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The Angry Birds Movie 2 * A Fast-Paced Slapstick Sequel That Fans Will Particularly Enjoy

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

The flightless birds and scheming green pigs take their feud to the next level. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Damon F. comments, “The Angry Birds Movie 2 is an amazing sequel about a large group of birds who live on an island called Bird Island. These birds are always trying to fight their rivals, the pigs, who live on an opposite island called Pig Island. The first movie Angry Birds, was about the how rivalry between the islands first began. In this movie, while the two islands are still at war, a third island of eagles decide to join in, but in a more destructive fashion. The two enemy islands now must team up to stop the eagles from destroying them both.” Will C. adds, “The Angry Birds Movie 2 is a fast-paced slapstick comedy that fans of the first movie may enjoy. I liked seeing all the same characters again, plus a few new ones that were very funny. You won’t find the old angry Red in this movie, though. Now he’s a hero and everyone loves him. Personally, I prefer the Red of the first film, with his explosive outbursts.” See their full reviews below.

The Angry Birds Movie 2
Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The Angry Birds Movie 2 is an amazing sequel about a large group of birds who live on an island called Bird Island. These birds are always trying to fight their rivals, the pigs, who live on an opposite island called Pig Island. The first movie Angry Birds, was about the how rivalry between the islands first began. In this movie, while the two islands are still at war, a third island of eagles decide to join in, but in a more destructive fashion. The two enemy islands now must team up to stop the eagles from destroying them both.

In this film there is a subplot about three cute hatchlings who accidentally lose some eggs while playing around. Throughout the movie it shows them trying their best to bring them back home safely before their parents realize what they have done.

This movie is based on a popular game by Rovio Entertainment called “Angry Birds”. In the game, you play as the birds use a giant slingshot to take back eggs from the pigs. The slingshot and other items from the game are replicated in the movie in some appealing animation.

Throughout out the movie there are a lot of different references to old TV shows and movies. For example, the way Red builds his team is similar to the character introductions in Ocean’s 11. I found this cool and funny.

My favorite scene in this movie is when the three hatchlings are trying to get the eggs off a cloud. They miss it and keep going up higher and higher. As they leave the planet and enter space, the song “Major Tom” by David Bowie starts playing. This scene is hilarious because the animated characters are put in front of a realistic space picture and they look completely out of place. My favorite character in this film is Chuck. I like him because he is very fast and almost instantly gets things done. Chuck is also very funny because he is very possessive about his sister. The message of this movie is that sometimes you need to work with your enemies to win.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 18 because there are a bunch of different jokes that will appeal to kids and adults. I think adults will enjoy watching this with their kids. This film opens in theaters August 17, 2019.

The Angry Birds Movie 2
By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The Angry Birds Movie 2 is a fast-paced slapstick comedy that fans of the first movie may enjoy. I liked seeing all the same characters again, plus a few new ones that were very funny. You won’t find the old angry Red in this movie, though. Now he’s a hero and everyone loves him. Personally, I prefer the Red of the first film, with his explosive outbursts.

In the first Angry Birds movie, the birds and pigs were at war. In The Angry Birds Movie 2, they have to team up against a common threat. As the movie begins, the pigs and birds are still happily fighting each other, but then a mysterious frozen ice ball lands on Pig Island. King Leonard Mudbeard realizes he can’t fight this himself and calls a truce with the birds. Together, they find out that a very angry bird named Zeta is trying to destroy their islands to create her own paradise. The rest of the movie involves their plan to sneak onto Zeta’s Island and crush her island-destroying machine.

There are a lot of funny sequences where the voice actors really excel, including a subplot where baby birds rescue a group of eggs. The animation is really well done – it brings the characters to life as well as creates a beautiful world of islands.

The message of this film is that teamwork is always better than fighting. Parents should know that there’s some mildly crude humor, like butt jokes. A bathroom scene with potty humor got the most laughs at the screening I attended.

I rate this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for children ages 7 to 12. Angry Birds 2 opens in theaters everywhere August 13, 2019.

The Art of Racing in the Rain * Happy, Sad, And Funny With Lovable Characters

Saturday, August 10th, 2019

Dog lovers believe their canine family members understand language, comprehend events, have opinions, exude loyalty. In “The Art of Racing In The Rain”, wise old dog Enzo Swift shares thoughts about the life experiences which prepared him to protect his family in times of greatest need. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sahiba K. comments, “The Art of Racing in the Rain, brings the beloved novel to life but ultimately lacks memorability. The changes made in the movie make it a common story that is too well known. However, the losses in the screenplay are covered by clever character development and the lovable dog, Enzo.” Brock T. adds, “The production values for this film are high. The cars are super dynamic and fast. Director Simon Curtis brings the book to life in an appealing way and make you feel like you are at the race track. All the cast deliver wonderful performances.” Eva W. continues with, “The Art Of Racing In The Rain is a fantastic movie. Some scenes are very emotionally heavy and I don’t believe this film is suitable for young kids. There are parts that a younger child simply will not understand. I know because I am ten years old.” Zoe C. wraps it up with, “The Art of Racing in the Rain has happy moments, sad moments, funny ones and more. It has it all! At first, I didn’t know what to expect because, what does a dog have to do with racing? Well, there’s actually a lot more to the story than you would expect, and I absolutely fell in love with this film and all its characters.” See their full reviews below.

The Art of Racing in the Rain
By Sahiba Kaur, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

The Art of Racing in the Rain, brings the beloved novel to life but ultimately lacks memorability. The changes made in the movie make it a common story that is too well known. However, the losses in the screenplay are covered by clever character development and the lovable dog, Enzo.

L-R: “Enzo” and Milo Ventimiglia in Twentieth Century Fox’s, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The story follows the golden retriever Enzo (Kevin Costner) and his adventures alongside his owner Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia). They walk through life together and in doing so, Enzo learns the secrets of living happily.

Milo Ventimiglia has positives but also some negatives when taking on the role of Denny. In morose scenes, he fails to fully express the pains of his character while in loving and joyful scenes, he excels. However, from the beginning, Ventimiglia plays a large role in developing an unspoken apprehension that builds between Denny and his father-in-law, Maxwell (Martin Donovan). Donovan’s one look aroused tension in me. Whenever the two characters interact, I felt uneasy as if something wrong was bound to occur. This development of the characters is one of my favorite parts. Everything that happens is intentional so that the audience is aware of what each character is capable of doing.

L-R: “Enzo” and Milo Ventimiglia in Twentieth Century Fox’s, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The movie mostly lives up to the expectations that the novel sets with a few weaknesses to note. Enzo’s narration is kept to a minimum as the entire movie could not be narrated by the dog. So to make up the loss, the relationships and development of Denny and his family are heightened. Music and cinematography techniques are incorporated to help bolster Enzo’s emotions and are highly effective tools. In several scenes, the music is lyrical, providing insight into what Enzo might wish to say. Similarly, the cinematography provides insight with a first person view from Enzo. It often switches to this perspective when there are emotions by other characters only Enzo can see. Thus it made me feel as if I was Enzo, observing intimate moments and experiencing his emotions. These techniques work well but with Enzo’s role slightly lessened, the story weakens and does become more mundane and predictable.

The message is “that which we manifest is before us,” or we make our own destiny. I give The Art of Racing in the Rain, 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Be sure to check it out when it opens in theatres August 9, 2019.

The Art Of Racing In The Rain
By Brock Taylor, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

L-R: “Enzo” and Amanda Seyfried in Twentieth Century Fox’s, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The Art Of Racing In The Rain is a spectacular movie.  It takes on many emotions: happy, sad, thrilling, scared, then feeling all those emotions again.  The movie is based on the best-selling novel by Garth Stein.  

The Art Of Racing In The Rain is about a dog named Enzo (Kevin Costner, voice) who knows how to race cars really well. The dog studies the track and is great at helping – the best in fact. Enzo’s owner Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia) is trying to make it big as a race car driver and providing for his family. Enzo helps his owner Denny with knowing the track and also with navigating things in life. The film follows Denny and the people he loves – his wife, Eve (Amanda Seyfried), their young daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), and his best friend, Enzo. 

L-R: Amanda Seyfried, “Enzo” and Milo Ventimiglia in THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The production values for this film are high. The cars are super dynamic and fast. Director Simon Curtis brings the book to life in an appealing way and make you feel like you are at the race track. All the cast deliver wonderful performances. My favorite part of The Art Of Racing In The Rain is when Denny gets to see his daughter again, and wins quality time with her.  This is dynamic.  My least favorite part is when the dad can’t be at the house for a significant life event, which made me sad.  I wish he could be there for comfort.

The message of this film is that when you get torn apart, you have to get back up.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Adults might like this too. It opens in theaters nationwide on August 9, 2019 so look for it.

The Art Of Racing In The Rain
By Eva Wassom, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

L-R: Amanda Seyfried and “Enzo” in THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The Art Of Racing In The Rain is a fantastic movie. Some scenes are very emotionally heavy and I don’t believe this film is suitable for young kids. There are parts that a younger child simply will not understand. I know because I am ten years old. Plus, there are scenes that are hard to watch and a few that are just plain scary. I definitely would not let my 8-year-old brother watch this movie.

The storyline is about a dog, Enzo (Kevin Costner, voice) who belongs to a race car driver named Denny (Milo Venimiglia). As Denny starts to have a family, Enzo is not pleased to have other people in the apartment. But as time goes on and the family gets bigger, Enzo warms up to everyone. 

The casting in this movie is amazing! Milo Venimiglia is known for his role as Peter Petrelli in the show Heroes. Denny’s girlfriend Eve is played by Amanda Seyfried, known for her work as Sophie in Mamma Mia Here We Go Again. I love Kevin Costner’s voice as Enzo. He sounds just like what I think Enzo would sound if he could actually speak.

L-R: “Enzo” and Amanda Seyfried in THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The production values are quite high here. One example is shown in the dog’s training, which was done by Bonnie Judo. The dog almost seems part human. He stands on his back legs, barks like he is speaking and more! The casting is very well done as well. I was particularly impressed by the actresses who play the younger and older versions of Denny’s daughter.

There are a lot of funny parts in this film, but there are just as many sad parts. I laughed, cried, gasped and had so much different emotions throughout the film. You might want to bring your tissues. And, oddly enough, after you see this film, you will never feel the same way about Zebras again. There are also a lot of surprising parts too, so be ready.

I give The Art Of Racing In The Rain 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults. It opens in theaters August 9, 2019 so look for it.  

The Art of Racing in the Rain
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

L-R: Amanda Seyfried, Milo Ventimiglia, and “Enzo” in Twentieth Century Fox’s, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

The Art of Racing in the Rain has happy moments, sad moments, funny ones and more. It has it all! At first, I didn’t know what to expect because, what does a dog have to do with racing? Well, there’s actually a lot more to the story than you would expect, and I absolutely fell in love with this film and all its characters.

This movie is about a dog who is adopted by a race car driver, Denny. Denny’s dog, Enzo, slowly learns about the human life, and he and Denny create a powerful bond. Enzo loves Denny no matter what, and he develops a love for car races and TV, too. But when Denny’s girlfriend Eve comes along, Enzo becomes a bit jealous. Denny and Eve get married and have a baby girl named Zoe. Later on, Denny has to face the obstacles of life as he does on the track. While Denny is very good at racing in the rain, he faces the unpredictable in life.

L-R: “Enzo” and Milo Ventimiglia in Twentieth Century Fox’s, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

Enzo feels more human than dog, thanks to the beautiful voice narrating the story (Kevin Costner) from the dog’s point of view. This film makes me emotional, but I think that’s good because I definitely feel a connection when watching The Art of Racing in the Rain. I also think that at one point in the story there might be too much going on at the same time.  Even though that makes the movie interesting, it could have all happened at a slower pace.

I love the acting in the film, especially Enzo’s voice narration, and feel it is all believable. And I have a completely different perspective of my dog now, and wonder what she is thinking because Enzo has very interesting thoughts of the human world. I enjoy the comedy –  it’s a nice balance to what happens in the story. Milo Ventimiglia is great as Denny, and you care about him throughout the whole film. Amanda Seyfried plays Eve, Denny’s wife, and her character—although she doesn’t love dogs at first—experiences with her new four-legged friend one of the most important connections in her existence.

The message of this film is that we are all in control of our own lives, and dogs are the best friends that can join us in the ride of life.

I give The Art of Racing in the Rain 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18 and adults as well. There are parts in this film that little kids would not understand and moments that wouldn’t be very appropriate for younger viewers. The Art of Racing in the Rain releases in theatres August 9, 2019.

One Child Nation – Extraordinary Documentary Tackling The Controversial Chinese One-Child Policy

Friday, August 9th, 2019

China’s One Child Policy, the extreme population control measure that made it illegal for couples to have more than one child, may have ended in 2015, but the process of dealing with the trauma of its brutal enforcement is only just beginning. From award-winning documentarian Nanfu Wang (Hooligan Sparrow, I Am Another You) and Jialing Zhang, the sweeping One Child Nation explores the ripple effect of this devastating social experiment, uncovering one shocking human rights violation after another – from abandoned newborns, to forced sterilizations and abortions, and government abductions. Wang digs fearlessly into her own personal life, weaving her experience as a new mother and the firsthand accounts of her family members into archival propaganda material and testimony from victims and perpetrators alike, yielding a revelatory and essential record of this chilling, unprecedented moment in human civilization.

One Child Nation is a stunning, nuanced indictment of the mindset that prioritizes national agenda over human life, and serves as a first-of-its-kind oral history of this collective tragedy – bearing witness to the truth as China has already begun to erase the horrors of its “population war” from public record and memory.  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ella L. comments, “This film is powerful and informative. It left a severe impact on me and I left the theater feeling angry and grateful that I have grown up in a privileged part of the world, where I do not have to deal with issues such as the ones faced in this movie. The film is brilliantly produced and it is essential that it, and similar films are being made during this time period.” See her full review below.

One Child Nation
By Ella Ladd, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

One Child Nation is a politically charged and extraordinary documentary that exposes the evils of the Chinese government and relate it back to issues that we face in modern-day America. This film is powerful and informative. It left a severe impact on me and I left the theater feeling angry and grateful that I have grown up in a privileged part of the world, where I do not have to deal with issues such as the ones faced in this movie. The film is brilliantly produced and it is essential that it, and similar films are being made during this time period.

One Child Nation is a unique film that tackles the controversial one-child policy enforced by the Chinese government from 1979 to 2015. Interviews with people such as government officials (titled “family planning officials”), doctors, nurses, village chiefs, women who have been affected by the policy, and even human traffickers, filmmaker Nanfu Wang develops a heartbreaking and shocking narrative. She exposes how the Chinese government forcibly aborted babies late-term and induced pregnancies, killing infants, while feeding propaganda to their people and glamorizing the one-child policy. The inhumane behavior of these officials, doctors and nurses, as well as the mistreatment and victimization of women, children and families in China are the main subjects of the film. 

One Child Nation addresses many controversial and taboo topics, but does so in a way that is very simple to understand, while still making you think and evaluate the wrongdoings of China and its people. The importance of choice and freedom are some of the many crucial themes highlighted throughout the film. One Child Nation is an engaging and thoughtful documentary. I was never bored while watching and, even after the gears in my head were still turning and I was still thinking about it. 


I give One Child Nation 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 14 to 18, because of the disturbing images and sensitive topics that were intense and difficult for me, as a teenager, to watch. One Child Nation is a significant documentary film. I had never heard about China’s one-child policy before this movie. This film will educate people about the horrors and oppression that the Chinese people faced under this law and allow people to think and formulate their own opinions regarding this topic. One Child Nation is a poignant and relevant film that provoked deep thoughts and emotion, which I will never forget. Opens in theaters nationwide August 9, 2019.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – An Effortless Blend of High-Octane Action and Charismatic Leads

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

Ever since hulking lawman Hobbs (Johnson), a loyal agent of America’s Diplomatic Security Service, and lawless outcast Shaw (Statham), a former British military elite operative, first faced off in 2015’s Furious 7, the duo have swapped smack talk and body blows as they’ve tried to take each other down. But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (Idris Elba) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever — and bests a brilliant and fearless rogue MI6 agent (The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby), who just happens to be Shaw’s sister — these two sworn enemies will have to partner up to bring down the only guy who might be badder than themselves. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a fun Fast & Furious spinoff with the series’ effortless blend of high-octane action and charismatic leads. Fans of the beloved series and action movies in general must check this out. It has something for everyone.” Brad M. adds, “This new film is so action-packed it rarely has a dull moment. If you are looking for an entertaining night full of laughter, this is the movie to watch.” Kendall M. wraps it up with, “From the special effects to its storyline, you would want to miss this. This movie is an action-packed, thrilling and comedic film makes you wonder what’s coming next.” See their full reviews below.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a fun Fast & Furious spinoff with the series’ effortless blend of high-octane action and charismatic leads. Fans of the beloved series and action movies in general must check this out. It has something for everyone.

(from left) Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” directed by David Leitch.

The film follows series’ favorites, lawman Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and the lawless Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) as the two “frenemies” must team up to stop the cybernetically modified super-soldier Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). Amid all this carnage are even some family reunions involving Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) and Hobbs’ own Samoan relatives.

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, are the main highlight here, with the two as polar opposites of one another. Still, the actors work well together and their bickering and bantering is buoyed by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce’s script. The pair even impress in action scenes with Johnson’s hard hitting knockdowns and Statham’s suave martial arts. Vanessa Kirby, as Hattie Shaw, gives the duo a run for their money. She proves capable in the many action scenes and holds many quips with Hobbs. Their flirtatious banter and Deckard’s awkward reactions are some of the film’s funniest. Unfortunately, her contributions to the plot are very loosely strung, but her character is delightful to watch. Same goes for Idris Elba, as Brixton Lore, who owns up to his character’s craziness. Elba really has a way with things, making even the most clichéd characters engaging. There are multiple surprising big-list cameos, which I can not spoil. All really add to the movie’s layers of self-awareness and comedy, and make the movie much more engaging to watch.

David Leitch, as the director, brings new life to the franchise, providing more variety in action, from fisticuffs to shootouts to over-the-top car chases. The veteran director of John Wick and Atomic Blonde, he really knows how to make each sequence engaging and unique. The finale in Samoa is one such example. My favorite scene is the “pick a door” fight scene in Lore’s compound. Impressive choreography and well-timed comic relief from Johnson and Statham elevate this scene. Unfortunately, at two hours, the movie is a bit too long and some sequences towards the end feel like filler and really drag. On top of that, the marketing for this film really spoils some of the best action beats and comedic moments. It’s a shame that a poor marketing campaign ends up hurting some of the film’s surprises. Thankfully, they hide some things, like those surprise cameos.

The message of this film is in the franchise’s core values about family. Hobbs’s choice to reconnect with his family, despite past disagreements, proves this. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, due to intense action sequences, suggestive references and language. The movie releases in theaters on August 2, 2019, so check it out.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
By Brad Martin, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a hilarious new spin-off movie for the Fast & Furious franchise. This new film is so action-packed it rarely has a dull moment. If you are looking for an entertaining night full of laughter, this is the movie to watch.

(from left) Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” directed by David Leitch.

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) form an unexpected partnership while attempting to save the world from a deadly bio-weapon. The cyber-genetically-enhanced criminal Brixton (Idris Elba) will stop at nothing to ensure the evolution of humanity through this deadly bio-threat. The two heroes must settle their long-standing rivalry in order to save the human race.

The all-star cast came together to make an incredible film. The banter between Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw is super amusing and had viewers erupting with laughter. Jason Statham was born to play the role of Deckard Shaw. He is an extremely convincing actor who gave me everything I wanted and more from his character. The plot of the film is intriguing for the first half of the movie, but I found the second half to be more slow and dull. A small problem I encountered while watching the film was believing the villain. Every time he seems to get knocked down, he stands right back up, without a scratch on his genetically-engineered body. It would be more realistic to see him become progressively more damaged throughout the movie while fighting this action-filled war. On a separate note, the special and visual effects are dazzling and bring life to this action film. The fight scenes are brilliantly crafted as well. I was happy to see this movie and it definitely has the opportunity to create a sequel.  They use the last chunk of the film to set the basis for a future film.  

(from left) Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” directed by David Leitch.

The message displayed in this film is about the importance of teamwork. When people bicker amongst each other, it is unproductive, but if they work together they can accomplish the seemingly impossible. This message carries over into our lives for how we get along with people in our own community. Parents should be aware that this movie has a fair amount of violence and foul language.

I give Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw 3 out 5 stars and recommend for ages 13 through 18. Make sure to check out this film when it storms into theaters August 2, 2019. Movie fans, you won’t want to miss it!

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Kendall, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a spot-on well produced and directed film that keeps you on the edge of your seat. From the special effects to its storyline, you would want to miss this. This movie is an action-packed, thrilling and comedic film makes you wonder what’s coming next.

Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” directed by David Leitch.

The storyline is about two rivals, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who are forced to team up to defeat the emerging threat of Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), a cyber-genetically-enhanced terrorist, armed with a deadly virus. This virus can potentially destroy planet Earth and all of humanity. Hobbs and Shaw must work through their differences to save the world once again.

Some things that really stand out in this film are the production, the screenplay and the editing. Big ups to director David Leitch and screenwriter Chris Morgan for making that happen. It is truly thrilling and amazing to watch and enjoy. Of course, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Idris Elba give us excellent performances as well. I should also point out Vanessa Kirby who plays Hattie and Helen Mirren who plays Queenie as their performances need mention too.

(center) Idris Elba as Brixton Lorr in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” directed by David Leitch.

The message of the movies is that “no matter what differences you have with people, you still have to work together to make the world a better place.” If we focus on being mad at each other, we are not making the world better, we’re making it just angry and sad. So, I resonate with the message. You should know that there is quite a lot of profanity and some rude humor.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Make sure you check it out when it opens in theaters August 2, 2019.

The Lion King – A Work Of Art That Lives Up To The Original In A New Way

Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny on the plains of Africa. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother — and former heir to the throne — has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is soon ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. Now, with help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba must figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Brad M. comments, “There are a multitude of dazzling aspects in The Lion King, but the most stunning is the heavy and effective use of CGI. From the beginning to the end of the film, the computer-generated imagery creates animals that are incredibly realistic and authentic.” Elle C. adds, “This CGI masterpiece brings a new twist to the story visually, as well as musically. The opening scene sets the tone for the whole movie, bridging the original animation with this new live action take, into one beautiful panoramic view of the film’s setting.” Zoe C. adds, “There are stunning visuals, a powerful story of betrayal, coming of age, re-birth and the circle of life. The idea of what it really means to be a king and all the original sentiment is intact. I love all the animals and think it is really impressive how they filmed this movie.” Calista B. wraps it up with, “There’s no denying that the original Lion King from 1994 is a classic. Gorgeous animation, amazing story and absolutely timeless music… How can you remake something that’s already so timeless? Well to me, the end result is okay at best.” See their full reviews below.

The Lion King
By Brad M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

The Lion King is a hilarious and entertaining new Disney movie! This work of art lives up to the original animated version of The Lion King in a new and engrossing way. If you are a fan of Disney or just love movies in general, you will be infatuated by this new incredible film.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala and Donald Glover as Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This movie follows heir to the throne, Simba, as he learns about ruling his Kingdom in the heart of the African savanna. The king of the lions, Mufasa, wants nothing more than peace in the savanna and to protect his son. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. Mufasa’s diabolical brother, Scar, is hungry for power and blood. This hairy beast will stop for nothing in order to obtain the throne. Simba and his new-found friends must act fast to put an end to his malicious uncle’s plans.

There are a multitude of dazzling aspects in The Lion King, but the most stunning is the heavy and effective use of CGI. From the beginning to the end of the film, the computer-generated imagery creates animals that are incredibly realistic and authentic. This new lively take on a classic story is incredibly refreshing and engaging. Another factor I immensely enjoyed was the voice acting. Billy Eicher, who plays Timon and Seth Rogen, who plays Pumbaa, are absolutely hilarious. Every other line spoken from their mouths had me dying of laughter. Chiwetel Ejiofor, the actor who plays Scar, is perfect for his role. He left the audience completely despising his character, which is perfect for a villain the caliber of Scar. The only moment in the film that is slightly disappointing is the song Hakuna Matata. I think it is too different from the original version and not as intriguing. On a separate note, the writers wrote a touching and adorable script. I was delighted by the father-son relationship between Simba and Mufasa. The interactions and playful nature seen through their characters is heart-warming.

The Lion King reveals that bravery is an important attribute, but is only effective when executed in a selfless manner. This underlying message is valuable for our everyday lives. Parents should be aware that this film has a fair amount of violence.

I give The Lion King 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommend to kids ages 8 through 18. Make sure to check out this film when it pounces into theaters July 17, 2019. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it.

The Lion King
By Elle Cohen, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The live-action adaption of The Lion King is bound to be a Disney classic. This CGI masterpiece brings a new twist to the story visually, as well as musically. The opening scene sets the tone for the whole movie, bridging the original animation with this new live action take, into one beautiful panoramic view of the film’s setting. The entire film looks so realistic that it’s almost like a nature documentary.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of Florence Kasumba, Eric André and Keegan-Michael Key as the hyenas, and Chiwetal Ejiofor as Scar, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The well-known storyline hasn’t changed much:  Mufasa (James Earl Jones) is the head of his pride and the King of “all that the light touches” in the African Serengeti. His son, Simba, (the younger, JD McCrary and mature, Donald Glover) is brave, but mischievous. Simba’s Uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is bitter and angry that Simba is the heir to his brother’s throne. In order to get Mufasa and Simba out of the way, Scar manipulates the hyenas into joining forces. He then arranges an “accident” to kill Mufasa and take over the kingdom. Scar blames Simba for Mufasa’s death, and Simba runs away—but it’s Mufasa’s love and wisdom that brings Simba back to assume the throne. 

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of John Oliver as Zazu, and JD McCrary as Young Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 29, 2019…© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


The intense and serious aspects, and the comedic scenes, come together to create a beautiful balance. James Earl Jones reprises his role as Mufasa, bringing the comforting and strong tone we expect from the leader of the pride. His touching relationship with his son is the centerpiece of this film. Meanwhile, Ejiofor’s, Scar, performs “Be Prepared” as a powerful villainous anthem, interpreting the character as  very complicated and intense. Florence Kasumba’s turn as Shenzi is also a fierce and threatening leader of her pack of hyenas.

The comedic acting is brilliantly funny.  The comedy duo of Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumba, are the highlights of the movie. Their playful banter brings  a sharp wit to some of the most intense scenes in the film.

While hyenas Keegan Micheal Key and Eric Andre’s dysfunctional comedy shone a spotlight on the hyena crew, John Oliver’s Zazu was a funny take on Mufasa’s right hand bird.

The real star of the show is the incredible CGI animation that brings these animals to life. Their expressions and movements are so realistic and animal-like, but the personification of these seemingly wild animals seems so natural. Cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel of The Right Stuff, and Jon Favreau, director of The Jungle Book, make sure the entire movie was visually stunning.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of James Earl Jones as Mufasa, and JD McCrary as Young Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 29, 2019…© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The songs from the original movie feature heavily, and while they are performed and produced in a more pop-oriented way, the score is more sweeping and orchestral. Classics like “ Can You Feel the Love Tonight?,” and “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” are  performed by pop stars Beyonce and Donald Glover, and produced by Pharrel Williams. Hans Zimmer provides a dramatic score, that works with the feeling of the new film.

The message in this film is that we may doubt ourselves, but it’s important to remember who we are, and that our friends and family can help remind us.  There are some violent and intense scenes, so I wouldn’t recommend it for very young viewers.  But kids from ages 6-18 would enjoy it, as well as adults. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because Disney has created a brand new, can’t-miss classic. The Lion King will be released on July 19 in theaters nationwide.

The Lion King
By Calista Bess, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

There’s no denying that the original Lion King from 1994 is a classic. Gorgeous animation, amazing story and absolutely timeless music. So making a remake was understandably going to be tricky.  How can you remake something that’s already so timeless? Well to me, the end result is okay at best.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voice of John Kani as Rafiki, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I almost feel like I don’t need to explain the plot as it’s the same story as the original. There are barely any changes and, even then, the changes are very minor. So if you’ve seen The Lion KIng (1994)  then you’ve seen The Lion King (2019). However there’s one major change that in my eyes makes the remake suffer significantly and that’s the graphics.

I should preface this by saying I do prefer animation to CGI “realistic graphics” because I feel animation just looks better. But my main concern is that realistic graphics ruin the storytelling greatly. The Lion King is a very emotional story. And when you have such an emotional story you need to connect and feel for the characters. The original was able to pull this off perfectly with fantastically detailed facial expressions. Unfortunately, because of the realistic graphics, the characters in The Lion King (2019) show little to no emotion. This kills basically every important scene, as I didn’t feel invested in it. I kept thinking to myself –These lions do not look interested in what’s happening. The realism also has another consequence: I could not tell the difference between the lions at times. At times I thought is that Nala or Simba’s Mom? Because the original is animated, they can differentiate the lions through things like their fur color, eyes and facial structure. The CGI remake does not have this ability.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba, and James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It also felt like the creators tried cutting down on the more “animated” scenes. The Mufasa ghost scene doesn’t have Mufasa’s spirit appear; instead they just have his voice come from the clouds and sometimes lightning will strike to form his face. I feel seeing his full appearance is more powerful.

The songs suffer as well. “Be Prepared” is severely cut down which is disappointing, because it’s a favorite song from the movie. The “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” segment in the original has all this crazy choreography that integrated the various animals in unique ways that can only be done in animation. In the remake they just run around. I was actually somewhat bored, if it wasn’t for John Oliver as Zazu.

I give this movie 2 out of 5 stars and  recommend it for ages 5 to 18. The Lion King (2019) comes out July 19, 2019.

The Lion King
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I love this film! There are stunning visuals, a powerful story of betrayal, coming of age, re-birth and the circle of life. The idea of what it really means to be a king and all the original sentiment is intact. I love all the animals and think it is really impressive how they filmed this movie.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba, Billy Eichner as Timon and Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The story of The Lion King is about a little cub named Simba who is going to become king. One day, a wild stampede puts Simba’s life in danger and his father, Mudasa, dies after he rescues him. Mudasa’s evil brother Scar makes Simba believe it is his fault and forces him to abandon the kingdom. Simba carries guilt and feelings of not being brave when he runs away, leaving everyone, including his best friend Nala behind. He goes to a new land where he meets Timon and Pumba and they become the best of friends. His life is good, but lacks purpose. From there, Simba’s friend Nala comes to find help and meets Simba after so many years. Scar’s reign is despicable and all the animals are trying to stop Scar’s evil plans. Simba needs to become the king he was meant to be.

I love the comedy in this film. I also love how, in one scene, they play a little piece of “Be Our Guest” – that’s actually my favorite scene in the film and it is not in the original. I definitively think this is a perfect visual recreation of the original. I love that they chose The Lion King to be the next Disney Classic to turn into live action. Lately, Disney been only doing Princess stories, so I like that they chose animals this time. I absolutely adore the animals and I feel like they fascinate you during the entire film. This is not a reinvention of the story; it is pretty much just taking the original to the real world. The way the live action blends with digital imagery is fantastic. This photo realistic Africa on the big screen is splendorous.

THE LION KING – Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba, Shahadi Wright Joseph as Young Nala and James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Disney’s “The Lion King” is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There are so many messages in the film: stay true to yourself, being compassionate is more important that being powerful, and we can’t change our past. It is very inspiring to hear again “Hakuna Matata.” This words have been an important motto for people since the original Lion King was released in 1994. The song was composed by Elton John and was nominated for an Oscar. There’s a new Elton John song – “Never Too Late,” and other surprises in this new one. All the beloved classic songs play in this 2019 version, which makes the audience very happy.

I give this film 5 of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 13, and adults as well. Never forget: Hakuna Matata. The Lion King 2019 opens July 19, 2019, so look for it.

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