The All-Star category has 1236 titles

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KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
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 - 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.
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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....
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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.
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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.
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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.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
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.
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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.
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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.
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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


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
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


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
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.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
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


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
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


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SNOOPY PRESENTS: TO MOM (AND DAD), WITH LOVE
SNOOPY PRESENTS: TO MOM (AND DAD), WITH LOVE - APPLE TV
Series: TV, AGES 5-18
Description - This short film tells the story of Peppermint Patty. All the other kids are excited to celebrate the special day, Mother's Day. But Peppermint Patty never had a mother, so she decides to celebrate her father instead since he does mother things.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - To Mom (and Dad), with Love is a funny and heartwarming animated film about different types of families and how not every family is the same. This 40-minute story featuring the much-loved Peanuts gang appeals to all ages -- old and new fans alike - and will pull you in with its bright colors and sweet storyline. The film has an original point of view on Mother's Day because the main protagonist, Peppermint Patty, doesn't have a mom, though the reason isn't specified. Audiences can only tell that she has a dad, who is very special to her.

The story of To Mom (and Dad), with Love jumps from character to character as each does something original for Mother's Day. The main character, Peppermint Patty (voiced by Lexi Perri), has to find her own way to celebrate a holiday that has always been hard for her. By the end, Patty figures out how to celebrate her own unique family. This film shows almost every character celebrating Mother's Day. Lucy (Isabella Leo) tries to make an art project; Charlie Brown (Tyler Nathan) and his sister, Sally (Hattie Kragten), experiment with a lot of ideas; and other characters, including Snoopy (Terry Mcgurrin) and Woodstock (Rob Tinkler) do something creative and unique for their families, too!

To Mom (and Dad), with Love has a theme of embracing differences and being yourself, as well as celebrating moms (and dads) and caretakers in whatever form they take.

I give To Mom (and Dad), with Love 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 14, plus adults. It releases on Apple TV May 6, 2022, just ahead of Mother's Day!

By Samantha P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS
DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Dr. Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens the doorway to the multiverse, including alternate versions of himself, whose threat to humanity is too great for the combined forces of Strange, Wong, and Wanda Maximoff.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The thrilling Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, written by Michael Waldron, keeps you on the edge of your seat--you silently root for Doctor Strange as he embarks on the daunting journey to save America Chavez. Not only exciting, this film is also heartwarming, as the characters show the viewers the true importance of love. The acting is emotional and grounded in reality, even though the Marvel world is fantastical. Marvel fans will be fully engaged as they travel through the endless and unknown multiverse with Stephen Strange.

The storyline follows Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he tries to save America Chavez's (Xochitl Gomez) powers from being stolen by the indomitable Wanda, the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen.) The unlikely duo must travel deep through the uncharted multiverse in order to defeat Wanda, but along the way, how will Strange and Chavez overcome the seemingly impassable obstacles that they will inevitably face? Wanda just wants her children back, but how much is she willing to sacrifice and destroy in order to return to her content family life?

As usual, Benedict Cumberbatch portrays Stephen Strange's beautiful complexity with ease, making his work seem simple. I forget he is even acting. To me he is truly Doctor Strange. Xotchil Gomez, although new to the Marvel Universe, starts off with a bang. She acts in a relatable and comical way, and it is impossible not to root for her with every step. The CGI is scarily realistic and absolutely essential to the story. The marvelous monsters are gruesome, each universe is unique and colorful, and the fight scenes are powerful--all because of the CGI. The music in this movie, by composer Danny Elfman, makes the action even more dramatic and gives the audience a pump of anticipation and adrenaline. Music even plays a pivotal role in one scene as it becomes a tool and a weapon in battle. My favorite part of the movie is the first time Dr.Strange travels with America to a new universe and experiences wonder and fright and ultimately awe.

The message of this film is that love is the most powerful kind of magic. One may be strong or supernatural, but familial love comes before any other superpower. This message is beautiful, relatable, and uplifting, especially for those of us who miss someone we truly love. The film starts really quickly and immediately draws the viewers into to the plot, but there are many macabre scenes that may be frightening to a younger audience.

I give Doctor Strange, into the Multiverse of Madness 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10-18, plus adults. It released in theaters Friday, May 6, 2022.

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

Right from the start, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is action packed and keeps you on the edge of your seat for the duration. The movie evolves the depth of these Marvel characters that we already know and love, and it introduces us to new characters that are likely to be fan favorites.

Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) encounters fourteen-year-old America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) who has the power to travel the multiverse, but she doesn't know how. Strange joins his old and new allies to go on a thrilling and perilous adventure that pushes the limits of the multiverse.

The special effects are not just out of this world, they are out of this universe. Everything from intense fight scenes and portals through the multiverse to scary creatures and witchcraft, the CGI lives up to the high standards of a Marvel movie. My favorite performances in the movie come from Elizabeth Olsen, Xochitl Gomez and Rachel McAdams. Elizabeth Olsen, as Wanda Maximoff, really sheds new light on her character as she displays a more complex personality. Xochitl Gomez plays America Chavez and brings a very refreshing yet powerful performance. Rachel McAdams (as Christine) shows the audience an independent girl-boss side to her character. Make sure to look out for some surprise cameos and always stay for the credit scenes at the end.

The message of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is to try to make the most of your circumstances as "multiversal" travel isn't usually an option. This movie contains violence and some scenes that will be frightening for the faint of heart.

I give Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Marvel fans will love this movie. It released in theaters May 6, 2022.

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

Four Doctor Stranges, epic battles, twists and turns and dimension travel are just some of the thrills you can expect in the new Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness! This film pulls you right into the multiverse with action-packed scenes from the opening credits right up until the credits at the end. The visual effects and cinematography will have feeling like you're traveling through your own multiverse.

In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), is having dreams about the universe being in danger and him trying to save a young girl, America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). The adventure begins when he encounters her in his real-life universe and learns that she has the power to travel dimensions. They run into Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), also known as the Scarlet Witch, who is on a mission to steal America's powers so she can re-connect with her two sons. It's an all-out battle between happiness vs. sadness, evil vs. good and even dreams vs. nightmares.

The main characters of this film are Stephen "Doctor" Strange, Wanda Maximoff, America Chavez, and Wong (Benedict Wong). I love the different versions of the characters and learning the backstory of each from their own universe. My favorite part of this film is when America and Doctor Strange are falling through tons of dimensions and pass through one that turns them into paint. America even jokes about how hard it is to eat in that universe. The music battle scene between two Doctor Stranges was hilarious and creative. They use their powers to fight each other with music notes while upbeat piano tunes play in harmony. The Marvel character cameos from films such as The Fantastic Four, Captain America, and even a special appearance from the X-men that, once again, will wow Marvel fans.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness shows us that just because someone stumbles, and falls, doesn't mean they're lost forever. Many of the characters multi-verse versions didn't always make the best decisions. People deserve to have second chances to become better. Parents should be aware of foul language, gory scenes, some jump-scares, and violence.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is very entertaining. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for kids ages 13 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness now in theaters only.

By KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Tiana S., age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
TRANSFORMERS: BOTBOTS
TRANSFORMERS: BOTBOTS - NETFLIX
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8 TO 13
Description - When the lights go out at the mall, the BotBots come out to play. Meet a fun-loving crew of everyday objects that morph into robots at closing time.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A cheeseburger, soccer ball, flashlight and even a plunger ... the Transformers are back like you've never seen them! They may be smaller robots than what we usually see, but these bots are still more than what meets the eye in the upcoming new series, Transformers: BotBots, named and based off the toy line of the same name. You'll enjoy relatable characters, hilarious adventures and great friendships in the first comedy in the Transformers franchise.

Transformers: BotBots follows everyday objects that turn into mini robots at night after a substance called Energon hits the mall. Things get interesting when "The Lost Bots" from the lost and found section of the mall run into the mall guard as they strive to get back into their original squads. Will they be able to prove that they are worthy of being part of their original groups or will they stay lost forever?

Burgertron (James Harnett) is the main protagonist of the Netflix series Transformers: Botbots. He is a burger transformer, the former leader of the Food Court Squad and leader of the "Lost Bots." The rest of the "Lost Bot" team are Kikmee the soccer ball (Lisa Norton), Dimlit the flashlight (Deven Christian Mack), Cloggstopper the plunger (Christian Potenza and Bonz-eye the Bonsai plant (Louisa Zhu). Most of the adventures take place as the "Lost Bots" try to avoid the flesh being, Dave the Mall Guard (Mark Little). I love how, throughout the entire series, each episode is a new adventure and picks up where the previous one left off -- almost like a movie. One of my favorite characters is Bonz-eye because she is fierce, carries a cool Katana and is the perfect representation of girl empowerment. The series is really funny, especially when Bonz-eye tries to slingshot Burgertron to save another bot and does it with enough force to cause his toppings to spill out.

Transformers: BotBots is about not focusing so much on the negative or changes that happen in your life. The "Lost Bots" were so focused on reconnecting with their original squads that they forgot to take time to appreciate the new friendships they had with each other. Sometimes you just have to stop and enjoy what life gives you.

I give Transformers: BotBots 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 13, plus adults. It really has something for everyone, and you can stream it now on Netflix.

By Tiana S. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 8-13 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
IT'S THE SMALL THINGS, CHARLIE BROWN
IT'S THE SMALL THINGS, CHARLIE BROWN - APPLE TV
Series: TV SHORT, AGES 8 TO 18
Description - Sally's bond with a special little flower on the baseball field may spell disaster for the big game. For Charlie Brown and the team, it's just the inspiration they need to make a positive impact on their environment. It's the Small Things, Charlie Brown is the Peanuts Earth Day TV special which features an original song by American singer-songwriter Ben Folds, Tyler Nathan as Charlie Brown, Terry McGurrin as Snoopy, Hattie Kragten as Sally, Rob Tinkler as Woodstock, Lexi Perri as Peppermint, Patty Isabella Leo as Lucy van P.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Since 1965, the characters in Charles M. Schulz's famous Peanuts comics have brought joy to so many families during the holidays and have also served to promote mature conversation among them. Not much has changed in 2022, as Craig and Bryan Schulz bring the new Earth Day special It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown to Apple TV+. With a deep message and multilayered characters, It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown is the perfect special to galvanize kids into climate action this Earth Day.

In this short film Charlie Brown (Tyler Nathan) is determined to help his team win the big baseball game against Peppermint Patty's (Lexi Perri) team so he can claim the neighborhood pennant. But things turn into a fiasco right before the game when Sally (Hattie Kragten) bonds with a flower on the pitcher's mound and vows to protect it at all costs. Charlie Brown tries his hardest to get her off the mound but repeatedly fails. Throughout her sit-in, all the characters learn to value nature.

What I find intriguing about this special is that it's one big metaphor; Charlie Brown represents the average person, and the ball field represents the planet. Charlie Brown is so obsessed with winning this ballgame that he doesn't see that the ball field is going downhill. Sally represents the new generation, whose focus is on conservation and enhancing the planet. The animation style of this special is the part of the production that stands out the most to me. It is somewhere between the 70s still-frame animation and The Peanuts Movie. In each scene, the lighting is manipulated to make the characters look more lifelike and three-dimensional. It's absolutely beautiful. Though Snoopy (Terry McGurrin) isn't the focus of the special, I still love how his character develops throughout the 38 minute short. By the end of the film, he too realizes how important it is to save the environment. For kids like me who love Snoopy even more than Charlie Brown, this sends a great message. I'm also a big fan of Tyler Nathan as Charlie Brown and Hattie Kragten as Sally; their voice acting really completes the package of the show and makes the plot more believable.

It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown promotes taking initiative, caring for others (whether people, animals or plants), saving our planet and serving as a positive role model for others.

I give It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown is available to stream now on Apple TV+ in celebration of Earth Day 2022.

Just in time for Earth Day, Charlie Brown and the gang are back with a special message about environmental protection and using your voice in a fun, yet educational way only the Peanuts gang can deliver! In the new short film, It's the Small Things, Charlie Brown, they are ready to plant flowers, and clean up trash to make our planet a better place. Everyone loves the Peanuts gang, so what better way to spread the message?

In It's the Small Things, Charlie Brown, the main characters in this short film are Sally Brown (Hattie Kragten) and Charlie Brown (Tyler Nathan). In the story, Charlie Brown just wants to play a baseball game, but his little sister, Sally, finds a special little flower on the baseball field that reminds her of herself. She decides she must protect this flower and give it a voice. Sally relates to the flower because she is also small and tends to be lonely and ignored. It is a nice touch that the flower's petals are the same color and shape as Sally's hair.

The film has updates to the animation techniques, but still gives us the look and feel of the original animation we've come to love. I love the diverse cast and how it reflects what our world looks like today. One of my favorite parts is when Ben Folds' original song, "It's the Small Things, Charlie Brown," plays as Sally is singing about the flower on the mound. It really breaks down how we are all connected to the Earth and can come together to make things happen.

It's the Small Things, Charlie Brown shows us how important and easy it is to take care of our planet, no matter how young or small you are. Even though Sally was told she was too small to play baseball, she wasn't too small to take a stand to try to help protect and save the flower, which represents the Earth. Sally was able to use her voice to show how we should speak up to help save the world.

he Peanuts world is known for creating content that prompts conversations for adults and that also inspires young people, and this film does just that. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 3 to 18, plus adults. You can watch It's the Small Things, Charlie Brown on Apple TV+ now!

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown is a funny, inspirational and entertaining movie. Though it's only 40 minutes long it really embodies the classic Charlie Brown spirit.

This film is about Charlie Brown (Tyler James Nathan). There is a big baseball game between Charlie's team and Peppermint Patty's (Lexi Perri) - a championship. Unfortunately, Sally (Hattie Kragten) grows attached to a flower on the pitcher's mound, preventing the game from happening. In the film, we find out what Charlie Brown does about this.

In It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown there are many fun things to talk about. One is the use of the old style Charlie Brown comics. Rather than use the new style of 3D animation, like some recent Charlie Brown movies, this film goes back to 2D style animation, although it still is very high quality and has cool animation. Another thing is the use of words during the practicing baseball scene. When they hit the ball there is a fun "POP!" animation on the screen and it really caught my eye and kept my attention. Lastly, there is a really fun song about how "It's The Small Things" - hence the title. It is a really beautiful song about a dandelion and, while others consider it a weed, Sally promises to keep it safe.

The message of the film is that sometimes it's not about the thing, but the love you show for it.

I give It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16, plus. It's available on Apple TV+ now - just in time for Earth Day!

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
POLAR BEAR
POLAR BEAR - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-18
Description - The film follows the story of a new mother whose memories of her own youth prepare her to navigate motherhood in the increasingly challenging world that polar bears face today. Narrated by two-time Academy Award� nominee Catherine Keener (Capote, Being John Malkovich), Disneynature's Polar Bear tells the story of a new mother whose memories of her own youth prepare her to navigate motherhood in the increasingly challenging world that polar bears face today. Helmed by Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson, the directing team behind Disneynature's Penguins, and produced by Fothergill, Wilson, Jason Roberts, Keith Scholey and Roy Conli.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Have you ever watched a film that left you filled with so much emotion that it rendered you speechless? Disneynature's new Earth Day film Polar Bear has done just that. As a huge advocate for nature, I appreciate this film so much and truly believe that this just may be the film that inspires us all to create the environmental change that can save our planet.

This nature documentary follows the life journey of a mother polar bear and her two cubs. This brave mother navigates through some of the roughest and most dangerous ecosystems on our planet while teaching her cubs all about survival. Environmental changes over the years, however, have negatively impacted these ice bears resulting in an even greater struggle for existence. If these creatures are to survive in this modern world, they must learn to adapt and to pass new survival skills to their offspring which we are able to witness in Polar Bear.

Although the film is so heartfelt and difficult to watch at times, its footage is exactly what we need for a call to action because it creates awareness. If people are unaware of the causes and consequences of climate change, we can't fix it. Directors Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson have created a masterpiece filled with the most breathtaking scenes with each one serving to educate viewers. The cinematography is so captivating, and I especially love the aerial footage. Actor Catherine Keener adds a special touch to the film with her first-person narration of the female cub who shares how the memories of growing up alongside her courageous mother helped to shape her own motherhood.

The message in Polar Bear is about conservation awareness and a need for global commitment to make change. I'm hoping that this film's message inspires others to think more about nature and what would happen if ecosystems were lost forever. Polar Bear also sends the message of the importance of strong family bonds and how for some species, these bonds are critical for survival.

I give Polar Bear 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Adults, especially nature lovers, will also love this film. Polar Bear begins streaming exclusively on Disney+ on Earth Day, April 22, 2022. Mark your calendars and spread the word, this is a film that you don't want to miss!

By Dominic DiGravio, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 - PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 8-18
Description - The world's favorite blue hedgehog is back for a next-level adventure in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2. After settling in Green Hills, Sonic is eager to prove he has what it takes to be a true hero. His test comes when Dr. Robotnik returns, this time with a new partner, Knuckles, in search for an emerald that has the power to destroy civilizations. Sonic teams up with his own sidekick, Tails, and together they embark on a globe-trotting journey to find the emerald before it falls into the wrong hands. From the filmmakers behind The Fast and the Furious and Deadpool, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 stars James Marsden, Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Lee Majdoub and Jim Carrey returning, alongside new additions Shemar Moore, with Idris Elba as the voice of Knuckles and Colleen O'Shaughnessey as the voice of Tails.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The wild, fun and adventurous blue hedgehog we all love, Sonic a.k.a. Blue Justice, is back in his new movie, Sonic the Hedgehog 2! This film has new character appearances, major plot twists, mind-blowing adventures, and tons of laughs throughout it. It's great that this sequel is one of those movies you can enjoy without seeing the original; however, since it refers to different scenes from the first one, you may want to watch the original first.

In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Dr. Ivo Robotnik, or Dr. Eggman as Sonic calls him (Jim Carrey), returns to Earth with a new ally, Knuckles (Idris Elba), in hopes of finding a magical gem that holds the ultimate power of the universe. All that stands in their way is Sonic (Ben Schwartz) and his new partner in crime, Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey). It's a battle of good and bad to see who will reach the emerald first and win in the end.

The main characters are Sonic, Dr. Robotnik, Tails and Knuckles. I love how this film introduces characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and they just fit in seamlessly. One of the voice actors who surprised me is Idris Elba. His voice is the perfect match to portray Knuckle's strong and confident personality. My favorite part is when Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and Maddie Wachowski (Tika Sumpter) are at Rachel's wedding and need to open a portal for Sonic; Tom realizes he may have mistaken the wedding ring for one of Sonic's golden rings. It adds some hilarious adventure to the wedding. Kudos to Junkie XL for keeping an "old school" feel throughout the film with songs such as It's Tricky by Run D.M.C. and Here Comes the Hotstepper by Ini Kamoze.

This film sheds light on the importance of having family and friends in your life. They will always have your back and keep you on the right path in life. Sonic and the other characters experience different obstacles that teach them the true definition of a family, even if they come as friends.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is out of this world. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The "battle of the gem" takes place in theaters on April 8, 2022. Be sure to stay for the after-credits movie scene.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I really enjoyed the original Sonic movie and this second one, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, is even better. I really enjoyed watching this new Sonic movie, especially with his fun, amusing and youthful personality. If Sonic was real, I would want to be his friend. Although, this is more of a little kid's movie, it brings excitement and suspense. The battle between Sonic (Ben Schwartz) and the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) makes this film a "must-see"!

In the story, Dr. Robotnik figures out a way to get off the planet that Sonic banished him to. His goal is to seek revenge on Sonic with a new partner. When Dr. Robotnik arrives back to earth, he goes looking for Sonic and realizes that there is something bigger that he wants - something that can give him extreme powers to take over the world. While Dr. Robotnik is trying to figure out how to conquer the world, Sonic is struggling with self-control. He wants to be a real superhero and do good, but sometimes, he causes more problems than doing good. Soon he will be put to the test when it comes time to face Dr. Robotnik.

My favorite part of the movie is the ridiculous plan Dr. Robotnik makes to get off the planet he is stuck on. I also like Sonic's character which is relatable to young teenagers. His funny and quirky personality really embodies how a 13-year-old child really acts. Sonic's characteristic demonstrates how it would look if a child his age had the same power as Sonic and what they would do with it. The animation and quality of the effects are impressive! How they made the real people interact with the animation seems so realistic.

The messages of the movie are discovering what it means to be a true hero, making new friends, and not giving up. There was a little foul language at the beginning of the movie--I felt the movie would have been great without using inappropriate language and some innuendo. Older kids and adults will probably understand what they are insinuating.

I give Sonic the Hedgehog 2, 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5-18, plus adults. It's a family-oriented movie and everyone can enjoy it. It can be found in theaters near you on April 8, 2022.

By Ava C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Our familiar blue hedgehog friend Sonic is back with new adventures in Sonic the Hedgehog 2! This film has an exciting plot that moves at the perfect pace, sure to make the audience yearn for more.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 focuses on Sonic (Ben Schwartz) as he's becoming more familiar with his new life in Green Hills. While Tom (James Marsden) is away from home at a wedding, Sonic realizes that Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) is back and he's not alone. Doctor Robotnik has a new sidekick named Knuckles (Idris Elba) who gives Sonic and his new sidekick Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey), a run for their money. When Doctor Robotnik and Knuckles try to capture a sacred emerald that belonged to Sonic's family, Sonic and Tails have to try to stop them before evil takes over.

The humor in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is why I would watch it again. This especially goes for the scenes with Rachel (Natasha Rothwell). As her desire for the perfect wedding increasingly gets ruined and her banter with the characters increases, it makes her a really lovable character. Natasha Rothwell's body language and the acting choices she makes are commendable and really drew me in. That being said, I was a little disappointed about how little she was displayed at the end. She is a vital character in the beginning, since she is the whole reason Tom is away from Sonic. However, she then disappears and I wondered when her humorous contribution was coming again. Knuckles is against Sonic the whole time, and then they finally get to know each other, which opens up a lot of room for interpretation and possibly another movie. Now that Sonic has people he can rely on, that can be used to continue to build his story.

The message of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is that sometimes people are just misunderstood. You have to get to know a person before you can truly understand what they're going through and why they make certain decisions. Sonic didn't know why Knuckles was the way he was, but when he hears his story and gets to know him, it is easier for them to see eye to eye.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a very fun movie to watch. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. Everyone will find something they enjoy and can look back on to laugh at. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 releases in theatres April 8, 2022. Make sure you check it out!

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

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 by Jeff Fowler is absolutely hilarious! This is a must see for all ages, everything from the quirky comebacks to the feel good feeling family moments.

Sonic wants to prove that he is a real hero, and can take care of his community. When Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) comes back to earth, he is surprised by his side villain, Knuckles (Idris Elba) who wants to steal the emerald that can destroy the whole universe. Sonic needs to protect the emerald, so he recruits his sidekick Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey) to try to find the emerald. The two of them go through a lot of adventures and triumphs.

This film had me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and what stood out to me the most were the special effects. They are so colorful and realistic. Sonic, Tails and Knuckles all look so fluffy and soft. My favorite scene is the dance party and I even learned some new moves. It's amazing how one of my favorite video games has turned into one of my favorite movies. My favorite part of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is when Sonic's fuzz turns gold, much to the surprise of everyone. I love how we see Sonic grow throughout this film. He learns how to be brave for his family.

The message of this film is that family is everything!

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters April 8, 2022.

By Sariah Rodriguez, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is an exhilarating film that many young movie-watchers have been anticipating since the first one came out. The sequel shows the growth of Sonic and how he has matured since the last movie. The messages, actors and action-packed scenes will be sure to captivate audiences too.

After the first film, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) has found his place in his town, living comfortably with Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter). But, he makes it his mission to go around helping others to prove he is the hero of the town. While Tom and Maddie are in Hawaii for a wedding, Sonic has the house all to himself and plans to just relax, eat and watch TV. All of that changes when Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) comes back with a new sidekick named Knuckles (Idris Elba). Dr. Robotnik and Knuckles are looking for a very powerful emerald and they think Sonic can show them where to find it. Sonic has to team up with a sidekick of his own, Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey), as they face off with Robotnik and Knuckles in an unforgettable battle to the emerald.

What I really like about this movie, and what I think others will enjoy as well, is the acting and the humor. One of my favorite scenes is when Rachel's (Natasha Rothwell) wedding gets ruined. You can really tell by her facial expressions and her tone that she is genuinely angry that her beautiful wedding is destroyed. I also like the fighting scene between Robotnik and Sonic because it is full of action and shows what can happen if you never give up. Like people say - "if you fall down you get right back up" - and that is what Sonic does. My favorite character in this film is Sonic because he is funny, has perseverance, and is a bit childish, which I can sometimes relate to. I also like Knuckles because he acts so serious, but acts funny at the exact same time without any intention. I think these two characters have the potential to be everyone else's favorite too.

The message of this film is that being a hero doesn't mean looking out for yourself; it means doing a lot for others and caring for others. This message is shown multiple times throughout the film and it is shown in many different ways that will draw viewer's attention. This film is completely family-friendly.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters April 8, 2022. Be sure to check it out!

By Giana Nesmith, KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is an ideal sequel, including many of the best parts of the first movie while expanding the sandbox in which it plays. The first Sonic was a fairly traditional road movie, but this sequel bounces back and forth between being a superhero movie, a fantastical adventure, a coming-of-age story and a family comedy.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 follows our favorite speedy blue hedgehog Sonic (Ben Schwartz) on another adventure, this time even greater than his last. He's found a home with humans Maddie (Tika Sumpter) and Tom (James Marsden), who--in trying to be a father to Sonic--warns him of the great responsibilities that come with power he possesses. Sonic, in the meantime, is acting as a vigilante, stopping robberies and preventing low-level crimes in the areas surrounding his hometown of Green Hills. When Maddie and Tom head to Hawaii, Sonic gorges himself on junk food, blasting music throughout his house and taking full advantage of his "parents" absence until his shenanigans are brought to a halt by the arrival of a familiar enemy. That's right, Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) has returned from his exile to a mushroom planet, and he's brought an angry, red echidna with him named Knuckles (Idris Elba) who also has beef with Sonic. Fortunately, Sonic has a new ally in a double-tailed creature who wants to help him in his fight against Robotnik and Knuckles, aptly named Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey).

This may be a Sonic movie but you can't cast Jim Carrey and not expect him to make every moment his own. Carrey brings more of the same hyped-up energy to Ivo Robotnik that made him stand out in the previous Sonic installment--the only live-action actor in this movie constantly animated enough to rival that of the actual animated characters he interacts with! I will admit, sadly, there is less Carrey in this movie than in the first, but that's because there's so much more going on. With the addition of Tails and Knuckles, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 goes all in on the richness and, arguably, the insanity of Sonic's lore. And if the post-credits scene that drew excitement and cheers from the audience I saw this with is any indication, this is only the beginning of exploring the expansive worlds and cast of characters that come with Sonic.

You should be aware that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 does have some rude humor and action violence that may be a little intense for younger viewers.

I give Sonic the Hedgehog 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for 8-18, plus adults. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 speeds into theaters April 8, 2022. If you're feeling the "need for speed," I'd say go check this one out.

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

The newly-released Sonic the Hedgehog 2, by filmmaker Jeff Fowler, is exhilarating, action-packed, and fresh. This two-hour film brings back all the fan-favorite characters, including Rachel (Natasha Rothwell), my personal favorite! That's not all--this film also reveals more about our favorite blue hedgehog that we didn't know before. Let's dive in.

The storyline follows Sonic (Ben Schwartz) as he uncovers new powers, becoming a teenager, and once again saving the world from the manic Dr. Robotnik. Yup, you heard right: Dr. Robotnik has returned to Earth, but not alone! He is accompanied by a new ally, Knuckles the Echidna. However, Dr. Robotnik isn't the only one with a determined ally by their side--Sonic meets a new friend named Tails. Together, they go through numerous challenges and even moments of failure, ultimately fighting to protect the "Master Emerald", which was left behind to be watched over by Sonic's most valuable friend, Longclaw. The question is: will they be successful?

My favorite character is most definitely Rachel, portrayed by writer, actress, teacher and comedian, Natasha Rothwell, who is hilarious. Rachel, the long-time best friend of Maddie, Sonic's mother, has been a fan favorite since day one and hasn't lost the title. In this film, Rachel falls madly in love with a young man named Randall, and even marries him. Well, before he can even put the ring on her finger, it is revealed he is actually an undercover agent working to track down Sonic the Hedgehog. Although her wedding doesn't work out the way she planned, Rachel and Maddie team up and work together to help Sonic and his friends complete their mission. She also brings many laughs and memorable moments.

My favorite part of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is when Dr. Robotnik finally gets his hands on the "Master Emerald." Actually, let me rephrase... I wasn't totally thrilled knowing Dr. Robotnik can use that emerald to completely wipe out the entire existence. I was excited how Sonic and Knuckles decide to team up and stop Dr. Robotnik, because they both finally realize they have more in common than they ever would have thought. They both come to the conclusion that they both want the emerald for the greater good, unlike Dr. Robotnik. Sonic helps save Knuckles' life, and Knuckles repays him by doing the same.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has many unexpected moments and even makes you want to close your eyes at some points. This film will most definitely make you get up out of your seat. The message of this film is: It's never wrong to learn to set aside differences with people--we may all be unique and share different opinions, and yet showing kindness and doing good can never go wrong.

I give Sonic the Hedgehog 25 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. It is available now in theaters.

By Nathalia J, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
CROODS, THE: FAMILY TREE (2022)
CROODS, THE: FAMILY TREE (2022) - HULU, LLC
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 5-12
Description - Inspired by the blockbuster DreamWorks Animation film The Croods: A New Age, The Croods: Family Tree continues the ever-evolving story of the Croods and the Bettermans as they learn to live together on the most idyllic farm in prehistory. The journey from sparring rivals to unlikely friends is fraught with hilarious misadventures as the two families slowly overcome their differences to turn a tree house divided into a tree home united. In Season 2 Grug, Eep and Sandy enjoy a Crood-ific Daddy Daughter Day while Thunk, bored with the window-TV viewing options, creates a bit of real life drama. Even Gran rocks the boat when she declares it's time to choose a new Thunder Sisters' Queen! Meanwhile, pushed to their limits and ready to relax, the parents set out on separate staycations. But with the kids in charge, only prehistoric time will tell if the treehouse will still be left standing.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Croods: Family Tree is back for another season with even more excitement. With more adventures and more of the Croods and Bettermans, there's a lot to love about this new season. In each episode, many important lessons are learned, and they are all delivered in such a fun and entertaining way.

Season two continues from the previous season focusing on the story of two families, the Croods and the Bettermans, living together in a treehouse on the Bettermans' farm. Because each family is different, learning to live together has its ups and downs. And in each episode, we see them overcome their differences and remember what really matters, like many families do. The show highlights different members of the family in every episode, so it makes for good variety in the storylines.

Even though The Croods is set in fictional prehistoric time period, it shows situations we currently experience and go through, always in a hilarious way. We also see different games and activities we play now. For example, in episode 6 Grug (Kiff VandenHeuvel), Ugga (Amy Landecker), Hope (Amy Rosoff), and Phil (Matthew Waterson) are playing a game of beach ball; however, the game is kind of like how we play volleyball. And in episode 3 where the Croods, Bettermans, and Punch Monkeys are playing throw-go-nut, it is very similar to how we play football today. My favorite characters are Gran (Artemis Pebdani) and Sandy (Dee Bradley Baker) because they are fierce and funny characters. They are alike in many different ways, which makes them the perfect duo--you could say Sandy is a mini Gran.

The message of The Croods: Family Tree is that even when times get tough, you can work together to figure things out. Because teamwork "makes the dream work." This is a completely family-friendly show.

I give The Croods: Family Tree 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12, plus adults. This show is available on Hulu and Peacock, starting April 5, 2022. Go check it out!

By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
APOLLO 10 �: A SPACE AGE CHILDHOOD
APOLLO 10 �: A SPACE AGE CHILDHOOD - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 8-18
Description - Apollo 10 �: A Space Age Childhood tells the story of the first moon landing in the summer of 1969 from two interwoven perspectives - the astronaut and mission control view of the triumphant moment, and through the eyes of a kid growing up in Houston, Texas who has intergalactic dreams of his own. Taking inspiration from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Richard Linklater's own life, Apollo 10 �: A Space Age Childhood is a snapshot of American life in the 1960s that is part coming of age, part societal commentary, and part out-of-this-world adventure.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Apollo 10 �: A Space Age Childhood tells a creative twist on a story we all know well, NASA's moon mission, and makes us think that history is not always as it seems. Based on the childhood fantasies of director Richard Linklater, this animated dramedy perfectly weaves together classic childhood coming-of-age memories, late 1960's pop music and NASA's historic race to moon.

This nostalgic movie, set in suburbs of Houston in 1969, follows the childhood of Stan, who is voiced by Milo Coy as a child and Jack Black as an adult. The pressure to get to the moon is ever growing, but NASA builds the lunar module too small, so they turn to Stan to do the job before astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins suit up for their famous Apollo mission. Unfortunately, Stan cannot tell anyone, not even his family.

The animation is one of the coolest things about this movie and really sets it apart from other animated films I've seen. It is a mix of live action with hand drawn and computer animation. I also enjoy how accurate it is to the era, so that as a period piece it does not feel artificial. All the clothes, houses, dialogue, objects and even actions reflect that of the time. I always hear my parents talk about their childhood during this era, but I could never really imagine it until I saw this movie. Jack Black is the perfect choice to play adult Stan as his accent is so subtle and his tone is perfect to play an older Stan. And Milo Coy wonderfully captures the personality of a 10 and � year old.

The message of Apollo 10 �: A Space Age Childhood is that mistakes are okay and that not everything is always as it seems. This movie shows some unhealthy and unsafe practices, which were more common in the 1960's, like smoking, riding in the back of a pickup truck or in cars without seatbelts, and playing with fireworks in the middle of a street. However, the narrator, the adult version of Stan, explains how dangerous these behaviors are. There are also a couple of graphic injury scenes and slight profanity.

I give Apollo 10 �: A Space Age Childhood 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Anyone who loves space and maybe even remembers the actual lunar landing will definitely enjoy it also. This movie premiered at South by Southwest on March 13, 2022 and will be on Netflix on April 1, 2022.


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


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
POR MI  HIJA
POR MI HIJA - SOUTHBAY FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Daniela Vidaurre,Christopher Bustos,Fernando Rodriguez,immigrants,Jalostotitlan,Mexico,Frexno
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Por Mi Hija is a gripping, evocative film; it does its part to encourage dialogue about immigration and the journeys of illegal immigrants to the U.S. while greatly entertaining audiences. The film's cinematography further enhances the engaging storyline.

Por Mi Hija follows Leo (Christopher Bustos) and Emma (Daniela Vidaurre), a newlywed couple from the small town of Jalostotitl�n, Mexico. Leo's friend helps him get a job in Fresno, California, and the two head north as illegal immigrants to start a new life. Soon they must confront the reality that their new life in America isn't all that it's cut out to be.

The acting, cinematography, and storyline of the film all come together to make Por Mi Hija a unique experience. The film jumps back and forth in time, using color and light to indicate these shifts. Director Fernando Rodriguez ensured this isn't disorienting to audiences; rather, he keeps viewers interested throughout the hour-long feature film. Rodriguez also wrote the script, which contains a melodious mix of Spanish (about 90%) and English (about 10%). Bustos, Vidaurre, and young Luciana Elisa Qui�onez, who plays the character of the same name, deliver their lines with beautiful conviction. Their eyes speak just as they do, and their body language syncs up perfectly with the mood of the scene. The cinematography is remarkable as well; especially towards the beginning and during tense scenes--the use of light and framing of scenes adds layers to the film.

Por Mi Hija promotes staying together despite difficulties, taking risks, never running from challenges, and, at its heart, the film's all about empathy: empathy for immigrants, yes, but also for all those around you. Por Mi Hija contains racism, blood, slight profanity, and alcohol.

I give Por Mi Hija 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Por Mi Hija is available now on digital and DVD.


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


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (2022)
CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (2022) - TWENTIETH CENTURY STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - The raucous exploits of a blended family of 12, the Bakers, as they navigate a hectic home life while simultaneously managing their family business. Paul and Zoey Baker are a married couple at the head of a large blended family in this reboot of the 1950 original film. Together, they parent ten kids - some of which each brought into the marriage, some they have together. They also bring their ex-spouses into the mix, including flighty part-time babysitter Kate and wealthy former pro-baller Dom. Paul is White; Zoey is Black; their kids are White, Black, or mixed race -- a blend that offers its own challenges in today's culture. When the Bakers are offered a substantial sum of money to launch a line of sauces and franchise their breakfast place, they take the money and upgrade their lives, but their new lifestyle makes some things more complicated than expected.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Hilarious, chaotic family fun is headed your way as the Bakers return in this highly-anticipated reboot of Cheaper by the Dozen. The film is a modern twist on the original, with a more diverse cast, relatable characters, current world issues, new family adventures and craziness. No matter your age, gender, or race you are sure to find someone you can connect to.

Cheaper by the Dozen is a reboot of the 2001 film of the same name, featuring the Bakers who are a family of 12. It follows parents, Zoe Baker (Gabrielle Union) and Paul Baker (Zach Braff), as they try to balance home life, taking care of their blended multiracial, talented family all while running the family business. Zach is faced with trying to expand the family business and still make time for his family, while Zoe deals with racism in their new neighborhood and constant criticism for having 12 children. It's an all-around struggle of understanding, accepting change, and family.

One of the biggest differences with this reboot is the diverse cast. It really shows how people from all backgrounds can co-exist. The premise of the show is similar to the original, but with a twist: Mr. Baker has an opportunity to expand on the family restaurant, and Zoe stays home to manage the family and the chaos while he travels. All of which leads to plenty of hilarious scenes. I love the updates in the film, especially some of the references such as the Black Lives Matter sign in the window of the first Baker house. Even the dogs' names, 'Bark Obama' and 'Joe Bitten' are creative. My favorite scene from this film is when Seth Baker (Luke Prael) helps his cousin Haresh Baker (Aryan Simhadri) by teaching him skills to avoid getting bullied at school. It's great to see how the family comes together to support each other.

The message of Cheaper by the Dozen is that change can be difficult, and everyone will react to it differently even to the point where it causes issues among family members. But we must accept that we are all different and need to work together to be successful and truly happy in life. The Bakers are the perfect example of how people so different from each other are still able to live and work together. The only things for parents to look out for are short scenes where the parents are intimate, mentions of serious topic like racism and some mentions of 'teenager' issues.

I give Cheaper by the Dozen 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 10 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Cheaper by the Dozen on Disney+ starting March 18, 2022.

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


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
PASANG:  THE SHADOW OF EVEREST
PASANG: THE SHADOW OF EVEREST - FOLLOW YOUR DREAM FOUNDATION
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - The story of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the first Nepali woman to summit Mt. Everest. Her courageous, historic, and tragic journey would inspire a nation and generations to come.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - One of the things I love about the new documentary Pasang: The Shadow of Everest is that it shows how much women have struggled to follow their dreams. The film explores the journey of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, a Nepalese woman from a mountaineering family, whose dream is to climb the highest mountain in the world. We learn how mentally and physically challenging this Mount Everest trek is, especially when people doubt your ability because you're a woman.

Pasang started climbing when she was 16 or 17. Climbing as woman is shocking to many people. She was determined and ambitious, but doing this will mean needing to raise the money herself for an expedition, finding sponsors to support her, and getting a group together to go on this dangerous adventure. She believes in herself but Mount Everest takes the risk to a whole other height.

PASANG really made me think about why someone would risk their life to stand on an 8,849-meter mountain. And the answer is: passion. When you really believe in a goal, you climb until you reach where you want to be. Climbing Mount Everest is a very breathtaking and risky experience--there are few chances for mistakes. The amount of time and work you have put into preparation and the trek itself is extraordinary. It takes approximately 6-10 weeks to get to the top, then add bathroom, food and water breaks. Knowing that over 100 people have died either on the way up or down, is terrifying, but knowing 10,184 people have survived is promising.

This film's message is go after your dream, no matter what anybody thinks, because ultimately you can do anything. Women have the right to not be doubted when following their dreams. Pasang: The Shadow of Everest is very uplifting and can inspire many people. People can tell you what to do, but you don't always have to listen.

I give Pasang: The Shadow of Everest 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. This film premieres at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on March 3, 2022.

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


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SNOOPY SHOW, THE (2022)
SNOOPY SHOW, THE (2022) - APPLE TV
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 7-11
Description - The world's most iconic dog is ready for his close-up. Dive into new adventures with the happy-dancing, high-flying, big-dreaming beagle, who's joined by best friend Woodstock and the rest of the "Peanuts" gang.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Snoopy Show is a fun spin-off series from Charlie Brown's many movies and shows. This animated series is enjoyable for young audiences because it focuses on the life of Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy. This show has the same style as the originals, which makes it interesting to watch, especially if you are a fan of the Charlie Brown classics!

Each episode follows Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown (Ethan Pugiotto) and Charlie Brown's friends as they get into different hilarious situations. Woodstock and Snoopy have creative and intriguing solutions to problems they face, like wanting a fishbowl so they can become astronauts, or writing a story for a competition. Every episode is unique and has a creative storyline.

This series has interesting anthropomorphic characters, because Snoopy, along with his animal friends, walks on two legs and has many human characteristics. Snoopy (Terry McGurrin) doesn't talk, but he makes many noises like yelling, grunting, sighing and laughing for his character. Woodstock (Rob Tinkler) does something similar for Woodstock. Every episode has about three five-minute shows within it. The first episode has three stories about the backstory of Snoopy, which is really interesting.

Every episode has a different theme; some common themes are selflessness, perseverance and coming-of-age.

I give The Snoopy Show 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 11. The Snoopy Show returns for season two Friday, March 11, 2022.

By Samantha, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 7-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
THE BATMAN
THE BATMAN - WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Batman ventures into Gotham City's underworld when a sadistic killer leaves behind a trail of cryptic clues. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator's plans become clear, he must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued the metropolis.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like The Batman because the overall script is interesting and very suspenseful. This movie is definitely worth the 2 hours and 55 minutes to watch--I was not expecting it to be this good!

The Batman takes place in Gotham City, home of all the Batman stories. A crazy killer named Riddler (Paul Dano) kills liars like political figures and reveals how corrupt they are. Riddler likes to leave trails of clues behind which forces Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson), a single millionaire, to become a detective to find out who the Riddler is. As you know Batman is Bruce Wayne's secret identity. Along the way, Batman visits old friends like Penguin (Colin Farrell) and meets new ones like Selina or Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz).

The graphics are amazing looking, although the CGI is not as good compared to other films. I was a little disappointed with the Batmobile because it just looks like a sports car with a powerful engine. Very different from the other Batmobiles in the past movies. Robert Pattinson's transformation into Batman is impressive. We see a muscular Robert Pattinson with impressive fighting skills. Colin Farrell is unrecognizable as Penguin. It was fun to watch Zoe Kravitz portraying Catwoman. She resembles Halle Berry when she portrayed Catwoman for the movie of the same name. Her fighting skills are impressive and catch the audience's attention. The gruesome way the Riddler kills his victims makes this a very dark Batman movie--very different from the other Batman films. My favorite part is when Batman uses the hook to walk down a building, kind of like he did in the older films or the 1960's show instead of going down.

The moral of this movie is that not everyone can be good. Bruce finds out the dark side of the Wayne family after Riddler exposes his family--and not only his family but other people such as cops, too.

I give The Batman 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Watch the movie in theatres on March 4, 2022.

Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Out of the deep dark depths of Gotham City comes the newest addition to one of the best-known franchises. The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson is thrilling, chilling, and jam-packed with action. We all know and love Batman, but this stellar cast will show you a deeper, darker side of him and other characters who have been loved, and hated, for generations.

The Batman is an exciting addition to the DC Universe, but does not follow the original Dark Knight trilogy. This new film follows beloved hero, Batman, as he tracks down a series of murders of Gotham's most powerful people. He is given clues written in cryptic codes that he has to decipher, all while the deviously smart (and insane) Riddler (Paul Dano) is killing off important people one by one. From a history of lies, in a corrupt city, and in a battle over the true meaning of justice comes the new DC film that will get in your mind and stay there.

From the moment the lights of the theater dimmed and the movie started, I was hooked. I have never been a fan of movies that waste time getting to the meat of the story, and The Batman wastes no time. This film is full of suspense, and the music is one of the major components that contributes to that. In intense situations, atmosphere is everything, and the music by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino creates the perfect amount of eeriness and tension. Robert Pattinson's acting is also incredible. This Batman speaks very little, but his body language and facial expressions speak volumes. I was extremely impressed by how real and broken Pattison makes his character seem, and I have never seen this protagonist reach depths like this in other Batman stories. The one thing in this movie I would have liked to see more of is the story behind Batman's technology. He seems to have a million gadgets, but the audience doesn't know exactly what they are or where they came from.

The message of this film is that vengeance won't change the past, but helping others can change the future. A big part of this film is about justice and what that means. In the end, we see that justice isn't about killing or hurting others. Justice is about taking what is wrong and fixing it by doing the right thing. Justice does not equal bloody revenge.

I give The Batman 5 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it to ages 13 to 17, plus adults. You can see The Batman in theatres on March 4, 2022.

By Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

The Batman is everything you're expecting from another adventure with the caped crusader at the center and unlike any Batman movie we've seen yet. It retools the whole world of Gotham City and looks at its spread of criminals, villains, and masked vigilantes through a whole new lens, as well as at the character of Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting counterpart.

The Batman sees a younger and slightly more naive Bruce Wayne in only his second year as Batman (Robert Pattinson). Bruce is being stretched thin--he can't be everywhere at once and certain aspects of life in Gotham have only gotten worse in the time since Batman arrived on the scene. A string of murders of Gotham's most powerful and high profile figures--whose murders bear a striking resemblance to the manner in which Bruce lost his own parents decades before, a flashpoint that haunts him still decades later. These brutal, connected killings send the city into disarray perpetrated by a masked serial killer named The Riddler (Paul Dano) who runs rampant, leaving clues at his crime scenes. Wayne befriends a burglar named Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz), who's looking for her missing friend, and, with a morally upstanding cop, they try to track down the elusive Riddler and keep his catastrophic plan from running its course.

Director Matt Reeves and the sensibilities he brings to the table feel well suited to this film. What I didn't expect is this movie's hyper-effective use of shadows--it makes sense for the character, but, oh man, the night isn't just The Batman's central setting: it's Batman's domain. It's the shadows that have given him his hold over the whole city. Criminals see the Bat signal and look into a pitch-black alley not knowing who's gonna walk out and whether or not they'll be dealt the whupping of the century. And with Pattinson's Batman, there is terror in those moments of uncertainty and he's the one we're rooting for. And Pattinson has made this character his own. This Bruce Wayne is divorced from notions of charisma or the qualities of the billionaire playboy that he usually has to pretend to be--he's moody, antisocial, and passive like he's more out of place without the cowl on than with it. He spends a lot of this movie fully in the suit, and it's a credit to Pattinson that he can "mask act", even when not even a quarter of his face is visible. Pattinson's eyes give us a window into Bruce's internal journey.

The Batman shows its admiration for the world and characters of Batman's universe in the skill with which it brings them to life--original, but familiar. Matt Reeves has made a tense, sorrowful, borderline disturbing modern noir about Batman needing to alter his work-life balance. Plus we have an enthralling mystery driven by an ever-expanding web of corruption. This is Batman at its finest, and I hope this is not the last we see of this Batman.

The message of the film is to not let rage consume you. Batman has never been a pacifist, regardless of the iteration of the character, but this Batman has moments of real brutality with the criminals he fights. He has to learn that, as Batman, he has to restrain himself from doing things that would make him no different from his villainous adversaries and to instead be the Batman Gotham needs.

I give The Batman 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 17 for tense sequences, language and shocking, but not graphic, violence. The Batman flies into theaters on March 4, 2022.

I give The Batman 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 17 for tense sequences, language and shocking, but not graphic, violence. The Batman flies into theaters on March 4, 2022.

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


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
PROUD FAMILY, THE: LOUDER AND PROUDER
PROUD FAMILY, THE: LOUDER AND PROUDER - DISNEY+
Series: TV SERIES, 10-15
Description - The series follows the story of Penny Proud, a 14-year-old girl and her family, as they navigate their lives in the 2020s. Trudy, Penny's mom, has new career highs, Oscar, Penny's dad, has wild dreams, and Penny faces a myriad of challenges while her Suga Mama returns, as does Michael, Dijonay, Zoey, and LaCienega.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Your favorite spunky, loving, and humorous family are back - louder and prouder than ever - in the new series reboot of the 2001 Proud Family series, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder! From glow-ups to new adventures, to new characters, this show is sure to entertain new and original Proud Family fans!

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder follow 14-year-old Penny Proud (Kyla Pratt) as she tries to navigate through the 2020s with new challenges, technology, and social issues in Smithville. Of course, she is joined by her wild, yet relatable family members we have come to love -- Oscar Proud (Tommy Davidson), Trudy Proud (Paula Jai Parker) and Suga Mama (Jo Marie Payton ). The creators of this series, Bruce W. Smith and writer, Ralph Farquhar, are the "proud parents" who delivered us both the Proud Family series and The Proud Family Movie, so you can expect the same laughable, adventurous, and exciting storytelling.

One of the best things about this series is that all the main characters and most of Penny's friends have returned, but there are a few newcomers. Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins (KeKe Palmer) and her rapping brother Francis 'KG' Leibowitz-Jenkins have moved into the neighborhood. The interactions between Maya and Penny are a must-see as they both try to figure themselves (and each other) out. My favorite character in the series is Michael, who is now voiced by the bold, fierce, and stylish EJ Johnson, who plays a live-action unapologetic version of his character. He is the perfect person to voice Michael. I love how the characters have all grown, and yet their transformations all still make sense even after the show has been off-air all this time.

The message of this series is that no one is perfect, and we are all works in progress. The Proud family and their friends are no different. In life, we are going to have different experiences, likes and dislikes, especially as kids grow older and develop in different ways. As a family and extended family, we must learn to grow and accept each other. There isn't anything for parents to look out for, but you should know that real-life family, teen and societal issues are discussed and may initiate conversations with viewers.

I rate The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder series 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 10 to 18. You can stream it on Disney+ now with new episodes streaming every Wednesday.

By Tiana Sirmans, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
BIG NATE
BIG NATE - NICKELODEON
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 10-16
Description - Big Nate is an American computer-animated streaming television series developed by Mitch Watson and based on the comic strip and book series of the same name by Lincoln Peirce. It follows the adventures of titular protagonist, alongside his friends, in sixth grade. Big Nate follows the adventures and misadventures of Nate Wright, an incompetent, spirited and rebellious sixth-grader. His friend group includes Francis, Teddy, Chad and Dee Dee. Nate hates social studies teacher Mrs. Godfrey, whom he considers his nemesis and calls her names like "the school's Godzilla," and the firm Principal Nichols. At home, Nate lives with his single father, Martin and girly sister Ellen.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Big Nate is an excellent show for kids of all ages! The show has wonderful characters, amazing comedy and teaches valuable lessons. It's an ideal series for families.

Big Nate is an animated series based on books of the same name. Big Nate follows Nate (Ben Giroux), a boy in sixth grade, as he learns about life and grows into his own, while accompanied by his friends, Dee Dee (Bryce Charles), Francis (Daniel MK Cohen), and Teddy (Arnie Pantoja).

The comedy of Big Nate is genius. Nate, Dee Dee, Francis, and Teddy each have their own sense of humor, giving balance to the group and adding to their individual personalities. The animation stands out--it's computer animated, and the heads of the characters are bigger than their bodies; their hair has specific lines and an exaggerated, stiff shape to look like the comics the show is based on. The characters all have depth, giving them as much importance as the titular character. They all have their own backstories and lines that they mutter under their breath. These expression make viewers laugh and provide clues about their personas. By the end of the episodes, we're left wanting more of Nate and his friends. The translation of the books to the small screen is spectacular. It's clear how much the creators of the show cared about doing justice to its published material. The execution of the animation, Nate, and his journey through sixth grade is done with precision and attention.

The messages of this series are learned through Nate. He learns about discovering who you are and who you want to be, the power of friendship, and the hardships of family. Nate makes some enemies and at times doesn't know who he can trust, and yet he always has his friends in his corner.

I give Big Nate 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 16. It begins streaming on Paramount+ February 17, 2022.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV



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