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Wizards: Tales of Arcadia * Guillermo del Toro’s New Series Will Enrapture Viewers

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Wizards: Tales of Arcadia (or simply Wizards) is an American computer-animated fantasy limited series created by Guillermo del Toro, and produced by DreamWorks Animation Television and Double Dare You Productions. The series is the third and final installment of the Tales of Arcadia trilogy, following Trollhunters and 3Below, and was released on August 7, 2020 on Netflix. In the newest installment, wizard-in-training Douxie (Colin O’Donoghue) and the heroes of Arcadia embark for the control of magic that will determine the fate of those supernatural worlds that have now converged.

Tales of Arcadia first launched in 2016 with the Emmy-winning series Trollhunters, including a first-ever Emmy win for del Toro and Rodrigo Blaas for Outstanding Directing, followed by the second installment 3Below in 2018. On the surface, Arcadia appears to be a slice of timeless Americana, but it is no ordinary town. It lies at the center of magical and mystical lines that make it a nexus for many battles among otherworldly creatures including trolls, aliens and wizards. 

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Guillermo del Toro’s new series Tales of Arcadia: Wizards will enrapture its viewers because of its high-quality animation, detailed emotional rollercoaster plot and strong script. The eight-time Emmy award-winning team behind this production creates a whole new fantasy world to dive into with the intricate CGI in this show—the mesmerizing floating castle of Camelot, incredible flying contraptions and futuristic technology complete the look. Designed with the utmost care, the many characters of this show are illustrated with clear lines and realistic coloring for skin, whether human or monstrous, hair, fangs and even fingernails—now that’s detail-oriented!” See his full review below.

Wizards: Tales of Arcadia
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Guillermo del Toro’s new series Wizards: Tales of Arcadia will enrapture its viewers because of its high-quality animation, detailed emotional rollercoaster plot and strong script. The eight-time Emmy award-winning team behind this production creates a whole new fantasy world to dive into with the intricate CGI in this show—the mesmerizing floating castle of Camelot, incredible flying contraptions and futuristic technology complete the look. Designed with the utmost care, the many characters of this show are illustrated with clear lines and realistic coloring for skin, whether human or monstrous, hair, fangs and even fingernails—now that’s detail-oriented!

Now to the plot of Wizards: Tales of Arcadia. The main character in this TV show is Hisirdoux or Douxie, our favorite clumsy wizard-in-training. After a stand-off with the Arcane Order – an evil band of magicians led by the wily Morgana – goes wrong, the group of do-gooder wizards (Merlin and Hisirdoux, along with the Guardians of Arcadia: Claire, Toby, and Steve, as well as Archie and Jim) set off on a time-twisting adventure to the times of 12th-century Camelot.  The control of magic, the nature of all the supernatural worlds, and Hisirdoux’s status in his mentor’s eyes all lie in the balance.

The plot is intricate and crafted carefully – there are several plot twists along the way, and all of the characters are nuanced and lifelike. Well, the ones that aren’t monsters are lifelike. I found it very hard to peel my eyes away from the screen throughout the ten episodes! Surprisingly, for a fantasy series, I was unable to predict what would happen next!

A highly talented and vaunted figure in television series lore, Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, one of the many executive producers of the film, is well-known for his expertise in the industry. It shows in this TV series as well. Throughout the series, I found myself going through tears of joy and sadness, and cracking a super-wide smile at several parts. The script of Wizards, written by Andie Bolt, Ian Rickett and Lila Scott, was truly feature-film quality.

Colin O’Donoghue plays Hisirdoux; I found “Douxie” to be possibly the most nuanced of all the characters, and O’Donoghue is excellent at portraying all the facets of his personality. Steven Yeun plays Steve on the show, and he portrays the clumsy jock with comedic genius. Lena Headey plays the conflicted Morgana with finesse. Those are my three favorite characters on the show, with Archie as a runner-up – you have to love the cat/dragon’s sarcastic commentary and incredible portrayal by Alfred Molina. Toby seems like an accessory character in this show and does not have much importance in lines or scenes.

There are several sweet messages incorporated throughout the show—messages of acceptance, perseverance, camaraderie and believing in yourself. The emotional development and maturing of Hisirdoux surely will cause you to shed a few tears as well, and you can’t help but be proud of Callista, a troll with an interesting secret, for stepping up and casting aside what other trolls thought of her.

I rate Wizards: Tales of Arcadia 4 stars out of 5 and recommend it to children aged 10 to 15. Wizards: Tales of Arcadia is coming to Netflix August 7, 2020!

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Star Wars Rebels: Series Finale – Bringing Families Together.

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Prepare yourself for the epic series finale of Star Wars Rebels! It all starts Monday, March 5th on Disney XD. The Ghost crew joins the growing Rebel Alliance, struggling to unite against the Galactic Empire. However, when a new Imperial threat arises on Lothal, Ezra leads the crew back to his home world to defeat the oppressive forces of the Empire, under the command of the cunning Grand Admiral Thrawn. Old friends are reunited and new allegiances are forged as the series builds to its epic conclusion. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “Even though I am not a fan of Star Wars Rebels, this finale is very well put together and has a very satisfying ending.” See her full review below.

Star Wars Rebels: Series Finale
By Calista B., KIDS! First Film Critic, Age 14

Even though I am not a fan of Star Wars Rebels, this finale is very well put together and has a very satisfying ending.

These final episodes tell the ending of the fight to free the planet Lothal from the rule of The Empire. It’s the final fight between The Empire and The Rebels, being led by Ezra Bridger.

I do have to make a disclaimer for anyone interested in this show. This is a continuity heavy, episodic show. I went into this show with barely any information and I was mostly lost. I would definitely recommend watching the whole series or else you’ll probably be as lost as me. I plan to watch the series now, after watching the final episodes.

However, even though I went in blind, there is one thing I really loved at this premiere. That is the love of Star Wars the audience radiated. There are cosplayers, people with lightsabers, little kids dressed as x-wing fighters and more. It was so cool to see all these people gathering together for one common interest. The actors also shared that same enjoyment of this show as the audience did, the love for the Star Wars franchise was palpable in the theater. It was nice to see this passion basically emanate from everyone! The director, Dave Filoni’s message about selflessness and how the force is being one with all cosmic energy, how the dark-side is a drive to power not love, also resonated in these episodes and is very well delivered. The best thing about Star Wars is that it brings families together. So many fans say they watch Star Wars Rebel as a family.

The episodes are also really good. While I didn’t feel the same connection as most of the audience, I can appreciate things like the action. I love the action scenes in these episodes. They are very well animated, they felt very fast and exciting and are very entertaining.

I also think the characters are really cool, especially Sebene and Hera. Of course, you got to love these large and in-charge female characters!

The animation is kind of the only thing that isn’t top notch. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t bad, but it isn’t perfect. I enjoy it somewhat, as I like the artistic style, but it feels somewhat fake and plastic-like. Oddly enough, the Stormtroopers look weirdly realistic.

My only real complaint is that the show doesn’t feel any different than other Star Wars stories. While this does take place in between Episode III and Episode IV, I don’t feel like it is that different than the other stories. Star Wars is simple, yeah, but there is room to expand.

I give this show 4 out of 5 stars and recommend to ages 8 to 18. The final episodes come out on March 5.

 

 

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Forgotten Four – Tackling the History of Four African-American Pro Football Players

Monday, September 8th, 2014

forgottenfour.jpgForgotten Four: The Integration of Pro Football, an EPIX Original Documentary, will make its World Premiere on Tuesday, September 23, 2014, at 8PM ET. The 60-minute documentary, narrated by Jeffrey Wright tells the little-known story of four outstanding and brave African American men – Kenny Washington, Woody Strode, Marion Motley and Bill Willis – who broke the color barrier in pro football in 1946, one year before Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey were credited with integrating Major League Baseball. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Keefer B. comments, “This proves the impact that these four football players had on history and I thank this film for bringing this information to an audience.” See his full review below.

Forgotten Four: The Integration of Pro Football
Reviewed by Keefer C. Blakeslee

Unforgettable! This documentary literally tackles the history of the first four African-American pro football players during the time of segregation.

Most people know that Jackie Robinson was the first African-American baseball player on an all white team. However you may not know that Kenny Washington, Marion Motley, Bill Willis and Woody Strode were the first African-American football players on major teams. Branch Rickey, who signed Jackie to the Dodgers, was part owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers football team and once told Marion Motley, ”Had I not had the experience of seeing you and Bill Willis play in a contact sport, without incidence, I might not have had the courage to bring Jackie Robinson up into the majors.” This proves the impact that these four football players had on history and I thank this film for bringing this information to an audience.

The film expresses the passion and philosophy of playing football in an honorable matter. I’m not much of a football fan or sports fanatic in general, but this film swayed me into believing how important football is to sports enthusiasts. The film teaches audiences that football is not just men running back and forth tackling each other, it is a way of life for the people who are good at it.

There were hard times for people like Kenny Washington and the film does not hide this. It provides pictures of African Americans being hanged or even burned and footage of African slaves working in plantations. After slavery ended, the world turned into a segregated society. Coloreds and whites were separated from each other. They couldn’t even use the same drinking fountain. You’re thinking to yourself, “I already know this,”. Most of you do, but I give regards to the film for reminding us of that. If they didn’t begin the film this way, the story of Kenny Washington or Bill Willis wouldn’t be as remarkable. When Marion Motley and the rest of the African players stepped onto the field, they are not only representing themselves, but their whole race. Just imagine the weight of that responsibility.

This film not only recognizes the players, but Paul Brown, coach for the Cleveland Browns – the man who brought them together in the first place. I admire this man not just for his determination and teaching skills but, for his desire to win with the best players no matter the color of their skin. That belief, during that time, was unthinkable and courageous. That is why he is my favorite person in this film.

My favorite part is when Jim Hardy, one of the white players for the Los Angeles Rams, talks about the abuse Kenny Washington took from his own team mates. While playing a game one of the players “knocked down Kenny flatter than a mackerel.” After the game, Jim placed his arm on Kenny’s shoulder and said, ”We got beat today but, I’ve never seen anybody play as good a football game as you played today.” Kenny responds, his eye watering, ”Jim, it’s hell to be black” Hearing Kenny’s emotional words made me melancholy.

The moral of this documentary echoes words from the Declaration of Independence, ”All men are created equal.” These four pioneers were all great at what they did and because of the color of their skin they were rejected. This tarnished everything our country stands for.

If you’re amazing at what you do, you should do it, despite what you look like.
I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. And, I recommend it to 12 through 18-year-olds. There are images and language that might not be appropriate for younger audiences. Although I do believe that kids need to watch this film and learn about the four men who opened the door to a brighter world.

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