Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for August, 2021

CentaurWorld * Humorous Animated Show With Terrific Storyline And Messages

Monday, August 9th, 2021

Centaurworld follows a war horse that is transported from her embattled world to a strange land inhabited by silly, singing centaurs of all species, shapes, and sizes. Desperate to return home, she befriends a group of these magical creatures and embarks on a journey that will test her more than any battle she’s ever faced before.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kyla C. comments, “CentaurWorld is a humorous, animated show geared to older kids and young teens. The plot is definitely its strongest point because each episode has unique storylines episodes despite being an ongoing story. Along with that, the acting, impressive characters and music combine to make an unusual, yet intriguing show.” Ayden P. adds, “The message of this film is that the world is not always full of war and conflict. It’s also filled with friends and memories. Also, it’s ok to have some silliness and fun in your life. Plus, don’t limit yourself to what you think you know or what you become used to.” See their full reviews and interviews below.

CentaurWorld
By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

CentaurWorld is a humorous, animated show geared to older kids and young teens. The plot is definitely its strongest point because each episode has unique storylines episodes despite being an ongoing story. Along with that, the acting, impressive characters and music combine to make an unusual, yet intriguing show.

This ten-episode series follows Horse (Kimiko Glenn), her name representing her appearance. She touches a magical artifact that transports her to a new world, called CentaurWorld, where magic and singing are encouraged. Along the way, they meet many challenges, including facing comedy competitions, a trial that could result in being stuck in jail forever and plants that grant tricky wishes. Can Horse find all parts of the key along the rainbow road to make her way home to Rider (Jessie Mueller)?

CentaurWorld has an incredible storyline. The concept is new and unique. Each episode has an individual story that’s carefully written to not be the same as others. The voiceover acting is also magnificent. Josh Radnor, as Durpleton, and Parvesh Cheen, as Zulius, deliver amazing performances. The characters are well developed so the acting and writing make an excellent combination. My favorite part is probably the music, although the other fabulous aspects are great. The songs drew my attention every time; the melodies and lyrics create an emotional environment, shifting with the moods, which always left me in awe. Then there are the impressive singers with their enjoyable resonance and beautiful solos. Their harmonies are perfectly executed and make the songs more enjoyable. The music truly takes the show to the next level.

The message of CentaurWorld is about bravery. Horse and her centaur friends need to find all of the pieces to the key and this journey isn’t easy. Oftentimes, Horse encourages her friends to ‘be bold,’ like when the rainbow road leads them to a hole, going down one side and up the other. Horse shows bravery by jumping down, realizing this is the only way to not give up on their journey. Parents should note that there is some violence and some mildly inappropriate dialogue.

I give CentaurWorld 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 13. CentaurWorld begins streaming on Netflix July 30, 2021.

Centaurworld
By Ayden P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Centaurworld is a creative kids’ show with colorful, memorable and funny characters.  The show is different from other shows for children, because most of its characters are animals with human attributes. The simple dialogue and colorful characters serve to keep kids’ attention.

Centaurworld is about a hardened war horse, named Horse (Kimiko Glenn) that gets separated from her rider (Jessica Mueller).  Horse ends up in Centaurland, a land filled with silly, singing unique creatures with both animal and human features. Horse is quickly heralded as their new friend and inspires Wammawink (Meagan Hilty), Zulius (Parvesh Cheena), Durpleton (Josh Radnor), Glendale (Megan Nicole Dong) and Ched (Chris Diamantopoulos) to follow her and explore the area as they try to help Horse get home. 

Centaurworld has some fun comedic moments with simple jokes that kids can follow and are age appropriate. In terms of the animation, the series makes good use of its characters and they are quite different from other animated shows. For example, viewers can’t help but focus on the big human-looking eyes and human faces of the colorful characters. Another positive is that the show has the unexpected twist of making a horse the main character. This further serves to engage younger audiences. What kid wouldn’t be intrigued by a horse that talks and has other talking human/animal hybrid friends? One thing kids may not notice, but adults will, is that, besides being able to speak, Horse doesn’t have any other human features.  Still, the inhabitants of Centaurland are accepting of her. This is a good lesson on acceptance.

The message of this film is that the world is not always full of war and conflict. It’s also filled with friends and memories. Also, it’s okay to have some silliness and fun in your life. Plus, don’t limit yourself to what you think you know or what you become used to. 

I give Centaurworld 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults can enjoy this with their kids. Centaurworld begins streaming on Netflix July 30, 2021.

Share this page on:

Queen of the Beach * A Gritty, Honest Portrayal Of A Child Laborer’s Journey To Achieve Her Dreams

Sunday, August 8th, 2021

While on vacation in Goa, India, Canadian filmmaker Chris McDonell turns his camera on Shilpa Poojar, a 9-year-old beach hawker hustling tourists to buy clothes and jewelry from her seaside shop. Funny, charming and skilled beyond her years, she is a migrant worker from the unique Banjara people and the primary breadwinner for her family. Forging a connection in this chance encounter, Chris returns 3 times over the next 7 years to capture Shilpa’s story of sacrifice and survival and help her achieve her childhood dream of going to school – a relentless effort that will test them both along the way. See his complete review below.

Queen of the Beach
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

A gritty, honest portrayal of a child laborer’s life and her journey to achieve her dreams, Queen of the Beach is a touching documentary film highlighting a global issue in an emotionally-sensitive, thorough, and unique way.

Christopher McDonell is a Canadian filmmaker on a month-long project in India, following some missionaries from his church on their trip. He makes a quick stop at Anjuna Beach in Goa, where he meets nine-year-old Shilpa, a child laborer who is the sole breadwinner in her family.

Tenacious and witty, Shilpa instantly forms a bond with McDonell and he returns three times over the next seven years as Shilpa’s “brother,” visiting her village and learning more about her tribe, the Banjaras’, way of life. He makes it his mission to help Shilpa realize her childhood dream of attending school in her small village in Karnataka; over the course of the film, both Shilpa and Chris must overcome several obstacles to reach this goal.

This is one of the most engaging documentaries that I’ve come across; Shilpa and her friends are vibrant, sweet individuals with layered personalities. Her smile lights up the screen and there’s never a dull moment; McDonell’s sprightly narration ensures that the pace of the film never drops even when they face some dead-end challenges. Since McDonell poses deep, personal, and tough questions to Shilpa, her friends, and her family, viewers come away from the film feeling like they really know her and her world. Even though the film was shot over the course of seven years, footage taken in 2009 does not feel drastically different from footage taken in 2015; the production quality of this documentary is spectacular throughout the 100 minute duration.

Queen of the Beach is all about making your dreams come true and never giving up even when life throws you a curveball. One thing to watch out for in the film: some mentions of pedophilic activity that occur on the beach at night, and McDonell catches some of this on film. Thematically, this film is for teenage audiences and older as it deals with child labor.

I give Queen of the Beach 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Queen of the Beach premieres August 15 (Indian Independence Day) both on digital and on demand from Under the Milky Way Productions.

Share this page on:

Vivo * Showcases The Love Between Animals And Humans, As Well As Their Love For Music

Saturday, August 7th, 2021

Vivo follows a one-of-kind kinkajou (aka a rainforest “honey bear”) who spends his days playing music to the crowds in a lively square with his beloved owner Andrés. Though they may not speak the same language, Vivo and Andrés are the perfect duo through their common love of music. But when tragedy strikes shortly after Andrés receives a letter from the famous Marta Sandoval, inviting her old partner to her farewell concert with the hope of reconnecting, it’s up to Vivo to deliver a message that Andrés never could: A love letter to Marta, written long ago, in the form of a song. Yet in order to get to Marta, who lives a world apart, Vivo will need the help of Gabi – an energetic tween who bounces to the beat of her own offbeat drum to fulfill his owner’s wishes.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Giana N. comments, “Vivo is an awesome film to watch. It showcases the love between animals and humans, as well as their love for music. There are great messages; the concept of the movie is entertaining; and every song is fun to listen to.” Zoe C. adds, “As its name suggests, Vivo is a vivid animated film full of life, color, music and emotion. Directed by Kirk DeMicco and Brandon Jeffords,Vivo is the first-ever musical for Sony with a Latino theme, and the story is certainly very relevant and aims to be significant for the Latino community.” Ethan P. wraps it up with, “The story reminds us to always express your love to the person you love, because it might become too late to do it. Always open your heart to the person you love; let them know your feelings before it is too late.” See their full reviews below.

Vivo
By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Vivo is an awesome film to watch. It showcases the love between animals and humans, as well as their love for music. There are great messages; the concept of the movie is entertaining; and every song is fun to listen to. You will be tapping your feet to the beat as you follow  this film’s adventures.

Vivo is about a kinkajou named Vivo (Lin-Manuel Miranda) who lives with his friend Andrés (Juan de Marcos González) in Cuba. Andrés and Vivo can’t directly talk to each other, because one is human and the other is an animal; but, when they sing together they connect. Vivo soon learns that when Andrés was younger, he had a love interest named Marta (Gloria Estefan). Unfortunately, when Andrés was going to tell her how he felt, she got an opportunity to follow her dream as a singer and he didn’t want to interfere with her decision. He wrote her a song and didn’t get to give it to her, so now Vivo is determined to give it to Marta before it’s too late.  

The songs in Vivo are fun and made me want to listen to them over and over again. My favorite song is “My Own Drum” performed by Gabi (Ynairaly Simo) because it is upbeat and describes how Gabi feels. I like how the writers, Quiara Alegria Hudes and Kirk DeMicco portray Vivo’s character development. In the beginning of the film Vivo doesn’t want to go to Miami for Marta, but when he realizes how much it means to Andrés and remembers all the things Andrés has done for him, he has a change of heart. My favorite character is Vivo because he is loving and daring. Vivo looks out for Andrés and takes care of him and does anything he can to help him. He travels all the way from Cuba to Miami and overcomes many challenging obstacles along the way.

The message of Vivo is that, even when times are tough, you have to have hope and do what is best. This film is completely family-friendly.

I give Vivo 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Vivo on Netflix beginning August 6, 2021. Be sure to check it out!

Vivo
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

As its name suggests, Vivo is a vivid animated film full of life, color, music and emotion. Directed by Kirk DeMicco and Brandon Jeffords,Vivo is the first-ever musical for Sony with a Latino theme, and the story is certainly very relevant and aims to be significant for the Latino community. Vivo features all-new songs written and performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda which are powerful, emotive and contribute nicely to the storytelling.

Vivo is about the way we connect with others through music. In a very old-fashioned Cuba, a kinkajou named Vivo is voiced by Lin-Manuel Miranda. A kinkajou is a mammal that looks like a monkey but is a rainforest “honey bear.”  Vivo and his owner Andrés enjoy making music and performing together. When Andrés receives an invitation from his friend, famous singer Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan), to attend her farewell show in Miami, Vivo is in charge to deliver the message to reconnect their friendship.

Vivo connects with our inner and pure childhood emotions and the characters in this story are lovable and relatable.  For example, with the help of a young girl, Gabi, our protagonist Vivo is able to make the journey to Miami. Gabi, an aspiring musician, is a girl with talent and ambition, but rebellious and spontaneous. Gabi is a very special character representing the effervescent tween years where not everything fits in the molds of society. The animation in Vivo is gorgeous: the characters are colorful and vibrant. The attention to detail in the architecture and landscapes of Cuba is breathtaking. The presence of nature is also key to the story. As Vivo and Gaby navigate their way to Miami, they travel through the Everglades and encounter the wildlife at its fullest.

Vivo demonstrates a nice balance between traditions and everyday life and new adventures and discovering life out of our boundaries. Another great success is how the film resonates with a multigenerational audience, connecting youngsters and older members of the family effectively making it a perfect experience that unites the whole family. Vivo shows us the power of music in making connections between us and how music helps us to achieve goals. 

I give Vivo 5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for all 8 to 18, plus adults. Vivo opens in theaters and Netflix on August 6, 2021.

Vivo
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 12

Vivo it is a heartwarming movie that has happy moments, funny moments and tragedy. I like the storyline, the graphics and the catchy songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

This movie has beautiful computer animated scenes. The backgrounds simulate the city of Habana in Cuba, Key West and the Florida Everglades. The scenes are very colorful and bright. The songs are very catchy and appealing. Besides being the main character’s voice, Lin-Manuel Miranda also wrote 11 songs for this film. He offered Cuban legend Gloria Estefan a part in this movie and she had the opportunity to create her character, which is a mix of Celia Cruz, another Cuban legend, and Mrs. Estefan’s mother, who she describes as a diva. This film has a stellar cast including Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy) as Rosa, Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) as the snake Lutador and Leslie David Baker (The Office).

The story reminds us to always express your love to the person you love, because it might become too late to do it. Always open your heart to the person you love; let them know your feelings before it is too late. My favorite part is when Vivo delivers the letter to Marta. It provided closure for his beloved partner, Andres.

I give Vivo 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. This film is also a great asset for the Cuban community, especially now during Cuba’s troubling times. Vivo is in theaters now and begins streaming on Netflix on August 6, 2021. 

Share this page on:

Jungle Cruise * Filled With Humor And Adventure Inspired By The Famous Theme Park

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

Join fan favorites Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt for the adventure of a lifetime on Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE, a rollicking thrill-ride down the Amazon with wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff and intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton. Lily travels from London, England to the Amazon jungle and enlists Frank’s questionable services to guide her downriver on La Quila–his ramshackle-but-charming boat. Lily is determined to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities–possessing the power to change the future of medicine. Thrust on this epic quest together, the unlikely duo encounters innumerable dangers and supernatural forces, all lurking in the deceptive beauty of the lush rainforest. But as the secrets of the lost tree unfold, the stakes reach even higher for Lily and Frank and their fate–and mankind’s–hangs in the balance.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Starring such talented actors as Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall, the film is inspired by the famous theme park ride and liberally incorporates details from it as well, like the boat captain’s terrible puns and a reference to the “back side of water.” It’s a great family film!” Calee N. adds, “I love how the Jungle Cruise makes the magic of the riverboat attraction from Disneyworld come alive. The humor and adventurous nature of the movie held my attention throughout the film. Movies with bold and funny female leads have always been my favorite.” See their full reviews below.

Jungle Cruise
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Take a trip to the Amazon Rainforest in Disney’s new, beautifully produced film Jungle Cruise. Starring such talented actors as Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall, the film is inspired by the famous theme park ride and liberally incorporates details from it as well, like the boat captain’s terrible puns and a reference to the “back side of water.” It’s a great family film!

Set in 1916, Jungle Cruise opens in London, during a meeting of scientists. McGregor Houghton (Jack Whitehall) is presenting to the crowd as his sister, Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), goes about her mission to collect a precious artifact from the archives. She ropes her brother, a rare gay character in the Disney universe, into the adventure she’s been chasing since her childhood, determined to journey into the Amazon to an area called Lágrimas de Cristal and find a magical healing tree called the Tears of the Moon. Lily hates the rough-around-the-edges, scam artist Frank (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) as soon as she sees him, but she grudgingly agrees to employ him as their skipper down the Amazon, with the conniving German aristocrat Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) nipping at their heels. Many adventures follow and the characters, as different as they may seem, grow close as a chosen family. There’s also a pretty unusual supernatural backstory.

As with any Disney film, the production quality of Jungle Cruise is incredibly high; each and every small detail in regards to the graphics and overall look of the film has been addressed thoroughly. This film’s previously-mentioned punchy one-liners delivered by Dwayne Johnson allude to this film’s origins in the theme park ride. The Rock undoubtedly, unquestionably puts on the best performance of the film, and his chemistry with Emily Blunt’s character is what truly carries the film through some slow moments when the script seems to lose purpose. Viewers begin to forget the overall goal of the mission as plots and relationships mix. However, this problem only shows up in the last third of the film. Another major star in the film is Jack Whitehall. His character is especially significant given that it’s one of the few instances where you can see an LGBTQ+ character on screen, and his struggles coming out in a rigid, heteronormative society are beautifully represented in a heart-to-heart with Frank. In summary, the cast and production quality take this film to a new level, while the script tends to bog it down.

Jungle Cruise promotes teamwork, grit, the victory of good over evil, and, my favorite message, that no matter how different we are, there’s always something we can unite over. We’re always stronger together.

I give Jungle Cruise 4.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Jungle Cruise premieres on July 30, 2021, in US theaters and for a fee on Disney+.

Jungle Cruise
By Calee Nowak, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I love how the Jungle Cruise makes the magic of the riverboat attraction from Disneyworld come alive. The humor and adventurous nature of the movie held my attention throughout the film. Movies with bold and funny female leads have always been my favorite.

In the Jungle Cruise, Lilly Houghton (Emily Blunt) searches for an Amazon legend called the Moon’s Tears. Her goal is to find the legend in order to advance modern medicine. Lilly’s fearlessness takes her to the Amazon River, where she meets and hires the comical skipper, Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson), to take her on her quest. They soon realize that they are not alone in their pursuit of the Tears. Together they face the dangers of the Amazon River and encounter the supernatural.

The academic world did not support Lilly’s pursuit of the Moon’s Tears and she could not find funding or support. Her perseverance leads her on an adventure that she never envisioned. Although her strong willpower may be challenging to handle, MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) and Frank accept her for whom she is.

The messages of this film are about determination and acceptance.

We also learn that Lilly’s brother rejected the calling of many females because he had other interests, and Lilly was the only person who embraced him for being himself.  I applaud director Jaume Collet-Serra for creating a high-energy, action-adventure film with a fun twist. The talented cast with Emily Blunt, Dwayne Johnson and Jack Whitehall are all superb. The music by James Newton Howard helps brings accentuate the action of the film. The Amazon River scenes and supernatural characters are very realistic looking, thanks to the camera work by Flavio Martinez Labiano and art direction by David Lazan.

I give Jungle Cruise 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults.  Jungle Cruise premieres in theaters and on Disney+ July 30, 2021.

Share this page on:
Kid movie news & Free DVDs:
Join KIDS FIRST! on Twitter Join KIDS FIRST! on YouTube Join KIDS FIRST! on Instagram Join KIDS FIRST! on Facebook Join KIDS FIRST! on Pinterest