Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for July, 2024

Twisters * Perfect Summer Movie Combining Anxiety-Producing Suspense, Heartbreak And Thrills

Friday, July 19th, 2024

Daisy Edgar-Jones stars as Kate Cooper, a former storm chaser haunted by a devastating encounter with a tornado during her college years who now studies storm patterns on screens safely in New York City. She is lured back to the open plains by her friend, Javi to test a groundbreaking new tracking system. There, she crosses paths with Tyler Owens, the charming and reckless social-media superstar who thrives on posting his storm-chasing adventures with his raucous crew, the more dangerous the better. As storm season intensifies, terrifying phenomena never seen before are unleashed, and Kate, Tyler and their competing teams find themselves squarely in the paths of multiple storm systems converging over central Oklahoma in the fight of their lives.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “I was on the edge of my seat during the entire film. Twisters combines anxiety-producing suspense, heartbreak, and thrill—a perfect summer movie that left me crippled with anxiety in the best way possible.”  Mikella G. adds, “Twisters is a big adventure film that takes you on a wild tornado adventure. I really like how informative and descriptive this movie is when it comes to meteorology, while still being so exciting and entertaining.” Sydney S. wraps it up with, “Twisters is an action-packed movie with realistic special effects that make the tornados feel authentic and dangerous. However, the plot is mediocre and not very memorable. The characters don’t have much emotional range and don’t have great chemistry together, either.” See their full reviews below.

Twisters
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kate in Twisters, directed by Lee Isaac Chung.

I was on the edge of my seat during the entire film. Twisters combines anxiety-producing suspense, heartbreak, and thrill—a perfect summer movie that left me crippled with anxiety in the best way possible.

The story begins with Kate Cooper (Daisy Edgar-Jones). She’s a remarkably smart girl who is a storm chaser. After a horrific accident when chasing a storm, in which she loses her best friends and boyfriend, Kate decides she will never chase again. Years later, she reunites with Javi (Anthony Ramos), the only other one who survived the accident. He tells Kate that she is what his team needs to test a new, top-of-the-line storm tracking system. With much hesitation, she embarks on this journey where she meets Tyler Owens (Glen Powell), an internet sensation who’s known for chasing storms. Together they experience the storm of their lives.

(from left) Lily (Sasha Lane) and Tyler (Glen Powell) in Twisters, directed by Lee Isaac Chung.

The original, called Twister, came out in 1996, and I don’t know if this film will meet the expectations of those who have seen the 1996 film. However I can say that this film exceeded my expectations tremendously. From the visuals to the story line, my attention was always drawn to the screen. I love the thrill that comes along with watching the intense storm action sequences. Screenwriter Mark L. Smith captures and brings to life this compelling story, and the visuals are intense and very well done. Each storm that is chased brings so much suspense, and no boredom – and I could never predict what would happen next. Director Lee Isaac Chung perfectly combines good storytelling with immersive visuals that captivate the entire theater. I love Daisy Edgar-Jones’ portrayal of Kate. Kate is very smart but also selfless and wants to use her gift to help people. This creates a great dynamic with Tyler, played by Glen Powell, one of my favorite actors, who delivers a great performance.

I especially love the message of this film: even if it’s hard, always do what’s right for the greater good.

I’d give Twisters 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can catch Twisters in theaters July 19, 2024.

Twisters
Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

Twisters is a big adventure film that takes you on a wild tornado adventure. I really like how informative and descriptive this movie is when it comes to meteorology, while still being so exciting and entertaining.

Twisters takes its audience to Oklahoma and follows meteorologist Kate (Daisy Edgar Jones). After a devastating accident while working on a college science project, Kate thought she would give up her love for chasing tornadoes forever. However, years later, memories from her past resurface, and Kate soon realizes that her true calling lies in the thrill of tornadoes, and figuring out how to save her people in the place she calls home.

(from left) Dexter (Tunde Adebimpe), Lily (Sasha Lane), Ben (Harry Hadden-Paton), Boone (Brandon Perea), Dani (Katy O’Brian), Javi (Anthony Ramos), Tyler (Glen Powell) and Kate (Daisy Edgar-Jones) in Twisters, directed by Lee Isaac Chung.

A huge standout in this film is the CGI and visual effects. The tornadoes, and their formations, are extremely realistic. I really enjoyed when the inside of the tornado was shown. There are multiple moments when the characters are sitting in a car as the tornado is directly above them and the CGI is outstanding in these moments – I almost felt as if I was in the tornado myself! Additionally, the characters are really connected which really helps build the plot. From the start of the movie, watching Kate and her friends working together, I could see the clear bond that they have. This signifies friendship and foreshadows just how important that will be throughout the film as it develops. Plus, the chemistry between Kate and Tyler (Glen Powell) is strong. These two actors have a camera presence that they each use to build off one another. The tension, yet curiosity, between the two characters during their earlier interactions really helps build their strong connection. The night scene at the motel when the two are going back and forth and the other characters are reacting exemplifies this and enhances their connection. Last, I really enjoyed the storyline which is extremely interesting. Learning about meteorology and how tornadoes work by watching an action-packed film is rare. It raises awareness about tornadoes and the effects that it can have on people.

The message of the Twisters is to always do what you know in your heart is right. Be aware there are scenes that contain harsh injury.

I give Twisters 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Twisters in theaters beginning July 19, 2024.

Twisters
By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Twisters is an action-packed movie with realistic special effects that make the tornados feel authentic and dangerous. However, the plot is mediocre and not very memorable. The characters don’t have much emotional range and don’t have great chemistry together, either.

The film follows Kate Cooper (Daisy Edgar-Jones), who has a history of tornado chasing. She has avoided the matter until her friend wants to collect new tornado data and asks her to come along, and they find themselves competing with others to catch a tornado. Suddenly, the group is faced with the extreme tornadoes, leaving all their lives threatened.

(from left) Kate (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Tyler (Glen Powell) in Twisters, directed by Lee Isaac Chung.

The main characters are Kate, Tyler Owen (Glen Powell), Javi (Anthony Ramos) and Ben (Harry Hadden-Paton). The characters don’t seem to really resonate with one another. I presumed that Kate and Tyler would eventually become each other’s love interest, but nothing actually happens between them. None of the characters really show much emotion at all and their attitude is pretty uninspired. For instance, Kate stares emotionless into the distance, and I guessed that is because she’s afraid due to her past experiences, but nothing is mentioned. Also, we know very little about Tyler besides his live-streaming. Does he have experiences that define why he is here? Again, we are left with a guessing game. In terms of camera work, at the beginning of the film, the cinematography is so shaky that it was hard to concentrate. However, the cinematography improves later on. The makeup, especially when there’s blood involved, is great. Kate’s scar on her leg looks realistic. The CGI is also convincing. The tornadoes look natural and the green screens don’t have any faults. For example, when there are twin tornadoes shown and they come apart from each other, it looks genuine! My favorite part of the movie is the exciting action, which got my heart racing. For instance, when the ceiling of a building is about to cave in, the suspense is thrilling. It’s disappointing that once the action happens, the plot plods along, which means there is a lack of balance.

The message of Twisters is hidden, but it calls the audience to action. Tornadoes happen in many places, and the film brings awareness to how fatal tornadoes can be. Climate change is not mentioned, since director Lee Isaac Chung believes the audience should not be “preached” to, but it hangs in the distance. You should be aware there is mild cursing.

I give Twisters 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Twisters releases in theaters July 19, 2024.


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Dance Rivals * Exhilarating, Inspiring, Incredible Performances And Breathtaking Choreography

Wednesday, July 17th, 2024

When a talented young dancer moves to Los Angeles with her family, she is nervous about fitting in. As she teaches her younger sister’s dance team, she is quickly noticed and recruited by the top dance squad in the city. But tensions rise between her and the reigning dance queen, so they each assemble their own crews and settle their differences on the dance floor.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avalynn G. comments, “The film Dance Rivals has a very competitive edge. It’s amazing! The actors in this film really work together as a team. The soundtrack makes the film really energetic and very interesting. I love how this film has a ton of different emotions like sad, happy, love, and jealousy. I also love how the film includes many different genres of dance such as lyrical and hip hop.” Ari S. adds, “I thoroughly enjoyed Dance Rivals, which is an exhilarating new film that left me inspired and moved. What truly stands out to me are the incredible performances and the breathtaking dance sequences that bring the story to life. At its core, Dance Rivals teaches valuable life lessons about perseverance, self-discovery, and the importance of staying true to oneself.” Neo M. wraps it up with, “I have mixed feelings about the film Dance Rivals, but overall, I enjoyed it! The acting is on point, and helped me feel a strong connection to the protagonists. And although the plot kept me engaged with fun dance choreography and relatable teen characters, it is quite predictable…”  See their full reviews and Ari’s interviews with cast & crew below.

Dance Rivals
By Avalynn G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

The film Dance Rivals has a very competitive edge. It’s amazing! The actors in this film really work together as a team. The soundtrack makes the film really energetic and very interesting.

The storyline follows a girl named Lex (Savannah Lee May). She joins the best dance team in the city, but the dance captain, Skyla (Laura Kristine) is rude to Lex. Then she leaves the team and Lex takes over as captain. Lex and her friends find out there is a big competition they can enter, but they can only enter if they have five people. So they go out and find two more people to complete their team. They go back to the studio and practice their dance and the next day they go to the competition, hoping to win.

The costumes are very true to what someone would wear to dance on stage. I love how this film has a ton of different emotions like sad, happy, love, and jealousy. I also love how the film includes many different genres of dance such as lyrical and hip hop. The music in this film makes me want to get up and dance. I love the relationship between Lex and her sister Carrie. They are so sweet together and, if one of them is sad, then the other tries to make them feel better. Lex always helps Carrie out when she needs it — you can tell how much they love each other. My favorite part is when Lex takes the team that she is now coaching to the competition they entered, and they end up winning. It is super exciting!

The film’s message is about teamwork and not being envious of others. Lex’s team works together and ends up winning the competition. When Skyla becomes super jealous and leaves the team she misses out on winning the competition.

I give Dance Rivals 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases on streaming and VOD platforms on July 16, 2024.

Dance Rivals
By Ari S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I thoroughly enjoyed Dance Rivals, which is an exhilarating new film that left me inspired and moved. What truly stands out to me are the incredible performances and the breathtaking dance sequences that bring the story to life. 

Dance Rivals follows the journey of two ambitious dancers, each determined to outshine the other in a high-stakes dance competition. As they navigate personal and professional challenges, their rivalry intensifies, leading to a series of dramatic and emotional moments. 

The storyline is engaging and well-crafted, drawing me closer to the film and always keeping me anticipating what’s next. The standout feature of Dance Rivals is undoubtedly its choreography and the performances, particularly Savannah Lee May’s, who plays Lex. Her portrayal of a passionate and determined dancer is both powerful and nuanced, capturing the essence of her character’s struggle and growth. The choreography is beautifully executed and perfectly integrated into the narrative, enhancing the emotional impact of the story. The film’s visual and auditory elements work in harmony to create an immersive experience that highlights the beauty and intensity of competitive dance.

At its core, Dance Rivals teaches valuable life lessons about perseverance, self-discovery, and the importance of staying true to oneself. 

I give Dance Rivals 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 through 18. This filmreleases in theaters and streaming on July 16, 2024. Don’t miss the chance to experience this dynamic and inspiring film!

Dance Rivals
By Neo M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I have mixed feelings about the film Dance Rivals, but overall, I enjoyed it! The acting is on point, and helped me feel a strong connection to the protagonists. And although the plot kept me engaged with fun dance choreography and relatable teen characters, it is quite predictable, which at times made me lose interest.

The main character, Lex (Savannah Lee May), has a great passion for dance and has also taught her little sister. Lex and her sister live with their mom, who is struggling to keep up with rent and expenses. The only option left for her is to stop the girls’ dance lessons. However, when she is offered a new job in Los Angeles, and the family must move, things take a turn. Lex meets a new guy, who also dances, and discovers a dance studio.

Savannah Lee May is excellent as Lex —her dancing skills blew me away throughout the entire film; I couldn’t take my eyes off her. It is also important to highlight our antagonist, whose jealousy, possessiveness, and flaming anger drive much of the conflict in the story. The storyline is basic, and, at times, I was making an effort to keep watching. Despite the downsides of this film, I was still entertained. For example, my favorite part is when Lex starts coaching her sister’s friends. They all look so happy, and it brought a smile to my face. This film includes boy drama, which is very repetitive and, once again, predictable. One of my favorite parts is the final dance competition. All the dancers are so in sync that I felt like I was watching a famous dance show.

There are multiple positive messages in the film. One key lesson in Dance Rivals is not to be jealous of someone with greater skills but to learn from them instead. It also explores the themes of friendship, overcoming childhood traumas, and the pursuit of dreams with determination. This film has some bad language, but is suitable for tweens and teens.

I give Dance Rivals 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to18. Dance Rivals releases on streaming and VOD platforms on July 16, 2024.

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Imagination Time with Patrick * Up-Beat Album Combining Oddities Like Zombies And Ballerinas To Create An Adventure That Keeps Kids Guessing

Tuesday, July 16th, 2024

My new album of fun, silly, imaginative and empowering songs for kids, tackling topics such as hairless werewolves, fluffy dinosaurs, zombie ballerinas and much more!

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Braedyn M. comments, “Imagination Time with Patrick is an up-beat and peppy musical album, combining topics such as zombies and ballerinas to create an adventure that keeps kids guessing, ‘What’s next?’ Made by children’s musician and author Patrick Adams, this goofy collection of songs is designed to spark imagination in kids, and keep them active.”  Kinsley H. adds, “Imagination Time with Patrick has youthful songs that are full of unexpected lyrics. All of the music involves silly topics like the song “Purple Pepperoni Pizza.” This is my favorite song, and it reminds me a lot of Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater.” The words are catchy and easy to remember. I can totally see little kids being inspired to try to order purple food!” See their full reviews below.  

Imagination Time with Patrick
By Braedyn M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Imagination Time with Patrick is an up-beat and peppy musical album, combining topics such as zombies and ballerinas to create an adventure that keeps kids guessing, “What’s next?”

Made by children’s musician and author Patrick Adams, this goofy collection of songs is designed to spark imagination in kids, and keep them active.  It wonderfully showcases what you can do with a bit of creativity, and loads of fun. It takes kids on a journey from the Milky Way, to an underwater airplane, and wherever they can think of.

These songs are definitely a fun experience!  I would not have thought songs like “Puppy Cat,” “Football Bat” or “Fluffy Dinosaur” could exist.  Despite the unusual titles they are actually very catchy songs, with most of them having a pop or techno beat to them.  My favorite song is “Fluffy Dinosaur” — the lyrics go into great detail explaining what it would be like to be a “Fluffasaurus Rex.” They actually don’t seem too scary.  You can tell that Patrick had a very fun time making this album. He definitely has the heart of a child.  The songs definitely seem whimsical and quirky, with most having a Dr. Seuss feel to them. They cover a wide range of topics that kids are interested in, from unicorns, to werewolves, and nearly everything in between.  The sound quality is very good, and not muffled or blurred.  It comes across quite clear and understandable despite the out of the box lyrics.  The whole album is unusual from start to finish, and entertaining at the same time. Patrick talks, or sings, about being yourself.  Through song, he lets his audience know that there is no one like you, and encourages you to go out and show the world what you can do. 

The album’s message is that things aren’t always as they seem.  Though a hairless werewolf or a zombie ballerina might seem scary at first, there is no doubt that these silly creatures’ main goal is to have fun, and enjoy life.  There is no bad language in this album, and nothing to be worried about (unless you are weary of an alien dance party!).

I give Imagination Time with Patrick 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Imagination Time with Patrick is available now with online retailers or streaming.

Imagination Time with Patrick
By Kinsley H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Imagination Time with Patrick is an album full of imagination. My five-year old self would have really enjoyed these songs. It is perfect for younger audiences who want to be silly and have fun. The lyrics discuss everything from hairless werewolves to fluffy dinosaurs.

Patrick Adams is a singer and creator of children’s music. His latest album, Imagination Time with Patrick, empowers kids through creative oddities such as a puppy cat, a peanut butterfly, and zombie ballerinas. The songs are designed to make kids laugh and explore all areas of their imagination.

Imagination Time with Patrick has youthful songs that are full of unexpected lyrics. All of the music involves silly topics like the song “Purple Pepperoni Pizza.” This is my favorite song, and it reminds me a lot of Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater.” The words are catchy and easy to remember. I can totally see little kids being inspired to try to order purple food!  There are also opportunities for the creation of cute dance moves to the tune of “Alien Dance Party” and “Zombie Ballerina.” Some of this music would even be great for brain breaks in elementary classrooms as well as surprise performances in listeners’ living rooms. There is some educational value in a few of the songs. For example, kids can learn about the eight planets in “Space Train” as well as the dwarf planet, Pluto. Songs like “Fluffy Dinosaur” and “Puppy Cat” are full of describing words that can help develop creative writing skills.  The music does have some unappealing characteristics. The songs can be monotone and repetitive. It is more speaking than singing. The rhythms are very electronic and do not seem to have the same quality of mainstream music. They also are long, so it can be easy to tire of hearing the same lyrics. However, these things make the tunes catchy and easy for young minds to remember.

The album’s message is to use your imagination. There are no creatures or ideas too small that can’t be activated in young minds. It also encourages children to get off of technology and to unleash their fun power that is already inside of them .The music is kid-friendly and parents do not have to worry about any bad language or content.

I give Imagination Time with Patrick 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 5. The album is available now on Streaming and Online Retailers.

For more film reviews by our auspicious KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, go to https://www.kidsfirst.org.

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Johnny Puff: Secret Mission * A Colorful Journey With Unique Characters Whose Superpowers Come Together In A Classic, Thrilling Plot

Friday, July 12th, 2024

Four Puffins, under the guidance of Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp), develop their superpowers and use them for good. When their home, Taigasville, comes under threat from the evil Otto von Walrus, Johnny Puff and co. embark on a secret mission.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ashleigh C. comments, “The animated adventure, Johnny Puff: Secret Mission is a colorful journey with Johnny Puff. I love how the characters’ unique personalities and superpowers come together in a classic, yet thrilling plot. The narration adds a comedic touch that keeps you entertained throughout the movie.” Avalon N. adds, “Johnny Puff: Secret Mission is an innovative and hilarious movie. This film has many unique components — most noticeable is that none of the characters speak. The only voice heard in the entire film is that of the narrator, Johnny Depp.” Gavin S. adds, “I thoroughly enjoyed Johnny Puff: Secret Mission for its imaginative storyline and dynamic characters. The film masterfully combines adventure and fantasy, and it is a captivating watch for audiences of all ages.” ChangYang L. wraps it up with, “This film is very imaginative and very organized, plus I’m impressed by the story development. It has a well-structured plot that beautifully showcases how the four Puffins use their superpowers for good and ultimately triumph over Otto the walrus.” See their full reviews below.

Johnny Puff: Secret Mission
By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 20

The animated adventure, Johnny Puff: Secret Mission is a colorful journey with Johnny Puff. I love how the characters’ unique personalities and superpowers come together in a classic, yet thrilling plot. The narration adds a comedic touch that keeps you entertained throughout the movie.

In Johnny Puff: Secret Mission, the peaceful town of Taigasville is threatened by the evil Otto von Walrus. Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp) and his team of four super-powered Puffins—Tic, Tac, Didi, and Pie—embark on a secret mission to save their home. The storyline is straightforward and predictable but executed in a charming and engaging way.

The characters are one of the highlights of the film. Johnny Puff is the wise and brave leader, while each Puffin has distinct traits that match their superpowers. The animation style might remind viewers of the Ice Age franchise, giving it a nostalgic feel. Although the movie lacks dialogue other than the narrator, it compensates with vibrant visuals and expressive characters. The narrator’s humor is a standout, adding a light-hearted and fun element to the film. One of my favorite parts is the dynamic between the Puffins and how their abilities complement each other during their mission. The special effects and animation bring their powers to life in a visually appealing way. The sets and locations are beautifully designed, creating an immersive environment that enhances the storytelling.

The movie’s message is about teamwork, bravery, and using your unique talents for good. It’s a positive theme that encourages viewers to value their individuality and work together to overcome challenges. The film promotes positive social behavior.

I give Johnny Puff: Secret Mission 3 out of 5 stars. It’s perfect for ages 5 to 12. You can find this movie in theaters and on major streaming platforms and DVD beginning July 12, 2024. Get ready for a fun-filled journey with Johnny Puff and his heroic Puffins!

Johnny Puff: Secret Mission
By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15


Johnny Puff: Secret Mission is an innovative and hilarious movie. It incorporates a lot of different theatrical elements to add to viewer enjoyment.

This film is about the super puffins, specifically Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp) who has to save Taigasville from all the evil shenanigans that Otto von Walrus keeps pulling. Every ten to 15 minutes he tries something new and the super puffins must stop him from destroying the arctic. It is based on the TV series, Puffins.

This film has many unique components — most noticeable is that none of the characters speak. The only voice heard in the whole film is that of the narrator, Johnny Depp. The rest of the characters simply grunt and make other vocal noises, which allows the disagreements and plot to be up to the interpretation of the viewer. Another aspect of this film is its ever changing plot. Rather than just one big evil scheme throughout the film, Otto von Walrus constantly tries different things and continually gets defeated. It feels like a full TV season of ten to 15 minute episodes put into a fun, entertaining movie. The animation is very impressive; it uses an animation style that is not often used in movies which therefore makes the whole film much more interesting. The villain, Otto von Walrus, is more of a bully than a true evil villain, which makes the character relations even more unique.

The message of this film is to never give up and keep having fun because the world doesn’t stop for you.

I give Johnny Puff: Secret Mission 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. It releases in theaters and streaming on July 12, 2024.

Johnny Puff: Secret Mission
By Gavin S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I thoroughly enjoyed Johnny Puff: Secret Mission for its imaginative storyline and dynamic characters. The film masterfully combines adventure and fantasy, and it is a captivating watch for audiences of all ages.

Johnny Puff: Secret Mission follows four Puffin friends, Tic, Pi, Dak and DD, who stumble upon a mysterious glowing meteor that grants them incredible powers. Alongside their retired rockstar friend, Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp), who can transform into a ninja through his music, they embark on an epic quest filled with challenges and discoveries.

The movie excels in character development and creativity, which are two aspects that particularly stand out to me. Tick’s ability to control nature adds a beautiful, almost poetic element to their journey. Pi’s super-strength provides both humor and heroism, while Dak’s technological prowess offers clever solutions to the group’s obstacles. DD’s ability to break the sound barrier and manipulate time introduces thrilling, high speed sequences that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Johnny Puff’s transformation into a ninja through his music is a unique and entertaining twist that highlights the importance of following one’s passion. The film’s animation is vibrant and detailed, making the Puffin’s world come alive in a way that is visually stunning and deeply engaging.

The film’s message is about the power of friendship and teamwork.

I give Johnny Puff: Secret Mission 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 through 12. This film releases July 12, on VOD, AVOD, Streaming, Online Retailers, and in theatres. Be sure to check it out

Johnny Puff: Secret Mission
By Changyang L., KIDS FIRST! age 19

Johnny Puff: Secret Mission is fantastic! The animation is top-notch, and it vividly chronicles the tale of four heroic Puffins using their extraordinary powers to defeat the villainous walrus, Otto von.

The story takes place in Tuss V., a tiny coastal town in the Arctic where four inseparable friends live among the Puffins. They’re naughty and playful and always looking for new adventures.  They find something even more valuable than any treasure – a meteorite that gives them incredible powers.

This film is very imaginative and very organized, plus I’m impressed by the story development. It has a well-structured plot that beautifully showcases how the four Puffins use their superpowers for good and ultimately triumph over Otto the walrus. The quality of the animation is great – the film constantly switches scenes along with the storyline, and the production is smooth. The background music changes with the development of the plot. For example, when the Puffins are stripped of their food source by Otto, they go to Otto to get back their food, fall into Otto’s trick, and are captured and taken to Otto’s base camp. Throughout this scene the background music is tense and creates a tense atmosphere.

The four Puffins include Tick, the littlest of the team, who is clumsy, naive and has a good heart. He is able to control nature. Pi is the giant of the group; he is moody and impulsive and never gets tired. He is unstoppably strong. Dak is the brains of the bunch; he examines everything very closely. Didi is the most self-absorbed of them all; her powers are being able to break the sound barrier and make time go slower. Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp) is a retired rock star who lives a peaceful life in harmony with nature and can transform into a sneaky ninja warrior. Otto von Walrus is famous for his craftiness and intelligence and his dirty tricks. At the end of the story, Otto’s mother visits Otto and instructs him to go on the right track. Under the influence of his mother, Otto gradually gives up his prank plan and reunites with the animals in the town. My favorite scene is the opening scene where Tick, Pi, Dak and Didi are introduced; it beautifully portrays the distinct personality traits of each little auk. It’s a captivating and engaging start that draws you into the story from the get go.

The film’s message is about the four little Puffins that accidentally discover meteorites with superpowers during their expedition, and they each acquire superpowers and use them for good things, and their secret mission to save the arctic Johnny Pop mission.

I give Johnny Puff: Secret Mission 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8.

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Fly Me To the Moon * Best Movie I’ve Watched All Year!  A Wonderful And Compelling Whirlwind Adventure Showing Exactly What It Means To Get Ready For Launch Day

Thursday, July 11th, 2024

Starring Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum, Fly Me To The Moon is a sharp, stylish comedy-drama set against the high-stakes backdrop of NASA’s historic Apollo 11 moon landing. Brought in to fix NASA’s public image, sparks fly in all directions as marketing maven Kelly Jones (Johansson) wreaks havoc on launch director Cole Davis’s (Tatum) already difficult task. When the White House deems the mission too important to fail, Jones is directed to stage a fake moon landing as back-up and the countdown truly begins.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sydney S. comments, “Fly Me to the Moon is unlike any movie I’ve seen before. This film is well directed, with moments of slow burn and action, and has a strong backstory. It pays homage to a very memorable historical event whilst being heart-warming and suspenseful.” Daniel S. adds, “Fly Me to The Moon leans heavily into the comedy genre, providing a humorous retelling of the consequential 1960s space race. Every single cast member impressively nails their comedic timing. The excellent writing delivers a mix of physical and verbal comedy, all of which lands.” Braedyn M. wraps it up with, “This is the best movie I’ve watched all year!  Fly Me to the Moon is a wonderful and compelling motion picture that takes you on a whirlwind adventure showing you exactly what it means to get everything ready for launch day.” See their full reviews below.  

Fly Me to the Moon
By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson) and Cole Davis (Channing Tatum) in FLY ME TO THE MOON.

Fly Me to the Moon is unlike any movie I’ve seen before. This film is well directed, with moments of slow burn and action, and has a strong backstory. It pays homage to a very memorable historical event whilst being heart-warming and suspenseful. 

The story emerges from a different perspective of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It shows a backstory to the incredible NASA minds behind the operation.

The main characters are Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson), Cole Davis (Channing Tatum), Moe Berkus (Woody Harrelson) and Henry Smalls (Ray Romano). Cole’s backstory really stands out to me because of how sensitive he is about his job after the Apollo 1 mission tragedy. Cole blames himself, as the mission control manager, that the crew died. It’s interesting to see how that affects his relationship with others and himself. I also like the character Kelly because she’s a strong female leader. It’s nice to see her being the reason NASA accomplishes so much in the movie. The people around her are in awe of what she is capable of doing and I appreciate the screenwriters making an empowering female the main character.

Cole Davis (Channing Tatum), Moe Berkus (Woody Harrelson) and Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson) in FLY ME TO THE MOON.

Next, the sets are incredible because they interpret the buildings and the technology at the time so well. I also like the cinematography, especially when Kelly and Cole fly in his private jet. The view is breathtaking and convincing to the viewer. I especially like how real footage from the mission is included. It makes the scenes—like during the rocket launch and first walk on the moon—more genuine. While loosely based on a true story, this film is mostly fictional and deviates from real history. Additionally, the costumes are fantastic; my favorites are the astronaut suits. One thing that is lacking is there isn’t much comedy, which is disappointing. Some moments of the plot are slow, as well. My favorite part is the take-off of the rocket, which is visually breathtaking. A cloud of bright fire surrounds the rocket until it’s left with orange hues as it takes off into the atmosphere. Real footage is balanced with CGI in alternating shots, which has a great and clever effect. That is just a very special moment. 

The film’s message is to be yourself and not run from what scares you. Kelly repeats she’s used to running from her past and she doesn’t want to anymore. Another key theme is to always be truthful, even if other people don’t believe it. There is mild cursing in this film, so watch out for that. 

I give Fly Me to the Moon 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Fly Me to the Moon releases in theaters July 12, 2024 and on Apple TV+ at a later date.  

Fly Me to The Moon
By Daniel S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Cole Davis (Channing Tatum) and Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson) in FLY ME TO THE MOON.

Fly Me to The Moon is a sharp, well written, blast of a film that exceeded all my expectations. It’s witty comedy, stylization, and its surprisingly heartfelt love story at the heart of it all, cements Fly Me to The Moon as one of the best movies of the year. 

Set during the late 1960s, Fly Me to The Moon follows NASA’s Apollo 11 mission to send the first humans to the moon, but it takes a different approach in telling the well-known story. Originally hired by NASA to boost its reputation and gain public traction for the Apollo 11 mission, Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson) is tasked with organizing a backup landing, in case the real landing is unsuccessful. She meets launch director Cole (Channing Tatum), and the two must grapple with the ethicality of inauthenticity and the perilous stakes of failing the mission.

Cole Davis (Channing Tatum) and Henry Smalls (Ray Romano) in FLY ME TO THE MOON.

Fly Me to The Moon leans heavily into the comedy genre, providing a humorous retelling of the consequential 1960s space race. Every single cast member impressively nails their comedic timing. The excellent writing delivers a mix of physical and verbal comedy, all of which lands. Beyond the two leads’ lighthearted and hilarious dynamic, Jim Rash’s witty director Lance steals the show. Lance is recruited by Kelly to handle NASA’s backup landing and he is just a blast to watch. One of the film’s greatest strengths is also a weakness though, as sometimes the more comedic tones and the dramatic tones don’t clash well. Often, a scene filled with hilarious jokes will be followed by a contrasting touching scene and vice-versa, which results in much of the emotional impact being stripped away.  Fly Me to The Moon is a fantastic period piece, embracing a retro aesthetic in its sets, costumes, music, and overall feel. The entire movie produces a sense of nostalgia for this time, even for those not there to see it. The sets are shockingly large in scale, and feel authentic in emulating the 1960s era. Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography is a standout, and there are countless bold and incredible shots in the film. The cinematography paired with incredible editing results in Fly Me to The Moon’s largely distinct style. Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum are perfectly cast in this film, not just for their individual portrayals of their characters, but their undeniable chemistry with each other. Thanks to the writing, and the two actors, Kelly and Cole feel like real human beings. We get glimpses at their motivations and flaws, which make us root for them all the more. The dynamic between the two is perfect, and they fit together very well on screen.

Fly Me to The Moon has what so many films are missing today; optimism. Not only is it entertaining, but it’s truly uplifting. It is a hilarious, stylish, and pleasing movie that is the perfect summer treat for the whole family.

I give Fly Me to The Moon 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Fly Me to The Moon releases in theaters July 12, 2024.

Fly Me to the Moon
By Braedyn M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Lance (Jim Rash) and Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson) in FLY ME TO THE MOON.

This is the best movie I’ve watched all year!  Fly Me to the Moon is a wonderful and compelling motion picture that takes you on a whirlwind adventure showing you exactly what it means to get everything ready for launch day.

Brought in to help NASA get back on the good side of the American public, Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson) a marketing know-it-all, revs up NASA’s marketing program much to the dismay and annoyance of launch director Cole Davis (Channing Tatum).  When problems ensue getting the rocket ready for launch day, Kelly is told to stage a backup version of the moon landing in case things go awry.  Now, she has to figure out a way to do the impossible.  Land a man on the moon, and yet never leave Earth.

Everything in this movie is spot on.  From the details put into making sure the food stays in line with the timeframe, to showing how one of the smallest creatures plays one of the biggest roles in this story. I really love the music — it’s upbeat at times, and mysterious at others.  It definitely impacts the emotions every scene — kudos to the director, Greg Berlanti and music director, Daniel Pemberton. 

Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson) in FLY ME TO THE MOON.

The screenplay by Rose Gilroy has some of the best writing that I have seen.  I love the dialogue between the characters, which is peppered with humor and a bit of romance. Cole and Kelly’s chemistry softens out this production, and sweetens the overall impact. It’s hard to choose a favorite thing in this film, but I’m going to go with the cat who reminds me a lot of my own. He is very curious about everything the team is working on.  This is a very dramatic movie from start to finish.  I’m glad that there isn’t much of a low point.  Neither Kelly nor Cole’s past is dwelled upon; we just learn enough to give us depth and insight into their personalities. This is definitely a movie that I already want to see again.

The film’s message is that you don’t have to fake it to make it.  Though the government wanted a staged moon landing to secure a win in the space race, Kelly finds out that sometimes you can be authentic and get the same results.  Be aware that there is some profanity in this film and lots of smoking — it was 1969, after all.

I give Fly Me to the Moon 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults.  Fly Me to the Moon will rocket into theaters on July 12, 2024.

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