Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for October, 2021

Star Trek: Prodigy * An Enthralling And Unique Offering From A Franchise That Doesn’t Normally Cater To Kids

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

In 2383, five years after the USS Voyager returned to Earth, a motley crew of young aliens in the Delta Quadrant find an abandoned Starfleet ship, the USS Protostar. Taking control of the ship, they must learn to work together as they make their way towards the Alpha Quadrant. The series uses computer animation, differing from previous Star Trek animation. The series is intended for younger audiences than the rest of the franchise.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “An enthralling and unique offering from a franchise that doesn’t normally cater to a kid-specific audience, Star Trek: Prodigy is an action-packed CGI-animated series that kids will love!” See his full review below.

Star Trek: Prodigy

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

An enthralling and unique offering from a franchise that doesn’t normally cater to a kid-specific audience, Star Trek: Prodigy is an action-packed CGI-animated series that kids will love!

Star Trek: Prodigy follows a crew of six young aliens, all of whom are outcasts, tasked with navigating the galaxy searching for a better future. These six young outcasts know nothing about the ship they have commandeered – a first in the history of the Star Trek franchise and an element that certainly keeps the show approachable for newbies. It’s an entertaining and novel concept, and the sense of wonder the characters feel is contagious.

My favorite character has to be Dal (Brett Gray). He’s instantly likeable, seems to be up for any challenge, and has one heck of a personality! It’s characters like Dal who make this series the perfect way for Star Trek to introduce the franchise to younger audiences. Showrunners Dan and Kevin Hageman and director Ben Hibon evidently worked hard on the plot and overall look of the show. They came up with a whole new cast of protagonists and animation language, which I find perfectly fitting for the show’s intergalactic theme. The soft purples, oranges, yellows and blues work in tandem to produce a wonderful backdrop for the saga of the young misfits, played by Ella Purnell, Jason Mantzoukas, Brett Gray and Rylee Alazraqui. Kate Mulgrew’s reprisal of her role as Captain Kathryn Janeway is also especially exciting, and Mulgrew manages to phenomenally hit every beat.

Star Trek: Prodigy promotes teamwork, kindness and the idea of working hard to achieve your greater goals and dreams.  As Engadget puts it, “part of the franchise’s ethos is exploration,” and discovery is certainly a major theme in this show.

I give Star Trek: Prodigy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids age 8 to 18, plus adults. Star Trek: Prodigy premieres October 28, 2021 on the streaming service Paramount+ with its first 10-episode season. Go check it out!

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Ron’s Gone Wrong * Challenges Of Being A Middle Schooler, Including Wanting To Fit In, Are Universal

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

Twentieth Century Studios and Locksmith Animation’s “Ron’s Gone Wrong” is the story of Barney, a socially awkward middle-schooler and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device, which is supposed to be his ‘Best Friend out of the Box.’ Ron’s hilarious malfunctions set against the backdrop of the social media age, launch them into an action-packed journey in which boy and robot come to terms with the wonderful messiness of true friendship.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha B. comments, “Ron’s Gone Wrong is an outstanding animated film, written by Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith. It really connects with its audience through funny jokes and loveable characters, while also delivering the important message that no matter how kids present themselves, especially in middle school, they all are experiencing similar challenges and feelings.” See her full review below.

Ron’s Gone Wrong

Samantha B., Kids First! Film Critic, Age 11

Ron’s Gone Wrong is an outstanding animated film, written by Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith. It really connects with its audience through funny jokes and loveable characters, while also delivering the important message that no matter how kids present themselves, especially in middle school, they all are experiencing similar challenges and feelings. This message is very important, especially for young kids and teens to hear, and Ron’s Gone Wrong brings this theme to light.

The storyline follows a socially awkward middle schooler named Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer), who is ostracized because he does not own the hottest new piece of tech — a B-bot, or a digitally connected “Best Friend Out of the Box.”  That changes when his grandmother and father surprise him for his birthday with his very own B-bot, although this B-bot is a bit different than what he expected.

The film is critical of social media replacing friendships in real life and the potential of tech companies to violate people’s privacy. One of the characters has an embarrassing image of her go viral through her B-bot, resulting in her feeling embarrassed and being unable to take it down. Ron’s Gone Wrong has a very talented, all-star cast. Jack Dylan Grazer’s portrayal of Barney makes him believable and relatable as a middle school outcast. Another hilarious cast member is Zach Galifianakis, who voices the defective B-bot, Ron. He cracks me up and makes this movie so funny. Director Octavio Rodriguez creates a vibrant, colorful animation style that brings these characters to life – especially the B-bots, but also the goat and chicken that belong to Barney’s grandmother who is from “the old country.”

The primary message is that the challenges of being a middle schooler, including wanting to fit in and make friends, are universal. There is also a critical message about the danger of too much technology and its impact on kids and the world.  Parents should know there is some animated violence when Ron goes after Barney’s bullies, but overall, the film is very positive.

I give Ron’s Gone Wrong 5 out 5 stars and I highly recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults.  I love this movie and believe you will too. You can watch Ron’s Gone Wrong in theaters October 22, 2021.

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PLANET CLASSROOM Presents the Best of 30 years of Social Impact Through Storytelling on KIDS FIRST! 30th Anniversary

Monday, October 25th, 2021

KIDS FIST! BEST OF THE FEST features on Planet Classroom Network will focus on topics including Climate Change, Inclusivity, Mental Health and Wellness, and Girl Power.

Planet Classroom is proud to showcase KIDS FIRST! Film Festival best films created by youth filmmakers worldwide beginning on November 1st to celebrate KIDS FIRST! 30th Anniversary.

“There are so many different elements that go into making a film,” said KIDS FIRST! Founder, Ranny Levy.  “When kids participate in either the creation or the marketing process of a film, they learn valuable life skills including problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and pitching.  They gain the self-confidence to express an opinion that they can debate with their peers.” 

“We at Planet Classroom believe that quality storytelling is the most powerful way that young people can share ideas that inspire positive change,” said Cathy Rubin, Co-founder of the Planet Classroom Network. “Now more than ever is the time for youth media makers to help us rethink a world in which all peoples can flourish.  We are delighted to join forces with KIDS FIRST! to celebrate incredible stories that focus on some of the most important global issues of the moment.” 

Beginning on November 1, 2021, the Planet Classroom Network’s YouTube Channel will stream a stunning collection of shorts and features from some of the most talented and up-and-coming indie and youth filmmakers worldwide.  The stories are grouped under Planet Classroom’s themes of LGBTQ+, Race and Tolerance, Environmental Action, Wellness and Self-Esteem, Teen Musical, Teaching Empathy, and Girl Power.  Features include Quaranteened (Director Cori Anne Laemmel), Clothed Minds (Director Carletta Hurt), Black Lives Matter: Song for Kids (Directors Omar Vigueras and Javier Rendon), Dance! (Director Andrea Mangano), One at a Time (Director Jacob Reinhart), Perfectly Imperfect (Directors Millie Williams, Mallory Henderson and Tiana Hicks), Love is Love (Director Mina Song), Human Race ISM (Director Elina Villemure), Delivering Sunshine (Director London Mitchell), Hide! (Director Matt Streeter), Koga and Friends: Shelter (Director Philip Kholos), and Kids Who Save the World: Clean Air (Director Adam Tyler). 

ABOUT KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST! Film Festival is an initiative of the non-profit Coalition for Quality Children’s Media founded in 1991 whose mission is to teach children critical viewing skills and to increase the visibility and availability of quality children’s media.  KIDS FIRST! Film Festival is a showcase for new and classic children’s films from independent and student filmmakers worldwide in addition to select studio films.  Visit the website

ABOUT PLANET CLASSROOM

The Planet Classroom Network, organized by CMRubinWorld, brings together musicians, dancers, video game creators, filmmakers, learning innovators and emerging technologists from around the world to entertain, educate and engage youth, and to provide a rich cultural experience for all. Content showcased for youth and by youth on the Planet Classroom Network is provided by 29 cultural organizations from around the world. Young people globally played a significant role in conceptualizing, creating, and producing the network’s vision and programming.  Visit the website

BEST OF THE FEST Media Enquiries: [email protected] 

BEST OF THE FEST Press Kit

Don’t Miss BEST OF THE FEST Trailer

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KIDS FIRST! Film Festival at UNESCO Global Media Literacy Week Oct. 24-31

Sunday, October 24th, 2021

Join KIDS FIRST! Film Festival online during UNESCO Global Media Literacy Week

October 24 – 31

KIDS FIRST! shares an important goal with UNESCO’s Global Media Literacy Week in bringing student made films that integrate critical thinking and social activism for global issues such as

  • Climate Change
  • Racism
  • Food Insecurity
  • Intercultural Awareness

Beyond the realm of “Fake News” lies real news about real people making positive change. This collection of 35 films created by and with students ages 9 to 22 offer innovative solutions to global problems and compassion in a complex world.

FREE TICKETS OR PAY WHAT YOU CAN. Available at: https://kidsfirst-unesco.eventive.org/welcome

Growing Peace in the Middle East

Films like GROWING PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST created by a seventh grader from New York who was inspired by a visit to Sindyanna of Galilee in Israel – a unique non-profit organization led by a team of Arab and Jewish women working together to create social change from the ground up. He spent the year during the pandemic documenting the new hydroponics project at Sindyanna, which strives to enhance Arab-Jewish cooperation, while creating economic opportunities for Arab women. 17:16 minutes; Recommended for ages 10 to 18, plus adults

Kids Who Save the World: Clean Air

Films like KIDS WHO SAVE THE WORLD: CLEAN AIR which follows 7-year-old Arya to Epping Forest and finds out why trees are so important and what you can do to help reduce pollution and look after the natural world. Arya is a young girl and yet, her message is ageless. Arya hosts a beautiful live action short film showing how much she loves the outdoors and trees in particular. Her smart and articulate message comes from the heart and is a lesson that children and adults can both benefit from. 3:14 minutes; Recommended for ages 5 to 12, plus adults.

Rainshadow

RAINSHADOW, about a high school for at-risk students that is threatened with being taken over by the state due to low test scores, but the school’s art teacher and principal have one last shot to save the school that has saved so many kids. Films like this really make you aware of the different conflicts and issues in the world. This film features the students from the school talking about why they can’t deal with public school. The story will definitely pull at your heartstrings. 36:37 minutes; Recommended for ages 10 to 18, plus adults.

This is a virtual festival, that can be viewed by anyone from anywhere on the planet (with some exceptions). Admission is “Pay What You Can.” Tickets available at: https://kidsfirst-unesco.eventive.org/welcome

See the Best Films from young filmmakers worldwide. KIDS FIRST! 30th Anniversary Virtual Film Festival runs October 24 through 31 during UNESCO’s Global Media Literacy Week.

Note, KIDS FIRST! Film Festival is a project of the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, a national non-profit (501-c-3) organization. Your ticket or donation helps support the work of the organization in bringing more kids inspirational programming.  

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Dune * A Modern Masterpiece – Brilliant Direction, Exceptional Visuals, Incredible Score, Great Cast

Saturday, October 23rd, 2021

A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence-a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential-only those who can conquer their fear will survive.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C., comments, “Dune is an exceptional film directed by Denis Villeneuve and adapted from the original sci-fi novel, written by Frank Herbert. I absolutely love the cast, cinematography, CGI, makeup and many other aspects of this film.” Mikella G. adds, “I absolutely love Dune! It is a thrilling attention-grabbing adventure that creates a connection you would never expect. It opens your mind up to a whole new world that you never knew existed. The director, Denis Villeneuve has created one of the best films I have ever seen.” See their full reviews below.

Dune
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

(L-r) JOSH BROLIN as Gurney Halleck and TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

I love Dune. This film is almost like an introduction to a great story. When at the end Zendaya’s character says, “This is only the beginning,” the foreshadowing tells me that there will hopefully be a sequel.

Dune is an exceptional film directed by Denis Villeneuve and adapted from the original sci-fi novel, written by Frank Herbert and published in 1965. Fans of the 1984 version directed by David Lynch – and newcomers to Dune — will be fascinated to see Villeneuve’s incarnation. I absolutely love the cast, cinematography, CGI, makeup and many other aspects of this film.

The film takes place on an unfamiliar desert planet, Arrakis – the world of Arrakis is breathtaking. I love the culture of the planet, such as the languages they speak, the homes the characters live in, and, of course, the makeup and costumes have a huge effect on the aesthetic of this planet.  The story centers on a young man named Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) who has an important role: His family is responsible for mining a very valuable and powerful spice, which is the most precious element on Arrakis. As the story unfolds, it’s easy to be captivated and mesmerized into the illusion that you as the audience are with the characters on Arrakis. At times, though, I felt I was almost missing parts of the story. Since this is an adaptation from a book, a lot of information has to be left out, and I left the theater wanting to know more about Arrakis. I also felt that the beginning is a bit slow and most of the action in this film takes place near the end, although that isn’t a huge issue for me.

(L-r) REBECCA FERGUSON as Lady Jessica Atreides, ZENDAYA as Chani, JAVIER BARDEM as Stilgar, and TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary release.

Now let’s talk about the acting and this great ensemble cast with Timothée Chalamet in the lead role and his peers: Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Oscar Issac and many others. I’ve been a huge fan of Timothée Chalamet for a long time and this is one of his best performances to date. I love his character – you can really see how at the beginning of the movie he is a vulnerable yet strong boy who eventually stands his ground and knows his place. I also love Zendaya’s performance; throughout the entire movie I was waiting to see her appearance. I also love Jason Momoa’s character, another one of my favorites. Finally, Oscar Issac and Rebecca Ferguson work really well together and deliver very engaging performances. 

The costumes are very detailed and intricate which bring out fascinating elements of the planet. And the cinematography (by Greig Fraser) and visual storytelling is so beautifully done and goes in perfect sync with the production design. It’s important to acknowledge Hans Zimmer who composed all the music since his score brings the sci-fi storytelling to life.

The message of the film is we all have a purpose, we should find our own voice and destinies and true empathy is as powerful as blood lineage in our world.

I give Dune 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. Dune opens in theaters, October 22, 2021 and I highly recommend seeing it in IMAX if you can.

Dune
By Mikella G, KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 15

TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

I absolutely love Dune! It is a thrilling attention-grabbing adventure that creates a connection you would never expect. It opens your mind up to a whole new world that you never knew existed.

This film follows Paul (Timothee Chalamet), the son of the most noble and respected family on their planet, Arrakis. Forces from all over the galaxy, as well as theirs, are fighting for necessary resources, as well as power, in hope of someday finding the one who can stop time.

ZENDAYA as Chani in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

The director of Dune, Denis Villeneuve has created one of the best films I have ever seen. The camera work and the angles used are extremely insightful and satisfying. For example, when the actors are climbing up the dunes, it’s almost as if we are following right behind them. The camera doesn’t show us what is at the top until the characters themselves get there. This makes you feel as if you are actually there with them. It creates a suspense that I’ve never experienced before. Also, the digital and visual effects are out of this world. You fully feel as if you are there with them every moment. Every single sword fight and burst of fire encompasses the entire room and fully transforms your experience.  The cast is terrific! For example, the relationship between Paul and his mother (Rebecca Ferguson) shows some of the most raw and real love between a mother and son that I’ve ever seen on screen. They fully embody their characters and their relationship with each other.

Furthermore, I love the character Chani (Zendaya), who is mysterious and intriguing. Zendaya’s work never fails to impress me, and I love her role here. I also really enjoyed the bond between Paul and Duncan. They have such a strong friendship that feels so genuine, and gives such a positive effect on the audience.

TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET as Paul Atreides and REBECCA FERGUSON as Lady Jessica Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “DUNE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

The wardrobe, hair and makeup are all top notch. Every costume is so personalized for each character. All the outfits that Rebecca Ferguson wears are so intricate and unique. She has many wardrobe changes, while still staying true to her character. This is something that was cool to see in such an action packed movie. The hair and makeup are also executed extremely well. They are simple, but intense and give you the feeling that these characters do not live on earth, but they still feel human at the same time. The eye makeup that most of the characters wear, is natural looking and yet created an alien-esc look.

The message of this film is that if you can conquer your fear, then you can conquer anything. This film does include violent scenes, including blood, stabbings and bombs. 

I give Dune 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Dune releases in theaters October 22, 2021.

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