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Cerebrum * Interesting Concept, Deception And Lies, Pursuit To Uncover The Truth

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

An artist agrees to help his estranged father work on a memory-transfer technology that would help Alzheimer’s patients. However, when his dad dies under mysterious circumstances, he sets out to unravel the truth and further his research. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Maica N. comments, “The new movie Cerebrum is a sci-fi film that gives viewers a sense of what a path to insanity looks like. With an interesting concept, deception and lies, and the pursuit to uncover the truth, Cerebrum will keep your eyes glued to the screen until the end.” See her full review below.

Cerebrum
Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 13

The new movie Cerebrum is a sci-fi film that gives viewers a sense of what a path to insanity looks like. With an interesting concept, deception and lies, and the pursuit to uncover the truth, Cerebrum will keep your eyes glued to the screen until the end. For thought-provoking, mind-altering entertainment, this is the movie to watch.

Cerebrum is about a man named Tom (Christian James) who returns to his father’s home despite their tough, unfavorable relationship. Not long after arriving, Tom finds that his father Kirk (James Russo) is working on creating digital brains so that Alzheimer’s patients would never lose their memory. Enticed by a monetary payoff, Tom gives in to his father, agrees to become a guinea pig for this secret, untested procedure, and ends up committing a crime that he can’t remember. Working with Chloe (Alexxis Lemire), he has to uncover the truth before it’s too late.

This movie has a well-executed tone. The story is chaotic and dangerous, and is complemented by darkness and dusky colors. The setting for most of Cerebrum takes place in a dark and messy lab. This creates tension and gives the movie an eerie feel. Along with the settings, the characters’ wardrobe also matches the film’s tone. Tom always wears dark colors that match his character’s personality and the film’s plot. The background music, arranged by Edward Antonio, enhances the sense of conflict. For instance, in one scene where Tom and Andy (Anirudh Pisharody) are fighting outside, the music keeps building and building until the end of their fight. It emphasizes what is going on, which makes the scene more memorable. Although Cerebrum intends to highlight the process of sharing memories between people, the parts of the storyline where people actually exchange minds is somewhat confusing. Even if you are paying close attention, if you miss one thing, you could be thrown off entirely. Despite this, the film kept me interested until the end.

The message of Cerebrum is that the truth will always come out. Even though many people accuse Tom of committing the crime, he still perseveres to uncover what really happened and eventually, others learned the truth as well. There is some profanity, so a parent should be aware of that.  

Cerebrum is a captivating film, especially for fans of science fiction. It’s definitely unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. Cerebrum releases to VOD May 4, 2021. Make sure you check it out!

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From Cradle To Stage * The Ultimate Rock-umentary!

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

Directed by Dave Grohl and inspired by his mother, Virginia Hanlon Grohl, and her critically-acclaimed book, From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars, the Live Nation Productions From Cradle to Stage is a dynamic personal exploration of the special relationship between successful musicians and their moms. The six-part series will debut exclusively on Paramount+.

Honest, humorous and emotional, each episode features a famous performer and their mother, alongside Dave and Virginia, as they take an impassioned journey home and explore each artists’ upbringing and the tools they received as a young talent to survive the turbulence of success. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S. comments, “This show is so creative. Virginia’s and David travel around the United States to learn more about their musical friends. It’s so interesting seeing rare videos and pictures of the stars, along with first-hand stories about their formative years. From Cradle To Stage shows how the love of music runs in the veins of these artists from an early age. You see how Virginia’s love of music spread to David, who grew up surrounded by music.” See her full review below.

From Cradle To Stage
By Heather Suarez, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

From Cradle To Stage is the ultimate music documentary series! From rock, to country, to pop, we learn so much about our favorite musicians and the women that raised them.  A plus is that we get to see their adorable baby pictures.

This new series is based on the book by the same name written by Virginia Hanlon Grohl, mother of David Grohl, drummer of Nirvana and guitarist for the Foo Fighters. The two discuss what it was like raising and being raised as a rock star. They also team up with Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, Pharell Williams, Miranda Lambert and their mothers to talk about the childhoods of these incredible artists. The show answers a loaded question, “What was it like to raise a musician?”

This show is so creative. Virginia’s and David travel around the United States to learn more about their musical friends. It’s so interesting seeing rare videos and pictures of the stars, along with first-hand stories about their formative years. From Cradle To Stage shows how the love of music runs in the veins of these artists from an early age. You see how Virginia’s love of music spread to David, who grew up surrounded by music. It’s very insightful to watch how a mother’s love and support encouraged her child to pursue a mutual love for music. Although worrisome, these mothers always encouraged their children to pursue doing what they love. It’s heartwarming to gaze upon the mothers’ collection of framed platinum records and Rolling Stone magazines.

The moral of the series is to always have your child’s back. In the music industry, where some become famous Grammy winners and others are not as lucky, these mothers always supported their children. Whether or not the parents supported the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and fame their child pursued, they always put their child’s happiness first. Always asking, “How can we help?” There are some warnings for this series in regards to adult language and mentions of alcohol and drugs.

I give From Cradle To Stage 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages older teens, plus adults. It is available on Paramount+ May 6, 2021.

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Walking with Herb * Powerful Message of Faith Embedded in a Sports Movie

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Sixty-five-year-old Joe Amable-Amo thinks nothing much in his background distinguishes him from other guys his age. He is struggling with his faith after tragedy hits. As the former amateur golfer’s life continues to unfold, Joe is besieged with his marriage, working as a bank executive, and gearing up for retirement. But as he is about to discover, life has a way of throwing a curve ball that changes everything. Joe is working at his desk when he receives a message from God on his computer screen that tells him he has been chosen to deliver an inspirational message to the world that the seemingly impossible is possible. God tells Joe he is going to play in World Entire golf championship, and if his faith is strong enough, he will win. As Joe embarks on a spiritual journey along with God’s personal messenger and motorcyclist, Herb, Joe learns to make a difference, he must learn to face his fears, have confidence in his abilities, and commit to God before he can succeed. Walking With Herb shows how sports movies can convey powerful messages.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha B. comments, “One of my favorite parts of this film is when Herb (George Lopez) tries to restore Joe’s (Edward James Olmos) faith through golf. I also really enjoyed the acting, and how all of the actors convey the message of faith in a realistic and natural way without being preachy.” Allison B. adds, “Full of faith, belief and second chances comes the new indie film Walking With Herb. This movie will make you laugh, cry, and will take your breath away with each heartfelt second. If you’ve ever wondered about what’s going on in the world above the clouds, Walking With Herb is the movie for you.” See their full reviews and delightful interview with Edward James Olmos below.  

Walking With Herb
By Allison Buck, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Full of faith, belief and second chances comes the new indie film Walking With Herb. This movie will make you laugh, cry, and will take your breath away with each heartfelt second. If you’ve ever wondered about what’s going on in the world above the clouds, Walking With Herb is the movie for you. 

Walking With Herb is about Joe Amable-Amo (Edward James Olmos), who is a bank executive and former golfer. He struggles with his faith after a terrible event takes place. Faced with doubts about himself and his belief in God, Joe is stunned when God tells him that he’s been chosen to play in a world championship golf tournament. As he is guided by Herb, God’s special personal messenger, Joe learns that all you need to do is have faith. 

While I was watching Walking With Herb, I noticed a lot of creativity in the storyline. I don’t know how anyone connected God to winning a golf tournament, but somehow the director, Ross Kagan Marks, found a way to make the whole story seem logical. Even though the story works, I didn’t enjoy that the film seems a bit rushed. I understand that you only have so much time when making a movie, but I would’ve enjoyed seeing a bit more development of the emotional arc of the characters other than Joe. It also almost felt like the story was on a straight line once Joe received the message from God. There are no plot twists or turns until the end. Lastly, I love the relationship between Joe and his wife, Sheila (Kathleen Quinlan.) The relationship between the two actors feels very genuine and real. Their conversations flow, and they have the sass of an older married couple.

The message of Walking With Herb is to continue to always have faith, no matter what. This message is shown throughout the movie as Joe turns back to God, even after all that happens to him and his family. His faith is also what leads Joe to do so well in the Golf tournament. If he did not believe in God and himself, he wouldn’t have been able to go from not golfing for years to one of the world’s best golfers.  

I give Walking With Herb 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters April 30, May 1 and May 3 through Fathom Events.

Walking With Herb
By Samantha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Walking With Herb shows how sports movies can convey powerful messages. One of my favorite parts of this film is when Herb (George Lopez) tries to restore Joe’s (Edward James Olmos) faith through golf. I also really enjoyed the acting, and how all of the actors convey the message of faith in a realistic and natural way without being preachy.

The storyline follows Joe, a 65-year-old amateur golf champion, and bank executive, who experiences deep personal loss causing a crisis in his faith in God. His wife (Kathleen Quinlan) is also frustrated that he hasn’t been attentive to fixing things around the house and especially in their garden. His daughter’s business is also failing. I appreciate that this storyline is rich and complex.

Walking With Herb really excels in its portrayal of characters who are quite complicated. One of my favorites is Edward James Olmos’s (Stand and Deliver, Battlestar Galactica) portrayal of Joe. Joe’s character experiences significant personal growth over the course of the film. The dialog in this film feels natural and realistic, especially during the emotional scenes. It doesn’t feel overly melodramatic at all. Through Joe’s friendship with Herb, he is able to overcome his grief and make peace with his religion. My favorite scene is when he wakes his wife to show her a beautiful surprise outside. The cinematography in Walking With Herb is beautiful in how it uses different angles and lighting as well as close-ups depending on the actor on screen.

The message of Walking With Herb is about maintaining your faith in God despite challenges and hardships you may experience in your life. You should know that it does have heavy religious themes.

I give Walking with Herb 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults.  It is available in theaters April 30, May 1 and May 3 through Fathom Events.

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Arlo the Alligator Boy * Grabs Your Attention with Fun Characters and Catch Music

Monday, April 19th, 2021

Arlo the Alligator Boy is an American 2D animated adventure musical film by Ryan Crego in his directorial debut. Arlo is a young humanoid alligator that travels to the big city in hopes of reuniting with his estranged father and meets a colorful cast of characters along the way.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Maica N. comments, “Arlo the Alligator Boy is a new movie that grabs your attention with fun characters and catchy songs. Talented actors and singers, combined with great writing make this a movie you don’t want to miss!” Giana N. adds, “Arlo The Alligator Boy is about Arlo, who arrived at the swamp when he is just a baby. When he is older, he finds out that he has a dad who lives in New York City and sets off to find him. On the way, Arlo gets into some trouble when two people try to kidnap him to make some money. With the help of Bertie, Arlo escapes and makes a new friend. He makes a few more friends as he makes his way to New York City and they become really close and begin to feel like a family.” See their full reviews below.

Arlo the Alligator Boy
By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 13

Arlo the Alligator Boy is a new movie that grabs your attention with fun characters and catchy songs. Talented actors and singers, combined with great writing make this a movie you don’t want to miss!

The storyline is about a half-boy/half-alligator named Arlo (Michael J. Woodard), who was abandoned as a baby. He is raised by a woman named Edmee (Annie Potts) that protects him from the world and gives him everything he needs. But as Arlo gets older, he yearns to find his family, and figure out who he really is. So, Arlo sets out on a journey to find his father in the Big Apple (New York City) and meets Bertie (Mary Lambert) and some new friends that help him along the way.

My favorite element of this film is the music. The casting team, led by Ruth Lambert and Robert McGee put together a wonderful cast. I can’t tell if they cast good actors that could sing, or good singers that could act, because they are equally talented in both. My favorite song is “Better Life” performed by Ansel (Vincent Rodriguez III). It’s upbeat and there are some high notes that make it memorable, really setting it apart from the other songs.

All of the characters are very different, each with its own special qualities. The animation has subtle and unsubtle parts for each character. My favorite character is Marcell whose random outbursts and fragmented statements are hilarious and relatable. If I was in the same situations he was in, I would probably respond in similar ways. The voice actors really surprised me with how terrific their performances are. They made this a movie something I would definitely watch more than once.

The message of Arlo the Alligator Boy is that it’s okay to let go of whatever is holding you back, and sometimes letting go is the best thing for you. Arlo has to let go of Edmee if he wants to find his dad; and Bertie has to let go of her unfortunate past if she wants to embrace a new, better version of herself. There is some mild violence, but it contributes to the comedic aspects of the film.

Arlo the Alligator Boy is a great movie! I rate it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. Adults will also enjoy watching this with their kids, as it’s a great family film.  Arlo the Alligator Boy comes out on April 16, 2021 on Netflix worldwide. Check this new movie out, you’re in for a treat.

Arlo The Alligator Boy

Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 9

Arlo The Alligator Boy is an amazing film filled with friendship, adventure and lots of singing. This is a film with great messages and really catchy songs. It is definitely worth the watch.

Arlo The Alligator Boy is about Arlo (Michael J. Woodard) who arrived at the swamp when he is just a baby. When he is older, he finds out that he has a dad who lives in New York City and sets off to find him. On the way, Arlo gets into some trouble when two people try to kidnap him to make some money. With the help of Bertie (Mary Lambert), Arlo escapes and makes a new friend. He makes a few more friends as he makes his way to New York City and they become really close and begin to feel like a family.

The songs in this film are very catchy. The words and tempo really let us know what the characters are feeling. My favorite song is “Follow Me Home.” The melody is infectious, in a good way, and shows that wherever the ocean is, it feels like home to Bertie. My favorite character is Arlo because he is adventurous, caring and daring. Even though he had never left the swamp before, Arlo overcame his fear and set off to find his dad in New York City, which is a long way from the swamp. Arlo and the friends he makes along the way get really close as the movie goes on. The development of these relationships can be relatable to some friend groups in real life.

The message of Arlo The Alligator Boy is to never give up and, if you stick together, you can achieve great things. It is totally family-friendly.

Arlo The Alligator Boy is an awesome film to watch. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 7 to 13. Adults will also enjoy it. Arlo The Alligator Boy is available on Netflix April 16, 2021. Go check it out!

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Godzilla vs. Kong * Best Action Movie of 2021 So Far! Amazing Graphics

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

Legends collide as Godzilla and Kong, the two most powerful forces of nature, clash on the big screen in a spectacular battle for the ages. As a squadron embarks on a perilous mission into fantastic uncharted terrain, unearthing clues to the Titans’ very origins and mankind’s survival, a conspiracy threatens to wipe the creatures, both good and bad, from the face of the earth forever. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like Godzilla vs. Kong and rate it as the best action movie of 2021 so far. It keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat. I really like the amazing graphics and the computer generated image effects.” Benjamin P. adds, “Godzilla Vs. Kongpits two cinematic titans against each other in a fight for the ages but one that relegates its undercooked human characters to the sidelines, as it should, in favor of spectacular clashes, monster to monster, in all their big-budget glory.” See their full reviews below.

Godzilla vs. Kong
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 12

I like Godzilla vs. Kong and rate it as the best action movie of 2021 so far. It keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat. I really like the amazing graphics and the computer generated image effects.

This movie is about two strong titans who won’t back down from their throne. It happens that Godzilla’s and Kong’s ancestors were enemies centuries ago. While Kong is captive in a semi-artificial environment dome, Godzilla comes out of the ocean and walks in the city destroying everything that crosses his path. This is not the heroic Godzilla we watched from his last movie. No one understands why Godzilla is so angry. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), who takes care of Kong and Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) helps Kong find a safe place to live, which is the core of the Earth. While Kong is being transported on a huge ship, Godzilla senses Kong in the ocean. That’s when the first extraordinary and intense battle of these two titans begins.

This film has amazing CGI. Godzilla’s rough skin and red eyes make it look like he is real. Kong looks like an actual gigantic ape. You can sense his soul in his eyes. He surprises the audience by having a special bond with an orphan named Jia (Kaylee Hottle), the only person able to communicate with him. The sound effects are amazing. The cast are all outstanding including a more mature Millie Bobby Brown who plays Madison Russell and a funny Julian Dennison who plays Maddie’s friend Josh.

The moral of this movie is that greed and excessive pride lead to an unnecessary rivalry situation. We need to leave the past in the past and start fresh. Unity is the key in this film.

I give Godzilla vs. Kong 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. Godzilla vs. Kong opens March 31, 2021 on HBO Max and in theatres. 

Godzilla Vs. Kong
By Benjamin P., Kids First! Film Critic, Age 15

Godzilla Vs. Kongpits two cinematic titans against each other in a fight for the ages but one that relegates its undercooked human characters to the sidelines, as it should, in favor of spectacular clashes, monster to monster, in all their big-budget glory.

Following the events of 2017’s Kong: Skull Islandand 2019’sGodzilla: King of the Monsters, Godzilla has become the alpha to the similarly-powered titans roaming the earth. Meanwhile, Kong has left his island home with one of its natives, a little girl named Jia (Newcomer Kaylee Hottle), as he is monitored and researched by a team of specialists trying to keep him from Godzilla’s grasp. Well, you read that title, so you know that’s not happening, and indeed it doesn’t! Godzilla begins attacking after years of stability between humanity and skyscraper-sized creatures. Kong’s greatest champion among the researchers, Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), is approached by an old colleague (Alexander Skarsgård) and is convinced to take Kong to an underground world called Hollow Earth. Hopefully, in this habitat he can thrive and find more of his kind, free of the threat of Godzilla and others like him. It’s not before long on this journey that Godzilla senses his primate competitor and arrives to dispatch Kong.

There have been several Kong/Godzilla solo efforts in recent years in the lead-up to this face-off, and somehow it is all worth it. Although there are flaws—the two main plot lines feel disconnected and previous story developments abandoned—they don’t compare to the immense joy it is to watch these titans go at it. That would be enough: a mildly enjoyable large-scale romp, the cinematic equivalent of smashing two well-loved action figures together. However, Adam Wingard’s direction elevates the action sequences. Consistently satisfying and, better yet, consistently surprising—watching Kong leap from building to building, dodging Godzilla’s atomic breath, or Godzilla getting Kong’s ax launched at him doesn’t grow stale.

Godzilla Vs. Kong humanizes Kong as someone who’s lost his family and now the home he protected. I didn’t expect to feel emotionally attached to a 400-foot ape, but there you go. Whether you’re team Godzilla or team Kong, I have no doubt, you’ll find some enjoyment in the shenanigans they unleash. I was entertained—and if this match-up means anything to you, I think you will be too!

I give Godzilla Vs. Kong3 out of 5 stars and an age rating of 12 to 18 for mass—and I mean, mass—destruction, some mild language, and the injuries each of the titular creatures sustain. Godzilla Vs. Kong is out March 31, 2021, simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max.

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