Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for September, 2020

Camp Arrowhead * Heartwarming, Inspiring Message, Never lose Hope

Friday, September 18th, 2020

19-year-old Sophie Walker attends a summer camp to help her get over the loss of her mother. She attends as a worker and is initially made fun of by some rich girls at the camp. But when the rich girls realize they need another girl for the archery team, they invite Sophie to join. Meanwhile, Sophie has met a mysterious man in the forest named Percy who claims to be an archery coach. Sophie gets Percy the job as team coach and Percy proceeds to turn the girls into lethal archers. Along the way, Percy also helps Sophie come to terms with the loss of her mother – in an unexpected and magical way. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Carlee S. comments, “Camp Arrowhead is a heartwarming film with an inspiring message. It is a story about overcoming tragedy and never losing hope. When you have friends and you work together, sometimes miracles happen. It is a fast-paced film with lots of laughter and adventure.” Katie F., adds, “The production is very professionally made and the cast are incredible. Chloe Lukasiak (Dance Moms) plays her performance as the stuck-up, posh and snobby brat, Devon Dupree, especially well. Tori Keeth (Henry Danger) takes on the lead role as the heart broken Sophie Walker, with great emotion and feeling.” Calee N. adds, “Camp Arrowhead is a family-friendly film filled with laughs, drama and the hope that you have an open-mind.” Sammi B. wraps it up with, “The message in this film is that kindness and forgiveness (especially of yourself) will make everything better. It feels religious by using symbols such as a cross and angel and talking about heaven. The message is positive. I just don’t like that everyone’s problems are solved so easily at the end.” See their full reviews below.

Camp Arrowhead
By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Camp Arrowhead is a heartwarming film with an inspiring message. It is a story about overcoming tragedy and never losing hope. When you have friends and you work together, sometimes miracles happen. It is a fast-paced film with lots of laughter and adventure. 

The storyline is about 19-year-old Sophie Walker (Tori Keeth) who recently lost her mother and volunteers at a summer camp to avoid staying with her cousins.  A kind and mysterious man named Percy (Donnie William) gives her and her friend archery lessons and they both become ace archers. The camp bully, Devin Dupree (Chloe Lukasiak), really wants to win the archery competition and she is determined to win the competition no matter what. Along the way, Sophie comes to terms with her loss, in an unexpected and magical way.

One of my favorite parts of the film is the talent show scene. The songs are beautifully written and performed.  Sophie sings a heartfelt song that touches everyone dearly. The emotions she expresses and the lyrics of the song really pull you in and grab your attention. Percy sings an upbeat song that leaves everyone feeling good and lifts the mood. Other characters also give talented performances.  Chloe Lukasiak portrays her role as the bully in a believable way.  Jennifer Aquino who plays Candace and Carter Southern who plays Tyler also bring their characters to life. The campground setting is perfect for the film. The natural setting, the camp buildings and the archery equipment really makes it all seem very real. I really enjoyed watching the characters develop and grow while they at camp. 

The messages in this film are about forgiveness and love always prevail. Forgiveness allows peace and love and leaves viewers with hope.

I give Camp Arrowhead 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this movie to ages 7 to 16, plus adults. This film is available now on digital channels including iTunes, Amazon digital, Google play, Vudu and FandangoNow.

Camp Arrowhead
By Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I really enjoyed this fun and adventurous movie! Camp Arrowhead is set in an authentic American summer camp. The actors all give genuine and believable performances. The film delivers a positive emotional message and feel-good factor.

This story follows 19-year-old Sophie (Tori Keeth), whose mother has recently passed away and she hasn’t been the same since. She joins her best friend, April (Joy Regullano), to work at Camp Arrowhead as her father thinks it would be a good idea for her to work through her grief. She wanders into the wood and meets an unusual old man who might just offer the help she needs and, when the archery team require some new recruits, Sophie and April are up for the task. They join the archery team and learn about the importance of family, friendship and teamwork. 

The production is very professionally made and the cast are incredible. Chloe Lukasiak (Dance Moms) plays her performance as the stuck-up, posh and snobby brat, Devon Dupree, especially well. Tori Keeth (Henry Danger) takes on the lead role as the heart broken Sophie Walker, with great emotion and feeling. Donnie Williams plays the role of Percy, a character who is mysterious and helpful in a warm and friendly manner.  The supporting cast are great and each plays their role to a high standard, adding to the overall performance.  The set is very realistic and in keeping with the storyline.  I especially love the cabins. They look so warm and cozy. The music helps set the scenes whilst not distracting from the movie, and the character performances. My favorite part is towards the end of the film when Percy leaves a surprise gift, that leads Sophie to a very special place. I don’t want to spoil it for you all, so can’t say any more than that. 

The message of the film is of uplifting friendship, and that time helps to heal emotional pain. We watch the girls struggle through a social divide, initially clashing, then put their differences aside and forming a bond through teamwork. It also teaches us the importance of forgiveness, no matter what you’ve done. 

I give Camp Arrowhead5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 15, plus adults. This film is available now on digital channels including iTunes, Amazon digital, google play, Vudu , and FandangoNow.

Camp Arrowhead
By Calee N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Camp Arrowhead is a family-friendly film filled with laughs, drama and the hope that you have an open-mind.

With Sophie’s dad going away for work all summer long, she decides to work at Camp Arrowhead with her close friend for the summer. Camp life has its challenges, especially since Sophie’s mom died just a few months ago. With the help of new friends and a mysterious older man named Percy, Sophie learns the art of competitive archery and the gift of being able to communicate with her mom. 

I enjoyed this movie because the plot is unpredictable and has a happy ending. Directors Timothy Armstrong and Fernando De La Cruz created a movie that generates a range of emotions. The magical theme was a surprise and includes some plot twists. Actor Donnie Williams’ performance as Percy makes the magical character believable, while at the same time creating a well-loved movie character. Tori Keeth, who plays Sophie, creates a character that you hope will be able to find happiness.  With the strong supporting cast you find yourself  rooting for multiple people. The cinematographer, Ferguson Sauve-Rogan supports the film’s message by creating authentic settings that carry the magical and realistic theme throughout the movie.

A common theme of the movie is to believe in yourself and have faith. Many of the characters in the movie confront and overcome difficult obstacles. Although the movie promotes many positive messages, some subtle racial inequity exists. Most likely this is not what the producers wanted, but it provides a good opportunity to bring awareness to discrimination in films and creates the chance to have an open and honest conversation about racism.

I rate Camp Arrowhead 4.5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 14. You can watch Camp Arrowheadnowon iTunes, Amazon digital, Google Play, Vudu and FandangoNow.

Camp Arrowhead
By Samantha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Camp Arrowhead is a new feature film aimed at tween girls about friendship and loss that reminds me of a Disney Channel movie, but falls short. I wanted to like this film, but the pacing feels slow and the writing is awkward. The movie also solves all of its characters’ problems too easily.

The storyline is about a 19-year-old girl, Sophie Walker (Tori Keeth), whose mother died a few months ago. She is angry at herself because she argued with her mom before she died and Sophie never had a chance to make up. Her friend is going work at Camp Arrowhead and invites Sophie to join her. At camp she ends up making friends with the rich mean girl campers, finds romance with the camp director’s grandson who is in a wheelchair, and makes peace with her mom’s death with help from a special friend.

The sets and locations are realistic. The costumes quickly identify teen girls at a summer camp. There are some special effects at the end, but they are not very high tech. My favorite character is Sophie’s friend April (Joy Regullano), who is very upbeat and nice to everyone. The other lead character is Devin (Chloe Lukasiak), who is a stereotypical mean rich girl who is under lots of pressure to win at archery from her mean mom. She changes after she invites Sophie and April to join the archery team and they become friends. The movie has a strong moral message that is delivered through an older character, Percy, whom we later learn is not what he first appears to be. My favorite part of the film is the montage where Percy teaches the girls archery.

The message in this film is that kindness and forgiveness (especially of yourself) will make everything better. It feels religious by using symbols such as a cross and angel and talking about heaven. The message is positive. I just don’t like that everyone’s problems are solved so easily at the end. Most of the negative behavior such as revenge and cheating is handled when characters apologize or have consequences like getting disqualified.

I give this movie 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 through 14.  This film is available now on digital channels including iTunes, Amazon digital, google play, Vudu, and FandangoNow.

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Daniel Robey, Founder and CEO, ThinkJam, Shares His Thoughts on Marketing Entertainment

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

Enjoy Eshaan M.’s interview with Daniel Robey, Founder and CEO, ThinkJam. Over the last 20 years, Daniel Robey has built and skillfully steered multiple businesses to great success in the entertainment space. As CEO of Think Jam he has created one of the most agile and pioneering marketing firms in the industry, from scratch and without investment. From a two-person startup it has grown into an international award-winning agency, with a formidable workforce of more than 100 people and offices in London and Los Angeles.

Robey’s skill in forging long, successful relationships with some of the biggest companies in the world has been valuable in an industry characterized by its volatility. That resilience is borne out of his commitment to innovation; this in turn has established him as a technological thought leader, with numerous published articles that outline his bold vision for the future. In 2017 he was asked to join the board of BIFA, and he is also a regular judge of Eurobest (part of Cannes Lions) and the Clio Awards.

His natural entrepreneurial skills were honed at Manchester Metropolitan University (1st class honors) and then at Harvard Business School, where he spent three years on the prestigious Owner/President Management program. His commitment to the disruption of marketing practices has seen him invited to participate in numerous panels and events, including the Youth Marketing Conference, where he has sought to instill his passion for digital innovation in a new generation of entrepreneurs. 

ThinkJam is an award-winning digital creative and PR agency based in central London, serving clients in the UK, US, and internationally. ThinkJam’s clients include 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros., TikTok, HBO, Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures.  

Interviewed by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

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Candy Planet * Vibrant Colors, Unique Story, Great Animation, Perfect for School-Age Kids

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

A getaway for an awesome summer vacation with Rainy and her mom turns into something else.  When Rainy’s mother is accidentally turned into a living candy it is up to Rainy to save her mom from a world of outrageous characters in the sweetest places – Candy Planet. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Candy Planet is an interesting animated movie that younger kids will definitely find entertaining. It is somewhat predictable and some of the characters are kind of strange. The dubbing is very good and lines up pretty well with the animation.” Leandro R. adds, “Candy Planet is a 3D animated movie with a unique story. It has great animation and lots of bright colors throughout. It is a fun movie with lots of emotion. Due to the short run time of the movie, it seems very fast paced, but that doesn’t stop it from being a good film.” Tor F., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer adds, “I enjoy the vibrant color scheme of the animated film, Candy Planet. There is a copious amount of neon and bright colors. It visually appealing to me, so I assume it will also be appealing for children.” See their full reviews below.

Candy Planet
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Candy Planet is an interesting animated movie that younger kids will definitely find entertaining. It is somewhat predictable and some of the characters are kind of strange. The dubbing is very good and lines up pretty well with the animation.

The storyline is about a young girl, Rainie and her mom who go to a magical jungle for a vacation. They find a mysterious present outside their door and discover it is a magical camera that turns people into candy! Rainie’s mom turns into a living chocolate bar, and to save her, Rainie and her friends fly to her rescue and get dragged to Candy Planet. There they meet Gordon who is not who he seems. Find out what else happens when you watch Candy Planet.

This movie is aimed at a younger audience, because the humor is basic and the storyline is simple. Even though it is somewhat predictable, it is an original idea, and I appreciate that. The movie’s dialogue was initially in Chinese, so it is dubbed in English and it syncs up better than I expected. The animation is well produced. It looks similar to other animated movies, but has a uniqueness of its own. The characters are not very well-developed. There is little background on the characters and you have to guess what their relationships are. Speaking of characters, my favorite is Powderpup, the candy dog that they meet along the way. He is adorably cute.

The primary messages are about friendship and teamwork. Even though this movie is aimed at showing the importance of friendship, Rainie does make rude remarks towards her friends.

I give Candy Planet 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. It is available now on Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNow and other streaming platforms.

Candy Planet
Leandro R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Candy Planet is a 3D animated movie with a unique story. It has great animation and lots of bright colors throughout. It is a fun movie with lots of emotion. Due to the short run time of the movie (75 mins.), it seems very fast paced, but that doesn’t stop it from being a good film. I also really like the villain of the movie.

The storyline is about a girl named Rainie (Cherami Leigh) and her friends getting transported to a world inhabited by candy people after her mom gets turned into a candy. Rainie and her friends have to go through tests to turn her mom back into a human. The villain of the movie, Gordon (Todd Haberkorn), is the leader of the candy planet and tries to get Rainie to lose her friends and her belief in friendship. The only complaint I have with this movie is that it’s never explained how Rainie became friends with the blue jungle people. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the story.

The voice actors in the film are very good, especially Cherami Leigh who plays Rainie. She gives a fantastic performance, which is probably due to her extensive voice acting experience. I also really liked Robbie Daymond’s performance. The voice actors are the best part of the movie as they really stand out. The animation is excellent as well; I really like all the colors in the movie. They make the movie feel more fun and playful. I also really like movies that are 3D animated. My favorite scene is when they’re running on different planets, trying to get to the test.

The main theme of the movie is about friendship and how important it is. Throughout the movie, Rainie is tempted by Gordon that she doesn’t need her friends and that they slow her down. Although friendship is a strong theme in a lot of animated movies, I think Candy Planet utilizes that theme particularly well. The film doesn’t have anything that parents would worry about except a couple of fight scenes, which aren’t too bad.

I give this movie 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 10. You can find Candy Planet now on iTunes, Amazon digital, Google Play, Vudu and FandangoNow.

Candy Planet
By Tor F., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror, age 22

I enjoy the vibrant color scheme of the animated film, Candy Planet. There is a copious amount of neon and bright colors. It visually appealing to me, so I assume it will also be appealing for children. Sometimes there are unnecessary scenes that slow down the pace of the high energy adventure. For example, when the film cross-cuts between the adventure and the residents of candy planet, I know it is necessary to show both places, but it seems as if the candy planet scenes are there to add runtime rather than give the viewer information.

The storyline is about a mysterious robot appearing and zapping Rainie’s mother, Eileen, into a piece of candy. Rainie and her friends follow the robot to discover it  is trying to take Eileen back to the candy planet. Along the way, Rainie and her friends discover the truth about candy planet’s existence and during their adventure, they learn the meaning of friendship.

I like how the viewer is omniscient while the characters are more restricted in their knowledge of the candy planet’s ruler, Gordon’s true intentions. This technique may reduce the surprise of the “big reveal,” but the viewer still experiences tension while the characters discover Gordon’s motive. The film starts in the middle of things, which makes the viewer intrigued instantly. Besides the extra added fluff, which can be easily looked over, it’s still a good storyline. Everything gets explained thoroughly.

This film is animated and doesn’t employ an array of varied camera angles. With the action scenes, of course we receive some medium and close-ups that connect us with specific characters emotions, but other than that the camerawork is fairly simple. The costumes that Rainie’s friends wear are ornate and correlate with her friends being from an otherworldly jungle, hence their skin is blue. I like the various different planets and how each one has a specific theme. One is frozen; one has attacking candies which resemble Venus flytraps; one is a molten lava planet. Each planet also presents a different obstacle the characters need to overcome.

The music and sound effects work well. Both appropriately connect to the scenes in which they are paired. The music in the dance scene that Rainie and Gordon share is upbeat; each time they step on a button it beeps to the beat. Fun fact, the character that voices Rainie, Cherami Leigh, is an adult and not a child. Leigh’s range in voice-acting is great. The key influencers are the editors and the storyboard creators. With animation, production process is a little wonky due to editors starting towards the beginning of the process rather than the end. Creating storyboards for any film is tedious, but especially with animation, because if someone decides to cut a single second out of the original storyboard, the creators have ultimately wasted time when it is cut. The same idea applies if something is added later.

This is small, but having the main character as a young girl and not a young boy can potentially inspire young girls to lead and embark on their own heroic journeys. One of the simpler messages is of friendship. Working together with people that care for one another, through the good and bad moments, results in a stronger and more loving friendship. An implicit message of this film is karma. Whether that be good or bad, like Gordon reluctantly becoming a piece of food, which he turned people into for years, unwillingly. A positive example of karma is when Rainie’s mother explains to her that since she has a kind heart, she’ll attract kind people in her life. What you put out in the world, positive or negative affects you, so you might as well make it a positive. One other message is that you can’t subdue your emotions or bad experiences. The more you suppress them the bigger it explodes in the end. If Gordon communicated with his brother about how he genuinely felt, Rainie and her friends would have never endured his wrath.

There are a couple of fights, but they are more like tackling between the antagonist and the other characters. There is no graphic violence. My favorite part is the ending because Gordon receives karma. He’s turned into a piece of food, which is what he was doing to other people for years. A lot of the characters in this film are voiced by actors with a long list of prior work such as Cam Clarke, Robbie Daymond and Dorothy Elias-Fahn.

I give Candy Planet 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 3 to 10. It is a cute, adventurous film and it actually presents important messages.

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Mulan (2020) * Loyal, Brave, True, Honorable and Devoted Describe This 2020 Remake

Friday, September 11th, 2020

To save her ailing father from serving in the Imperial Army, a fearless young woman disguises herself as a man to battle northern invaders in China. Mulan 2020 is a live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1998 animated film of the same name, based on the Chinese folklore “The Ballad of Mulan.” Directed by Niki Caro. With Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Li Gong, Jet Li. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, “This action-packed, family film will keep viewers in suspense while tugging at their hearts along the way. Mulan offers us much to appreciate …culture, a love for family, honesty, peace and so much more.” See his full review below.

Mulan (2020)
By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Loyal, brave, true, honorable, and devoted, all describe aspects of Disney’s new remake of the animated movie, Mulan (1998). Niki Caro, the director of this year’s live-action version, took on the huge challenge of giving new life to the legendary tale of China’s fearless girl warrior after 22 years. This action-packed, family film will keep viewers in suspense while tugging at their hearts along the way. Mulan offers us much to appreciate …culture, a love for family, honesty, peace and so much more. We couldn’t have asked for a better release date for Mulan, as itsmany messages are powerful and uplifting which are needed during these unsettling times in many communities.

The film follows a fearless young woman named Hua Mulan who is the daughter of Zhou, a warrior veteran. Mulan is not like other traditional women of her age. She is a uniquely gifted woman driven by the power of the chi, destined not to conform and marry the match of her parent’s choice; rather she prefers to use her skills to fight as a warrior and to defend her country, town and family. Her father, who is traditional in his beliefs, warns Mulan to hide her gifts. Upon learning of a possible empire takeover by Bori Khan and his power hungry rebel group, one male from every household is ordered to enlist in the Imperial Army to defend their land. Mulan’s father, the dad of two daughters, is not in good physical condition to take on this feat yet steps up to the challenge. Knowing that her father is in no shape to battle the enemy, Mulan sacrifices everything and faces death to disguise herself as the man of the household and train with the Imperial Army. 

Yifei Liu, who plays Mulan, possesses great star power. She is fierce yet sensitive and shows viewers a wide variety of her emotions throughout the film. A huge shout out to the cinematography, art, set, costume, and make up crews for bringing such light, excitement, and brilliance to the legendary Chinese Empire.  Every scene is colorful, bright, and full of  life. China and New Zealand are perfect landscapes for the film sets and are perfect for captivating the viewers. And despite the adventure and suspense, the film entertains us with several scenes containing humor.

Mulan is a film with many messages of loyalty, bravery, honor, devotion to family, and more. The strongest message  is about empowerment. Mulan, born into a culture where there is a clear division between the roles for men and women, chooses not to conform to tradition and claims her rights to be who she wants to be. Mulan is faced with many heartfelt decisions that, above all, could cause her death, yet she stays true to herself.

I give Mulan 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it to ages 8 to 18. Mulan is the perfect family film and adults will love it as much as kids. Mulan will begin streaming on September 4th 2020 on Disney+. This is a film that you do not want to miss!

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Erik Davis, Managing Editor, Fandango, Shares Insights about Entertainment News

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

Enjoy Nathalia J.’s interview with Erik Davis, Managing Editor, Fandango. Erik is one of the nation’s leading movie commentators, with over a decade of experience writing about movies for Fandango, Movies.com, AOL Moviefone, Cinematical and others, as well as talking about movies on TV, YouTube and radio.

Erik has appeared on The TODAY Show, CBS This Morning, CNN, MSNBC, New York Live, Good Day NY, Bloomberg TV, Fox Business, CNBC, PBS and more, and he has sat on the “Masters of the Web” panel at San Diego Comic-Con three times, as well as hosted panels at SXSW and inside Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con. Erik is also a proud voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

Erik has worked with and edited over 100 different writers, many of whom are now at places like the New York Times, The Daily Beast, MTV News, LA Weekly, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Indiewire, the LA Times, Business Insider, and a bunch of other sites you read daily. Follow Erik on Twitter @erikdavis.

Interviewed by KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Nathalia Maria J., age 12. Nathalia lives in southern California and has a younger brother. As an actress, she is known for her roles in South Central Love, Blue Laces (2018) and Burt and the Wall Children (2018). She is an excellent student and plans to attend UCLA majoring in cinematic arts. She also has an interest in fashion and has already launched a clothing line called Naji.

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