Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Four Kids And It * A New Magical and Fun Twist on an Old Story

July 16th, 2020

A group of kids on holiday in Cornwall meet a magical creature on the beach with the power to grant wishes. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “Ashley Aufderheide and Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen carry the film. They play the two older daughters and their characters are pivotal to the story. Their acting is strong and is one of the greatest assets of the film.” Lindalee R., adds, “The scenes with the kids each coming up with their own magical wishes and living them out for the day are fun. It also made me wonder what I would wish for if I only had a day to experience a wish. The message of this film is to be careful what you wish for, but also that sometimes change happens and no matter how bad it seems, that it can offer up new opportunities and maybe create something better than you ever had before.” See their full reviews and talent interviews below.

Four Kids And It
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Directed by British filmmaker Andy De Emmony, Four Kids and It is inspired by the novel Four Children and It by Jaqueline Wilson, which is based in the 1902 book Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit.

This new story is modern and follows two families: the divorced parents are dating and the four kids—two from each parent—share a vacation together in Cornwall, England. The kids don’t get along at the beginning, and they have to spend time together and accept their parents’ relationship. At the beach, they discover a strange creature that emerges from the sand and grant wishes. One wish per day will be conceded to each kid each day. Despite things not necessarily turning out the way they expect, after each adventure, they discover the importance of bonding and family.

Four Kids and It combines fantasy, magic and drama. The plot is entertaining and there are so many beautiful moments but some things, doesn’t work that well. Russell Brand plays Tristan Trent, an eccentric owner of a mansion who wishes more wealth and lives by the beach where the kids find the creature. That part of the storyline doesn’t flow that well, and the way it intertwines with the main storyline is not that engaging. The talented Brand doesn’t shine as usual and his character is not taken fully advantage of in those scenes.

Ashley Aufderheide and Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen carry the film. They play the two older daughters and their characters are pivotal to the story. Their acting is strong and is one of the greatest assets of the film.

As the voice of the creature we have Michael Caine, and the actor gives the creature, Psammead, the tone of elegance and wisdom that characterizes him. I found this creature adorable and the facial expressions mimic the actor’s resemblance. The CGI is very well implemented, and all the scenes with Psammead are my favorite scenes.

The landscapes and cinematography are beautiful and the story is overall entertaining with magic, flying scenes and humor.

The message of the film is simple: be careful what you wish for, but, at the same time, show us that our deepest wishes may be granted within our real and simple life in the joy of family and friendship.

This is a great family movie that little kids and parents can enjoy together. I give Four Kids and It 4 out of 5 starts and recommend it to kids 4 to 14. Four Kids and It opens on all digital platforms on June 30, 2020.

Four Kids and It
By Lindalee Rose, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Inspired by E. Nesbit’s 1902 serialized novel called Five Children and It,  the movie Four Kids and It is a wonderful fantasy film for all ages that brings the story alive. The CGI seems so real that I believed the Psammead (the creature in the film played by Michael Caine) was actually alive and right there with the actors on the set.

Full of adventure, Four Kids and It is about two families. Each family has two kids and all four kids want their birth parents to get back together. When the two split families meet up for a vacation, the kids find out their parents are dating each other and they absolutely freak out. While being forced to play with each other and to get to know one another, they meet a magical sand creature called a Psammead who tells them that he can grant each of them wishes, but only one a day. Also, the wishes expire at sunset.

Throughout this movie the four kids get to know each other better, become much closer and start to bond more like a real family. There is a man named Tristan Trent (Russell Brand), who lives in a mansion on the island that they all go to for their vacation. For generations, Tristan’s family were hunters of rare and unique living creatures on Earth. Tristan and his ancestors have been trying to find the legendary Psammead for decades. When the kids come to the island, he knows that he could use them to track the creature down. If he can lure out and capture the creature, he can finally add it to his family’s collection of trophies…and hopefully get in a wish or two as well!

The scenes with the kids each coming up with their own magical wishes and living them out for the day are fun. It also made me wonder what I would wish for if I only had a day to experience a wish.

The message of this film is to be careful what you wish for, but also that sometimes change happens and no matter how bad it seems, that it can offer up new opportunities and maybe create something better than you ever had before.

I give Four Kids and It  5 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it for ages 6 to 18, and adults will love it too! I know my parents sure did.

The movie will be available on Digital, Blu-Ray, DVD and on-demand, as well as major digital platforms like Amazon Prime, Vudo and others, on June 30, 2020, from Lionsgate Films.

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Jared Sandrew – Stereo Effects Supervisor on the last 7 Disney Feature Films

July 10th, 2020

This week, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jared Sandrew, Stereoscopic Supervisor for The Walt Disney Studios. Jared was the Stereo/Visual Effects Supervisor on Disney’s last seven feature films including Aladdin, Dumbo, Mulan, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Nutcracker & the Four Realms, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and The Finest Hours. Jared designed and supervised the 3D conversion on the films.

Jared also supervised the creative conversion of The Walk and  Man of Steel  while working at Legend3D with his dad, Barry Sandrew who we interviewed recently. Jared holds 13 patents ranging from 3D Model Multi-Review System to Method for creating 3D virtual reality from 2D images. He truly is a super star in visual effects and our hosts, Tiana S. and Heather S. walked away from this interview filled with new knowledge about how digital imaging is done. A big thank you to Jared for talking with us in terms that kids and non-techies can understand.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Heather S. and Tiana S., ages 13 and 9

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Shark School with Jessica Harvey – The Coolest School On The Planet!

July 8th, 2020

Join Jessica Harvey as she takes you to the coolest school on planet earth, the school of sharks. From the Tiger Shark – to the Bull Shark – to the Great Hammerhead, get ready for an educational experience you can really sink your teeth into! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, “If you are looking for the “coolest school on the planet,” well, look no further because I have found it!  Shark School with Jessica Harvey offers the best instruction – marine style – right from your own home!”

SaniyaRain F. adds, “Sharks are the scariest predators in the sea! That is why it is important to learn accurate information about them, which is what you can on the documentary Shark School with Jessica Harvey from the Guy Harvey Expeditions.  Both the narrator and Jessica help the viewer understand facts about the different species of sharks.” Cadence G. wraps it up with, “I really like how the film breaks down the different types of sharks, step-by-step. It’s very interesting learning all about the sharks and hearing what you can do to protect them. I like that the film shows real sharks swimming after showing illustrations of the different parts of the sharks. My favorite part of the film is when the hammerhead shark is talked about and shown. I’ve never seen a real shark before, so it was neat to see the odd-shaped head of the hammerhead. I was surprised to find out that it is considered to be a pretty friendly shark.” See their full reviews below.

Shark School with Jessica Harvey
By Dominic DiGravio, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

If you are looking for the “coolest school on the planet,” well, look no further because I have found it!  Shark School with Jessica Harvey offers the best instruction – marine style – right from your own home! The film’s producer, George Schellenger takes you on an exciting journey into our oceans while providing us with some amazing lessons about a variety of shark species ranging in size from a few feet long to the length of an entire school bus. Scientist Jessica Harvey, the daughter of the legendary artist and Marine Biologist, Dr. Guy Harvey, adds such excitement as she narrates this film. The film’s magnificent footage of some of our Earth’s most precious oceanic creatures is sure to leave viewers wanting more instruction from this school!

Shark School with Jessica Harvey gives viewers a detailed education on over a dozen shark species living within our oceans. The narrators give a detailed explanation on the size, feeding patterns and special anatomical features of a variety of sharks occupying different marine habitats. From lateral lines, dermal denticles, to electroreceptors, each of these shark species are explained as being so unique. The film highlights how these characteristics are considered evolutionary advantages, yet sharks have become an addition to the threatened or endangered list due to over hunting and human consumption. With the alarming decline in shark population numbers, this film serves as a call to action that research, conservation, and preservation is much needed in order for man to save these species.

Hats off to the production and cinematography crew for showcasing such amazing creatures which inhabit our oceans. The up close footage of these amazing creatures shows how lively our marine environments are. The fact that the researchers can get that close to these majestic creatures and that there is somewhat of a mutual understanding between man and shark is what I like best in this film.  Sharks appear to be underestimated by some, yet they are so critical for a balanced ecosystem.

The message well conveyed in Shark School with Jessica Harvey is about finding balance between man and nature. Sustainable seafood consumption and conservation are critical for our shark species. Shark diversity has been negatively impacted by man and if we don’t make changes soon, we may never be able to recover from such an alarming decline in shark populations. Education is the key!  If we aren’t aware of a problem, we can’t change it. This film makes people excited about our oceans and the creatures that call the oceans their home. This excitement may be the driving force that we desperately need to conserve what little we have within our ecosystems. There is great value to our sharks and this film has given me a new appreciation of these fish!

I give Shark School with Jessica Harvey 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 8 to 18. This is a perfect educational film for teachers, nature lovers and environmentalists. They will love it just as much as kids. This film can be rented or purchased now on Amazon. Check it out. This is a film that you do not want to miss!

Shark School with Jessica Harvey
SaniyaRain F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Sharks are the scariest predators in the sea! That is why it is important to learn accurate information about them, which is what you get from the documentary Shark School with Jessica Harvey from the Guy Harvey Expeditions.  Both the narrator and Jessica help the viewer understand facts about the different species of sharks.

This documentary is about many different sharks, but I will only be talking about a few. The first shark I want to talk about is the bull shark. Bull sharks can actually live in fresh water and, although most shark attacks are blamed on white sharks, they might have been from the bull shark. The bull shark also is one of the most dangerous sharks in the sea, mostly because of its strong quest for food.

One shark I found particularly interesting is the hammerhead shark. For one, since its eyes are located on each end of its head, the shark has a wide view. Did you know that hammerhead sharks can use their heads like a metal detector to find sting rays? Now, that’s cool. Sadly the hammerhead shark is endangered; not only because of overfishing, but because people like to eat shark fin soup, which often comes from hammerhead sharks.

My favorite shark is the whale shark, which is as big as a bus. That is crazy! And, whale sharks don’t eat normal shark food; they eat very small foods like plankton. They can reach up to 40 feet in length and they are the biggest fish in the ocean.

I give Shark School With Jessica Harvey 3 out 5 stars because I wish it had more information but it is still a great documentary and was fun to watch. I recommend this series for ages 10 to 15, plus adults. It is available on Amazon to rent or buy. Check it out.

Shark School with Jessica Harvey
By Cadence Graber, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I like Shark School with Jessica Harvey because I learned about things I didn’t know about sharks. Some parts were a little boring because there is a lot of information, but I really liked the scenes of sharks swimming in the water.

Shark School with Jessica Harvey teaches you bout different species of shark. For example, the whale shark is a shark that is about the size of a school bus. When I watched that part it made me want to be able to ride a bus to school. I learned that sharks have a dorsal fin on top and pectoral fins on their undersides. The caudal fin is the “tail” of the shark and helps them swim in the water. Sharks use gills to breathe and don’t have bones. I didn’t know much about sharks until I watched this film, so if you want to learn more, you have to watch it. I did know about the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. Guy Harvey is Jessica’s dad. I bought a necklace for my dance teacher that was designed by Guy, so it was very cool to learn more about his foundation and the information his daughter shares in the film.

I really like how the film breaks down the different types of sharks, step-by-step. It’s very interesting learning all about the sharks and hearing what you can do to protect them. I like that the film shows real sharks swimming after showing illustrations of the different parts of the sharks. My favorite part of the film is when the hammerhead shark is talked about and shown. I’ve never seen a real shark before, so it was neat to see the odd-shaped head of the hammerhead. I was surprised to find out that it is considered to be a pretty friendly shark.

The message of the film is that sharks aren’t necessarily scary. Before I watched this film, I was really scared of sharks, but learning more about them makes them less scary. Now I’m not afraid of sharks, although I don’t know if I’d swim with them anytime soon—at least not without experts around me.

I give Shark School with Jessica Harvey 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 16, as well as some adults, especially if they are interested in learning more about sharks. Shark School with Jessica Harvey will be available on Amazon to rent or to buy sometime soon.

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Summer Fun with Molang * These Characters Seem to Be Enjoying Summer More than Anyone!

July 7th, 2020

Summer is here! Molang and Piu Piu are ready to make the most of it. From deep-sea diving and discovering underwater wonders, to meeting new friends and traveling in an RV, our two friends will live a summer bursting with fun, surprises and friendship.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Alexis J. comments, “I love this DVD, Summer Fun with Molang. It has such adorable animation. Summer is here. A bunny and a chick drive around to find a little fun together and are very cute. The anthropomorphic characters seem to be enjoying summer more than anyone! “ Cadence G. adds, “This DVD is about a bunny named Molang and a duck named Piu Piu who have a lot of fun and go on many adventures together. In one episode, Molang and Piu Piu go on a vacation to Hawaii. They meet friends on the way, but one of them gets stuck and when they try to help them, they get stuck on the island too. Luckily they work together to get back to Hawaii, but you’ll have to watch it to see what they do. Another adventure has to do with a whale. At first everyone is so scared of it, but then they want to help the whale get back to the ocean. Check out the episode called “The Rescue” to see what happens.” See their full reviews below.

Summer Fun with Molang
By Alexis J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

I love this DVD, Summer Fun with Molang. It has such adorable animation. Summer is here. A bunny and a chick drive around to find a little fun together and are very cute. The anthropomorphic characters seem to be enjoying summer more than anyone!

The bunny, Molang and chick, Piu Piu are the main characters. There are six episodes on this DVD experiencing summer adventure together. In first episode, Molang and Piu-Piu go underneath the water together to face the sea monster, even though everyone is afraid of it. Even during their scary adventure, they find ways to have fun and share good times together. In another episode, they are together at the fair. Molang sees a unicorn on a shelf and really wants to have one. Molang tries several different games but fails to win. Piu Piu doesn’t hesitate to help Molang as a best friend. However, Piu-Piu also fails in all game. Piu Piu doesn’t stop there. Piu Piu came up with a brilliant idea. It makes Molang smile. I love Piu Piu’s brilliant idea and it makes me smile, too.

Director Marie-Caroline Villand really delivers a super cute animated show. The anthropomorphic bunny and chick do everything together. However, even though they act like humans, their speaking is not like humans. Don’t worry! You will find ways to understand them while watching this DVD. They go snorkeling underneath the ocean, tubing around an island, build a sand statue of friendship and drive a RV together. In each episode, the adorable bunny and small friend face new adventure with laugher and joy. It seems like their friendship gets stronger and stronger every second.

The message of this animation is, “Friends are always there for each other.”

I give Summer Fun with Molang 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Adults will enjoy it as well. This DVD is available now so look for it!

Summer Fun with Molang
By Cadence Graber, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I like Summer Fun with Molang because the characters are super funny and the animation is the cutest thing ever. I also love all the stories in each of the six episodes on this DVD. I don’t like that the characters don’t talk and only make noises. Sometimes that can get a little annoying, but younger kids will probably love it. Rather than dialogue, the animation includes little pop-up bubbles that show what the characters are thinking. You can also tell what they are thinking by their expressions and the tone of the sounds they make.

This DVD is about a bunny named Molang and a duck named Piu Piu who have a lot of fun and go on many adventures together. In one episode, Molang and Piu Piu go on a vacation to Hawaii. They meet friends on the way, but one of them gets stuck and when they try to help them, they get stuck on the island too. Luckily they work together to get back to Hawaii, but you’ll have to watch it to see what they do. Another adventure has to do with a whale. At first everyone is so scared of it, but then they want to help the whale get back to the ocean. Check out the episode called “The Rescue” to see what happens.

I love the settings of all the episodes because they are mostly the ocean and the sand. I’m not familiar with that because there is only a lake and not an ocean where I live. Lake Superior is beautiful, but I love when I get to hang out on the beach in Los Angeles, California. The animation looks realistic and reminds me of having fun on the coast. My favorite part is when the characters have a hula dance in Hawaii because it’s funny and cute.

All of the episodes have their own little messages, but overall the message of this DVD is that if you work together you can get things done quicker and easier. I know my dance group performs far better when we are working together instead of dancing as a group of individuals.

I give Summer Fun with Molang 4 out of 5 years and recommend this DVD for ages 3 to 9. This DVD is available now, so look for it.

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Lizzie Waterworth-Santo, Voice Actor Extraordinaire

June 27th, 2020

Enjoy our discussion with Lizzie Waterworth-Santo, a BAFTA nominated voice actor, playing characters in over 1,000 cartoon episodes in shows aired across the globe and, most recently, starring in the British stop-motion feature film Strike as Mungo, the mole with a goal.

Lizzie studied “English, Language & Communication” at King’s College, London and got her first break into the animation industry after landing two lead roles in the Nickelodeon cartoon “Four Eyes.” With 17 years experience voicing movies, cartoons, games and independent projects, Lizzie specializes in voicing authentic sounding children. Her distinct “boy’s voice” landed her the title role of “Horrid Henry” in the five-time BAFTA nominated British animation. Now in its fifth season and 250 episodes, “Horrid Henry” is the most popular show on the Nicktoons and Nickelodeon UK channels, and was the first children’s show to be acquired by Netflix for the UK.  Other shows Lizzie has lent voices to include “Bob the Builder,” Cbeebies “Alphablocks,” “The Backyardigans” (UK) and “Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps.”

With a personal BAFTA nomination in 2019 for Best Performer, and a passion for language and the voiceover industry, Lizzie speaks at numerous events about her  career, offering advice and techniques. She’s currently working with BAFTA Kids alongside children’s mental health charity Place2Be, encouraging children to develop their confidence, have fun with their voice, whilst they learn a new skill. She now lives near London with her husband and two children.

Interviewed by Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

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