Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for the 'TV' Category

Andor * Perhaps The Best Star Wars Spin-Off Series So Far, It’s Superb Script, Visuals And Performances Will Grip You Throughout Its Duration

Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

The series explores a new perspective from the Star Wars galaxy, focusing on Cassian Andor’s journey to discover the difference he can make. The series brings forward the tale of the burgeoning rebellion against the Empire and how people and planets became involved. It’s an era filled with danger, deception and intrigue where Cassian will embark on the path that is destined to turn him into a rebel hero.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Perhaps the best Star Wars spin-off series so far, Andor’s superb script, visuals and performances will grip you throughout its duration. The force is indeed strong with this dark, grounded show, which comfortably departs from the Star Wars formula in significant ways.” Heather S. adds, “The theme of the show is to fight for what you believe in. In the early days of the Rebellion, there weren’t many fighters for the cause, and it was a risky gamble to join up against the Empire. Cassian takes the risk to fight against oppression and to take a stand.” See their complete reviews below.

Andor
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

(L-R): Kravas (Lee Boardman), Verlo (Stephen Wight), hostess (Margaret Clunie), bartender (Caroline Green) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in a scene from Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Perhaps the best Star Wars spin-off series so far, Andor’s superb script, visuals and performanceswill grip you throughout its duration. The force is indeed strong with this dark, grounded show, which comfortably departs from the Star Wars formula in significant ways.

A gritty, layered prequel to the highly popular (and also prequel) movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Andor follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) on a five-year journey as he grows from a revolution-averse, shifty, cynical con man to a selfless, Empire-defying rebel against the Galactic Empire. When confronted with enemy after enemy, Andor continually proves himself to be the perfect sort of spy, revolutionary and killer.

(L-R): B2EMO and Maarva (Fiona Shaw) in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Thank you, Tony Gilroy, for creating this series. It’s simply incredible. Driven by mood, Andor seems more like a crime drama or a Ridley Scott sci-fi film than a true Star Wars film. Though the first two episodes are a bit slow and offer pretty low-stakes, with lots and lots of exposition, Luna pushes the series, one of his best performances yet, to excellence. Episode three, especially, is WOW. His power to add nuance to what starts as a one-dimensional personality — surly dude disillusioned with his surroundings — is remarkable. We’re lucky he reprised his role. Adding a tiny note here, I love how Luna keeps his native Mexican accent in all his portrayals of Cassian Andor. It adds something to the role! The plot of Andor is simple enough, and this allows for both the trademark character development and world-building of the Star Wars universe and also the slow reveal of the Rebel Alliance forming. Stellan Skarsgård’s portrayal of Luthen Rael is subtle without being dry, and he helps elevate the show and make it even more riveting. The production quality, much like the acting, is off the charts; every scene is engineered to be utterly stunning. Half the time the feeling of dread is offset by, “oh my goodness, look at the sky.” All of this — the new tone, new feel, new style — might be too different for some, but the utter novelty is to be appreciated. Finally, the beautiful score by Nicholas Britell adds so much to the retro-futurism of Andor and makes the performances pop even more.

Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Andor promotes fighting for good causes, allowing yourself to be taken by passion, and leading others for the greater good. Beyond these lessons, it’s also a master class (tonally, visually, sonically) for filmmakers playing in the sandbox. There are some sexual undertones in the first episode and violent scenes.

I give Andor 4.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Andor releases on Disney+ September 21, 2022.

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

(L-R): Kravas (Lee Boardman), Verlo (Stephen Wight), hostess (Margaret Clunie), Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and bartender (Caroline Green) in a scene from Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Andor, a prequel to Rogue One, is the latest Star Wars-inspired series to debut to much enthusiasm from expectant fans.  Despite some exciting cameos, though, the series lacks the boldness of its predecessors. 

Andor follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), before he was known as Captain of the Rebellion. When he murders two officers and has an arrest warrant on his head, he meets Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) who offers Cassian the opportunity of a lifetime: to join the early formations of the Rebellion against the Empire.  Viewers will recognize the character of Cassian from Rogue One. In the film, he’s witty, smart and callous. In his own series, however, he’s described as being a playboy and smooth talker, though in many ways he doesn’t really live up to that description; it’s rare that we see him engaging or displaying these qualities.

(L-R): Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona) in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

The series has some strong points. The CGI is extremely realistic, transporting viewers to never-before-seen planets. The fight scenes keep you on your toes, always waiting for the next blaster battle. In the past several years, Disney has produced outstanding and mind-blowing Star Wars shows like Obi Wan Kenobi and The Mandalorian. Both series have deep connections to the Star Wars universe and set the bar high for upcoming Star Wars projects. Audiences can decide if Andor meets the expectations set up by those series or not. 

The theme of the show is to fight for what you believe in. In the early days of the Rebellion, there weren’t many fighters for the cause, and it was a risky gamble to join up against the Empire. Cassian takes the risk to fight against oppression and to take a stand. 

I give Andor 3 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It begins streaming on Disney+ September 21, 2022. 

Share this page on:

Fishtales: Seal World * Smart And Subtle; Quietly Threads Life Lessons Throughout The Story

Friday, September 16th, 2022

Alba the seal is leaving Fishtale Reef to go to Seal School in the big bay! All her friends in Fishtale Reef work around the clock to prepare the best farewell party for the adorable seal in Fishtales: Seal World!

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Alma K. comments, “Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World is a very sweet show. It’s geared for a younger audience than me, but I believe it will be a favorite among younger kids. Parents will like it too as aspects of it are educational.” Avalon N. adds, “I really like the way Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World quietly sneaks in life lessons threaded throughout the storyline. It’s smart and yet subtle; perfect for a kids’ TV show. I love how vibrant and colorful the entire show is – the backgrounds and the characters — both in looks and personality.” See their full reviews below.

Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World
By Alma K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World is a very sweet show. It’s geared for a younger audience than me, but I believe it will be a favorite among younger kids. Parents will like it too as aspects of it are educational.

The latest in the acclaimed Fishtales: Seal World series, the storyline of Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World  follows Fifi, a bubbly pink fish, and her best friend Lily, a whale, who get news about one of their friends moving away. They go visit the Magic Pearl who is the only one that can confirm if this is true and if so, why? It turns out that Alba the seal is leaving Fishtale Reef to go to Seal School in the big bay! Fifi and Lily struggle with keeping the secret, but once the secret comes out they decide that they’re going to throw Alba the best surprise farewell party ever.

I really like the way Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World quietly sneaks in life lessons threaded throughout the storyline. It’s smart and yet subtle; perfect for a kids’ TV show. I love how vibrant and colorful the entire show is – the backgrounds and the characters — both in looks and personality. I also appreciate how detailed the characters are. Fifi is a fish and, obviously, her parents are the same type of fish, but you can clearly tell who is who because of the slight changes in color, eyelashes or headpieces. I really like how they paid so  much attention to these small things. The same applies to the backgrounds. There are two rooms that look almost exactly the same, but have small differences, barely noticeable, but enough so you can appreciate it.

The message is that you have to be happy for others and want the best for them. Lily and Fifi are obviously sad that Alba is leaving, but at the same time, are happy she gets to live out her dream of going to Seal School. There are some really nice lessons for young children in the film – touching topics like secrets, not getting what you want and similar.

I give Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. Fishtales: Seal World: Seal World will be available on VOD and DVD beginning September 6, 2022. Go check it out!

Fishtales: Seal World

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Fishtales: Seal World is a film that really shows how people, or fish, can care for each other. It really speaks to my heart; what makes it amazing is how it has so much love and support for all the characters.

This show is about a fish named Fifi and a baby whale named Lily. They find out that Alba, the seal, is leaving and plan a surprise party for her called “Operation: Secret Party.” All of this has to be kept secret from Alba the seal.

There are so many cool things to talk about in Fishtales: Seal World. First, there are so many minor characters, which is so amazing. Throughout the show the main characters, Fifi and Lily meet many diverse characters that help them out and give them advice. Second, there’s even a moment where the characters of the show break the fourth wall and address the audience. For example, it asks kids to figure out a word starting with the letter “P” that means: asking nicely. Third, the animation is quite good and differs from other animation I’ve ever seen; it really showcases the marine life in a different, more kid friendly way. 

The voice actors, starting with Sarah Taylor, KJ Schrock and Simon Hill, are all so impressive. It can often be hard to figure out how a sea creature might speak, yet these actors manage to pull it off. The voice actor for Tickles, a starfish, has a very bland animated face but the voice actor really brings him to life by giving him more excitement and joy than his face portrays.

The message of this film is that secrets should stay secrets, especially if they’re not yours to tell. We should always trust and care for each other.

I give Fishtales: Seal World 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. It releases on DVD and digital September 16, 2022.

Share this page on:

Gutsy * Very Empowering Show That Highlights Contemporary Known And Unknown Women Heroes

Sunday, September 11th, 2022

What does it really mean to be gutsy? Join Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton on an unforgettable adventure to ask some of the world’s boldest and bravest women how they embody gutsiness. Inspired by the Clintons’ acclaimed New York Times bestselling book, “The Book of Gutsy Women,” the docuseries features Hillary and Chelsea as they embark on a thought-provoking journey to speak with pioneering women artists, activists, community leaders and everyday heroes who show us what it truly means to be gutsy. Joining the Clintons are a number of extraordinary, courageous, and resilient women who have made an impact in their community and on the world, including Megan Thee Stallion, Dr. Jane Goodall, Gloria Steinem, Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson and many more.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S., comments, “Gutsy is a documentary series worth the watch! It’s a very empowering show for women that highlights household-name heroes and well as several unrecognized heroes.” See her full review below.

Gutsy
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Gutsy is a documentary series worth the watch! It’s a very empowering show for women that highlights household-name heroes and well as several unrecognized heroes.

Gutsy follows former first lady Hillary Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, as they meet “gutsy” women and answer the question: what it means to be “gutsy”. They share the interesting and inspiring stories of admirable women throughout eight episodes.

The documentary is based on The New York Times’ best-selling book, The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite stories of Courage and Resilience, authored by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. Some of the episodes include Gutsy Women Have the Last Laugh, Gutsy Women Refuse Hate, and Gutsy Women Seek Justice.Other topics explored include women being rebellious, taking leaps of faith, exhibiting their strengths and motherhood.

It’s fascinating to hear stories about people you didn’t know outside of movies and shows, or even at all. Some of the interviewees include Dr. Jane Goodall, Gloria Steinem, Megan Thee Stallion, Goldie Hawn, Amy Schumer, Kate Hudson, Wanda Sykes, along with many more accomplished women. Hillary and Chelsea Clinton are such natural hosts and make it easy to enjoy watching them.

The main messages are to be “gutsy” and to not let your hard times define you. There is profanity, and mature topics are discussed.

I give Gutsy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This movie comes out on Apple TV+ September 9, 2022.

Share this page on:

Growing Up * Very Touching, Well Thought Out Docu-Series With So Many Inspiring Stories

Friday, September 9th, 2022

Growing Up is an innovative hybrid docu-series that explores the challenges, triumphs, and complexities of adolescence through ten compelling coming of age stories. The series uses narrative, experimental, and documentary filmmaking to follow one casted individual, ages 18 to 22, as they tell their story. They represent a wide range of lived experiences, giving audiences emotionally powerful narratives that offer an engaging look at teenage-hood and the diverse social, familial, and internal obstacles young people face on their path to self-discovery and acceptance. Each 30-minute episode features one young person, or “hero,” and their experience growing up. Each episode is anchored by a deeply personal interview that allows our heroes to walk us through their childhood and teenage years. Alongside these interviews, creative cinematic reenactments help bring their major inflection points to life.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avalon N. comments, “Growing Up is a very touching and well thought out docu-series. With so many inspiring stories it really speaks to my heart and made me think. Growing Up incorporates so many amazing things. There are well thought out moments such as connecting to one’s younger self.” See her full review and interviews below.

Growing Up 
By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Growing Up is a very touching and well thought out docu-series. With so many inspiring stories it really speaks to my heart and made me think.

This series, created by Brie Larson, is about a lot of different heroes including Gavin Arneson whose story is about poverty, Sofia Ongele whose story is about meeting expectations and Amiri Nash whose story is about growing up Black and gay, along with many others. They all share their stories of growing up that ranges from living in poverty, or depression, and of friendship. Throughout this series there are many different lessons and stories to be learned and shared.

Growing Up incorporates so many amazing things. There are well thought out moments such as connecting to one’s younger self. There is often an actor portraying the younger version of the person speaking and we see them hug or hold hands with each other. There are also many different reenactments that enhance the way the person’s story is told like a prom scene or a summer camp scene. One scene that is particularly striking is in the Gavin episode, the last episode of the season, when he gives his graduation speech. Instead of finding the actual people that were there, the other heroes are listening to him. Then, to top the whole scene off, we see actual footage from his graduation speech.

Another thing that impressed me is how these heroes are willing to share their stories. It can often be frightening to share your personal life story on screen for so many to see, and these heroes really stepped up to the plate. Another big part of this series is having a room where all the heroes sit to tell each other their stories; this room is shown repeatedly throughout the series and often heroes from different episodes talk to the hero currently sharing their story.

The message of this docu-series is to always be yourself, love yourself and know you are never alone.

I give Growing Up 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, as well as adults. This series begins streaming on Disney+ September 8, 2022.

Share this page on:

Cars on the Road * Perfect For Younger Viewers – Colorful Animation, Short Stories And Catchy Tunes

Thursday, September 8th, 2022

Set months after Cars 3, the new series follows Lightning McQueen and his best friend Mater on a cross-country road trip across the United States as they journey eastward to attend a wedding for Mater’s sister. The episodes depict the characters in various scenarios, for example, them being chased by dinosaur-like cars. It is set in new locations with a multitude of new characters, including their new friend Ivy, a girl monster truck who travels with them, as well as featuring the return of already established characters from the franchise.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kyla C. comments, “With nine episodes ranging around ten minutes in length, this show is perfect for pre-existing Cars fans and younger kids. The catchy tunes are a wonderful backing for the colorful animation and short stories happening on screen.” See her full review below.

Cars on the Road
By Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 13

Get ready to go “Lightning” fast when you watch Cars on the Road, a new spinoff series from Disney/Pixar. With nine episodes ranging around ten minutes in length, this show is perfect for pre-existing Cars fans and younger kids. The catchy tunes are a wonderful backing for the colorful animation and short stories happening on screen. Get comfortable in your seat because Cars on the Road will keep you riveted with its action and adventure.

Cars on the Road follows Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) as they go on a long road trip to attend Mater’s sister’s wedding. A distinct mini-plot takes up the majority of each individual episode, with the only overlapping plot points being the roadtrip. One of the best episodes involves a well-developed character who discovers her inner self and finds where she belongs. With appearances of other characters from the original Cars movies, as well as many brand new characters, Cars on the Road is sure to keep you watching.

Cars on the Road has some of the most real looking, 3D-seeming animation I’ve ever seen. In one of the episodes, Lightning and Mater arrive at a speed stop, where cars are getting attachments in order to drive faster. They stop to talk and there’s a building and trees in the background. It is truly stunning how much the cars look like they are popping off the screen. The animation throughout the show is also colorful and fun, setting a cheerful tone. However, when the show hits a couple of dark moments, that cheerful color vanishes, replaced by a dark and gloomy feel. So, not only is the animation pleasing for the eyes, it helps to tell the story with changes in moods.

On the other side of things, the music is so upbeat and fun. It’s engaging and catchy. The theme song that plays at the beginning of each episode is the perfect short clip for this show. On top of that, there are a few other songs spread throughout that have to do with that episode’s story. They are naturally included, and I always look forward to when the next song will appear. The animated dancing that goes along with these songs is also pretty brilliant. To put a cherry on top, the acting performances are wonderful. A few of the original Cars actors star in this show, as well as plenty of actors new to the Cars world. They make their characters’ personalities funny, vulnerable, sweet and always lovable by kids. One character and acting performance that stands out as adding positive energy to the show is Ivy, who is played by Quinta Brunson. She gives the already lively character her own personal spark. Ivy truly shines throughout the show.

Cars on the Road is definitely a perfect pick for a young child. There are vital messages that are clearly conveyed in each episode. Sometimes, the characters even talk about that episode’s lesson and reflect on how they could’ve been a better friend or sister. Among many others, teamwork, healthy friendships and knowing that your opinion isn’t the only opinion are some of the primary themes of Cars on the Road.

I give Cars on the Road 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8.  Three-two-one-GO! have some fun watching Cars on the Road exclusively on Disney+ beginning September 8, 2022.

Share this page on:
Entertainment News for Kids:
Join KIDS FIRST! on Twitter Join KIDS FIRST! on YouTube Join KIDS FIRST! on Instagram Join KIDS FIRST! on Tik Tok Join KIDS FIRST! on Facebook