Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for November, 2020

The Christmas Chronicles 2 * Heartwarming, Filled With Magic and A Daredevil Santa

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

It’s been two years since siblings Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis) saved Christmas, and a lot has changed. Kate, now a cynical teenager, is reluctantly spending Christmas in Cancun with her mom’s new boyfriend (Tyrese Gibson) and his son Jack (Jahzir Bruno). Unwilling to accept this new version of her family, Kate decides to run away. But when a mysterious, magical troublemaker named Belsnickel threatens to destroy the North Pole and end Christmas for good, Kate and Jack are unexpectedly pulled into a new adventure with Santa Claus (Kurt Russell).

Written and directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter) and co-starring Goldie Hawn, The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two is an action-packed adventure for the whole family that’s full of heart, humor, and holiday spirit. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like The Christmas Chronicles 2 because it is a heartwarming film, full of magic and adventures which makes it so fun to watch. Santa Claus is not the typical Santa we are used to seeing in other movies. This Santa is a type of daredevil Santa.” See his full review below.

The Christmas Chronicles 2
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 12

Kurt Russell as Santa Claus in The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2. Cr. Joseph Lederer/Netflix © 2020


I like The Christmas Chronicles 2 because it is a heartwarming film, full of magic and adventures which makes it so fun to watch. Santa Claus is not the typical Santa we are used to seeing in other movies. This Santa is a type of daredevil Santa.


If you watched The Christmas Chronicles in 2018, you must know that Kate (Darby Camp) and her brother Teddy (Judah Lewis) are friends with Santa Claus, played by the one and only Kurt Russell.  Kate’s mom and her boyfriend Bob (Tyrese Gibson) take Kate, Teddy and Jack (Jahzir Bruno), Bob’s son, to celebrate Christmas in Cancun, Mexico. Kate doesn’t want to be there as she misses her dad who passed away two years ago. An evil kid named Belsnickel (Julian Dennison) wants to destroy Santa and uses Kate to get to the North Pole to do his dirty deed. Jack follows her so they both end up at the North Pole and that’s when ALL the adventure begins!

My favorite part is when Jack picks two of Mrs. Claus’ special homemade cookies – confidence and bomb. When he needs confidence he forgets which one of the cookies is confidence and almost eats the cookie bomb. The graphics and digital effects are amazing. The reindeers and the cougar look real. The music is very appealing in every scene. The costumes are very seasonal. Mrs. Claus (Goldie Hawn) gives this movie a special touch, which makes this film different from the first movie. Mrs. Claus creates Santa’s Village and takes good care of it. The movie mentions how it should be called Mrs. Claus Village, which gives this character the importance she deserves because, in reality, she is the person behind Santa, supporting him, taking care of him and his business. 

Goldie Hawn as Mrs. Claus, Kurt Russell as Santa Claus in The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2. Cr. Joseph Lederer/Netflix © 2020


The moral of this movie is to move on, be happy and let others be happy. Throughout the film we learn that Kate doesn’t like her mom’s new boyfriend and doesn’t want Bob substituting for her dad. Santa shows her that family is everything and that they matter the most, so why not cherish that her mom is happy because she found love again in Bob? Kate needs to accept that her mom loves Bob and that doesn’t mean she stops loving her dad. She needs to understand her mom deserves to be happy. Life continues; people need to move on.

Darby Camp as Kate in The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2. Cr. Joseph Lederer/Netflix © 2020


I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. The Christmas Chronicles 2 comes out on Netflix on November 25, 2020, so get your hot chocolate and cookies or popcorn ready to enjoy this magical film!

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The Croods: A New Age * Sensational! Colorful and Clever Graphics; Funny & Realistic Conflicts

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

Searching for a safer habitat, the prehistoric Crood family discovers an idyllic, walled-in paradise that meets all of its needs. Unfortunately, they must also learn to live with the Bettermans — a family that’s a couple of steps above the Croods on the evolutionary ladder. As tensions between the new neighbors start to rise, a new threat soon propels both clans on an epic adventure that forces them to embrace their differences, draw strength from one another, and survive together. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Bailey Rae F. comments, “The Croods: A New Age is sensational because of the clever and colorful graphics, funny and realistic conflicts… The message in the film is that we do not have to look the same and we all have far more in common than we realize. It’s okay to look different.” See her full review below.

The Croods: A New Age
By Bailey Rae F., KIDS FIRST!  Film Critic, age 10

The Croods: A New Age is sensational because of the clever and colorful graphics, funny and realistic conflicts. 

The storyline is about the Bettermans not liking the Croods. They must learn how to get along with one another and they have many adventurous life lessons along the way. 

I like the story line because it’s relatable to real life. The family conflicts and differences make the movie unpredictable. The characters are well developed. The production is state of the art. It is highly colorful and engaging from start to finish. The film is a great follow-up to the first one. My favorite part is when the main characters, Phil Betterman and Grug, are in the Jacuzzi. 

The message in the film is that we do not have to look the same and we all have far more in common than we realize. It’s okay to look different.

I give The Croods: A New Age 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12. It releases in theaters on November 25, 2020.

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Animaniacs * Fresh and Relevant Content, With the Same Hilarious Craziness as the Original Show

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

They’re back! The Warner brothers, Yakko and Wakko, and the Warner sister Dot, have a great time wreaking havoc and mayhem in the lives of everyone they meet.  After returning to their beloved home, the Warner Bros. water tower, the siblings waste no time in causing chaos and comic confusion as they run loose through the studio, turning the world into their personal playground. Joining Yakko, Wakko and Dot, fan-favorite characters Pinky and the Brain also return to continue their quest for world domination.

Animaniacs is an American animated television series developed by Steven Spielberg for steaming service Hulu. It is a revival of the original 1993 television series of the same name. The new series sees the return of the Warner Brothers, Yakko and Wakko and their sister Dot (voiceovers by Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell and Tress MacNeille), and of Pinky and the Brain (voiceover by Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche). The first season is set to premiere on Hulu November 20, 2020. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “Animaniacs is back giving us tons of entertainment! Don’t expect to see reruns with this rebooted animated series. Showrunner Wellesley Wild nails the creation of fresh and relevant content, while keeping the same hilarious craziness of the original series.” See her full review and interviews below.

Animaniacs
Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Animaniacs is back giving us tons of entertainment! Don’t expect to see reruns with this rebooted animated series. Showrunner Wellesley Wild nails the creation of fresh and relevant content, while keeping the same hilarious craziness of the original series.

The series is about the Warner siblings Wakko, Yakko and Dot who are crazy and wild characters found on the Warner Bros. Studio. The episodes follow them as they get into trouble running around the Warner Bros. Studio lot and while meeting other characters. The new season picks up 22 years later, after they were locked away. Now we get to see their new adventures as they learn more about the current world around them and all the changes that have happened. 

Director Steven Spielberg brings back the same characters and many of the original voice actors. The main characters are the Warner brothers and sister – Wakko (Jess Harnell), Yakko (Rob Paulsen) and Dot (Tress MacNeille). The setting for the series is the classic Warner Bros. Studio lot and the lot’s water tower. It’s hilarious to see the characters run around the lot learning about things that didn’t exist two decades ago like tablets, climate change, Ubers, cat-fishing, YouTubers and Amazon drones. Ralph the security guard (Frank Welker) even has new tricks he can use to catch the Warner siblings, such as a net connected to a drone. The show was updated to a wide-screen format and to make it more gender balanced and diverse. In the premiere episode, Dot points out that Warner Bros. now has a Black female CEO. Shorts like The Warner Kids and Pinky and The Brain also return with new content. It’s a clever way to see how the other characters are doing after meeting the Warner siblings.  

The Warner siblings and the rest of the cast always find a way to have fun in each episode. The message of this series is to find a way to stay fun, positive and happy despite the craziness in the world. I will note that there are some scenes or jokes that viewers may not get unless they followed the original series, but you will still laugh. 

Animaniacs is a great mix of kid-friendly education and slapstick comedy, deserving 5 out of 5 stars and a recommendation for ages 5 to 18. Adults are sure to love it too especially if they are fans of the original series. The new season of Animaniacs debuts on Hulu on November 20.

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Collective * Chilling Reminder Of The Underhanded Dealings Of Modern Politics

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

In 2015, a fire at Bucharest’s Colectiv Club leaves 27 dead and 180 injured. Soon, more burn victims begin dying in hospitals from wounds that were not life-threatening. Then a doctor blows the whistle to a team of investigative journalists. One revelation leads to another as the journalists start to uncover vast health care fraud. When a new health minister is appointed, he offers unprecedented access to his efforts to reform the corrupt system but also to the obstacles he faces. Following journalists, whistle-blowers, burn victims, and government officials, Collective is an uncompromising look at the impact of investigative journalism at its best. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “An electrifying and groundbreaking documentary, Collective is a chilling reminder of the underhanded dealings of modern politics. Shot in a rigorously observational manner, Collective covers an event that took Eastern Europe by storm and led to massive big pharma and government reform.” See his full review below.

Collective
By Eshaan M. , KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

An electrifying and groundbreaking documentary, Collective is a chilling reminder of the underhanded dealings of modern politics. Shot in a rigorously observational manner, Collective covers an event that took Eastern Europe by storm and led to massive big pharma and government reform.

On October 30, 2015, a deadly fire in Colectiv, a popular nightclub in Bucharest, Romania killed 64 and injured 146. Of the 64 killed, 38 died in the hospitals. Upon closer inspection, it was discovered they were in close contact with some of the most resistant hospital bacteria on the continent, which festered in their uncleansed wounds. In the first part of the film, Catalin Tolontan’s journalistic crusade is detailed, as he embarks upon a journey to uncover the negligence, corruption and political machinations that plagues the Romanian health system as a whole. Vlad Voiculescu is introduced as the new minister of health, and he looks to take Romania in a new direction for health and safety but faces massive backlash. Watch Collective to find out how this crisis is solved.

A widely-known Romanian journalist at the Gazeta Sporturilor, Catalin Tolontan, together with Vlad Vioculescu, ex-minister of health and patients rights activist, are featured in Collective. Tolontan colleagues Mirela Neag and Razvan Lutac are captured in the newsroom, printing papers and delivering fiery questions at press conferences. I especially enjoyed their portion of the film, possibly due to my interest in journalism, but also because of Tolontan’s unique approach to tackling this case – calculated vehemence. Even Voiculescu’s segment is intriguing, albeit a little more morose and harder to follow. Honestly, you can’t help but feel bad for Voiculescu, the one upstanding politician who cares for people more than for the money in his pocket, especially in the tense election scenes. Tedy Ursuleanu, a burn victim, is also featured in this film. Her story is not illustrated in great detail, but featuring her is, to me, a massively positive step for Nanau to take. It adds a whole new level of ‘wow, this is real’ to Collective.

The cinematography in this film is absolutely stunning; the camera team uses dimly lit, low contrast scenes to drive home the intensity of the incident and harshly lit closeups in telling the story of the people that Collective follows. The lack of ambient noise filtration in press conferences helps the viewer really jump into the story. Besides the plot, this has got to be my favorite part of the entire documentary.

Collective promotes freedom of speech, government transparency, and valuing lives over profit, which are all positive morals. There are political elements in this film as well as rather graphic scenes depicting burn victims, that you should be aware of. Also, there is some bad language and the whole plot is unsuitable for younger audiences. Nanau successfully calls viewers to action to speak out against corruption.

I give Collective 4.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. Collective is in theaters and on-demand November 20, 2020.

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Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze * Never Fails to Keep You Entertained

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

The Octonauts are a team of adventurers who explore the worlds oceans, rescue aquatic creatures and protect their habitats – from the bustling eco-system along the Amazon River to the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Octonauts once again never fail to keep people entertained. There is something new to learn for everyone. The animation is very high quality, yet simple, and always has a new landscape to see, even if it is just snow and water.” Eshaan M. adds, “I have a bit of a history with the show Octonauts; I loved it when I was younger and, to be totally honest, still have a soft corner for the super awesome animated animals. Specifically two: the resourceful and level-headed Captain Barnacles who is voiced by the highly talented Simon Greenall; he’s one of my favorite voice actors. And, of course the scaredy-cat Peso who is the first to show vulnerability, but is one of the most resilient characters in the show.” See their full reviews below.

Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze, like so many of their other DVDs, is so enjoyable! It has the cutest animation that has a near stop-motion look and fun adventures.

The Octonuats are a group of animals that explore, rescue and protect. On this thrilling DVD, we join the Octonauts on their numerous exciting adventures to the Arctic and Antarctic (yes, there is a difference). And for those that have watched previous episodes, this DVD introduces some new characters. There are five episodes in this DVD, each running about 13 minutes and include Operation Deep Freeze, Walrus Pups, Emperor Penguins, Coelacanth and Hidden Lake.

Octonauts once again never fail to keep people entertained. There is something new to learn for everyone. The animation is very high quality, yet simple, and always has a new landscape to see, even if it is just snow and water. The voice cast includes Simon Greenall, who plays Captain Barnacles, the leader of the Octonauts, who also happens to be a polar bear and really nails the leader-type voice. Rob Rackstraw plays Kwazii, the adventurous pirate cat, and has a splendid “piratey” voice. Paul Panting  plays Peso, the expert penguin medic, and does a perfect shy but kind voice. My favorite episode is Hidden Lake because I had no idea that red lakes existed, let alone that anything lives in them!

There are many positive messages throughout the DVD, including helping others, protecting the ecosystem and the importance of teamwork. Younger children should keep in mind that they should not be interacting with wild animals in real life. However, this show might inspire them to be a vet or animal researcher.

I give Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8. Adults will think that 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.

Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze is a superb, educational DVD that will capture your attention for its entire duration. The intricately-designed characters (both their personalities and outward look) and the unique storylines are wondrous!

This 66-minute DVD follows a team of sea-adventurers (Captain Barnacles the daredevil polar bear, a friendly ex-pirate named Kwazii the cat, a medic: Peso the penguin and others), as they embark upon an expedition to Antarctica to help out marine life. They prevent a group of penguins from falling into an ice chasm, rescue walrus pups with the Captain’s niece and nephew, and discover some microscopic creatures under a hidden lake.

I have a bit of a history with the show Octonauts; I loved it when I was younger and, to be totally honest, still have a soft corner for the super awesome animated animals. Specifically two: the resourceful and level-headed Captain Barnacles who is voiced by the highly talented Simon Greenall; he’s one of my favorite voice actors. And, of course the scaredy-cat Peso who is the first to show vulnerability, but is one of the most resilient characters in the show. He’s played by Wayne Grayson. Also, the animation is absolutely spectacular; the deep colors and super cutely designed characters will surely catch your eye. Overall, it’s a beautifully executed show!

Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze promotes messages of teamwork, helping others, perseverance and resourcefulness. It’s an uplifting DVD that will surely put a smile on your face.

I give Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze 4.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 4 to 6. Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze is available now on DVD! Look for it!

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