on and the family gets bigger, Enzo warms up to everyone. 

The casting in this movie is amazing! Milo Venimiglia is known for his role as Peter Petrelli in the show Heroes. Denny’s girlfriend Eve is played by Amanda Seyfried, known for her work as Sophie in Mamma Mia Here We Go Again. I love Kevin Costner’s voice as Enzo. He sounds just like what I think Enzo would sound if he could actually speak.

L-R: “Enzo” and Amanda Seyfried in THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The production values are quite high here. One example is shown in the dog’s training, which was done by Bonnie Judo. The dog almost seems part human. He stands on his back legs, barks like he is speaking and more! The casting is very well done as well. I was particularly impressed by the actresses who play the younger and older versions of Denny’s daughter.

There are a lot of funny parts in this film, but there are just as many sad parts. I laughed, cried, gasped and had so much different emotions throughout the film. You might want to bring your tissues. And, oddly enough, after you see this film, you will never feel the same way about Zebras again. There are also a lot of surprising parts too, so be ready.

I give The Art Of Racing In The Rain 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults. It opens in theaters August 9, 2019 so look for it.  

The Art of Racing in the Rain
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

L-R: Amanda Seyfried, Milo Ventimiglia, and “Enzo” in Twentieth Century Fox’s, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The Art of Racing in the Rain has happy moments, sad moments, funny ones and more. It has it all! At first, I didn’t know what to expect because, what does a dog have to do with racing? Well, there’s actually a lot more to the story than you would expect, and I absolutely fell in love with this film and all its characters.

This movie is about a dog who is adopted by a race car driver, Denny. Denny’s dog, Enzo, slowly learns about the human life, and he and Denny create a powerful bond. Enzo loves Denny no matter what, and he develops a love for car races and TV, too. But when Denny’s girlfriend Eve comes along, Enzo becomes a bit jealous. Denny and Eve get married and have a baby girl named Zoe. Later on, Denny has to face the obstacles of life as he does on the track. While Denny is very good at racing in the rain, he faces the unpredictable in life.

L-R: “Enzo” and Milo Ventimiglia in Twentieth Century Fox’s, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

Enzo feels more human than dog, thanks to the beautiful voice narrating the story (Kevin Costner) from the dog’s point of view. This film makes me emotional, but I think that’s good because I definitely feel a connection when watching The Art of Racing in the Rain. I also think that at one point in the story there might be too much going on at the same time.  Even though that makes the movie interesting, it could have all happened at a slower pace.

I love the acting in the film, especially Enzo’s voice narration, and feel it is all believable. And I have a completely different perspective of my dog now, and wonder what she is thinking because Enzo has very interesting thoughts of the human world. I enjoy the comedy –  it’s a nice balance to what happens in the story. Milo Ventimiglia is great as Denny, and you care about him throughout the whole film. Amanda Seyfried plays Eve, Denny’s wife, and her character—although she doesn’t love dogs at first—experiences with her new four-legged friend one of the most important connections in her existence.

The message of this film is that we are all in control of our own lives, and dogs are the best friends that can join us in the ride of life.

I give The Art of Racing in the Rain 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18 and adults as well. There are parts in this film that little kids would not understand and moments that wouldn’t be very appropriate for younger viewers. The Art of Racing in the Rain releases in theatres August 9, 2019.

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One Child Nation – Extraordinary Documentary Tackling The Controversial Chinese One-Child Policy

Friday, August 9th, 2019

China’s One Child Policy, the extreme population control measure that made it illegal for couples to have more than one child, may have ended in 2015, but the process of dealing with the trauma of its brutal enforcement is only just beginning. From award-winning documentarian Nanfu Wang (Hooligan Sparrow, I Am Another You) and Jialing Zhang, the sweeping One Child Nation explores the ripple effect of this devastating social experiment, uncovering one shocking human rights violation after another – from abandoned newborns, to forced sterilizations and abortions, and government abductions. Wang digs fearlessly into her own personal life, weaving her experience as a new mother and the firsthand accounts of her family members into archival propaganda material and testimony from victims and perpetrators alike, yielding a revelatory and essential record of this chilling, unprecedented moment in human civilization.

One Child Nation is a stunning, nuanced indictment of the mindset that prioritizes national agenda over human life, and serves as a first-of-its-kind oral history of this collective tragedy – bearing witness to the truth as China has already begun to erase the horrors of its “population war” from public record and memory.  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ella L. comments, “This film is powerful and informative. It left a severe impact on me and I left the theater feeling angry and grateful that I have grown up in a privileged part of the world, where I do not have to deal with issues such as the ones faced in this movie. The film is brilliantly produced and it is essential that it, and similar films are being made during this time period.” See her full review below.

One Child Nation
By Ella Ladd, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

One Child Nation is a politically charged and extraordinary documentary that exposes the evils of the Chinese government and relate it back to issues that we face in modern-day America. This film is powerful and informative. It left a severe impact on me and I left the theater feeling angry and grateful that I have grown up in a privileged part of the world, where I do not have to deal with issues such as the ones faced in this movie. The film is brilliantly produced and it is essential that it, and similar films are being made during this time period.

One Child Nation is a unique film that tackles the controversial one-child policy enforced by the Chinese government from 1979 to 2015. Interviews with people such as government officials (titled “family planning officials”), doctors, nurses, village chiefs, women who have been affected by the policy, and even human traffickers, filmmaker Nanfu Wang develops a heartbreaking and shocking narrative. She exposes how the Chinese government forcibly aborted babies late-term and induced pregnancies, killing infants, while feeding propaganda to their people and glamorizing the one-child policy. The inhumane behavior of these officials, doctors and nurses, as well as the mistreatment and victimization of women, children and families in China are the main subjects of the film. 

One Child Nation addresses many controversial and taboo topics, but does so in a way that is very simple to understand, while still making you think and evaluate the wrongdoings of China and its people. The importance of choice and freedom are some of the many crucial themes highlighted throughout the film. One Child Nation is an engaging and thoughtful documentary. I was never bored while watching and, even after the gears in my head were still turning and I was still thinking about it. 


I give One Child Nation 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 14 to 18, because of the disturbing images and sensitive topics that were intense and difficult for me, as a teenager, to watch. One Child Nation is a significant documentary film. I had never heard about China’s one-child policy before this movie. This film will educate people about the horrors and oppression that the Chinese people faced under this law and allow people to think and formulate their own opinions regarding this topic. One Child Nation is a poignant and relevant film that provoked deep thoughts and emotion, which I will never forget. Opens in theaters nationwide August 9, 2019.

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Sesame Street: Dance Party * So Enjoyable. Brings Out The Dancer In Everyone

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Everyone loves to dance–from furry little monsters to furry BIG Snuffleupaguses. This special collection includes over two hours of content that will make your child want to move and groove. Little ones will love to see real kids dancing flamenco, doing an Irish stepdance, clapping out West African beats, and cha-cha-ing all over the place. They’ll learn to dance like a dinosaur, a robot, and Elmo! Includes appearances by Amy Ryan, Liev Schreiber, Maria Menounos, Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman, Jason Derulo and performances by Ne-Yo, Feijóo Sisters, Janelle Monáe and Sara Bareilles. Bonus Features – Elmo’s Music Magic. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “This DVD is absolutely awesome! It is so enjoyable to watch and it’s educational at the same time. It teaches you how to perform different dances, which can be very entertaining for active children.” Selene W. adds, “Stomp and slide while watching Sesame Street: Dance Party!  What could be more fun than clapping your hands, stomping your feet, touching your toes and wiggling and jiggling your way to learning new dance moves with the Sesame Street characters and their special guests?” and Jolleen M. wraps it up with, “The different scenes feature the Muppet characters of Sesame Street learning all about dance. They learn different styles of dance from all over the world, how to dance, what a choreographer is and much more. The DVD also teaches the audience the dances and then encourages people to get up and dance.” Check out their full reviews below as this DVD comes out on August 6, 2019.

Sesame Street: Dance Party
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This DVD is absolutely awesome! It is so enjoyable to watch and it’s educational at the same time. It teaches you how to perform different dances, which can be very entertaining for active children.

Sesame Street: Dance Party has so much to watch. Every single scene is adorable, from Rosita and some friends learning how to do the chicken dance to Elmo teaching you the happy dance. And it has all of our most favorite and lovable characters such as Elmo, Rosita, Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus.

This DVD teaches your children what a choreographer is and does. Also, the episodes teach you different dances and you learn about where they came from. My favorite scene is when Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus try to find their favorite dance.

Throughout the DVD, there are a bunch of great messages. Some of my favorites are: learning is fun, dance can show different cultures and our voices can do amazing things. 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 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 7. Adults will also think that it is cute to watch with their children and can participate in some of the dances. It is available August 6, 2019. Look for it.

Sesame Street: Dance Party!
By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Stomp and slide while watching Sesame Street: Dance Party!  What could be more fun than clapping your hands, stomping your feet, touching your toes and wiggling and jiggling your way to learning new dance moves with the Sesame Street characters and their special guests? 

All of your favorite characters are included in this party, which starts off with Elmo’s “Happy Dance.”  Elmo and friends learn about dances from all around the world with their friend Nina.  Nina explains that you can learn to dance by learning one step at a time and to find the dance that’s perfect for you. Different Sesame Street characters appear in various segments while learning about different cultural dances as well as the joys of counting and helping friends.  What dance party would be complete without Zoe who makes her appearance throughout this dance party! 

Love the settings throughout the party and especially the costumes in Zoe’s production of “Six Swans,” which is one of my favorite scenes. 

The message of this DVD is to keep learning and to learn new things – including dance moves.  Have fun while watching the Elmo Slide, Big Bird ChaCha, the Dinosaur, Snuffie’s Hokey Pokey, the Conga and the Chicken Dance! It’s always more fun to learn with friends and of course everyone loves Elmo!

I rate this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6.  This DVD comes out August 6, 2019 so watch for it.

Sesame Street: Dance Party
By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

This DVD is educational and inclusive! All of the storylines enlighten the audience with morals or teach new skills. The puns, irony and jokes are hilarious. Even though I am not in the target age range, I still enjoyed watching this DVD.

The different scenes feature the Muppet characters of Sesame Street learning all about dance. They learn different styles of dance from all over the world, how to dance, what a choreographer is and much more. The DVD also teaches the audience the dances and then encourages people to get up and dance.

The Sesame Street Muppets are very colorful. Each looks very unique. I love that each one has a different personality. Some of them have best friends and others get along with everyone. The humans are also included in this community and interact with the Muppets. This complexity makes the DVD even more interesting. The set of Sesame Street looks realistic and is so colorful. The characters seem to have access to every part of the shops and buildings.

My favorite part is when Alan is pressured into being a swan for Zoe’s “Six Swan Dance.” He has to put on a swan costume, which includes a tutu. He also has to carry Snuffy, who is a large monster. I think Alan is very inspiring, doing all of these things for Zoe and remaining determined. It is really funny to watch his reaction to the seemingly impossible task requested of him.

Each of the scenes has different messages. All encompass taking dance, one step at a time, asking for help from the choreographer when needed and encouraging everyone to dance. Nina is the main teacher in this DVD and she is quite knowledgeable about all types of dances from all over the world.  She helps the Muppets find their personal dance style and prevents them from becoming overwhelmed when trying to learn the dances. 

This DVD is so adorable. It would be a great introduction to dance for children. I give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages of 2 to 6. This is releases August 6, 2019, so go check it out!

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Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – An Effortless Blend of High-Octane Action and Charismatic Leads

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

Ever since hulking lawman Hobbs (Johnson), a loyal agent of America’s Diplomatic Security Service, and lawless outcast Shaw (Statham), a former British military elite operative, first faced off in 2015’s Furious 7, the duo have swapped smack talk and body blows as they’ve tried to take each other down. But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (Idris Elba) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever — and bests a brilliant and fearless rogue MI6 agent (The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby), who just happens to be Shaw’s sister — these two sworn enemies will have to partner up to bring down the only guy who might be badder than themselves. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a fun Fast & Furious spinoff with the series’ effortless blend of high-octane action and charismatic leads. Fans of the beloved series and action movies in general must check this out. It has something for everyone.” Brad M. adds, “This new film is so action-packed it rarely has a dull moment. If you are looking for an entertaining night full of laughter, this is the movie to watch.” Kendall M. wraps it up with, “From the special effects to its storyline, you would want to miss this. This movie is an action-packed, thrilling and comedic film makes you wonder what’s coming next.” See their full reviews below.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a fun Fast & Furious spinoff with the series’ effortless blend of high-octane action and charismatic leads. Fans of the beloved series and action movies in general must check this out. It has something for everyone.

(from left) Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” directed by David Leitch.

The film follows series’ favorites, lawman Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and the lawless Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) as the two “frenemies” must team up to stop the cybernetically modified super-soldier Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). Amid all this carnage are even some family reunions involving Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) and Hobbs’ own Samoan relatives.

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, are the main highlight here, with the two as polar opposites of one another. Still, the actors work well together and their bickering and bantering is buoyed by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce’s script. The pair even impress in action scenes with Johnson’s hard hitting knockdowns and Statham’s suave martial arts. Vanessa Kirby, as Hattie Shaw, gives the duo a run for their money. She proves capable in the many action scenes and holds many quips with Hobbs. Their flirtatious banter and Deckard’s awkward reactions are some of the film’s funniest. Unfortunately, her contributions to the plot are very loosely strung, but her character is delightful to watch. Same goes for Idris Elba, as Brixton Lore, who owns up to his character’s craziness. Elba really has a way with things, making even the most clichéd characters engaging. There are multiple surprising big-list cameos, which I can not spoil. All really add to the movie’s layers of self-awareness and comedy, and make the movie much more engaging to watch.

David Leitch, as the director, brings new life to the franchise, providing more variety in action, from fisticuffs to shootouts to over-the-top car chases. The veteran director of John Wick and Atomic Blonde, he really knows how to make each sequence engaging and unique. The finale in Samoa is one such example. My favorite scene is the “pick a door” fight scene in Lore’s compound. Impressive choreography and well-timed comic relief from Johnson and Statham elevate this scene. Unfortunately, at two hours, the movie is a bit too long and some sequences towards the end feel like filler and really drag. On top of that, the marketing for this film really spoils some of the best action beats and comedic moments. It’s a shame that a poor marketing campaign ends up hurting some of the film’s surprises. Thankfully, they hide some things, like those surprise cameos.

The message of this film is in the franchise’s core values about family. Hobbs’s choice to reconnect with his family, despite past disagreements, proves this. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, due to intense action sequences, suggestive references and language. The movie releases in theaters on August 2, 2019, so check it out.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
By Brad Martin, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a hilarious new spin-off movie for the Fast & Furious franchise. This new film is so action-packed it rarely has a dull moment. If you are looking for an entertaining night full of laughter, this is the movie to watch.

(from left) Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” directed by David Leitch.

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) form an unexpected partnership while attempting to save the world from a deadly bio-weapon. The cyber-genetically-enhanced criminal Brixton (Idris Elba) will stop at nothing to ensure the evolution of humanity through this deadly bio-threat. The two heroes must settle their long-standing rivalry in order to save the human race.

The all-star cast came together to make an incredible film. The banter between Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw is super amusing and had viewers erupting with laughter. Jason Statham was born to play the role of Deckard Shaw. He is an extremely convincing actor who gave me everything I wanted and more from his character. The plot of the film is intriguing for the first half of the movie, but I found the second half to be more slow and dull. A small problem I encountered while watching the film was believing the villain. Every time he seems to get knocked down, he stands right back up, without a scratch on his genetically-engineered body. It would be more realistic to see him become progressively more damaged throughout the movie while fighting this action-filled war. On a separate note, the special and visual effects are dazzling and bring life to this action film. The fight scenes are brilliantly crafted as well. I was happy to see this movie and it definitely has the opportunity to create a sequel.  They use the last chunk of the film to set the basis for a future film.  

(from left) Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” directed by David Leitch.

The message displayed in this film is about the importance of teamwork. When people bicker amongst each other, it is unproductive, but if they work together they can accomplish the seemingly impossible. This message carries over into our lives for how we get along with people in our own community. Parents should be aware that this movie has a fair amount of violence and foul language.

I give Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw 3 out 5 stars and recommend for ages 13 through 18. Make sure to check out this film when it storms into theaters August 2, 2019. Movie fans, you won’t want to miss it!

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Kendall, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a spot-on well produced and directed film that keeps you on the edge of your seat. From the special effects to its storyline, you would want to miss this. This movie is an action-packed, thrilling and comedic film makes you wonder what’s coming next.

Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” directed by David Leitch.

The storyline is about two rivals, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who are forced to team up to defeat the emerging threat of Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), a cyber-genetically-enhanced terrorist, armed with a deadly virus. This virus can potentially destroy planet Earth and all of humanity. Hobbs and Shaw must work through their differences to save the world once again.

Some things that really stand out in this film are the production, the screenplay and the editing. Big ups to director David Leitch and screenwriter Chris Morgan for making that happen. It is truly thrilling and amazing to watch and enjoy. Of course, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Idris Elba give us excellent performances as well. I should also point out Vanessa Kirby who plays Hattie and Helen Mirren who plays Queenie as their performances need mention too.

(center) Idris Elba as Brixton Lorr in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” directed by David Leitch.

The message of the movies is that “no matter what differences you have with people, you still have to work together to make the world a better place.” If we focus on being mad at each other, we are not making the world better, we’re making it just angry and sad. So, I resonate with the message. You should know that there is quite a lot of profanity and some rude humor.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Make sure you check it out when it opens in theaters August 2, 2019.

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