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Rueful Warrior * New Sci-Fi Short With More Fight Scenes Than You Can Count

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Rueful Warrior is a thought-provoking film which focuses on the futility of war and underlines the absurdity of violence and combat. In this film, our heroine – alien soldier Yalalia – finds herself caught up in a conflict of moral and physical standings against a group of soldiers from Earth. Her integrity is tested to the limit as she desperately attempts to maintain peace at all costs. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Brad M. comments, “Rueful Warrior is a new sci-fi short film packed with action. It has more fight scenes and punches thrown than you will be able to count. If you like exciting futuristic productions, you will love this new short film!” See his full review below

Rueful Warrior
By Brad Martin, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Rueful Warrior is a new sci-fi short film packed with action. It has more fight scenes and punches thrown than you will be able to count. If you like exciting futuristic productions, you will love this new short film!

Yalalia (Michelle Fahrenheim) is sent to Earth from a faraway planet in order to save her people. Her civilization is lacking a vital resource – water. The alien soldier is immediately assumed to be hostile and attacked by Earth’s protectors.

Director Mark Owen giving instructions to his two female leads. Rueful Warrior. Credit: © Samuel Dore
Director Mark Owen giving instructions to his two female leads. Rueful Warrior. Credit: © Samuel Dore

There are a multitude of entertaining aspects to Rueful Warrior, but the best is the fight choreography. Joe Golby, the fight choreographer, has truly created a realistic, yet intriguing sequence of brawling. I enjoyed the variety of styles used in this short film, but would have liked more of a story. At times, I felt as if I was watching more of a fight than a movie.

The main character, Yalalia, helps keep the audience’s eyes glued to the screen with her convincing acting. The manner in which she reacts to the attacks of Earth’s soldiers is everything one I could have wanted from her character. Yalalia’s costume is a spectacular work of art. The similarities between her alien culture and the human culture show how different, yet similar opposing sides of conflict can be. The director, Mark Owen, had a powerful vision for the film in creating a strong female protagonist. I appreciated the way he portrays her character, compared to the other actors. The others could have had better story arcs. It would be interesting to see one of Earth’s soldiers question the other’s decision to attack Yalalia. This might add another layer to the already dramatic conflict.

Actress Michelle Fahrenheim (Yalalia) and director Mark Owen, Rueful Warrior, Credit: © Samuel Dore
Actress Michelle Fahrenheim (Yalalia) and director Mark Owen, Rueful Warrior, Credit: © Samuel Dore

I love the way the short film ends with a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower, “I hate war, as only a soldier who has lived can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” This helps enforce the main message of the film that society needs to work together. When we fight among ourselves, it leads to pain and suffering for both sides. Parents should be advised about the violence in this film.

I give Rueful Warrior 4 out of 5 stars and recommend for kids 10 through 18. Make sure to check out this short film at the Portobello Film Festival September 13, 2019 or at the Show Low Film Festival October 17 through 20, 2019. 

Dora And The Lost City Of Gold Knocks It Out Of The Jungle!

Friday, August 9th, 2019

Having spent most of her life exploring the jungle, nothing could prepare Dora for her most dangerous adventure yet — high school. Accompanied by a ragtag group of teens and Boots the monkey, Dora embarks on a quest to save her parents while trying to solve the seemingly impossible mystery behind a lost Incan civilization. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Nathalia J. comments, “Paramount Pictures has done it again! Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. Deliciouso! Are you ready for a new live action Dora?! If so, you’ll love this feature transformation of Nickelodeon’s TV show Dora The Explorer.” Zoe C. adds, “Vámonos! Dora and the Lost City of Gold sends me back to my not-that-long-ago childhood and reminds me why kids love Dora: she is simple, enthusiastic and an avid explorer! Now a teenager, Dora keeps her spirit and deals with identity, like most teens nowadays do, and continues teaching us lessons—and some Spanish. (“Vámonos” means “let’s go!”)” Mia G. wraps it up with, “As someone who grew up watching the show, Dora the Explorer, I am delighted at all the little tidbits in the movie that are reminiscent of the cartoon.  Dora speaks to the camera, carries her nifty backpack everywhere she goes and she throws in a Spanish word every once in awhile – ‘Can you say Delicioso?’” See their full reviews below and check out some of their interviews including coverage at the Studio Movie Grill honoring Pat Gonzalez from Paramount Studios for her charity work with the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Southern California.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold
By Nathalia J. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Paramount Pictures has done it again! Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. Deliciouso! Are you ready for a new live action Dora?! If so, you’ll love this feature transformation of Nickelodeon’s TV show Dora The Explorer. If you have you ever wondered what it would be like to grow up in the jungle, that’s a question for Dora and her playful monkey Boots. This film takes you alongside Dora as an explorer learning the jungle’s darkest secrets. Buckle up, it’s going to get wild.

This film follows Dora, a teenage explorer who leads her friends on a adventure to save her parents and solve the mystery behind The Lost City Of Gold. Dora spent most of her life exploring the jungles of South America, but nothing could prepare Dora for her most dangerous adventure yet, high school. Yes, high school. Dora spent most of her life in academic isolation with her professor parents. Get ready for Dora and her adventures to begin. Swiper, no swiping. Swiper, no swiping.

Isabela Moner stars as “Dora” in “Dora and the Lost City of Gold.”

The lead characters are Dora (Isabela Moner), Elena (Eva Longoria), Boots (Danny Trejo’s voice), Diego (Jeff Wahlberg), Swiper (Benicio Del Toro’s voice), Dora’s Father (Michael Pena) and Diego’s Mother (Pia Miller). My favorite character is clearly the favorable Dora who shows strength and courage throughout the film. For example, her parents doubt her, but she has a light inside her that will prove them wrong. She wants to show her friends, family and fellow explorers that, just because she’s young, she can be a leader and explore alongside her parents. I love that the film features a predominantly Latinx cast. The Spanish parts feel really natural and funny. The Latina female lead really inspired me in so many ways. I learned from her spirit and her willingness to be herself. 

My favorite scene is unquestionably when Dora and her friends find the Lost City of Gold. We see how the treasure hunters have tried stealing something that wasn’t their own. This scene definitely shows teamwork, action, decision-making and communication skills.

Isabela Moner and Jeff Wahlberg star in “Dora and the Lost City of Gold.”

This film shares an important message about always being yourself. Dora proves this as she enters high school for the first time, after being home schooled. She expresses her own personality and doesn’t change for anyone.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, as well as adults. There is no bad language or violence or anything to be concerned about.  It opens in theaters August 9, 2019. Make sure to go check out this astonishing and adventurous film.  

Dora and the Lost City of Gold
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Vámonos! Dora and the Lost City of Gold sends me back to my not-that-long-ago childhood and reminds me why kids love Dora: she is simple, enthusiastic and an avid explorer! Now a teenager, Dora keeps her spirit and deals with identity, like most teens nowadays do, and continues teaching us lessons—and some Spanish. (“Vámonos” means “let’s go!”)

In this live-action movie, Dora (Isabela Moner) goes to the city to explore . . .  high school! The jungle seems to be her natural habitat, so when Dora arrives in the city she seems a bit lost and confused. There she meets with her cousin Diego. She doesn’t know much about what going to school is and real life in a city seems more dangerous than the jungle does. On a field trip, Dora goes back to doing what she knows best: having adventures. Dora and some classmates accidentally end up in the jungle, and she helps her parents solve a mystery and find the Lost City of Gold.

I love that this film keeps the essence of the original Dora animated series and brings to the big screen elements from the TV show, like some of the animated characters. I like that family is important to Dora, and that she is a good example for younger children. The acting is very good and everyone fits nicely in their roles. Eugenio Derbez, one of the producers of the film, is surrounded with a great group of actors. He plays Alejandro Gutierrez, an explorer related to Dora, although she doesn’t know him well. Eva Longoria and Michael Peña play Dora’s parents, and they are funny and add a warm touch. Isabela Moner is the perfect Dora: she totally embodies the tone of the little girl while playing a teenager.

Isabela Moner stars as “Dora” in Paramount Pictures’ “Dora and the Lost City of Gold.”

The story is a little predictable but overall is entertaining. The sets are not perfect, but they serve the purpose. I was actually excited to see the film since Dora is such a classic and 2020 (next year) will be the 20th anniversary of the character. The message of the film is: family comes first, and you don’t have to change who you are to fit into society.

I give Dora and the Lost City of Gold 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids 4 to 14.  Dora and the Lost City of Gold is in theatres August 9, 2019.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold
By Mia G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 8

I love Dora and the Lost City of Gold much more than I thought I would! The live-action movie is light-hearted, full of comedy and adventure, and stays true to the original Dora the Explorer TV series.

L-R, Eugenio Derbez, Nicholas Coombe, Jeffrey Wahlberg, Madeleine Madden and Isabela Moner star in Paramount Pictures’ “DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD.”

The movie follows Dora, a teenager now, who is begrudgingly shipped off from the jungles of Peru to Los Angeles, California to live with her relatives, including her cousin Diego. Dora struggles to assimilate in high school and has difficulty making friends.  Meanwhile, her parents who are professors and explorers, go missing while on their latest quest to find the Lost City of Gold.  Through a series of events, Dora and her new friends are off to save the day!

As someone who grew up watching the show, Dora the Explorer, I am delighted at all the little tidbits in the movie that are reminiscent of the cartoon.  Dora speaks to the camera, carries her nifty backpack everywhere she goes and she throws in a Spanish word every once in awhile – “Can you say Delicioso?”

Isabela Moner portrays Dora so well. She fits the part perfectly; looks like her cartoon counterpart; sounds like her and is Peruvian herself! She is upbeat, and as one of the characters in the movie says, has a “relentless good-natured spirit.”  Though I initially thought the movie would be cheesy, I enjoy Isabela’s comedic timing.  She carries the movie as its heroin.

Isabela Moner and Eugenio Derbez star in Paramount Pictures’ “Dora and the Lost City of Gold.”

Dora’s best friend, Boots (a monkey) and nemesis, Swiper (a fox) join her in this adventure.  They are the only two characters who are in CGI.  Though it might be have been created like this on purpose, I find the graphics of these two characters too cartoony. They stand out too much from the live-action cast.

The message of the movie is to stay true to yourself, which is the advice given to Dora early on. Because Dora stays true to herself, she is able to conquer both the high school and jungle worlds.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, because of its youthful nature.  You can find it in theaters beginning August 9, 2019.

Sesame Street: Dance Party * So Enjoyable. Brings Out The Dancer In Everyone

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Everyone loves to dance–from furry little monsters to furry BIG Snuffleupaguses. This special collection includes over two hours of content that will make your child want to move and groove. Little ones will love to see real kids dancing flamenco, doing an Irish stepdance, clapping out West African beats, and cha-cha-ing all over the place. They’ll learn to dance like a dinosaur, a robot, and Elmo! Includes appearances by Amy Ryan, Liev Schreiber, Maria Menounos, Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman, Jason Derulo and performances by Ne-Yo, Feijóo Sisters, Janelle Monáe and Sara Bareilles. Bonus Features – Elmo’s Music Magic. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “This DVD is absolutely awesome! It is so enjoyable to watch and it’s educational at the same time. It teaches you how to perform different dances, which can be very entertaining for active children.” Selene W. adds, “Stomp and slide while watching Sesame Street: Dance Party!  What could be more fun than clapping your hands, stomping your feet, touching your toes and wiggling and jiggling your way to learning new dance moves with the Sesame Street characters and their special guests?” and Jolleen M. wraps it up with, “The different scenes feature the Muppet characters of Sesame Street learning all about dance. They learn different styles of dance from all over the world, how to dance, what a choreographer is and much more. The DVD also teaches the audience the dances and then encourages people to get up and dance.” Check out their full reviews below as this DVD comes out on August 6, 2019.

Sesame Street: Dance Party
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This DVD is absolutely awesome! It is so enjoyable to watch and it’s educational at the same time. It teaches you how to perform different dances, which can be very entertaining for active children.

Sesame Street: Dance Party has so much to watch. Every single scene is adorable, from Rosita and some friends learning how to do the chicken dance to Elmo teaching you the happy dance. And it has all of our most favorite and lovable characters such as Elmo, Rosita, Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus.

This DVD teaches your children what a choreographer is and does. Also, the episodes teach you different dances and you learn about where they came from. My favorite scene is when Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus try to find their favorite dance.

Throughout the DVD, there are a bunch of great messages. Some of my favorites are: learning is fun, dance can show different cultures and our voices can do amazing things. This DVD has no bad language and no bad behavior. There is nothing risky or dangerous that kids might try to do.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 7. Adults will also think that it is cute to watch with their children and can participate in some of the dances. It is available August 6, 2019. Look for it.

Sesame Street: Dance Party!
By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Stomp and slide while watching Sesame Street: Dance Party!  What could be more fun than clapping your hands, stomping your feet, touching your toes and wiggling and jiggling your way to learning new dance moves with the Sesame Street characters and their special guests? 

All of your favorite characters are included in this party, which starts off with Elmo’s “Happy Dance.”  Elmo and friends learn about dances from all around the world with their friend Nina.  Nina explains that you can learn to dance by learning one step at a time and to find the dance that’s perfect for you. Different Sesame Street characters appear in various segments while learning about different cultural dances as well as the joys of counting and helping friends.  What dance party would be complete without Zoe who makes her appearance throughout this dance party! 

Love the settings throughout the party and especially the costumes in Zoe’s production of “Six Swans,” which is one of my favorite scenes. 

The message of this DVD is to keep learning and to learn new things – including dance moves.  Have fun while watching the Elmo Slide, Big Bird ChaCha, the Dinosaur, Snuffie’s Hokey Pokey, the Conga and the Chicken Dance! It’s always more fun to learn with friends and of course everyone loves Elmo!

I rate this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6.  This DVD comes out August 6, 2019 so watch for it.

Sesame Street: Dance Party
By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

This DVD is educational and inclusive! All of the storylines enlighten the audience with morals or teach new skills. The puns, irony and jokes are hilarious. Even though I am not in the target age range, I still enjoyed watching this DVD.

The different scenes feature the Muppet characters of Sesame Street learning all about dance. They learn different styles of dance from all over the world, how to dance, what a choreographer is and much more. The DVD also teaches the audience the dances and then encourages people to get up and dance.

The Sesame Street Muppets are very colorful. Each looks very unique. I love that each one has a different personality. Some of them have best friends and others get along with everyone. The humans are also included in this community and interact with the Muppets. This complexity makes the DVD even more interesting. The set of Sesame Street looks realistic and is so colorful. The characters seem to have access to every part of the shops and buildings.

My favorite part is when Alan is pressured into being a swan for Zoe’s “Six Swan Dance.” He has to put on a swan costume, which includes a tutu. He also has to carry Snuffy, who is a large monster. I think Alan is very inspiring, doing all of these things for Zoe and remaining determined. It is really funny to watch his reaction to the seemingly impossible task requested of him.

Each of the scenes has different messages. All encompass taking dance, one step at a time, asking for help from the choreographer when needed and encouraging everyone to dance. Nina is the main teacher in this DVD and she is quite knowledgeable about all types of dances from all over the world.  She helps the Muppets find their personal dance style and prevents them from becoming overwhelmed when trying to learn the dances. 

This DVD is so adorable. It would be a great introduction to dance for children. I give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages of 2 to 6. This is releases August 6, 2019, so go check it out!

Raven Calls Warm Bodies a Hilarious “Zomedy!”

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

WarmBodies.jpgWhen we imagine a post-apocalyptic world, it usually includes a lot of broken down buildings, stray dogs and a bunch of raggedy and tough survivors, but rarely zombies! Warm Bodies, rated PG-13, is a hilarious look at what could be, a world in which humans are uncommon and zombies roam the land looking for fresh bodies to eat.

This may not sound appealing, but according to 15-year-old KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Raven Devanney, it’s actually quite hilarious. A quirky romance/comedy/horror film, it stands to remind us of the true meaning of humanity and the importance of staying connected with others.

Warm Bodies

Reviewed by Raven Devanney

Click here to see Raven’s full video review!

The newest addition to the Zombie, Romance, Comedy and Horror genre. I call it, a Zombromance, or a Zomedy! It’s set in a post apocalyptic world consisting of zombies, bonies and a small population of humans. When a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) meets a Human girl named Julie, he starts to feel like there is more to life than just being the walking dead. He begins to cure himself, retrain himself to talk and become more human. He inspires more zombies to try to cure themselves, and slowly they begin to become more human. Will R and Julie defy the odds and stay together, or will the fact that one of them is a zombie keep them apart?

I absolutely adore this movie. I will definitely see it over and over again. When I think of zombie movies I think of nasty rotting creatures and lots of blood and gore. Naturally the zombies eat people in this movie, but it is filmed in such a way that brought a sense of humor to the whole thing and the blood was very minimal. Even the zombies don’t look that bad. In fact, Nicholas Hoult makes one attractive zombie! I like the lighting and sets in this film a lot. You can definitely tell that it is a post apocalyptic world, but the zombies still try to maintain somewhat consistent routines. I thought it was cool too see zombie security guards and janitors. Although they weren’t doing much, you still got the sense that there was some humanity left in them.

My favorite character is R because he is such a sweetheart. He goes against his urge to eat people to save Julie and he proves that he is more than just a mindless flesh eater. Even though he is relearning how to speak, he is still quite slow so he can only mutter out simple words and phrases. Nicholas Hoult does a fantastic job keeping this character dull and Zombie-like, while still giving glimpses of his emotions and personality. This movie shows that R still has completely normal thoughts, he just can’t express them, as if he is trapped in his own mind. R voiced over most of the movie and it was hilarious to hear what he was thinking, compared to what he was actually able to do. He made me laugh even in more intense situations, making him my absolute favorite character.

I can’t say I have a favorite scene because this whole movie is incredibly well done. I do love all the times that R and his Zombie friend M or “Marcus” interact. They try to communicate and connect and it’s so funny and touching to see their friendship show even though it’s challenging for them to express it. I also really enjoy the seen when Julie (Teresa Palmer) and her friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton) give R a makeover. R is so reluctant to have makeup put on him, which I thought was funny because most teenage boys are. The music in this scene was particularly funny and entertaining and it is a memorable scene.

I think there are so many underlying messages in this film, but the one that stands out to me most is that we need to take the time to connect with our surroundings and the people in our lives. In this film it shows a flashback to the world before the zombie outbreak, and R is saying that back then everyone could connect, but in the flashback everyone is on their phones texting or playing video games. It is a really strong reminder that we are so wired and constantly tuned into technology that we often forget to be with our family and connect with our loved ones

I recommend this film for ages 13 and up because teens and even adults will love this movie, but kids under the age of 13 may find it to be too mature. I give Warm Bodies 10 out of 10 stars so go check it out at a theater near you!

If You Like Horror Films And Ghosts, Don’t Miss Mama

Monday, January 28th, 2013

MAMA.JPGJust out in theaters on January 20, 2013, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Raven Devanney bravely went to see a screening of the new thriller/chiller, Mama. This PG-13 rated movie isn’t for everyone, but if your a fan of horror, and like to be scared silly, you shouldn’t miss it. Though not the most original film, it packs a heavy fear-factor for every ghost-loving movie goer.

Mama

Reviewed by Raven Devanney, age 15, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Click here to see Raven’s full video review!

Mama tells the story of two young sisters, Lily and Victoria, who are abandoned in the woods for five years. When the girls are found and taken into custody by their uncle and his girlfriend Annabelle, everyone begins to wonder how these toddlers could have survived for so long on their own. The girls’ strange behavior leads Annabell to believe that the girls weren’t alone in the woods after all, and in fact, a troubled ghost called Mama was caring for them. But when they leave the forest, they don’t leave Mama.

I really enjoy this movie. It is definitely scary to watch, but when it is over it doesn’t leave you feeling afraid. I’m convinced this movie is a mix between The Woman in Black and The Possession. It has a very similar ghost with the same motives as The Woman in Black, and has the same creepy bugs from The Possession. The ending is especially similar to The Woman in Black. No spoiler alerts or anything, but you think all will be fine but it’s not. I guess you shouldn’t go to a horror film if you’re looking for a happy ending.

I like the cinematography, and the use of lighting and sound track, to set the ominous mood for this film. The dull colors and grey wash of the scenery really helps the spook level of the movie. The one thing I have a real problem with was the animation of Mama’s face in the last few scenes. This is supposed to be the height of the horror, the film’s climax, but Mama’s face was so unrealistic that it pulls me out of my horrified trance and I am no longer scared.

My favorite character is Annabell (Jessica Chastain), because she isn’t too enthusiastic about suddenly having to take on a motherly role, especially since the girls have serious social problems. Her boyfriend, the main caretaker of the kids, gets seriously injured, leaving Annabell in charge. I love watching her relationship develop into love for Lily and Victoria, and when Mama comes to play, she does a wonderful job showing her fear.

My favorite scene is in the very beginning of the movie, when it shows how one-year-old Lily and three-year-old Victoria end up in the woods. It is a very twisted scene, but I like how they show the girls adapting to their new surroundings. They adapt through crayon drawings on the walls, which is very creative.

I give Mama 4 out of 5 stars because it was definitely thrilling, but since it was so similar to some other films in this genre, I have to take a point away for lack of originality. I recommend Mama for ages 13 and up because of it’s intense content. If you’re into anything Horror, Thriller or ghost related, then you’ll love Mama so go check it out!

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