The KIDS FIRST! Endorsement category has 2149 titles

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KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
SCHOOL OF MAGICAL ANIMALS 2
SCHOOL OF MAGICAL ANIMALS 2 - BLUE FOX ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATUREFILM, AGES 5-12
Description - The students of the school of magical animals want to perform a musical for the school's anniversary. Will the rehearsals end in chaos or will the class pull together? And what's up with the strange holes on the school grounds? With the help of their magical animals, the children learn what really matters: teamwork. From Germany, base on bestselling children's book series by Margit Auert. Dubbed in English.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I absolutely love the movie School of Magical Animals 2! The sets are very detailed and are beautifully designed to fit the lighthearted style of the movie. The animals' hilarious antics kept me laughing throughout the film! Best of all, you don't need to have seen the first film, School of Magical Animals. You can enjoy and completely understand the film for what it is!

School of Magical Animals 2 follows a group of students and their talking pets preparing to celebrate their school's anniversary with a musical performance. They want to honor their school by recreating the story of its foundation. The only problem is, they cannot agree on how to do it! Ida (Emilia Maier) is appointed director, but when the school's most popular girl, Helene (Emilia Pieske), attempts to take control, the class is torn. Additionally, the school director, Mr. Siegmann (Justus von Dohn�nyi) has his own vision for the musical and insists that it is followed. With the advice and assistance of the magical animals, the students eventually realize they must join forces, each learning a valuable lesson along the way.

The sets immediately stood out to me, especially the individual characters' bedrooms. The room decorations reflect each of their personalities. My favorite room belongs to Anna-Lena (Lilith Johna). She is a shy but happy, welcoming girl with a wonderful singing voice and a talent for textiles. Her room is covered with beautiful fairy lights, warm pastel-colored cushions, and sewing equipment, because she is sewing the main character's dress for the musical. There is a wooden bunk bed with a ladder and there are plants and vines around the room, in adorable white or neutral pots. Her room looks like it belongs to a garden fairy, which describes Anna-Lena perfectly! Aside from the characters' rooms, the rest of the sets are also beautifully designed, such as the stage for the performance and the set for Ida's rooftop birthday party. Both maintain a light, happy color scheme to support the movie's cheerful tone. They are very detailed as well, with star-shaped cutouts and strobe lights for the stage and a whole snack booth with cafe-style tables set up by the trampolines for Ida's birthday party. The animals are essential to the plot and the character development. Each main character's animal represents either their internal thoughts or a lesson they need to learn. For example, Anna-Lena receives a chameleon named Caspar (Rick Kavanian), who pushes her to overcome her shyness and step out of her comfort zone, even encouraging her to take on the lead role in the musical. And Juri (Axel Stein), Jo's penguin, represents his conscience when he makes a mistake and guides him to the right decision by sharing advice, as well as his own hilarious stories from when he was in Antarctica.

The message of School of Magical Animals 2 is that teamwork makes the dream work! At the end of the film, the students realize that they are more powerful together than apart, and to make their musical the best it can be, they need to work together, share their ideas and listen to others' opinions. Be aware that this film was originally recorded in German and is dubbed in English, with subtitles provided.

School of Magical Animals 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. School of Magical Animals 2 releases in theaters on June 7, 2024.

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

I like the film School of Magical Animals 2. It is entertaining with all the magical animals talking and having fun personalities. I also really like how the animals match their owners' personalities. The movie has a castle in a village for the school which makes the setting very interesting. The only drawback is that, at times, it is a little repetitive.

The storyline follows Ida and Benni who attend the Winterstein School where the students are practicing a musical to show their parents and they sometimes disagree and make each feel upset or left out - but they work it out. At the end when they put on the play something strange happens and they are shocked to find out.

Based on the successful German children's book series by Margit Auer, this film is a blend of CGI animation and live action. What makes it particularly fun is the talking animals, which include a talking fox, tortoise and magpie. Director Sven Unterwaldt beautifully brings this story to life. Ida, a kind and nice girl, is played by Emilia Maier, who portrays her perfectly. Her pet, Rabbat, is wonderfully voiced by Max Von der Groeben. I love watching the magical animals sing, rap, talk, and dance, and at times they advise their human friends. The animals help teach lessons in friendship, perseverance, and the importance of sharing feelings. Another fun fact about the animals is that they can transform into stuffed animals when needed, so they can hide from strangers. Throughout the movie, you see beautiful landscapes and European villages and castles.

The film's message is about teamwork. In the beginning, the children struggle to come together as a team, but when they start to work together they start to accomplish more.

I give School Of Magical Animals 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. It is available in theaters June 7, 2024.

By Clara T., KIDS FIRST! Film critic, age 11

School of Magical Animals 2 is an enchanting sequel that absolutely captivated me! This film continues the magical journey with even more excitement, heart, and humor. The combination of great acting, a fantastic soundtrack, and impressive CGI makes it a must-watch for fans of the first movie and newcomers alike.

In this sequel, the students of the School of Magical Animals are preparing a musical for the school's anniversary. However, things don't go as smoothly as planned. With strange holes appearing on the school grounds and the pressure of rehearsals mounting, the students must rely on their magical animal friends to navigate the chaos. Together, they discover the importance of teamwork and friendship in overcoming obstacles.

The lead characters in this film are brought to life by a talented cast. The dynamic between the students and their magical animal companions is both heartwarming and entertaining. The CGI used to create the animals is top-notch, making each magical creature feel real and full of personality. The sets and scenery are vibrant and perfectly complement the magical atmosphere of the story. The costumes are wonderfully designed, adding to the visual appeal of the film. One of my favorite parts of the movie is the cute and enjoyable love story between the two main characters. It's a delightful extension from the first movie and adds an extra layer of charm to the story. The musical numbers are catchy and well-executed, thanks to the great soundtrack. Every element of this film, from the direction to the special effects, contributes to its overall magical feel.

The message of School of Magical Animals 2 is that teamwork and friendship are essential in overcoming challenges. The film successfully conveys this message through its engaging storyline and relatable characters.

School of Magical Animals 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, and adults will enjoy it as well. You can catch this magical film in theaters on June 7, 2024.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 20
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TOMORROW'S GAME
TOMORROW'S GAME - STREETS AHEAD PRODUCTION
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-12
Description - Daniel de la Rosa travels back in time to 1957. To get home, he must find a way to restore his family's legacy and rewrite baseball history. A fun adventure for the whole family ensues, full of baseball and time travel, featuring Paul Rodriguez.
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.99 Media: FeatureFilm

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
JOHNNY PUFF: SECRET MISSION
JOHNNY PUFF: SECRET MISSION - INTERNATIONAL MEDIA NETWORK
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-8
Description - Four Puffins, under the guidance of Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp), develop their superpowers and use them for good. When their home, Taigasville, comes under threat from the evil Otto von Walrus, Johnny Puff and co. embark on a secret mission. Releasing in theaters, VOD, AVOD, streaming and online retailers July 12, 2024.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Johnny Puff: Secret Mission is fantastic! The animation is top-notch, and it vividly chronicles the tale of four heroic Puffins using their extraordinary powers to defeat the villainous walrus, Otto von.

The story takes place in Tuss V., a tiny coastal town in the Arctic where four inseparable friends live among the Puffins. They're naughty and playful and always looking for new adventures. They find something even more valuable than any treasure - meteorite that gives them incredible powers.

This film is very imaginative and very organized, plus I'm impressed by the story development. It has a well-structured plot that beautifully showcases how the four Puffins use their superpowers for good and ultimately triumph over Otto the walrus. The quality of the animation is great - the film constantly switches scenes along with the storyline, and the production is smooth. The background music changes with the development of the plot. For example, when the Puffins are stripped of their food source by Otto, they go to Otto to get back their food, fall into Otto's trick, and are captured and taken to Otto's base camp. Throughout this scene the background music is tense and creates a tense atmosphere. The four Puffins include Tick, the littlest of the team, who is clumsy, naive and has a good heart. He is able to control nature. Pi is the giant of the group; he is moody and impulsive and never gets tired. He is unstoppably strong. Dak is the brains of the bunch; he examines everything very closely. Didi is the most self-absorbed of them all; her powers are being able to break the sound barrier and make time go slower. Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp) is a retired rock star who lives a peaceful life in harmony with nature and can transform into a sneaky ninja warrior. Otto von Walrus is famous for his craftiness and intelligence and his dirty tricks. At the end of the story, Otto's mother visits Otto and instructs him to go on the right track. Under the influence of his mother, Otto gradually gives up his prank plan and reunites with the animals in the town. My favorite scene is the opening scene where Tick, Pi, Dak and Didi are introduced; it beautifully portrays the distinct personality traits of each little auk. It's a captivating and engaging start that draws you into the story from the get go.

The film's message is about the four little Puffins that accidentally discover meteorites with superpowers during their expedition, and they each acquire superpowers and use them for good things, and their secret mission to save the arctic Johnny Pop mission.

I give Johnny Puff: Secret Mission 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8.

By Changyang L., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The animated adventure, Johnny Puff: Secret Mission is a colorful journey with Johnny Puff. I love how the characters' unique personalities and superpowers come together in a classic, yet thrilling plot. The narration adds a comedic touch that keeps you entertained throughout the movie.

In Johnny Puff: Secret Mission, the peaceful town of Taigasville is threatened by the evil Otto von Walrus. Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp) and his team of four super-powered Puffins--Tic, Tac, Didi, and Pie--embark on a secret mission to save their home. The storyline is straightforward and predictable but executed in a charming and engaging way.

The characters are one of the highlights of the film. Johnny Puff is the wise and brave leader, while each Puffin has distinct traits that match their superpowers. The animation style might remind viewers of the Ice Age franchise, giving it a nostalgic feel. Although the movie lacks dialogue other than the narrator, it compensates with vibrant visuals and expressive characters. The narrator's humor is a standout, adding a light-hearted and fun element to the film. One of my favorite parts is the dynamic between the Puffins and how their abilities complement each other during their mission. The special effects and animation bring their powers to life in a visually appealing way. The sets and locations are beautifully designed, creating an immersive environment that enhances the storytelling.

The movie's message is about teamwork, bravery, and using your unique talents for good. It's a positive theme that encourages viewers to value their individuality and work together to overcome challenges. The film promotes positive social behavior.

I give Johnny Puff: Secret Mission 3 out of 5 stars. It's perfect for ages 5 to 12. You can find this movie in theaters and on major streaming platforms and DVD beginning July 12, 2024. Get ready for a fun-filled journey with Johnny Puff and his heroic Puffins!

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 20

Johnny Puff: Secret Mission is an innovative and hilarious movie. It incorporates a lot of different theatrical elements to add to viewer enjoyment.

This film is about the super puffins, specifically Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp) who has to save Taigasville from all the evil shenanigans that Otto von Walrus keeps pulling. Every ten to 15 minutes he tries something new and the super puffins must stop him from destroying the arctic. It is based on the TV series, Puffins.

This film has many unique components -- most noticeable is that none of the characters speak. The only voice heard in the whole film is that of the narrator, Johnny Depp. The rest of the characters simply grunt and make other vocal noises, which allows the disagreements and plot to be up to the interpretation of the viewer. Another aspect of this film is its ever changing plot. Rather than just one big evil scheme throughout the film, Otto von Walrus constantly tries different things and continually gets defeated. It feels like a full TV season of ten to 15 minute episodes put into a fun, entertaining movie. The animation is very impressive; it uses an animation style that is not often used in movies which therefore makes the whole film much more interesting. The villain, Otto von Walrus, is more of a bully than a true evil villain, which makes the character relations even more unique.

The message of this film is to never give up and keep having fun because the world doesn't stop for you.

I give Johnny Puff: Secret Mission 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. It releases in theaters and streaming on July 12, 2024.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I thoroughly enjoyed Johnny Puff: Secret Mission for its imaginative storyline and dynamic characters. The film masterfully combines adventure and fantasy, and it is a captivating watch for audiences of all ages.

Johnny Puff: Secret Mission follows four Puffin friends, Tic, Pi, Dak and DD, who stumble upon a mysterious glowing meteor that grants them incredible powers. Alongside their retired rockstar friend, Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp), who can transform into a ninja through his music, they embark on an epic quest filled with challenges and discoveries.

The movie excels in character development and creativity, which are two aspects that particularly stand out to me. Tick's ability to control nature adds a beautiful, almost poetic element to their journey. Pi's super-strength provides both humor and heroism, while Dak's technological prowess offers clever solutions to the group's obstacles. DD's ability to break the sound barrier and manipulate time introduces thrilling, high speed sequences that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Johnny Puff's transformation into a ninja through his music is a unique and entertaining twist that highlights the importance of following one's passion. The film's animation is vibrant and detailed, making the Puffin's world come alive in a way that is visually stunning and deeply engaging.

The film's message is about the power of friendship and teamwork.

I give Johnny Puff: Secret Mission 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 through 12. This film releases July 12, on VOD, AVOD, Streaming, Online Retailers, and in theatres. Be sure to check it out.

By Gavin S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
SUMMER CAMP
SUMMER CAMP - ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Summer Camp tells the story of Nora (Keaton), Ginny (Bates), and Mary (Woodard), who have been best friends since being inseparable at summer camp. As the years have passed, they've seen each other less and less, so when the chance to reunite for a summer camp reunion arises, they all take it, some begrudgingly and others excitedly. Each of their lives might not be where they'd imagined, but one thing is for sure -- Nora, Ginny, and Mary need each other, and summer camp reminds them why.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Summer Camp is an adventurous film targeted at an older audience. My favorite parts are the wardrobe, characters, and location - all of which make this super enjoyable.

Summer Camp is a comedic movie that follows a trio of best friends - Nora (Diane Keaton), Ginny (Kathy Bates) and Mary (Alfre Woodard) who met years ago while attending a summer camp together in their youth. Over the years, they've drifted apart due to lifestyle changes. So when the opportunity for a summer camp reunion arises, they all decide to go and relive the fond moments they used to share. Though a few bumps in their camp stay emerge, Nora, Ginny, and Mary all remember the importance of having strong friendships.

The wardrobe styling in this film is stellar. Costume designer, Maria Lorenzana, designed all of the characters' outfits so that they were not only tailored to each person but also represented specific characteristics of their personalities. For example, Nora's studious and reserved side is showcased by her wearing corporate colors, business suits, collared shirts and turtlenecks. Ginny's spunky and creative side is enhanced by her wearing vibrant colors, playful patterns, and big accessories. Mary's quiet and soft side is represented by her wearing simple outfits, solid color tops and soft fabrics.

I adore all of the characters in this film, however my personal favorite is Nora. I relate to her because she's very cautious before taking risks; she's the logical thinker in the group, and she has a passion for science. Diane Keaton plays this role so well and I love her performance throughout the film. Lastly this movie was primarily filmed at Camp Pinnacle located in North Carolina and the location is gorgeous. The sky-high shots of the vast mountains and rolling hills captured by cinematographer Karsten Gopinath are truly breathtaking.

This film's message is about the importance of having strong friendships and taking risks together. Be aware that the film does contain some cursing, inappropriate jokes, sexual themes, and some minor gore.

I give Summer Camp 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Look out for Summer Camp which releases in theaters May 31, 2024.
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FOR LOVE & LIFE: NO ORDINARY CAMPAIGN
FOR LOVE & LIFE: NO ORDINARY CAMPAIGN - AMAZON PRIME
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign is an emotionally gripping documentary illustrating the power of love and determination in the face of adversity. The film follows the life of Brian Wallach and his wife Sandra in the aftermath of his ALS diagnosis at age 37. Exemplifying bravery, inspiration and hope, Brian and Sandra, continue to fight against a broken system for their own future, while seeking to build a brighter one for countless others.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I had a pleasant time viewing For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign. The mood, editing, and celebrity cameos make this an excellent film to watch.

This documentary follows Brian Wallach and Sandra Abrevaya, a couple from Chicago, who meet and fall in love while working during Obama's 2008 campaign. Shortly after starting their family; news of Brian's ALS diagnosis turned this family's world upside down. However, Brian and Sandra were not going to let ALS stand in their way. This film follows the mass ALS movement sparked by Brian and Sandra, and how this couple's journey gave a voice to the millions of people suffering with the disease and how they also brought attention to the US's broken healthcare system.

I love the uplifting mood this documentary takes - the music and editing perfectly captivate the success and struggles that both Brain and Sandra faced while fighting for ALS. One scene that really stuck with me is when Brian and Sandra were preparing a speech that they were going to give to the government urging them to make the drugs that could help the symptoms associated with ALS accessible for all. The music by Emily Rice really adds in creating a suspenseful, yet captivating moment. As for the editing, supervising editor Miranda Yousef makes us feel immersed in this film with its very smooth transitions, transitions between interviews, personal video recordings, and animated info graphics. Lastly, I was very pleased to see celebrities such as Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan, and countless others share their positive encounters with Brain and Sandra and the different ways in which they all support their campaign.

The film's message is that when you encounter a problem, no matter how hopeless you may feel, there is always a solution that can often end up helping others along the way. This message is explored throughout the film and, even when discussing their trials and tribulations, this messaging remains true. The only thing to note is that there are some cuss words that are used.

I give For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign 4 out of 5 starts and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases on Prime Video on May 28, 2024. If you're looking for a new documentary to watch I definitely recommend you check this one out!

By Tia O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
HOME SWEET ROME!
HOME SWEET ROME! - HBO MAX
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8-18
Description - Home Sweet Rome! is a coming-of-age comedy series about Lucy, a 13-year-old girl who moves from California to Rome with her father, an archaeologist, and stepmother, an Italian pop star. Lucy must adjust to her new city, school, and life with her famous stepmother, while also dealing with the challenges of being a 13-year-old girl and her best friend, Kyla, who is 6,000 miles away. The series features original music, relatable mishaps, heartwarming connections, and stunning Italian vistas.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Home Sweet Rome! is an incredible TV series with some very important messages. It ties together a lot of different components that make the series unique.

The plot of this series is that of 13-year-old Lucy (Kensington Tallman) moves from the US to Rome because her father (Darrin Rose) marries an Italian pop star, Francesca (Eleonora Facchini). The series follows her life as she learns to live and go to school in Rome without knowing any Italian. Along the way she meets many good people and learns to appreciate the life she's been given.

There are many incredible parts of this series. One of the main ones is how very relatable it is to teens and tweens alike. Lucy is forced to move away from her home and her best friend, Kyla (Ava Ro). Her dad marries new woman and she doesn't want to forget her mom. A lot of teens and tweens have experienced similar events in their lives and this show can help them feel less alone. Another fantastic thing about this show is the location. It is set in Rome! And, it was filmed entirely on location in Rome rather than in a studio with green screens, which makes it very authentic. The cast and crew flew to Rome about four months to film the show and shot all of it in and in front of actual buildings all around the city. Another interesting thing to note is that, other than a few background actors, most of the tourists in the background of outdoor shots are real tourists just enjoying their vacations.

The message of this series is to always be true and genuine to yourself because that's ultimately the most important thing.

I give Home Sweet Rome! 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch this series on Max starting May 16, 2024.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Welcome to Rome! Home Sweet Rome! is an incredible coming-of-age comedy series set in Italy's capital, with breathtaking views, funny scenes, and heartwarming moments.

This show takes place in Rome, where 13-year-old Lucy (Kensington Tallman) moves to after her dad Will (Darrin Rose) marries Italian popstar Francesa Fortuna (Eleonora Facchini). As Lucy tries to find her place in her new school, she embarrasses herself a lot, which leads to her struggling to make new friends, other than a boy named Nico (Christian Monaldi), and her long-distance best friend Kyla (Ava Ro). And while Lucy goes through this tough change, Francesca and Will try to help her through it, as they both know what it's like to face life-changing events.

The scenery in this show is absolutely incredible -- all of it, from the fountains, to the bridges, to even the interior of Lucy's apartment. One example is when Lucy and her dad are talking by the hotdog stand, and in the background, there is an amazing view of the city. Another part I adore is the choice in fashion. The clothes are stunning, especially with their unique patterns, color combinations, and style. I love how the fashion choices for Francesca's character match her so well, since they show that she is a popstar, but also has an incredible taste in clothing, in general. My favorite characters are Kyla and Francesca. I love Kyla, because of how supportive she is of Lucy and how she always knows what to say when Lucy is upset. For example, when Lucy is upset and crying, Kyla sings a song they created together and tells her to talk to her dad. I also love Francesca because although she is a famous singer in Italy, she shows that she cares about Lucy and wants her to live the best life she can. An example of this is when Lucy wants to make her late mom's famous mac-and-cheese for Thanksgiving, and Francesca decides to take Lucy to the market to try and find the necessary ingredients.

The message of this show is it is always important to be close with your family and friends. When Lucy goes through the normal ups and downs of moving to a new place, she learns that she has people around her that love and care for her, and will always help her when she needs it the most.

I give Home Sweet Rome! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. This series will be released on Max and other streaming platforms on May 16, 2024.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
STAR WARS: TALES OF THE EMPIRE
STAR WARS: TALES OF THE EMPIRE - DISNEY+
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8 TO 12
Description - Star Wars: Tales of the Empire is a six-episode journey into the fearsome Galactic Empire through the eyes of two warriors on divergent paths, set during different eras. After losing everything, young Morgan Elsbeth navigates the expanding Imperial world toward a path of vengeance, while former Jedi Barriss Offee does what she must to survive a rapidly changing galaxy. The choices they make will define their destinies.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Star Wars: Tales of the Empire is an enjoyable series that I loved with its great animation and captivating characters.

The animated series consists of six short episodes and is split into two parallel stories - the first three episodes follow Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) who we were introduced to in 2023's Ashoka, and these episodes act as a sort of prequel for the Ashoka character. We witness Morgan's rise to power through vengeance, following the destruction of her home as a child. The last three episodes follow Barriss Offee (Meredith Salenger), a recurring character from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. These episodes show Barriss navigating an ever changing galaxy, and include stories from throughout her life.

Star Wars: Tales of the Empire is perfect for lifelong fans, but also an entertaining watch for new viewers. Its stunning animation and characters make it an amazing entry into the Star Wars franchise. The animation style is in the vein of Star Wars' beloved animated series The Clone Wars, and is absolutely stunning. We are introduced to many characters, some familiar to fans, and some brand new; every character design is unique and lifelike. The episodes travel to many different planets in the Star Wars galaxy and the landscapes are distinct and beautiful. Absolutely everything in this series, snow, wind, or fire, is all so detailed and stylistic. Some of the most stunning animation in this series comes in the form of action. Tales of the Empire perfectly depicts the essence of the lightsaber in animation, and they have captured the same thrill of lightsaber combat that is so prominent in the live action films. The two characters at the forefront of Tales of the Empire, Morgan and Barriss, are both wonderfully nuanced and fascinating. The series juggles complex themes, which make the characters and their stories very rich and grounded. Morgan Elsbeth is a character forged through tragedy and is on a path of vengeance. She needs to choose whether she will rise above, or be corrupted by the very evil that took everything from her. Barriss Offee is a former Jedi, who is forced to traverse a world of conflicting good and evil, and ultimately choose her side. The characters are surprisingly multilayered and interesting.

The biggest constraint in Tales of the Empire's short format is its limited runtime, which means that the pacing is way too fast. Each episode spans just over ten minutes and the story moves along so quickly that we are unable to get a clear picture of the characters. The episodes have to hurry to their resolution so some scenes feel rushed, which lessens the emotional impact of the stories. Additionally, each episode features a different point in the character's life, so we feel like we are missing so much in the gaps between stories. Granted, the stories are very entertaining, but the lightning fast pace doesn't allow enough time to fully grasp them.

I give Star Wars: Tales of the Empire 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 through 18, plus adults. It releases on Disney Plus on May 4th, 2024.

By Daniel S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
PRINCESS HALLE AND THE JESTER
PRINCESS HALLE AND THE JESTER - VISION FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - When goblins attack and capture the king, a young princess and a poor jester must avenge her father and battler the evil stepmother who has taken over the throne. This film uses cutting edge technology can make a new IP with real humans and in a sustainable way. The feature-length film is the first in a planned trilogy and uses breakthrough technologies to meld action, romance, and fairytales into a completely new and unique world that is both modern and timeless. The extensive, photorealistic digital world immerses the viewer in a hyper real experience with cutting-edge virtual sets, procedural AI, CGI creatures, and digital doubles.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Wow, but wow! Princess Halle and the Jester is such an interesting film - with all the CGI. It is so interesting and funny with lots of dramatic action. It has everything you can think of in a film and it is not a "once upon a time" movie. It's action royal - a kind of movie I just love. This movie tells you all about fairy tales. It doesn't have to end with a royal wedding. This movie ends unlike any royal fairy tale movie.

The storyline follows a kingdom that is attacked by an army of goblins and their king (Byron Herlong) is kidnapped and turned into stone. The young princess Halle (Emma Duchesneau) runs away with the jester Henri (Duncan Novak) and he brings her to his hometown. Afterwards she wants to return but the guards take her away and then kill Henri's grandpa (Geoffrey Lyons). Together they fight the evil goblin queen, Priscilla (Rachel Stacy).

The film's CGI is so good, especially how the dragon looks. It begins as cute, small and harmless, and then they make it big and ready to fly across the world. The animator deserves a lot of credit for his work which is very good. The costume makes Henri look like a villager and the dress for the princess makes her look royal - the necklace looks like an actual gem. The hair and makeup artist (Justine Sylvie) outdid herself, making the princess's hair look very regal. The lead animator (Kieth Lee) gives the dragon very bright colors, but it still looks realistic. I just love this film. It has a royal fairy tale movie genre and its executed so well. There is one thing that bugged me - when they are fighting the goblin queen, the princess Halle hits a wall and falls in pain, but there was no sound. That is weird.

The message is that not all fairy tales end with a happy royal marriage like in this film.

I give Princess Halle and the Jester 4.4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. Princess Halle and the Jester releases on VOD and streaming on May 21, 2024.

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

Perfect for fans of fantasy, Princess Halle and The Jester tells an elaborate and exquisite tale replete with action, drama and unconventional twists. It's a good watch despite stilted scriptwriting and performances, and some rough CGI.

The film follows Princess Halle (Emma Duchesneau), a teen royal reeling from the loss of her mother. At the coronation of her stepmother Queen Priscilla (Rachel Stacy), the new queen, goblins attack the castle and capture Halle's father King Victor (Byron Herlong), taking him to a faraway land. She must save her father and restore balance to the kingdom while also fighting her stepmother's allegations that she conspired with the goblins to steal her father's throne.

The plot of Princess Halle and the Jester really makes it stand out from any other action/fantasy film. It's somewhere between Lord of the Rings and a kids' show like Sophia the First. Halle's character is well built out, and we see her evolve and mature mentally and emotionally throughout the film. I also love the jester, Henri (Duncan Novak), who acts as Halle's sidekick; he was given such a positive and supportive role, and he plays it with conviction. There are some instances where Princess Halle and the Jester is let down by its budget. The CGI looks antiquated and basic. In many scenes - one where a dragon takes King Victor away and another where the characters pass through otherworldly groves and forests - the heavy usage of green screens and artificial graphics is evident. The backgrounds and characters are roughly rendered, and you can see the individual frames of some of the motion animations. Other technical elements could have been refined, too. The camerawork is awkward at times, with diagonal panning and some untimely cuts. But the film is lifted by performances by the supporting cast, who give it their all, and a well-written script. The dialogue writing is nicely done; it's crafted more like a work of theater than a film in some parts, which makes sense, since the action can be broken up into three acts, like a stage play. Justine Sylvie aces the costumes and hair and makeup, one element of the film I really love.

Princess Halle and the Jester promotes fighting for justice and preserving your internal sense of goodness and kindness.

I give Princess Halle and the Jester 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. The film releases on May 21, 2024 on demand and on Apple and Amazon streaming.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FALL GUY, THE
FALL GUY, THE - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - After leaving the business one year earlier, battle-scarred stuntman Colt Seavers springs back into action when the star of a big studio movie suddenly disappears. As the mystery surrounding the missing actor deepens, Colt soon finds himself ensnared in a sinister plot that pushes him to the edge of a fall more dangerous than any stunt.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Fall Guy contains all the elements necessary in a wonderful movie such as comedy, romance, mystery, and most of all: action. With something for lovers of every movie genre, The Fall Guy is a great film to go watch.

The story follows Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling), a retired stuntman who has come out of hiding to work on a movie in hopes of rekindling a year-old love story with the director Jody (Emily Blunt). After discovering Jody has left their relationship in the past, Colt is told that the lead actor Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has been involved with bad people and is sent on a mission by Tom's producer, Gail (Hannah Waddingham), to find him and, although it won't be easy, he can hopefully save Jody's movie, while getting her to fall back in love with him.

All aspects of this movie are fantastic - something that really stands out to me is the music. Part of the reason it's noticeable is because of the iconic tracks on this film. Viewers of all ages will recognize some of their favorite tunes while watching The Fall Guy. Not only is the music popular, but the use of these songs is unexpected while being perfect at the same time. An example of this is Kiss' "I Was Made For Lovin' You," which can be heard throughout the movie. It's used in many different situations and you can tell the people behind the film knew what they were doing, choosing this as the main track for the film, because it goes so smoothly with the love story behind the mystery and comedy parts of The Fall Guy. The multi-genre part of this movie is also fantastic. Every type of movie lover can find something to enjoy while watching. Ryan Gosling's laidback comedic personality really shines in his performance of Colt Seavers. Throughout the movie the audience will watch moments that are especially hysterical due to Gosling's acting. Gosling and Blunt's quirky, but loving chemistry is so entertaining. Every scene they are in together left me viewers laughing, crying, and swooning. My favorite scene includes a cameo with some Taylor Swift music when Colt replays his relationship with Jody in his head in a little highlight reel to "All Too Well." Jody sees him crying in his car and goes to check on him. Obviously, Colt denies the accusations.

The message of this film is that there's always more than meets the eye. This message can be applied to many different situations, both in life and in the film. Colt talks about how stunt people are the ones who take the falls for the actors and the actors are the ones who win awards and get to be in advertisements. Somebody watching the film would never notice a stuntman because that's his job, to go unnoticed. One reason that Gosling made this film is to appeal to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to establish an award for stunt people.

I give The Fall Guy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It releases in theaters May 3, 2024.

The Fall Guy is an absolute blast of film-- incredible on the technical side, with great stunt work and action set pieces.

A big-screen remake of the 1980's television series of the same name, The Fall Guy follows Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling), a stuntman who retires after a near-fatal accident. After being encouraged to return to the job for his ex-girlfriend's new film by big time producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham), he accepts. Little does he know, he is tasked with solving the disappearance of the lead actor he doubles for, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). If he wants any chance of rekindling his love with director Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt), Colt must unravel Tom's sudden vanishing so that production can continue.

The Fall Guy's story unfortunately falls a bit flat, due to its overused story beats, and predictable twists. The story itself is completely distinct, but it consists of so much that is all too familiar. Some of the situations and surprises--down to even some lines of dialogue--feel unoriginal and foreseeable. The love story between Colt and Jody is especially stereotypical. The movie is mostly style over substance, but does it work? Answer: it does! The Fall Guy was made as a love letter to the dedication, hard work, and talent of all the regularly overlooked stunt workers in Hollywood. The film highlights stunt doubles, stunt coordinators, and more, in a self-aware commentary about audiences'--and even Hollywood's--neglect of stunt people. It's only fitting that The Fall Guy itself contains exceptionally impressive stunt work. Every fight scene is brilliantly choreographed, and the car stunts are astonishing. We get a peek behind the curtain at the true care that goes into this art. Speaking of car stunts, much of the action in this film involves characters in, or on, racing cars. These action scenes are so well executed--they feel grand in scope and adrenaline-inducing, and just so much fun. They are explosive, and encapsulate the true entertainment value of the action genre.

Although The Fall Guy's story is somewhat of a letdown, it is an enjoyable blast due to its stunts and action. With a great love story, action, cast, and message of respect for stunt teams. The Fall Guy has something for everyone. Parents should be aware that the film contains violence and profanity.

I give The Fall Guy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Catch The Fall Guy in theaters on May 3, 2024.

By Daniel S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

The Fall Guy is an action packed blockbuster, filled with intensity and suspense. I really like this film because, despite the thrill, it is comedic and romantic all at the same time. There is a little bit of each genre, which makes it extremely enjoyable and helped keep my attention the entire time.

The Fall Guy is a film that highlights Stunt doubles, and brings them their much deserved attention. In this movie, Colt (Ryan Gosling) is known as one of the top stuntmen in the industry, but unfortunately he suffers a severe accident. After a year off, he is asked to join the set of a big studio movie, when the leading actor goes missing. Colt is thrown with numerous obstacles, and is put on a crazy journey, but in the end would do anything for its director and his ex-love Jody (Emily Blunt).

Major standouts in this film are the stunts. Ryan Gosling and his stunt doubles perform extremely high demanding stunts that completely elevate this film. The risk of each one had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The car flip stunt, specifically, is extremely entertaining. It really helps show what the character, Colt, is capable of, and just how impressive his skills really are. I also enjoyed the locations. The big studio movie takes place in Australia so viewers get to experience the beautiful architecture of Sydney, as well as the desert and mountain sides. The major scenes take place in the sand dunes, and it's really cool to see the behind the scenes aspect of a film with that large of a production. Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline. It is creative and one of its kind. Stuntmen are rarely discussed in films, and definitely don't get the appreciation they deserve. This movie brings the spotlight onto them, and does this in such a unique way. Witnessing their work up close, and just how demanding it is, has brought me a new found respect for this talent.

The message of The Fall Guy is to always put yourself first, and that you can't always trust the people you think that you can. You should be aware that one reason Gosling made this film is to get the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to add a category for stunt people.

I give The Fall Guy 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Fall Guy opens in theaters on May 3, 2024.

Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, age 17

The Fall Guy is a love letter to the overlooked art of stunt work. While it may not be anything groundbreaking, the explosive mix of practical effects, comedy, and romance makes this an old-school summer blockbuster that I loved. This is a crowd-pleasing film that never takes itself too seriously.

This storyline follows down-and-out stuntman Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) after he's enlisted by his ex-girlfriend Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt) to find the missing star of her directorial debut. On one side, lies his quest to win back his ex after abandoning her following a traumatic stunt mishap, but on the other lies a more urgent quest to find his colleague and lead actor Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) amidst a criminal conspiracy. Equipped with only brains and brawn, Colt must rise to the occasion for a new chance in life. Can he win back his ex and find the star of the movie? There's only one jump to find out. The cast is full of mainstream talents that carry the screen with their comedic and physical prowess. Ryan Gosling, as Colt Seavers, cements that he's more than just a stoic and silent figure. Just like he did as Ken in Barbie, Gosling showcases a natural sense of humor that he's truly grown into. All the while, he impresses with his stunts with each fall - his success is a big part of the film's charm. Still, it's his love story with Emily Blunt, as Jody Moreno, that is the heart of the film. This helps cover for some of the film's opening jokes that don't stick their landing so well. It starts out a bit slow, but thankfully kicks into high gear quickly with an effective blend of action and comedy. The criminal conspiracy overtakes the second half of the film presenting real and raw stakes; however, the mystery surrounding Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as Tom Ryder, is met with his bizarrely comedic presence. He might just be the highlight here as he hams the role up without ever seeming artificial. I didn't know whether to be concerned by his mysterious notes on his fridge or laugh. These characters are nicely rounded out by a terrific supporting cast. Winston Duke, as Dan, provides a true friend for Colt as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of iconic film references. Stephanie Hsu, as Alma, helps Colt on his quest with her adorable dog. Hannah Waddingham, as Gail, weaves her real-life experience as a television presenter with her character's larger-than-life screen presence. Lastly, a surprise cameo makes the cast come full circle in an unexpectedly hilarious manner. David Leitch helms the direction with fluid stunts that flow like water. They embody the feeling of being on a rollercoaster on a nice summer day. In particular, one sequence stands out where Colt is attacked by gun-toting henchmen. It's a man versus a system as he employs creative use of his mobility and surroundings to evade bullets and manipulate their guns against each other.

The film's message is that true love prevails. Although Colt estranged himself from Jody, it's their communication that binds his mistakes and his regrets push forward his asking for another chance. It shows that anyone can make mistakes in love, but mistakes can be forgiven with a genuine attempt to change. After all, love is not a game; instead, it's a poetic act that can face and overcome any obstacles. Despite the film's playfulness, be aware that there is lots of violence, strong language, and infrequent drug content.

I give The Fall Guy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases on May 3, 2024 in theaters. Be sure to check it out in theaters.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 22
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
GREATEST HITS, THE
GREATEST HITS, THE - SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Harriet (Lucy Boynton) finds art imitating life when she discovers certain songs can transport her back in time -- literally. While she relives the past through romantic memories of her former boyfriend (David Corenswet), her time traveling collides with a burgeoning new love interest in the present (Justin H. Min). As she takes her journey through the hypnotic connection between music and memory, she wonders -- even if she could change the past, should she?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Greatest Hits is an emotional comedy, drama, and fantasy film that highlights the impact of music. The cute yet sentimental storyline is unique, and I especially love how this film uses music as a metaphor to depict grief, and the stages people go through processing it.

The film introduces Harriet (Lucy Boynton) who loses her boyfriend in a car accident. The tragedy leaves Harriet with trauma and also the ability to go back in time. When she hears a song that's connected with a memory, the ability to time travel is triggered, and Harriet goes back to that time. Harriet tries to bring Max back, and faces many life-challenge obstacles that don't allow her to recover from his death. Two years later, Harriet remembers the accident like it happened yesterday--she visits a support group where she meets David (Justin H. Min). And so Harriet must "face the music" and make some very tough decisions.

This film is authentic, heartbreaking, and very relatable. I love the soundtrack and connected with it so much as I constantly listen to music, and I love how music symbolizes different stages of life. Throughout the film, Harriet is desperately looking for ways to bring Max back. While this makes Harriet relatable, I also found this to be the film's biggest flaw. That being said I did find the plot to be very cute and romantic. The story is about overcoming grief, and I like how the film represents what that means to Harriet. However, the acting and script aren't as strong as I wished. Lucy Boynton does deliver a very good performance as she shows how grief can harshly impact one's life. And I liked Austin Crute's performance as Harriet's best friend--their chemistry is refreshing as he supports Harriet through her grieving process. Finally, I enjoy the aesthetic of this film--the warm cinematography is pleasing to the eye.

The message of this film is that sometimes we need to let go of the past to move forward with the present.

I give The Greatest Hits 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Greatest Hits debuts in limited release in theaters on April 5, 2024 and on Hulu April 23, 2024.

By Zoe C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FOOD, INC 2
FOOD, INC 2 - MAGNOLIA PICTURES
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8-18
Description - Food, Inc. 2 is a timely and urgent follow-up to the Oscar�-nominated documentary from directors Robert Kenner and Melissa Robledo. In the sequel, Kenner and Robledo reunite with investigative authors Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) and Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) to take a fresh look at our vulnerable food system. The groundbreaking Food, Inc. ignited a cultural conversation about the multinational corporations that control our food system at enormous cost to our planet, workforce, and health. FOOD, INC. 2 comes "back for seconds" to reveal how corporate consolidation has gone unchecked by our government, leaving us with a highly efficient yet shockingly vulnerable food system dedicated only towards increasing profits. Seeking solutions, the film introduces innovative farmers, food producers, workers' rights activists, and prominent legislators such as U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Jon Tester, who are facing these companies head-on and fighting to create a more sustainable future.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Our lives depend on healthy food. I believe it's imperative to watch the new documentary Food, Inc. 2 to learn about our food supply system one bite at a time by watching this informative and thought provoking film. You and your family can move forward by making choices to work toward a healthier future which is certainly my goal.

Food, Inc. 2 is an update to 2008's Food, Inc. which was a groundbreaking Oscar�-nominated expose on the multinational corporations that control our food supply. There has been more consolidation in the food industry since 2008 and Food, Inc. 2 explores how our values should impact our food choices. This documentary emphasizes the anti-trust and monopoly issues encountered in our agricultural system. It highlights the profits of capitalism versus the sustainability of nature and how this directly affects the quality and nutrition of our food. In addition, the movie makes the point that the agricultural labor force is essential, but is often treated as disposable.

Corporate profits have risen at the expense of both consumers and rural America's farming communities. There are definitely concerns for future soil and water quality which impact our food's nutritional value as well as the effect they have on individuals and our communities. I value the information shared by Senators Cory Booker and Jon Tester as they work to improve access to healthy food and to support our farmers. The documentary is also interesting when it chronicles the food additives which affect our taste and metabolism. Most other countries don't have so many highly processed foods and the multinational corporations are looking to change that in their zeal to increase corporate profits. Perhaps there will be added cooperation with international partners on finding ways to improve nutrition and agriculture globally in the future. I really enjoyed learning about the innovative farmers working to improve our food supply from the ground up or, in the case of a kelp farmer, by charting a new course in food supply. I learned a great deal from all of the interviews and contributors to this project and hope that, in the future, there will be more information available to us concerning the impact on health and our healthcare system tied to nutritional and environmental concerns.

Food, Inc. was released the year I was born and this new documentary, Food, Inc. 2 will hopefully provide further food for thought for a new generation or for those who missed the original film. There may be some viewers who feel that there is not enough differentiation between the original documentary and the new update but this makes it palatable for those of us who haven't watched the original to understand the overview of the food industry and to inspire us so that hopefully our food supply can improve by replicating better standards and not from further consolidation.

Food, Inc. 2 gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This documentary releases in theaters for special screenings on April 9, 2024 and will then be available on digital April 12, 2024.

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Food, Inc. 2 expands on the original Food, Inc. ideas of encouraging consumers to change the food system. Its interesting facts opened my eyes to the corrupt system that exists currently. I like that the film inspires people to solve these problems. It doesn't scare the viewer but provides hope for alternative solutions. It's a topic that I resonate with.

The film follows Michael Pollan, who is known for his books that explore the socio-cultural impact of food such as The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore's Dilemma, This documentary investigates the food industry and shows the not-so-pretty parts. Pollan interviews experts as well as people who are involved with food production and distribution personally including farmers, scientists, and entrepreneurs.

Michael Pollan narrates the film. As an author and an investigative journalist he shows people and places that demonstrate how corporate food companies are hurting small businesses and the environment. Another claim he makes is that animals are not being treated humanely in food production. He brings in various people to speak about their personal experiences in the food business including Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, US Senators Cory Booker and Jon Tester and Pat Brown, a former Stanford professor who is the founder of Impossible Foods. He states that, if we replaced cows, it could give us 30 more years before greenhouse gases rise further. At times, there is some creative animation that demonstrates what he is discussing, but most of the film is shot in typical documentary style with lots of voice-overs and interviews. The film's directors, Robert Kenner and Melissa Robledo, are wonderful at displaying various aspects of the food industry, including beautiful shots of sustainable farms and labs. On the other hand, farm workers are shown with less pleasing shots. My favorite part of the film is a new invention that allows goats and pigs to eat plants in a small space. I was truly shocked by the alarming facts about the food industry that are presented here. For example, a third of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world come from the food industry. That's a lot! This is just one of many startling facts in this film.

The film's message is that we can work together to transform the food system. The film encourages viewers to abolish factory farms, prioritize healthy foods and sustainable farms, and end cruelty to the environment.

Food, Inc. 2 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Food, Inc. 2 releases in select cities April 9, 2024, and will be available on digital platforms beginning April 12, 2024.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
EVIL FAIRY QUEEN, THE
EVIL FAIRY QUEEN, THE - VISION FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Elemental spirits have held power over the human world since its inception. The relationship, however, is symbiotic. Elfame is a fairy kingdom ruled by Melisandria and it is dying, the required ritual sacrifice is late. Elspeth Moore's family is bound to Elfame, every generation a child has been offered for sacrifice to renew Elfame's magical energy. When Kate Richards receives a letter from her estranged great-aunt Elspeth offering a place to stay when they need it most, they gratefully accept not realizing they are being lured towards their demise.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Evil Fairy Queen is a tale of mischief and deception. It combines important lessons with an engaging storyline.

The story revolves around a family of four who move into the mother's great aunt's old farmhouse. However the house is not quite what it seems to be when they discover that a group of fairies live in the area - a group of evil fairies who need to complete an oath. Throughout the film, the mother has to protect her family from getting sacrificed by this evil clan of fairies.

This film has so many distinct fun features. One of my favorite parts is how the beginning of the film has a short animated intro that quickly transitions into the live-action film. The film is based on old European folklore rather than American fairy tales which allows the fairies to be evil and adds an interesting new element to the film. One of the coolest parts of this film is the young lead, Violet (Kitty Sudbery), who has many different scenes and she performs in all of them very beautifully and powerfully. The final thing I noticed is that the group of evil fairies is really just one big family that is looking for a way to survive - they're just doing what's necessary for their survival. The film was produced in the United Kingdom and therefore they use many words such as bloke, mate and mummy, which may be unfamiliar to American audiences.

The film's messages are that not everything is always as it seems and be careful who you trust.

I give The Evil Fairy Queen 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch it on VOD on April 16, 2024.

By Avalon N, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I thoroughly enjoyed The Evil Fairy Queen for its gripping storyline and immersive atmosphere.

The film's portrayal of the evil fairies and their sinister motives kept me on the edge of my seat.

The story unfolds as a family is lured to a remote farmhouse by a deceitful relative, only to fall victim to malevolent fairies that require sacrifices to renew their magical life force. As tensions escalate and the family's plight becomes increasingly dire, they must confront the dark forces that threaten their very existence.

What impresses me the most about this film is its masterful blending of horror and fantasy elements. The film's eerie setting and chilling portrayal of the fairy creatures creates a palpable sense of dread that lingers long after the credits roll. Additionally, the strong performances from the cast, especially Julia Czartoryski, who plays Kate Richards, add depth and emotional resonance to the story. The special effects used to bring the evil fairies to life are impressive, adding a layer of visual richness to the film. However, there are a few moments where the CGI looks slightly unpolished and detracts from the overall immersion of the viewing experience. Nonetheless, the film's strong narrative and compelling performances overshadow any shortcomings in the visual effects department.

The film's message is that everything is not always as it seems.

I give The Evil Fairy Queen, 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 through 18. This film releases April 16, 2024. Be sure to check it out.

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

The Evil Fairy Queen is an exciting movie with a very unexpected take on fairies. This film, directed by Simon Wells, is a fantasy with elements of a horror movie and plenty of surprises!

When the Richards family receives a call from great aunt Elspeth inviting them to move to her farmhouse, Kate Richards (Julia Czartoryski) believes it could be a new beginning. But a world of danger is lurking in the woodlands surrounding the farm with sinister ties to Kate's past. The youngest daughter, Violet (Kitty Sudbery), innocently befriends Melisandria (Hannah Harris), the Evil Fairy Queen, who wants to sacrifice Violet and Kate to preserve her reign. With help from Dillon (Luke Hunter), Kate tries to save Violet and herself from the evil clutches of Melisandria and her evil fairy sidekicks.

I like how the story is presented throughout this film! There is a good mix of mystery, horror and suspense to keep the plot moving forward. The Evil Fairy Queen delivers a combination of horror mixed with fantasy. The woodland fairies are very different from those in most childhood stories as they prefer the taste of human flesh. Fortunately, the well-lit scenes and cinematography keep the dark subject matter from feeling too scary. Kitty Sudbery is double-cast as both Violet and a younger Kate, which I found mildly distracting, yet this movie still is enjoyable to watch. The relationships between the Richards' family members are interesting and the subplot is that they overcome a family tragedy.

The message of The Evil Fairy Queen is to be careful who you trust as things are not always what they seem.

I give The Evil Fairy Queen 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases in theaters on April 16, 2024.

By Kira O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The Evil Fairy Queen is an engaging fantasy film that combines real and fantasy elements, as it transports us into a world of fairies!

The Evil Fairy Queen follows a family that moved from a suburban town to a large, seemingly normal house in a rural area. However, this house and the family's experiences there are anything but normal. Something seems off from the day they arrive, when a neighbor creepily warns them of the house's dangers. The younger daughter, Violet (Kitty Sudbery), discovers the fairy queen but doesn't realize the dangers of keeping it a secret. Eventually, the rest of the family figures out what's going on, but not until it's too late and the entire family is in grave danger.

This film has strong, relatable characters that pulled me in and allowed me to connect with the storyline. The older daughter, Adelaide (Aniela Leyland), is a typical teenager while the younger daughter is still an innocent, sweet, explorative little girl. This contrast is typical for siblings, no matter what the age difference or similarity in interests. The dynamics between the family members make the film relevant and also demonstrates the character motives in the more suspenseful parts. Because this film includes many fantastical aspects, it's important that viewers can relate to the characters, even if their situation is a bit unrealistic. With all that said, the story has some issues - there are some unclear parts of the fantasy world and various things are never explained. That makes some parts of the film slightly confusing and diminishes its overall suspense. However, the concept of the fantasy world is interesting and it's a wonderful idea.

The film's message is to trust your loved ones and support them if they're struggling. Violet, the youngest daughter, feels that her family is uninterested in her passion for fairies and is aware that no one believes what she's experiencing. The family's refusal to believe her ends up wasting time that could have been spent trying to get out before the real danger occurs.

I give The Evil Fairy Queen 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. You can watch The Evil Fairy Queen on video on demand beginning April 16, 2024.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FRIGHT KREWE SEASON 2
FRIGHT KREWE SEASON 2 - HULU, LLC
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8-18
Description - Soleil Le Claire, a girl who lives for horror, accidentally breaks a spell on the Tree of Life and unleashes an ancient evil. The spirit of Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen of New Orleans, puts her and four other kids in charge of saving the city from Belial, an ancient demon who feeds on fear. Luckily, they're not alone, as each kid gets a special gift from the voodoo spirits called Loa. Eventually they learn their town's biggest secret: Vampires, rougarous, ghosts, monsters and demons are real and have secretly lived among humans for decades. The Krewe will have to hone their powers, figure out what Belial's up to and keep the peace between creatures as they go head-to-head with local legends from the underworld.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The suspenseful 10 episode series Fright Krewe Season 2 depicts the beautifully animated journey of a group of teens fighting monsters and just being teenagers. Their passionate acting combined with the evocative animation brings the characters to life. The crafting of the monsters and the music work together in harmony to frighten not only the characters but the viewers as well.

The story follows a group of misfit teenage friends, named the Krewe, who secretly fight the evil that threatens their world. Soleil (Sydney Mikayla), the protagonist and leader of the Krewe, is at the center of the nightmare that threatens the city of New Orleans. Belial (Jacques Colimon), the antagonist, summons monster after monster to combat the Krewe. Each Krewe member has special power that they must hone in order to save themselves, their city, and all those who are possessed by the evil spirits that threaten them. Will Soleil and her friends successfully ward off the demons, or will they fall into the possession of wickedness?

Sydney Mikayla's portrayal of Soleil's courage is beautifully balanced with her portrayal of Soleil's love of all things horror. Another key member of the Krewe, Missy, is played by Grace Lu whose vocal style conveys power and empathy at the same time. Terrance Little Gardenheigh, who plays Pat, and his co-stars create a wonderful ensemble to bring life to the rest of the Krewe. They speak just as teenagers would, making the Krewe easy to root for. The film mixes a modern realistic character animation style with a more classical animated background style, resulting in a unique look that viewers are drawn to. The monsters are otherworldly and inhuman, making them creepy enough for the audience to feel the fear behind the screen. The classical music and sound effects add an element of suspense during the climax of each episode when the Krewe fights the evil monsters.

This film's message centers around community and friendship, emphasizing the need to maintain our relationships through the hardships of life. There are consequences to our actions, and we must put friendship and love before all else that may tempt us. Note there is some graphic violence in the film and scary creatures.

Fright Krewe Season 2 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases on Hulu and Peacock March 29, 2024.

By Nyara A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE
GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE - SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - In Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, the Spengler family returns to where it all started - the iconic New York City firehouse - to team up with the original Ghostbusters, who've developed a top-secret research lab to take busting ghosts to the next level. But when the discovery of an ancient artifact unleashes an army of ghosts that casts a death chill upon the city, Ghostbusters new and old must join forces to protect their home and save the world from a second Ice Age.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is the second movie in the franchise and it is so much fun! This time, new and old Ghostbusters team up to battle an ancient demon that wants to freeze Manhattan. The special effects are mind-blowing, especially when they're chasing the icy ghosts. Also, this movie is really funny and features cool new ghostbusting gadgets and special appearances by some of the original cast members.

The film is set in New York City where Phoebe Spenglar (Mckenna Grace) and her family have moved, and they are busting ghosts in the original firehouse. Ray Stantz (Dan Ackroyd) runs an occult book and antique shop. When Ray buys a strange, ancient orb that contains a dangerous and ancient spirit, the two stories collide and the old and new Ghostbusters team up to save the city.

There are a ton of great things in this movie. The CGI ghosts and scenes of frozen New York City are amazing and very creative. The story is really fun because of many unexpected twists, new ghostly friends and lots of comedy. One of my favorite things about this film is that many of the original characters make appearances like when Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) tests out some new ghost-catching gadgets from his secret lab.

The film's message is that it's important to work together to overcome challenges and that family can give us strength and the ability to be brave. Viewers should know it has scary moments, and that there is some light swearing.

I give Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can see it in theaters on Friday, March 22, 2024.

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

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire works as an extension of the adventures of the Ghostbusters. It has a developing plot that surprised me since it's pretty creative. However, it's not something to call "out of this world."

This film follows the Spenglers who reunite with beloved former Ghostbusters to fight an ancient icy evil that threatens all of humanity. Will their skills match up to this cold villain, or will they all freeze to death?

The main characters are Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Mr. Grooerson (Paul Rudd), Callie (Carrie Coon), Ray (Dan Aykroyd), Winston (Ernie Hudson, Lucky (Celeste O'Connor), Podcast (Logan Kim), Janine (Annie Potts), and Venkman (Bill Murray). It's interesting to see the new and old Ghostbusters collaborate to fight Garraka, the ancient ice god. This film offers a reunion the fans have wanted, and the filmmakers responded to that. I recommend watching the previous Ghostbusters movies. However, keep in mind that the original Ghostbusters do not have much involvement in this film -- they are merely there to watch, which is extremely disappointing. During the ending fight scene, they just stand there. On the other hand, the plot is engaging and I never found myself bored during the film. It starts off with the Spengler family on a mission to capture a ghost. Therefore, it has a quick start as it kicks into the storyline. I do not care for the direction of this movie. It feels off. For example, when the ghost betrays Phoebe it happens all of a sudden, without much context, especially since the two of them don't have that much of a bond. Also, the characters don't really stand out from each other, besides barely knowing their backstories. I also did not like the special effects. They could be playing homage to the original movies, but the special effects of the ghosts are not realistic in any way. On a higher note, my favorite parts of the film are the mini Stay-Puft Marshmallow Men. They are adorable and hilarious. If you remember, in the original film the marshmallow man is huge. Also, the character Nadeem is extremely amusing. He is supposed to be the Fireman that saves them all from Garraka, which is a great addition to the storyline. That's something new I like about the movie because they don't stick with just ghosts, which gets boring after a few movies. In the end, the film makes a good addition to the adventures of the Ghostbusters, but it isn't something to rave about or call extraordinary.

The film's message is that family matters most. Phoebe is banned from Ghostbusting and she gets into more trouble later on. However, in the end, her and her parents forgive each other because they realize the importance of family. You should be aware there are mature conversations and violence in the film, with a hint of profanity.

I give Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire releases in theaters March 22, 2024.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
RENEGADE NELL
RENEGADE NELL - DISNEY+
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 12-18
Description - A quick-witted and courageous young woman framed for murder unexpectedly becomes the most notorious outlaw in 18th-century England. When a magical spirit called Billy appears, Nell realizes her destiny is bigger than she ever imagined.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Renegade Nell is an impressive and captivating show that takes you back in time with a new twist to it.

Nell Jackson (Louisa Harland) has just come back from the dead when she suddenly finds herself being framed for murder and accidentally becomes the most dangerous criminal in all of the 18th century. As she tries to prove herself innocent she meets a magical spirit called Billy Blind (Nick Mohammed) and realizes just how important she is.

The female lead is one of the coolest parts of the show which is set in the 1800s. Nell Jackson is a unique and innovative role that pulls the attention of viewers. It is quite hard to create a female character that has a truly interesting and large role due to the restriction on gender roles during that time period. Another amazing part of this show is the plot, which isn't particularly unique except that the way it plays out allows the show to rise above others with similar plots. That keeps everything fresh and interesting. For example, Nell is an incredibly strong woman and is able to beat up many men without being caught. The cinematography is also outstanding, using visual and lighting effects that keep it looking like everything takes place in the 1800s. The show uses lots of dim lighting settings to portray the lack of proper lighting and keeps the screen from looking too modern.

The show's message is be careful with your actions and don't give up when things get rough.

I give Renegade Nell 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. You can watch this TV series on Disney+ starting March 29 2024.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Renegade Nell is a thrilling action series with a twist of magic! It is full of fast-paced fight scenes, mysterious rituals, and bizarre fantastical creatures. I especially love the character design and physical combat!

Set in 18th century England, Renegade Nell follows Nell Jackson (Louisa Harland), a quick-witted and adventurous woman with a special talent for battle. Nell returns to her home after a year of being presumed dead, and she expects nothing short of a warm welcome, but she quickly finds herself as England's most famous outlaw, framed for the murder of Lord Blancheford (Pip Torrens). All of a sudden, Nell and her sisters (Bo Bragason, Florence Keen) are runaways and must go into hiding and remain incognito while fending for themselves.

The thing I love about Renegade Nell is how the scenes move very fast, disguising the fact that the show's storyline moves relatively slowly. In the blink of an eye, a peaceful tea party can crumble into utter disaster and a fight can break out, which keeps the audience engaged. However, important plot points take longer to unfold, such as the truth about the Earl of Poynton (Adrian Lester) and the real reason Sofia (Alice Kremelberg) protected Thomas (Jake Dunn) from the police. I also like the fact that every character has a backstory, no matter how minor, and they contribute to the main events of the show. For example, Rasselas (Enyi Okworonko), the servant, has a secret relationship with a main character, and Sofia, originally portrayed as a compliant bystander, eventually emerges as an essential character with her own fiery personality - and she leads the investigation against Nell. The show even displays the backstory of the antagonist, which is a rarity. Renegade Nell is the first show that has made me want to root for the bad guys. The show takes its time to develop, but it gradually reveals a detailed network of connections between all the characters' separate stories. I love the character of Billy Blind (Nick Mohammed), a goofy fairy who brings necessary comic relief to heavier scenes. This combination of humor, action and solemnity makes the show well-rounded.

Renegade Nell reminds us that if you want something, you shouldn't wait for it to come to you. Reach for it and don't take no for an answer. Nell's inspiring self-defense skills also reminded me to stand up for myself and fight for what I believe in.

I give Renegade Nell 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The first season releases exclusively to Disney Plus on March 29, 2024.

By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ARTHUR THE KING
ARTHUR THE KING - LIONSGATE FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT Click to purchase directly from the producer
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-18
Description - Over the course of ten days and 435 miles, an unbreakable bond is forged between pro adventure racer Michael Light (Mark Wahlberg) and a scrappy street dog companion dubbed Arthur. Based on an incredible true story, Arthur The King follows Light, desperate for one last chance to win, as he convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes (Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Ali Suliman) for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team is pushed to their outer limits of endurance in the race, Arthur redefines what victory, loyalty and friendship truly mean.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Arthur The King is a captivating emotional journey that tugs at your heartstrings, leaving you teary-eyed yet filled with a sense of joy. This film is a delightful blend of suspense, humor, and adventure, making it a must-watch for audiences of all ages.

Based on the true story of Mikeal Lindnord (Mark Wahlberg), the movie takes us on a thrilling ride as Mikeal and his group set out to win a race that will go down in history. However, their journey takes an unexpected turn when they encounter Arthur (Ukai), a lovable dog who becomes an integral part of their team.

What makes Arthur The King truly special is its ability to resonate with both dog lovers and non-dog lovers alike. The film's visuals are breathtakingly natural, capturing the beauty of the outdoors with stunning cinematography and seamless editing. It's evident that the crew poured their hearts into bringing this true story to life, and their dedication shines through in every frame. Mark Wahlberg's portrayal of Mikeal Lindnord is nothing short of remarkable. He exudes leadership and compassion, especially towards Arthur, which instantly endears him to the audience. Ukai's performance as Arthur adds depth and charm to the film, elevating it to new heights. One of the film's greatest strengths is its pacing. Despite its quick pace, Arthur The King never feels rushed. Instead, it effectively conveys the message of the film - that a dog truly is man's best friend - in a short amount of time, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.

The message is "dog is man's best friend" and it serves as a reminder of the special connection between humans and dogs.

I give Arthur The King 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults (and dog lovers.) This film is a heartwarming tale that will leave you laughing, crying, and ultimately feeling uplifted. Don't miss your chance to experience this emotional thrill ride when it hits theaters on March 15, 2024.

By David E., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Arthur the King is a great family film and a good movie with a strong main character and a heartwarming story. However, even with all these great aspects, the greatest part of this film is the dog.

The story focuses on Mikael Linord (Mark Wahlberg) is a renowned adventure racer who has a lot of medals but has never won the championship. He tries to get back into the sport that he loves, but along comes a furry friend to help him overcome his fears and possibly win the championship. The team adopts the dog and the adventure begins.

Arthur the King does everything right. To start off the protagonist, Mikael goes through a simple but great character journey, starting off the film as someone who refuses to listen to other people's point of view but grows as a person learning to consider others ideas by the end. Mikael isn't the only thing that makes this film good-- it's also a heartwarming story about family. If you're looking for a good film you can see with your family this is the one--you'll be happy watching this film. You may feel a little sad but mostly you'll be rooting for the characters to succeed. And Arthur the dog will win you over. The filmmakers make sure you love Arthur and hope that it never gets hurt and that it succeeds. That leads to us getting invested in this dog, and in Mikael's story, which creates strong emotional moments.

The theme of Arthur the King is that sometimes you have one goal and yet achieving that goal isn't necessarily the most important thing in your life. The theme is portrayed by Mikael as learns that his goal isn't what's most important to him--it's what he has that he takes for granted.

I give Arthur the King 3.5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters March 15, 2024.

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

By Rayce S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE
BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE - PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Bob Marley: One Love celebrates the life and music of an icon who inspired generations through his message of love and unity. On the big screen for the first time, discover Bob's powerful story of overcoming adversity and the journey behind his revolutionary music. Produced in partnership with the Marley family and starring Kingsley Ben-Adir as the legendary musician and Lashana Lynch as his wife Rita.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Bob Marley: One Love is a captivating biopic that celebrates iconic reggae artist Bob Marley (Kingsley Ben-Adir), as fortitude guides him through adversity and his music inspires people all around the world. We see how Bob expresses unity and love through his music as he quickly becomes a worldwide phenomenon. As a music lover, and someone who didn't know too much about Bob Marley, I really enjoyed watching this film. I like the pace and how director Reinaldo Marcus Green tells this compelling story through outstanding cinematography, an exceptional cast and sincere storytelling.

The story begins in 1976, late in Bob Marley's life, but arguably the most important time of his career. While Bob loves Jamaica he realizes he must leave to protect himself and his family. He goes to London to find the right sound for his next album. Then "Exodus,'' one of the most important albums of the 20th century, was born. The rest of the film demonstrates many of the obstacles Bob Marley had to overcome - finding purpose, struggling with confidence, and maintaining a healthy relationship with his wife.

Kingsley Ben-Adir steals the show. He's extremely believable and delivers an incredible performance. From his body language to the way he speaks, he really becomes Bob Marley on the big screen. Lashana Lynch as Rita Marlee, Bob's wife, gives another incredible performance. She plays Rita with such confidence - together, their relationship is one of this film's strongest aspects. Kudos to them and to all the actors involved; their accents are on point, although a little difficult to understand at times. Regarding the story itself, I don't think this film fully pays tribute to the icon that Bob Marley truly is. The film touches on how his music has united nations and delivers powerful messages of freedom, peace and bringing people together. However, Bob Marley didn't only change music forever; he truly did change the world. I wish the writers would have delved deeper into the impact Bob Marley made on others.

The message of this film is that people always face adversity but we can always find ways to overcome those hard times, and music is the greatest power to feel well and unite us. Be forewarned that this film is rated PG-13 for smoking throughout the movie, some violence and strong language.

I give Bob Marley: One Love 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters February 14, 2024.

By Zoe C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Bob Marley: One Love is a passionate and inspiring documentary. I really like this film because it is educational, yet thrilling at the same time, and caused me to positively change my view of the world.

Bob Marley: One Love is an honest and revealing documentary about the life of Bob Marley. He is a father, husband and a trusted friend who wants nothing more than love and world peace to be spread across the nation. The Jamaican singer was determined to bring his people together through music, despite the ongoing war and conflict.

A huge standout in this film is the directing by Reinaldo Marcus Green who created a nostalgic, sentimental, yet uncomfortable feeling to this documentary from the start, foreshadowing the outcome of the film. He focuses on different characters in different scenes and uses camera angles that help viewers to pick up on specific details. Particularly, the shots of Marley's first concert in Jamaica. There are so many highlighted parts that help the audience to unravel this difficult topic of having hope in even the most hopeless of times. Some of the shots zoom in on Marley moving in slow-motion. Similarly, this is also done with the crowd that is watching him, which helps viewers understand just how impactful his music really is. All of the cinematography and scenery in this movie is beautiful. Each location shown is exquisitely shot. France, London, and all the other European locations have a very local feel, yet there is also the excitement of discovering a new place, which is exactly what those in the film are doing. Most importantly, the lens that Jamaica is shown through fits the tone and mood of this documentary perfectly. I felt that I was able to understand what it looked like in the 1970s and, through shots of the beaches, the eye-catching colors and the abundance of culture, I was able to partially understand what it must have felt like during that time. Lastly, what piqued this film's enjoyability the most for me, is the message told throughout the movie. Bob Marley's entire purpose for creating his music was to unite his people, and bring peace to the battling leaders of Jamaica. He wanted nothing more than for everyone to come together peacefully. The message of fighting for what you believe in - no matter the risks - and living your life to the absolute fullest is delivered beautifully, and reinforced throughout the entire film. Kingsley Ben-Adir who plays Marley is outstanding; his ability to showcase these characteristics of Marley do not go unnoticed. He brings this legendary human being to life, allowing the world to understand Bob Marley for all that he was and all that he stood for.

The message of Bob Marley: One Love is that in this life, peace and love will always bring you the most happiness and win in the end. Please be aware that this film does include foul language, slightly gruesome fight scenes, and the use of drugs and smoking.

I give Bob Marley: One Love 5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Bob Marley: One Love in theaters beginning February 14, 2024.

Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, age 17

I like the film Bob Marley: One Love because of its deep references to Jamaica and its culture. I also love the settings and the song choices. The humor is great and makes the movie a lot better.

This film is about Jamaica's biggest pop star, Bob Marley (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and his journey to becoming a famous singer, beloved worldwide. We see Bob Marley at the beginning, living a normal life, playing soccer and making music with his friends. However, this was a time of a lot of violence in Jamaica and Barley and his wife both experienced it first hand. Bob Marley was inspired by the violence to pursue his music career and traveled to London to start to produce his music there. His song, Exodus, gave him a big rise in popularity and fame.

Kingsley Ben-Adir's performance as Bob Marley is great. His singing and his dancing are on point. I love the song choices in this film. I think that they chose Bob Marley's best songs and they fit well with the structure of the film. My favorite part of this film is when he is making his song Exodus with his band in his living room and everyone is smiling and having fun. It made me laugh and smile. Marley was a Rastafarianism which he believed unified the Jamaican people and was a big part of his music creation. The film also has a lot of humor in it, which adds to its appeal.

The film's message is to never give up and always follow your dreams. Be forewarned that there are incidents of gun violence and bloody gore in this film.

I give Bob Marley: One Love 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. You can find Bob Marley: One Love in theaters February 14, 2024.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MADAME WEB
MADAME WEB - COLUMBIA PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - In a switch from the typical genre, Madame Web tells the standalone origin story of one of Marvel publishing's most enigmatic heroines. The suspense-driven thriller stars Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic in Manhattan who develops the power to see the future... and realizes she can use that insight to change it. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she forges a relationship with three young women bound for powerful destinies...if they can all survive a deadly present.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love Madame Web. It is full of action, mystery, suspense, sisterhood and girl power. There are some heartfelt moments and the chemistry between the four leading ladies is outstanding. The film definitely kept me entertained from beginning to end.

Madame Web tells the standalone origin story of one of Marvel's most enigmatic heroines. The suspense-driven thriller stars Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic in Manhattan who develops the power to see the future and realizes she can use that insight to change it. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she forges a relationship with three young women bound for powerful destinies if they can all survive a deadly present.

I really loved learning who Madame Web is and how she became a heroine. I loved all the action scenes and watching the girls come together to fight against the villain Ezekiel. I loved seeing the girls in their costumes and the action was entertaining. The girls include Sydney Sweeney as Julia Cornwall, Celeste O'Connor as Mattie Franklin and Isabela Merced as Anya Corazon. The movie left me wanting more and hoping for a sequel so we can find out how the girls got their powers and what happens next! The chemistry between the four leading ladies is truly amazing. They work so well together and look like they are having so much fun together. Their friendship seems genuine on the screen. The battle scenes are epic, especially the last one when the girls work together and fight the villain Ezekiel.

Madame Web is about teamwork, girl power, friendship, family, heart and action. It shows how friends will always be there for you, no matter what, and reminds you to always stay true to who you are. It is perfect for date night or a family movie night. Everyone will love it. The best part is that if you are a fan of Marvel movies, you don't have to see any previous movies to understand Madame Web. This movie stands alone with a phenomenal cast and great story line. It is rated PG-13 and it is 1 hour and 54 minutes.

I give Madame Web 4 out 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Madame Web is in theaters now.

By Kennedy P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

The film Madame Web falls too off the superhero movie path which is disappointing. It includes enveloping action, suspense and violence, but it lacks a connection between the main character and their powers. It isn't extraordinary, but it is a fun adventure. Along with a barely developed superhero figure, it also fails to relate to Spider-Man in any way, which extremely disappointed me.

Madame Web follows Cassie (Dakota Johnson), a paramedic who's connected to three teenagers through the power of a valuable spider. While a greedy, powerful man is seeking to kill them all, Cassie finds out she can actually see the future. Will her power save people or lead them to their doom?

The primary characters are Madame Web or Cassie, Julia (Sydney Sweeney), Mattie (Celeste O'Connor), Anya (Isabela Merced), Ezekiel (Tahar Rahim) and Ben (Adam Scott). The teenagers are the stars of the show. They are the most believable characters; while the rest of the cast lacks conviction or emotion. It's bothersome. The characters are poorly developed as well. We barely know anything about Julia, Mattie or Anya's backstory, and Ezekiel is as villainous as an antagonist should be. On the other hand, there's a lot of interesting action that keeps the movie engaging. I was compelled to see what would transpire at the end. Cassie and the girls keep having bad things happening to them and that's amusing to watch. The suspense adds to the plot, as well, because Ezekiel just keeps on hunting down their group, using a spy. My favorite part is when time stops underwater. It's really cool because the sound drops to a low pitch and everything seems to be in slow motion. The camerawork is very unique in this film. Sometimes it's almost nauseating -- so watch out for that. There's no relevance to Spider-Man as fans expected, except that Ben Parker is Peter's uncle, but that is not mentioned at all. It's almost as if they aren't in the same fandom. Cassie deserves more of a superhero recognition, since the film doesn't focus on her heroic abilities. I can understand that the producers were trying to experiment with a new type of superhero movie as this film focuses on the main character's mental powers rather than her physical powers. I appreciate the experimentation with something new, but it doesn't really work out very well. It has potential, but the script falls short. This has the makings of an enjoyable film but is missing huge key factors.

The film's message is to protect the people you love. Cassie goes above and beyond to protect the teenage trio, and the girls, in turn, save Cassie's life. They care so much about each other that they are willing to risk their own lives to make sure the others are okay. It also discourages selfishness. You should be aware foul language is used and blood is involved.

I give Madame Web 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Madame Web comes out in theaters on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2024.

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

The film Madame Web is an action film that is kind of like another version of Spider Man. I love the action in the film and the background music makes it really suspenseful. I don't usually love Marvel movies but this one is really good.

The storyline follows a girl named Cassie (Dakota Johnson), a New York City paramedic who gets visions, including one showing three teenage girls getting killed by the guy that killed her mom. Cassie needs to safely get the girls away from the guy by using her clairvoyant powers and the deadly adventure takes off from there.

This is a very unique film - unlike anything I've ever seen before. When Cassie uses her powers the special effects are very cool. They look like a web. I love how Cassie is always helping people. First she helps people that get hurt, then she helps the girls from getting killed. She is amazing. I love the relationship between the three girls - Julia (Sydney Sweeney), Anya (Isabela Merced), and Mattie (Celeste O'Connor). They annoy each other when they first meet but later realize how much they need each other and they become best friends. I especially love Mattie; she is funny, does whatever she wants, and doesn't care what other people think. My favorite part of Madame Web is when they are on top of the factory's roof. It looks really cool when she uses her powers.

The film's message is to always stick together. The girls stick together and manage to survive. Plus, in the end they become best friends. This film uses adult language and has some violent content.

I give Madame Web 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters February 14, 2024.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
POPULAR THEORY
POPULAR THEORY - BLUE FOX ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - Popular Theory follows Erwin, a 12-year old genius, far smarter than any of her high school classmates. But Erwin's genius has come at a price: isolation. She doesn't have any friends and even her sister thinks she's a social leper. Determined to win the State Science Fair, she teams up with classmate Winston, a fellow outcast and chemistry guru, to create a popularity chemical which they add into sticks of chewing gum.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - With compelling performances and a story emphasizing brains over social status, Popular Theory is both a heartfelt story of friendship and innovation that young viewers will love. Erwin (Sophia Reid-Gantzert), a young genius named for Nobel Prize-winning physicist Erwin Schr�dinger, is the youngest student in high school and a bona fide loner. She enjoys spending time on her own doing complex science experiments so much that her aunt and father, who raise her, grow concerned and place a science plan on her. But when she meets fellow genius Winston (Lincoln Lambert), they team up to evade the ban and invent a pheromone that threatens to upset the natural order of high school.

Lincoln Lambert and Sophia Reid-Gantzert's dynamic is my favorite part of Popular Theory. At a young age, both actors seem to have mastered the art of owning their character, whether it's the micro-gestures of disgust, awe, sadness and hypochondria that Lambert portrays as Winston or Reid-Gantzert's comfort being Erwin. It's truly a delight to see them interact on screen as they transition from rivals to "colleagues," to friends, and as forces push and pull them apart. I'm a Lincoln Lambert fan, having spoken to him about his film Language Arts and having discussed his creative process. But I have to admit that Reid-Gantzert steals the show. That's largely because the screenwriters (Ali Scher and Joe Swanson) have crafted a teen movie that, thankfully, doesn't turn into a rom-com halfway through. Too often the archetype of the wannabe teenage girl eager to change herself exploited. Yes, there's an element of that trope in the film, both in Erwin's character and in Erwin's sister, Ari (Chloe East). But Erwin always stays true to who she is and takes pride in her status as a genius without coming across as too egotistical -- a good role model for young viewers. On another note, the dynamic in Erwin's home reminds one a bit of Matilda, with her aunt and father looking at her as some freak-of-nature genius. Some comical and unexpectedly sentimental moments come from Aunt Tammy (Cheryl Hines), who's an eccentric hairstylist. Erwin's father, Arthur (Marc Evan Jackson), stricken by the grief of losing his wife, feels a little like a prop character mainly because of a lack of screen time. He isn't given much to work with in terms of dialogue or emoting. I wonder how the film would be affected if Erwin was only raised by her aunt. The direction and production quality are other highlights. The few moments dragging the film down are wooden performances by secondary characters, but those are overshadowed by the strength and integrity of the plot.

Popular Theory shows how dangerous instantaneous popularity can be and comments on the ethics of using technology for personal and social benefit. Making change through friendship and positivity can make the high school experience and life better in more ways than one.

I give Popular Theory 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Popular Theory released in theaters on February 9, 2024.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

Popular Theory highlights the idea that friendship is all about chemistry! The movie shows the negative aspects of popularity and how a positive charge or change through friendship can make the high school experience, and life, more meaningful.

Erwin Page (Sophia Reid-Ganzert) is a 12-year-old genius at Magnolia High School and suffers from social isolation. Her formative years were spent primarily alone with her scientific experiments and books were her friends. Erwin's Aunt Tammy (Cheryl Hines) is certain that science is stunting her social development and with Erwin's Dad (Marc Evan Jackson) empties her room of all science materials to force her to interact with others. The situation is made worse in opposition with her popular older sister Ari (Chloe East) which contrasts the difference in the girls' social positions. High school can be depicted as survival of the fittest where popularity is all that matters to the student body. Erwin is disturbed when new student Winston (Lincoln Lambert), who is 13, enrolls at school and the two of them engage in competition for the upcoming science fair award and scholarship. Erwin and Winston end up together as science partners in their quest to win the competition by utilizing pheromones to impact popularity in their "Friendship Formula."

The ensemble cast in Popular Theory is funny and acidic and gives us the exact chemical reaction that one would hope for. The developing friendship and competitive nature of Erwin and Winston is believable and endearing. I really enjoyed the comedic timing of Cheryl Hines in her supporting role as Aunt Tammy. Also, I have to mention the hysterical drama offered by high school test subjects Casey (Kat Conner Sterling) and Alan (Varak Baronian) as they experience the reactions to their popularity quotient during the social experiment. Great performances by many other high school student cast members really make this movie combust. Popular Theory is directed by Ali Scher, who is also a co-writer with Joe Swanson. I really enjoyed the relationships and the dialogue they created. The movie has a fun soundtrack from music supervisor Ben Sokoler and music editor Jason Soudah which adds to the cause and effect of this film.

This film's message is that false friends can't replace true friends and, as in science, "particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but are better understood through their interconnections." You don't need to be popular at school or in life to thrive or be liked by everybody, but people do need somebody to connect with. Erwin and Winston don't win the science fair, but they do discover the real friendship formula.

I give Popular Theory 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This movie released in theaters February 9, 2024 so go learn why popularity isn't all that matters.

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Popular Theory is an adorable film that showcases true friendship. The camera work, charming script, clever cinematography and great actors make this film a delightful experience.

The story begins by introducing Erwin (Sophia Reid-Gantzert), a 12-year-old genius who's in 11th grade. She meets Winston (Lincoln Lambert), another 12 year-old-genius who's initially her biggest competition. But, they agree to be colleagues and work on an experiment for the school science fair. They face many obstacles but discover what friendship truly means.

I really love this film. So many aspects make it unique and really stand out. I love the camera movement; from scene to scene the film is packed with clever transitions that are so appealing to the eye. Cinematographer Damian Horan knew what he was doing - the colors are especially interesting. Erwin is constantly surrounded by the color blue; while Winston is represented by the color orange. When the two first meet the juxtaposition of the colors stands out, as their friendship grows they both start wearing each other's colors. The color palette is not only aesthetically pleasing, but is also very symbolic and adds to the storytelling. I've seen similar applications like in the film 500 Days Of Summer, but I love the way Damian Horan shot this film, almost making the colors a standalone character. The art direction by Gavin Mosier and set design decoration by Mily Moreno is genius; kudos to the entire art department. Sophia Reid-Gantzert as Erwin and Lincoln Lambert as Winston make the cutest duo. They're such great actors individually, but also they work so well together. One of my favorite characters is Cheryl Hines as Aunt Tammy; she's a hairdresser and utilizes her craft as an art form. I also like how every character serves a different purpose in the film. I love the storyline; not only is it adorable but this film offers a great representation of what kids go through in high school and I think people can relate to many aspects of this film.

This film deals with many different themes like bullying, friendship, doing what is best for others, and other themes. The film's message is that popularity isn't everything and anyone can find true friendship.

I give Popular Theory 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Popular Theory is available now in theaters.

By Zo� C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ORION AND THE DARK
ORION AND THE DARK - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5 - 12
Description - A boy with an active imagination faces his fears on an unforgettable journey through the night with his new friend: a giant, smiling creature named Dark.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The film Orion and the Dark is a family friendly film that includes various types of emotions such as sad, happy, afraid and more. I love the animation and the contrast between the light and dark.

The storyline follows a boy named Orion (Jacob Temblay). Orion is terrified of the dark until one night an entity named Dark comes to his house to show him there is no reason to be afraid. He takes Orion with him to show him his job. In the process, Dark takes Orion to see the other night entities. Everytime he goes to see all the night entities' jobs he ends up messing them up. Orion explains to the other night entities how Light is amazing and Dark is bad. Dark overhears him and thinks nobody likes him. All the other night entities quit because they want to see how the Light is. Dark has to do his job all by himself now. Dark doesn't want to do his job alone so he goes into the light and disappears. Orion gets all the night entities back together to save Dark. To do that dream goes in his imagination and finds Dark there. In the end Orion likes the dark and appreciates them now because without dark it was too light.

My favorite part of this film is when Dark takes Orion to see his job. I think it is so cool to see Dark and Orion fly through the sky. I also enjoy watching the night entities doing their job. I especially love Dream's job. It is amazing how Dream goes into people's imagination and makes their dreams out of something that has happened in their life. It is very surprising when the audience realizes that Orion and the Dark is a story that future Orion is telling his daughter, explaining how he gets over his fear of the dark.

The film's message is to face your fears because if you don't you will miss out on life. At the end, Orion faces his fear! He just does it and he feels better. He feels like he can accomplish and do anything now.

I give Orion And The Dark 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. This film starts streaming on Netflix February 2, 2024.

By Avalynn G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
NASHVILLE WISH, A
NASHVILLE WISH, A - VISION FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - A country singer falls for the girl of his dreams and has to choose between love and his dreams of stardom in Nashville.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A Nashville Wish is the romantic country film of a lifetime. Combining drama, country music, and romance, this film is engaging and enjoyable. It has strong acting, pleasant music and, for the most part, an excellent storyline.

This film follows Tucker (Maxfield Camp) as he navigates the ups and downs of his musical career and his relationship throughout his senior year of high school and the following summer. Tucker has a dream relationship with his longtime crush, the cheer captain, Lisa (Kaileigh Bullard). However, this relationship begins to create more obstacles and challenges for Tucker as he is forced to decide whether the greatest love of his life is worth sacrificing the possibility of his lifelong dream, to record music in Nashville. With Lisa's parents disapproving of Tucker, their long term plan for her in the family business, and her reputation in town, she also has to make a difficult decision.

The characters in A Nashville Wish are portrayed meaningfully and emotionally. Tucker and Lisa are both very dynamic characters who have deep, personal backstories. For example, we discover that some of Tucker's motives are due to a family loss a few years back. This demonstrates even further the depth of each character and how much effort went into creating these characters and bringing them to life onscreen. The acting fully mirrors the talent of the writers. Maxfield Camp and Kaileigh Bullard have amazing chemistry as a couple throughout the highs and lows of their onscreen relationship. They are so genuine; it truly seems like they're in love. Maxfield wonderfully accentuates Tucker's changes through a variety of conflicts, emotions, friendships and so much more. To match the spectacular characters and acting, the music is fantastic and fits the movie in every way. Despite not being a big country music fan myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the songs that are incorporated at every twist and turn of the plot. They help express the characters' emotions and thoughts, and also help with the setting and mood of the film. The tone of the music always matches the events occurring in the film. While the songs help move the story along, the story is a bit lacking at times. Although the plot and the concept is unique and very engaging, some of the subplots failed to engage me and ended up slowing down the movement of the story. For example, parts of the film focus on Tucker's best friend, Chewy (Fletcher Olsen). Although the character and the acting are perfect for the film, some of the storyline involving him is really unnecessary and slow.

The theme of A Nashville Wish is that when difficult decisions come around in life, it's important to think long and hard about your priorities so you don't make irrational decisions. Tucker's big decision is the main focal point of the film and this message is emphasized through his character and his decisions.

I give A Nashville Wish 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch A Nashville Wish in theaters beginning February 2, 2024, and on video on demand beginning February 27, 2024.

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

With a foot-tapping score, A Nashville Wish is a classic family watch that delivers exactly what it promises -- a high school romance with some country music.

In a small town in West Virginia, high school senior Tucker (Maxfield Camp) has big dreams to travel to Nashville and cement his career as a country music star with his best friend Chewie (Fletcher Olson) after graduation. He falls in love with the beautiful cheerleader Lisa (Kaileigh Bullard), and she's smitten by him as well after a serendipitous event at a concert where their favorite artist Cassie Jo Campbell (Alexis Gomez) is playing. There's just one problem -- Lisa comes from a wealthy family who owns a prominent business in town, and her parents won't let her go to Nashville with Tucker. Lisa defies her parents, and all is set. But in a conveniently-timed scene, right before they leave for Nashville, Chewie tells her that she will ruin Tucker's chances of becoming a star and convinces her to dump Tucker and stay home. Now Tucker is heartbroken in Nashville, and Lisa is heartbroken in West Virginia. Viewers will see how the two get back together -- if at all -- and the role Cassie Jo Campbell plays in Tucker's life.

There's no diving deep into emotions, psyche, or similar here; A Nashville Wish is among the leagues of Hallmark-esque films releasing each year, which is perfectly fine. It works as good, clean family entertainment. The acting is passable, with Camp and Olson, ironically enough, having the best chemistry with one another. A couple scenes are interestingly staged, including a musical interlude where Tucker and Lisa are in the middle of a field alone...except for a truck full of singers behind them. The cinematography is good, though, with lots of medium shots and closeups that squeeze as much emotion out of the script as possible. The music is the most striking element, as it should be in a country music-centric film. Admittedly, I'm not a country connoisseur, but the songs are amazing, both in terms of the vocals and production quality. Lee Greenwood is the most recognizable voice as Grandpa Woods. T. Graham Brown sings a country and gospel song, and the film leads Maxfield Camp, Kaileigh Bullard, and Alexis Gomez do as well.

A Nashville Wish promotes following your passion and finding a balance between personal and professional aspirations by focusing on the professional first, and then letting the personal fall into place.

I give A Nashville Wish 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 plus adults. You can watch A Nashville Wish in theaters beginning February 2, 2024, and on video on demand beginning February 27, 2024.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

A Nashville Wish is a moving musical with an inspiring success story. It is set in the countryside and told by interesting, dynamic characters and impressive musical performances. I love the encouraging environment the movie creates with characters who provide support for one another.

The movie follows a recent high school graduate, Tucker (Maxfield Camp), who is an aspiring country singer. Tucker and his best friend Chewy (Fletcher Olson) are ready to hit the road to Nashville to become stars when Tucker's dream girl, Lisa (Kaileigh Bullard), a popular cheerleader from a prestigious but strict family, suddenly and unexpectedly takes an interest in him. Unfortunately, Lisa's parents are disapproving of Tucker's plan, forcing Tucker to make a decision that could change the course of his future.

One thing I love about A Nashville Wish is that Tucker has a great support system - the encouragement from his family and friends is clear from the beginning. Chewy and Tucker have shared the same dream of moving to Nashville to become famous since they were in fourth grade. It is nice that Tucker has a friend who shares his interests. And for many artists, gaining family approval presents a challenge, but this is not an obstacle Tucker faces, as his parents and grandfather (Lee Greenwood) truly believe in his star potential and urge him to pursue his passions. I admire Tucker's perseverance as well. At times, his life is hard, such as when he is struggling for money in Nashville. But music is Tucker's dream for a very long time - he never considers giving up on it, and eventually he finds success and stardom! The singing in the movie is also worthy of praise - all the main actors have vocal training and a background in music, adding to the film's authenticity. A Nashville Wish takes you on a rollercoaster of ups and downs, from the move to Nashville and arguments with Chewy to Tucker's date with Lisa at a Cassie Jo Campbell (Alexis Gomez) concert. Tucker's duet with Cassie makes the film wholesome and brings it full circle.

A Nashville Wish reminds us that determination is vital to succeed. It's what drives you to go for your biggest goals, even when the world deals you a tricky hand. It's also a reminder to keep your eyes on the prize and trust that the small things will work themselves out - the universe has a plan for you. So stay focused and remember to thank the people who believe in you!

I give A Nashville Wish 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. A Nashville Wish releases in theaters beginning February 2, 2024, and on video on demand beginning February 27, 2024.

By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9 Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TASTE OF THINGS, THE
TASTE OF THINGS, THE - IFC FLMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - The relationship between Eugenie, an esteemed cook, and Dodin, the gourmet she has been working for over the last 20 years. Growing fonder of one another, their bond turns into a romance and gives rise to delicious dishes that impress even the world's most illustrious chefs. When Dodin is faced with Eugenie's reluctance to commit to him, he decides to start cooking for her.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A leisurely, luminous portrait of love, culture and cuisine, The Taste of Things is a feast for the eyes. It's all about partnership through a shared passion, conveying feelings through fewer words and baked Alaska. With such deep themes and beautiful visuals, no wonder it's France's selection for this year's Academy Awards.

The Taste of Things is a tough movie to summarize. It's about so much more than its plot... but here goes. The film takes place entirely in a 19th century French manor, mostly in its warmly-lit, wood-accented kitchen and centers on the bonds between the characters. Dodin Bouffant (Benoit Magimel), an esteemed gourmet partly based on real-life gastronome Jean Brillat-Savarin, oversees the meal, helps with the cooking and visits with his group of friends. His partner in the kitchen, Eugenie (Juliette Binoche), beams as she whips up dozens of French culinary marvels. They have two assistants, who seem more like daughters, the teen Violette (Galatea Bellugi) and her niece Pauline (Bonnie Chagneau-Ravoire). This scene unfolds each day for years. The film follows Dodin's and Eugenie's romance as it evolves from unspoken partnership to marriage to separation by illness, as well as how the younger members of the kitchen grow.The Taste of Things is a film about indulgence -- in food, in love, in family. It also shows viewers that truly powerful relationships are those that transcend labels and that are bound by shared love for one another and, in this case, a shared passion. It shows viewers that food is inextricably tied to love, life and joy. Be forewarned that the film does contain scenes with partial nudity and smoking.

I give The Taste of Things 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Taste of Things releases on February 9, 2024 in theaters and is an Oscar nominee.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MEAN GIRLS
MEAN GIRLS - PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Cady Heron is a hit with the Plastics, an A-list girl clique at her new school. But everything changes when she makes the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina George.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Get in losers! The iconic Mean Girls is back in its new modern day adaptation for a new generation of fans to enjoy. As a brilliant combination of the 2004 movie and the Broadway musical, this film is stunning, entertaining and the perfect movie to start the New Year!

Mean Girls borrows the same storyline as the original film, with plenty of plot twists. The film is presented as a story narrated by Janice (Auli'i Cravalho) and Damien (Jaquel Spivey). It follows Cady Heron (Angourie Rice), a new student at North Shore High School who moved to the US from Kenya. She makes friends with Janice and Damien, and eventually crosses paths with Regina George (Rene� Rapp), Gretchen Weiners (Bebe Wood) and Karen Shetty (Avantika), also known as "The Plastics." When Cady is sent to spy on The Plastics by Janice and Damien, it sets off a series of chain reactions including drama, betrayal, and getting hit by a bus.

Fans of both the original Mean Girls movie and the Mean Girls Broadway musical will not be disappointed. My favorite song was "Someone Gets Hurt" sung by Renee Rapp. From her gorgeous vocals and the beautiful scenery, this performance is so mesmerizing that it could have been a stand-alone music video. I love that they include other songs from the Broadway show like "Apex Predator" and "Revenge Party" as well as new ones. I also love the special cameo appearances and newly discovered facts about the original characters; both of which really add depth to the film. I love how the movie includes things like social media and other references to things unavailable in 2004. I watched this film in theaters and there were so many places where I just wanted to pause or rewind it because they were so mind blowing. This is a movie I would love to see again!

The film's message is to be yourself and not get caught up with the wrong people. Cady was so fed up of "living the life" with The Plastics that she betrays her true friends and loses the smart and sweet girl she originally was. Parents should be aware that there is foul language as well as suggestive topics and special effects that are so realistic they will make you gasp.

I give Mean Girls 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to18, plus adults. Be sure to watch after the credits for a very short post credits scene. Be sure to check out Mean Girls in theaters now!

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

I like the musical remake film Mean Girls because of its interesting plot and enjoyable characters. It's very relatable for teenagers and hilariously entertaining to watch.

The film follows Cady who moves to a new town where a notorious popular clique runs the local high school. She becomes close with them to spy on them for her other friends and get closer to a guy. In the process, her acting isn't as fake anymore.

The main characters are Cady Heron (Angourie Rice), Janis 'Imi'ike (Auli'i Cravalho), Regina George (Rene� Rapp), Damian Hubbard (Jaquel Spivey), Karen Shetty (Avantika), Gretchen Wieners (Bebe Wood) and Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney). The casting is perfect in the film. The actors are not only wonderful, but they portray the characters in the original movie. They all have different and unique personalities. Mean Girls has many musical numbers. The characters randomly break out into song, which is a bit cheesy at some points, but it makes it stand apart from the original movie. The camerawork is magnificent because it captures the whole setting of the kids at school and their personal interactions. The lighting really stand out during the musical numbers where it enhances the contrast between the singer and the rest of the cast. When Regina is singing, she is illuminated while the rest of the cast is standing still, unlit and frozen. I applaud the producer, Tina Fey, who also plays Ms. Norbury. Speaking of a previous cast member, there is a special cameo appearance of the original Cady Heron by Lindsay Lohan. I recommend watching the original Mean Girls (2004) because there are many iconic scenes that are included in this film. The inclusion of those scenes makes me appreciate the movie even more. My favorite part of the film is its humor. There is a lot of it and it made me laugh a lot while watching it. Important to mention is that the humor is all based on things that today's teens can relate to. The term "text slang" is used as well as other new and trending concepts and words.

The film's message is to be yourself and don't pretend to be someone you're not. Cady wants to become like Regina, but she learns that her true self is what makes her special. This film has foul language and the use of many inappropriate terms.

I give Mean Girls 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Mean Girls releases in theaters January 12, 202

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

Do you have what it takes to be on top of the social food chain? Join the clique, the Plastics, and get ready to watch the reimagined, iconic 2004 Mean Girls movie this winter with friends and family!

Cady (Angourie Rice) is the new kid at North Shore High, where she befriends Janice (Auli'i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey). Regina George (Renee Rapp), Karen (Avantika Vandanapu) and Gretchen (Bebe Wood) take Cady in as one of the Plastics. When Cady falls for Regina's ex she finds herself in her cross hairs and, while being part of the Plastics, Cady betrays her true friends Janice and Damian. Through the film, Cady realizes that she was wrong and that should just be herself and make it up to Janice and Damian. She learns that everyone is special and should be recognized for that.

What I enjoy the most about this film are the stunning show tunes. I love the catchy rhythm and voices of the actors! My favorite song is "Someone Gets Hurt." I also really like the costume designs. The costumes have a modern Y2K style, which Gen Z teens can relate to. Another thing worth mentioning is the cast. Each actor plays their character perfectly and has their own spin on the classic characters. For example, Bebe Wood allows the audience to feel the emotions of Gretchen on a deeper level. When Regina bosses her around, Gretchen gets fed up with having to deal with Regina to the point that she doesn't let Regina sit with them at lunch when she breaks one of the Plastics rules. Kudos to the casting director. I really love how this film reimagines the original Mean Girls. I love how they keep the iconic lines and songs in this film. Lastly I love the set designs, especially those during the musical numbers that are bright and on theme.

The film's message is to focus on yourself and be nice because everyone in this world just wants to coexist. This film teaches us that we are special in our own way and we should not try to be someone we are not. We should not have to change who we are just to fit in. Please be advised that there is harsh language and other age-inappropriate content in this film.

I give Mean Girls 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Mean Girls is available in theaters now.

By Valerie R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: Web Series


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MASTERS OF  THE AIR
MASTERS OF THE AIR - APPLE TV
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 12-18
Description - An Apple Original Series from Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman - the producers of Band of Brothers and The Pacific. During World War II, airmen risk their lives with the 100th Bomb Group, a brotherhood forged by courage, loss, and triumph. Masters of the Air is based on the 2007 book Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany by Donald L. Miller and follows the actions of the 100th Bomb Group, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber unit in the Eighth Air Force in eastern England during World War II. The series serves as a companion to Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010). It is the first series to be produced by Apple Studios, in cooperation with Playtone, and Amblin Television.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Masters of the Air is exactly the kind of masterpiece viewers expect from the dynamic duo of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Perfect for fans of war dramas, Masters of the Air has the rich plotline and sky-high production quality to not only entertain, but even educate its viewers; it's a shame that the pacing lets the magnificent series down slightly.

Adapted from Donald L. Miller's book of the same name, Masters of the Air presents in nine episodes the story of eleven men who, in a plane called the "Flying Fortress," battle flocks of German fighters. These men were a part of the 100th Bombardment Group of the US Army Air Forces in World War II, nicknamed the "Bloody Hundredth," due to the heavy losses they suffered over the course of their campaigns. They embark on a scintillating journey as they work to destroy Hitler's Third Reich. It's truly a momentous story.

Both Band of Brothers and The Pacific, the films that Masters of Air is linked with (it provides the Air Force narrative to supplement their stories of terrestrial and naval warfare) are well-known for their incredible visuals and CGI. Masters of Air is no different; the midair combat is almost dizzyingly realistic, the sets are stunningly crafted, and every character's look is intricately pieced together. The series warrants a theater experience, which viewers unfortunately won't get. These amazing VFX are thanks to the high production budget of the film -- between $200 million and $250 million. The series also has some incredible talent behind it, though; Austin Butler, who plays Major Gale Cleven, and Barry Keoghan, who plays Lt. Curtis Biddick, headline Masters of the Air, and their brotherhood and bond is palpable. Their storyline becomes especially strong after an unfortunate turn of events when they're taken as prisoners of war. The only knock on Masters of the Air is its pacing; every episode feels lengthy, but the first two episodes are especially rough. It was tough to sit and wait for the plot to get moving, though there are combat scenes after the first half-hour of episode 1. I suppose it took me some time to get used to Cary Joji Fukunaga's style of direction, though he ensures that every part of each scene he films has not a hair out of place, which is commendable.

Masters of the Air is a lesson in patriotism, courage and resilience. The men of the show stick together even when death is at their doorstep -- not just for their own pride or sanity, but more importantly, for their country.

I give Masters of the Air 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The first two episodes of this miniseries will release on Apple TV+ on January 26, 2024. New episodes will be released the following Fridays through March 15.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ARGYLLE
ARGYLLE - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - A reclusive author who writes espionage novels about a secret agent and a global spy syndicate realizes the plot of the new book she's writing starts to mirror real-world events, in real time.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Argylle is a very exciting action film with a lot of plot twists. The high quality sound effects and background music are spectacular and terrific acting.

The storyline follows a writer Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is seen at a reading for her new book, Argylle 4. At the reading we meet the key characters including Lagrange (Dua Lipa) and Aidan Wilde (Sam Rockwell) who is revealed to be a spy. After it is revealed that Elly has been writing about a super secret spy mission, things begin to get heated.

Kudos to director Matthew Vaughn for delivering such an exciting film. The special effects really stand out, especially the sound effects which make it seem almost as if I was there. I also enjoyed the background music throughout the film. The music by Lorne Balfe creates suspenseful moments that kept me engaged with the movie. The best scene has to be when Aiden has to fight against the undercover spies on the train. We get to see how Elly interacts with the whole situation and, of course, there is amazing fight choreography. We notice how Argylle (Henry Cavill) is always alongside Elly and Aiden, but not in a way you might expect. Over the course of the film Elly is searching for the ending of her fifth book, but the plot completely changes throughout the movie.

The film's message is to always remember who you are and this film delivers this message in a suspenseful way. It's important to note that this film contains a lot of fighting, blood and crazy action scenes.

I give Argylle 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters February 2, 2024.

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

Argylle has some funny moments and some good action scenes, but for the majority of the movie the dialogue falls flat. The VFX look like they were rushed, and the star studded cast is not used to their full potential which is disappointing.

The story follows an introverted novelist who writes about a secret agent and a global spy syndicate--and she discovers that the plot of her latest work is mirroring actual events in real time.

Argylle is a movie that starts off bland in the beginning then teases you with some enjoyable moments that don't pay off. The main character Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) was not that interesting, and I became more interested in Argylle (Henry Cavil). However, the biggest disappointment of the film is its dialogue. In the theater I found myself wanting to leave after hearing one-liners over and over that for me just didn't land well. And the poor visual effects kept stopping my immersion into the film. Toward the climax it becomes distracting and the final action scene looks fake, mainly in the background. I do have to give this film credit for having a lot of twists and turns--until halfway through the film I was engaged. All of the shocking twists kept me wanting more. Argylle might secretly be a work of genius simply based on its ending credits scene, which I won't spoil.

The theme of Argylle is remembering who you are, and it is best represented by Elly Conway as she embarks on a journey through her old books to find parts of herself. I quite liked this aspect of the film because it really gives us a chance to know more about Elly Conway.

Overall, I give Argylle 2 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18. This film releases in theaters February 2, 2024. By Rayce S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I like the detailed spy movie Argylle because it has an involving plot that put me on the edge of my seat while watching it. It starts off slowly, but then the storyline kicks up. This movie is well-produced, with smooth camerawork and appealing characters, but does have a smattering of unnecessary bits and pieces.

Argylle follows an author named Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) who is famous for her secret agent novels. Just as she is about to release her next book, Elly notices that the characters and scenes in her books are coming to life. If her stories are coming to life, Elly is in grave danger.

The main characters are Elly Conway, Aiden (Sam Rockwell), Argylle (Henry Cavill), Wyatt (John Cena), Ruth (Catherine O'Hara), Director Ritter (Bryan Cranston) and Alfie (Samuel L. Jackson). All of the actors are quite wonderful at portraying their characters. For instance, Elly Conway's character dramatically shifts intentions and the actor, Bryce Dallas Howard, is quick to change from evil to the hero. Aiden is a hilarious character, especially when he fights the bad guys. He's nonchalant and chill about taking out 20 people. Additionally, the camerawork is great because it shows many different perspectives, which make the scenes more exciting and suspenseful, but also helps the audience feel like they're in the film. This is prominent during the fight scenes - and note that there are a lot of them. Some are unnecessary, especially during the long two and a half hour movie. The first half is slow and doesn't have a lot of action, but the second half is action-packed. The storyline is well-written, filled with many surprises that shocked me. It is based on the real author, Elly Conway, whose identity is unknown. There are clues that hint about Elly's true identity, and you'll just have to wait to find out. I particularly enjoyed the dancing scenes with Elly and Aiden. They are hilarious because they're ballroom dancing and shooting people at the same time. This is just one example of the many quirky things of the movie.

The film's message is to trust yourself and don't ignore your gut feelings. Elly keeps seeing Argylle in the mirror instead of her reflection, which has a deeper meaning. Elly wants to shut "him" out, but Argylle is trying to warn her of the dangers ahead. In actuality, Argylle is her voice because she created him. It's a good reminder to always listen to yourself. Be aware that there is foul language, violence, gun usage, and murder in the film.

I give Argylle 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Argylle releases in theaters February 2, 2024.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
UNDER THE INFLUENCER
UNDER THE INFLUENCER - VISION FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - A 25-yr-old influencer struggles to cling on to her status but is running out of tricks. Will she have to separate her online persona from her authentic self?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Under The Influencer is one of the most optimistic films I've ever seen! You get a taste of what it's like behind the scenes in a social media influencer's life, including all the struggles and accomplishments, too. Not everything turns out as planned and life gets in the way, which makes for a great film for those on a journey to finding themself.

We follow Tori (Taylor Scorse) as her YouTube account following begins slowly plummeting but that's all she eats, sleeps, and breathes. During this time she is not only desperately trying to find ways to fix it, but is also trying to heal from a messy Internet break up . Throughout this time Tori is coming to terms with the fact that her personal life and her social media life might need to cross paths, but she is not comfortable with making that happen. She enjoys learning new things about herself but struggles to grasp the fact that her content is taking over her life, and not in a good way. Tori hits complete rock bottom, and that's when she starts to make a breakthrough. She lets go of some people and has new experiences with others that affect her for the better. As for locations, from the sunsets to the mansions the settings were great. The acting was pretty spot on as well and some of the characters make their mark when it comes to learning the life lessons. Overall this film is great and watching it unravel will definitely prompt emotions in audiences.

Under The Influencer is relatable and shows realistic challenges for not just influencers but all people, too. When you see what the true meaning behind this film is it really touches the heart. Tori starts to see how social media is crushing the real her behind the mask she puts on. And yet she is not completely alone, as her best friend and employee Sara (Chandler Young) helps her through her journey of showing who she really is. Tori never really stays low when she gets knocked down; she just keeps learning and doing what's best for her.

The film's message is to not be afraid to show the world the real you. You never know what is going to happen or change in your life. So learn from the mistakes you make to improve yourself.

I give Under the Influencer 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Under The Influencer is available now on VOD!

By SaniyaRain F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Under The Influencer is an amazing tale of social media and self-identity. The topics are very relatable and modern to teens as well as others.

The plot of this film centers around a girl named Tori who has a large following on her YouTube channel. No matter what she does though, the channel gets a large amount of hateful comments on it for no reason. As the film progresses she begins to resent the life she's built and the tension continues as the plot develops.

One of the most exquisite parts of this film is simply how relatable it is today. The presence of social media and the hate that spirals from it is not uncommon. This sort of tension is what a lot of people face now with the influence of the internet growing as rapidly as it has. It helps the film's relatability to teens and other influencers. Another spectacular part of the film that is very interesting to see is the way they portray YouTube channels as a type of business or enterprise. Rather than just one person filming videos in their basement they showed a team of people working to plan everything out perfectly and keep the image of the influencer intact. It's one of the reasons the fans of the fictional channel in the film thought everything was so fake. It just didn't seem genuine. Going off of that another really important part of the movie is the way the fans react when the content is fake vs genuine. People like to see the real and unfiltered side of people on YouTube and other social media platforms rather than just the scripted highlights of others' lives. It makes the whole thing a lot more relatable.

The film's message is to just be yourself and never change or destroy yourself for others, because that's never going to get anyone anywhere.

I give Under The Influencer 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film is available now on DVD and VOD.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 15

Under the Influencer is an uplifting and satisfying film with a very important message. Romance is blended with working and friendship elements, which gives it a little bit of everything. The acting and writing deliver an important message, despite some slower patches in the film.

Under the Influencer follows Tori (Taylor Joree Scorse) as she starts off as a very successful influencer. Her views and popularity start to decline significantly, and she can't figure out why. She realizes that, not only has she lost the approval and support of fans, but she's also lost herself. She put all of her effort and focus into her social media persona. When she can no longer rely on fame and positivity, she takes off on a journey to determine who she really is when she's not in front of a camera. She has to figure out what she, not the girl on the camera, enjoys.

The highlight of this film is how the message is incorporated in a way that not only emphasizes it, but also keeps it entertaining and related to the storyline and the protagonist. Taylor Joree Scorse places such a strong emphasis on this message through her acting. She lets her emotions shine through; demonstrating how being lost and not knowing who she is affects her. She uses her facial expressions and body language to accentuate the theme, plus, her dialogue allows the message to shine through. There are lines and moments when her inner struggle is so clear -- she doesn't know who to be, and the things she says or doesn't say really show the impact this has on her. The ending wraps up the film so nicely, tying the new romantic element into the message, and leaving viewers with a positive feeling. While this part of the film is very enjoyable, there are definitely some weaker aspects. There are a few stretches that seem unnecessarily long and get a bit boring. There are some very important scenes and moments within these stretches, but there's a bit too much extraneous stuff that takes away from the stronger, more important parts of the film.

The film's message is that finding yourself is the most important thing in life. It's easy to get lost in pretending to be someone else, especially as a social media influencer who's constantly trying to please other people. This theme makes the film uplifting, encouraging people to find parts of themselves they either didn't know they had or wanted to hide before.

I give Under the Influencer 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. You can watch Under the Influencer on VOD beginning December 12, 2023.

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BOY AND THE HERON, THE
BOY AND THE HERON, THE - GKIDS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - From Academy Award winning and internationally acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, The Boy And The Heron follows the incredible journey of young Mahito. After he experiences the tragic loss of his mother, Mahito settles into a new town that is anything but ordinary. After several strange encounters with a grey heron, Mahito goes on a search for his mother that leads him to a magical world unknown.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Boy And The Heron, directed by Hayao Miyazaki is a very unique Japanese film. The amazing high quality sound effects and suspenseful background music are spectacular. However, this film does get confusing very quickly.

This semi-autobiographical animated movie follows the story of young Mahito Maki (Soma Santoki), who tragically loses his mother in a fire and moves to the country with his dad Shoichi (Takuya Kimura) and his step-mom Natsuko (Yoshino Kimura). Action soon rises after Mahito interacts with a talking gray heron (Masaki Suda) who is revealed to be a shapeshifting avian guide. The gray heron alludes to Mahito's mother still being alive and Mahito goes on a journey to find her.

The sound effects in The Boy And The Heron enhance the film tremendously. Even though this film is animated the sound effects make it seem almost as if it is a live action film. From realistic deep footsteps to the realistic sounds of crashing ocean waves; sound director K�ji Kasamatsu absolutely brought this movie to life. I also enjoyed the background music throughout this film. The music by Joe Hisaishi creates suspenseful and surprising moments that kept me engaged throughout my viewing experience. My favorite scene in the movie is when Mahito and a fisherwomen named Kiriko (K� Shibasaki) watch the Warwara (creatures whole embody both life and death) be released into the normal world. The music is beautiful and creates a sense of awe and wonder. Who could forget the gorgeous animation by the world renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki? Every scene in this movie is animated to perfection. For example, when Mahito first enters this new world he lands on an island surrounded by a vast deep blue ocean and stormy clouds. The ocean waves crash very fluidly and the clouds are different shades of purple and move very realistically. The detail and fluidity of the animation does not go unnoticed. As much as I like this film, I did find it somewhat confusing. Over the course of two hours we primarily follow the main character searching for his mother, but this plot is somewhat drowned out by many other side plots taking place, which makes things murky and difficult to track.

The film's message is to not let grief hold you back and to find different healthy ways to move on. However, this film delivers this message in a very confusing way. It's important to note that this movie contains mentions of self-harm, minor cursing, gore and small jump scares that could be frightening to younger audiences.

I give The Boy And The Heron 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters December 8, 2023. Make sure you give it a watch!

By Tia O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

The film The Boy and The Heron is unlike any film I've ever seen before. I was in awe with the beautiful scenery and the music that goes from simple piano notes to complex orchestrations.

The storyline follows a family living during a time of war in Tokyo. Tragically, the main character, Mahito Maki's (Soma Santoki) mother dies in a fire at the hospital where she works. Years later, Mahito and his father move from Tokyo to start a new life with his new step-mother. Outside this new home, Mahito is drawn to a gray heron that seems to be taunting him and leading him to a tower on the property. His step-mother, Natsuko, (Yoshino Kimura) disappears and Mahito follows the heron into the tower in search of her. Entering the tower brings him into another world where he meets his mother from another time and together they race to find Natsuko while battling many obstacles such as pelicans, parakeets and the heron's sneaky and selfish ways.

I love the character, Kiriko (Ko Shibasaki), both in her younger and older self. She is helpful and fierce and stays by Mahito's side. The ship she lives on in the strange tower world is so beautiful and the idea of her taking care of the warawara before they float into our world and are born as human beings shows how nurturing she is. I really enjoy how this movie makes me think and make connections between parallel worlds. I knew that Lady Himi was going to be his mom and when I realized that he was meeting her during the year she vanished into the tower when she was younger, my mind was blown as the puzzle came together. I was also shocked when Natsuko said that Mahito's mom is her sister! There are many twists and turns in this film that kept me on the edge of my seat. The artistry in the animation, by Hayao Miyazaki, is really neat to watch and made me want to research and learn more about the film and about anime.

The film's message is to find acceptance after the loss of a loved one and to find peace during a time of turmoil. Mahito struggles with personal grief while his country is also struggling during a period of war.

I give The Boy and The Heron 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters December 8, 2023.

By Avalynn G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TEDDY'S CHRISTMAS
TEDDY'S CHRISTMAS - 1 SOUL PRODUCTION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - While visiting a Christmas market in her Norwegian town, eight-year-old Mariann discovers an unbelievable secret: on the top shelf of the lottery booth, a teddy bear has just moved his head and started sniffing. Feeling an instant connection with the living toy, Mariann can't think of any better wish for Christmas and tries to win him. However, Teddy (voiced by Zachary Levi) has different plans, dreaming of a wealthy owner who can teach him everything the world has to offer. But when Teddy is taken away to a woodshed, his new best friend, the hedgehog Bolla, helps him realize what really counts in life.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like the film Teddy's Christmas because Teddy's character (Zachary Levi) makes me laugh and so does the hedgehog, Bolla (Lene Kongsvik Johansen), when they are stuck together in the basement learning to cuddle. I like how the film looks like it is from an older era. As soon as you see the snow and decor you know it is Christmas. It is very seasonal.

The storyline is about a teddy bear that can talk. Marianne goes to town for an almond and ends up playing a carnival game where she sees Teddy move so she attempts to win, and does! Teddy moves the wheel because he wants to go with someone who has more money than her. She goes home to get another coin to play again but before she comes back another man wins Teddy. She goes and tries to find the man but fails.

I love Teddy's character and I also enjoyed Marianne (Marte Klerck-Nilssen) and her brother's close knit relationship. You can tell they love each other. The storyline has unexpected events and is adventurous. Marianne definitely has a big imagination and I wish I had a big imagination like hers. My favorite part is when Teddy and the hedgehog are in the basement and then the hedgehog starts doing a song and dance. It is a great musical moment. She does multiple dances and waves her arms around senselessly while attempting to get Teddy to cuddle. I love how when she dances it sounds like she makes up her own language. I also enjoy when her grandpa comes to the room in a Santa Claus costume and pretends as though he is the real Santa Claus. He delivers presents and afterwards Marianne approaches him and asks if it was him. He says, "yes, but don't tell anyone." She must be extremely smart to have figured that out! The film was made in Norway and it is interesting to see all their different traditions and meals. At first, I was distracted because the words they speak don't match the movement of the actors' mouths, but then I realized that is because the actors are speaking in a different language. I got used to it pretty quickly.

The film's message is to appreciate who you are and what you have. Teddy wants to be someone he isn't and go places he can't and he isn't happy until he realizes he is in a great place already. He is meant to be cuddled and now he has a whole family to cuddle with.

I give Teddy's Christmas 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. This film releases in theaters December 1, 2023.

By Avalynn G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I like the film Teddy's Christmas. The acting is absolutely superb; the plot is adorable and filled with Christmas spirit. I loved all the different settings and was particularly interested in the smooth character development of Teddy.

The story follows 8-year-old Mariann (Marte Klerck).While visiting a Christmas market in her Norwegian town; she spots a talking teddy bear at a carnival game booth. However, when someone else wins it, she takes off on a mission to find it but ends up causing a lot of damage instead.

This is a really good film that I really enjoyed. The acting of Marte Klerk as Mariann is amazing --he really portrays the character well, which greatly influences the entirety of the film. She has such a noticeable spark throughout the film. I also really enjoy the character, Mom (Mariann Hole) in the film. She really brings this character to life, particularly in the scene where Teddy learns what a hug is. That is so adorable because his first hug was with a hedgehog who thinks she is un-huggable. The ending is filled with so much kindness and Christmas spirit it inspired me in many ways. My favorite aspect of the whole film is Teddy (John F. Brungot.) John's voice acting is a perfect match for this role, which is a somewhat sarcastic yet loving character. At the beginning of the film all Teddy wants is a rich owner who can take him places. In fact he originally doesn't like Marianne simply because she is a child and doesn't have money, but at the end you can see how much he has matured since the beginning. It touched my heart to see how far he came in his emotional journey. Additionally the settings such as the snowy Christmas market are very realistic and beautiful, especially the Christmas Market game stand. It is super colorful and an adorable little tent.

The firm's message is to always be honest and know that sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the greater good. Parents should be aware that Marianne's behavior is rather suggestive at times.

I give Teddy's Christmas 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. You can watch it in theaters beginning December 1, 2023.

By Sofia T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Teddy's Christmas, directed by Andrea Eckerbom, is a heartwarming animated gem celebrating the magic of Christmas. The enchanting story of eight-year-old Mariann and her connection with the sentient Teddy is a delightful blend of nostalgia and whimsy. Zachary Levi's captivating voice work and seamless animation make this Norwegian tale a festive treat for all ages.

In Teddy's Christmas, the enchanting story unfolds in a Norwegian town during the festive season. Eight-year-old Mariann (Marte Klerck-Nilssen) discovers a magical secret at a Christmas market - a teddy bear named Teddy comes to life! Determined to make him her own, Mariann faces unexpected challenges as Teddy dreams of a worldly adventure. Alongside his newfound friend, Bolla (Lene Kongsvik Johansen), the hedgehog, the film takes us on a heartwarming journey exploring the true meaning of friendship and the joy of the holiday season.

This heartwarming tale is a must-see for anyone who embraces the holiday spirit and shares the season's joy with loved ones. Bringing Teddy's Christmas to life is a talented cast led by Marte Klerck-Nilssen as the charming eight-year-old Mariann. The chemistry between Klerck-Nilssen and the animated character Teddy, voiced by the charismatic Zachary Levi, is a standout feature that adds a layer of enchantment to the film. The seamless animation compliments the festive and immersive sets of the Norwegian town's Christmas market. The costuming attention to detail and overall visual design create a cozy and magical atmosphere. One of my favorite aspects is Zachary Levi's voice work for Teddy, infusing the character with personality and charm. The whimsical music further enhances the enchanting experience, making it a memorable and heartwarming holiday film.

At its heart, Teddy's Christmas carries a poignant message about the true meaning of friendship, love, and the joy of giving during the holiday season. The film successfully emphasizes the importance of cherishing moments with loved ones and valuing the simple joys of life.

I give Teddy's Christmas 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. You can catch the magic of Teddy's Christmas releases in theaters starting on December 1, 2023.

by Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 5-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: Web Series


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MAXINE'S BABY: THE TYLER PERRY STORY
MAXINE'S BABY: THE TYLER PERRY STORY - AMAZON STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Writer, actor, filmmaker, studio head and media titan, Tyler Perry, is America's consummate multihyphenate. But underneath this entertainment behemoth is a man working humbly to heal his childhood trauma by transforming his pain into promise. Maxine's Baby: The Tyler Perry Story, a nod to his mother's love, is a tender and intimate portrait of visionary and innovator Tyler Perry: his harrowing but faithful road to the top of an industry that didn't always include him. With unfettered access, directors/filmmakers Gelila Bekele and Armani Ortiz lead us into the inner-world of a man, whose story has never fully been told, as he becomes a father and a media mogul with a mission to pave his own road to the top. The product is a profound lesson on remembering where you came from to know where you want to go.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Maxine's Baby: The Tyler Perry Story is a beautiful movie. This documentary is so inspiring with lessons on the importance of forgiveness, faith and perseverance. And I learned so much about Tyler Perry!

The movie reveals the childhood trauma that Tyler Perry went through and shows how he became the most successful African American filmmaker we all know. It's also a tribute to his late mother, Maxine, hence the title of the movie.

According to co-directors Gelila Bekele and Armani Ortiz, this movie took ten years to make. I had no idea what Tyler went through as a child because he had a pretty private life, so it was incredible to learn more about him and see how strong he is. We already know about his success, but in this documentary, we get to see all the challenges he faced. It highlights many aspects of his life like his faith, his abusive father, his previous studios, the start of his famous character Madea and the impact he had on the movie industry. Something else that is interesting that I learned about from this film is that Tyler Perry's newest studio is on an old confederate army base in Atlanta, which really makes this movie come full circle. The beauty of this rich documentary is that it provides so many different points of views from so many different people and perspectives. We hear from his supporters, his haters, his family, and his friends, such as Oprah Winfrey, Ozzie Areu, Gayle King and Ari Emanuel. In addition to hearing from all of these people, the movie also uncovers never-before-seen videos of Maxine Perry, Tyler's mom, which is really special since she has passed away and she's the movie's namesake.

The film's message is all about forgiveness. Even after all the abuse, Tyler was able to forgive and move on from his trauma, which really allowed him to grow. Be aware that this movie deals with abuse, has a few graphic images and also some profanity. I give Maxine's Baby: The Tyler Perry Story 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases on Prime Video on November 17, 2023.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MARVELS, THE
MARVELS, THE - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. But unintended consequences see Carol shouldering the burden of a destabilized universe. When her duties send her to an anomalous wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, her powers become entangled with that of Jersey City super-fan, Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, and Carol's estranged niece, now S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau. Together, this unlikely trio must team-up and learn to work in concert to save the universe as "The Marvels."
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - While it is far from perfect, The Marvels is a captivating film filled with adventure and laughter. It has unexpected twists and turns around every corner that help make it an entertaining movie.

The Marvels centers around members of the Avengers. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), better known as Captain Marvel, has found herself and her superpowers linked with Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and new teenage superhero Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), aka Miss Marvel. These three powerful women must team up to stop Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), the ruler of a struggling civilization who has set her eyes on taking resources from thriving planets. However many secrets about Carol's past resurface as they do so.

Iman Vellani's performance as Kamala Khan overpowers the movie with a new side of joy to the MCU. Her explosive personality bursts through the screen as a huge highlight throughout the entire film. I love her character as she brings it to life with a passion. There are so many insane plot twists throughout the film and, while most are a great addition to the plot, a few get a little too crazy for my liking; though they aren't wild enough to drag the movie down. I enjoyed the plot being based around three strong women who are in charge. It's something not seen as often in superhero movies, especially in the past, but the MCU has been doing it a lot recently and it's very empowering. My favorite part of the movie is towards the beginning when Monica, Kamala and Carol first discover their powers have been entangled and they find themselves fighting soldiers in three different places and switching back and forth between locations throughout the battle. It's super fun to watch and my eyes were glued to the screen.

The message of The Marvels is that true friends and family will love you and always be there for you no matter what. Carol learns this throughout the movie as she sometimes worries about what the people who care for her will think about her past; eventually, she accepts that they will love her for who she is now and not what she's done before.

I give The Marvels 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters November 10, 2023.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

The Marvels is a blockbuster film, filled with action and adventure. It is highly engaging while still staying true to the message throughout the entire movie.

In this film viewers are reunited with Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) for a second time, in this sequel to Captain Marvel. The plot follows Captain Marvel, along with her little cousin who isn't so small anymore. After experimenting with the power of time and universes, the two powerful women find themselves to be linked with a teenage girl from New Jersey, who likes to think of herself as Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani). These three team up in order to gain their revenge on the Supreme Intelligence, all while going up against old and new enemies, and keeping the universes stable.

A huge standout in this film is the CGI effects. Throughout the movie the three main characters' powers are synced together, and we often find them switching positions mid fight. The way that this is executed is very impressive. The visuals in the fight scenes, moving from space, to earth, and to other galaxies is all so overwhelming, but intriguing at the same time. Additionally, the costumes are really impressive and eye-catching. In the different universes that they explore, the people in those villages have the most unique looks - everything from their hair, to their makeup and their attire is so creative, and really stands out. I also enjoyed Captain Marvel's signature suit she wears, which really contributes to her statement look. Finally, this film is highly engaging. There is never a dull moment, and it held my attention the entire time. Every scene is packed with action, and definitely lives up to the original film, as well as the Marvel name. I also enjoyed the plot, and how straight forward it is. It gets right to the point. I never found my mind wandering off, or feeling lost in the story. The movie kept attention 100% of the time, which is rare.

The message of The Marvels is to remember your truth, and always do what you believe is right. Be forewarned that this film contains some intense fighting scenes and the use of weapons.

I give The Marvels 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Marvels releases in theaters November 10, 2023.

Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

The film, The Marvels blends teamwork, girl power, comedy and emotion with action-adventure. It's heartening to see a movie that not only entertains but also resonates with positive themes.

The central plot revolves around Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and Mrs. Marvel (Iman Vellani) teaming up to thwart the menacing Der-Bann (Zawe Ashton) from wreaking havoc on their homes - classic Marvel setup.

The enthusiasm for the film is palpable; the movie is successful in delivering a compelling, entertaining, and empowering cinematic experience. The brevity of The Marvels sets a new record for Marvel in terms of its runtime and it stands out in a franchise known for sprawling narratives. The commendation extends to the CGI and camera work, with special mention of shots and angles that enhance the viewing experience. It's clear that attention to detail has been a priority, ensuring that every frame contributes to the overall brilliance of the film. Brie Larson's portrayal of Captain Marvel showcases her character's development. The shift from a more serious tone to a nuanced performance is highlighted, indicating growth in both the actor and the character. Zawe Ashton's portrayal of the villain, Dar-Benn, earns high praise, what I consider to be "Oscar-Worthy." The film's pacing is lauded for its seamless flow, allowing the audience to absorb every moment without missing a beat.

The emphasis on "girl power" as the film's message is particularly noteworthy, aligning with the growing trend of empowering narratives in the entertainment industry. However, be forewarned about the profanity in the film which adds a layer of responsibility to parents.

I give The Marvels 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Marvel fans, both young and old, will find an exciting experience when this film opens in theaters on November 10, 2023.

By David E., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I love The Marvels. It is fun, laugh-out-loud funny, has some heartfelt moments and the chemistry between the three leading ladies is outstanding. The film definitely kept me entertained from beginning to end.

In The Marvels Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), aka Captain Marvel, has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. However, unintended consequences see her shouldering the burden of a destabilized universe. When her duties send her to a wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, her powers become entangled with two other superheroes to form the Marvels - Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) learn to work together because their powers become entangled.

I love all the action scenes and watching the three leading ladies working together to fight against evil. I recommend watching Ms. Marvel and Wanda Vision on Disney+ before watching The Marvels. They give you the background on Kamala and Monica, which will help you understand where they are coming from in this film. I immediately fell in love and related to Iman Vellani's (Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel). She is a Marvel fan, just like us, and she is so excited to meet her heroes and fangirls just like we would do ourselves! I was so happy to see her family in the film as well because they steal the show. The family scenes are full of laughs and the family dynamics really make this movie. The chemistry between the three leading ladies is truly amazing. They work so well together and look like they are having so much fun together. Their friendship seems genuine on the screen. The battle scenes are epic, especially when the three of them switch places, which is so fun to watch.

The Marvels is about teamwork, girl power, friendship, family, heart and action. It shows how family will always be there for you, no matter what, and reminds you to always stay true to who you are. You are never wrong when you are doing what is right.

I give The Marvels 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The Marvels is available in theaters now.

By Kennedy P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
NEXT GOAL WINS
NEXT GOAL WINS - SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Directed by Academy Award� Winner Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok) and based on a true story, Next Goal Wins follows the American Samoa soccer team, infamously known for their brutal 31-0 loss in 2001. With the World Cup Qualifiers approaching, the team hires down-on-his-luck, maverick coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) hoping he will turn the world's worst soccer team around in this heartfelt underdog comedy.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - SEE YOUTH COMMENTS
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Next Goal Wins, based on a true story, is a heartwarming and genuinely enjoyable film that captures the essence of teamwork, perseverance and the human spirit. It's a family-friendly movie that offers both humor and feel-good moments and is told with an authenticity that makes it relatable and engaging.

The story revolves around the determined coach, Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) who takes on the challenging task of coaching an American Samoa soccer team with a historically abysmal loss record. Their only goal is to score one point, a seemingly insurmountable task.

This film is a delightful cinematic experience that celebrates the power of belief, teamwork, and the indomitable human spirit in the world of sports. As the film develops, it dives deeper into the characters' lives, particularly Coach Rongen and the soccer team. The connections that form between the players showcase the power of heartfelt camaraderie in sports. The film brings out both the emotional and comedic aspects of these players journey. It's clear that the cast and crew put their heart and soul into this project, resulting in a standout film. The camera work is outstanding - it captures the action on the field with finesse, making you feel like you're right there with the team as they strive for victory. Michael Fassbender's performance as Coach Rongen is commendable, as he skillfully balances humor with emotional elements in the film, delivering a memorable character. Oscar Kightley, as Tavita, Coach Rongen's right-hand man, brings a good-spirited energy to the film. His character adds to the loveable dynamic of the team, making it easy for the audience to root for them. The film's pacing is fast-paced, keeping the story engaging and ensuring that viewers remain invested in the team's journey from start to finish.

The film's core message is a simple, yet powerful one: believe in yourself and have fun. It's a message that resonates with both young and adult audiences, reminding us of the importance of enjoying the process and having faith in our abilities. It's important to note that the film contains some profanity, alcohol use, glimpses of drug use, and a transgender lead character, which may require some parental guidance depending on the age of the viewers.

I give Next Goal Wins a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults who appreciate uplifting and heartwarming stories. It releases in theaters on November 17, 2023.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDYS
FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDYS - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - A troubled security guard begins working at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza. During his first night on the job, he realizes that the night shift won't be so easy to get through. Pretty soon he will unveil what actually happened at Freddy's.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Five Nights at Freddy's is a comedic horror film, filled with intensity and suspense. It brought me to the edge of my seat and kept me wanting more.

Based on the popular and highly-engaging video game, the storyline follows Mike (Josh Hutcherson), who is struggling to make it financially while having to care for his younger sister. He gets offered a security job night shift for the abandoned "Freddy's Pizzeria" and, at first, is hesitant, but eventually realizes that he has no choice. Mike struggles with past family trauma and has very vivid dreams at night. When he starts to fall asleep at work his dreams get longer and clearer. He soon learns that the job he has taken can be the answer to more things than he could have ever imagined.

A huge standout in this film is the cinematography. Every camera angle holds so much purpose, and is made with such intention. Moods are created from a singular camera angle and set the tone for the entire film. For example, the flashbacks scenes that accompany Mike's dreams focus on specific moments to highlight their importance. The director, Chris Columbus, creates this uncomfortable feeling through his work, and delivers an outstanding film. Additionally, I really enjoyed the suspense throughout the entire movie. I never knew what was going to happen next, and I was riveted to the screen. I wanted to cover my eyes, but didn't want to look away at the same time! There is the perfect amount of scariness, laughter and surprise. Lastly, the message of this film is both heartwarming and intriguing. The importance of never giving up is highlighted in such an interesting way and can almost be hard to spot. However, at the end, even though we are left wanting more, it is clear that hope is one of the only ways to get through life. Joy and happiness is a must in order to continue successfully, and that is the underlying meaning of this movie.

The message of Five Nights at Freddy's is to listen to your heart and never give up on what you believe in. Be forewarned that this film does include gruesome content.

give Five Nights at Freddy's 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Five Nights at Freddy's in theaters and on Peacock October 27, 2023.

By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 12-17 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
CURSES
CURSES - APPLE TV
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 5-12
Description - When a generations- long family curse turns Alex Vanderhouven to stone, it's up to his two kids, Pandora and Russ, and his wife Sky, to return artifacts stolen by their ancestors to their rightful homes to finally lift the curse for good.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Curses is a fun and mysterious 10 episode series that is full of adventures and soon to be solved mysteries. This show is very kid friendly and could be interesting to adults as well. I really enjoy how this show refers to ancient civilizations and how the adventures you take around the world.

The storyline follows the Vanderhouven family when a generations-long family curse turns Alex Vanderhouven (Reid Scott) to stone. It's up to his wife Sky Vanderhouven (Lyric Lewis) and their two kids, Russ (Andre Robinson) and Pandora (Gabrielle Nevaeh) to return artifacts stolen by their ancestors to their rightful homes to finally lift the curse for good. The Vanderhouvens need to solve this mystery soon before it's too late.

This very adventurous show is full of unsolved mysteries and has lots of educational benefits. For example, in one episode we learn about two ancient civilizations -- the Aztecs, and the Olmec. The animation is phenomenal and the voice-acting cast is amazing - Rhys Darby, Rhea Perlman, Phylicia Rashad and horror legend Robert Englund, among others - which makes it outstanding. The voice actors really portray their characters exceptionally well. The way the director shows the bond between the family members and how they support each other is rare for an animated show. This show is so inspiring and heartfelt. However, I will say that the storyline is very predictable; for instance, when the kids go looking for their father I already knew something bad had happened because of how he was being so secretive from the beginning of the show.

The show's message is that, with the help of a family member, friend, or a trusted adult, you can do anything.

I give Curses 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 through 12, plus adults. This show premieres on Apple TV+ October 27, 2023, just in time for Halloween. Be sure to check it out.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
SPY KIDS: ARMAGEDDON
SPY KIDS: ARMAGEDDON - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - The children of the world's greatest secret agents unwittingly help a powerful game developer unleash a computer virus that gives him control of all technology, leading them to become spies themselves to save their parents and the world.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Wow! Spy Kids: Armageddon is an action-packed, family-friendly adventure that takes the beloved Spy Kids franchise to new heights. Directed by the visionary Robert Rodriguez, this film combines thrilling spy missions with heartwarming family moments, making it a fantastic addition to the series.

The film follows the next generation of Spy Kids, Nora Torrez (Gina Rodriguez) and Terrance Tango (Zachary Levi)'s children, tasked to save the world from a diabolical villain's doomsday device. The young cast, led by talented newcomers Connor Esterson and Everly Carganilla, brings fresh energy to the franchise. The action sequences are exhilarating, and the gadgets are as ingenious as ever, providing a visual spectacle that left me on the edge of my seat.

Spy Kids: Armageddon excels in production elements. The imaginative sets, cleverly designed spy gadgets, and visually stunning special effects create a world that feels familiar and full of surprises. Standout performances by Everly Carganilla as Patty Tango-Torrez and Connor Esterson as Tony Tango-Torrez add depth to the cast, and their chemistry with the lead characters is delightful. Rodriguez's signature style shines through in the film's direction, keeping the pace engaging and fully immersing the audience in the Spy Kids universe.

At its core, Spy Kids: Armageddon delivers a positive message about teamwork, family and believing in oneself. The young spies face challenges and make mistakes, but ultimately learn and grow from their experiences.

I give Spy Kids: Armageddon 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults who have fond memories of the original Spy Kids movies. You can catch this exciting family adventure right now on Netflix, making it a perfect choice for a cozy movie night at home with your little spies-in-training.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
PAW PATROL: THE MIGHTY MOVIE
PAW PATROL: THE MIGHTY MOVIE - PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 2-8
Description - A magical meteor crash lands in Adventure City and gives the PAW Patrol pups superpowers, transforming them into The Mighty Pups.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - If you need a new movie to keep your young ones entertained check out PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie. It has everything kids love and more.

After a meteor strikes Adventure City, damaging their Pup Tower - the PAW Patrol finds themselves with superpowers. But the pups soon realize they're in danger because Humdinger and mad scientist Victoria Vance are after these superpowers to make themselves into ultimate supervillains. It's up to Ryder and his team of mighty puppies to keep what is theirs as they learn that truly no pup is too small.

PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie is fantastically entertaining for younger viewers, with its fun storyline, bright colors and adorable characters. There are so many fun scenes that younger kids will enjoy. I really enjoyed the music choices in this film - it's a good mix of popular songs that different age groups will recognize and they are placed at nice points of the movie. The film takes place in Adventure City and the animators really excel in the attention to detail in creating the city as well as the other settings throughout the film. My favorite scene is when Sky tells Chase about her backstory; it is a really sentimental point of the film and is super sweet.

The theme of PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie is that if you believe in yourself you can do anything. Sky spends most of the movie contemplating her size because she's the smallest in the group, but in the end she learns that her size doesn't determine whether she can be a hero, she just has to believe in herself. Ryder says throughout the movie, "no pup too small." The pups learn the importance of this throughout the movie when they realize they all must work together to keep their powers.

I give PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. It releases in theaters September 29, 2023.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 2-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ISLAND OF LOST GIRLS, THE
ISLAND OF LOST GIRLS, THE - VISION FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - Three young girls try to stick together as they get trapped in a sea cave filled with crashing waves, hundreds of sea lions, and giant elephant seals.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love Island of Lost Girls! Its captivating storyline, outstanding performances by young actresses who fearlessly handle their own stunts, and breathtaking cinematography on a remote island make it a must-see family thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat.

The storyline follows three young sisters who accidentally become stranded on a remote island, battling nature's dangers and wildlife as they strive to stay together and survive a thrilling, unplanned adventure.

I like the originality of the storyline, which engaged me throughout. The girls' resilience in the face of challenges adds depth to the narrative. The only drawback is that the film runs a bit long which makes it difficult to maintain its intensity. The cinematography completely immerses the audience in a captivating world with breathtaking shots that showcase the remote island's wild beauty and close-ups that intensify emotional moments, such as the sisters' struggles. The camera effectively captures encounters with wildlife, like sea lions and elephant seals, which adds to the film's tension. Dynamic camera angles within the sea cave enhance the sense of adventure and danger. The costumes suit the storyline perfectly - given the girls being stranded on a remote island, they primarily wear wet bathing suits throughout the film. The remote island off the coast of Baja, California, serves as a breathtaking and immersive setting with its rugged coastline, sea caves and natural wildlife, such as sea lions and elephant seals; it creates a sense of realism that enhances the adventure and peril of the girls' journey. One standout location is the sea cave, which becomes the story's central element of tension and wonder. The dark, labyrinthine passages of the cave, illuminated by natural light, add a sense of mystery and danger. The background music, featured music, and sound effects enhance the film's storytelling. Notably, the music intensifies during critical moments, such as when the girls face danger or navigate treacherous waters, effectively building tension. The natural sounds of the sea, waves and wildlife make the audience feel intimately connected to the characters and their struggle for survival. The central characters are portrayed by real-life sisters Autumn Schmidt, Avila Schmidt and Scarlet Schmidt. The sisters are carefree and adventurous at the start, embarking on a fun day at the beach. However, their characters transform significantly as the story unfolds, and they become stranded on the remote island. They evolve from carefree individuals into determined and resourceful young girls who have to rely on one another to survive. Each sister faces personal challenges and fears, and their growth is evident in their ability to confront and conquer these obstacles. This film benefits significantly from the collaborative efforts of the filmmaker family, with parents Ann-Marie Schmidt and Brian Schmidt directing and co-writing the film alongside their daughter Avila Schmidt. Their combined talents result in a cohesive and emotionally engaging narrative, and excellent performances by their daughters, Autumn, Avila, and Scarlet. My favorite part is when the girls dare to escape from their house to sneak to the beach. This scene captures their adventurous spirit and sets the tone for the entire film. It's a moment filled with excitement and anticipation as the sisters embark on what they believe will be a carefree day of fun. The scene effectively establishes their characters and close bond, making it a memorable and engaging start to their remarkable journey.

The film's message is about the strength of family bonds and the ability to adapt and grow in the face of adversity. It highlights the power of unity and determination and the importance of facing challenges together. It conveys that, even in the most challenging situations, the support and love of family can help individuals overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Note that the film does show kids doing risky things that kids might imitate. The girls perform dangerous stunts and engage in water activities that require caution and expertise.

I give Island of Lost Girls 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It is available on VOD and DVD October 3, 2023. So look for it!

By Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Island of The Lost Girls is a strange juxtaposition of a childhood "Mission Impossible" combined with "Survivor." As a viewer I felt a bit lost in the purpose of this film.

The storyline follows three orphaned girls who seek adventure together on the beach in California. The story begins with an adoption interview with the oldest daughter Avila (Avila Marie Schmidt) which turns out to be unsuccessful when the couple realize that Avila has two younger sisters and they are not ready for that kind of commitment. The middle sister, Autumn (Autumn Fiore Schmidt), declares it's going to be "a grand adventure, I promise" and her words are truer than anyone could predict. As the girls sneak out together to overcome their disappointment about the failed adoption, they encounter wildlife and dangerous situations after they are caught in a rip current and pulled away from shore. Luckily, they overcome these situations and learn to survive together on a remote island.

The cinematography, under the direction of Heatha McGrath, is outstanding and really highlights the beauty of the island and wildlife. I really love all the interesting camera angles and wildlife footage - the location is incredible. The camera work is outstanding. I like how they included all the childhood flashback scenes. I should mention that the film is truly a labor of love by the entire Schmidt family. The parents, Ann-Marie Schmidt and Brian Schmidt direct and co-write the film and the girls are all played by their three children, Avila, Autumn and Scarlet. The music by Cali Wang drives the emotions in the film and the three girls contribute musically as well. You cannot find three more independent, fearless and adorable girls who I easily fell in love with. Their interaction is genuine and makes you want to be part of their family, especially the youngest, precocious Scarlet. The girls' adventures include unbelievable and dangerous scenes against the ocean waves and currents combined with local wildlife such as sea lions. Scarlet interacts closely with elephant seals who are dangerous and fighting. Avila and Autumn scale cliffs and maneuver through dangerous caves and Autumn falls from dangerous heights in more than one scene which makes their adventure seem more like a dangerous mission. In spite of all that, the girls learn to survive on this island and to scavenge resources and food from wildlife and what is available to them.

The film's message is that love is unconditional and demonstrates how you can be independent and take risks while supporting one another in the spirit of love. Most of the film shows and even glorifies dangerous behavior for young children such as the girls performing dangerous stunts and water activities. There is very little adult supervision shown, which makes it doubly dangerous.

I rate Island of The Lost Girls, 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. It is available on VOD October 3, 2023.

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MILLION MILES AWAY, A
MILLION MILES AWAY, A - AMAZON PRIME
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - This film is a biopic about Jose Hernandez and his path from a farm worker to becoming an engineer and an astronaut. Jose M Hernandez was born in Mexico. While working in the fields, he co-developed the first digital mammography imaging system. He then persevered to become a crew member on Space Shuttle mission STS-128. Tells a tale of perseverance, community and sacrifice to accomplish a seemingly impossible dream.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A Million Miles Away is an absolutely incredible film that is definitely worth watching. The film has great performances, a compelling story and stunning visuals.

The storyline reveals the true life story of Jose Hernandez, the first migrant farmworker to become an astronaut. His journey is filled with incredible perseverance and resilience, as he overcomes numerous obstacles to achieve his dream of reaching the stars.

A Million Miles Away is full of remarkable acting. Michael Pena leads as Hernandez with much charisma and dramatic depth. He excellently captures the humble, smart and ambitious astronaut. It's very difficult not to root for him, as we can all resonate with aspects of his journey. Rosa Salazar portrays the strong, supportive, and similarly determined Adela, who marries Hernandez. Salazar's performance effectively portrays the film's theme of dreams interfering with reality and one's struggle to chase their ambitions while concurrently supporting their family. The way in which Hernandez's story is told in this film is especially captivating. The film connects his past with his present life, helping us understand how his earlier life influenced who he has become. Throughout the film, watching Jose get closer and closer to becoming an astronaut is incredibly satisfying. The film keeps us engaged and eager to see how his life unfolds - making it a truly memorable viewing experience.

The film's message is one of aspiration and persistence. Jose's path is filled with barriers and obstacles, but his unyielding determination drives him to fulfill and pursue his dreams. With Jose Hernandez's traits, one can reach what previously felt a million miles away.

I give A Million Miles Away 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases on September 15, 2023.

By Daniel S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
LITTLE HEROES (2023)
LITTLE HEROES (2023) - VISION FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - A typical summer for four young friends becomes the adventure of a lifetime when they notice that something is amiss at their favorite swimming spot as their friends and family begin falling ill. When they discover that the local factory is dumping harmful chemicals into the town's water, they must expose the truth and figure out how to stop the pollution and save the town before it's too late.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - With a simple but engaging story and strong casting, Little Heroes is the perfect film to culminate your summer with!

Little Heroes takes place in a small town where four young friends -- Robbie (Coleman Christian), Brewster (Max Gerstenberg), Eric (Corban Jazz) and Grace (Ashtine Besteda) -- are enjoying their summer break. Brewster's father works in a factory which gets a contract with the town government. He soon finds out that the factory plans to expand their operations, and as a byproduct, is dumping hazardous chemicals into a lake where his son and his friends swim. The friend group catches wind of this and realizes they must use their wits to find a solution.

The casting of Little Heroes is a high point, as is its production quality. Coleman Christian as Robbie and Max Gerstenberg as Brewster are the stars of the cast; it's evident they paid attention to even the littlest nuances in playing their characters. Director and producer Brittany Goodwin has taken all the pains to ensure that every audiovisual element of the film is perfectly tuned. The score by Andrei Shulgach comes off a little bit like stock music, but it does suit the film. It's similar with the costumes, which fit the film's eclectic characters but somehow seem snatched out of a children's book. My personal favorite is the set design by Jennifer Dopp, Donald Imm and Craig Weaver, and the editing and color-correction by Justin Moe and Cinegach Studios. The town in which Little Heroes takes place looks picture-perfect, and every frame is vibrant. I also enjoyed how the plot came together; sure, it is predictable at some points, but there are other plot points (including a romance!) that come out of nowhere. The script feels a little bit forced and the chemistry between Brewster and his father doesn't really work for me; their relationship feels unnatural.

Little Heroes promotes teamwork, caring for our environment, and friendship. It also shows that our individual talents are what help us most in times of crisis. It's a great film for young viewers interested in conservation and those who are fans of realistic fiction. Parents should know that the children do wander around on their own in the film and do risky things like jumping into a biohazardous lake. Also, one character nearly drowns.

I give Little Heroes 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases on October 17, 2023 on demand.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

I really like the hilarious adventure film, Little Heroes. It has a suspenseful storyline that kept me engaged and is a wonderful comfort movie!

This film is about a group of friends attempting to save their whole town before a factory releases harmful chemicals into their favorite lake. Will it be too late to stop the corrupt factory?

The characters in the friend group are Robbie (Coleman Christian), Brewster (Max Gerstenberg), Grace (Ashtine Besteda), and Eric (Corban Jaaz). Other main characters are Diana (Alexa Feldman), Drew Brewster (Brian Stever), and Kerri Smithson (Brittany Goodwin). The characters' interactions are entertaining and they make me feel like I'm in the scene with them. I really admire that despite hardships in their lives, Robbie, Brewster, Grace, and Eric always show up for each other. This is shown when Robbie has a deep conversation with Brewster about his dad working extra hours to make more money. Audiences could relate to this on a personal level. Robbie is a supportive friend, as are the others. I also like the diversity in the friend group. From interests to feminism, everyone in the audience is represented in some way in the group. They are all completely different but get along. Next, I applaud the director and writers, Brittany Goodwin, Doug Maddox, and Jeremiah Wiseblood. They created a suspenseful storyline with an interesting resolution (you'll have to wait and see!) The film is slow at times but it eventually picks up the pace. The camerawork is shaky when there's a lot of action, and closeups when the scene feels more intimate. The sets are well-made, too. I like their clubhouse because it looks like the perfect hangout place. The watering hole, town ice cream shop, and factory look realistic, as well. There's tension in the music when Brewster sneaks into the factory. All of these little details enhance the movie overall. My favorite part of the film is the characters Grace and Diana. They're both strong female leaders and I like their personalities.

The message of this film is that community is the only thing that matters. Love comes before money, power, and success. Brewster's dad figures this out. Another message is that teamwork makes the dream work. Also, Robbie mentions to Brewster that he has "friends that love him," which is an important reminder.

I give Little Heroes 4 out of 5 stars and recommend this for ages 8 to 12. Little Heroes comes out October 17, 2023 on VOD.

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


Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
GHOSTERS: PHANTOM PATROL
GHOSTERS: PHANTOM PATROL - ARTISTVIEW ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 8-18
Description - Get ready for an epic adventure with "Ghosters: Phantom Patrol!" When tricky ghosts break free from a super-secret government facility, things get wild, a little spooky, and a whole lot of fun! As New York City is packed with mischievous ghosts, two clueless security guards team up with a pair of fearless tech-savvy kids to save the day. Get ready for a side-splitting and thrilling ride as they dive into the ghostly commotion and work together to save the city!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Ghosters: Phantom Patrol is a spoof of the classic movie, Ghostbusters. It has good cinematography, but a lot of the time I found myself confused. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or scream at the animated images, and the plot is confusing.

The storyline takes place in New York City and follows Wilbur (Leon Mayfield) and Casey (Heath C. Heine), two ordinary men work the night shift as guards in a mysterious government facility. They soon discover the building is home to ghosts who have been trapped and contained in glowing green tubes (a reference to Ghostbusters, where ghosts are trapped in similar tubes). When the ghosts escape the building, it's up to Wilbur and Casey to stop them from taking over the city.

There are many similarities between Ghosters and Ghostbusters, such as the theme music, the New York setting, and even the logo with the ghost shown at the beginning (though it isn't exactly the same). Fans of Ghostbusters will enjoy certain scenes, like the scene where one spirit takes over a giant statue, a nod to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. However, some things are very different - the iconic four-person crew is missing, and Ghosters is set in the 21st century and ends in a video game. I especially like Wilbur's character -- he provides comic relief, such as when he has to ride a child's bike and when he eats a Domino's� pizza during an attack scene. But while the movie is funny and the landscapes of New York are beautifully captured, it falls a bit short. It has no climax; the movie never peaks. It's all action from the start with no plot twist or big reveal. The characters have no objective or goal either. Wilbur and Casey's escape from the building lacks pizzazz - we are left to use our imaginations. The animated images are confusing as well. Although Ghosters has a funny tone, the ghosts are actually pretty scary looking, with sunken white eyes and limbs that can twist and contort in ways we can't imagine. They're terrifying but very unrealistic. I'm still not sure whether they are supposed to be funny or creepy!

As this movie is meant to be a spoof that makes fun of another movie, the message is a bit unclear. Be aware that there is some mild language, very mild graphic content, some alcohol references and one drug reference. The ghosts may be quite frightening, especially to young children and they scared me.

I give Ghosters: Phantom Patrol 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This film releases on AVOD on September 22, 2023.

The film Ghosters: Phantom Patrol is a very interesting movie. I like this film because it's the perfect mix of funny and suspenseful along with also tackling tough family dynamics.

This storyline follows two guys, Wilbur (Leon Mayfield) and Casey (Heath C. Heine), as they work an overnight surveillance job in a government building. The two, being unemployed, take the job and everything seems to be going fine until they find out they aren't the only ones in the building.

One of my favorite moments in the film is when Joey (Arthur Gazarian) and his dad, Casey, get to bond over fighting some ghosts. Casey was going to miss his son's birthday because of his new job that he got but he later ends up making it up to his son when he joins the battle against the spirits with his dad. The way that Heine and Gazarian show the reconciliation between a dad and a son in a time of need is truly amazing. My favorite character is Wilbur because he is hilarious throughout the film. There is a moment where Wilbur gets out of the facility he's trapped in after Casey does. Once he realizes that he was left there to fend for himself while the others are off looking for what may help them with the ghosts, he finds a very small bike and begins to pedal himself to the source of the issue to be as much help as he can, even if it's going to take a little bit longer for him to get there than the others.

This film's message is that your family will always have your back. Even while Jenah and Casey are not happy with each other, Jenah still stands by Casey's side in his time of need, making sure he is safe. Be aware there is mild swearing and brief discussion about violent actions.

I give Ghosters: Phantom Patrol 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. Ghosters: Phantom Patrol will be available in theaters this fall on September 22, 2023.

By Victoria L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
AMERICAN: AN ODYSSEY TO 1947
AMERICAN: AN ODYSSEY TO 1947 - MAPLE ROAD PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Following the rise and fall of Orson Welles, while interweaving stories of diverse individuals amidst the backdrop of the Great Depression, World War II, and the dropping of the atomic bomb, director Danny Wu's American: An Odyssey To 1947 sheds light on the defining moments that shaped the destinies of the subjects, and the nation's collective consciousness. In the early 1940s, director Orson Welles navigates his meteoric Hollywood rise. As WWII begins, a Japanese American boy visits abroad, and an African American soldier enlists in the army. As the story heads towards 1947, each character follows their own ambitions in search of their American identity. The tone of the film is split into two halves, with the first half being about the romantic rise of a great American director, and the second half transitioning into the realities of race and life in the Jim Crow era. In the end, as one American returns home, another American is forced into exile.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - With vivid interviews and b-roll to complement its engaging narrative, American: An Odyssey to 1947 had me glued to the screen and enhanced my understanding of a transformative era in American history.

The film takes viewers through the first half of the 20th century, following stories as diverse as Citizen Kane star Orson Welles rising to fame, to FDR shaking up politics, to Japanese citizens being shipped to internment camps. Things students might yawn at in class -- the makeup of the Northern and Southern Democratic Party, for example -- are made captivating as they're examined through different lenses, including seeing mid-century politics through the shifting relationship of media magnate William Randolph Hearst and FDR.

Thanks to its detailed, well-paced interviews and high-quality photos and videos, American: An Odyssey to 1947 seems destined not for a history classroom but for the silver screen. It might take some time to get used to the multiple narratives being presented, as there isn't much of a transition between them, but viewers can be assured that all becomes clear within the first thirty minutes. The cinematography is clean and clear, as is the soundtrack. My favorite part of the editing is the interspersed of archival interview footage from Orson Welles and others from the 20th century, as well as the somewhat-experimental initial and final sequences shot in black-and-white.

This film promotes patriotism, but also suggests there's more to American identity than meets the eye -- some bad and some good. The film is all about looking back at our experiences and doing better going forward.

American: An Odyssey to 1947 gets 5 stars out of 5 from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film opens in select theaters beginning September 8, 2023 in New York City and releases on digital platforms September 12, 2023.


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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BEYOND THE GRAVE
BEYOND THE GRAVE - UNCORK'D ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Exploring the different aspects of the afterlife, including near-death experiences and more.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Beyond the Grave is one of the most informative and awakening documentaries I have ever watched! The whole concept of it is alluring because who wouldn't want to learn about what happens in the afterlife. I also enjoy it because of how everything is so clearly explained. The documentary covers lots of spiritual discoveries and intriguing stories. It is also amusing to watch if you are interested in paranormal activity.

The plot of Beyond the Grave follows Serena DC who is on a mission to figure out as much as she can about what happens after you die. She travels around meeting with different experts, doctors, mediums, and even paranormal investigators who all have stories to disclose. Throughout her trips Serena attains new knowledge that she is using to answer the main question of what really happens to one's soul after they pass and other factors that involve their life before death.

Beyond the Grave has loads of information and each piece adds a bit to the puzzle. The main reason Serena interviews all of these people is because the majority of them share at least one thing, which is the fact that they faced death head on in their own way. For the ones who didn't, they are professionals when it comes to life and death situations. One of the people she meets whose narrative touched me was Susana Grau. She gained abilities after her near-death experience to the point that she can communicate with present spirits. She gave Ms. DC some really interesting information. Another interesting person is Ellen Whealton, who witnessed things out of earth's reach that changed her life for the better and made her who she is today. Each of the people Serena talks with explain their stories and how they changed their lives. The documentary is very well executed from the camera work to the interviews.

The film's message is to show and prove that death, the one assured thing in life, may sound scary but it could truly be just the beginning of something unimaginable to the human mind and its analysis should be seen as such.

I give Beyond the Grave 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Beyond the Grave releases September 5, 2023, on VOD!

By SaniyaRain F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3 - FOCUS FEATURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - From writer and director Nia Vardalos, the worldwide phenomenon MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING is coming back to theaters with a brand-new adventure. Join the Portokalos family as they travel to a family reunion in Greece for a heartwarming and hilarious trip full of love, twists and turns. Opa!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is the latest of the hilarious trilogy -- this time with more emotion and nostalgia added to its humor. Fans of the franchise will love watching their favorite Greek family back for another wedding and, this time it's set in Greece! I was amazed by the cinematography, the characters and, of course, the jokes!

The movie follows the Portokalos family as they vacation to their recently deceased father's (Michael Constantine) hometown in Greece for a family reunion, coordinated by their cousin and self-appointed mayor Victory (Melina Kotselou). In Greece, Toula (Nia Vardalos) attempts to fulfill her father's death wish -- to deliver his old journal to his childhood friends George (Ektoras Kaloudis), Dimos (Menelaos Ntaflos), and Thanasis (Spyros Kasfiks). However, the discovery of even more new extended family members leads to yet another Greek wedding.

Throughout the film, the landscapes are beautifully captured, showing some very beautiful pictures of rural Greece. We see lush green forests and rolling hills, crystal-clear rivers and cloudless blue skies. Closer to the village, we see a long winding road, cobblestone streets, secret passageways and older, worn buildings that have a rustic charm to them. Several times, we see sunny beaches with white sand. This makes it feel more like a three-dimensional experience than a movie. While fans will miss Grandpa Gus and his amusing ability to connect every word to its Greek root, they will enjoy meeting newer characters such as Toula's daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris). Also, many familiar characters have returned, including Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin), who thinks she's in charge of everyone else, and Toula's cousin Nick (Louis Mandylor). The soundtrack features upbeat Greek songs, such as the wedding dance. But my favorite part of the movie is all the jokes. Every morning, the family is awakened by a rooster. Cousin Nick hilariously tries to shave his face at the breakfast table. There is one scene where a sheep randomly enters the house before most people are up. An aunt is startled by the sheep, which is right next to her when she wakens, and exclaims that she thought her husband had come back from the dead.

This film reminds us that time with our loved ones is valuable, and we should make the most of it. We only get to live once, so we should live each day to the fullest and appreciate our cherished people every day.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 gets 4.5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The releases in theaters September 8, 2023.

By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is a fun comedic film that takes you on an adventure to an authentic small town in Greece.

This film brings the Portokalos family together for the third time and, in this film they are going to their father's hometown for a special reunion. In his last words to his daughter, Toula (Nia Vardalos), he asked her to reconnect with his best friends from childhood and give them his diary. The family embarks on a journey of new discoveries, finding their culture, and connecting with the people around them.

I really enjoyed the beautiful locations in this film. Everything from ocean views, to food, to music, and the Greek culture made me feel as though I was getting swept off my feet and fully emerged into Greece. This really speaks for the film, plus it has such a fun summer aesthetic. Additionally, this movie has the total package of humor and insight. There are many moments of laughter, specifically with Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) and her fun free spirit. The scenes with Aunt Voula and Toula are such key bonding moments for them; their special relationship to one-another intensified during this trip. I also found this film to be quite the tear-jerker as I was definitely wiping tears from my eyes by the end. There are so many emotions and pure human reactions incorporated into this film which gives it so much life. You can feel the love that the all the family members have for one another, based on how they stick together and believe in each other. Another standout is the storyline. Sometimes sequels can fall flat and feel repetitive. However, this is definitely not the case here! The third time the Portokalos come together to continue their story is exciting, while still staying authentic to who they are and what they believe in.

The message of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is to never give up on the power of hope and love. The film does contain some jokes intended for an older audiences, so be forewarned.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 gets 4.5 out of stars and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 releases in theaters September 8, 2023.

Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Get ready to yell "Opa!" for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3! This emotional, but fun movie is definitely the most upbeat of the trilogy, and this particular film holds a special message about family and love.

This film follows Toula (Nia Vardalos), Ian (John Corbett) and the rest of the Portokalos family as they are on their way to a family reunion in their motherland - Greece. As they want to make a tribute to Gus Portokalos, Toula attempts to track down Gus's three best friends from childhood to give them a special gift. Along this journey, the family discovers new and important roots and celebrates many cultures, all while trying to plan the best family reunion ever.

My favorite part of this film is definitely the location. This film is set in Plaka, Athens and it is absolutely breathtaking to see the oceans and the mountains and the small villages; everything is so unique and special. I also love the costumes, especially those worn by Elena Kampouris's character, Paris. They are all so fashionable and I fell in love with their patterns and colors. I also appreciate that they celebrate many different cultures in this film, as it shows that they are open to being diverse and they make sure to include everyone, no matter where someone is from. My favorite character is definitely Toula because, even though she struggles with so much in her life, she is the epitome of resilience.

The message of this film is to be open to new experiences, because you never know how similar you are to others. As the Portokalos family stays in Greece, they find new connections and new friends. Be aware that there is mild profanity, sexual references, and partial nudity.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This movie will be released in theaters on September 8, 2023.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MONKEY KING, THE
MONKEY KING, THE - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - The Monkey King is an action-packed family comedy that follows a rebellious and charismatic Monkey and his magical fighting Stick on an epic quest for victory over 100 demons, an eccentric Dragon King, and Monkey's greatest foe of all --his own ego! Along the way, a young village girl challenges his self-centered attitude and shows him that even the smallest pebble can have a big effect on the world.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Monkey King is a modern twist on the classic Chinese tale. It takes you on an exciting adventure of discovery and growth, while being packed with fun and suspense.

The storyline follows a journey of the Monkey King (Jimmy O. Yang). Although he is strong and powerful, the praise that he receives can sometimes go to his head. When he is faced with the ultimate challenge of defeating the Dragon King (Bowen Yang), he must learn to put his pride aside and work with the secretive, but friendly Lin (Jolie Haong-Rappapert) who can help him conquer this journey.

A huge standout is the character development in the film. The Monkey King changes a lot throughout the movie. He starts off conceited and relentless and, by the end, he's changed for the better. His character learns multiple lessons along the way which helps teach young viewers about selflessness and understanding that sometimes the right answer isn't always what's best for you. I enjoy the creative storyline. The Director (Anthony Stacchi) and Producer (Peilin Chou) have incorporated aspects of traditional Chinese culture and tales to create a modern day version of The Monkey King that grasps multiple audiences. The townspeople are inspired by the Ming Dynasty, which was cool for me to see as I have been learning all about that during the past year. I always get excited when I'm able to connect and understand historical references! Lastly, the film's animation is top notch! The quality is clear, and the color scheme really fits the aesthetic. The Monkey King feels so alive and vibrant, which definitely catches my attention.

The message of The Monkey King is that everyone has the power to create their own path in life.

I give The Monkey King 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. You can watch The Monkey King on Netflix beginning August 11, 2023.

Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
GOLDA
GOLDA - BLEECKER STREET MEDIA
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Golda is a ticking-clock thriller set during the tense 19 days of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (Helen Mirren), faced with the potential of Israel's complete destruction, must navigate overwhelming odds, a skeptical cabinet, and a complex relationship with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (Liev Schreiber), with millions of lives in the balance. Her tough leadership and compassion would ultimately decide the fate of her nation and leave her with a controversial legacy around the world.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - What a remarkable film with a stunning performance by Helen Mirren. I am absolutely awed by her, once again.

The film focuses on the 19-day Yom Kippur War and the tragedy of it all.

I remember in my youth, this war happening, but if pressed for the details, I would be hard-pressed to provide that. What this film shows is how Prime Minister Meir handled this crisis with an iron glove. Dealing with her all male cabinet and advisors, she is always the quintessential leader. She asks for their advice, but clearly the decisions she makes are completely her own. We see her soft side as she shows concern for the son of one of her secretaries in one scene and, in another, pulls out a small notebook wherein she keeps track of the number of troops who have died. I walked out of this film numbed to my core and really couldn't speak about it for hours. It just made me think deeply about how vulnerable the state of Israel is and what it must be like for those who live there to be surrounded by big and powerful countries.

The film's message is really about standing your ground in even the most difficult of situations.

I give Golda 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. By Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Golda is a somewhat bland, but interesting look at how Israel's prime minister from 1969 to 1974, Golda Meir confronted the forces that threatened her country. Aside from its monotone nature, Golda contains award worthy performances, and visually striking cinematography.

When Egypt, Syria, and Jordan launched an attack on Israel, Golda Meir (Helen Mirren), Israel's determined Prime Minister, managed internal conflicts within her predominantly male cabinet and raced against time to avert disaster during the 19-day span of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Golda portrays her intense struggle to preserve Israel.

Helen Mirren's performance as Golda Meir is the film's strongest asset. Mirren commits to the role and transforms herself physically. Meir's struggle to grapple and navigate Israel's ongoing war is depicted flawlessly, along with the deep feelings of stress and terror seen in her eyes. Her patriotism and profound love for the citizens of Israel is clear. Live Schreiber has a minor, but pivotal role as Henry Kissinger and delivers a performance just as remarkable. His dynamic with Meir is one of the film's most enjoyable aspects due to their rocky relationship. Golda's runtime is definitely felt. While it sets a necessary somber mood for the gravity of the situation, it makes Golda void of visual variety. The film maintains a constant gloomy color tone, which is artistic, but this makes the film very tedious to watch. Even with its ticking clock pace, Golda is filled with excessive verbal communication instead of actual events occurring. Showing instead of telling would make Golda's stress and the growing tension more believable. Another huge highlight of Golda is Jasper Wolf's cinematography. Golda is filled with unique and stunning shots and camera movements. Shots are used to express the tension with rapid camera motion along with still, more mellow shots. This assists the actors' performances by improving the impact of their emotion.

Golda's message is the importance of unity and perseverance in difficult times. Despite all odds, Golda Meir pushes through obstacles in order to protect her country of Israel. She stands not for herself, but for all in trouble and in need of hope. Her endless patriotism and devotion drives her to fight for Israel and unify all. Parents should be aware that Golda is centered around a very heavy topic and includes violence and profanity.

I give Golda 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It will be released in theaters August 25, 2023.

By Daniel Salem, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
INTO THE SPOTLIGHT (2023)
INTO THE SPOTLIGHT (2023) - REVIVE PRODUCTIONS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Into the Spotlight centers on a high schooler who grew up writing music with her rockstar dad but always preferred to stay out of the limelight. When her best friend isn't able to perform, she steps in as her substitute at their high school talent show. The incredible performance goes viral, and she becomes an overnight star.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Into the Spotlight is a remarkable film! The film includes lots of singing, dancing, and some romance as well. It is also great if you are a fan of plot twists because there is definitely a jaw dropper for this one, it was extremely fun to watch!

The storyline follows Laura Banks (Kate Larson) who has a passion for singing and songwriting but not the best confidence to do so. She is very shy when it comes to audiences and performing, but when she is alone she sings with grace and no fear. Laura's friends, Riley (Marisa Lynae Hampton), Ben (Raphael Ruggero) and David (Justin Sterner) are just as talented as she is. Laura ends up unintentionally falling into fame and, in the process, loses touch with her authentic self. As she juggles with the trappings of success her identity becomes overshadowed, but with the guidance of her parents and friends, she embarks on a journey of rediscovering herself for the better, seeking to reclaim the genuine essence of who she is before it's too late.

This film has numerous surprising turns that kept me on my toes throughout the entire film. There's the ideal high school drama between the protagonist, Laura, and her school bully Violet (Isabelle Almoyan) who twists up issues and adds fuel to the fire whenever she can. Additionally, there a school talent show where Laura makes her debut with her friends that practically puts her on the map. An important theme is to never be afraid because you might miss out on something great if you do. The costumes are very relatable --gorgeous and classy. The sets are cool as well; some are at the school and others are impressive homes, vintage retail stores, and fabulous apartments. The whole time I thought how this film is both surreal and relatable all at once. The songs are catchy and perfectly match the various scenes. As for the actors' performances, they are executed well but lacked emotion. Everything makes sense in the end and none of it is expected.

The film's message is to never lose sight of who you are and to stay true to yourself along with the ones you love. Steer clear of those who want to change you for the worse.

I give Into the Spotlight 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Into the Spotlight releases September 1, 2023 on VOD!

By SaniyaRain F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Into the Spotlight is a film full of teaching that I enjoyed and felt thrilled because it talks about success and this film really defines that!

The storyline follows Laura Banks (Kate Larson), a teenager who is discovering what she wants, and a scholarly event suddenly shows the girl what her purpose is. Everything is right but someone very important to Laura's career has an idea that goes against the girl's thoughts and can change her life as well as everybody else involved.

What I enjoy about this film is how it depicts situations very similar to the days of many students; it addresses serious subjects that we need to learn, including music and singing, which I relate to. My favorite part is when Laura becomes courageous and shows everybody her talent. Laura's energy is contagious! I like the way Laura's father is kind to her and is always on her side. I love seeing such a great example of good parenting. The costumes are very typical of what a young person might wear today. For example the t-shirts the teenagers wear to school and what they usually use. The soundtrack is very important for the film and the singers perform them quite admirably. For example, I enjoyed the music when Laura sings and the music in a sad scene made it very touching.

The film's message is a reminder to choose friends for quality not quantity, and believe in yourself.

I give Into the Spotlight 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It will be available on VOD and DVD September 1, 2023.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BLUE BEETLE
BLUE BEETLE - WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Recent college grad Jaime Reyes returns home full of aspirations for his future, only to find that home is not quite as he left it. As he searches to find his purpose in the world, fate intervenes when Jaime unexpectedly finds himself in possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology: the Scarab. When the Scarab suddenly chooses Jaime to be its symbiotic host, he is bestowed with an incredible suit of armor capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the Super Hero Blue Beetle.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I really love the film Blue Beetle! One thing I enjoy is the strong cultural theme at its center. It is a great sci-fi film, with a great tone and some pretty fun comedic scenes and characters, which is different for a DC movie.

The storyline is set in Palmera City where Jamie Reyes (Xolo Maridue�a), a Gotham pre-law graduate, is trying to get a job. When he meets Jenny Kord (Bruna Marqueszine), she gives him a piece of alien technology called the "Scarab" that gives him superpowers. The plot thickens when a woman named Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon) tries to steal the Scarab back from Jamie, putting his entire family in danger.

The storyline is great. What this story does differently than other superhero movies is make the main character's family a big part of the action. There are a lot of other unique things about this film, too. I love the way the director and writers bring representation of Latino culture into the film through the characters and the sets. Palmera City, Jamie's house and Jamie's family all feel very realistic. The costumes are incredible as well, especially the Blue Beetle suit -- it's slick and has a personality of its own. Of all the characters, my favorite is Rudy (George Lopez), who brings a lot of fun into his scenes. He is the 'tech support' for Jamie, but is also a conspiracy theorist, and there are a lot of jokes based on his quirky personality. The makeup effects are great too; for example the scene where Jamie transforms into the Blue Beetle.

The film's message is that family makes you stronger, not weaker, which is a theme I love. Be forewarned that the film has a few violent scenes, a lot of action, some profanity and sexual references.

I give Blue Beetle 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases in theaters on August 18, 2023.

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

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

Blue Beetle is a fascinating adventurous movie that checks off every box. It brings you to laughter, tears and everything in between all while being an intense blockbuster film!

Blue Beetle takes place in Palmera City, and follows Jamie Reyes (Xolo Mariduena) who starts off as a typical college graduate trying to find himself and his calling. That all changes when an ancient relic, a Scarab, chooses Jamie as its host and sends him and his family on a life changing adventure.

A huge standout in this film is the creative storyline. I really enjoyed the idea of the Scarab, and how the characters go about finding a solution. Each character really comes to life, and watching their journey is so interesting. This movie hits all the marks and has something for everyone. There are so many comedic scenes, yet still definitely has some tear-jerking moments, especially in the end. These different dynamics contribute to creating a well-rounded film, which leads up to the satisfaction that comes at the end. It is quite intense and had me on the edge of my seat most of the time. Another thing I enjoyed are the characters. They each have their own personalities and skills, but ultimately come together through their common love of family. For example, Jamie, Blue Beetle, is more of a go-with-the-flow kind of guy and a little unsure of himself. Then there's Jenny (Bruna Marquezine), who is confident and experienced. Rudy (George Lopez) likes to take risks and often prays for the best. All of these different characteristics and personalities come together and mesh so well in creating a power team!

Lastly, the scenery in this movie is outstanding. The island is beautiful and the CGI is extremely clear. From the clear blue ocean water, to the local heartwarming neighborhoods, everything is extremely appealing to the eye. These features draw my attention, and locked me into what I'm watching.

The message of Blue Beetle is that strength comes from love and hope. Be forewarned that this film contains some strong language, aggressive violence and use of weapons.

I give Blue Beetle 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Blue Beetle releases in theaters August 18, 2023.

Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Blue Beetle is an awesome movie! I like it because the story revolves around family and it's a comedic sci-fi film made me laugh and cry.

Blue Beetle is about a young man named Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridue�a), who returns home after graduating from college and discovers that his family is about to lose their house. When he and his sister, Milagro Reyes (Belissa Escobedo), get jobs working at the house of Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon), Milagro's mischief causes them to get fired, but not before they meet Victoria's niece, Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine). Jenny offers to help Jaime land a job at Kord Industries but instead, she winds up asking him to protect the Scarab, an alien artifact that turns him into the Blue Beetle. The Scarab gives Jaime superhero powers but he is reluctant to use them until his family and Jenny become the target of the film's villain, Victoria Kord. She wants to harness the power of the Scarab to build superhuman warriors and rule the world.

You won't want to miss this heart-warming action-packed film. Throughout the entire film, the cinematography is so good that it feels like you are right in the middle of all the action. My favorite part is when Jaime is in danger and his family and Jenny rescue him by using advanced technology developed by Jenny's late father. Even Jaime's grandmother, Nana (Adriana Barraza), shows off her impressive combat skills by wielding a futuristic-looking rainbow-colored cannon. The upbeat Latin-inspired soundtrack adds even more energy to the already intense scenes as Jaime's loved ones risk their safety to protect him. I was especially impressed by Uncle Rudy's (George Lopez) bravery when he faced off against Carapax (Raoul Max Trujillo) and narrowly avoided being hit by a fireball. Overall, this movie is truly a thrilling and action-packed ride that will have you rooting for the Reyes family as they laugh together, encourage one another, and cope with tragedy.

The film's message is that family matters more than anything else, and the love of your family make you strong even when things seem impossible. Be forewarned that there are some strong language and scenes with blood and gore that may be scary for a younger audience.

I give Blue Beetle 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Blue Beetle is available in movie theaters on August 18, 2023.

By Kira O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I really enjoyed Blue Beetle. The characters are heartwarming and lovable while the VFX are beautiful. The message of this film is about family which I felt was a genuine storyline and not the typical family story line we see in movies.

The storyline follows Jaime Reyes (Xolo Mariduena), a recent college graduate, who is chosen by an alien scarab to be its symbiotic host. The alien scarab gives the teen a suit of armor with extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever altering his future as he becomes the superhero known as Blue Beetle.

Blue Beetle Is a great family film with a theme used correctly while having lovable characters. What makes the characters so lovable? Their charisma and charm. The best example of this is Rudy Reyes (George Lopez) who steals the show. Anytime he's on camera it's going to be a good time. The other character that's lovable is Nana Reyes (Adrianna Brazza) who is heartwarming to watch on camera while still remaining a funny character. I won't say more about her because, if I do, I might spoil some of her best moments. If you see this film you'll understand. Finally the person that I believe to be the heart of this film is Alberto Reyes (Damian Alcazar). This character is how the theme of this film is used correctly with very few lines. He somehow makes an impact on this film greater than anybody else. Without him this film wouldn't be the same. Now let's talk about the VFX. This movie is a breath of fresh air. The VFX for this film is pretty beautiful. There's one moment with Jaime and his dad that is just magnificent and even the Blue Beetle suit looks realistic. Even with all these good things Blue Beetle has its flaws. There are some moments in this film that could have been better like providing scenes that give it more depth. I know the character Blue Beetle, but if this is your first time ever seeing the character Blue Beetle you won't know much about his backstory. You will still enjoy it - it's a great experience and you should definitely go watch it.

The theme of this film is about family. It deals with all the things surrounding a family, such as the loss of a family member, the struggles of a family to afford rent that month, or issues with each other. All of these problems blend so well that, by the end of the film, the characters have grown and learned. It gives them development. It's kind of hard to describe how wonderfully portrayed the theme of family is here. In order to truly understand you have to go watch the film.

I give Blue Beetle 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 12 to 18. This film releases in theaters on August 18, 2023

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE SERIES SEASON 4
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE SERIES SEASON 4 - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 12-18
Description - After an epic summer at Camp Shallow Lake, the Wildcats return to East High where they prepare a stage production of "High School Musical 3: Senior Year." But plans are disrupted when Principal Gutierrez announces that Disney has decided to make the long-awaited "High School Musical 4: The Reunion" movie on location at their beloved high school.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 4 is a great new season to add to the previous three. The series features many returning characters that are known and loved, as well as some new additions to the cast.

Season 4 has the East High students putting on a production of High School Musical 3: Senior Year. However things take a twist when it's revealed by a famous couple that they, along with some of the original cast of the High School Musical trilogy are going to be making High School Musical 4 right in the East High School. With tensions brewing and the movie crew taking over the school, the East High students are in for a wild ride this season.

The twists and turns that happen throughout this season are amazingly captivating. Every time I think things can't get crazier, they do. The relationship between Ricky (Joshua Bassett) and Gina (Sofia Wylie) is very cute and one of the best parts of this season. Actually all of the relationship and friendship dynamics in the show are very cute and scripted. Another cool part of this season is the return of lots of alumni from the original series, including Corbin Bleu, Lucas Grabeel and the legendary Alyson Reed. The whole cast excels in their performances of their characters -- the dynamics of the various relationships are well defined and make sense. For example the relationship between characters Ashlyn (Julia Lester) and Maddox (Saylor Bell Cruda) starts as a platonic friendship with lots of texting yet seems to be developing into more. The show is filmed again at the iconic East High School, which is an appealing part of the series that we all relate to now. One of my all-time favorite parts of this season is the creation of an entirely fake show called Mark and Spark with its own intro and theme song. A new character, Mack (Mathew Sato), comes to East High to star in High School Musical 4 and Mark and Spark is the show that made him famous when he was young. The show features many revised versions of Disney songs such as Now or Never from High School Musical 3 as well as lots of new original songs that are very catchy. One of my favorites is the song in episode one that Ricky and Gina write together about their relationship. Other returning actors include Dara Rene�, Julia Lester, Frankie Rodriguez, Kate Reinders, Liamani Segura and many more.

The message of this season is to be in the moment and don't get caught up in the past. It is a continuing message throughout the entire series.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 4 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. The new season releases all episodes August 9, 2023 on Disney+.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I love High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 4. It's filled with engaging content and storylines that keep you hooked. The characters and themes are easy to enjoy and understand, especially if you are a High School Musical fan and even if you are new to the series.

The new series joins the East High drama club's return from a hectic summer camp when things take an unexpected turn. The original cast of High School Musical, the movie, arrives to introduce a new movie idea with the East High drama club included in the cast. The drama club will also stage an adaptation of one of the HSM films. The plot moves quickly and is fun and easy to follow with some unexpected surprises along the way. Each episode recaps the previous storyline and keeps it going with new twists, subplots and characters that make them easy to watch and watch again. The camera work with smooth zooms and clear focus on the actors enhances the viewing experience. I love how the costumes match the vibe of average teens, featuring popular brands and fresh styles. I appreciate the attention to detail with the set design; they truly reflect high schoolers rooms from the neat and organized to the truly messy. I couldn't help but enjoy the music. The background music really sets the mood and moves the story along. But it is the cast's songs that really tell the story with well-rounded lyrics and fun-to-listen-to melodies. I really enjoyed the harmonies of the Halloween special; full of fun and a great surprise to start off the first episode of the season--an excellent beat. The new main character Gina (Sofia Wylie) shows a deep emotional side while remaining strong and confident. I enjoy how relatable her character is. The scriptwriter did a strong job with fast-moving dialogue that is witty, complex and heartfelt. The writers create a series that entertains, with a story inside of a story, without being confusing. My favorite part is when Gina meets Mark (Matthew Sato) her childhood crush and her current boyfriend Ricky (Joshua Bassett) jealously and comically tries to prove he's better than him.

The message of this season is about taking things slowly, not rushing into decisions, and figuring things out calmly.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 4 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Season 4 releases August 9, 2023 on Disney+.


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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
DREAMIN' WILD
DREAMIN' WILD - ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Dreamin' Wild, the true story of love and redemption, is about what happened to singer/songwriter Donnie Emerson and his family when the album he and his brother recorded as teens was rediscovered after thirty years of obscurity and was suddenly hailed by music critics as a lost masterpiece. While the album's rediscovery brings hopes of second chances, it also brings long-buried emotions as Donnie, his wife Nancy, brother Joe, and father Don Sr. come to terms with the past and their newly found fame.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - With its toe-tapping music and sincere performances, Dreamin' Wild definitely entertained me and I believe will enrapture pop-rock fans as well as those who have never heard of Donnie and Joe Emerson. The film tells a true story with immense heart. It is shot elegantly and the story is fascinating; the at-times flat narration is the only chink in Dreamin Wild's armor.

Dreamin' Wild opens in the rural Pacific Northwest, as singer/songwriter Donnie Emerson (Casey Affleck) and his family, are approached by a representative from Light in the Attic, who says he thinks the album Donnie and his brother Joe (Walton Goggins) recorded as teenagers is the next big hit. When the album, also named Dreamin' Wild, makes its rounds, it is hailed by music critics as a lost masterpiece. And whereas the brothers see this stroke of luck as a second chance for stardom, it also unmoors other deep-seated emotions, fears, and hopes, as Donnie, Joe, and the family come to terms with the past, present and possible future.

The moving story is shot with clarity, care and craft; the lighting and framing do justice to the Emersons' bucolic hometown as well as their eclectic and ethereal 'jam space.' Casey Affleck has somewhat patented the 'damaged man exploring his trauma' trope, perhaps because of his real-life experience fending off his demons with alcoholism. That takes nothing away from his deep performance as Donnie in Dreamin' Wild. His portrayal of emotional damage and hope is enough to keep you gripped. Walton Goggins is equally spectacular. Every dialogue-heavy scene is followed by the brothers jamming, and then another dialogue-heavy scene; this format gets a little tiring by the 60-minute mark, but the plot developments and emotional performances redeem the film's at-times slow pace.

Dreamin' Wild encourages following your dreams but staying grounded, being hopeful but never forgetting where you've come from, and caring for your family and yourself.

I give Dreamin' Wild 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Dreamin' Wild will release exclusively in theaters on August 4, 2023.


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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
OPERATION NAPOLEON
OPERATION NAPOLEON - MAGNOLIA PICTURES
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Icelandic lawyer Kristin gets drawn into the vortex of an international conspiracy when she receives footage of an airplane wreck, recently revealed by the melting of one of Iceland's largest glaciers. The old German World War II plane not only brings ruthless criminals onto the scene, but also CIA director William Carr, who has been secretly trying to remove the wreck for a long time. Kristin refuses to rest until the key has been discovered that will solve the riddle of Operation Napoleon.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Operation Napoleon is a great film for fans of mysteries and international intrigue. Its interesting plot shines, thanks to stellar cinematography and despite a rough screenplay and sometimes wooden performances from the cast.

Operation Napoleon follows Icelandic lawyer Krist�n (Vivian �lafsd�ttir), who is drawn into an international conspiracy and falsely implicated in a murder after her brother finds a Nazi plane atop the Vatnajokull Glacier. Now she must unravel the history behind the conspiracy, codenamed Operation Napoleon by the CIA, and escape U.S. agents tracking her down.

As with many Nordic films, the style of acting in Operation Napoleon is very understated. This does not do the film too many favors when it comes to scenes of life and death, in which the characters struggle to emote and to immerse the viewers in each scene. The editing and cinematography are highlights -- sets are believable; the color correction is consistently cold (to do justice to Icelandic winters); and everything looks great. The film doesn't slow down to breathe too frequently, which helps keep the momentum of the action going. But the screenplay is a mixed bag; the script doesn't provide enough detail behind many characters' goals and ambitions, and the story waits until the end to explain the real motive behind Operation Napoleon, in a relatively awkward way. Iain Glen, who plays William Carr, and Olafur Darri, who plays Einar, are the best actors of the lot. �lafsd�ttir and her male lead counterpart Jack Fox (who plays researcher Steve Rush) both come across as one-note characters. Still, the premise of the film is interesting enough to keep you watching.

Operation Napoleon promotes honor and the pursuit of truth.

I give Operation Napoleon 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Operation Napoleon releases in theaters and on demand on August 11, 2023.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FURRY FORTUNE, THE
FURRY FORTUNE, THE - VISION FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - Based on the popular children's book by Donna Morgan it is about a dog whose fur turns into money.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth reviews
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Furry Fortune is a very entertaining film about learning to not take advantage of the things you have. Also it reminds us that family should always come first, especially before money.

The story follows young twins, Zoey (Juju Brener) and Dax (Mason Bloomberg), and their dog Nuzzles (Henry) who sheds money from his fur due to a wish Dax made to help their mother (Mo Allen) and father (Shane Heartline) who are struggling with money. They end up with so much money and it gets in the way of their family, plus their neighbors get suspicious of how the Taylor family suddenly has so much money. This makes them obsessed with finding out their secret.

What I like the most about this film is the brother-sister relationship Zoey and Dax have. I also adore how the actors make their characters look and feel like they are a family. The acting by the child actors is outstanding. I love how Zoey's characteristics are mature, sassy, smart and very grown up. Dax characteristics on the other hand are very childish, sweet and kind. The actors show what siblings actually act like -- even when they fight, they still love each other. The neighbors, William Kearst III (Adam Kulbersh) and his son Odom Kearst (Mason Wells), bring humor into the film by their spying on the Taylor family. I also really enjoyed the cinematography; the images are steady, in focus, and very clear. Another thing worth mentioning are the set designs -- the Taylor family's house feels like a nice, clean and cozy home. And, the twin's treehouse with all its gadgets, pulleys and other crazy stuff that allows people to go in and out of the tree house is outstanding.

The film's message is to never take what you have for granted and that family is everything! It also reminds us that money can't buy you happiness, so appreciate what you have and always make family a priority. Never let anyone or anything get in the way of family; family always comes first.

I give The Furry Fortune 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. It releases on video on demand and DVD beginning August 1, 2023.

By Valerie R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to have a dog that sheds money? Welcome to the life of twins Dax (Mason Blomberg) and Zoe Taylor (Juju Journey Brener). An absurd story is executed with comedy and charm, portraying the importance of family over money in the film The Furry Fortune.

The Furry Fortune follows Dax and Zoe on their adventures as they start out as bored and neglected children and navigate their way through unexpected events to eventually arrive at a very important realization. Not only does Furry Fortune focus on Dax and Zoe's lives, but it also shows snippets of their parents, Doug (Shane Hartline) and Emily Taylor (Mo Allen), and their next door neighbors, William Kearst (Adam Kulbersh) and Odom Kearst (Mason Wells). The neighbors are willing to do whatever it takes for money, which becomes a problem when the Taylors are forced to hide their windfall from everyone. Will the secret stay a secret, or will the money become a curse rather than a blessing?

The acting in The Furry Fortune truly makes so much of a difference. Specifically, Mason Blomberg and Juju Journey Brener, as the twins, emphasize the message of the film. Through their sad and left out expressions, we are able to further relate to the characters and understand the importance of the theme. Their parents are constantly putting work and money over spending time with their kids, and the twins demonstrate the effect it has on them. In addition, the acting performances of Shane Hartline and Mo Allen, as the parents, show what not to do, and how one person's actions can affect someone so much without them even realizing it. Without these in-depth acting performances, the message wouldn't be as strong or seem as relevant to viewers' lives. The comedy throughout provides a nice break from some of the sadder and more serious moments. On top of some jokes and hilarious moments, the film is funny as a whole because of the absurdity of the world they are living in -- a dog that sheds money? How much more ridiculous can a film get? But it is such a fun concept and kept me engaged the entire time.

The message of The Furry Fortune is that time can make more money, but money can't make more time. Dax and Zoe think that the more money you have, the happier you will be. They both come to realize that if you spend all of your time chasing money, you lose time that you can't get back. The Furry Fortune emphasizes the importance of putting family first and spending time doing the things you love with the people you love while you can. There is some very mild inappropriate language.

I give The Furry Fortune 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It releases on video on demand and DVD beginning August 1, 2023.

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm



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