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KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
80 FOR BRADY
80 FOR BRADY - PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - 80 For Brady is inspired by the true story of four best friends and New England Patriots fans who take a life-changing trip to Super Bowl LI to see their hero Tom Brady play, and the chaos that ensues as they navigate the wilds of the biggest sporting event in the country.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - 80 for Brady is a perfect movie to watch with a best friend, family member and sports fan. What I love about this movie is that it successfully connects the importance of being courageous, while trusting those closest to you to overcome your biggest obstacles in both sports and in life. Also, what else would you expect from Tom Brady (producer), but an inspiring movie about the power of attitude and belief to pull off miracles.

The story follows four best friends, Lou (Lily Tomlin), Trish (Jane Fonda), Betty (Sally Field) and Maura (Rita Moreno) who, for 16 straight years, loyally followed Tom Brady's career. After watching the Patriots' 2017 AFC Playoff win, Lou asks her friends to join her for an unforgettable adventure - "Let's go to the Super Bowl LI."

The movie is hilarious with scenes of dancing, funny sports superstitions and includes live action and original sound from the Super Bowl LI experience. Several scenes include live audio of player commentary on the field that you've likely never heard before. One of my favorite scenes is when Lou finally has the chance to talk to Tom Brady in an emotional speech, which inspires us to never give up. The game brings us back to the greatest comeback, both in Patriots history, and in Tom Brady's incredible sports career. The love of football connects us as Americans and the true story of four loyal women, who followed Tom's career for 16 years to finally make it to the Super Bowl, is inspiring for us all - even if you're not a Tom Brady fan. To see Lou, Trish, Betty and Maura having a great time attending exclusive parties, dancing with Gugu's (Billy Porter) dance crew, eating in Guy Fieri's spicy hot wing contest and gambling with high rollers really brings one hilarious scene to another. This film shows that both your age and life challenges can't stop you if you believe you've still got it. I can't wait to have the chance to go to a Super Bowl myself someday with my best friends and family. What an adventure.

The message of the movie is about the importance of friendship and courage to overcome obstacles and embrace the unknown together. The film reminds us to trust in our loved ones; never let fear stop us; and live life to the fullest.

I give 80 For Brady 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters beginning February 3, 2023.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

80 for Brady is a hilarious movie. It has amazing acting and an amazing cast. Funny moments are around every corner with its hysterical plot.

The storyline follows four women all around age 80 who all idolize legendary football quarterback, Tom Brady. After Lou (Lily Tomlin) wins tickets to the 2017 Super Bowl, the girls are off on a crazy trip to Houston. Along with her best friends Betty (Sally Field), Trish (Jane Fonda) and Maura (Rita Moreno) they fly to Houston to watch their favorite team, the Patriots, on the trip of their lives. Nothing goes as planned and when Betty loses the tickets during a hot wings contest, the girls don't know how they'll ever make it into the game.

Along with an all-star cast, this movie has hilarious jokes throughout. All of the shenanigans the girls get into are unbelievably crazy and insanely fun to watch. I love when Betty signs up for Guy Fieri's hot wings contest because she ends up winning and, after it's over, she tells them that her taste buds aren't very good so she can barely taste anything. The scenes from the Super Bowl are amazingly. Everything seems so real, like you're actually there watching it. My favorite character is Betty because she's so sweet and wants to do something exciting for once in her life. The funniest scene is when Maura is kind of out of it and stumbles into a poker game and wins lots of money thinking she can buy more tickets after Betty loses them, but after she cashes out she finds out it was a charity game.

The message of 80 for Brady is that you're never too old to have fun. These women are all over 75 and think they're destined for a life of sitting at home until this one great adventure. Parents should know that there are a couple of things to be wary of. They accidentally take some drugs at a party and there's some profanity.

I give 80 for Brady 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It releases in theaters February 3, 2023.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

The film, 80 for Brady, directed by Kyle Marvin, is amusing, engaging and fresh. This film equally balances the elements of comedy and drama while still maintaining real life situations and grounded characters. Not only does this film include familiar celebrities, such as actress Rita Moreno, this film is produced by 7-time Super Bowl champion, Tom Brady.

The story follows best friends in their 80's, Trish (Jane Fonda), Betty (Sally Field), Moura (Rita Moreno) and Lou (Lily Tomlin) as their yearly tradition of watching the Super Bowl finally arrives. They decide to attend it live this time, encouraged by the quarterback of the friend group, Lou, who is dead set on this adventure after discovering there's a possibility of her cancer returning. Throughout her time battling chemo, Lou gains the strength and courage to fight it by following the resilient and brave story of Tom Brady--watching his games weekly becomes something for her to look forward to, a sentimental tradition. So whether it means breaking out of retirement homes or joining a spicy wings contest, these four ladies are destined to step foot inside that stadium, no matter what obstacles are in their way.

My favorite character is Betty, who evolves from the beginning to end in an engaging way. Betty is known as the problem solver, not comfortable with confrontation and constantly changing her own wants and needs to benefit others, especially her husband. She doesn't know what it is like to make decisions without needing validation. Their goal to attend the Super Bowl is finally Betty's opportunity to experience that freedom and delivers many hilarious moments. Going from editing essays at home to partying all night long with college students has to be the greatest character development! My favorite aspect of 80 for Brady is how scenes jump from the perspective of Lou to that of Tom Brady. At times of difficulty, Lou often looks at her Tom Brady bobble head figurine, or speaks to herself as if she asking Tom questions about her dilemma. The perspective then switches to Tom expressing his opinion on how to help the situation. Throughout the film, Tom and Lou are not aware of each other until the end, but the instant cuts from Tom to Lou immerse viewers in their conversations.

This film provides a significant message: It is never too late to discover the wonders and experiences of life you may have missed. Happiness has no age limit--it is never too late to discover new interests and act on them.

I give 80 for Brady 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters February 3, 2023. Enjoy!

By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
NUISANCE BEAR
NUISANCE BEAR - THE NEW YORKER
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Nuisance Bear is a Canadian short documentary film, directed by Jack Weisman and Gabriela Osio Vanden and released in 2021. The film is a portrait of the polar bears in and around the town of Churchill, Manitoba.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Nuisance Bear has glorious cinematography and superb storytelling that drive home its important message of peaceful coexistence with nature. It's a terrific film for all those who love the great outdoors, as well as for budding filmmakers.

Nuisance Bear follows a polar bear migrating across the town of Churchill in the Canadian province of Manitoba. People congregate to take pictures and videos, and the bear begins to clash with the locals. That is when the bear's journey takes a dramatic turn, and "nuisance bear" removal forces enter the scene.

Nuisance Bear is a documentarian's documentary. With no voiceover or speaking at all, the New Yorker team behind the film lets the images and captured video do the talking. And it's supremely effective. I especially love the way the wildlife forces' pickup truck is shot like it's the predator, not the bear; it approaches menacingly with high beams on and then veers to the side as the bear makes its escape. It's absolutely scintillating. In many scenes, there isn't even any background music, so all you hear is the soft stepping of the bear and the rumbling engines of the wildlife forces. Hat's off to directors Jack Weisman and Gabriela Osio Vanden for creating such a masterful piece of visual storytelling.

Nuisance Bear promotes respecting nature and ensuring you don't disrupt other beings endemic to your area. The film helps us realize that people are the real nuisance, not the bears.

I give Nuisance Bear 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. The film is available to watch on the New Yorker YouTube channel now.

by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 16
Runtime: 14 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
A MAN CALLED OTTO
A MAN CALLED OTTO - SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES12 TO 18
Description - Based on the # 1 New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove, A Man Called Otto tells the story of Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks), a grump who no longer sees purpose in his life following the loss of his wife. Otto is ready to end it all, but his plans are interrupted when a lively young family moves in next door, and he meets his match in quick-witted Marisol. She challenges him to see life differently, leading to an unlikely friendship that turns his world around. A heartwarming and funny story about love, loss, and life, A Man Called Otto shows that family can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I thoroughly enjoyed A Man Called Otto. Tom Hank's portrayal of an aging man whose love of his life was taken way too young haunts his character Otto, but thanks to the persistent love of his new neighbors he emerges from his shell as he finds a new extended family.

The storyline follows Otto, a grumpy old man who thinks of himself as the quintessential rule enforces in his neighborhood and elsewhere. The film is filled with flashbacks which reveal the backstory of Otto's life and how he came to become the grumpy old dude he is.

The character, Otto, is played so well by Tom Hanks that you semi-hate him for his persnickety personality, yet as the story evolves and we learn about the tragic events of his past, the "what and why" become clear. When new neighbors move in across the street, the wife (Mariana Trevino) is persistent in not letting Otto escape her kindness, whether it means bringing him wonderful Mexican food, which Otto begrudgingly loves, or inviting him to spend time with her children. The tragedy of Otto's love story, which began and ended with his lively and beautiful wife, it is, no less, still a love story. It makes you ache for poor Otto who truly found his soul mate and lost her way too soon. He is bent on taking his own life, but constantly drawn away by his neighbors Marisol and her hubby.

Directed by Marc Forster, the film is beautifully produced with eloquent shots of the landscape of suburban Pennsylvania and sets that show middle class America in its simplest form. My favorite scene is a toss-up between the one with Otto and his neighbor buddy, during friendlier times when they compete for who has the coolest car and when he teaches Marisol how to drive; the speech he gives her about how she is not an idiot is awe-inspiring and afterwards, she loses all fear and drives like a warrior.

What I love most about this film is character. So many mass market films, particularly comic based ones, lack depth of character and this one delivers it in Otto, but also in Marisol and Anita, even Malcolm and Jimmy. Everyone evolves here and becomes more substantial than they are at first glance. Be forewarned that there are suicide attempts shown and some profanity.

I give A Man Called Otto 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It's rare to find a film with such substance. We laughed and cried, then did it again and again. By Julie S, KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I didn't love A Man Called Otto as much as I thought I would. It has a lot of funny parts even though it is a really sad movie. The funny parts are where they include different Latinx things and different things we say and do. As a Latinx myself, I had a good laugh, but my eyes did water up.

First we meet Otto (Tom Hanks), who is a grumpy old man that loves to follow the rules and fights with everyone. Everything is annoying to him and he really doesn't like people. He'd much rather be alone; he tries to do something many times and, along the way, he meets many people. We see a lot of flashbacks with Otto and his late wife.

This move is sad and, the way they use dark colors to really make the mood, makes it sadder. Tom Hanks excels in his portrayal of Otto. This film really addresses equality and how much things have changed. There is a LGBTQ+ character in it and Mack Bayda portrays him very well. The costumes are really cool thanks to Mariana Trevi�o. Not only that, but she brings a Latin feel to the film like in all the different Latino food that is featured.

The film's message is that just because someone else's life ends, yours doesn't have to. There are so many beautiful and wonderful people on this earth. The one thing parents should be aware of is that there is some self- harm and suicide.

I give A Man Called Otto 2.5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It comes out in theaters January 13, 2023.

By Miguel C., KIDS FIRST!Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY
I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY - SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - A joyous, emotional, heartbreaking celebration of the life and music of Whitney Houston, one of the greatest female R&B pop vocalists of all time, tracking her journey from obscurity to musical superstardom.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Loved this film. Naomi Ackie knocks it out of the part with her portrayal of Whitney and brings you right into the center of Whitney's lives, loves, hopes, dreams and foibles. I watched this with a friend and, since both of us were long time fans of Ms. Houston, we were a bit anxious that it would take jabs at her faults (we all have them). It doesn't, rather it really shows her innocence as she makes it big in the complicated world of music stardom. Stanley Tucci, as her agent also plays Clive Davis to a T! We love Stanley and can easily imagine him as the person behind this super star.

This film is so well produced from its visuals to the audio track to the costumes. I can't speak to the authenticity of her costumes, but as my friend and I walked out of the theater we both said, "I want her costume designer."

As far as the message of this film goes, it really shows the vulnerability of a young women who is taken advantage of by many people as she reaches for stardom, including those who led her into drug abuse. However, there are also a lot of upsides to this, like the love she shows for her daughter and the loving support of her agent, Clive.

I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. There is some profanity and drug use, so be forewarned. By Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I Wanna Dance With Somebody is a new film about the life of Whitney Houston, one of the greatest voices of any generation. It portrays Houston in a new and exciting way that all audiences will love to see.

Raised by famous singer Cissy Houston (Tamara Tunie), Whitney Houston (Naomi Ackie) had a powerful voice from the time she was little. After being discovered while singing in her mom's place by record executive Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci), Whitney quickly became a huge singer all across America and around the world. This movie follows her life from the beginning to the end and shows what happened behind the cameras, closely following her relationship with her husband, family, and friends.

Naomi Ackie's performance as Whitney Houston is breathtaking. You can tell she studied Houston very closely. Whitney's relationship with her best friend, Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams) is focused on very heavily in this film, and I loved it. There is lots of tension between the actors and it definitely makes the film better in so many ways. Another relationship that is focused on in this film is Houston's relationship with Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders). Ackie and Sanders both put lots of effort into their roles and it pays off. The film I Wanna Dance With Somebody does an astounding job when it comes to Whitney's performances. It feels like you're really there watching her perform. My favorite scene -- and it's really breathtaking to watch it.

The message of I Wanna Dance With Somebody is that fame can change a person's life for good and for bad. Whitney Houston got lots of money and fame from her singing career, but it also messed with her in horrible ways. A few things for parents watching with children to be aware of is that there is lots of swearing in this movie and drugs are used towards the end of the film.

I give I Wanna Dance With Somebody 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters December 23, 2022.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
WILDCAT
WILDCAT - AMAZON PRIME
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Wildcat follows the emotional and inspiring story of a young veteran (Harry Turner) on his journey into the Amazon. Once there, he meets a young woman (Samantha Zwicker) running a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center, and his life finds new meaning as he is entrusted with the life of an orphaned baby ocelot. What was meant to be an attempt to escape from life turns out to be an unexpected journey of love, discovery, and healing.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Prepare to be inspired by a new documentary, Wildcat, directed and produced by Melissa Lesh and Trevor Beck Frost, which leaves viewers in a whirlwind of emotions and can turn your heart from empty to full at the drop of a dime. This is a film that you are not going to want to miss.

Struggling with depression and PTSD as a result from his time spent as a British soldier in Afghanistan, young Harry Turner attempts to escape his world in order to restore peace to his troubled life. That escape lands him deep within the Peruvian Amazon where he teams up with American scientist Samantha Zwicker, and together they work diligently to save injured and orphaned wildlife at Hoja Nueva Rehabilitation Center. The film focuses mainly on the duo's efforts to rehabilitate and "re-wild" orphaned ocelots, and their work seems to put purpose back into their lives. Harry continues with his mental struggles throughout the film and, although his efforts at Hoja Nueva are helping him overcome these challenges, the film highlights for us that these struggles may never truly be defeated.

There is so much to love and appreciate in Wildcat. The cinematography is terrific as it takes us to one of the most remote and biodiverse places on our globe, allowing viewers to get close up views of some incredible species of animals. The story demonstrates that beauty can indeed be woven into the lives of those who have dark days. And since I absolutely love cats and our family has been involved in cat rescue for many decades, I commend Harry and Samantha for their efforts in wildcat conservation and highlighting for us how difficult yet rewarding this line of work can be.

Wildcat is a true masterpiece. There are so many important thoughts to take with you after watching the film, and yet the film's most important message is about hope and courage. Mental illness is a life threatening disease, but, with some hope and a whole lot of courage, someone suffering from this condition can learn to cope with their disorder. There is certainly also the message about the importance of conservation and the willingness to volunteer in order to protect and restore our fragile ecosystems. We need more wildlife warriors and this film just may be a call to action for those conservation minded people. Parents need to be aware of some adult language throughout the film and at times some of the scenes display some very dark moments for Harry.

I give Wildcat 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12-18. Adults will also absolutely love this film. Wildcat releases on December 30, 2022, on Prime Video.

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the extrasolar moon Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na'vi race to protect their home.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Avatar: The Way of Water is a breathtaking adventure film that is just as magical, and show stopping as its predecessor and completely blew me away. The film gives the audience a magical experience into the world of Pandora.

Avatar: The Way of Water takes place 14 years after Avatar and follows the lives of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), his wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and their four children. When a familiar threat comes back to take over Pandora, Jake and his family leave their home to explore different regions of Pandora preparing to fight to protect both their family and their world.

Avatar: The Way of Water is unlike anything I've ever seen before. The visuals and imagery far surpassed my expectations and made the movie incomparable to any other sci-fi film. The underwater scenes are my favorite and the interaction between the sea creatures and the Na'vi help make the ocean almost like a character in the story. Although the special effects and imagery are incredible, the plot is a little predictable. Using some popular themes and overused tropes, makes the plot not very original. The first movie, Avatar, came out nearly 13 years ago, and it might be advisable to watch or rewatch the first film in order to fully understand this sequel. The film is also quite long, with a run time of 3 hours and 12 minutes, and there are many scenes that I wish were shorter to cut down the run time. The acting is phenomenal, with Sam Worthington giving an exceptionally heartwarming performance. I love all the new additions to the cast and found the adaptations of the reef Na'vi a smart touch that makes the world of Pandora even more realistic. James Cameron (director) is without a doubt an incredible storyteller, and his ability to create the world of Pandora is amazing.

Avatar: The Way of Water promotes friendship and the importance of family; most of all it promotes respect. We see this through Jake Sully's relationship with his kids, but most importantly through showing the lack of respect that the "sky people" have for Pandora and the negative effects that has on the planet. Parents may want to know that there are a lot of fight scenes, many of which involve weapons and blood and also some profanity.

I give Avatar: Way of Water 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It will be released in theaters December 16, 2022.

By Emma D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Fans have been waiting since 2009 to see the sequel to Avatar; eager to see what new adventures await. Audiences are in for a treat, because Avatar: The Way of Water is full of adventures that makes the wait worth it.

Avatar: The Way of Water follows Jake Scully (Sam Worthington), Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), and their family as they settle in Pandora. This period of peace doesn't last long due to the return of a familiar enemy of Jake's. The family now has to move to a different region where they have to learn to fit in, and learn the way of water. As disaster and surprise continues to strike, Jake is given the task of defeating his enemies in order to save himself, his family, and his people.

Avatar: The Way of Water is a dynamic, engaging story perfect for a night at the movies. It is a long movie, running three hours and twelve minutes' some scenes where Jake and his family are learning the ways of the Metkayina feel too long and they overpower the villain subplot. However, the scenes aren't anti-climactic, so they held my attention. The CGI in Avatar: The Way of Water stands out from the minute the film begins. The characters have high quality, unique features, and the underwater scenes and animals are astonishing. The ground-breaking new CGI techniques used give it a fantastical tone that is distinct from other films. I love the representation of a sibling bond. Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Lo'ak (Britain Dalton), Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li) and even Spider (Jake Champion) don't always get along. However, when it comes down to a life or death situation, protecting one another is always the most important. These relationships have the power to make the audience laugh and cry.

Avatar: The Way of Water carries the message that family is everything, whether they are related by blood or not. Jake clearly cares about his biological children and is willing to do anything for them. But even with Kiri, Spider and both the Na'vi and Metkayina people, you see his protective nature and the protective nature the family has over each other.

I give Avatar: The Way of Water 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Avatar: The Way of Water releases in theaters December 16, 2022, so make sure you check it out!

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Avatar: The Way of Water is an action-packed sci-fi film that I thoroughly enjoyed. You don't have to be an Avatar fan to be entertained the whole time while watching this movie. This movie is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and is definitely a film you want to see on the big screen.

The storyline follows Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who has found a home with the forest clan on the moon Pandora. He lives there happily with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and their four children until he realizes he and his family are in danger of being attacked by the humans, led by an old enemy, Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang). In order to protect his family and the lives of his people, they must leave their home and learn to live life away from the forest.

The CGI in this film is honestly one of the key factors that make this movie so engaging. The majority of the CG character animation is filmed with new motion-capture techniques using live actors, so the characters and various settings look so realistic. I especially like the vibrant colors of the underwater scenes. Watching the fighting scenes in 3D made me feel like I was part of the battle. The emotions the actors convey in this film are another component that makes this movie so good. When the scenes are intense, you can see the different emotions on their faces and in their body language. Whether it is anger, sadness, or determination, the emotions in the characters' voices help you get into what is happening. My favorite character is Lo'ak (Britain Dalton) because he is very relatable. He portrays normal teenage behavior, but also loves his family very much. Even though he gets into his share of trouble, when things go wrong, he tries his best to fix it in every way he can.

The message of Avatar: The Way of Water is that family is everywhere you go. Even though Jake and his family have to leave their home to stay out of trouble, they stick together. They help each other when times are tough and they always look out for each other, and sometimes have to risk their own life. Parents should be aware that this movie includes violence and some inappropriate language.

I give Avatar: The Way of Water 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Avatar: The Way of Water opens in theaters December 16, 2022.

By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

If you can believe it, Avatar: The Way of Water, the movie a decade in the making, tops the visual masterpiece of the original, Avatar. Be warned that this movie is a commitment as it is over three hours long!

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), the human transformed into a Na'vi person, and his wife Ney'tiri (Zoe Salda�a) are back and now have four kids. With the unexpected return of the wicked Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who is brought back as a Na'vi impersonator along with his crew, the Sully's are forced to flee the forest and explore what other places on Pandora, their home planet, have to offer.

Since this is the sequel to the mega-hit film, Avatar, I recommend watching the first film before viewing this one, as there are many important references and details that are key to following this film. The storyline leaves us with some more questions than answers; however it sets up moviegoers for the next installments. Viewing it on a big screen, especially in 3D - which I recommend - makes you feel like you're right beside the characters in the world of Pandora. Speaking of Pandora, the world building is absolutely remarkable. It expands our view of this amazing foreign planet. And as the name suggests, it focuses on the islands, oceans and reefs of Pandora. The aquatic plants and animals are majestic and gorgeously iridescent. The reefs and oceans are eye popping and staggering. Everything is so glowy and vivacious. If you thought the animation of the original film was awe-inspiring, wait until you watch this one! The animation is hyper-realistic. When looking closely, you can see the ultra-detailed textures of the characters and settings. The movement almost looks like it is from a cut scene of a video-game (it's honestly the best way I can describe it). Stephen Lang's performance as the Colonel is so powerful, and makes you hate his guts even more than you did in the first film. Sam Worthington as Jake and Zoe Salda�a as Ney'tiri seem to have developed even better chemistry than in the first movie.

The message of this movie is to always fight to protect loved ones. This movie also has strong messages about the bonds with family and friends. Be forewarned that there is violence and violence involving animals.

I give Avatar: The Way of Water 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This movie releases in theaters on December 16, 2022.

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

I absolutely love Avatar: The Way of Water by James Cameron. It is suck a heartfelt and family film.

The story line starts back in Pandora following Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri's (Zoe Salda�a) family - two boys and two girls, who are quite wonderful kids. We also see that some people have been turned into avatars. We also see that the "air people" are coming to Pandora to completely destroy it and make a new world for humans, since Earth is dying. You will have to watch it to find out what actually happens.

Although the film is very long, at over three hours, it's absolutely worth it. It is a very emotional movie and definitely will make you cry. The CGI is absolutely unbelievable and you actually think that the avatars are real, because they look so realistic. I cannot believe that Avatar is finally back on the big screen with this long-anticipated sequel. I have watched the first film many times and can honestly tell you that this film is even better than the first one. The characters in this film are absolutely amazing and the actors portray them so well. For example Zoe Saldana portrays the mom in a believable way; she really shows how much she loves her kids. She is definitely a loving mom because, even in the worst battles she decides to risk her life so her kids can have one. I also cannot believe that Susan Sarandon's portrayal of a 17-year-old, since she's 70. The plot has a lot of ups and downs and what puts you at the edge of your seat is all the fight scenes and battles they face as a family -- and they still stick together. The special effects are out of this world; I truly can't believe that they actually filmed the mob underwater -- that's actually crazy cool. It definitely left me wanting more with its cliffhanger ending.

The message of this movie is about how family sticks together, no matter what happens or who tries to come between you and your family. You should be aware that there is a lot of rough behavior, fighting and a lot of blood. We see people going underwater for a long time, so a kid might be tempted to try it on his or her own. The avatars aren't fully clothed, but you don't see anybody fully nude.

I give Avatar: The Way of Water 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters December 16, 2022.

By Miguel C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY'S
SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY'S - AMAZON PRIME
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Nothing compares to the magic and excitement of the holidays in New York City, where the streets blaze with lights, windows dazzle, and a special box from Tiffany could change the course of a person's life -- or several lives. Rachel and Gary (Zoey Deutch, Ray Nicholson) are happy enough, but not quite ready for that big commitment. Ethan and Vanessa (Kendrick Sampson, Shay Mitchell), the perfect picture, are just about to make it official. When a simple mix-up of gifts causes all of their paths to cross, it sets off a series of twists and unexpected discoveries that lead them to where they're truly meant to be. Because love-like life-is full of surprises, in the holiday romance Something from Tiffany's.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - On a cold winter night, Something from Tiffany's will melt your heart and have you dreaming of blue boxes with sparkly surprises.

Love isn't always perfect, like a Tiffany's diamond. Rachel Meyer's (Zoey Deutch) life suddenly changes on Christmas day when she receives a surprising gift from her boyfriend, Gary (Ray Nicholson), and he is just as surprised as she. That same morning Ethan Greene (Kendrick Sampson) watches his future fiance Vanessa (Shay Mitchell) open a gift box only to discover the engagement ring he purchased has turned into earrings. This unintentional gift exchange sets off a series of humorous and heartfelt events encouraging Rachel and Ethan to find their true happiness and love.

I love how well this movie quietly integrates the magic of New York City during the holidays to highlight romance and self-discovery. Zoey Deutch's strong performance as Rachel has you rooting for her to set boundaries and find a healthy, loving relationship. And Kendrick Sampson's performance as Ethan Greene exudes a warm and charismatic personality which makes him the perfect choice for the right girl. The chemistry between the key characters creates effortless attraction, making you forget the complications in this romantic comedy. Ray Nicholson as Gary, Shay Mitchell as Vanessa, and Leah Jeffries as Daisy all play supporting roles with depth and honesty to the reality that love isn't always easy. Director Daryl Wein keeps the romantic moments authentic and light-hearted.

We often hear "everything happens for a reason" and in Something from Tiffany's, this is a huge understatement. Taking the risk to find love and cherishing the love between friends and family are themes celebrated throughout the film. Plus, it reminds us to follow our dreams and not fear failure.

I rate Something from Tiffany's 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Something from Tiffany's premieres on Prime Video December 9, 2022.

By Calee N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE, THE
CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE, THE - RA VISION PRODUCTIONS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Podcast host Laura Ross and her longtime friend and producer Paul are challenged to re-examine their personal and professional relationships when a listener submits the daily "Christmas Challenge" that promotes togetherness to their ambitious "Modernly Independent" podcast.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Christmas Challenge is the perfect holiday romance film to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy. With a humorous and engaging script and great performances, you'll love watching the dynamic between Laura and Paul evolve in this heartwarming film.

The Christmas Challenge follows two enterprising media professionals. Podcast host Laura Ross (Jennica Schwartzman) and her close friend and producer Paul (Zack Gold) are challenged to re-examine their personal and professional relationships when well-wishing friends pose as listeners and submit the daily "Christmas Challenge" that promotes togetherness to their ambitious "Modernly Independent" podcast. And when corporate representative Michale (Galadriel Stineman) enters the foray to assess their podcast, matters grow even more complex.

The writing by Ryan Schwartzman is one of the best parts of the film. With its natural dialogue and banter between Laura and Paul and the well thought-out plot, The Christmas Challenge doesn't miss a beat. Jennica Schwartzman steals the show as Laura; she captures the angst of a woman both desperate to be independent and desiring companionship with delicacy. And you have to love Zack Gold; as he plays Paul, the "nice guy" trope -- he's 100% invested in winning over Laura at all times and that wishful glint in his eye adds so much to the film. Overall, a wonderfully made film!

The Christmas Challenge promotes togetherness and love. For those who are especially focused on their work and intent on being independent, this film is a reminder that it's perfectly okay to: (a) succumb to your feelings and (b) spend time with those you love.

I give The Christmas Challenge 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch The Christmas Challenge on streaming platforms starting November 22, 2022.


Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
FABELMANS, THE
FABELMANS, THE - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - The Fabelmans is a 2022 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and written and produced by Tony Kushner and Spielberg. It is a semi-autobiographical story loosely based on Spielberg's adolescence and first years as a director, told through an original story of the fictional Sammy Fabelman, a young aspiring filmmaker who explores how the power of films can help him see the truth about his dysfunctional family and those around him. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy, with Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and Judd Hirsch in supporting roles. It is dedicated to the memories of Spielberg's real-life parents Arnold Spielberg and Leah Adler.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Fabelmans is a touching and mesmerizing film that celebrates the acclaimed director Steven Spielberg while recounting his origins as a filmmaker. The film provides an absolutely emotional experience--it's mainly about the vicissitudes of family interaction while paying homage to cinema.

As a kid, Sam Fabelman learns an important lesson from his father, one of the basic principles of filmmaking: retinal persistence. Like magic, films are a simple succession of still images, which give the illusion of movement. When Sammy attends his first movie projection, the event turns into a life-changing experience. The story follows his life while he discovers his passion for movie-making supported by his family: his dad Burt (Paul Dano), his mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams), his three sisters, and his uncle Ben (Seth Rogen). His father is an electrical engineer, his mother a concept piano player--and this fusion of technicality with art certainly shaped his craft. The family's dynamic is beautiful yet cloudy at times; a source material turned into melodrama, perfect for great storytelling.

I love the humanity that The Fabelmans displays. And I loved the way the film shows and captures Sam's life overall, in the sense that it doesn't just feel like you are watching a story. As the audience I can really understand and feel the emotions Sam is feeling. Characters are the core of the storyline and the relationships between them. Despite that the Fabelmans are not a perfect family, they stand out in their unity and the bond between them. The relationship between Sam and his mom, masterfully performed by Michelle Williams, is mesmerizing to watch. There's a complicity that is put to the test, generating wonderful conflict. Williams' scenes are like study material for an actor. And yet every cast member is great at their craft in this film. The camera moves fluidly from the family dinners, to the action scenes contained in Sam's early films, through the corners of the houses where the family moved and the places that hide the deepest family secrets. Janusz Kaminski's photography brings the era alive visually and has the perfect warmth, and the score of John Williams stays in our hearts. The Fabelmans deserves Oscar nominations.

My favorite scenes are Sam experimenting and reproducing the train crash he watched in his first movie experience and Mitzi watching herself in her son's family movie. My favorite quote: "Guilt is a waste of an emotion" which I consider profoundly meaningful in terms of what this movie is telling its audience. The message of the film is to be able to find balance in adversity. Families are not perfect, but true bond should prevail. The Fabelmans is rated PG-13 due to mature thematic elements and brief violence and drug use.

I give The Fabelmans 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for audiences 13 to 18, plus adults. The Fabelmans opens in theaters November 23, 2022.

By Zo� C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
LIMITLESS WITH CHRIS HEMSWORTH
LIMITLESS WITH CHRIS HEMSWORTH - DISNEY+
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - A different way we can live better for longer: regenerating damage, maximizing strength, building resilience, shocking the body, supercharging memory and confronting mortality.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This six episode docu-series is entertaining to watch, and, at times, educational - in a very fun way. Limitless With Chris Hemsworth tests the limits of the human body and finds what may lead to a longer life.

Limitless With Chris Hemsworth follows -- you guessed it -- Chris Hemsworth, occasionally with his friends and family, on a six-episode journey to find ways to boost longevity and quality of life.

It's fascinating to see some unexpected ways we could achieve longevity and a better life. Of course, not all of these actions can and/or should be imitated by the average person, but there are ways that you can modify what's in the episodes and apply it to your own life. Examples include fasting for one day a month or turning the shower on cold for the last 30 seconds or spending time in a sauna - these practices can help lead to a longer life. Some of the episodes include Stress-Proof, Memory, and Strength. My favorite episode is Acceptance, where Chris gets to experience firsthand what it's like to be old and how to accept that. I really found it interesting to watch Chris Hemsworth outside of the MCU and be just himself. It adds something more personal and makes the audience feel connected to him in a new way.

The message of Limitless With Chris Hemsworth is to accept aging because it's a part of life, and yet there are ways to make life healthier and longer lasting. There are some very risky things done in this show that should not be done without expert supervision.

I give Limitless With Chris Hemsworth 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This series comes out on Disney+ November 16, 2022.


Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
BLUE'S BIG CITY ADVENTURES
BLUE'S BIG CITY ADVENTURES - NICKELODEON
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Blue's Big City Adventure follows Josh (Josh Dela Cruz), who gets the opportunity of a lifetime to audition for Rainbow Puppy's (Brianna Bryan) Broadway musical, and Blue (Traci Paige Johnson) as they skidoo to New York City where they meet new friends and discover the magic of music, dance and following one's dreams. The entire "Blue's Clues" crew is reunited for this special movie event, with the beloved animated friends and all three hosts--Josh, Steve (Steve Burns) and Joe (Donovan Patton)--together for the first time in the Big Apple.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Blue's Clues & You cast takes a bite out of the "Big Apple" to follow their dreams in their new hit movie musical, Blue's Big City Adventures! This film has something for the entire family -- from big dreams, superb dance numbers, multi-talented guests appearances -- all while still managing to fit in Blue's clues to help along the way. While watching this magical film, you feel the joy and entertainment you always get from the Blue's Clues franchise!

Blue's Big City Adventures follows Blue's Clues & You host, Josh, (Joshua Dela Cruz), as he heads to New York for a dream audition for Rainbow Puppy, (Brianna Bryan), who is following her own dream of creating her first Broadway musical. As Josh and Blue (Traci Paige Johnson) start on the adventure of a lifetime to the big city, Josh realizes he left his handy-dandy notebook with the audition information and now has to uncover clues to help him get to the audition before three o'clock.

I love how well this film highlights all the incredible things that make New York, New York. From the busyness, its famous pretzels, Times Square jumbotrons, street performances, taxis and even, being known as the place where dreams are made true. This film is the perfect tour guide to New York. There are sensational cameos such as B.D. Wong, who helps Rainbow Puppy cast for her musical. The camera angles and the music are special features and contribute to keeping the storyline interesting and flowing, especially for younger viewers. Fun Fact: Joshua Dela Cruz's real-life story is very similar to his character Josh's in this film, in that he moved from Dubai to America to fulfill his dreams of being on Broadway the way Josh travels from Storybook World to New York to be on Broadway.

Of course, keeping with the Blue's Clues' theme of teaching life's lessons, Blue's Clues Big City Adventures, is packed with different messages. The biggest takeaway is how you should never give up on your dreams, otherwise, how will you know if you can make them a reality? Josh faces different obstacles while trying to pursue his "big break," including being nervous and losing his handy-dandy notebook, but he stays focus on his goal and ready to show what he can do.

I give Blue's Big City Adventures 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults who will love it too. This is truly the perfect movie for a family. Blue's Big City Adventures is available on Paramount+ beginning November 18, 2022

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SANTA CLAUSES, THE
SANTA CLAUSES, THE - DISNEY+
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - Scott Calvin is back! After being Santa Claus for nearly thirty years, he's as jolly as ever. But as Christmas declines in popularity, so does his Santa magic. Scott struggles to keep up with the demands of the job, as well as being there for his family. Upon discovering there is a way to retire from his post, Scott considers stepping down as Santa Claus and finding a worthy successor so that he can become a better father and husband.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Hang up the stockings; get out the cookies and milk, and say ho-ho-ho to The Santa Clauses! This is the perfect show to say hello to Christmas and the winter season. It proves that perseverance is everything and family matters most. This is a great way to bring up past Christmas classics, The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3.

The show starts off with Santa himself, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) and his elf, Noel (Devin Bright), giving presents to loving children all over the world, but something goes wrong: Santa's magic starts malfunctioning. Almost a whole year goes by after the catastrophe and the magic is back to normal, but during a present delivery, another incident happens - something really bad. After all that mess, Scott realizes that he has to do the two things he has dreaded all 28 years of his career -- find a new Santa and retire. Scott tries to find a new Santa within his first son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd) and his other son, Buddy (Austin Kane), but neither seem interested, and it leaves Scott heartbroken and stressed over finding the perfect new Santa Claus.

The thought of Christmas and snow and everything that makes winter the "holiday season" absolutely delights me, which is why this show is perfect. My favorite parts are the amazing special effects used to enhance the magic of Christmas. I love when Scott and Noel are flying above all of the houses with the reindeer -- even if it is just a lot of greenscreen and wiring. It gives the perfect image of Santa Claus trying to make every child in the world happy and believe in the magic of Christmas. I also love how the director, Jason Winer, keeps the original characters, since we all like them. Scott "Santa Claus" Calvin is still the enjoyable, ambitious character he once was 28 years ago, and Charlie is still the spontaneous, kind young man he has been and always will be.

The message of this show is that family will always come first, no matter the situation. Scott Calvin has proven again and again that, even when Christmas is in danger, he always makes room for his family.

I give The Santa Clauses 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It begins streaming on Disney+ November 16, 2022.

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

The Santa Clauses is a perfect series to watch with your family during the holiday season. I loved its spin on classic songs and its message about taking time for family.

The story follows Santa Claus (Tim Allen) making serious decisions for the future of the holiday season when he feels his magic starting to fade away. Mrs Claus (Elizabeth Michell), who has been living in the North Pole for almost 30 years, sees an opportunity to start a normal life, back in the city around normal people, with her family including her two children, Cal (Austin Kane) and Sandra Calvin-Claus (Elizabeth Allan- Dick).

This series has a modern spin to classic songs, vivid colors, great humor and realistic special effects, which all combine to bring a classic holiday story to life in a refreshing new way. One of my favorite scenes is when Santa, with his big belly, tries to get into a house - watch and see the secrets of being Santa! Kids around the world love and believe in Santa Claus. One girl in particular, Grace Choksi (Rupali Redd) insists on telling her father, Simon Choksi (Kal Penn) that Santa Claus is real and has always helped her decorate the house during the most magical day of the year. On one Christmas Eve, Grace receives a present from Santa Claus, which makes her Father research the truth about the existence of Santa Claus. Kal Penn, a businessman, with lots of interesting ideas, wants to find ways to make his business successful and sees an opportunity when he looks at the sky and watches Santa flying across the sky on his sleigh. For our beloved Santa, understanding that it is time to find a replacement isn't easy but he certainly has fun watching the Elves take the challenge to help him. I can't wait to watch the next episode of The Santa Clauses!

The message of this series is that magic is real if you believe in it and, if it is time to take a break and focus on your life, health and family, don't think twice.

I give The Santa Clauses 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is available at Disney+ beginning November 16, 2022.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
TRANSFORMERS: EARTHSPARK
TRANSFORMERS: EARTHSPARK - NICKELODEON
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 5-12
Description - A new species of Transformers must find their place and purpose among Autobots, Decepticons, and the human family who adopts them.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like the series Transformers: Earthspark! It is an action-packed adventure with heartwarming friendships and strong family bonds that I enjoyed with my whole family.

Fans familiar with the Transformers franchise will enjoy the familiar characters and meet some new ones. Anyone new to Transformers will quickly become acquainted with their history while discovering the first bots born on Earth along with a brother and sister duo, Robby Malto (Sydney Mikayla) and Mo (Zion Broadnax), who share a unique bond. Robby and Mo recently moved from Philly to small town Witwicky where their mom, Dot Malto (Benni Latham) has taken a job as a park ranger and they have left their friends behind. When Robby, frustrated with his new life, decides to bike back to Philly, his sister Mo, who is never left out of his adventures, follows along. A strange encounter with Autobots and some unusual spiderbots has them tumbling off a bridge and discovering a secret cave. Their curiosity and sense of adventure lead them to forming a bond with the first earthborn bots, Twitch (Kathreen Khavari) and Thrash (Zeno Robinson) who they are emotionally connected to. Through some humorous activities and harrowing adventures Twitch and Trash become the vehicle bots that suit their personalities and are part of the Malto Family.

The production quality is superb with vivid animation and crisp colors; the images are so realistic. For example, the texture of Mo's hair looks real. The voice acting is excellent with each character distinct and believable. Robby is voiced by a female but sounds like a teen boy and when Mo and Robby take a tumble their grunts and groans sound believable. And of course, the action is exciting and explosive! When the Transformers click into action the battles are fast and furious. The sound effects really enrich the story and propel the action. The Autobots whirl and rev into their Transformer selves. In terms of the storyline, the amazing bond that Robby and Mo share is special, and the strength and determination of Mo is truly inspiring. It's so great to see a female protagonist take the lead. Another strong female character is Skywarp (Nicole Dubuc); she is smart, self-assured and fierce. There are old school favorites from previous films in the franchise like Optimus Prime (Alan Tudyk), Mr. Malto (Jon Jon Briones) and Bumblebee (Danny Pud) who I love seeing here.

The message in these episodes revolve around togetherness and learning to fit in. These episodes are sure to be great fun with the classic struggles with the Autobot Decepticons Transformers robots, the togetherness of the human Malto Family, and the first Transformers robots to be born on Earth - the Terrans, who are learning how they fit in.

I give Transformer: Earthspark 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. Transformers: Earthspark premieres on Paramount + Friday, November 11, 2022.

Madeleine H. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - In Marvel Studios' Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M'Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T'Challa's death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia and Everett Ross and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda. Introducing Tenoch Huerta as Namor, king of a hidden undersea nation.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments below
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The beautifully crafted film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is heart wrenching, but also showcases the power of identity, culture, family and pride. The costumes are intricate and gorgeous; the music is moving; and the acting is just spectacular. I felt captivated during every moment of the film, and the nearly realistic world of Wakanda made me feel like I was there myself, even though it is futuristic and fictional.

The storyline follows Princess Shuri (Letita Wright) and the Wakandan army as they fight to protect Wakanda from a new force that threatens to attack their home. After the heartbreaking passing of King T'Challah (Chadwick Boseman), Shuri and her mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) are left with the weight of the country on their shoulders. They must band together with Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), General Okoye (Danai Gurira), and young scientist Riri (Domonique Thorne) as they constantly battle to save the only home they know from an otherworldly army, which threatens the secrets of Wakanda's renowned Vibranium. Will they win this excruciating battle, or will Wakanda fall?

Letita Wright, as the protagonist, Princess Shuri, performs beautifully. Her acting choices and authentic emotion are captivating. While this film is dark and somber, there is still enough comedy to keep you chuckling, just at the moment when a little happiness feels most necessary. The music in this film is perfectly aligned with every sequence in the story - powerful in battle scenes; sorrowful at moments of loss; and uplifting in moments of triumph. Without the music, viewers would not be so easily transported into Marvel's Wakandan world. The intricate and bedazzled costuming is gorgeous, displaying the marvelous variety of design from diverse cultures around the world. And last, but most certainly not least, the visual effects and CGI are spectacular. The beauty of Wakanda's futuristic world and technology is so real that you can almost touch it.

There are many messages in this film, but two stand out to me the most. First, always trust your heart; it will lead you in the right direction no matter how many paths there are to stray from. Second, no one is ever truly gone, they will live for as long as their memory lives inside you. These messages are uplifting for everyone who needs comfort. Although there is violence in this movie, there is not much gore. The use of a variety of weapons makes this film more appropriate for older children and teens.

I give Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters November 11, 2022.

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

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the greatly anticipated sequel to Black Panther. This powerful and epic movie is action packed -- introducing new worlds, new characters and new conflicts.

Following the unexpected death of King T'Challa, also known as Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) takes control of Wakanda, and with being the most powerful nation on the planet comes its challenges. But when vibranium, one of the most precious and powerful metals in the world, is found outside of Wakanda, tensions rise and a new, unknown enemy appears. What will happen to the rest of the world on the brink of war? Watch to find out.

This film is based on the first movie, Black Panther. The storyline is separate enough that it isn't necessary to watch the original to enjoy this, but I highly recommend watching it because it is a terrific film. The tragic and unexpected loss of Chadwick Boseman, who played the Black Panther, was devastating to the Black Panther franchise, so the writers had to get creative to continue the franchise. Also, they honor Chadwick Boseman is a very lovely way. I like how the Back Panther franchise has a bit more freedom to explore new places rather than stay so closely connected to the Avengers and other Marvel franchises or series. It is very engaging to explore a new world. The costumes and sets are extravagant and immaculate, and it is super interesting to dive deeper into Wakanda and Talokan, a new world introduced in this move. I found the plot and performances a bit darker and gloomier than the original film. The strongest acting comes from Letitia Wright (Shuri), Angela Bassett (Ramonda), Dominique Thorne (Riri) and Tenoch Huerta (Namor). All of the emotion for the returning cast members, especially towards King T'Challla's death, comes from a very genuine place, because the cast and crew were so close to Chadwick Boseman; this makes the acting all the more realistic and alive. Dominique Thorne's character, Riri, is introduced in this film and positions her upcoming show, Ironheart. Tenoch Huerta really captivates the audience with his character and hints at his possible further journeys into his kingdom and relationship with Wakanda. This movie also feature's Rihanna's first solo single in five years called Lift Me Up, and it is an absolutely beautiful song.

The messages of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are to fight to protect the things you love and to be your own person. Parents should be aware that this movie contains violence and intense action scenes.

I give Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Marvel and Black Panther fans will love this movie. It releases in theaters November 11, 2022.

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

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever provides an emotional and thrilling experience for all MCU fans, yet continues to set up the future while focusing on the past. There has never been such a tribute film like Wakanda Forever within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel handles such a sensitive topic incredibly well by honoring Chadwick Boseman thoroughly, but still providing a classic Marvel adventure that all fans will enjoy. Wakanda Forever is beautifully shot. It arguably may have the best cinematography seen throughout the MCU, and possibly out of all superhero films in general.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever immediately addresses the largest question every fan has when entering the theatre. How will they cover the loss of Chadwick Boseman? The story starts off answering that question, while not going too in-depth (which is very respectful). In a world now struggling without a Black Panther, vibranium is discovered outside of Wakanda. This threatens the resources of vibranium for the people of Talokan (an underwater city of fish-like people). The King of Talokan, Namor (Tenoch Huerta), gives a threatening ultimatum to the Wakandans. They can either help the people of Talokan, or fight for what's right. The emotional depth this film goes into really defines the line between acting and showing human emotion. For the cast, they lost a family member when Chadwick passed away; on screen, they aren't acting. The actors behind the characters are also grieving for a man they loved. The audience can easily see this when watching the stellar performance from Angela Bassett, due to the theatre going absolutely silent and getting filled with goose bumps. Angela's feelings are absolutely raw. Her performance will hypnotize audiences, through thick and thin. It is genuinely one of the first times that it has been thought that a Marvel performance could win a major award.

Wakanda Forever teaches the moral that grief isn't beneficial until you move past it. As a result, the film has large themes of family, love and perseverance. Unlike other Marvel films, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is actually light with cursing and gore. Obviously the film still packs a punch with the average boatload of action, yet doesn't go to crazy lengths to emphasize the violence behind the story. This allows the audience to focus more on what the film is indirectly teaching rather than what is being shown directly on screen.

I give Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can find Black Panther: Wakanda Forever sprinting its way into theatres on November 11, 2022. So make sure to check it out!

By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The highly anticipated sequel to the hit Marvel movie Black Panther is finally here. Each actor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever pulls their weight and produces captivating scenes, each proving critical to the story. This heart-wrenching, high-quality film is definitely one I will remember.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever follows the Wakandans as they try to move forward after the sudden death of King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman). Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Ramonda (Angela Bassett) are both thrown into new roles during their grieving process. When a new power threatens their nation, the country has to come together with the help of their warriors, Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) in order to fight back.

Watching Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in the theater was a surreal experience. Throughout the entire movie, when there weren't periods of laughter, there was complete silence. You could hear a pin drop in the room, which shows how invested the audience is in the story. The writers, Joe Robert Cole and Ryan Coogler (also the director), along with the rest of the cast and crew were given a task that some would find impossible. Not only did they have to create a beautiful sequel that would entertain and surpass the audience's expectations, but also tell a complete story without their lead man, Chadwick Boseman. Despite this setback, the writers crafted a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Like all Marvel movies, this film is action-packed with highly engaging fight scenes. This doesn't mean that the moments between the Wakandans and the Talokans aren't jaw-dropping and intense. This empire led by Namor (Tenoch Huerta) is determined to get what they want - no matter what, and they make great antagonists. The set and costume design of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is amazing. All of the major and smaller details come together to portray Wakanda's powerful kingdom and African culture. One of the most impressive aspects of this film is the way the actors use their real grief to fuel the moving scenes we see in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. I want to especially give credit to Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett who both deliver monologues that bring tears to the audience's eyes.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever conveys a multitude of themes. One of the strongest themes is: even when you face loss, there is always a reason to live. The entire kingdom of Wakanda faces an unimaginable loss. This is especially true for Shuri and Ramonda. However, they know they have to honor the ones they lost by moving forward with life and protecting their country.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever leaves you fulfilled and yearning for more. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever releases in theaters November 11, 2022. This is an experience you do not want to miss.

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 15

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a complicated, somber return to the world of Wakanda, packed with layers of intention, plenty of action and a whole lot of emotion. All of that amounts to a movie that--as rousing and thrilling and affecting as it is--can't help but buckle under the weight of its ambition.

In the time since the first film, Chadwick Boseman, who played the titular Black Panther a.k.a Prince T'Challa tragically passed away from cancer in 2020. This real-life loss heavily influences the plot of this fictional movie. Wakanda is in mourning, they've not just lost a king, but a guiding light, and their most powerful protector. The nation is already in a precarious place, having opened up their borders and making the unprecedented choice to share their knowledge and technology with the rest of the world, but losing T'Challa and all he represented puts them at great risk. T'Challa's sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and his mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) mourn a loved one while gathering their ranks and preparing for battle against the mythic Namor (Tenoch Huerta). He resides in the underwater world of Talokan which has thousands of sea-dwelling creatures like him primed for battle. He comes to Wakanda with an ultimatum that could result in all-out war between the two empires.

If the first Black Panther was a coming of age story, a prince becoming a king, and the burdens he must carry to rule, this, too, is a coming of age story, but rather about that king's little sister soldiering on in the midst of suffering to lead and protect a people when they need it most. Wakanda Forever isn't simply a meditation on loss and grief, but, at points, an active engagement with the process of grieving, how far it can reach and how deep it can cut. From the shock of losing someone to the acceptance that they're never really gone, a foundational part of the fictional Wakandan culture is that the ones we love live on. And that part of the movie is something truly beautiful that ties into both the fictional world that Director Ryan Coogler has created on-screen and the off-screen passing of Chadwick Boseman.

Coogler hasn't lost his ability as an image maker. He understands the weight of every moment that acknowledges Boseman's impact and the void he leaves behind. His tomb ascending into a Wakandan cruiser--with the Black Panther insignia scrawled into it-- or the silence when we see glimpses of him, pieced together from the first film. No one gets the connection we had to the character and actor who played him better than Coogler does--it's remarkable the depth of feeling he is able to draw from his actors and the narrative regarding that idea. It will satisfy both fans of MCU and of Chadwick Boseman--honoring the legacy of Chadwick Boseman and looking at Marvel's future. It's definitely worth seeing if you're a fan of either. I laughed, I cheered, I was emotionally wrecked at times. Even with my quibbles, I can't argue it played me like a fiddle. It never fully balances the two narrative pillars of paying tribute to Boseman and advancing the plot of a larger universe with Namor and a whole new mythology, but it sure tries to.

I give Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. When it comes down to it, it's a labor of love to a fallen star taken much too soon, and the fact that this exists on those terms makes it all worth it. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in theaters November 11, 2022.

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is full of action-packed scenes, phenomenal cameos, plot twists and a tribute truly fit for a king! Kudos to Director Ryan Coogler for creating a sequel that's not just a film, but an entire experience. Audiences should definitely pack tissues, and be prepared to be entertained as this film takes you on a journey through Wakanda and new worlds, as if you were there.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the follow-up to Black Panther and takes place a year after King T'Challa's a.k.a. Black Panther's (Chadwick Boseman) unexpected death. This film is the perfect example of art imitating life as Boseman's life is included in the storyline. The film follows Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) and her mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) as they try to cope with the loss of King T'Challa and continue to rule and protect Wakanda from outside threats. Meanwhile, Wakanda's precious and valuable resource, Vibranium, has been detected outside the country and new enemies arise. With the absence of Black Panther, Princess Shuri and Queen Ramonda must now figure out how to protect their people and the metal from getting into the wrong hands.

The main characters are Princess Shuri, Queen Ramonda, General Okoye (Danai Gurira), Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) and M'Baku (Winston Duke). They are joined by breakout star Riri Williams a.k.a. Ironheart (Dominque Thorne). Marvel fans will love Riri Williams' wittiness and fierceness. Newcomer, Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejia), also joins the cast as the villain and king of the underwater kingdom of Talokan. Prepare to be amazed by the different aspects of the film that combine to create one of Marvel's best films yet. Some of my favorite parts in the film, of course, are the tributes to Chadwick Boseman.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever highlights the importance of family, heritage, identity, protection, grief and mental health. The overall theme is being true to who you are, protecting what's most important to you and taking care of yourself. Parents should be aware of mild language, slight violence, and scenes that may be triggering due to life experiences or young viewers' maturity levels.

I give Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch it in theaters November 11, 2022. Be sure to arrive on time and to stay for the post-credit scenes so you get the full experience.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, THE
SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, THE - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - Best friends Sophie and Agatha find themselves on opposing sides of an epic battle when they're swept away into an enchanted school where aspiring heroes and villains are trained to protect the balance between Good and Evil.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - What is 'good' and what is 'evil'? Or is there no real difference? The School for Good and Evil explores these boundaries amid fast-paced action, constant comedy and incredible visuals. It is an amazing adaptation of a truly incredible book.

Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie) are best friends, despite having completely different personalities. Sophie loves dresses and flowers and has the style of a princess. Agatha is friendly but prefers darker color clothing and has a less sunny personality. When the two of them hear the supposed myth of The School for Good and Evil, Agatha laughs but Sophie sees an opportunity to change her life and fulfill her dead mother's wishes. They are taken to the school, but when they're placed in the wrong schools, Agatha in The School for Good and Sophie in the School for Evil, they're thrown into a world of surprises.

This film is an adaptation of the first book in The School for Good and Evil series, written by Soman Chainani. I'm a huge fan of the series, so I was extremely excited when I saw the first trailer for the film. The School for Good and Evil lives up to my every expectation. The casting is spot on; the appearances and personalities of all the characters match the book's descriptions. In addition, the ideas of what people often think of as "good" are contrasted throughout the film. Every detail, however small, perfectly matches the school. At the School for Good the students wear dresses or armor to represent princesses and princes. Its environment is bright, colorful and happy and its classes teach make-up and wish-granting. In contrast, the School for Evil's environment is dark, gloomy and suspenseful and its classes include uglification and possession of powers. This contrast is important for plot elements later in the film and also creates an interesting environment for the social aspects of the story. There is comedy throughout The School for Good and Evil that helps maintain an intriguing social storyline. The actors play a big part in executing the script's comedy. Sofia Wylie uses Agatha's personality to pull off her character's funny moments. Another element worth mentioning is the beautiful sets and locations. The School for Good and Evil is a magnificent building with spectacular landscapes in the background including a moat, mountains and rivers. The sets of the indoor halls and classrooms match the exterior, providing a perfect background for the story.

The message of The School for Good and Evil is that every person has good and evil in them, and it is up to you to decide how you want yourself to be represented. By the end of the film, certain characters begin to realize that "good" or "evil" doesn't have to define them. Friendship is emphasized by the film's two protagonists, who ride an emotional rollercoaster throughout the film. There is one scene in which minor inappropriate language is used. There are also scary and intense moments.

I give The School for Good and Evil 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch The School for Good and Evil on Netflix beginning October 19, 2022.


Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
FOR TOMORROW
FOR TOMORROW - AMAZON PRIME
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18
Description - Follow the journey of grassroots innovators dedicated to fighting some of today's most pressing sustainability issues. Through actions, big and small, everyday change-makers are tackling local problems and inspiring their communities with ingenuity, resilience and vision. Whether it's a solar-powered car built from recycled materials by a self-taught engineer to combat air pollution or a line of cleaning products made from food waste by someone with no chemistry training, grassroots solutions are setting the planet on a more sustainable path. But for a real breakthrough, governments, global institutions and the private sector must recognize these innovators and actively seek out their ideas. From the streets of Baku to a farming community in the Andes and the mountains of Northern India, our documentary follows five innovators on their quest for real, actionable change. Their journey to innovation is never simple-how do you keep going when even your husband doesn't believe in your idea?-but the power of their vision keeps them going. Is the world ready to finally listen to them and change the way it handles and solves global problems?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - One of my favorite documentaries of the past year, For Tomorrow is an uplifting, inspiring and thought-provoking portrait of human resilience and innovation. With immaculate cinematography and compelling storytelling, young minds will be nourished by this wonderful film. Even the K-pop group BTS thinks so.

"Minds on the margin are not marginal minds." This line perfectly sums up For Tomorrow, which, yes, was promoted by the Korean pop band BTS. Following five grassroots innovators from across the world, this documentary, narrated by Daisy Ridley, strives to go beyond labs, think tanks, and name brands to show the real people making change happen. One, a disability rights activist in Baku, Azerbaijan, fights for the construction of elevators in metro stations to make public transport more accessible for the 620,000 disabled Azerbaijanis. Another change-maker is an inventor in Sierra Leone, working to bring electricity to rural areas and get more solar cars on the roads.

An Tran's direction elevates this already incredible film, as she creates mini-portraits of each of the innovators featured in the film, showing what their daily lives look like and how they tackle the challenges they face every day, whether that's mountains of trash outside or water scarcity. The cinematography is just WOW; it's clear that production was clearly highly valued. For Tomorrow was produced in association with the acclaimed platform fortomorrow.org and the UN Development Programme; the UN could not have made a better filmed or edited documentary to promote their site. I love how For Tomorrow both intertwines, but also separates, the stories of each change-maker. This makes the film easy to follow and constantly engaging.

ForTomorrow promotes finding unique solutions in, at-times, dire situations and empowers others. The world's biggest problems won't be solved with just one person's effort -- collaboration is the key.

I give ForTomorrow 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. For Tomorrow is available Amazon Prime Video September 16, 2022.
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
UNDER WRAPS 2
UNDER WRAPS 2 - DISNEY CHANNEL
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - While Amy is preparing for her father's Halloween-themed wedding, she, Gilbert and Marshall discover that Harold and Rose may be in danger. An evil mummy is unexpectedly awakened and out for revenge.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - As a horror film enthusiast, I must admit, I fancy a well-executed spooky comedy. If you are anything like me, Under Wraps 2 is a film to watch. This film really gives viewers just the right balance of Halloween fright, mummy madness, gut-busting humor, and friendship feels. If eerie films, impromptu dance scenes and happy endings are your thing, don't deprive yourself of watching this scary, family-friendly fun film.

Chaperoned by a kooky and delightful friend, Buzzy (Melanie Brook), best friends Marshall (Malachi Barton), Gilbert (Christian J. Simon), and Amy (Sophia Hammons) prepare to attend the Halloween-inspired wedding of Amy's father (Claude Knowlton) and his adoring fiance (Anotion Cayonne). Marshall, Gilbert and Amy are soon met with unexpected chaos when they crack a mystery museum burglary. The mystery reveals their best mummy friend, Harold (Phil Wright) and his doting mummy bride Rose (Rryla McIntosh) are in grave danger. These pals will do anything to rescue their ancient companions from harm.

This spooktacular live action film follows the trio as they race against the clock to save their mummy besties from the spine-chilling, evil mummy named Sobek (T.J. Storm) who was accidentally resurrected, by a naive museum guard, Larry (Jordan Conley). Sobek wants nothing more than to destroy Harold and run away with Rose, and with the help of a hypnotized Larry, he might just get away with it. The director of this film, Alex Zamm hooks viewers in from the beginning. His ability to make horror films fun to watch speaks to his creative genius. The comedic timing of the characters such as Larry and Beuller, the jeweler (Adam Wiley), gives the film a light-hearted element. There are several times throughout the film that viewers experience unanticipated twists that seem to fit perfectly. Under Wraps 2 has remarkable camera work that gives you the illusion that you're in the film with the actors. Also, the sound effects are so stellar you feel like you're watching the movie in surround sound. I would be remiss if I did not mention the realistic special effects. The mummy masks and costumes are detailed and frighteningly realistic. My favorite scene in Under Wraps 2 is when Harold and Rose order an astronomical amount of room service and end up in a synchronized dance battle at the town's Halloween fair. As a close second, there is a scene where a party of people experience a messy chocolate fountain mishap -- that is hilarious.

Subtly, diversity and inclusion are cleverly wrapped in the fiber of this film, which is overflowing with empowering messages. Under Wraps 2 reminds us of the power of friendship as these besties show us how real friends will go to any length to help one another, even when it means facing your deepest fears. It also reminds us that "love is love" and to never judge others, simply because they are different. You should be aware that there is an LGBTQ+ marriage and same-sex kissing scene.

Under Wraps 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. This is a family fun movie that everyone can enjoy. Under Wraps 2 released on Disney Channel September 25 and will be released on Disney+ September 30, 2002.


Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
RAILWAY CHILDREN
RAILWAY CHILDREN - BLUE FOX ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - Inspired by one of the most beloved British family films of all time, Railway Children is an enchanting, moving, and heart-warming adventure for a new generation. 1944 -- As life in Britain's cities becomes increasingly perilous, three evacuee children -- Lily (Beau Gadsdon), Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and Ted (Zac Cudby) Watts -- are sent by their mother from Salford to the Yorkshire village of Oakworth. There to meet them on the train station platform are Bobbie Waterbury (Jenny Agutter, reprising her iconic role in the original film), her daughter, Annie (Sheridan Smith), and grandson Thomas (Austin Haynes), and with their help the evacuees are soon settling into their new life in the countryside. When the children discover injured American soldier Abe (KJ Aikens), hiding out in the railyard at Oakworth Station, they are thrust into a dangerous quest to assist their new friend who, like them, is a long way from home.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A heart-wrenching and adventurous new film set partway through World War II, Railway Children is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. The excellent acting highlights the emotional plot twists in the well-written script, and the time period is clearly depicted through costumes and props. Grab some popcorn, grab some tissues and get watching!

Railway Children follows three kids, Lily (Beau Gadson), Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and Ted (Zac Cudby) who are sent away to the countryside in England for safety during the war. There, although missing their mom immensely, they live happily with a temporary family. One day, while playing hide and seek in a train station, they discover a person living in one of the abandoned train carts. At first, they believe it is a German spy, but they later come to learn a lot about the boy, Abe (KJ Aikens), and his story. However, when Lily receives news that Abe could be more than he's let on, they have to decide whether to help him illegally or turn him in.

Railway Children is an epic combination of emotion and action. It pulls you in and keeps you watching and then slams you with grief. All of the actors who play the five leading kids, Lily, Pattie, Ted, Thomas (Austin Haynes) and Abe, are fantastic at conveying the sadness to the audience. Beau Gadson as Lily stands out as being a strong and emotional actress. In addition, the costumes, props and accents help express the settings and develop the characters. One example is the school uniform. Although they are all basically the same, each character has a spark in their outfit that matches their personality. This could be the hairstyle, headpiece, belt, scarf or shoes. The kids' costumes look absolutely adorable on screen, especially on the little siblings.

The message of Railway Children is that you can always make a stand and fight for what's right. Lily is a strong-willed older sister who is determined to help Abe no matter the cost. Teamwork is also encouraged in this film. What seemed like life or death disputes at school quickly dissolve when another kid is in need of their help. There is some minor inappropriate language and violence.

I give Railway Children 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18 plus adults. You can watch Railway Children in theaters only on September 23, 2022.


Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
HEATHERS: THE MUSICAL
HEATHERS: THE MUSICAL - THE ROKU CHANNEL
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Welcome to Westerberg High, where Veronica Sawyer is just another one of the nobodies dreaming of a better day. But when she's unexpectedly taken under the wings of the three beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams of popularity finally start to come true. Until JD shows up -- the mysterious teen rebel who teaches her that everyone fears being a nobody, but its murder being a somebody...
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Bring Broadway to the small screen with Heathers: The Musical! Sit in the front row and witness the musical that took the world by storm. The witty and creative production continues to revolutionize theater and lives.

Heathers: The Musical is a musical theater adaptation of the 1988 film Heathers. When Veronica (Ailsa Davidson) wants to fit in with the cool crew at her new school, the most popular girls, the Heathers, (Madison Firth, Vanka Panka, Teleri Hughes) take her under their wing. As Veronica realizes that being popular isn't all it's cracked up to be, she tries to escape the clique she's become a part of, and soon finds that it'll be much more difficult than she thought.

Heathers: The Musical brings the off-Broadway production to audience's homes. The recording of the musical makes it easy for theater fans of all ages to re-watch their favorite play. The film really captures the magic of the theater and hits every mark. The live audience reaction adds to the feeling that viewers are in an opera house, watching the production live. The acting is colorful and easily defines the characters' personalities. Veronica dangles in the morally gray character. She's awkward and funny, but will cross the line between innocence and murder. Meanwhile J.D. (Simon Gordon) is someone who may not be the best boyfriend, but he's a character we can't help but love. All of the actors' performances are outstanding; they emphasize character development, belt out high notes and dance to difficult choreography. It's clear that every actor is a triple threat and enjoys performing for live audiences. The standout performance is Ailsa Davidson, as Veronica. She is a star and captures every scene she is in. Each musical number is fantastic and gives insight to each character and their life. The most recognizable song is "Candy Store." This performance upholds its reputation and proves why it is the most famous song of the soundtrack.

The message of the film is a reminder to be yourself. Veronica craved to be popular and, once she thought she had good friends and changes her entire personality, she realizes that what she really wants is to be herself. This film is inappropriate for younger audiences due to crude language, partial nudity, heavy sexual innuendo, murder and suicide.

I give Heathers: The Musical 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It launches on the Roku Channel September 16, 2022.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
WOMAN KING, THE
WOMAN KING, THE - SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - The Woman King is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (Oscar�-winner Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. Some things are worth fighting for....
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Woman King is a scintillating portrayal of powerful women protectors driving change in one of world history's most pivotal and often heart-rending times: the era of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Yet even through the beautifully-filmed and well-choreographed battle scenes, moments of love triumph and make this film worth watching.

Set in the 19th century in the West African kingdom of Dahomey, The Woman King follows the all-female group of warriors, the Agojie, and their general, Nanisca (Viola Davis) as they fight, not just against the rival Oyo and Mahi tribes, but foreigners who wish to destroy their way of life and take their people. Along the way, Nanisca must grapple with her past... and Nawi (Thuso Mbedo), a young girl among the ranks of the Agojie who turns out to shape Nanisca's future.

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood outdoes herself. Beyond being a film that does its bit to rectify historical exclusion of African narratives in Hollywood, The Woman King is a superb crowd-pleaser, with familiar thematic beats of moralism, love, and community and a fresh-enough take on the "historical war film." The sets transport viewers to pre-colonial Benin, and the cinematography, especially the use of light (inside the palace barracks) and color (the earthy tones of Dahomey's villages), further enhances the viewing experience. The background score by Lebo M. and Terence Blanchard draws on traditional West African music. It's simply goosebump-inducing to watch the Agojie charge into battle accompanied by soulful singing and the djembe and marimba. Good Lord -- can Viola Davis do no wrong? The highly-proclaimed actress is perfect for the role of the ruthless, defensive, protective leader; the emotional depth Davis taps into is frankly impressive. She hits all the notes -- trauma survivor, bereaved mother, sister in arms -- impeccably. Davis' character's more conservative, regimented, typically "top brass" attributes are beautifully offset by Thuso Mbedo's portrayal of Nawi, the newest recruit who seems to challenge every rule so carefully enforced by Nanisca (and isn't afraid to confront Nanisca as an "arrogant old woman"). Nawi and Nanisca's relationship flowers in a way that will make viewers say "aww" and though the two tussle every so frequently, the duo becomes the most lovable part of the film -- a tough contest. A close second favorite is Izogie (Lashana Lynch), a more experienced member of the Agojie, who is equal parts hilarious, profound, and sweet. My favorite line of Izogie's is essentially, "We all have a lot to cry about; it is better to laugh."

The Woman King promotes liberty, staying true to yourself, standing up for what is right, keeping your head held high (but your arrogance in check), obeying authority while also making wise decisions for yourself, and protecting those you love. Nanisca fights against King Ghezo's (John Boyega) vision to sell their prisoners of war to the Europeans for guns and other "valuable" goods, acting as a strong voice against racism and the commodification of humans.

I give The Woman King 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Woman King releases in theaters on September 16, 2022.

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

Female power at its finest! The Woman King is a vibrant celebration of the fierce determination and courage of women. This action film combines a powerful story, vibrant characters, humor and melodrama and--believe it or not--it's inspired by true events.

In the early 1800s, an all-female military regiment battled against slave trading and protected the African kingdom of Dahomey. They were called the Agojie, and they served their king. Although they were the king's wives, they were confined to stay celibate. Leading the group of brave warriors is General Nanisca, gracefully played by Viola Davis. A young girl, Nawi (Thusi Mbedu), decides to be part of the army and through her journey we discover how the Agojies operate. She develops an intriguing relationship with Nanisca who trains the next generation of fighters and reminds us of a mother figure to all the brave army. When the kingdom of Dahoney faces the imminent threat to their freedom of European colonialism, they must fight for their lives.

In a movie industry crowded with latex-wearing super heroes, the down-to-earth tone and naturalistic cinematography encourages us to stay connected with the story. The score immerses us in an epic adventure while the audience vibrates with the sounds of the orchestra. The performances in this movie were absolutely captivating and energetic. The ensemble of actresses embodies diversity and personalities, some being more charismatic and stronger; others more vulnerable and funny. Viola Davis is the perfect actress to portray Nanisca and her mannerisms bring all the gravitas required to play this role. Thusi Mbedu plays Nawi with fragility and forcefulness, and Lashana Lynch in her role of Izogie refreshes the screen with subtle humor and flawless charisma. The script by Dana Stevens is based on a story by actress Maria Bello; together, Stevens and Bello remarkably find the most fascinating facts in the true events and deliver a powerful storyline with fictional poetic license. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood delivers an entertaining film, if somewhat overwhelming, with some crowd pleasing elements that may push the film as a big commercial success.

The Woman King shows women can serve their own passions like loyalty to their own country and principles and not focus on pleasing men. The message of the film is we can decide our own destiny, and that some things are worth fighting for. There are some strong violent scenes and brief nudity.

I give The Woman King 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 and up. The Woman King opens September 16, 2022 in theaters.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The Woman King is one of the best movies of this year! This is a story for all women that shows just how remarkable we are when we put our minds to it.

The Woman King is about the incredibly strong and incredibly daring all-female unit of warriors who protect the powerful kingdom of Dahomey (Africa). We follow the fierce General Nanisca (Viola Davis) as she trains new recruits and battles foes that threaten their kingdom to protect their freedom and survival.

This movie delivers on all aspects of a great movie - action, costumes, music, acting, storyline and more. It's based on the true historical events surrounding the remarkable warriors of Dahomey in the 1800s. The music is rhythmic and powerful, reflecting the African culture, ranging from lighthearted to intense. The sets and locations are breathtaking. The village is vibrant with color and bustling with activity. The palace, specifically the women's area, is stunning and feels like we are being transported back in time to a secret world. The acting is spectacular in so many ways. While watching, the acting shows that the women were not just an elite army, but they were sisters. Kudos to the stunt doubles as well, because this movie wouldn't be what it is without their incredible skills. Viola Davis (General Nanisca), Thuso Mbedu (Nawi), and Lashana Lynch (Izogie) all stand out for portraying their roles. Viola Davis, as General Nanisca, shows such depth in her character; she's caring, stern, loyal, adamant, sensitive and sturdy. Nawi (Thuso Mbedu) comes of age and finds herself as a young woman suddenly thrust into a soldier's role. Lashana Lynch, as Izogie, is one of my favorite actresses in this movie because her character brings an aura to wherever she goes.

The primary messages include the importance of fighting for what's right, discovering and embracing the strength of women, and working together to achieve a common goal. Strong topics of sisterhood and hard work are additional themes. Be aware that there is profanity, some very intense battle scenes, partial nudity and scenes showing sexual assault.

I give The Woman King 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. This movie releases in theaters September 16, 2022.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
PINOCCHIO (2022)
PINOCCHIO (2022) - DISNEY+
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - A live action and CGI retelling of the beloved tale of a wooden puppet who embarks on a thrilling adventure to become a real boy. Other characters include Geppetto, the woodcarver who builds and treats Pinocchio as if he were his real son; Jiminy Cricket, who serves as Pinocchio's guide as well as his "conscience"; the Blue Fairy; "Honest" John; Sofia the Seagull and The Coachman.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Our favorite wooden puppet, Pinocchio, is headed your way more real than ever in Disney's upcoming musical adventure of the same name! Fans will get to enjoy a breathtaking new version of the song "Wish Upon a Star," live-action adventures, and real-life CGI elements with this new adaptation of Pinocchio's story. We even get to learn how he gets his name. Pinocchio is perfect for the entire family to enjoy.

Narrated by Jiminy Cricket, (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the film follows elderly woodcarver Geppetto (Tom Hanks) as he creates a kind-hearted puppet named Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) from white pine to become the son he never had. One night, Geppetto wishes upon a star for his creation to come to life. The Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) later appears in a stunning illuminated blue fairy dress to make his wish come true. Pinocchio must now prove he is brave, truthful and unselfish, so he can become a real boy, which sends him on an adventure full of mischief.

Academy Award� winner Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks have created another stellar film together. Pinocchio is the star, but his "conscience," Jiminy Cricket, also plays a key role in protecting him and guiding him to make the right decisions. He has his hands full as Pinocchio's journey leads him to join a puppet show, get swallowed by a whale, and narrowly avoid being turned into a donkey. Tom Hanks gives a phenomenal performance as Geppetto and shows his acting mastery as the sole actor onscreen, with all the other characters appearing in CGI. He is almost unrecognizable as Geppetto. One of my favorite parts is when all of Geppetto's clocks go off at the same time and each one has a connection to a Disney character or film. It was fun guessing the different films. The film stays true to the vibrant period-specific costumes that the characters wear. The music numbers and performances are engaging and fun.

Blue Fairy delivers the message of Pinocchio herself when she tells Pinocchio that, regardless of what you are made of; it's what in your heart that counts. Pinocchio's mission is based on him wanting to become a real boy to make his father proud of him, but learns that what is your heart and what you do with your life matters most.

I give Pinocchio 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Pinocchio's journey to becoming a real boy debuts on Disney+ September 8, 2022, as a Disney Day exclusive release.

The best film of the year arrives! The beloved tale Pinocchio graces screens once more in this beautiful live action plus CGI retelling from Disney. Audiences will fall in love with this story all over again.

Pinocchio follows Geppetto (Tom Hanks), who builds a puppet in loving memory of his son who has passed away. He names the puppet Pinocchio, and wishes on the Blue Star to transform the puppet into a real boy. When the wish is granted, and Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) comes to life, he learns what it means to be "a real boy."

This movie captures viewers' hearts and won't let go. The CGI animation is a cross between realism and classic Disney style art. While Pinocchio is clearly made of wood, his face is sweet with bright and big blue eyes, and the way he moves and bounces along is the perfect combination of realistic and animated. Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the cutest insect you'll ever see-- adorable and witty. Every character has brilliant expressions. Pinocchio is wide-eyed and curious, and the Fox (Keegan-Michael Key) is creepy and bares his teeth every chance he gets. The filmmakers examine these characters deeply and emphasize their traits and personalities in their body movements and expressions. The writing is as creative as it gets. Jiminy makes hilarious jokes and side remarks, and there's some modern comedy. Having comedian Keegan-Michael Key tell a Chris Pine joke is a highlight of the film. Another fantastic detail is all the clocks in Geppetto's shop. At the stroke of midnight, some familiar faces like Simba, Snow White, and Roger Rabbit appear. Keep your eyes open to spot all your favorite Disney characters.

Pinocchio has had several retellings since the iconic animated film in 1940. However, many studios don't understand how to handle the story. Pinocchio will look too realistic, and it becomes very creepy and unsettling, or the theme of film won't strike audiences as it should. Having the tale of Pinocchio back in the hands of Walt Disney Studios and Robert Zemeckis at the helm proves that, fittingly, Disney filmmakers best grasp the concept of what the story is all about.

The lesson Pinocchio learns is that it's what's in your heart that counts, not what you're made of. Pinocchio always believed that to be considered a real boy, he would have to transform from puppet to real boy; and to do this, Pinocchio has to prove that he understands the emotions and has the conscience of a real boy. Pinocchio grasps the concept of what it means to love and have friends, and he realizes that's enough for him.

I give Pinocchio 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. It begins streaming on Disney+ September 8, 2022.

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

The upcoming musical fantasy film Pinocchio, by filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, is engaging and fulfilling. This nearly two-hour long film brings viewers back to the original 1940 film, with a bit of a twist on the backstory and characters alongside Pinocchio. The film offers a legendary cast, which includes Tom Hanks (Geppetto), Keegan-Michael Key (The Fox), Luke Evans (The Coachman), and more.

The storyline follows Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) as he embarks on a thrilling adventure to fulfill his one true dream of becoming a real boy. Tom Hanks as Geppetto, the woodcarver, builds and treats Pinocchio as if he were his real son. The turning point in this film arrives as Pinocchio and his "conscience," Jiminy Cricket, both end up trapped in some sort of containment. After Jiminy Cricket is finally able to free himself, he immediately rushes to help Pinocchio. After being set free, they decide to make a run for it and get Pinocchio home. However, their plan quickly goes wrong and viewers will see in what way.

My favorite character is Jiminy Cricket (Jimmy Gordon-Levitt.) Jiminy, the long-time fan favorite, is not only Pinocchio's "guide" and sidekick, but Pinocchio also views him as a best friend. Jiminy's ultimate goal is to help Pinocchio become a real boy. However, with Jiminy's dedication to Pinocchio known to those who don't agree with Pinocchio's wish, such as Mangiafuoco, Jiminy becomes a threat which doesn't make his job to help Pinocchio any easier. Even though he is put in multiple difficult situations, Jiminy still manages to always find a way out with Pinocchio and proves his unmatched loyalty and resilience.

My favorite part of Pinocchio is the moment Pinocchio and Jiminy reunite with Pinocchio's father. It is the exact moment I feel a gush of hope and eagerness that Pinocchio will finally get his chance at his dream. Shortly after, this hope is diminished by uncertainty after his father is severely injured. However, through the power of his singing and with a single teardrop, Pinocchio is able to bring his father back--for me, those 15 minutes were the most aching and nerve-racking moments of the entire film. Finally, Pinocchio and his father embark toward home. Although he doesn't get exactly what he wants, Pinocchio gets his family back.

Pinocchio has many unexpected moments that will inspire different emotions. The message of this film is: You may not always get precisely what you wish for, but sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture and decide if what you want is what you truly need.

I give Pinocchio 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. This film is set to be released on Disney + on September 8, 2022. Make sure to check it out!

By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
GROWING UP (2022)
GROWING UP (2022) - DISNEY+
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8-18
Description - Growing Up is an innovative hybrid docu-series that explores the challenges, triumphs, and complexities of adolescence through ten compelling coming of age stories. The series uses narrative, experimental, and documentary filmmaking to follow one casted individual, ages 18 to 22, as they tell their story. They represent a wide range of lived experiences, giving audiences emotionally powerful narratives that offer an engaging look at teenage-hood and the diverse social, familial, and internal obstacles young people face on their path to self-discovery and acceptance. Each 30-minute episode features one young person, or "hero," and their experience growing up. Each episode is anchored by a deeply personal interview that allows our heroes to walk us through their childhood and teenage years. Alongside these interviews, creative cinematic reenactments help bring their major inflection points to life.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Growing Up is a very touching and well thought out docu-series. With so many inspiring stories it really speaks to my heart and made me think.

This series, created by Brie Larson, is about a lot of different heroes including Gavin Arneson whose story is about poverty, Sofia Ongele whose story is about meeting expectations and Amiri Nash whose story is about growing up Black and gay, along with many others. They all share their stories of growing up that ranges from living in poverty, or depression, and of friendship. Throughout this series there are many different lessons and stories to be learned and shared.

Growing Up incorporates so many amazing things. There are well thought out moments such as connecting to one's younger self. There is often an actor portraying the younger version of the person speaking and we see them hug or hold hands with each other. There are also many different reenactments that enhance the way the person's story is told like a prom scene or a summer camp scene. One scene that is particularly striking is in the Gavin episode, the last episode of the season, when he gives his graduation speech. Instead of finding the actual people that were there, the other heroes are listening to him. Then, to top the whole scene off, we see actual footage from his graduation speech. Another thing that impressed me is how these heroes are willing to share their stories. It can often be frightening to share your personal life story on screen for so many to see, and these heroes really stepped up to the plate. Another big part of this series is having a room where all the heroes sit to tell each other their stories; this room is shown repeatedly throughout the series and often heroes from different episodes talk to the hero currently sharing their story.

The message of this docu-series is to always be yourself, love yourself and know you are never alone.

I give Growing Up 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, as well as adults. This series begins streaming on Disney+ September 8, 2022.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
CARS ON THE ROAD
CARS ON THE ROAD - DISNEY+
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 2-8
Description - Set months after Cars 3, the new series follows Lightning McQueen and his best friend Mater on a cross-country road trip across the United States as they journey eastward to attend a wedding for Mater's sister. The episodes depict the characters in various scenarios, for example, them being chased by dinosaur-like cars. It is set in new locations with a multitude of new characters, including their new friend Ivy, a girl monster truck who travels with them, as well as featuring the return of already established characters from the franchise.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Get ready to go "Lightning" fast when you watch Cars on the Road, a new spinoff series from Disney/Pixar. With nine episodes ranging around ten minutes in length, this show is perfect for pre-existing Cars fans and younger kids. The catchy tunes are a wonderful backing for the colorful animation and short stories happening on screen. Get comfortable in your seat because Cars on the Road will keep you riveted with its action and adventure.

Cars on the Road follows Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) as they go on a long road trip to attend Mater's sister's wedding. A distinct mini-plot takes up the majority of each individual episode, with the only overlapping plot points being the roadtrip. One of the best episodes involves a well-developed character who discovers her inner self and finds where she belongs. With appearances of other characters from the original Cars movies, as well as many brand new characters, Cars on the Road is sure to keep you watching.

Cars on the Road has some of the most real looking, 3D-seeming animation I've ever seen. In one of the episodes, Lightning and Mater arrive at a speed stop, where cars are getting attachments in order to drive faster. They stop to talk and there's a building and trees in the background. It is truly stunning how much the cars look like they are popping off the screen. The animation throughout the show is also colorful and fun, setting a cheerful tone. However, when the show hits a couple of dark moments, that cheerful color vanishes, replaced by a dark and gloomy feel. So, not only is the animation pleasing for the eyes, it helps to tell the story with changes in moods. On the other side of things, the music is so upbeat and fun. It's engaging and catchy. The theme song that plays at the beginning of each episode is the perfect short clip for this show. On top of that, there are a few other songs spread throughout that have to do with that episode's story. They are naturally included, and I always look forward to when the next song will appear. The animated dancing that goes along with these songs is also pretty brilliant. To put a cherry on top, the acting performances are wonderful. A few of the original Cars actors star in this show, as well as plenty of actors new to the Cars world. They make their characters' personalities funny, vulnerable, sweet and always lovable by kids. One character and acting performance that stands out as adding positive energy to the show is Ivy, who is played by Quinta Brunson. She gives the already lively character her own personal spark. Ivy truly shines throughout the show.

Cars on the Road is definitely a perfect pick for a young child. There are vital messages that are clearly conveyed in each episode. Sometimes, the characters even talk about that episode's lesson and reflect on how they could've been a better friend or sister. Among many others, teamwork, healthy friendships and knowing that your opinion isn't the only opinion are some of the primary themes of Cars on the Road.

I give Cars on the Road 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. Three-two-one-GO! have some fun watching Cars on the Road exclusively on Disney+ beginning September 8, 2022.


Juror Recommended Age: 2-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SONGBIRDS
SONGBIRDS - GRAVITAS VENTURES
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18
Description - The Songbirds guitar museum hosted the world's largest collection of vintage guitars. Covid-19's devastating blow to the music industry forced the museum to permanently close. This documentary film explores the final hours and cultural impact of this special collection.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Songbirds is a touching documentary film about the world's largest collection of vintage guitars housed in the museum of the same name located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The film is written and directed by Dagan Beckett, who has a special connection with the place and was able to write, produce and film the documentary in record time: just two weeks before the museum closed its doors in 2020. The result is a love letter to the guitars, to his hometown and to a legacy that extends the life of the museum in a sort of digital memento.

Beckett is a professional musician and also a filmmaker, so combining both disciplines generates a fascinating work for all music lovers, young and old. Over 1,500 guitars, including rare and vintage are part of the collection and displayed throughout the film. The narration combines interviews with historians, artists, visitors and workers with footage of the museum with music clips of live bands that performed at the venue. The audience discovers how guitars are made, how they change through the years and why they mean so much to artists. Opened in 2017 and closed due to the pandemic, Songbirds was a museum like no other, but the maintenance of these relics requires a lot of effort and the operative cost was impossible to maintain during the pandemic, forcing Songbirds to close and relocate the guitars.

What I love the most is how Songbirds captures the emotion of how visitors experienced the opportunity to visit, work or simply be around this unprecedented collection of guitars that hold so much history and beauty. The documentary provides the viewer with the joy of discovering all these treasures, and the stories behind them, which produces a connection to these guitars through images and testimonies. For musicians like Joe Bonamassa, Vince Gill, John 5 and John Schneider, among others, Songbirds was like an artist's playground--while having all these special guests in the film sharing their thoughts was another challenge for the director.

Songbirds has received five awards including a regional EMMY in the Documentary Film-Topical category and is part of the official selection of multiple film festivals around the world. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, and I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Songbirds is now available on multiple streaming platforms in VOD including iTunes.

By Zo� C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
BREAKING
BREAKING - BLEECKER STREET MEDIA
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - When Marine Veteran Brian Brown-Easley is denied support from Veterans Affairs, financially desperate and running out of options, he takes a bank and several of its employees hostage, setting the stage for a tense confrontation with the police. Based on the true story.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Breaking is an intense and emotional film, filled with many levels of suspense that constantly grab the audience's attention.

Breaking, based on a true story, follows the main character Brian (John Boyega), an ex-Marine struggling after being discharged due to injury. After being turned down for financial support by the Veteran Affairs office, Brian has had enough. In order to get money he feels his only choice is to lock himself in a bank with two of its employees as hostages. While doing so, Brian manages to get the attention of police officers, FBI agents, firefighters and newscasters in order to make his situation known to the VA offices.

Breaking has an outstanding storyline. The execution of the meaning and message behind it--about how dysfunctional the VA offices can be-- is done really well. It definitely has an effect on audiences and educates us on this extremely important topic. Furthermore, the acting in this film is phenomenal--every single actor has such strong talent. They really lock you in with their words and emotions. Brian's character, especially, has so many different layers to him, and each one is showcased so well, and feels so believable. Finally, Abi Damaris Corbin's direction is one of my favorite aspects of the movie. Each angle feels so specific and his direction sets the tone strongly. For instance, a scene would zoom in on particular things, which not only highlights those actions, but makes the film feel overall more realistic and natural.

The message of Breaking is to never give up on what you believe is right. This film includes profanity and gunshots.

I give Breaking 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Breaking in theaters August 26, 2022.

By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
13: THE MUSICAL
13: THE MUSICAL - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - 13: The Musical centers on Evan Goldman, who, after his parent's divorce, moves from NYC to small-town Indiana and must master the complex social circles of his new school and win friends by turning his Bar Mitzvah into the coolest party of the year. McNellis plays Lucy, a popular and mischievous cheerleader who has a crush on the boy that her best friend Kendra also likes. She plots an elaborate scheme to prevent them from kissing, roping in an unwitting Evan. The role, which originally starred Elizabeth Gillies on Broadway, also features one of the most elaborate and impressive musical numbers (Opportunity) of the whole film, with Frankie leading the song and dance routine.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - 13: The Musical is the perfect teen film! A relatable protagonist and outstanding acting help audiences see themselves in this movie. Elaborate choreography and an ensemble of young actors make you feel like you're watching a Broadway production.

13: The Musical follows Evan Goldman (Eli Golden), a twelve-year-old boy whose life has been turned upside down when his parents divorce. He prepares for his bar mitzvah and moves from New York to Indiana as he tries to figure out who he is and what he wants from life.

This film hits every mark. The soundtrack is upbeat with catchy tunes; the dance numbers are exciting; and the acting takes center stage. Eli's performance as Evan is remarkable as it's light and relatable. He's a triple threat as his acting, singing, and dancing are superb. He's a rising star. Everyone can remember themselves as being thirteen when watching Eli portray Evan. The film is a perfect translation of the Broadway show. Every dance and song capture the greatness of its predecessor.

This film sets standards for what movies aimed at teenage audiences should be. This accurate representation of kids transitioning into teens is what viewers crave watching. Evan's desire for independence and uncertainty of who he's supposed to be is a bright take on our youthful years. He struggles with his parents' divorce and moving to a new town. He learns what it means to be a good friend and what love really is. His friend, Patrice (Gabriella Uhl), really steals the show. She's funny and kind, the type of friend anyone would want to have. Her chemistry with Evan makes viewers want more of this unlikely duo. This movie is visually beautiful. Every character wears bright colors; the lighting balances out the wardrobes, turning each scene into aesthetic pastel shots. Each character shines in their own way, intriguing viewers to find out more about them. All their personalities make this friend group as interesting as possible. Other standout cast members include Rhea Perlman, Josh Peck, Debra Messing and Lindsey Blackwell.

The moral of the film is that it's okay to not know who you are. Evan tries to solve all of his problems before his bar mitzvah. Throughout the movie he learns that life is messy and fun and to enjoy every moment of it. I give 13: The Musical 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It begins streaming on Netflix August 12, 2022.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
THIRTEEN LIVES
THIRTEEN LIVES - UNITED ARTISTS RELEASING
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Thirteen Lives recounts the incredible true story of the tremendous global effort to rescue a Thai soccer team who become trapped in the Tham Luang cave during an unexpected rainstorm. Faced with insurmountable odds, a team of the world's most skilled and experienced divers - uniquely able to navigate the maze of flooded, narrow cave tunnels - join with Thai forces and more than 10,000 volunteers to attempt a harrowing rescue of the twelve boys and their coach. With impossibly high stakes and the entire world watching, the group embarks on their most challenging dive yet, showcasing the limitlessness of the human spirit in the process.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I absolutely loved this film by Ron Howard! Thirteen Lives is based on the true story of thirteen people who got stuck in a flooded cave in Thailand in the summer of 2018. The storyline is action-packed and extremely suspenseful. It felt like my heart was racing a million miles a minute while I watched it.

Thirteen Lives takes us on the journey of twelve boys and their soccer coach getting stuck in the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand. The boys wanted to visit the cave; however, little did they know that there was an approaching monsoon that would soon after flood the entire cave. People from all over the world were watching their rescue attempt with the many challenging obstacles they had to overcome. Will someone find them inside the cave? If they do, will the boys get out of the cave in time before they starve, or run out of oxygen?

The acting in this film is phenomenal. The portrayal of these young boys, their coach and their rescuers is so believable that you feel like you are there along with them. The cast includes Colin Farrell as John Volanthen, Viggo Mortensen as Richard Stanton, Joel Edgerton as Richard Harris and Tom Bateman as Chris Jewell. The production team, led by director Ron Howard also delivered. The way the film is made makes you feel like you're actually in the cave with the rescue workers. It took a lot of effort and coordination, which is very impressive. Over 5,000 people, including cave divers, doctors, rescuers, Navy SEALS, farmers and others contributed to helping the boys. They put their own lives at risk to help the boys and their coach, whom they didn't even know! Without those people playing a part in this rescue who knows if they would have saved them. My favorite part is when the farmers give up their crops so water can flood them and divert the water from going into the cave. It took a lot of heroism and sacrifice to lose their entire crop in order to give the boys a better chance of surviving.

The message of this film is that working together is essential. You should be aware that there is a lot of blood in some scenes and there is some bad language used a couple of times.

I give Thirteen Lives 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in select theaters on July 29, 2022, and starts streaming on Prime Video August 5, 2022.


Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SEA BEAST, THE
SEA BEAST, THE - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - In an era when terrifying beasts roamed the seas, monster hunters were celebrated heroes - and none were more beloved than the great Jacob Holland. But when young Maisie Brumble stows away on his fabled ship, he's saddled with an unexpected ally. Together they embark on an epic journey into uncharted waters and make history. From Academy Award winning filmmaker Chris Williams (Moana, Big Hero Six, Bolt), The Sea Beast takes us to where the map ends, and the true adventure begins.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Sea Beast is an amazing animated film that I and my family loved! It has lots of hilarious moments and some sad moments. The cast is first class, and the movie is about fantasy, family and comedy.

The storyline follows an orphan girl named Masie (Zaris Angel Hator) who wants to be part of a ship's crew, but is too young to participate. However, after the ship almost sinks, Masie has an opportunity to be accepted by the crew and their leader Jacob (Karl Urban).

The Sea Beast is a fantastic movie. It has an exceptional combination of sad, funny and happy scenes. One of the sad scenes is when Masie tells the crew why she is an orphan living at a big orphanage and how her parents passed away when she was very young. There are also several funny scenes such as when Masie and Jacob travel inside of one of the sea beasts and explore the insides of the monster. Another funny one is when a sea beast named Red starts playing with Jacob, making him go up and down on a rope. One of my favorite scenes is when Masie finds a tiny sea creature and wants to keep it, although Jacob doesn't quite agree with her wishes. I love the animation; it looks so realistic. All the characters are wonderfully drawn and developed. Masie is terrific because she is so brave and persistent. She never gives up her dream of becoming a sea beast hunter or helping those she trusts and loves the most. There isn't much background music, but at times the music matches the scene perfectly like when everyone from the ship is at a bar and Masie tries to become one of them.

The message of The Sea Beast is that "No matter who you are or what you look like you can do anything! And don't always believe the past."

I give The Sea Beast 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is available now on Netflix.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
LUCK
LUCK - APPLE TV
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Luck centers around the story of Sam Greenfield, the unluckiest person in the world. When she discovers the never-before-seen Land of Luck, Sam must unite with the magical creatures there to turn her luck around. When she ages out of foster care, Sam discovers the Land of Luck and embarks on a quest that could change her luck forever. Bob becomes Sam's partner in the quest to find a lucky penny in hopes of preserving his lucky life.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Luck is a new film with so many twists and turns that it will have you captivated from the start. The high-quality animation supports an interesting storyline, making Luck a unique cinematic experience.

Have you ever heard the saying, "If it weren't for bad luck, you wouldn't have any at all"? Well that describes Sam (Eva Noblezada) in a sentence. Growing up as a foster child from a very young age and never finding her forever home, it seems as if Sam is doomed to a life of one unfortunate moment after the other. After forming a close bond with a young foster girl named Hazel (Adelynn Spoon), who reminds Sam a lot of her younger self, Sam realizes she wants nothing more than for Hazel to have a life much luckier than her own, even if it means sacrificing her happiness. After discovering a black cat she befriended can talk, Sam follows him into the Land of Luck to see if she can turn it all around.

Luck is an enjoyable movie to watch. The animation and visual effects in Luck are very impressive and give it a really fun vibe. The vibrant colors and action scenes really draw the audience into the adventure. The creative team translates the story beautifully from paper to screen. Kiel Murray and writing duo Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger keep the plot moving in an unpredictable way. With Sam sliding from the human world into the Land of Luck where there are creatures of every kind, the unexpected can and does happen, keeping the audience's attention throughout the movie. Kudos to casting director Jason Henkel for bringing together a star-studded cast for this film. Each of them portrays their characters in an authentic way. Although it's hard to imagine anyone having so much bad luck, Eva Noblezada makes us feel every emotion Sam feels throughout the movie, whether she is let down because of yet another unfortunate event, or optimistic at the thought of making someone else's day better.

The message of Luck is that even if it seems things never go exactly your way, if you stay persistent and never give in to what seems like misfortune, you'll be able to take whatever life throws your way. Sam experiences so many let downs and setbacks throughout her life, but she learns to always try plan B and plan C to achieve her goals. In the end, she realizes these experiences are what shape her into the resilient young woman she is.

I give Luck 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, though everyone in the family will enjoy it. Luck releases on AppleTV+ and in theaters on August 5, 2022. Make sure you check it out!

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 14

Luck is a heartwarming film with great characters, a fantastical setting and a sweet story. I love this film! It made me think about good and bad luck in a whole new way; perhaps bad luck is not so bad after all!

Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada) is not very lucky, yet she wants her friend Hazel (Adelynn Spoon) to have all the luck she has never had. As Sam sets out on her own she is determined to find a lucky penny for Hazel to complete her collection of lucky trinkets. When her path is crossed with a black cat, Bob (Simon Pegg) and a lucky penny is found, Sam's luck changes. But before she can get that lucky penny to Hazel, bad luck returns when the penny goes down the drain, along with Sam's luck. Sam runs into Bob again and a pursuit begins for a new lucky penny which finds Sam in the land of luck.

There are many great moments in this film - Sam's spate of bad luck in her new apartment; her pursuit of the incredibly lucky black cat, Bob; her ill-fated job as a giant leprechaun shining pennies; Sam leading the "bunnies" in a choreographed dance set to Madonna's "Lucky Star!" (My favorite). Director Peggy Holmes gives life to the characters with her talent as a choreographer and keeps the story interesting with her skills as screenwriter pulling it all together to make a heartwarming film that speaks to hope and optimism, good and bad luck! Skydance Studios delivers animated characters in a vibrant and familiar way -- from the movement of Sam's hair to the fire of Babe the Dragon (Jane Fonda). Luck is partly set in a fantastical world of Luck where the backgrounds are colorful and magical in the land of good luck and dark and clunky in the land of bad luck -- even though they are mirror images of each other. I instantly related to all the characters, from the genuinely friendly leprechaun Gerry (Colin O'Donoghue), to the hilarious Jeff the Unicorn (Flula Borg), to the stern no-nonsense Captain (Whoopie Goldberg) and the easy-going, self-appointed mayor of the land of bad luck, Rootie (John Ratzenberger). Each one has fun, zippy dialogue and a distinct personality. The musical score propels the action, setting a quiet mood at one point or expressing the woefulness of being unlucky or the exuberance of being lucky at another.

This is the kind of story that is healing for our times. It's timeless in its optimistic message about facing challenges, helping others before yourself, and never giving up on luck -- good or bad!

I give Luck 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It releases on Apple TV+ August 5, 2022. Make sure you check it out!

By Madeleine H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Luck is a cute and relatable movie for all ages. The animation is very well executed, and the plot is also very different than a traditional animated movie.

Sam (Eva Noblezada) is the unluckiest girl in the world. That is, until she meets Bob (Simon Pegg), a lucky cat, and gets accidentally transported to the magical Land of Luck.

Luck's world building is spectacular--the animation is so vivid and beautiful. The colors are vibrant, and the textures are so unique and striking. I also love the character designs of all the characters in the Land of Luck--the bunnies are adorable, and the leprechauns are all different and memorable. In the Land of Luck headquarters, it explains how and where luck (and bad luck) is made and all of the sections/offices that are created are hilariously relatable. The plot is so creative--I haven't seen many movies that deal with the age-old topic of luck and superstitions. This movie has a lot of star-power, including Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Fonda and John Ratzenberger, and the most entertaining performances come from Flula Borg, Jane Fonda and Simon Pegg. Flula Borg, as the voice of Jeff, has a hilarious -- although a bit stereotypical - German accent that's perfect for his character. Jane Fonda is very lovable voicing The Dragon. Simon Pegg as Bob the "lucky cat" is a joy to watch and hear. Although he's grumpy at first, the audience grows to love him.

The messages of Luck are to never lose hope even when times are hard and to find the good in the bad.

I give Luck 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. It comes out on Apple TV+ August 5, 2022.

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

Luck is a cute and lovely animated film. It's exciting and adventurous, while still feeling enjoyable and fun.

The storyline follows the life of Sam (Eva Noblezada), who has the most terrible luck. She just recently grew out of the foster care system, and often feels very lonely. However, one evening, as she's sitting all alone, Sam encounters a cat, which leads to a whole new mysterious world of luck that she never could have even imagined.

The entire Land of Luck idea brings a whole new imaginative world to life, and the concept is so unique from other films. Something that really stands out to me in this film is the quality of the animation. Everything feels so realistic, almost as if it isn't animated. This is a strong aspect that gives the viewer the illusion that they are actually there. All the backgrounds are beautiful and vivid. For example, in the area outside the Land of Luck, all the colors are quite vibrant and everything has a magical feeling to it. Plus, in the bad luck level, the tiki juice bar has such a fun vibe. The interior design of that is colorful and it lightens the mood of a not-so-lovely area. All the characters, both humans and special creatures are very lifelike. I really enjoy how each character has a distinct personality, and yet they have a lot of similarities with others in the group. Bob (Simon Pegg) is very high-strung, but loving as well. The Captain (Whoopi Goldberg) is all about taking charge and doing things her way; however, she eventually learns to love others. I really like the storyline and, although the story is geared for a younger audience, it definitely captured my attention. It has such a creative concept, especially when it comes to all the different types of creatures. The film has a calm feeling to it, but at the same time, it left me always wanting to know what would happen next.

The message of Luck is that balance of both good and bad things are necessary for the cycle of life.

I give Luck 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. You can watch Luck on Apple TV+ starting August 5, 2022.

By Mikella G, KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 16

If you're looking for an adventure filled movie with awesome voice acting, remarkable animation, and a great script with a sweet message for you and your family to watch, then I recommend Luck.

Luck follows Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada), the most unlucky person in the world. After finding a lucky penny on the street and then losing it due to her bad luck, Sam accidentally follows Bob (Simon Pegg), a lucky black cat, into a land of luck where she meets leprechauns, unicorns, magical rabbits and other crazy animals. There she must work together with these creatures in order to retrieve a lucky penny and turn her luck around for good.

The animation in this film is outstanding and very realistic looking. But, by far the best thing about this movie is the voice acting. I especially love the Irish accent Simon Pegg uses for his cat character Bob. Bob is one of my favorite characters. I love how practical he is throughout the film; sometimes it feels like he's the only sensible character. Another favorite character is Jeff (Flula Borg). He is just SO funny. My favorite scene when he is introduced, because he's dressed in a purple jumpsuit and just living his best life - it's hilarious. He doesn't care about what others think either. A detail that I love about him is that he speaks in Swedish sometimes. Somehow that really completes his character. All the characters grow a lot during this film, but I especially love the friendship that develops between Sam and Bob. What is really great is that Bob isn't a very affectionate character and yet Sam brings out the best in him with her bubbly and outgoing personality.

The message of Luck is that you can decide your own destiny. Sam grew up thinking that her life was one filled with bad luck and that was set in stone, but she eventually realizes that she can change her destiny and go down whatever path she chooses.

I give Luck 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It releases on Apple TV+ on August 5, 2022.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
LIGHT & MAGIC
LIGHT & MAGIC - DISNEY+
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8-18
Description - Granted unparalleled access, Academy Award�-nominated filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan takes viewers on an adventure behind the curtains of Industrial Light & Magic, the special visual effects, animation and virtual production division of Lucasfilm. Learn what inspired some of the most legendary filmmakers in Hollywood history, and follow their stories from their earliest personal films to bringing George Lucas' vision to life. The series is directed by Lawrence Kasdan, and the executive producers are Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Justin Wilkes, Lawrence Kasdan, Kathleen Kennedy and Michelle Rejwan.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Light & Magic is a documentary series that will blow you away! Go behind-the-scenes with renowned filmmakers and take a peek at some of the greatest special effects used in cinematic history.

Light & Magic introduces audiences to the VFX company, Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm, who have produced many of the greatest special effects in movies. George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron are just a few of the filmmakers that talk about their experience working with Industrial Light & Magic and how this visionary company changed the way films are made.

This series has something for everyone. Never-before-seen content from Titanic, Harry Potter, and Avengers is provided in Light & Magic. Rare sketches and concept art are shown, and it's enough to thrill even an average fan. Hearing how all of these blockbusters like Avatar and Jurassic Park came together firsthand from the filmmakers is incredible. Directors who have taken the world by storm explain in detail where their visions came from and how Industrial Light & Magic helped the visions come to life. By the end of the series, viewers will feel like they worked on the movies themselves. The show, featuring several testimonials and anecdotes from the films' editors, producers and VFX artists, helps audiences truly understand how it "takes a village" to make a movie. For any aspiring young actors, cinematographers, and directors, Light & Magic is a must watch. A standout piece of the series is the introduction of the StageCraft, the immersive and adaptable video screens used in shows like The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi. It just goes to show how much technology has evolved over the decades and how George Lucas and Lucasfilm have been instrumental in its evolution.

The purpose of Light & Magic is to engage its viewers with tales of how green screens and VFX began, and how various technologies have impacted and revolutionized cinema.

I give Light & Magic 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. All six episodes of Light & Magic premiere on July 27, 2022, exclusively on Disney+.

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

Light & Magic is a good docu-series to watch, especially if you have ever dreamed of making movies. You can venture behind the scenes of movies created by Lucasfilm, the legendary company founded by George Lucas, which makes all of their Star Wars films and more. Discover how movie magic, or the creation of special effects, is made in each of the six 1-hour episodes.

This series showcases the filmmakers from Industrial Light and Magic, which is the special effects division of Lucasfilm. Light and Magic delivers a deep understanding about the background of some very popular movies, including Star Wars, Transformers and Indiana Jones. It shows how the filmmakers persevere even when things are hard and seem almost impossible. The filmmakers have faith in their vision and share how they follow their dreams when other people say it's not going to work out. It's inspiring for anyone who wants to work in film or other ambitious creative endeavors. Light and Magic mostly focuses on George Lucas' vision, Star Wars, since he's the founder of both Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic, and it is directed by Lawrence Kasden.

In a series that is all about making great movies, of course the production value is great. The music enhances the mood, captivates the audience, builds tension, and makes the resolution more clear. Dramatic music plays as the filmmakers explain how their project wasn't working out, but energetic music plays when the problem works itself out in the end. These episodes feature over 13 people, including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Dennis Muren, Ron Howard and many more. These are industry experts that any aspiring filmmaker should know about as they begin their own journey in making movies. Light and Magic also shares many clips from movies as examples to help bring their points to life for the audience.

The message of this docu-series is to persevere even when you are doubtful. This message is something that anyone can relate to, but especially artists who must have faith in their vision. Even people who created great hit movies have once doubted themselves, and new filmmakers can relate to that idea.

I give Light & Magic 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. All six episodes are available on Disney+ beginning July 27, 2022.

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

A long time ago in a galaxy, or warehouse, far, far away from a massive studio, a brave alliance of technological wizards challenged the creativity and standards of special effects in the motion picture industry. These unsung heroes came together and accepted the visionary challenge and used their ingenuity to create and build Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) which is an iconic part of the Star Wars' lore.

If you have any interest in the behind-the-scenes of making Star Wars, special effects or digital imaging, then Light & Magic is a series not to be missed! The archival footage gives viewers a peak behind the wizards' curtains into creating movie MAGIC and collaborative storytelling. Experience what inspired some of the most legendary filmmakers to let their imagination soar into any galaxy or dimension beyond.

Interviews with legendary directors including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis and Jon Favreau add to the depth of this series and truly illuminate how instrumental digital filmmaking has become to storytelling. The rebel alliance at ILM created a digital revolution in the film industry which expanded into other areas of industry as well, which was truly life changing for many. Viewers get to experience snippets of various special effect scenes from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Terminator, Forest Gump, Jurassic Park and Mandalorian to name just a few! These groundbreaking artists under the guidance of visionary George Lucas show us that, just because something hasn't been done before, doesn't mean it can't be done. Lawrence Kasdan directs this documentary series and is in a unique position to guide us through the history of imagination and technological change.

The essence of this series illustrates that anything is possible. This ragtag group of artists accomplished things together that were light years ahead of current standards. Their hard work and dedication to the project and their craft truly produced something that is still magical today.

I rate this documentary series 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The six episode series launches on Disney+ July 27, 2022. Don't miss the magic and incredible journey behind the scenes!

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
HAPPY DAY
HAPPY DAY - JENN CLEARY
Series: AUDIO CD FOR AGES 5-8
Description - Family-friendly, rocking kids' tunes for all ages to enjoy. Fun and educational songs with positive messages about appreciating our environment, using our imaginations, and validating the one and only you, plus a wonderfully relaxing sleep song and even a tune with a yak's perspective, co-written with the author of Yak Girl.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The artist - Jenn Cleary - has created an accessible, appealing musical experience in this CD Happy Day. There's an organic energy to the tracks that Cleary's voice rides with a sense of wonder - nothing is unappealing.

"I can hear Cleary now!" The album is custom made for its audience. The songs are kid-friendly, energetic and fun. The continuity of the ten songs flows flawlessly. It's professionally written and presents a wide variety of musical styles. It's totally appropriate for a youth audience, but families will also enjoy on road trips. Love of animals, love of the environment and love of self are all emphasized. The artist does not talk down to her audience and makes familiar subject matter fresh with a twist of whimsy. There is a genuine respect in the lyrics and a positive message throughout.

All the performances are first-rate, especially the lead vocals. The musicians rock and the production is excellent. With all the negativity in the world that children assimilate, positive input from music and stories such as this can have a lasting positive effect. One would hope that the loving appreciation of animals and the environment would be further fostered.

Jenn Cleary's terrific album is a bright sunshiny day on the children's musical horizon. Clear and present vocals, terrific musicians and stellar production value make this recording a winner - winner winner chicken dinner. When a song is lovingly scribed to the hard-working good old yak you can't go wrong. Imagination, magic, wonder and discovery make a fragrant potpourri of uplifting sounds and Happy Day delivers on all counts!

I give Happy Day 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. It definitely meets or exceeds the KIDS FIRST! criteria, is well produced, entertaining and has a place in the world of children's music.

By John Wood, KIDS FIRST! Music Review Pro
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The most appealing thing about the music on the Happy Day CD is that it is upbeat and it should capture the attention of little kids very well. Little kids like fun, catchy music, which most of the songs on the CD are. The least appealing thing for me is the type of music. It seems more like folk music, but that's just a personal thing.

My favorite thing about the songs is that they all have positive messages and an upbeat tone. I played a couple songs for my twin three-year-old nieces and they really liked the songs titled, "Turtle Time" and "Happy Days." The lead singer, Jenn Cleary, has a fun, soothing voice. I like how she includes the kids singing in the song, "Happy Days." I also like the instrument choices. The guitar and harmonica bring a fun vibe to the music. The music is age appropriate for its audience. The vocabulary is well chosen and the words are easy to understand and sing along to. The children can relate to the lyrics in the songs. I found myself singing along with my nieces with the chorus for "Happy Days." We played the song about three times. The quality sounds really good. Everything is clear. It is a professional level production. I've always wanted to start a garden and the song, "Plant A Garden" inspired me to want to do it even more.

This is a fun CD and adds a new flare to teaching children about the world around them, rather than the traditional ABC and nursery rhyme songs.

I give Happy Day 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. It is available now on digital platforms.

By Ava C., KIDS FIRST!

The CD Happy Day is really for younger kids, but I really like some of the songs. At first, the folk songs did not really interest me, but after I listened to the songs and the lyrics, I began to really appreciate this CD.

This CD, by Jenn Cleary, is filled with family-friendly kids' tunes for younger children. The songs have positive messages about appreciating our environment, using our imaginations and validating the one and only you.

My favorite thing is that the melodies are catchy. I found myself singing along to two of the songs, "I Like Candy" and "Turtle Time." Those songs were stuck in my head for a while after listening to the CD. Jenn Cleary is great at creating fun songs such as "I Like Candy." Her voice is clear and upbeat. She has the kind of voice that younger children will find appealing and soothing. Although the music is appropriate for kids younger than me, I still enjoyed many of the songs. The vocabulary is very kid-friendly, although very young children may not understand the full messages of some songs, such as "Only One You" of "I Am Unique." The performances are very good, with an easy blend of guitar, banjo and harmonica music of the folk music genre. The CD has excellent sound quality. "I Like Candy" turned out to be one of my favorite songs. The lyrics motivated me to eat more fruits and vegetables.

I give Happy Day 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8, plus adults. You can find this CD now on Spotify, Soundcloud or wherever music is available.

By Kira O., KIDS FIRST!

Funky and fun, Jenn Cleary's Album Happy Day is sure to make you gleeful and ready to bust out your best moves while learning!

Happy Day is a CD filled with jazzy and groovy music that shares a variety of topics that teaches us about loving ourselves and also our planet. This album features Jenn Cleary and includes Mad Dog Freidman. There are a total of ten songs on the CD, each one averages around three minutes.

Jenn Cleary's vocals are engaging, fun and calming, when appropriate. Most songs have a twangy, country vibe that is sure to make your head bob and foot tap. The instrumentals in this album are all fantastic; my favorite is It's Time to Go to Sleep. This particular song reminds me of the meditation app Headspace that helps relieve the listener of stress, which is exactly what this song does. All the way down to the sound effects in the background, each song has a story that reminds me of a podcast. This is a CD parents wouldn't mind sharing the aux for.

The message of Happy Day is to have fun and let loose, but don't forget to take a nap once and a while. This CD promotes positive social behavior.

I give Happy Day 4 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. It is available now on all audio streaming platforms such as Spotify. Be sure to give a listen!


Runtime: 36 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ 15 Media: AUDIO


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL:  THE MUSICAL:  THE SERIES:  SEASON 3
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE SERIES: SEASON 3 - DISNEY CHANNEL
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8-18
Description - Season three of "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" is set at Camp Shallow Lake, a sleep away camp in California, as the Wildcats and their fellow campers are primed for an unforgettable summer ripe with romance, curfew-less nights and a taste of the great outdoors. With a high-stakes production of "Frozen" on the horizon AND a drama-filled "docu-series" of the production, the Wildcats will attempt to show who is "best in snow" without leaving anyone out in the cold.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Are you ready to join your favorite Wildcats at summer camp? Then don't miss High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: Season 3. Adventure awaits as our motley group reunites at summer camp and meets new friends for two weeks of fun in the sun!

After an amazing year at East High, the Wildcats journey to Camp Shallow Lake in California to start their summer escapade. What could be better than sleep away camp at a location primed for summer romance, intrigue and high-spirited jinks set in the great outdoors? It's an unforgettable summer as the campers prepare for a high-stakes production of Frozen.

My favorite parts are the audition scenes for Frozen. I really loved watching everyone dance and sing to some of the amazing songs and enjoyed the dialogue in this iconic production. I just can't "Let It Go" how these various auditions are spliced together in Season 3, capturing all the drama and competitive nature of auditions, while still maintaining the positivity and support among cast members. You won't be left in the cold watching the talent of this dynamic group. The music and original songs in Season 3 do not disappoint. That's really saying something since the music of this series has been so central to the show's popularity and success from the first two seasons. Tim Federle (Creator, Showrunner, Executive Producer) of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series really has created a collaborative and supportive environment on set with the cast, which shows in their performances. The show feels authentic with its teen cast and I really love its positivity.

The essence of this series is that you can personally grow and explore all life has to offer in a supportive and caring environment. Even when friendships and relationships change it allows characters to embrace their differences and support each other throughout the process. It's fun to watch the new experiences and growth in some of our favorite characters away from school expectations and pressures.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: Season 3 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, but adults will enjoy watching with their kids as well. Season 3 will begin streaming on Disney+ July 27, 2022 so don't miss this summer party!

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
GABBY GIFFORDS WON�T BACK DOWN
GABBY GIFFORDS WON�T BACK DOWN - BRIARCLIFF ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down tells the extraordinary story of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, her relentless fight to recover following an assassination attempt in 2011, and her new life as one of the most effective activists in the battle for gun violence prevention and in promoting understanding of the language condition aphasia. Featuring extensive verite� filming of Gabby and her husband, astronaut-turned-Senator Mark Kelly; interviews with President Barack Obama and other friends and colleagues; and exclusive access to stunning videos taken in the weeks following her near-death experience, this film is the story of a rising star transformed by an act of violence, and a close-up portrait of the marriage that sustains her.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A beautiful portrait of resilience and optimism, Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down is an uplifting film about Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and speaks to a timely political issue for audiences of all political affiliations. Giffords' passion and perseverance are not only inspiring, but also enrich the film through her interviews; archival footage and sound bites from her husband and mother are also well-placed and add greatly to the film.

Gabby Giffords is shot through the head at point-blank range at a Tucson, Arizona, Safeway in 2011 while hosting a meeting called, "Congress on Your Corner." That moment, that one bullet, would change her life entirely, as she went from a powerhouse to a nearly vegetative patient. The film shows some admittedly difficult-to-watch clips of Giffords' recovery in the hospital. She suffered from aphasia, which took away her language ability, and her doctors weren't sure if she would ever speak again. Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down follows her journey of recovery and also shows glimpses of her career and the path she took post-recovery. We see a strong, intelligent, inspiring, and spirited woman who has achieved, and is continuing to achieve, a great deal.

The film is edited masterfully and tells a rousing and moving story that enraptures viewers from the first frame. One of the most unique parts of Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down is that we see Gabby speaking in all stages of her journey -- hearing Giffords' voice is one of the most compelling aspects of the film, and it adds many endearing, bittersweet, and motivating moments. And what a journey: She gave up her big job to come home and run the family business, then transitioned to a TV commercial star, then to an Arizona Democrat--while staying an enthusiastic and charming cheerleader throughout. I especially love the scenes where Giffords is singing with her mother; not only does it show the strength of their bond, but Giffords is more at ease because, as with many who have aphasia or other brain-related injuries, her speech is most fluid when singing.

Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down is a film about perseverance. Even though watching Gabby go through the relearning process is difficult for viewers, it is also empowering -- it shows us that the human spirit, when set on achieving something, will achieve it... and how! Today, she is giving speeches, lobbying for change, and at the forefront of one of America's hottest discussions: the gun debate. Though there are mentions of the NRA and a decent amount of focus is placed on Giffords--Gabby's organization against gun violence--this film, much like Giffords herself, is not particularly bent toward one political ideology or party. There are mentions of politics, violence, and a good bit of gory imagery.

I give Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down is available now in theaters.


Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
HALLELUJAH, LEONARD COHEN, A JOURNEY, A SONG
HALLELUJAH, LEONARD COHEN, A JOURNEY, A SONG - SONY CLASSICAL
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10-18
Description - Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song is a definitive exploration of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen as seen through the prism of his internationally renowned hymn, "Hallelujah." This feature-length documentary weaves together three creative strands: The songwriter and his times; the song's dramatic journey from record label reject to chart-topping hit; and moving testimonies from major recording artists for whom "Hallelujah" has become a personal touchstone. Approved for production by Leonard Cohen just before his 80th birthday in 2014, the film accesses a wealth of never-before-seen archival materials from the Cohen Trust including Cohen's personal notebooks, journals and photographs, performance footage and extremely rare audio recordings and interviews.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This captivating documentary shows the origins and evolution of the iconic song "Hallelujah," written by poet, author, singer/songwriter and musician Leonard Cohen. A song that transcends generations, "Hallelujah" is more than music; it is a work of art and this film is an immersive exploration of this iconic song.

The documentary narrates how Cohen started his music career back in the '60's. Disappointed by his lack of success in the literary world, Cohen decided to explore a career in music, despite not intending to sing or play an instrument. In fact, Cohen didn't start writing songs until age 30. The narration in the film explores his early success in music and other aspects of his life, including his Jewish roots, politics, relationships and more. He was a spiritual seeker and his oeuvre constantly gravitated around spirituality. "Hallelujah," his most renowned song, was released in 1984. The song is a moment of realization--a revelation--about love and loss, and it touches the listener in so many different ways. The song is so larger-than-life it's almost its own person, and we see how it has become an anthem.

As of today, there are over 300 cover versions of "Hallelujah." Originally 150-180 verses were written for "Hallelujah" until the perfect edition of the song was written. More popular versions have come from artists Eric Church, Jeff Buckley and John Cale. Through many different interviews, the documentary shows how most people know the song through Jeff Buckley and many thought he wrote it. It was really interesting to me to see how a lot of the film is devoted to Leonard's spirituality. One of my favorite clips was the 2009 Coachella concert where Cohen sang "Hallelujah," and you could really feel how moved and captivated the audience was. The visuals, the archived interviews and footage are all nicely arranged. I particularly enjoyed listening to the interviews with various artists, reporters and people that were close to Cohen and to witness the warmth that emanated from him. One I found very interesting was with Vicky Jenson, where she talks about how "Hallelujah" was used in the movie Shrek. Another was how singer Judy Collins remembers when she first met him how he didn't believe in his own music. Cohen's work was not always praised as some music labels rejected his albums, but his talent has proved to be immortal.

he message of the film is that music is cross-generational, and it establishes an emotional connection that unites people in a powerful way.

I give Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for audiences 12 to 18, plus adults. Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song opens in select theaters July 15, 2022
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING - SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - From the best-selling novel comes a captivating mystery. Where the Crawdads Sing tells the story of Kya, an abandoned girl who raised herself to adulthood in the dangerous marshlands of North Carolina. For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" haunted Barkley Cove, isolating the sharp and resilient Kya from her community. Drawn to two young men from town, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world; but when one of them is found dead, she is immediately cast by the community as the main suspect. As the case unfolds, the verdict as to what actually happened becomes increasingly unclear, threatening to reveal the many secrets that lay within the marsh.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Where the Crawdads Sing is a must see coming-of-age and murder mystery movie based on the blockbuster novel by Delia Owens. The movie is wonderfully cast as every performance is stellar.

The story follows two different timelines that slowly come together as the movie progresses. The first is the trial for the murder of Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson) and the second is about Kya Clark (Daisy Edgar-Jones), a young girl who, after being abandoned by her family, learns to thrive in the marshes of North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s.

The movie mostly follows the storyline of the book it's based on, Where the Crawdads Sing, with a few slight changes. The storyline is engaging and keeps you guessing right until the very end. The sets and locations, along with the costumes of the marsh and the town, transport us into the 1950s and 1960s so much that it feels like we are living at that time. Each and every member of the cast have spectacular performances; my favorites come from Daisy Edgar-Jones and Jojo Regina. Daisy Edgar-Jones, as the older Kya, and Jojo Regina, as young Kya, have absolutely phenomenal performances. It feels as though they are real people in a documentary. You feel their pain, their joys and their triumphs. Other stand out-performances come from Harris Dickinson (Chase Andrews) and Taylor John Smith (Tate Walker) as they elicit a range of emotions with the portrayal of their roles and interactions with Kya.

The strongest message of Where the Crawdads Sing is the power of perseverance and one's ability to overcome challenges. Nature also plays a big role in this movie. You should be aware that this film has several adult themes and scenes, including rape, domestic violence, and similar, as well as profanity, so I do not recommend it for young audiences.

I give Where the Crawdads Sing 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. It comes out in theaters July 15, 2022.

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

Where the Crawdads Sing is a great movie that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. The acting is terrific and the excitement and suspense of the plot are incredible. I love a roller coaster of a good mystery and highly recommend this one.

Where the Crawdads Sing is based on the book by Delia Owens. It follows the life of a young woman, Kya (Daisy EdgarJones) who survives growing up in the marshlands of North Carolina by herself. Although she is considered an outsider and does not fit in with the people of the surrounding town, she finds a way to persevere. A major turning point in her life occurs when she becomes the prime suspect of a crime.

Daisy Edgar-Jones brings Kya's character to life very powerfully. When we first see her, she is shy and reserved; she rarely leaves the marshes. Kya enjoys the beauty of nature and loves drawing pictures of insects. As a person who loves nature, I really appreciate the scenery in the film with the details of the water, grasses and plants. It is beautiful. Although the movie takes place in the 1960s, the attire is similar to what people wear today and seems realistic. My favorite part of the film is the ending when we the truth about the murder is revealed. My sister and I enjoyed discussing the outcome of the story. There are so many possible outcomes of this story. It is interesting to see the many different interpretations from other people. This will definitely be a conversation piece for me and my friends for a while.

The message of the movie Where the Crawdads Sing shows how being abandoned by the people you love impacts your life and relationships. Although Kya survived on her own and created a life for herself, she never had the opportunity to deal with her past and how it affects her life in the present. You should be aware that there are some very suggestive sexual scenes in this film that make it unsuitable for younger children. I felt quite uncomfortable seeing those myself.

I give Where the Crawdads Sing 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 18 to adult. It releases in theaters July 15, 2022.

By Ava C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
ACCEPTED
ACCEPTED - GREENWICH FILM ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Accepted offers a unique and intriguing look at the world of Ivy League college admissions and the true cost of getting that first foothold into elite American society. In his first documentary feature, director Dan Chen grounds a broader look at the inequities in the American education system with unbelievable access to T.M. Landry and the deeply personal stories of four dynamic students looking to overcome countless obstacles to achieve their dreams. Four high school seniors in rural Louisiana attend T.M. Landry, an unconventional K - 12 school housed in a sparse warehouse made famous for sending its graduates to elite universities like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. The students aim to meet the intense expectations of Mike Landry, the imposing founder of the school who charts a relentless course towards their college dreams. When the New York Times publishes an expose on Landry's controversial methods, the school buckles under the scrutiny. Each senior is left to contend with uncomfortable truths about their school and the college admissions system, and decide for themselves what they are willing to do to be accepted.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Accepted offers a unique and intriguing look at the world of selective college admissions in the US; it shows the cost of climbing the social ladder through education and the extent to which people will go to get to the ranks of the country's intelligentsia.

T.M. Landry College Preparatory is an unconventional K-12 school in a poor rural town in Louisiana famous for sending its students to elite universities like Harvard, Yale, Wellesley and Stanford. Students aim to meet the intense expectations of Mike Landry, the imposing, relentless, rousing-speech-giving founder of the school who has a personal and professional stake in the process. When the New York Times publishes an expos� on T.M. Landry falsifying student transcripts and its controversial and, at-times, abusive methods, the school crumbles. Each senior has to figure out school and the college admissions system on their own from there, and they have to decide for themselves what they are willing to do to get into college.

In his first documentary, director Dan Chen beautifully captures the personal stories of four dynamic students looking to overcome the seemingly insuperable obstacles they face to achieve their dreams. One, for example, has a widowed mother and two disabled sisters, and she must care for them while balancing an 11-hour school day at T.M. Landry. The interviews of the four seniors guide the film, as does interwoven footage of Landry working with students, hyping them up, and continuing his work at home. The film is incredibly well-constructed -- holes in T.M. Landry's story are reflected in the plot (such as when it is revealed that Mike Landry told one of his students to call him when the filming team came to his house so he could project the image of a caring, fatherly figure). The footage is stable; lighting is modulated to reflect the mood of each scene (dark in times of despair, bright in times of hope), and the storytelling is seamless. Accepted keeps your attention throughout; there's not a single dull moment. As a student going through the admissions process right now (albeit with a very different background and very different schools than those in the film), Accepted resonates with me on an emotional level at various points. It's one of the best traditional documentaries I've watched this year.

Accepted is a film all about finding success with honesty and hard work. Where T.M. Landry fails, as a student says, is that they set out to solve the problem of a ridiculously selective university system, but became a part of the problem by falsifying records and losing integrity.

I give Accepted 5 stars out of 5 and recommend if for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Accepted releases July 1, 2022 in theaters and on demand.


Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU
MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-12
Description - In the heart of the 1970s, amid a flurry of feathered hair and flared jeans, Gru is growing up in the suburbs. A fan boy of a supervillain supergroup known as the Vicious 6, Gru hatches a plan to become evil enough to join them. Luckily, he gets some mayhem-making backup from his loyal followers, the Minions. Together, Kevin, Stuart, Bob and Otto--a new Minion sporting braces and a desperate need to please--deploy their skills as they and Gru build their first lair, experiment with their first weapons and pull off their first missions. When the Vicious 6 oust their leader, legendary fighter Wild Knuckles Alan Arkin, Gru interviews to become their newest member. It doesn't go well (to say the least), and only gets worse after Gru outsmarts them and suddenly finds himself the mortal enemy of the apex of evil. On the run, Gru will turn to an unlikely source for guidance, Wild Knuckles himself, and discover that even bad guys need a little help from their friends.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - In his world, Gru is the most powerful villain anyone has ever seen. But the question is: how did he become this dominant force? Minions: The Rise of Gru shows us the exciting story of 12-year old Gru and the path to his villainous life. Both the familiar faces and the new characters come together to make this make this film highly entertaining, yet nostalgic.

Minions: The Rise of Gru provides the backstory for how Gru (Steve Carell) came to be the notorious villain he is today. After being rejected as a replacement for Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) and failing to earn a much-coveted spot in the supervillain group Vicious 6, Gru unexpectedly finds himself on the run. As fate would have it, Gru's dream of being mentored by Wild Knuckles soon comes true, but not without Gru having to now lean on Wild Knuckles and his minions to fight back against the Vicious 6.

The three main minions--Kevin, Stuart, and Bob--each have unique character traits that make these films work. In Minions: The Rise of Gru, you can see how each minion plays a different role in how Gru grows as a villain and as a person. Kevin is the smart and responsible leader--he makes sure everything is going according to plan. Stuart is the one who is always in touch with reality, and makes sure the truth is known--he may seem uninterested, but he's very helpful. Bob is the lighthearted and innocent soul who always tries to make the best out of a situation. Without all three of these characters, this movie wouldn't be the same. There are many subtle references to the previous movies that add to the comedic tone, as well. For instance, in the scene where Gru and Wild Knuckles attempt to rob the bank, the bank president shows them an image of his grandson, who turns out to be none other than the aspiring villain, Vector. Of course, young Gru isn't aware that Vector will play a big role in his future, but the audience definitely is. These subtle references are what contribute to the nostalgic feel we get from watching this film. And, of course, we can't forget about Gru's iconic wardrobe, which he's already wearing as a young kid.

The message of Minions: The Rise of Gru is that everyone needs a little help sometimes. Even though he doesn't realize it right away, Gru eventually recognizes that he needs help in order to be the successful villain he desires to be.

Minions: The Rise of Gru is such a fun movie to watch. The lovable characters just make the audience continue to yearn for more. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, though anyone can enjoy this movie. Minions: The Rise of Gru releases in theaters on July 1, 2022. Make sure you check it out!

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 14

Minions: The Rise of Gru is exemplary, in that it contains all the wow factors I look for in a movie. It is funny and intriguing. The animation is amazing.

Minions: The Rise of Gru takes place in the 1970s when Gru (Steve Carell) was a child. The storyline follows his journey of trying to become the most dangerous supervillain. To make his dream come true, he tries to join a group of villains called the Vicious 6. His audition quickly goes downhill and suddenly Gru and his minions are on the run from the Vicious 6 villains.

They've come a long way since the original 2015 Minions movie. Gru's life story is told throughout the Minions and Despicable Me series, however, this addition to the storyline adds more details and fills the gaps of Gru's life that was missing. Just like the prior films, the minions are so hilarious and never lack for personality. A good thing about the Minions and Despicable Me films is that they are consistent with the character's personalities. There is the right amount of character development that brings all the characters to life, which gives it a realistic feel. The minion's language is interesting because it is mostly gibberish, called "minionese," mixed with a few recognizable Spanish words. Although most times you cannot understand them verbally, you can figure out what they are trying to communicate by their tone and facial expressions. They are just so cute! The minions wear their classic denim overalls, but some wear other outfits that fit their personalities. My favorite part of the movie is seeing the perseverance by the characters. It sends a positive message about not giving up and continuing to reach for your dreams, even when it gets tough.

The main message of this movie is that no matter how independent you think you are, everyone can use some help. Even the best supervillain needs help every now and then. We see this message portrayed throughout the entire film.

I give Minions: The Rise of 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it movie for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is a very funny and adventurous film that kids and adults will enjoy. It opens in theaters July 1, 2022.

The writers of the exciting film Minions: The Rise Of Gru, Matthew Fogel, Brian Lynch, and Matthew Fogel, definitely created a strong storyline. In this film we see who Gru's idols are and who he looks up to when becoming a villain. I definitely could not stop laughing while watching this film and I bet you won't be able to stop, too!

The film starts off with an object, which looks like an amulet, being stolen, and we meet the Vicious 6 (Gru's idols.) They betray their master and kick him off the team. So now Gru has an interview to work alongside the people he looks up to and become a Vicious 6 villain. If you want to see if he joins the team you're definitely not going to want to miss this film. We also see what things are like at home, school, with his mom and the overall backstory.

This film is definitely a fan favorite and with Steve Carell playing the voice of Gru it will be a crowd-pleaser. There are so many jokes and the things the minions do and say will make you laugh so hard. For example, the way they speak and, especially in this film, the mix of Spanish with "minionese." Like every previous Minion film, it has such a spark, the kind that truly entertains you and makes you laugh. What is unique in this film is the creation of a storyline that reveals Gur's childhood. We learn how rough it was for Gru at school and how his relationship with his mom caused him to become the person is in the future. The animation in this film is similar to the previous films, but way better.

The message of this film is to never leave a friend or someone you care about behind because one day they might save your life. There are a lot of action scenes, including ones where they fight and one where they use needles. So, I would warn parents that this may not be suitable for younger kids.

I give Minions: The Rise Of Gru 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. You can find it in theaters July 1, 2022.

By Miguel C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
NAKED MOLE RAT GETS DRESSED: THE UNDERGROUND ROCK EXPERIENCE
NAKED MOLE RAT GETS DRESSED: THE UNDERGROUND ROCK EXPERIENCE - CARTOON NETWORK
Series: TV SPECUIAK, AGES 5-12
Description - Calling all rock stars, fashion icons and naked mole rat lovers! Mo Willems' fan-favorite Naked Mole Rat, Wilbur J. Mole Rat, Jr. emerges from his underground tunnel for a stunning CGI-animated hour of "underground" music and comedy in Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience! Based on Willems' book, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed this animated rock opera strikes a power chord about accepting others. The musical event is accessorized by a fun and funny tale about a sensitive, curious and rockin' Naked Mole Rat named Wilbur (Jordan Fisher) who "scandalously" decides to (gasp!) get dressed! Find out what happens when Wilbur's newfound love of rocking outfits rocks Naked Mole Rat society to its core.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The adorable film Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience by Mo Willems and Mr. Warburton gives viewers a story that explores the true meaning of originality. Wilbur The Mole Rat is loveable and a fan favorite and, even though he is an animal, we can all relate to his search for acceptance within his community. In this film, viewers will find a deeper meaning behind the well-crafted plotline and creative music. The viewers will root for Wilbur as he explores how clothes can give us personality.

The storyline follows the protagonist, Wilbur (Jordan Fisher) as he discovers the potential for clothes to bring joy. He also happens to live in a community of naked mole rats who shudder at the thought of a mere sock. Although he aspires to open a clothing store in the town center, his band mates (Yvette Nicole Brown, Kate Mucicci, Michael Richardson) discourage his newfound dream, threatening to turn him in to the great Grandmah. Although she is a hero to the colony, she is also the most feared and powerful mole rat to exist. Will Wilbur continue to fight through the constant bumps in the clothing road, or will he become a menace to the colony and no longer be able to follow his dreams?

Jordan Fisher plays Wilbur with an innocence that makes his already charming character even more relatable. Yvette Nicole Brown as Wilbur's bandmate, Grande is hilarious and brings sass into this sweet film. Music is the most special part of this film- bringing emotion to the plotline. Because this film is directed towards younger kids, the music is easy to understand and the beats are catchy! The animation is unique and each mole rat is special and diverse. The clothes add a touch of color to the colony which enhance the message of this film. My favorite part of this film is the first time Wilbur watches clothes fall from the sky. He is filled with wonder and sings an upbeat musical number celebrating the beauty of self-expression.

The message of this film is that everyone is special no matter what they choose to wear, act, say or do. Following the trend may not always be right for everyone and that is okay, because being oneself makes us happy and the whole world more interesting. This is an amazing message to send to every kid and adult who feels like they don't belong because they are "different." This is definitely a film for younger kids, but parents/guardians would enjoy watching it with their children.

I give Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8, plus adults. It releases on Cartoonito on HBO Max June 30, 2022

By Nyara A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

With adrenaline pumping rock 'n' roll, high fashion and naked mole rats, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience combines three unrelated things and makes a perfectly-mixed animated production. Based on best-selling author Mo Willems' children's book, this is a super fun and funky animated adaptation.

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience is also a rock opera that tells the story of strong-willed, progressive-thinking, and fashionable mole rat, Wilbur J. Mole Rat Jr. (Jordan Fisher), who decides that he is willing to risk public humiliation to stand for what he believes in.

The cast of this film are all strong actors and actresses with a reputation for delivering excellence. Mo Willems and Tom Warburton are the geniuses behind the script for this remarkable film. With the help of world-renowned music composer Deborah Wicks La Puma, the script adaptation turned out to be a lighthearted, inspiring, rockin' good musical. The storyline follows Wilbur facing scrutiny and resistance from many mole rats in the community, including law-abiding and gentle-natured Tall (Kate Micucci). Venti (Kevin Michael Richardson) refuses to get dressed; there is nothing he cares about more than being a rock 'n roll musician, his mole rat bandmates, music and being naked. Yvette Nicole Brown gives a remarkable performance as Grande, the lead member of the high demand rock band, "The Mole-ing Stones."

This film encourages viewers to be courageous enough to ask the question, "Why not?" It's no longer enough to go along to get along. Wilbur reminds us that tradition is not a strong enough motivator to deny the passion and purpose you have in life. Thanks to Wilbur Mole Rat Jr., the moles in the tunnel are now liberated and dressed to the nines.

I give Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 5 to 12, plus adults. Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience releases on Cartoonito on HBO Max June 30, 2022.

By Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
RISE
RISE - DISNEY+
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Audiences have never seen a story like that of the Antetokounmpos. After emigrating from Nigeria to Greece, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo (Dayo Okeniyi and Yetide Badaki, respectively) struggled to survive and provide for their five children, while living under the daily threat of deportation. With their oldest son still in Nigeria with relatives, the couple was desperate to obtain Greek citizenship but found themselves undermined by a system that blocked them at every turn. When they weren't selling items to tourists on the streets of Athens with the rest of the family, the brothers-- Giannis and Thanasis -- would play basketball with a local youth team. Latecomers to the sport, they discovered their great abilities on the basketball court and worked hard to become world class athletes, along with brother, Kostas. With the help of an agent, Giannis entered the NBA Draft in 2013 in a long shot prospect that would change not only his life but the life of his entire family. And last season, Giannis and Thanasis helped bring the Milwaukee Bucks their first championship ring in 50 years, while Kostas played for the previous season champs, the Los Angeles Lakers.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - All rise for the heartwarming, inspirational biographical story of Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family! Rise is a story of family, sacrifice, love, and basketball. Perfect for the entire family, the Antetokounmpos' story is sure to score in the hearts of viewers.

Rise follows parents, Charles (Dayo Okeniyi) and Veronica (Yetide Badaki) Antetokounmpo, as they leave their home, and oldest son, in Nigeria due to immigration laws and head to Greece. There the couple struggles to find work and raise their children, Thanasis (Ral Agada), Giannis (Uche Agada), Kostas (Jaden Osimuwa), and Alexandros (Elijah Shomanke). Even though they are struggling to survive and dodging immigration, Giannis and Thanasis take up basketball for a local youth team. They find a passion for the sport and eventually are noticed by scouts, which starts their quest for the NBA ... but not without still playing defense against deportation, racism, and laws preventing them from getting work permits.

While the movie focuses on the rise of the Antetokounmpo brothers, the entire family is the star of this film. Everyone makes sacrifices in order for Giannis to get drafted into the NBA, which opened doors for his brothers. Every day leading up to the 2013 NBA draft is a challenge to avoid deportation. One wrong move can expose them and send everyone back to Nigeria. The film is an emotional rollercoaster as you follow the Antetokounmpos' journey from Nigeria to Greece to the NBA. My favorite aspect of the movie is seeing all the sacrifices each family member made for the overall goal. I enjoyed the old-school and hip-hop songs, which will draw in audiences of all ages. The camera angles also help engage viewers and give a close up understanding of the family.

Rise is all about family and sacrifice. The family shows what you can accomplish when everyone sticks together. Throughout the film, we see how Charles Antetokounmpo constantly reminds his children that "if one scores, then they all score." He instills in them the value of family and how they can't make it by themselves. Considering that Giannis, Thanasis and Kostas became the first trio of brothers to win championships in NBA league history, I would say they understood the assignment.

Rise is not just for basketball fans ... it's the perfect family movie that is just the inspiration we all need to keep pushing forward. I give Rise 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Rise tips off on Disney+, June 24, 2022.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
EUREKA!
EUREKA! - DISNEY CHANNEL
Series: TV SHOW, AGES 2-8
Description - Eureka! tells the story of a young girl inventor who is way ahead of her time. Utilizing creative out-of-the-box thinking, she designs inventions and contraptions in the hopes of making the world a better place and moving her prehistoric community into a more modern era. With the help of her supportive parents, teacher, best friends -- Pepper and Barry -- and beloved pet mammoth Murphy, Eureka is learning to embrace that she is not ordinary ... she's extraordinary.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Eureka! Coming your way is a new animated, music-filled series full of life lessons, adventures, and "thinkering!" Eureka! Is the perfect show for kids to learn more about the world of S.T.E.A.M. and problem solving. This show has a diverse cast of characters, endless entertainment, and relatability, and is perfect for the whole family to watch.

Eureka! Follows a fearless, young girl inventor named Eureka (Ruth Righi) who lives in Rocky Falls with her parents and pet Mammoth, Murphy (Fred Tatasciore). Eureka is always designing new inventions and contraptions in her prehistoric community to help make it more modern. From finding a way to get Murphy into the house when he couldn't use the door to creating a one-person band of instruments, whenever she "thinkers" she is sure to solve whatever issue she comes across.

Eureka as the lead character is the perfect role model for younger girls. It's amazing to see a young female like Eureka showing other kids that they aren't too young to be in the world of S.T.E.A.M. I love the support Eureka gets from her family, friends, teachers and the rest of her community. It really encourages her to be confident even when she doesn't always fit in. One of my favorite scenes is when Eureka and her mom Roxy (Ren�e Elise Goldsberry) are singing about the Rubber Tree Soup, and she shows that her mom doesn't give up when the soup doesn't come out the way she expects it to. While this series is set in a prehistoric time period, viewers will love watching Eureka modernize her community. An example is when Eureka redirects underground steam to create an oven for her mom's restaurant. It gives the show a unique twist that will draw viewers to it.

There are multiple messages throughout the series, like never giving up on your goals, and that even when you fail it's important to try again. Eureka also teaches young viewers about responsibility by taking care of her pet Mammoth, Murphy. Overall Eureka! Teaches kids all about the world of S.T.E.A.M., being fearless when solving problems, and creating inventions even as kids.

I give Eureka! 5 out of 5 stars. This is definitely a kid-focused, family-friendly series, so I recommend it for kids 2 to 8. Eureka! Debuts on Disney Junior June 22, 2022, and on Disney+ the same day.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 2-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON
MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON - A24
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 512
Description - Marcel is an adorable one-inch-tall shell who ekes out a colorful existence with his grandmother Connie and their pet lint, Alan. Once part of a sprawling community of shells, they now live alone as the sole survivors of a mysterious tragedy. But when a documentary filmmaker discovers them amongst the clutter of his Airbnb, the short film he posts online brings Marcel millions of passionate fans, as well as unprecedented dangers and a new hope at finding his long-lost family. A beloved character gets his big-screen debut in this hilarious and heartwarming story about finding connection in the smallest corners.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is an innovative and extremely moving new film. The importance of inspiring kids to make their voices heard has increased recently and nothing could do a better job of capturing this vital theme than Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On has a simple yet passionate plot following Marcel (Jenny Slate), a shell. Years ago, he and his grandmother, Connie (Isabella Rossellini), were the lone survivors of an unknown disaster. Now, after being discovered as one-inch shells by Dean (Dean Fleischer-Camp), his interviews are being viewed by millions of people around the world. Dean makes a documentary about Marcel: how he's made a life for himself using tennis balls to get around and by living in dollhouses. With this many people behind them, Marcel and Dean set out to find his family. MP

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is everything a great movie should be: emotional, entertaining, funny and suspenseful at times. The primary focus of the film is clearly its emotional impact. Marcel is the perfect character to capture the positive point of view on everything. He makes light of bad times and comedy out of devastation. It's no wonder he's a YouTube star! Jenny Slate is a good match for the role in portraying the well-balanced character. The comedic elements go hand in hand with the fantastic acting and entertaining storyline to create the meaningful characters and conflicts. Marcel contributes a lot to the overall entertainment of the movie. The sets, cinematography and lighting do a lot to push the film to its best. Everything matches the mood and tone, creating the perfect atmosphere for the characters. One example of this is when Marcel is hopeful, the set is lit naturally and bright.

The message of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is to cherish family and friends, because in the blink of an eye they could be gone. The film also supports the idea that we should speak up for ourselves and support one another. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On includes many important themes that are passionately expressed throughout. This film does have scenes with fairly intense moments of sadness, but it is definitely a kid- and family-friendly film.

I give Marcel the Shell with Shoes On 4 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. You can view this film in select theaters beginning June 24, 2022 and on some streaming platforms beginning June 23, 2022.

By Kyla C., Age 12, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On is a sweet, moving and loving journey into the life of an instantly lovable seashell named Marcel (Jenny Slate). I love how this stop-motion animated film, presented as a documentary, handles life's mysteries, dangers, grief and friendships with wisdom, grace and humor.

Marcel and his sassy grandmother Connie (Isabella Rossellini) share a big home used as an Airbnb that was once full of friends who have mysteriously disappeared. When a new guest, Dean (Dean Fleischer-Camp) arrives, he sets out to document Marcel and help discover what happened to the missing friends. Dean films the inventive and clever ways that Marcel and Connie go about their lives as shells, from gathering food, traveling about and taking care of each other. Marcel persuades Dean to share the mysterious loss of his community, which leads to an interview on 60 Minutes with Leslie Stahl. All the attention and celebrity fuss prove to be too much for the aging grandmother as she does her best to convince Marcel she is healthy. I love how Marcel takes care of Connie.

Marcel is sweet and caring with a practical approach to solving problems. He is inventive and optimistic. And he has a fuzzy pet lint named Alan! His grandmother, Connie, is at once amused and annoyed by Marcel's overprotectiveness. They share a unique bond. The stop-motion animation brings to life these characters in a wonderful, believable way. They become your friends you care about quickly. My favorite part is how Marcel travels around the big house with speed and efficiency-- in a tennis ball!

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On addresses a variety of life's challenges with gentle wisdom, quiet grace, and sly humor. Marcel and Connie learn to adjust to the mysterious disappearance of their community, a house full of friends. They persevere and seek help from Dean to help solve the mystery while dealing with the new found "celebrity" attention and the disruption to their peaceful existence. Marcel is stoic and brave in the face of loss and grateful and welcoming at the sound of emergency. We would all benefit from walking in Marcel's shoes!

I give Marcel The Shell With Shoes On 5 out of 5 star and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. It opens in select theaters June 24, 2022.

By Madeleine H. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Marcel The Shell With The Shoes On is a unique, yet emotional film. It creates a whole new perspective on life, while having a very intriguing, yet entertaining feel to it.

Marcel The Shell With The Shoes On follows a tiny one-inch shell, Marcel (Jenny Slate), who lives in an Airbnb with his Nana (Isabella Rossellini). When a new renter Dean (Dean Fleischer Camp) moves in, he starts a documentary series on YouTube about Marcel's life. Soon enough, Marcel finds himself gaining millions of views, and he tries to hopefully use this new gained fame to find his lost family.

Something that I really enjoyed about this film is its simplicity. To explain, the structure of the movie purely focuses on Marcel and his way of life. There are no crazy action scenes or extensive sets, yet it is still entertaining and lovely to watch. Another thing that stands out is the picture quality. Everything is very clear and, although Marcel is animated, he feels very life-like in a world filled with live humans. Marcel reminds me of a real-life moving toy, rather than an animated character. That's how realistic he is. Finally, the way that Jenny Slate conveys human emotions through voicing a small shell is really outstanding. Although he is tiny, Marcel has so many different layers, and I definitely got chills throughout the film.

The message of Marcel The Shell With The Shoes On is to always stay true to yourself, and to care for those who care for you.

I give Marcel The Shell With The Shoes On 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It release in select theaters June 24, 2021.

By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 16

I love this movie! Marcel The Shell with Shoes On is a feel-good mockumentary based on the adorable YouTube videos made by Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp. It will make you laugh and cry and will inspire you to have hope.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is about Marcel (Jenny Slate), a loveable seashell, with shoes on - hence the name. After the mysterious disappearance of his family, Marcel is left with his grandmother, Connie (Isabella Rossellini). But a filmmaker, Dean (Dean Fleischer-Camp), finds them and decides to make a documentary about Marcel and, much to their surprise, it goes viral. Can all this newfound fame help Marcel find his family? Watch to find out!

This film is unlike anything I've seen before! Even though it is purely fictional, the documentary aspect of it feels so genuine. The conversations between Dean and Marcel and the mistakes made by Marcel largely contribute to its genuine feel. While the movie is based on the adorable YouTube videos made by Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny Slate, it's not necessary to watch them before watching this film. However, the YouTube videos are short and worth the watch if you have the time. Similar to the original videos, stop motion animation is used to create Marcel and Nana Connie, while the rest is live action. The sets and props are so creative and comedic. The shells use bread as beds and couches and honey as an adhesive to climb walls, as well as plant pots, tree houses and homes. Marcel's comedic timing is impeccable, and his laughter is so infectious. As the voice of Marcel, Jenny Slate makes him cuter than ever - if that is even possible. And Isabella Rossellini perfectly voices the nurturing and loving grandma we all want.

The message of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is to have hope and remember to smile because "it's worth it." It also has themes of the importance of friendship and family. This movie is great for the whole family, but it may be a bit confusing for younger children.

I give Marcel the Shell with Shoes On 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Fans of the YouTube videos will love this movie, as will everyone else. It comes out in theaters June 24, 2022.

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

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is a funny, thoughtful, little wonder, just like its lead character. This is a part all-ages adventure, and part rumination on family, loss and how one shell understands and experiences a great, big world.

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On follows the shoe-sporting shell of the same name (Jenny Slate), who's just a couple inches tall and lives with his grandmother Connie (Isabella Rosselini). Marcel and Connie were once two members of a thriving community populated with creatures just like them in stature, but one night, they disappeared. Marcel and Connie struggle to stay afloat and maintain their way of life, especially as Connie grows older and less self-reliant. Now, Marcel's daily life is being documented by Dean, a documentarian who wants to post his Marcel-centric footage online and see what comes of it. Dean's videos go viral and, suddenly, Marcel is an online sensation. With this newfound fame, Marcel harnesses his clout to find his lost family with the help of Dean and his thousands of fans.

A tennis ball rolls around on a vacant floor, and a tiny shell with sneakers pops out. From its first moments, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On puts you in its lead character's shoes. There's a magic to seeing things from the point of view of Marcel. From there, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On proves it has so much to offer. This movie is so lively and funny, like genuinely funny. Marcel's unexpected, but perfectly logical objection to signing with "peace and love" had me leaning forward with laughter. At the same time, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On has truly devastating moments, but always in silences and pauses--it tugs on the heartstrings with grace.

The lesson of Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is to persevere, especially for those you love. Marcel's winning attitude isn't a put-on--the frequent small difficulties he encounters demonstrates that, at his core, Marcel is a fighter. Undaunted in his quest to find his family, Marcel holds on to hope and gets on the path to find what he's been searching for. Marcel is just a kind, positive little stinker, weathering life's ups and downs.

I give Marcel the Shell With Shoes On 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Whether you're young, old or anywhere in between, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On will make you laugh--it might make you cry, but most of all, it will make you smile in its own gentle way. Go see this movie! Marcel the Shell With Shoes On released in select theaters June 24, 2022 and expands nationwide in the upcoming weeks.

By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
VILLAINS OF VALLEY VIEW, THE
VILLAINS OF VALLEY VIEW, THE - DISNEY CHANNEL
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8-14
Description - When teenage supervillain Havoc stands up to the head of the League of Villains, her family is forced to change their identities and relocate to a sleepy Texas suburb. With the help of her effervescent new neighbor Hartley, Havoc - going incognito as "Amy" - must somehow hide her superpowers and quell her villainous nature in favor of something she and the rest of her family have fought against all their lives: being normal.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Villains of Valley View is an exciting and hilarious new sitcom. Super powered villains take center stage in this show, sure to be a fan favorite.

The series follows the Madden family, a group of ex-super villains who are in hiding from other villains and superheroes. The family tries to blend in but the task proves to be harder than they expected.

There is so much to love about The Villains of Valley View. This is the first sitcom to follow a family of villains instead of heroes. Every character is extremely complex and chaotic; however, the family balances each other out. Jake (Reed Hortsmann) is hilarious in the way that he's the only family member who wants to be normal. Amy (Isabella Pappas) is a headstrong powerful girl who works for what she wants. She and Jake balance each other so well, considering they're as opposite as possible. Amy's friendship with next-door neighbor Hartley steals the show. Audiences can see themselves in both Amy and Hartley, and we're left wanting more of their friendship. The chemistry between parents Eva and Vic is strong. We don't know much about their history together but every so often there's a heartwarming scene that gives insight about the relationship between them. Eva and Vic are the most unlikely couple the Disney Channel has ever had, and they're quite possibly the best, too. There's never a dull moment in The Villains of Valley View.

Some of the messages in this series include things such as Amy teaching her friends and family that it's okay to be yourself and that you don't have to fit in to society's norms. Amy owns who she is, her style and her villain background, and is completely unapologetic. Meanwhile, Hartley shows Amy that there's always good in the world and to have a positive outlook on life.

I give The Villains of Valley View 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 14. It premieres only on Disney Channel June 3, 2022.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 8-14 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
ULTRA VIOLET AND BLACK SCORPION
ULTRA VIOLET AND BLACK SCORPION - DISNEY CHANNEL
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8-14
Description - Violet Rodriguez, an everyday Mexican American teen, who is chosen by a magical luchador mask which transforms her into Ultra Violet, a superhero fighting crime alongside her luchador uncle, Cruz, also known as Black Scorpion. Although Cruz takes Violet under his wing to teach her the responsibilities of her special powers, she doesn't always see eye-to-eye with him when it comes to his methods for capturing crooks. In the meantime, she must keep her superhero identity secret from her parents and her older brother Santiago ("Tiago"), as well as her friends and schoolmates. However, she does lean on one close confidante: her best friend Maya Miller-Martinez, who provides advice and assists with documenting Ultra Violet's adventures on social media.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Ultra Violet and Black Scorpion is an excellent new show! Merging culture and crime fighting, this series gives us two new characters to love. This series will leave you wanting to become a superhero yourself.

Ultra Violet and Black Scorpion follows Violet (Scarlet Estevez), a teenaged girl who is gifted with the power of super speed. She finds a luchador mask, and it chooses her to become a superhero by giving her powers. When Violet takes on the alter ego of Ultra Violet, soon she finds out that her Uncle Cruz (J.R. Villarreal) is a famous superhero, as well, named Black Scorpion. They team up and soon they're family by day and crime fighters by night.

This show is super exciting. The creators of the show merge Mexican culture and super heroes perfectly. Both heroes don their own luchador masks, and their costumes resemble those of professional luchadores. Throughout the show there's so much representation for Mexican families, not only in their foods and customs, but in their familial values as well. Scarlet struggles to shine in her own family and often feels like she can't do anything right. She represents so many teens who don't know how to find their place in the world. She grows into her own and learns how to fight villains, take control of her new powers, and how to take control of her own life. One of the spectacular things about this show is the relationship between Uncle Cruz and Violet. He cares for her and tries to keep her out of the superhero world, but she's determined to be her own hero. As they train together, they remind so many of us of our own family members and relationships with our uncles or nieces. Both actors make it seem as though they really are family.

The message of Ultra Violet and Black Scorpion is demonstrated through its themes. Throughout the course of the show Violet not only proves to her family but also to herself that she's capable of being a superhero. She learns to be more confident and also learns that when you stumble you pick yourself up and move on. She realizes the power of family and what it truly means to be a hero responsible for saving lives.

I give Ultra Violet and Black Scorpion 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 13. It premieres on Disney Channel June 3, 2022 and on Disney+ June 22


Juror Recommended Age: 8-14 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
BUNK'D: LEARNING THE ROPES
BUNK'D: LEARNING THE ROPES - DISNEY CHANNEL
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8-14
Description - Season six, titled "Bunk'd: Learning the Ropes," begins as Lou, Parker, Destiny and Noah arrive at the soon-to-be Kikiwaka Ranch in Dusty Tush, Wyoming, where Lou must convince the surly owner, a.k.a. "The Marshal" to officially sell the property to her. In the meantime, counselors Noah and Destiny have their hands full with the newly arrived campers, including Bill, a no-nonsense descendant of famous cowboy Bill Pickett who prefers roping cattle to hanging out with friends; Winnie, a fearless girl who's earned the nickname "Wild Winnie" by breaking the rules and occasionally blowing things up; and Jake, a laid-back, easy-going boy who also happens to be a video-gaming fanatic.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Bunk'd is back for Season Six with many exciting surprises. Bunk'd: Learning the Ropes welcomes familiar faces along with new campers to Kikiwaka Ranch in Dusty Tush, Wyoming for a Wild West experience.

The first episode starts off in a new setting called Kikiwaka Ranch where we learn that Lou (Miranda May, who is also director and executive producer) has opened a new Wild West camp to campers. However, Lou later reveals she isn't exactly the legal owner of the camp, yet. This is a problem that she asks Parker (Trevor Tordjman) to help her with since new campers are arriving. Meanwhile, Destiny (Mallory James Mahoney) and Noah (Israel Johnson) are the camp counselors at the new camp. They are eager to meet their new campers, but soon realize that three new campers -- Jake (Luke Busey), Bill (Alfred Lewis) and Winnie (Shiloh Verrico) -- are not who they were expecting.

My favorite scene is when the new campers Winnie, Jake and Bill set off on an adventure alone. Bill is distracted and falls deep into an abandoned mineshaft. Without hesitation, Winnie and Jake jump in to try and save Bill. Alone in the cave they realize that no one is around to save them. The suspense of the scene and getting to see the new campers work together to try and escape before the cave collapses is entertaining. The Wild West setting is a new refreshing addition to the series. The d�cor of the camp and the addition of the mine help viewers get a sense of the Wild West without being overdone. The new campers are relatable to many viewers. Each one has a personality that adds interest to the show. Their outfits fit perfectly with their personalities. Bill is a young cowboy trying to uphold a family legacy whose clothes fit perfectly the theme of the show. Luke is a laid-back gamer trying to find enjoyment at camp without video games. Winnie is daring, yet kind- hearted and wears edgy clothes. In contrast, her counselor, Destiny, is affectionate and very stylish. Her bright clothes and curled hair display that she is really into fashion.

The messages in the show this season are about building friendships and accepting others for who they are helps people grow. The campers each have their own style and their own strengths, which make them unique. Despite their differences, the bonds they create working together as a team help them form friendships.

I give Bunk'd: Learning The Ropes, Season Six, 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 14. Season six premieres June 10, 2022 on Disney Channel.

By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 8-14 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
HOLLLYWOOD STARGIRL
HOLLLYWOOD STARGIRL - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - "Hollywood Stargirl" is a sequel to the 2020 Disney+ hit about free spirit Stargirl Caraway, a silver-voiced teenager whose simple acts of kindness work magic in the lives of others, that follows Stargirl's journey out of Mica, Arizona and into a bigger world of music, dreams and possibilities. When her mother Ana is hired as the costume designer on a movie, they relocate to L.A., where Stargirl quickly becomes involved with an eclectic assortment of characters. They include aspiring filmmaking brothers Evan and Terrell; Mr. Mitchell, one of Stargirl's neighbors; and Roxanne Martel, a musician Stargirl admires and encounters on her journey.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Hollywood Stargirl is the perfect sequel! We reunite with favorite characters from Stargirl and see how much they've grown. By the end of the film we are left wanting to see more of these characters--which is a good thing!

Hollywood Stargirl is very relatable and follows Stargirl (Grace VanderWaal) who has recently moved to Los Angeles. She meets new friends in her apartment building and begins filming a movie. In the first Stargirl film, Stargirl herself is incredibly free spirited and inspires others. In Hollywood Stargirl, she struggles with her emotions, living somewhere new, and wanting to make friends. Seeing a teen girl who is lost and isn't quite sure where her place in the world is so comforting because it reminds young audiences that others feel the same way they do. And it's a good motivation to live life to the fullest.

Stargirl's wardrobe is spectacular, and it encapsulates her character perfectly. Grace's acting is magnificent, too, and how she shows Stargirl's deepest emotions in quiet scenes is very engaging. Stand out scenes like Stargirl singing in her room and going to a club to watch singers perform are heartwarming--it's wonderful to see her grow comfortable in herself and her music. Grace's chemistry with her co-star Elijah Richardson, who plays Evan, is phenomenal. Two young actors bring comedy, friendship, and all awkward teenage emotions to the screen with such simple performances. Hollywood Stargirl proves that contemporary cinema needs more movies like these.

Stargirl learns several lessons throughout the film. She learns to communicate her feelings to her mom, to feel comfortable in her music and how to turn her life into an adventure. For the first time, Stargirl learns the importance of friendship and camaraderie.

I give Hollywood Stargirl 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It begins streaming on Disney+ June 3, 2022.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
TOP GUN: MAVERICK
TOP GUN: MAVERICK - PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy's top aviators, Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. When he finds himself training a detachment of Top Gun graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: "Rooster," the son of Maverick's late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka "Goose."

Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who will be chosen to fly it.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - After years of delays, Top Gun: Maverick finally flies onto screens better than ever. "Better than ever," as in, possibly greater than its predecessor in 1986. As a movie that relies naturally on the technological advancements behind the aircraft used in the film, of course the Top Gun series progresses to new literal and figurative heights in its highly anticipated sequel. The film perfectly evokes a sense of nostalgia, without getting distracted by the past. In addition, it gives us a lot to focus on in the runway ahead. Tom Cruise promised if he ever made a Top Gun sequel, the flying of F/A-18 aircrafts (the primary aircraft used in the film) would be completely real. Mr. Cruise completely delivered on that promise to new boundaries the viewers aren't ready for.

Following the events from Top Gun in 1986, Top Gun: Maverick picks up with the iconic characters 36 years later. The story starts with Lieutenant Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) as his career flying planes has slowed down. He no longer works with the Top Gun academy, and helps a local Navy facility test advanced aircraft. When his charisma impedes his judgment (like always), Maverick destroys a highly expensive government aircraft. Soon after, Maverick is given an ultimatum; he can either be grounded by the Navy and never fly again, or he can go back to the Top Gun academy and teach a group of young pilots how to complete a highly dangerous mission. Later he goes toe to toe with his greatest challenge, providing closure to the son of his deceased best friend Goose.

In present day Hollywood, every film is trying to perfect the art of CGI and make it look as real as it could be. The beauty behind Top Gun: Maverick is the actual lack of CGI itself. The film doesn't need to "look" real, because it already is real. Tom Cruise is known for completing his own stunts, and 100% upped his game by having the entire cast do theirs as well. Every actor playing a pilot went through months of diligent training, learning the ins and outs of flying F/A-18 aircrafts. The amount of effort provided by the actors to master aviation for the film is quite possibly unlike anything any actor has done before.

With a film that consistently performs death-defying stunts, it can be inferred that Top Gun: Maverick is incredibly intense. To add on to the layer of intensity, the film often engages with long action sequences (involving cursing and heavy violence.) Comedic relief often pops up at random times to lighten mood, which creates a nice blend of thrills and humor. Since a large part of the story is about Maverick's relationship with the son of his deceased friend Goose, a theme of closure is prominent throughout the film. The film also provides the moral that relationships can be repaired no matter the wall between them.

Top Gun: Maverick soars far past all expectations, really redefining the definition of stunts in present day Hollywood. I give Top Gun: Maverick 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. You can find Top Gun: Maverick flying onto your local theater on May 27, 2022. Buckle up!

By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Top Gun: Maverick is nothing short of a miracle. This sequel to a movie from three decades ago is head and shoulders above its predecessors in sheer cinematic immersion and thematically has more on its mind: Legacy, family, love, loss, the ultimate costs of living like a maverick.

Top Gun: Maverick finds Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell (Tom Cruise) still living for the thrill of the flight, carrying the weight of a program that stands on the brink of being decommissioned with his daring unwillingness to be rendered extinct. Even as the very thing he loves doing puts him at risk every time he buckles into the cockpit, he hasn't done anything else in the years since we last saw him. He's sent back to Top Gun as an instructor by old pal Admiral 'Iceman' Kazansky (Val Kilmer), but his function is to teach pilots who've graduated the program to carry out a mission that forces to them use what they know and everything Maverick is there to teach them. There, he reignites a romance with an old flame (Jennifer Connolly) and reckons with the death of his best friend Goose by teaching his son Rooster (Miles Teller).

Top Gun: Maverick's highs are rooted in the sensory experience of watching this movie. This isn't a movie you watch, this is a movie that happens to you. Its technology and narrative are in harmony. Without the vision behind the way these flight sequences were brought to the screen, this movie wouldn't be as compelling as it is. You'll feel like your seat becomes the cockpit of an F-18. It's that closeness we have to the pilots that makes all the in-flight action all the more engaging. You feel every dive, every turn, every maneuver because director Joseph Kosinski's camera puts you right there. And the story on the ground is unexpected and moving. In what can sometimes feel like a deja-vu fest of direct callbacks to the original, and it works: Top Gun: Maverick uses that quality to its advantage. Maverick feels those same pangs of familiarity. We see him standing at a bar, watching his students size each other up, hoping to figure out the pilot hierarchy, knowing that decades before, he was doing the same thing as they are. He's stuck in these cycles of his own making. And by being asked back to Top Gun, he finds another. Ultimately, Maverick lives for the flying, but not its accompanying sacrifices, and in this film he has too much in his life to lose it all. How they made Maverick such a richly-textured figure of regret and the promise of second chances is exciting to see.

The lesson of Top Gun: Maverick is to not be afraid to forgive and grow. Maverick stands on the precipice of true closure, but it's his own pride and unwillingness to try that keeps him from patching up his fraught relationship with Rooster. Maverick can't rectify his past until he puts pettiness aside and work to earn Goose's forgiveness.

I give Top Gun: Maverick 5 out of 5 stars and can't recommend it enough. And I give It an age rating of 10 to 18, plus adults, for some foul language and tense moments of aerial combat. The rumble of an F-18 engine complemented by the thawing of estranged bonds and the warmth of seeing old friends. That is the magic of Top Gun: Maverick--it flies into theaters May 27, 2022.

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Top Gun: Maverick is a high octane, action-packed movie with secret missions, crazy "dogfighting," and facing your fears. Given the spectacular cinematography, I would highly recommend watching this on the biggest screen possible. And if you really want to capture what it might feel like to fly in a naval fighter jet, watch it in IMAX 4DX, which is what I viewed it in.

The second movie in the Top Gun franchise takes places more 30 years later, and Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is a test pilot for the Navy, that is, until he goes too far and gets grounded. But after his old frenemy, "Iceman" (Val Kilmer), pulls some strings, he doesn't get discharged and instead teaches a team of twelve of the most skilled pilots - all graduates of Top Gun training school - to go on a high stakes mission to save the country. Because this movie is a sequel to Top Gun, I would recommend seeing that one first, as the characters, their backstories, as well as the plot, are an integral part of this movie.

If you thought the cinematography for the first Top Gun was insane, your mind will be blown during this one. The reason the film looks so realistic is because the actors are actually flying in the planes! The fight scenes are so astonishing to watch as the planes toss, turn, spin and dive. The movie has some serious moments but also has the perfect amount of subtle humor to lighten it a bit. Top Gun: Maverick demonstrates an on-screen presence of diversity with representation from people of all walks of life and ethnicities. The entire cast had strong performances, but my favorite come from Miles Teller (Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw) and Tom Cruise (Pete "Maverick" Mitchell). The beef and chemistry between Miles and Tom feels like it comes from such a real place, which is what makes both of their performances stand out the most.

The messages of Top Gun: Maverick are you need to work as a team to achieve your goals and, sometimes, you need to remember: "don't think, just do". This movie has violence, explosions, and death, as well as some profanity. I gained a lot of respect for people who work for the Navy from this movie.

I give Top Gun: Maverick 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults--especially fans of the original movie. It comes out in theaters May 27, 2022.

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

The breathtaking film Top Gun: Maverick directed by Joseph Kosinski is absolutely stunning, from the actors to the set. It has a beautiful soundtrack by Lorne Balfe including Lady Gaga's song, "Hold My Hand." The special effects and the different sounds that go with it make you think you're actually there. I was definitely on the edge of my seat.

The story features Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. With 30 years under his belt as a top Navy aviator, Pete Mitchell is back. Now he's training the graduates for a very special and scary assignment in which no one knows if they will return home. Maverick must now confront many of his ghosts and fears, which means there will be sacrifices from those who he chooses to fly.

Top Gun: Maverick is my official favorite movie--not only is one of the leading characters Tom Cruise, but the original Top Gun film was a phenomenon and number one in the world in 1986. The special effects in this sequel are absolutely everything. L didn't feel like I was watching a movie--I felt like I was part of it. The wonderful cast, the camera work, and everything else is very sharp.

The message of this film is to not always think about the consequences of something, but instead to just do it. Kind of like: Go for it! Don't be scared--we have to live our lives to the fullest! Top Gun: Maverick has some sequences of intense action, and some strong language, but otherwise it doesn't have anything to look out for. This is honestly a really good movie to watch all together with the family, but maybe not with the little ones.

I give Top Gun: Maverick 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. You can find it in theaters May 27, 2022.

By Miguel C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
UPTON CHARLES DOG DETECTIVE: SUPER SCARY
UPTON CHARLES DOG DETECTIVE: SUPER SCARY - NEPTUNE PRESS LLC/ D.G. STERN
Series: BOOK, AGES 5-12
Description - There's a nip in the air and that means raking leaves, pumpkin picking and Trick or Treat. It also means ghosts and goblins and other scary things. Not really, especially if you are a canine-super sleuth with a feline assistant. My name is Upton Charles and I am a Bichon Frise (that's "BEE-shon free-ZEY"), a little white dog, with well-honed detective skills. Together with Watson, and the entire Charles family we are surprised to find that a house in the neighborhood has been vacant for years, but it is being maintained like someone is living there. This can be a bit creepy, especially during Halloween. Join Upton in unraveling the mystery of the abandoned house in Super Scary.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - coming soon
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Super Scary from the Upton Charles-Dog Detective series is a quick and charming story. The perspective of the dog makes one re-imagine the way our pets might think and communicate. I love the mixture of sass and charm that Upton brings to his narration. My favorite parts of the book are when he outsmarts the many human friends in his life.

Super Scary follows a dog named Upton as he sleuths around to solve the mystery of an allegedly abandoned house. Upton and the book's readers are spooked by the lights that are on, even when no one is home in this possibly haunted house. Although Upton continues with his daily, friend-filled life, he grows more and more curious about this unsolved mystery. Is Upton the only one who thinks this house is paranormal? Is this a mystery Upton must take upon himself to solve?

Because this book is told from the dog's perspective, it is an easy and enjoyable tale for younger book-lovers. Each character in the story is unique and brings their own twists to this mystery. Upton is an easily likable protagonist that every reader will root for. Similarly, Upton's friends, Phoebe and Watson are amiable and adorable! Although the book starts slowly, the reader never really knows what is going to happen next making it a page-turner. The language is understandable for kids over the age of seven, but some words may be difficult for kids under that age who are reading alone. A special part of this entire book series is that each chapter has a distinctive illustrated image that may be compelling to children.

This book caters to beginning readers who are looking for a fun and engaging story, especially to read with their families.

I give Upton Charles-Dog Detective: Super Scary 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 11. It is available online where books are sold.

By Nyara A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Super Scary is an amazing book in the point of view of a dog and how a dog might see the world. This dog however is especially interesting because he's a "dog detective". It's even in the name of the series! Upton Charles: Dog Detective. Yes, series. This is the 10th book in the popular series. Upton Charles loves solving mysteries. That's why he's called a dog detective. That... and the fact that he's a dog. This next mystery is particularly intriguing... It involves the Old Nicholson place.

When Mr. Nicholson died, he provided in his will that the place be maintained exactly as it had always been. The lawn mowed. The shrubs trimmed, and even the windows washed. A cleaning lady comes once a week... It's almost as if the house is still occupied. It might be a little strange to most people. But it's just that. A little strange. To Upton, it's a whole mystery that he insists on figuring out. His mind goes crazy trying to! What if it's a haunted house? There's a ghost? What if...? The story shows a peek into the life of Upton with his owners, mom, dad, and the twins: Alex and Veronica, as well as the cat: Watson.

The plot has a very good idea behind it and there are some funny parts I really liked: "My least favorite place, the mall. They are so mean there. Once, I remember, Mom took me to the mall to do some shopping and they wouldn't even let me in. Imagine that! Me! I can tell you, I was outraged. But they were firm, so I had to sit in the car for almost an hour. You can bet I'll never go back again." That had me laughing. It made me wonder if my dog has the same thoughts as Upton when we go for a walk or when she stays home only with our cat... really just how she sees everything. I think overall it's a great book and I can completely understand why it's a ten-book series (so far!)... However, I wasn't the biggest fan of the ending. The book was a little slow and I felt like it was building up to the ending... and then it kind of disappointed. I haven't read the other books but I surely will now and maybe even D.G Stern's other works... this book really was very well done. I loved it.

The theme of this book is the life of a dog. It's an interesting theme that should maybe be explored more often. It's a very good idea and very well-executed. There is a moment when the twins kind of twist the truth to their parents. They don't outright lie but they're not exactly honest. This is not the best message for young kids.

Super Scary is a wonderful book. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 9. It will be available for purchase in August 2022 at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and other places where books are sold.

By Alma K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: Book


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PREHISTORIC PLANET
PREHISTORIC PLANET - APPLE TV
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 5-18
Description - Experience the wonders of our world like never before in this epic docuseries from Jon Favreau and the producers of Planet Earth. Prehistoric Planet combines award-winning wildlife filmmaking, the latest paleontology learnings and state-of-the-art technology to unveil the spectacular habitats and inhabitants of ancient Earth for a one-of-a-kind immersive experience. The series is produced by the world-renowned team at BBC Studios Natural History Unit with support from the photorealistic visual effects of MPC (The Lion King, The Jungle Book) applied to concept art created by Jellyfish Pictures (The Book of Boba Fett, Spirit: Untamed). Prehistoric Planet presents little-known and surprising facts of dinosaur life set against the backdrop of the environments of Cretaceous times, including coasts, deserts, freshwater, ice worlds and forests. Travel back 66 million years to when majestic dinosaurs and extraordinary creatures roamed the lands, seas and skies.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love this series! The scenery in the docu-series Prehistoric Planet is breathtaking and majestic with a musical score composed by Hans Zimmer to match. The rich narration by Sir David Attenborough tells the stories about dinosaur life based on the latest discoveries from paleontologists.

One could say Prehistoric Planet is "natural history meets wildlife adventure meets stunning visual effects" in a story about the inhabitants of our planet 66 million years ago. The wildlife adventure takes place over five episodes featuring five regions of our planet in prehistoric times. You get to see dinosaurs living in their natural habitats, tending to their young, finding food and water and fighting for survival. You will learn about these ancient relatives of creatures that exist today and how they interacted with each other and their stunning environments: coasts, deserts, freshwater, ice worlds and forests. You will discover your "new" favorite dinosaur each episode as they come to life with expression and emotion in a way you have never seen them do.

Producer Jon Favreau brings to Prehistoric Planet his talent for visual effects from such films as The Lion King and The Jungle Book, together with pioneering stories about the natural world from Mike Gunton, a producer at BBC Natural History, along with the talents of adventure and wildlife filmmaker Tim Walker. It's an immersive series that draws you in with its beautiful scenery and life-like dinosaurs, giving you a view of how they lived on Earth. I had to remind myself that the dinosaurs are animated.

With each episode we learn so many fascinating facts about dinosaurs, grow to love new ones and not like the behaviors of others. Just like wildlife, there are prey and predators. Yet each is majestic in its own way. As with many wildlife natural history films there are scenes of aggression and violence that may be difficult for some audiences.

I give Prehistoric Planet series 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Prehistoric Planet debuts globally on Apple TV+ from Monday, May 23 through Friday, May 27, 2022 with a new episode each day.

Madeleine H. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


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DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA
DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA - FOCUS FEATURES
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - From award-winning creator Julian Fellowes comes the motion picture event DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA. The much-anticipated cinematic return of the global phenomenon reunites the beloved cast as they go on a grand journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess' newly inherited villa.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Crawley family returns once more! Downton Abbey: A New Era brings all our favorite characters together again in interesting circumstances. Fans will love what's in store in this new film.

Downton Abbey: A New Era focuses on the secret past of the Dowager Countess Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith). She comes into possession of a property in the South of France. Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) and his family head to France to investigate why the villa was given to his mother. Meanwhile back at Downton, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) hosts a crew of filmmakers and actors who use the estate as a set for their new film.

It's so incredible to return to the Downton Abbey era and the Crawley family. Each one is out of their comfort zone in this new movie, which is absolutely hilarious. Lady Mary becomes a voice actress temporarily and seeing Robert hate the film crew for taking over his property is as funny as possible. The Crawleys have seen the times change and preparing for cinema to take over is amazing. It makes audiences realize how this generation saw life change so rapidly. Tom Branson (Allen Leech) is happily married and some new couples flourish in the film too. It's beautiful to see how much the characters have changed since the first time we met them in 2010. This movie focuses on relationships and characters that we haven't seen that often. It's refreshing to watch the pure relationship Daisy (Sophia McShera) and Andrew (Michael Fox) have and I loved watching fan-favorite Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) chase her love. The wardrobe is as spectacular as ever, even adding some Victorian pieces for the film being made at Downton. The comedy is brilliant and cunning, reminding us why we love Violet as much as we do.

There are many messages to take away here. Lady Mary learns to embrace the new era of filmmaking and life as she gets out of her comfort zone and realizes that it's okay to try new things. Lord Grantham learns that, even though being Earl and having property is a big part of his life, it is not everything. He realizes how important his family is to him.

I give Downton Abbey: A New Era 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It releases in theaters May 20, 2022.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


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THEY CALL ME MAGIC
THEY CALL ME MAGIC - APPLE TV
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 12-18
Description - Takes an illuminating, holistic look into the life and career of one of the world's most iconic figures, Earvin "Magic" Johnson. This docuseries explores the remarkable accomplishments and global impact of Johnson's life, both on and off the court. From his humble beginnings in Lansing, Michigan to becoming a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, he changed the conversation around HIV and transcended into a community activist and successful entrepreneur. Featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with Magic, his family, powerhouses from business and politics, and those in his inner circle, the series will offer an unprecedented look at one of the biggest cultural icons of our era.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like They Call Me Magic because it is a four-episode docuseries about the life and career of Earvin "Magic" Johnson, the five time NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers. The audience can appreciate Magic's humbleness, sacrifices and challenges he went through in order to be the Legend he is today.

They Call Me Magic is about the beginning of Earvin "Magic" Johnson's career as a basketball player, his journey from playing in high school, college, becoming an NBA All Star player, and a successful businessman and advocate for the minority communities. The audience will learn where his nickname Magic came from. What type of obstacles Magic had to go through to have the successful life he has today. He experienced racism, rivalry, jealousy, three engagements gone wrong with his actual wife, Cookie Johnson, he has the HIV virus and had to deal with the acceptance of his son, EJ Johnson, being homosexual and the repercussion that comes with it.

This Apple TV+ docuseries was directed by Rick Famuyiwa with editor Dirk Westervelt and cinematographer Rachel Morrison. The audience will enjoy listening to special guests narrating some of Magic Johnson's highlight moments in his life. We get to see former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton expressing their admiration for Magic. Former basketball players like Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talking about their personal experiences with Magic, inside and outside the basketball court. Jimmy Kimmel, Arsenio Hall, Samuel O'Jackson and Snoop Dog are also some of the celebrities expressing their admiration and narrating Magic's influence in his community and globally. Today, Earvin "Magic" Johnson is a successful businessman, an advocate for HIV/AIDS patients and for the minority community. He owns several sports teams as well.

The moral of this docuseries is that things always happen for a reason and to never give up when situations in life get hard. Magic never thought that having the HIV virus will turn his life for good by educating the world about this illness. He shared his experience with the virus and taught the world that AIDS is not necessary a gay illness. Anyone can be contaminated by this virus.

I'd give They Call Me Magic 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, with adult's supervision due to foul language. They Call Me Magic is available now on Apple TV+.


Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV



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