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Once Upon a Deadpool * Action-Packed, Draped With The Famous Parody Of The Original

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

“Fox has been asking for a PG-13 basically since the start in 2006, “Ryan Reynolds told Deadline. “I’ve said no since 2006. Now, this one time, I said ‘Yes’ on two conditions. First, a portion of the proceeds had to go to charity. Second, I wanted to kidnap Fred Savage. The second condition took some explaining…”Fred Savage will join Reynolds in new scenes for Once Upon A Deadpool in an homage to Savage’s starring role in the 1987 bedtime-story classic The Princess Bride. Fred remarked, “while my participation in this film was anything but voluntary, I am happy to learn that Fudge Cancer will be the beneficiary of this shameless cash grab.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “Similar to the original film, the story is action-packed with some romance and drama, but always draped with the famous parody feel that creates an entertaining and comedic atmosphere.” See his full review below.

Once Upon a Deadpool
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Deadpool had much attention recently for its fame of being highly mature, but at the same time incredibly entertaining. Once Upon a Deadpool attempts to break that by releasing a PG-13 cut of Deadpool 2 and, while it will make the audience laugh as much as the previous version, it fails to expand the Deadpool audience to younger viewers.

Similar to the original film, the story is action-packed with some romance and drama, but always draped with the famous parody feel that creates an entertaining and comedic atmosphere.

 Once Upon a Deadpool follows the previous film with Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) losing the love of his life, leading to him trying to find ways to stop his grief, eventually ending up with Deadpool trying to save a young mutant boy from becoming a cruel murderer and on the way making a new family. In the PG-13 edition, the entire story is told by Deadpool to Fred Savage as a bedtime story, similar to the style of Princess Bride. While this doesn’t truly affect the main plot a lot, the twist leads to much laughter and many comedic moments.

Once Upon a Deadpool delivers the same chaotic, dark and highly mature atmosphere that the previous film did and, despite being marketed as a PG-13 film, it still has the same amount of lewdness and foul language, even if the material merely gets hinted at instead of blatantly shown. While this does technically makes it a less severe rating, the re-cut is far from a family film that everyone can enjoy. Also, at times, the re-cut rearranges scenes and shots very uniquely to avoid showing anything mature. Mostly this works to tell the story,but at times it feels forced, as if the editor had to construct a film from sticks instead of clips, with awkward cuts and sequences.

Aside from this, the film achieves high praise overall. The new cast and old cast hold a great quality in their performances, despite being in many ways a parody film. Of course, being a superhero action, good VFX holds a huge role in the end product. While the CGI throughout has less quality than what you’d see in an Avengers’ film, it still mostly looks realistic and could convince anybody that what they see on screen is real.

 Some of the funniest scenes come from the method that the film tells its story by having Deadpool read it to Fred Savage as a bedtime story. Most of the scenes breaks the fourth wall and are filled with self-mocking and sarcasm, which makes each time that the two are shown on camera together enjoyable. Savage and Reynolds’ on-screen chemistry works perfectly and the conversations and scenes flow smoothly, adding to the enjoyment as the comedy feels natural and real.

Despite being rated PG-13, Once Upon a Deadpool fails to actually expand to the target audience. I recommend this for ages 15 to 18, as well as adults. Parents should be warned that, while the film meets the national standard for a PG-13 rating, many adult-oriented elements are still referenced heavily, making it very mature in many ways. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars for excellent acting and comedy, but lacking in an interesting and unpredictable story and having a strange flow at times due to the numerous edits necessary to achieve the lower rating. This film opens in theaters December 12, 2018 so, check it out.

Photos ©Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

The Snowman * A Holiday Classic Unlike Any Other!

Friday, December 7th, 2018

One crisp, winter morning, a young boy wakes up to find a thick blanket of snow has covered the ground as far as the eye can see. Filled with excitement, the boy decides to build a snowman using a tangerine for his nose, coal for his buttons and eyes, and tops him off with a hat and scarf. Later that night, at the stroke of midnight, the snowman comes to life! The young boy and the snowman embark on a magical adventure of discovery where the snowman explores the young boy’s world and in return he takes him flying to his home in the North Pole. Upon arriving at the North Pole, the two join a party as the guests of honor to a very special person. Based on Raymond Briggs book, The Snowman is a family classic for generations to enjoy. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “…directed by Dianne Jackson and produced by John Coates. This extravagant film has a little touch of magic which will keep you on your toes with excitement.” Eden T. adds, “This heartwarming film about the winter season never ceases to amaze me. It reminds me of myself during the holidays.” Morgan B. wraps it up with, “I love that this film has no words is both beautifully illustrated with animated images. The orchestra for the original film is Sinfonia of London. Their performance is stunning.” See their full reviews below.

The Snowman
By Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

The Snowman is a masterpiece that will bring families closer together for the holidays. The film is based on the classic UK picture book by Raymond Briggs, which has sold more than 8.5 million copies since it was first published in 1978.

In The Snowman, a young boy James wakes up one morning and finds snow on the ground. He quickly gets dressed and runs outside. He then builds a huge snowman. He gives it eyes, a nose, a scarf and a hat. He even gives it a big smiley face. After building the entire snowman by himself, it is time for James to go to bed. When he wakes up he notices that the Snowman has moved a little, so he runs downstairs and out the door. He then notices that the Snowman is glowing, moves some more and then, totally comes to life. James is flabbergasted to see a live Snowman. The Snowman and James introduce themselves and become great friends. The rest the film shows the two flying around having so much fun and adventure throughout the day.

The Snowman book was adapted for the screen in 1982and earned a nomination for an Academy Award for best animated short film.  The animation of the drawings is just amazing,bringing to life so many memories from the days of movie shorts. There is no dialogue,which makes it even more beautiful and somewhat old-fashioned. 

The music by Howard Blake, Peter Auty and the Sinfonia of London is amazing. It fits perfectly with everything the boy and the snowman are doing.  Each song tells a story, with each pluck of a string or push of a piano key. The songs in themovie are catchy and addicting to sing along with.  I am sixteen and I sung along with the songs!

The Snowman is directed by Dianne Jackson and produced by John Coates. This extravagant film has a little touch of magic which will keep you on your toes with excitement. I recommend this for ages 1 to 12 and give it5 out of 5 stars.

The Snowman
By Eden T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

This heartwarming film about the winter season never ceases to amaze me. It reminds me of myself during the holidays. For example, when the boy has to scrounge up snow for his snowman, I thought about when I tried to do the same thing!

The detail in this movie is stunning! Even though there is no talking, the artistry makes up for that. Each scene is hand-drawn, which must have been a technical pain for the scenes in motion! These movies are based on Raymond Briggs’ classic picture book. Besides young children, adults who have read this book in their youth will also appreciate this quality film. The unexpected ending is truly memorable!

In the film, a young British boy in a classic 1950s English rural home builds a snowman on Christmas Eve. At midnight, the snowman comes to life and takes the boy on a flying trip around the world! The scenes become grander and grander until you think nothing more can happen! After all of this is over, they travel back home. The next morning, the boy…well, you’ll see. The ending brought meaningful tears to my eyes!

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 2 to 6, as well as adults. This movie is available both on DVD now so check it out. Enjoy this winter delight!

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kidsages 2 to 6, as well as adults. This movie is available both on DVD now socheck it out. Enjoy this winter delight!

The Snowman
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Holiday movies are one of my favorite forms of entertainment. Especially those that have adorable characters and a heartwarming tale. That is what this short film is all about. Add magnificent hand drawn animation and you have the perfect Christmas movie.

I love that this film has no words is both beautifully illustrated with animated images. The orchestra for the original film is Sinfonia of London. Their performance is stunning. Each piece of music fits the scene perfectly because it made me feel as if I was in the scene myself. Also, the music is superb to relax to. So grab a hot cup of cocoa and put your feet up.

The images in this film are hand drawn with pastels and pencils, which make it special and unique. I like having a break from all the CGI we see and seeing animation as it was made years ago. This is something that many other kids will appreciate as well. This movie never gets old and people from all over the world will absolutely adore it. This DVD has become one I have added to my holiday collection and will watch it every year. Even really young children can watch it because it is so beautiful and the message is all about friendship, love, cheer and what the holidays are all about. I give this DVD 5 out of 5 golden stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 18, as well as adults.

Kong: Skull Island – A Breathtaking Visual Treat

Friday, March 10th, 2017

A diverse team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unites to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific, as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “Kong: Skull Island is a fun sci-fi movie which is a breathtaking visual treat. I really found the direction and special effects to be fantastic in this movie. This will appeal to all those sci-fi fans.” See his full review below.

Kong: Skull Island
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Kong: Skull Island is a fun sci-fi movie which is a breathtaking visual treat. I really found the direction and special effects to be fantastic in this movie. This will appeal to all those sci-fi fans.

This movie is about a diverse group of travelers which includes former British Special Air Service Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), an anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), a government agent Bill Randa (John Goodman), a seismologist Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins), and an army led by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) who head to Skull Island. Upon arriving, they are attacked by Kong, a huge gorilla, who destroys their helicopters and splits the team up. Packard wants revenge for the men he lost in the helicopter crashes and he wants to kill Kong. Conrad and Weaver realize a bigger threat known as the Skullcrawlers lurk beneath them. The only one who can protect them is Kong and only he can ensure the team’s safety in escaping the island.

Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad heroically represents a soldier. Brie Larson as Mason Weaver is very impressive as a bold photographer. John C Reilly as Hank Marlow, a war veteran, is my favorite character in the movie due to his comic relief and interesting backstory. Samuel L Jackson as Preston Packard brilliantly expresses his revenge with his angry facial expressions.

The direction of the movie by Jordan Vogt-Roberts is unique and really captures the vibe of the 1970s. His filmmaking emphasizes on the smaller things more than the big things, and this is an interesting new concept. This is primarily used whenever we see Kong especially in the first Kong encounter. The focus is more on Kong’s face than just his whole body, and this adds tension. Also, the special effects by Chris Brenczewski really add detail to the monsters, and makes them look real. The scene that I liked the most is the final fight scene between Kong and a big Skullcrawler. It is absolutely a blast and, the fact that it is a hand to hand combat scene made it particularly fun to watch. My only problem with the film is the characterization. While all the talent gives pretty believable performances, somehow their characters feel like bland stereotypes. I didn’t find myself caring for anyone other than John C. Reily’s character who has some interesting story beats.

The movie’s message is to not mess with nature because if these travelers didn’t attack Kong’s territory, then he wouldn’t have attacked them in the first place. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18 years. It may be too scary for younger audiences due to the intense action and language. This film opens in theaters on March 10th, so go and check it out.

 

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Musical On Tour!

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast features the animated film’s Academy Award®-winning score with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, with additional songs with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice. The book is written by Linda Woolverton.

The original creators of the Broadway production are together again for this new touring production!  Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tre’ana H. comments, “Beauty And The Beast is a phenomenal musical based on the original classic story. It draws you in and makes you a part of the scene.” See her full review below.

 

For a full tour schedule, sheck out http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com.

 

Beauty and The Beast, The Musical

By Tre’ana H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Beauty And The Beast is a phenomenal musical based on the original classic story. It draws you in and makes you a part of the scene. I enjoyed this because it is filled with drama, thrills, romance and some action. The rose is symbolic with its blue, gloomy background and the transformation is great. Will the rose be back with love or sadness?  This musical touched my heart because of its message – you should treat people the way you want to be treated. The director, Rob Roth takes you through turns and twists but the outcome is grand. I appreciated this musical because it is hilarious and interesting.

 

The beast (Sam Hartley) is a prince who is spoiled, selfish and lonely. When the spell is cast upon him he becomes a mean man. Belle’s father goes into the forest trying to attend the inventor’s competition and gets lost in the forest. The wolves try to eat him but he stumbles upon a castle where the servants let him in. The beast are very cruel to Belle’s father and put him in the dungeon. Belle (Brooke Quintana) tracks down her father to the horrible beast castle and he agrees to let her father go if she will take his place as a hostage. What an amazing thing to do? Will he kill her or let her survive?

 

The beast costume is gothic and eerie.  The townspeople and servant costumes are illuminating with bright colors that captivate you. The lighting design by Natasha Katz excels in every scene. The set designs by Stanley A. Meyer are mysterious, colorful and gloomy. The music by Kevin Francis Finn is truly breathtaking.

 

The message of the musical is to treat people fairly and, if you can help someone, extend that extra hand and you will be blessed.

 

My favorite scene is when the beast turns into a human and floats above the stage and transforms into a young man. This is fantastic! You will not believe it!

 

I recommend this play for ages 8 to 18 and I give it 5 out of 5 Stars because it is full of excitement. I really enjoyed it and you will too, so put this astonishing musical on your todo list.  You will not be disappointed.

 

Million Dollar Arm – A Game Changer in More Ways Than One

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Based on a true story, Million Dollar Arm follows JB Bernstein, a once-successful sports agent who finds his career teetering on the edge. Sports films generally carry an important social message in them and this film does that and more. “Once JB finds the boys he is looking for, it becomes less about business, and more about friendship,” comments KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Raven D, age 16. Brianna B, age 14 adds, “I absolutely love this film. A big part of why I like it so much is because it’s based on a true story that is so inspirational.” Their full reviews are below.

Million Dollar Arm
Reviewed by Raven D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Video review here:

Million Dollar Arm tells the true story of a sports agent and three young men from small villages in India as they make baseball history. Jon Hamm plays a sports agent named JB whose business is teetering on either making it big or failing completely. When his big plan of managing a major league NFL player falls through, all seems lost. That is until one night when he finds himself watching Indian cricket with his friend and gets a brilliant idea. Cricket is such a huge sport in India. He wondered what would happen if he found two cricket players, brought them to America and trained them for major league baseball. His idea seemed foolproof, he would make baseball history by recruiting the first Indian players plus, he would get an entirely new following of Indian fans. Once JB finds the boys he is looking for, it becomes less about business, and more about friendship.

I found this film very pleasing. I didn’t know much about it and wasn’t quite sure what to expect but, once I got into it, I was very touched. The cinematography is very well executed and, during the portion of the film that is shot in India, the landscape and culture are captured beautifully. Even the slums and run down villages are filmed in a way that makes you feel as if you are under the sweltering heat of the sun or in the chaotic mix of vendors and civilians on the crowded streets. The music in this film is fantastic. It features the essence of Indian music with a twist of modern American pop, making it perfect for this multicultural film.

My favorite character is Amit played by Pitobash. He is recruited early on in the film, almost by accident, to be an assistant and translator for JB. He is one of the funniest characters because he is so polite and hospitable to JB and his recruiting team but he often gets himself into funny situations while trying to accommodate everyone. In one scene, Alan Arkin’s character Ray says something along the lines of “…this guy has juice” as a way to express the potential he saw in a player. However, Amit overhears this and immediately goes sprinting away to find his boss some juice to drink. It is quite hilarious. My favorite scene is when Amit, Rinku and Dinesh come to America for the first time. They have spent their entire lives in small villages in India so you can imagine their adjustment to the extravagant LA lifestyle JB is living. There is such a funny scene when they all get into an elevator for the first time and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) is so impressed by its motion sensors that he repeatedly sticks his hand in between the doors right as they close just to see the “magic” of them automatically opening again.

I was very touched by this film. Not only does it show the historical achievement of the first Indian major league baseball players but, it also made me laugh out loud and tugged on my heart strings. JB starts out viewing the boys as his project, a way to make a lot of money and propel himself forward in the sports industry, but soon he realizes that they are so much more than just a paycheck. As he lets his defensiveness down, he sees how kind, funny and talented they each are and an unforgettable bond is formed between them. Because of this, I give the film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Million Dollar Arm hits a homerun into theaters on May 16th so be sure to check it out at a theater near you!

Million Dollar Arm
Reviewed by Brianna Hope Beaton, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14.
Video review available here.

Disney’s Million Dollar Arm is based on a true story that is very inspirational, funny and great to see.

Sports Agent, JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm), needs to find other clients that will bring in the money. He is on the verge of a big break and without this deal he is broke. JB comes up with a strategy of getting Asian cricket players to play for a Major League Baseball team in the United States. He travels to India and holds auditions to see who will win the prize money and make the Baseball try outs. Rinku (Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi)) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal (Slumdog Millionaire)) is able to beat out thousands of other kids for the chance to play on a major league team. Will they make it?

I absolutely love this film. A big part of why I like it so much is because it’s based on a true story that is so inspirational. It shows that you can dream, work hard and with dedication you can fulfill those dreams. I love the little bits of comedy, they are unexpected and funny. My favorite character is Amit Rohan (Pitobash), because he is very funny, excited about everything and always lightens the scene. One of the filming locations is set in India. It gives us an up close view of how the people live there, how the children play and their culture. I like the music; it really represents the emotions that are displaying on the screen. In a scene when the mood is happy, the music is upbeat and exciting. My favorite scene is when Rinku is auditioning for the baseball tryouts; he stands like a flamingo prior to pitching the ball which I have never seen anyone do this before and it’s really funny to see.

One message I found is when you support people, they need to see that you care about what they do. That means going to their practices, motivating them and letting them know you are there for them.

I recommend this film for ages 7 to 18 and anyone who loves the game of baseball. It is a great family film. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

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