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The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Blast Off! * Kate McKinnon as Ms. Frizzle Hits it Out of the Park!

Monday, July 20th, 2020

Bus, do your stuff! Field trips with Ms. Frizzle are wilder than ever, into space, over to the Galapagos Islands even a plunge into the depths of the Sun itself. And along the way, the kids we know and love bring their science investigations into the 21st century still taking chances, making mistakes and getting messy! Climb aboard for a field trip you’ll never forget. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jude A. comments, “This new DVD brings back the characters we all know and love and doesn’t fail to bring back that hilarious, but educational feeling we get from these fifth graders and their wacky teacher! This DVD doesn’t just deliver a flying school bus and a catchy theme song; it also delivers hilarious dialogue and creative adventures.” Allison B. adds, “While watching this DVD, many details stuck out to me. To start, the theme song is sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda! Not to mention that Ms. Frizzle is voiced by Kate McKinnon. Talk about some serious star power. On the topic of Kate McKinnon, she makes a great Ms. Frizzle, as she gives the character the craziness and yet, calm attitude that makes her really come alive. The animation in this show has a very interesting touch. While the character and objects remain cartoonish, the backgrounds look magnificently real, especially when the glass goes to space.” Selene W. wraps it up with, “Love this reboot of the magical series I grew up with.  In our household Miss Frizzle can do no wrong as she makes learning complicated science lessons easily understandable and fun.  I was worried that our family’s all-time favorite learning series would be compromised in some way, but I’m happy to share that I can’t wait to watch all the new episodes.” See their full reviews below.

The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Blast Off!
By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Let me take on you on a field trip because today we are learning about the new children’s DVD The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Blast Off! This new DVD brings back the characters we all know and love and doesn’t fail to bring back that hilarious, but educational feeling we get from these fifth graders and their wacky teacher! This DVD doesn’t just deliver a flying school bus and a catchy theme song; it also delivers hilarious dialogue and creative adventures.

The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Blast Off! follows the same group of students and teachers as the original 90s show The Magic School Bus. Once again, it captures the adventures that Ms. Frizzle (Kate McKinnon) takes her fifth grade class on. This DVD includes four wild adventurous episodes, including going into space and repairing near-by satellites, and flying over the Galapagos Islands.

As a fan of the original show, I was skeptical at first because remakes can sadly sometimes diminish the love for the original. The new show is a breath of fresh air and leaves you wanting more of these wild field trips. Kate McKinnon is the best possible actress for the role of Ms. Frizzle because of her overall humor and energy. What a perfect fit!

This show is educational and provides belly-laughing humor without sounding forced. Many morals are also provided as it teaches children about the importance of teamwork and friendship. Along the way, this show teaches children that mistakes are okay; the best thing about mistakes is that you can learn from them.

This DVD goes above and beyond the stars just like Ms. Frizzle and her class do and provides an educational, yet fun-loving show that all children can enjoy. I give The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Blast Off! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 8. It’s available on DVD or Digital now so look for it.

The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off! 
By Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

I was absolutely wowed with The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off! This adventurous DVD collection kept me entertained, laughing and wanting more. You will ride along with crazy Ms. Frizzle and her lovable class on the adventure of a lifetime. 3…2…1 BLAST OFF! 

The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off is a collection of four episodes: Frizzle of the Future, Space Mission: Selfie, Ready, Set, Fail! and Making Magic. Each episode has a new, exciting field trip to watch and enjoy. In this series you will travel from space to the Galapagos Islands while learning lessons about failure, teamwork, getting messy and having fun while doing it all! The kids and teacher you know and love are back and better than ever, so hop on for an experience you’ll never forget!

While watching this DVD, many details stuck out to me. To start, the theme song is sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda! Not to mention that Ms. Frizzle is voiced by Kate McKinnon. Talk about some serious star power. On the topic of Kate McKinnon, she makes a great Ms. Frizzle, as she gives the character the craziness and yet, calm attitude that makes her really come alive. She isn’t the only voice actor that sticks out to me. Miles KV, as Arnold, conveys realistic emotion through his character by only using his voice. Even when listening, you can tell he is worried about Ms. Frizzle and her shenanigans. The animation in this show has a very interesting touch. While the character and objects remain cartoonish, the backgrounds look magnificently real, especially when the glass goes to space.

The message of this series is: if at first you don’t succeed, try again. The kids learn this through trying to take the perfect space selfie, to getting a magical orb that seems to hold all of life’s answers. While doing these things, they figure out that failure can be a good thing, because you can learn from mistakes. They also learn that with good teamwork and a positive mindset, anything is possible.

I give The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 7 to 14. This series can now be found on DVD and Digital. 

The Magic School Bus Rides Again – Blast Off!
By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

The Magic School Bus Rides Again!  Love this reboot of the magical series I grew up with.  In our household Miss Frizzle can do no wrong as she makes learning complicated science lessons easily understandable and fun.  I was worried that our family’s all-time favorite learning series would be compromised in some way, but I’m happy to share that I can’t wait to watch all the new episodes.

The Magic School Bus Rides Again starts with a new Miss Frizzle and a new school year in science class.  Fortunately, we learn that Miss Frizzle is the younger sister of the original Miss Frizzle who is now Professor Frizzle, as she has been busy getting her Ph.D. and continues to be voiced by the incredible Lily Tomlin.  Like classmate Arnold, I was nervous about accepting the new Miss Frizzle, but Kate McKinnon adds her voice and personality to her role as Miss Fiona Frizzle and we soon accept her as our new teacher.  I say our because as a viewer you are pulled into the lessons being taught in each episode. 

All of the original characters return in this series except for Phoebe who has moved and we are joined by a new classmate, Jyoti.  The Blast Off! DVD contains four field trips and you will enjoy the new high-tech school bus and other updated gadgets in the new series which bring it into the 21st century.  The animation is updated by animator Matthew DaSilva; you still recognize the characters and classroom, but it has a more modern feel and integrates well with the story.  You just have to watch these episodes to see the other minor updates.

If you’re new to the series, jump on the bus!  The Magic School Bus Rides Again is such a fun way to learn, while being massively entertained.  Each episode explores a science topic and the magic of the series is that it can take you forward or backward in time, place or size and alters your appearance in an effort to experience life as the subject you are studying.

The message of this series is to learn by taking chances and making mistakes and that is still as true today as when the original series aired.  Kids learn through exploring the world around them and seeing how everything is interconnected.  Miss Frizzle not only teaches us science but life lessons as well!      

I rate this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16 and, of course, adults will like it too as our family watched this incredible series together.  This compilation is available now on Digital or DVD from NCircle Entertainment.

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What Does a Neuroscientist Do in Hollywood? Dr. Barry Sandrew Shares His Secrets

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Barry Sandrew, a member of the Board of Advisors at Immersive Hollywood, which is a section of Digital Hollywood, and a Harvard/MGH neuroscientist. Dr. Sandrew is an internationally recognized expert in digital imaging and visual effects pioneer.

He has over 33 patents and decades of feature film & TV accomplishments including productions for all the major Hollywood studios, TV networks and several cable networks. In 2000 Dr. Sandrew established the first and longest operating VFX studio in India. He produced all color compositing & VFX for Spielberg’s first digital animated feature, We’re Back, A Dinosaur Story, VFX for Scorsese’s The Aviator, HBO’s Entourage, oversaw creative and technical teams in the 3D conversion of Alice in Wonderland, the Shrek trilogy and oh so much more!!!

Interview by Katherine S., and Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics

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Glenn Entis, Former CEO DreamWorks Interactive, Shares His Vision & Insight

Saturday, April 4th, 2020

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Glenn Entis recently. Glenn co-founded Pacific Data Images (PDI), a leading graphics/animation house, led DreamWorks Interactive as CEO, and developed some of the most popular video games worldwide while Senior Vice President and Chief Visual Officer at EA. 

When Glenn first started in computer graphics, very few companies paid any attention to the blooming medium. So, Glenn founded PDI with Carl Rosendahl and Richard Chuang. The three built the company into a booming business that has since won numerous awards. 

Glenn always had his heart set on making and programming graphics. Suddenly, he and his fellow founders were managers. They had to negotiate salaries, consider career paths and direct the future of the company. Yet Glenn’s love for computer graphics and his commitment to PDI allowed him to smoothly enter the role of COO of PDI. “My core passion for computer animation has never gone away,” he explained, it simply “manifested” into a new role. 

The future had yet another unexpected manifestation: video games. When given the opportunity to lead DreamWorks Interactive, Glenn jumped at the opportunity. In some ways, it seemed more daunting than computer animation – video games require interaction from the player and so creators must think of far more variables and challenges than in pure entertainment mediums like computer animation. Yet, in other ways, it freed Glenn to be more creative. Video games lacked the massive hierarchy of film and thus, Glenn had finally been granted the opportunity to lead his teams with little restriction.

Throughout Glenn’s career, one thing remained apparent: Glenn’s job title didn’t involve managing products, instead, his career revolved around managing people. The talent to get people together, to get them to create and to get them to innovate does not change no matter the place, the time or the industry. 

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Author’s Page – Amazon
World According to G

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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!

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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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