The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That! Season 2, Volume 2 – Martin Short Rocks As The Cat In The Hat In This Collection

April 10th, 2019

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! follows the adventures of 6-year-old best friends, Sally and Nick, as they are whisked off on extraordinary voyages of scientific discovery with the Cat in the Hat.  Thanks to the Thinga-ma-jigger and our friends, exploring has never been more exciting! Enjoy the second volume of the second season of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! In this volume set, kids will learn the answers to questions like what is the Earth’s atmosphere, why do we need bones, and how is paper made. The discoveries don’t end there! We learn how polar bears survive the arctic winter, how our ears work and so much more! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sev’n F. comments, “. Not only is this a fun Dr. Seuss cartoon for all, but it is also educational. Have fun while learning about the earth’s atmosphere, the human skeleton, how paper is made and much more!” Katherine S. adds, “I love this DVD because it is bursting with awesomeness.  You find stories with snappy songs, wildly creative graphics and colorful animation.” Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror wraps it up with, “This DVD does not disappoint! It has 20 episodes! Directed by Tony Collingwood, the Cat in the Hat (Martin Short) definitely shows us that he knows a lot about many things from names and locations of the planets in our solar system to how animals walk with more than two legs.” See their full reviews below.

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That! Season 2, Volume 2
By Sev’n F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Calling all Dr. Seuss fans! Here’s two discs, 20 episodes, fully loaded of extraordinary voyages of two best friends. Not only is this a fun Dr. Seuss cartoon for all, but it is also educational. Have fun while learning about the earth’s atmosphere, the human skeleton, how paper is made and much more! So, let’s jump into our imaginary Thinga-ma-jigger and go go go on an adventure with Nick, Sally and The Cat in the Hat.

In each episode, I learned something I never knew before. In each of the 20 episodes, a lesson is taught through the journey of two best friends. It had me saying “wow, how interesting !” In one episode, I learned how paper is made. Who would have thought a tree, that I see every day in my young life, is chopped down to make paper? I use paper everyday. This is what I liked about this DVD. I learned something new in each episode.

What is less appealing about this show are the settings and colors. It felt like this film was created back in the 80s. I thought it needed to be modernized to capture the attention of today’s young viewers.

My favorite characters are Sally and Nick. They are six years old and best friends. I like the bond they share in each episode. They communicate and work well with each other – team players, if you ask me. They have tons of fun and experience their journeys together. It truly shows the true meaning of best friends. I have a best friend and she and I love to take pretend voyages together.

Each episode has a different message, but the one thing they have in common are the lessons that are being taught through Nick and Sally’s voyages. In each show, you learn scientific knowledge. This is a neat way to gather your children together to sing along while taking an amazing educational journey. Knowledge is key and there’s no better way to learn but through a cool Dr. Seuss show.

I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars. It is very educational and fun. The music had me bopping my head along with it. I would like it even better if it was more modernized. I recommend it for ages 3 to 14. My baby brother is three and he sung along with Nick and Sally. My mom is 39-years-old and she learned something about the human skeleton, that she never knew about before. This DVD is available now so, look for it.

The Cat in The Hat Knows a Lot About That: S2, V2 – Bursting with Creativity!

The Cat in The Hat Knows a Lot About That: Season 2, Volume 2
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Here we go, go, go, go on an adventure! I love this DVD because it is bursting with awesomeness.  You find stories with snappy songs, wildly creative graphics and colorful animation.  The voices of all of the characters work in perfect harmony, which makes each episode very engaging.

In The Cat in The Hat Knows a Lot About That: Season 2, Volume 2, the two, adorable 6-year-old best friends, Sally and Nick set out on many quests for knowledge. Nick and Sally learn a lot about why tummies grumble and how to walk on more than three legs. They also learn to name the planets in a splendid trip to space (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune). In another adventure they learn how cloth is made. The DVD has 20 different stories averaging a little more than 10 minutes each.

Martin Short is the voice of the Cat who does a remarkable job! The creativity in The Cat in The Hat Knows a Lot About That is so very clever, including the names of the Cat’s friends, the places that Sally, Nick and the Cat go, and of course, all of the things that the thinga-ma-jigger can do. My favorite character is The Cat in The Hat because he has loads of fabulous and brilliant friends from all over the world.  They are always happy to educate and teach Sally and Nick all they know.  And something I also really like is that The Cat in The Hat’s friends seem to always have wild and wacky hairstyles. They are really funny. My favorite part is when Sally, Nick, and the Cat go to space and how the thinga-ma-jigger transforms into a space thinga-ma-jigger.

There are many positive messages throughout the DVD including teaching kids to want to learn, be curious, and the value of friendship. The Cat in The Hat Knows a Lot About That has no bad language and there is nothing risky or dangerous that children might try to imitate. It promotes positive behavior and they treat everyone appropriately.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars.  I recommend this DVD for ages 3-8 and adults might also enjoy watching this with their kids.  The DVD is currently available.

The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That! Season 2, Volume 2
Reviewed by Denise A. B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I’m a big fat of The Cat in the Hat! I have been since I was a little girl. Now, as an adult, I’m still a big fan! This DVD does not disappoint! It has 20 episodes! Directed by Tony Collingwood, the Cat in the Hat (Martin Short) definitely shows us that he knows a lot about many things from names and locations of the planets in our solar system to how animals walk with more than two legs. It is entertaining, engaging and great for preschool and school aged children, as well as their parents. Children will enjoy watching the Cat in the Hat and his friends Sally & Nick as they go on adventures to learn new things. One of my favorite episodes is about the solar system as the Cat in the Hat teaches Sally & Nick the order of the planets and their names. Martin Short as the voice of Cat in the Hat is perfect! I just love him. I also enjoyed the theme song. I give this 5 stars out of 5 stars, because I think it is a perennial hit. It’s engaging, entertaining and educational What more could you want! I recommend it for ages 3 to 12. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.

Shazam! – Soars Far Above Other Superhero Movies Buoyed By Unique Direction And Story

April 9th, 2019

We all have a superhero inside of us — it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In 14-year-old Billy Batson’s case, all he needs to do is shout out one word to transform into the adult superhero Shazam. Still a kid at heart, Shazam revels in the new version of himself by doing what any other teen would do — have fun while testing out his newfound powers. But he’ll need to master them quickly before the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana can get his hands on Shazam’s magical abilities. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “Shazam! keeps up the strong footing of solo DC movies within the Extended Universe. It soars far above other superhero movies buoyed by a unique direction and story.” Zoe C. adds, “Shazam! is absolutely amazing. It’s entertaining, funny, action packed and engaging. This is maybe the best DC Extended Universe movie so far.” Benjamin P. wraps it with, “Shazam! is a refreshing, rollicking good time with some hilarious comedy and great performances. Shazam! has tons of superhero fun, but also has a warm emotional center.” See their  reviews and interviews below.

Shazam!
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Shazam! keeps up the strong footing of solo DC movies within the Extended Universe. It soars far above other superhero movies buoyed by a unique direction and story. This is a must watch for all.

Photos © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The story follows street-smart foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who turns into an adult superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi) by yelling “Shazam!” Courtesy of an ancient wizard, Billy revels this adult version of himself alongside foster pal Freddy (Jack Dylan Gratzer). Can he fly? Can he buy beer? Does he have X-Ray vision? Better yet, can he talk to fish? These scenarios are tested to their limits, but seriousness strikes as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) seeks to defeat Shazam and steal his powers. Billy realizes there’s more to this than jokes, but also a test to prove what makes a hero.

First, Zachary Levi owns it as Shazam with his natural comedic talent and physical prowess. He looks the part with his Godlike figure, while nailing the childishness with believability. The same goes for Asher Angel, who plays Billy Batson with the similar youthfulness, but nails his quieter heroic actions. The transformation is so seamless that you can truly believe the two are playing off each other. But, the cast’s standout comes in Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy who proved his talents in IT, but here he is even better. His conversations with Billy/Shazam are so improvisational and random and they just work. Every line of his lands. The rest of the foster family, played by Faithe Herman (Darla), Ian Chen (Eugene), Jovan Armand (Pedro) and Grace Fulton (Mary) are all incredible with each member having their own unique characteristics. I especially love Darla’s innocent goodness and happiness to have Billy around. Mark Strong, as Thaddeus Sivana, is a formidable foe with an apt back story. Still, I would have loved to see Strong saved for a bigger endgame.

Photos © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

David F. Sanberg’s direction is superb, especially for his first action movie after a variety of successful horror movies. He even flexes his horror muscles with some truly terrifying designs for Sivana’s powers. My favorite scenes are Freddy’s training montages as those are a true testament to the film’s sense of humor. Scenes like these are so unique in comparison to most superhero films. I also love many of the heartfelt moments within Billy’s quest to find family. I wish the film had a bigger budget to make up for its action scenes, which could be far-between and underwhelming. But, in a way that adds to the movie’s freshness, giving small scale looks at big fights.

The message of this film is that family is found from loving and genuine experiences, not in a word. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 due to intense action sequences, brief suggestive content and language. The movie opens in theaters April 5,  2019, so check it out.

Shazam!
By Zoe Cannella, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic  age 10

Shazam! is absolutely amazing. It’s entertaining, funny, action packed and engaging. This is maybe the best DC Extended Universe movie so far.

14-year old Billy Batson discovers, with the help of an ancient wizard, that he can turn into a Superhero just by saying the word: “Shazam!” But Billy is not just dressed in a superhero outfit, he also looks older and big!

Photos © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Converted into Shazam, Billy, who lives with adopted parents, goes home and tells his friend (or brother?) Freddy that he is Billy. Freddy loves super heroes and knows everything about them. Together they test Shazam’s capabilities and surprise: he is indeed a real superhero. As Shazam, Billy uses his super powers for good but also for fun.

I think Shazam! makes the cinematic world a better place. It is not just a hilarious comedy: it is about finding a family, making true friends and combating bullying.

The acting in Shazam! is amazing. Zachary Levi is the perfect Shazam. He has the charisma and humor to make this big kid an adorable hero. Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer also make this movie very engaging: they are not just funny but also kind hearted. These actors totally carry the film.  I think all the actors in this film make it more relatable for younger audiences and new generations. I definitely think that this movie is a unique superhero film, because usually that genre is more serious with only a couple jokes. But this one kept me laughing. There’s action and emotional moments as well. I feel the amount of comedy is perfect and what makes this movie special.

The director David F. Sandberg surprised audiences as he is most known for his horror films, but this one turned out to be an incredible and enthusiastic production.

The story works perfectly for the whole family, so I recommend it for ages 5 to18. I am a huge fan of this film: it made me laugh and kept me entertained the entire time, and the visual effects are very good. I give Shazam! five out of five stars.

The message of the film is that we can all be heroes: it only takes a pure heart to have the power and strength to do good deeds, help people and beat the bad guys. Shazam! opens in theaters on April 5, 2019 so make sure to say the word and catch it in your favorite theater!

Shazam!
Benjamin Price, Kids First! Film Critic, Age 13

Photos © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Shazam! is a refreshing, rollicking good time with some hilarious comedy and great performances. Shazam! has tons of superhero fun, but also has a warm emotional center.

The story line follows Billy Batson, a 14-year-old foster kid, who moves in with a new family. Billy gains powers from a wizard who chooses him to be his champion against the forces of evil. He can transform into a powerful superhero just by saying the word “shazam.” He and his foster brother Freddy test Billy’s abilities to figure out the extent of his powers. Billy navigates the ups and downs of being a sudden superhero, while also clashing with Dr. Sivana, who is determined to take Batson’s powers to rule the world.

I really like the performances in this film. Jack Dylan Grazer is good as Freddy. Grazer takes a comedic best friend and makes him much more than a one-note sidekick. Zachary Levi is great as the super-powered version of Billy Batson. Levi channels the personality of a teenager very believably. His performance is natural and I don’t feel like I’m watching an adult try to play a teen. Mark Strong hams it up as Dr. Sivana, but he’s still quite frightening and a real threat to the characters.

Photos © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Shazam! starts as an origin story, but ends up doing more than that. Billy has always pushed the idea of family away and is more scared of accepting family than his powers. He has to embrace the idea of family to grow as a person and a hero. He realizes he can’t beat Sivana alone and what you gain from having people support and appreciate you. I think this arc is heartwarming and a great direction for this film.

I love the tone of this film. It’s never self-serious and, rather than making the hero dark and brooding, Shazam! captures its heroes and their powers with a childlike wonder. This film understands that superheroes are people who we can look up to because, even though they are flawed, they always aspire to do the right thing. I love the stakes of this film. It does not rely on apocalyptic proportions to make you care about its characters.

Photos © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

I recommend Shazam! For ages 12 to 18 due to some violence and language. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Although this film sometimes veers into predictable and clichéd territory, I came out of Shazam! with a smile on my face and excited to see what comes next from these characters. I highly recommend you check out this film when it comes out in theaters April 5, 2019

Photos © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The Best of Enemies – Captivating Messages and Storytelling

April 8th, 2019

The true story of the unlikely relationship between Ann Atwater, an outspoken civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis, a local Ku Klux Klan leader. During the racially charged summer of 1971, Atwater and Ellis come together to co-chair a community summit on the desegregation of schools in Durham, N.C. The ensuing debate and battle soon lead to surprising revelations that change both of their lives forever. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “The Best of Enemies has some truly captivating messages and storytelling, but its presentation of the segregation debate can get lost with the lack of background insight. Still, the excellent performances here carry over some of the weaker writing.” Katherine S. adds, “I really enjoyed The Best of Enemies. The movie shows a lot of anger and humor between two enemies who oddly share very common goals in life – family, faith and education.”  See their full reviews below.

The Best of Enemies
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

(L-R) Sam Rockwell, Babou Ceesay and Taraji P. Henson star in THE BEST OF ENEMIES

The Best of Enemies has some truly captivating messages and storytelling, but its presentation of the segregation debate can get lost with the lack of background insight. Still, the excellent performances here carry over some of the weaker writing. Anyone interested in docu-dramas might want to check this out.

The film centers on the most unlikely relationship between Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson), an outspoken civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell), a local Ku Klux Klan leader. The two reluctantly battle over the desegregation of schools in Durham, NC during the one of the nation’s racially-charged turning points. C.P. slowly feels drawn towards Atwater’s commitment to her people and becomes a frenemy. Can love trump hate?

First, Taraji P. Henson, is fantastic as Ann Atwater with her acerbic nature, but heartfelt fight for the poor and oppressed. She respectfully handles the rebellious, yet kind-hearted nature of the real-life figure. But, the drama’s center comes from Sam Rockwell, as C.P. Ellis, who is my favorite character despite playing an initially despicable figure. His redemption is naturally done, and the messages never feel forced here. The two really work well off each other, and their chemistry is hilarious to watch. Babou Ceesay, as Bill Riddick, gives another great performance with his contributions to the segregation debate being another interesting learning experience.

Taraji P. Henson (RIGHT) stars in THE BEST OF ENEMIES

Robin Bussell spectacularly writes and directs with the events presented in a clear, chronological order. But the pacing can be lost amongst this, as the film really stalls when juggling multiple real-life figures. It’s the individual moments that stick, because she knows how to write human and relatable characters. The racial tension feels real here, as did the moments of unity. My favorite scene is the final verdict as the scene is filmed so well, leaving the audience unnerved at each person’s decision. Still, it’s C. P.’s monologue that sells the scene, which I just can’t spoil. Seeing is believing. However, in addition to many moments of rocky pacing, the movie’s focus on other characters, especially Atwater, is quite minimal and scattershot at times. C. P.’s development is forefront and that’s understandable given he is the most complex character. I would have loved to see more personal looks at other characters.

The message of this film is that love is the greatest asset in any debate. We can all learn to reconcile our difference and just love each other. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 due to mature themes and racist language. The movie releases in theaters April 5,  2019, so check it out.

The Best of Enemies
By Katherine Schell, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I really enjoyed The Best of Enemies. The movie shows a lot of anger and humor between two enemies who oddly share very common goals in life – family, faith and education.  The movie is based on a true story and shows the audience what life might have been like in the 1970s in North Carolina.

(L-R) Gilbert Glenn Brown, Taraji P. Henson, Nick Searcy and Sam Rockwell star in THE BEST OF ENEMIES

Ann Atwater is a poor, black single mother living in Durham, N.C. in 1971. C.P. Ellis is the president of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).  When the black children’s school is damaged by fire, Ann wants the black children to attend the same school as the white children and learns that the black children are not getting as good of an education.  Ann and C.P. then spend their time convincing others to be on their own side.

The acting is terrific.  Taraji P. Henson plays Ann Atwater and shows a variety of outstanding emotions from her voice, to her walk.  C.P. Ellis is played by Sam Rockwell and his acting is incredible also. I wanted to hate him, but still liked him because he is such a good father, especially to his special-needs son. Ann Atwater is my favorite character because she adds a lot of humorous comments right after saying something really serious.  My favorite part of the movie is the ending – but no spoilers here!

Sam Rockwell stars in THE BEST OF ENEMIES

The key message of The Best of Enemies is that change is worth fighting for.  If you see something that you think is wrong change it, even if it’s going to be really hard.  The movie has mild profanity, some violence and deals with a very serious topic – the inequality of segregation.

I give the movie a 4 out of 5 stars.  It is appropriately rated PG-13 and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, as well as adults.  This movie opens in theaters April 5, 2019.

Noah – Memorable, Exciting, Truthful, Teachable And Intriguing!

April 3rd, 2019

With a catastrophic storm on its way, Noah is given a monumental task: build a boat big enough to save mankind from a flood that will cover the entire earth. Seen by more than 5 million people live on stage, Sight & Sound’s landmark production sets sail into movie theaters this April for a nationwide Fathom Events presentation. NOAH takes you on history’s best-known voyage as you board the enormous ark–along with two of every kind of animal! Filmed before a live audience, NOAH captures the panoramic scope, spectacle and grand scale that are signatures of a Sight & Sound musical production. This exclusive stage-to-screen production includes a behind-the-scenes look at the amazing history of Sight & Sound Theatres®, their locations and stage shows, seen by more than 25 million visitors from around the world! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Nathalia J. comments, “Can I say memorable, exciting, truthful, teachable and intriguing? This film takes you on a journey through the perspective of Jesus and Noah. It will keep you interested throughout the whole film.” SaniyaRain F. adds, “The film is a recording of a live performance. It is different than other films and seems more real in some ways. We know it is not real because everything happens on the stage, but it made me pay more attention to the characters since there are not different setting or locations like in most films. I liked it.” See their full reviews below.

Noah
By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Can I say memorable, exciting, truthful, teachable and intriguing? This film takes you on a journey through the perspective of Jesus and Noah. It will keep you interested throughout the whole film. Are you ready for this extraordinary Bible story coming to life on the big screen?

The story follows Noah, a dedicated believer of Jesus, along with his family. One day Jesus speaks to Noah and exclaims there will be a massive flood throughout the land and his family and he will be the only ones to survive because Noah will build a boat. Noah listens right away as his brother, king of non- believers of God, tries to stop him. His brother has little faith in God left.  We see the outcome while watching the film.

My favorite part of the film is that this is a physical film which allows me to see the back story that leads up to the ending. I also love that this story is not animated and you are able to see real reactions and actions. My favorite real-life character would have to be Noah. Not only because he is the lead person in the story, but because he stands up for himself throughout the hardest time and he completes a task without any doubt of his own beliefs.

This film shares important messages such as stay strong to your beliefs. We see this important message modeled in the scene which shows everyone except Noah and his family leaving and exclaiming how they didn’t care about money. Noah and his family stay strong and happy. Another important message is to always stand up for yourself, no matter the situation. 

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. I believe the whole family will enjoy it as well. It will play in theaters for three days, April 11, 12 and 13, 2019. Make sure to check it out at your local theaters on these dates.

NOAH
By SaniyaRain Fowler, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

NOAH is incredibly different and wonderful! It teaches about trust, choice, family and beliefs. Noah believes in God. He stands alone and people are against him because of what he believes in. He has to do what God says and not let anyone change his decision to listen. This is what all of us have to do sometimes, even when we feel alone. Sometimes we know we are right, but everyone says we are wrong. Noah doesn’t want to die with everyone else. He wants to save his family, so he builds an ark.

There are lots of lessons and parts when you feel scared to see people that are going to die. God is tired of everyone that does not obey and does not live like God wants them to. So, he tells Noah that he is going to end the world. Noah gets treated badly. It reminds me of school, when people want to pressure you to do bad things and if you don’t do them, they will turn on you. Noah has to do the opposite. He has to turn on the people who don’t want to do good, in order to save himself. It is hard to say no to peer pressure sometimes. 

The film is a recording of a live performance. It is different than other films and seems more real in some ways. We know it is not real because everything happens on the stage, but it made me pay more attention to the characters since there are not different setting or locations like in most films. I liked it. I would not want to watch a lot of movies like this. I prefer seeing plays in person.  However, this is good. 

I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 11. It made me proud of what I believe in and that I can trust my family to protect me too! It is playing April 11, 12 and 13 in select theaters in partnership with Fathom Events. So, look for it!

Dumbo – One of the Most Beautiful Films I Have Ever Seen!

March 29th, 2019

From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure Dumbo expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “This film is absolutely amazing – a bit dark, but beautiful and the visual effects are very good… This is the perfect tale for the imagination of the great director Tim Burton. Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer adds, “Director Tim Burton’s mind truly is a circus – a beautiful, colorful, vivid and artistic mind. While he adds his dark macabre to this classic Disney tale, it is done in such a way to engage the viewer and bring another dimension to the film. Dumbo is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen…” Arjun N. has another take, “Despite Tim Burton’s flair, Dumbo shows promise, but ultimately fails to take flight. Still, the movie does boast apt direction and talented cast.” See their full reviews below.

Dumbo
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

This film is absolutely amazing – a bit dark, but beautiful and the visual effects are very good. I was so excited to see this film because Dumbo is such a classic and I really wanted to see it not in animation form. It is a story about outsiders and the beauty in the strange. This is the perfect tale for the imagination of the great director Tim Burton.

The story is about a circus elephant who is a baby. His name is Jumbo but later he is renamed Dumbo. He was born with big ears and people around him think he is weird and worthless. In this environment with lots of extraordinary people, this peculiar elephant shouldn’t be so strange, but people make fun of him and are actually cruel. His protective mother who works in the circus gets really mad and is sent far away for misbehaving. Dumbo is sad because he is separated from his mom. The kids in the circus, Milly and Joe, don’t have a mother either. They are the sons of Holt (Collin Farrell) who returns from war to work at the circus. The kids feel empathy for the baby elephant and try to comfort him. They come up with a way to get Dumbo involved in the circus after they discover he can fly. They think if they make enough money they can buy her mom back and the elephants can be reunited. The flying baby elephant becomes the circus’ main attraction and the owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) receives a tempting offer. The family circus becomes part of a huge amusement park, but they are losing all that kept them united.

The story develops a little bit slowly at the beginning. I definitively love the scenes with Dumbo flying and the scenarios and costumes are gorgeous, but overall it is not as emotional as I expected. The cast is amazing, but the kids don’t deliver as much sentiment as the story requires and they play a key role. Eva Green is charming and believable. Her character Collette Marchant, the girl that “flies” is many the most intriguing one. Danny Elfman’s music creates an ideal atmosphere. 

This film has a very positive and powerful message – even if we are different, it doesn’t mean we should be treated differently, because that’s what makes us beautiful and makes us stand out from the ordinary. We have to accept people the way they are. I give this film 4.5 out of five stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12 and adults as well. Dumbo opens in theaters March 29, 2019.

Dumbo
By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Director Tim Burton’s mind truly is a circus – a beautiful, colorful, vivid and artistic mind. While he adds his dark macabre to this classic Disney tale, it is done in such a way to engage the viewer and bring another dimension to the film. Dumbo is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen thousands of films. What’s impossible is possible when you believe. I believe in Dumbo.

When I heard Disney was creating a live-action version of their classic animated film Dumbo, I was skeptical as Dumbo is one of my childhood favorites. The live-action film I screened brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. It is so BEAUTIFUL –  the colors come alive in every frame, from the costumes to the imagery. Dumbo is so loveable, believable and beautiful. His eyes captivate you from the first time you see the baby to his final frame. For the only character in the film who doesn’t speak, you hear his journey of love and pain purely.

Dumbo plays homage to a Mother’s love and a quest of survival for motherless children – human and animal. It is so beautifully cast from our hero Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell), to his amazing, innocent children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins), to the nefarious V. A. Vandevere (evilly played by Michael Keaton) and the con-man we come to love, Max Medici (Danny DeVito). In my eyes, the children and Dumbo are the stars of the show. V.A. Vandevere teaches the audience a lesson in greed and Max Medici showcases his desire to make a buck with true transparency! This traveling circus offers many journeys for the cast and audience.

As a true Disney fan, I see the essence of many iconic Disney places and films. The balloons remind me of UP. The pink elephants remind me of Fantasia. Dreamland, a fictionist theme park made me think of Disneyland (I mean, DL…) – and all the theme parks at Walt Disney World and the merch! Plenty of merch to sell at Dumbo’s circus tent. The sublime imagery is seen throughout the film.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, as well as adults. Warning: there are some scary parts (Nightmare Island in Vandevere’s Dreamland theme park, hallucinogenic pink elephants and a SNAKE – not my favorite creature). The casting is great. The costumes are authentic and the music will move you. Danny Elfman is the master of music in film! Could this be another Oscar nomination? Pay attention to a new twist on the classic song “Baby Mine.” You won’t believe who sings this classic song!

Bring your tissues! This film opens in theaters nationwide March 29, 2019.

Dumbo
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Despite Tim Burton’s flair, Dumbo shows promise, but ultimately fails to take flight. Still, the movie does boast apt direction and talented cast. Any Disney fan may want to check this out, but proceed with low expectations.

The story expands upon the beloved classic story as Dumbo, a newborn elephant with oversized ears, becomes a star. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) to caretake the young one. Dumbo quickly becomes the laughing stock. But, once Holt’s kids discover he can fly using his ears, Dumbo soon becomes the superstar of the circus and gains the attention of beguiling tycoon V.A. Vandevere with his Dreamworld amusement park. Vandevere’s schemes are not what they seem as he wants to monopolize Dumbo and threaten the circus’s goodwill. l

First off, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins, as Milly and Joe Farrier, are absolutely fantastic in their first-ever roles. Nico shines with her scientific interests and discovering Dumbo’s flying capability. Whereas Finley nails his jockey attitude. Colin Farrell, as Holt Farrier, shines as their father who always means well for his kids and the safety of all. Sure, his Southern accent is quite jarring at first, but he grows into it. Danny DeVito, as Max Medici, is my favorite character as he has many scenes in the first half and is truly funny in every scene. It’s a shame that a lot of his screen time is axed by a meandering second half. Michael Keaton, as V.A. Vandevere, unfortunately falters with a comically over-the-top performance. While Keaton’s work is normally strong, here it just doesn’t mesh with the movie’s scenarios. Sure, at times, he sells the role of a tycoon well, but really his character always appears out of place.

Tim Burton aptly directs the movie, but the writing doesn’t do this visually spectacular experience any wonders. Every scene is well produced, but the movie’s pacing is all over the place. The special effects are also quite underwhelming at times. Some moments are impressive, but at times it comes across as artificial and unreal. The movie’s second half also meanders into some bizarre territory, primarily due to its unimpressive villain. In spite of this, Dumbo’s first flight scene is awe-inspiring, and is definitely my favorite scene.

The message of this film is that being different isn’t always bad. It can come to be a true talent. I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18 due to some intense scenes and mild language. The movie releases in theaters on March 29, 2019 so check it out.

Images © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

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