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JOEY AND ELLA
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
7-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 7-18 series

Media:
Video and DVD

Distributor:
GRINDSTONE HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

A mysterious diamond causes a baby kangaroo named Joey to grow quickly and gain the power of speech. When two bumbling thieves try to retrieve the magical gem, a teen and her new boyfriend try to get Joey to safety before it's too late.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth review

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I love Joey and Ella! It is an adventurous comedy that is perfect for the whole family. This movie has it all - boy meets girl, girl likes boy, a mysterious jewel heist, an adorable kangaroo and a reminder of the importance of protecting our planet. So, buckle up and get ready for an action packed, fun filled family adventure that will inspire you.

This modern-day movie opens with two criminals stealing and then losing the Mazinski Diamond, which is a rare alien diamond. This unique gem is unknowingly swiped by a baby kangaroo from a traveling circus. Ella, a young girl who just moved to her grandfather's countryside house, discovers a cute kangaroo, Joey, hiding out in her grandfather's barn. Quickly, Ella discovers that the Mazinski diamond is not only rare, but magical. The diamond's magic allows Joey to grow rapidly and gives him the amazing power to speak! Word gets out that Joey has the Mazinski Diamond and soon everyone is on the chase for this special kangaroo. Ella and her new friend from school, Luke, have to work together to save Joey.

This cast is filled with many talented actors - Jennifer Michele (Ella), Angela Tran (Joey) and Jude Manley (Luke). Each one really connects with their character and delivers strong performances throughout the movie. My favorite part is when Joey and Ella meet for the first time in the barn, because it is such a heartwarming and sweet moment. You can really feel the bond between the two of them. And, I absolutely love the animation for Joey. It is so realistic. You think that he is a real kangaroo throughout the movie.

The intent of this film is to spread awareness about the effects of climate change and encourage us to work together in our communities to protect our planet. Climate change has negatively impacted Australia where there are many wildfires and droughts that put the kangaroo population at risk. This movie inspires us all to help keep our environment and animals safe by playing an active role.

I recommend Joey and Ella for ages 7 to 18. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. It releases on DVD and Digital July 27, 2021. So, hop to it! This is a movie you don't want to miss. ELLA OUT!

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR JOEY AND ELLA


SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 13 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Description:

An ancient Japanese clan called the Arashikage welcomes tenacious loner Snake Eyes after he saves the life of their heir apparent. Upon arrival in Japan, the Arashikage teach him the ways of the ninja warrior while also providing him something he's been longing for: a home. However, when secrets from Snake Eyes' past are revealed, his honor and allegiance get tested -- even if that means losing the trust of those closest to him.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Snake Eyes: G. I. Origins is the thrilling adventure of a lifetime and the perfect origin story to such a beloved character. With motorcycles, swords and a mystical gem - you will be a part of an incredible mission.

The movie is a spin-off around the character of Snake Eyes (Henry Golding). Holding onto the trauma of his father being murdered, Snake Eyes is on the hunt for his father's killer. He trains with the Arashikage clan to become a top ninja. Meanwhile, he makes a deal with some unlikely allies to find his dad's murderer.

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is an action-packed movie and is not to be missed. The fight scenes are incredibly filmed, using long one-take shots to capture the film's actors fighting with swords. The cinematography is iconic, with some night scenes shot with bright neon lights and others with a calming, peaceful, bright light. It's so cool to watch modern-day ninjas on motorcycles fighting one another on the streets. This film is perfect for fans all around the world that enjoy amazing battle sequences, especially for G.I. Joe fans. Familiar faces are shown like the Baroness and Kenta. We also see a teaser for Snake Eyes' most popular villain, which leaves the movie open for a very exciting sequel. The film is a wonderful origin story, telling the tale of Snake Eyes, showing just how he became affiliated with the Joes and where he's off to next, while sprinkling in some major plot twists.

The moral of the story is to trust yourself and always do the right thing. Many times Snake Eyes is tempted to kill his father's killer and throughout the film he learns the meaning of honor - to others and yourself - and makes a surprising choice. He also learns how to find inner peace with many of the things he's done and moves on to the next chapter of his life.

I give Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 plus adults. It is available only in theaters July 23, 2021.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I like Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins because it has a lot of action. I enjoy watching extreme martial art fight scenes. I like the cool Snake Eyes armor and helmet.

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is an origin story for the classic animated series, G.I. Joe. Snake Eyes (Henry Golden) is one of the agents that worked for G.I. Joe, otherwise known as Government Issued Joe. He is known for having the arch nemesis Storm Shadow (Andrew Koji). Throughout the movie we see why these two iconic characters have a sworn hatred for each other. Snake Eyes travels to Japan to join a clan that teaches him how to be a ninja warrior. This Japanese clan provides him a home and a family - two things Snake Eyes was longing for. After he learns the Japanese clan's past and his loyalty is tested, is when the fun and extreme action begins.

My favorite part is when Snake Eyes does the second challenge, because of the special effects. The graphics and digital effects are very good. The snakes look so real. The CGI effects of Snake Eyes' outfit are amazing. The costumes are very accurate in terms of showing where the characters are from. The character's outfits are very traditional Japanese clothing, but nothing can top the infamous Snake Eyes costume. The film incorporates subtitles whenever characters speak in Japanese. The subtitles are made to seem like words from a comic book, which is a clever callback to the animated series. The music is really upbeat when there is a lot of action and works for those scenes exceptionally well. Some very talented actors appear in this film, such as one of my favorite actresses from Money Heist, Ursula Corbero who plays Baroness and Samara Weaving who plays Scarlett, also Haruka Abe as Akiko, Tahehiro Hira as Kenta and Iko Uwais as Hard Master.

The moral of this movie is to have a pure heart. Snake Eyes struggles with opening his heart to people. However when he becomes an honest man and pours his heart out, it actually saves his life. Being loyal and having honor is what makes you pure of heart. You should know that there is a lot of violence and strong language, however there isn't any gore, blood or seeing the characters getting injured.

I give Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins opens in theatres July 23, 2021.

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

When you're looking for an action movie, Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is the one. It's another good, typical Marvel superhero-action film that doesn't fail to impress you with its intensity and execution.

Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) wants nothing more than to take revenge on the man that killed his father. After a desperate search to find him, he eventually gives up and ends up taking his anger out on others in fistfights. One day, Snake Eyes is met with a man named Kenta (Takehiro Hira) who claims he has the location of his father's killer. They make a deal - the killer's location for a jewel that holds the power of the sun.

Out of all aspects, the graphics exceeded my expectations the most. In one scene, multiple cobra-type gigantic snakes are circling. I wonder if I am the only one that finds this ironic. Honestly, I nearly screamed when the first snake came out with a bang. I thought it was coming at me and was glad this film isn't in 3D! The vivid and exceptional graphics are a major plus for this film. As to the acting, while Henry Golding delivers a strong performance when it comes to action, but it lacks emotion for someone avenging his father's death. Snake Eyes is a very complex character - experiencing desperation, disappointment, hope and many other emotions. However, the character development was a bit confusing at a few points. While there is a scene explaining exactly what happened to him on the night of his father's death, there are bits of background information not shown, leading to a bit of uncertainty in a few places. There are a few sudden changes of events which are unexplained and leave the audience wondering why or how they happened. Because this is primarily an action movie, those aspects do not play a huge part in the viewer's experience and most audiences will see this film for its excitement and thrill.

The message I took away from this is the portrayal of bravery and perseverance. Though the film keeps its profanity and violence under the bar to keep it PG-13, there is one fight scene at the beginning that is pretty brutal and may be uncomfortable for younger kids. There is also some mild profanity that parents should be aware of.

I give Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters July 23, 2021.

By Apurva S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS


AILEY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NEON

Description:

An immersive portrait of dance pioneer Alvin Ailey, told through his own words and a new dance inspired by his life.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The film Ailey opens with a moving speech by American actress Cicely Tyson honoring Alvin Ailey for his lifetime contribution to American culture through the performing arts. Ms. Tyson's speech sets the tone for the film as she states that he is a "choreographer of the heart" and has the "very spirit that has made him a pied piper of modern dance." Through dance he "reveals the meaning of things" and has brought a "whole new public to modern dance."

Ailey is a tribute to Alvin Ailey's life and work and shows his humble beginnings in a rural area of Texas during the Great Depression. His relationship with his mother and his childhood history impacted his outlook and expression in dance as he grew up dancing at house parties in his community. However, Alvin was a rebel and had his own ideas about movement and dance. As a choreographer he sought to create movement in the search for truth.

The film interweaves archival footage with interviews from Ailey American Dance Theatre members sharing their experiences at the dance company and Alvin's impact on dancing through his reenactment of life. Beautiful movement, agility and sensuality are shown throughout the various dance pieces, exploring the search for emotion by dancing with passion, joy and anger, as well as sorrow.

Director Jamila Wignot weaves everything together and highlights how Alvin Ailey's life experiences influenced his choreography and programs. The documentary wouldn't be complete without the amazing work of archival producer Rebecca Kent and her team, as the footage really brings his life story together.

The message of this film is that innovation and passion can affect change and raise peoples' consciousness. The movie, as well as Alvin Ailey's dancing, is a celebration of life.

I give Ailey 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases in theaters July 23, 2021 and if you appreciate dance and body movement you won't want to miss Ailey.

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The documentary Ailey redefines the meaning of contemporary dance and the unconventional form created by choreographer Alvin Ailey.

Ailey is a documentary about the life of choreographer Alvin Ailey, known for creating contemporary dance arrangements such as Revelations and The River. With his own narration and testimonials from people who knew him, we learn who he was, what he went through and how he interpreted his life into dances that later became world renowned.

Out of many dance genres, modern dance used to be my least favorite. I found it odd and confusing. That is until I watched the film Ailey. Director Jamlia Wignot takes the documentary into a learning experience not only about Alvin Ailey, but also about the true meaning of interpretive dance. I enjoy the scenes of the modern Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, showing that his legacy still lives on through dance. This film has many scenes that feel like filler when the narrator is speaking and that gets repetitive over time. I love how this film does not require you to have a general knowledge or passion for dance. It allows the audience to create their own feelings and opinions about what dance means to them.

The message of Ailey is to pursue your passion and use your talent to impact others in a meaningful way. This documentary portrays this message with great success.

I give Ailey 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Ailey in theatres July 23, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR AILEY


CINDERELLA STORY, A: STARSTRUCK
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
9-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AES 9-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Description:

Finley Tremaine, a small town farm girl, longs to spread her wings and soar as an aspiring performer. When a Hollywood film crew arrives in her sleepy town, she is determined to land a role in the production and captures the attention of handsome lead actor, Jackson Stone. Unfortunately, a botched audition forces her to change course. Now, disguised as cowboy "Huck," Finley finally gets her big break. But can she keep the charade a secret from everyone, including her evil stepmother and devious step-siblings?

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Do you love Cinderella stories? Are you looking for a brand new, humorous and unique family film that has excellent characters and even better actors? You need to watch A Cinderella Story: Starstruck. It's one of my favorites of 2021 so far, and it's suitable for nearly any audience!

Finley Tremaine (Bailee Madison) is not your average Cinderella and neither is this story. Finley aspires to be a Hollywood star, so when a new action film comes to town, bringing famous actor Jackson Stone (Michael Evans Behling) along with it, she becomes focused on the audition stage. The film spirals into drama as Finley faces a constant inner conflict and tries to be more than one person. Will she keep her secret? The fear of discovery is constant, and she soon realizes that honesty could truly be the best policy, especially when it comes to her dream.

A Cinderella Story: Starstruck checks every box. The cinematography is better than most of what I've seen. The lighting and perspective make the images natural, and they use tons of creative angles. The cinematographers seem to have lots of tricks up their sleeves to make this film look amazing. Settings are chosen with precision; though some do seem a bit extraordinary for a normal town and farm land. However, we constantly see colorful views that leave me in awe. The film is a Cinderella story, but it isn't easily predicted like most new versions are. It's probably the most innovative princess story I've ever seen. The resemblances to the original Cinderella are hard to find, but are there nonetheless. Instead of mice, Finley's support friends are the farm animals. There's a unique addition behind every twist and turn of the plot. One of the best touches that I like is including a stepbrother, Kale (Richard Harmon), along with the traditional stepsister, Saffron (Lillian Doucet- Roche). These two siblings argue a lot; another different aspect between this version and the original. The stepmother, Valerian (April Telek), is as unbearable as always, though she's still a great character. Lastly, the acting is truly magnificent. It doesn't feel like acting. The actors seem to have real bonding, which is special. Richard Harmon as Kale, Bailee Madison as Finley and Michael Evans Behling as Jackson give some of the best performances. Kale is a difficult character to play, as there aren't really similar characters in other Cinderella stories. Richard Harmon pulls off the role with astounding ability, setting a great example for any future step brothers.

The message of A Cinderella Story: Starstruck is to follow your dream. Parents should be aware that there is some mild language and action.

I give A Cinderella Story: Starstruck 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. It releases on digitally June 29, 2021 and on DVD July 12, 2021, so don't miss it!

Reviewed by Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR CINDERELLA STORY, A: STARSTRUCK


SCHMIGADOON!
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
APPLE TV

Description:

A couple, Melissa and Josh, go on a backpacking trip in an attempt to patch up their failing relationship, only to find themselves still arguing. They then discover a magical town called Schmigadoon, which is perpetually trapped in a Golden Age-style musical, and slowly realize that they cannot leave until they find true love. The title and concept is a parody of the 1947 Broadway musical Brigadoon.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Schmigadoon! is a fun-filled musical comedy perfect for theatre kids and musical lovers! The cast of this new series has some famous faces like: Keegan-Michael Key, Dove Cameron, Kristen Chenoworth and many more!

On a bonding trip, lovers Josh and Melissa accidentally find themselves in the 1940's musical town of Schmigadoon. Josh and Melissa see everyone bursting into song and dance and soon discover that they can't go home until they find true love. Do they have it? Will they find it? Watch Schmigadoon! to find out!

The cast of Schmigadoon! stands out and so do the sets Josh Skinner (Keegan-Michael Key) is not excited about this musical town and tries everything he can to get away from all the singing and dancing. Josh experiences many emotional highs and lows: engagement, break-ups and drama. Melissa (Cecily Strong) is the one who decides on the bonding trip which leads them to Schmigadoon! She does enjoy the musical town and, eventually, joins in on the fun.

The scary Mrs. Mildred Layton (Kristen Chenoworth), wife of Reverend Layton, is the leader of the "Mothers of the Future" organization and isn't very fond of Josh and Melissa's arrival. As well as Josh, Mildred is also trying everything she can to get them to leave, as she thinks they are ruining "her" town. Betsy (Dove Cameron) is a young waitress who takes a quick interest in Dr. Skinner and tries to be his true love. Enchanting and wise school teacher Emma Tate (Arianna DeBose) doesn't care much for love and focuses on teaching the children, but all that changes when she meets Josh.

The set replicates a genuine theatre stage set, creating a definitive boundary between the real world and Schmigadoon!'s stage set--I love that. The music is all taken from mid-1900s musicals, but the words have been changed. You'll spend all day singing the tunes in your head, trying to figure out what the original songs are. I love the contrast in costumes from Josh and Melissa's modern day clothes to the town's 1940's outfits.

While there is more than one message to the story, the main one is that when hope looks lost don't give up (and maybe add a bit of song and dance).

I give Schmigadoon! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults, but strongly recommend this for theatre kids. This series does contain strong language and some slightly inappropriate scenes. You can find Schmigadoon! starting July 16, 2021 on Apple TV. I'm looking forward to a season 2 already!<

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SCHMIGADOON!


SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
6-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 6-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Description:

When LeBron James and his young son Dom are trapped in a digital space by a rogue A.I., LeBron must get them home safe by leading Bugs, Lola Bunny and the whole gang of notoriously undisciplined Looney Tunes to victory over the A.I.'s digitized champions on the court: a powered-up roster of professional basketball stars as you've never seen them before. It's Tunes versus Goons in the highest-stakes challenge of his life, that will redefine LeBron's bond with his son and shine a light on the power of being yourself.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Space Jam: A New Legacy, the cartoon sequel, brings the whole Looney Tunes gang back to the court, only this time with the reigning king of basketball, Lebron James. This comedy combines live action with animation and is filled with life lessons, funny catch phrases, loads of glitzy digital effects and a glimpse of Warner Bros. cinematic library.

When LeBron James and his son, Dom (Cedric Joe) get mysteriously sucked into the Warner Bros. digital world by a rogue AI super villain (Don Cheadle), nonsense and chaos ensue. Dom is kidnapped and LeBron is challenged to a high-stakes basketball game by the evil AI. Lebron must form the most winning team to get his son back and, a loss could leave him and all those he loves, stuck in the server-verse forever. Lebron and his Looney Tunes pal Bugs Bunny meet up for a wild adventure through the server-verse. Will he win, or be trapped there forever? Watch to find out.

The writing is clever. It is comedic and zany at some points; at others, it is very wholesome and realistic. The animation is outstanding! The movie combines traditional animation with three-dimensional computer graphics and live action. LeBron's cartoon character is spot on. The tour through the server-verse is so enjoyable. Seeing iconic characters like Yogi Bear, Pennywise, Iron Giant and King Kong is every movie junkie's dream! Eric Bauza plays a very important role in this movie as he voices Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Elmer Fudd, Marvin the Martian and Porky Pig. Jeff Bergman is also instrumental in this film as he voices Bugs Bunny, Sylvester and Yosemite Sam. Both Eric and Jeff voice their characters so well that it's like listening to the original cartoons! Space Jam: New Legacy also features Don Cheadle, who is the rogue AI AL. G. Rhythm. His villainous role features a wide range of emotion and I give him two thumbs up for his outstanding performance. My favorite character is Granny because she is a good-natured, protective, spunky old woman that has some epic moves.

The messages of this movie are that family is everything and there is power in chasing your dreams. Sometimes, we need some loony things in our life to make it better. There is mild language and a lot of action.

I give Space Jam: A New Legacy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. It's a great family movie. Fans of the original will love this, too. This movie releases July 16, 2021 in theaters and on HBO Max.

Space Jam: A New Legacy has everything that a big summer blockbuster should have and more! This revamped version of the original 1996 Space Jam starring Michael Jordan, is the perfect blend of old-school characters from favorite cartoons of the past, seamlessly mixed with updated characters, premier digital animation, trendy music, a modern plotline and current big name stars. This feature film packs in so much good stuff that I almost don't even know where to begin with my review!

The starting line-up includes LeBron James, his son Dom James (Cedric Joe) and Bugs Bunny. The two main characters, Lebron and Bugs, must work together to solve a big problem for the all-star athlete. They need to get Lebron's son Dom back from a diabolical computer-generated villain named Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle) and the only way to do it is for LeBron and Bugs to work together to win the most important basketball game of their lives.

The basketball moves on the court are like nothing anyone has ever seen before. One team's players are all Looney Tunes characters from classic Warner Bros cartoons and they play against a squad of elite players from the real world that have been leveled-up by the evil Al-G Rhythm. As expected, Space Jam: A New Legacy is action packed and moves at a quick pace which kept my attention. The music throughout the movie adds energy and tone; the CGI blends animation effortlessly with live action characters and real world settings. The special effects all look so believable and pristine that it is easy for the viewer to get lost inside this cool new world.

In the end, the movie really is just a sweet story about a dad and his son bonding and working through their relationship, which happens at a certain age. It is a touching family film with lessons about the importance of family as well as being true to yourself.

I give Space Jam: A New Legacy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. Kids will love the sports and modern look as well as the music. Adults will appreciate the references to the original film and nostalgic cartoon characters from their own childhood. It's the perfect family film. Space Jam: A New Legacy has lots of extras, like new WB merchandise and even its own Xbox video game. It releases in theaters and on HBO Max July 16, 2021

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

Space Jam: A New Legacy is an entertaining and funny movie starring LeBron James. It is the sequel to the first Space Jam movie which starred Michael Jordan. This is a creative film with a mix of animation and live action.

The storyline is a fictional one about basketball player, LeBron James and his son Dom (Cedric Joe). LeBron wants his son to play basketball, but his son wants to do different things like creating video games. Dom gets taken by a computer program into the Warner Brothers' animated world. LeBron then has to beat the computer program in a basketball game to get his son back. LeBron assembles a basketball team with Bugs Bunny and a group of Loony Tunes characters.

The plot is unusual and very creative. They use a ton of Warner Bros' Loony Tunes characters throughout the film including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Lola Bunny and more. I loved seeing all my favorite classic Looney Tunes characters! Other Warner Bros' characters make guest appearances, including King Kong, Harry Potter, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. The effects used in this film are absolutely amazing as they flip between live action, to animation, then back to live action. It is so fun to watch. There are parts where I literally laughed out loud such as a funny moment with Bugs Bunny. The acting is funny, dramatic and very realistic. The special effects are great. The imaginary locations are creative. For example, there are scenes with the characters inside a computer. At other times the setting is inside other Warner Bros' movies, like Batman or The Matrix.

The message of this film is that parents and their kids should do activities together and share with each other cool things they've done or made, like a project.

I give Space Jam: A New Legacy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters and on HBO Max July 16, 2021.

By Conrad W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I like Space Jam: A New Legacy because it has a lot of funny scenes. Plus, I love some of the big actors in this film and the roles they play.

This movie is about Lebron James coaching his son Dom (Cedric Joe) to be a good basketball player. His son would rather play video games, so Lebron tries telling him that he needs to start focusing on the basketball game more. Then, a bad AI named AL G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle) traps them into his digital space and makes them play a game of basketball. They are split up and Lebron James is sent to the tune world where he soon finds Bugs Bunny and asks for help.

My favorite part is how this film brings back so many old characters such as Bugs Bunny, Lola Bunny, Tweety, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn and more. The Looney Tunes remember their first basketball game from the first Space Jam movie and get real excited when one of them finds Michael Jordan from the stands but their excitement goes away quickly in a really funny way. The graphics and digital effects are amazing. I loved how they made cartoon characters real and Lebron into a cartoon character. This is the first time I seen Lebron act in a movie. He looks like he was born to act. The music is very catchy and appealing to each scene, getting better as the scene gets better.

The moral of this movie is not to give up because Lebron and Team Tunes never give up! Another reminder is to have fun. Lebron learns that he was taking basketball too seriously and learns to have fun again.

I give Space Jam: A New Legacy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters and HBO Max July 16, 2021!

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY


CENTAURWORLD
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
7-13

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 7-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

Centaurworld follows a war horse who is transported from her embattled world to a strange land inhabited by silly, singing centaurs of all species, shapes, and sizes. Desperate to return home, she befriends a group of these magical creatures and embarks on a journey that will test her more than any battle she's ever faced before.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

CentaurWorld is a humorous, animated show geared to older kids and young teens. The plot is definitely its strongest point because each episode has unique storylines episodes despite being an ongoing story. Along with that, the acting, impressive characters and music combine to make an unusual, yet intriguing show.

This ten-episode series follows Horse (Kimiko Glenn), her name representing her appearance. She touches a magical artifact that transports her to a new world, called CentaurWorld, where magic and singing are encouraged. Along the way, they meet many challenges, including facing comedy competitions, a trial that could result in being stuck in jail forever and plants that grant tricky wishes. Can Horse find all parts of the key along the rainbow road to make her way home to Rider (Jessie Mueller)?

CentaurWorld has an incredible storyline. The concept is new and unique. Each episode has an individual story that's carefully written to not be the same as others. The voiceover acting is also magnificent. Josh Radnor, as Durpleton, and Parvesh Cheen, as Zulius, deliver amazing performances. The characters are well developed so the acting and writing make an excellent combination. My favorite part is probably the music, although the other fabulous aspects are great. The songs drew my attention every time; the melodies and lyrics create an emotional environment, shifting with the moods, which always left me in awe. Then there are the impressive singers with their enjoyable resonance and beautiful solos. Their harmonies are perfectly executed and make the songs more enjoyable. The music truly takes the show to the next level.

The message of CentaurWorld is about bravery. Horse and her centaur friends need to find all of the pieces to the key and this journey isn't easy. Oftentimes, Horse encourages her friends to 'be bold,' like when the rainbow road leads them to a hole, going down one side and up the other. Horse shows bravery by jumping down, realizing this is the only way to not give up on their journey. Parents should note that there is some violence and some mildly inappropriate dialogue.

I give CentaurWorld 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 13. CentaurWorld begins streaming on Netflix July 30, 2021.

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

Centaurworld is a creative kids' show with colorful, memorable and funny characters. The show is different from other shows for children, because most of its characters are animals with human attributes. The simple dialogue and colorful characters serve to keep kids' attention.

Centaurworld is about a hardened war horse, named Horse (Kimiko Glenn) that gets separated from her rider (Jessica Mueller). Horse ends up in Centaurland, a land filled with silly, singing unique creatures with both animal and human features. Horse is quickly heralded as their new friend and inspires Wammawink (Meagan Hilty), Zulius (Parvesh Cheena), Durpleton (Josh Radnor), Glendale (Megan Nicole Dong) and Ched (Chris Diamantopoulos) to follow her and explore the area as they try to help Horse get home.

Centaurworld has some fun comedic moments with simple jokes that kids can follow and are age appropriate. In terms of the animation, the series makes good use of its characters and they are quite different from other animated shows. For example, viewers can't help but focus on the big human-looking eyes and human faces of the colorful characters. Another positive is that the show has the unexpected twist of making a horse the main character. This further serves to engage younger audiences. What kid wouldn't be intrigued by a horse that talks and has other talking human/animal hybrid friends? One thing kids may not notice, but adults will, is that, besides being able to speak, Horse doesn't have any other human features. Still, the inhabitants of Centaurland are accepting of her. This is a good lesson on acceptance.

The message of this film is that the world is not always full of war and conflict. It's also filled with friends and memories. Also, it's ok to have some silliness and fun in your life. Plus, don't limit yourself to what you think you know or what you become used to.

I give Centaurworld 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults can enjoy this with their kids. Centaurworld

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED CENTAURWORLD


FUDGE FATALE: THE MARVELOUS ADVENTURES OF ANNA BELLE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-12

Category: FAMILY
EBOOK, AGES 8-12 series

Media:
Book

Distributor:
NEPTUNE PRESS LLC/ D.G. STERN

Description:

Once you open the door to Anna Belle's bakery, you know that you have entered some place very special. The smell of freshly baked bread; the taste of double chocolate chip cookies; the vision of colorfully decorated birthday cakes and the sound of? Wait! Pastry doesn't have a sound. After you meet Anna Belle, you also know you have met someone quite marvelous. She is creative, full of energy and probably the best detective in town. Join Anna Belle and her feline assistant, Jocko, as they reveal the true identity of the culprit who has been robbing neighbors and end her light finger lifting of precious jewels in Fudge Fatale. https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/fudge-fatale-d-g-stern/1139825376

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

The most appealing aspect of Fudge Fatale: The Marvelous Adventure of Anna Belle is the mystery. The story is comprised of two story lines and sometimes the two intersect, which heightens the overall mystery. The only thing that was unappealing for me is the repetitiveness. Often, chapters repeat the same information. I understand that this is may be intentional so children can grasp the plot easily, but I question whether it is necessary. I believe children will enjoy this e-book because it is easy to envision the characters, and each one is very well developed. For example, Doris, Anna Belle's assistant at the bakery, is zany and eccentric. Her personality compliments Anna Belle's seriousness. Of course the mystery and the funny outcome will also keep children engaged throughout.

Fudge Fatale: The Marvelous Adventure of Anna Belle is a delightful mystery story intertwined with a fun-filled bake-a-thon. Anna Belle doubles as Pine Meadows' best baker and an investigator trying to solve the community's issue with stolen pearls. The most appealing aspect is the mystery.

The story flows well. The exposition at the beginning is clear and it will definitely be easy for children to comprehend. The middle is also clear when Anna Belle and her friends finally figure out how to prep for the bake-a-thon, and find out that more pearls are being stolen in the community. The end is the resolution of Clyde winning the bake-a-thon, having all their hard word pay off, and discovering that a monkey has stolen the pearls. Although there are some challenging words such as intrepid, crestfallen, modicum and incorrigible, these words are paired with context clues and are balanced with over-explaining other aspects of the plot. There are definitely positive modeling behaviors shown, such as respect. Throughout the story, everyone has a chance to speak and be listened to. It is important for children to recognize at a young age that their opinions are relevant. There are some negative connotations about gender stereotypes. For example, one of the men assumes that no men will participate in the baking competition. At another point, he says something along the lines of "send the pretty bakers to me." Although these are both small, and Anna Belle corrects him both times, I ask whether they are necessary? A strong point is how it teaches children to question everything and, since this story is all about investigation and inquiry, that's critical. Sometimes, one needs to think outside of the realm of possibilities to reach the possibility. This book encourages children to take action on their own aspirations. If they want to be involved in their community, or run events, or be successful in general Anna Belle is a great example to follow. One of the key benefits of the story is that Anna Belle does not put on a fa�ade for the reporters that are getting coverage for the bake-a-thon. She says, "I am going to be who I always am." This is significant for children to learn because it teaches them to never change themselves for others.

This story has multiple little lessons woven into the overall message including how to successfully bake a cake, why people shouldn't eat raw eggs, and that both men and women can participate in baking competitions. The overall message is that Anna Belle does not put on a fa�ade for the reporters when speaking about the bake-a-thon. Seeing Anna Belle, her friends and family all working together to create a fun, successful community event can inspire children to do something similar.

I give rate Fudge Fatale: The Marvelous Adventure of Anna Belle 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, perhaps older. It gives children the confidence to always question everything and promotes the idea of staying true to oneself.

Reviewed by Tor F., KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

A light yet engaging read, Fudge Fatale: The Marvelous Adventure of Anna Belle will delight young readers with its lifelike dialogue, vivid details and easy-to-follow storyline.

The book by D.G. Stern follows Anna Belle's story. A talented baker, her sweet treats are to die for. Creative, full of energy and probably the best detective in town, Anna Belle is not to be trifled with. In this installment of The Marvelous Adventures of Anna Belle, she teams up with her charismatic Uncle Clyde, a police officer, to find the culprit who has been robbing neighbors of their possessions. It's a thrilling story which many will enjoy.

Each of the characters in the book has its own distinct personality. Anna Belle is kind and gentle. Doris is good-natured and a bit eccentric. Uncle Clyde is intelligent and helps keep everyone's spirits up. Sometimes the lines are blurred between the roles of each character. For example, Whiskers (Anna Belle's assistant) seems to have a smaller role than Doris, the store clerk, but is mentioned more at the start of the story. Next, the mystery angle of the story is well-thought-out, but it feels somewhat weakened by the interspersed descriptions of Anna Belle's work at her bakery. Still, he plot is gripping and the 90 page length is perfect for young readers. Finally, there are some extremely long sentences that are a bit confusing. However, they are far and few between.

Fudge Fatale: The Marvelous Adventure of Anna Belle promotes teamwork, such as when Anna Belle enlists the help of her friends to prepare for the bake-a-thon in three days, having a good work ethic and being curious (the main theme of the book), while discouraging stealing. It's a positive book that will leave you feeling as warm and fuzzy inside as Anna Belle's chocolate chip cookies.

I give Fudge Fatale: The Marvelous Adventure of Anna Belle 4 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. It is available as an ebook August 15, 2021 so look for it.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Baker by day; Secret Undercover Detective by night! Fudge Fatale: The Marvelous Adventures of Anna Belle is a chapter book that makes a perfect read for young people looking for a simple and exciting adventure.

The storyline follows a small-town baker, Anna Belle, who has a secret identity as the town's undercover detective. Her initial attempt to solve a mystery of disappearing items turns into a thrilling adventure filled with action and sweet treats.

Mystery books are my favorite genre of books to read along with young adult books. If this is the case for you as well, you will definitely enjoy this! The author D.G. Stern is very specific to the point that some of the information is a bit over-the-top. Still sometimes there is very little background context, which is a result of it being part of a series. The names of the characters such as Anna Belle and her feline assistant Whiskers are common names that help give the reader a sort of familiarity. The best part is that the plot twists are absolutely phenomenal. Just following Anna Belle throughout this mystery is exhilarating to read. You won't want to place this book down. While there are very few illustrations, they really help guide your imagination in picturing the events as they unfold. I especially love what a strong female voice the author gives Anna Belle.

This book promotes positive social behavior and encourages young people to think critically and to believe they can accomplish a goal, no matter how big it may seem.

I give Fudge Fatale: The Marvelous Adventures of Anna Belle 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. It is available as an ebook August 15, 2021 so look for it.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17


ISBN # 173245518X
Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED FUDGE FATALE: THE MARVELOUS ADVENTURES OF ANNA BELLE


BLACK WIDOW
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
13-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 13-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES

Description:

Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy, and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

After multiple delays, Marvel Studios finally delivers on their promise to bring forth the new action-packed superhero blockbuster, Black Widow! Black Widow has everything a classic Marvel fan would enjoy, yet is easily understood by viewers with no prior knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Behind all the superhero cowls is fantastic character development. Each character experiences a different emotional journey, finding themselves in an extremely different emotional place compared to the beginning of the film.

Black Widow serves as a prequel to Avengers: Infinity War, shining light on plot lines we had no clue occurred. The film picks up right after the events of Captain America: Civil War where Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is on the run from the U.S. government. When Natasha is attacked by the iconic villain Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), she is led to confront her past. When she learns the Red Room is still functioning (kidnapping and training widows), she must team up with unlikely allies to defeat the organization once and for all.

For comic book junkies there is always a worry that superhero movies will sometimes be a bore, because you already know the story so well. Black Widow abolishes this worry with multiple twists and turns that are new to comic book fans, yet are very respectful to classic superhero origins. When people think of the character Black Widow, they extremely undermine the grittiness of her backstory. Director Cate Shortland is marvelous at mixing in Natasha's dark past to boost her character development and show what drives her day today.

Black Widow is one of the darkest Marvel movies to date. Throughout the film, rough and sensitive topics present themselves such as child trafficking, drug use and suicide. The film also includes multiple curse words and many different instances of intense action. Despite the gloomy tone, the film explores themes of family and reminiscence. Morals are taught to younger viewers demonstrating the message that people can change; you just need to give them a chance.

I give Black Widow 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. You can stream Black Widow on Disney+ with premiere access or watch it in your local theater on July 9, 2021. Make sure to check it out!

By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR BLACK WIDOW


CINDERELLA STORY, A: STARSTRUCK
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
9-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Description:

Finley Tremaine, a small town farm girl, longs to spread her wings and soar as an aspiring performer. When a Hollywood film crew arrives in her sleepy town, she is determined to land a role in the production and captures the attention of handsome lead actor, Jackson Stone. Unfortunately, a botched audition forces her to change course. Now, disguised as cowboy "Huck," Finley finally gets her big break. But can she keep the charade a secret from everyone, including her evil stepmother and devious step-siblings?

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Do you love Cinderella stories? Are you looking for a brand new, humorous and unique family film that has excellent characters and even better actors? You need to watch A Cinderella Story: Starstruck. It's one of my favorites of 2021 so far, and it's suitable for nearly any audience!

Finley Tremaine (Bailee Madison) is not your average Cinderella and neither is this story. Finley aspires to be a Hollywood star, so when a new action film comes to town, bringing famous actor Jackson Stone (Michael Evans Behling) along with it, she becomes focused on the audition stage. The film spirals into drama as Finley faces a constant inner conflict and tries to be more than one person. Will she keep her secret? The fear of discovery is constant, and she soon realizes that honesty could truly be the best policy, especially when it comes to her dream.

A Cinderella Story: Starstruck checks every box. The cinematography is better than most of what I've seen. The lighting and perspective make the images natural, and they use tons of creative angles. The cinematographers seem to have lots of tricks up their sleeves to make this film look amazing. Settings are chosen with precision; though some do seem a bit extraordinary for a normal town and farm land. However, we constantly see colorful views that leave me in awe. The film is a Cinderella story, but it isn't easily predicted like most new versions are. It's probably the most innovative princess story I've ever seen. The resemblances to the original Cinderella are hard to find, but are there nonetheless. Instead of mice, Finley's support friends are the farm animals. There's a unique addition behind every twist and turn of the plot. One of the best touches that I like is including a stepbrother, Kale (Richard Harmon), along with the traditional stepsister, Saffron (Lillian Doucet- Roche). These two siblings argue a lot; another different aspect between this version and the original. The stepmother, Valerian (April Telek), is as unbearable as always, though she's still a great character. Lastly, the acting is truly magnificent. It doesn't feel like acting. The actors seem to have real bonding, which is special. Richard Harmon as Kale, Bailee Madison as Finley and Michael Evans Behling as Jackson give some of the best performances. Kale is a difficult character to play, as there aren't really similar characters in other Cinderella stories. Richard Harmon pulls off the role with astounding ability, setting a great example for any future step brothers.

The message of A Cinderella Story: Starstruck is to follow your dream. Parents should be aware that there is some mild language and action.

I give A Cinderella Story: Starstruck 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. It releases on digitally June 29, 2021 and on DVD July 12, 2021, so don't miss it!

Reviewed by Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR CINDERELLA STORY, A: STARSTRUCK


SUMMER OF SOUL
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES

Description:

Summer Of Soul (...Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) is a feature documentary about the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival which celebrated African American music and culture, and promoted Black pride and unity.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

What do you know about the Harlem Culture Festival? This beautiful event that created so much love and togetherness has rarely been seen or discussed in mainstream media, until now. Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) tells the beautiful story of this life-changing festival, and what it meant for the civil rights movement. This documentary offers an eye-opening perspective of the times that motivated the festival and its incredible outcome.

Summer of Soul talks about the importance of the Harlem Culture Festival, and what it meant to the people of color at that time. There are many interviews with people that discuss how this event impacted their lives and gave them a sense of unity during those trying times. We also are fortunate enough to see live, unseen performances from such icons as Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, B.B. King and more.

What impressed me the most is that this happened in the same year as Woodstock. I grew up hearing a lot about the Woodstock Festival, but until I saw this movie, I had never heard of the Harlem Culture Festival. This shows just how divided our country was at that time, and how unfortunate it is that more people don't know about this beautiful event. I learned so much from this movie, especially about different aspects of the civil rights movement. It features videos showing the riots that occurred over justice and equality. Sadly, these riots still happen today for similar reasons. I especially appreciate that this documentary doesn't only show the fun parts of the Harlem Culture Festival, but these various socio-political aspects of times. The director, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, shows us the beauty of the event, plus the reason behind it.

The message of this film is: when you have to fight back, fight with love and creativity. People will always bring each other down, but if we can just help one person to know their worth, then we are doing good. That is something we could all hear more often.

I give Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Couldn't Be Televised) 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 10 to 17, plus adults. Releasing in theaters July 2, 2021.

By Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SUMMER OF SOUL


WOLFGANG
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

An intimate portrait of the life and work of the original "celebrity chef," Wolfgang Puck.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Wolfgang, a documentary film directed and produced by David Gelb (Chef's Table: France and Chef's Table BBQ), follows the life and career of Chef Wolfgang Puck. This film highlights Wolfgang's childhood trauma - how it affected him as a young boy who aspired to become a great chef; how he became arguably one of the best chefs in the world; the process of opening numerous dining spots; how fame and success affected him and his family.

The opening minutes follow Wolfgang greeting a farm owner, a close friend of his, as he cuts fresh fruits and rides through the corn field. This scene is important because it allows viewers to see how active Puck really is - daily - even when he is not at work. He enjoys visiting the farm to pick and choose fresh fruits and vegetables. Wolfgang even justifies how involved he is, stating, "At my age, I should probably slow down, and take it easy, but it's quite the opposite."

This film also includes statements from friends, family, former colleagues and current workers of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. throughout the film. Nancy Silverton, a pastry chef who worked at Spago (1982-85) (one of Wolfgang's many restaurants) states, "Wolfgang, without a doubt, was the first celebrity chef. He had so many restaurants, and so many different types of restaurants, all the products that he has on the shelves. I can't even keep up with him anymore to tell you the truth." This film shows Wolfgang cooking alongside his young cooks, watching over them and mentoring them. Evan Funke, a cook who worked at Spago (2000-06) states, "The biggest misconception about Wolf is that he is just a celebrity chef and can't cook, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The Mount Rushmore of California cuisine; Wolf's right there, in the middle. He's the founding father of the way we eat in this country."

This film also focuses on the uprising of Wolfgang Puck's first restaurant, Spago. Ruth Reichil, a food writer stating, "When wolf opened Spago, he changed the way Americans eat, even including pizza on the menu. Who knew pizza can be fancy?!" This leads me to my favorite part in the film, which is about the fancy pizza. Wolfgang shares the story of how he created his legendary smoked salmon and caviar pizza, unpredicted. It all started one night when it was extremely busy at Spago and suddenly Joan Collins (English actress), the biggest star on television at the time comes in. They had run out of an important ingredient that was needed to create the dish Joan Collins regularly ordered. They also ran out of baguettes or any other bread. Wolfgang got to work and started spreading out pizza dough, added some finely chopped onions, and baked it for a few minutes. Then, he put some milk cream on it, added some smoked salmon thinly cut, a few dollops of caviar, and served it to Joan. Wow! He truly is an incredible chef to come up with such a delicious pizza, out of nowhere. The most interesting part of this pizza is, it has no cheese, nor tomato sauce. This film also shares stories, from the perspective of Wolfgang, as well as his sister, as he visits his hometown of Sankt Veit an der Glan, Carinthia, Austria. He shared the unfortunate events he experiences with his stepfather; how he endured years of verbal abuse and being shut down daily as a young child; and how he overcame that.

The message I took away from this film is to never give up and stay committed. No matter your circumstances or where you came from, never give up on yourself. Wolfgang grew up extremely poor, but never let that define him or influence his courage to make his dream come true.

I give Wolfgang 5 out of 5 stars and recommend for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It releases June 25, 2021, by Disney+.

By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The documentary Wolfgang talks about how food is family and food is love. This film depicts the culinary development of Chef Wolfgang Puck and I was delighted to learn more about his upbringing and journey to become the chef and businessman that he is. Wolfgang is celebrated in my home every day as I use his cookware and my family incorporates cooking tips that my mom learned from watching him on various television shows. He made her feel more comfortable in the kitchen and in trying new concepts with his easy style and engaging personality, which have also influenced my love of cooking.

The film starts showing Wolfgang's early family life and the reasons behind his joy in the kitchen and love of cooking. We follow Wolfgang's culinary training until he becomes the first "celebrity chef" and really defines "California Cuisine," putting the gardens of California on a plate. After all, as Wolfgang says, "The right ingredients make all the difference." His incredible work ethic had leads to great monetary rewards, but at the expense of disrupting his family life. At the end of the documentary, as he looks back on his life, it seems that he has now found the right balance in his personal life as well as in the kitchen.

The documentary is an emotional journey guided by Director David Gelb. I love the beautiful cinematography and the use of archival footage. Brian McGinn's script makes you really feel that the movie is in Wolfgang's voice as he discovers that his purpose in life has been to make people happy through food as a conduit to love. The interviews throughout the film are meaningful and highlight the importance that Wolfgang Puck has made on the food industry.

There are so many important messages in this film such as following Wolfgang's work ethic and how it's important to believe in yourself and not be afraid to take chances. Giving up is not an option if you want to pursue your dreams, as nothing comes easy. Wolfgang says a lot of inspiring things in this film; his sentiment I love most is that "the grass is greener where it's watered the most." Where to put in the effort applies to life as well as to your garden.

I give Wolfgang 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The documentary will be available on Disney+ June 25, 2021 so don't miss this inspiring story.

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I really like the new documentary Wolfgang because it's a fascinating, intimate film about world-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck. It taught me a lot about the food industry, and how much it could impact someone's life.

This documentary starts off telling Wolfgang Puck's life story. We learn about his culture as well as his family life. As the film goes on, we see his struggles, as well as successes, throughout his life. Wolfgang Puck is an extremely hardworking, determined person, and uses his childhood trauma as a way to never give up, and to keep going. Although he makes many mistakes, we learn that he is just a normal person like everyone else. And, Puck learns from his mistakes, and becomes a better person in the end.

I enjoy that this film shows us the raw aspects of Wolfgang's life. There aren't a lot of production and special effects. Instead, everything is very real, and you can get a strong sense into what his life truly is like. Another thing that works very well is how they incorporate many videos from his past. This gives the audience a deeper look at how he works, and the type of person he is. It also contributes to the authenticity of the film. Lastly the interviews with important people in his life are a great addition to the whole documentary, telling Wolfgang's story from other perspectives.

The message of this documentary film is to never give up on yourself, and your dreams. This film does deal with a sensitive topic - suicide.

I give Wolfgang 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. You can watch Wolfgang starting June 25, 2021 on Disney+.

By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR WOLFGANG


WE THE PEOPLE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 8-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

Learn the basics of rights and citizenship with upbeat songs by popular artists like Janelle Mon�e, H.E.R., Adam Lambert, Brandi Carlile and more.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I love the catchy tunes, the perfectly rhyming lyrics, the animation and the lessons of the new ten episode series, We the People. I love how it includes animations such as women and men united, jumping above the clouds, almost like collecting all the facts as they jump in the air.

Created by Chris Nee, the award-winning creator of Doc McStuffins and Vampirina, and executive produced by Barack and Michelle Obama, We the People takes civics lessons to a whole new level for kids like me.

This series is a call to action to rethink civics as a living, breathing thing as it reframes the understanding of what government and citizenship mean in the modern world. The opening minutes of each episode give you a preview of what's to come, sharing minor facts about the topic the episode addresses before it plunges into the specifics. Each topic is covered thoroughly, which helps young viewers grasp the importance of each topic and not simply focus on the catchy tune that accompanies it. For example, instead of just talking about the federal vs. state power, a song explains how choices by the feds or the state affect our daily lives and how we have a choice in who holds positions of power. The songs included are all upbeat original songs performed by popular contemporary artists such as H.E.R., Janelle Mon�e, Brandi Carlile, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Adam Lambert, Cordae, Bebe Rexha, KYLE, Andra Day and poet Amanda Gorman.

A huge part of this series is the animation which, as a visual person, attracts and holds my attention. When the facts are played out in powerful pictures with great colors and cool designs, I'm immediately hooked! Ten of the world's leading animation directors contributed to this show - men and women, LGBTQ+ and various ethnicities, including Oscar winner Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), Jorge R. Gutierrez (Netflix's Maya and the Three), Trisha Gum (The Lego Batman Movie), Jorge R. Gutierrez (The Book of Life), Victoria Vincent (A Dog That Smokes Weed), Benjy Brooke (Teen Titans Go! To The Movies), Mabel Ye (Kid Cosmic), Tim Rauch (Mushroom Park), Daron Nefcy (Star vs. the Forces of Evil), Everett Downing (My Dad the Bounty Hunter) and Kendra Ryan (We the People). I love that this film practices its message of inclusivity behind the scenes as well as on-screen. My favorite episode is most definitely episode three, "Taxes."

The message of this film is that we are the future and we have a voice! Let's continue to educate ourselves and our peers and speak up for the right, against the wrong. Let's make a difference and help one another. We are the people.

I give We the People 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It releases July 4, 2021, on Netflix. Look for it!

By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

We The People is a very innovative way to learn about history and social studies. Most importantly, it helps us understand things that are part of our everyday lives that we either take for granted or don't fully understand or appreciate. These things help us to live better in our community and society. I also love that the show also explores a new way to incorporate music videos and listen to music with a purpose.

I didn't know what to expect from this ten part series; I love that the episodes are very short, because they are just the length of a song. Each composition has a different style in terms of animation and color palette; all according to the story. We the People consists of ten eye-candy episodes with captivating lyrics, contemporary rhythms, lots of creativity and fundamental storytelling.

We The People is produced by accomplished children's television writer Chris Nee who began her career at Sesame Street International and has been honored with a Peabody, Humanitas, NAACP and Emmy awards. In this project she teamed up with Barack and Michelle Obama with whom she previously worked pm other educational and fun projects. This is the content we need and our generation should appreciate it. The production company Higher Ground which produced the series was created with the purpose of creating not only entertaining programming, but informative and inspirational as well. I can affirm that this content positively impacted me and I am happy to spread the word and recommend it. The series proves the great power of music in establishing strong and effective connections with audience. The inclusion of the artists that participate is brilliant and includes some of the top music artist such as H.E.R, Cordae, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Janelle Monae. The powerful poet, Amanda Gorman, is also an important voice in this series. Each episode has a different director and the topics range from "Active Citizenship," to "Taxes," "Immigration" and more.

I give We The People 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. Although the themes are more appropriate for late elementary and middle school kids, really everyone in the family will love the music, the message and the beautiful images.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR WE THE PEOPLE


WHO ARE YOU, CHARLIE BROWN
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
9-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, 9-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
APPLE TV

Description:

Follows interviews with friends, family and more of the iconic comic strip to create a portrait of the late Peanuts creator.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

A deeper look into an integral part of American childhood, Who Are You, Charlie Brown? provides viewers with a blast from the past and some intriguing background information about the creation and nuances of the Peanuts comic universe.< p>Packaged in documentary format, the show centers on Charles M. Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, and his life. Using animated vignettes from Charlie Brown, the viewer learns how Schulz's childhood and many parts of his own life plus the lives of those near and dear to him influenced several prominent characters and motifs in the award-winning Peanuts series. Some examples include the Little Red-Haired Girl, Franklin Armstrong, Lucy and Pig-Pen. Interviews with Schulz's widow, his close acquaintances, famous viewers and the people who brought Charlie Brown to life on-screen help paint an enthralling picture of the pensive and talented Schulz, as well as the context and subtext behind his legendary series.

Who Are You, Charlie Brown? is exactly what a biopic should be. Its length of about 50 minutes is perfect; its storytelling seamless; its animation immaculate. The interviews with people such as Drew Barrymore, a longtime Peanuts lover, and the archival footage and voiceovers of Mr. Schulz himself add great depth and emotion to the film. The sequence with Mr. Schulz, in his last days whilst battling cancer, describes his reaction to the overwhelming love he received for the Charlie Brown cartoons and will certainly make you tear up a bit.

Who Are You, Charlie Brown? has a clear mission - to answer the question posed in its title. This it does with efficiency, thoroughness and liveliness. However, a deeper message is posed in the framing of Schulz as a man who takes inspiration from both high points and low points in his life when creating art. For artists and non-artists, channeling elements of your life, whether happy or sad, positive or negative, to add poignant emotions to your work is an immensely powerful tool.

I give Who Are You, Charlie Brown? 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. Who Are You, Charlie Brown? debuts globally Friday, June 25 on Apple TV+. Check it out!

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED WHO ARE YOU, CHARLIE BROWN


BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, PART ONE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
ANIMATED SERIES, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Description:

It's a dark time in Gotham City. Held hostage by the powerful Falcone crime family, the city is rife with crime and corruption. Adding to the chaos is the mysterious Holiday killer, who has been targeting the underworld and leaving a trail of terror... and body bags. Batman, Lieutenant Gordon and D.A. Harvey Dent race against the calendar as it advances toward the next ill-fated holiday. Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One begins a twisted chain of events that will forever change the Dark Knight.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One offers a decent take on Batman's early years before Batman evolved into the great detective he is now. Like the other Batman films, Gotham does not appear to be the best place to live. This film stands apart from other animated Batman films because it shows Batman as a novice detective.

The story begins with a brutal murder on Halloween, which prompts Batman (Jensen Ackles) to team up with the two uncorrupt lawmen Police Captain James Gordon (Billy Burke) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel). They team up to take down Roman, the head of the notorious and powerful Falcone Crime Family. As the team works together, something unexpected occurs. There is a string of deaths that occurs on holidays; then the three realize that they are dealing with a holiday killer. After some investigation, with Batman following the clues, he thinks he knows who the holiday killer is, but he discovers the high cost of being wrong.

Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One incorporates settings that are typical in a Batman film. Since the film takes a look at Batman in his earlier years, it helps viewers to understand why he feels compelled to over analyze things. The film's lack of transition between holidays, which is integral to the plot, is a little confusing; the story moves swiftly from one holiday to the next and only when something occurs related to the holiday do we know when it is taking place. The animation is reminiscent of Batman the Animated series - nothing too exciting, but workable. The images have lots of straight lines, which gives a different look to the characters, but not so much that it distracts from the plot. Batman is still my favorite character and I like seeing his evolution in the film; as the seasons come and go, he grows.

The message of this film is that sometimes you have to rely on others to help you overcome big problems. Another reminder is to not be afraid to question the evidence before assuming someone is guilty.

Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One gets 3 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This is available now on DVD and on demand.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, PART ONE


GHOSTWRITER 2021
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-16

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, 8-16 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
APPLE TV

Description:

Ghostwriter follows four kids who are brought together by a mysterious ghost in a neighborhood bookstore, and must team up to release fictional characters from works of literature. Ghostwriter, garnered an historic Daytime Emmy Award win for Outstanding Children's or Family Viewing Programming for season one, and recently debuted new episodes from season two on Apple TV+ which follows the young heroes working to save their bookstore and discover the true identity of their ghostly companion. By the end of this season, Episode 13, the students have bravely completed their missions, closing the book on this adventure! The award-winning show is currently in production for season three with a new group of curious, intelligent children on another unbelievable literary journey.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Have you ever wanted to have tea with the Mad Hatter, battle the Frankenstein monster or solve a mystery with Sherlock Holmes? Welcome to the lives of Ruben Reyna (Isaac Arellanes), Chevon Redmond (Amadi Chapata), Donna Palmer-Moreno (Hannah Levinson) and Curtis Palmer-Moreno (Justin Sanchez). With some of the best storylines, creative incorporation of literary elements and beyond impressive acting, Ghostwriter is an absolute must-see for all kids and teens!

Ghostwriter follows four kids on a fantastical mission to solve a mystery and figure out what unfinished business the ghost wants them to complete. Along with mysteriously dropping random clues left and right, the 'ghostwriter' releases characters from different books. Although these fictional people can only be seen by the four kids, they do cause disruption while helping solve the mystery. After the characters have served their purpose, the middle-schoolers work to return them to their appropriate book and take the next step in figuring out the ghost puzzle. In the last few episodes, the kids actually dive into the world of a book rather than having the characters from the book come to them, which adds excitement to the already fabulous TV series.

Ghostwriter is one of the most creative shows that I've ever seen. The prospect of fictional characters coming to life and interacting with young teens and kids is a wonderful one and I can't imagine it being done any much better than it is in Ghostwriter. The show is very written well. The inclusion the literary characters is woven naturally into a normal teenage drama, creating a fun environment that doesn't seem forced in any way. Realistic dialogue is peppered with the fantastical elements. To go with this incredible dialogue, the actors portraying the kids all deliver relatable and funny performances that grabbed my attention. The delivery of their lines, together with their physical motions and facial expressions are seamless. The actors that portray the book characters are also above and beyond. Each one uses accents, slang and behavior that are a little out of the ordinary. Cameron Brodeur, as the Camarillo Kid, displays a range of emotions for his complex character. His accent and cowboy-style actions add to this interesting and entertaining character. Another actor whose performance shines is Jeff Joseph, who plays Frank. Frank shows up in multiple episodes as an older man from a poem. His old country accent is superb and really enhances his character. Frank makes a return appearance in the most recently released episodes. These characters from different time periods and worlds need costumes that show us where they are from and who they are. The costume designers deserve a big tip of the hat for their superb work. Sets and props are well-executed. Although many of the episodes are based around real people coming to life, there are a couple of scenes where imaginary animals are the focal point. The animators make the transitions between animation and live action seamless, without it being obvious that a fantastical creature is alive.

The message of Ghostwriter is to value your friends and know that unlikely friendships will occur, but that doesn't mean they won't be good ones. There are a couple of minor intense scenes, such as battling monsters and a crime mystery, and several suspenseful episodes. For example, the "Frankenstein" and "Jungle Book" episodes and the last few in the second season are more intense.

I give Ghostwriter 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 16. Ghostwriter is currently streaming on Apple TV+.

Reviewed by Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR GHOSTWRITER 2021


ROADRUNNER: A FILM ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
FOCUS FEATURES

Description:

It's not where you go. It's what you leave behind.... Chef, writer, adventurer, provocateur: Anthony Bourdain lived his life unabashedly. Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at how an anonymous chef became a world-renowned cultural icon. From Academy Award�-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom, Won't You Be My Neighbor?), this unflinching look at Bourdain reverberates with his presence, in his own voice and in the way he indelibly impacted the world around him.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain offers an incisive look into the life and times of an enigma who raced through life with ferocity, grit, and a truly remarkable nonchalant attitude. A tale of a man who continued to barrel through life like a steam locomotive, picking up emotional baggage, shattering relationships, and joking about darkness all along the way. A great story of one of the greatest raconteurs whose story ended too quickly. This is Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain.

Renowned chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain seduced New Yorkers' stomachs years before he enraptured audiences with shows like A Cook's Tour, No Reservations, and of course, the famous Parts Unknown. And even before his culinary career, Bourdain hit one of the lowest lows of his life, with a destructive heroin and cocaine addiction that he attributes to a visceral, angry response to the love and affection of his parents. Roadrunner largely summarizes Tony Bourdain's adolescence, skipping to the publication of his bestselling memoir Kitchen Confidential which first launched him overnight into the show-biz. The film chronicles Bourdain and his crew's adventures, getting caught up in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in Beirut, eating exotic items in the far reaches of East Asia, and making deep and long-lasting friendships all along the way. Bourdain forsook his home life for these travels. The film also documents the later chapter of Anthony Bourdain's life, wherein he was betrayed by love, struggled to cope with his emotions, his agoraphobia, and his growing sense of insecurity about fatherhood. And in a heart wrenching sequence, the film documents Bourdain's suicide and the responses of his loved ones to this event.

It's an incredible film, a journalistic undertaking by award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville that won my heart. The magical voice of Bourdain guides the film. Scenes from his shows, archival footage, Bourdain's Instagram stories, and interviews with his close circle of friends and family, including his second wife Ottavia Busia-Bourdain and his friend Chef Eric Ripert, are tied together to tell an enchanting story that genuinely is not depressing or dark. To paraphrase Busia-Bourdain's quote in the film, Anthony Bourdain was more than the acts he committed near the end of his 61 years of life, and much like him, Roadrunner brings much light into the viewers' hearts. The editing and musical score, especially the careful inclusion of the title song from the 1970 film "Violent City," about a man who takes revenge on his unfaithful lover, help move the story forward and provide a deeper meaning to an already superb film.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is a reminder to all of us that we have someone we can reach out to, we have a reason to live, we have a reason to enjoy every moment of our lives, and we have a reason to be the best version of ourselves. Given Bourdain's colorful personality, one wouldn't be surprised to learn that there is cursing throughout the film, and mentions of suicide and taking drugs also pop up over the course of the 2-hour piece.

I give Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15 to 18, plus adults. The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 11, 2021. It is scheduled to be released on July 16, 2021, by Focus Features, after which it will air on CNN and HBO Max on an unspecified date.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is a personal, honest--albeit loving--look at and into the life of Anthony Bourdain and all the various detours it took. This documentary charts his journey from chef to writer to acclaimed TV host, as told by his closest friends, the people he worked with, and his family.

After an opening credits sequence that runs through the years leading up to Bourdain's career as a chef, Roadrunner begins its sprint in 1999 after he's secured a deal to write a book about his experiences in the restaurant world, Kitchen Confidential, the New York Times bestseller that would put Bourdain on the talk show circuit, and kickstart his ascent towards celebrity. In preparation for writing his second memoir, A Chef's Tour, he was approached by TV producers who pitched an ongoing series in tandem with the upcoming book, thus forming a partnership that would spawn multiple shows, win several Emmys and begin Bourdain's long tenure on television screens and secure his status as a world-famous traveler.

This film is a challenge on many levels. For starters, Bourdain's suicide is still a recent event in the public eye, and, I'm certain, a fresh wound for those who knew him. It's difficult to watch a feature-length story of someone's whole life, knowing that it's going to end so inevitably, suddenly, and sadly; however, Roadrunner succeeds by showing us Bourdain in his totality which balances the sadness of his inevitable end. And yet, audiences may find it unavoidable to wonder who he really was, along with his loved ones striving to answer the question: Who was Anthony Bourdain off-screen?

Roadrunner mirrors Bourdain's own frequent departures from home and journeys to parts unknown, taking us back and forth from his television world and his home life with his daughter. We see a conversation between Bourdain and a friend, where they discuss the paradox of wanting to return home when they're away, but immediately wanting to get back on the road when they get home. This tragic conversation gets right to the heart of the movie's title, Roadrunner, and just how reflective it was of Bourdain's own everyday life.

After a TV episode goes awry, Bourdain talks about his faltering belief in the power of the table at which we eat and share, yet Roadrunner becomes a testament to that power. Nearly every interview in the film is organized across a table, where deeply personal details and anecdotes from those who knew Bourdain are exchanged. Director Neville operates with a wealth of outtakes from his TV shows and all the excess footage of Bourdain's 20 years on screen, but it's these genuine moments with Bourdain's tribe that cut the deepest.

I give Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15 to 18, plus adults, for mild language and strong themes throughout. Roadrunner lands in theaters on July 16, 2021.

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR ROADRUNNER: A FILM ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN


TOMORROW WAR, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION

Description:

In the thrilling science-fiction action adventure The Tomorrow War, the world is stunned when a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight. Among those recruited is high school teacher and family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). Determined to save the world for his young daughter, Dan teams up with a brilliant military scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) and his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) in a desperate quest to rewrite the fate of the planet.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Tomorrow War is here kicking alien butt, and kicking off the summer movie season with two hours of straight action, complete with a beautifully composed soundtrack. This is a solid sci-fi action film with a fantastic soundtrack. It possesses generic family origins that can be seen in practically any other film and has plenty of gory moments with mild cursing.

The Tomorrow War follows an aspiring scientist/father, Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) as his life changes forever. Dan, along with the entire world, learns of a war being fought 30 years in the future. When more people are needed for this future war, a worldwide draft is put in place to send recruits 30 years into the future to fight. Dan is drafted into the war, and must fight to save not only his own life, but the lives of the ones he loves the most.

Chris Pratt continues to prove himself worthy of a wide variety of roles, yet is driven by clich� themes seen in countless other films. The nonstop action is interspersed throughout the film with certain comedic moments to lighten the mood from the major intensity this film brings. Some CGI and effects are mind-blowing initially, but the film reuses them over and over again to the point where it becomes repetitive and the details lose their importance. The soundtrack in The Tomorrow War is exquisite. It embodies the dark and gritty tone of the film perfectly, adding an intense layer pleasing to the ears. The film uses a lot of repetitive techniques that are extremely noticeable. Specifically, slow motion. It's used in tons of unnecessary scenes, really disrupting the proper flow of the film; making it seem bulky in some parts.

The film teaches the moral that relationships can be repaired, and family is forever. The Tomorrow War is rated PG-13 for good reasons. Over the course of the film, many instances of disturbing action are shown along with mild cursing. The action at times can be very gory, which may be a sensitive issue to younger viewers. Sensitive, mature topics present themselves throughout the film, such as family abandonment. At the same time, larger themes like love and kin are shown.

I give The Tomorrow War 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch The Tomorrow War streaming on Amazon Prime Video beginning July 2, 2021.

By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

The Tomorrow War is a sci-fi action film with a substantial storyline, as much of the movie takes place 30 years in the future. Films like this that give more backstory about the main character and their life - including family, friends and work always catch my attention. They make me feel as if I really know the character and what motivated them to overcome the obstacles thrown at them.

The Tomorrow War is about a veteran and now biology teacher, Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). Dan, along with others, gets drafted to fight aliens. We quickly learn the war takes place 30 years in the future. The fate of humanity relies on Dan's ability to confront his past and face his present, while fighting in a future war. With the help of his wife, Lilly Gamble (Betty Gilpin) and his daughter Muri (Yvonne Strahovski) and his dad Slade (J.K. Simmons), Dan has a chance to save millions of lives by stopping the future attack from happening.

The Tomorrow War has some strong character development, letting us learn more about Dan by looking at his relationship with his mother, his father, his wife and his daughter. We see how this fuels other important relationships for him. Dan and his daughter's relationship is similar to that of Dan's with his dad. We can see why he tries so hard to be a good dad, especially in his willingness to be weird and silly with her. Unlike some films where spouses have a supporting role, but don't really help with the plot, Dan's wife is smart and integral in figuring out something huge regarding the aliens. Even though much of the film is serious, Chris Pratt's ability to be sarcastically humorous provides some comic relief. There is also some superior level CGI when bringing the aliens to life. That, together with the strong action sequences makes for a good sci-fi, action movie.

The message of the film is about fighting for the people you love. Also, there is the reminder to not forget to let them know you do love them and don't be too proud to explain the reasons for your actions. There's always a second chance and that chance is always worth fighting for.

The Tomorrow War gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it to ages 11 to 18, plus adults. It releases on July 2, 2021 on Amazon Prime Video.

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

The Tomorrow War is an action-packed film with everything you can possibly want! Set in the future, with fight sequences, aliens and the world at risk, it'll keep you on the edge of your seat. Get ready for the ride of your life.

This tale begins when beings travel to the present from 28 years in the future and chaos erupts. They are fighting a war against aliens and are losing terribly, so they decide to recruit humans from 2022. Family man Dan (Chris Pratt) is drafted and heads to the year 2050 for the fight of his life. Dan works with scientist Vicki (Yvonne Strahovski) and his father Slade (J.K. Simmons) to save the world.

It is impossible to ignore the chemistry between the actors and their characters. Watching Chris bond with Yvonne is like watching a real father and daughter who are together and yet worlds apart. Vicki's heart wrenching monologue serves as the perfect motivator for Dan. We see his priorities shift from saving the world to saving his daughter, being sure to prevent the war from ever happening when he gets back to his present time. However, The Tomorrow War misses out on a huge opportunity - weaponry. It's hard not to notice the lack of creativity in the weapons used. In 28 years, there have been no upgrades in guns, armament or modes of military transportation; the same 2021 style shotguns and AKs are used in 2050?!. How fun it would have been to see Chris Pratt with futuristic swords or armor. Another missed opportunity is the aliens' appearance. They vaguely remind any Stranger Things viewer of the infamous Demogorgon, with its Venus Fly Trap face. I was hoping to see terrifying beasts that can't be found anywhere else.

The moral of this film is to never take anything for granted. As Dan returns home, he realizes just how important family is and the need to enjoy his time with them, instead of being so caught up in getting a job. He notices how his future self has failed his wife and daughter and vows to never make the same mistakes.

I give The Tomorrow War 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. It begins streaming on Amazon Prime July 2, 2021.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED TOMORROW WAR, THE


BOSS BABY: THE FAMILY BUSINESS, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
DREAMWORKS - LA

Description:

Now adults, Theodore Templeton and his estranged brother take a magical formula that transforms them into babies for 48 hours. Together, they must now go under cover to prevent an evil genius from turning fellow toddlers intro monstrous brats.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The boss is back baby! The Boss Baby: The Family Business brings back the Templetons from the original movie, The Boss Baby, also created and directed by Tom McGrath. This movie brings the same energy, hilarious animation, fight scenes and secret missions we've come to love with The Boss Baby Franchise.

In this sequel, the Templeton brothers, Tim (James Marsden) and Theodore "Ted" (Alec Baldwin) are back as adults and have drifted away from each other over the years. We meet Tim's family, including his new toddler daughter, Tina (Amy Sedaris), who is now the new Boss Baby and is on a mission from Baby Corp. to bring them together. This launches a new family business.

The main characters are Tim's wife, Carol (Eva Longoria), daughters, Tabitha (Ariana Greenblatt) and Tina, and, of course, his brother, Mr. Boss Baby himself, Ted. While the film has a lot of references to the first film, you can easily follow along in this sequel. Most of all the original main characters are back, and we even get a visit from Tim and Ted's parents. I really enjoyed that Tom McGrath stays true to the original concept, but adds a new storyline. One of my favorite scenes is when another baby group, "The Ninja Babies" are chasing Ted. He initially thinks they are cute until they start attacking him. It is pretty funny watching Ted run around screaming. Alec Baldwin nails Ted's sound effects. Even Amy Sedaris's squealing as Tina is hilarious and she actually uses this squeal in real life to get people's attention.

The message of this film is that it is important to focus on what matters most - love and family. Over the years, Ted always put his job and money ahead of his family, but realizes that he will always be lonely if he doesn't prioritize things. Parents should look out for bad habits some of the babies show and words that sound similar to profanity.

The Boss Baby: The Family Business is the perfect movie for families to bond over this summer. I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. The Boss Baby: The Family Business launches July 2, 2021 in theaters and on Peacock.

Reviewed by Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The new film The Boss Baby: Family business is a very interactive movie and animated sequel. I absolutely loved it. Directed by Tom McGrath and Sean Mullen, it is completely entertaining, exciting, very humorous and fun to watch. As I watched the movie, I could not stop laughing.

The Boss Baby: Family Business is the official continuation of the original film, Boss Baby, about a wannabe executive baby named Theodore Templeton (Alec Baldwin). Now both Ted and his older brother, Tim (James Marsden) are adults and they've grown apart. When Uncle Ted drops in for a visit, he learns that his niece, Tina (Amy Sedaris) has the same business-minded, mini-manager drive and spirit as her uncle. Tina gets Tim and Ted to experiment with a new technology that reverts them back to babies for 48 hours. This is when all the excitement starts; the mission reunites the Templeton brothers in unexpected ways, and leads them to re-evaluate what the true meaning of family is as they are reminded what truly matters in life.

My favourite characters are Tabitha (Ariana Greenblatt) and Tina (Amy Sedaris). Ariana Greenblatt plays Tabitha as an intelligent and bright young girl at the top of her class, who is scared to sing in front of a crowd, because she doesn't want to make a mistake and wants to make her dad proud. When I watched that part of the movie, I wanted to tear up, because it is such a beautiful moment when she sings and gets over her fears. Amy Sedaris's Tina takes matters into her own hands and acts like the Boss Baby she is, restoring the bond between her dad and uncle. My favourite scene is when the Templeton brothers are stuck in a situation and say, "It's lonely at the top; just because you grow up does not mean you grow apart."

The message of this movie is that there is nothing more important than the love of your family and the bond between them; having a family that loves you brings a person such comfort and peace, and helps them to become more confident.

I give Boss Baby: Family business 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theatres Friday, July 2, 2021. Save the date!

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR BOSS BABY: THE FAMILY BUSINESS, THE


LONELIEST WHALE: THE SEARCH FOR 52, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FESTIVAL
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
BLEECKER STREET MEDIA

Description:

The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 is a feature length documentary that will take audiences on a journey to find the forgotten "52 Hertz Whale." Calling out at 52 Hz, a frequency unrecognized by other whales, this mysterious creature is believed to have lived its life in complete solitude, its calls forever unanswered by its own kind. In our ever-present fascination with these majestic beasts, the tale of "52" has prompted an intense reaction amongst our own species, pointing to a greater awareness of human loneliness than ever before.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The riveting documentary The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52, by Joshua Zeman, brings us closer to our deep connection with animals. From the very first moment of the film, the beauty of the underwater world and the majesty of whales hooks the viewer in. The story is filled with hope and disappointment; it evokes emotion at every twist and turn. Anyone who watches the film immediately sympathizes with the 52 Hertz Whale.

The call of the 52 Hertz Whale was first detected during the Cold War. At first, the noise was thought to come from a Russian submarine, but later it was discovered to be a whale. Scientists had never heard whale sounds with that frequency before and one scientist, Bill Watkins, began to search for it. After the death of Bill Watkins a group of scientists decided to set out on a seven day expedition in search of 52. The film follows the ups and downs of their adventure, with no guarantee of success. Will they find the 52 Hertz Whale? The ending might not be what you expect.

This film features the world's biggest experts in marine biology and whales. Each of these scientists has their own expertise and, when they work together, they create the perfect team to find 52. They communicate so well that, without even knowing it, I was learning about anatomy, whale communication, and important patterns in science. The music brings everything together, creating a dramatic and sentimental effect. The whale sounds are haunting and touched me deeply. My favorite parts of this film are the majestic underwater scenes. By placing suction cup cameras onto the whales and using underwater drones, the filmmakers were able to record whale movements and interactions in all their beauty.

This message of this film is that humans and animals are connected in more ways than we can ever imagine. We don't need a common language to communicate. We are connected by nature and emotion. We learn that severe noise pollution from shipping containers and oil drilling disrupts their ability to understand each other. The story makes me want to buy locally and think of ways to protect the safety of whale habitats. There is occasional use of profanity, but there are no offensive or degrading words. While some of the expeditions are risky, it is unlikely that kids would imitate them.

The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me. It is a must-see film. I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Adults will absolutely love this film as well. The film releases in theaters July 9, 2021 and on digital on July 16, 2021.

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

Passionate researchers and an adventurous search for a mysterious singing whale is just what you'll get in The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52! This documentary takes you on a journey through the Pacific Ocean while delivering a touching and thrilling story about connections between marine life and humans.

The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 is a documentary about a whale, nicknamed 52 or "the loneliest whale" that had never been seen, but known to exist by the unique song he sings at 52 Hertz. Originally thought to be the sound of a submarine, scientists later learned the sound came from a whale. This documentary follows a team of scientists on their journey searching for the 52 Hertz whale, and the challenges in finding it.

Created, produced and directed by Joshua Zeman The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 is very interesting and educational. My favorite part was seeing how Mr. Zeman and the researchers were able to put tracking devices on the whales. It seemed very challenging and astonishing at the same time. They used advanced equipment to accomplish that, such as the SOSUS, which is used by the military to track the sounds of submarines. The film shows how whales sing to connect with other whales. However, when it comes to 52, his song is different, which might not enable him to communicate with others; hence is believed to be lonely.

One of the biggest lessons in this documentary is that humans should pay attention to how everything is connected. Even if we don't speak the same language, there are always ways to connect and communicate with other living species. The film also touches on how humans can help whales by reducing noise pollution from things such as off-shore drilling, which really interferes with how whales communicate with each other. Parents should be aware that there are scenes showing people harming whales.

The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can find this film in theaters and on demand starting July 9, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR LONELIEST WHALE: THE SEARCH FOR 52, THE


MIGHTY ONES, THE: SEASON 2
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-12

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 8-12 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
HULU, LLC

Description:

The adventures of a gang of tiny creatures -- a pebble, a strawberry, a twig and a leaf -- who are best friends and live in a terribly unkempt backyard belonging to a trio of equally unkempt humans. This band of diminutive heroes calls themselves the Mighty Ones, and while they may be the smallest things in the yard, they're determined to live big lives.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Our favorite mighty tiny creatures - Very Berry, Leaf, Twig and Rocksy - are back for a new round of adventures in The Mighty Ones Season 2. This animated series is fun and colorful, with a nice mix of hidden educational messages. Each episode presents an obstacle for the Mighty Ones crew, which they usually create themselves, but they always find a way to get out of it. This series is very bubbly and enjoyable!

The Mighty Ones is about a group of four friends: Very Berry (Alex Cazares), Twig (Josh Brener), Leaf (Jimmy Tatro) and Rocksy (Jessica McKenna). They live in a messy backyard of humans that they call giants or gods. The messiness makes for great new adventures on every path. While they are the smallest things in the yard, there is no obstacle they can't overcome because they always work together and have each other's backs.

The main characters are Very Berry, a fun and adventurous strawberry; Leaf, a laid-back and cool leaf; Twig, a smart and nervous stick; and Rocksy, a considerate pebble, who is also the group leader. I love how each character has huge goals and its own personality. My favorite scene is from the "Home Touchers" episode when Rocksy is trapped in the humans' house. Kensington (Janina Gavankar), one of the "giants," is listening to a podcast about murderous ghosts. The show describes the signs of a ghost being in the house and, each time Twig and Berry make that exact noise to capture Rocky's attention, it scares Kensington.

The message of The Mighty Ones is to trust your friends because they have your best interest at heart and you can do more together than alone. There is also a hidden message throughout the series about how humans affect the lives of other living things. The "Mighty Ones" are affected by all the things the humans keep in their backyard, which correlates to how humans affect climate change and the lives of other species.

I give The Mighty Ones 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 8 to 12. You can find Season 2 streaming on Peacock and Hulu beginning July 1, 2021.

Reviewed by Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED MIGHTY ONES, THE: SEASON 2


OCTONAUTS: SEASON 4

Running Time:
90 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
3-10

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 3-10 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

The Octonauts are a team of adventurers who explore the world's 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 is educational, adventurous and appealing to younger audiences due to its fun characters and missions. Additionally, the musical score that accompany the action are terrific and help heighten tension when necessary. The educational aspects are hidden well within the adventurous missions. So, while children may think they are watching a fun adventure, they are actually learning. All the episodes are colorful and vibrant, which children will also enjoy. Octonauts is a great series for children that love adventures and helping animals.

The Octonauts are a group of animals that help protect creatures in the ocean or other bodies of water. Their adventures begin with reading or seeing the creatures, and then, if the creatures need help, the whole group of Octonauts assembles to create a plan. They go on adventures all over the world to save creatures.

The structure of the show makes sense and flows well. Each episode begins with Captain Barnacles and other members reading or seeing something associated with the creature they are going to save. Then, the Octonauts assemble and venture off to see that creature and help them resolve their problems. The episodes drew me in since the action occurs fairly quickly. I felt empathy towards the creatures that need help, but also the Octonauts when they struggle during their mission.

The vocabulary and concepts are suitable for the intended audiences. Even if the concept may be challenging to grasp, the Octonauts explain multiple times in different ways exactly what they are doing. For example, they explain what a tidal wave is with graphics on their TV and then other Octonauts join in and explain to one another what a tidal wave is. Repetition is excellent for learning, as is incorporating different learning styles. Visually, the show is vibrant and colorful. The images are definitely easy to identify; the animation is very crisp and clear. The DVD cover design is appropriate and matches with the episodic adventures within.

The viewer can click on individual episodes to watch specific ones, or play them all. Also, it keeps your place and remembers where you left off so you can pick up from there. It is also subtitled in English, which makes it useful for those wanting to learn to read or speak better English. After each episode, Captain Barnacles talks about Creature Reports, which you can find in the main menu. The Creature Reports are adorable; they give a little update on the creatures the Octonauts saved.

One big value to the show is that it involves the viewer in problem-solving. Since all the episodes are based around problem solving and devising plans to help creatures, it definitely encourages children to do the same in their own lives. It also teaches the viewer about different environments. Lastly, is the emphasis to work as a team, which helps you gain insight on problem-solving from another viewpoint.

Octonauts: Season 4 gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 3 to 9, perhaps older. Children may find this appealing because the educational aspects are hidden well within the adventurous missions. Not only will this appeal to the younger audience, but Octonauts will also appeal to the parents/guardians that are viewing it as well. Even adults can learn something new about aquatic creatures in each episode. Octonauts is appropriate for ages 3 to 9. The concepts and vocabulary are suitable for younger viewers; even if some concepts or terms may be difficult to comprehend, the team explains them thoroughly.

By Tor R., KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The DVD Octonauts: Season 4 is collection of episodes from the colorful, animated series with unique storylines and cleverly imbedded educational information. I would watch a cute scene, go back over it in my head, and realize that I just learned something!

This show, in Season 4, follows Captain Barnacles (Ross Breen) as he teaches some young Octonauts to get their badges, which are earned by completing certain tasks. Some of the episodes revolve around these missions, while others are based on specific characters or events introduced solely for that episode.

Octonauts: Season 4 is similar in quality to previous seasons. It mostly keeps the themes, educational values and entertainment from the past seasons alive. The animation is colorful and bright, which makes the screen an interesting sight and compels you to keep watching. Although the animation and acting may not be quite the level of other animated TV shows, the bright colors, educational aspects and themes are important for young kids and make for an interesting show. One shortcoming is the unrealistic way the characters' mouths move when they talk, with mouths moving differently than the words they are speaking. Some of the more suspenseful parts are less intense because their speech doesn't quite seem real. Besides that, important educational impressions are seamlessly imbedded in the entertaining storylines. In one episode, I learned some interesting facts about sea creatures and their young pups. Whether it is facts about animals, environments, habits or anything else, education is the best part about this show.

The message of Octonauts: Season 4 varies, depending on the theme of each episode. However, the overall themes are about teamwork and kindness.

Octonauts: Season 4 gets 3 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 3 to 6. It is available on DVD now, so go look for it!

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

Octonauts: Season 4 is a very fun and educational show to watch. It allows viewers to have entertainment while learning learn more about animals and become more educated.

This DVD centers around Captain Barnacles (Ross Breen), Kwazii (Rob Rackstraw) and Peso (Paul Pattington), as well as other Octonauts in the series. They go on various adventures exploring the animal kingdom such as saving baby walruses and sea turtles.

Octonauts: Season 4 has a lot of cool things to talk about. First, this show is educational, especially about the animal kingdom. You learn things throughout the show and, at the end; there is a creature report where they teach you more. Second, the creature report. The creature report is a fun part of the show where they sing out facts about an animal and, at the end; they show pictures of that animal in real life to show you what they look like since they don't always look the same when they are animated. Third, the theme songs are another really fun part of the show; there is a theme song playing in the background at the beginning when we first see the Octonauts. There is also a theme song to accompany the Octo Alert. Fourth, the show shows kids how to be kind and caring and help others. In the DVD the Octonauts often help other animals do lots of things; they help them find their moms or get to the ocean safely. This can teach kids how to help each other and how to be kind to others and how to care for the environment.

The message of this show is to always help others when they need it. If you can help, do it and make the world a better place.

Octonauts: Season 4 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 2 to 10. Adults will also enjoy watching it with their little ones. Octonauts: Season 4 is available now on DVD.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The beloved children's show, Octonauts is back for its fourth season, now on DVD. This collection of episodes has new creatures, new lessons and new adventures. If you watched this show when you were younger, the nostalgia will come to you immediately. However, if you are a new fan of Octonauts, you're sure to be entertained because Octonauts Season Four is both educational and engaging.

The DVD Octonauts: Season Four follows Captain Barnacles (Ross Breen) and his crew of sailors who live in an Octopod in the ocean. This team's purpose is to find and save ocean animals in need. Each member of the team has a different and unique duty to ensure that everything is in place for their rescue missions and their working together makes each mission successful.

Something that stands out in this show is the approach taken towards its educational aspect. Young children don't want to sit down and watch a show that just states facts about animals. Octonauts Season Four uses a predictable format for each episode that keeps young viewers entertained, while learning new things. For example, "Creature Report" is an upbeat and fun song that plays at the end of each episode and summarizes the events of that rescue mission. During the song, viewers get to see a realistic picture of the animal the storyline is written about. Kids will be learning about these marine animals without even realizing it. This show also has a lot of diversity with the animals on the team, as well as the roles they play. For example, the three leading animals on the team are Captain Barnacles, who is a bear; Kwazzi, who is a kitten; and Peso, who is a penguin. With these characters alone, kids are introduced to three different animals. Additionally, the creators and writers of the show give each of the characters different positions for the missions. Barnacles is the leader; Kwazii is the daredevil who always goes on the quests; Peso is the medic; Dashi is the photographer and overseer at headquarters; Shellington is the scientist; Tweak is the engineer; Inkling is the oceanographer; and Tunip (along with many other Vegimals) is the helper in the Octopod. This showcases the idea that, even in real life, we have different roles to play as we learn to live and work together.

The message of Octonauts Season Four is stated in their motto - explore, rescue, protect. The Octonauts work together, committing their lives to exploring the sea and different environments so that they can help all of the other creatures. This might inspire kids to get creative, stay curious and explore.

I give Octonauts Season Four 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. Octonauts Season Four is the perfect DVD for parents to watch along with their kids. Even I enjoyed watching the team go on new quests. Octonauts Season Four is available on now on DVD so look for it. Make sure you check it out!

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

      This title is available for purchase from Amazon.com

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED OCTONAUTS: SEASON 4


F9: THE FAST SAGA
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION

Description:

Cipher enlists the help of Jakob, Dom's younger brother to take revenge on Dom and his team.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

After waiting for four years, the adventurous Fast and Furious series continues in the nail-biting thriller, F9: The Fast Saga. I was on the edge of my seat throughout this entire film, and held my attention to the end. Full of action, charge and intensity, this is a movie you do not want to miss.

Starting where the series left off, F9: The Fast Saga starts with a scene showing Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) living a quiet life with their son. However, this does not last for long. The villain they last encountered in The Fate of the Fast and Furious, Cipher (Charlize Theron), is still out there, and now seemingly helping Dominic's younger brother Jakub (John Cena) who shares the Toretto name, but not the same morals. Jakub is out to gain what he never had: a life where he isn't in someone's shadow. The crew sets out to stop him and do what they do best - save the world. This movie creates a new standard on what it truly means to have courage and be a hero.

F9: The Fast Saga pulses with action from the very start. We only get about ten minutes before the pace picks up, and Dominic is off to start another mission. Even though the action is entertaining, it definitely is not realistic. There are multiple scenes where characters should have died, or at least been seriously injured and aren't. One example is the scene where Dominic and Letty are flying around the edge of a cliff with just a skinny cable keeping them from falling. I understand that the point of action movies is to push the limits of reality, but as Roman (Tyrese Gibson) points out in the movie - none of the crew ever dies or even gets hurt, even after multiple shots have been fired at them. Other than that, I enjoyed this movie. I love the friendships between the characters, especially between Roman and Tej (Ludacris) who have a hilarious, almost brotherly, friendship. They make fun of each other and deliver most of the one liners throughout the film.

The message of this film is to have trust in your friends and family, because even when things are hard, they will have your back. It's always good to have people to lean on, especially when you're saving the world.

I give F9: The Fast Saga 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 17 plus adults. It releases in theatres June 25, 2021.

By Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I like F9: The Fast Saga because it has a lot of action, explosions and fantastic scenes.

In this installment of the Fast and Furious franchise, Dom (Vin Diesel) and his friends go up against his biggest adversary, his own brother Jacob (John Cena) in order to stop a plot to control the world. We get a look into the two brothers' past together and learn a little bit about their history racing cars.

This movie has tons of action sequences with racing stunts never before seen. The characters do things with their cars that are out of this world, like for example, flying a car to space. How crazy is that? This film is packed with so many good actors such as Vin Diesel, John Cena, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Ludacris, Helen Mirren, Michael Rooker and special guests, Cardie B, Bad Bunny and Bow Wow. My favorite is Tyrese Gibson who adds so many comical scenes to this movie. The graphics are amazing. The cars are super expensive sports cars and supercharged muscle cars. The film takes place in different places all over the world.

The moral of F9: The Fast Saga is that family is everything. Siblings can become rivals, but blood is thicker than water. Be warned that this film contains harsh language and violence.

I'd give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 13 to 18 plus adults. It opens in theaters June 25, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED F9: THE FAST SAGA


FATHOM
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
APPLE TV

Description:

Directed and photographed by Drew Xanthopoulos ("The Sensitives"), "Fathom" follows Dr. Ellen Garland and Dr. Michelle Fournet, two scientists focused on the study of humpback whale songs and social communication. As they embark on parallel research journeys on opposite sides of the world, they seek to better understand whale culture and communication. The documentary film uniquely reveals a deep commitment and reverence to the scientific process and the universal human need to seek answers about the world around us. From hypothesis to groundbreaking experiences in the field, "Fathom" showcases the passion, curiosity, collaboration, perseverance and work it takes for leading scientists to make scientific discoveries.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Fathom is an outstanding documentary that shows how interesting and awesome oceanography really is. One of the many things that makes this film great is the cinematography; it captures the beautiful ocean setting in a way that makes you feel as if you are there. Another aspect I enjoyed are the scientists. These women are incredible at what they do and at explaining it to non-scientists. I love two female scientists are featured because they are extremely underrepresented in this field of work.

The storyline follows two female scientists on a boat testing their hypotheses about whale communication. One of them, Dr. Ellen Garland, is answering her question about how far whale communication can travel. The second scientist, Dr. Michelle Fournet, is studying the whale's woop - a distinct type of call that is "almost as if the whale is saying, 'hey.'" Fathom not only focuses on the scientists' work life, but also their personal interactions with the team, their families, and just being goofy people.

One of my favorite parts is when Dr. Fournet manages to accomplish her goal of tracking 30 whales in two weeks while also caring for her team. I love that Dr. Garland, as a feminist, talks about how hard it is to show weakness as a woman in a male-dominated line of work. The scenes with Dr. Fournet and her crew on their boat in the middle of the ocean are captured so perfectly, from the lighting to the rich colors of the ocean. It makes me want to be there. When Dr. Fournet describes how dangerous this job is, it shows what these scientists are willing to risk to increase our knowledge about these beautiful whales.

The message of this film is about feminism; it is a recurring theme and is talked about a lot. These female scientists are great role models, especially for young girls who may be interested in science. This film promotes positive behavior, education and perseverance.

I give Fathom 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 18 plus adults. Fathom premieres on Apple TV+ June 25, 2021.

By Samantha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR FATHOM


PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
3-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 3-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Thomas and Bea are now married and living with Peter and his rabbit family. Bored of life in the garden, Peter goes to the big city, where he meets shady characters and ends up creating chaos for the whole family.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway is a family-friendly comedy-adventure film. I loved watching whimsical animated film. It had me laughing from beginning to end. The crazy adventures of Peter and the animals are highly entertaining.

In this film, the characters you loved from the first movie are back. A beautiful wedding, a new business, and a perfect life on the farm appeared to be all Peter Rabbit and his family need, but things change when a book Bea wrote about the rabbits gets an opportunity to be published.

Director Will Gluck and screenwriter Patrick Burleigh bring back Peter Rabbit with a new adventure while maintaining what we love about the characters from the first movie. The talented voice-overs of Peter Rabbit (James Corben), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Cottontail (Aimee Horne), and Barnabas (Lennie James) bring life to the characters and laughter. Of course, a comedy-adventure is nothing without a proper soundtrack. The music by Dominic Lewis keeps up with the high-energy animal mischief and helps build emotion. Art directors Nicholas Dare and Sophie Nash create realistic computer-generated animals that could easily play the lead actors in any movie, including humans. Their personalities will have movie viewers falling in love with them and cheering their victory.

Through Peter Rabbit's adventures on the farm and in the city, we learn that the importance of "family" is a continuous theme throughout the film. Unfortunately, Peter makes the mistake of letting the judgment of others question his character. However, the unconditional love from his siblings, cousin Bea, Thomas and the other animals helps him realize he doesn't have to be perfect to be loved. Bea and Thomas finally understand that "family" comes in all shapes and sizes.

I rate Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 18. Adults will also enjoy sharing laughs with their families. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway premieres in theaters June 11, 2021 and on Amazon Prime.

By Calee N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY


PENGUIN TOWN
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, 10-15 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

You've never met penguins like these before. Forget ice and snow, this rowdy colony of African penguins are hitting the sun-drenched beaches and breaking all the rules. Every summer, these tuxedoed birds vie for prime real estate on the sandy shores of Simon's Town, south of Cape Town, and stir things up. While humans apply sun block and wax their surfboards, these endangered little guys, who have adapted to heat and can travel long distances, are causing traffic jams in the streets and bringing mayhem to this tropical paradise. Their mission: find a mate, make babies and not go extinct! Filled with boisterous shenanigans and loads of adorable penguins -- from the troublemaking "Car Park Gang" to the sweet and cuddly newlyweds Mr. & Mrs. C. -- this eight-part series about the real lives of African penguins brings flipper-flapping fun and drama. Join the ride ... this town is going to get painted black and white!

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I love Penguin Town! It has great narration, interesting stories and is educational. You will laugh and you will cry in this eight-episode docu-series.

This show follows the rowdy colony of endangered South African Penguins in the beautiful beach town, Simon's Town, who forget the snow and flock to the sun. We follow the lives of newborns as they grow and then raise families of their own.

There are eight episodes in this show, each running about 25 minutes. Penguin Town is narrated by Patton Oswald, an excellent narrator who is goofy at some points and serious at others. The writing is very comedic, relatable and personifies the penguins. There are cliff-hangers at the end of episode, so you can't wait to watch the next one. All the penguins have very clever names, based on where they live such as Car Park Gang, the Courtyards and the Wheelbarrows. My favorite penguin family is the Bougainvilleas because they would do anything for their kids.

The messages here are: 1. protect and conserve wildlife, and 2. with the power of family, you can do anything. Of course, having kids is a LOT of work. There is some on-screen mating, sad parts and intense fights and deaths, so sensitive people may not like this.

I give Penguin Town 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8-18, plus adults. This show will be available on Netflix beginning June 16, 2021.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Penguin Town is far beyond just another penguin docu-series! It's hilarious as well as being educational. After all, it is narrated by comedian Patton Oswalt. This film shows just how human-like penguins' lives are when it comes to survival, searching for food and protecting their children. The only difference is that they are in a more hazardous environment.

Penguin Town is an 8-part documentary about the African Penguins, which are an endangered species of penguins that live in Africa. Each part of the series shows the experience of one of the penguin families named: The Bougainvilleas, The Courtyards, The Culverts and even Junior the "misfit" penguin. You get a close up view of how the penguins live, love, learn and grow.

This series is very heart-warming but can also be heartbreaking due to some of the events in the penguins' lives. My favorite thing about Penguin Town is how the filmmakers named the families based on their homes. For example, the Wheelbarrows live under a wheelbarrow; the Car Park Gang is a group of penguins who are loners, pick on other penguins and actually live in a car park. The camerawork in this film is astonishing. There are mind-blowing close-ups of the penguins, underwater scenes and lots of really cool shots of the penguins in their natural habitats. They truly incorporate plenty of human-like scenes, such as when a group of penguins walk into frame to some hip music as if they are a crew of cool penguins or when a female penguin shakes her head as if she is swinging her hair.

The message of Penguin Town is to not to give up; even if you fail the first time or are nervous, it's okay! In the series, the penguins might fail at trying to swim the first time, but they keep trying and eventually succeed! A hidden message is how climate change and human activities such as fishing endanger the lives of the African Penguins. Parents should be aware of mild profanity and some intense fighting scenes.

I rate Penguin Town 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 10 to 18, plus adults. If you are someone that loves penguins and want to know more about how they live, this is for you! Penguin Town premieres on Netflix, June 16, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR PENGUIN TOWN


LUCA
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES

Description:

Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, the original animated feature is a coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. Luca shares these adventures with his newfound best friend, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: he is a sea monster from another world just below the water's surface.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Luca is an entertaining animated film filled with fun, lots of scooter rides and unforgettable moments. It has great messages and shows you that you can have a good time if you just "Silencio Bruno." This new Disney-Pixar film has the potential of being one of your favorites.

The storyline is about a boy named Luca (Jacob Tremblay), who is a bit different from the rest. He is what people call a sea monster and so is his new friend Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer). Luca lives underwater as a sea monster, but he can't resist going up to the shore to explore the world as a human boy with Alberto, even though his parents tell him not to. When Luca's parents find out, they tell him he now has to live in the deepest part of the water with his uncle. Luca and Alberto run away to a seaside town on the Italian Riviera, where they meet a girl named Giulia (Emma Berman), who quickly becomes their friend. However, the town is full of fishermen who are trying to catch sea monsters. Luca and Alberto keep running into situations where they almost turn back into sea monsters, so they must work hard to keep their secret or something bad might happen to them.

I like the relationships that are developed throughout the film, such as Giulia and Luca's friendship. They teach each other new things, which really help them bond. The ending of the movie is a bit sad because the friends are separated, but that just goes to show how great the writers developed the relationships in this movie. The storyline is fun and exciting and shows the adventures of the characters. My favorite character is Alberto because he is daring and funny. He tries things that he never tried before, even when they are a bit risky and that makes him a fun character.

The message of Luca is that sometimes you just need to "Silencio Bruno" which means you need to tell that little voice in your head that prevents you from doing fun things to just be quiet. There is nothing to look out for in this film. It's completely family-friendly.

I give Luca 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 14, plus adults. You can watch Luca beginning June 18, 2021 exclusively on Disney+. Be sure to check it out!

By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Pack your bags for a trip to the Italian Riviera! Luca is the feel-good flick to get audiences into the summer spirit. With its comedy, lovable characters, and unique animation, this movie is another Disney pictures hit.

Luca follows two sea creatures, Luca (Jacob Tremblay) and Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) as they wander amongst humans in the small town of Portorosso. The secret of their identity hangs in the balance as the entire town fears sea creatures, and some residents even hunt them. The two boys then befriend Giulia (Emma Berman), and the three of them go on an adventure of a lifetime.

This film is the perfect movie for families. The friendship between Luca and Alberto, Giulia's rebel side, and the love of parent and child stand out. Alberto helps Luca to let loose, mentoring him in all things human. Their friendship blooms and the two of them tackle their issues together. The two boys steal the show and are set to become fan favorites. The movie also shows viewers the beauty of what most of us take for granted. Luca falls in love with the stars and moon which he has never seen. He gazes at them curiously. He reads books and uses a telescope to watch the blazing balls of fire. He also dreams of going to school and learning, something he was never able to do underwater. One of the most notable differences in this Pixar film is its animation. Its artistic style is noticeably different from other Pixar classics. The characters are 3D with long arms and legs, with wide hands, feet and heads. The vibrant colors and settings show the beauty of an Italian summer. The bright sun, clothes and houses fall brilliantly into step with one another. The attention to cultural detail is immaculate. The characters switch from Italian to English. The town is picture perfect, with old houses and tight, winding streets laid with cobblestones. It is clear that the filmmakers put a lot of time and effort into this film, recreating visuals that are classic Italy.

The moral of the film is the importance of friendship and family. Luca, Alberto and Giulia all fight together and for one another against all odds. Giulia defends the boys and helps hide their secret, instead of being afraid of them like the rest of the town. Luca and Alberto face the world head on, and make sacrifices, putting the others' needs ahead of their own.

I give Luca 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 plus adults. It starts streaming on Disney+ June 18, 2021.

By Heather S, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

The new movie Luca from Pixar Studios will have viewers asking for a sea monster sequel. I didn't know what to expect from this movie and found myself being pulled into the mayhem and adventure and cheering on the surprisingly likeable sea monsters. The pleasing mix of a peaceful underwater colony of misunderstood sea monsters and a quaint seaside village makes for a charming movie for all ages and interests. This animated full-length feature continues the high standards that audiences have come to expect from Pixar while establishing itself as unique.

Set on the Italian coast, the movie follows the unlikely friendship between two sea monsters, Luca and Alberto, who come from the same place, but are also from very different worlds. Luca is part of a close-knit family that is very protective and warns him of the dangers of the human world which is a mystery to them. Alberto has had to make his own way in the absence of his father and has built a life for himself on the shore of the Italian village. The animation shows the transformation the boys make from sea monsters to humans, which helps them disguise themselves as normal people.

Luca (Jacob Tremblay), Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Guilia (Emma Berman) are the key characters. The music is very enjoyable; it is very operatic and very Italian-inspired. The animation is superb. The movie has a strong story line. Of course, coming from Disney and Pixar, viewers definitely get the quality they are expecting. My favorite part is definitely when the sea monsters reveal their actual identities to the people in the village. That part is pretty surprising. There is a cheerful feeling in a lot of the scenes, which has a positive impact on viewers. This film was is truly outstanding and delightful in every way.

The message of this film is to not be afraid and have fun in life or you might regret it later. Parents will find this film satisfying and cute; it is a great movie for the whole family to watch.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. It is available on Disney+ right now!

By Ava H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR LUCA


FATHERHOOD
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

Fatherhood is an upcoming American comedy-drama film directed by Paul Weitz from a screenplay by Weitz and Dana Stevens, based on the 2011 memoir Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Matthew Logelin. The film stars Kevin Hart, Alfre Woodard, Frankie R. Faison, Lil Rel Howery, DeWanda Wise, Anthony Carrigan, Melody Hurd, and Paul Reiser, and follows a new father who struggles to raise his daughter after the sudden death of his wife.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Expect the unexpected with Kevin Hart's new drama film, Fatherhood! The comedian takes his acting to another level and shows us a more serious side, still with a little humor, while delivering a heartwarming, tear-jerking family film. Fatherhood is based off the 2011 memoir Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Matt Logelin and highlights the challenges and triumphs of being a single parent.

In Fatherhood, Matt Logelin (Kevin Hart) and his wife, Liz (Deborah Ayorinde) welcome a baby girl named Maddy (Melody Hurd) into the world. A day after giving birth, Liz passes away from complications, leaving Matt as a single parent raising his daughter. He has no idea where to start, but, with the help of his family and friends along the way, he has to figure out a way to raise her.

The main characters in this film are Matt, Liz, Maddy, Lizzie "Swan" (DeWanda Wise) and Marian (Alfre Woodard). My overall favorite part in this film is how Matt and Maddy's relationship grows as they go along. Usually, the parents are the ones teaching the lessons in life, but it was nice to see Maddy also be able to teach her father. Maddy is actually my favorite character for this reason. I enjoyed seeing her help Matt become a better father throughout the film. Even though this film is a drama, the director, Paul Weitz, uses creative ways to add humor. For example, there is a scene where baby Maddy looks back and forth between two "crazy" people talking and the camera pans back and forth showing us the scene from her perspective.

The message of this film is that you should not be afraid to ask for help when you need it, especially from your family and friends. Matt refuses help because he thinks he can handle everything by himself, even though he has no idea what he is doing. But eventually realizes maybe he does need some help to get him on the right track. Parents need to be aware of adults drinking and mild profanity and themes about death.

Fatherhood is a very uplifting film that will tap into your emotions. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 11 to 18. Adults will enjoy it as well. Fatherhood comes out June 18, 2021 on Netflix.

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

Who doesn't love a good drama film? I know that I definitely do. Fatherhood is such a great one. It has family comedy, portrays a realistic way of life, and the acting is stellar.

The storyline follows a dad, Matthew Logelin (Kevin Hart), who recently lost his wife Liz (Deborah Ayolinde). He must now raise his daughter (Melody Hurd) by himself, even though no one believes he can.

The best parts of this movie are the acting, the comedy and the drama. Kevin Hart really brings every emotion to life - when his wife dies, his crying shows us his grief. The comedy in this movie is subtle and it is frequent enough to make you laugh. I really enjoyed the comedy as it reflects funny family moments that we all go through. And the dramatic parts really show how a single parent, especially a father, might act upon losing his wife. Though the story is a bit slow at times, many may be able to relate to it and find it compelling. Fatherhood is based on a true story of a man who was forced to raise his child on his own following his wife's death.

The message is that there's nothing that a child needs more than family. Be aware that there is quite a lot of profanity used and there are many references to intimacy that makes it inappropriate for younger kids.

I give Fatherhood 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Fatherhood premieres on Netflix on June 18, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED FATHERHOOD


PAPER TIGERS, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
14-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 14-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WELL GO USA INC.

Description:

Three Kung Fu prodigies have grown into washed-up, middle-aged men, now one kick away from pulling their hamstrings. But when their master is murdered, they must juggle their dead-end jobs, dad duties, and old grudges to avenge his death.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Paper Tigers is such an engaging film with impeccable stunts, feisty characters and plot twists that grab your attention. You'll feel like you've just witnessed these events happening in real life.

The Paper Tigers is about three childhood friends named Danny (Alain Uy), Hing (Ron Yuan) and Jim (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) who, as adults, reunite after their sifu (teacher) dies. As kids, they shared the love of Kung Fu, but after all these years they have moved on to not such bigger or better things. When they hear speculation from an old enemy that their sifu was actually murdered, they try to find the culprit to avenge him.

The Paper Tigers is a movie centered on the martial art of Kung Fu, which means the stunts need to be executed just right for the action scenes to be believable. I found the stunts top notch; the stunt coordinators made the characters look like they are actually fighting. In fact, the entire crew working on this movie clearly put a lot of effort into making it realistic. In the film, Danny, Hing and Jim run into their old nemesis, Carter, and end up making a bet and getting into a brawl to get information about sifu. The guys are not in the best shape and haven't fought a match in years so naturally, they have a tough time defending themselves. When they get hit, you can see blood coming from their faces, which looks scarily real. Kudos to the make-up team for creating such realism. Something else that makes The Paper Tigers unique is its comedic relief. Although the film has a very serious plot and the majority of the scenes are full of tension, the screenwriters added scenes where you can laugh, despite the violence. One of my favorite moments is when the three young disciple impersonators come to sifu's funeral acting foolish. Being embarrassed, Hing says, "Let's take these K-Pop rejects." This sense of humor definitely makes Hing a more likeable character and lightens the mood.

The message of The Paper Tigers is that when you give someone your word, you need to honor it. Even though Danny, Hing and Jim left their master and got separated from each other, when it came down to it, they kept their promise. They gathered the courage to get justice for sifu and be true disciples. Parents should be aware that this film has some adult language and some martial arts violence.

I give The Paper Tigers 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to18 plus adults. Anyone that loves Kung Fu and action will enjoy this film. The Paper Tigers is available in theatres and on digital now, and on Blu-Ray and DVD on June 22, 2021. Make sure you check it out!

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED PAPER TIGERS, THE


JUST ANOTHER DREAM
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
11-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
VISION FILMS

Description:

When a fateful injury sparks an ordinary girl to have foretelling dreams, she is forced into a race against time to save her family and prove her sanity....or is it JUST ANOTHER DREAM?

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

I find Just Another Dream appealing because, on the surface level, this film seems like a fun action drama, but it has a deeper meaning about love transcending time and space. Even platonic love can eventually bring two people back to one another. This film also shows selflessness when Anna sacrifices something significant in her life in order to save another person's life. Young people will enjoy the action sequence where Anna runs around town trying to save her family.

The story follows a child named Anna who has a head injury as a young child and afterwards is able to tell the future through her dreams. She dreams something foreboding about her family and the countdown begins to save them.

The visual quality is the biggest strength of this film. Although there are some parts where the CGI could be rendered better, the overall cinematic shots, color and lighting heighten the visual quality in general. The plot is easy to follow, so kids can enjoy and understand the film. This film displays the three act structure. Act one gives us a background of Anna, her family and her friends. Then, Anna has a dream about a lady being murdered. Act two is the turning point when Anna is admitted to a mental rehabilitation center after having a breakdown due to her dreams. The climax is when Anna has a bad dream about her family and escapes to save them. Act three ties up all loose ends regarding how Josh and Anna's timelines are different. It ends with Anna remembering everything she dreamed while she was unconscious after the baseball and promising herself to find Josh. All the characters, except Josh and Anna, do not believe that Anna can actually tell the future. Little by little, Anna proves them wrong and they develop empathy towards Anna. It drew me in because conflict is created right from the start with the tension between Anna, Josh and the others. I was definitely empathic towards Anna and Josh. We are inclined to side with Anna from the beginning, so it is easy to empathize with her. The concepts would be easy for young people to grasp because everything is explained in the end. Any confusion about the friendship between Anna and Josh is also explained. The vocabulary is suitable for its audience. Even in the metal rehabilitation center, the doctors do not use medical terms and explain everything in lay terms. Since this film is an action-filled drama, the scenes with heightened tension have background music that matches the intensity of the action. At times the CGI does not look realistic, such as the fire scenes. This film makes a viewer think outside the box in terms of alternate realities and time. Regarding culture, there is only one person of color in a lead role, the character Takota played by Eugene Brave Rock. I appreciate that Takota explains the culture and history of the Native American dream-catcher to Anna. Most importantly, this film presents the idea that true love, even platonic love, can transcend space and time and eventually two people will always find their way back to one another. Just Another Dream has very good visual quality, an interesting portrayal of space and time, and displays the idea of sacrificing to save another person.

The message of the film is that sometimes one needs to sacrifice something important in their life to save another person's life. There are definitely some things for parents to be aware of that make this unsuitable for younger children including: a bank robbery, a murder in a bank, shooting a gun at someone in the bank (no blood or gore however), bullying, alcohol use, adults kissing a suggestive way, a drowning, death of a child from fire, use of prescription drugs.

I give Just Another Dream 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Reviewed by Tor F., KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like Just Another Dream because it is an intense, emotional action film. It constantly surprised me with every scene, and was extremely unpredictable.

This film starts off when the main character Anna (Kayden Bryce) is 8 years old, and takes a pretty bad hit to the head. Ever since then, she cannot stop having these incredibly realistic vivid nightmares. In her most recent dream, someone is murdered at a bank robbery. After scaring her family, claiming that a few days later her exact dream happened in real life, they make the decision to send her to a mental hospital. At this facility, they try to help her understand that her dreams are so vivid, that she doesn't understand what is real and what is only a dream. However, no one believes her except for her best friend. They must work together, to use her power for good.

Something that I really like about this film is the suspense. Every time that I thought I figured out what was going to happen, it surprises me. The movie has a lot of creativity and that makes it even better. Another thing that I like is the incorporation of multiple genres. It could have easily just been an emotional dramatic movie, however it includes many action packed scenes. This really adds to the film, and also allows it to reach multiple types of audiences. This is really great to have, because it has a big factor on how successful the movie is. Lastly, this film gives people a wake-up call on how valuable life can be. You never realize how good you have until you see other people's lives. It also reminds us to trust those you love, and remember that anything is possible.

The message of this film is to always value your life, and realize that you never know what someone else could be going through. This film could be sensitive to younger viewers.

I give Just Another Dream 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, depending on their maturity level. It releases on digital and DVD June 15, 2021.

By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Just Another Dream is a very different movie and I found it a fun movie to watch, because it's about things that we might deem impossible in real life. However, lots of things are different than reality.

The storyline is about Anna Miller (Kayden Bryce) and her dreams. Ever since an accident Anna was in when she was little, she has had very vivid dreams; now those dreams are starting to come true. Only Josh Mason (Copeland Diver) believes her; everyone else thinks she might be crazy. When one of those dreams puts her family's life in danger it is a race against the clock to save her family.

This film definitely has some good points. For one, the location is amazing; it is a beautiful lake and river and we watch Josh and Anna biking it. This lake is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen; I wish I could see it in real life. The second is the quality of the acting. It has spectacular scenes such as one with lots of crying that look very real. Kayden Bryce, who plays Anna, is only 16, but is already very accomplished. For example, her reaction to Anna waking up from a very vivid dream the first time only to find out that it came true, her reaction is so believable. Another key scene is when Anna's mom is worried about her and her vivid dreams. Towards the end there are some very confusing scenes that don't quite make sense until the movie is over. The lightning is impressive and somewhat odd such as a very bright light that comes in from the window behind the actors. You don't know what it is. There are some very loud and dramatic sound effects, mostly at the beginning that really catch your attention. Most of the costumes are regular day clothes but there is one creepy one that is all black and has a black mask. The plot really escalates, especially when it gets personal and Anna's family appears in her dreams. Suddenly, a race against time really takes you to the edge of your seat. Although the race against time kind of drags, it still grabs your attention.

The message of Just Another Dream is to believe in your dreams and you can get anywhere.

I give Just Another Dream 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18 plus adults. This film comes out in select theaters and on DVD June 15, 2021. The burning question is: Did Anna go to Tiko's birthday party?

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Just Another Dream has great actors, but the storyline it is somewhat confusing. The suspense and plotline that this film meant to create falls a bit short.

The story follows a girl named Anna (Kayden Price) who goes through a series of traumatic events in her early childhood. As a result, she has a side effect of realistic dreams that may come true. She goes on a journey to find out if they are just other dreams.

While the actors are enjoyable to watch, their performances are uninspired and lack emotion in some scenes where that was needed. Throughout the film the camerawork is clear and detailed; it is greatly appreciated when the landscape is so beautiful. I like that the rural setting is realistic and relatable, especially the pond. The beginning is very dramatic and introduces the plotline in such a dramatic way that later, as the plotline is re-introduced, it is very anticlimactic. The audience is left wondering what the story is really about.

The message of Just Another Dream is to never discredit another person's experiences or their feelings about them. Loss and PTSD are both touched on, which are important issues to discuss. Audiences should be aware that there is a violent crime and scenes of bullying.

I give Just Another Dream 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It is available on digital and DVD June 15, 2021.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Just Another Dream is a bit confusing and weird at times. The idea isn't bad, but it seems that a lot of time is wasted and, as such, the story falters when it comes to important moments.

The story follows Anna (Kayden Brycee), a girl who has experienced vivid dreams ever since she received an injury to her head. After realizing her dreams tell the future, she must save her family, while also proving her sanity.

In terms of the plot, the story doesn't properly set up the possibility that Anna is mentally unwell. She has a single dream that ends up coming true and her parents immediately send her to a mental hospital. Coupled with the fact it's unclear how much time passed between her dream and her parents' decision, this reaction makes no sense. If she had a bunch of dreams and was struggling to cope with them, I would maybe understand her parents' behavior. As it stands, it feels too forced.

It also takes quite a while for the main storyline - Anna's family being in danger - to actually happen. Most of the movie is spent inside the mental hospital, setting up characters that aren't really very important and reiterating the fact that no one believes Anna. It's somewhat annoying because we, as an audience, know she's right. So, all these scenes feel like a waste, because they don't establish anything new. Although, once the main plot kicks in, I admit that there is some genuine tension. I was actually invested in the safety of Anna's family.

Unfortunately, the acting in this movie is not very impressive. It is acceptable, however I could not connect with Kayden Bruce's portrayal of Anna. She seems perpetually moody and annoyed in every scene, even when she is talking with her best friend and supposedly in a good mood.

The editing also needs to be addressed. There are many instances where the audio quality of a dialogue drops in the middle of a line. Towards the end of the movie, there are a lot of very poor special effects. I can excuse these, depending on the film's budget, but I can't excuse the music choices. There are multiple scenes where the background music does not fit the tone of the scene at all, and it is really jarring.

The message of this film is that you can't change the past, but you can change your future, so it's important to accept where you are right now and move forward. There is a somewhat graphic scene where Anna gets bit by a dog.

I give Just Another Dream 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18. It comes out on digital and DVD June 15, 2021.

By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED JUST ANOTHER DREAM


HOME BEFORE DARK (SEASON TWO)
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
13-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 14-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
APPLE TV

Description:

Home Before Dark is a dramatic mystery series inspired by the reporting of a young investigative journalist, Hilde Lysiak. Directed and executive produced by Jon M. Chu, the series follows a young girl named Hilde (Brooklynn Prince) who moves from the city of Brooklyn to the small lakeside town her father left behind. While there, her dogged pursuit of the truth leads her to unearth a cold case that everyone in town, including her own father, tried hard to bury. In season two, when a mysterious explosion hits a local farm, reporter Hilde Lisko begins an investigation that will lead her to fight a powerful and influential corporation - with the health of her family and Erie Harbor in the balance.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Calling all aspiring journalists, and father-daughter duos! This new series Home Before Dark has everything you could possibly want in a show, including a special father-daughter relationship, mystery, action, suspense and even romance.

The second season of Home Before Dark starts off the summer after journalist Hilde Lysko (Brooklyn Prince) uncovers a huge break in the Richie Fife case. Hilde, still haunted by the year before, continues to move forward and continues searching, and you won't believe what she finds.

Hilde Lysko and Matt Lysko (Jim Sturgess) are very special to watch because their father-daughter relationship is very realistic and relatable. As are many other aspects of this show, including the discussion of important topics such as racism. The town of Erie Harbor is seeing new faces, new settings and newly developed characters, which makes the small town a little bigger. Costume designer Kelli Dunsmore creates an entire story in itself with Hilde's wardrobe. My favorite part about Home Before Dark is when both Hilde and Matt have epiphanies about a story they are reporting on. It makes me hold my breath in suspense as I wait for the pieces to unfold and the story to fall into place.

The message of Home Before Dark is, "We are young, but we are not stupid, and we are paying attention." The youth of today are seeing a lot wrong with our current society that we deem needs to be fixed. Do what Hilde Lysko would do and seek the truth. This television series contains some bad language, kidnapping, and other mature themes.

I give Home Before Dark 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 14 to 18 plus adults. You can watch Home Before Dark releases June 11, 2021 on Apple TV+.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Home Before Dark is an intriguing series that is filled with twists and unexpected turns. I love that there are multiple storylines following different characters. The characters themselves each have distinct personalities which creates an interesting dynamic that is entertaining to watch.

The storyline is based around a smart, young girl in a small town, named Hilde, who is determined to solve a cold case. She has made major breakthroughs on the case in the past, and published her writing. Hilde's work was awarded and widely praised. Although she had received these rewards, she was not satisfied with the way the case ended. Her parents discourage her from continuing research on the case because of the repeated nightmares Hilde experienced.

Brooklyn Prince fits the role of Hilde Lisko perfectly. She portrays herself in a sophisticated manner and she is very well spoken. She is also able to convey her emotions to the audience through her facial expressions which pulls the audience's attention into each scene. The casting director did well in choosing the characters for the Lisko family, which includes actors Kylie Rogers, Jim Sturgess, Mila Morgan and Pauline Egan. The sisters have some similar features, but still stand out from each other, an analogy for their personalities.

The camerawork in this series is a major factor in establishing the mood of each scene. The camerawork, at times, is breathtaking and beautiful when highlighting the landscape of the town. These nature shots are well executed and create the feeling of peace. Other times, the camera angles add suspense to the scenes. In one scene, I was sitting on the edge of my seat as the camera angle peered down into a dark basement hallway. This frame was left to linger for a couple seconds to give the impression that there was something ominous down there. Overall, I loved the camerawork in this series because of how strategic it is and how effective it is in each scene.

My favorite character of the series is Hilde's sister, Izzy Lisko (Kylie Rogers). Izzy is older than Hilde and was struggling with gaining friendships in school. She is shy and often overthinks about the situations she gets into. Although she has many insecurities, she is such a supportive sister towards Hilde. While Izzy supports and cares for Hilde, Hilde also cares for Izzy. Hilde is constantly helping Izzy find logical solutions to her problems and talking through Izzy's thoughts, simplifying them. They are the perfect duo and I admire their good hearts.

The message I took away from the series is to be resourceful and determined. The series gives the viewers a sense of accomplishment through Hilde, and inspires them to be like her. She works so hard and never gives up on her goals. Hilde is an admirable character that the viewers look up to. My only concern with this is that some of the actions Hilde performs are dangerous for her age, such as visiting abandoned areas and sneaking out of class. As long as children who are around Hilde's age don't imitate her then it is safe.

This series is the perfect mystery, drama show to watch with your family and friends. The plot twists will keep you glued to the screen and excited for the next episode. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for the ages of 13 to 18. Even adults will enjoy this. Season 2 debuts on June 11, 2021 on Apple TV+ so be sure to go check it out!

By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Home Before Dark Season 2 has a storyline filled with many unexpected twists and mysterious happenings this season that will capture viewers' attention. We follow alongside Hilde Lisko (Brooklyn Prince) and her family and friends as they try to discover the secrets of the past. This alluring series will have you mesmerized with surprises you won't see coming.

In season two, the story continues in the town of Erie Harbor where young reporter Hilde Lisko encounters some unexplainable occurrences. Determined to figure out what's going on, she and her friends investigate. With the help of her friends and family, Hilde finds new clues and uncovers dangerous, hidden secrets. Her sister, Izzy (Kylie Rogers) deals with finding new friends while helping her sister in her quest for the truth about what's causing the unexplainable sickness sweeping across the town. They come to discover that searching for the truth could have deadly consequences.

My favorite scene is when Hilde and her friends, along with her dad, Matt (Jim Sturgess), and Lt. Briggs (Michael Weston) venture onto a nearby island to look for more clues. While waiting for Hilde's dad and Lt. Briggs, they decide to use a drone to explore. The drone crashes, and they go into the forest and look for it before the adults come back. It's very eerie and suspenseful because we don't know what or who lurks in those woods. The choices of settings fit well with the scenes, such as the island and the harbor that show life in a small town near the water. The clothing for the characters is modern and goes well with their personalities. Hilde has a more sophisticated look then most kids her age, which goes with her character. It is also nice to see a family that works together and supports each other. Overall, the series is remarkably interesting and entertaining--it is fascinating to see the story unravel in each episode.

The message of Home Before Dark is to never give up, even in times of doubt or uncertainty when you think it's impossible. If you give up there's no chance of succeeding. Stay strong and continue past the roadblocks. Home Before Dark also teaches us about courage. Doing the right thing in the face of danger takes bravery. Warnings include scary scenes that may require parental guidance.

I give Home Before Dark 5 out of 5 stars! I recommend it for ages 14 to 17. Adults will also enjoy it. Season 2 releases June 11, 2021 on Apple TV+.

By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED HOME BEFORE DARK (SEASON TWO)


CENSOR
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
15-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 15 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
MAGNET RELEASING

Description:

After viewing a strangely familiar video nasty, Enid, a film censor, sets out to solve the past mystery of her sister's disappearance, embarking on a quest that dissolves the line between fiction and reality.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Censor is a unique movie that raises a lot of questions about censorship, the effect that fiction has on people and violence in the media. I really appreciate it for its subtlety; however I feel like the message is a little unclear.

The story follows Enid, a film censor. Her job consists of viewing graphic horror films and deciding what to cut and what to leave in. However, after a particular film reminds her of a traumatic childhood memory, she becomes convinced that there is some connection between her work and the disappearance of her sister.

First off, I want to take a moment to appreciate the atmosphere of this film. The lighting and sound design combine to create an extremely bleak and dreary mood, as if the entire film takes place on an unpleasant foggy day. It fits the constant sense of unease this movie gives off, especially when combined with the uncomfortable subject matter.

Censor has an interesting insight on fiction's effect on reality. I'm very invested in this topic, as someone who loves video games and has constantly heard discussions about how the medium causes violence. Though the film doesn't outright say it, there's an underlying message about how society sometimes draws conclusions that aren't true. At one point, a murder gets connected to a film that Enid allowed to be released. However we later find out the killer didn't even watch the aforementioned film. This leaves you wondering what the truth of the case is. This murder case is never brought up again and, ultimately, is not that important to the plot.

Censor's themes surrounding the idea of censorship, and the way they connect to Enid's past, are genuinely really engaging. Enid claims she does her job to "protect" people, and this perfectly ties into Enid's trauma. A common thing that happens to trauma survivors is that their brain will block out the memories of the event. As such, Enid can't remember the exact details of her trauma. Her brain is essentially censoring itself to protect her. But what exactly is it protecting her from? What is the truth of her past? This connection is so fascinating.

I must warn audiences, though, if you don't like gore or discussions of gore, this movie is not for you. There's a montage at the beginning showing all kinds of graphic violence, and there is more gore later in the film.

I give Censor 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 16 to 18. Censor releases on June 11, 2021.

By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED CENSOR


IN THE HEIGHTS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Description:

In the Heights centers on a variety of characters living in the neighborhood of Washington Heights, on the northern tip of Manhattan. At the center of the show is Usnavi, a bodega owner who looks after the aging Cuban lady next door, pines for the gorgeous girl working in the neighboring beauty salon and dreams of winning the lottery and escaping to the shores of his native Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, Nina, a childhood friend of Usnavi's, has returned to the neighborhood from her first year at college with surprising news for her parents, who have spent their life savings on building a better life for their daughter. Ultimately, Usnavi and the residents of the close-knit neighborhood get a dose of what it means to be home.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Did you love the musical In the Heights and want more? Well, your wish has come true and you can have more because In the Heights is now a movie! It has the same great soundtrack and is even more action packed.

In the Heights is about Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner, and his disappearing neighborhood in New York City, specifically Washington Heights. Small businesses are moving away; people are leaving; and Usnavi is going back to his home in the Dominican Republic to help his family. What will happen when Usnavi leaves?

This movie is based on the book by Quiara Alegria Hudes and musical, with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda - both titled with the same name. The music is phenomenal and very memorable because it makes you want to get up and dance. While writing this review, I still have all the songs stuck in my head. Lin-Manuel Miranda also plays the Piragua Guy. Along with the music, the choreography is outstanding, particularly the group choreography - a mix of hip-hop and Latinx styles. Everyone is in sync and energetic. The scenes are very detailed, artistic and beautiful, with so much color. The acting is beyond amazing and every character is so believable and loveable. Anthony Ramos, as Usnavi, stands out and seems very genuine. Melissa Barrera, as Vanessa, shows so much perseverance for her dreams. Leslie Grace's Nina is passionate as she deals with her character's conflicts. My favorite character is Abuela Claudia because she is so loving to all, and she reminds us to have paciencia y fe (patience and faith). The characters speak Spanish at times during the film, so it helps if you have some knowledge of the Spanish language, but it's not essential to enjoying the movie.

The main message is that sue�itos (little dreams) aren't always easy; you have to work for them. In the Heights addresses some serious topics like attending college and dealing with racial bias as a minority. This movie has some profanity and suggestive references.

I give In the Heights 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters or on HBO Max June 11, 2021.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR IN THE HEIGHTS


GABBY DURAN & THE UNSITTABLES
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-15

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, 10-15 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY CHANNEL

Description:

Disney Channel's out-of-this-world live-action comedy series "Gabby Duran & the Unsittables" has return for a second season on Disney Channel and DisneyNOW. The series stars multitalented actress and musician Kylie Cantrall as Gabby Duran, a teenaged girl who inadvertently lands a job babysitting an unruly group of VIP extraterrestrial children disguised as everyday kids. In season two, a resourceful and courageous Gabby faces even bigger challenges as she continues to protect her alien charges while also navigating the everyday emotional rollercoaster of middle school. The season picks up immediately after a cliffhanger with Gabby's mom, Dina, on the verge of learning Gabby's secret, which the intrepid teen will have to stop in order to avoid catastrophic outcomes. Other adventures this season will include a robot replica Gabby-bot running amok, an alien friend who turns into a "Predator" when she becomes emotional, and a quest to recover Principal Swift's home after it's shrunken down to the size of a dollhouse by an extraterrestrial prankster.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I love Gabby Duran and the Unsittables so much because it has an effect that keeps you connected with the show the whole time. It has so many cliff hangers; you're always wondering what will happen next; your always on the edge of your seat. I like that there are so many mysteries in each episode and that something new happens in every episode.

The storyline is about a young girl named Gabby Duran (Kylie Cantrall) who gets picked by Principal Swift (Nathan Lovejoy) who is an alien and wants Gabby to babysit aliens. This job is so important and, if anyone finds out aliens are real, then that would destroy the earth. Principle Swift needs Gabby to keep this a secret from everyone; she can't tell anyone about aliens or her baby sitting job. Keeping that big of a secret might be a little hard for Gabby.

This show is filled with lots of animated characters and other things that aren't there in real life. They use the characters so well, and have amazing ways to incorporate them into the show. It's cool how some aliens that Gabby is babysitting like Jeremy (Callen Farris), Kail (Mia Bella) and Sky (Elle McKinnon) have different powers. This isn't a great sentence. First, avoid using the term "is amazing" as it doesn't tell us anything. I was impressed by how the actors portrayed aliens that are uncertain about how to behave as human impersonators. Considering how young the cast is makes it doubly impressive.

I enjoyed all of the other cast members, especially Coco Christo who plays Olivia Duran, because she's so young and plays her part as Gabby's sister so well. My favorite episode has to be the one with Cry Baby Duran, because it really shows the part of her and her friends being in middle school. The drama really starts to show and gets inside Gabby's head and she is determined to find out who started the rumor. The other thing I found really interesting is how different directors (Joe Nussbaum and Leslie Kolins Small) direct different episodes, which gives the show great variety. For example, Joe Nussbaum directs 9 episodes and it is interesting because it must have been hard to for Kylie Cnatrall to adjust to the different directing styles. Then, Leslie Kolins Small directs 6 episodes and it captured my interest because all the episodes really turned out the same even though they all have different styles of directing, Kylie Cantrall and the directors worked together to make a great show.

The message of this series is that lying isn't a good thing, but when there are lives on the line, you have to do your best to help everyone. Lying can turn into a big mess, so don't let that fool you. This series shows that some people are not worth the risk and people don't always love the idea secrets. Tell them before they find out for themselves.

I give Gabby Duran and the Unsittables 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 14. The new season comes out on Disney + on June 6, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED GABBY DURAN & THE UNSITTABLES


12 MIGHTY ORPHANS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURES, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
SONY CLASSICAL

Description:

During the Great Depression, Rusty Russell gives up a privileged position to coach football at an orphanage in Fort Worth, Texas. Whipping his young players into shape, they soon become an inspiration to their city, state and an entire nation.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

With a moving script, deep characters, and incredible production quality, 12 Mighty Orphans is a film you should not miss! A throwback to the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the aftermath of the First World War, the film will strike a chord with all generations, and it's an especially great watch for sports fans and Texans.

The film tells the true story of one of the greatest football coaches in American history - Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson). Russell gives up his position coaching and teaching in Temple, Texas, to move to the Masonic Home, a decrepit orphanage in Fort Worth, where he teaches math and science, and more importantly, coaches the young orphan boys in football. Russell struggles to whip his team of emotionally damaged novice players into shape.12 Mighty Orphans shows the journey of the relationship between player and coach and how Russell turns the orphanage into a source of inspiration for the entire nation.

The production quality of this Sony Classics movie is superb; from the start, the Texas drawl of the intermittent narration, the slightly browned footage, and even the car that Rusty Russell drives, a 1930s Ford, all contribute to making the viewer feel that they truly are in post-World War I Texas. The dialogue is both clear and realistic, and it helps add to the depth of each character. The three characters who are the most expounded upon are Rusty Russell, Snoggs (Jacob Lofland), a thin, good-hearted orphan, Doc Hall (Martin Sheen), the medic of the orphanage and Hardy Brown (Jake Austin Walker), the troubled yet talented football star. Each of these characters has a detailed backstory and the actors that play them emote beautifully throughout the film, always staying true to their character in a way that never feels forced. I especially love Jake Austin Walker's performance as Hardy Brown and Martin Sheen as Doc Hall; the intense emotion of Hardy's role and the layered personality of Doc really bring the story to life. And of course, the fatherly Rusty Russell is the star of the show!

12 Mighty Orphans promotes messages of unity, community, perseverance and faith. For the young orphan boys, getting over the tragedies of their past is the only thing holding them back from greatness; Russell shows them (and viewers) that moving on, though difficult, is the key to putting your best foot forward and succeeding in the future.

I give 12 Mighty Orphans 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18; adults will enjoy this film as well. 12 Mighty Orphans will be available in limited-release form on June 11, 2021 and in theatres on June 18, 2021.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

12 Mighty Orphans is a great film and very family friendly. I like that it focuses on events that brought about a sense of pride to a community when the world was not in a good place.

The film is based on a true story about a group of orphans, Hardy Brown (Jake Austin Walker), Snoggs (Jacob Lofland) and Fairbanks (Levi Dylan) and Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson) who leaves his position at a prestigious school to come to the orphanage to coach these boys. These boys have never played football before. With the support of Coach Russell, his wife Juanita (Vinessa Shaw), Doc Hall (Martin Sheen) and a former orphan, Mason Hawk (Robert Duvall), the boys learn to believe in themselves and become a true team. They beat the odds and discover their individual and collective strengths on the way to becoming a really good football team. The Mighty Mites, a name given to them by Mason Hawk, end up getting the support of their community because they symbolize hope and resilience of the human spirit.

The film really excels at the character arcs; we watch most of the main characters experience growth as a result of their interactions with Coach Russell and with each other. The film features some well-known actors, like Academy Award-winners Robert Duvall and Martin Sheen, who both excel in their ability to bring characters to life. Another plus is that the film focuses on something positive that the community rallies behind and it temporarily takes their minds off of the Great Depression. My favorite character is Coach Russell. As an orphan himself, he beat the odds and became a successful coach and family man, but he doesn't forget where he came from and goes back to help other orphans. Coach Russell shows the kids that it is possible for them all to do much more than they or the world expects.

The message of this film is that, no matter how dark times get, you should never give up on yourself or the world. Even those that the world has forgotten about can have a beacon of hope.

12 Mighty Orphans gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. 12 Mighty Orphans releases in theaters June 11, 2021.

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

I like 12 Mighty Orphans because it is based on a real life event. It has an incredible cast and each one portrays their character so well. This story is a big eye opener.

The story follows a group of 150 children at an orphanage in Texas in 1940. A football coach and teacher named Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson), who is an orphan himself, recruits 12 teenage orphans to play football. These young boys go from playing without shoes, not knowing how to play football and not even having a real football to play with to winning the Texas state championship. Mr. Russell and the orphanage's doctor, Doc Hall (Martin Sheen), train the team. They teach them discipline, respect, love for the sport and, the most important thing, self-love and self-respect.

12 Mighty Orphans is directed by Ty Roberts who manages to transmit onto the big screen the story of these orphans - sadness, frustration, suffering, passion and joy. The cast includes some A-list actors such as Robert Duval, Wayne Knight and Treat Williams. The locations and landscape are colorful and beautiful. The wardrobe features outfits from the 40s, including football gear made of leather pads and leather helmets. My favorite part is when the team comes together and starts to realize that being an orphan is not as bad as they think it is.

The moral of this film is that it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from; as long as you do things with love and passion, you will succeed in life. Teamwork plays a big role in this film, because the orphans come together as a family to succeed at football. Be forewarned that the film contains some profanity, some explicit dialogue, and bloody real life events.

I give 12 Mighty Orphans 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Minors can watch this magnificent and possibly award-winning movie, with the supervision of an adult. 12 Mighty Orphans has advanced screenings at Texas theaters starting June 11 and opens nationwide June 18, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR 12 MIGHTY ORPHANS


SPIRIT UNTAMED
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-15

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM AGES 5-15 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION

Description:

After moving to a sleepy little town, young Lucky Prescott befriends a wild mustang named Spirit, who shares her rebellious spirit. When a heartless wrangler plans to capture Spirit and his herd, Lucky and her new friends embark on the adventure of a lifetime to rescue the horse that forever changed her life.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Adventure awaits in Spirit Untamed, the next chapter in the beloved animated Spirit franchise which is sure to capture a new audience of followers. Spirit Untamed is the story of connection between a girl named Lucky (Isabela Merced) and a wild mustang stallion she names Spirit. Lucky is a spirited girl and has difficulty fitting into the traditional life that her family plans for her. Her Aunt Cora (Julianne Moore) takes her away from social pressure for the summer to the frontier town of Miradero to live with her estranged father Jim Prescott (Jake Gyllenhaal). On the train to Miradero she encounters Spirit and his wild herd. The story evolves as both Lucky and Spirit adapt to new circumstances and learn to embrace change as well as rely on the friendship and support of others.

Lucky is fortunate to find two steadfast friends in Abigail Stone (Mckenna Grace) and Pru Granger (Marsai Martin) who emulate the connection between a girl and her horse that Lucky desires with Spirit. Both girls teach her about equestrian and human connections. I love the fun-loving and spunky character, Abigail, who brings so much humor to the movie which is offset by the sarcasm of Pru. Together these three girls are unstoppable in their efforts to rescue Spirit and his herd from a group of wranglers that threaten their freedom.

Spirit Untamed is from DreamWorks Animation so you know the characters and scenery are going to be depicted flawlessly. I love how this film keeps the feel from the original movie but adds another layer of lush detail under the guidance of Director Elaine Bogan who has a personal connection with horses. My favorite scene is what I call "the tango" between Lucky and Spirit when she is trying to coax him to accept her. The pull of their relationship shows and is enhanced perfectly by the light and playful music composed by Amie Doherty. I really like how the movie incorporates the actors singing with their roles--I love to hear Isabela Merced's beautiful voice and even Jake Gyllenhall trying to sing badly.

The one segment that bothers me is when Lucky first mounts Spirit. The riding is unbelievable for a girl who is just learning and is more akin to a trained circus or stunt rider. Horses are powerful animals, and I hope young viewers will understand that they need guidance around horses and to respect them. I did love the personality that was given to all the horses in Spirit Untamed--each horse had its own lovable character and expressions. Everyone will, of course, love the cuteness overload of the brave baby foal.

What really stands out to me among this film's many underlying messages is the theme of letting go and how hard that can be. I don't want to elaborate further, as it would be a spoiler, but there is one great "letting go" scene with Lucky doing the right thing. Friendship and loyalty are also important themes in Spirit Untamed, as Lucky searches for a place where she belongs.

I rate Spirit Untamed 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12. This movie will be in theaters June 4, 2021, so don't miss this heartwarming story and adventure!

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Spirit Untamed is a fun-filled animated movie that will have you on the edge of your seat with its rollercoaster of emotions. It is full of suspense, humorous moments and scenes showcasing beautiful relationships. Spirit Untamed is one of the most captivating animated films I've seen, with humorous scenes and a great message. Watching this movie on the big screen brings a special kind of magic that draws you in and makes you feel every emotion the characters are feeling. Whether it is a sense of elation, anger, determination or love; I felt it all.

The storyline follows a mischievous girl named Lucky (Isabela Merced) who goes to live with her grandfather after her mother passes away. After pulling too many stunts, her Aunt Cora (Julianne Moore) decides to take her to spend the summer with her father Jim (Jake Gyllenhaal). Lucky wasn't expecting to have any fun or make a connection with anyone there and then she meets a beautiful wild mustang that she names Spirit. When she discovers that a horse wrangler named Hendricks (Walton Goggins) is trying to steal Spirit and his family, she teams up with her new friends Abigail (Mckenna Grace) and Pru (Marsai Martin) to save them.

Although Spirit Untamed is an animated film, it is filled with suspense. Lucky loves to take risks, and that means she is willing to do anything and everything she feels is right. For instance, while Lucky, Abigail and Pru ride their horses through Heck Mountain and over the Ridge of Regret, they are incredibly close to falling off the edge. The way these scenes are designed, and how the events unfold, had me genuinely nervous for the girls. The relationships in the film are well developed. Lucky and Jim's relationship starts out shaky, but gradually grows throughout the movie. By the end of the movie, the father/daughter relationship is made whole. The friendship between Lucky, Pru and Abigail grows throughout the movie as well, which makes the film much more enjoyable. Something else that stands out is the music. The background music adds greatly adds to the suspense and propels the action. The songs highlight the stunning vocals of the talented performers Becky G. who sings "You Belong." Its tempo builds as the excitement in the film builds. This sets the perfect tone for the movie, giving it a sense of hope. The cast is very diverse and featuring people from different backgrounds, which I appreciate as well. Spirit Untamed has it all!

The message of Spirit Untamed is: if you see something that's wrong, speak up and do everything you can to put an end to it. Lucky is aware that it is wrong for Hendricks and his gang to take Spirit and his herd away. No matter what anyone tells her, she doesn't rest until she finds a way to make everything right.

I rate Spirit Untamed 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 14, plus adults Spirit Untamed is available in theatres June 4, 2021. You better hurry; you don't want to miss this!

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

Spirit Untamed is a thrilling and exciting animated film that keeps you entertained throughout the whole movie. It showcases the friendship between humans and horses, has great messages and holds your interest until the end.

The story follows a girl named Lucky Prescott (Isabella Merced) who returned to live with her dad (Jake Gyllenhaal) for the summer. On the way, she meets a wild horse named Spirit that is adventurous and daring, just like her. Since Spirit is wild, he doesn't trust Lucky at first. It takes him some time, but eventually he and Lucky become friends. Lucky comes across horse wranglers that are trying to capture Spirit and his herd. She is determined to do whatever it takes to save Spirit and his family.

Something that really impresses me about this film is the lip-syncing of the animated characters. Their mouths match exactly what they are saying. The background music sets the mood such as when scenes are intense, the music intensifies, which helps the audience connect with the mood of the scene. My favorite character is Lucky because she is adventurous, curious and fun. The moment she arrives at her father's home, she sets off to explore and which leads her to an adventure right away. Her dad, Jim's character develops the most during the movie. In the beginning, he is afraid something bad is going to happen to Lucky if she gets close to the horses, so he forbids her from being near them. Over time he realizes he can't keep her from everything and learns to let her follow her heart.

The message of Spirit Untamed is "when you trust someone they will learn to trust you." The only warning I have for this film is that in some scenes, ropes are wrapped around the horse's necks.

Spirit Untamed is an amazing film. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 14, plus adults. You can watch Spirit Untamed opens in theaters June 4, 2021. Go check it out!

By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED SPIRIT UNTAMED


HUMAN FACTOR, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
SONY CLASSICAL

Description:

With unprecedented access to the foremost American negotiators, THE HUMAN FACTOR is the behind-the-scenes story from the last 25 years, of how the United States came within reach of pulling off the impossible - securing peace between Israel and its neighbors. Today, the need to learn from past mistakes couldn't be more urgent.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Human Factor documentary is very informative and will be loved by those that are curious about the negotiators of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict during the Clinton Administration, and their efforts to bring compromise and peace. The one-on-one interview setting makes it easier to understand and grasp basic questions of this foreign political situation. And while the film does provide some context in the beginning, you may want to do a little research on the conflict before watching.

I had an unexpectedly emotional reaction to this documentary. Director Dror Moreh cleverly sets a specific tone that grabs the viewer, and then reveals history in a brilliant way. My favorite parts are with the negotiators and their dialogue about their personal firsthand experience being a part of this crucial stage in history. While it is a foreign conflict, we are shown it from the United States' perspective.

I love the music throughout this film, thanks to composer Eugene Levitas. While a lot of scenes were usually serious due to the political dialogue, some scenes added unusually whimsical music to set a certain mood.

The message of this film is really important to understand, especially in the current political climate of the United States. "People just like to demonize the other side. All that is out is the human side, the animosity for each other. And unless (we) are planning on accepting the other side, there is zero hope for a solution." The challenge of any political conflict is building bridges and crushing barriers, and this conflict is no exception. The Human Factor does contain violence, gore, and scenes that depict warfare.

I give The Human Factor 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 13 to 18 as well as adults. You can watch The Human Factor in theatres nationwide on May 7, 2021.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED HUMAN FACTOR, THE


LAUNCHPAD
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, 8-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

A collection of 6 short films. Six filmmakers from underrepresented backgrounds were selected and provided with the opportunity to share their perspectives and creative visions that will show audiences what it means to be seen.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Launchpad is an emotional and uplifting collection of Disney short films that are great for teens and adults. Every one of the six movies features excellent acting, impressive cinematography, great special effects and storylines with meaningful themes.

Launchpad includes six different shorts, each with its own unique plot. American Eid and The Last of the Chupacabras are both centered around religion; American Eid is about a young girl finding out she has to go to school on the Muslim holiday, Eid. The Last of the Chupacabras is about a lone Mexican-American trying to keep her culture alive. Growing Fangs is a fantasy about a half-human/half-vampire trying to hide her identity from both worlds. Let's Be Tigers is about a young girl, Avalon (Otmara Marrero) trying to process the loss of her mother while she is babysitting for a 4-year-old. Dinner Is Served follows a Chinese student trying out for the top position at a fancy restaurant. The Little Prince(ss) is a story about a young boy who loves ballet and whose best friend's dad comes to talk to his parents about his "girlish behavior."

With emotional and deep storylines, these short films need great acting to convey the strong messages of the films. These actors deliver. Every character is portrayed by a passionate actor that deeply understands their character and performs with passion. Even for films with no dialogue, you can understand what they are thinking and feeling. Otmara Marrero who plays Avalon in Let's Be Tigers, delivers an unforgettable performance as such a sorrowful character. The change as she plays with Noah (Dash McCloud) is visible as the film develops. In American Eid, Jenna Qureshi, who plays Ameena's older sister, Zainab, also delivers a stunning performance, making her teenage, trying-to-be-cool character relatable in every way. The cinematography is equally excellent. The special effects in the fantasy films are wonderful, particularly in Growing Fangs with its vampire effects. Magic is the main component in this one, but there are other effects as well. The stories are all well-written. Some of the shorts are heart-breaking and emotional, while others are more uplifting and creative. There's a variety of wonderful ideas spread throughout.

These shorts have many themes, some overlapping others. A central point for all of them, is to recognize other people for what they are, not for how they appear.>p>I give Launchpad 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. Launchpad can be viewed on Disney Plus beginning May 28, 2021.

Reviewed by Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I appreciate the sophistication involved in the themes and making of Launchpad, A Short Film Collection. I found these lacking in action and the messages are pretty heavy. They are all a good length and cover a wide range of topics (such as). Some are a little repetitive and unclear.

This is a collection of short films, ten to 20 minutes in length, Growing Fangs, American Eid, Let's Be Tigers, Dinner is Served, The Little Prince(ss) and The Last of the Chupacabras. They address issues such as racism and gender stereotyping, and we learn a lot about many different cultures, religions and lifestyles. The films are a good mix of seriousness and funny ways of interpreting problems.

These short films are not typical Disney movies, yet they are really interesting. Many of them have dialogue at least partially in non-English languages and, although they are subtitled, I sometimes felt a bit lost or uninterested because I didn't know the language. There are many young actors in these films that deliver excellent performances. My favorite film is American Eid, which highlights a young Muslim girl who lives in the United States and goes to a school that doesn't give days off for Eid, which is the Muslim holiday following one month of fasting, Ramadan. I like the protagonist's sister, because she realizes by the end that appreciating her family and her culture is more important than being cool, and either way she manages to do both. Growing Fangs is a thrilling story about a girl who is half human and half vampire; she faces the problems of belonging to more than one community and finding acceptance. Let's Be Tigers is about a kid who helps his babysitter get through a rough time. The messages in Dinner is Served are deeper and a bit harder to understand; it covers a Chinese student who tries to follow his dream and goes through a process of realization about his dream. The Little Prince(ss) focuses on gender stereotypes, following a young boy who does ballet and likes the color pink. In The Last of the Chupacabras an elderly woman has a magical adventure with a mythical creature.

The message in these films is about accepting people for who they are. This applies to their religion, culture, gender and age. The only shortcoming is that the messages are sometimes a bit forced and some parts are unrealistic, which I didn't like that much.

I give Launchpad, A Short Film Collection 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to18 and adults and will be premiering on May 28, 2021 on Disney+.

Reviewed by Rosemary K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED LAUNCHPAD


CRUELLA
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

Before she becomes Cruella de Vil? Teenaged Estella has a dream. She wishes to become a fashion designer, having been gifted with talent, innovation, and ambition all in equal measures. But life seems intent on making sure her dreams never come true. Having wound up penniless and orphaned in London at 12, four years later Estella runs wild through the city streets with her best friends and partners-in-(petty)-crime, Horace and Jasper, two amateur thieves. When a chance encounter vaults Estella into the world of the young rich and famous, she begins to question the existence she's built for herself in London and wonders whether she might be destined for more after all. When an up-and-coming rock star commissions Estella to design him a signature piece, she begins to feel as though she has truly arrived. But what is the cost of keeping up with the fast crowd- and is it a price Estella is willing to pay?

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Cruella, the film, is a very audacious take for a Disney movie. It is bold, strong, raw, and at the same time flourishing with creativity and joyful to watch. The acting is superb and all aspects of production--costumes, locations, art and design--are on point. Last but not least, the soundtrack is definitively one to remember.

This origin story tells how the well-known villain from the original book and subsequent animated movie The Hundred and One Dalmatians becomes Cruella. Sadly, it takes bullying, cruelty and hate to turn a wonderful character to evil. In Cruella we see a young Estella (Tipper Steifert-Cleveland) surviving as an orphan, struggling to create a family with two boys she meets on the street, along with the noble company of two dogs that are humans' best friends. This is one of the aspects I love about Cruella: despite that Cruella de Vil is well known for animal cruelty, this movie honors dogs by having two canines, Buddy and Blink, as important cast members.

Tipper Steifert-Cleveland's performance is the perfect predecessor to the stunning grown-up Estella (Emma Stone) to shine in a multi-layered character. We see how 12-year-old Estella is bullied at school which is one of the most important messages of the movie to its younger audience, showing how people that surround you can hurt you when your appearance doesn't match what they see as "normal." As Estella, Emma Stone is full of creativity and ideals and an absolute survivor. She's a hard worker who's determined to make her dreams come to life. We see her cleaning floors and toilets at the iconic fashion store Liberty of London, pursuing a career in fashion design--but society sabotages her plans.

The Baroness (Emma Thompson) is despicable and charming at the same time. Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser play Jasper and Horace, respectively; little thieves that show unconditional love to Estella and are literally partners in crime. John the Valet (Mark Strong), besides being perfectly cast, should have had more presence in the storyline since he could have brought more humanity and hope to the film. My favorite part? The music, brilliantly composed by Nicholas Britell to match the narration and the era. And the visuals and cinematography are just stunning.

The story of Cruella is fascinating, but my only issue is how long the storytelling takes, including scenes that could have been edited out. At times, there are a couple instances of self-explanatory dialogue related to the turning point in the story: the world is cruel, making Estella become the meanest villain in response. Ultimately, the message of the film is that environment, nature and nurture play a decisive role in one's being and in our role in society.

I give Cruella 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids 13 to 18, plus adults. There are some mildly violent scenes and themes that can be inappropriate for the very young. Cruella opens May 28, 2021 in theaters and on digital platforms.

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

Cruella is an all-new, live-action feature film that is fashion-forward and villainous! The fashion and soundtrack really help drive the film. The camerawork is astonishing and connects you to the protagonist's journey.

Based on the novel The One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, Cruella takes you on the journey of how the most fashionable villain goes from being a mischievous, rebellious and fashionable young girl (Tipper Seifert-Cleveland) to becoming Cruella De Vil (Emma Stone). After suffering a great loss, Estella meets two young homeless thieves, Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) and they instantly become family. Estella uses her fashion sense to design costumes to allow them to run scams to survive. Then, she gets the job of a lifetime, creating outfits for the chic, terrifying fashion legend, the Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson). After a revelation connecting the Baroness to a horrific event from her childhood, Estella seeks revenge and gets a chance to let out her inner "Cruella."

The main characters in this film are Estella/Cruella de Vil, the Baroness von Hellman, Jasper, Horace, Anita Darling (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and Mark Strong (John the Valet). Cruella is narrated by none other than Cruella herself and is set in 1970s London during the punk rock revolution. The camera techniques used are sensational; at times they make you feel like you are walking with the characters. The party scenes stay true to the red, black and white color pallet Cruella is known to wear. My favorite part is when the rebellious Cruella goes to a black and white ball wearing an all-white outfit and drops a match on it. The dress burns up and reveals a red dress underneath. It is also remarkable how costume designer, Jenny Beavan up-cycled materials, such as trash, and uses the infamous Dalmatian pattern, to create Cruella's outfits.

The message of this film is that sometimes the worst memories are the ones that have the greatest impact on your life. In this film, Estella experiences different events in her life that would break the typical person, but it led to her experiencing some of the greater moments of her life, such as meeting Jasper and Horace or having a chance make clothing. The only parent warning I have is a short scene where Estella is drinking.

I rate Cruella 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18; adults are sure to love it too. Cruella releases simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on Friday, May 28, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR CRUELLA


RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS

Description:

Justina Machado, George Chakiris, Mitzi Gaynor, Chita Rivera, Norman Lear, Gloria Estefan, Sonia Manzano, Karen Olivo, Emilio Estefan Jr., Terrence McNally, Mariem Perez Riera, Pedro Juan Lopez

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It is the ultimate in-depth documentary about one of Hollywood's most trailblazing actors. This film is the absolute tear-jerking, hysterical, educational experience of the year. By the movie's end, you just want to go for it too.

Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It recounts the life story of critically acclaimed actress Rita Moreno. Rita, who is best known for her roles of Anita in West Side Story and Carmela in The Electric Company, stars in the documentary, along with stars like Whoopie Goldberg, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eva Longoria and more. The film features clips from a large variety of Rita's films throughout her career as well as from award shows, and photographs and footage from her personal life, including interviews with her friends and family.

This film shines a light on how incredible Rita is, and how human as she leads the way for Puerto Ricans and all Hispanics in the 1960s, stands up for women's rights and fights to be able to choose which roles she plays. She deals with being type-cast as an island or Hispanic character, and decides and turns down roles that would shove her into a tiny box. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly side of Rita's life, not just grazing at the surface. It shows how Rita struggled with hating her Hispanic roots, because it limited her as an actress. She tells how she was sexually abused, was forced into an abortion by her then-boyfriend Marlon Brando, and tried to commit suicide. The film shows exactly why Rita is such a beloved actress and person. Despite all she's been through, she never gives up and learned to value the woman she is. Rita grows into her own person throughout the movie, telling how everything that put her down at the time just made her stronger.

The moral of the film is to stay strong and keep fighting. Rita is not eighty-nine years old and one of 15 EGOT winners (acronym for the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards), just because she gave up. Being a Puerto Rican actress in New York and trying to find your way in the world wasn't as easy as Moreno makes it look. She has maintained her humbleness and blossomed into a modern woman who fights for human rights and looks great while doing it.

I give Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters June 18, 2021.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It is a trailblazing documentary that will inspire girls across the world who have a dream! Rita Moreno's life story is a testament to her perseverance and others like her who had a dream and decided to go for it.

This documentary profiles Rita Moreno (West Side Story, One Day at a Time), following her life from its beginnings as a poor Puerto Rican girl to becoming an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) award-winning actress. We see her struggles and trials throughout her life and how she confronts and handles them.

Latina Mariem Perez Riera directs this documentary and brings a great deal of passion to it, making the film very personal and authentic. The film employs stop motion animation, film excerpts to show Moreno's life as a young woman to a legendary entertainment icon and political activist. Not only are the scenes diverse, so are its features. I particularly enjoyed hearing from Morgan Freeman, Lin- Manuel Miranda and Hector Elizondo. My favorite parts of this documentary are actually the sad parts. So many people in the limelight tend to sugar coat the truth about their troubles, which makes them seem perfect. This film is raw to the point that, even though her life has a Hollywood spin to it, it actually tells a story that many young girls can relate to today.

The message of this documentary is in the title - be a girl (or boy) that goes for your dream. Rita Moreno came from less than many, yet lived a life bigger than most. You can do it! You won't know unless you try. This film does contain a description of sexual violence and some profanity.

I give Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. You can

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR


P!NK: ALL I KNOW SO FAR
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
11-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 11-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON STUDIOS

Description:

This documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at P!NK as she balances family and life on the road, leading up to her first Wembley Stadium performance on 2019's "Beautiful Trauma" world tour. The film follows P!nk as she balances being a performer with her role as a mother, wife and boss. It mixes footage from the road, behind the scenes interviews, and personal material. On the tour, P!nk played 156 shows in 18 countries. The film is produced by Michael Gracey and Isabella Parish, with Luminaries, Silent House and Lefty Paw Print.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I was intrigued by P!nk: All I Know So Far and enjoyed each and every second of it, from its realistic aspect to the behind-the-scenes showing them working on the performances. We see that P!nk loves her family just as much as she loves performing and how she makes time for both. Each and every part of this documentary is amazing.

This documentary gives the audience an inside peek into the life of P!nk as a performer and a mom, while counting down to one of the biggest moments in her life - her 2019 Wembley Stadium performance. This film gives you a taste of all the hard work that P!nk and her team put into every performance. Plus, it shows how she balances her profession with being a mother of two and being absolutely great at both.

The beginning of P!nk: All I Know So Far pulled me in immediately as it gave me the feeling that I was about to see something incredible. And, I was one hundred percent right; I love everything about this documentary. I loved seeing the honest and hardworking P!nk on screen. She conveys how hard being the boss can be, especially as a woman in this industry. In P!nk's case, her team respects her and is committed to perfecting their performance as they practice dance moves and rework blocking to make things easier on P!nk. This film shows you that Pink is just as human as the rest of us. She may be a singer with many hits, but at the end of the day, she is back with her family doing what most people do. She wants to be a great mom and that's the main reason she brings her kids on tour with her. Seeing how much P!nk loves her family brings a calm and heartwarming aspect to the film. I learned a lot about P!nk that I didn't know before and that helped me understand her better. I love seeing P!nk give advice to her younger self as well as to her kids. I found myself learning some things to use in my own life. My favorite thing was, "Lead by example, work hard." She does both as she participates in this beautiful but overwhelming business, while absolutely killing it. You might find yourself learning new things about the pop-star P!nk and you will be inspired by what is on screen.

This film really shows audiences how much hard work P!nk puts into her art. We usually only see the final product of P!nk being on stage. This shows the ups and downs she goes through as a performer and how she deals with everything thrown at her.

I give P!nk: All I Know So Far 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. P!nk: All I Know So Far can be streamed on Amazon Prime now.

Reviewed by Hazel A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

P!nk: All I Know So Far, a new Amazon concert documentary on the singer, by Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman) highlights the daily struggles and fortunate moments through the eyes of Pink, showcasing how she balances being a wife, woman, Grammy-award winning singer and above all, a mother.

The documentary shows Pink during the summer of 2019 as she travels throughout Europe on her "Beautiful Trauma" world visit with her kids and spouse, Carey Hart, a previously proficient motocross competitor. The opening minutes effectively compare two sides of the artist - the brave entertainer swinging on a chandelier-like structure over a swarmed stadium in a dark sparkle leotard and the active mother taking her family from one city to the next.

Beginning in Amsterdam, Pink talks about the road bumps of life on the road and the new struggles with being a mother of two children. She is not only hoping for a wonderful experience on tour for her fans, but also for the moment of a lifetime for her kids. "The only way I can justify dragging my family all over the world is that we are making memories together," she says. It's truly wonderful to see how passionate and dedicated she is in bringing out her best with every performance. However, it's sad to see how much pressure she is put under and how tough she is on herself.

P!nk: All I Know So Far reveals show rehearsals, bike rides through different cities and unplanned moments. These scenes highlight her family's dynamics, showing her open communication with her kids, and showing Pink's parenting style. Pink works hard to foster an inclusive nurturing environment; she wants her children to stay quirky and fun, and she encourages them to be nothing but themselves. P!nk: All I Know So Far doesn't ever get as raw as promised. The film spends far more time telling rather than showing, and uses lots of explanatory narration. I found that a bit distracting and it didn't hold my interest as much as when we actually got to peek behind the scenes of her life. After all, this is a film, not a short story or novel. My favorite parts are the moments when Pink is hanging out with all her background dancers and seeing their connection with Pink's oldest daughter, Willow and her youngest son, Jameson. Of course, getting to see her practice all her stunts and almost flying through the air is exhilarating. She has so much love for everyone she associates herself with and who supports her. One moment that is extremely heartfelt, is when Pink reads messages from her fans. One woman that shared her story and battles told how Pink's music and 'I don't care' attitude has influenced her and ultimately saved her.

This film shows the true meaning of kindness. What I took away from watching it is: you are perfectly perfect just the way you are. You may appear "weird" and "not normal" to others, but do not let them define who you truly are.

I give P!nk: All I Know So Far 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. It's available now on Amazon Prime Video.

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED P!NK: ALL I KNOW SO FAR


INTRODUCING JODEA
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
13-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 13 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
FAIRMONT PICTURES

Description:

A struggling young actress's fortunes change when a world famous movie director drives into the back of her car.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I love the romantic comedy Introducing Jodea directed by Jon Cohen and written by Chloe Tricos. It is completely entertaining, exciting and humorous. Its light-hearted, humorous plot lines center on romantic ideas, such as how true love is able to surmount most obstacles.

Introducing Jodea is a teen romantic comedy about a struggling young actress, Jodea Maxwell (Chloe Traicos), whose fortunes change when a world famous movie director Zac Kawalsky (Jeff Coppage) drives into the back of her car. Desperate, the actress uses the opportunity to beg Kawalsky for a role in his latest movie, but her audition is woeful to say the least. However Zac's agent Grant tempts him with a bet he can't refuse, the condition being that Zac has one week to make Jodea a brilliant actress.

My favourite character is Chloe Tricos because she never gives up even when she is told that she cannot become an actress because she is ugly and she can't act. Chloe keeps on trying and pushing until she succeeds. My favourite part is when Zac Kawaslky's agent Grant (Kent Hatch) tells Jodea that she is a very bad actress, but Jodea still believes in herself and knows that she can do it, she just needs help.The production design and costume are on point and very well executed. Introducing Jodea is very engaging and intriguing; it is definitely worth checking out. I can see it catching on with audiences.

We all like to feel that dreams can come true and that true love does exist, which is the message of this film - the traditional Cinderella story that'll make you laugh and cry. The idea that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind and soul to it; that you should not give up when you get bad feedback and that you should be resilient and determined.

I give Introducing Jodea 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Introducing Jodea releases in theatres Friday, June 4, 2021. Save the date!

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED INTRODUCING JODEA


HOLLYWOOD.CON
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
REVERIE ONE

Description:

An actor steals the identity of a producer, and is hurled into Hollywood's next Mayan film. In the jungle of Mexico she is mistaken as a member of a cartel.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like Hollywood.con because it is a comedic film that is very informative about Guatemalan culture. It contains a lot of funny scenes and is very entertaining.

This film starts off profiling a struggling actress living in Los Angeles. However, after an unexpected turn of events, the protagonist Mika (Mika Boorem) finds herself in Guatemala, working on her first ever producer job. Throughout her time there she experiences many ups and downs, and eventually finds herself. While in Guatemala, Mika and her team encounter some competition in making their film. They must work together to stay competitive, while learning how to respect the values of other cultures.

Something that I really like about this movie is how they include a mix of genres in one film. Not only is it comedic, but it is also mysterious. I love mysterious films and, including humor, makes it that much better. Another thing that I enjoyed are the fun little special effects that are included every so often. They have the right amount to create a fun dynamic, without making it become a live action film.

The message of this film is to always stay true to yourself, even during competitive times. This film does include some profanity.

I give Hollywood.con 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Hollywood.con is available now on Amazon Prime!

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED HOLLYWOOD.CON


LA MUSICA

Running Time:
35 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 5-10 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
WHISTLEFRITZ LLC
Click to purchase directly from the producer

Description:

Pack your bags--we're going on a musical adventure! Join Mar�a and a playful group of peers as they embark on a fun-filled journey from Spain to Latin America, singing, dancing, and learning Spanish along the way!

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

La Musica promotes interactive engagement between the audience and the lessons on screen. This DVD utilizes the concept of language immersion, which means that, instead of simply using words to teach children a new language, it uses visuals and songs to ingrain Spanish words and phrases. The use of animation, and the overall structure of the DVD creates an easy to understand and enjoyable flow.

I find this immersive concept appealing and engaging. When I learned a new language the teacher just wrote the words on the board in English and then in French. Nothing clicked! This DVD is so much more fun, vibrant and personable. I did not know very much Spanish before watching this and now I have learned some new words over the course of 35 minutes.

I think children will enjoy this DVD because of the songs. They have a good beat and, honestly, are very catchy. The way the main instructor, Maria, speaks to the audience makes it extremely personable and it seems as if children will engage with the welcoming environment she creates.

The DVD flows very well. The structure is that Maria talks to the children who are on-camera with her, but also to the audience, about what they are going to discuss. Maria explains it a little bit more and then invites one of her friends to sing a song about it. After each song, she reflects a bit about it and then the process repeats. There is not much connection with the characters, yet it is still enjoyable to watch them sing in Spanish. The material is suitable for the intended age group. There are times when Maria repeats a phrase or word a couple of times in a row to reinforce the Spanish words, but I believe that is important for 4 to 10-year-olds.

This is all shot using either a green screen or animation. The green screen allows the production freedom to travel virtually to Spain and other Spanish speaking countries. Sometimes it is a bit style-less, but I do not think children will notice. The actor that plays Maria is great. The cover of the DVD is very appealing with its border of a rainbow, and showing Maria dressed in her flamenco outfit. This DVD teaches children not only fundamental Spanish words, but also about the Spanish culture. During one song, Ileana sings about where she is from and gives examples of other countries where Spanish is spoken. There is a map behind her showing native animals of these Spanish speaking countries also. There is not much problem-solving, but there is definitely cultural lessons woven throughout the language lessons.

The message of this DVD is about getting children excited to learn about Spanish culture and the language through interactive engagement, song and dance with the guidance of native speakers.

I give La Musica 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 10, plus adults. Reviewed by Tor F., KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like the DVD La Musica because it is very entertaining and makes it easy to learn Spanish. I like how children can interact with this DVD while learning Spanish and having fun at the same time.

This DVD has lively Spanish melodies and it includes both Spanish and English subtitles to make it easier for the audience to follow and learn the language. It includes ten Spanish songs and is approximately 35 minutes filled with fun and learning experiences. The graphics and backgrounds are vibrant and colorful as are the characters. The main character, Maria, takes the audience on a Spanish sing-along adventure around the world with the help of Fritzi the mouse and the rest of the playful cast as they journey from Spain to South America. This DVD includes a lot of singing, dancing, stomping, clapping, solving riddles, helping Maria find Fritzi and figuring out what the next dance will be as you learn the language. The music is very appealing and catchy.

Whistlefritz is creator of this language learning DVD. Their Spanish for Kids DVDs, CDs and lesson plans have received more than 100 national honors and awards from most respected organizations in children's media. My favorite part of La Musica is that it incorporates some songs from the Spanish CD, Buenos D�as! Learning Songs which I had the pleasure to review in 2020. This DVD takes some of the songs from Buenos D�as! And turned them into scenes. My favorite scene is "Se Habla Espa�ol."

La Musica is the latest DVD release in the award-winning Spanish for Kids series. It is an excellent tool for non-Spanish speakers or for young children to learn Spanish as a second language.

I give La Musica 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 3 to 18, plus adults. La Musica DVD is available now in stores and digital download. You can visit the Whistlefritz website at www.whistlefritz.com to keep updated about their DVDs, CDs and other programs.

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

Whistlefritz has done it again with their newest Spanish language DVD, La Musica. La Musica is an exciting journey through the world of music with easy to learn Spanish songs that make you want to get up and dance along! With a fun and diverse cast this DVD is a great next step for kids hoping to become more conversational in Spanish.

Maria (Sara Jerez) and her friends put on an outstanding show as they travel around the world on a Spanish adventure. With catchy songs, a fun cast, native speakers, and fun animated characters, this DVD will keep you watching until the end. All elements of La Musica come together to create a great musical experience along with teaching fundamental Spanish that can be used by teachers, parents and kids themselves. There are English subtitles for those that are just beginning to learn Spanish.

This DVD has a fun and colorful feeling that is sure to keep your children entertained. The colorful background and award-winning music all contribute to a great educational film. With just the right amount of education and amusement, it offers a perfect way to help teach your child conversational Spanish. I love La Musica because its light and exciting theme it is perfect for all ages, not just the younger children. My favorite part is when Maria dances a traditional Flamenco dance, because it is so interesting and fun to watch.

The message of La Musica is that education doesn't need to be boring. This DVD shows that you can lighten it up with songs and dance! Even though it may be difficult to learn a new language, anybody can do it, even children!

I give La Musica 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 5 to 10. You can buy this DVD online now.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

La Musica is a short language learning course for kids in a series by Whistlefritz. Presented entirely in Spanish, La Musica is filled with dancing, singing and more. This educational DVD keeps you moving and humming to its catchy tunes. Kids learn how to say numbers, days of the week and many other words in Spanish thanks to the English subtitles. It's a fun way to learn the language.

This 35 minute conversational course features a cast of kids, teens and a host, Maria, who takes viewers on an entertaining adventure while teaching Spanish words and dances. In one scene Maria flamenco dances and wears a traditional Spanish dress which helps kids learn more about Latin culture. La Musica (The Music) also incorporates animated characters, including Rito the fox and Fritzi the mouse, that help viewers navigate the language. My favorite part is when Rito goes shopping at the grocery store. That scene teaches Spanish words for orange, peach, cookie and other tasty foods.

The excitement is at high levels throughout the lessons, which keep the viewer's attention focused on learning Spanish. The teaching method encourages kids to repeat different words, which are easy to note and understand, based on how they are presented. English subtitles are shown throughout so you can translate while the characters speak. As a beginning Spanish learner, I found that this made it a lot easier for me to understand and found this DVD very newcomer-friendly.

I recommend La Musica for ages 5 to 10, but older kids may find it useful as a fast review or study tool. This course is sure to capture your attention and you too will soon be speaking Espanol. This is available from Whistlefritz at www.whistlefritz.com and online wherever DVDs are sold.

By Ava H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Suggested Retail Price

This title is available for purchase from WHISTLEFRITZ LLC

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED LA MUSICA


QUIET PLACE, A: PART II
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Description:

Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

A Quiet Place Part II returns to the Abbott family minus Lee Abbott (John Krasinski) who dies in the first movie trying to save his family from aliens attempting to take over the world. It appears the aliens have returned to the Abbott's small town where, once again, any noise will lead to certain death. But there is hope after the discovery of an old friend in hiding.

This outstanding horror film sequel by John Krasinski exemplifies how cinematography and lighting can make a film ten times better. This is especially clear in one of my favorite scenes in which Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) is standing in her flooding nursery, with paper falling off the walls, and dim red lights wrapped around her soaked dress. The camera angles really make this scene much more majestic and tragic. Also, the cinematography captures the CGI figures perfectly. It is terrifying and chilling how realistic these creatures look, drawing the audience into this truly unique film.

One of the best things about A Quiet Place Part II is the talent! I believe every actor and actress featured in this amazing film deserves a standing ovation. My favorite actress is Emily Blunt who is excellent in her role as Evelyn Abbott, bringing layers to her character and displaying her character's growth as the movie progresses. Also, the CGI used to create the antagonizing creatures truly stands out. It feels as if the creatures are there with the actors during the shoot, which is both terrifying and impressive at the same time.

The main messages of A Quiet Place Part II are to have bravery and perseverance. Examples of those qualities can be seen when protagonist Regan Abbott (Millicent Simmonds) goes off on her own, leaving her mother and two brothers behind in search of an island rumored to have other survivors. Some things to be aware of in A Quiet Place Part II are gore, jump scares and some other instances of horror that would not be appropriate for a younger audience.

I give A Quiet Place Part II 5 out of 5 stars. I loved it! I would recommend this film for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. You can find A Quiet Place Part II at your local movie theater starting on May 28, 2021.

By Samantha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11As much as Emily Blunt and John Krasinski have to be incredibly silent, A Quiet Place Part II is a screaming delight with surprising twists and major intensity. Just when you think you can't get enough of these mind-boggling jump scares, the film provides new creative plot lines that make you jump left and right. The film does lack a major conclusion, which doesn't really give viewers closure, and it leaves you with the thought, "Wait, the movie's over?"

As you can guess, A Quiet Place Pat II picks up after the events of A Quiet Place. The film follows the Abbott family after they leave their previously destroyed home. When they discover a nearby outlander named Emmett (Cillian Murphy), they attempt to work with him so they can face the challenges outside their known world to survive the day. This sequel broadens the universe in ways that we could have never known in the first movie.

When it comes to a horror film, of course you need plenty of monsters. The increased amount of screen time the aliens have in A Quiet Place Part II is immensely more than the first movie. The visual effects department stepped up their game, really improving the CGI with plenty of detail, and making the aliens look a lot more realistic. With the number of aliens being amped up, of course the amount of action is too. The film includes as much action as you could possibly have in a 90 minute runtime.

The one word that describes A Quiet Place Part II is - intense. The sequel adapts its genre from horror to more of a thriller, with an emphasis on thrills. Certain parts of the film can be very extreme and make your heart pump out of your chest. It might seem scary on the outside, but on the inside, it demonstrates themes of family and friendship. It also expresses the importance of trust, and how you should bestow it upon new people in your life.

Topping an outstanding first movie is an almost impossible task, but director John Krasinski proves it to be possible by making A Quiet Place Part II superior to the first movie. Without a doubt A Quiet Place Part II is dialed up 100% from the first movie, improving the alien screen time and CGI that the debut movie lacked. Therefore, I give A Quiet Place Part II 5 out of 5 stars and recommend the film for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. You can find A Quiet Place Part II in your local theater on May 28, 2021.

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

From the bone-chilling thriller, A Quiet Place, comes the terrifying sequel A Quiet Place Part II. I was horrified and delighted with this film, and I believe I jumped about 20 times throughout the whole movie. Filled with suspense and intensity, A Quiet Place Part II is a must watch for all you horror fans.

Instead of picking up where A Quiet Place they left off, A Quiet Place Part II starts with a flashback of life before the monsters attacked. We see how the Abbott family, our heroes, were living a normal and happy small town life. All of a sudden, there is a flash in the sky and, after a short while, the monsters emerge. The town slowly starts to be destroyed as the creatures pick off people that speak too loudly. Suddenly, we flash forward to the current time where the original film left off, where the Abbott's seem to be the only ones left, or so they think. The suspense and intensity of this film will make you cringe and bite your nails out of fear of what is to come.

This movie is spectacular and there are so many details that deserve recognition. To start, I need to acknowledge the realistic, extraordinary acting in this movie. Noah Jupe (Marcus Abbott) and Millicent Simmonds (Regan Abbott) both convey such strong emotions using so little spoken word. They only use their facial expressions and sign language to communicate for the majority of the film, and yet it is some of the most top tier acting I have ever seen. The acting isn't the only thing that makes this movie spectacular. I love seeing two strong female characters. Emily Blunt as Evelyn Abbott is the spitting image of a tiger mom. The way her character is portrayed makes it so she shows moments of tenderness, while at other times she is killing monsters left and right like it's nothing. I could go on and on about Millicent Simmond's character, but the main thing that stuck out to me is that we have a deaf teenager who is a hero. She isn't portrayed as helpless because of her hearing abilities; in fact, she is the bravest out of all of them.

The message of this film is that courage means doing the right thing, even when you're afraid. There are many times in this film when we see characters stepping up to help each other, even when it means they risk losing their own lives.

I give A Quiet Place Part II 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 13 to 17 plus adults. It releases in theaters May 28, 2021.

By Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR QUIET PLACE, A: PART II


GENIUS GENERATION, THE

Running Time:
23 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
6-18

Category: FAMILY
PODCAST, AGES 6-18 series

Media:
AUDIO

Distributor:
PRX

Description:

Did you know that the trampoline was invented by a 16-year-old? That popsicles, snowmobiles, and the Braille language were also invented by young people? Join host Danni Washington every week to meet the innovative kids, tweens, and teens who are running their own businesses, making new discoveries, or inventing something new using science.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Trax has done it again! The Genius Generation is a podcast about young people with a passion for activism and change.

Each episode of this podcast shares the story of a tween or teen about their innovative ideas and inventions to change the world. Questions for each episode are very similar; however, different stories are shared with completely different responses.

Dani Washington is a great host with a lovely voice. Her willingness, as an adult, to listen to these teens innovators makes this podcast worth the listen. And I cannot forget the guests themselves. These teens and tweens are such an inspiration; not only with their ideas, but their contagious drive to purse their ideas to the fullest. My favorite episode is "Avi Schiffman," about an 18-year-old web developer who created a website platform for convenient and up-to-date information about the coronavirus.

The message of The Genius Generation is expressed by almost all of the guests - pursue your passion; don't be afraid to fail; and most importantly, take initiative for things you care about. Because you never know, maybe you will be the next guest on this show. This podcast is inspirational, educational and promotes positive social behaviors.

I give The Genius Generation 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. You can listen to it on www.trax.fm/the-genius-generation.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

The Genius Generation is a very inventive podcast. It showcases so many different kids and ideas. This is a very inspiring podcast that can help motivate kids to want to make changes in the world.

This podcast is about kids under age 18 that have created something that helps everyone. They usually are asked questions about their barriers, their breakthrough or their creative process. There are six episodes so far, plus a trailer. This podcast talks about so many cool ideas and inventions. The interviewer for the series is Danny Washington.

I like the variety of kids and inventions that are featured in this show. There is usually a "big world" problem that the youth inventor has heard about that has motivated them. In each episode similar questions are used in the interview such as, "What kept you motivated? How did you find out about the problem? What were the barriers and breakthroughs you experiences?" All the inventions are based around science. This is really special, because kids create things to help the world in ways that adults don't even try. For example, Ananya Sridhar invented a new, affordable way to test for lead contamination in water. Neil Suri invented a completely new, affordable way to detect forest fires. Anisha Musti created a new technique to detect Parkinson's disease based solely on the sound of a person's voice. The show is well produced with cool sound effects. Each episode starts with a quote by the person featured in that episode.

The message of this show is that anyone can change the world and, no matter how young you are, you can make a difference.

I give The Genius Generation 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to18, plus adults. You can find this podcast on TRAX at https://www.trax.fm/the-genius-generation

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This podcast makes me feel amazing; like I can do anything. That's just one reason why I love it so much. It is filled with inspiring quotes such as: "I don't hope for the best, I work for it." "If I'm not making a connection with the piece, I feel like, 'what's the point?' "

The series is about kids who make big changes in the world. There are many stories in this podcast - a new one for each episode. In one of the episodes, a girl named Luna Abadia talks about her experience studying abroad in Japan. There, she saw firsthand all the effects of climate change and comments, "I am fighting for all those around the world that are affected by climate change." Her story continues as her organization, ECAP (Effective Climate Action Project) fights to stop the continuing effects of climate change.

Some of the impressive things about this podcast are the clarity of the voices, the sound effects and, most of all, the stories. Each and every story finds some way to hook you in. There are many components that contribute to making this podcast interesting. Two of the main factors are the background music and the sound effects, which are particularly outstanding. An example is when Luna talks about how she got hooked into science in school and we hear a school bell in the background that takes you there. Another time, we hear the sound of metal clinking when Luna mentions a microscope. Another amazing thing about this podcast is the narrator, Danni Washington. She asks relevant and thoughtful questions and speaks with a clear voice.

The Genius Generation has one message throughout - kids can do anything. It is in the title itself. Youth have a voice and we should use it.

I give The Genius Generation 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. This podcast can be found on Trax at https://www.trax.fm/the-genius-generation

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR GENIUS GENERATION, THE


P!NK: ALL I KNOW SO FAR
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON STUDIOS

Description:

A behind-the-scenes look at P!NK as she balances family and life on the road, leading up to her first Wembley Stadium performance on 2019's "Beautiful Trauma" world tour.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I was intrigued by P!nk: All I Know So Far and enjoyed each and every second of it, from its realistic aspect to the behind-the-scenes showing them working on the performances. We see that P!nk loves her family just as much as she loves performing and how she makes time for both. Each and every part of this documentary is amazing.

This documentary gives the audience an inside peek into the life of P!nk as a performer and a mom, while counting down to one of the biggest moments in her life - her 2019 Wembley Stadium performance. This film gives you a taste of all the hard work that P!nk and her team put into every performance. Plus, it shows how she balances her profession with being a mother of two and being absolutely great at both.

The beginning of P!nk: All I Know So Far pulled me in immediately as it gave me the feeling that I was about to see something incredible. And, I was one hundred percent right; I love everything about this documentary. I loved seeing the honest and hardworking P!nk on screen. She conveys how hard being the boss can be, especially as a woman in this industry. In P!nk's case, her team respects her and is committed to perfecting their performance as they practice dance moves and rework blocking to make things easier on P!nk. This film shows you that Pink is just as human as the rest of us. She may be a singer with many hits, but at the end of the day, she is back with her family doing what most people do. She wants to be a great mom and that's the main reason she brings her kids on tour with her. Seeing how much P!nk loves her family brings a calm and heartwarming aspect to the film. I learned a lot about P!nk that I didn't know before and that helped me understand her better. I love seeing P!nk give advice to her younger self as well as to her kids. I found myself learning some things to use in my own life. My favorite thing was, "Lead by example, work hard." She does both as she participates in this beautiful but overwhelming business, while absolutely killing it. You might find yourself learning new things about the pop-star P!nk and you will be inspired by what is on screen.

This film really shows audiences how much hard work P!nk puts into her art. We usually only see the final product of P!nk being on stage. This shows the ups and downs she goes through as a performer and how she deals with everything thrown at her.

I give P!nk: All I Know So Far 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. P!nk: All I Know So Far can be streamed on Amazon Prime now.

Reviewed by Hazel A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

P!nk: All I Know So Far, a new Amazon concert documentary on the singer, by Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman) highlights the daily struggles and fortunate moments through the eyes of Pink, showcasing how she balances being a wife, woman, Grammy-award winning singer and above all, a mother.

The documentary shows Pink during the summer of 2019 as she travels throughout Europe on her "Beautiful Trauma" world visit with her kids and spouse, Carey Hart, a previously proficient motocross competitor. The opening minutes effectively compare two sides of the artist - the brave entertainer swinging on a chandelier-like structure over a swarmed stadium in a dark sparkle leotard and the active mother taking her family from one city to the next.

Beginning in Amsterdam, Pink talks about the road bumps of life on the road and the new struggles with being a mother of two children. She is not only hoping for a wonderful experience on tour for her fans, but also for the moment of a lifetime for her kids. "The only way I can justify dragging my family all over the world is that we are making memories together," she says. It's truly wonderful to see how passionate and dedicated she is in bringing out her best with every performance. However, it's sad to see how much pressure she is put under and how tough she is on herself.

P!nk: All I Know So Far reveals show rehearsals, bike rides through different cities and unplanned moments. These scenes highlight her family's dynamics, showing her open communication with her kids, and showing Pink's parenting style. Pink works hard to foster an inclusive nurturing environment; she wants her children to stay quirky and fun, and she encourages them to be nothing but themselves. P!nk: All I Know So Far doesn't ever get as raw as promised. The film spends far more time telling rather than showing, and uses lots of explanatory narration. I found that a bit distracting and it didn't hold my interest as much as when we actually got to peek behind the scenes of her life. After all, this is a film, not a short story or novel. My favorite parts are the moments when Pink is hanging out with all her background dancers and seeing their connection with Pink's oldest daughter, Willow and her youngest son, Jameson. Of course, getting to see her practice all her stunts and almost flying through the air is exhilarating. She has so much love for everyone she associates herself with and who supports her. One moment that is extremely heartfelt, is when Pink reads messages from her fans. One woman that shared her story and battles told how Pink's music and 'I don't care' attitude has influenced her and ultimately saved her.

This film shows the true meaning of kindness. What I took away from watching it is: you are perfectly perfect just the way you are. You may appear "weird" and "not normal" to others, but do not let them define who you truly are.

I give P!nk: All I Know So Far 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. It's available now on Amazon Prime Video.

Reviewed by Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED P!NK: ALL I KNOW SO FAR


HERE TODAY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
13-18

Category: NATURE
FEATURE, AGES 13 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
STAGE 6 FILMS

Description:

When veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz meets New York street singer Emma Payge, they form an unlikely yet hilarious and touching friendship that kicks the generation gap aside and redefines the meaning of love and trust.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Here Today is different from any film I have ever watched before, with lots of humor and scenes more suited for older kids and adults.

When veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz (Billy Crystal) meets New York street singer Emma Payge (Tiffany Haddish) and they form a different and hilarious friendship that is carried throughout the film. It proves that different ages can't stop friendship and makes us believe in love and trust.

There are quite a few amazing things in this film. At the very beginning there is a scene where Charlie is walking all the way to his work. This scene is important because Charlie has Dementia and can't always remember things, so he needs a route with familiar markers so he knows where he is going. This comes into play later when there is a scene where he is told to take a detour and he doesn't know how to get to work that day because he is told to take a different route. There is a church scene with lots of people, which was impressive. The amount of extras needed to make that scene would be tremendous. There are also flashbacks and scenes where we see the past when Charlie is writing. I love the location near the end when they are in a forest. These scenes look like a dream, and their clarity impressed me. One of my favorite scenes is when the company Charlie works for is making a news report and Charlie comes in and says the guy hosting the show is saying all the words wrong and Charlie makes an unintentional comedic remark.

The message of this film is that friendship and love can topple all. Parents should know that there are some inappropriate scenes such as a scene where they stick an EpiPen in and do it wrong and Emma has an allergic reaction she looks kind of creepy which might scare some kids and some profanity.

I give Here Today 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. This film opens in theaters Friday, May 7, 2021. Check it out.

Reviewed by Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED HERE TODAY


1971: THE YEAR THAT MUISIC CHANGED EVERYTHING
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
14-19

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
APPLE TV

Description:

In a tumultuous era, 1971 would be a year of musical innovation and rebirth. Fueled by the political and cultural upheaval of the time, fresh talent exploded onto the scene, stars reached new heights, and boundaries expanded like never before. Watch 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything, now on Apple TV+. This eight-part docuseries will take you back to the birth of the most original artists and songs that we still listen to 50 years later, including never-before-seen footage of The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, and more.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything is a beautiful docuseries capturing the reality of a year that Baby Boomers and members of Generation X lived through. In this series, the blooming of unique soundtracks in a turbulent time is captured gracefully, using archival footage and interviews plus voiceovers from influential and iconic figures of the '70s.

The eight-part docuseries focuses on the musicians and soundtracks that shaped the culture and politics of 1971; featured artists include The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed... and even Ravi Shankar. 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything goes to great depth (each episode lasts from 40 to 60 minutes) to illustrate how these musical icons were influenced by the changing tides of history, including the Vietnam War, and how they used their work to inspire hope and change in their not-always-beautiful world. From politically-tinted songs to dreams of unity, the show runs the gamut of songs and emotions. It's truly a beautifully-executed series, though it tends to drag about three quarters of the way into each episode.

The series comes from a filmmaking team that includes figures from documentaries like the Academy Award-winning 'Amy,' and so you know it's going to be an awesome piece of work. Asif Kapadia is the show's series director and serves as executive producer along with James Gay-Rees, David Joseph, and Universal Music Group's Adam Barker. And this undertaking truly is a team effort; the production team has meticulously picked snippets of interviews, radio broadcasts, film from the recording booth and performances, and more, all from 1971, and pieced them together to tell a beautiful, intricate story. As you watch more and more of the show, you begin to get sucked into the world that is being portrayed on screen, a surefire sign that the minds behind 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything did lots of things right! Despite the show dragging a bit here and there, your eyes will surely be glued to the screen whenever you watch the series.

1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything is about resilience and inspiration, or rather inspiration through resilience. As these incredible musicians weathered the tempest that was the titular year, they funneled their energy toward releasing uplifting and rousing music that would echo with the general populace; they truly seized the opportunity. And I feel that it's a great parallel to 2020 and now 2021; certainly, music has played a major part in getting us through the pandemic, and who knows? Maybe 40 years down the road, we'll see a film about 2020: The Year That Music Changed Everything... Again.

I give 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything 4.5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything releases May 21, 2021, on Apple TV+!

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED 1971: THE YEAR THAT MUISIC CHANGED EVERYTHING


DARK HOBBY, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
DIFFERENT BY DESIGN

Description:

The Dark Hobby is an expos� of the devastation to species and reefs caused by the aquarium trade. This adventurous saga follows a band of Hawaiian Elders, conservationists and scientists who stop at nothing to protect marine wildlife. They file a lawsuit against the State of Hawai'i to halt the collection of reef creatures, a fight that goes all the way to the Supreme Court.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

How can we fix what we don't know is broken? How can we make change for something if we can't see what is wrong? The answer is simple...we can't unless we are aware that a problem exists. Hidden under the surface of our oceans within some of the riches habitats on the globe, there IS a problem and we must take immediate action to save our natural world before it disappears. The Dark Hobby, a compelling new documentary film, exposes the ugly truth behind a hobby practiced by so many people globally - the aquarium hobbyist. This film sheds light on the secrets of wildlife trafficking through the corrupt commercial extraction of our most precious species occupying the world's coral reefs.

Aquariums are certainly beautiful and enjoyable for humans, but they come at a huge cost to other living things involved in this "hobby" industry. The Dark Hobby highlights some alarming statistics within this captive industry that are sure to shock those that admire these artificial habitats. The film takes us to Hawaii's Kona Coast where Robert Wintner, the film's executive producer and long time marine activist, educates us on the dismal journey of marine life from capture to captivity. Several other activists and research scientists offer additional evidence on this ever so cruel hobby. Plucked from their natural habitat, 99% of marine wildlife die within the first year of captivity - only to be replaced following their death. The continuous demand to replace aquarium life drives many "aquarium collectors" into the business, causing great devastation to marine ecosystems. The Dark Hobby refers to fish keeping as a "global travesty demanding the world's attention" and this film is sure to change minds.

The Dark Hobby takes us underwater to some of the richest marine habitats in the world. This exclusive footage is outstanding and beautifully captured by the film's cinematographers. The Hawaiian ecosystems shown in this documentary are so diversified and viewers get a firsthand look at what could be lost if we continue to allow wildlife to be stolen. The scenes with including Native Hawaiians speaking out to save their culture are especially powerful and a great addition to the film.

The message in The Dark Hobby is about the need to open our eyes and think critically about all that is involved in human entertainment. Humanity can be driven at times by greed and selfishness, which can cloud reality. Humans are taking away marine life's most prized possession - their freedom - and this film gives us the information and education we need to speak out about giving that freedom back.

I give The Dark Hobby 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults, especially animal activists, will also love this documentary. The Dark Hobby makes its debut May 21, 2021 on a variety of digital platforms. Please spread the word, it's critical that this film's message be heard.

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR DARK HOBBY, THE



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