Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for January, 2021

Wandavision * Marvel Delivers! Reminiscent Of Classic Television

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

Blends the style of classic sitcoms with the MCU in which Wanda Maximoff and Vision – two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives-begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S. comments, “Marvel has once again delivered with WandaVision! This show has many unique elements like the different time periods of the episodes, and it ties into the Avengers storyline we all know and love. Keep your eyes peeled, because there are Easter eggs everywhere!” See her full review below.

WandaVision
By Heather S., KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Marvel has once again delivered with WandaVision! This show has many unique elements like the different time periods of the episodes, and it ties into the Avengers storyline we all know and love. Keep your eyes peeled, because there are Easter eggs everywhere!

WandaVision follows Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) in this sitcom world Wanda has created. Each episode varies in style from classic shows like I Love Lucy to The Brady Bunch. While the two superheroes live their urban life, we see glitches in Maximoff’s reality bubble. This show will lead into the third installment of the MCU Spider-Man series and a sequel to Dr.Strange. As Wanda (aka Scarlet Witch) opens up the multiverse, Strange is left to clean up her mess.

Kudos to executive producer Kevin Feige for creating a show based on Scarlet Witch and Vision which is so unique but still stays true to its comic book roots. In the comics, Wanda goes mad, and ends up opening the multiverse. In WandaVision, we see this perfect bubble she has created and how it starts to deteriorate. Also true to the books, Vision and Maximoff share twins who also blossom into superheroes themselves, Thomas and William, aka Speed and Wiccan. In the comics, they form a fraction of the new Avengers team. Wanda has her own comic book series which include all of these adventures. Scarlet Witch has always been a role model for me since seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron. Now that she has her own series, many girls around the world will grow up with her and look up to her just as I did.

The theme of the series is about reminiscing highlights of classic television. In the episodes, the range of classic show styles range from The Brady Bunch to Full House. In this series, we have modern day comedy with the over-the-top acting and era-appropriate wardrobe. At times, it’s easy to forget we’re watching a Marvel show, and think we’re watching an episode of one of our favorite childhood shows. But then there are the strings that pull the viewer back to reality and notice the bigger picture. WandaVision is wonderful for anyone who’s an MCU fan or someone who enjoys the nostalgia of sitcom memories.

I give WandaVision 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It premieres on Disney+ January 15, 2020.

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Secrets of Sulphur Springs * Dives Deep Into The Mysteries Of The Unknown With A Chilling Tale Of Mystery And Suspense

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

Set in the fictional titular town, Secrets of Sulphur Springs follows 12-year-old Griffin Campbell (Preston Oliver), whose world has been upended by his father’s decision to move the family from Chicago to take over an abandoned hotel property, The Tremont. The Campbells, which includes Griffin’s mother and his younger twin siblings, move into The Tremont in hopes of restoring it to the vacation destination it once was. But on his first day at his new school, Griffin hears rumors that the hotel is haunted by the ghost of Savannah (Elle Graham), a girl who disappeared decades ago. Soon, he and his new friend, Harper (Kyliegh Curran), discover a portal that allows them to travel back in time and uncover clues about the town’s biggest mystery. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Carlee S. comments, “Disney’s new TV series, Secrets of Sulphur Springs, dives deep into the mysteries of the unknown.  The writers of the show weave a chilling tale of mystery and suspense that is brought to life by the cast. It is a show about new friendships and old secrets that will leave you on the edge of your seat, as it did me.” See her full review below.

Secrets of Sulphur Springs
By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Disney’s new TV series, Secrets of Sulphur Springs, dives deep into the mysteries of the unknown.  The writers of the show weave a chilling tale of mystery and suspense that is brought to life by the cast. It is a show about new friendships and old secrets that will leave you on the edge of your seat, as it did me.

In Secrets of Sulphur Springs, a music-loving middle school boy named Griffin (Preston Oliver) moves into an abandoned hotel called The Tremont that his family plans to restore. The hotel is said to be haunted by a girl named Savannah (Elle Graham) who mysteriously disappeared 30 years ago.  Griffin is missing his old town and old friends, but he finds a new friend named Harper (Kyliegh Curran). Together they are determined to uncover the truth about the hidden secrets of the hotel and find out what happened to Savannah.

One of my favorite scenes was when Griffin finds out that the old hotel is supposedly haunted—it is very fascinating to see his reaction when others tell him about Savannah haunting it.  Equally interesting is to see how the others react to Griffin when they find out he is living at the old hotel. Griffin has younger twin siblings (Landon Gordon and Madeleine McGraw) and Harper has a brother (Bryant Tardy). The relationships that Griffin and Harper have with their siblings make the characters easy to relate to. The hotel set is decorated to portray that old, abandoned, rustic style which gives it a spooky appearance. The scenes where the set is dark also add to the eerie mood.  The overall creepy setting makes the scenes more believable. The clothing choices are also well thought out, and perfect for the scenes.

The messages in this TV series are about building friendships and trust. Moving to a new town and having to make new friends at school is not always easy. Being a good friend means being kind, helpful and truthful. It also means working together. Trust is especially important because it’s hard to earn back after it’s lost. Parents may need to know that there are some suspenseful scenes that may be scary for younger viewers.

I give the new TV series, Secrets of Sulphur Springs, 5 out of 5 stars. Every scene kept me captivated and wanting more. I recommend this show for ages 7 to 16. Secrets of Sulphur Springs premieres on the Disney Channel on January 15, 2021.

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The Marksman * A Slower-Paced Action Film Starring Liam Neeson

Saturday, January 16th, 2021

A rancher on the Arizona border becomes the unlikely defender of a young Mexican boy desperately fleeing the cartel assassins who’ve pursued him into the U.S. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “The Marksman is a slower-paced action film set on the road from Texas to Chicago.  The filmstars Liam Neeson as Jim, a retiree who’s seen better days. There is a strong action storyline but those expecting a shoot-em-up adrenaline rush may want to look elsewhere.” See his full comments below.

The Marksman
Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

The Marksman is a slower-paced action film set on the road from Texas to Chicago.  The filmstars Liam Neeson as Jim, a retiree who’s seen better days. There is a strong action storyline but those expecting a shoot-em-up adrenaline rush may want to look elsewhere.  

Jim’s wife has passed away, his finances gutted by the cost of her medical bills, and his decaying ranch adjoining the border to Mexico is under threat since he can’t keep up with his rent. Now all he’s got is his loyal canine companion and a few days left with his property. On a drive surveying his land, Jim finds a boy named Miguel and his mother Rosa, crossing the border. Members of a drug cartel are hot on their trail, eager to capture the mother and son. A shootout between Jim and their pursuers occurs and Rosa is mortally wounded. As she passes away, Jim makes a promise to get Miguel to their family in Chicago where he’ll be safe.

The Marksman is a conundrum as an action movie – as for action, it’s sparse, save for a few shootouts here and there where Neeson’s character gets a chance to live up to his Marksman moniker. When you hear Liam Neeson and action movie within the same breath, you picture Neeson defiantly doling out revenge to those who have wronged him and the people he cares about, which to some extent is what The Marksman becomes.  But it plods along its course, steeping you in the everyday life of Neesons’ Jim, before putting into perspective the predicament Miguel faces from the cartel members who killed his mother.

Jim’s encounters with the cartel are only mildly suspenseful. So much of The Marksman doesn’t fully develop Miguel and Jim’s dynamic, either. These characters spend so much time together, but, by the end, they only manage to get each other where they need to go, and nothing more. There’s humanity, but there’s no spark to it. I don’t fault the performances, as much as I do a script with not enough meaningful moments for the central pair’s bond to supplant itself deeply in the fabric of the movie.

I give The Marksman 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 for some mild violence and the killing of a dog. The Marksman comes out in theaters on January 15, 2020.

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Stallone: Frank, That Is * Unveils the Difficult Journey of Frank Stallone and His Pathway to Success

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

Frank Stallone has seen it all. Frank Stallone has done it all. But, who is Frank Stallone? You know the name, now discover the Grammy and Golden Globe nominated singer, songwriter, musician and actor who has been entertaining audiences for over fifty years, all the while living in a giant shadow. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, “I truly enjoyed hearing from Mr. Stallone talk about how difficult his journey has been and how he hurdled so many obstacles to follow his dreams. As a young actor, I know firsthand how frustrating and disheartening it is to try to make it big within the talent world. I can relate to the look on Frank’s face when as he discusses the setbacks he has faced.” See his full review below.

Stallone: Frank, That Is
By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I’m super excited to share my thoughts about the documentary Stallone: Frank, That Is about a Hollywood star that has seen and done it all.  I am talking about Frank Stallone who has spent nearly 50 years entertaining us with his platinum and gold albums and his amazing songs that have topped the music charts worldwide. His movie soundtracks for the most iconic films remain familiar throughout many generations. Singer, songwriter, musician and an actor…Frank Stallone is a package deal!

Stallone: Frank, That Is, a documentary written and directed by Derek Wayne Johnson, gives viewers an inside look into the life, career and struggles of a performer who has been dubbed “the most unknown famous entertainer in Hollywood.” The film takes us behind the scenes as we follow Frank Stallone’s professional journey told in words by Frank himself and people within his life who knew him best. Frank’s accomplishments seem so remarkable, however for much of his life he has lived within the shadows of his more famous brother, Sylvester Stallone. Being “Rocky’s Brother” may have been the largest hindrance to Frank’s career, yet the most beneficial, because Frank’s first real break within the industry came from his contributions to the Rocky Film Series. Frank Stallone’s story is one of perseverance, inner strength, and a passion for the arts.

Frank’s path has been filled with many opportunities and setbacks. Everyone, of course, has heard of Sylvester Stallone, yet, just as talented Frank has remained the Stallone underdog. I believe this documentary is exactly what Frank Stallone needs in order to share with the world exactly who he is, what he’s done, and just how talented he actually is. Frank is exceptionally courageous in sharing his deepest inferior feelings and reveals to the world that there is room for more than one Stallone!

I truly enjoyed hearing from Mr. Stallone talk about how difficult his journey has been and how he hurdled so many obstacles to follow his dreams. As a young actor, I know firsthand how frustrating and disheartening it is to try to make it big within the talent world. I can relate to the look on Frank’s face when as he discusses the setbacks he has faced. The industry is certainly competitive. What every entertainer needs is a will to push forward and a strong support base. The closest people in Frank Stallone’s life offer words of encouragement to this amazing entertainer, which I believe is the message of this perseverant film; lots of support and self-confidence are needed if you are going to succeed within this terribly competitive niche. You need to navigate around your obstacles in order to reach your dreams.

I give Stallone: Frank, That Is 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend it to ages 12 to 18. Adults would especially love this documentary also, as many of them are quite familiar with Frank’s music. This documentary will be released January 19, 2021.  You can watch it on Video on Demand and Digital Screenings. This is an inspiring film that you don’t want to miss.

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