Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for September, 2019

The Jungle Bunch * A Wacky Animated Film That Will Have You Laughing!

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Get ready for the wildest ride of your life! Maurice may look like a penguin – but he’s a real tiger inside! Raised by a tigress, he’s the clumsiest Kung-Fu master ever. Along with his friends, The Jungle Bunch, he intends to maintain order and justice in the jungle, as his mother did before him. But when Igor, an evil koala, decides to destroy the jungle once and for all with the help of his army of silly baboons, Maurice faces his biggest challenge yet! Your family will go bananas for The Jungle Bunch, a fresh and funny adventure that’s full of laughs and memorable characters! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Will C. comments, “The Jungle Bunch is a wacky animated movie with talking animals that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but still entertains. Based on a popular French kids’ series, this film has lots of action and some laughs. My favorite part of the movie is when an exploding mushroom captures the entire Jungle Bunch. In order to get out, they throw a pebble which starts a chain reaction to set them free.” Ivey H. adds, “This is a cute film about a group of animals, called the Jungle Bunch, that protect and watch out for the jungle. They put out forest fires, fight bad guys, save animals and help the community. I really enjoyed the bright colors and scenes from the jungle.” Elle S. wraps it up with, “The film draws me in for many reasons. It’s nice to see how each animal is portrayed by voice over, characteristics and challenges. Igor, the wicked koala, is small but forceful with throwing mushroom grenades that burst into big, bright fireworks exploding across the screen. I appreciate the teamwork between the animals.” See their full reviews below.

The Jungle Bunch
By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The Jungle Bunch is a wacky animated movie with talking animals that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but still entertains. Based on a popular French kids’ series, this film has lots of action and some laughs.

The Jungle Bunch begins by introducing us to a civilized nation of animals where an evil koala tries to throw mushroom bombs at everyone. The Champs are saviors of the jungle –  a tiger, sloth, rhino and porcupine. The tiger raises a penguin as her own, which in turn raises a fish as his own child. Maurice the tiger-penguin joins up with a gorilla and a bat, among others, to save everyone from Igor the koala mastermind.

While the animation isn’t quite the level viewers are used to from Disney and Pixar, it’s still quite colorful and interesting to watch. The jungle setting is especially well done with convincingly animated tropical plants. The writers probably tried to squeeze too much plot into this film by including the origin story, but I was still able to follow it well enough. My favorite part of the movie is when an exploding mushroom captures the entire Jungle Bunch. In order to get out, they throw a pebble which starts a chain reaction to set them free.

The message of this film is that you should be kind and brave. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there’s a sad ending for one character that might be upsetting for little kids. Parents should also know that there’s quite a bit of action with explosions and cartoon violence.

I rate this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for children ages 5 to 8. It’s available now on DVD so, look for it.

The Jungle Bunch
By Ivey H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

This is a cute film about a group of animals, called the Jungle Bunch, that protect and watch out for the jungle. They put out forest fires, fight bad guys, save animals and help the community. I really enjoyed the bright colors and scenes from the jungle.

The jungle bunch includes a penguin named Maurice, a gorilla named Miguel, Gilbert the Tarsier, Bat Batricia and a few other odd creatures. In this story, Maurice is the hero and leader of Jungle Bunch. He is a penguin that was raised by a tigress. He struggles with being the leader and trying to live up to the standards of his mother. The characters are well developed and funny. They make lot of contraptions and inventions to help save the jungle, including a butt cream for a bird’s bottom, which really cracked me up.

The villain in the story is the koala Igor. He wants to destroy the jungle, because he feels excluded from the bunch. He wants to take over and become the leader. The Jungle Bunch thinks he is too controlling. He plans to use mushrooms as explosives to blow up the jungle for revenge and payback. The Jungle Bunch must stop him from destroying their homes. Igor has a clock that is a crab as his alarm clock. He hits his crab’s claws together to make a tick tock sound.  This is a really funny part of the movie.

My favorite part is when they play the song “Eye of the Tiger” when Maurice is feeling down. This helps raise Maurice’s spirit to become confident and put his “tiger stripes” back on.  It is really cute when the fish and penguin want to be tigers and they paint themselves with stripes.

Maurice is voiced by Philippe Bozo. I like his voice and attitude. It’s perfect! The Gorilla is voiced by Pascal Casanova, who also portrays his character quite well. In fact, I’m quite fond of all the voice-over work in this film. I give director David Alaux credit for putting together such a terrific cast.

The moral of the story addresses the unlikely friendships between different species in the jungle who work together as a team and stick with each other during hard times, helping their community save their homes.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 15 as well as adults. It is available on DVD now, so look for it.

The Jungle Bunch
By Elle S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

The Jungle Bunch is a movie of champions. “You don’t have to wear stripes in order to be strong like a tiger.” We follow the lives of different creatures, both heroic and evil, to see how they respond when devastation hits their habitat.

The battle is on between Natasha, the tiger and former leader of the champs. She stands for justice and equality and won’t stop protecting and serving her home. Igor, a wicked koala, wants revenge and power. He’s relentless when it comes to commanding all the animals of the jungle for his own benefit. They fight for the future of the jungle and who is in control is tested at ultimate lengths. Natacha has rescued and raised Maurice, a strong willed penguin with a tiger spirit. He follows in the footsteps of his mother as he teams with a group of animals to protect and serve.

This film offers positive outlooks when it comes to equality, problem solving and finding hope during hopeless situations. The overall production quality is great. The imagery and sound quality is sure to keep children engaged. Only a couple of scenes go on a little longer than needed. For the most part, the film maintains a positive flow.

Children that love animals, fireworks explosions, monkey butt jokes and rescue missions will absolutely enjoy this. It is recommended that you enjoy the film in its entirety as there is a special bonus clip that is sure to please. There are multiple scenes using freeze framing, bold bright animation and music that fit well with the flow of the film. The film takes place in a jungle, so I loved hearing the birds squawking, animals hooting and other sounds of nature.

The film draws me in for many reasons. It’s nice to see how each animal is portrayed by voice over, characteristics and challenges. Igor, the wicked koala, is small but forceful with throwing mushroom grenades that burst into big, bright fireworks exploding across the screen. I appreciate the teamwork between the animals.

There is a menu that offers the film to be played in its entirety or to select certain scenes. A trailer clip, audio, and subtitles are also available to select. The most impactful message I got from the film promotes equality and justice. I really enjoyed that Natasha, the tiger, loved and raised Maurice, a penguin like her own. That equality and unconditional love is passed down to Maurice when he raises his goldfish, Jr. The moral and love for the community doesn’t change regardless of the animal or upbringing. This is a positive message for audiences. The message is that you don’t have to have stripes in order to have the tiger spirit.

I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars for its wildness, comedy, production and impactful socially-positive messages throughout. I recommend it for ages 5 to 12. The content is appropriate and user friendly with its jokes and imagery. Reviewed by Elle S., KIDS FIRST! Juror.

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Rueful Warrior * New Sci-Fi Short With More Fight Scenes Than You Can Count

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Rueful Warrior is a thought-provoking film which focuses on the futility of war and underlines the absurdity of violence and combat. In this film, our heroine – alien soldier Yalalia – finds herself caught up in a conflict of moral and physical standings against a group of soldiers from Earth. Her integrity is tested to the limit as she desperately attempts to maintain peace at all costs. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Brad M. comments, “Rueful Warrior is a new sci-fi short film packed with action. It has more fight scenes and punches thrown than you will be able to count. If you like exciting futuristic productions, you will love this new short film!” See his full review below

Rueful Warrior
By Brad Martin, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Rueful Warrior is a new sci-fi short film packed with action. It has more fight scenes and punches thrown than you will be able to count. If you like exciting futuristic productions, you will love this new short film!

Yalalia (Michelle Fahrenheim) is sent to Earth from a faraway planet in order to save her people. Her civilization is lacking a vital resource – water. The alien soldier is immediately assumed to be hostile and attacked by Earth’s protectors.

Director Mark Owen giving instructions to his two female leads. Rueful Warrior. Credit: © Samuel Dore
Director Mark Owen giving instructions to his two female leads. Rueful Warrior. Credit: © Samuel Dore

There are a multitude of entertaining aspects to Rueful Warrior, but the best is the fight choreography. Joe Golby, the fight choreographer, has truly created a realistic, yet intriguing sequence of brawling. I enjoyed the variety of styles used in this short film, but would have liked more of a story. At times, I felt as if I was watching more of a fight than a movie.

The main character, Yalalia, helps keep the audience’s eyes glued to the screen with her convincing acting. The manner in which she reacts to the attacks of Earth’s soldiers is everything one I could have wanted from her character. Yalalia’s costume is a spectacular work of art. The similarities between her alien culture and the human culture show how different, yet similar opposing sides of conflict can be. The director, Mark Owen, had a powerful vision for the film in creating a strong female protagonist. I appreciated the way he portrays her character, compared to the other actors. The others could have had better story arcs. It would be interesting to see one of Earth’s soldiers question the other’s decision to attack Yalalia. This might add another layer to the already dramatic conflict.

Actress Michelle Fahrenheim (Yalalia) and director Mark Owen, Rueful Warrior, Credit: © Samuel Dore
Actress Michelle Fahrenheim (Yalalia) and director Mark Owen, Rueful Warrior, Credit: © Samuel Dore

I love the way the short film ends with a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower, “I hate war, as only a soldier who has lived can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” This helps enforce the main message of the film that society needs to work together. When we fight among ourselves, it leads to pain and suffering for both sides. Parents should be advised about the violence in this film.

I give Rueful Warrior 4 out of 5 stars and recommend for kids 10 through 18. Make sure to check out this short film at the Portobello Film Festival September 13, 2019 or at the Show Low Film Festival October 17 through 20, 2019. 

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The Octonauts: Season 3 Gift Set * Dive In And Learn About Creatures In The World’s Oceans

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

Animated series based on the books by Vicki Wong and Michael C. Murphy. Dive into adventure with your favorite underwater explorers, the Octonauts! Join brave Captain Barnacles, daredevil ex-pirate Kwazii, and medic Peso Penguin, along with the other Octonauts as they explore the world’s oceans, rescue the creatures who live there and protect their habitats – above and below the waves! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Will C. comments, “The Octonauts Season 3 DVD Gift Set is a great choice for the preschooler in your life. Not only do you get almost 300 minutes of educational animated adventures on two discs, you also get some awesome toys so you can play along with the Octonauts. Little kids will love this set, and as a bonus, they will learn a lot while they watch and play.” Katherine S. adds, “The cool thing about Octonauts: Season 3 Gift Set is that it not only comes with the DVDs, it also comes with two small toy speeders. My favorite episode is The Harbor Seal because the harbor seal is such a fun character and he really helps out other animals.” Selene W. wraps it up with, “The storyline of each episode really brings these adventures to life thanks to the talented team of writers behind this series.  In addition, there is a creative team that brings the art and the storylines together to make each episode a learning adventure as well. The message of this series is to explore life and to rescue and protect the world around us and the things in it.  As we learn about different creatures and different environments we should be aware of how we interact and impact each other.” See their full reviews below.

The Octonauts: Season 3 Gift Set
By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The Octonauts Season 3 DVD Gift Set is a great choice for the preschooler in your life. Not only do you get almost 300 minutes of educational animated adventures on two discs, you also get some awesome toys so you can play along with the Octonauts. Little kids will love this set, and as a bonus, they will learn a lot while they watch and play.

The Octonauts are back for a third season, ready to dive in and learn about creatures in the world’s oceans. They also help protect the animals’ habitats and rescue sea creatures when they need help. All your favorite characters return, like Captain Barnacles and Peso Penguin. They head out from their home base, the Octopod, to carry out their missions all around the globe. At the end of each episode, they sing a “creature report” song to summarize what they’ve learned.

You’ll learn about some common animals in Season 3, such as pelicans and seals, but also some more unusual creatures like water bears, also known as tardigrades. The Octonauts stick to singing “water bear” though, maybe because it’s hard to find a good rhyme for tardigrade! The animation and voice acting is just right to appeal to the target age range and I could definitely see my little cousins watching this over and over.

The message of this series is that you should be curious and bring your own unique skills to work together as a team. Preschoolers will take away not only lots of positive messages but also tons of new information.

I rate this series 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for children ages 2 to 5. The Octonauts: Season 3 is available on DVD August 6, 2019.

Octonauts: Season 3 Gift Set
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This DVD is so enjoyable! It has the cutest animation and best underwater adventures. If you’re a fan of the Octonauts, Season 3 will not disappoint you.  It has 23 awesome episodes.

The Octonauts are a group of animals that explore, rescue and protect.  They encounter a wide variety of animals, from sea pigs to barracudas.  They travel to different parts of the world including the Amazon River and the Mariana Trench.  Episodes include, The Water Bears, The Loggerhead Sea Turtles, The Duck-Billed Platypus, The Pelicans and many more.  The run time is almost 5 hours, so children will be entertained for a long time.

The cool thing about Octonauts: Season 3 Gift Set is that it not only comes with the DVDs, it also comes with two small toy speeders. My favorite episode is The Harbor Seal because the harbor seal is such a fun character and he really helps out other animals.

There are many positive messages throughout the episodes, including being kind to animals, always try to help and the importance of friendship. Octonauts: Season 3 has no bad language and it has no bad behavior. Everyone treats each other kindly. The only dangerous thing that kids might try to do is swim in the deepest part of the ocean.

I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8. Adults will also think the DVD is fun and probably learn as much about different animals as their kids will. This DVD is available now, so look for it.

The Octonauts: Season 3
By Selene Weiss, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

“Let’s Do This!” The Octonauts is an incredibly fun and engaging show which teaches us about the world’s oceans and aquatic life.  The Octonauts team rescues sea creatures and protects the ocean and the life within.  The marine life that the team encounters are based on real animals and habitats around the world.  The Octonauts Season 3 has 23 exciting adventures filled with interesting creatures and underwater fun. 

The Octonauts team is made up of eight diverse characters led by Captain Barnacles whose motto is explore, rescue and protect.  My favorite episode is The Immortal Jellyfish because I love how he is able to transform from an old jellyfish to a new jellyfish over and over.  Who wouldn’t want an immortal life or the chance to relive an adventure?  Octonauts: Season 3 includes fun episodes such as The Artificial Reef, The Sea Skaters and The Urchin Invasion so come aboard with The Octonauts this season and explore.  

The storyline of each episode really brings these adventures to life thanks to the talented team of writers behind this series.  In addition, there is a creative team that brings the art and the storylines together to make each episode a learning adventure as well. The message of this series is to explore life and to rescue and protect the world around us and the things in it.  As we learn about different creatures and different environments we should be aware of how we interact and impact each other. 

I rate this series 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 7.  The DVD releases August 6, 2019 soon so look for it.

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