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FLOOGALS: SEASON ONE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
2-6

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 2-6 series

Media:
CDROM

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Join the Floogals on a mission of discovery as they explore Earth and the funny hoomans who live there! The show centers on three three-inch tall extraterrestrials called Floogals who have come to Earth to study its inhabitants. Upon landing, a human boy, thinking their spaceship is a toy, hangs their craft onto the ceiling of his bedroom. The Floogals, however, don't seem to mind as they carry on with their studying.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The DVD Floogals: Season One is a collection of episodes from the animated children's TV show that teaches kids about new things in a fun way. The characters are colorful and fun, and they never run out of new things to explore. This show is entertaining and interesting, which is perfect for a younger audience.

The show is about tiny aliens named Fleeker, Flo and Boomer who are from the planet Floog. After coming to Earth, they observe and learn new things every day. As the aliens roam around the "hoomans'' house, they learn about things that people use, such as a balloon, flashlight, and a trumpet. After the aliens are done investigating and learning all about the new objects, they send a report back to their home planet Floog. If the other aliens like their report, the aliens get a sticker. The aliens go to sleep and get ready to learn something new the next day.

The theme song of the show is very catchy. I could see myself listening to it multiple times. My favorite character is Boomer, voiced by Hugo Harold-Harrison, because he is funny, caring and kind of silly and that makes him even more funny. For example, at the end of each episode, after the aliens send their report to Floog, Boomer either makes a joke or does something funny to make the audience laugh. The storylines are easy to follow because they help kids learn about basic things, such as a doll, a cast, and a tent. Also, the aliens don't use big words; they use words that young children will know and understand. Many animated kids' shows don't show a contrast between cartoons and humans, so that part is pretty cool.

The message of Floogals is you can learn something new with everything you do. There is always a way to learn something, even if you don't notice it. This is totally kid-friendly.

Floogals: Season One is a great DVD to watch! I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6. The DVD releases on January 19, 2021. Go check it out!

Reviewed by Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

The DVD Floogals: Season One is a collection of episodes from the fantastic animated TV show Floogals. It is perfect for young children with its fun, playful storyline. It's very kid-friendly and enjoyable for other family members to watch as well. I like how short each episode is. Parents don't want their young children watching screens all day, and these short episodes combat that problem.

The storyline follows the Floogals, a team of intergalactic alien explorers named Captain Fleeker, Junior Boomer and First Officer Flo, who travel to Earth to learn more about its wonders. In each episode, the Floogals find different objects that the "hoomans" use, learn more about them and report back to their planet.

This voice-acting in this show is very enjoyable. Ramus Hardiker (Captain Fleeker), Jules de Jongh (First Officer Flo) and Hugo Harold-Harrison (Junior Boomer) perfectly portray explorer aliens on a whole new planet. Their voice-acting really brings life to the characters in this show. Also, I love the animation, which is full of bright colors and perfect for young kids. Lastly, I love the theme song. It's really catchy and has a memorable tune.

I think the message of this film about exploring. The show really encourages kids to ask questions and be curious.

I rate Floogals: Season One 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 4 to 6. This DVD is available January 19, 2021.

Reviewed by Kayla A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Suggested Retail Price
      This title is available for purchase from Amazon.com

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR FLOOGALS: SEASON ONE


JURASSIC WORLD: CAMP CRETACEOUS, SEASON 2
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 8-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

Six teens attending an adventure camp on the opposite side of Isla Nublar must band together to survive when dinosaurs wreak havoc on the island.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous Season 2 is an exciting, action-packed, at times funny, animated TV series on Netflix! The series continues building upon the beloved Jurassic World and Jurassic Park franchise. If you are fascinated by dinosaurs (like I am) and you like adventure, you should definitely watch this show. Additionally, if you like the other Jurassic Park or Jurassic World movies, I bet you will love this series. I really enjoyed it!

The story is about six teenagers, Darius (Paul-Mik�l Williams), Brooklyn (Jenna Ortega), Kenji (Ryan Potter), Ben (Sean Giambrone), Yaz (Kausar Mohammed) and Sammy (Raini Rodriguez) who go together to a camp in Jurassic World, called Camp Cretaceous. They have a fun time at the camp, but then all of a sudden all the dinosaurs living in Jurassic World become loose! The teenagers then need to figure out how to survive on an island with wild and crazy dinosaurs that attack the campers. Even though this may sound a little scary, there is humor throughout the episode. There are moments that had me laughing such as when stuff breaks that isn't supposed to, or when the characters say funny things.

In every episode of this series, there are new dinosaurs that pop into the show. The special effects surrounding these dinosaurs are awesome and seem incredibly realistic. The dinosaurs actually seem like they are alive. There is a T-Rex, Raptor, Mosasaurus, Compy, Stegosaurus and other prehistoric creatures. The dinosaurs are, by far, my favorite part of the show. The teenage characters all have different types of traits including: athletic, funny, scared of everything, famous, rich and loving dinosaurs. I enjoyed watching how they all end up working together as a team during the course of the series.

The primary message of the series is about teamwork and collaboration. The characters all end up working as a team.< p>I give Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can find Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous Season 2 on Netflix, available January 22, 2021.

By Conrad W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I love Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous Season 2--it's so interesting, and it grabs your attention so well! I also like that season 2 has more action than season 1, which kept me watching the whole time.

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, Season 2 is an American animated, science-fiction adventure series based on the multi-billionaire Jurassic Park franchise. This awesome series has eight episodes with a duration of approximately 25 minutes each. The computer animation and graphics are neat, and the colorful backgrounds attract the viewer's attention. The voiceovers suit each character, and the music played on every scene is suitable to what is going on. My favorite part is when Darius has a flashback about how he got the dinosaur tooth necklace.

This season starts with a boy named Darius (Paul-Mik�l Williams) who wants to go to Camp Cretaceous like he and his dad planned. Sadly, his dad dies and ever since then Darius has been playing a VR game because the game's winner gets Camp Cretaceous tickets. No one has beat the game yet, until Darius does, and he attends Camp Cretaceous in honor of his dad. This is big for Darius because he is a huge dino nerd and knows so many facts and has dino toys all over his room. He arrives at Camp Cretaceous and meets five other kids: Brooklyn (Jenna Ortega), a famous travel vlogger; Ben (Sean Giambrone), who is scared of everything and a germophobe; Kenji (Ryan Potter), a rich ungrateful kid who likes attention and brags about going to the park six gazillion times. The other kids include Yasmina (Kausar Mohammed), an athlete who sits alone and Sammy (Raini Rodriguez), who likes to talk a lot and makes friends with everyone. All six of the kids embark on a new adventure in every episode.

There are many morals in season 2, but teamwork stands out the most. In season 1, the kids need to find people that work at the camp so they can get saved and, in that process, they work together very well. In season 2, they need to find a beacon and also watch out for a T-rex and its lair. They work together using walkie-talkies.

I'd give Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, Season 2, 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18 plus adults and to whomever is a dinosaur or Jurassic Park fan. Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, Season 2 comes out on January 22, 2021, on Netflix.

By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED JURASSIC WORLD: CAMP CRETACEOUS, SEASON 2


CHARLIE'S COLORFORMS CITY: MEET CHARLIE!
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
2-6

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 2-6 series

Media:
CDROM

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

In CHARLIE'S COLORFORMS CITY, Charlie goes on shape-filled adventures he creates using his big imagination.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Charlie's Colorforms City: Meet Charlie is an engaging and hilarious DVD comprised of episodes from the TV series! This show has so many great messages that both young and old need to hear. Also, it awakens imagination and creativity.

Charlie's Colorforms City follows Charlie (Jacob Soley) and his friends Violet (Saara Chaudry) and Red (Tyler Barish) through a series of adventures in the engaging form of a story where the audience are the storytellers. Each adventure or episode has its own conflicts and resolutions, but most importantly fun.

Jacob Soley has an amazing voice which perfectly fits Charlie's character. The opening theme music by Voodoo Highway Music and Post, performed by Niiko Soul is undeniably the best I've heard for a children's television series; it's extremely catchy and dance worthy. The animation in this series is great. However, as most of the characters are 3D shaped, the 2D animated backgrounds look a bit out of place. The different settings such as outer space, underwater and the jungle are very colorful and full of detail. Although this show is targeted at younger audiences it teaches complex subjects such as geometry, entrepreneurship, various emotions, hygiene and weather, just to name a few. Angela Santomero, the creator of this show is to be applauded for her ideas of creating such amazing themes and messages, while still making it fun. The best episode is "Rock Star Charlie," where Charlie and his friends create a rock band and dance and sing.

Do you sometimes feel afraid when trouble arises because you don't know the outcome? "Not if we are the one's telling the story!" Charlie explains that we are the storytellers of our own story, or, in this case, our lives. So, when our story gets sticky and stickier, we can create a fun plot twist and change our story to the way we would like it.

Charlie's Colorforms City: Meet Charlie gets 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 2 to 7. It is available on DVD January 19, 2021. Look for it!

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I especially love the DVD Charlie's Colorforms City: Meet Charlie because of the interactive adventures! This show promotes imagination, games, colors, shapes and much more.

The storyline is about Charlie (Jacob Soley) who takes you on a whimsical adventure while introducing colors, shapes, sizes and all you need to know about creativity. Throughout the story Charlie also introduces other friends such as Violet (Saara Chaudry) and Red (Tyler Barish). With your help, you and Charlie get to create new stories filled with imagination.

I enjoyed the fun personalities of all the characters and the way they are so inclusive. Charlie loves to interact with his friends and the viewers, which keeps the audience engaged. I also got to build new inventions and talk with Charlie. Each new shape-filled story is repetitive enough to promote fun learning. My favorite episode is the first one, "Charlie the Pancake Chef," because it involves problem solving skills. Each new short story promotes behaviors of kindness and sharing. This series is perfect for a good role modeling. The backgrounds in the show are bright and whimsical. There are many areas where one can participate and spot out shapes. I really enjoyed the catchy and bubbly introduction in each new short story. There are four segments with two short stories ranging from ten to fifteen minutes in each episode. An entire episode is around twenty minutes long. This is perfect for the intended audience. I love the way that Charlie's Colorforms City can help kids learn so much about the world around them.

I got lots of messages from the show, although the one that keeps going with the theme is to stay active and creative. I really like how this DVD is trying to encourage kids to use their imagination more. With each colorful adventure they will have loads of fun.

I give Charlie's Colorforms City: Meet Charlie 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6. I also think that this would be great for families to watch together.

Reviewed by Avery P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Are you ready for a fun filled, colorful, interactive adventure? Then you have to check out Charlie's Colorforms City: Meet Charlie In this animated series, your creative imagination will flourish. So, buckle up and get ready for a fantastic animated adventure that's both fun and educational for the whole family.

Charlie's Colorforms City: Meet Charlie is all about going on unpredictable, interactive, storytelling adventures in Colorforms City with Charlie and his best friends, Red and Violet. Every adventure is different and unique, so you never know what to expect. Charlie is always shaking things up. With Charlie's imagination leading the way, you'll be inspired to create colorful and magical stories, while developing your critical thinking skills.

The cast is filled with many talented actors. Jacob Soley (Charlie), Tyler Barish (Red) and Saara Chaudry (Violet) all connect with their characters throughout this series and deliver awesome performances. I love the colorful animation and music. Sometimes, I just jumped to my feet and start dancing. My favorite part is when Charlie uses his imagination to build a rocket ship using different shapes, sizes and colors to travel to outer space in order to send his friend home. And, I absolutely love the part, when he can't decide which pet to have; so his solution is to build one mega-super pet by using various shapes along with one trait from each animal he wants.

The intent of this DVD is to inspire kids to learn about different colors, shapes and sizes as well as work on their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Charlie also teaches friendship skills such as being kind, considerate, respectful, supportive and being an active listening. I wish I lived in Colorforms City, don't you?

I highly recommend Charlie's Colorforms City: Meet Charlie for ages 2 to 6 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. This DVD is available January 19, 2021. Look for it, you've got a great story to create!

By Ella M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The Charlie's Colorforms City: Meet Charlie DVD is a compilation of episodes from the educational TV series that will have kids laughing and learning the whole time! It combines shapes, colors, creativity and music to entertain watchers and teach them how to problem-solve and create stories. This is a show with a lot of concepts that are easy to understand.

Charlie's Colorforms City is about Charlie, a very silly and creative friend. Charlie invented Colorforms City from his imagination. It is a city full of colors and shapes that can make anything you dream of. From making pancakes to finding the end of a rainbow, Charlie and his best friends Violet and Red go on CRAZY story quests and solve the problems that get in their way.

This series has many components that make it as good as it is - for one, the musical part. I love performing and music. Music is always around me. This show includes upbeat songs and background music. For example, the theme song is SO catchy, explains what the show is about, and, by the way, has impressive vocals. Something else I noticed with this series are the storylines. They are easy to follow and are entertaining. They're not too complex but they also get you thinking. That's a nice balance, so props to the creator, Angela Santomero, and the writers of the show. Like a lot of shows for young kids, Charlie's Colorforms City has "call and response." I love how this element is used in this show. It allows kids to be included in the story. When I was watching this I thought: "Wow! These characters sound excited!" It's all thanks to the voice actors. The actor who plays Charlie, Jacob Soley, really stands out to me. He is always enthusiastic and caught my attention immediately. My favorite episodes of this series so far are "Charlie the Pancake Chef" and "Adventure Charlie." They are intriguing and they have the best storylines. Who doesn't love pancakes and a little adventure?!

The messages of Charlie's Colorforms City are: creativity can lead you anywhere, and learning can be fun! Whenever the characters run into a problem, they use creativity and imagination to solve them. There is nothing inappropriate in this show and it is kid-friendly.

Overall, Charlie's Colorforms City: Meet Charlie is an incredible DVD for kids! With it being fun and educational, I rate it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6. It's also a good series for parents to watch with their kids! The DVD releases nationwide January 19, 2021. Check it out, I'm sure you will enjoy it.

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR CHARLIE'S COLORFORMS CITY: MEET CHARLIE!


BLIZZARD OF SOULS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
14-18

Category: FAMILY
FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 14-18 series

Media:
Web Series

Distributor:
101 STUDIOS

Description:

Based on true events and the novel by Aleksandrs Grins, which was forbidden in the USSR, the film follows a coming-of-age story of a sixteen-year-old Arthur. After the loss of his mother, he enlists to fight in WWI with dreams of becoming a hero, but after surviving the brutalities of trench warfare and the loss of his family, he wonders if his efforts in battle were futile and if hope is only to be found in rebuilding a family and a home as Latvia itself is born from the atrocities of war.

BLIZZARD OF SOULS was directed by Dzintars Dreibergs and written by Dreibergs and Boriss Frumins. The film was produced by Inga Pranevska and Dzintars Dreibergs for KULTFILMA, and associate produced by Gatis Sniedzin�. Ilona Bi vska serves as International Producer. It was edited by Gatis Belogrudovs and composed by Lolita Ritmanis.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

A cinematic masterpiece and the Oscar submission from the Baltic nation of Latvia, Blizzard of Souls will take you through a rollercoaster of emotions while providing you with a thorough history lesson! With echoes of 1917, Blizzard of Souls has masterful editing and cinematography, incredible sets and locations, and a talented cast, but falls a bit short on explaining major events in the First World War.

KULTFILMA took inspiration from true events and the novel by Grins to create Blizzard of Souls, which follows a teenage boy named Arturs Vanags in Russian-controlled Latvia (around the 1910s). Arturs' father was a highly decorated commander of a regiment of the Latvian army, and his brother Edgars is focused on carrying on that legacy. He's not exactly a fighter, but when his mother is killed by the Germans, Arturs, his brother, and his father conscript in the national Latvian Riflemen battalions of the Imperial Russian army in hopes of getting revenge and finding glory. He experiences many loves and losses in battle, after which he, among other soldiers, grows weary of the Tsarist cause and feels forgotten. Arturs must decide whether to stay with his regiment or defect and join his comrades in fighting the Latvian War of Independence and start his life all over again. As you can see, there's a lot happening in the film, and it's an intriguing plotline. Though I am a history buff, I'm not at the top of my game when it comes to Latvian war history, so I was really hoping for some time or battle markers; all of the battles seemed to blend together, save for the final conflict Arturs is involved in - the Battle of Cesis.

The cast and crew shine in this Baltic beauty. Oto Brantevics and Raimonds Celms play the brothers Vanags, with Oto as Arturs and Raimonds as Edgars. Raimond is a more experienced actor, but Oto really shines in his performance, with perfectly toned emotions and dialogue. Their on-screen father is played by Martins Vilsons, whose cerebral, tough personality gives way (at the perfect time) to paternal love. And the Vanags' friends in the film, Mikelsons and Konrads, are played by Jekabs Reinis and Gatis Gaga, who excel in their supporting roles with pointed humor and emulating the characters' focused, yet free personalities. Behind the scenes, Dzintars Dreibergs directed the film meticulously, with a keen eye on historical accuracy and believability. The music in the film, which majestically introduces and drives the action in each scene, was composed by Lolita Ritmanis. The soundtrack is definitely one of my favorite parts of the film. Another beautiful element of Blizzard of Souls is the cinematography by Valdis Celmin�; viewers can tell that each shot was thoughtfully planned out. There is a large part of one battle sequence that was shot and edited in one take, which really helps the speed of the film.

The message of Blizzard of Souls is one of growth; Arturs grows from a young boy to a mature hero throughout this film and has to make many tough decisions along the way. It's a positive and relatable message, as we all grow as people throughout our lives. There are some scenes for parents to watch out for though; there's a lot of blood and gore, some nudity and profanity (given the culture of trench warfare).

I give Blizzard of Souls 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Adults will enjoy this film as well. Blizzard of Souls is out in theatres and on DVD now!

Reviewed by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR BLIZZARD OF SOULS


MARKSMAN, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
13-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 13-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
OPEN ROAD PRODUCTIONS

Description:

A rancher on the Arizona border becomes the unlikely defender of a young Mexican boy desperately fleeing the cartel assassins who've pursued him into the U.S.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Marksman is a slower-paced action film set on the road from Texas to Chicago. The film stars Liam Neeson as Jim, a retiree who's seen better days. There is a strong action storyline but those expecting a shoot-em-up adrenaline rush may want to look elsewhere.

Jim's wife has passed away, his finances gutted by the cost of her medical bills, and his decaying ranch adjoining the border to Mexico is under threat since he can't keep up with his rent. Now all he's got is his loyal canine companion and a few days left with his property. On a drive surveying his land, Jim finds a boy named Miguel and his mother Rosa, crossing the border. Members of a drug cartel are hot on their trail, eager to capture the mother and son. A shootout between Jim and their pursuers occurs and Rosa is mortally wounded. As she passes away, Jim makes a promise to get Miguel to their family in Chicago where he'll be safe.

The Marksman is a conundrum as an action movie - as for action, it's sparse, save for a few shootouts here and there where Neeson's character gets a chance to live up to his Marksman moniker. When you hear Liam Neeson and action movie within the same breath, you picture Neeson defiantly doling out revenge to those who have wronged him and the people he cares about, which to some extent is what The Marksman becomes. But it plods along its course, steeping you in the everyday life of Neesons' Jim, before putting into perspective the predicament Miguel faces from the cartel members who killed his mother.

Jim's encounters with the cartel is only mildly suspenseful. So much of The Marksman doesn't fully develop Miguel and Jim's dynamic, either. These characters spend so much time together, but, by the end, they only manage to get each other where they need to go, and nothing more. There's humanity, but there's no spark to it. I don't fault the performances, as much as I do a script with not enough meaningful moments for the central pair's bond to supplant itself deeply in the fabric of the movie.

I give The Marksman 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 for some mild violence and the killing of a dog. The Marksman comes out in theaters on January 15, 2020.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, ages 14

 

KIDS FIRST QUALIFIED ENDORSEMENT MARKSMAN, THE


WANDAVISION
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
SERIES,K AGES 12-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY CHANNEL

Description:

Blends the style of classic sitcoms with the MCU in which Wanda Maximoff and Vision -two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives-begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Marvel has once again delivered with WandaVision! This show has many unique elements like the different time periods of the episodes, and it ties into the Avengers storyline we all know and love. Keep your eyes peeled, because there are Easter eggs everywhere!

WandaVision follows Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) in this sitcom world Wanda has created. Each episode varies in style from classic shows like I Love Lucy to The Brady Bunch. While the two superheroes live their urban life, we see glitches in Maximoff's reality bubble. This show will lead into the third installment of the MCU Spider-Man series and a sequel to Dr.Strange. As Wanda (aka Scarlet Witch) opens up the multiverse, Strange is left to clean up her mess.

Kudos to executive producer Kevin Feige for creating a show based on Scarlet Witch and Vision which is so unique but still stays true to its comic book roots. In the comics, Wanda goes mad, and ends up opening the multiverse. In WandaVision, we see this perfect bubble she has created and how it starts to deteriorate. Also true to the books, Vision and Maximoff share twins who also blossom into superheroes themselves, Thomas and William, aka Speed and Wiccan. In the comics, they form a fraction of the new Avengers team. Wanda has her own comic book series which include all of these adventures. Scarlet Witch has always been a role model for me since seeing Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Now that she has her own series, many girls around the world will grow up with her and look up to her just as I did.

The theme of the series is about reminiscing highlights of classic television. In the episodes, the range of classic show styles range from The Brady Bunch to Full House. In this series, we have modern day comedy with the over-the-top acting and era-appropriate wardrobe. At times, it's easy to forget we're watching a Marvel show, and think we're watching an episode of one of our favorite childhood shows. But then there are the strings that pull the viewer back to reality and notice the bigger picture. WandaVision is wonderful for anyone who's an MCU fan or someone who enjoys the nostalgia of sitcom memories.

I give WandaVision 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It premieres on Disney+ January 15, 2020.

Reviewed by Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR WANDAVISION


BLIZZARD OF SOULS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
14-18

Category: FAMILY
FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 14-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
KULTFILMA

Description:

Based on true events and the novel by Aleksandrs Grins, which was forbidden in the USSR, the film follows a coming-of-age story of a sixteen-year-old Arthur. After the loss of his mother, he enlists to fight in WWI with dreams of becoming a hero, but after surviving the brutalities of trench warfare and the loss of his family, he wonders if his efforts in battle were futile and if hope is only to be found in rebuilding a family and a home as Latvia itself is born from the atrocities of war.

BLIZZARD OF SOULS was directed by Dzintars Dreibergs and written by Dreibergs and Boriss Frumins. The film was produced by Inga Pranevska and Dzintars Dreibergs for KULTFILMA, and associate produced by Gatis Sniedzin�. Ilona Bi vska serves as International Producer. It was edited by Gatis Belogrudovs and composed by Lolita Ritmanis.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

A cinematic masterpiece and the Oscar submission from the Baltic nation of Latvia, Blizzard of Souls will take you through a rollercoaster of emotions while providing you with a thorough history lesson! With echoes of 1917, Blizzard of Souls has masterful editing and cinematography, incredible sets and locations, and a talented cast, but falls a bit short on explaining major events in the First World War.

KULTFILMA took inspiration from true events and the novel by Grins to create Blizzard of Souls, which follows a teenage boy named Arturs Vanags in Russian-controlled Latvia (around the 1910s). Arturs' father was a highly decorated commander of a regiment of the Latvian army, and his brother Edgars is focused on carrying on that legacy. He's not exactly a fighter, but when his mother is killed by the Germans, Arturs, his brother, and his father conscript in the national Latvian Riflemen battalions of the Imperial Russian army in hopes of getting revenge and finding glory. He experiences many loves and losses in battle, after which he, among other soldiers, grows weary of the Tsarist cause and feels forgotten. Arturs must decide whether to stay with his regiment or defect and join his comrades in fighting the Latvian War of Independence and start his life all over again. As you can see, there's a lot happening in the film, and it's an intriguing plotline. Though I am a history buff, I'm not at the top of my game when it comes to Latvian war history, so I was really hoping for some time or battle markers; all of the battles seemed to blend together, save for the final conflict Arturs is involved in - the Battle of Cesis.

The cast and crew shine in this Baltic beauty. Oto Brantevics and Raimonds Celms play the brothers Vanags, with Oto as Arturs and Raimonds as Edgars. Raimond is a more experienced actor, but Oto really shines in his performance, with perfectly toned emotions and dialogue. Their on-screen father is played by Martins Vilsons, whose cerebral, tough personality gives way (at the perfect time) to paternal love. And the Vanags' friends in the film, Mikelsons and Konrads, are played by Jekabs Reinis and Gatis Gaga, who excel in their supporting roles with pointed humor and emulating the characters' focused, yet free personalities. Behind the scenes, Dzintars Dreibergs directed the film meticulously, with a keen eye on historical accuracy and believability. The music in the film, which majestically introduces and drives the action in each scene, was composed by Lolita Ritmanis. The soundtrack is definitely one of my favorite parts of the film. Another beautiful element of Blizzard of Souls is the cinematography by Valdis Celmin�; viewers can tell that each shot was thoughtfully planned out. There is a large part of one battle sequence that was shot and edited in one take, which really helps the speed of the film.

The message of Blizzard of Souls is one of growth; Arturs grows from a young boy to a mature hero throughout this film and has to make many tough decisions along the way. It's a positive and relatable message, as we all grow as people throughout our lives. There are some scenes for parents to watch out for though; there's a lot of blood and gore, some nudity and profanity (given the culture of trench warfare).

I give Blizzard of Souls 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Adults will enjoy this film as well. Blizzard of Souls is out in theatres and on DVD now!

Reviewed by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR BLIZZARD OF SOULS


SECRETS OF SULPHUR SPRINGS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
7-16

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 7-16 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY CHANNEL

Description:

Set in the fictional titular town, Secrets of Sulphur Springs follows 12-year-old Griffin Campbell (Preston Oliver), whose world has been upended by his father's decision to move the family from Chicago to take over an abandoned hotel property, The Tremont. The Campbells, which includes Griffin's mother and his younger twin siblings, move into The Tremont in hopes of restoring it to the vacation destination it once was. But on his first day at his new school, Griffin hears rumors that the hotel is haunted by the ghost of Savannah (Elle Graham), a girl who disappeared decades ago. Soon, he and his new friend, Harper (Kyliegh Curran), discover a portal that allows them to travel back in time and uncover clues about the town's biggest mystery.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Disney's new TV series, Secrets of Sulphur Springs, dives deep into the mysteries of the unknown. The writers of the show weave a chilling tale of mystery and suspense that is brought to life by the cast. It is a show about new friendships and old secrets that will leave you on the edge of your seat, as it did me.

In Secrets of Sulphur Springs, a music-loving middle school boy named Griffin (Preston Oliver) moves into an abandoned hotel called The Tremont that his family plans to restore. The hotel is said to be haunted by a girl named Savannah (Elle Graham) who mysteriously disappeared 30 years ago. Griffin is missing his old town and old friends, but he finds a new friend named Harper (Kyliegh Curran). Together they are determined to uncover the truth about the hidden secrets of the hotel and find out what happened to Savannah.

One of my favorite scenes was when Griffin finds out that the old hotel is supposedly haunted--it is very fascinating to see his reaction when others tell him about Savannah haunting it. Equally interesting is to see how the others react to Griffin when they find out he is living at the old hotel. Griffin has younger twin siblings (Landon Gordon and Madeleine McGraw) and Harper has a brother (Bryant Tardy). The relationships that Griffin and Harper have with their siblings make the characters easy to relate to. The hotel set is decorated to portray that old, abandoned, rustic style which gives it a spooky appearance. The scenes where the set is dark also add to the eerie mood. The overall creepy setting makes the scenes more believable. The clothing choices are also well thought out, and perfect for the scenes.

The messages in this TV series are about building friendships and trust. Moving to a new town and having to make new friends at school is not always easy. Being a good friend means being kind, helpful and truthful. It also means working together. Trust is especially important because it's hard to earn back after it's lost. Parents may need to know that there are some suspenseful scenes that may be scary for younger viewers.

I give the new TV series, Secrets of Sulphur Springs, 5 out of 5 stars. Every scene kept me captivated and wanting more. I recommend this show for ages 7 to 16. Secrets of Sulphur Springs premieres on the Disney Channel January 15, 2021.

Reviewed by Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SECRETS OF SULPHUR SPRINGS


STALLONE: FRANK, THAT IS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
BRANDED STUDIOS

Description:

Frank Stallone has seen it all. Frank Stallone has done it all. But, who is Frank Stallone? You know the name, now discover the Grammy and Golden Globe nominated singer, songwriter, musician and actor who has been entertaining audiences for over fifty years, all the while living in a giant shadow.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I'm super excited to share my thoughts about the documentary Stallone: Frank, That Is about a Hollywood star that has seen and done it all. I am talking about Frank Stallone who has spent nearly 50 years entertaining us with his platinum and gold albums and his amazing songs that have topped the music charts worldwide. His movie soundtracks for the most iconic films remain familiar throughout many generations. Singer, songwriter, musician and an actor...Frank Stallone is a package deal!

Stallone: Frank, That Is, a documentary written and directed by Derek Wayne Johnson, gives viewers an inside look into the life, career and struggles of a performer who has been dubbed "the most unknown famous entertainer in Hollywood." The film takes us behind the scenes as we follow Frank Stallone's professional journey told in words by Frank himself and people within his life who knew him best. Frank's accomplishments seem so remarkable, however for much of his life he has lived within the shadows of his more famous brother, Sylvester Stallone. Being "Rocky's Brother" may have been the largest hindrance to Frank's career, yet the most beneficial, because Frank's first real break within the industry came from his contributions to the Rocky Film Series. Frank Stallone's story is one of perseverance, inner strength, and a passion for the arts.

Frank's path has been filled with many opportunities and setbacks. Everyone, of course, has heard of Sylvester Stallone, yet, just as talented Frank has remained the Stallone underdog. I believe this documentary is exactly what Frank Stallone needs in order to share with the world exactly who he is, what he's done, and just how talented he actually is. Frank is exceptionally courageous in sharing his deepest inferior feelings and reveals to the world that there is room for more than one Stallone!

I truly enjoyed hearing from Mr. Stallone talk about how difficult his journey has been and how he hurdled so many obstacles to follow his dreams. As a young actor, I know firsthand how frustrating and disheartening it is to try to make it big within the talent world. I can relate to the look on Frank's face when as he discusses the setbacks he has faced. The industry is certainly competitive. What every entertainer needs is a will to push forward and a strong support base. The closest people in Frank Stallone's life offer words of encouragement to this amazing entertainer, which I believe is the message of this perseverant film; lots of support and self-confidence are needed if you are going to succeed within this terribly competitive niche. You need to navigate around your obstacles in order to reach your dreams.

I give Stallone: Frank, That Is 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend it to ages 12 to 18. Adults would especially love this documentary also, as many of them are quite familiar with Frank's music. This documentary will be released January 19, 2021. You can watch it on Video on Demand and Digital Screenings. This is an inspiring film that you don't want to miss.

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED STALLONE: FRANK, THAT IS


WONDER WOMAN 1984
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Description:

Rewind to the 1980s as Wonder Woman's next big screen adventure finds her facing two all-new foes: Max Lord and The Cheetah.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I love Wonder Woman 1984! The costumes and sets are magnificent! And it has original music that fits perfectly with every scene!

Wonder Woman 1984 takes place in 1984 (hence the name), 66 years after the original movie, Wonder Woman. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is living among the mortals and working at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. While there, the museum receives a mysterious stone that can grant one wish per person. Diana wishes to bring her long lost love, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), back from the dead. Subsequently, she discovers the true power of the stone, and what would happen if it falls into the wrong hands.

I am happy to report that this movie has a "satisfying" ending, but no spoilers here. Knowing that this movie is a sequel, I would recommend watching the first one because it sets up Wonder Woman's backstory and other characters from the first movie. One thing that really stands out to me is the attention to detail. All of the costumes, sets and dialogue are very well executed and accurate to the 80s, or so my parents tell me! I especially like Wonder Woman's golden armor. Kudos to Lindy Hemming (costume designer) and Aline Bonetto (production designer) for the realistic look. All of the actors are strong, but the ones that stand out the most are Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig. Pedro Pascal (Maxwell Lord) really personifies the bad guy, a con man always wanting more. And as you watch Kristen Wiig's character, Barbara Minerva, evolve during the movie, you can see the contrast between her two personalities emerge.

The main messages of this movie are to be careful about what you wish for, truth overcomes lies, and of course, girl power. There is some bad language and a lot of fight scenes - it is, of course, a superhero movie. Wonder Woman is a great role model for all people as she inspires bravery, love, and heroism.

I give Wonder Woman 1984 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Adults will enjoy it, too. Wonder Woman 1984 will be coming out in select theaters, IMAX, and HBO Max on December 25, 2020.

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

Wonder Woman 1984 is a fantasy action sequel to 2017's Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring by Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig.

The movie opens with spectacular action scenes that take place in Themyscira, the ancient island where our favorite heroine comes from. We see Diana (Gal Gadot) at a very young age, competing in a warrior challenge and learning one of the most important lessons in life: the importance of being truthful.

Then, the film shifts to the 1980's where most of the movie takes place. Diana Prince is working at the Smithsonian Institute curating ancient artifacts, and one of them, recently discovered, is a very powerful stone that grants wishes. The stone will become a powerful and destructive weapon. Diane welcomes new worker Barbara Minerva who is shy and seems to be the opposite of Diana and who is investigating the stone.

The greatest assets in Wonder Woman 1984 are Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). Their characters are rich and enjoyable to watch, and they each portray a wide range of emotions. Gal Gadot as Diana Prince shines again in a role that seems tailor-made for her. She is the greatest princess: fierce, elegant and full of humanity.

The special effects are very well done, not perfect, but very impressive. There are a couple of sequences that are absolutely spectacular. The colors and costumes are vibrant, elegant and truthful to the era. And while the action scenes are exciting, the main story in general seems a little weak. I was on the edge of my seat at different times, but the story, at many moments is not that powerful. The music by Hans Zimmer is impeccable and adds a perfect emotional touch.

Wonder Woman 1984 is not as "wonderful" as the previous film, but is totally entertaining--and the messages are much needed in the world today: first, staying true to who we are. The other message is "be careful what we wish for" which, in this film, means it's good to remember that what we long for should be love and kindness.

I give Wonder Woman 1984 a 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommended to kids 10 and up (for some violent scenes) and adults as well. Wonder Woman 1984 opens on December 25, 2020, in theaters and on HBO Max.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR WONDER WOMAN 1984


NEWS OF THE WORLD
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION

Description:

Five years after the end of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks), a veteran of three wars, now moves from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, sharing the news of presidents and queens, glorious feuds, devastating catastrophes, and gripping adventures from the far reaches of the globe. On the plains of Texas, he crosses paths with Johanna (Helena Zengel), a 10-year-old taken in by the Kiowa people six years earlier and raised as one of their own. Johanna, hostile to a world she's never experienced, is being returned to her biological aunt and uncle against her will. Kidd agrees to deliver the child where the law says she belongs. As they travel hundreds of miles into the unforgiving wilderness, the two will face tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces as they search for a place that either can call home.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

News of the World is a classical, character-driven Western amped up by the strength of its lead performances and cinematography.

Directed by Paul Greengrass, News of the World stars Tom Hanks as Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a veteran and former newspaper man. He charts course across a divided, post-Civil War America, going from town to town and doling out the news along with hope or despair depending on the headline. It's on these journeys that he finds a corpse in the woods and a toppled buggy, with a lone girl inside and some papers telling her story. She's Johanna, a German orphan adopted by Native Americans who slayed her parents and then taken from them. Kidd takes it upon himself to find her the home she's never really had, undeterred by the challenges ahead of them.

Tom Hanks is a gem, as usual. Hanks plays Kidd as flawed--we know he's done some things he's not proud of prior to the events of the film. He's atoning for those actions with an outstretched hand and caring heart for a person who needs it, a beacon of decency in a world that doesn't always adhere to that standard and the ideal stage for Hanks to work his magic upon. Fortunately, Hanks has a more than capable scene partner throughout in Helena Zengel, who plays Johanna. Her performance is mesmerizing and layered with nuance. She captures a character with a fiery spirit and worldly inner life.

The vistas and wide plains of a Western are catnip to any cinematographer. Dariuz Wolski creates a soft unease amid the ethereal hues of the frontier. There's an air of uncertainty that comes with their arduous journey that clouds over the majesty of the terrain. Wolski's cinematography basks in that majesty, but doesn't let it shake its focus on the characters at the center of it all. You become enveloped in the vastness of Captain Kidd and Johanna's travels, but fearful of what may lie ahead.

Greengrass's film seems primed for the big screen with its wealth of set pieces motivated by scale and environment; however, in the current times, a good portion of the people who watch this movie will watch it at home, and the movie seems as appropriate for that viewing experience with its stripped-down moments in between those grander ones.

I give News of the World 3 out of 5 stars and an age rating of 12 to 18 for some mild violence and moments of peril. You can see it in theaters December 25, 2020, and it will be available for home viewing within a month after its release.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

News of the World has a lot going for it and is full of creativity! While the concept of the film is original and full of potential, once the conflict is established the story doesn't quite live up to its promise.

The story centers on Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks), a Confederate Civil War veteran, and traveling news correspondent, who finds a young girl named Johanna (Helena Zengel) who was taken by Kiowa natives years ago. Kidd agrees to take the girl to her aunt and uncle, despite her protests in a language he does not speak. The pair faces many dangers along the way as they travel the American plains, including thieves, a dust storm, and a workers' riot, but through those challenges, they learn more about each other and how to work together.

The sets are impressive as well as the costumes. The actors are all dressed in outfits that really fit the time period and the region! I especially loved the scenes where Kidd and Johanna are traveling across the open desert because the filming locations are beautiful. My favorite part is how Kidd's and Johanna's relationship develops into one similar to a parent and a child, and the way it changes Kidd's perspective on family. Tom Hanks, as Kidd, is an outstanding actor, but I think his performance is somewhat negatively affected by uninteresting dialogue and character choices. In particular, Kidd's decision to rile the workers and fight against the mine owners while relaying the news seems a bit out of character, since Kidd is much calmer and lenient at the beginning of the movie. In fact, many scenes in the build-up of the main conflict of the story are a bit off-putting because they don't always match up with the familial and touching tone of the beginning and end of the film.

The message behind News of the World is that home is where the people you love are, and that family doesn't always have to be found in blood. The awkward and eventually affectionate interactions between Kidd and Johanna prove that any two people can find a connection. This film is rated PG-13, and parents should watch out for racism, death, implied child harassment, violence including the use of weapons.

I rate News of the World 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. This film can be viewed in theaters on December 25, 2020.

Reviewed by Abigail L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED NEWS OF THE WORLD


SOUL
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS

Description:

Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn't quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz -- and he's good. But when he travels to another realm to help someone find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have soul.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Soul is probably one of the most interesting films Pixar has made. It takes a very complex and existential idea about the meaning of life and expresses it in a unique, unexpected way.

The story follows a middle school music teacher named Joe Gardner, who wants nothing more than to play jazz on stage. When he finally has an opportunity to play, he ends up in an accident that separates his soul from his body and sends him to The Great Beyond. Joe teams up with an infant soul named 22, as they go on a journey to get Joe back to his body.

Unsurprisingly, this film looks great because it's an animated Pixar movie. Specifically, the birthplace of the souls, The Great Before, is very beautiful and ethereal-looking. Both The Great Beyond and The Great Before are interesting places visually and conceptually, but I felt like their potential was a bit wasted. I wanted to learn more about these locations and see more of them, but, alas, they're mostly forgotten about once they've served their purpose in the story.

Soul's greatest strength is its themes. I love the way this film subverts Joe's, and by extension the audience's, view on life and what it really means to be alive. It helps to have a great character like 22--who is so cynical and uninterested in human life--slowly learn to enjoy life in really subtle ways. Joe is great, but 22's character arc and her backstory really made me feel for her. She is such a well written character that I enjoyed watching her story play out. I appreciate this film attempting to tackle such a weighty subject in a way children could understand. It presents the concept of "the meaning of life" in a very mature yet still entertaining way.

I give Soul 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Soul releases on December 25, 2020.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

With a charming jazz element and beautiful music, alluring storyline and remarkable voice work, Soul is perhaps one of Pixar's most profound films from all time.

This is the story of Joe, a middle school band teacher whose life hasn't gone the way he expects. His true passion is jazz and he is a very gifted piano player. He is not really happy with his non-exciting job and when he gets a gif with his favorite jazz musician, his life seems to experience a life changing experience. Unfortunately he is a little too excited and he ends up in a near death situation. Joe travels to another realm called "the great before." In this fantastical place, he has to help someone find their passion and he soon discovers what it means to have a soul. It feels like I'm giving away some stuff, but this movie is so complex and meaningful that is worth to watch everything that unfolds. While the storyline is very earnest and genuine it does get a little hectic. While this movie is animated and colorful, it turns complex and dark. I felt there is a bit too much going on at one point, but the story itself is very winsome.

While I'm not a huge fun of the storyline of this film, because it moves back and forth constantly and the concepts explored are too deep at times. Soul is not only for kids and I like that. Usually, most films such as Toy Story, Cars and Coco are targeted for young kids, Soul has a broader appeal and people of all ages will learn valuable lessons from it.

The music is unbelievable. I expected it would be primarily jazz, but discovered textures and electronic vibes I didn't expect. Most of the score is by industrial rock band members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from Nine Inch Nails. The futuristic vibes contrast with the more down-to-earth jazz songs included in the soundtrack.

The animation is hyper realistic in the scenes of the real world, which is typical of Pixar's work, with great attention to detail, urban landscapes, and a beautiful color palette. In the before scenes, the animation reminds me of the style of Inside Out, which is simpler and not that stylish.

The voice work is stupendous with Jamie Fox leading the cast in the role of Joe Gardner. He certainly gives this character gravitas and an adorable personality. Tina Fey plays 22, the character Joe befriends in his other life, and is quite vibrant and unique.

The message of the film is that everyone can find their own talents at the right time in their life. Life can be as delicious as a slice of pizza, because life is amazing and simple as it is.

I give Soul 4 out of 5 starts and recommend it for ages 8 to18 and adults as well. It is releasing December 25, 2020 on Disney Plus.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SOUL


GREENLAND
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
14-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 14-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
STX ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

A family fights for survival as a planet-killing comet races to Earth. John Garrity (Gerard Butler), his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin), and young son Nathan make a perilous journey to their only hope for sanctuary. Amid terrifying news accounts of cities around the world being leveled by the comet's fragments, the Garritys experience the best and worst in humanity while they battle the increasing panic and lawlessness surrounding them. As the countdown to global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

See youth review

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Are you interested in an adventure? Are you ready for an intense ride of a lifetime? Well if so, Greenland is the movie for you! This film tests the limits of our society and portrays something everyone is scared might happen: The apocalypse. Greenland completely immerses you in its intensity, and also in incredible acting performances and visually stunning scenes.

Greenland starts off following a man named John Garrity (Gerard Butler) who learns of a comet named Clark that will be passing by Earth. Clark seems to be all fun and interesting until it is not! Fragments of Clark begin hitting Earth, wiping out cities, counties, and billions of lives. John discovers a safe haven, and he vows to get his family to it no matter what obstacles they face.

One of the biggest challenges about making a film about the apocalypse is making it look realistic. The visual effects department made everything look as if it was real, especially when it comes to scenes with comet fragments hitting Earth. Director Ric Roman Waugh also set up the story in such a way that it really makes the viewer wonder, how far would I go to protect my family?

Greenland delivers everything you would expect about an apocalypse movie along with stunning visual scenes. My concern with this film is that it lags in the middle making you aware of the two-hour runtime. Some scenes feel not unnecessary, and that the story could work perfectly without them. Also, Greenland pushes the boundaries of a PG-13 film because of the major intensity and gore. Throughout the film--with society on edge and people taking advantage of the crisis--gun violence, murder, and cursing frequently occur. Every child has a different maturity level, but even as a mature 14-year-old, I found some parts of this film difficult to watch at times.

I give Greenland 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18 plus adults because of the intensity and violence. You can find Greenland digitally on December 18, 2020.

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED GREENLAND


HOPE'S LEGACY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10-15 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
VISION FILMS

Description:

After the death of her grandmother, Lizzie decides to go back into eventing. With the help of past eventor Linda, her fiance James, and her family, Lizzie must learn to stand tall as she is challenged by the planning of her upcoming wedding and by her competitor Bethany. The sequel to Christmas Ranch.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Sequel to Christmas Ranch, Hope's Legacy follows Lizzie's struggle to navigate life and love after her grandmother dies. Grieving, she decides to rekindle something she and her grandmother shared: their love of horseback riding. The rest of the film follows the twists and turns of the endeavor and how her relationships evolve around it.

This film is ideal for teenagers from ages seven to thirteen who are interested in horseback riding and romance. It does not delve into any serious topics, nor does it employ any intricate cinematography or stellar acting. Although romance is a vital part to the plot, Lizzie's relationship with her female trainer, Linda, does take up a healthy amount of screen time. This kind of representation is still rare in today's world and is important for younger female audiences.

Hope's Legacy is family and child friendly. However, it does make an appeal to Christian audiences as the roles of the pastor and ideals of marriage are discussed on occasion. The production level is acceptable and you can enjoy this best, if taken at face value. Young viewers who are interested in horses and romance or are just looking for a lighthearted movie will enjoy it very much. Reviewed by Joy P., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer.

Hope's Legacy is a very sweet story. I like the charm that all the characters hold in their unique personalities. I like the storyline and how multi-dimensional it is.

Following the death of her grandma who loved horses, Lizzie decides to carry on eventing with her horse Legacy. She gets engaged to her fianc�' and tries to plan the wedding while practicing with her horse and problems arise.

The camera shows amazing panorama and crane shots above the beautiful scenery and pans to show emotion on so many loved ones' faces. The cinematography and the music pair to show the serene landscape and accent the dramatic and awesome moments in the film.

The message of this film is that if you want something it may not always be easy, but you must go for it to get what you really want out of life.

I give Hope's Legacy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to18, plus adults. This film will be available on January 5, 2021. Look for it. Reviewed by Melissa M., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The movie Hope's Legacy is a motivational film! I absolutely love this movie and thought this is a clear beautiful film. You do not need to be an equestrian or animal fanatic to love this movie. It is entertaining and includes lots of uplifting spirit from the main characters.

The storyline is about a young girl Lizzy (Taylor Lyons), who gets the farm passed down to her after her grandmother's death. Lizzy decides to go back into eventing along with planning her wedding with her fiance James (Allen Williamson). Lizzy needs to learn to stand tall while dealing with her tough competition Bethany (Abigail Reed). At least Lizzy is not alone, she has her mentor Linda Locke (Dyan Cannon).

I absolutely love the horses and pretty backgrounds throughout the film. I enjoyed seeing Lizzy's horse Legacy. It is so stunning to see the action of the horses through the film. Another thing I liked is the music. The background music is inspirational and fits the storyline well. I found the film to be very appealing and adventurous. My favorite character is Bethany because Abigail Reed portrays the antagonist so well. Taylor Lyons really portrays Lizzy so well. I was surprised with the movie, because I did not know what the ending had in store and that kept me engaged. The film takes place on a ranch, with competitions and events. Legacy is a bit corny at first but kept me engaged to the end. This film definitely is one of my favorite movies.

The message of the film is to never give up. Lizzy has to stand up and be brave to overcome the hurtful comments and rumors. She keeps going through this competitive event only to find the best award waiting for her. The film is very motivational and inspiring. You should know that throughout the film there are some adult topics about drugs.

I give Hope's Legacy 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. I think adults and families would enjoy this as well! This movie will be released on DVD and digital January 4, 2021.

Hope's Legacy is a heartfelt movie that gets you thinking, "Do you have enough hope to chase your dreams?" This film combines a great concept with multiple plot twists that leave us watching with anticipation. I thought a few things were going to happen and then something entirely different happens. It's a film that you HAVE to watch!

Hope's Legacy is about a girl named Lizzy (Taylor Lyons), who just lost her beloved grandmother, and is trying to take the lead at the ranch she left her. She just got back from college and wants to start eventing with her horse, Legacy, again. When her boyfriend James (Allen Williamson) pops the big question, she now has a wedding to plan and still train so she and Legacy can win and defeat her nemesis, Bethany (Abigail Reed). With the help of Linda (Dyan Cannon), an ex-horse eventer with a questionable past, she finds a way to get everything she wants.

The actors are the main reason this film has so much potential for success. Taylor Lyons carries the lead role very well because she can bounce around from emotion to emotion in one scene. She goes from sad, to happy, to confused, to angry and back to happy again. This range of emotions gives us a much better understanding of the severity of Lizzy's feelings. Linda is also an important character. She encourages Lizzy to try her best and keep her head in the game when Bethany shakes up her confidence. Without Linda's encouragement, Lizzy might back out of eventing. James tries to understand everything Lizzy is going through however, he is dealing with Bethany, who is looking to ruin his relationship with Lizzy. The audience will really be able to see the tension between the three main characters. My favorite part of Hope's Legacy is when Lizzy and James announce their engagement to their parents. They don't get the response they are expecting because the parents think they are too young. Everyone else thinks so too. This doesn't stop them from planning their wedding, which shows how much they love each other. Another thing I enjoy about this film is the way the background music complements all of the scenes. In the scene when Lizzy is stressing over picking flowers for the wedding, the background music comes through with a humorous tone. This makes me sense that the mood is lighthearted but serious, and that's exactly how I felt.

The message of Hope's Legacy is that hope is where you find it, and you can't let people take that fight inside of you. We can see the fighter inside Lizzy, and she tries her hardest, with the help of her loved ones, not to lose it. There is one scene where Linda and Lizzy are talking about horse steroids, but otherwise it's very kid and family friendly.

Hope's Legacy is a film with a lot of heart. I rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. Adults will also enjoy this! I definitely did. Hope's Legacy comes out on January 5, 2021, in theatres and digital. Make sure you check it out!

Reviewed by Avery P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The movie Hope's Legacy is a film that takes movie-watchers through a series of events such as love, marriage and problems with competition. This movie is unpredictable in a way that kept my attention. When I think something is going to happen, it doesn't happen. It's fun, unexpected and definitely a film worth watching.

Hope's Legacy is about a young woman named Lizzy (Taylor Lyons) who needs to take care of her grandmother's farm after her passing. Lizzy and her fiance James (Allen Williamson) are about to get married, but Lizzy is having second thoughts because of her commitment to riding horses again and her suspicions about an old friend of James. Lizzy meets a woman named Linda and her granddaughter Hailey who helps her train for horseback riding events. But James' old friend competes in these events too and that means Lizzy has problems and decisions to make.

Lizzy's stunt work is amazing. It looks like she is on the horse in the riding scenes but she's not. Linda (Dyan Cannon) coaches Lizzy so she can be a better rider. Her acting is believable because she makes me think that she really wants to help Lizzy win cross country. The way James shows his love for Lizzy made me feel like they actually have a relationship with each other in real life. Bethany (Abigail Reed) is really convincing when she tries to sabotage James and Lizzy's relationship. The background music really sets the mood of what is happening in the scenes. There is a bit of a plot hole in this movie. Bethany says that if Lizzy competes in the event and doesn't forfeit, she will get revenge. But, when Lizzy goes through with the competition anyway, Bethany never does anything. She just kicks the fence and walks away.

The message of Hope's Legacy is that you have to believe in yourself no matter what anyone says. There are not anything inappropriate for kids, except that they do talk about drugs and horse steroids. Other than that, this film is very family-friendly.

Hope's Legacy is a delightful movie to watch. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters and digitally January 5, 2021. Look for it!

Reviewed by Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

This is the perfect movie for a person who loves horses. I loved this movie; it has its happy moments as well as sad ones. I loved watching the main character discover what she wants for herself. I loved this movie because throughout the entire movie I could feel the emotions of the characters and what they were going through, I also love horses, so having one of the main characters be a horse made it that much more intriguing to me.

In this movie the plot follows the life of a young woman whose life changed drastically when her grandmother died. Her grandmother owned a ranch where Lizzy (the main character) rode her horse as a teenager. The ranch was left to Lizzy so she is on a journey to find what she really wants out of life. She gets back in the saddle and loves it. Her boyfriend decides to make a big change in their life for the better. This movie is a rollercoaster of emotions, I love that it shows the reality of life, that it is not always perfect but you have to make the best out of a bad situation. My favorite part of the movie was the show jumping competition, I loved this part of the movie because it showed how much Lizzy had grown in how she handles herself and how she and her horse have grown closer and are in sync with one another.

I really liked the performance of Taylor Lyons (Lizzy), I liked her performance because she showed real emotion and it did not look forced. I liked her performance made the whole movie seem more real and because so much had happened to the character I could tell from her expressions that she felt everything crashing down on her world. I also like Allen Williamson's (James) performance, I could see the emotion behind his eyes when he was talking. I loved that the emotion seemed natural.

The message of the film is when you want something, you have to work hard to get it. Lizzy really wanted to do eventing instead of a job, she works hard for what she wants and is able to succeed. She knew what she wanted so she went out and got it, with the help of her family and friends.

What stuck out about this movie most to me was the attention to detail, from the clothes used in riding to the measuring of the bar for the competition. They really did a great job making sure everything in the movie made sense with real life. I think that the little details make all the difference, this movie was well done in that regard.

This movie meets the KIDS FIRST! Guidelines. I would say that the audience for this movie would be people from ages 11-18. I think most people would enjoy it. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars. I loved the attention to detail and the emotion shown.

Reviewed by Lorelei T., KIDS FIRST! Juror, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED HOPE'S LEGACY


LILLY'S LIGHT: THE MOVIE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FESTIVAL
FEATURE FILM, AGES 512 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
12 PING�INOS S.L

Description:

Lilly is a loving foster mom and the keeper of an enchanted lighthouse. With her spirited crew of kids, their exotic talking pets and zany friends, Lilly uses joy, love, laughter and song as her tools, and shows everyone that "Life is Full of Possibilities!" The adventure begins when two curious members of Lilly's crew discover the Big Book of Little Adventures in the lighthouse basement. Messenger-pelican, Pel Mel, brings news that newly orphaned Daniel and his pot-bellied pig, Oink, need a home. As sisters Peaches, (Mindy Sterling) and Dee, (Philece Sampler) snicker-bicker, Professor Crabbe, perfects the Illiator. Will and Al Patchitt prepare for guests, while Lilly, the kids and Uncle Fitz take Daniel on a musical journey where they meet Sir Oinks A Lot, the Wizard of Hog (Fred Willard). He discovers the secret of the lighthouse and how to turn the imaginary into magical adventure. As the adventure ends, our story returns us to present day in the lighthouse basement, several years later. We are reunited with slightly older yet familiar faces, introduced to a few new crewmembers, including cousin Kenny Patchitt (Rick Cowling), and the next chapter begins with a new spark of light. Lilly's Light is filled with original music, sparkling sets and strong message points to which children can relate. It "shines a light" on the issue of challenges facing foster children. It is an inspiring and uplifting adventure that will capture the hearts and minds of children and adults everywhere.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

I find the musical aspect of Lilly's Light: The Movie appealing, especially for a youth audience. The music will keep children engaged and the songs enhance the storyline, as well as support the moral lessons expressed in each scene. Overall, the songs fit well within the context of the film.

The storyline follows Lilly (Sherry Hursey) genuinely, who is separated by her parents on a stormy night at sea, resulting in her becoming an orphan. She does not let this get to her and she still continues to let her light shine through. Her personal experience motivates her to create a home for orphaned children at her lighthouse.

I like how the story is told non-chronologically. It made me question what was going to happen, or what I was going to discover next. The camera work is well done. Lilly's costumes are delightful! She is very eccentric and her clothes match her character. The best way to describe it is that she dresses like a cool and funky art teacher. I enjoy the location being inside the lighthouse where Lilly's style is prominent as well. The kitchen is painted variations of pastel pinks and mint green. Even the furniture is oddly-shaped and funky and it works well. The walls are painted purple and yellow. The children have beds that suit each one's personality. For example, Katie Lynn's bed is a boat. In general, the lighthouse is very colorful and the d�cor directly correlates to Lilly's personality. Something else to notice is that, in the beginning, Lilly's Lighthouse is very bland and simple. So, the contrast between what Lilly has created for orphaned children is great. I also like the small details like pillowcases are clouds, relating to the saying "head in the clouds" (aka dreaming).

Since this film is a musical, the music definitely drives the action. When there is a plot point or something important happens, the cast breaks out into a song about what just happened. For example, when Daniel is upset about his grandmother, the rest of the kids in the lighthouse describe how they create story books with their imaginations to go on adventures. Their imagination allows them to escape reality for a little bit and come together to bond in creating a story world. I enjoy how the pages in the book look two dimensional at first, then eventually come to life in three dimensions. Sherry Hursey, as Lilly, embodies light with her over-the-top facial expressions. They work well and do not feel awkward, nor forced. You can really see her happiness and love for the kids every time she sings or smiles. With that being said, I would say the actors and the set designers are the key influencers. Even the child actors are great. I love the d�cor and colors of Lilly's lighthouse. It feels fun, safe and welcoming. I love it. Some of my favorite scenes are those with the pigs. They are cute and funny, especially when the pig talks in the kids' imagination world. I also like the costumes that the pigs are dressed in. Children would love those scenes also. This film has some notable talent, including: Sherry Hursey, Mindy Sterling, Brianne Tju, Gregory Paul Martin, Hal B. Klein, Newell Alexander, Fred Willard and Philece Sampler.

There are multiple positive messages in this film: We cannot change the situation, but we can change the way we react to it. People who love you do not need to be your family; they can also be your friends. Be a lighthouse, not a candle flame. With imagination, the possibilities are limitless. Life is full of possibilities. I resonated with many of these messages myself. They are issues that we all have to deal with. You should be aware that it does address the topic of losing a family member, which may be tough for some kids. The film does not go into detail about that and it is not the focus of the film.

I give Lilly's Light: The Movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12, plus adults. The film is engaging and the songs are captivating. The many messages scattered throughout the film will leave children thinking about those messages and morals after viewing. Furthermore, this film speaks favorably about the foster care program. If more foster care homes were ran like Lilly's lighthouse, children would have a more positive outlook on life and connect better with others. Reviewed by Tor F., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer.

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Lilly's Light: The Movie is a very whimsical film! It is especially creative and has many great messages and entertaining content.

The storyline is about Lilly (Sherry Hursey), who was stranded from her parents at sea and is raised by a fisherman, Uncle Fitz (LeRoy White). Lilly grows up to become a foster mom to three young children. She easily helps others and eventually takes in more kids including Daniel (Vitor Philipe). Lilly reads to her foster kids about all the adventures she has had with other kids.

I enjoyed the fun personalities of all the characters. Everyone is very bubbly. The singing and musical fun is entertaining and lighthearted. The songs are motivating and very catchy. Some songs are a little slow, but for the most part it is upbeat. There are many fun talking animals which is very appealing. I also like the computerized characters that come to life. The background music is magical with lots of sound affects showing off certain moves, songs and games. The film is adventurous and playful. The costuming is especially creative and colorful. There is a point in the film where Lilly and the kids switch to a different time period. The costuming in this era has many medieval renaissance dresses and clothing. The background and setting starts in a colorful, magical lighthouse with has tons of cool inventions. My favorite thing is that the movie promotes imagination and inventions. The film may be a bit long for its intended audience.

There are multiple messages from the film. The recurring message is that life has endless possibilities and you should stay true to yourself. Lilly had to survive and help herself by making a family out of friends. By doing this she has many lessons to teach others. You should know that the film does include topics about orphans and foster kids. You also should know that your child may sing these songs over and over again!

I give Lilly's Light 2.5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. It is currently streaming via Gathr At Home for children and families to watch and sing-a-long together.

Reviewed by Avery P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Lilly's Light: The Movie is a musical that shows people that they always need someone. The characters are fun and the songs have great messages. This film is enchanting and heartwarming.

Lilly's Light: The Movie is about a woman named Lilly, played by Sherry Hursey, who was a foster kid as a child. When Lilly becomes an adult, she uses a lighthouse to create a home for other foster children. A young boy named Daniel, played by Vitor Philipe, just lost his grandmother, his only known family member, making him a foster kid too. Lilly invites him to the family, but he declines and says he doesn't need anyone. But, Lilly and the kids take Daniel's book bag to keep him at the lighthouse long enough to convince him that he needs them after all.

The writers of Lilly's Light: The Movie uses storytelling to tell about the adventures of the foster kids. The scenes switch back and forth between the past and the present as the story is told. The set of the movie is colorful and appealing. For example, the colors of the furniture in the lighthouse give the house an artistic vibe. All of the songs in this film have a positive message. For example, the song "Life Is Full Of Possibilities" gives us the message that anything can happen in life. I like the talking goose, but the part I like the most is when Daniel realizes that he needs Lilly, because even though his grandmother is no longer with him, he has a new family now.

The message of Lilly's Light: The Movie is family isn't just your relatives, but it's the people who love and care for you. There aren't any inappropriate things to look out for in this film. This is actually a family-friendly film.

The music and the message of Lilly's Light: The Movie makes this film worth watching. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 13. Lilly's Light: The Movie is now playing in select theaters and virtually. Be sure to check it out!

Reviewed by Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

I really appreciate that it took a lot of hard work and effort to make Lilly's Light: The Movie. Sherry Hursey co-wrote and produced the film, as well as performs in the lead role. It is very creative and is like no film I've ever seen before and is suitable for young children. However, the storyline and themes may be a bit confusing for them. The film has a lot of wavering fantasies and unrealistic things mixed with realistic, half-funny jokes.

The storyline follows a girl who is raised an orphan, Lilly (Sherry Hursey) who, as an adult, opens a foster care center in a lighthouse where she takes children on wonderful and magnificent journeys and brings joy to everyone's life. She helps a boy find happiness and imagination and takes all the children into an imaginary world that they make a scrapbook of to show people in the future.

Even though I didn't resonate with the storyline, the special effects and animation are well executed. There are beautiful transitions between the scenes and the music is very original and enjoyable. There are speaking animals, which are convincing and really funny. My favorite part is when they are in an imaginary pig-style version of Camelot with talking pigs that make jokes. This part is overall hilarious and ties together the deeper parts of the film. It is a bit corny and some of the dialogue isn't very realistic and doesn't draw you into the story.

The film's message is about joy, bravery and making the best out of what one has.

I give Lilly's Light: The Movie 3 out of 5 stars recommend it for ages 6-13, plus some adults. People who really like unique and out of the ordinary fantasy films will particularly enjoy it. It is currently streaming via Gathr At Home for children and families to watch and sing-a-long together. Reviewed by Rosemary K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The heartfelt film Lilly's Light: The Movie is perfect for young children. I love this movie because of the elements of magic and hope that are embedded throughout. Also, the message is clearly delivered through catchy songs.

This film follows a caring foster mother named Lilly and the keeper of a magical lighthouse. The real fun begins when members of Lilly's crew of children discover The Big Book of Little Adventures in the lighthouse basement. Inside the book, the talking pelican messenger Pel-Mel shows them Daniel, a poor orphan who isn't open to new people in his life. Lilly and her crew take him on a magical adventure where they meet the Wizard of Hog and Sir Oinks A Lot. But will Daniel loosen up and open his heart to new friends?

I really like how the film delivers strong messages through positive, uplifting and inspirational songs. This family-friendly musical is filled with colorful and playful sets that really engage young children. Sherry Hursey who plays Lilly acts with such passion and joy, she is like Mary Poppins in training!

This film conveys many uplifting messages, but the one that spoke to me most is: you have the power to change the way you think.

I give Lilly's Light: The Movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 7 who will absolutely love this film and be begging for a sequel. Lilly's Light: The Movie is currently streaming via Gathr At Home for children and families to watch and sing-a-long together.

Reviewed by Kayla A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED LILLY'S LIGHT: THE MOVIE


WILD MOUNTAIN THYME
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
14-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 14-18 series

Media:
Web Series

Distributor:
BLEECKER STREET MEDIA

Description:

John Patrick Shanley, who created the classic MOONSTRUCK, brings his sweeping romantic vision to Ireland with Wild Mountain Thyme. The headstrong farmer Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt) has her heart set on winning her neighbor Anthony Reilly's love. The problem is Anthony (Jamie Dornan) seems to have inherited a family curse, and remains oblivious to his beautiful admirer. Stung by his father Tony's (Christopher Walken) plans to sell the family farm to his American nephew (Jon Hamm), Anthony is jolted into pursuing his dreams in this comedic, moving and wildly romantic tale.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Wild Mountain Thyme is an Irish romantic-comedy. It is set in Ballina, County Mayo, a lush Irish countryside with picturesque farms, impressive coastlines and lovely farm houses. You will enjoy this sweet Irish love story.

This movie follows the story of the farmer Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt). At a young age she is love-struck with her neighbor, Anthony Reilly (Jamie Dornan). Anthony spends his days ignoring the flirtations of his admirer. Tony Reilly (Christopher Walken) is not convinced his son Anthony is capable of managing the family farm and threatens to sell it to his American nephew, Adam (Jon Hamm). This motivates Anthony and he becomes determined to keep the farm. Rosemary finds herself in an unexpected love-triangle between Anthony and Adam.

Wild Mountain Thyme is directed by John Patrick Shanley and was adapted from his Broadway play Outside Mullingar. The story is based on John Patrick Shanley's own Irish family. Though I really appreciated the story, it might not appeal to many kids my age as much as it might appeal to older teens and adults. I really enjoyed the music in the film, which is composed by Amelia Warner, Jamie Dornan's wife. One of my favorite songs is "Will Ye Go, Lassie Go," also known as "Wild Mountain Thyme." This song plays an important role in this movie. The movie stars several very accomplished actors; Emily Blunt portrays a fiery and independent farm girl, Rosemary. Jon Hamm nicely portrays Adam, a wealthy American bachelor from New York who is on a mission to find an Irish wife. Jamie Dornan plays Anthony as a insecure and awkward farm boy. Christopher Walken role as Tony Reilly, the bickering father brings out his subtle and clever sense of humor. The Irish accents are well executed. I might recommend they add English subtitles though, because it can be hard to decipher what they are saying.

The main messages of the movie are be true to yourself, follow your dreams, squabble less and love more. There is some bad language and some drinking.

I give Wild Mountain Thyme 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. This movie is scheduled to come in theaters December 11, 2020.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED WILD MOUNTAIN THYME


MR. IGLISIAS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
14-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 14-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

Mr. Iglesias is an American comedy streaming television series that premiered on Netflix on June 21, 2019. The series stars Gabriel Iglesias who executive produces alongside Kevin Hench, Joe Meloche, and Ron DeBlasio. In August 2019, the series was renewed for a second season which premiered on June 17, 2020. Season 3 comes out December 8, 2020.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Mr. Iglesias is a streaming TV series with a great moral message and a lot of potential. The story follows Mr. Iglesias (Gabe Iglesias), a high school teacher who wants nothing more than to help his students thrive. He works to help his students through their interpersonal issues while also working on his own anxieties.

This show is a sitcom, so how is the comedy? To be honest, the comedy is very hit or miss for me. And that's mainly because this show uses a laugh track. I found it a bit annoying and it consistently broke my immersion. I also don't understand why this show needs a laugh track in the first place. It's a very outdated tactic and it makes the show feel outdated as a result. Though, the pop culture references definitely don't help. There are some genuinely funny lines despite this flaw, but it's still something that really bothered me.

The characters are also hit or miss. I like a lot of the students, especially Grace (Gloria Aung) and Marisol (Cree Cicchino) as I felt they have a lot of development throughout the show. However, Mr. Iglesias's co-workers are mostly annoying. Paula (Sherri Shepard) especially bothered me the more episodes I watched, which is unfortunate since Sherri Shepard is a great comedy actor. Her very inappropriate humor feels so jarring and it made me feel uncomfortable at points. Weirdly enough, Carlos (Oscar Nunez) actually grew on me. Despite how comically evil he is at first, once he tones down his hatred for children, he becomes a very entertaining straight man. Mr. Iglesias himself is consistently entertaining. He definitely steals the show most of the time. Despite this, I'm not a fan of the way he is presented in the show. The character version of Gabriel Iglesias is presented with very few flaws, and characters regularly comment on how his biggest flaw is how nice he is. It feels unnatural and too perfect.

Mr. Iglesias has a good message and encourages us to realize that teachers are incredibly important to the lives of children-- we should celebrate that importance. The upcoming third season is the best season of the show. Despite fewer episodes, the jokes are a lot funnier, and there's a lot of character development in the third season. So if you are already a fan you will definitely be happy with what's coming next.

I give Mr. Iglesias 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Season 3 comes out December 8, 2020.

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED MR. IGLISIAS


LOUIS VAN BEETHOVEN
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
BETA FILM

Description:

1779. Eight-year-old Ludwig van Beethoven, called "Louis", is already known as a musical prodigy. He learns to go his own way - much to the dismay of the people around him. Some years later, he meets Mozart during times of political upheaval. The unconventional genius and French Revolution are sparking a fire in Louis' heart; he doesn't want to serve a master - only the arts. Facing times of family tragedies and unrequited love, he almost gives up. However, Louis makes it to Vienna to study under Haydn in 1792, and the rest is history. Who was this man, whose music has since touched countless hearts and minds? At the end of his life, the master is isolated by loss of loved ones and hearing. Surely though, he was way ahead of his times.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

The film, Louis Van Beethoven, is well executed and accurately depicts the life of Louis Van Beethoven. It was very interesting to observe how his character was shaped during his early childhood and how different life events helped him make decisions that had enormous results. The performance of all the different actors is exceptional. The film paints a great picture, and it makes the observer appreciate the daily life during Beethoven's time in the late 1700s. The details enhance the movie overall and the music, of course, brings unique touches to the film.

This biographical film focuses on the life of the famous composer Louis Van Beethoven (Colin Putz/Tobias Moretti/Anselm Bresgott). The film mixes the past and present to expose the major events that shaped Beethoven and ultimately led him to become one of the best known musicians in history. Focusing on his passions of music, freedom, and change, this film shines a light on the not very well known part of his story, but a very important one.

There are abrupt changes in time that can be confusing or hard to catch at first when the film switches between the past and present. However, these changes also help the film compare what acts in the past led Beethoven to make decisions in the present. The flow of the movie, its style and overall structure are all well executed. The actors give believable performances. The language and vocabulary may be a challenge for some audiences as some words may be unknown to younger generations, and even to some adults.

The cinematography is high quality and shows beautiful details about the daily life during this time period. The costumes are beautiful and they accurately portray what people wore in the late 1700s. The music is primarily classical pieces and they enhance the overall tone of the film.

This movie explores both the life of the compositor Beethoven and the time period in which he lived. The culture and customs of the people are showed and they can be appreciated, as they are very different from current times. The film focuses mainly in the formative years of Beethoven and how the various aspects he had to endure led him to become the man he is known for now. The film may encourage the viewer to learn more about Beethoven's life and about the other artists during the same era such as Mozart and Haydn. The movie seeks to explore a not very know part of the life of Beethoven. Through his story, it shows how the desire for freedom and wealth, and a fight for love, can have major influences in making decisions. Also, the film shows how family affects the progress of children, and how big an effect that events have on children's development.

Heavy drinking is present throughout the movie, and there are some scenes that depict strong actions (getting smacked, yelling, punching). The only profanity in the movie is the use of the word used to refer the bottom part of a person. There is a scene in which there is a suicide attempt. The only part showed is a gun being pulled to the air and then the man with a bandage in his head (no graphic scene is showed). There is a discussion about this scene after by the characters, in which the language is a little strong for a moment.

I give Louis Van Beethoven 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Due to the length of the film and the fact that the dialogue is in German, with English subtitles, I don't think most younger children would appreciate it. People with a musical background would find this as a great opportunity to learn more about Beethoven's history that is not very known.

Louis Van Beethoven is a film that shows how music and the desire of freedom were the main passions of the famous compositor. The film walks through his early years and it jumps occasionally to the present, which helps to see how one incident relates to another. Beethoven was a gifted musician since early childhood and this biographical film shows how he expressed his gift during his daily life. The film is well directed and executed, as all the performance of the actors are exceptional. The classical music he composed as well as some from other artists such as Mozart, add to the tone of the film. Releasing on virtual cinema, VOD and Digital December 2, 2020.

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

see adult comments

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED LOUIS VAN BEETHOVEN


SAFETY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
9-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 9 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

The story of Ray-Ray McElrathbey, a freshman football player for Clemson University, who secretly raised his younger brother on campus after his home life became too unsteady.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I absolutely loved the film Safety. The story is so inspiring and motivational and the camera work is phenomenal. This story is heartbreaking, yet makes you hopeful. Some of the scenes are comical, balancing the problem and the solution perfectly. It was inspiring to watch the two brothers take care of each other, always putting family first. Every scene touched my heart.

The storyline follows the protagonist, Ray (Jay Reeves) who has been accepted to Clemson University on a scholarship to pursue his dream of being a football player, but his life at home is not so easy. His mother (Amanda Warren), whose husband left her, is addicted to drugs. Ray is left to care for his little brother Fahmarr (Thaddeus J. Mixson). Can Ray handle school, family, football and a little bit of love life? How can he take care of his brother if Fahmerr is not allowed on campus?

Jay Reeves, who plays Ray, acts with emotion and expression, putting his all into every scene. Some scenes brought me to tears and others had me rolling around in my chair with laughter. Thaddeus J. Mixson who plays Fahmarr, plays his character in a way that is very likeable and funny. Although his character is humorous, some of his scenes still break your heart . The casting directors made an excellent choice for all of the actors. The camera work is amazing. The transitions are very creative and the perspective is wonderful. For example, during a football game, there is a moment where all you can hear is Ray's breathing. The angle is as if you are looking from his eyes. The background music pumps you up for the games, making you excited and eager to see the results.

The message of this film is to put family first. Family is the most important thing in the world and you always have to be there for each other. No matter what happens, you can always rely on your family to help you out. There is no violence except during the football games. As usual there is tackling and pushing, although no one gets hurt. There is no bad language although there is a part during the film that is a bit creepy, with a group of men coming out of the shadows.

I give Safety 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18. Adults would also enjoy this film. Safety is streaming exclusively on Disney+ starting December 11, 2020.

By Nyara A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SAFETY


TIMECRAFTERS: THE TREASURE OF PIRATE'S COVE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-14

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 8-14 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
FRONT ROW ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

While searching for lost treasure, time traveling pirates end up in the modern day and do battle with unlikely foes: a group of kids with the latest in techy gadgetry.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate's Cove is a fun-filled adventurous movie! The cast is spectacular and the sets are very realistic.

The story follows a boy named Josh whose father has been missing for five years when a time machine sends a crew of 18th century pirates flying into the future. Josh and his friends find a map belonging to them which leads them on a secret journey to find the treasure. Join Josh, Chip, Bridget and Hedge on an exciting adventure full of fun, mystery and problem solving with some unusual encounters along the way in their home town of Pirate's Cove.

The cast is incredible and full of familiar faces and some big names. Casey Simpson plays Josh Dare and his emotional performance as he recovers from the loss of his dad is captivating. Denise Richards plays Victoria Dare, a struggling single and very loving mom to Josh. Her devotion to her missing husband is evident throughout. She also shows a comical side to her character when interacting with the pirates. Other cast members include Gavin Magnus, Lucas Jaye, Malcom McDowell and Eric Balfour. Gavin plays Brian the spoilt and not so nice kid. He plays his role exactly as one would expect, which is in stark contrast to his real life persona. Lucas Jaye plays the young and geeky Chip. His performance is as cheeky and goofy as it should be. Eric Balfour and Malcom McDowell give their performances as pirates well, keeping in character at all times, and making me laugh on many occasions.

The sets are awesome and very realistic. I especially love the part in the secret cave where Josh accidentally rides a mining cart like a little train through an underground tunnel to end in a surprising location. It looks like so much fun. My favorite part of the film is when Betsy and Victoria think the real pirates that have just come from the time machine are actual actors for their pirate play and they end up playing along, fighting each other on stage in front of the audience, it is hilarious. I also like the pirate ship tree-house in Josh's back garden. It looks very cute and cozy.

There is an underlying story of good things working out for good people and the film has the usual fun story of good guys versus the bad guys, where everyone else that gets caught in the middle and taken along for the ride.

I give Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate's Cove 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 8 to 14, plus adults. You can find it in select theatres December 12, 2020.

Reviewed by Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirates Cove is a sci-fi action film with hilarious pirates and adventures! And--shiver me timbers!-- the special effects used in scenes such as the time travel, storms and flashbacks really help drive the film.

This film is about a group of treasure-hunting kids led by Josh Dare (Casey Simpson), who find a treasure map that was the key to locating the lost treasure of William Kidd that was buried in their town many years ago. At the same, time-traveling pirates wake up 300 years later and realize their treasure map is missing and that the kids have it. The pirates have to try to blend in with the local residents while they try to recover the map before their cover is blown. Coincidentally, the town is putting on a play about pirates and so the worlds collide, and the adventures begin.

The main characters of this film are Josh Dare and his friends, Brigette (McKinley Blehm), Hedge (Connor Cain), and Chip (Lucas Jaye). Josh's mom, Victoria Dare (Denise Richards) and Josh's rival, Byron Beecher (Gavin Magnus) also had important roles in the film. My favorite character was Byron because I enjoyed watching him mature and transform. The pirates' language and costumes were realistic and spot on, representing what pirates might actually look like, say and wear. The film location was in Mendocino, California because of all the beautiful coves there.

The character Josh Dare summed up the message of this film perfectly when he said, "The greatest treasures the world has to offer are the friends and family who sail on the adventure of life." There are a lot of treasures in life like gems, gold, money, artifacts, and other valuable things. But the most important treasures are the friends and family that are always by your side.

I rate Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirates Cove 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 and up. Adults will like it too. This film comes out in theaters December 12, 2020.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED TIMECRAFTERS: THE TREASURE OF PIRATE'S COVE


STILLWATER
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
4-7

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 4-7 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
APPLE TV

Description:

Based on the Caldecott Honor Children's book series Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth, Stillwater is produced by Gaumont and Scholastic Entertainment and centers on siblings Karl, Addy and Michael, who are typical kids with typical kid challenges - meaning that sometimes even the smallest things can feel insurmountable. Fortunately for these three, they have Stillwater, a wise panda, as their next-door neighbor. Through his example, stories and gentle humor, Stillwater gives the children a deeper understanding of their feelings as well as tools that help them face their own day-to-day challenges. Stillwater also brings newfound fun and adventure for the three, opening their eyes to the quiet wonders of the world around them, and guiding them to their place within it.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Stillwater is a unique offering this winter, combining stories from around the world with an endearing cast, as well as profound morals. This superb bundle will surely be attractive to young viewers!

Stillwater revolves around siblings Karl, Addy and Michael who have a unique anthropomorphic mammal as their neighbor - a wise panda named (surprise, surprise) Stillwater! Stillwater loves tai-chi, trying new things and eating bamboo shoots. Plus he seems to have the answer to any question the three kids ask. Thus, they have a very special friendship and bond with Stillwater; his stories help shape their perspective on life, the work, and their relationships with others.

James Sie, Judah Mackey, Eva Binder and Tucker Chandler make up the main cast of this film. Binder and Chandler, who play Addy and Michael respectively, are secondary characters, whose performances don't necessarily take center-stage, but still are quite skillful. Speaking of center-stage, Sie, who plays Stillwater the zen-friendly panda, puts on a superb performance. He succeeds in capturing the essence of what (at least, I think) a panda would sound like if it could speak, with his deep and sonorous voice. Sie was a great choice to play Stillwater, who discusses Chinese and East Asian culture in the show since he himself is of Chinese descent. I also love Judah Mackey's portrayal of Karl, the inquisitive, sensitive youngest child in the family, who has a special affection for his panda friend. Mackey, along with many of the other characters in the film, help the show maintain its momentum because of their strong performances. A tip of the hat is in order for all the writers of the show, as well as the animators and producers behind it, as they seamlessly and intricately detail Stillwater the panda's famed stories with backdrops of Chinese villages, Indian temples, Central American forests and adorable cartoonish animal characters from all regions. The inclusion and appreciation of cultural elements, specifically from Asia, is refreshing and exactly what we like to see! The score of the show also really stands out, as the serene notes of the Xiao, sitar and guitar help accent all of the six episodes' action-packed scenes.

Each episode of this show promotes a different, positive message. These include perseverance, patience, recognizing your inner talent, overcoming your fears, teamwork and being there for those you love. Stillwater promotes positive social behavior and is a great family watch.

I give Stillwater 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 7. Stillwater is releasing

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR STILLWATER


GODMOTHERED
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

A young and unskilled fairy godmother ventures out on her own to prove her worth by tracking down a young girl whose request for help was ignored.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

If you haven't heard by now, there's a new Disney film that's sure to become a favorite holiday classic--it's the magical movie called Godmothered. This film is a fun look at the world of Fairy Stepmothers yet also a sad realization that not enough people nowadays believe in magic or that magical things can happen if you wish for them with all your heart.

Set at Christmastime, Godmothered is a comedy about Eleanor (Jillian Bell), a young, inexperienced fairy godmother-in-training, who learns that the future of godmothers is coming to an end forever. Feeling that she can save herself and her fellow fairy godmothers from unemployment or from getting new jobs as tooth fairies, she decides to show the world that people still need fairy godmothers, magic, and a chance to live "happily ever after," in their lives!

Not only does Eleanor help Kate, the single mom who is the focus of her mission, as well as helping Kate's kids along the way, but they all eventually end up helping to boost Eleanor's confidence and belief that she can still make someone's dream come true. Together they help Eleanor believe that maybe she still has a chance at keeping fairy godmothers employed, even in modern times.

Like nearly all Disney movies, Godmothered has that look and feel of something magical on and off screen. From the sets decorated for the holidays, the snow on the ground, to the big Christmas parade, visually, this movie keeps you in the holiday mood the whole time. Eleanor's Fairy-Godmother dress will remind you of those worn in past Disney movies, and the holiday music mixed with wand waving special effects all add to the fun. You can tell from the on-camera performances of the actors that not only were they having a lot of fun making this movie, but when the cameras stopped, it feels like the fun continued as well. I love how Eleanor keeps as cheery and sugary sweet as you a storybook fantasy character might and it was fun to see her react to people, places, things and events in the "real world" that she was not accustomed to experiencing in her own world.

The message of this film is to never give up. That believing you can achieve your goals and staying determined to make them a reality is the one true way to make them happen. In Godmothered, Eleanor realizes her original plans weren't going to happen as she anticipated, but she found a way to work around them and still create a "happily ever after" in the end.

I give Godmothered 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It's hilarious, heartwarming and a magical holiday film for all ages. Godmothered premieres exclusively on Disney+ on December 4, 2020. Don't miss it.

Reviewed by Lindalee R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR GODMOTHERED


MOSUL
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
16-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 16-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
101 STUDIOS

Description:

A police unit from Mosul fight to liberate the Iraqi city from thousands of ISIS militants.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth review

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Mosul is a whirlwind of a movie anchored by legitimately visceral sequences throughout and brisk pacing that the film sustains from beginning to end. In an environment where streaming has become the predominant mode of consuming content, it's gratifying to get a movie this immersive, one that never truly lets up and one that will certainly keep you invested in the different directions it goes in.

Based on a New Yorker article from 2017 and produced by the Russo Brothers and the production company AGBO, Mosul takes place in the titular city and follows the exploits of the Nineveh SWAT team which gained their prestige through their clashes against ISIS forces. We meet the team through the eyes of Kawa, a rookie cop who is ushered into team by the steely commander Jasem, after they save Kawa and his seasoned partner mid-ambush. With ISIS on the retreat from the city and the arrival of a new command, the team has gone rogue and decides to carry out one final mission of their own, the details of which are kept from Kawa, but we come to find it's rooted in a far more personal place than the ones they've gone through prior.

Through the absorbing bend much of the film takes, we are put in the heat of battle at every turn, but it's rarely energetic and that becomes an effective element of the film's tone. There is a weariness to each encounter with the enemy as they occur with increasing frequency and over the course of their journey; these soldiers are just trying to survive and here's where Mosul cements its stakes breathlessly and efficiently. It begins to feel inevitable that the Nineveh will lose one of their own nearly every time they make contact with ISIS's opposing forces. What sets Mosul apart from similarly tactical minded flicks is the moments of loss it frequently hammers home. In between the intensity of the action and each waypoint on their venture, there are moments of stillness where we get to witness the fighter's true colors which makes their losses sting with greater severity, sometimes it's commentating over a soap opera on television and at others, it's cruising in a Humvee through the ruins of Mosul, as they're reminded of why they fight and who they're fighting for. The secret sauce that really makes those points of the film work when the team isn't being rained down on by gunfire is that they're still actively pushing the story forward and doing the necessary work to engage us with the characters at the center of the story. Mosul's structure reminds me of that of a video game, with each conflict or objective so to speak, being separated by points of exposition and development, but it works for a mission-focused narrative in this case.

Mosul's scenes of battle can get pretty brutal so I recommend this for ages 16 to 18 for some moments of extreme intensity and some graphic violence at times. Mosul is a raw testament to the heroism of the Nineveh SWAT team with an unexpectedly emotional conclusion and I greatly recommend it. I give Mosul 3.5 out of 5 stars. You can see it when it drops on Netflix on November 26, 2020.

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST!, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED MOSUL


THROUGH THE NIGHT
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 14-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
LOIRA LIMBAL

Description:

Exploring the personal cost of our modern economy through the stories of two working mothers and a child care provider - whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth review

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Through the Night is an endearing love letter to essential workers and single mothers in the form of a documentary film.

The story focuses on a New York daycare center, open 24 hours, run by Deloris, or "Nunu," and her husband Patrick Hogan. The daycare is a safety net for many working families, especially single mothers, who struggle to make ends meet on top of the difficult task of raising children. Especially with Americans working longer hours across multiple jobs, 24-hour daycare centers are beginning to flourish.

The progression of time in the film is very easy to follow. For example, in one scene a mother and her children wear Halloween attire with jack-o-lantern tattoos, and later, there is an event where several people wear turkey hats, which helps to distinguish October from November. Some scenes in the middle of the film that discuss the struggles of being a single mother feel slightly repetitive, even though that's somewhat understandable. The variety of locations and situations brings more color into this documentary, and emphasizes the message of this story. Each interview is purposeful and ties into the flow of the documentary seamlessly.

My favorite part is the music which helps set the somber, but ultimately hopeful, tone of the film, while not overpowering the voices and sound effects. The camera angles also help convey the intimate, artistic style of the film, and so the audience feels immersed in the film, as if watching the events unfold in front of them. Lastly, the text effect used to show Patrick's message to the other daycare workers is visually pleasing and effectively communicates the gravity of the situation Patrick describes.

Through the Night provides a heartwarming message about the courage and struggles of single mothers as well as the importance of essential workers. This documentary successfully advocates the importance of raising awareness of the hardships of working families and maintaining a stable life for their children. Furthermore, there is a strong representation of POC, including Mexican and African Americans, a relevant theme in 2020 America. Although this film is not rated, parents should watch out for sensitive content including the use of prescription pills and references to difficult home lives.

I rate Through the Night 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. You can watch this documentary in theaters and in virtual cinemas beginning December 12, 2020.

Reviewed by Abigail L, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED THROUGH THE NIGHT


INSIDE PIXAR
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS

Description:

Produced by Pixar Animation Studios, Inside Pixar is directed by Erica Milsom and Tony Kaplan, the series offers insights into the personal and cinematic stories that provide an inside look into the people, artistry, and culture of Pixar Animation Studios.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Inside Pixar is so amazing, because it shows the different jobs at Pixar to be part of the team making a great movie or TV show. I have always wondered about that and how certain art pieces come to life. In the second episode, we meet an artist named Deana Marsigliese who explains how her characters come to life. It must be so cool to work on a huge project at Pixar and this film takes us behind the scenes.

Inside Pixar is a documentary series showing different people and what they do inside Pixar. So far there are only two episodes for season one and each is 11 minutes long. They are really cool and explain art, cinema, stories and more.

In the first episode of the show, we are introduced to the genius behind the movie Soul, Kemp Powers. Soul is a movie about a man who struggles to become a jazz musician. When he finally gets his chance, an accident causes his soul to be separated from his body and go to a world where souls develop personalities, quirks, and traits before being sent off to Earth. There, he finds ways to live again. In the second episode, we learn about art-making and character thinking from Deana Marsigliese. She worked on Soul, Toy Story and other films. It is really cool to learn how an artist thinks about creating new things. The things that really stood out to me were how they it's like a real family at Pixar and when one person starts a project that project might turn into a movie or a new scene in a movie.

The message of this show is that you can be and do anything. It is a different type of documentary that shows some real sweet inside scoop on one of today's most creative movie studios. I really do like this series and if you're a Disney fan you will too.

I give Inside Pixar 5 out of 5 stars because I really love it! I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can find this show on Disney+ beginning November 13, 2020.

Reviewed by SaniyaRain F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR INSIDE PIXAR


WHAT A DISASTER!
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
7-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 7-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
PBS DISTRIBUTION

Description:

PBS SoCal, Southern California's home for new PBS program premieres, debuts an entertaining new spin on emergency preparedness with the special What A Disaster! The fun new game show hosted by Jay Jackson (Parks & Recreation) challenges three Southern California families to test their emergency readiness plans in the event of the next wildfire, earthquake, flood or other disaster. Viewers will follow the contestants' progress through a series of fast-paced, exciting tasks that include comical twists designed to educate and teach critical, lifesaving guidance.

The competition-themed special seeks to raise awareness on the importance of disaster preparedness as well as equip viewers with an understanding of the "do's and don'ts" in emergency situations. Produced during the COVID-19 pandemic, each family's strategies will be judged remotely by two disaster response experts: El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center in San Bernardino's Lulu Lopez and LISTOS National Program Director Liliana Encinas. The family with the most creative and resourceful solutions will be rewarded with a $1,000 cash prize. The other families with the least number of successes will be receiving a Disaster Preparedness Kit.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth review below

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

What A Disaster! is an enjoyable family watch, after which you'll be prepared for any disaster that might come your way. The unique format, engaging challenges and crucial message all make this an amazing movie to watch over Thanksgiving!

What A Disaster! is a game-show style program hosted by Jay Jackson, centering around three Southern-Californian families (The Yang family, the Smith family and the Luna family) competing to be crowned the most prepared for any natural disaster that may come their way. They're also competing to receive $1,000. The families are led through a series of challenges that include knowing where your utilities are and what to pack if you're running out of a burning building.

As this is a PBS production, the 40 minute film is stitched together quite well. The contestants are spontaneous and bring life to the film, especially the little kids! I also enjoyed Jay Jackson's bubbly hosting. He looks upon these families as his neighbors, and the care he has is evident. There are some points where the contestants' voices seem to echo or reverb, though. It is also a bit obvious that the judges are reading from a script, as their eye line is off-center. But overall, the production value does not drag What A Disaster! down.

As its title would give away, the film promotes disaster preparedness and staying safe in any situation. Also, this film endorses messages of sticking together, especially with family, and teamwork. This is an especially important message for 2020, given the wildfires that SoCal has suffered, and I'm super glad that PBS produced this program.

I give What A Disaster! 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. Adults would enjoy this film as well. What A Disaster! premieres in Southern California this Thanksgiving on Thurs., Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. on PBS SoCal and encores on Sat., Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. on KCET.

Reviewed by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED WHAT A DISASTER!


I HATE NEW YEAR'S
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
16-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 16-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
TELLO FILMS

Description:

With a huge hit on her hands, rising music star Layne hits some serious writer's block. She decides to head home to Nashville for New Year's Eve, looking to find her ex and get back her songwriting mojo. As she spends New Year's jumping between bars and parties with her best friend Cassie, looking for the one that got away, she realizes that the love of her life, and the reason she sings, has been right in front of her all along.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I Hate New Year's uses current events very well, including the world of the music industry, the use of social media to promote and to present ideas, and especially the representation of the LGTBQ+ community. Teens and younger adults can relate to the film in that it deals with decision making and how to deal with emotions when insecurity hits. The songs in the film are beautifully done, and they add to the tone of the movie.

The storyline follows a rising pop star who finds herself unable to create songs, having writer's block. She travels to her hometown in hope of finding inspiration to continue creating music. With the help of her friend and the intervention of fate, she has to face her past to create the best future for her career, and for herself.

The film presents a story that is directed to older teenagers due to the themes of love, friendships, taking risks and insecurities. These topics are more topical for older teens and young adults. The writing is quite good and there is a solid continuity between each scene. It has good continuity and keeps the main themes easy to understand. There are some scenes that break the fourth wall which was unexpected and maybe unnecessary, but they do add to the comical tone of the film. In some scenes, acting doesn't quite have the punch I would hope for, but for the most part, emotions are well portrayed and they can be both observed and felt by the audience. The vocabulary is very modern and it addresses issues such as social media, school experiences and dreams. The music is excellent; the original songs are very well done with lots of emotion. The images are high quality so every detail is appreciated. The main characters are portrayed by popular actors that can be recognized from known TV shows and other films. However, the camera work is a bit uneven. There are multiple scenes where the shot starts to shake and gets out of focus. Sometimes when people are speaking, the camera shakes and it feels awkward.

This is a LGTBQ+ film. It shows a romantic and comical story between two characters that are young women. It also shows representation of a minority group, which can be crucial for young members of the community that may be looking to see someone like themself in a movie. It also deals with many themes that are frequent for teenagers and young adults, which makes it very appropriate for those age groups.

The messages of the film is about how friendships can make a difference in someone's life, especially when insecurities or hard situations arise. It also deals with the issue of taking risks and facing decisions that may not result in what is wanted, but are necessary to move on in life. Throughout the movie multiple characters drink alcoholic drinks. They are not underage, but there is drinking.

I give I Hate New Year's 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 16 to 18, plus adults. This LGTBQ+ film explores the life of a young rising pop star and how coming back home can mean more than just creating a new song. Multiple themes are in play - how facing decisions can make a difference in your future, how cultivating friendships is important, and what being a friend means. It especially shows how fame and popularity are not as important as family, friends and one's wellbeing. The original songs of the film are very emotional and the lyrics are poems that add to the chemistry between the characters. There are some minor issues such as shaky camera work and some slow performances, but the emotional meaning of the movie and the storyline make those issues not that severe. Representation of different members of the LGTBQ+ are represented throughout the movie. The movie is centered on the life of a young woman, and how she is able to move on and to grow as a person once she accepts the circumstances of her life.

Reviewed by David O., KIDS FIRST! Youth Juror

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED I HATE NEW YEAR'S


CROODS, THE: A NEW AGE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FESTIVAL
FEATURE, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION

Description:

The prehistoric family the Croods are challenged by a rival family the Bettermans, who claim to be better and more evolved.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth review

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Croods: A New Age is sensational because of the clever and colorful graphics, funny and realistic conflicts.

The storyline is about the Bettermans not liking the Croods. They must learn how to get along with one another and they have many adventurous life lessons along the way.

I like the story line because it's relatable to real life. The family conflicts and differences make the movie unpredictable. The characters are well developed. The production is state of the art. It is highly colorful and engaging from start to finish. The film is a great follow-up to the first one. My favorite part is when the main characters, Phil Betterman and Grug, are in the Jacuzzi.

The message in the film is that we do not have to look the same and we all have far more in common than we realize. It's okay to look different.

I give The Croods: A New Age 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. It releases November 26, 2020

Reviewed by Bailey Rae F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR CROODS, THE: A NEW AGE


TEAM MARCO
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
6-14

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 6-14 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
SAMUEL GOLDWYN FILMS

Description:

Marco, 12, is obsessed with his iPad and hardly leaves the house. But when his grandmother dies and his grandfather moves in, Marco's life is turned upside-down and he's forced...to go play outside. "Nonno" (Grandpa) introduces him to bocce ball and to the neighborhood crew of old Italian men who play daily at the local court. With sport, laughter and love, Marco finds connection to other people and rounds up a team of neighborhood kids to take on Marco's grandfather and his pals.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Team Marco is a wonderful, heartwarming and sweet movie. This family-friendly fun comedy will have you laughing, bring you joy and inspire you to seize each day.

This movie is about a boy named Marco (Owen Vaccaro) who is insanely addicted to video games. When his grandmother dies and his house nearly burns down, his grandpa, Nonno (Anthony Patellis), moves in. Nonno is extremely bothered with his grandson's obsession with video games. Nonno will not stand for this and takes measures into his own hands. He decides to take away all of Marco's electronics and forces him to play outside. Nonno teaches Marco his favorite sport - bocce ball. Can Marco and his team of friends beat Nonno and his gang of neighborhood Italian bocce ballers in a bocce ball tournament?

This movie was written, directed and produced by Julio Vincent Gambuto, and it is his first feature film. This story is inspired by a real-life experience. About four years ago, when Julio was visiting his nieces and nephews, he noticed that his nephew, Marco, didn't even greet him when he arrived at their house because his head was buried in his electronics. This sparked the idea for his movie. The film takes place in Julio's beloved hometown, Staten Island, NY. It was filmed on location, which was very important to Julio. He loves his hometown community and was passionate about it being filmed on Staten Island. My favorite characters are Nonno and Marco. I really like the performances of Anthony Patellis because of his dry sense of humor and his love of family, which shines through. He is very entertaining while playing the cranky grandpa battling technology. Owen Vaccaro convincingly plays the "pre-teen techie" Marco. I can relate to his love of electronics and his struggles trying to balance Nonno's desire for conversation, friendship and connecting through Nonno's favorite sport, bocce ball. My favorite part of the movie is when Nonno is trying to figure out the Google Assistant.

The main message of the movie is to be present when around your family. This film shows technology is not always bad, and in fact connects us. It also reminds everyone that, while technology will be around forever, your family will not be. Cherish the time you have with your family.

I give Team Marco 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 14, plus adults. Team Marco will be released on most streaming platforms November 20, 2020. Look for it.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED TEAM MARCO


HALF BROTHERS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
13-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 13-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
FOCUS FEATURES

Description:

Renato, a Mexican aviation exec, is shocked to learn he has an American half-brother he never knew about, the free-spirited Asher. They are forced on a road trip together, tracing the path their father took from Mexico to the US.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Half Brothers is a fun-loving movie with loveable characters which takes you on a wild adventure that will have you laughing. Along the way the characters learn about each other and their father. They also learn a lot about themselves. These two brothers with opposite personalities must unite to uncover the hidden truth of the past.

The story begins with young Renato (Ian Inigo) enjoying time with his dad, Flavio (Juan Pablo Espinosa). Things change when Renato's dad leaves Mexico to go to the U.S. to look for work and does not return. Years later when Renato (Luis Gerardo Mendez) is a grown up, he gets a phone call saying his dad is extremely sick and he needs to come right away. He is torn between wanting to go and staying home to prepare for his wedding. He decides to go and gets the surprise of meeting his half-brother, Asher (Connor Del Rio) who he did not know existed. Their dad sends them on a wild journey to get the answers Renato has wanted to know his whole life - why his dad never came back for him. Along the way, he gets to know his half brother as they go on a hilarious and bonding scavenger hunt across America to get the answers.

My favorite scene is when Asher steals the goat from the barn. It kept me laughing and intrigued. All the actors make this odd situation funny and memorable. I also enjoyed the music selections playing during their road trips. They are catchy, uplifting and always enhance the mood of these scenes. Asher is an easy character to like. He always has a positive attitude and his clothing choices throughout the movie really fit his character.

The messages in this film are about how forgiving can be life changing, that it is okay to be yourself, and accepting others' differences can lead to the best friendships. While forgiveness is not always an easy thing to do, it is better to forgive than to hold onto something that makes you unhappy. Being yourself is important. Just because you are different it does not make you less important. Accepting differences in others can lead to happiness. You should know that there is some explicit language, the use of guns and violence and there is talk about some adult situations.

I give Half Brothers 5 out of 5 stars. It has some amazing messages that are delivered in a very humorous way. I recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. This film comes out in theaters December 4, 2020.

Reviewed by Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR HALF BROTHERS


CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGE 5-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

It's been two years since siblings Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis) saved Christmas, and a lot has changed. Kate, now a cynical teenager, is reluctantly spending Christmas in Cancun with her mom's new boyfriend (Tyrese Gibson) and his son Jack (Jahzir Bruno). Unwilling to accept this new version of her family, Kate decides to run away. But when a mysterious, magical troublemaker named Belsnickel threatens to destroy the North Pole and end Christmas for good, Kate and Jack are unexpectedly pulled into a new adventure with Santa Claus (Kurt Russell). Written and directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter) and co-starring Goldie Hawn, THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES: PART TWO is an action-packed adventure for the whole family that's full of heart, humor, and holiday spirit.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like The Christmas Chronicles 2 because it is a heartwarming film, full of magic and adventures which makes it so fun to watch. Santa Claus is not the typical Santa we are used to seeing in other movies. This Santa is a type of daredevil Santa.

If you watched The Christmas Chronicles in 2018, you must know that Kate (Darby Camp) and her brother Teddy (Judah Lewis) are friends with Santa Claus, played by the one and only Kurt Russell. Kate's mom and her boyfriend Bob (Tyrese Gibson) take Kate, Teddy and Jack (Jahzir Bruno), Bob's son, to celebrate Christmas in Cancun, Mexico. Kate doesn't want to be there as she misses her dad who passed away two years ago. An evil kid named Belsnickel (Julian Dennison) wants to destroy Santa and uses Kate to get to the North Pole to do his dirty deed. Jack follows her so they both end up at the North Pole and that's when ALL the adventure begins!

My favorite part is when Jack picks two of Mrs. Claus' special homemade cookies - confidence and bomb. When he needs confidence he forgets which one of the cookies is confidence and almost eats the cookie bomb. The graphics and digital effects are amazing. The reindeers and the cougar look real. The music is very appealing in every scene. The costumes are very seasonal. Mrs. Claus (Goldie Hawn) gives this movie a special touch, which makes this film different from the first movie. Mrs. Claus creates Santa's Village and takes good care of it. The movie mentions how it should be called Mrs. Claus Village, which gives this character the importance she deserves because, in reality, she is the person behind Santa, supporting him, taking care of him and his business.

The moral of this movie is to move on, be happy and let others be happy. Throughout the film we learn that Kate doesn't like her mom's new boyfriend and doesn't want Bob substituting for her dad. Santa shows her that family is everything and that they matter the most, so why not cherish that her mom is happy because she found love again in Bob? Kate needs to accept that her mom loves Bob and that doesn't mean she stops loving her dad. She needs to understand her mom deserves to be happy. Life continues; people need to move on.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. The Christmas Chronicles 2 comes out on Netflix on November 25, 2020, so get your hot chocolate and cookies or popcorn ready to enjoy this magical film!

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2


ANIMANIACS 2020
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 8 TO 18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
HULU, LLC

Description:

They're back! The Warner brothers, Yakko and Wakko, and the Warner sister Dot, have a great time wreaking havoc and mayhem in the lives of everyone they meet. After returning to their beloved home, the Warner Bros. water tower, the siblings waste no time in causing chaos and comic confusion as they run loose through the studio, turning the world into their personal playground. Joining Yakko, Wakko and Dot, fan-favorite characters Pinky and the Brain also return to continue their quest for world domination. Animaniacs is an American animated television series developed by Steven Spielberg for steaming service Hulu. It is a revival of the original 1993 television series of the same name. The new series sees the return of the Warner Brothers, Yakko and Wakko and their sister Dot (voiceovers by Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell and Tress MacNeille), and of Pinky and the Brain (voiceover by Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche). The first season is set to premiere on Hulu November 20, 2020.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Animaniacs is back giving us tons of entertainment! Don't expect to see reruns with this rebooted animated series. Showrunner Wellesley Wild nails the creation of fresh and relevant content, while keeping the same hilarious craziness of the original series.

The series is about the Warner siblings Wakko, Yakko and Dot who are crazy and wild characters found on the Warner Bros. Studio. The episodes follow them as they get into trouble running around the Warner Bros. Studio lot and while meeting other characters. The new season picks up 22 years later, after they were locked away. Now we get to see their new adventures as they learn more about the current world around them and all the changes that have happened.

Director Steven Spielberg brings back the same characters and many of the original voice actors. The main characters are the Warner brothers and sister - Wakko (Jess Harnell), Yakko (Rob Paulsen) and Dot (Tress MacNeille). The setting for the series is the classic Warner Bros. Studio lot and the lot's water tower. It's hilarious to see the characters run around the lot learning about things that didn't exist two decades ago like tablets, climate change, Ubers, cat-fishing, YouTubers and Amazon drones. Ralph the security guard (Frank Welker) even has new tricks he can use to catch the Warner siblings, such as a net connected to a drone. The show was updated to a wide-screen format and to make it more gender balanced and diverse. In the premiere episode, Dot points out that Warner Bros. now has a Black female CEO. Shorts like The Warner Kids and Pinky and The Brain also return with new content. It's a clever way to see how the other characters are doing after meeting the Warner siblings.

The Warner siblings and the rest of the cast always find a way to have fun in each episode. The message of this series is to find a way to stay fun, positive and happy despite the craziness in the world. I will note that there are some scenes or jokes that viewers may not get unless they followed the original series, but you will still laugh.

Animaniacs is a great mix of kid-friendly education and slapstick comedy, deserving 5 out of 5 stars and a recommendation for ages 5 to 18. Adults are sure to love it too especially if they are fans of the original series. The new season of Animaniacs debuts on Hulu on November 20.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR ANIMANIACS 2020


COLLECTIVE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
PARTICIPANT

Description:

In 2015, a fire at Bucharest's Colectiv club leaves 27 dead and 180 injured. Soon, more burn victims begin dying in hospitals from wounds that were not life-threatening. Then a doctor blows the whistle to a team of investigative journalists. One revelation leads to another as the journalists start to uncover vast health care fraud. When a new health minister is appointed, he offers unprecedented access to his efforts to reform the corrupt system but also to the obstacles he faces. Following journalists, whistle-blowers, burn victims, and government officials, Collective is an uncompromising look at the impact of investigative journalism at its best.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

An electrifying and groundbreaking documentary, Collective is a chilling reminder of the underhanded dealings of modern politics. Shot in a rigorously observational manner, Collective covers an event that took Eastern Europe by storm and led to massive big pharmacy and government reform.

On October 30, 2015, a deadly fire in Colectiv, a popular nightclub in Bucharest, Romania killed 64 and injured 146. Of the 64 killed, 38 died in the hospitals. Upon closer inspection, it was discovered they were in close contact with some of the most resistant hospital bacteria on the continent, which festered in their unclean wounds. In the first part of the film, Catalin Tolontan's journalistic crusade is detailed, as he embarks upon a journey to uncover the negligence, corruption and political machinations that plagues the Romanian health system as a whole. Vlad Voiculescu is introduced as the new minister of health, and he looks to take Romania in a new direction for health and safety but faces massive backlash. Watch Collective to find out how this crisis is solved.< p>A widely-known Romanian journalist at the Gazeta Sporturilor, Catalin Tolontan, together with Vlad Vioculescu, ex-minister of health and patients rights activist, are featured in Collective. Tolontan colleagues Mirela Neag and Razvan Lutac are captured in the newsroom, printing papers and delivering fiery questions at press conferences. I especially enjoyed their portion of the film, possibly due to my interest in journalism, but also because of Tolontan's unique approach to tackling this case - calculated vehemence. Even Voiculescu's segment is intriguing, albeit a little more morose and harder to follow. Honestly, you can't help but feel bad for Voiculescu, the one upstanding politician who cares for people more than for the money in his pocket, especially in the tense election scenes. Tedy Ursuleanu, a burn victim, is also featured in this film. Her story is not illustrated in great detail, but featuring her is, to me, a massively positive step for Nanau to take. It adds a whole new level of 'wow, this is real' to Collective.

The cinematography in this film is absolutely stunning; the camera team uses dimly lit, low contrast scenes to drive home the intensity of the incident and harshly lit closeups in telling the story of the people that Collective follows. The lack of ambient noise filtration in press conferences helps the viewer really jump into the story. Besides the plot, this has got to be my favorite part of the entire documentary.

Collective promotes freedom of speech, government transparency, and valuing lives over profit, which are all positive morals. There are political elements in this film as well as rather graphic scenes depicting burn victims, that you should be aware of. Also, there is some bad language and the whole plot is unsuitable for younger audiences. Nanau successfully calls viewers to action to speak out against corruption.

I give Collective 4.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. Collective is in theaters and on-demand November 20, 2020.

Reviewed by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED COLLECTIVE


BUENOS DIAS! SPANISH LEARNING SONGS

Running Time:
40 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
3-9

Category: FOR LANG (Foreign Language)
AUDIO CD FOR AGES 3-9 series

Media:
AUDIO

Distributor:
WHISTLEFRITZ LLC
Click to purchase directly from the producer

Description:

Irresistible salsa, merengue, flamenco, and Andean rhythms introduce kids to the vibrant music, language, and culture of the Spanish-speaking world, as they learn Spanish along the way.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

The CD Buenos Dias! Spanish Learning Songs from Whistlefritz gives a terrific sample of traditional musical styles representing Spanish culture. The music ranges from lively salsa rhythms to slower lullabies. Most songs are original, but the songs "Manzanita de Peru," "Arbolito de Peru" and "Duermete Mi Nino/Mi Nina" include traditional lyrics with new music and arrangements. The songs have catchy Spanish lyrics, repetitive sentence frames and English translations included in the liner notes. Word-by-word translation guides are contained on the Whistlefritz website. A couple of the songs describe the weather ("Buenos Dias, Amiguitos") and making introductions ("Como Se Llama La Llama?"). "El Tamal No Esta Mal" portrays a picky eater whom others entice with different foods. "Hagamos Musica" and "Sonidos del Flamenco" describe traditional Spanish instruments such as the guitar and castanets and their sounds. Listeners can sing about the fun eggshell tradition in "Cascarones." "Se Habla Espanol" lists countries where Spanish is spoken. "Mi Osito" would appeal to younger children as the speaker searches for a lost teddy bear. There are songs for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. The artists Jorge Anaya, Ileana Perez and Didier Prossaird perform the songs expertly with pleasant voices matching the mood and humor of the songs. All in all the 15 tracks offer the listener exposure to different Spanish musical styles, traditions and language. I give this CD 4 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 5 to 9. Reviewed by Christine R., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like Buenos D�as: Spanish Learning Songs CD because it is very pleasant and electrifying to listen to. It has kid-friendly songs that make it easy to learn Spanish at the same time you are dancing to the songs.

This CD has 15 songs and is about 40 minutes of fun. The singers are award-winning soprano Ileana P�rez and Jorge Anaya, who is a songwriter too. Didier Prossaird is in charge of the fantastic music. The CD includes each song's lyrics and its translation in English as well as a tool to help the listeners learn Spanish. This CD helps the children to learn how to count, how to say words in Spanish, how to be nice to others and teaches about things like costumes or typical traditions related to Spanish language countries.

My favorite songs are number two, "Como se Llama la Llama?" (What's the Lama's Name?), because it is so catchy and fun to listen to. I also like number four, "Sonidos del Flamenco" (Sounds of Flamenco) because it is so peaceful and soothing. I even picked up some words that I didn't know. This CD can be a very productive tool to teach Spanish in preschool or elementary classrooms.

This CD's songs transports you to different countries, teaches you about different cultures and offers different types of musical rhythms to dance to. If you have Hispanic roots, it makes you feel proud of where your parents or ancestors come from and helps you to appreciate your background.

I give Buenos Dias Spanish Learning Songs 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12. This CD is out now and it can be a very useful Christmas gift. So go get it pronto!

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Buenos Dias! Spanish Learning Songs is the perfect album to teach young kids the Spanish language! Each song is fun and has a great beat to keep kids entertained while learning. The songs are also extremely catchy.

This CD is aimed for preschool and early elementary children to learn how to speak Spanish. Whistlefritz, the CD's producer is known for their work in teaching languages through music. It's comforting to know you will be taught how to speak the language the correct and proper way. The artists and singers, Jorge Anaya, Ileana Perez and Didier Prossaird sing the various songs on the CD. Each song is short, around one to two minutes long. The lyrics are fairly easy to learn and the basic Spanish words can be picked up quickly. There are translations in English as well.

My favorite song is "Como Se Llama La Llama?" (What's the Llama's Name?). The beat is of merengue music, making you want to dance along. Some of the other songs focus on holidays, like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. It's the perfect album to listen to year round. There are also great lullabies like "Duermete Mi Nino" and "Duermete Mi Ni�a" for bedtime listening.

This CD's purpose is to teach young children how to speak Spanish. Some of the songs tell stories and others are lullabies. The first track is named "Buenos Dias, Amiguitos" (Good Morning, Little Friends), which serves as the welcome introduction to the soundtrack.

I give Buenos Dias! Spanish Learning Songs 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 9. It is available to order at www.Whistlefritz.com now. Look for it.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

!Buenos D�as! Spanish Learning Songs is an eclectic and happy collection of children's music that lifts the spirits from the moment you play the first song. It is great, not only for multicultural families, but also for those that love to explore different cultures, discover traditions from other countries and learn a second language.

I love how diverse this compilation of children songs is. You can enjoy different rhythms from different countries including Mexico, Peru and Colombia from South America and also flamenco from Spain. You can sing and dance along with the songs to the beats and sounds of salsa, merengue and Caribbean tunes from traditional children's songs from Spanish speaking countries.

Families can enjoy !Buenos D�as! Spanish Learning Songs musically and as a learning experience as well. The CD comes with a booklet with lyrics in Spanish and their English translations, so parents and kids can learn while they sing. The lyrics contain a great amount of basic vocabulary about animals, nature, food, music and human relationships.

The selections of songs, recording, arrangements and production is of the highest quality. The voice of Cuban-American Soprano singer Ileana Perez is beautiful and her Spanish enunciation is very clear. The musical production is impeccable and it is also an enriching experience while learning music.

The 15 tracks in !Buenos D�as! Spanish Learning Songs are all enjoyable. I recommend !Buenos D�as! Spanish Learning Songs for kids ages 2 to 10, as well as the whole family. I give it 5 out of 5 stars for its exceptional music quality and the fascinating learning experience. It's available now, so look for it.

Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Suggested Retail Price

This title is available for purchase from WHISTLEFRITZ LLC

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR BUENOS DIAS! SPANISH LEARNING SONGS


COWBOY: A DOCUMENTARY PORTRAIT
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
1922 FILMS

Description:

An authentic, intimate depiction of the contemporary cowboy, COWBOYS: A DOCUMENTARY PORTRAIT straps audiences in the saddle alongside working men and women on some of today's largest and most remote cattle ranches in the American West. Told genuinely and reverently through first-hand accounts from cowboys in the deepest, most isolated parts of America, the timeless documentary illustrates not only the rewards of a cowboy's lifestyle but also the unvarnished hardships of a celebrated but misunderstood way of life.

Utilizing their extensive collective backgrounds, co-directors John Langmore (published ranch photographer and former working cowboy) and Bud Force (rodeo cowboy turned award-winning director/DP) provide an aesthetically mesmerizing, sure-handed look at how Western traditions have found a way to coexist with society's modern achievements.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like Cowboys: A Documentary Portrait because it held my interest and I learned a lot about cowboys that I didn't know before. I like learning about their lifestyle, their customs, traditions and habitat.

This movie documents how cowboys and their families live in some of the most isolated ranches in America and it teaches the audience about the cowboy lifestyle and duties. Being a cowboy is like any other profession, with the difference that it is not an easy job. A cowboy's job is mostly physical. They raise cows and bulls to make a living. They make lots of sacrifices like not being with their family, because they spend a lot of hours working. Even though cowboys work all year, they only get paid once or twice a year.

My favorite part is when a cowboy's young wife shares what it is like to be married to a cowboy. They live isolated and far away from town. It takes her nine hours to drive to town to go grocery shopping. She makes sure her two little children don't get injured, because even the hospital is far away. This movie was filmed at eight different ranches. The aerial shots showing the landscapes are amazing. This film documents the importance and value of being a cowboy, showing the audience how being a cowboy is a profession. It is not just the hat, the boots or riding a horse. It is more than that and it is not easy to be one. The background music is well selected. You should be aware that there are some gory scenes that are not suitable for smaller children.

The theme of this film is to see the cowboys for what they do, not for who they are. People only see their outfits and their horses; they think that's all they are. People don't see they are hard-working professionals that make sacrifices living in isolation, working long hours in the fields. Cowboys are a very important part of this country. Not everybody is born to be a cowboy.

I give Cowboys: A Documentary Portrait 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 plus adults. This film will be released November 17, 2020. Mark your calendar so you don't miss it!

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR COWBOY: A DOCUMENTARY PORTRAIT


DOUG UNPLUGS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
2-9

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 2-9 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
APPLE TV

Description:

Hailing from DreamWorks Animation and based on Dan Yaccarino's "Doug Unplugged" book series, "Doug Unplugs" follows a young robot named Doug who senses there's more to life than just the facts. While other robots plug in for their daily download, curious Doug unplugs and journeys into the human world, and with his best friend Emma, experiences its wonders firsthand. "Doug Unplugs" is executive produced by Jim Nolan, Aliki Theofilopoulos and Dan Yaccarino, and stars the voice talents of Brandon James Cienfuegos, Kyrie McAlpin, Eric Bauza, Mae Whitman, Leslie David Baker and Becky Robinson.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like the animated series Doug Unplugs because it blends fun and education. I like how vibrant the characters are and how I learn something new from each episode. Every episode also has music incorporated into it, which adds another fun element to the show.

Doug Unplugs is an AppleTV+ series about a six-year-old robot named Doug (Brandon James Cienfuegos) who unplugs to visit the human world to learn about things. He gets together with his best friend Emma (Kyrie Mcalpin), who teaches him about a bunch of stuff from her world--whether it's explaining what table tennis is or describing what people do at a beach. Doug is full of curiosity, while Emma is always excited about what she can show her friend next. They have a bunch of new experiences together and always seem to be having a good time.

My favorite character is Emma because she is super outgoing and gets excited about everything. She reminds me of myself, since I'm outgoing too. I also like how there are songs in the episodes. They mostly are upbeat songs that help you remember something special about the episode. Sometimes they get stuck in your head because they are pretty catchy. The animation of this series is full of color and is really cute. Brandon (who voices Doug) and Kyrie (who voices Emma) have perfect voices for their characters. They both have good energy, which makes you want to watch the next episode to see what adventure they will go on. If you like learning about things, you'll enjoy watching this series.

The message of the film is to always be curious about things and don't be afraid of trying something new. Just because you are unfamiliar with something doesn't mean you should be scared of it. You might learn something and have fun doing it. I know I was a little scared to try snow skiing, but once I tried it, I had so much fun--even thought I might have fallen a few times.

I give Doug Unplugs 5 out of 5 stars and recommend the series for ages 2 to 9, although adults will probably enjoy watching this series with their kids because they might learn something, too. Doug Unplugs is available now, so check it out on Apple TV+.

Reviewed by Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR DOUG UNPLUGS


COME AWAY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FESTIVAL
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
RELATIVITY MEDIA

Description:

Eight-year-old Alice (Keira Chansa), her mischievous brother Peter (Jordan A. Nash) and their brilliant older sibling David (Reece Yates) let their imaginations run wild one blissful summer in the English countryside. Encouraged by their parents Jack and Rose (David Oyelowo and Angelina Jolie), the kids' make-believe tea parties, sword fights and pirate ship adventures come to an abrupt end when tragedy strikes. Peter, eager to prove himself a hero to his grief-stricken and financially-struggling parents, journeys with Alice to London, where they try to sell a treasured heirloom to the sinister pawnshop owner known as C.J. (David Gyasi). Returning home, Alice seeks temporary refuge in a wondrous rabbit hole while Peter permanently escapes reality by entering a magical realm as leader of the "Lost Boys."

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Come Away is such a spectacular film. It has the elements of favorite childhood classics, but has a maturity to it as well. There are so many spectacular surprises, I definitely need a sequel.

This storyline follows the Littleton family, which serves as the origin story of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. After a tragedy occurs in the family, Rose and Jack (Angelina Jolie and David Oyelowo) fall apart and their young son Peter (Jordan A. Nash) and Alice (Keira Chansa) are left to pick up the pieces. There are cameos of classic villains such as the Queen of Hearts and Captain Hook. The film is narrated by Alice's older self (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).

This film keeps you on your toes at all times. There are so many references to other films about Peter and Alice that we watched as kids. Throughout the movie, we see images of Tinkerbell and of Alice's classic blue dress; we learn how Peter meets the lost boys. There are so many nostalgic moments served to you on a silver platter. From the signature phrases and costumes, to solving questions that we've had for years, it's a gem. The mystery of Peter Pan's shadow is solved! The family tree in Come Away is so brilliant and elaborate, tying up all the loose ends from the stories we've grown up with. Discovering that Peter and Alice are siblings is just the beginning. We see how they go their separate ways, with Peter on his way to Neverland and Alice heading down the rabbit hole. By the end of the film, we are left wanting a sequel, just wanting to know what actually happens to Peter and Alice after their happily ever-after.

The message of this film is imagination can always set you free. From the beginning to the end of the film, Peter uses his imagination to help him when the going gets tough. From watching the drawings on his desk come to life, to pretending to fight pirates, he always uses his imagination to escape reality. You should know that there are some behaviors that are not quite appropriate for younger audiences. Rose drowns her sorrows in alcohol and Alice finds the bottle and drinks from the same glass. However it appears that it's a shrinking potion. It depends on how the audience interprets the scene, as a minor drinking, or as an imagination gone wild.

I give Come Away 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. It is available nationwide and at home on VOD November 13, 2020

Reviewed by Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED COME AWAY


RAINBOW RANGERS: RANGERS TO THE RESCUE

Running Time:
88 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
4-12

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 4 - 12 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Seven girls live a rainbow ride away and whenever there's trouble, the Rangers zoom into action across the sky to save the day!

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Rainbow Rangers: Rangers To The Rescue is a perfect choice for kids who like adventure and friendship. All the episodes present real problems that the Rainbow Rangers have to solve. This is a good way to show young viewers how to problem solve. The characters are always working together and demonstrate how working together gets things done much quicker.

In the seven different episodes there are different problems on Earth that the Rangers go down and help solve. While doing that they teach important life lessons.

My favorite part out of all of the episodes is when Floof makes an entrance into the main space. It shows that they, even when working to solve problems, the Rangers still have fun and are relaxed about things.

The voice actors in this series are terrific, making sure you know what emotions the characters are feeling though their voice talent. I especially like the voice of Kalia which is played by Phillipia Alexander. Her performance stands out because she makes her tone motherly when she talks with the Rangers and always sounds worried when telling them about the horrible problems taking place. I also like Dan Russell's voice-acting as Preston Praxton, especially when his character sounds indifferent. I love the animation and the storylines also. They make the show. One of the things that jumped out to me in this show is what how the animation makes making the movements of the characters look so natural and how they take positions that real people would stand in, rather than stand straight upright. By mimicking human stances, the characters feel more lifelike.

The message of this series is about teamwork and how you can get a lot more done and do a much better job at something if you have work together with your peers. In all of the episodes teamwork is a prominent part.

I give Rainbow Rangers: Rangers To The Rescue 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 7. Reviewed by Julie S. and Lorelei T.

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like the Rainbow Rangers, Rangers to the Rescue! DVD because it is an educational and fun animation show, for mostly a girl audience, but boys can enjoy it too.

This DVD is about seven girls who are named Rainbow Rangers. They have colorful hair and space type outfits. Each one of these girls is unique. They each have their own personalities and powers. They live in a place named Kaleidoscopia. The Rangers have wristbands that ring when they are needed. Whenever there is trouble for people or animals on Earth, the Rangers ride a rainbow in their space-type scooters and go to their rescue. They have a unicorn named Floof as a pet that helps them too. This DVD includes eight very exciting episodes filled with adventures. Each episode is approximately eleven minutes long.

My favorite episode is "Bee Safe," because it is about a mama elephant and her two baby elephants crashing into a farm, looking for food to feed her babies. The Rangers come to rescue their friend's, Milika, farm. One of the Rangers finds out the mama elephant is afraid of bees so the Rangers use their powers to protect the farm by constructing small bee houses and placing them in front of Milika's farm. They tie them all together so the mama elephant will trip on them and all the bees will come out and scare the elephants away. Also, the Rangers find a food source for the elephants so Milika's farm will be safe from the elephants. This show's animation is digital, which makes it very neat. The graphics are colorful and bright. The theme song is appealing and very catchy. The voiceovers for each character are great.

Each episode's storyline promotes the idea of "team work makes the dream work." All seven Rangers help those who are in need. Each one has their own powers, but when work together they are stronger and their job is made much easier.

I give Rainbow Rangers, Rangers to the Rescue! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 4 to 18 plus adults. Even though this animation show is mostly for girls, boys will enjoy it as well. This DVD is available now so look for it.

By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I love Rainbow Rangers, Rangers to the Rescue! so much!! It made me smile and laugh the whole time. I kept on watching until there were no more episodes left and watched it again. I am sure this DVD will become every little girl's favorite one!!

This DVD is about a group of girls and little cute boy unicorn saving the world!! There are seven main characters, each with different strengths. And there are seven episodes. These girls face challenge issues in each episode and have to use their power to make each other stronger to solve problems.

The characters include Rosie Redd, Mandarin Orange, Anna Banana and there are many more. They are as adorable as much as their names. My favorite character is Fluff, the magical unicorn. He can magically present yummy treats and share them with his friends. In addition, his hair is awesome like a rainbow. The director Rob Minkoff and the writer Shane Morris have created a unique story as ell as characters. The bright and vivid colors keep your eye on the story every second. And their costumes are just so cute. The main song perfectly matches the characters and stories. It is hard to let it go after hearing a few times.

The message is of this film is to be kind to others, then others will be kind to you. The Rangers all help each other, make each other more powerful and always care about others.

I give Rainbow Rangers, Rangers to the Rescue! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 10. It is available now on DVD so look for it.

By Alexis J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Epic! I recommend the DVD Rainbow Rangers: Ranges to the Rescue! because it shows how important is to help others and work as a team. What I like best is how all the girls are adventurous, have different powers and work together to solve problems.

This DVD is a compilation of episodes from the TV show Rainbow Rangers. It follows the Rainbow Rangers who live in Kaleidoscopia. They protect nature and the land. Each of the eight girls has different powers. Their home is full of unicorns, trolls and other creatures that they value greatly. The Rainbow Rangers show up to help wherever they are needed. They are strong, kind, thought and smart leaders. The show is full of unexpected circumstances that the Rainbow Rangers are ready to assist and get things back on track.

Mandy Orange is my favorite Ranger because she always finds a way to keep things positive. I love how the girls solve problems. Rainbow Rangers is full of girl power. The cinematography and special effects are extraordinary. The production uses vibrant colors and engaging attributes in the characters, down to their costuming. What makes this show stand out is how it empowers girls with very different appearances. I like that the show is inclusive of all types of girls and characters. My favorite part is when the girls fly off to an adventure to protect the creatures, people and the land of Kaleidoscopia.

The message of the show is to always be considerate and help others.

I give the DVD Rainbow Rangers: Ranges to the Rescue 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8. This DVD is available now, so look for it.

Reviewed by Bailey Rae F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR RAINBOW RANGERS: RANGERS TO THE RESCUE


FISHBOWL
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
14-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 14-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
101 STUDIOS

Description:

In a small town filled with secrets, three sisters are forced to cling to each other as they cope with loss and a father who's growing increasingly obsessed with the rapture he thinks is coming.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I found Fishbowl super interesting. There's a lot to discuss about the themes and presentation.

The story follows three sisters, Belle, Rachel and Jessa, as they struggle to cope with recent trauma in a small town. Meanwhile, their father grows more paranoid over the end of the world.

It's important to mention that this film is heavily about religion. What sparks the father's paranoia is a televangelist claiming he can save people from Judgment Day. As a result, the father becomes obsessive and borderline abusive. I really like how this film comments on religious figures taking advantage of those who are struggling. It's a topic I don't see discussed that often, and I think it's well handled here. Because on the one hand, you feel bad for their father, Rick, as he's dealing with trauma just like his daughters. However as the film goes on, he begins to spiral out of control, and becomes more and more unlikeable. Despite that, you understand his downward spiral isn't entirely his fault. It's an intriguing character arc, and a great way of showing how religion changes people. Humans are fragile and flawed and need direction, but which way should they go?

I also really like the acting in this film. The daughters give incredibly emotional and compelling performances, but I want to give special mention to Caroline Coleman, aka Jessa. She has no lines of dialogue, but her acting is really emotional and I really felt her pain. This is her first film and I sense a great future ahead.

However, while I think this aspect of the film is handled well, there are many scenes that don't really seem to have a purpose other than to make you uncomfortable. I don't inherently have a problem with a movie trying to make me feel uncomfortable, if there is a reason for it. But, I couldn't really figure out what the reasons were for those scenes. So take this as a warning that some scenes might be upsetting.

The presentation of this film is pretty great. I like the dull, somber tone of the movie, and the lack of music. This movie also utilizes a lot of flashbacks as a way to get a better understanding of the sisters' mother. I like how the events that led to this story aren't entirely clear, and they let you figure out what's happening through context clues and parallels. I think it makes the character arcs, along with the ending, much more impactful.

I rate Fishbowl 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, as this film can be quite dark. It is available now on Amazon and other VOD platforms, so look for it.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED FISHBOWL


WAY I SEE IT, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: EDUC/INSTR (Educational/Instructional)
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
FOCUS FEATURES

Description:

Former Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza's journey as a person with top secret clearance and total access to the President.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

I love this documentary. Dawn Porter knocks it out of the park once again with her insightful showcase of the talented Pete Souza's photojournalism work. The behind the scenes shots of Obama, from the time he was a new senator in DC to his 8 year term as President of the USA, you see the humanness of this man. You see him as a husband, father and friend. You see how much he cared for his country, how deeply he felt the responsibilities of the Presidency. Some of the photos were familiar to me, many were not. The shot of the young black kid touching Obama's hair is one that sticks in my mind forever. The idea that he would bend over so this young boy could feel his hair and know that it was the same as his own - who does that? What world leader does that? Only Obama. When he goes to the Baptist church to the funeral of those that were murdered and begins to sing Amazing Grace, I almost lost it. I have seen clips of this before, but somehow Porter's documentary shows it to us in a new wry. Yes, I love him, and cherish the precious years that he was our President. Here's hoping that we will again experience such civility in our government and soon. Reviewed by Julie S., KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The sensational director, Dawn Porter, did it again with another entertaining and powerful documentary, The Way I See It! Porter is a genius at creating films based on inspiring images of her subjects and letting the pictures tell the story. The timing of this film is perfect because of upcoming Presidential elections and how it shows historic moments in the lives of past respectable Presidents through photos from the eyes of official White House photographer Pete Souza.

The Way I See It is a documentary based on Souza's New York Times #1 bestsellers, Obama: An Intimate Portrait and Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents. It gives an inside look of two powerful Presidents in U.S. history, Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, through photographs taken by Pete Souza. It tells the story through clips from interviews and unique photos and shows the responsibilities of being the person holding the most powerful position on Earth.

Pete Souza was able to get an "up close and personal" look at monumental and intimate moments of former President Barack Obama and President Ronald Reagan during their terms. The setting of the film is at the White House. The scenes are very realistic because they are based on factual events. The documentary includes heartwarming clips and moments such as when these Presidents gave their speeches while running for office, their lives outside of being Presidents and just having fun. The music in this film really helps drive the story.

I love that The Way I See It did not feel like just a documentary meant to show how America is in the state it is in now. The message of the film is that we have to look at our past to understand how we get to a certain place in life. While the film doesn't really talk about President Trump, it shows that our country was in a better place before he became President. I rate The Way I See It 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults that like documentaries and history will also love this film. You can find this film in theaters September 18, 2020 and premiering on MSNBC October 9, 2020.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR WAY I SEE IT, THE


TRUE ADVENTURES OF WOLFBOY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
VERTICAL ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Paul lives an isolated life with his father in upstate New York. He finds making friends impossible due to a rare condition he has known as congenital hypertrichosis - an affliction that causes an abnormal amount of hair growth all over his face and body. On his 13th birthday, Paul receives a mysterious gift that compels him to run away and seek out the mother he has never known.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Is it a full moon outside? Because today I am howling that you need to check out The True Adventures of Wolfboy! This film is one big emotional journey that is extremely important for every young adult to see. Some movies might have a few lessons here and there, but this film is one big lesson. It might seem like a normal movie, but actually there is much more in the big picture. The film addresses many lessons or morals plus it has outstanding acting and amazing costume and makeup designs.

The True Adventures of Wolfboy follows a 13-ear-old boy named Paul (Jaeden Martell) who suffers from hypertrichosis. This disease makes it so you have abnormal hair growth around your body. For Paul, growing up, he ends up being called a version of a werewolf or dog. Of course, no one ever wants this to happen to themself, so it makes it extremely hard for Paul. One day, he receives a gift from his estranged mother, telling him to come find her because she has an explanation for everything. This leads Paul to go on a journey, not just a physical journey, but an emotional journey of self-acceptance.

As you can imagine, it must take a lot of makeup to make someone look like a wolf boy so naturally, the makeup department's work to make Jaeden Martell look like a wolf boy is extraordinary. Another great aspect of this film is the acting. John Turturro's portrayal of Mr. Silk is especially astounding, because he makes his character stand out and appear so authentic that you will remember his character long after the credits roll.

The True Adventures of Wolfboy includes some profanity, including one F-word, some under-age drinking, bullying and mild-violence. However, the movie is one very big lesson teaching viewers to be comfortable in your own skin. No matter what you think, you are amazing - plain and simple. Any differences you have just make you special and you should embrace them. This movie is a must-see for anyone who is struggling with themselves, because it helps you come to grips with who you are and reminds you how amazing you truly are.

I am howling that my rating for The True Adventures of Wolfboy is 5 out of 5 stars because of the emotional journey the film takes you on and because of the life-changing morals and theme. I recommend The True Adventures of Wolfboy for ages 12-18, plus adults, because of the language and sensitive topics. You can find The True Adventures of Wolfboy on digital on October 30, 2020.

Reviewed by Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR TRUE ADVENTURES OF WOLFBOY


ONCE UPON A SNOWMAN

Running Time:
8 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-18

Category: FAMILY
SHORT, AGES 5 - 18 series

Media:
VIDEO

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

Olaf's first steps as he comes to life and searches for his identity in the snowy mountains outside Arendelle.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

This is just the comedic break from reality that I needed. Once Upon a Snowman is an entertaining short film about the origins of Olaf from the Frozen films that tickles the nonsensical humor in me.

From "I'm having a bit of a crisis of identity, I think" to "That's very generous, fuzzy man bear," Olaf surely has a lovable personality and we see in eight minutes how Olaf, our favorite snowman, came to exist. I love how Olaf manages to keep his spirits up even when he has no idea who he is, what his name should be or what should become his nose - a flag? paddle? carrot? The best part is at the most troublesome moment of the entire film when he yells "Use the buddy system" to the separated parts of his body while being chased by a predator.

It's people, or might I say snowmen, like Olaf from whom we should learn how to deal with adversity. Olaf just goes for things without hesitating. He doesn't sit around and wait for his problems to be solved for him. He looks at himself in the mirror and asks if he is a "Trevor." He tests out a sausage as a nose and when all of it fails, he just keeps trying until he gets the answers he needs. We may not have to worry about the same problems as Olaf, but we can learn from his behavior. There is always a solution to every problem. We just have to go out and find it. This film also dives into how Olaf may be a snowman, but is warm at heart. People may seem cold as ice on the outside, but if you get to know them like we get to know Olaf, you may realize that they are not all that they seemed. They may become a good friend, but you won't know until you look past their outer demeanor. Olaf is the kind of snowman who helps those in despair and makes new friends along the way, whether it's a human or a wolf.

I rate Once Upon a Snowman 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12, and older. You can stream it on Disney+ now.

Reviewed by Anokhi L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 18

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Like most Disney animated shorts, Once Upon a Snowman is fun, colorful and full of all your favorite Frozen characters. It's full of comedy, discovery, nostalgia, lots of snow and of course....magic!

In the new eight minute long Disney+ animated short Once Upon a Snowman, we get to see the previously unseen and untold origins of everyone's magical and warm-hug loving snowman, Olaf. This film offers a behind-the-scenes adventure from the moment Olaf is brought to life by Elsa as she makes her way up the Arendale mountains to build her ice fortress singing "Let it Go," and then follows Olaf as he begins to discover who and what he is. In just a small amount of time, we get a really fun, behind-the-scenes look at some of our favorite scenes of the original movie, as seen from Olaf's point of view and through his wanderings around the frozen forest of Arendale. It is really fun to see iconic scenes with some of the other characters, seen from Olaf's point of view, and finally we learn how and why he loves summer so much!

The message of this film is to always ask questions and be friendly with everyone you meet, because you never know what answers they will give you and what sort of friendship could evolve, just from saying, "Hello."

If you love the Frozen movies and the Frozen animated shorts, then you'll love Once Upon a Snowman. I give Frozen 5 out of 5 snowflakes (y'know, because it's about Olaf) and recommend it for ages 5 to18, plus adults, as well as Disney fans, will absolutely love it too. Once Upon a Snowman debuts on Disney+ on Oct 23, 2020. Don't miss it.

Reviewed by Lindalee R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR ONCE UPON A SNOWMAN


OCTONAUTS: OPERATION DEEP FREEZE

Running Time:
70 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

The Octonauts are a team of adventurers who explore the worlds oceans, rescue aquatic creatures and protect their habitats - from the bustling eco-system along the Amazon River to the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

The Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze's characters and stories are cute. The DVD's educational Arctic theme flows throughout every episode, giving you the option to enjoy all 66 minutes at once or to split up them up to view only one episode at a time if you want to limit screen time.

The Octonauts, Captain Barnacles, Kwazii, Peso and crew, travel to the Antarctic to respond to a call for help. In each of the five episodes the team encounters a dilemma under the ocean or in the environment near the water. The Octonauts work together to come up with a plan and quickly put it into action. Always upbeat and never too scary, they face challenges and overcome them as a team.

The animated characters have unique voices and depict various animal types. The main characters include a polar bear, a cat and penguin. While there are a variety of animals, they all have the same black eyes and most of the background landscapes are flat. For example, the clouds don't move in the sky. The colorful characters, their movement and the music would likely keep children engaged enough that the backgrounds are not particularly important.

The Octonauts vow to explore, rescue and protect. Each episode provides a few educational points and talks about protecting wild life and the environment in terms younger viewers can easily understand. In this DVD you learn about penguins, the Arctic vs. Antarctic and fossils (to name a few).

The message of teamwork is woven into each episode and every character has its own skillset that is valuable to the team, further depicting uniqueness. The Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze has no violence, profanity or bias present.

I give Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 7. It is available on DVD now so look for it.

Reviewed by Angela G, KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze, like so many of their other DVDs, is so enjoyable! It has the cutest animation that has a near stop-motion look and fun adventures.

The Octonuats are a group of animals that explore, rescue and protect. On this thrilling DVD, we join the Octonauts on their numerous exciting adventures to the Arctic and Antarctic (yes, there is a difference). And for those that have watched previous episodes, this DVD introduces some new characters. There are five episodes in this DVD, each running about 13 minutes and include Operation Deep Freeze, Walrus Pups, Emperor Penguins, Coelacanth and Hidden Lake.

Octonauts once again never fail to keep people entertained. There is something new to learn for everyone. The animation is very high quality, yet simple, and always has a new landscape to see, even if it is just snow and water. The voice cast includes Simon Greenall, who plays Captain Barnacles, the leader of the Octonauts, who also happens to be a polar bear and really nails the leader-type voice. Rob Rackstraw plays Kwazii, the adventurous pirate cat, and has a splendid "piratey" voice. Paul Panting plays Peso, the expert penguin medic, and does a perfect shy but kind voice. My favorite episode is Hidden Lake because I had no idea that red lakes existed, let alone that anything lives in them!

There are many positive messages throughout the DVD, including helping others, protecting the ecosystem and the importance of teamwork. Younger children should keep in mind that they should not be interacting with wild animals in real life. However, this show might inspire them to be a vet or animal researcher.

I give Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8. Adults will think that the DVD is fun and probably learn as much about different animals as their kids will. This DVD is available now, so look for it.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze is a superb, educational DVD that will capture your attention for its entire duration. The intricately-designed characters (both their personalities and outward look) and the unique storylines are wondrous!

This 66-minute DVD follows a team of sea-adventurers (Captain Barnacles the daredevil polar bear, a friendly ex-pirate named Kwazii the cat, a medic: Peso the penguin and others), as they embark upon an expedition to Antarctica to help out marine life. They prevent a group of penguins from falling into an ice chasm, rescue walrus pups with the Captain's niece and nephew, and discover some microscopic creatures under a hidden lake.

I have a bit of a history with the show Octonauts; I loved it when I was younger and, to be totally honest, still have a soft corner for the super awesome animated animals. Specifically two: the resourceful and level-headed Captain Barnacles who is voiced by the highly talented Simon Greenall; he's one of my favorite voice actors. And, of course the scaredy-cat Peso who is the first to show vulnerability, but is one of the most resilient characters in the show. He's played by Wayne Grayson. Also, the animation is absolutely spectacular; the deep colors and super cutely designed characters will surely catch your eye. Overall, it's a beautifully executed show!

Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze promotes messages of teamwork, helping others, perseverance and resourcefulness. It's an uplifting DVD that will surely put a smile on your face.

I give Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze 4.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 4 to 6. Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze is available now on DVD! Look for it!

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED OCTONAUTS: OPERATION DEEP FREEZE


CLOUDS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
13-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 13-18 series

Media:
Web Series

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

Young musician Zach Sobiech discovers his cancer has spread, leaving him just a few months to live. With limited time, he follows his dream and makes an album, unaware that it will soon be a viral music phenomenon.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Clouds is an inspirational story that helps the viewers to realize the value of our time. Not only is the message beautiful, but the cinematography is beautiful, as well. It is a powerful film that will make you reach for tissues.

The film is based around the true life story of Zach Sobeich. Zach was a high schooler diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of cancer, and told that he had less than a year to live. Instead of giving up on the rest of his life, he decided to make the most of it. He started to write music and set up the band A Firm Handshake. He wrote the song Clouds, which was a viral hit on song charts in countries around the world. Zach Sobiech inspires others to do the same as he: make the most of life. In the film, Zach Sobiech (Fin Argus) tells viewers that you don't have to be told you are dying in order to start living.

Zach Sobiech's best friend Sammy, is played by Sabrina Carpenter, an exceptional actress who draws the audience into the emotional scenes. The family members of Zack Sobiech, such as the mother Laura Sobiech (Neve Campbell), the father Rob Sobiech (Tom Everett Scott) and the sisters Alli and Grace (Vivien Douglass and Summer Howell), are all exceptional actors as well. You can see how much they care for Zach Sobiech, how much they love him, and how badly they want him to live. The intense emotions they are able to convey is what brings the audience to tears.

The strategic cinematography by Ben Kutchins also brings the audience into the scenes and makes them feel as if they are right there, in the moment, with the characters. The strong performances of the actors combined with the excellent cinematography helps to deliver the message of the story right into the viewer's hearts. My favorite scene is when the story comes full circle while Zach is performing for his audience. They sing his own song back to him, just like he dreamed. At that moment, I felt really proud of him, and I felt his happiness.

The message of this film is to start going after your dreams now. Zach said that teens mistakenly feel invincible, and we always say that we'll start working towards our dreams tomorrow. Zach's story proves that life is a gift, and we have the power in our hands to make the most of it. With time, we can do anything we want, achieve anything we want, and be anything we want. We just need to take advantage of that power.

I rate Clouds 5 out of 5 stars. I really loved it, and I think that everyone else will too, even adults. I recommend it for ages 13 to 18. You should definitely go watch it now! Clouds is streaming on Disney+!

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR CLOUDS


HONEST THIEF
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
OPEN ROAD PRODUCTIONS

Description:

They call him the In-and-Out-Bandit because meticulous thief Tom Carter (Liam Neeson) has stolen $9 million from small-town banks while managing to keep his identity a secret. But after he falls in love with the bubbly Annie (Kate Walsh), Tom decides to make a fresh start by coming clean about his criminal past, only to be double-crossed by two ruthless FBI agents.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Honest Thief is the "average Joe" of current film releases. It's a movie with very few characteristics that make it stand out from other action/drama. In the film, Tom Carter (Liam Neeson) tries to give up $9 million in stolen money to live an honest life with the woman he loves. But as he attempts to turn himself in, two corrupt Feds, Ramon (Anthony Ramos) and John (Jai Courtney) take advantage of the stolen money. Now he must clear his name for a murder he never committed all in the name of love.

I feel like I have watched Honest Thief many times before. Many action/drama films have the same feel to the plot, action and dialogue - and the writing here feels a bit lazy. It is as if Honest Thief cut and pasted elements from clich� lines from classic action films and put them into scenes that were supposed to be suspenseful and dramatic. I have heard the lines "I am coming for you" in too many films to count, and the effect of using these lines too much is disappointing.

I like that Honest Thief is fast-paced and scenes don't drag out. There are "good old" car chases, people being knocked out and being swung around like ragdolls. The use of comedy is sparse and feels thrown in the movie for the sake of comedic relief. Honest Thief is serious in tone so the comedy feels awkward and out of place, especially since there is so little of it.

I can usually enjoy any kind of film for what it is, but something rubbed me the wrong way about the character of Annie (Kate Walsh), Tom's wife. Her role, even her designation as a grad student, feels instrumental only for the progression of Tom's character. Tom believes he can turn himself in, delete his past, and that Annie will stay with him even after finding he's a professional bank robber. I am disappointed in the stereotypical and outdated use of women as the motivation for everything a man does --as well as not happy with the lack of female representation here. If we use the Bechdel test for female representation and ask, "Does the film have two named female characters that talk to each other about something other than men?" Unfortunately Honest Thief fails this test.

This film has action, violence and some strong language. I am able to empathize with Ramon as he struggles about whether to go along with John and steal the money for the future or do what is morally right. Even in Tom's case, as we learn about his motivation for robbing banks, we realize that not everyone is what they seem at surface level and good people can do bad things.

I give Honest Thief 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 12 to 18. Honest Thief released in theatres on October 16, 2020.

Reviewed by Anokhi L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

 

KIDS FIRST QUALIFIED ENDORSEMENT HONEST THIEF


COME PLAY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
FOCUS FEATURES

Description:

A long-limbed monster named Larry targets Oliver, a non-verbal autistic young boy along with his family and friends as well as other victims by manifesting through their smart phones, computers, television screens and other mobile devices.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Come Play will surely give you the chills! This Halloween-release horror film incredibly realistic CGI, sonorous and somber soundtrack and superb performances make this an enjoyable watch. I'll get into more about the production quality very soon, but first: the plot!

Come Play follows Oliver (Azhy Robertson), an elementary school student with autism. He's a little lonely because he's different from everyone else, and so when he finds an ebook which promises friendship, he's eager to read it from cover to cover. But in the book lies Oliver's worst nightmare: Larry, a monster who wants Oliver so badly that he's willing to break through Oliver's devices into his world just to take him away.

The production quality of this film is incredibly high. Jacob Chase, director and writer of Come Play, has written a spine-tingling script and puts forth his impeccable skills of direction in this film. David J Bomba, the production designer, meticulously designed each scene; his handiwork is magnificent. And Roque Banos, to whom the musical credits go, provides just the right low-pitched, deep soundtrack that completes the overall package of this horror indie film.

As far as the acting in this film is concerned, all of the performances are absolutely amazing! Azhy Robertson's portrayal of Oliver is perfectly toned and well-acted; it is quite realistic and is unlike most representations. I also love Gillian Jacobs' performance as Oliver's mother, Sarah. She's supremely talented at emoting and her delivery is impeccable. Playing a mother is difficult; striking up the right emotions is a challenge, and it's a great achievement to convincingly portray one. Absolutely awesome!

This film promotes friendship and staying beside one another through tough times, just like Byron (Winslow Fegley) and Oliver do. There are some things that parents need to look out for. Because of Oliver's autism, he can be a bit standoffish and aloof and hits some of his friends at times. Oliver's mom and dad fight frequently, and insecurity about parenting is brought up. In general, the subject matter of this film (horror, autism and bullying) is intended for slightly more mature audiences.

I give Come Play 4.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Adults may enjoy this film as well. Come Play releases in theatres on October 30, 2020.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Grab some pillows and blankets to hide behind because today we are talking about the new terrifying film, Come Play! Come Play has brilliant jump scares flying at you left and right, and tons of scary scenes that will make you jump in odd ways. The suspense of the movie continually puts you on the edge of your seat dying to find out what happens next. Come Play provides an authentic plot. Quite frankly, I have never seen anything like Come Play, which makes it even more entertaining to watch.

Come Play follows a young boy named Oliver (Azhy Robertson) who is on the autistic spectrum and, unfortunately, cannot verbalize for himself. Instead, Oliver uses his phone or tablet to communicate. However, one night his phone starts talking to him. In the middle of the night, Oliver's phone randomly gets stuck on a book called "Misunderstood Monsters," and Oliver learns of a monster named Larry, who just wants a friend. Soon Oliver learns Larry's true potential and he and his family must escape the curse of this devilish monster.

The most compelling characteristic that makes Come Play so entertaining is the writing. The writing is superb. It is written in a strange and clandestine way, so it doesn't scare you in the predictable ways you might anticipate. Come Play is extremely impressive with its horror approach. The writers create angst and scare you with just two innocent people walking down the sidewalk, and not with a huge creepy monster. This movie's electrical effects are extremely important because of the electrical connection Larry has. The lighting effects in this film are exceptional. They definitely make the movie even creepier.

Come Play is a horror movie. I recommend it especially if this is your first experience viewing this film genre, because it is scary, but in a fun and entertaining way. Besides the typical jump scares, the movie also provides a different type of horror - bullying. Bullying is shown quite a lot in the first half of the movie and may not set the best example for children watching. Important lessons are communicated in this film, particularly the importance of friendship and family.

Similar to when the jump scares made me scream, I am screaming now that my rating for Come Play is 5 out of 5 stars. It has amazing writing and electrical effects. I recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults, because of the frightening scenes and language. You can find Come Play in theaters October 30, 2020.

By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED COME PLAY


NASRIN
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
15-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 16-18 series

Media:
Web Series

Distributor:
VIRGIL FILMS & ENTERTIAINMENT

Description:

Secretly filmed in Iran for over two years, NASRIN is an immersive portrait of human rights activist and political prisoner Nasrin Sotoudeh and Iran's remarkably resilient women's rights movement. Nasrin has long fought for the rights of women, children, LGBT prisoners, religious minorities, journalists and artists, and those facing the death penalty. She was arrested in 2018 for representing women who protested Iran's mandatory hijab law and sentenced to 38 years in prison, plus 148 lashes. Narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Olivia Colman and featuring acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, journalist Ann Curry, exiled women's rights activist Mansoureh Shojaee, and Nasrin Sotoudeh. With an original song by Tony Award-winning composers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty with lyrics based on Nasrin's letters from prison to her children; performed by 4-time Grammy winner, Ang�lique Kidjo.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Nasrin is an eye opener and really puts life into perspective! This documentary makes you want to jump off your couch and live your life. By the end of it, you'll feel so appreciative of liberties we take for granted.

This film is held together by first-hand video footage, calls and interviews with Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian lawyer and human rights activist. The videos have time jumps, from 2006/2008 to more recent ones from 2016/2017. The majority of the movie is in Persian with English subtitles. Nasrin's letters are translated to English, narrated by Olivia Colman. The film also includes interviews with Nasrin's friends and family. The cinematographers keep their identities hidden, filming Nasrin in secret, as to not be persecuted.

The film really shows Nasrin's bravery. Videos of her talking on the phone about her cases show how passionate she is about her job. We see her not only as a lawyer, but as a mother and an activist. The highlight of this documentary is when Nasrin goes to protests and stands up for human rights. At the end of the movie, Nasrin's husband states how she will go to prison for the second time as a political prisoner. Her sentence is thirty four years and one hundred and forty eight lashes. We see people worldwide protesting her sentence, from Ireland, Turkey, Spain and the United States. Her sentence was reduced to twelve years and seventy four lashes. Iranian citizens still fight for her freedom.

The lesson to be learned from this film is to always fight for what you believe in. Nasrin fought for her clients as a lawyer and continues to fight for change in her country. She has defied boundaries by refusing to abide by the Iranian dress code and to participate in sit-in protests.

I give Nasrin 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 16 to 18, plus adults. It premieres at Doc NYC November 11, 2020.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR NASRIN


CASAGRANDES, THE: FAILS FROM THE CRYPT/BAD CLUCK
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
NICKELODEON

Description:

With All In: The Fight For Democracy, documentarians Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes weave a compelling account of the history of voting rights in the U.S, a long, winding path through many of the most pivotal moments and movements of the past--through triumph and tragedy--bound to infuriate audiences just as much as it'll invigorate them. The story of voting rights in this country is not brief, nor simple. The movie opens with a primer on Georgia's 2018 gubernatorial election between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp. From there, the film documents the vast journey from the dawn of our nation when the only people who could vote were white, male landowners to where we are today, with voting rights for all citizens over 18. It's remarkable just how much Garbus and Cortes are able to encompass within the film from Reconstruction and Jim Crow segregationist practices, and the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, up to the present day. The pacing is impressive and gives the viewer a lot to take in and take away from the film, but the film is never overwhelming in its scope or ambition. Garbus and Cortes even include footage as recent as the Wisconsin primary depicting voters donning facemasks at the polls. It's slightly surreal to see a story being told that is so heavily informed by the headlines of today. The film's most engaging perspective comes not from that of a voter, but a politician in that of Stacey Abrams. Her point of view anchors the film as living proof of the consequences of voter suppression. The importance of voting demonstrated throughout gives urgency to All In, and I commend the editing, considering how much the situation surrounding voter suppression and the fight for voting rights was still developing in the months leading up to the film's release. All In: The Fight For Democracy affirms the power of one's vote and shows how much traction has been gained in establishing wider voting rights. The film also demonstrates the degree to which the ever-present threat of voter suppression has grown and the ways in which it plagues the elections of today, illustrated by the gubernatorial race between Abrams and Kemp. Michael Waldman utters a sentence early on in the film that encapsulates nicely the film's thesis: "History is never a straight line, it's always a fight." History repeats itself just as often as it progresses and that notion is crystallized within this film at various points where the film jumps back in time to show how the past has informed the present. All In closes with a crystal-clear message to go vote. An acute reminder that All In can't close the door on its story precisely because the fight referred to in the film's title is still ongoing. Much work has been done in the realm of voting rights, but much more still remains to be done-- the film doesn't lose sight of that. I give All In: The Fight For Democracy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 for some brief violent images from newsreels and archives. This is timely, illuminating documentary filmmaking covering a pressing issue and definitely a must-see, not just for the information it contains, but the skill with which it's presented. All In: The Fight For Democracy is available to Amazon Prime subscribers starting September 18, 2020.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Casagrandes is just the show to get you into the Halloween spirit! Its spooky new episodes, "Fails from the Crypt" and "Bad Cluck" bring chills and frights to anyone watching. It's a great family fun adventure.

Casagrandes follows the Mexican/American family the Casagrandes on their wild journeys and is a spinoff on the Nickelodeon show The Loud House. Season two kicks off with "Fails from the Crypt" where Ronnie Anne (Izabella Alvarez) and her friends try to break a local record for staying in the cemetery overnight. They try everything in their power to not be scared, and the challenge is harder than it seems In "Bad Cluck" a spirit chicken appears and haunts the family. The Casagrandes band together to get the ghost out of their home.

Definitely the best parts of these episodes are the crazy twists and turns, with some surprises. I found "Bad Cluck" to be less exciting than "Fails from the Crypt." The topic was not as funny. "Fails from the Crypt" is perfect for the spooky season, and really brings out all things Halloween. The tone is dark and freaky, like a graveyard, which is wonderful.

Throughout both episodes, the Casagrandes family comes together and faces many issues they have as a family. There a little bit of haunting that might be fearful for children under the age of 10.

I give Casagrandes "Fails from the Crypt & Bad Cluck" 4 out of 5 stars and recommend these episodes for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It is available October 9, 2020 only on Nickelodeon.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED CASAGRANDES, THE: FAILS FROM THE CRYPT/BAD CLUCK


ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCARACY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON STUDIOS

Description:

The documentary takes a look at the history, and current activism against voter suppression; barriers to voting that most people don't even know is a threat to their basic rights as citizens of the United States.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

With All In: The Fight For Democracy, documentarians Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes weave a compelling account of the history of voting rights in the U.S, a long, winding path through many of the most pivotal moments and movements of the past--through triumph and tragedy--bound to infuriate audiences just as much as it'll invigorate them.

The story of voting rights in this country is not brief, nor simple. The movie opens with a primer on Georgia's 2018 gubernatorial election between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp. From there, the film documents the vast journey from the dawn of our nation when the only people who could vote were white, male landowners to where we are today, with voting rights for all citizens over 18.

It's remarkable just how much Garbus and Cortes are able to encompass within the film from Reconstruction and Jim Crow segregationist practices, and the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, up to the present day. The pacing is impressive and gives the viewer a lot to take in and take away from the film, but the film is never overwhelming in its scope or ambition. Garbus and Cortes even include footage as recent as the Wisconsin primary depicting voters donning facemasks at the polls. It's slightly surreal to see a story being told that is so heavily informed by the headlines of today. The film's most engaging perspective comes not from that of a voter, but a politician in that of Stacey Abrams. Her point of view anchors the film as living proof of the consequences of voter suppression. The importance of voting demonstrated throughout gives urgency to All In, and I commend the editing, considering how much the situation surrounding voter suppression and the fight for voting rights was still developing in the months leading up to the film's release.

All In: The Fight For Democracy affirms the power of one's vote and shows how much traction has been gained in establishing wider voting rights. The film also demonstrates the degree to which the ever-present threat of voter suppression has grown and the ways in which it plagues the elections of today, illustrated by the gubernatorial race between Abrams and Kemp. Michael Waldman utters a sentence early on in the film that encapsulates nicely the film's thesis: "History is never a straight line, it's always a fight." History repeats itself just as often as it progresses and that notion is crystallized within this film at various points where the film jumps back in time to show how the past has informed the present. All In closes with a crystal-clear message to go vote. An acute reminder that All In can't close the door on its story precisely because the fight referred to in the film's title is still ongoing. Much work has been done in the realm of voting rights, but much more still remains to be done-- the film doesn't lose sight of that.

I give All In: The Fight For Democracy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 for some brief violent images from newsreels and archives. This is timely, illuminating documentary filmmaking covering a pressing issue and definitely a must-see, not just for the information it contains, but the skill with which it's presented. All In: The Fight For Democracy is available to Amazon Prime subscribers starting September 18, 2020.

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCARACY


WITCHES, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
HBO MAX

Description:

Based on Roald Dahl's 1983 classic book 'The Witches', the story tells the scary, funny and imaginative tale of a seven year old boy who has a run in with some real life witches!

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Witches is probably my favorite film of the year. Is not just beautiful; it is captivating, intriguing, perfectly scary, pure cinematic joy!

The Witches is a fantastic tale that grabs you from the very beginning. It is the story of a seven-year-old orphan boy that discover that witches are real! They hate kids and turn them into mice. I don't want to tell too much about the story, which is already well known. It is based on Roald Dahl's 1983 classic book by the same name. Since I haven't read the book, I want you to feel as surprised as I was in case you haven't read it or haven't watched the 1990 movie, also based on the book. If you have read it, you may love the way the characters come to life in this cinematic adaptation.

It is always inspiring to see Octavia Spencer. She plays any character so well and here, as the boy's grandmother and the voice of reason, she is fantastic. Anne Hathaway is from another world. I couldn't believe she could play this wicked character with such a grandiose attitude. She is now my favorite villain - scary, with lots of charm.

Another flawless performance is Stanley Tucci's Mr. Stringer. You can barely recognize him and he has just the perfect nuances and mannerisms to be a flamboyantly exquisite character. Last, but not least, Chris Rock is the perfect narrator with a totally engaging delivery and Jahzir Bruno, the boy, shines in his theatrical debut.

All the production aspects of this movie are very well done - the sets, costumes, cinematography, sound effects, editing, special effects, music. All together they create a great movie under the direction of Robert Zemeckis, who also wrote the script and, of course we can't expect less from the director of hits and gems of cinema like Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Cast Away and so many other films. I also loved the imprint from Guillermo Del Toro who shares writing credits. There's a quality of fantastical monsters that are delightful, which I am sure has to do with his attachment to this film.

The Witches is a spooky story for our generation, with real twisted characters, gorgeous scenarios and a great story that reminds us of the importance of team work, the courage to face adversities and offers a tribute to the important role of grandmothers in a child's life.

I give The Witches 5 out of 5 starts and absolutely recommend it to kids 10 to 18, plus adults. Some scenes may be a little disturbing for younger kids, so think about that before taking them to see it. The Witches opens October 22, 2020 on HBO Max.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR WITCHES, THE



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