Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for October, 2019

Harriet – Sincere Tribute to the Real-Life Freedom Fighter Harriet Tubman

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, Harriet tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “Harriet is a sincere tribute to the real-life freedom fighter. Excellent performances and a developed story add layers of entertainment. Anyone interested in documentaries or the subject material must watch this.”  Eva W. adds, “There are a lot of good things to take away from this movie. After seeing this film, I have a very different perspective of Harriet Tubman.  I learned that she was a very strong woman. “ See their full reviews below.

Harriet
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Harriet is a sincere tribute to the real-life freedom fighter. Excellent performances and a developed story add layers of entertainment. Anyone interested in documentaries or the subject material must watch this.

Cynthia Erivo stars as Harriet Tubman in HARRIET, a Focus Features release. Credit: Glen Wilson / Focus Features

The story tells the heroic tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s most influential figures. The film recounts how her courage and intelligence freed hundreds of slaves and changed history as we know it.

Cynthia Erivo, as Harriet Tubman, brings out something award-worthy. This actress of Broadway fame launches her star potential to greater heights as she perfectly captures Tubman’s appearance on top of her distinguishing characteristics. The film is truly a vehicle for Cynthia’s many talents. Other cast members include Leslie Odom Jr. as William Still and Janelle Monae as Marie. While Odom Jr.’s role is relatively one-note as someone Tubman sends runaways to, Monae adds heart to Marie as she settles Tubman for city life. As the film progresses, a heartbreaking scene sticks its landing due to the dynamic between the two.

Zackary Momoh stars as John and Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman in HARRIET, a Focus Features release. Credit: Glen Wilson / Focus Features

Kasi Lemmons aptly directs, as the story is told chronologically. However, the cinematography does leave a little bit more to be desired, as it lacks nuance and something of interest, during extended dialogue-heavy scenes. Due to this, I felt the runtime and was left desiring the thrilling rescues that follow. It is worth mentioning that you must be interested in American history, or else you will truly remain bored during its two-hour runtime. My favorite scene is Tubman’s first escape, because a thrilling scene follows where Tubman jumps downstream into the river rather than get captured. It is truly a testament to Tubman’s courage and agility.

The message of this film is that Tubman always stands for justice and treats even her opponents fairly; really everything Tubman stands for speaks truth in heroic qualities. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 due to violence, thematic content and language, including racial slurs. The movie releases in theaters on November 1, 2019, so check it out.

Harriet
By Eva W. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 10

There are a lot of good things to take away from this movie. After seeing this film, I have a very different perspective of Harriet Tubman.  I learned that she was a very strong woman. 

Cynthia Erivo stars as Harriet Tubman in HARRIET, a Focus Features release. Credit: Glen Wilson / Focus Features

The storyline is about Harriet Tubman’s amazing journey in leading slaves to freedom and how she fought for what she believed in. Harriet Tubman’s real name was Araminta Ross; she chose her new name to symbolize her freedom. Harriet had a very strong belief in God and used that to guide her. She walked 100 miles to reach freedom and made 13 trips getting other slaves to freedom. She freed 70 slaves and traveled 1,300 miles total. The bad guys called her ‘Moses the slave stealer,’ but she was doing the right thing.

Cynthia Erivo stars as Harriet Tubman in HARRIET, a Focus Features release. Credit: Glen Wilson / Focus Features

This film is very well made. Everything looks very realistic and the actors truly embody their characters. Harriet takes place at a farm starting in 1840. The woman who becomes Harriet Tubman began her life as a slave at the Thompson plantation in Maryland. The movie retells the events of her life very accurately. Cynthia Erivo, who gives a wonderful performance, plays Harriet Tubman. Joe Alwyn plays her master, Gideon, who’s portrayal of the bad guy really made me hate him. Janelle Monae plays Marie, a very good friend of Harriet’s. Leslie Odom Jr. plays William Still, who helps Harriet find a home and a job when she gets to freedom.

I give Harriet 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this film for ages 14 to 18, because it has a lot of very violent scenes, including some where people are killed. It also shows how horrible slavery actually was. Some of these scenes are heartbreaking and very difficult to watch. There is also a lot of racially offensive language.

Harriet comes out in theaters November 1, 2019 so be sure to look for it!

Princess Emmy – Magical, Playful Fantasy Of A Young Girl With An Adventurous Spirit.

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Princess Emmy is a young girl with a secret gift – she is the only one in the Kingdom of Kandis who can speak to horses. Up until now, life for Emmy has been wonderful: exploring and hanging out with her best friends (a stable full of horses), spending time with her family at the castle, and not having a care in the world. But when her jealous, scheming cousin Gizana appears and Emmy must undergo the ultimate test to earn the right to keep her gift, she’ll have to stand strong and stay the course in this wonderful, spirited film about courage, perseverance and friendship. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Nathalia J. comments, “Welcome to Emmy’s world. Magical, playful, discovering, and your real-life wonderland. This 78-minute fantasy DVD will take you on an adventure through princess Emmy’s cup of tea with a secret-gift.” Leire G. added, “I really enjoyed the film Princess Emmy, due to its coverage of many important themes and role models for today’s girls. I also enjoyed the creativity of the movie, in both the story-telling and animation. The use of animals in the film is one of my favorite aspects, because it creates a very loving environment for the kids watching.” See their full reviews below.

Princess Emmy
By Nathalia J. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Welcome to Emmy’s world. Magical, playful, discovering, and your real-life wonderland. This 78-minute fantasy DVD will take you on an adventure through princess Emmy’s cup of tea with a secret-gift.

Written by Sergio Casci and directed by Piet De Rycker, the story follows Emmy and her friendly and trustworthy stable of horses. Princess Emmy is a young, adventurous girl with a secret, a secret gift that is. Emmy is the only person in the Kingdom of Kandis who can communicate to horses. Life for Emmy has been wonderful; exploring and hanging out with her pals. That is until her jealous and rude cousin Gizana appears and Emmy must experience the ultimate challenge to earn the right to keep her gift. She has to stand strong. Emmy must go through a series of confusing test to find out if her secret is worth to keep.

The lead characters in this DVD are Princess Emmy, voiced by Ruby Barnhill, Princess Gizana , voiced by Bella Ramsey, David, voiced by Nathan Mack, Ceasar,voiced by Joel Fry and many more enjoyable cast.

My favorite character is Princess Emmy, because she is brave, daring, and not like any other Princess. Princess Emmy likes to get messy sometimes, as well as getting wild, dress the way she feels comfortable in. My favorite part in the film would be when Princess Emmy is in the stables and she is quietly reading. She noticed a bright light and a smell that tied up her nostrils. She heads down to the basement, discreetly following the smell and light when she is being circled by the light and is frightened at first but then exclaims “let’s take an adventure!” to her horses. This part is my favorite because it proves how brave and adventurous Princess Emmy is.

I really enjoyed the film Princess Emmy, due to its coverage of many important themes and role models for today’s girls. I also enjoyed the creativity of the movie, in both the storytelling and animation. The use of animals in the film is one of my favorite aspects, because it creates a very loving environment for the kids watching.

The animation and vocal performances are very well chosen. The film is set in a very ordinary atmosphere on a modern-day Kingdom. I admire the art department for creating such a vibrant and imaginative aspect of this DVD. The colors on the pony stall, to the way the castles design and colors shined at the top of a mountain was simply beautiful. The music in this film provided me with different emotions and had a sense of freedom. 

This DVD shares many important messages, such as Emmy being a strong princess, working hard and helping those around her. Just simply being yourself and Emmy work towards her goal of proving her self-worth. This DVD has no false language or any dangerous activity’s that younger kids might try to imitate.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 – 11, but adults might enjoy it as well. Princess Emmy is available now on DVD, make sure to get yours!

Princess Emmy 
By Leire G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I really enjoyed the film Princess Emmy, due to its coverage of many important themes and role models for today’s girls. I also enjoyed the creativity of the movie, in both the story-telling and animation. The use of animals in the film is one of my favorite aspects, because it creates a very loving environment for the kids watching. 

Princess Emmy tells the story of a young princess, living in the Kingdom of Kandis, who has a secret — she is the only girl who can talk and understand horses. She lives in a palace where she gets to explore and play with her friends – a stable full of amazing horses. Her life has been perfect until the arrival of her cousin Gizana who challenges and competes with Emmy, putting at risk her chances of becoming an officially princess. The film traces the ups and downs Emmy faces and the challenges she must overcome in order to earn the right to keep her gift. 

Written by Sergio Casci and directed by Piet De Rycker, the film is set in a very natural environment on a modern day kingdom. This is important to the plot because Emmy’s home is a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain, where she runs and explores freely with her horses. This setting helps create a feeling of freedom and easiness as well as providing the animals in the film with a lot of liberty. The music in this film is very well chosen, as it intensifies the magical aspect of the movie by adding the sounds of sparkles or fairy dust. 

Princess Emmy has a very beautiful ending which leaves the audience valuing the importance of friendship. This film explores the seriousness of being nice to one another, despite the challenges you are facing. Princess Emmy provides a great example for little girls because it presents Emmy as a strong princess who works hard to help those around her, while working towards her goal of proving her self worth. 

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars because of its creativity and well-presented theme.  I recommend this film for ages 4 to 12, but adults might enjoy it also. Princess Emmy is available now on DVD, make sure to get yours! 

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound * Uncovers The Hidden World Of Cinematic Sound

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

Directed by veteran Hollywood sound editor Midge Costin, the critically acclaimed, award-winning Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound goes behind the scenes to reveal the hidden power of sound in cinema; to introduce us to the unsung heroes who create it; to experience their behind-the-scenes creative genius; and to hear insights from the entertainment industry’s most legendary directors with whom they collaborate.

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound reveals the hidden power of sound in cinema . . . and our lives. Through film clips, interviews and archival footage–an enlightening and nostalgic look at many of Hollywood’s biggest box office hits–the film captures the history, impact and unique creative process of this overlooked art form and the artists behind it. Filled with insights from legendary directors–including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, David Lynch, Ang Lee, Sofia Coppola and Ryan Coogler, among others–who share revealing stories about the award-winning work their sound collaborators help to create.

In Making Waves, we witness the wild creativity of some of the industry’s most-respected key sound designers–including Oscar winners Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now), Ben Burtt (Star Wars), Gary Rydstrom (Saving Private Ryan) and Lora Hirschberg (Inception); and Oscar-nominees Cece Hall (Top Gun), Anna Behlmer (Braveheart) and Bobbi Banks (Selma)–who, in pursuing their art and desire to push the medium, are the very people who will go down in the history of cinema as developing sound into the immersive storytelling force it is today. Audiences will discover many unsung collaborators for the key creative artists they are, in a domain that has for too long been characterized as “technical.”

Producer/director Midge Costin holds the Kay Rose Chair in the Art of Sound Editing, endowed by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts. Launching her career at a time when very few women were cutting FX in Hollywood, Costin’s credits as a sound editor include such Oscar-nominated films as Crimson Tide and Armageddon.

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound 
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

Anna Behlmer at mix console
Anna Behlmer at mix console

The greatest crime in the world of cinema is against the world of sound. Despite sound making up half of every film from the last century, it receives one measly percent of attention from the audience and film industry. This documentary uncovers the hidden world of cinematic sound in its history, its art and its complexity – showing a side of film one has never been seen before. 

Burtt Richard Anderson recording voice of Chewbacca
Ben Burtt, Richard Anderson recording voice of Chewbacca

Although being a documentary with a core purpose of education, its masterful editing and layout makes it an entertaining experience for those who have a passion for film and those who have seen very few films in their lives. Instead of simply looking at the technical aspects of sound editing and sound design, Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound makes a relatable documentary by looking at the people who simply wish to discuss their deep passion for the art of sound. This allows the film to incorporate drama, action, intensity and even comedy while still teaching the audience about sound in cinema. 

Ben Burrt recording lightsaber
Ben Burrt recording lightsaber

Starting with the roar of 1933s King Kong to the drumming of Black Panther (2018), this documentary explores in depth the big revolutions of sound design in film throughout history. Some particularly fascinating references include the wholly organic sound design of every creature, explosion and spaceship in Star Wars (1977) and the quiet artful water-splashing in Roma (2018). Not only that, but the documentary also discusses the many branches of cinematic sound. From dialogue editing to SFX and even ambiance (sounds of the environment), each department of the soundscape of cinema gets covered in this documentary. 

My favorite part of the film lies towards the end and features Ben Burtt, a sound designer who has worked on several Star Wars films, Indiana Jones films, Wall-E, and much more, garnering him two Academy Awards. Yet, despite his many achievements, his discussion about his life makes his interview so unforgettable. Burtt discusses how after winning an Oscar for his first project, Star Wars: A New Hope, he felt massive pressure to maintain that success in future projects. Not only that, he discusses his challenges in separating from work and returning home every day for dinner. This segment gives an intimate hidden look at the intimate challenge many artists in the film world face: disconnecting from their craft. The scene truly humanizes these sound designers and editors as people too, with lives that exist distinctly outside filmmaking. 

Ai Ling Lee at console
Ai Ling Lee at console

Midge Costin, the director and producer of this documentary has taught at the world-famous USC School of Cinematic Arts for many years and it shows – one can enter with no knowledge of sound in cinema and come out nearly an expert. Watching a film after this documentary feels distinctly different because the secret subtlety of the many brilliant aspects of sound design now become clear. After watching this documentary, one can begin to understand the impressive complexity that sound artists go to in developing a world in a film, on the subconscious level. Not only that, the documentary presents ideas in a very visual way. Even technical concepts such as the difference between mono, stereo, four-point and modern Dolby 5.1 surround sound can easily be understood by hearing it in auditory examples, but also in visually showing how the different systems operate. Truly, this documentary takes the massive subject of cinematic sound and breaks it down into simple subjects that nearly anyone can understand. 

Walter Murch mixing Apocalypse
Walter Murch mixing Apocalypse

This documentary tailors ideally to adults, young and old, although older kids will also enjoy this thoroughly. For that reason, I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults. I give Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound a solid 5 out of 5 stars for making an entertaining, profound and enlightening experience that truly engulfs one into the extensive soundscape of cinema. Premiering in theaters in Los Angeles and New York City Oct. 25, the film will then roll out in cities across the country.

Gabby Duran & The Unsittables * Unpredictably Funny Transformation Between Alien and Human

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

A girl finally finds her moment to shine when she inadvertently lands an out-of-this-world job to baby-sit an unruly group of very important extraterrestrial children who are hiding out on Earth with their families, disguised as everyday kids. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Milika L., comments, “Gabby Duran & The Unsittables is entertaining! The transformation between alien and human is unpredictably funny. The green Gorman had me anticipating the next alien. I am ready for the next episode.” See her full review below.

Gabby Duran & The Unsittables
By Milika Lomu, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 11

Gabby Duran & The Unsittables is entertaining! The transformation between alien and human is unpredictably funny. The green Gorman had me anticipating the next alien. I am ready for the next episode.

The story is based on the novel by Elise Allen and Daryle Conners. Kirby Buckets’ Mike Alber and Gabe Snyder serve as showrunners as well as executive producers alongside Just Add Magic’s Joe Nussbaum.

The series focuses on 12 year old stylish and confident Gabby Duran (Kylie Cantrall) who constantly feels like she’s living in the shadows of her lucrative mother and brainy little sister. Gabby lands an out-of-this-world job as a babysitter to a group of peculiar, extraterrestrial aliens who are hiding on Earth disguised as everyday kids. Resourceful Gabby steps up to the challenge to protect these aliens and their secret identities. She proves to be the best sitter ever.

I was committed to the visual effects waiting to see what Jeremy, played by Callan Farris was going to morph into. Without giving too much away, whatever Jeremy eats he turns into. No doubt my favorite character is Gabby Duran played by YouTube sensation Kylie Cantrall. She is definitely setting trends in this episode. Her outfits from the neon orange distressed jacket to the aloha knee length shorts give a 90’s vibe most definitely. One of my favorite scenes is when Gabby meets Jeremy for the first time and beats him up with a rake. There were so many funny scenes, but you will have to watch it. 

Beside the message that I need some knee-length purple camo shorts in my life… having a good attitude is crucial. Making the best of where you are is a game changer. It’s emphasized the importance to always be yourself, because the right people will like you. I give this series 5 out of 5 stars and recommend this for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. My mom actually enjoyed watching this and she laughed along with me. Be sure to watch Gabby Duran & the Unsittables beginning October 11, 2019 on the Disney channel.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil * Magnificent Performances, Beautiful Art Direction, Wandering Script

Friday, October 18th, 2019

Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jolleen M. comments, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is totally intriguing because of how unpredictable the storyline is. The writers applied their creativity and the CGI brings it all to life. The visuals along with the emotional impact made watching this film an exciting experience.” Benjamin P. adds, “The film doesn’t give Angelina Jolie much to do this time around and I was surprised at the scarce amount of dialogue she is given. Jolie is magnetic onscreen and the film should have utilized her powerful presence more.” Jordan M. chimes in with, “This movie successfully switches between the happy and dark sides of the ongoing feud with the mythical creatures and the humans. Also, the amount of effort and detail that went into the art direction and special effects pays off to make the film even better.” Zoe C. comments, “The story flows very nicely; it is like watching how a great fairy tale comes to life in the big screen, but Maleficent: Mistress of Evil doesn’t take us beyond the impact of the first movie.” Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer concludes with, “I give this film 3 of 5 stars for its lack of character development and a shifting storyline. The casting is exemplary, especially the humorous takes when Maleficent is made to be more human. Costumes, hair and makeup are stunning. Make no mistake; some of the scenes will be scary to younger children. There is a lot of CGI violence and many off-screen deaths.” See their full reviews below.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

In 2014, when I was 6, I cried so emotionally at a movie for the first time during one of the climactic scenes of Maleficent. That origin story made a great point showing where this classic villain came from. Now, at 11, I am sure there is evil in this world, and that it can be found where is not expected.

Elle Fanning is Aurora, Angelina Jolie is Maleficent and Sam Riley is Diaval in Disney’s live-action MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL

In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, a new sequel to the live-action film, the story starts with Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) having a happily ever after godmother-goddaughter relationship. But when Aurora decides to marry Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), Maleficent’s instincts trigger a war. Will Aurora marry the Prince and find true love?

Angelina Jolie is again the perfect Maleficent: she is sarcastic and funny, wise, sensitive and evil. She portrays all these different qualities so well. Another performance I enjoyed is Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Conall, a male fairy from the Dark Fay. He shows the beauty of being a true leader in a very subtle tone, and it is an original character from the traditional Disney film. Michelle Pfieffer is very charming as Queen Ingrith, and the dinner scene where she is confronted by Maleficent shows a very interesting encounter from two powerful actresses.

The visuals in the film are beautiful:  The costumes are stunning and the whole movie is so beautiful to watch. We see the splendor of castles and the reign of the humans. The Dark Fay is this obscure underground place that despite its dreary appearance becomes a place for truth. The music from Geoff Zanelli enhances the scenes transporting us to this mythical place.

Elle Fanning is Aurora in Disney’s live-action MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL

The story flows very nicely; it is like watching how a great fairy tale comes to life in the big screen, but Maleficent: Mistress of Evil doesn’t take us beyond the impact of the first movie. It is very well done and reiterates there’s no black or white but areas of gray. The message of this film is that love does not always end well.

I give Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16. It releases in theatres on October 18, 2019.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
By Jolleen Mejia, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is totally intriguing because of how unpredictable the storyline is. The writers applied their creativity and the CGI brings it all to life. The visuals along with the emotional impact made watching this film an exciting experience.

This film is the sequel to Maleficent (2014). It is best to watch Maleficent first and then watch Maleficent: Mistress of Evil to have a better understanding. This series is based on the story of Sleeping Beauty and the writers add their own twists, so you might be unfamiliar with the plot even if you know the plot of Sleeping Beauty. The story starts off with Prince Philip’s proposal to Aurora. Their marriage will unite two kingdoms, the Moors and Ulstead. The problem is that the queens of the kingdoms are not on good terms so the marriage does not happen smoothly.

Angelina Jolie plays the powerful and bold Maleficent. Angelina Jolie is perfectly cast for this role with her strong cheekbones and how she commands all the attention. Through subtle changes in her eyes and facial expressions she shows a lot of emotion. Elle Fanning plays sweet and innocent Aurora. Fanning is a wonderful actor as well who can be soft and tough at the same time.

Harris Dickinson is Prince Phillip, Elle Fanning is Aurora, Robert Lindsay is King John and Michelle Pfeiffer is Queen Ingrith in Disney’s live-action MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL

The CGI of the fairies and creatures is very realistic. They are colorful and the habitat that they live in is pleasing to look at as well. I especially love the CGI for Maleficent’s wings. They move as one with Angelina Jolie and also help convey her emotions. Maleficent goes through many costume changes and they are all stunning, even though they have a limited number of colors to work with. The costumes highlight her power and confidence. The costumes for Aurora are very flowery and emphasize her innocence. The costumes for Aurora are also symbolic later on in the film.

I simply cannot choose a favorite part of the film. There are so many parts where I cried and laughed. I don’t want to spoil anything so all I can say is that I love the scenes where Maleficent gets to use her strong wings.

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent, Sam Riley is Diaval, Jenn Murray is Gerda, Harris Dickinson is Prince Phillip, Elle Fanning is Aurora, Robert Lindsay is King John and Michelle Pfeiffer is Queen Ingrith in Disney’s live-action MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL.

There are multiple prominent messages and even more underlying messages that can be found in this film. One of the main messages is about looking past appearances to communicate with others. Many of the humans judge the creatures based on what they look like. They stereotype and assume the actions of these creatures, which creates unnecessary apprehension. This can also be applied to our world today, so it is wonderful that the film brings awareness to this problem.

I love the crazy ride that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has brought me on and you will love it too! I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Even Disney adult fans will enjoy this. Be sure to watch when it comes out in theaters on October 18, 2019.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
By Benjamin Price, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil explores the world of its archetypal big-bad title character—the witch from the iconic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty—but fans who met her in Disney’s 2014 live action film will be disappointed with the overstuffed plot and uneven tone in this film.

Michelle Pfeiffer is Queen Ingrith and David Gyasi is Percival in Disney’s live-action MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL.

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) protects the Moors, a place inhabited by a vast array of magical creatures from fairies to humanoid trees. Her daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) accepts a marriage proposal from Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), prompting talks of peace and unity between the Moors and Phillip’s kingdom. Maleficent wearily meets her daughter’s in-laws, King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). The already tense evening escalates when King John becomes cursed and Maleficent is believed to be at fault. She flees, but Aurora refuses to go with her. Maleficent goes on a journey of self-discovery and must restore order between humankind and her kind.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is so steadfast in the gritty approach it takes to its fairy tale world; it often undermines the magic that makes these stories so enduringly popular. When it comes to fairy tales, realism and gloom is not what has kept them in the public consciousness for centuries.

Maleficent does have some high points. The costume and production design are phenomenal, further suspending you in this world. There are some pretty awe-inspiring shots from Maleficent’s point of view as she soars through the sky. There are also some interesting ideas about family and parenting here; far more interesting than the exploits of the tribe of fellow fairies Maleficent meets. If any of the individual ideas presented were given room to breathe and develop, the film would be much better for it. Instead, there’s a lack of focus that clouds much of the runtime and it’s clear the film doesn’t quite know what it wants to accomplish. They pack too many characters and subplots into one film.

Michelle Pfeiffer is Queen Ingrith and Jenn Murray is Gerda in Disney’s live-action MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL.

One of the costs is screen-time for Maleficent. The film doesn’t give Angelina Jolie much to do this time around and I was surprised at the scarce amount of dialogue she is given. When she’s training herself to smile or going verbally head-to-head with Queen Ingrith, Jolie shines. Jolie is magnetic onscreen and the film should have utilized her powerful presence more. One consolation though is Michelle Pfeiffer delving into the role of a villain. Her passive-aggressive manner mixes well with a jaded, nihilistic worldview and she’s a lot of fun to watch.

I recommend Maleficent: Mistress of Evil for ages 11 to 17 due to mass fantasy violence. For a film about peace and togetherness, it’s pretty violent and pushes the envelope on its PG rating. I give it 1.5 out of 5 stars. The film comes out in theaters October 18, 2019.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 
By Jordan Millar, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

https://abc13.com/entertainment/sandy-kenyon-reviews-maleficent-mistress-of-evil/5628944/

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a very emotional and fantastical movie with a unique take on the classic fairytale of Sleeping Beauty. Since I saw the first live-action Maleficent movie and the original Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, I was really eager to see how the second Maleficent would compare to those, and this sequel does them justice. I am glad that we get to know more about Maleficent, the “villain” of the story. 

Michelle Pfeiffer is Queen Ingrith and David Gyasi is Percival in Disney’s live-action MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL.

This movie successfully switches between the happy and dark sides of the ongoing feud with the mythical creatures and the humans. Also, the amount of effort and detail that went into the art direction and special effects pays off to make the film even better. From the sets to the mysterious woodland creatures, everything is colorful, vibrant and beautifully detailed, which makes it feel like you are in another world. 

It is fun to see Angelina Jolie play Maleficent again because she provides the perfect balance of strength and sweetness. The movie also introduces us to many new characters, such as Prince Phillip’s evil mother, Queen Ingrith, and the Dark Fey, a group of winged creatures similar to Maleficent. 

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil spends a lot of time on the execution of the Queen’s plot to take down Maleficent and other magical creatures, but never really explains how the Queen is able to get the information she needs to fulfill her plan. Some parts of the plot needed to be developed more but seemed rushed to get to the epic battle scene. Also, because there is so much going on with the battle plot, there isn’t really an opportunity to find out a lot more about Maleficent. The first film was all about Maleficent, which is what made it so great. In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, her character is more on the sidelines up until the end. 

The moral of this movie is that anyone can be good or bad and not to judge a book by its cover, because villains can come in many different forms.

The film has a lot of beautiful visuals and lighthearted magic, but there are also some very dark scenes. I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, as well as adults. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil hits theaters on Friday October 18, 2019 so check it out.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
By Kimbirly Orr, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is the great bad queen! As you may recall, Maleficent is the evil queen from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. As her character came to life, it is a dark reminder of how electric this actress is, and how good it is to be bad! 

Jolie rocked this role in 2014’s Maleficent, a film re-imagined from the character’s point-of-view. It was dark and scary, and the costumes reminded me of Halloween.

This film centers on a clash between Maleficent and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), Mother of Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), a human royal from a nearby kingdom who wants to marry Aurora (Elle Fanning), Maleficent’s human goddaughter. 

While Aurora is Queen of the Moors and she and Prince Phillip both prefer peace to violence; their hope of building a bridge between the human kingdom and the magical creatures that live on the moors is not to be.

What should have been a celebratory engagement dinner becomes a waged war. Queen Ingrith’s disrespect begins with her meal choice and escalates to providing iron cutlery, which equates to death to faeries. Throughout the verbal barbs which ensue, there are references to racist and current political regimes, including the current U.S. border crisis.

Maleficent is injured and saved by another winged creature. She awakes to learn she is not the single of her kind. In fact, the story gets a bit disjointed as a back story is revealed to explain the change of venue, and introduces hundreds of winged creatures from all over the planet.

As Maleficent’s new tribe decides to fight, Queen Ingrith is preparing for war far below the royal castle walls. The intricate detail to new characters and warfare means the fight is ahead and the architect is revealed. In the beginning, we are lead to believe Maleficent is evil, dark and scary – oh contraire! Maleficent has scary powers, but the true villain is yet to be divulged.   

The costumes are beautiful, especially the makeup on Angelina Jolie, which is spectacular. The story moves about a lot. In fact, I feel it harms character development. It’s Disney so, of course, there is a cute furry animal that will become plush merchandising gold.

I give this film 3 of 5 stars for its lack of character development and a shifting storyline. The casting is exemplary, especially the humorous takes when Maleficent is made to be more human. Costumes, hair and makeup are stunning. This film will appeal to ages 9 to 18, and introduces elements of Sleeping Beauty. Make no mistake; some of the scenes will be scary to younger children. There is a lot of CGI violence and many off-screen deaths. It opens in theaters October 18, 2019 so check it out.

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