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Prehistoric Planet * Breathtaking And Majestic With A Musical Score By Hans Zimmer And Rich Narration By Sir David Attenborough

Saturday, May 21st, 2022

Experience the wonders of our world like never before in this epic docuseries from Jon Favreau and the producers of Planet Earth. Prehistoric Planet combines award-winning wildlife filmmaking, the latest paleontology learnings and state-of-the-art technology to unveil the spectacular habitats and inhabitants of ancient Earth for a one-of-a-kind immersive experience. The series is produced by the world-renowned team at BBC Studios Natural History Unit with support from the photorealistic visual effects of MPC (The Lion King, The Jungle Book) applied to concept art created by Jellyfish Pictures (The Book of Boba Fett, Spirit: Untamed). Prehistoric Planet presents little-known and surprising facts of dinosaur life set against the backdrop of the environments of Cretaceous times, including coasts, deserts, freshwater, ice worlds and forests. Travel back 66 million years to when majestic dinosaurs and extraordinary creatures roamed the lands, seas and skies.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Madeleine H. comments, “I love this series!  The scenery in the docu-series Prehistoric Planet is breathtaking and majestic with a musical score composed by Hans Zimmer to match.  The rich narration by Sir David Attenborough tells the stories about dinosaur life based on the latest discoveries from paleontologists.” See her full review and talent interviews below.  

Prehistoric Planet
Madeleine H. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

I love this series!  The scenery in the docu-series Prehistoric Planet is breathtaking and majestic with a musical score composed by Hans Zimmer to match.  The rich narration by Sir David Attenborough tells the stories about dinosaur life based on the latest discoveries from paleontologists.

One could say Prehistoric Planet is “natural history meets wildlife adventure meets stunning visual effects” in a story about the inhabitants of our planet 66 million years ago.  The wildlife adventure takes place over five episodes featuring five regions of our planet in prehistoric times. You get to see dinosaurs living in their natural habitats, tending to their young, finding food and water and fighting for survival.  You will learn about these ancient relatives of creatures that exist today and how they interacted with each other and their stunning environments: coasts, deserts, freshwater, ice worlds and forests. You will discover your “new” favorite dinosaur each episode as they come to life with expression and emotion in a way you have never seen them do.

Producer Jon Favreau brings to Prehistoric Planet his talent for visual effects from such films as The Lion King and The Jungle Book, together with pioneering stories about the natural world from Mike Gunton, a producer at BBC Natural History, along with the talents of adventure and wildlife filmmaker Tim Walker.  It’s an immersive series that draws you in with its beautiful scenery and life-like dinosaurs, giving you a view of how they lived on Earth.  I had to remind myself that the dinosaurs are animated. 

With each episode we learn so many fascinating facts about dinosaurs, grow to love new ones and not like the behaviors of others.  Just like wildlife, there are prey and predators.  Yet each is majestic in its own way.  As with many wildlife natural history films there are scenes of aggression and violence that may be difficult for some audiences.

I give Prehistoric Planet series 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults.  Prehistoric Planet debuts globally on Apple TV+ from Monday, May 23 through Friday, May 27, 2022 with a new episode each day.

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The Croods: Family Tree * Back With More Excitement, More Adventures And More Of Everything

Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

Inspired by the blockbuster DreamWorks Animation film The Croods: A New Age, The Croods: Family Tree continues the ever-evolving story of the Croods and the Bettermans as they learn to live together on the most idyllic farm in prehistory. The journey from sparring rivals to unlikely friends is fraught with hilarious misadventures as the two families slowly overcome their differences to turn a tree house divided into a tree home united. In Season 2 Grug, Eep and Sandy enjoy a Crood-ific Daddy Daughter Day while Thunk, bored with the window-TV viewing options, creates a bit of real life drama. Even Gran rocks the boat when she declares it’s time to choose a new Thunder Sisters’ Queen! Meanwhile, pushed to their limits and ready to relax, the parents set out on separate staycations. But with the kids in charge, only prehistoric time will tell if the treehouse will still be left standing.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Giana N. comments, “The Croods: Family Tree is back for another season with even more excitement. With more adventures and more of the Croods and Bettermans, there’s a lot to love about this new season. In each episode, many important lessons are learned, and they are all delivered in such a fun and entertaining way.” See her full review and interviews below.

The Croods: Family Tree

By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

The Croods: Family Tree is back for another season with even more excitement. With more adventures and more of the Croods and Bettermans, there’s a lot to love about this new season. In each episode, many important lessons are learned, and they are all delivered in such a fun and entertaining way.

Season two continues from the previous season focusing on the story of two families, the Croods and the Bettermans, living together in a treehouse on the Bettermans’ farm. Because each family is different, learning to live together has its ups and downs. And in each episode, we see them overcome their differences and remember what really matters, like many families do. The show highlights different members of the family in every episode, so it makes for good variety in the storylines.

Even though The Croods is set in fictional prehistoric time period, it shows situations we currently experience and go through, always in a hilarious way. We also see different games and activities we play now. For example, in episode 6 Grug (Kiff VandenHeuvel), Ugga (Amy Landecker), Hope (Amy Rosoff), and Phil (Matthew Waterson) are playing a game of beach ball; however, the game is kind of like how we play volleyball. And in episode 3 where the Croods, Bettermans, and Punch Monkeys are playing throw-go-nut, it is very similar to how we play football today. My favorite characters are Gran (Artemis Pebdani) and Sandy (Dee Bradley Baker) because they are fierce and funny characters. They are alike in many different ways, which makes them the perfect duo—you could say Sandy is a mini Gran.

The message of The Croods: Family Tree is that even when times get tough, you can work together to figure things out. Because teamwork “makes the dream work.” This is a completely family-friendly show.

I give The Croods: Family Tree 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12, plus adults. This show is available on Hulu and Peacock, starting April 5, 2022. Go check it out!

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The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder * Your Favorite Spunky, Loving, Humorous Family Are Back

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022

The series follows the story of Penny Proud, a 14-year-old girl and her family, as they navigate their lives in the 2020s. Trudy, Penny’s mom, has new career highs, Oscar, Penny’s dad, has wild dreams, and Penny faces a myriad of challenges while her Suga Mama returns, as does Michael, Dijonay, Zoey, and LaCienega.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic comments, “Your favorite spunky, loving, and humorous family are back – louder and prouder than ever – in the new series reboot of the 2001 Proud Family series, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder! From glow-ups to new adventures, to new characters, this show is sure to entertain new and original Proud Family fans!” See her full review and interviews with the show creators below.

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder
By Tiana Sirmans, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Your favorite spunky, loving, and humorous family are back – louder and prouder than ever – in the new series reboot of the 2001 Proud Family series, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder! From glow-ups to new adventures, to new characters, this show is sure to entertain new and original Proud Family fans!

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder follow 14-year-old Penny Proud (Kyla Pratt) as she tries to navigate through the 2020s with new challenges, technology, and social issues in Smithville. Of course, she is joined by her wild, yet relatable family members we have come to love — Oscar Proud (Tommy Davidson), Trudy Proud (Paula Jai Parker) and Suga Mama (Jo Marie Payton ). The creators of this series, Bruce W. Smith and writer, Ralph Farquhar, are the “proud parents” who delivered us both the Proud Family series and The Proud Family Movie, so you can expect the same laughable, adventurous, and exciting storytelling.

One of the best things about this series is that all the main characters and most of Penny’s friends have returned, but there are a few newcomers. Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins (KeKe Palmer) and her rapping brother Francis ‘KG’ Leibowitz-Jenkins have moved into the neighborhood. The interactions between Maya and Penny are a must-see as they both try to figure themselves (and each other) out. My favorite character in the series is Michael, who is now voiced by the bold, fierce, and stylish EJ Johnson, who plays a live-action unapologetic version of his character. He is the perfect person to voice Michael. I love how the characters have all grown, and yet their transformations all still make sense even after the show has been off-air all this time. 

The message of this series is that no one is perfect, and we are all works in progress. The Proud family and their friends are no different. In life, we are going to have different experiences, likes and dislikes, especially as kids grow older and develop in different ways. As a family and extended family, we must learn to grow and accept each other. There isn’t anything for parents to look out for, but you should know that real-life family, teen and societal issues are discussed and may initiate conversations with viewers.

I rate The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder series 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 10 to 18. You can stream it on Disney+ now with new episodes streaming every Wednesday.

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Big Nate * Wonderful Characters, Amazing Comedy, Teaches Valuable Lessons

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

Big Nate is an American computer-animated streaming television series developed by Mitch Watson and based on the comic strip and book series of the same name by Lincoln Peirce. It follows the adventures of titular protagonist, alongside his friends, in sixth grade. Big Nate follows the adventures and misadventures of Nate Wright, an incompetent, spirited and rebellious sixth-grader. His friend group includes Francis, Teddy, Chad and Dee Dee. Nate hates social studies teacher Mrs. Godfrey, whom he considers his nemesis and calls her names like “the school’s Godzilla,” and the firm Principal Nichols. At home, Nate lives with his single father, Martin and girly sister Ellen.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S., comments, “Big Nate is an excellent show for kids of all ages! The show has wonderful characters, amazing comedy and teaches valuable lessons. It’s an ideal series for families.” See her full review below.

Big Nate

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Big Nate is an excellent show for kids of all ages! The show has wonderful characters, amazing comedy and teaches valuable lessons. It’s an ideal series for families.

Big Nate is an animated series based on books of the same name. Big Nate follows Nate (Ben Giroux), a boy in sixth grade, as he learns about life and grows into his own, while accompanied by his friends, Dee Dee (Bryce Charles), Francis (Daniel MK Cohen), and Teddy (Arnie Pantoja).

The comedy of Big Nate is genius. Nate, Dee Dee, Francis, and Teddy each have their own sense of humor, giving balance to the group and adding to their individual personalities. The animation stands out—it’s computer animated, and the heads of the characters are bigger than their bodies; their hair has specific lines and an exaggerated, stiff shape to look like the comics the show is based on.

The characters all have depth, giving them as much importance as the titular character. They all have their own backstories and lines that they mutter under their breath. These expression make viewers laugh and provide clues about their personas. By the end of the episodes, we’re left wanting more of Nate and his friends. The translation of the books to the small screen is spectacular. It’s clear how much the creators of the show cared about doing justice to its published material. The execution of the animation, Nate, and his journey through sixth grade is done with precision and attention.

The messages of this series are learned through Nate.  He learns about discovering who you are and who you want to be, the power of friendship, and the hardships of family. Nate makes some enemies and at times doesn’t know who he can trust, and yet he always has his friends in his corner.

I give Big Nate 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 16. It begins streaming on Paramount+ February 17, 2022.

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Raising Dion: Season Two * Dion’s Powers Have Proven To Be A Blessing And A Curse

Sunday, February 20th, 2022

Raising Dion follows the story of Nicole (Alisha Wainwright) and her son Dion (Ja’Siah Young) after Dion starts to manifest several mysterious, superhero-like abilities. Two years after defeating the Crooked Man (Jason Ritter), Season Two follows Dion as he continues honing his powers with the support of his mom and Tevin (Rome Flynn), his Biona trainer who catches Nicole’s eye. After befriending new student Brayden (Griffin Robert Faulkner) – a fellow powered kid – a series of alarming events unfold, and Dion learns that danger is still looming. Navigating twists, turns, and surprise visitors, Dion and Nicole must prevail again — not just to save themselves, but the entire city of Atlanta.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Maica N. comments, “Fans have been waiting to see what’s happening with Dion and his family and friends after their lives were turned upside down. Dion’s powers have proven to be a blessing and a curse, but can these powers help Dion fight evil when everything he’s ever known is on the line?” See her full review below.

Raising Dion: Season Two
By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 14

Raising Dion. Jazmyn Simon as Kat in episode 208 of Raising Dion. Cr. Kyle Kaplan/Netflix © 2021

After a two year hiatus, the second season of Raising Dion is here! Fans have been waiting to see what’s happening with Dion and his family and friends after their lives were turned upside down. Dion’s powers have proven to be a blessing and a curse, but can these powers help Dion fight evil when everything he’s ever known is on the line?

Season two of Raising Dion comes two years after Dion (Ja’Siah Young) defeated Pat (Jason Ritter) and the Crooked Man with the help of his mom, Nicole (Alisha Warren), and his friends Esperanza (Sammi Haney) and Jonathan (Gavin Munn). Dion is continuing to learn how to control his powers with the help of BIONA and his new trainer, Tevin (Rome Flynn). When a new kid, Brayden, who Dion learns is also powered, comes to school, his life becomes unstable as he realizes danger is still lingering.

Raising Dion. Rome Flynn as Tevin Wakefield in episode 203 of Raising Dion. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2021

In this new season, I really like the involvement of Dion’s friends Esperanza and Jonathan. It gives Dion more of a support system, and it also gives more depth to his character, as he has to balance being a normal kid as well as having power. The “triangle of power” what the three call themselves, gives Dion the opportunity to do what he needs to do to save his family, friends, and city because he doesn’t have to do it alone anymore. Another beneficial addition to this season is Tevin, Dion’s new trainer. Tevin is powered, and because of that, he will have a closer bond with Dion. It also gives Dion someone trustworthy to look up to and to protect him. The introduction of Tevin also adds another storyline for Nicole which fans will enjoy. Brayden’s character brings another element of suspense—being a young and vulnerable kid makes him an easy target for the dark energy, and it allows him to get close to Dion. So, what really makes this season good are the storylines and the addition of new characters. They all fit and complement each other, and that makes the audience yearn for more.

Raising Dion. Ja’Siah Young as Dion Warren in episode 201 of Raising Dion. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2021

The message of season two of Raising Dion is to always follow your instincts. When Brayden is trying to convince Dion to do questionable things, Dion always has second thoughts. The characters in this show have an out-of-the-ordinary life, surrounded by different threats. So when they feel something is wrong, going with that gut feeling is essential. For the most part, Raising Dion is kid-friendly, with minimal use of inappropriate language and fighting scenes.

Raising Dion is everything I hoped it would be and more. Who knows what’s to come for Dion as he, along with his powers, starts to mature? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I rate Raising Dion 5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Season two of this series can be found on Netflix starting February 1, 2022. Make sure you check it out!

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