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Archive for January, 2022

The King’s Daughter * A Swashbuckling Adventure With A Royal Heroine, A Mystical Creature And A Fairytale Setting

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Known as The Sun King, Louis XIV (Pierce Brosnan) is the most powerful and influential monarch on the planet. Obsessed with his own mortality and the future of France, Louis turns to his spiritual advisor, Père La Chaise (William Hurt), and the royal physician to help him obtain the key to immortality. Believing a mermaid (Fan Bingbing) contains a force that grants everlasting life, Louis commissions a young sea captain to search the seas and capture the mystical creature. Further complicating his plans is his orphaned daughter, Marie-Josèphe (Kaya Scodelario), who returns to court with an abundance of elegance and an inherent defiance of authority. With a rare solar eclipse approaching, Louis will discover where his daughter’s true loyalties lie as he races against time to extract the mermaid’s life-giving force. 

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “If you’re looking for a swashbuckling adventure with a royal heroine and a mystical creature in a fairytale setting then The King’s Daughter is for you!  This movie showcases the beauty and majesty of Versailles with breathtaking cinematography that is truly the stuff of dreams.” Kyla C. adds, “The King’s Daughter combines historic and futuristic elements into one modern, fantastical film. The sets are absolutely beautiful and the acting is on point—and along with that, an intriguing storyline and deeply developed characters make it impossible to stop watching.” Makena P. wraps it up with, “I love The King’s Daughter because the story timeline creates suspense and is very intriguing. It guides the film in many different ways, with costumes, makeup, sets, setting, and how the characters are portrayed. The costumes really caught my eye—every single one is different.” See their full reviews below.

The King’s Daughter

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

The King’s Daughter combines historic and futuristic elements into one modern, fantastical film. The sets are absolutely beautiful and the acting is on point—and along with that, an intriguing storyline and deeply developed characters make it impossible to stop watching.

The fantasy story follows King Louis XIV (Pierce Brosnan) of France and his determination to gain immortality, no matter the cost. Even the death of a mermaid (Bingbing Fan) and the grief of his daughter, Marie-Josephe D’Alember (Kaya Scodelario), will not stop him. He proves his selfishness even further by forcing his daughter into a marriage to make allies with the Dutch, despite her love for the sailor Benoit (Paul Ireland). Will Marie learn of the King’s plans in time to save the mermaid? Or will lives be lost and love drained in King Louis’s path to eternal life?

The King’s Daughter has gorgeous sets. The palace is gigantic and golden, with intricate designs etched on the top of the points. Wide open fields with vibrant green grass, a fountain surrounding a magnificent statue and the seaside cliffs where Marie has to decide her fate are only a few of the breathtaking locations. The cave where the mermaid lives, however, rises above all. The gentle dimness sets the tone for the friendship that will be created and then jeopardized. With the ship towering over the water, the limited light reflects in the sea. These pretty sets create a perfect background for the wonderful acting. Pierce Brosnan as King Louis, Kaya Scodelario as Marie, and William Hurt as Pere La Chaise deliver some of the best performances. The actors drop clues as their characters’ motivations and secrets are slowly revealed to make the plot even more interesting.

The message of The King’s Daughter is to treasure loved ones and regard all lives as important, no matter their appearance or powers. This is shown through the themes of love and equal treatment of other species, symbolized by the mermaid. There are periods of violence, particularly at the end.

I give The King’s Daughter 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. Get that popcorn ready—you can view The King’s Daughter in select theaters beginning January 21, 2022.

The King’s Daughter

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14 

If you’re looking for a swashbuckling adventure with a royal heroine and a mystical creature in a fairytale setting then The King’s Daughter is for you!  This movie showcases the beauty and majesty of Versailles with breathtaking cinematography that is truly the stuff of dreams. 

The King’s Daughter is based on the book The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre—a historical fantasy novel taking place during the reign of King Louis XIV of France (Pierce Brosnan).  King Louis, known as The Sun King, is the most powerful monarch of that time and obsessed with his own mortality and rule. While seeking the key to immortality, he has his estranged daughter, Marie-Josèphe (Kaya Scodelario) brought to court.  She was secretly raised in a convent and is unaware of her parentage but has a forthright character, intellect and beauty that draws him to reconsider his world and values.

The performances in this film really add to the haunting majesty of the storyline under the direction of Sean McNamara.  I really enjoyed the depth of the relationship between King Louis (Pierce Brosnan) and his spiritual advisor, Père La Chaise (William Hurt).  Naturally, my favorite character is our independent and strong heroine Marie-Josèphe (Kaya Scodelario), and she is a great role model in this film.  Interestingly, after playing the romantic roles in this movie, Kaya Scodelario and Benjamin Walker (Captain Yves De La Croix) fell in love in real life!  Another magical element is the narration by the incomparable Julie Andrews. 

In addition to the acting performances, the breathtaking setting of Versailles imbues its own magic as does the visual effects in this film.  Music is another key element which supports the story, and I enjoyed the scenes of Marie-Josèphe (Kaya Scodelario) composing and performing as her music weaves its magic on more than one character.  Near and dear to my heart are the sumptuous gowns and costumes designed by Lizzy Gardiner as the exquisite detailing adds to the majesty of the characters. This film has more than one message as it explores the importance of belief and values. The characters learn to stop hoping for the perfect world and to live in the one that they inhabit and try to make it better—an important message for everyone.  King Louis XIV learns through the perseverance of his daughter, Marie-Josephe, that only love is immortal.

I rate The King’s Daughter 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 14, plus adults who will enjoy it as well. The film opens exclusively in theaters on January 21, 2022. Don’t miss this magical story as it unfolds!

The King’s Daughter

By Makena P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

I love The King’s Daughter because the story timeline creates suspense and is very intriguing. It guides the film in many different ways, with costumes, makeup, sets, setting, and how the characters are portrayed. The costumes really caught my eye—every single one is different. The outfits of Marie-Josephe (Kaya Scodelario) are so beautiful and seem to always have a touch of her personality in them.

The storyis about King Louis XIV’s (Pierce Brosnan) daughter, Marie-Josephe D’Alember, who comes from an orphanage where she is being raised by nuns. She is introduced to the world where she meets a mermaid (Bingbing Fan) who is captured and put in a secret place where the subjects of King Louis XIV hold her. Marie-Josephe doesn’t know what they are planning to do with the mermaid and why.

The cast of The King’s Daughter is excellent overall and includes William Hurt in a key role as Pere La Chaise. The movie is partly filmed in the Palace of Versailles in France including a big dance sequence filmed inside the Hall of Mirrors. The King’s Daughter has so much of everything—action, adventure, family, fantasy, and romance which all make the film so interesting!

The message of this film is that you know what’s right and wrong, so don’t let anyone get away with doing something wrong. Even people you love might be doing something for the wrong reason—it’s important to stand up to them and make it right.

I give The King’s Daughter 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can find The King’s Daughter in theaters on January 21, 2022.

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The Tiger Rising * Powerful Film And The Perfect Resource To Help People Overcome Challenges

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Queen Latifah and Dennis Quaid star in this beloved tale based on the New York Times best-selling book by Kate DiCamillo. When 12-year-old Rob Horton (Christian Convery) discovers a caged tiger in the woods near his home, his imagination runs wild and life begins to change in the most unexpected ways. With the help of a wise and mysterious maid, Willie May (Queen Latifah) and the stubborn new girl in school (Madalen Mills), he navigates through childhood memories, heartache, and wondrous adventures in this heartwarming adaptation. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, “This powerful film is packed with so much, that it will undoubtedly become the perfect resource to help people overcome challenges.” See his full review below.  

The Tiger Rising

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Grief can run so unbelievably deep that it can control your life.  Sadly, this is the case with 12-year-old Rob Horton in the new film The Tiger Rising.  This powerful film is packed with so much, that it will undoubtedly become the perfect resource to help people overcome challenges.  Although its subject matter is somewhat heavy, this film will leave its viewers with a sense of empowerment that each of us has for what it takes to make it through our darkest days. 

Based on Kate DiCamillo’s book, The Tiger Rising follows a young boy on his heartfelt journey following the loss of his mother. Young Rob (Christian Convery) flees with his Dad to a new town to start their life anew. Rob is bullied at his new school, but finds friendship with Sistene (Madalen Mills), an aggressive and outspoken classmate who is also new to the area and dealing with problems of her own. Rob stumbles upon a caged tiger and shares his find with Sistene who insists that this tiger be set free. Feeling confused about doing the right thing, Rob seeks advice from the motel’s maid Willie May (Queen Latifah) who gives him genuine and endearing advice.

What I liked most about The Tiger Rising is how symbolic it is. The tiger in the cage represents the very trapped Rob and Sistine.  Both of these kids are struggling with their trapped emotions very much like the tiger that spends his days pacing back and forth in his tiny cage. The actors for this film completely fit their roles and give it such meaning.  The Tiger Rising tugs at the heart and creates gratitude for our blessings in life, which I also appreciate.  The outcome of the film is suspenseful and filled with complex emotions, leaving viewers both sad and glad at the same time. Also worth a mention are the terrific visual effects that bring such life to the tiger.  The films explores Rob’s close family relationships, as shown in Rob’s flashbacks and how, when those bonds are no longer there, they are replaced by the bonds of friendship. When these two kids hit rock bottom, they must trust one another to lift themselves back up. 

The main themes of The Tiger Rising are about relationships and trusting others.  There is a deeper message in The Tiger Rising, however. Loss and grief can cause you to become caged and isolated from the world; yet the only way to be released from it is to find a way to free yourself. Each of us has the ability to move beyond these constraints and Willie May’s advice of “nobody can rescue you, you have to rescue yourself,” expresses the importance of self-empowerment.

I give The Tiger Rising 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to ages 8 to 18.  Adults, especially educators, will also love this film. The Tiger Rising releases in theaters January 21, 2022 and begins streaming on Apple TV February 8, 2022.

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News-o-matic / KIDS FIRST! Film Festival – Last Day

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

As you know, KIDS FIRST! has been celebrating its 30th Anniversary this week, with a film festival co-hosted by News-O-Matic. Today is the last day to watch films at the co-hosted festival so, take a little bit of time to watch some phenomenal films by indie and student filmmakers worldwide. Go to https://newsomatic-kfff.eventive.org/welcome. It’s Free! It’s Fun! There’s shorts and features for kids of middle school age, plus younger and older. Just look at the tabs under each film to see what age group it’s recommended for.

The team at News-0-matic has selected over 60 films from indie and student filmmakers worldwide and their festival is completely sponsored so it is FREE for you to attend. Plus it is entirely Virtual, so you can watch from anywhere. You can reserve a ticket for any of the 5 Virtual Screenings we have scheduled this week with themes about Animals (Real and animated), Animation (Lots and lots of animation), Earth & Science, Foreign Insights, and Life and Family.  Each virtual screening block consists of a collection of short films that last for approximately 90 to 120 minutes. Each block premieres on a specific day this week, but you can then watch it anytime between that day and the last day of the festival, January 17, which is also the last day to vote. Remember to vote for your favorite so we can honor the filmmakers who have worked so hard to bring you entertaining, engaging and thoughtful content.

Please, think big and take time to check out the News-o-Matic / KIDS FIRST! Film Festival. I can almost guarantee you that some of these budding filmmakers will become tomorrow’s top filmmakers.

Cheers!

Your buddies at KIDS FIRST!

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Hotel Transylvania: Transformania * Thrilling Animation, Electrifying Music, Monstrous Comedy, One Crazy Adventure

Thursday, January 13th, 2022

Drac and the pack are back, like you’ve never seen them before in Hotel Transylvania: Transformania. Reunite with your favorite monsters for an all-new adventure that presents Drac with his most terrifying task yet. When Van Helsing’s mysterious invention, the ‘Monsterfication Ray,” goes haywire, Drac and his monster pals are all transformed into humans, and Johnny becomes a monster! In their new mismatched bodies, Drac, stripped of his powers, and an exuberant Johnny, loving life as a monster, must team up and race across the globe to find a cure before it’s too late, and before they drive each other crazy. With help from Mavis and the hilariously human Drac Pack, the heat is on to find a way to switch themselves back before their transformations become permanent.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “Your favorite monsters are back in Hotel Transylvania: Transformania for the fourth and final installment of the Hotel Transylvania franchise! This film is entertaining from the opening sequence right until the last minute. Full of thrilling CGI animation, electrifying music, monstrous comedy and one all-new crazy adventure, the audience is sure to have a frightastic time watching it!” See her full review below.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (Hotel Transylvania 4)
By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Your favorite monsters are back in Hotel Transylvania: Transformania for the fourth and final installment of the Hotel Transylvania franchise!This film is entertaining from the opening sequence right until the last minute. Full of thrilling CGI animation, electrifying music, monstrous comedy and one all-new crazy adventure, the audience is sure to have a frightastic time watching it!

Drac (Brian Hull) and his friends are back and Drac is ready to announce his retirement from Hotel Transylvania. He plans to give the hotel to his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Johnny, his son-in-law (Andy Samberg), but after having a change of heart, he decides not to, thinking that Johnny will ruin the hotel. To get out of it, he tells Johnny a lie, which causes Johnny to use Van Helsing’s (Jim Gaffigan) mysterious invention, the “Monsterfication Ray” to transform into a monster to get Drac’s approval and fix everything. However, the machine malfunctions and ends up stripping Drac of his powers and turning him and his monster friends into humans. Johnny and Drac must partner up on an adventure to find the magical stone that will change them back before their transformations become permanent.  

The main characters are Drac, Johnny and Mavis, but the rest of the Hotel Transylvania family we’ve come to love, such as Drac’s wife, Erika Van Helsing (Katherine Hahn), Frank (Brad Abrell), Murray (Keegan-Michael Kay), Griffin The Invisible Man (David Spade) and Wayne (Steve Buscemi) also make appearances. This film lives up to its subtitle where almost every character goes through some type of internal or external transformation. It is fascinating watching the monsters get turned into humans and how they have to adapt. I laughed so hard when Blobby, who is a green blob monster, turns into his human form, which ends up being a plate of green gelatin that the characters have to carry around. Drac and Johnny’s entire adventure through the jungles of South America is hilarious, especially when they are on a tour bus and Johnny’s weight as a monster slows it down, so he sticks his feet through the bottom and starts running with it.

The message of this film is to accept others for who they are and also be true to yourself. Drac only sees the crazy things Johnny does and Johnny tries to teach him to see beyond the worst things so he can see the best parts in people and life. Whether Johnny is a human or monster he always loves being himself but gets in trouble when he lets Drac convince him that he isn’t enough.  

I rate Hotel Transylvania: Transformania 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can check into Prime Video to watch Hotel Transylvania: Transformania starting January 14, 2022.

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The Lost Treasure * Lots Of Amazing Stuff, Quite A Bit Of Action, Not Too Scary For Younger Kids

Wednesday, January 12th, 2022

Eddie Fox, a hustling treasure hunter, finds himself forced to embark on a journey into the jungle to prevent a power hungry egomaniac from finding an ancient weapon that could destroy the island. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avalon N. comments, “The Lost Treasure is a greatly scripted, nicely executed film. It has quite a bit of action but definitely not too scary for younger children.” Mikela G. adds, “The Lost Treasure is an entertaining, fun and enjoyable movie. It has lots of action scenes, and really grabbed my attention. Plus it is very family friendly.” See their full reviews below.

The Lost Treasure

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The Lost Treasure is a greatly scripted, nicely executed film. It has quite a bit of action but definitely not too scary for younger children.

This film is about treasure hunter Eddie Fox (Josh Margules). One day he finds a book which leads him to find out about a magical staff. He embarks on a mission to get this staff before it falls into the wrong hands.

First, this film has lots of amazing stuff in it. Most noteworthy are the locations, all of which are beautiful; some are in the forest and others are on the beach, and are all stunning. This makes it a fascinating show to watch. There are a lot of interesting camera shots in this film. One example is the shot from behind the leaves which shows the main characters exploring. There is a bit of some intense stuff going on and it’s accompanied with some intense music that goes great with it. One of my favorite things is how the story of the staff is similar to mythological stories, without actually being mythology. I very much enjoy mythology so that made this story all the more interesting to me.  Lastly, I noted that there is a group of three bad guys and a group of three good guys, which means there is a 50% chance that either side wins. You just have to watch it to find out.

The message of this story is to never give up and keep persevering because you never know what you might uncover.

I give The Lost Treasure 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases on streaming January 11, 2022.

The Lost Treasure

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

The Lost Treasure is an entertaining, fun and enjoyable movie. It has lots of action scenes, and really grabbed my attention. Plus it is very family friendly.

The film’s storyline revolves around a small book that is very important to all of the characters. There are two teams that are independently working to win it back. They constantly go back and forth with who has hold of it. However, the treasure hunt that the special book takes you on is worth it!

Something that really stands out to me is the setting of this movie. Throughout the film the location for the characters is a pretty beach, on what looks to be a small island. The scenery is gorgeous. The ocean looks clear blue, and there are tons of beautiful flowers everywhere. I also like the concept of the story. The characters are all trying to get hold of a book, which leads them to a treasure hunt that eventually takes them to the treasure! However, the viewers don’t realize this extended storyline until they are actually doing it. This creates good suspense, which always surprises the audience. Finally, it is very interesting how each character is so different from the next. They all have their own distinct personalities and way of thinking. Plus, each has their own style. For instance, Tanya (Stella Tinucci) wears a lot of unique clothing. Most of it stands out. I really liked this, because I’m very into clothes and personal style.

The message of this film is to never give up. If you want something badly enough, teamwork can always help you to achieve that goal. Be aware that this film does include the use of guns and swords.

I give The Lost Treasure 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 8 to 12. It releases on digital Jan 11, 2022.

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