The KIDS FIRST! Endorsement category has 1802 titles

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KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
I STILL BELIEVE
I STILL BELIEVE - LIONSGATE FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-14
Description - The true-life story of Christian music star Jeremy Camp and his journey of love and loss that looks to prove there is always hope.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I Still Believe is a sincere and true love story, held down by clich�d dialogue and plot development. The subtle messages and radiant leads stick their landing without feeling preachy. Adults and kids will admire this faith-based tale, perhaps in a matinee and a box of tissues.

This story brings the true-life story of Christian music star Jeremy Camp (KJ Apa) and his remarkable journey with his wife Melissa (Britt Robertson). Their faith in God is tested when Melissa is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Still, Jeremy believes there is always hope and a faith worth sharing through his music and memories.

The two leads share great chemistry allowing for a believable relationship. KJ Apa, as Jeremy Camp, steps into the shoes of the Christian music singer, through his original music and devotion towards his wife Melissa. Speaking of which, Britt Robertson, as Melissa, is the best performance nailing the emotional gravitas of the real-life counterpart's plight. She fares much better in emotional scenes, and while KJ has great screen presence, he could improve his emotional chops. Both characters absolutely deliver a heart-warming dynamic that makes the ending all the more tragic, but also reminiscing. Nathan Dean, as Jean-Luc, adds a love-triangle dynamic that feels more at home in a CW show than a dramatic real-life story. Still, his character is charismatic and relatable in his struggles. Gary Sinise, as Tom, is Jeremy's father, adding more heart to Jeremy's unwavering love and choices.

Directors Andrew and Jon Erwin return after directing the Christian film I Can Only Imagine. The Erwins have a good grasp on not being preachy and instead, focus on the human relationships that bind. However, this film's first half panders with one instance of egregious product placement, unbecoming of its more mature second half. It feels tonally inconsistent in spite of KJ and Britt's natural chemistry. There's a scene involving a broken jar of pickles where the film becomes thoughtfully complacent about its conflicts. This is where the film began to click, and it ends up being moving and lyrically heartwarming.

The message of this film is to always keep the faith and stay close to those you love. They make us for who we are, and unfortunately, tragic things can happen. It's best that we stay close and not waste any day with them.

I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 due to strong thematic material. The movie releases in theaters March 13, 2020, so check it out.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BLOODSHOT
BLOODSHOT - COLUMBIA PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Ray Garrison, an elite soldier who was killed in battle, is brought back to life by an advanced technology that gives him the ability of super human strength and fast healing. With his new abilities, he goes after the man who killed his wife, or at least, who he believes killed his wife. He soon comes to learn that not everything he learns can be trusted. The true question his: Can he even trust himself?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments`
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like Bloodshot because it has a unique storyline, awesome action and great stunt scenes. This film keep your attention throughout the entire movie.

Bloodshot is about a solider named Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) who gets killed in action and is brought back to life by an innovative scientist named Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), who fixes wounded soldiers by augmenting what the soldier lost in battle. One soldier, named Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan), lost his legs in battle so Dr. Harting gave him robotic legs. Ray lost his life and Dr. Harting replaced all of his blood with nanites, which can rebuild any part of his injured body.

My favorite part is the elevator shaft fight scene when Ray, Jimmy and Tibbs (Alex Hernandez) are fighting on top of the elevator. The digital effects are awesome, like how the nanites heal Ray every time he gets hurt. The graphics are perfect. The costumes look like army gear with special devices attached. There is some foul language and violence. The cast fits each character, especially Vin Diesel who perfectly playa Ray Garrison.

The moral of this movie is that not everything is what it seems. You have to see the film in order to understand the moral.

I give Bloodshot 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Bloodshot comes out in theaters March 13, 2020. Go watch it.

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
CRITICAL THINKING
CRITICAL THINKING - CQCM - CARIBBEAN CHAPTER
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18
Description - CRITICAL THINKING is based on the story of the 1998 Miami Jackson Senior High School chess team that defied the odds and overcame incredible adversity to become the first urban high school to win the U.S. Chess National Championship. John Leguizamo stars as Mario Martinez, the determined high school teacher who's unwavering belief in his students set in motion the rise of the Miami Jackson chess team from the city streets of1998 Miami, to the spotlight as national champions.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Critical Thinking is a film with incredible, fleshed out characters in an emotional story which surprises you at every turn. It gets you to connect with the characters quickly and made me actually feel bad for them when things go wrong.

Critical Thinking tells the true story of the lives of members of the Miami Jackson High School chess team during the U.S. National Chess Championship. It goes into the motivations behind the members and their team supervisor, Mr. Martinez, as they struggle to get out of a system that doesn't value them via the chess tournament. It follows their journey from the start, raising money to get to the tournaments, and the events that occur during the tournaments, as well as all the problems throughout. The film also goes into specific details of the members' personal lives to show their daily struggles.

The characters are developed incredibly well, making you feel as if you know the characters. It makes even the most insignificant characters interesting. They are all real people who make real choices about their lives, for better or worse. I really enjoyed the way they show the players develop during the competitions. They play like real people and make mistakes like them too. There are very complicated relationships between the characters that help them develop their abilities and personalities.

The score is subtle and matches the film. There was never a point when I noticed that the score was practically good or bad, but it fits the themes and changes when necessary. My favorite scene is the final chess match. Marcel takes risks which make sense for his character. The other members of his team appear genuinely nervous, because they don't know who is going to win. They put Marcel under a lot of pressure, and it is unclear if he is going to break because of it. There is one point when an offer is made to him and it is unclear if he would be willing to abandon his team for personal gain.

The film delivers a message that people who come from different places can still accomplish incredible things. It also addresses the problems with the school systems' view on people of color.

I give Critical Thinking 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 13 to 18, because it covers some very mature topics. Critical Thinking will be released summer 2020.

Reviewed by Rohan F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ADVENTURE BOYZ
ADVENTURE BOYZ - HOWARD FORD
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - When speedway racing champ Mike Harris has his kids for the summer holidays, he is stunned they want to sit inside playing on their devices. Insisting they get out into the real world for adventure and exercise, little does he realize, he is about to set off a chain of events that will change their lives forever.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Adventure Boyz is an engaging film in which family ties are tested and strengthened. The beginning of the movie shows the toll that family separation takes and the father realizing where his children are headed if they continue on that road. It ends with the returning of a missing family member and becoming a family again.

Adventure Boyz encourages family activities as healthy ways to nourish family relationships between parents and children, denouncing the use of electronics as some kind of epidemic that turns people into zombies.

What I found appealing are the main characters, the views and scenery. Plus, there is adventure and fun involved. Although the film lacks in creativity, it flows well most of the time. There are some things that don't quite make sense such as like the father being allowed to compete again and winning. It offers a please feeling of familiarity with the characters and their environments. The movie exceeds in showing positive family and faith values.

Adventure Boyz offers a positive message about family and the importance of good parenting. It emphasizes trusting God and positive advice that a committed parent should give her children. It does have some unnecessary physical violent scenes, that you should be aware of.

I give this 3 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 13 to 18. This film is available now on DVD and digital.

Reviewed by Carolina S., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like Adventure Boyz because it has a good, interesting story. This film is full of action and adventure. It is cool how the two boys, Sam and younger brother Jake (Rory Ford, Felix Ford) work together to solve a mystery. I like how the boys' dad is a speedway racer, because that is something I'm not ever around. I also like the mom, because she is very protective of her kids. You can tell she loves them very much.

The story starts off with a news reporter reporting that 50 diamonds has been stolen in the castle. This grabbed my attention right away. When the two brothers are biking, they find a hideout where the diamonds hidden. That is just the beginning of their big adventure. The boys get chased by two bad guys pretty much throughout the movie and have quite a few close calls. They have to fend for themselves because their mom is away and their dad winds up in jail. It's really up to them to set things straight.

I love one of the bad guys in the story--one of the antagonists. He has a great personality, because he is always getting distracted by things and it's funny when he gets off task. The other antagonist is the complete opposite; he is very focused and very serious about his job. My favorite part is when one of the bad guys is admiring flowers. It's ironic because, earlier on in the film, he tells his partner he never wanted to be a criminal, he wanted to be a gardener.

The message of the film is to trust yourself. Sam sometimes has moments when he doubts himself and then, he learns to be more confident and does the right thing. I know when I'm more confident, I tend to do better at something, like when I'm singing, dancing and acting. There is one scary part, the abduction scene, when someone is tied up and has duct tape over his mouth.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 14, but even older kids and some adults may like it. Adventure Boyz is available now on Blu-Ray/DVD and streaming services, so look for it.

Reviewed by Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 12.99 Media: Video and DVD


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
WENDY
WENDY - FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Wendy is the new re-imagined version of the Peter Pan story and a very thoughtful and meaningful film. It is beautifully shot, and it reminds us of the power of imagination. Wendy is a very introspective story that combines adventure with drama but is not a colorful vibrant tale--instead it is filled with some sadness and a little gloom.

Director Benh Zeitlin co-wrote this film with his sister Eliza, a story where a little girl, Wendy, assumes the role of a mother figure to her brothers. The story explores adulthood and the challenges of a new self-acquired freedom.

Trains pass everyday just next to Wendy's house and everything shakes. Her life seems very methodical; she helps her mom at the dinner business that operates in the lower level of her house. On the top level, she plays and uses her imagination reading books and daydreaming about adventures. One day, when she is little, a kid disappears on top of a train in front of her pretty blue eyes. Years later, she decides to disappear on a train, too, followed by her brothers, curious to see what happens at the end of the journey. She meets Peter Pan and arrives in a remote volcano island. She also meets the kid that disappeared years ago, but he hasn't aged. She discovers the secrets behind staying forever as a kid as she learns the importance of growing and enjoying every stage of life.

The film was shot on location, in places that represented a real challenge to the crew. Zeitlin is a passionate filmmaker who challenged himself filming in 16mm, a format that is artistic but represents more efforts, technically speaking. The format definitively adds texture and works perfectly for the story. The young actors are excellent; they totally conveyed a wide range of emotions.

Wendy is about lots of things; definitively a coming-of-age film where Wendy deals with the fact of growing up and assuming responsibilities and being afraid of that. But it is also about family, respect for nature and grown-ups and older people. And this is probably my only issue with this film - at times, it feels that it has too many moments of symbolism which makes it hard to follow the main purpose.

The message of the film is we should always remember the good things about being a child, keeping a free spirit and use our imagination. But aging brings wisdom and we can't change the course of life.

I give Wendy 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids age 10 to 18. Some images could be a little intense for young kids and this movie will not be very easy to understand for kids under 10. Wendy opens February 28, 2020.

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

This soulful fantasy drama drew me in from the very beginning and never let up. It is so visually stimulating, with a lot of different camera angles and incredible stunts. The location is both beautiful and exotic. It's the perfect setting.

Wendy is a very different adaptation of the classic Peter Pan story. It follows a young girl named Wendy and her adventure to a mysterious island with her brothers. Once on the island, they discover the wonders of nature, freedom and the surprising struggles of life. Wendy fights to keep her family together, while trying to stay young.

Benh Zeitlin co-wrote the screenplay with his sister, Eliza Zeitlin, and also directs the film. The awesome thing about this twosome is that they didn't just, one day, think of this idea for a movie, but had the idea their whole lives. Benh also co-composed much of the dynamic music for the movie along with Dan Romer. Wendy was filmed on location in the Caribbean, using 16mm film versus a reliance on green screens for background settings. It features real nature! This movie has a wonderful cast of nonprofessional kids, such as Yashua Mack, who plays a very believable Peter. Gage and Gavin Naquin, as Wendy's brothers Douglas and James, have a visible bond with each other as brothers as well as in real life. My favorite character is Wendy (Devin France), because she is so brave, very curious, and has a kind spirit.

The messages of this film are that it is ok to grow up, but never loose joy, hope, wonder and freedom and to confront, not escape, life's difficulties. This movie has some mild profanity, some gory images and some very risky adventures, but the last is on purpose because they wanted these kids to be free to do fun and dangerous things.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Adults will also like this movie. Wendy opens in theaters on February 28, 2020.

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

I like Wendy because it is a totally different and more realistic version of the Peter Pan story. I like how this movie follows Wendy's life story and point of view about life.

This film is about a little girl named Wendy who has a pair of twin brothers and they are raised by their single mother. Their mom owns a diner and she works very hard in order to take care of her three children. They live upstairs above the diner and, next to their house, is a train track where they can see the trains pass by very close to their bedroom window. When Wendy was about two or three years old, her neighbor, Thomas, who was about eight at the time, jumped on one of the trains and never came back. That memory hunts Wendy. Years pass by until one night, Wendy sees a train that's similar to the train Thomas jumped on and she decides to wake her brothers up and jump on the train. Once they are on the train, they meet Peter, a young boy who takes them to an island where a group of children and a group of very old people named "The Lost Boys" live.

Wendy is not the traditional Peter Pan classic tale or movie that we are used to seeing. This movie is unique because Wendy comes from a low income and hard working family. She is raised by her mother only. The kids are dirty, sweaty and untidy. They are very hyper, wild and adventurous. They use foul language and fist fight with each other. There is only one graphic scene with blood in it. There is no Tinkerbell and the creation of Captain Hook is very original. It is a great new take on this fairy tale story.

The moral of this movie is to always be young at heart and to use your imagination and creativity in life. Wendy physically grows old, but in her heart she is young. She believed in helping her brothers overcome their sadness and bad experiences on the island, in order for them to continue to be young.

I give Wendy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Children under 10 could watch this film under the supervision of an adult. Wendy was released in theatres February 28, 2020.

By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
CALL OF THE WILD, THE (2020)
CALL OF THE WILD, THE (2020) - TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - A sled dog struggles for survival in the wilds of the Yukon.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Call of the Wild is an amazing film based on a book with the same name by Jack London that follows the story of a massive, clumsy dog named Buck, who gets taken away from his master, is forced into slavery and struggles trying to discover his true destiny.

When the movie begins, Buck is taken away from his home and must adapt to his new environment in the wilderness. I really like the way the movie shows him changing to fit in. They use a giant, black, shadow of a wolf with glowing, yellow eyes. Every time Buck needs to make an important decision, the wolf is there leading him to the best path.

The animation and CGI in this movie are great; all the dogs look incredibly realistic. There is a dog fight between Buck and another dog that is very intense and the dogs act just like normal dogs act when fighting each other. The cinematography, with the visual effects, is really outstanding. Each different landscape has thousands of small details that showcase the amazing power of mother nature, which is exactly what the movie wants to show to us.

My favorite character is Buck the dog; he is playful, kind, funny and all-around relatable character. Buck is the main character in the movie, even though he doesn't talk. My favorite scene is when John Thornton, Buck's final owner, is trying to drink his bottle of whiskey and Buck keeps knocking his glass out of his hand. Eventually, Buck steals the bottle and buries it in the yard. This scene was hilarious and it made me think that Buck was saying, "no drinking."

There are two different messages that this movie offers. One is, "you don't need to hurt people to be a leader; be kind and you will get your best team." The second is, "Mother Nature is powerful, don't try to take too much from it, only take what you need so the world can stay as beautiful as it is today."

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to18 because some jokes most kids won't understand. This film comes out in theaters February 21, 2020. Look for it.

Reviewed by Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

My feelings about this movie are quite mixed. On one side, the use of CGI helps to portray the strong emotions of the dogs. On the other hand, there are many scenes containing brutal animal abuse that many audiences will find disturbing and unsettling. The storyline, however, is incredibly well-structured and detailed.

The Call of the Wild is about Buck, a fearless, strong dog who has been through so much in his life. After being shut out on the porch of his California home, Buck's name is called and he finds himself in the hands of a dog seller, who locks him inside of a box for transport. A while later, he is recruited as a puller for a dogsled that delivers mail in Alaska. After a journey full of twists and turns, Buck discovers a whole new world with someone he loves and trusts by his side.

Some of the lead characters include John Thornton (Harrison Ford) Perrault (Omar Sy) and of course, Buck. What really stands out is the CGI that is essential in expressing the emotions of the animals. It is really effective in this aspect of the story. The dogs look almost human! With such emotion in their eyes, and their actions, there is barely anything that humans can't relate to. (Except for the furriness!) My favorite part of this movie is in fact the CGI. The difference it makes in it is emotionally impactful and helps the audience feel attachment to the characters, and love for them too. It improves the quality and aesthetic which makes the viewing experience vivid.

This movie strongly conveys a message of how perseverance is enlightening and can make anyone a stronger, more intelligent person who can take on more difficult challenges than ever before. It is definitely successful in signifying this empowering lesson through symbolism and emotion, and definitely reminds me to push through the problems that I run into in life. There is something that the audience should look out for. There is some extremely aggressive behavior that is inflicted upon animals, and between other characters. Several weapons are used, such as a whip, a bat, and guns. Minimal amounts of blood are shown. There really isn't any bad language, however.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. You can find The Call of the Wild in theaters on February 21st, 2020.

Reviewed by Ruby A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The Call of the Wild is an action-packed suspenseful movie that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. The film follows many CGI created animals that seem very inconsistent and too expressive to be real animals. Throughout the film, there are laugh-out-loud jokes to lighten the mood from its intense plot and dialogue. The film has amazing landscapes showing the Yukon terrain and prospector theme.

The Call of the Wild follows a dog named Buck as he gets kidnapped and joins a sled dog team. At first, Buck doesn't seem to fit in anywhere, but throughout the film, he grows to be a more confident dog and learns to face challenges head-on. One day, Buck meets a man named John Thornton (Harrison Ford) who sees the abusive condition Buck is in and decides to save him. For the rest of the movie, John and Buck's friendship grows and you get a glimpse of the sweetest duo ever.

For The Call of the Wild, the CG images are critical. Even though the CGI is inconsistent, I give major props to all the visual artists for their work. A movie like this is heavily reliant on CGI and, frankly would not be possible without it. Harrison Ford once again proves that no matter whether it's Star Wars or Indiana Jones, his acting is spot on and he never disappoints. The photography is extremely crisp and makes you really feel the wilderness environment.

The Call of the Wild is rated PG and advertised as a family-friendly movie, but I disagree with this rating because throughout the entire film, the dogs face multiple levels of abuse that will make you put your hands over your eyes. The overall tone of the movie is sad and dark. It is a real tear-jerker and just makes you want to help these poor dogs. However the movie does teach viewers the importance of loyalty and companionship.

The Call of the Wild portrays multiple levels of animal abuse and cruelty, so I recommend it for ages 13 to 18 and give it 2.5 out of 5 stars due to graphics, but well-portrayed relationship between a man and a dog. The Call of the Wild opens in theater February 21, 2020.

Reviewed by Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 13

The Call of the Wild has such wonderful sets, cinematography and CGI. Although the film is pleasing to watch, the plotline itself is predictable and redundant. There are so many films out there about a man's best friend and there was nothing in The Call of the Wild that sets it apart from them.

Based on the novel by Jack London, the storyline follows a dog named Buck who is stolen from his home on a ranch. He is sold to become a sled dog to deliver mail. Buck has many encounters with a man named John Thornton who eventually becomes Buck's owner. They become very close and John takes him on a trip to the other side of the mountain in honor of his late son, because it is a trip that he would have loved. Unfortunately, another man named Hal, whose judgment is clouded by greed, believes that John is taking this trip because he knows where the gold is. Hal follows him with ill intentions. Because of this whole journey Buck, in the end, finds where he belongs.

Harrison Ford, who plays John Thornton, embodies his role and shows the audience the bond that Thornton develops with Buck. It's almost as if he sees Buck as his own son. The dog that plays Buck is named Buckley. He was a stray dog in Kansas and director Chris Sanders and his wife adopted him because he was the same breed as the dog in the novel. Buckley went from being on the streets to starring in a movie where he gives an amazing performance.

The story is set in Alaska where the scenery is quite beautiful. They capture the majesty of the frozen mountains and even the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. The CGI for the dogs is photorealistic. It is super cute how they show the dogs' emotions by their facial expressions.

My favorite parts of this film are the various shots of the scenery. It really looks so beautiful in both the daytime and nighttime shots. I loved seeing it and it makes me want to visit those places.

The message of this film is about realizing that life is a journey and will be full of challenges, but through these challenges you will find your place. If Buck wasn't kidnapped from his home on the ranch he never would have truly been happy. Without the challenges that he faced, he would have never gotten his freedom in the wild. Everything happened for a reason, from being tortured to meeting John Thornton.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. Even adults might enjoy this film. The Call of the Wild comes out in theaters on February 21, 2020, so check it out!

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
EMMA.
EMMA. - FOCUS FEATURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Jane Austen's beloved comedy about finding your equal and earning your happy ending, is reimagined in this. Handsome, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse is a restless queen bee without rivals in her sleepy little town. In this glittering satire of social class and the pain of growing up, Emma must adventure through misguided matches and romantic missteps to find the love that has been there all along.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Emma is a cheerful adaptation of Jane Austen's beloved novel. Readers of Jane Austen can rejoice as her characters come to screen. Others might not find this to be their cup of tea.

In this adaptation the "handsome, clever and rich" matchmaker Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor Joy) pursues adventuring through matches and romanticism to find love.

Anya Taylor Joy, as Emma, gives the best performance. Anya has grown from a being newcomer, and this demanding performance proves that, allowing for eloquent speaking and characterization. Her conversations with other characters are straight out of the classic Victorian tale; keeping in mind, she is American. Her love interests are Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley, a dashingly critical friend, and Callum Turner as Frank Churchill, a rich gentleman. I also enjoyed Mia Goth as Harriet, as she helps Emma find her match.

Director Autumn de Wilde is artistic, but the pacing could be tighter. This is a slow movie as several scenes are long, drawn-out conversations. I feel this aspect is best achieved in books, though some movies can capture the audience's attention like that. This movie really must be your forte for it to be enjoyable. The character's parlance is always olden English, and there is a loss of stakes. The score by Isobel Waller-Bridge is authentically Georgian capturing the grounded roots of genteel women living in England.

The message of this film is to not rush love, as Emma and Harriet let time prove its worth after hasty pursuits. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, due to brief nudity, even though younger kids might not be interested in watching this. The movie releases in theaters on February 21, 2020, so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
HOPE RANCH
HOPE RANCH - VISION FILMS
Series: VOD, AGES 12-18
Description - A young girl and her mother are in danger of losing their ranch after the death of her military father. With a little help from their majestic white horse, they hatch a plan to save the ranch and learn to never lose hope.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I personally enjoyed Hope Ranch. This inspirational family drama kept me engaged, yet I wished that the storyline was a little more complex. I also wished the father (Jon Schneider) had a little more screen time. We don't quite get invested in him before he is gone.

The storyline is about a mother and daughter who go through a strong testing of their faith when the father goes off for a final duty in battle and does not return. The mother has to deal with the possible foreclosure of their ranch property and her daughter's faith is temporarily shattered after her dad is killed in battle.

The production quality of this film is outstanding. The picture resolution and sound are clear, the cinematography is beautiful. The subtle color scheme works well for a mid-western ranch in a mountainous region.

The message of "keeping the faith" is very straightforward and appropriate for its target audience. There are no deeper or entangled themes that might confuse the viewer. The subject of potentially losing one's home and losing a loved one in war is very relatable to many people and a very realistic storyline.

I give Hope Ranch 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 14, plus adults. Hope Ranch is available on VOD March 3 and DVD March 10, 2020.

Reviewed by Kimberly M., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I really enjoyed Hope Ranch. It has a wonderful storyline and involves horses, which I love.

Hope Ranch is about a girl and her mother trying to save their ranch after her father dies at war. It's well structured and easy to follow and also deep at the same time.

It is live action with lots of beautiful landscapes. The camera explores lots of interesting angles. The protagonist, Grace (Grace Van Dien) loves her home, her family and her horse, Faith. But, she loses her faith after her father dies, which makes her horse's name ironic. The costumes are suitable to the story. The sets are either at the farm or the church. The music is very dark and emotional, enhancing the feeling that something is about to happen.

The message of this film is that even in the worst, darkest time of your life, if you have hope and faith, everything will turn out all right in the end. The only negative behavior is that Grace yells at her mother a few too many times.

I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Hope Ranch comes out on VOD March 3 and DVD March 10, 2020. Look for it. Reviewed by Kayenta C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Although the message of this film is quite uplifting and can help any person, it is directed at a Christian audience with its faith-based focus. I found the plot a bit slow in developing and the topic of the arguments between the characters pretty repetitive.

The storyline entails a mother Rebecca (Marisa Brown), a father Mike (John Schneider), and their teenage daughter Grace (Grace Van Dien), who move to a large, countryside ranch. Everything goes downhill when Grace's father is deployed in the military and passes away in battle. After this, she and her mom struggle to pay the mortgage and must do anything to save the farm, including hold on to hope, have faith and believe that not all is lost. Grace is a very emotionally driven character. She cares so much about the ranch and will do anything she can to make sure that she and her mom can keep it and continue to live a full life together.

What really stands out most to me in Hope Ranch is the music. The tempo and instruments in every scene tie everything together in an emotionally expressive way. The music helps the viewers to connect deeply with the storyline and the situations that the characters are experiencing. This film definitely promotes the admired social behavior of helping others in need and sticking together in times of difficulty, which is an effective choice, as it helps other people in desperate situations.

The message of this movie is that you should never give up or lose hope, and that if you persevere through tough times, it will only make you stronger than ever before. It is definitely successful in portraying its message.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can find Hope Ranch on VOD on March 3, 2020 and on DVD March 10, 2020.

Reviewed by Ruby A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Hope Ranch is an inspiring tale of loss and the power to overcome the obstacles life throws your way. Though the scriptwriting is a little clich�, the cinematography makes up for it. Hope Ranch impresses with its high quality production. The cast lacks a bit, apart from Marisa Brown.

Hope Ranch is about a girl, Grace (Grace Van Dien), struggling with the passing of her father and, in turn, acts out against her mother. Grace's mother, Rebecca (Marisa Brown), is trying to pay off their debt so they can keep their family farm, all while getting her daughter under control. As tension rises, both mother and daughter begin to lose hope - including hope for Grace's horse, Faith, to not be sold off to pay their rising debt.

This film starts off slowly and picks up pace slightly. When it comes to the storyline, despite Grace Van Dien's expertise, it's a challenge to make Grace's character come to life. The dialogue between Chris and Grace is, at times, embarrassing to watch, due to some awkward lines. These two are positioned to be the film's power couple, but they are also meant to be best friends. Many scenes between Chris and Grace are uncomfortable to the viewer. Although the screenplay doesn't excel at the romance in the film, it successfully delivers other messages quite well, especially when Rebecca is slowly breaking down from the pressure of holding the farm and her family together. The portrayal of feeling genuine pain is truly astonishing. I give Marisa Brown credit for holding this film together, particularly in this scene.

The message of this film is to never give up hope. No matter what is going on in your life, you will find a way through it. Whether it is with God or with your friends, that time will surely come to pass.

I give this film 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 13. You can find this motivational film on VOD March 3 and DVD March 10, 2020.

Reviewed by Joshitha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Runtime: 85 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 19.95 Media: VIDEO


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TO THE BEAT! BACK 2 SCHOOL
TO THE BEAT! BACK 2 SCHOOL - VISION FILMS
Series: VOD, AGES 12-18
Description - Sisterhood is tested, rivalries heat up and new bonds are formed when students go back to their performing arts school to compete for an all-expense paid summer scholarship program to a prestigious Conservatory of Fine Arts.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - To The Beat! Back 2 School is very entertaining and witty. Most typical teens will enjoy this film because they can easily relate to the story, as it presents situations that most high school student may face in real life.

The film is a high-school comedy with typical ingredients such as the nerdy students, the pretty student, the funny student and a common target. Its appeal because of its catchy plot, a variety of attractive and talented performers from varied racial backgrounds, and their (mostly) well-chosen wardrobe and background music.

The beginning of the film has some flow problems, but it quickly recovers about fifteen minutes into the film. Keep in mind that this is a sequel to To The Beat!, which I recommend watching first to know who is who and avoid confusion. In watching this, I found knowing the characters a little challenging. After I realized who is who, I could focus on the plot. The characters, settings, most costumes, soundtrack, plot, and selected talented cast makes this film appealing for any teenager. I enjoyed some of the jokes and funny behavior from some of the characters.

As to conflicts, it gets complicated because both the main and supporting characters have some form of internal conflict he or she is facing and must solve in order to grow. I like seeing a film making these internal conflicts part of the plot and trying to wrap up everything at the end of the film. The film drew me in by addressing these conflicts and showing how the characters come to terms with overcoming their obstacles. I also found alluring the use of clean humor and well-timed sarcasm.

I enjoyed most visuals, although some scenes are so dark it is difficult to see what's going on, like the ones in the dance practice room. The acting is pretty basic and could benefit from a bit more work from the secondary characters. The big plus for me is the inclusion of kids from multiple racial backgrounds, without making that a big deal. I also appreciate that the film does not go into any gender-related issues. The film is definitely entertaining, plus it touches on family and friendship values.

The message of this film is to about finding yourself. You should be aware that there is some inappropriate language, scenes where hatred is displayed and some inappropriate clothing.

I give To The Beat! Back 2 School 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18 plus adults. The message of this film is available Digital and DVD May 10, 2020 so don't miss it.. Be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Carolina S. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewers
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - To The Beat! Back 2 School is a hilarious and entertaining new feature film! This film is so fun and there is never a dull moment. If you are looking for an engaging drama-packed movie, this is the one for you.

Tensions at Valley Performing Arts grow high when the twins, Mackie and Mia, return from spring break. The students are put to the test when offered the opportunity to audition for one of three scholarships to the Triad Conservatory of Fine Arts in New York City. Between the huge scholarship, Mia's new boyfriend and Mackie's newfound friend in her longtime rival, Avery, things are bound to heat up.

There are a bunch of incredible aspects to this film. One of my personal favorites is the writing. Susan Bernhardt and Jillian Clare crafted an incredible story that has plenty of plot twists and turns to make it engaging to watch. The actors are extremely believable in their roles at Valley Performing Arts. Sydney Bourne, who plays Cassidy, is insanely talented. I love when actors and actresses that play villains can make me genuinely dislike their character enough to stir emotion within me, and Sydney Bourne was able to do just that. One small problem I found with To The Beat! Back 2 School is that since I hadn't watched the first movie, the first few minutes were a little bit confusing, due to my lack of background knowledge. I really enjoyed how the soundtrack for the movie keeps the scenes lively and energetic. Another thing I thought kept the movie lively was the stellar choreography. Every dance scene is visually appealing and kept my eyes glued to the screen.

To The Beat! Back 2 School shows us that people can change and we should not to judge a book by its cover. Making instantaneous assumptions about a person doesn't tell you much about them. In order to understand a person, you should get to know them first. Another valuable message is taught is about respecting other people for who they are, as a person and not based off of their talent.

I give To The Beat! Back 2 School 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommend for kids ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Make sure to check out this film March 10th, 2020 on VOD and DVD. Trust me, you won't want to miss it!

Reviewed by Brad M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18
Runtime: 92 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 19.95 Media: VIDEO


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FINDING GRACE
FINDING GRACE - VISION FILMS
Series: VOD, AGES 12-18
Description - A troubled teenage girl is forced to provide community service in a retirement home. As she develops a friendship with one of the residents and becomes closer to her father, she discovers the power of family, hope and faith.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Finding Grace is a heart-warming film that presents the need of God in our lives through common, real-life situations. This film demonstrates the best way to handle even the most difficult moments in our lives through the sometimes direct, sometimes indirect connection to God. It shows that, even in the darkest moments, anyone can experience hope through God.

Finding Grace follows a struggling family facing new challenges when they are already are dealing with so many things. It has many appealing elements including the cast, the settings and the storyline. I loved the beautiful settings near the sea and I love that the cast includes elderly actors as extras, which something is not something found in films these days.

This film would appeal to the whole family or even a teenager who might be experiencing similar feelings as the protagonist. For example, the anger of not having the power to change or control of your own life, just as Alaska expresses in the film. The film flows well and, even though you are unfamiliar with the characters at first, it is easy to follow their internal conflicts as a broken family and as individuals. Things evolve and come to a happy resolution after inner changes and personal growth takes place, through a connection with God. The storyline uses real-life situations, from early youth, through mid-life, that any person might experience in their lifetime. Even though the cast is prominently Caucasian, there is good inclusion of other ethnic groups. I appreciate that the film gives a natural flow of life-like situations and presents a positive resolution.

The message of the film is how important it is to involve God in our lives as our guide and counselor. You should know that some scenes are not quite suited for young audiences, but can be well explained if the viewer is accompanied by an adult. Though it is not an explicit scene, there is one where Mrs. Foster is about to attempt suicide and gets caught by Alaska. The negative part of this scene is that there is no resolution at that moment for the suicide attempt, other than switching the dialogue over Alaska's experience with suicide.

I recommend Finding Grace for ages 16 to 18, plus adults. I do suggest that the whole family make this part of a great family night. I give this 4.5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Carolina S. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewers.
Runtime: 107 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 19.95 Media: VIDEO


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
SONIC BOOM: SEASON 1, VOL 2 (2 DISCS)
SONIC BOOM: SEASON 1, VOL 2 (2 DISCS) - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD, AGES 5-8
Description - It's a Sonic you haven t seen before an ensemble comedy that pokes fun at action-adventure storytelling, but still manages to deliver plenty of adrenaline! Wherever he goes and whatever he s up against, Sonic the Hedgehog is aided by his sidekick, Tails, and his friends Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks and, of course, attacked by his arch nemesis, Dr. Eggman
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I am quite aware of Sonic the Hedgehog as a video game character, but have never watched any of his shows. I was pleasantly surprised as I watched this action-packed Season One, Volume 2 DVD. There is a lot of action as Sonic and his friends outwit Sonic's arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggman. I like that there isn't just the typical "good wins over evil." It is expected that good will win, but it is fun to watch too. Some of the humor is a bit dry if you are an adult watching the show. But, it is appropriate for children ages 5 through 12. I like that it shows teamwork and friendship, and all of the action makes it very entertaining to watch. The characters are very likable; my favorites are Sonic and Amy. I like that the characters are unique and each brings something to the show. Of course, Dr. Eggman is not a favorite of mine, but he also makes the series entertaining, especially since Sonic and his pals usually outwit him. I give this 4 out of 5 stars for its entertainment value. This DVD would make a great gift for a Sonic fan, since it is a Limited Edition Gift Set that includes Knuckles and Tails figurines. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Reviewer
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is nearly five hours of laugh-out-loud, animated fun, featuring your favorite hedgehog. The physical humor and amusing adventures will keep kids entertained for hours on end.

The DVDs include 26 action-packed episodes, and if you get the limited edition gift set, you'll also get two action figures--either Sonic with Dr. Eggman or Knuckles with Tails. In every episode, Sonic and his friends protect their village from the evil Dr. Eggman. Of course, no matter how crazy the situation, Sonic and friends are able to save the day in the end.

There are some really funny storylines, like when Sonic and Knuckles spill nacho cheese on Amy's couch while house-sitting. They try cleaning it up with grape soda, which just makes it worse! Their next idea is to try to win a new couch by going on a game show, but they fail and one of Dr. Eggman's missiles ends up exploding the couch anyway. In another episode, it's hilarious when Sonic grabs the last chili dog that Dr. Eggman wanted, so to be nice Sonic goes all the way to the warehouse to bring his nemesis a chili dog. But Dr. Eggman wanted extra relish, so he throws a tantrum by trying to destroy the whole town by shooting it with lasers and attacking it with robots. Of course this is nothing Sonic and friends can't handle. One of the best jokes is when the boys compete against the girls in a survivor challenge. The girls decide the losers will have to do everyone's laundry, but Sonic says, "That's not fair for us boys - we don't even wear pants!"

The message of this series is that friends are stronger together. There's probably not a lot of content that parents will object to, but there is some cartoon violence that kids might be tempted to copy. The only thing that's a problem for me is that there is one episode out of the 26 that's only available with Spanish audio, no English at all. Unfortunately I can't understand what they're saying in the episode, "Fire in a Crowded Workshop."

I give this series 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 12, and adults might enjoy watching with their kids as well. Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is available on DVD February 2020.

Reviewed by Will C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I like this DVD because it is very entertaining. Each story line is funny; it has a lot of action and delivers a lot of adrenaline.

The Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 2 DVD, is over four hours of action, fun and entertainment. The package comes with two DVDs, which include 26 episodes. What is nice is the gift set comes with two toys, Knuckles and Tails. Sonic (Roger Craig Smith) is a blue hedgehog that has a sidekick, Tails, who helps him in his adventures. Sonic's friends - Knuckles (Sebastian Desjours), Amy (Cindy Robinson) and Sticks (Nika Futterman) - help him attack his arch nemesis Dr. Eggman (Mike Pollock). Each episode has a different story line. The episodes do not follow a sequence, which it means that each episode is always a different adventure and that's what makes it so entertaining.

The graphics are amazing and the colors are very bright. The voice-overs are funny and they fit each character. The music is okay. I especially like the theme song, which is very catchy. My favorite episode is "Bro Down Showdown," because it's extremely funny. It is about how Amy had to leave for a little bit, so Sonic and Knuckles ask her if they can stay at her house while she is gone. Amy says yes, but there is one rule - no foolish things in her house. So the first thing they do is eat nachos and spill on the couch. Conveniently a commercial comes on saying, "if you win the best bros contest you win a brand new couch." They immediately enter the contest. It turns out Dr. Eggman is spying on them. He arrives and starts bickering with Sonic about a bogus little thing. A guy working there sees them fighting and pairs them up, even though Knuckles is going to be Sonic's buddy. Knuckels finds a new partner and tries to win the couch. This is my favorite episode because this all happens, just because they spilled a nacho.

The moral to the stories is about "teamwork making the dream work," because in each episode Sonic is helped by his sidekick and best friend, to either defeat Dr. Eggman or to enjoy their different adventures.

I give Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 2, 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, but adults can watch it with their kids and may find it amusing too. This DVD is available now so look for it!

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Runtime: 290 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ 14.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TURNING, THE
TURNING, THE - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after their parents' deaths. A modern take on Henry James' novella "The Turn of the Screw."
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I'll admit, this film ended up being a lot more interesting than I originally expected. It actually managed to scare me a little and I got surprisingly invested. However the last act of the movie makes this experience very confusing and overall middle of the road.

The plot follows a woman named Kate who's hired to work as a nanny for two orphans named Flora and Miles. However, the longer she stays at their home, a giant mansion, the darker things get. Soon she begins seeing and hearing creepy things.

The plot is simple, however it managed to suck me in. That is because the movie sets up a lot of interesting mysteries about the true nature of the job and the kids. Yet, none of these mysteries are really resolved and that is disappointing. Plus, towards the end, the story gets even more unclear. In fact, the final moments of the film end up contradicting things that are set up earlier. While I like parts of the ending in concept, the inconsistencies in the story make it really hard to pin down whether the ending is good or not.

So, how about this film's horror? While it is mostly comprised of jumpscares; they are somewhat effective. One in particular genuinely scared me. This film definitely tries to insinuate a feeling of dread and does that quite well. It's not really that scary, but I appreciate the effort.

While I didn't really get attached to any of the characters, the acting in this film is honestly pretty good. Unsurprisingly, Mackenzie Davis as Kate and Finn Wolfhard as Miles are great. However I especially like Brooklynn Prince as Flora. She hasn't been in that much previously, but I believe she has a promising career ahead.

One thing I really like about this movie is the setting. I'm a sucker for historical aesthetics, so it makes sense that I would really enjoy Miles and Flora's mansion. The mansion is really beautiful ,yet creepy. We also see several locations outside that I would love to visit, specifically the forest area and the coy fish pond.

I would give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. This film comes out in theaters on January 24, 2020.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
PLAYING WITH FIRE DVD
PLAYING WITH FIRE DVD - PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-18
Description - When straight-laced fire superintendent Jake Carson and his elite team of firefighters come to the rescue of three siblings, they quickly realize that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet -- babysitting. As their lives, jobs and depot get turned upside down, the three men soon learn that children -- much like fires -- are wild and unpredictable.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This laugh-out-loud comedy stars John Cena as forest firefighter Jake Carson, who has his hands full leading a bumbling, but surprisingly adept team including John Leguizamo at his manic best and Keegan-Michael Key wearing every emotion on his sleeve. Things get unruly after the firefighting team rescue a teenager (Brianna Hildebrand) and her younger siblings from a wildfire and must watch over them for a weekend until their parents arrive. The plot allows square-jawed Cena plenty of opportunity to strike exaggerated stubborn poses while trying to keep in check both his wacky team and the mischievous siblings, who have to be rescued a second time after they run away in an all-terrain vehicle and wind up trapped on the edge of a cliff. The smart script balances one-liners and occasional silliness against the moments of peril, which feels surprisingly intense, thanks to excellent special effects. The fast-paced action and jokes keep the plot moving, often in unexpected ways. Eventually the kids warm to Jake who starts to loosen up, rekindling a romance with animal scientist Dr. Amy Hicks (Judy Greer). The unusual mix of comedy and danger lends a refreshing sweetness to scenes such as Jake fumbling to tell the two younger children bedtime stories. Playing With Fire is available on Digital starting January 21, 2020 and will release on Blu-ray and DVD on February 4, 2020. DVD extras include bloopers, deleted and extended scenes, "Storytime" with John Cena, and the cast reading humorous emails from the director during the shoot. Recommended for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Mike F., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like this movie because it is very entertaining and super funny. Playing with Fire is a 96 minutes filled with shenanigans. John Cena makes the audience laugh and it is weird to see him with a head full of hair.

This movie is about four smoke jumpers played by John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, Tyler Mane and John Leguizamo, who save three kids from a cabin on fire. The three children are siblings and two of them, Will and Zoe, are under the age of 10. Their older sister Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand, X-Men) is taking care of them. The smoke jumpers bring the kids to their depot until their parents can come to get them. The kids constantly mess with all the equipment at the fire depot, which distracts the smoke jumpers from doing their jobs.

The storyline includes comedy and sometimes sad moments. The visuals are perfect. The fire scenes looks real. The child actors are great at portraying their characters. My favorite scene is when Will is feeding peanut butter to the smoke jumpers' dog and he accidentally spreads it on the firefighter truck. Will drops the industrial soap and takes the fire fighter hose to clean the mess and the truck makes lots of foam.

The moral of this film is that family fulfills your life, in addition to working hard to accomplish your professional goals. Jake's (John Cena) priority is his career. He works hard to achieve and accomplish his title in the firefighter department and forgets to have fun or remember that there are people around him that love him.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 18 and adults can enjoy it too! Playing with Fire comes out in theaters on November 8, 2019. On Digital January 21, 2020; Blu-ray� Combo Pack Arrives February 4, 2020

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, are 11

Playing With Fire is one of the greatest family movies I have ever seen! It is a family-friendly, feel-good movie with an important message - family is the most important thing to help you keep going. There is a lot of comedy in this movie that makes the audience laugh out loud.

The story line is both adventurous and exciting. There is lots of action, but it is not violent. The characters are super funny and the acting is phenomenal! If I had to recommend any film to watch with friends and family, it would be this one. Some parts are sad, but there is also plenty of action and comedy to keep the audience engaged.

Playing With Fire is about four smoke jumpers, which is an elite team of fire fighters. Jack and his friends are specially trained to jump into dangerous wildfires, so they can rescue people and fight fires. Their lives are perfect, until they find three kids trapped in a fire and this special group of men is forced to hang onto them until they can find their parents. Until then, they have to fight fires and take care of the kids. What could go wrong?

The cast in this film is amazing! The casting director, Rich Delia, not only picked some big names to be in this film, but also found some talented new-comers. The whole cast portrays their characters really well and they are hilarious too! Superintendent Jack Carson, head of the smoke jumpers, is played by John Cena, a well-known actor and WWE wrestler. Keegan- Michel Key, a famous comedian, plays Lieutenant Mark, a friend of the Superintendent and another smoke jumper. Jack's soft-hearted friend, Rodrigo, is played by John Leguizamo. Brianna Hildebrand plays Brynn, the oldest of the three kids. This film also has a dog named Masher, that is Jack's fierce firehouse dog. Masher is very well trained and his interaction with the kids is hilarious. Andy Fickman directs the film.

I give Playing With Fire 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, as well as adults. Playing with Fire comes out in theaters on November 8, 2019.

Reviewed by Eva W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Playing with Fire is a funny and a fantastic Nickelodeon movie. It has so many funny moments and cool stunts. There is also some scenes that are very emotional. It is very fun and up beat. It is an enjoyable movie for the whole family to watch.

The storyline is about fire superintendent Jake Carson and his elite team of firefighters coming to the rescue of three siblings and realizing that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet--babysitting. The three siblings, Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand), Will (Chrisian Convery), and Zoe (Finley Rose Slater) cause trouble all over the fire depot and are uncontrollable, much like fires. There are lots of hilarious moments that everyone will laugh at, and sad moments where you might cry.

The cast of Playing with Fire, especially John Cena, Keegan Micheal Key, John Leguizamo, and Brianna Hildebrand, elevates the film and makes it amazing. They all put there own little twist on there character and it is really cool how they performed all of their stunts. The cinematography and special effects is fantastic as well. The director, Andy Fickman, did an outstanding job directing everything and everyone. The screenwriter, Dan Ewen, also wrote a funny and a great script.

The message of this movie is that family and friends are important. When someone needs some help, they try to help them like a family. The firefighters have to treat the siblings like they're their kids and teach them what and what not to do. All of them have to stay together for a little while and start to grow on each other.

I would recommend this movie for ages 6 to 12 (adults might like it too). Younger audiences would find it more fun and exciting than teenagers would. I give this movie a 4 out of 5 star rating. Playing with Fire comes out in theaters on November 8, 2019, so go watch it.

Reviewed by Leandro R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Playing with Fire is a super-duper good movie. I like it because it shows the difference between only caring for yourself and caring for others. I also love how it shows all the crazy things that kids can get into at a fire station, when left alone. Originally, I didn't understand the title, Playing with Fire, because, even though the firefighters rescue people from fires, they don't "play with fires" at all in the movie. When I thought about the phrase "playing with fire" and what it means, it made more sense.

Playing with Fire is about a team of specially trained firefighters, called smokejumpers led by Superintendent Jake "Supe" Carson (John Cena), who saves three kids from a burning log cabin using a helicopter. Since he and his crew are unable to safely deliver the kids to their parents due to stormy weather, they take the kids back to the fire station until their parents return. In addition to taking care of the kids, Jake is also trying to get a promotion. He tries to find time to apply for this promotion while the kids are "playing with fire" or getting into all types of trouble at the fire station.

The protagonist is Superintendent Jake "Supe" Carson. The movie takes place at the smokejumpers' base in Redding, CA. My favorite part is when the young boy Will (Christian Convery) accidentally spills cleaning powder in the room where Jake's truck is stored and he tries cleaning it up with water from a hose. The room is filled with all these bubbles and he is flying around the room with the water hose. One weird part is when "Supe" first drops from the helicopter to save the kids; he doesn't have on the typical safety equipment that firefighters wear to help them breathe. He and the kids have an entire conversation in the middle of a burning log cabin and everyone is breathing fine in the smoke-filled room.

The message in the movie is that everyone has a soft side and it's okay to show it. It's okay to let your guard down and let people into your world. You never know what you could be missing out on in life if you don't. Some things adults should look out for are characters accidentally drinking lighter fluid and scenes where John Cena is shown shirtless or in the shower.

Playing with Fire is fired up with plenty of fun and laughs so I give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults may not enjoy the film as much, especially since most of the funniest scenes are in the trailer. Playing with Fire comes out on Digital January 21, 2020 and DVD/Blu-Ray February 4, 2020. Look for it. It's a fun family movie.

Reviewed by Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ELLA BELLA BINGO
ELLA BELLA BINGO - ABS-CBN FILM PRODUCTIONS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Ella Bella and Henry are best friends, but she becomes jealous when Henry wants to play with the cool new kid. When Henry runs away, Ella Bella and a new kid go on a bicycle adventure to find Henry and learn the magic of friendship.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I really enjoyed the animation and the storyline of Ella Bella Bingo. I particularly like that Henry's father is constantly there for Henry, notably when Henry runs away to the clubhouse and they decide to go to the amusement park. I found the ice cream parlor salesman describing Henry using ice cream very interesting and niche-y.

The storyline is about Ella and her best friend Henry who have a fight and then both try to make friends with the new kid in town and everyone discovers true friendship along the way.

I believe kids will easily relate to this storyline, because it involves friendships and has age-appropriate vocabulary throughout. They will relate to the concept of magic and the visuals will draw them in along with the sharp and colorful animation. The entire story flows at an even pace from beginning to end and is sensible throughout. The structure and style reminds me of many DreamWorks productions in terms of the introduction to characters and situations, conflict resolution and the kid-friendly humor. I was absorbed in the story the entire time and felt empathy with both Ella and Henry.

I like that the father is aware when Henry has a fallout with his best friend. This film teaches kids about looking out for the needs of others. For example, Ella and Henry realize and empathize that the new kid in town who has no friends. Kids may pick-up on the fact that the new kid brags about all his expensive gadgets, to compensate for his parents not being there for him. At the end, we see his parents trying to do the right thing, when they praise him for his circus performance. The overall message of the film is really about true friendship.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 12. Ella Bella Bingo comes out on VOD march 24, 2020. Check it out.

Reviewed by Kimberly M., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Ella Bella Bingo is a fun movie about the joy and pain of friendship. Ella learns that friendships can change and new friends add new dynamics. I enjoyed the adventure of Ella Bella and Henry learning how to bring a neighborhood together through their explorations.

Ella Bella loves magicians and the circus and, when she finds out that her best friend Henry has never been to one, she decides to create a neighborhood circus so Henry can experience the magic for himself. Ella and Henry have a great time in the preparations and recruiting neighbors to help with the circus until a new boy, Johnny, moves into the neighborhood. Henry is torn between spending time with Bella and the cool new boy. Henry runs away when Ella and Johnny fight over him and the neighbors get involved in finding him.

The animation of this film is truly beautiful and filled with rich colors. All the voiceover actors are to be commended on their performances. I absolutely love all the animals in this movie; they add a great deal of humor to the storyline. The chickens are so funny throughout the film that they really steal the show.

The message of this film is that friendship and loyalty matter. Friendship is more important than having things or possessions, as Ella Bella learns about the special magic that is friendship. The movie also highlights the strength of community when the neighborhood comes together to produce the circus.

I rate this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 10. It is available on VOD and DVD March 24, 2020.

Reviewed by Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.99 Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TOYS & PETS
TOYS & PETS - VISION FILMS
Series: DVD, AGES 5-12
Description - A little toy with a wish and a robot from the future team up to find a fabled mystic and rescue their friend from the evil rat Flash. On this magical animated journey, they discover that teamwork and friendship will help them save the day.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Toys & Pets is well produced and has a Hollywood quality to it; it reminds me of Toy Story.

Toys & Pets is an animated film following the protagonist, Nathan, who meets up with a robot, Timebot, and their adventures to find the mystical 3G. Many obstacles get in their way.

The sound and picture quality of this film are excellent, with clear and vibrant color. It is very action-oriented and will keep viewers engaged. The one thing that I would warn audiences of is the violence, which is a bit intense for its target audience. For example, a truck delivery driver slaps a delivery boy a couple of times. This is meant to be humorous, but from an adult point of view, it's not. Another example is during the climax of the film, when Nathan crunches down on the tongue of a toad, accompanied by exaggerated sound effects. The last one is when Nathan falls into a fiery coal-ridden kiln. Does the Flash fall in as well? He is not shown falling, but is not seen after that incident.

This story is okay, but a bit disappointing. It is straightforward and makes sense, but gets lost at times in the action. Produced in Hong Kong, it may be a bit confusing for a U.S. audience, since the characters - porcelain figurines, robots, toads and rats - would not be considered as either toys or pets in the United States.

I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 13. It is available on DVD January 14, 2020.

Reviewed by Kimberly M., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

This film is completely entertaining. I loved watching the adventures of the toy Nathan and his Robot friend. It has humor and adventure. I love the animation and the music. It is fun to watch, but has a real message about friendship as well. The storyline flows well and, of course, good wins over bad. But, the main message is of friendship. I like that it shows how friendship really is the answer to many things, such as the question, "How can I avoid being controlled?" It also shows that it is often better to focus on the here and now, and not just on the future. I recommend this film for ages 4 through 18. It really is something that the whole family could watch together. Very nicely done with enjoyable characters, animation and overall story. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Toys & Pets is appealing to me because it shows how two strangers meet, build a special friendship and help each other through a tough journey.

The storyline follows Nathan who can't understand why he can't change colors like his friend. Nathan meets Timebot, thinking she's from the future. Timebot is willing to help Nathan figure out why he can't change colors. The two of them become good friends and go on an adventure of a lifetime.

I love the storyline because the writer creates a special friendships between two strangers and it taught me how strangers should be kind and caring to everyone. Directed by Gary Wang, the film made me feel as if I was riding the best rollercoaster in the world. The camera work is flawless and amazing. It has great details in every scene and for every character.

I love the character Nathan, because he's a risk taker. He and his friends are created by the Toy Master and Nathan is the only one that can't change colors in water, like his ceramic tea toy friends. He goes on a magical adventure with Timebot trying to find out why. Jason Kesser plays the voice of Nathan. Mr. Kesser is an actor and producer (Girls Gone Dead, Rio, A Story of Love, Fury, Unforgotten). I also love the Timebot character; she's caring and helpful. She and Nathan become friends and go on adventures with Nathan. My favorite part is when Nathan gets stuck under water and can't figure out how to escape. The Toys and Pets costumes are like every day wear. The locations for this film look very realistic - inside a warehouse, a child's toys chest, science lab, baseball stadium. It reminds me of Disney/Pixar's Toy Story. The music is very futuristic, upbeat and happy. The special effects make it seem like you're watching it in 3D.

The message of the film is that good friends are hard to find and you should love your neighbors. What I learned from Toys & Pets is that it doesn't matter if you're different, you should always have self-confidence and be kind to others. There is no profanity but it does show a scene with the characters risking their lives going into a sewer drain. That is not healthy or safe, so I would hope that kids wouldn't imitate that.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It comes out on DVD January 24, 2020 so look for it.

Reviewed by Brianni W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I like Toy & Pets because it has a very interesting storyline and reminds me of Disney's movie Toy Story. It's produced in China from light Chaser Animation Studios.

Toys & Pets is about a ceramic toy figure made by an old toymaker. One day, the toymaker makes two toy figures, a geisha named May and a chef named Nathan. The toy maker's wife collapses while holding May and a strange, rat-looking creature comes out of the sewer and steals May. The toymaker's wife passes away and he stops making toys. One day, some customers are examining the different ceramic figures and discover that they change color when they get wet, all but the little chef. The little chef is upset, because he doesn't know why he cannot change color. Along comes a robot from the future into the shop that meets the ceramic toys. The robot doesn't know where it came from, so the little chef teams up with him to help him find out also learn why he cannot change color when wet. During their journey they fall into a sewer and meet Flash, the evil rat. Flash has a huge collection of figurines and one is May. The Robot and Nathan come up with a plan to free May.

My favorite part of this Chinese made animated film is when Nathan finds a Ferris-wheel snow globe in the sewer and gives it to the robot as a friendship gift. The graphics of this film are simply amazing. The colors are very bright and the animation looks real, almost like a 3D movie. The background and landscapes also look very real. The voice-overs match the characters quite well and the sound effects are perfect. For example, every time the toys move, you can hear the clanging sound of ceramic.

The moral of Toy & Pets DVD is that teamwork and friendship, together, help save the day. The robot and Nathan become friends and put their idea together to rescue May.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Older adults can enjoy it with their children as well. Toy & Pets is available on DVD now so look for it.

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Toys & Pets has many characters to fall in love with. There are funny, quirky, loyal and intelligent characters as well as villains to befriend in this film. Join in the adventure of tea toy Nathan and his pal Time-bot as they seek answers and a missing friend.

The Toy Master creates a group of ceramic figurines which are tea toys. The last figurine the Toy Master creates cannot magically change color, like the other toys, and sets out on an adventure to discover why. The villain of this story is a rat named Flash who likes to own all that is beautiful and steals the last completed tea toy made. Find out what happens when Nathan and Time-bot encounter Flash and enter his underground lair.

The movie is written and directed by Gary Wong, who has created quite a few funny and quirky characters. The plot is a little difficult to follow, because there are so many characters in this story. The special effects in this movie are really outstanding and steal the show. Animation is by Amp Wong and you can really visualize this world he has created and the characters that live there, because the animation is absolutely brilliant. The visual effects are by Yang Xiaoqi and truly enhance the production. The sound effects engage the viewer and are supervised by Wu Zhe; the music is composed by Guo Haowei. There are many voices that lend their skills to this production that add depth to the characters and their humor.

The message of this film is that friendship and loyalty matter. The future is now so share it with your friends.

I rate this DVD 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. It is available on DVD now, so look for it.

By Selene Weiss, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12
Runtime: 98 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TROOP ZERO
TROOP ZERO - AMAZON STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - In rural 1977 Georgia, a misfit girl dreams of life in outer space. When a competition offers her a chance to be recorded on NASA's Golden Record, she recruits a makeshift troop of Birdie Scouts, forging friendships that last a lifetime.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like this movie because it is a combination of comedy, drama, diversity and great casting, especially the children actors. This film is an Amazon Prime original and has a duration of 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Troop Zero timeline is the late 70's and the storyline is about a young girl named Christmas (McKenna Grace) who's obsessed with outer space, aliens and planets. She finds out there is a competition that offers her to be recorded on NASA's Golden Record, but in order to compete she needs to belong to a Girl's Scout troop. She recruits four challenging kids and asks her father's (Jim Gaffigan) co-worker, Mrs. Rayleen (Viola Davis), to be her Troop Mom. The five children go through tough and exciting experiences in order to earn their badges to enter the NASA's competition. During their journey, all five children create a strong bond and friendship.

My favorite part is when Christmas starts recruiting kids to belong to her troop. Troop Zero has amazing actors such as Award Winner Viola Davis, Jim Gaffigan, Allison Janney and McKenna Grace from The Haunting of Hill House. Charlie Shotwell, who portrays Joseph, Christmas' best friend, pulls off an amazing performance as a feminine boy. I am happy to see Johanna Colon (internet dancing sensation) play Smash, in this movie. She's great! The scenery and costumes are typical 70s style, including the hairstyles. The story line is bit slow in the beginning, but later it gets interesting. You will experience laughter, sadness and tears of joy with this movie.

The moral of this film is to have a child's heart when it comes to choosing your friends or recruiting a team. Christmas does not discriminate against skin color, gender identity, religion or personalities when it comes to recruiting her troop and becomes friends with all four of them because she sees their hearts, not what society considers flaws.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars because the beginning is rather slow. I recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Older adults might enjoy this movie as well. Troop Zero is available on Amazon Prime beginning January 17, 2020.

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I recently saw the inspiring new Amazon Prime movie, Troop Zero, and love it. It's a warm-hearted coming-of-age story with a beautiful, positive message and a fun adventure throughout. The movie guides us through the story of a quirky girl, Christmas Flint played by the talented McKenna Grace and her rag tag group of Birdies known as Troop Zero.

Christmas is passionate about science. She wants to connect to the universe and her late mom through a NASA competition. The winner will have their voice recorded and sent out to the universe for posterity on a Golden Record. This movie is a journey of self-discovery, not only for Christmas, but everyone that is a part of her adventure. Each person learns more about themselves as they work together.

One of my favorite scenes is at the end of the movie, when the cast comes together and performs at the jamboree competition. I won't give away what happens but it is an emotional moment when they take a stand to be accepted for who they are. Another favorite scene is the baking fight scene. I bet it was so much fun for the actors to film, because it is absolutely hilarious and, at the same time, cathartic as a baking food fight between Troops Zero and Birdie. My question for you is: Who do you think won? LOL.

The acting by McKenna Grace as Christmas Flint and Viola Davis as Miss Rayleen, is perfect. Each of them make the audience believe in the struggles they face during the movie. McKenna really embraces her character with the lopsided haircut and awkward, quirky moves. However, I particularly connected with her character's father, Ramsey Flint (Gaffigan), because he so perfectly portrays the ideal father. He reminded me of my own father, who while not perfect, truly loves his daughter and wants her to be happy and achieve her dreams. Indeed, theirs is a father-daughter relationship very touching that I think families will connect with.

The moral of the story is to be yourself, listen to your heart and, if people try to knock you down, just keep on fighting the good fight for what you believe in. This is definitely a triumphant movie of self-acceptance and overcoming life challenges and one definitely to watch. This film would be especially enjoyable for those who love science. The transition of Troop Zero becoming Troop Hero is inspiring and uplifting. At the same time, the critic in me did find the film a little slow moving at times. All said, I think it is a wonderful movie and give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It is airing on Amazon Prime beginning January 17, 2020.

Reviewed by Abigail Zoe L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
DOLITTLE
DOLITTLE - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - Dr. John Dolittle lives in solitude behind the high walls of his lush manor in 19th-century England. His only companionship comes from an array of exotic animals that he speaks to on a daily basis. But when young Queen Victoria becomes gravely ill, the eccentric doctor and his furry friends embark on an epic adventure to a mythical island to find the cure.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Wow! The long anticipation of Dolittle is well worth the wait! A big two thumbs up for director Stephen Gaghan, for knocking this action-packed, comical, fun-loving film out of the ball park! The film, although perhaps a little lengthier for younger kids, keeps viewers on the edge of their seats while they take in all the adventure, suspense, laughs and emotion that this film offers. I left the theater with an appreciation of the quote, "It's truly by helping others that you can help yourself!"

The film follows the life of quirky veterinarian Dr. John Dolittle, of Victorian England, who has a sure connection with animals. Dr. Dolittle becomes reclusive, hiding behind the walls of Dolittle Mansion following the death of his beloved wife Lily. His only companions since her death are his furred and feathered friends that the animation department has excelled in giving anthropomorphic qualities to. Dolittle is quite content with his lifestyle, void of humans, until he has to make a decision when the very ill Queen of England calls on him to help save her from sickness. Dr. Dolittle appears to be the only person able to bring the Queen the secret antidote to reverse the symptoms of her sudden illness. The doctor, along with his humorous animal crew and new young, self-appointed assistant, set sail in search of the cure which will save the Queen from dying. They encounter several obstacles while on their journey, which adds to the suspense, adventure and comedy of the film.

The star of film, Robert Downey Jr. as Dr. Dolittle plays his role well. He also is one of the film's executive producers. Hats off to the very lengthy list of animators who bring Dolittle's friends to life and make us laugh at each of their personalities. The animatronics are by far my favorite part of this movie. It was also super fun to try to identify the many voices behind Dr. Dolittle's menagerie. I especially love the voice of Craig Robinson who plays Kevin, the squirrel with an attitude. The locations also deserve mentioning. Landscapes are lush, bright and so captivating, which adds such so much to this film.

The message in Dolittle is all about relationships. You have to have a sense of imagination to appreciate the connection between Dr. Dolittle and his animal friends, but the message is clear that no matter how diversified living things are, we can find a way to connect, communicate and appreciate one another. The film writers gathered together a variety of different characters that show that no matter what their limitations, they can interact with each other and build heartwarming friendships. This film allows us to open up our minds about differences and promotes positive interactions.

I give Dolittle 5 out of 5 stars and, if I could rate it higher, I would! I recommend it to ages 5 to 18. Dolittle is the perfect family film and adults will love it as much as kids. Dolittle opens January 17, 2020 in theaters. This is a film that you do not want to miss...mark your calendars!

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 9

What a terrific movie! The dialogue among the characters is so much fun and the cinematography, costumes and visual effects are so beautiful and well done.

Dolittle takes a new spin on the infamous tale of Dr. Dolittle, who is of course the doctor that speaks to animals. The story begins at Dolittle Manner, which is an estate provided to him by the Queen of England for serving as her veterinarian. Dolittle Manner is a sanctuary open to all animals until his wife passes away on an adventure and Dr. Dolittle closes it and isolates himself from people. As the Queen falls ill, Dr. Dolittle is convinced to go on an adventure to find a cure to help save the Queen before it's too late!

The movie trailer does not do this movie justice as I was not overly excited to see movie before going to the screening. My feelings changed greatly after I watched the movie. The writing is very clever with the dialogue for the animals. Everything they say is witty and playful. I also love that the animal characters aren't stereotypical, as they all need a lit bit of fixing. There are some magnificent actors in Dolittle, such as Robert Downey Jr. (as Dr. Dolittle), Harry Collett (as Stubbins, Dr. Dolittle's self-appointed apprentice), Emma Thompson (as the parrot Polly and Dr. Dolittle's advisor), Rami Malek (as the funny gorilla Chee-Chee), Octavia Spencer (as the enthusiastic duck Dab-Dab), Tom Holland (as the sight-challenged dog Jip), Craig Robinson (as the wise-cracking squirrel Kevin) and Selena Gomez (as the giraffe Betsy). My favorite character is Kevin since he made me laugh the most.

The messages of this movie are about perseverance and the importance of family and friends to help you overcome obstacles. Dolittle has no bad language, but it does have some mild violence and action scenes, primarily among the animals. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 14. Adults will also like this movie. This movie opens in theaters January 17, 2020. Check it out.

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

Dolittle is a roaring, barking and chirping fantasy adventure story with great humor and special effects. The film has amazing CGI and the animals look completely real. The movie also has very creative dialogue that fits each of the characters very well. The film has very vibrant colors and beautiful landscapes. Unfortunately, even though the film is not very long (an hour and 41 minutes), some scenes seem very slow and the film feels a lot longer than it actually is. The movie is very comedic and has some laugh out loud moments, but sometimes the humor seems a little forced and unfunny.

Dolittle follows the retired Doctor Dolittle (Robert Downy Jr.) after his wife passes away from a ship-wreck. An odd boy named Stubbons (Harry Colltett) seems to have the same animal talking abilities as Doctor Dolittle himself and becomes his apprentice. When the Queen of Buckingham Palace (Jessie Buckley) falls gravely ill, Doctor Dolittle, Stubbons and the rest of the animal gang embark on a journey to attain the cure for the Queen to preserve the land they live on and the animal's sanctuary.

It is difficult to cast people for this kind of film, because we're dealing with lots of animals and I think the casting is amazing! The voice-overs for the animals really make a big difference because they add humor, drama and suspense. The dialogue is very creative and fits each animal very well, making them seem very real. For the most part, the dialogue is very entertaining and creative. However, some lines try to force the humor and come off as not humorous at all. Robert Downy Jr.'s performance is spot on, but his accent seems a little off and inconsistent throughout the film. It seems as if he is trying to be too exotic and it doesn't work.

Dolittle fits the PG rating. It has some action and possibly scary creatures that could be frightening to younger viewers. The message of the film is about helping other people, even when it does not benefit your personally. It also points out that when something gets in your way of reaching your goal, don't give up, figure out a new way to reach that goal. Be creative. Think outside the box.

Dolittle did not soar as high as the parrots do in the film so I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. It has amazing visuals and CGI, but forced jokes and slow scenes. I recommend this film for ages 8 to 18. Dolittle opens in theaters January 17, 2020. Look for it.

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

Unfortunately, Dolittle left me confused because its storyline is all over the place. There are too many plot elements to follow and they do not tie together cohesively in the end. Most of the characters have vague back-stories which are presented in ways that prevent any character from becoming fully developed.

The story follows the grief stricken Doctor Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) who is mourning the death of his wife. He lives alone with his animal friends including Chee-Chee (Rami Malek), a gorilla and Yoshi (John Cena), a polar bear. When the Queen of England (Jessie Buckley) falls ill, she calls upon Dolittle for help. To save the Queen, he must embark on a perilous journey to find a mythical healing fruit.

Robert Downey Jr. has the quirkiness and personality to play an eccentric individual like Dolittle. However, his potential is overshadowed by his perplexing accent which feels forced and thus, his voice does not match his emotions or actions very well. Rami Malek plays my favorite character, Chee-Chee, and gives him a sweet, loveable personality. Unfortunately, due to the excess of poorly developed characters, Chee-Chee's character arch seems irrelevant even though he is one of the better characters.

The graphics are well done in some aspects but not in others. The gorilla, polar bear and the parrot all look realistic and have features that add to their cuteness. Other animals such as the dragonfly and the ostrich do not look realistic, which disrupts the mood, making it cartoonish, and contributing to the chaos I felt when viewing the film. Moreover, the graphics in exciting scenes, such as those that take place on the ships, are noticeably done in CGI and thus the realistic aspect is not achieved.

The saving grace is the creative incorporation of the animals. I enjoyed the scenes where Dolittle uses his gift of animal communication to ask for help, whether to solve the mystery of the Queen's illness or to run away from the antagonist.

The message of Dolittle is that the best way to help yourself is to help others. However, this message is stated by the narrator at the end and is otherwise loosely relevant to what happens throughout the film. I give Dolittle 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Check out Dolittle when it opens in theatres January 17, 2020.

By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Dolittle does little in terms of original storytelling, but this reboot offers colorful ambiance and magical performances. Anyone interested in big budget family entertainers is sure to get their money's worth on a matinee.

The reimagining of the Dr. Dolittle franchise follows the eccentric Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.), famed English doctor and veterinarian, who hermits himself away behind the high walls of Dolittle Manor with only his collection of exotic animals for company. When the young queen (Jessie Buckley) falls ill, her daughter Rose (Carmel Laniado) asks a reluctant Dolittle to set sail to a mythical island in search of a cure, regaining his humanity and courage and gaining a young, self-appointed apprentice Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett).

Robert Downey Jr. brings his signature charisma and his posh British accent to fill the energetic void left by January releases. His conversations with his animals are seamless; keep in mind, he's talking to larger-than-life CGI constructions. Regarding the big ensemble cast voicing the animals, they're all great if a little bit reliant on star power. You wouldn't know big list actors are voicing the animals without background research or watching the credits. However, there are a few noteworthy exceptions including Rami Malek's Chichi, a paranoid gorilla, which is greatly characterized and developed. Emma Thompson brings her acerbic demeanor as Poly the parrot. I also enjoyed John Cena and Kumail Nanjiani, as Yoshi and Plimpton, the bickering and bantering polar bear and ostrich that serve as the film's comic relief. Finally, the film has impressive child performances from Harry Collett, who previously acted on Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk and Carmel Laniado, both of whose screen presence holds well alongside Robert Downey Jr.

I enjoyed the special effects as they are truly impressive to look at, even a bit too flashy at times. The director Stephen Gaghan blueprints the film in an honest way. However, his writing is trope-ridden and uninspired, at times hodgepodging rather than creating. Don't expect a developed plot, even if some good messages prevail.

The message of this film is about allowing friends to carry your back as Dolittle realizes his reclusiveness is unhealthy and decides to be better. I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. The movie releases in theaters January 17, 2020, so check it out.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

Dolittle is a great family movie - comedy, drama, adventure and fantasy all together. Not all is perfect in this film, but is definitively engaging for young audiences and totally entertaining.

The Story of Dr. Dolittle, Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts was written in 1920 by Hugh Lofting. In 1998 there was a modern cinema version with Eddie Murphy portraying Dolittle that was a commercial success.

In this re-imagined of the beloved characters by writer/director Stephen Gahan, we meet a grumpy Dr. Dolittle with very messy hair, living with a delightful assortment of animals in his Manor. The movie is set in Victorian England, just like in the original books. In this film, the Queen is very ill and about to pass away. Dr. Dolittle still hasn't recovered from the death of his wife seven previous, despite the efforts of all the animals doing their best to keep him alive. When a young boy tries to save an injured squirrel, he is guided by a colorful parrot (Emma Thompson) to Dolittle's manor. On his way, he meets Lady Rose, a sweet young Lady determined to bring Dr. Dolittle to the palace to help save her mom, the Queen. She manages to convince him and all that arrive at the castle to help. They discover the only way to prevent the Queen's death is to find a cure on a remote Island. They embark on a journey where they will face many dangers to find a magical tree that hopefully will heal her.

The movie starts with a cool animation that explains, not in depth, who Dolittle is and how significant his wife was in her life. Robert Downey Jr. is certainly graceful. He adds personality to a character that definitely lacks development. He is perfectly cast because he has the gravitas to make this film work and connect with the audience. The voice over cast is amazing; you'll enjoy the performances and discovering all the talented actors that bring the animals to life. Among my favorite are John Cena who plays the polar bear, Rami Malek who plays a gorilla with fear issues, Selena Gomez as the giraffe, Tom Holland as the dog and Kumail Nanjiani as the revengeful squirrel who, by the way, is the first actor I ever interviewed.

These characters remind us of the power of team work and the importance of friendship and loyalty. Not only do they all get along well, but they are family. They are also protectors of the man that devoted his life to rescue them. The actors make this movie engaging and bring lots of humor to it. On the technical aspect, a lot is recreated in a well done, not perfect CGI. The costumes are beautiful and the cinematography is colorful and thrilling, showing many eye candy locations.

Dolittle is a fantastic film for the whole family. A few scenes may be a little frightening for kids under age six. The message of this film is that you can accomplish anything and you can face your fears when you work together with friends. I give Dolittle 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids 4 to 14. It opens January 17, 2020. Look for it.

Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: Web Series


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
UNDERWATER
UNDERWATER - TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - A crew of aquatic researchers work to get to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory. But the crew has more than the ocean seabed to fear.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like this movie because it is a very thrilling film. It's a mix of drama, comedy and horror. The whole film is filled with jump scares and excitement that kept me on the edge of my seat. Underwater is a 95 minute long movie.

This movie is about a drilling crew that lives in a facility all the way down in the Mariana Trench, which is located in the western Pacific Ocean. The Mariana Trench is one of the deepest part of the ocean, basically like the Grand Canyon but in the ocean. Suddenly the facility suffers a type of earthquake, which the crew thinks has happened. Six survivors go through a difficult journey in order to get to the life pods and survive the catastrophe. It happens that it was not an earthquake that destroyed the facility, it is a kind of sea creature that is too big and powerful for them to defeat.

My favorite part of Underwater is when the crew discovers a new life form. It takes the crew and the audience by surprise. The costumes are very creative. They look like a heavy type of astronaut suit. The graphics are incredible. The underwater scenes look very realistic. A few scenes are too dark to figure out what is going on. There is fowl language, blood and gore - perfect for horror fans. The acting is perfect, especially Kristen Stewart (Nora) who keeps the audience in suspense. Vincent Cassel (the Captain) and T. J. Miller (crew member) are spectacular too.

The moral of this story is to know our limits and respect other living beings' habitats. Humans are very curious to know more or learn more, to the point that we cross the line and trespass other living beings' homes. It's good to have more knowledge, but it is also good to know our limits.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus older adults. People with bad hearts or epilepsy should not watch this movie. Underwater opens in theaters January 10, 2020.

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Underwater is under whelming! Despite trying to be scary, the only emotions I felt from this film were frustration and boredom. There is really not much to this movie and, what I do have to say is not good. Also, Underwater is a lack luster title for a movie. It's like calling a movie set in space "In Space."

The story follows a group of underwater researchers as they're attacked by mysterious creatures. That is really it. The story is pretty simple, yet the movie somehow feels super long. Towards the end I was begging for the credits to start rolling. However, that's only where my problems start.

First, the film doesn't establish anything. Barely a minute in, an explosion goes off and suddenly the main conflict is happening. Meanwhile you're confused because you don't know who anyone is, why they're underwater or what their goal is. This is such a huge issue, because when the true danger arrives, you don't care who lives or dies. You are not invested in these characters, so why you should care. The dialogue between the characters is also weak. If I had to guess why the film is like this, I'm going to assume the writers thought it would be scarier to throw you right into the action, but honestly it does the opposite. At first I thought the explosion scene was a dream, not only because it was so ridiculously sudden, but also because Norah, the main character, is just talking about dreaming for no particular reason.

That's my biggest issue, but it's certainly not the only problem. Another major issue is the "horror" in this horror movie. I hope you like jump scares, because that's all you'll get. I don't like jump scares, not just because I'm jumpy, but also they're incredibly cheap. They're like the horror equivalent to tickling someone to make them laugh - it's easy and simple but shouldn't count.

While this could be considered a nitpick, this really bothered me and should be mentioned. When the crew members aren't in these diving suits, they're in nothing but their underwear. There is no reason for this and I don't know why this is the case, other than the obvious excuse. But it's really impractical. The research facility is filled with water, wouldn't it be freezing?

I give this film 1 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Not a great start to the decade. It opens in theaters January 10, 2020.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Underwater is a fast-paced sci-fi thriller with a message about our planet. It's basically Alien, but under the sea. There's lots of blood and death and also some funny moments to lighten the mood. Underwater also reminds me a lot of The Meg, another deep-sea monster movie. What it lacks in originality, it mostly makes up through pure entertainment.

When a drilling station deep in the Pacific Ocean is damaged, a handful of survivors attempt a complicated plan that involves walking along the bottom of the ocean to escape pods. They quickly discover they are being hunted by an unknown creature from these unexplored depths.

The action starts very quickly, which makes it hard to care about the characters right away, but eventually there are some moments of character development. My favorite character, Paul (T.J. Miller) provides comic relief. I love how he carries around a stuffed bunny for comfort. I really like when the camera keeps turning to a first person perspective so it appears as if you're looking through one of the character's eyes. The best example of this is when Norah (Kristen Stewart) is looking around and suddenly we see two creepy eyes staring back at us through the darkness. As you would expect from a monster movie, the visual and sound effects are top notch. The lab sets are convincingly realistic and there's some strong acting, especially from Vincent Cassel, who plays the captain.

Parents should watch out for the language and violence in this movie, both of which made me wonder why it's not rated R. I have never before seen a movie where people both implode and explode like the graphic, gross and disturbing deaths in this film. Parents might also want to know that several characters end up running around in their underwear for no particular reason. The message of this film is that when we don't respect our planet, there are consequences. Emily, played by Jessica Hanwick, sums up this moral when she says, "We've drilled too deep. We've taken too much. Now [the ocean's] taking back."

I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 17, as well as adults. You can see Underwater in theaters everywhere starting January 10, 2020. Reviewed by Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Underwater is a suspense filled movie that made me jump out of my seat. This movie has action and some scary scenes as well. Also, the sound effects make the jump scares even more shocking. There is a lot of emotion in this movie. The acting is amazing and the special effects are great.

The storyline is about a crew of aquatic researchers trying to get to safety after an earthquake like experience at their underwater laboratory. There is a blood thirsty sea monster they worry about that follows the six surviving workers as they travel through the ocean trenches. They are 5,000 miles from land and seven miles below the ocean surface.

The acting in this movie is very good. Kristen Stewart's portrayal of Norah is excellent. She puts so much effort and emotion in this role. T.J Miller's role as Paul is a wonderfully comedic performance. I really like how he diffuses a serious or depressing scene with a joke. I love how scary the sea monster is and how its made. The cinematography is amazing. The underwater camera shots look so real.

This movie contains some mild profanity and some scary scenes. There are also some intense and gory scenes. It is appropriately rated PG-13.

I recommend this movie for ages 13 to 18 and adults might like it also. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. You can find this movie in theaters beginning January 10, 2020 so go watch it! Reviewed by Leandro R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
SPIES IN DISGUISE
SPIES IN DISGUISE - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-15
Description - Super spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) and scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) are almost exact opposites. Lance is smooth, suave and debonair. Walter is...not. But when events take an unexpected turn, this unlikely duo is forced to team up for the ultimate mission that will require an almost impossible disguise - transforming Lance into the brave, fierce, majestic...pigeon. Walter and Lance suddenly have to work as a team, or the whole world is in peril.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Spies in Disguise is a slick spy film that mirrors James Bond, but at the same time sticks to its own authenticity. Several of the scenes are adopted from action and spy movies like Skyfall, but I was impressed by the way that they are altered for comedic effect. Despite its silliness at times, Spies in Disguise manages to be entertaining with a perfect blend of emotions.

The story follows the typical conundrum of a framed spy trying to redeem his image. Lance Sterling (Will Smith) is a #1 spy who is beloved by his agency, but when a mission goes terribly wrong, he finds himself the agency's most wanted criminal. With help from a tech specialist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland), Sterling learns valuable lessons through his journey for redemption.

The animation and the screenplay are key to making this story intriguing. For instance, every spy film has a car chase and so does this one. Yet, this car chase involves a pigeon controlling the getaway car. It is one of the funniest scenes and, since the animation has a realistic look, the chase is exciting and imaginative, yet not too absurd. Additionally there is impeccable attention to detail. In the same chaotic car scene, there is a slow motion scene where a calculator in the car is tossed upside down to reveal the numbers turning into the word "help."

My favorite part about this film is what makes it unique: its message. Walter Beckett is a kind, nerdy individual who teaches his friend, Sterling, that every fight does not need to be fought with violence because we are all just people who make mistakes. This theme makes the film lovable and differentiates it from any other spy film. Furthermore, the film does not take itself too seriously which actually strengthens the comedy. I found myself giggling most when the film exaggerates the clich�s that are so typical to spy films such as the car chases, trips to exotic places and the slow motion action. Another message of Spies in Disguise is that you do not have to do everything alone.

I give Spies in Disguise 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. Please check out Spies in Disguise for a fun adventure when it opens in theatres on Christmas Day, December 25, 2019. By Sahiba Kaur, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

Spies in Disguise is a fun-filled, action movie that's not just for the birds! It stars two of the most currently popular and talented actors, Will Smith and Tom Holland, who entertain us from beginning to end.

The animated movie begins with a little bit of background about Walter Beckett, Tom Holland's character, and Agent Lance Sterling, Will Smith's character. Walter Beckett grows up alone and often isolated, despite being a genius and inventor for the C.I.A. He struggles to make friends and is often referred to as "weird." Agent Sterling thinks he has it all, as the best and most respected C.I.A. agent, but he does not work well with others and does not know how to be part of a team. He doesn't even bother remembering his coworkers' names! The two unlikely friends pair up out of necessity and eventually realize how much they need each other.

During the movie, Agent Sterling becomes a pigeon, which is of course, hilarious! Smith's voice-over of Agent Sterling is perfect. He brings his usual suave, debonair qualities that we often see Smith portray in many of his movies. During his time as a pigeon, his outrageous comedic chops brings the theater to laughter. Smith is truly an entertainer.

Even though Smith's performance is hilarious as always, Holland steals the show as the voice of Walter. He brings warmth to the film much like he does with his rendition of Spider Man. Walter is the heart of the movie. He teachers Sterling valuable lessons about how to care about others, work as a team, and make the world a better place. Holland's endearing and lovable voice-over brings the movie together. Instead of it just being a funny action film, the movie becomes a funny, sweet action film.

The message of the film is that you can defeat all by working together as a team. Agent Sterling becomes a better agent and person when he allows Walter to help him, and he learns how to effectively defeat the enemy without violence.

I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4-18. Adults will love it as well. The family friendly film opens in theaters on December 25, 2019. By Mia Gonzalez, KIDS First! Film Critic, age 9

I love this animated movie! It is action-packed and has a fun soundtrack. Also, the writing is very creative.

Spies in Disguise is about the world's best spy, Lance Sterling, who gets framed for a crime that he didn't commit. So, he turns to a very smart young man, named Walter Beckett, who is the complete opposite of himself to find a gadget to help him. Lance then accidentally drinks an elixir that turns him into a pigeon and now has to save the world as a pigeon, with Walter as his side-kick.

Before Spies in Disguise, I did not think that pigeons were all that smart or even had much of a personality. I learned that pigeons are very under rated. You'll find out how awesome they are when you watch this movie. There are some extraordinary actors in this movie, including Will Smith, Tom Holland, Ben Mendelsohn and Rachel Brosnahan. My favorite part of the movie is the escape scene in their car, because it is the funniest scene of the movie and takes place in slow motion.

The key messages of this movie are to be yourself and to not always fight fire with fire as many times you can solve problems with peace. This movie has no bad language; however, there is some violence with guns and other weapons.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Adults will also like this movie. This movie opens in theaters on December 25, 2019).

By Katherine Schell, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 8-15 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: Web Series


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
JUST MERCY
JUST MERCY - WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or those not afforded proper representation. One of his first cases is that of Walter McMillian, who is sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite evidence proving his innocence. In the years that follow, Stevenson encounters racism and legal and political maneuverings as he tirelessly fights for McMillian's life.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Just Mercy is a must-see movie! It tells a great story about how the law treats people based on the color of their skin and how you may not be treated fairly if you are poor. This movie is so inspiring! Just Mercy is the perfect title because the movie helps show how people can have "mercy" for other human beings instead of just punishing them.

Just Mercy is based on defense attorney Bryan Stevenson's memoir of the same title. The film tells stories about cases Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) works on when he first becomes a lawyer. The main story in the movie is about a man named Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) who is an African-American man that is wrongfully sent to jail for a crime he didn't commit and sentenced to die. Stevenson helps McMillian appeal his case. Stevenson also works on other cases for other prisoners that are on death row. Many of the prisoners are not able to afford good lawyers and are unable to fight the law and the "bad" men in the town, so Bryan Stevenson, with the help of his co-worker at his business called The Equal Justice Institute, looks into their cases to help change the court's decisions.

The lead characters are Walter McMillan and his lawyer Bryan Stevenson. They build a great friendship and become more like family than colleagues. All of the actors fully bring their characters to life. One of my favorite parts is when the prisoners show support for each other by banging on the bars of their jail cells with metal cups. It is also a sad part because it usually happens when one of their friends is going to be put to death; however, it shows that the prisoners are all in this together, and it helps the one going to die not feel so alone.

There are different messages in this movie. The message for the prisoners is to never give up hope, but the message for the people making decisions for the prisoners is that it is good to show mercy for people even when the situation looks bad. Some of the things adults should look out for in Just Mercy are foul language and scenes when inmates are put to death. There is also a scene where a character has to remove some of his clothes (not all of them) when he visits the prison.

Just Mercy is an excellent movie that could really help people learn to treat each other as humans. I rate this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Just Mercy opens in theaters January 10, 2020. Make sure you stay for the credits!

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams join forces once again to take viewers on an epic journey to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the riveting conclusion of the seminal Skywalker saga, where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come. The film stars Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong'o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, with Ian McDiarmid and Billy Dee Williams. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Abrams and Michelle Rejwan. The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more as Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron's journey continues. With the power and knowledge of generations behind them, the final battle commences.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL
JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL - COLUMBIA PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - The gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world's most dangerous game.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This film is pretty entertaining and hilarious, and a surprisingly impressive sequel. It's a good example of "stupid fun," and I mean that in a good way. And it is surprisingly emotional too.

This film takes place in an unknown time, sometime after the 2017 Jumanji. Spencer has gone back into the game and the other three players need to go back to rescue him. However, due to the console being broken, Spencer's grandpa, Eddie and his friend Milo enter the game along with Martha and Fridge, instead of Bethany.

Now, an issue with sequels is the possibility of new viewers being confused and alienated, due to not having seen the first one. However, because Martha and Fridge have to explain the rules of the game to Eddie and Milo, the movie explains the rules to the audience, without it seeming forced.

Speaking of Eddie and Milo, they're a pretty fun inclusion to this film. As a formula changer they work really well and they easily steal the show. They both have a nice chemistry and, having Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart (of all people) acting like elderly men, makes it even funnier. Honestly, the cast is perfect. Of course, all the returning actors are great, especially Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, since they're now playing new characters. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Awkwafina is in this film. She's recently become one of my favorite actresses, so I was really happy when she showed up.

Since this film is a comedy, you're probably wondering how good the comedy is. Overall, this film is pretty hilarious. In the beginning, most of the comedy comes from Eddie and Milo being confused about the game. While this is pretty funny, it does become somewhat repetitive. Thankfully, the film has a lot of really nice details, such as Eddie admiring his tattoos in the game and Fridge freaking out over cake, due to events from the first movie. Plus, the action scenes are really energetic and fun. They are the perfect definition of "stupid fun." They're absolutely ridiculous, but you're still having a blast.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. If you liked the first film I bet you'll like this. The film opens in theaters nationwide December 13, 2019. Look for it.

By Calista Bess, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Jumanji: The Next Level keeps things playable, perhaps surpassing the first. The ensemble cast and direction add newfound levels of entertainment. Anyone interested in the Jumanji franchise must catch this on the biggest screen possible.

The game has changed as the gang returns to Jumanji to rescue one of their own. The players will have to explore parts unknown, from the salty deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to win the world's most dangerous game.

All of the returning original cast is great, and there is a longer setup that allows for further characterization. Alex Wolff and Morgan Turner, as Spencer and Martha, continue their budding romance as Spencer struggles to manage long-distance dating. Madison Iseman and Ser'Darius Blain, as Bethany and Fridge, show their maturity and growth since the first, especially Bethany who is more inclusive and less cliquey. Danny DeVito and Danny Glover, as Eddie and Milo, add heart and dynamic as their grouchy and forgetful antics are always a good laugh. As you may know from the trailers, the roster of characters makes it back, but not everyone is in the same avatar they were last time. Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan effectively play this change. Awkwafina makes a debut and standouts among this roster as her signature fast mouth is always hilarious.

Jake Kasan directs, as he did the first, and this is even better than the first in terms of stylistic choices and pacing. In fact, it captures the feel of a videogame better than the first. Every sequence feels like a level and the special effects are impressive, especially in the bridge chase which is inspired by the likes of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the monkeys add pure adrenaline rush. This is truly my favorite scene in the movie.

The message of this film is about teamwork, as the gang is willing to sacrifice themselves to rescue Spencer and leave no one behind. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 due to action, suggestive content and some language. The movie releases in theaters on December 13, 2019, so check it out.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Jumanji: The Next Level is one of the most entertaining films I've seen in a while and is an excellent sequel. The movie is funny when it knows to be and serious when called for as well. I do have a concern for this series though, because the entire premise is the same as the original and it could wear out in the near future. Also, some of the tonal switches are really sudden and it throws you off on how to feel in those scenes.

Jumanji: The Next Level takes place two years after the events of the first Jumanji movie. The four friends - Martha, Spencer, Fridge and Bethany - have all gone their separate ways. Over winter break they plan to get back together at a cafe called Nora's. When Spencer gets home he finds out his grandfather is staying with them as he recovers from hip surgery. The night before the meet-up Spencer is feeling lost and goes to find the Jumanji game console, which we thought had been destroyed. The following morning Martha, Fridge and Bethany show up at Nora's and wait for Spencer. They call him and he doesn't pick, which makes them suspicious. So they go to his house where he cannot be found anywhere. Suddenly they hear ominous drumming so they check the basement where a fixed Jumanji console sits.

My favorite part of this movie is the expansion of the already interesting video game world. They keep the video game aspect of the non-playing characters that serve the same purpose as the first film, but give them slight alterations like a classic video game. They also expand on the weaknesses and skills of each of the characters based on what's coming, as a video game should.

This movie has some amazing star power! My personal favorites are Danny DeVito and Karen Gillan. Danny DeVito is a veteran actor who has starred in films such as The Rainmaker and L.A. Confidential. On the other side of the age spectrum is Karen Gillan, an amazing young actress known for playing Nebula in the MCU and Amy Pond, the companion to the Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who.

The message of this movie is the same as the original Jumanji - be yourself because ultimately that's what matters most. This movie will appeal most to fans of the first installment of the series and The Fast and Furious movies. I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18, but adults will enjoy it as well. I give Jumanji: The Next Level 3.5 out of 5 stars. It opens in theaters December 12, 2019. Look for it.

By Abraham F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Jumanji: The Next Level is an action packed movie with some hilarious moments. It's pretty similar to the previous film, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, but with a few twists. I love all the new ways this film uses body swapping with humorous results.

At the end of the previous film, Fridge destroys the Jumanji game with a bowling ball so that no one else can be harmed by it. Well guess what? At the beginning of Jumanji: The Next Level, we find out that Spencer has not only saved the broken Jumanji, but repaired it and joined the game again! All of his friends try to join the game to help him, but Spencer's elderly grandfather (Danny DeVito) and old friend (Danny Glover) end up getting sucked into Jumanji as well. The old gang has to help the newcomers get used to the gameplay while at the same time navigating this new level of Jumanji, which has desert dunes, an oasis, and plenty of new villains and dangers to overcome. I won't spoil it, but there's a new section of the game that can only be passed by using geometry - but don't worry, this is Jumanji so it's not like a boring math class! Soon, the players learn that they will need to rely on each other and use everyone's skills and talents if they want to have a chance to save everyone and make it home safely.

This gets a bit confusing, but try to stay with me. My favorite part of the movie is when Kevin Hart is playing Milo, Danny Glover's character, while he's controlling the zoologist avatar, Mouse Finbar. Milo discovers that he knows everything about the animals they encounter, but he speaks so slowly that he can't get the information out fast enough to be useful. The results of this are pretty hilarious. The special effects are very effective, like the scene with a blimp crash that's done in a very exciting way. There's also a sequence with mandrills that are very realistic and scary. The most impressive thing about this movie is the acting. Everyone has to take on different personalities, impersonating at least two people with different accents and mannerisms. It's pretty cool to watch Akwafina playing Eddie, Danny DeVito's character, controlling a new avatar, Ming Fleetfoot.

The message of this film is that when you find your people, you should stick with them. Also, you should not hold a grudge, but it's never too late to forgive. Parents should know that there is some profanity, including the s-word twice. There are a couple of inappropriate jokes that made me feel embarrassed to watch them - a long back-and-forth conversation about someone's privates being cut off, and a joke about a boy playing a girl avatar and grabbing her body parts. There's also some scary stuff like action violence, and a really gross part where a bad guy feeds a lump of meat to hyenas while he explains it's human - from a man in his group he killed for making a mistake.

I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for children ages 12 to 18. I believe adults will like it too. You can see Jumanji: The Next Level in theaters everywhere starting December 13, 2019.

Reviewed by Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TWO POPES, THE
TWO POPES, THE - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - An intimate story of one of the most dramatic transitions of power in the last 2,000 years. Frustrated with the direction of the church, Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) requests permission to retire in 2012 from Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins). Instead, facing scandal and self-doubt, the introspective Pope Benedict summons his harshest critic and future successor to Rome to reveal a secret that would shake the foundations of the Catholic Church. Behind Vatican walls, a struggle commences between both tradition and progress, guilt and forgiveness, as these two very different men confront their pasts in order to find common ground and forge a future for a billion followers around the world. Inspired by true events.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love this movie. Even though the subject of this movie is based on a religious story, it is filled with humor, sport and a fascinating storyline. The acting is also magnificent and the best part of the movie.

The Two Popes is inspired by true events telling the story of Pope Benedict being elected following the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005 and Pope Francis being elected in 2013 when Pope Benedict resigned. During this time, the Catholic Church is losing followers and is in the midst of various scandals. Cardinal Bergoglio, who ultimately becomes Pope Francis, is one of Pope Benedict's harshest critics as he is frustrated with the Catholic Church and wants to retire. Pope Benedict invites Cardinal Bergoglio to Rome not to discuss his retirement, but to discuss other matters, including a scandal that the Catholic Church is facing that could ruin its stability.

I liked this movie a lot more than I thought I would and I learned a lot about the Papal election process. Even if you are not Catholic, you will still like it. The movie also uses real footage of some of the events.

Jonathan Pryce (Pope Francis) and Anthony Hopkins (Pope Benedict) are absolutely brilliant playing their parts. As a bonus, they even look like the real life popes that they are playing. My favorite character is Pope Benedict because he slips a joke in whenever he can - even if the joke is not funny.

The message of The Two Popes is that it's okay to have different opinions and if you work hard enough together you can find common ground. This movie has some bad language, some disturbing violent images and some discussion of child abuse. It is rated PG-13.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this for ages 12 to 18, and adults will really like this movie. This movie is on Netflix December 20, 2019.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
DARK WATERS
DARK WATERS - FOCUS FEATURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - From Participant (Spotlight, Green Book), DARK WATERS tells the shocking and heroic story of an attorney (Mark Ruffalo) who risks his career and family to uncover a dark secret hidden by one of the world's largest corporations and to bring justice to a community dangerously exposed for decades to deadly chemicals.

Corporate environmental defense attorney Rob Bilott (Academy Award�-nominee Mark Ruffalo) has just made partner at his prestigious Cincinnati law firm in large part due to his work defending Big Chem companies. He finds himself conflicted after he's contacted by two West Virginia farmers who believe that the local DuPont plant is dumping toxic waste in the area landfill that is destroying their fields and killing their cattle. Hoping to learn the truth about just what is happening, Bilott, with help from his supervising partner in the firm, Tom Terp (Academy Award�-winner Tim Robbins), files a complaint that marks the beginning of an epic 15-year fight--one that will not only test his relationship with his wife, Sarah (Academy Award�-winner Anne Hathaway) but also his reputation, his health and his livelihood.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Dark Waters is a compelling look at one man's fight against the corrupt practices of a multi-billion dollar company.

Based on a true story, Dark Waters follows Rob Bilott (Mark Ruffalo), a corporate lawyer who gets a call from a family friend named Wilbur (Bill Camp) about a disturbance on his farm in West Virginia. Over 100 of Wilbur's cows have died and he suspects it has something to do with the creek running through his property. Wilbur's hunch becomes a frightening truth as Rob investigates decades' worth of wrong-doing by the DuPont chemical company.

Mark Ruffalo portrayal of Rob Bilott is excellent. He's plays the legal scenes with conviction, but he feels more like a vessel to receive information than a fully- formed character. We see plenty of Bilott's moral standards, but we rarely get a sense of what drives him to do the work he does or who he is emotionally. It makes it harder to fully connect with and invest in his character. A performance worth noting with much less screen time is Bill Pullman as lawyer Harry Dietzler. Pullman gives Dark Waters a boost of energy. He's not comedic relief, but he's certainly a breath of fresh air.

Todd Haynes's direction is both impressive and overbearing. Haynes has a flair for stylistic flourishes in his other films and here the moody, muted lighting that clouds much of the film creates a feeling of anxiety that makes every step of Rob's journey and what he discovers uncomfortable in a way that's very effective. By the same token, the color scheme is dark and dreary throughout and the film ends up with a dull sheen and a tone that feels at times heavy-handed.

An aspect of the filmmaking I love is the use of tracking shots to show not only the lives that DuPont destroyed, but the communities too. Dark Waters is unflinching when it comes to depicting the consequences of DuPont's malpractice. It tells and more specifically, shows it, in a way that rightfully stirs up an audience reaction of anger and injustice.

I recommend Dark Waters for ages 12 to 18 for some shocking images and brief language. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. If you're looking for a good or feel-good time at the cinema for the holidays, this isn't it, but Dark Waters is definitely an informative and important film. Dark Waters opens in theaters November 27, 2019.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
AERONAUTS, THE
AERONAUTS, THE - AMAZON STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - In 1862, pioneering meteorologist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) teams up with daredevil balloon pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) to advance human knowledge of the weather and fly higher than anyone in history. While their voyage to the very edge of existence helps the unlikely pair find their place in the world, they face physical and emotional challenges in the thin air, as the ascent becomes a fight for survival.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love The Aeronauts because the visual effects are so realistic and you feel as if you're actually there, living in that timeline! This is such a dramatic and romantic film. It's so rich in remarkable acting and amazing back-stories of characters. The actors really bring life to their roles, making it seem like they aren't actors at all, but actual people in the 1800s.

The storyline is about a young widow Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) and a scientist James Glashier (Eddie Redmayne). Amelia is a brave and courageous woman who wants to make a difference. James is a scientist who wants his ideas to be heard. They both go into a gas-air-balloon to try to make discoveries which would change the world entirely. In this epic journey, and what seems to be a crazy idea at the time because, James says he wants to try and predict the weather, they learn about themselves and each other. The more you watch the movie the more you learn about the characters' pasts, which is just one of the reasons why I love this film.

My absolute favorite part of the film is when James goes to visit his father, Arthur Glaisher (Tom Courtenay) and they talk about how beautiful the twinkling stars are at night. The costume designer, Alexandra Byrne has made some amazing costumes. I really love them. They really suit the 1800s setting. An absolutely remarkable detail in this film is that everything done in the balloon actually happened. This film is inspired from a true story and the balloon actually aloft in real life during producing the film.

The message of this film is to live life at its fullest because, life is short. You can't change in the world if you don't try.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 13 to 18, as well as adults. You can find this film in the theatres December 6 and on Amazon Prime December 20, 2019.

Reviewed by Bella B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
CHARLIE'S ANGELS
CHARLIE'S ANGELS - COLUMBIA PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska are working for the mysterious Charles Townsend, whose security and investigative agency has expanded internationally. With the world's smartest, bravest, and most highly trained women all over the globe, there are now teams of Angels guided by multiple Bosleys taking on the toughest jobs everywhere.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This film was immensely entertaining and a joy to watch. While I'm unable to judge this film as a reboot, I can judge this as a girl power film.

The story follows a trio of women known as Charlie's Angels as they attempt to track down a dangerous piece of technology that can kill people with electric pulses.

This film is a reboot of a very well-known franchise. Charlie's Angels was originally a TV show in the 70s. While I knew very little about the franchise, my mom is a huge fan. From what I've gathered, this movie is a pretty loving remake, with some neat callbacks. This is definitely a film that can be enjoyed by people who aren't fans. It is the perfect film for those who want a fun female-empowerment movie.

Speaking of which, this film is very much about the friendship between the three Angels - Jane, Sabina and Elena. Jane is played by Ella Balinska. Sabina is played by Kristen Stewart and Elena is played by Naomi Scott. The three have amazing chemistry, each with their own unique personality and characteristics. I love all three of them a lot. You really do buy that these women have become good friends and they work well together. Of course, the Angels aren't the only amazing characters in this cast. Elizabeth Banks, who also wrote and directed this film, plays Bosley and she's a really fun character. Elizabeth Banks plays a perfect mentor. There's also Jonny Smith, who seems to be a throwaway character at first, but he is weirdly endearing. The actor, Chris Pang, is strangely charismatic and he ended up being one of my favorite characters in the film.

The film consists of a lot of awesome action and espionage scenes. There's some really impressive and honestly quite tense action segments and the espionage is really fun and clever. The gadgets they use are designed really well, in that they are both creative and stylish. Honestly this whole film has a really nice aesthetic, especially the house where the final fight takes place. There are all these bright colorful lights and glass walls with images projected onto them that look amazing.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. It releases on November 15, 2019. Look for it. Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FORD V FERRARI
FORD V FERRARI - TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Ford V Ferrari is a pure adrenaline rush from start to finish. It's an absolutely thrilling film that fires on all cylinders.

Ferrari dominates the annual 24-hour race at Le Mans for much of the 1960s. Ford decides to throw their hat in the ring, in hopes that a victory at Le Mans will raise their struggling sales. The former racer turned car designer Carrol Shelby (Matt Damon) and his difficult, but passionate racer pal Ken Miles (Christian Bale) are both brought on to help Ford craft a car to get to the finish line.

Beneath the technical polish and gloss of Ford V Ferrari, the friendship between Shelby and Miles is the heart of the film. Christian Bale and Matt Damon are a large part of what makes this film work so well. This is their first movie together and yet, they interact with the ease of old friends. Their performances complement each other. You get really invested in this on-screen duo with an absurd amount of charm exuding from the screen.

We all love a good underdog and this film is a classic underdog story. Ford V Ferrari isn't just about the race at Le Mans, but more about the human struggles encountered to get there. Pride and jealousy constrict Miles and Shelby at times, but the rigid corporate system of Ford Motor Company poses a greater challenge. Ford V Ferrari is an expansive, mesmerizing real-life story that feels perfect for the cinematic medium.

Ford V Ferrari puts you in the driver's seat with the racers, but not in the way I was expecting. The stellar sound design and mixing are some of the best and extremely transportive. They give the racing sequences not just an immersive quality, but a transcendent one. James Mangold's direction is excellent. He gives you sequences that put you on the edge of your seat and capture your gaze. More so, Mangold has a strong grasp on pacing. The film knows when to slow down and emphasize character and emotion and when to boost its engine and hightail it to the next scene. In a film this long, it's remarkable that it feels as breezy as it does. Even if you know this story start to finish, the skill, technically and narrative in which it's told make this ride one easily worth taking.

I recommend Ford V Ferrari for ages 7 to 14 for language. Even if you're not a race car fanatic, there's a good chance you'll love this film. I happily give it 5 out of 5 stars. This is easily one of my favorites of the year. Ford V Ferrari zooms into theaters November 15, 2019.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 24

Ford v Ferrari is an emotionally charged fast-track to the world of automobile racing. You'll be on the edge of your seat as you learn about race car driver and American automotive designer Carroll Shelby and the amazingly fearless British race car driver and engineer Ken Miles, who build a revolutionary race car for the Ford Motor Company. Together they strategize and compete to best the race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the world's oldest endurance race - the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The entire cast of this film is superb and their performances are hopefully award-winning. The cast is lead by Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles. Both actors are inspiring to watch; their interaction and relationship is gripping as they hurtle through space and time. Each actor contributes to this magnificent story and fuels the emotional journey. There are so many breakout performances in this film that they each deserve a Lap of Honour.

Ford v Ferrari is directed by James Mangold and casting is by Ronna Kress. The production team enhanced this story with exquisite film editing, carefully chosen locations, excellent wardrobe, stunts and effects. You really feel as if you are there in the 1960s, experiencing this time and mindset.

There are so many messages in this film, including the value of teamwork, perseverance, loyalty, honor and questioning and knowing who you are. On the race track lives depend on the pit crew and your support team in life is equally important to your ultimate direction.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The film opens in theaters November 15, 2019, so don't miss it!

Reviewed by KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Selene W., age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
LAST CHRISTMAS
LAST CHRISTMAS - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Kate (Emilia Clarke) harumphs around London, a bundle of bad decisions accompanied by the jangle of bells on her shoes, another irritating consequence from her job as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. Tom (Henry Golding) seems too good to be true when he walks into her life and starts to see through so many of Kate's barriers. As London transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, nothing should work for these two. But sometimes, you gotta let the snow fall where it may, you gotta listen to your heart ... and you gotta have faith.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Last Christmas is a Christmas tale with an out-of-place musical hook that works better than it should. For a film that hinges much of its story on a single Christmas song, I found myself unexpectedly moved by it. It has a touching story about doing good for others, which we're all capable of, and not letting hardship keep you from reaching your full potential.

Kate (Emilia Clarke) finds her life at a standstill, mostly homeless and frequently drunk with a loss of ambition or drive. She is about to get fired from her job as an elf at a Christmas-themed store when she meets the jovial, yet mysterious Tom (Henry Golding), who helps usher her into a new era of her life. Kate begins to help those she has done wrong and view the world in a more positive light as the Christmas holiday draws near.

Emilia Clarke gives a surprisingly layered performance as Kate. Her character is written fairly blandly, but Clark gives it depth when the screenplay doesn't. Henry Golding plays Tom with exuberance and energy. His thoughtful approach to life makes him a nice foil to Kate's blatant cynicism. Emma Thompson puts on a Slavic accent in a scene-stealing comedic performance as Kate's painfully honest and worrisome mother. There are some moments in this film that are painfully reminiscent of other films in the rom-com lexicon, but there's a consistent charm here throughout, more earnest than contrived. This charm is amplified by the likability of its two leads, Clarke and Golding.

The film's sound tracked is from the music catalog of singer George Michael. They serve as smooth transition between scenes, but at times feel tacked-on and gimmicky and don't fit in with the rest of the film. Last Christmas has a third act that turns the movie on its head and, while the shift isn't shockingly surprising, it's well-executed and re-contextualizes much of what has come before.

I give Last Christmas 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18 due to sexual references and language. There's nothing too scandalous, but it's still worth noting. If you're a fan of this genre, you'll probably love this film and its holiday charm is hard to resist. In the end, we go to the movies to be entertained and in that respect; Last Christmas certainly gets the job done. This film comes out in theaters everywhere November 8, 2019. Look for it.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
PLAYING WITH FIRE (2019)
PLAYING WITH FIRE (2019) - PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-18
Description - When straight-laced fire superintendent Jake Carson and his elite team of firefighters come to the rescue of three siblings, they quickly realize that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet -- babysitting. As their lives, jobs and depot get turned upside down, the three men soon learn that children -- much like fires -- are wild and unpredictable.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like this movie because it is very entertaining and super funny. Playing with Fire is a 96 minutes filled with shenanigans. John Cena makes the audience laugh and it is weird to see him with a head full of hair.

This movie is about four smoke jumpers played by John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, Tyler Mane and John Leguizamo, who save three kids from a cabin on fire. The three children are siblings and two of them, Will and Zoe, are under the age of 10. Their older sister Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand, X-Men) is taking care of them. The smoke jumpers bring the kids to their depot until their parents can come to get them. The kids constantly mess with all the equipment at the fire depot, which distracts the smoke jumpers from doing their jobs.

The storyline includes comedy and sometimes sad moments. The visuals are perfect. The fire scenes looks real. The child actors are great at portraying their characters. My favorite scene is when Will is feeding peanut butter to the smoke jumpers' dog and he accidentally spreads it on the firefighter truck. Will drops the industrial soap and takes the fire fighter hose to clean the mess and the truck makes lots of foam.

The moral of this film is that family fulfills your life, in addition to working hard to accomplish your professional goals. Jake's (John Cena) priority is his career. He works hard to achieve and accomplish his title in the firefighter department and forgets to have fun or remember that there are people around him that love him.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 18 and adults can enjoy it too! Playing with Fire comes out in theaters on November 8, 2019.

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, are 11

Playing With Fire is one of the greatest family movies I have ever seen! It is a family-friendly, feel-good movie with an important message - family is the most important thing to help you keep going. There is a lot of comedy in this movie that makes the audience laugh out loud.

The story line is both adventurous and exciting. There is lots of action, but it is not violent. The characters are super funny and the acting is phenomenal! If I had to recommend any film to watch with friends and family, it would be this one. Some parts are sad, but there is also plenty of action and comedy to keep the audience engaged.

Playing With Fire is about four smoke jumpers, which is an elite team of fire fighters. Jack and his friends are specially trained to jump into dangerous wildfires, so they can rescue people and fight fires. Their lives are perfect, until they find three kids trapped in a fire and this special group of men is forced to hang onto them until they can find their parents. Until then, they have to fight fires and take care of the kids. What could go wrong?

The cast in this film is amazing! The casting director, Rich Delia, not only picked some big names to be in this film, but also found some talented new-comers. The whole cast portrays their characters really well and they are hilarious too! Superintendent Jack Carson, head of the smoke jumpers, is played by John Cena, a well-known actor and WWE wrestler. Keegan- Michel Key, a famous comedian, plays Lieutenant Mark, a friend of the Superintendent and another smoke jumper. Jack's soft-hearted friend, Rodrigo, is played by John Leguizamo. Brianna Hildebrand plays Brynn, the oldest of the three kids. This film also has a dog named Masher, that is Jack's fierce firehouse dog. Masher is very well trained and his interaction with the kids is hilarious. Andy Fickman directs the film.

I give Playing With Fire 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, as well as adults Playing With Fire opens in theaters November 8, 2019!

Reviewed by Eva W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Playing with Fire is a funny and a fantastic Nickelodeon movie. It has so many funny moments and cool stunts. There is also some scenes that are very emotional. It is very fun and up beat. It is an enjoyable movie for the whole family to watch.

The storyline is about fire superintendent Jake Carson and his elite team of firefighters coming to the rescue of three siblings and realizing that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet--babysitting. The three siblings, Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand), Will (Chrisian Convery), and Zoe (Finley Rose Slater) cause trouble all over the fire depot and are uncontrollable, much like fires. There are lots of hilarious moments that everyone will laugh at, and sad moments where you might cry.

The cast of Playing with Fire, especially John Cena, Keegan Micheal Key, John Leguizamo, and Brianna Hildebrand, elevates the film and makes it amazing. They all put there own little twist on there character and it is really cool how they performed all of their stunts. The cinematography and special effects is fantastic as well. The director, Andy Fickman, did an outstanding job directing everything and everyone. The screenwriter, Dan Ewen, also wrote a funny and a great script.

The message of this movie is that family and friends are important. When someone needs some help, they try to help them like a family. The firefighters have to treat the siblings like they're their kids and teach them what and what not to do. All of them have to stay together for a little while and start to grow on each other.

I would recommend this movie for ages 6 to 12 (adults might like it too). Younger audiences would find it more fun and exciting than teenagers would. I give this movie a 4 out of 5 star rating. You can find this movie in theaters on November 8, so go watch it.

Reviewed by Leandro R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
HARRIET
HARRIET - FOCUS FEATURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America's greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth reviews
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Harriet is an absolutely terrific movie with superb acting, vivid scenery and authentic 1800s costumes. The movie pulled me into the story line such that I really loved and hated some of the characters by the end of the movie.

Harriet is about the life of Harriet Tubman, an American abolitionist and political activist. She was born into slavery, along with her whole family. One day, she decides that she has had enough and wants to be free, along with her husband who is already free. She escapes from her cruel masters and flees to Pennsylvania on her own. She then becomes a conductor of the Underground Railroad.

Going into the movie, I didn't know that much about Harriet Tubman, other than she was an escaped slave and part of the Underground Railroad. She was much more than that! And I am quite surprised that there has not been a movie made about her story before this. There are some fantastic actors in this movie, including Cynthia Erivo who plays Harriet Tubman, Leslie Odom Jr. (William Still) and Janelle Monae (Marie Buchanon). My favorite character is Harriet Tubman, because she was such a courageous woman and Cynthia Erivo made me believe she was actually Harriet Tubman.

There are so many positive messages in this movie, but my list includes the importance of family, the impact of a courageous women and the power of faith in hard times. This movie has some profanity, a few gory scenes and dead bodies. As you might expect in a movie taking place in a time when slavery existed, there are risky things that kids might try to imitate.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Adults will also like this movie. This movie opens in theaters November 1, 2019.

Reviewed by Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Harriet is a sincere tribute to the real-life freedom fighter. Excellent performances and a developed story add layers of entertainment. Anyone interested in documentaries or the subject material must watch this.

The story tells the heroic tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America's most influential figures. The film recounts how her courage and intelligence freed hundreds of slaves and changed history as we know it.

Cynthia Erivo, as Harriet Tubman, brings out something award-worthy. This actress of Broadway fame launches her star potential to greater heights as she perfectly captures Tubman's appearance on top of her distinguishing characteristics. The film is truly a vehicle for Cynthia's many talents. Other cast members include Leslie Odom Jr. as William Still and Janelle Monae as Marie. While Odom Jr.'s role is relatively one-note as someone Tubman sends runaways to, Monae adds heart to Marie as she settles Tubman for city life. As the film progresses, a heartbreaking scene sticks its landing due to the dynamic between the two.

Kasi Lemmons aptly directs, as the story is told chronologically. However, the cinematography does leave a little bit more to be desired, as it lacks nuance and something of interest, during extended dialogue-heavy scenes. Due to this, I felt the runtime and was left desiring the thrilling rescues that follow. It is worth mentioning that you must be interested in American history, or else you will truly remain bored during its two-hour runtime. My favorite scene is Tubman's first escape, because a thrilling scene follows where Tubman jumps downstream into the river rather than get captured. It is truly a testament to Tubman's courage and agility.

The message of this film is that Tubman always stands for justice and treats even her opponents fairly; really everything Tubman stands for speaks truth in heroic qualities. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 due to violence, thematic content and language, including racial slurs. The movie releases in theaters on November 1, 2019, so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

There are a lot of good things to take away from this movie. After seeing this film, I have a very different perspective of Harriet Tubman. I learned that she was a very strong woman.

The storyline is about Harriet Tubman's amazing journey in leading slaves to freedom and how she fought for what she believed in. Harriet Tubman's real name was Araminta Ross; she chose her new name to symbolize her freedom. Harriet had a very strong belief in God and used that to guide her. She walked 100 miles to reach freedom and made 13 trips getting other slaves to freedom. She freed 70 slaves and traveled 1,300 miles total. The bad guys called her 'Moses the slave stealer,' but she was doing the right thing.

This film is very well made. Everything looks very realistic and the actors truly embody their characters. Harriet takes place at a farm starting in 1840. The woman who becomes Harriet Tubman began her life as a slave at the Thompson plantation in Maryland. The movie retells the events of her life very accurately. Cynthia Erivo, who gives a wonderful performance, plays Harriet Tubman. Joe Alwyn plays her master, Gideon, who's portrayal of the bad guy really made me hate him. Janelle Monae plays Marie, a very good friend of Harriet's. Leslie Odom Jr. plays William Still, who helps Harriet find a home and a job when she gets to freedom.

I give Harriet 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this film for ages 14 to 18, because it has a lot of very violent scenes, including some where people are killed. It also shows how horrible slavery actually was. Some of these scenes are heartbreaking and very difficult to watch. There is also a lot of racially offensive language.

Harriet comes out in theaters November 1, 2019 so be sure to look for it!

Reviewed by Eva W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL
MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is the great bad queen! As you may recall, Maleficent is the evil queen from Disney's Sleeping Beauty. As her character came to life, it is a dark reminder of how electric this actress is, and how good it is to be bad!

Jolie rocked this role in 2014's Maleficent, a film re-imagined from the character's point-of-view. It was dark and scary, and the costumes reminded me of Halloween.

This film centers on a clash between Maleficent and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), Mother of Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), a human royal from a nearby kingdom who wants to marry Aurora (Elle Fanning), Maleficent's human goddaughter.

While Aurora is Queen of the Moors and she and Prince Phillip both prefer peace to violence; their hope of building a bridge between the human kingdom and the magical creatures that live on the moors is not to be.

What should have been a celebratory engagement dinner becomes a waged war. Queen Ingrith's disrespect begins with her meal choice and escalates to providing iron cutlery, which equates to death to faeries. Throughout the verbal barbs which ensue, there are references to racist and current political regimes, including the current U.S. border crisis.

Maleficent is injured and saved by another winged creature. She awakes to learn she is not the single of her kind. In fact, the story gets a bit disjointed as a back story is revealed to explain the change of venue, and introduces hundreds of winged creatures from all over the planet.

As Maleficent's new tribe decides to fight, Queen Ingrith is preparing for war far below the royal castle walls. The intricate detail to new characters and warfare means the fight is ahead and the architect is revealed. In the beginning, we are lead to believe Maleficent is evil, dark and scary - oh contraire! Maleficent has scary powers, but the true villain is yet to be divulged.

The costumes are beautiful, especially the makeup on Angelina Jolie, which is spectacular. The story moves about a lot. In fact, I feel it harms character development. It's Disney so, of course, there is a cute furry animal that will become plush merchandising gold.

I give this film 3 of 5 stars for its lack of character development and a shifting storyline. The casting is exemplary, especially the humorous takes when Maleficent is made to be more human. Costumes, hair and makeup are stunning. This film will appeal to ages 9 to 18, and introduces elements of Sleeping Beauty. Make no mistake; some of the scenes will be scary to younger children. There is a lot of CGI violence and many off-screen deaths. It opens in theaters October 18, 2019 so check it out.

By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The visuals in the film are beautiful: The costumes are stunning and the whole movie is so beautiful to watch. We see the splendor of castles and the reign of the humans. The Dark Fay is this obscure underground place that despite its dreary appearance becomes a place for truth. The music from Geoff Zanelli enhances the scenes transporting us to this mythical place.

The story flows very nicely; it is like watching how a great fairy tale comes to life in the big screen, but Maleficent: Mistress of Evil doesn't take us beyond the impact of the first movie. It is very well done and reiterates there's no black or white but areas of gray. The message of this film is that love does not always end well.

I give Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16. It releases in theatres on October 18, 2019.

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

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is totally intriguing because of how unpredictable the storyline is. The writers applied their creativity and the CGI brings it all to life. The visuals along with the emotional impact made watching this film an exciting experience.

This film is the sequel to Maleficent (2014). It is best to watch Maleficent first and then watch Maleficent: Mistress of Evil to have a better understanding. This series is based on the story of Sleeping Beauty and the writers add their own twists, so you might be unfamiliar with the plot even if you know the plot of Sleeping Beauty. The story starts off with Prince Philip's proposal to Aurora. Their marriage will unite two kingdoms, the Moors and Ulstead. The problem is that the queens of the kingdoms are not on good terms so the marriage does not happen smoothly.

Angelina Jolie plays the powerful and bold Maleficent. Angelina Jolie is perfectly cast for this role with her strong cheekbones and how she commands all the attention. Through subtle changes in her eyes and facial expressions she shows a lot of emotion. Elle Fanning plays sweet and innocent Aurora. Fanning is a wonderful actor as well who can be soft and tough at the same time.

The CGI of the fairies and creatures is very realistic. They are colorful and the habitat that they live in is pleasing to look at as well. I especially love the CGI for Maleficent's wings. They move as one with Angelina Jolie and also help convey her emotions. Maleficent goes through many costume changes and they are all stunning, even though they have a limited number of colors to work with. The costumes highlight her power and confidence. The costumes for Aurora are very flowery and emphasize her innocence. The costumes for Aurora are also symbolic later on in the film.

I simply cannot choose a favorite part of the film. There are so many parts where I cried and laughed. I don't want to spoil anything so all I can say is that I love the scenes where Maleficent gets to use her strong wings.

There are multiple prominent messages and even more underlying messages that can be found in this film. One of the main messages is about looking past appearances to communicate with others. Many of the humans judge the creatures based on what they look like. They stereotype and assume the actions of these creatures, which creates unnecessary apprehension. This can also be applied to our world today, so it is wonderful that the film brings awareness to this problem.

I love the crazy ride that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has brought me on and you will love it too! I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Even Disney adult fans will enjoy this. Be sure to watch when it comes out in theaters on October 18, 2019.

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

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil explores the world of its archetypal big-bad title character--the witch from the iconic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty--but fans who met her in Disney's 2014 live action film will be disappointed with the overstuffed plot and uneven tone in this film.

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) protects the Moors, a place inhabited by a vast array of magical creatures from fairies to humanoid trees. Her daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) accepts a marriage proposal from Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), prompting talks of peace and unity between the Moors and Phillip's kingdom. Maleficent wearily meets her daughter's in-laws, King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). The already tense evening escalates when King John becomes cursed and Maleficent is believed to be at fault. She flees, but Aurora refuses to go with her. Maleficent goes on a journey of self-discovery and must restore order between humankind and her kind.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is so steadfast in the gritty approach it takes to its fairy tale world; it often undermines the magic that makes these stories so enduringly popular. When it comes to fairy tales, realism and gloom is not what has kept them in the public consciousness for centuries.

Maleficent does have some high points. The costume and production design are phenomenal, further suspending you in this world. There are some pretty awe-inspiring shots from Maleficent's point of view as she soars through the sky. There are also some interesting ideas about family and parenting here; far more interesting than the exploits of the tribe of fellow fairies Maleficent meets. If any of the individual ideas presented were given room to breathe and develop, the film would be much better for it. Instead, there's a lack of focus that clouds much of the runtime and it's clear the film doesn't quite know what it wants to accomplish. They pack too many characters and subplots into one film.

One of the costs is screen-time for Maleficent. The film doesn't give Angelina Jolie much to do this time around and I was surprised at the scarce amount of dialogue she is given. When she's training herself to smile or going verbally head-to-head with Queen Ingrith, Jolie shines. Jolie is magnetic onscreen and the film should have utilized her powerful presence more. One consolation though is Michelle Pfeiffer delving into the role of a villain. Her passive-aggressive manner mixes well with a jaded, nihilistic worldview and she's a lot of fun to watch.

I recommend Maleficent: Mistress of Evil for ages 11 to 17 due to mass fantasy violence. For a film about peace and togetherness, it's pretty violent and pushes the envelope on its PG rating. I give it 1.5 out of 5 stars. The film comes out in theaters October 18, 2019.

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

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a very emotional and fantastical movie with a unique take on the classic fairytale of Sleeping Beauty. Since I saw the first live-action Maleficent movie and the original Disney's Sleeping Beauty, I was really eager to see how the second Maleficent would compare to those, and this sequel does them justice. I am glad that we get to know more about Maleficent, the "villain" of the story.

This movie successfully switches between the happy and dark sides of the ongoing feud with the mythical creatures and the humans. Also, the amount of effort and detail that went into the art direction and special effects pays off to make the film even better. From the sets to the mysterious woodland creatures, everything is colorful, vibrant and beautifully detailed, which makes it feel like you are in another world.

It is fun to see Angelina Jolie play Maleficent again because she provides the perfect balance of strength and sweetness. The movie also introduces us to many new characters, such as Prince Phillip's evil mother, Queen Ingrith, and the Dark Fey, a group of winged creatures similar to Maleficent.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil spends a lot of time on the execution of the Queen's plot to take down Maleficent and other magical creatures, but never really explains how the Queen is able to get the information she needs to fulfill her plan. Some parts of the plot needed to be developed more but seemed rushed to get to the epic battle scene. Also, because there is so much going on with the battle plot, there isn't really an opportunity to find out a lot more about Maleficent. The first film was all about Maleficent, which is what made it so great. In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, her character is more on the sidelines up until the end.

The moral of this movie is that anyone can be good or bad and not to judge a book by its cover, because villains can come in many different forms.

The film has a lot of beautiful visuals and lighthearted magic, but there are also some very dark scenes. I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, as well as adults. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil hits theaters on Friday October 18, 2019 so check it out.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
SONIC BOOM: SEASON 1, VOLUME 1
SONIC BOOM: SEASON 1, VOLUME 1 - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD, AGES 8 - 15
Description - It's a Sonic you haven't seen before - an ensemble comedy that pokes fun at action-adventure storytelling, but still manages to deliver plenty of adrenaline! Wherever he goes and whatever he s up against, Sonic the Hedgehog is aided by his sidekick, Tails, and his friends Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks and, of course, attacked by his arch nemesis, Dr. Eggman.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Though somewhat predictable, the show has some very funny moments and can serve as an entertaining break during the day, since the episodes are so short. The message of the story centers around the conflicts between friends. This includes Doctor Eggman, whose role is more of a rivalry than a serious threat of evil. If parents want their kids to get more out of this show, then they should pause between episodes and discuss the characters' adventures with their child, comparing to their child's own experiences with questions such as, "What would you do if your friend acted like that? Can you think of better ways to solve that problem? How might this whole scenario have gone differently?"

Younger kids will enjoy the bright, energetic characters' antics with their friends, as well as making fun of Eggman for always losing. Slightly older kids might appreciate the show, because they're familiar with other materials from the Sonic franchise.

The plots of each episode, though simple, make the usual cartoony sort of sense. Problems are set up, faced and resolved in the next episode. Further consequences are glossed over. The show is not designed to be accurate in the way it portrays animals or technology. There is plenty of punching, lasers, breaking robots and making things explode, but nobody actually gets hurt. Both heroes and villains engage in "don't try this at home" stunts. On another note, nearly all the characters are portrayed as gullible and unintelligent, particularly the stronger ones, like Knuckles. This could be interpreted as the common prejudice that big plus strong equals dumb.

Though less stunning and more simple than the computer animation seen in most contemporary cartoons, the show has some pretty background sets. The action sequences are also well-animated.

This show could be considered educational by its portrayal of the frictions that often arise between a group of people, particularly friends. The gang's interaction with Eggman could even provide a teachable moment, such as showing kindness to your enemy, even when you know he'll turn around and try something bad again tomorrow.

This program is a collection of episodes having to do with solving conflicts between friends. The episodes point out problems that often arise such as jealousy, feeling underappreciated, unpopular hobbies and wanting to make up for thing's you've done wrong. I give this 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12.

Reviewed by Beth T., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like this DVD because it is very entertaining. Each story line is funny; it has a lot of action and delivers a lot of adrenaline.

Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 1, is over four hours of action, fun and entertainment. The package comes with two DVDs that include 26 episodes. Each disk is 145 minutes. Sonic (Roger Craig Smith) is a blue hedgehog who has a sidekick, Tails, who helps him in his adventures. Sonic's friends - Knuckles (Sebastian Desjours), Amy (Cindy Robinson) and Sticks (Nika Futterman) - help him attack his arch nemesis Dr. Eggman (Mike Pollock). Each episode has a different story line. It does not follow a sequence, which it means that each episode is always a different adventure and that's what makes it so entertaining.

The graphics are amazing and the colors are very bright. The voice-overs are funny and they fit each character. The music is okay. I especially like the theme song, which is very catchy. My favorite episode is The Meteor when Sonic and Dr. Eggman switch their brains and body accidentally. They touch a meteor and then their brains and bodies are switched. Dr. Eggman becomes Sonic and Sonic becomes Dr. Eggman. Dr. Eggman tries to act like he really is Sonic and tries to trick Sonic's friends so he can destroy them and he can rule the world, since he is now a genius and super fast. My other favorite episode is Double Doomsday. In this episode a kid meets Dr. Eggman and the kid gets mad at Dr. Eggman, because he is makes the kid do chores. The kid makes a doomsday device to destroy the world. He tells Dr. Eggman that his doomsday device is going to do more damage and they start competing against each other to destroy the world.

The moral to the stories is about team work making the dream work, because in each episode Sonic is helped by his sidekick and best friends to either defeat Dr. Eggman or to enjoy their different adventures.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, but adults can watch it with their kids and may find it amusing. This disk is definitely worth four hours. Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 1, is available now, so look for it! Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11.

What do you call a blue hedgehog that is really fast and trying to stop an egghead from taking over the world? Sonic! It's been a while, but he is back along with all of his friends...and enemies. This show is action-packed, hilarious with some dad jokes and just overall fun. Each episode also has some kind of moral or message at the end. I watched the Limited-Edition DVD Gift Set that comes with a DVD of over four hours of action- and adventure-filled episodes, plus it includes Sonic and Dr. Eggman pose-able action figures. But let's just do this, shall we?

We enter the animal world of Sonic Boom, with all of its strange buildings and characters that are actually animals. We are first faced with a problem, which is usually Sonic's responsibility to solve, and which always involves his nemesis Dr. Eggman. Along with help from his friends, Sonic uses his super speed to save the day. Let's meet a few of Sonic's friends! There is Amy, a pink hedgehog, who uses her giant pink and yellow hammer to defeat Dr. Eggman. There is Knuckles who uses his super strength, and of course his knuckles, to take down Dr. Eggman. Finally, there is Sticks, who uses her boomerang to help Sonic win each battle with Dr. Eggman.

It all takes place in Sonic's strange village and Dr. Eggman's evil lair. The series is directed by Natalys Raut Sieuzac and Sonic is voiced by Roger Craig Smith. Sonic is a mischievous blue hedgehog. He can sometimes get a little overprotective of his friend Tails, a cute fox who loves making gadgets that are actually helpful, unlike Dr. Eggman's scary but silly inventions. Dr. Eggman is a true blockhead who sees himself as a genius, even though he is not at all clever. Amy is a true peacemaker who can't stand it when her friends fight, but gladly helps fight Dr. Eggman. Knuckles is well... pretty much a dingbat. He often believes anything he hears and he hears a lot of those unbelievable things from Sticks. No, not a twig! Her name is Sticks and she is way too wild and crazy.

Get on board with Sonic and his friends because every episode is a new, supersonic adventure! The message of this series is to always help your friends and sometimes your enemies too.

Sonic Boom: Season 1, Volume 1 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 4 to 12. This DVD is available now, so look for it.

Reviewed by Beatrice N, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Sonic Boom is a really good cartoon filled with funny jokes and adventure. It is based off of the Sonic video games and turns it into an ensemble comedy. It pokes fun at action-adventure storytelling, but still manages to deliver plenty of adrenaline and excitement. The animation is great also.

The storyline follows Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Sticks who defend Seaside Island from various threats such as Dr. Eggman and his robotic creations. Wherever Sonic goes, his friends are always there to help him. Dr. Eggman always creates robotic things and tries to defeat Sonic with them, but he always fails.

In the video game, Sonic did not speak, but Robert Craig Smith gives life to the character and makes him awesome. The director, Bob Rafei, made this animated series great. The writer, Ian Flynn, wrote a great and comedic script too.

The message of Sonic Boom is to always have fun in what you're doing. Whenever they fight Dr. Eggman, they are always telling jokes and having fun. Sonic Boom: Season 1, Volume 1 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 10. This DVD is available now so look for it.

Reviewed by Leandro R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Runtime: 290 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 12.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ADDAMS FAMILY, THE
ADDAMS FAMILY, THE - MGM STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - Members of the mysterious and spooky Addams family -- Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley, Wednesday, Uncle Fester and Grandma -- are readily preparing for a visit from their even creepier relatives. But trouble soon arises when shady TV personality Margaux Needler realizes that the Addams' eerie hilltop mansion is standing in the way of her dream to sell all the houses in the neighborhood.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Addams Family is a thoroughly hilarious watch for families. Even adults can have fun as the film boasts humor for all ages. Excellent voice acting and consistently funny script impress. It truly has something for everyone.

The story follows the iconic family in their first animated adventure. Being the kookiest family on the block, several homeowners lend massive disgust for their unconventional ways, teaming up to bring them down. Amidst this is a funny and iconic tale about what it means to be a good neighbor.

The Addams family cast all boast great performances. Oscar Isaac, as Gomez, presents his patriarchal side and his interactions with Pugsley provide great humor. Likewise, Charlize Theron, as Morticia, who cares greatly for Wednesday. Pugsley and Wednesday, played respectively by Finn Wolfhard and Chloe Grace Moretz, are a lot of fun to watch together as they do not get along. Wednesday is my favorite character because her over-analytical self is always enjoyable to watch. Also, Snoop Dogg's cameo is well worth price of admission; it's truly unexpected and works.

Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, known for films such as Shrek 2, aptly direct this film. However, the animation does leave a bit more to be desired; as I felt elements lack refinement and detail, especially compared to current animation. My favorite scene is when Lurch, a creature alike Frankenstein, sings. It's truly hilarious and works amidst his roster of piano playing. The film loses traction once, focusing on the homeowners who lack the characterization of the Addams. Also, Pugsley feels rather undeveloped when compared to Wednesday. I feel that more time could have been devoted to characterizing him.

The message of this film is about accepting others for who they are and learning to resolve differences. Even though The Addams Family is played for outlandish humor, the film realizes the importance of this message and hopes for everyone to accept one another. I give The Addams Family 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18 due to its macabre humor. The movie releases in theaters on October 11, 2019, so check it out.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ABOMINABLE
ABOMINABLE - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - After discovering a Yeti on the roof of her apartment building, teenage Yi and her two friends embark on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family. But to do so, they must stay one step ahead of a wealthy financier and a determined zoologist who want to capture the beast for their own gain.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - To say I love this film would be an understatement! DreamWorks' Abominable is more than a film--it is an experience! It is like a 4D movie without the glasses or vibrating chairs.

Abominable introduces us to a Yeti named Everest, voice by Joseph Izzo, and a young girl named Yi, voice by Chloe Bennet. Everest is being hunted by a scientist and bad guys. Yi is attempting to cope with the death of her father--unfortunately she is trying to push away friends and family that love her. You could say both the Yeti and Yi are being pursued in different ways. Yi befriends Everest and goes on a journey to take him home to Mount Everest. Together, they escape on a magical and surprising adventure that brings them both home, literally and figuratively speaking. Yi and Everest are joined by Yi's friends Jin, voice by Tenzing Trainor and Ping, voice by Albert Tsai.

In the theatre, I sat immersed by the sights and sounds of this film. I felt the violin, performed by Mark Berrow, as if I was at a live performance. The CGI animation is by far the best I've ever experienced. The detail and vibrant colors of the trees, flowers, water and mountains almost make me forget I am indoors. An interesting fact is that Tenzing Trainor is the grandson of Nepalese Tenzing Norgay, one of the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest. As the characters in this film try to accomplish this same feat, I am further drawn into this movie and impressed with the choice of casting. I'm equally impressed by the over 60 people responsible for the visual effects. One of my favorite parts is a magical moment when an avalanche of realistic-looking, giant blueberries occurs: "got blueberries in places blueberries should never be!" And Jin's two giant blueberry buttocks are hilarious.

Just as Yi is considering giving up the climb, they come across a river of koi, swimming upstream. The koi illustrate the film's message of perseverance.

Abominable has minimal violence. There are no moments of profanity or adult situations. I give Abominable 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 18, and adults will enjoy it as well. You can find this film in theaters nationwide, September 27, 2019.

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

Abominable is a heartwarming watch for families. Excellent voice acting and breathtaking visuals are the show-stealers. It truly has something for everyone.

The story follows teenager Yi (Chloe Bennet) as she encounters a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building. She and her good friends, Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) and Peng (Albert Tsai), name him "Everest" and embark on a quest to bring the magical creature home. But they will have to stay one-step ahead of Burnish (Eddie Izzard), a wealthy man intent on capturing a Yeti, and zoologist Dr. Zara (Sarah Paulson) to help Everest.

Chloe Bennet is great as Yi, with her voice work providing emotion and wit. I especially enjoyed her dynamic with Everest as the two start to relate with one another. This is really the film's heart and best elements. Tenzing Norgray Trainor and Albert Tsai, as Jin and Peng, are great companions and provide effective voice work. Peng is always hilarious, providing comic relief, while Jin comes to his own in his effective character arc that captures the spirit of being brave. Eddie Izzard, as Burnish, utilizes his comedic charm and blunt accent to great degree. Sarah Paulson, as Dr. Zara, is also a formidable threat as there is more than meets the eye with her.

Jill Culton revitalizes DreamWorks Animation with a nice blend of adventure and comedy, which has engaging narrative choices. Some scenes are realized so beautifully, especially the one involving Coldplay's Fix You. My favorite scene is Jin's trip to Everest, as it captures his arc effectively and features a great sense of humor. However, the film loses steam by the end and drags quite a bit. You will feel the 90 minute runtime as the group sequesters. Also, I feel that complex themes dealing with loss and grief are sidelined by the amount of humor. And, it is a children's movie after all, so I appreciate the effort to explore this territory.

The message of this film is in knowing when to reach out to others. Yi tries to accept others in her life by empathetically communicating. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. The movie releases in theaters on September 27, 2019, so check it out.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

I like the new film Abominable because the storyline is heartwarming and the characters are very funny.

The story follows a magical yeti who escapes from a lab in China, and who is running away from a crazy scientist trying to catch him. The yeti soon meets a young girl named Yi who lives with her mother and grandmother. Yi and the yeti become good friends. Yi names the yeti "Everest" and helps him to get home to Mount Everest with the help of two boys, Jin and Peng, who are cousins. While the team are trying to help this cute animal, a group of the scientist's guards chase the team through out the movie. Everest is what they call an "abominable" creature. The scientist wants to catch him because Everest is exotic and special.

The CGI animation is just absolutely incredible. The background has stunning landscapes of some of China's historical landmarks. The yeti is very cute and funny. He acts a bit like a dog. The intense music tells you when the action is about to start. Some parts of the movie include violin solos since Yi plays the violin.

The moral of this story is to love your family for who they are and for what they do for you. Family always comes first, no matter what. The message is also about perseverance and never giving up.

I give Abominable 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults may enjoy this film as well. This awesome movie releases in theaters September 27, 2019 so go watch it before the tickets are all sold out!

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Abominable is a great animated film, fun for the whole family! It is very heartfelt. I really love its beautifully animated scenes, especially those with violin playing laced in. This film mixes both fantasy and adventure. The feel of the movie is soothing and delivers positive vibes.

The plot is very deep, creative and well-thought-out. The story follows a rare never-before-seen Yeti who escapes a mean zoologist and wealthy art collector. The art collector wants to display the Yeti to the world and yet the zoologist has her own plans. What will become of this lovable creature?

The Yeti escapes and finds his way to the rooftop of a young woman named Yi. She is an independent misfit going through a difficult time. Yi is played by Chloe Bennet who does an excellent job with the voice over and with the emotions of this young character. Yi lost her dad and she keeps herself busy in order to not think of her loss. When she discovers the Yeti, her life is forever changed. Yi decides to help the Yeti named "Everest" (Joseph Izzo) get back to his home. Even the neighbors get caught up into the commotion and accidentally end up on this journey with Yi.

Yi's family is so cute! I love the character Nai Nai played by Tsai Chin. It reminds me of my nanna and she is so comical. Peng is played well by Albert Tsai, creating a character so obsessed with social media and his phone, just like so many of us kids today. There is a lot of great comedic timing from the actors and there are many beautiful scenes throughout. A couple of my favorite scenes happen when they face obstacles escaping the bad guys--especially, the fields of yellow flowers that turn into a tidal wave, and the tree that has amazing pink flowers and lights that bloom. It's a wonderful, magical scene with the violin playing along. There are beautiful historical sites and scenes depicted of real places in China. The colors are so bright and vibrant that you stay on the edge of your seat. The director and writer Jill Culton has created phenomenal animation that blew me away.

I give Abominable 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. You should go to the big screen and check this out! The release date is September 27, 2019.

Reviewed by Ivey H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Abominable is a fantastic movie that leaves you wanting more. The story is really funny and jam-packed with lots of emotion. The characters are easy to fall in love with, and the animation is visually stunning and very detailed. The music is beautiful to listen to, and it captures the tone and essence of this work of art. Producer Suzanne Fitzer hired all the right people: All of the voice actors--especially Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, and Tenzing Norgay Trainor--are very talented. Director and writer Jill Culton wrote this eloquent movie and directs it perfectly. Editor Susan Fitzer put everything together amazingly well.

The storyline is about a teenage girl named Yi that finds a magical yeti on the rooftop of her apartment. Yi names the yeti "Everest" after its home on famous Mount Everest. With the company of her friends Jin and Peng, Yi travels all across China to take Everest where he belongs. They are also running from the people who were keeping Everest secured. Part of the story takes place in Shanghai, China, and the film shows multiple well-known landmarks, too.

The message is to not give up on your dream and to keep going, no matter what comes your way. Abominable also teaches the value of family.

Abominable is a fun adventure movie for the whole family to watch. There is no violence or adult content, but the story touches on and deals with the topic of death. I rate Abominable 5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 9 to 18 (adults might like it, too). You can see it at your local movie theater starting September 27, 2019, so go watch it!

Reviewed by Leandro R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
AD ASTRA
AD ASTRA - TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I feel transported to the moon and Neptune! This movie is not only a great story, Ad Astra is a roller coaster of emotions and a ride that makes the movie-going experience beyond the usual thrill. It's totally immersive and I enjoy that, and I recommend to experience it in IMAX for best results.

It put me at the edge of my seat and is so exiting. The pace, in general, is slow. But there are a lot of action peaks that certainly shake your emotions. The visuals are stunning and the acting overwhelming. Probably, what I enjoyed the most is that in this futuristic voyage, where imagination floats, the human condition remains grounded.

In Ad Astra, astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) joins a mission in which he will be sent to outer space to find his father, who disappeared 30 years ago and is associated with a threat to humanity. Roy's journey is also personal - they have a dysfunctional father / son relationship, but share a strong bond for the love for outer space.

The car chase on the moon, when space pirates attack, is one of my favorite scenes. It is original and out of this world, literally. I also love the scenes when Roy is floating out of the spaceship.

The cinematography (Hoyte Van Hoytema) and visual effects are the most remarkable technical aspects of the film. The movie has a heart and Brad Pitt's performance makes us remember that, despite all advances in technology and stunning visuals, the core will be always humankind. There are a lot of close ups and drama, and the journey is not only beyond the frontiers of Earth, but inside of our souls. I did not find some secondary characters' interactions as important as they should be. The music composed by Max Richter is very atmospheric and keeps us suspended.

Ad Astra is very unique because of the story; it's not like any film you have seen in the past. I definitively recommend seeing this film if you love space, or maybe just want to see something different. One thing that I really liked is how futuristic it is, in a near future that is not that far from us.

I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to18+. Finally, the message of this film is there's no greater journey than knowing ourselves. Ad Astra opens in theaters nationwide September 20, 2019. Look for it. By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This film is nothing like what I anticipated and I mean that in a good way. I had a lot of fun discussing the themes of this movie.

The movie follows Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) as he's tasked with finding his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) in hopes of stopping a series of electrical surges that threaten the world.

Now, while the whole cast is pretty fantastic, a good majority of the film revolves around Roy McBride. There are a lot of scenes where he's by himself while narrating. And these are probably the most interesting scenes in the movie. And it's not just because of the acting. The film is filled with voice over narration from Roy and these narrations are very interesting to think about. Since Roy is essentially prohibited from emoting, the narration sort of acts as his solution to that. I think that works really well, especially since, when he actually does emote, even slightly, it hits you really hard.

Speaking of the narration, that, along with the incredible ambient music gives the tone a very eerie, atmospheric vibe which fits the feeling of isolation in the vastness of space and the monotone acting. There's also a lot of ideas in this film that are really creative and worthy of discussion. For example, in this movie there are commercial flights to the moon. So when Roy actually gets to the moon, you can see recognizable restaurants in the background, implying the moon is essentially a travel location. This is such a neat idea and something I really wish was expanded upon. Not only that, but this film has some really thought-provoking themes relating to legacies, searching for something greater and repressing your emotions. For most of the film, people see Roy in relation to who his father was. And these scenes, along with some spoiler-y moments, led me and my mom to have an entire discussion about how certain people will never be able to fully escape the legacy of their ancestors, as their ancestor and that ancestor's name will always weigh on them. Not just that, but the way space is used as a metaphor for taking what you have in life for granted is intriguing.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. It comes out September 20, 2019. Look for it. By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Are you ready for a thrilling movie experience? Ad Astra delivers this and more with terrific acting, great cinematography and amazing sound.

The film's title draws its name from the Latin phrase "ad astra" and means "to the stars." This science fiction movie is about an astronaut named Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) who goes into space to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones), who was also an astronaut. When his father went to work on something called the Lima Project, he went missing and died, or so Roy thinks. He is called in and told that his father might be alive and is sent across the solar system to find him.

Ad Astra is so intense - almost too intense for me. The amazing performances from Brad Pitt, as Roy McBride, and Tommy Lee Jones, as Roy's father, are so believable and they made want to both love and hate the characters by the end of the movie. The special effects are realistic, and the sound is astonishing, as you can hear every move made. My favorite character is Roy because of his perseverance.

The message of the movie is: if something is hard, work through it. The intensity of the movie comes from some profanity, bloody images, dead bodies and violence (including some murderous actions). Obviously, these scenes include risky things that kids might try to do.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, as kids any younger might get scared (like me!). Adults will also like this movie. This movie opens in theaters September 20, 2019. By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Ad Astra has a very strange and artistic viewpoint of space. This film is personally not really my taste in film, but there are definitely moments that catch my eye. The way the visual effects pull this film together is completely mind blowing. They create the look of space and planets being realistic as if they are right in front of you.

Ad Astra tells the story of Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) who works for Spacecom. Roy sets out on an expedition across the solar system to find his father and his dad's doomed expedition in order to solve a mystery that is threatening the universe.

I would like to acknowledge Brad Pitt's acting. Brad Pitt plays a major role in this film and, boy, he pulls it off outstandingly! You can definitely tell that he brings his all to bringing the concept to life. However, the ending could have been a little bit more put together. I was a little confused throughout the whole movie and the ending did throw me off more than other parts. Also, they could have given more information on a few characters--some randomly appear and leave which leaves you wondering what happened to them.

Ad Astra delivers a very inspiring message: Never give up hope and keep fighting for what you love no matter what someone or the world tells you.

Ad Astra has some blood and gore, though there is hardly any profanity, except for one word and one gesture. I give Ad Astra 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend this film for ages 10 to 18 and adults would enjoy it. All in all, I recommend you check this film out. Ad Astra is in theatres September 20, 2019. By Madison W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Ad Astra is an engrossing odyssey about outer space and the inner life of an emotionally distant astronaut.

A massive surge of energy hits Earth leaving chaos in its wake. The surge is traced deep into space, and the suspected culprit is the father of Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) who disappeared years ago in search of extraterrestrial life. Roy is sent deep into the reaches of the solar system to find his father. The fate of the planet hangs in the balance, and it's up to Roy to avert further catastrophe.

Roy is calm and collected to an unusual extent. This calm demeanor assists him at work, but impairs his personal life. In the hands of a less-skilled performer, Roy McBride would feel bland, but Brad Pitt's performance is nuanced and subtle, showing that what is going on under the surface is the key to McBride's character. Pitt's reserved performance gives his small and spare spurts of visible emotion greater magnitude.

It's fascinating to see what an auteur like director James Gray does with Ad Astra. Gray takes his time, indulging in the aesthetics of the individual environments that Roy visits and offering up numerous wide shots of the endless void of space. The visual splendor on display from Gray--and also the remarkable cinematography from Hoyt van Hoytema--are jaw dropping to behold. I was surprised by the quality of the few action set pieces in the film. Whether it's a chase on rovers with space pirates across the lunar surface or a bare-knuckled brawl in zero gravity, the set pieces are strangely well executed for what is, in essence, a meditative character study.

Ad Astra has the sensibilities of an art film colliding with a familiar galactic adventure narrative. Gray uses the interstellar voyage to tell a story about dealing with the absence of a parent and overcoming the burdens of the past. McBride's quest to find his father becomes a quest to find himself.

Ad Astra has a larger reliance on science than fiction. The setup of this futuristic concept through world building grounds the film in a sense of reality. The setup is so well executed that the rest of the film pales in comparison.

I give Ad Astra an age rating of 11 to 18 for sci-fi violence and a little bit of language. Although I enjoyed it, the film will resonate more with adults. I give Ad Astra 3.5 out of 5 stars--it is an artfully done, well-made sci-fi flick that demands to be seen on the big screen. It opens in theaters September 20, 2019 so look for it.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TALL GIRL
TALL GIRL - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE 12-18
Description - Tall Girl is the 2019 Netflix original comedy about Jodi, the tallest girl in her school, who has never quite felt comfortable in her own statuesque skin. All of that changes when she falls for the handsome (and equally tall) foreign exchange student Stig who, of course, gets Jodi's quirky, best, male friend Dunkleman and his hippie mom as a host family. As a result, Jodi gets embroiled in a surprising love triangle, which helps her realize she's far more than her insecurities about her height have led her to believe.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Netflix's new movie Tall Girl is a wonderful coming-of-age story that touched my heart. It is really a perfect teen movie, as it deals with insecurity, friendships, relationships, high school, bullying and finding the confidence to believe in oneself.

What I particularly like about the film is that it has a great positive message that, even if you can't change something about yourself, you should embrace your uniqueness since that is what makes you special. For instance, the main character Jodi, played by the amazingly multi-talented Ava Michelle, is very tall at 6 foot 1 inch, and has been bullied her whole life because of it. Kids tease Jodi in school with comments like, "How's the weather up there?," which naturally hurts her feelings. However, one day, a tall and handsome foreign exchange student Stig (Luke Eisner) comes to her high school and takes an interest in Jodi. This relationship along with her best friend Dunkleman (Griffin Gluck) and her beauty queen sister Harper (Sabrina Carpenter) help Jodi find the confidence to believe in and truly accept herself.

My favorite scene is when Jodi and Stig sing the song "Stand Tall" together. It is an original song that Luke Eisner wrote with his band Viola about his father fighting cancer. The song incorporates perfectly into this movie with new lyrics by both Luke and Ava that they recorded in a bathroom. There is also a lot of humor in the movie. Specifically, Dunkleman is very funny and does impressions of Kevin Hart and other people.

The talent is off the charts in this movie. Luke Eisner is incredibly handsome and has the smoothness of a young George Clooney. His Swedish is authentic and I just can't get his gorgeous voice out of my head now. Ava Michelle's voice is wonderful too; together they harmonize on a couple of songs that I just love listening to. Ava is also a great pianist. I also found Griffin's humor hysterical and, after interviewing him with other actors from the cast, I could immediately see that he has stellar improv chops. Sabrina Carpenter perfectly captures a high school beauty queen. I don't think there's anything that Sabrina Carpenter cannot do!

What sticks out in mind about this movie is that it is of the utmost importance to believe in yourself. The movie also reminds us to never trade your integrity by just hanging out with the popular crowd.

This film has several fantastic, timeless moral messages including "accepting and believing in yourself and don't compromise your integrity." It's perfect for teen audiences. I believe both boys and girls will like this movie and I recommend it for ages 10 to 18 as there is some kissing in it. I give Tall Girl 4.5 out of 5 stars and can't wait to see it again! It premieres on Netflix on September 13, 2019. Look for it.

Reviewed by Abigail Zoe L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
PRINCESS EMMY
PRINCESS EMMY - SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: DVD, AGES 5-10
Description - Princess Emmy is a young girl with a secret gift - she is the only one in the Kingdom of Kandis who can speak to horses. Up until now, life for Emmy has been wonderful: exploring and hanging out with her best friends (a stable full of horses), spending time with her family at the castle, and not having a care in the world. But when her jealous, scheming cousin Gizana appears and Emmy must undergo the ultimate test to earn the right to keep her gift, she'll have to stand strong and stay the course in this wonderful, spirited film about courage, perseverance and friendship.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This is a delightful film for younger children. The storyline is about a young princess who can talk to horses and finds her gift in peril when her scheming cousin tries to steal it away. Princess Emmy is bright and likable and the animation is quite well done. The storyline is simple and somewhat predictable, but suitable for its target audience. I particularly enjoyed the scenes of the countryside, which are rendered beautifully and the cat is drawn particularly well. The voice acting is definitely noteworthy. All stand out as unique and true to their characters and Ruby Barnhill's portrayal of Princess Emmy is particularly outstanding. Emmy provides an excellent role model for young girls because of her strength of character and sense of adventure. I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 12. Reviewed by Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Welcome to Emmy's world. Magical, playful, discovering, and your real-life wonderland. This 78-minute fantasy DVD will take you on an adventure through princess Emmy's cup of tea with a secret-gift.

Written by Sergio Casci and directed by Piet De Rycker, the story follows Emmy and her friendly and trustworthy stable of horses. Princess Emmy is a young, adventurous girl with a secret, a secret gift that is. Emmy is the only person in the Kingdom of Kandis who can communicate to horses. Life for Emmy has been wonderful; exploring and hanging out with her pals. That is until her jealous and rude cousin Gizana appears and Emmy must experience the ultimate challenge to earn the right to keep her gift. She has to stand strong. Emmy must go through a series of confusing test to find out if her secret is worth to keep.

The lead characters in this DVD are Princess Emmy, voiced by Ruby Barnhill, Princess Gizana , voiced by Bella Ramsey, David, voiced by Nathan Mack, Ceasar,voiced by Joel Fry and many more enjoyable cast.

My favorite character is Princess Emmy, because she is brave, daring, and not like any other Princess. Princess Emmy likes to get messy sometimes, as well as getting wild, dress the way she feels comfortable in. My favorite part in the film would be when Princess Emmy is in the stables and she is quietly reading. She noticed a bright light and a smell that tied up her nostrils. She heads down to the basement, discreetly following the smell and light when she is being circled by the light and is frightened at first but then exclaims "let's take an adventure!" to her horses. This part is my favorite because it proves how brave and adventurous Princess Emmy is.

I really enjoyed the film Princess Emmy, due to its coverage of many important themes and role models for today's girls. I also enjoyed the creativity of the movie, in both the storytelling and animation. The use of animals in the film is one of my favorite aspects, because it creates a very loving environment for the kids watching.

The animation and vocal performances are very well chosen. The film is set in a very ordinary atmosphere on a modern-day Kingdom. I admire the art department for creating such a vibrant and imaginative aspect of this DVD. The colors on the pony stall, to the way the castles design and colors shined at the top of a mountain was simply beautiful. The music in this film provided me with different emotions and had a sense of freedom.

This DVD shares many important messages, such as Emmy being a strong princess, working hard and helping those around her. Just simply being yourself and Emmy work towards her goal of proving her self-worth. This DVD has no false language or any dangerous activity's that younger kids might try to imitate.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 11, but adults might enjoy it as well. Princess Emmy is available now on DVD, make sure to get yours! Reviewed by Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I really enjoyed the film Princess Emmy, due to its coverage of many important themes and role models for today's girls. I also enjoyed the creativity of the movie, in both the story-telling and animation. The use of animals in the film is one of my favorite aspects, because it creates a very loving environment for the kids watching.

Princess Emmy tells the story of a young princess, living in the Kingdom of Kandis, who has a secret -- she is the only girl who can talk and understand horses. She lives in a palace where she gets to explore and play with her friends - a stable full of amazing horses. Her life has been perfect until the arrival of her cousin Gizana who challenges and competes with Emmy, putting at risk her chances of becoming an officially princess. The film traces the ups and downs Emmy faces and the challenges she must overcome in order to earn the right to keep her gift.

Written by Sergio Casci and directed by Piet De Rycker, the film is set in a very natural environment on a modern day kingdom. This is important to the plot because Emmy's home is a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain, where she runs and explores freely with her horses. This setting helps create a feeling of freedom and easiness as well as providing the animals in the film with a lot of liberty. The music in this film is very well chosen, as it intensifies the magical aspect of the movie by adding the sounds of sparkles or fairy dust.

Princess Emmy has a very beautiful ending which leaves the audience valuing the importance of friendship. This film explores the seriousness of being nice to one another, despite the challenges you are facing. Princess Emmy provides a great example for little girls because it presents Emmy as a strong princess who works hard to help those around her, while working towards her goal of proving her self worth.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars because of its creativity and well-presented theme. I recommend this film for ages 4 to 12, but adults might enjoy it also. Princess Emmy is available now on DVD, make sure to get yours!

Reviewed by Leire B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Runtime: 75 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ 114.98 Media: DVD ISBN # 826663202083


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
YO-KAI WATCH: SEASON 1, VOLUME 2
YO-KAI WATCH: SEASON 1, VOLUME 2 - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD, AGES 5-12
Description - Nate is a just a regular boy struggling to be above average at school. One day when he receives the Yo-kai Watch, he gets the chance to see and communicate with these mischievous Yo-kai. With the Yo-kai Watch on his wrist, Nate starts to form friendships with them and learn of the things that make life so complicated. There's just one problem... they're everywhere and they love to cause mischief!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The Yo-kai are invisible spirit-like entities that take many forms and are liable for your daily troubles. Nathan Adams (Nate), a normal boy, receives the Yo-kai watch and with it, is able to see the Yo-kai. These mischievous entities show up unexpectedly and you never know what is going to happen.

This series has good production quality and the story lines flow well. It captures the audience's attention with catchy music, bright colors and true-to-life adventures mixed with imaginative themes. The series highlights the ability to problem-solve as Nate and his Yo-kai have to discover a way out of silly and chaotic situations. Some of the jokes are more grown up and the story lines are more suited for more mature kids. For example, the Yo-kai talk about being hot, as in attractive. An older child would enjoy this series due to its catchy theme songs and familiar story lines.

The story-lines flow well, are easy to follow and draw you in. When Nate is overcome by handsomeness, his classmates respond as normal teenagers would and tell him that he is creeping them out. The material is accurate and is suitable for its target audience. The series uses vocabulary suitable for teens with words such as narcissist and sketchy.

The DVD cover design is appealing, showcasing the main characters and listing several of the episodes. The series is high in entertainment value and invites the viewer to question, probe and problem-solve. For example, in The Legend of Dandoodle, Nate is overcome by handsomeness and his Yo-kai must find a way to help.

The message is to be careful what you wish for. Although the Yo-kai Watch allows Nate to see the Yo-kai, once they are in his life, things became chaotic.

Yo-Kai Watch Season 1, volume 2 offers 290 minutes of fantastical adventure. Each episode is 20 to 22 minutes of non-stop0 action. The menu allows you to play all episodes or watch them individually. I recommend this DVD for ages 12 to 18 and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Jennifer V., KIDS FIRST! Reviewer

While Yo-kai Watch: Season 1, Volume 2 has an appealing lead character and is full of quirky and imaginative creatures. However, the stakes are rarely higher than intense embarrassment, a bad day, or a failed assignment. The show does offer examples of kindness and consideration of others, particularly when dealing with clashing personalities, and there are legitimate examples of love shown, particularly for those closest to young people such as their parents, siblings, and friends. While the story-telling lacks depth, the episodes are entertaining and are a safe bet for keeping kids entertained. I found this collection of stories more interesting for its quirkiness than for spectacular storytelling.

The episodes on this DVD follows Nate, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary gift - a watch which allows him to see Yo-kai. Yo-kai are mischievous spirits who spend their time making trouble and getting mixed up in people's business. With the help of couple Yo-kai friends, Nate balances his ordinary life of home and school, with his responsibility to handle the problems the Yo-kai make.

The episodes tend to jump around a lot, making the story-telling somewhat choppy. The stakes in the stories tend to be somewhat inconsequential, and Yo-kai are never portrayed as much of a serious threat. The main character Nate is the same age as the target audience, making him and his struggles relatable. There are a lot of exotic and quirky creatures in every episode, many of them with kid-like personalities themselves. Also, there is plenty of messing around and slap-stick humor that will appear to the target age.

The whole concept of Yo-kai is, of course, fictional. The prison in the show is stated to be Alcatraz, but the city the show is set in bares little resemblance to San Francisco. Since the show is not designed to be educational, this is not a major concern.

There are plenty of stunts in the episodes that would not be safe for kids to imitate. Fortunately, the Yo-kai Whisper comes states at the beginning of each episode that replicating these stunts is ill-advised. That's certainly a positive thing. At one point, a character uses a disguise to get a girl to fall in love with him, not because he cares about her in any way, but because he wants her heart. However, there is another scene where a character willingly throws himself in front of a bus to save a girl he cares about.

The animation style is tidy and typical of the anime genre. Since the show's English voice actors' voices are dubbed over the original Japanese voices, people's lines don't always match up with how their mouths move. The DVD's menu allows for chapter selection and names all the mini-sections in each episode.

This show could be beneficial socially, showing kids how to deal with unfortunate circumstances and clashing personalities. One concern I have is what this show teaches about death and what happens after people die. Parents would be advised to discuss this topic with their children after watching the show.

Yo-kai Watch promotes the premise that the unlucky, unfortunate things that happen to us aren't really our fault, but rather that of mischievous creatures who may be causing us problems. This is an interesting message, although it may encourage kids to not take responsibility for the problems they create. On the positive side, the show portrays a hero who, rather than getting mad or resigning himself to problems, tries to help and make things right. It's fun to watch and kids will enjoy it. I recommend it for ages 5 to 10.

Reviewed by Elizabeth R., KIDS FIRST! Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like this DVD because this animation kind of looks like Pokemon. This DVD is a combination of anime cartoons and Pokemon like characters, except that a watch is used instead of the red, white and black ball. And instead of Pokemon, the creatures (or spirits in this case) are named Yo-kais.

The Yo-kai Watch DVD includes two disks of Season 1, Volume 2, episodes. Each disk is approximately 145 minutes long, for a total of 290 minutes. That's a lot of cartoons! Each disk has a variety of different episodes, that are not necessarily in order. For example, disk 1 has episodes 3, 4, 5, 6, 2, 3 and 4, which was a little confusing to me.

The storyline on this DVD is about a kid named Nate, who is an average boy that struggles to be popular at school. His parents are somewhat fun, but to him they are also rather weird. He has a special watch with different Yo-Kai's, which are invisible spirit-like entities responsible for annoying situations that make Nate's life to not be the same. One particular Yo-kai is his best friend. His name is Whisper and he teaches Nate about all the different types of Yo-kai and what they are capable of doing.

The theme song is catchy and appropriate for this show. The animation is very neat; the colors are bright and the background is colorful and well drawn. The episodes are kind of confusing because they don't follow a sequence. It's a mix of different situations. There are also two other story lines. One is about the great (Dog) escape, the other is about two Yo-Kai brothers in the city trying to learn how to live in the city.

My favorite episode of all is Spring Break Present. This episode is about a package that Whispers gives Nate as a Spring Break present. Inside the package is a card for Nate to use as a Yo-Kai repellent, so he can take a break from all the trouble that these spirits are causing him. The whole episode is really funny; that's why it's my favorite.

I give this DVD 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 15. The Yo-Kai Watch DVD is available now. If you are an anime fan, you might really enjoy this DVD, so look for it! Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11.

The hilarious and clever show Yo-Kai Watch, directed by Mark Risley, is incredibly animated and whimsical. It is filled with a variety of different characters that kids really get to know.

The episodes follow the wild adventures of a young boy named Nate (Johnny Yong Bosch) who receives the mysterious Yo-kai watch from the ghostly Yo-kai named Whisper, who is Nate's butler and best friend. This means that Nate is granted the power to see the Yo-kai, which are mischievous invisible beings from another dimension, that cause problems everyday. In this volume, it is up to Nate and Whisper to summon the Yo-kai they have befriended to defeat the troublesome ones and save the day. There are tons of new Yo-kai to be stopped, such as Dazzabel, who makes people become obsessed with being fashionable, and Babblong, who makes people tell long and boring stories. This volume is filled with fun characters that everyone will love.

I really like how the show balances an adventurous aspect with humor. Throughout the show, both the mischievous Yo-kai and the main characters are constantly saying and doing funny things that will keep audiences laughing. My favorite character is Whisper because he's endearing and clever and is knowledgeable about all things Yo-kai, plus he is the trusted sidekick that everyone wants to have. Also, I enjoy how in each episode, there is a new Yo-kai to be defeated, each with its own personality and appearance, which keeps the show very entertaining and unique. You never know what is going to happen next. Visually, the show is very detailed with vivid anime style animation and has great character development, which really contributes to the episodes. Fans of anime will love the look of this show.

Yo-kai Watch: Season 1, Volume 2 has many quirky, funny and imaginative elements that make it enjoyable. It has great entertainment value.

I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, but it is also perfect for the entire family. You can find it on digital DVD now so look for it.

Reviewed by Jordan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Runtime: 290 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 14.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
JUNGLE BUNCH, THE
JUNGLE BUNCH, THE - SHOUT! FACTORY
Series: DVD, AGES 3-12
Description - Get ready for the wildest ride of your life! Maurice may look like a penguin - but he's a real tiger inside! Raised by a tigress, he's the clumsiest Kung-Fu master ever. Along with his friends, The Jungle Bunch, he intends to maintain order and justice in the jungle, as his mother did before him. But when Igor, an evil koala, decides to destroy the jungle once and for all with the help of his army of silly baboons, Maurice faces his biggest challenge yet! Your family will go bananas for The Jungle Bunch, a fresh and funny adventure that's full of laughs and memorable characters!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The Jungle Bunch is a movie of champions. "You don't have to wear stripes in order to be strong like a tiger." We follow the lives of different creatures, both heroic and evil, to see how they respond when devastation hits their habitat.

The battle is on between Natasha, the tiger and former leader of the champs. She stands for justice and equality and won't stop protecting and serving her home. Igor, a wicked koala, wants revenge and power. He's relentless when it comes to commanding all the animals of the jungle for his own benefit. They fight for the future of the jungle and who is in control is tested at ultimate lengths. Natacha has rescued and raised Maurice, a strong willed penguin with a tiger spirit. He follows in the footsteps of his mother as he teams with a group of animals to protect and serve.

This film offers positive outlooks when it comes to equality, problem solving and finding hope during hopeless situations. The overall production quality is great. The imagery and sound quality is sure to keep children engaged. Only a couple of scenes go on a little longer than needed. For the most part, the film maintains a positive flow.

Children that love animals, fireworks explosions, monkey butt jokes and rescue missions will absolutely enjoy this. It is recommended that you enjoy the film in its entirety as there is a special bonus clip that is sure to please. There are multiple scenes using freeze framing, bold bright animation and music that fits well with the flow of the film. The film takes place in a jungle, so I loved hearing the birds squawking, animals hooting and other sounds of nature.

The film draws me in for many reasons. It's nice to see how each animal is portrayed by voice over, characteristics and challenges. Igor, the wicked koala, is small but forceful with throwing mushroom grenades that burst into big, bright fireworks exploding across the screen. I appreciate the teamwork between the animals.

There is a menu that offers the film to be played in its entirety or to select certain scenes. A trailer clip, audio, and subtitles are also available to select. The most impactful message I got from the film promotes equality and justice. I really enjoyed that Natasha, the tiger, loved and raised Maurice, a penguin like her own. That equality and unconditional love is passed down to Maurice when he raises his goldfish, Jr. The moral and love for the community doesn't change regardless of the animal or upbringing. This is a positive message for audiences. The message is that you don't have to have stripes in order to have the tiger spirit.

I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars for its wildness, comedy, production and impactful socially-positive messages throughout. I recommend it for ages 5 to 12. The content is appropriate and user friendly with its jokes and imagery. Reviewed by Elle S., KIDS FIRST! Juror.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Jungle Bunch is a wacky animated movie with talking animals that doesn't make a lot of sense, but still entertains. Based on a popular French kids' series, this film has lots of action and some laughs.

The Jungle Bunch begins by introducing us to a civilized nation of animals where an evil koala tries to throw mushroom bombs at everyone. The Champs are saviors of the jungle - a tiger, sloth, rhino and porcupine. The tiger raises a penguin as her own, who in turn raises a fish as his own child. Maurice the tiger-penguin joins up with a gorilla and a bat, among others, to save everyone from Igor the koala mastermind.

While the animation isn't quite the level viewers are used to from Disney and Pixar, it's still quite colorful and interesting to watch. The jungle setting is especially well done with convincingly animated tropical plants. The writers probably tried to squeeze too much plot into this film by including the origin story, but I was still able to follow it well enough. My favorite part of the movie is when an exploding mushroom captures the entire Jungle Bunch. In order to get out, they throw a pebble which starts a chain reaction to set them free.

The message of this film is that you should be kind and brave. I don't want to give any spoilers, but there's a sad ending for one character that might be upsetting for little kids. Parents should also know that there's quite a bit of action with explosions and cartoon violence.

I rate this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for children ages 5 to 8. Reviewed by Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10.

This is a cute film about a group of animals, called the Jungle Bunch, that protect and watch out for the jungle. They put out forest fires, fight bad guys, save animals and help the community. I really enjoyed the bright colors and scenes from the jungle.

The jungle bunch includes a penguin named Maurice, a gorilla named Miguel, Gilbert the Tarsier, Bat Batricia and a few other odd creatures. In this story, Maurice is the hero and leader of Jungle Bunch. He is a penguin that was raised by a tigress. He struggles with being the leader and trying to live up to the standards of his mother. The characters are well developed and funny. They make lot of contraptions and inventions to help save the jungle, including a butt cream for a bird's bottom, which really had me cracking up.

The villain in the story is the koala Igor. He wants to destroy the jungle, because he feels excluded from the bunch. He wants to take over and become the leader. The Jungle Bunch thinks he is too controlling. He plans to use mushrooms as explosives to blow up the jungle for revenge and payback. The Jungle Bunch must stop him from destroying their homes. Igor has a clock that is a crab as his alarm clock. He hits his crab's claws together to make a tick tock sound. This is a really funny part of the movie.

My favorite part is when they play the song "Eye of the Tiger" when Maurice is feeling down. This helps raise Maurice's spirit to become confident and put his "tiger stripes" back on. It is really cute when the fish and penguin want to be tigers and they paint themselves with stripes.

Maurice is voiced by Philippe Bozo . I like his voice and attitude. It's perfect! The Gorilla is voiced by Pascal Casanova, who also portrays his character quite well. In fact, I'm quite fond of all the voice-over work in this film. I give director David Alaux credit for putting together such a terrific cast.

The moral of the story addresses the unlikely friendships between different species in the jungle who work together as a team and stick with each other during hard times, helping their community save their homes.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 15 as well as adults. It is available on DVD now, so look for it.

Reviewed by Ivey H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 3-9 Suggested Retail Price: $ 14.98 Media: CDROM


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BENNETT'S WAR
BENNETT'S WAR - ESX ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Marshall Bennett (Michael Roark) is a young soldier with the Army Motorcycle Unit who survives an IED explosion in combat overseas, and is medically discharged with a broken back and leg and sent back to the U.S. When he gets home to his family farm, he discovers that his dad, Cal Bennett (Trace Adkins), is behind in the mortgage and may lose the farm. Against all odds, Marshall Bennett pledges to help his family by the only means he knows how, as a motocross racer.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Bennett's War is inspirational and exhilarating with its storytelling. It is buoyed by unique performances and apt cinematography. The movie is a worthwhile watch in theaters at full price.

The film follows Marshall Bennett (Michael Roark), a riding prodigy who rode for the Army Ranger Motorcycle Unit. One accident cost him a broken back and leg. After being medically discharged, he is told that one more accident could mean he may never walk again. When he gets home to his family farm, he discovers that his dad Cal (Trace Adkins) is behind in the mortgage and may lose the farm. All odds in his way, Bennett pledges to help his family by doing the one thing he does best, get back on his bike and ride.

Michael Roark, as Marshall, triumphantly portrays the hero. His love for bikes and service for the military add inspirational layers for all to follow. His honor to help his dad is also extremely touching. Roark well rounds all these angles with nuance. Trace Adkins, as Cal, soars with his deep, gravelly voice adding character. The scene with Allison Paige who plays Sophie, Marshall's wife, and Cal is my favorite scene in the movie. In this scene, Sophie is worried about Marshall participating in motor cross racing. Cal's speech of his wife, who was a fighter pilot, is full of emotion and stellar acting between the two. Allison Paige also steals the show with a relatable romance and dedication to help Marshall. My favorite character in the movie is Ali Afshar's Cyrus. Afshar is uniquely hilarious, and his back story with Marshall adds an interesting mentor dynamic. Hunter Clowdus and Brando Eaton, as Chris and Kurt Walker, are formidable foes challenging Marshall with their macho appearance and physical prowess.

Alex Ranirevelo directs with fast-paced racing scenes being the main highlight. All the stunts are 100% real, adding the layer of excitement. Nowadays everything is too CGI and, it's good to see old school approaches like this. The flaws are in some rushed character development, especially as Sophie agrees with Marshall's decision to race. Also, some of the special effects during the war scenes are not very impressive. Despite this, they are short and serve to develop Marshall better in the long run.

The message of this film is about never giving up. Marshall moves forward from his injuries to pursue what he loves doing and to pay off bills. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, due to brief war scenes and language. The movie releases in theaters on August 30, 2019, so check it out.

By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

This inspirational film had everyone on the edge of their seats. The racing is suspenseful; it draws you in. Everything else in between, the hardships and rivalry, is raw. I love how realistic it is.

The story starts follows Marshall Bennett, a soldier in the Army Motorcycle Unit. He has a father, a wife and a newborn son at home. Out in the field, he gets involved in a shootout. As he tries to make a getaway with his injured friend on the back of his motorcycle, an IED explodes. He is fortunate and survives with only a broken back and a broken leg. But one more bad fall and he might never walk again. Back at home, he works at a shop repairing bikes. His family struggles financially and he looks to motorcycle racing, despite the risks.

Michael Roark (Marshall Bennett) and Allison Paige (Sophie Bennett) are incredible actors. The emotions and pain seep right to the audience. In the more cheerful scenes, the satisfaction and gratitude is felt through the screen. Trace Adkins (Cal Bennett) is a beloved country singer and performs really well when acting. All of these great actors coming together make the pain and suffering realistic. It makes you appreciate the sacrifices made by those in the military.

The costumes for the soldiers and racers all look very professional. The music, as well as the absence of music, works with the actors to convey certain moods. The film has an overarching serious mood to it. Marshall Bennett is dead set on winning his races and making a comeback, so there is only one comedic scene.

My favorite scene is the comedic scene with Cyrus (Ali Afshar) and the rivals that tamper with Marshall Bennett's bike. Cyrus walks over to them, knowing what they've done, and decides to pull down one of the guys' pants. He proceeds to punch the guy in the face. It's funny and shocking because Cyrus is a small dude surrounded by lots of macho rivals, yet he still acts very boldly. After Cyrus hits the guy, he turns around to walk away and laughs. He isn't able to walk away and gets beat up right after.

The purpose of this film is to give hope and inspire people to take risks. It's all about going for your dreams and giving everything you've got. Although Marshall Bennett is badly injured and one more fall could disable him forever, he still gets back on his bike.

I give this wonderful film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Even adults will enjoy this. Definitely be sure to check this film out when it comes out in theaters August 30, 2019.

By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BUNUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF THE TURTLES
BUNUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF THE TURTLES - GKIDS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 13-18
Description - Paris, 1930. The infamous surrealist filmmaker Luis Bu�uel is left penniless after the scandalous release of L'Age d'Or leads to a falling out with collaborator Salvador Dal�. On a whim, Bu�uel's good friend, sculptor Ram�n Ac�n, buys a lottery ticket and promises to devote his winnings to fund Bu�uel's next film. Incredibly, Ram�n wins the jackpot, sending the two friends to the remote mountains of their native Spain to film the documentary Las Hurdes: Land Without Bread. Driven by mad artistic impulse and haunted by childhood memories, Bu�uel must confront the specter of mortality looming over the lives of his subjects -and his own.

In a stranger-than-fiction tale befitting the master filmmaker, Bu�uel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles tells the true story behind a fascinating episode in cinematic history, utilizing sensitive performances as well as excerpts from Bu�uel's filmography to present a deeply affecting and humanistic portrait of an artist hunting for his purpose.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This is an incredibly unique film. It's rare to see such mature animation like this, and I've been wanting more mature animation for a while. So I was incredibly entertained.

The film is about the Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel and it follows him as he films his documentary, Las Hurdes, which is a documentary about the Las Hurdes region in Spain.

Now, I love animation. However, I am slightly peeved that 2D animated movies are not very popular anymore. So I was excited to learn that this film is 2D. Not only that, but it is incredibly stylized and beautiful 2D. I've always liked aesthetics pertaining to historical generations of filmmaking. So it's not surprising that I love this art style. One thing I find interesting is that many scenes in the film have clips from the actual Las Hurdes documentary, sliced in with animated recreations of the scenes. I can't really explain why, but I really like this detail.

Another interesting aspect of the animation is the imagery. Luis Bunuel is often associated with surrealism and I assume that's why the movie includes several strange and nonsensical sequences. There's also a consistent theme involving religion, which I didn't really understand if I'm being honest, but it is interesting.

A major aspect of this film is Luis's relationship with the anarchist painter, Ramon Acin. The film was made thanks to Ramon, so it's understandable that the film heavily focuses on their friendship. It's interesting to see their conflict on the purpose of the film, and in general it makes for some compelling drama.

In a way this can serve as an introduction to Luis Bunuel and his work. I never knew of him before this film. However, now I'm somewhat intrigued by him and his work. Although, there is something I should warn people about. Despite the film being animated, this film is absolutely not a kid's movie. There are lots of dark jokes, mature themes and a surprising amount of animal violence. It is important to point this out as many people assume all animated films are for little kids, when that couldn't be further from the truth.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. If you're a fan of history, the art of film or both, and you can stomach some uncomfortable subject matter, I highly recommend this. It comes out on August 16, 2019.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT - NEW LINE CINEMA
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - In 1987, during the austere days of Margaret Thatcher's Britain, a teenager learns to live life, understand his family, and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Blinded by the Light is a very inspirational comedy-drama based on the accounts of real-life writer Sarfraz Manzoor. It is buoyed by excellent performances and a lively script. The movie truly has something for everyone.

The film follows music fanatic and writer Javed (Viveik Kalra), who after discovering the back catalogue of Bruce Springsteen or "the Boss," is inspired by lyrics that feel all too familiar to the aspirational teenager. Wanting to escape his racist hometown and the rules of his traditional Pakistani family, Javed finds himself caught between two worlds and must discover if he is born to run.

Viveik Kalra, as Javed, is phenomenal at making his character relatable and inspiring. Kalra, like Himesh Patel from Yesterday, debuts with charm as well. Javed is hilarious, but also takes the surroundings of Thatcher-era Britain seriously. He is a role model for all. Aaron Phagura, as Rhoops, is also a standout as his character's similar situation to Javed's adds layers to their identity complexes. Hayley Atwell, as Ms. Clay, is an English teacher who inspires Javed to write. I quite enjoyed her inclusion as she fits the role well. Kulvinder Ghir, as Malik, also impresses as Javed's dad. His character can be too stereotypical of ethnic ways, but this feels intentional as it satirizes both his culture and English culture.

Gurinder Chadha directs with a nice blend of comedy and drama. He brings life to Manzoor's memoirs and I never felt any awkward total shifts. Some editing choices also bring great style. But, substance is at the main focus here as Chadha's and Paul Mayeda Berge's script is smartly witty. My favorite scene is Javed's final speech to the school. Kalra's performance is award-worthy and the script boasts great messages in the movie's themes of pursuing dreams. My only flaw is that the second act sometimes drags with a romantic subplot that spins its wheels quickly, despite Nell Williams' impressive performance as Nell.

The message of this film is about pursuing your dream, and also about remembering your family and always staying in touch. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 as some language and racist behavior could be inappropriate for younger audience. The movie releases in theaters on August 16, 2019, so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Blinded by the Light is a very interesting film about a boy wanting to become a writer. He is introduced to a famous American singer and becomes inspired. It is a humorous film, but does touch on serious issues of family as well as cultural and economical struggles.

Viveik Kalra plays his character Javed extremely well. Javed lacks confidence and struggles dealing with his father and his culture. He doesn't feel like he fits in anywhere. You get the feeling he is held back by this. Along the way, people in his life believe in him and encourage him to go for his dreams. His friend introduces him to Bruce Springsteen's music, which inspires him. Then he transforms his look and gains more confidence.

His parents do not support his dream of becoming a writer. The parents are excellent in this movie. His father is played by Kulvinder Ghir and his mother is played by Meera Ganatra. The father is hilarious and thinks that if an American is good at something, then they are Jewish. The whole family is dealing with money problems. I have to mention that his best friend, Matt is played by Dean-Charles Chapman who is fantastic in this role. He deals with his own issues in a different way. They have a true friendship. My favorite part about Matt is his crazy 80s style hair. I love the costumes, music and dancing. It really takes you to another era. The wigs and the old jogging suits that they wear made me laugh! The costumes are bright for the 80s and the Pakistani outfits suit the family. One of the funny parts that I like most is when the car won't start and, instead of the dad pushing the car, he makes the entire family push it. Another funny part is when Javed celebrates his birthday and, to treat him like an adult, he is given pants as his gift. The movie exposes you to more serious matters of racism and what other cultures go through. It has very good timing and is a little quirky which I like.

The director Gurinder Chadha really delivers with this film. His timing and costumes are perfect. I didn't really know who Bruce Springsteen was before, but I really like his music now. Thanks to Blinded by the Light, I am now a fan of this legendary musician.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. It opens in theaters August 16, 2019. Look for it and give it a chance.

Reviewed by Ivey H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Everyone get ready for a new adventure about a man and his relationship with a great artist who we all know as Bruce Springsteen.

My favorite character is Javed (Viveik Kalra), because he is someone that many people can relate to. He is a person dealing with many issues with his family, because they are very religious people who think that writing poems is wrong and that listening to nontraditional music is unheard of. On top of that, he is trying his best to become his own person and, with everyone on his back, it can be a bit hard for a young college student to do that.

I love how the people who made this film brought back a bit of the past by making it take place in the 1980s. That makes it even more fun to watch, because we get to see things such as huge phones record players, cassette tapes and so much more. This makes it feel more realistic and fun to watch.

The music is so good. I love how it all comes together to make a movie that sounds and looks so incredible. At times it not only looks like a film, but also a music video, all in one. This is a masterpiece in my mind and I greatly appreciate it.

I can't wait to get the soundtrack of this film. The music is fun and friendly and has a deep meaning, which is something I admire. All the music is by Bruce Springsteen and now that I have heard some of his greatest hits I love him and his artwork. Can't wait to get the soundtrack of this movie.

This one-of-a-kind true story is very inspirational as well as fun and lighthearted. It has a lot of meaning with its morals and values about following your dreams no matter what anyone tells you, have fun with your friends and family while you still can, and it's okay to grow apart from your family and their values.

I recommend Blinded by the Light for ages 13 to 18. I think that adults will like this film as well even if they aren't Bruce Springsteen fans. I give Blinded by the Light 5 out of 5 stars. Make sure to look for Blinded by the Light at a theater near you when it opens August 16, 2019

Reviewed by Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2, THE
ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2, THE - COLUMBIA PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGE 5-18
Description - The flightless birds and scheming green pigs take their feud to the next level.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Angry Birds Movie 2 is an amazing sequel about a large group of birds who live on an island called Bird Island. These birds are always trying to fight their rivals, the pigs, who live on an opposite island called Pig Island. The first movie Angry Birds, was about the how rivalry between the islands first began. In this movie, while the two islands are still at war, a third island of eagles decide to join in, but in a more destructive fashion. The two enemy islands now must team up to stop the eagles from destroying them both.

In this film there is a subplot about three cute hatchlings who accidently lose some eggs while playing around. Throughout the movie it shows them trying their best to bring them back home safely before their parents realize what they have done.

This movie is based on a popular game by Rovio Entertainment called "Angry Birds". In the game, you play as the birds use a giant slingshot to take back eggs from the pigs. The slingshot and other items from the game are replicated in the movie in some appealing animation.

Throughout out the movie there are a lot of different references to old TV shows and movies. For example, the way Red builds his team is similar to the character introductions in Ocean's 11. I found this cool and funny.

My favorite scene in this movie is when the three hatchlings are trying to get the eggs off a cloud. They miss it and keep going up higher and higher. As they leave the planet and enter space, the song "Major Tom" by David Bowie starts playing. This scene is hilarious because the animated characters are put in front of a realistic space picture and they look completely out of place. My favorite character in this film is Chuck. I like him because he is very fast and almost instantly gets things done. Chuck is also very funny because he is very possessive about his sister. The message of this movie is that sometimes you need to work with your enemies to win.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 18 because there are a bunch of different jokes that will appeal to kids and adults. I think adults will enjoy watching this with their kids. This film opens in theaters August 17, 2019.

Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The Angry Birds Movie 2 is a fast-paced slapstick comedy that fans of the first movie may enjoy. I liked seeing all the same characters again, plus a few new ones that were very funny. You won't find the old angry Red in this movie, though. Now he's a hero and everyone loves him. Personally, I prefer the Red of the first film, with his explosive outbursts.

In the first Angry Birds movie, the birds and pigs were at war. In The Angry Birds Movie 2, they have to team up against a common threat. As the movie begins, the pigs and birds are still happily fighting each other, but then a mysterious frozen ice ball lands on Pig Island. King Leonard Mudbeard realizes he can't fight this himself and calls a truce with the birds. Together, they find out that a very angry bird named Zeta is trying to destroy their islands to create her own paradise. The rest of the movie involves their plan to sneak onto Zeta's Island and crush her island-destroying machine.

There are a lot of funny sequences where the voice actors really excel, including a subplot where baby birds rescue a group of eggs. The animation is really well done - it brings the characters to life as well as creates a beautiful world of islands.

The message of this film is that teamwork is always better than fighting. Parents should know that there's some mildly crude humor, like butt jokes. A bathroom scene with potty humor got the most laughs at the screening I attended.

I rate this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for children ages 7 to 12. Angry Birds 2 opens in theaters everywhere August 13, 2019.

By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, THE
ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, THE - TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Dog lovers believe their canine family members understand language, comprehend events, have opinions, exude loyalty. In "The Art of Racing In The Rain", wise old dog Enzo Swift shares thoughts about the life experiences which prepared him to protect his family in times of greatest need.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth reviews
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Art of Racing in the Rain, brings the beloved novel to life but ultimately lacks memorability. The changes made in the movie make it a common story that is too well known. However, the losses in the screenplay are covered by clever character development and the lovable dog, Enzo.

The story follows the golden retriever Enzo (Kevin Costner) and his adventures alongside his owner Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia). They walk through life together and in doing so, Enzo learns the secrets of living happily.

Milo Ventimiglia has positives but also some negatives when taking on the role of Denny. In morose scenes, he fails to fully express the pains of his character while in loving and joyful scenes, he excels. However, from the beginning, Ventimiglia plays a large role in developing an unspoken apprehension that builds between Denny and his father-in-law, Maxwell (Martin Donovan). Donovan's one look aroused tension in me. Whenever the two characters interact, I felt uneasy as if something wrong was bound to occur. This development of the characters is one of my favorite parts. Everything that happens is intentional so that the audience is aware of what each character is capable of doing.

The movie mostly lives up to the expectations that the novel sets with a few weaknesses to note. Enzo's narration is kept to a minimum as the entire movie could not be narrated by the dog. So to make up the loss, the relationships and development of Denny and his family are heightened. Music and cinematography techniques are incorporated to help bolster Enzo's emotions and are highly effective tools. In several scenes, the music is lyrical, providing insight into what Enzo might wish to say. Similarly, the cinematography provides insight with a first person view from Enzo. It often switches to this perspective when there are emotions by other characters only Enzo can see. Thus it made me feel as if I was Enzo, observing intimate moments and experiencing his emotions. These techniques work well but with Enzo's role slightly lessened, the story weakens and does become more mundane and predictable.

The message is "that which we manifest is before us," or we make our own destiny. I give The Art of Racing in the Rain, 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Be sure to check it out when it opens in theatres August 9, 2019. By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

The Art Of Racing In The Rain is a spectacular movie. It takes on many emotions: happy, sad, thrilling, scared, then feeling all those emotions again. The movie is based on the best-selling novel by Garth Stein.

The Art Of Racing In The Rain is about a dog named Enzo (Kevin Costner, voice) who knows how to race cars really well. The dog studies the track and is great at helping - the best in fact. Enzo's owner Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia) is trying to make it big as a race car driver and providing for his family. Enzo helps his owner Denny with knowing the track and also with navigating things in life. The film follows Denny and the people he loves - his wife, Eve (Amanda Seyfried), their young daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), and his best friend, Enzo.

The production values for this film are high. The cars are super dynamic and fast. Director Simon Curtis brings the book to life in an appealing way and make you feel like you are at the race track. All the cast deliver wonderful performances. My favorite part of The Art Of Racing In The Rain is when Denny gets to see his daughter again, and wins quality time with her. This is dynamic. My least favorite part is when the dad can't be at the house for a significant life event, which made me sad. I wish he could be there for comfort.

The message of this film is that when you get torn apart, you have to get back up.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Adults might like this too. It opens in theaters nationwide on August 9, 2019 so look for it.

By Brock T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

The Art Of Racing In The Rain is a fantastic movie. Some scenes are very emotionally heavy and I don't believe this film is suitable for young kids. There are parts that a younger child simply will not understand. I know because I am ten years old. Plus, there are scenes that are hard to watch and a few that are just plain scary. I definitely would not let my 8-year-old brother watch this movie.

The storyline is about a dog, Enzo (Kevin Costner, voice) who belongs to a race car driver named Denny (Milo Venimiglia). As Denny starts to have a family, Enzo is not pleased to have other people in the apartment. But as time goes on and the family gets bigger, Enzo warms up to everyone.

The casting in this movie is amazing! Milo Venimiglia is known for his role as Peter Petrelli in the show Heroes. Denny's girlfriend Eve is played by Amanda Seyfried, known for her work as Sophie in Mamma Mia Here We Go Again. I love Kevin Costner's voice as Enzo. He sounds just like what I think Enzo would sound if he could actually speak.

The production values are quite high here. One example is shown in the dog's training, which was done by Bonnie Judo. The dog almost seems part human. He stands on his back legs, barks like he is speaking and more! The casting is very well done as well. I was particularly impressed by the actresses who play the younger and older versions of Denny's daughter.

There are a lot of funny parts in this film, but there are just as many sad parts. I laughed, cried, gasped and had so much different emotions throughout the film. You might want to bring your tissues. And, oddly enough, after you see this film, you will never feel the same way about Zebras again. There are also a lot of surprising parts too, so be ready.

I give The Art Of Racing In The Rain 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults. It opens in theaters August 9, 2019 so look for it.

By Eva W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

The Art of Racing in the Rain has happy moments, sad moments, funny ones and more. It has it all! At first, I didn't know what to expect because, what does a dog have to do with racing? Well, there's actually a lot more to the story than you would expect, and I absolutely fell in love with this film and all its characters.

This movie is about a dog who is adopted by a race car driver, Denny. Denny's dog, Enzo, slowly learns about the human life, and he and Denny create a powerful bond. Enzo loves Denny no matter what, and he develops a love for car races and TV, too. But when Denny's girlfriend Eve comes along, Enzo becomes a bit jealous. Denny and Eve get married and have a baby girl named Zoe. Later on, Denny has to face the obstacles of life as he does on the track. While Denny is very good at racing in the rain, he faces the unpredictable in life.

Enzo feels more human than dog, thanks to the beautiful voice narrating the story (Kevin Costner) from the dog's point of view. This film makes me emotional, but I think that's good because I definitely feel a connection when watching The Art of Racing in the Rain. I also think that at one point in the story there might be too much going on at the same time. Even though that makes the movie interesting, it could have all happened at a slower pace.

I love the acting in the film, especially Enzo's voice narration, and feel it is all believable. And I have a completely different perspective of my dog now, and wonder what she is thinking because Enzo has very interesting thoughts of the human world. I enjoy the comedy - it's a nice balance to what happens in the story. Milo Ventimiglia is great as Denny, and you care about him throughout the whole film. Amanda Seyfried plays Eve, Denny's wife, and her character--although she doesn't love dogs at first--experiences with her new four-legged friend one of the most important connections in her existence.

The message of this film is that we are all in control of our own lives, and dogs are the best friends that can join us in the ride of life.

I give The Art of Racing in the Rain 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18 and adults as well. There are parts in this film that little kids would not understand and moments that wouldn't be very appropriate for younger viewers. The Art of Racing in the Rain releases in theatres August 9, 2019.

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


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
NEW ADVENTURES OF GUMBY, THE: 1980S VOLUME 2
NEW ADVENTURES OF GUMBY, THE: 1980S VOLUME 2 - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD, AGES 5-12
Description - The New Adventures of Gumby: The 1980s Series Volume 2. Welcome back Gumby and Pokey in this wild, wacky and inventive collection of 80 s episodes! Featuring 49 clay-animated episodes, fully re-mastered from their original camera rolls and soundtracks. Also making appearances are Prickle, Goo, the Blockheads, Professor Kapp, Dr. Zveegee, the Moon Boggles, and Gumby s parents Gumbo and Gumba. New characters include Gumby s sister Minga, Denali the Mastodon and Tilly the chicken!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This DVD set is a collection of 49 re-mastered episodes, 7 to 9 minutes each, totaling 250 minutes of lively entertainment! The menu offers the option to play all the episodes or watch them individually and includes extra features such as: Tribute to Art Clokey, Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery and a music video. In this series Gumby, his family and friends are animated clay figures that have many adventures comprised of magic, science, music and more. In one episode, "Young Granny", Gumby's grandmother mistakenly becomes a seven-year-old girl and runs around playing with her granddaughter's toys. After she is returned to her rightful age, everyone, including Granny, is relieved. This series is lots of fun and many episodes feature the Blockheads as troublemakers and mildly highlight that trouble does not pay. Full of vibrant colors and offbeat just enough to capture the attention of younger and older kids ages 3 to 18. The series is from the 80s. It was not originally filmed with the video or audio quality that is currently available. However, it has been remastered and is greatly improved and close to today's standards. I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars for relatable story lines and overall amusement!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The 1980's show was a hit when my mom and uncle were growing up and it brought back so many memories for my mom. We welcome back Gumby and Pokey in this wild, wacky and inventive collection created and written by Joe Clokey. I love that this DVD features 49 claymation episodes that are fully re-mastered from their original camera work and soundtracks. Gumby and Pokey return for fun-filled adventure. Get ready! It's going to get wild.

This DVD takes you alongside Gumby and his imaginative friends as they solve problems, have fun and help others. These episodes include a lot of audience interactions, which lets the audience contribute to Gumby's adventures. The characters include Gumby, Pokey, Prickle, Goo, the Blockheads, Professor Kapp, Dr. Zveegee, the Moon Boggles and Gumby's parents, Gumbo and Gumba. Also making an appearance are new characters - Gumby's sister Minga, Denali the Mastodon and Tilly the chicken.

My favorite part is the fact that each episode is fully re-mastered from the original. How iconic is this? I'd say pretty cool! The animation is extremely creative with loveable color episodes. There are a variety of songs on this DVD, with various tempos and music types.

My favorite character is absolutely Gumby, because he's always positive and shares his positivity with others. I also love how he never gives up and works so well with his team. He's dedicated to his friends and to the idea of friendship.

I watched The New Adventures Of Gumby: The 1980s Series, Volume 1 previously and I very much enjoyed Gumby's many adventures with his friendly bud with yellow pricks on his tail, named Prickle.

There are multiple episodes on this DVD, which express multiple messages. If had to choose the main message, I would say it is that "teamwork makes the dream work." That and "don't be afraid to ask for help." There is no bad language on this DVD or any unsafe actions that kids will try to imitate.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 7, as well as adults. It's a series that certainly will bring back memories if you grew up watching Gumby when you were younger. It's available now, so look for it. You'll be glad you did.

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

Do you have little kids in your house? If you do, you should definitely share with them The New Adventures Of Gumby: The 1980's Series, Volume 2. This claymation show from the 1980's is the perfect series for any little kid with an imagination and a creative mind. For all you adults out there who remember Gumby & Pokey, then welcome back! We rejoin Gumby along with Pokey, Prickle, Goo, The Blockheads, Professor Kapp, Dr. Zveegee, the Moon Boggles, Gumby's mother Gumba and his Father Gumbo....plus a couple of hilarious newcomers.

Gumby was once just a slab of clay then one day he rose to life. He can walk into any book and once inside the book, he becomes part of it! Every time he gets knocked down he becomes flattened like a pancake. But he always gets back up and right back into shape again! Every episode is a new adventure and sometimes there is a lesson to go along with it. Gumby can have the best time with his friends, or the worst time with the Blockheads, depending on the storyline and characters in the episode. Speaking of characters, the new friends we meet include Gumby's sister Minga, a mastodon named Denali and a chicken called Tilly!

The theme song is a fun tune sung by kids that will make you want to sing along with them. In every episode the music changes. In some episodes the music is creepy. In some it can be silly and bubbly. It all depends on the episode. Gumby originally debuted in 1956, was re-introduced in the 1970's and came out again, for a third time in the 1980's! The animation is unique because it is claymation. The creator and writer of the series, Mr. Art Clokey, also voices Pokey the horse, Gumby's sidekick. Fun Fact, the bump on Gumby's head is based on a picture of Mr. Clokey's father from when he was a kid. In the picture, his hair is sticking up on one side creating a little bump. Mr. Clokey always thought this was funny, so he gave the same bump to his title character Gumby! Let's talk about some of the other supporting characters, shall we? Prickle is a cheerful dinosaur who goes on Gumby's adventures with him, the two mischievous Blockheads can't ever seem to get themselves out of trouble and Goo is a hilarious clay person with a bubbly personality.

The message of the story is to never grow up and that it's okay to let your brain wander and to always be creative. I give this series 4 1/2 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 3 to 8. It is available on DVD now.

By Beatrice Nail, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Runtime: 250 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ 14.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW
FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Ever since hulking lawman Hobbs (Johnson), a loyal agent of America's Diplomatic Security Service, and lawless outcast Shaw (Statham), a former British military elite operative, first faced off in 2015's Furious 7, the duo have swapped smack talk and body blows as they've tried to take each other down. But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (Idris Elba) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever -- and bests a brilliant and fearless rogue MI6 agent (The Crown's Vanessa Kirby), who just happens to be Shaw's sister -- these two sworn enemies will have to partner up to bring down the only guy who might be badder than themselves.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth reviews
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a fun Fast & Furious spinoff with the series' effortless blend of high-octane action and charismatic leads. Fans of the beloved series and action movies in general must check this out. It has something for everyone.

The film follows series' favorites, lawman Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and the lawless Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) as the two "frenemies" must team up to stop the cybernetically modified super-soldier Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). Amid all this carnage are even some family reunions involving Shaw's sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) and Hobbs' own Samoan relatives.

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, are the main highlight here, with the two as polar opposites of one another. Still, the actors work well together and their bickering and bantering is buoyed by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce's script. The pair even impress in action scenes with Johnson's hard hitting knockdowns and Statham's suave martial arts. Vanessa Kirby, as Hattie Shaw, gives the duo a run for their money. She proves capable in the many action scenes and holds many quips with Hobbs. Their flirtatious banter and Deckard's awkward reactions are some of the film's funniest. Unfortunately, her contributions to the plot are very loosely strung, but her character is delightful to watch. Same goes for Idris Elba, as Brixton Lore, who owns up to his character's craziness. Elba really has a way with things, making even the most clich�d characters engaging. There are multiple surprising big-list cameos, which I can not spoil. All really add to the movie's layers of self-awareness and comedy, and make the movie much more engaging to watch.

David Leitch, as the director, brings new life to the franchise, providing more variety in action, from fisticuffs to shootouts to over-the-top car chases. The veteran director of John Wick and Atomic Blonde, he really knows how to make each sequence engaging and unique. The finale in Samoa is one such example. My favorite scene is the "pick a door" fight scene in Lore's compound. Impressive choreography and well-timed comic relief from Johnson and Statham elevate this scene. Unfortunately, at two hours, the movie is a bit too long and some sequences towards the end feel like filler and really drag. On top of that, the marketing for this film really spoils some of the best action beats and comedic moments. It's a shame that a poor marketing campaign ends up hurting some of the film's surprises. Thankfully, they hide some things, like those surprise cameos.

The message of this film is in the franchise's core values about family. Hobbs's choice to reconnect with his family, despite past disagreements, proves this. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, due to intense action sequences, suggestive references and language. The movie releases in theaters on August 2, 2019, so check it out.

By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a hilarious new spin-off movie for the Fast & Furious franchise. This new film is so action-packed it rarely has a dull moment. If you are looking for an entertaining night full of laughter, this is the movie to watch.

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) form an unexpected partnership while attempting to save the world from a deadly bio-weapon. The cyber-genetically-enhanced criminal Brixton (Idris Elba) will stop at nothing to ensure the evolution of humanity through this deadly bio-threat. The two heroes must settle their long-standing rivalry in order to save the human race.

The all-star cast came together to make an incredible film. The banter between Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw is super amusing and had viewers erupting with laughter. Jason Statham was born to play the role of Deckard Shaw. He is an extremely convincing actor who gave me everything I wanted and more from his character. The plot of the film is intriguing for the first half of the movie, but I found the second half to be more slow and dull. A small problem I encountered while watching the film was believing the villain. Every time he seems to get knocked down, he stands right back up, without a scratch on his genetically-engineered body. It would be more realistic to see him become progressively more damaged throughout the movie while fighting this action-filled war. On a separate note, the special and visual effects are dazzling and bring life to this action film. The fight scenes are brilliantly crafted as well. I was happy to see this movie and it definitely has the opportunity to create a sequel. They use the last chunk of the film to set the basis for a future film.

The message displayed in this film is about the importance of teamwork. When people bicker amongst each other, it is unproductive, but if they work together they can accomplish the seemingly impossible. This message carries over into our lives for how we get along with people in our own community. Parents should be aware that this movie has a fair amount of violence and foul language.

I give Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw 3 out 5 stars and recommend for ages 13 through 18. Make sure to check out this film when it storms into theaters August 2, 2019. Movie fans, you won't want to miss it!

Reviewed by Brad M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a spot-on well produced and directed film that keeps you on the edge of your seat. From the special effects to its storyline, you would want to miss this. This movie is an action-packed, thrilling and comedic film makes you wonder what's coming next.

The storyline is about two rivals, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who are forced to team up to defeat the emerging threat of Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), a cyber-genetically-enhanced terrorist, armed with a deadly virus. This virus can potentially destroy planet Earth and all of humanity. Hobbs and Shaw must work through their differences to save the world once again.

Some things that really stand out in this film are the production, the screenplay and the editing. Big ups to director David Leitch and screenwriter Chris Morgan for making that happen. It is truly thrilling and amazing to watch and enjoy. Of course, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Idris Elba give us excellent performances as well. I should also point out Vanessa Kirby who plays Hattie and Helen Mirren who plays Queenie as their performances need mention too.

The message of the movies is that "no matter what differences you have with people, you still have to work together to make the world a better place." If we focus on being mad at each other, we are not making the world better, we're making it just angry and sad. So, I resonate with the message. You should know that there is quite a lot of profanity and some rude humor.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Make sure you check it out when it opens in theaters August 2, 2019.

Kendall M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13


Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ONE CHILD NATION
ONE CHILD NATION - AMAZON.COM
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 14-18
Description - China's One Child Policy, the extreme population control measure that made it illegal for couples to have more than one child, may have ended in 2015, but the process of dealing with the trauma of its brutal enforcement is only just beginning. From award-winning documentarian Nanfu Wang (Hooligan Sparrow, I Am Another You) and Jialing Zhang, the sweeping One Child Nation explores the ripple effect of this devastating social experiment, uncovering one shocking human rights violation after another - from abandoned newborns, to forced sterilizations and abortions, and government abductions. Wang digs fearlessly into her own personal life, weaving her experience as a new mother and the firsthand accounts of her family members into archival propaganda material and testimony from victims and perpetrators alike, yielding a revelatory and essential record of this chilling, unprecedented moment in human civilization.

One Child Nation is a stunning, nuanced indictment of the mindset that prioritizes national agenda over human life, and serves as a first-of-its-kind oral history of this collective tragedy - bearing witness to the truth as China has already begun to erase the horrors of its "population war" from public record and memory.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - One Child Nation is a politically charged and extraordinary documentary that exposes the evils of the Chinese government and relate it back to issues that we face in modern-day America. This film s powerful and informative. It left a severe impact on me and I left the theater feeling angry and grateful that I have grown up in a privileged part of the world, where I do not have to deal with issues such as the ones faced in this movie. The film is brilliantly produced and it is essential that it, and similar films are being made during this time period.

One Child Nation is a unique film that tackles the controversial one-child policy enforced by the Chinese government from 1979 to 2015. Interviews with people such as government officials (titled "family planning officials"), doctors, nurses, village chiefs, women who have been affected by the policy, and even human traffickers, filmmaker Nanfu Wang develops a heartbreaking and shocking narrative. She exposes how the Chinese government forcibly aborted babies late-term and induced pregnancies, killing infants, while feeding propaganda to their people and glamorizing the one-child policy. The inhumane behavior of these officials, doctors and nurses, as well as the mistreatment and victimization of women, children and families in China are the main subjects of the film.

One Child Nation addresses many controversial and taboo topics, but does so in a way that is very simple to understand, while still making you think and evaluate the wrongdoings of China and its people. The importance of choice and freedom are some of the many crucial themes highlighted throughout the film. One Child Nation is an engaging and thoughtful documentary. I was never bored while watching and, even after the gears in my head were still turning and I was still thinking about it.

I give One Child Nation 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 14 to 18, because of the disturbing images and sensitive topics that were intense and difficult for me, as a teenager, to watch. One Child Nation is a significant documentary film. I had never heard about China's one-child policy before this movie. This film will educate people about the horrors and oppression that the Chinese people faced under this law and allow people to think and formulate their own opinions regarding this topic. One Child Nation is a poignant and relevant film that provoked deep thoughts and emotion, which I will never forget.

Reviewed by Ella L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 14-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
LION KING, THE (2019)
LION KING, THE (2019) - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - As the film rolled, and the first frames were displayed, I could not help but feel tears spring to my eyes with the opening sounds of the now-classic Zulu chant "Nants Ingonyama Bagithi Baba!" The sun rises on Pride Rock again as the new prince, Simba, (JD McCrary/Donald Glover) is presented to the Pride. Mufasa (James Earl Jones), the only returning original voice from the animated film, and Sarabi (Alfre Woodard), share their son with the Pride, noticing the absence of the King's brother, Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Of the main characters, Scar is never one I believe. His role seems flat, given the prominence of his voice in the story. Simba's BFF and future queen, Nala (Shahadi Wright Joseph/Beyonce Knowles Carter), is played well as a young and grown cub devoted to her friend, Pride and eventually, love. The toughest part about watching a live-action retelling of the classic animated film is the lack of emotion the animals bring to the screen. Whereas the animation allows more feeling drawn into the scene; lions, meerkats and warthogs don't have a lot of physical expressions. This small detail is an issue several times, as I wanted to connect to scenes on a deeper level.

The Lion King 2019 has all the feels - hope, sadness, pride, abundance and comedy. Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) are laugh-out-loud funny. Their casting is a match made in comedy heaven (live-action, animation...) Zazu (John Oliver) brings the punch line to many scenes as well - at times dry and others fully-animated. Oliver is an excellent choice to play a character who has to bring everyone to a level of knowledge throughout the film.

For some, the updated voices and darkness of the computer-generated animation will be a distraction. My guess is that Disney is betting (and banking) on the memories and emotions that millions have and are attached to from the 1994 animated film. I believe director Jon Favreau (who also directed Disney's 2016 live-action The Jungle Book) seeks a happy medium with this film. For me, I think he is very successful in telling the story.

I give this film 4 of 5 stars for its spectacular CGI and mindful frame-by-frame re-imagined storytelling. I was hoping for a few new tales, but this is not to be. The casting is exemplary, especially the humorous interludes between Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan's performances as Timon and Pumba. I love the NEW MUSIC, especially when Simba and Nala sings "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" to each other. I recommend this film for ages 4 to 18, as well as adults as it introduces or re-introduces the music of The Lion King and Elton John to younger generations. See it in theaters when it opens on July 19, 2019.

Reviewed by Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Lion King is a hilarious and entertaining new Disney movie! This work of art lives up to the original animated version of The Lion King in a new and engrossing way. If you are a fan of Disney or just love movies in general, you will be infatuated by this new incredible film.

This movie follows heir to the throne, Simba, as he learns about ruling his Kingdom in the heart of the African savanna. The king of the lions, Mufasa, wants nothing more than peace in the savanna and to protect his son. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. Mufasa's diabolical brother, Scar, is hungry for power and blood. This hairy beast will stop for nothing in order to obtain the throne. Simba and his new-found friends must act fast to put an end to his malicious uncle's plans.

There are a multitude of dazzling aspects in The Lion King, but the most stunning is the heavy and effective use of CGI. From the beginning to the end of the film, the computer-generated imagery creates animals that are incredibly realistic and authentic. This new lively take on a classic story is incredibly refreshing and engaging. Another factor I immensely enjoyed was the voice acting. Billy Eicher, who plays Timon and Seth Rogen, who plays Pumbaa, are absolutely hilarious. Every other line spoken from their mouths had me dying of laughter. Chiwetel Ejiofor, the actor who plays Scar, is perfect for his role. He left the audience completely despising his character, which is perfect for a villain the caliber of Scar. The only moment in the film that is slightly disappointing is the song Hakuna Matata. I think it is too different from the original version and not as intriguing. On a separate note, the writers wrote a touching and adorable script. I was delighted by the father-son relationship between Simba and Mufasa. The interactions and playful nature seen through their characters is heart-warming.

The Lion King reveals that bravery is an important attribute, but is only effective when executed in a selfless manner. This underlying message is valuable for our everyday lives. Parents should be aware that this film has a fair amount of violence.

I give The Lion King 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommend to kids ages 8 through 18. Make sure to check out this film when it pounces into theaters July 17, 2019. Trust me, you won't want to miss it.

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

The live-action adaption of The Lion King is bound to be a Disney classic. This CGI masterpiece brings a new twist to the story visually, as well as musically. The opening scene sets the tone for the whole movie, bridging the original animation with this new live action take, into one beautiful panoramic view of the film's setting. The entire film looks so realistic that it's almost like a nature documentary.

The well-known storyline hasn't changed much: Mufasa (James Earl Jones) is the head of his pride and the King of "all that the light touches" in the African Serengeti. His son, Simba, (the younger, JD McCrary and mature, Donald Glover) is brave, but mischievous. Simba's Uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is bitter and angry that Simba is the heir to his brother's throne. In order to get Mufasa and Simba out of the way, Scar manipulates the hyenas into joining forces. He then arranges an "accident" to kill Mufasa and take over the kingdom. Scar blames Simba for Mufasa's death, and Simba runs away--but it's Mufasa's love and wisdom that brings Simba back to assume the throne.

The intense and serious aspects, and the comedic scenes, come together to create a beautiful balance. James Earl Jones reprises his role as Mufasa, bringing the comforting and strong tone we expect from the leader of the pride. His touching relationship with his son is the centerpiece of this film. Meanwhile, Ejiofor's, Scar, performs "Be Prepared" as a powerful villainous anthem, interpreting the character as very complicated and intense. Florence Kasumba's turn as Shenzi is also a fierce and threatening leader of her pack of hyenas.

The comedic acting is brilliantly funny. The comedy duo of Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumba, are the highlights of the movie. Their playful banter brings a sharp wit to some of the most intense scenes in the film.

While hyenas Keegan Micheal Key and Eric Andre's dysfunctional comedy shone a spotlight on the hyena crew, John Oliver's Zazu was a funny take on Mufasa's right hand bird.

The real star of the show is the incredible CGI animation that brings these animals to life. Their expressions and movements are so realistic and animal-like, but the personification of these seemingly wild animals seems so natural. Cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel of The Right Stuff, and Jon Favreau, director of The Jungle Book, make sure the entire movie was visually stunning.

The songs from the original movie feature heavily, and while they are performed and produced in a more pop-oriented way, the score is more sweeping and orchestral. Classics like " Can You Feel the Love Tonight?," and "I Just Can't Wait to Be King," are performed by pop stars Beyonc� and Donald Glover, and produced by Pharrell Williams. Hans Zimmer provides a dramatic score, that works with the feeling of the new film.

The message in this film is that we may doubt ourselves, but it's important to remember who we are, and that our friends and family can help remind us. There are some violent and intense scenes, so I wouldn't recommend it for very young viewers. But kids from ages 6-18 would enjoy it, as well as adults. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because Disney has created a brand new, can't-miss classic.

The Lion King will be released on July 19 in theaters nationwide. By Elle Cohen, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I love this film! There are stunning visuals, a powerful story of betrayal, coming of age, re-birth and the circle of life. The idea of what it really means to be a king and all the original sentiment is intact. I love all the animals and think it is really impressive how they filmed this movie.

The story of The Lion King is about a little cub named Simba who is going to become king. One day, a wild stampede puts Simba's life in danger and his father, Mudasa, dies after he rescues him. Mudasa's evil brother Scar makes Simba believe it is his fault and forces him to abandon the kingdom. Simba carries guilt and feelings of not being brave when he runs away, leaving everyone, including his best friend Nala behind. He goes to a new land where he meets Timon and Pumba and they become the best of friends. His life is good, but lacks purpose. From there, Simba's friend Nala comes to find help and meets Simba after so many years. Scar's reign is despicable and all the animals are trying to stop Scar's evil plans. Simba needs to become the king he was meant to be.

I love the comedy in this film. I also love how, in one scene, they play a little piece of "Be Our Guest" - that's actually my favorite scene in the film and it is not in the original. I definitively think this is a perfect visual recreation of the original. I love that they chose The Lion King to be the next Disney Classic to turn into live action. Lately, Disney been only doing Princess stories, so I like that they chose animals this time. I absolutely adore the animals and I feel like they fascinate you during the entire film. This is not a reinvention of the story; it is pretty much just taking the original to the real world. The way the live action blends with digital imagery is fantastic. This photo realistic Africa on the big screen is splendorous.

There are so many messages in the film: stay true to yourself, being compassionate is more important that being powerful, and we can't change our past. It is very inspiring to hear again "Hakuna Matata." This words have been an important motto for people since the original Lion King was released in 1994. The song was composed by Elton John and was nominated for an Oscar. There's a new Elton John song - "Never Too Late," and other surprises in this new one. All the beloved classic songs play in this 2019 version, which makes the audience very happy.

I give this film 5 of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 13, and adults as well. Never forget: Hakuna Matata. The Lion King 2019 opens July 19, 2019, so look for it.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

There's no denying that the original Lion King from 1994 is a classic. Gorgeous animation, amazing story and absolutely timeless music. So making a remake was understandably going to be tricky. How can you remake something that's already so timeless? Well to me, the end result is okay at best.

I almost feel like I don't need to explain the plot as it's the same story as the original. There are barely any changes and, even then, the changes are very minor. So if you've seen The Lion King (1994) then you've seen The Lion King (2019). However there's one major change that in my eyes makes the remake suffer significantly and that's the graphics.

I should preface this by saying I do prefer animation to CGI "realistic graphics" because I feel animation just looks better. But my main concern is that realistic graphics ruin the storytelling greatly. The Lion King is a very emotional story. And when you have such an emotional story you need to connect and feel for the characters. The original was able to pull this off perfectly with fantastically detailed facial expressions. Unfortunately, because of the realistic graphics, the characters in The Lion King (2019) show little to no emotion. This kills basically every important scene, as I didn't feel invested in it. I kept thinking to myself -These lions do not look interested in what's happening. The realism also has another consequence: I could not tell the difference between the lions at times. At times I thought is that Nala or Simba's Mom? Because the original is animated, they can differentiate the lions through things like their fur color, eyes and facial structure. The CGI remake does not have this ability.

It also felt like the creators tried cutting down on the more "animated" scenes. The Mufasa ghost scene doesn't have Mufasa's spirit appear; instead they just have his voice come from the clouds and sometimes lightning will strike to form his face. I feel seeing his full appearance is more powerful.

The songs suffer as well. "Be Prepared" is severely cut down which is disappointing, because it's a favorite song from the movie. The "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" segment in the original has all this crazy choreography that integrated the various animals in unique ways that can only be done in animation. In the remake they just run around. I was actually somewhat bored, if it wasn't for John Oliver as Zazu.

I give this movie 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. The Lion King (2019) comes out July 19, 2019.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

The adventurous CGI animated dramatic musical The Lion King is a classic! The acting and the music is astonishing, somewhat different from the original but unique in its own way. The adventures that Simba choses to explore are dangerous and leave him more curious. It made me think of the saying, "curiosity killed the cat." The action between Simba and his evil uncle Scar is so incredible, that I could watch that scene repeatedly and still be amazed.

The Lion King is a production directed by Jon Favreau, a well-known actor who starred in many movies. The movie is set in the African Serengeti, and stars many well-known actors and musicians such as Beyonc� and Donald Glover. There is also new music introduced -- one piece in particular is produced and written by Beyonc� called Spirit, and it is a very nice song.

The storyline follows Simba, a prince cub who will be king one day. As his father Mufasa is teaching him how to be king, his uncle Scar becomes jealous and sets out to kill Mufasa and Simba so he can be king himself. Simba learns through all of this drama how to be brave and responsible.

The characters Pumbaa and Timon are hilarious in the movie, even funnier than in the original. They still sing their original song "Hakuna Matata", which means no worries for the rest of your days. My favorite part of the movie is watching Simba turn into an adult while singing "Hakuna Matata" and the joke that Timon says (which isn't in the original movie) is extremely funny!

The message of the movie is about learning to be brave, responsible, and taking ownership. In Simba's situation he meets new friends to help him along the way and is able to mend broken relationships with his friends and family. The movie does have some risky situations that kids might imitate, such as going into dangerous places and not following their parents' rules; therefore, parental guidance is suggested.

Overall, I give The Lion King 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. I think adults will enjoy it too. It opens in theaters nationwide July 19, 2019, so be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Navah W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
DAY HENRY MET, THE: SEASON 2
DAY HENRY MET, THE: SEASON 2 - N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT
Series: DVD, AGES 2-7
Description - Every day Henry meets something new! I wonder what Henry's going to meet today? Henry is a 4-year-old boy who always wants to learn and find out more. In each episode, Henry has a friendly chat with whatever he meets and discovers something new...

Hello, Caterpillar. How do you turn into a butterfly?

Hello, Bear . What is hibernation?

Hello, Telescope. What is a constellation?

No matter what Henry meets, they're always delighted to talk, laugh and share their amazing world with him. After finding out so many amazing things about his new friends, Henry let's his imagination run wild and imagines himself... As a Paleontologist discovering dinosaurs... As a skateboarder learning how to jump, flip and grind... As a show jumper to help a horse win a top prize... As a teacher learning all about school... As a detective solving cases... And more!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This program is well created and has a meaningful objective at heart. There are moments in some episodes in which objectives seem to get lost, but for the most part, it is a rather nice educational program appropriate for its target age group. The colors, camera work and dialogue are all appealing, as well as the graphic design. The stories are short which matches the short attention span of young children. Henry is very polite to all characters he encounters and he also teaches good behaviors. We like that. I like that all the characters can talk and it gives the feeling that Henry is never alone. Also, all those characters seem to be Henry's best friends and they help him find the solutions for his problems. Also enjoyable is that Henry's mom is at the beginning and at the end of the each story, bringing him back to reality and defining the line between Henry's adventures and reality. Part of this line definition is how Henry wears his regular clothes at the beginning and the end of each story. The only thing I found somewhat annoying was listening the same music throughout all the episodes. Reviewed by Carolina S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Henry is an inquisitive and playful little boy who loves to learn! Every day he meets new friends, whether they are a human, animal or an object, they are all of interest to him. The Day Henry Met DVD has 26 episodes to inspire curiosity. Who or what will Henry meet next?

My favorite episode is The Day Henry Met... A Dinosaur Bone as I love the museum setting and the fact that he travels back in time. This episode is both educational and fun. There are so many good moments in this series including The Day Henry Met... a Violin, a Tennis Racquet and an Ice Cream Van. Can't forget The Day Henry Met...A Comic Book! Super Henry appears to make the city safe and happy. Love all the fun characters and situations in this episode.

The voices in this series reflect all of the diverse characters that Henry meets and really bring the characters to life. This series, directed by Gary Gill, is playful and will appeal to younger children. The illustrations are reflective of children's drawings and are quite appealing. It is so imaginative that it makes you view the world around you in a different light as Henry talks to whomever or whatever he meets each day.

The message of this series is to explore life, friendship, be curious and learn from those around you. There is something to learn in every situation, even if you are with a dustbin or a sponge!

I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8. Reviewed by Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

I like this DVD because the music is very catchy and the episodes are short and entertaining. The Day Henry Met; Season Two has 26 episodes of cute little stories.

The storyline is about a 4-year-old, red-head boy named Henry, who has a big imagination. In every episode Henry meets something new. He talks to different objects, animals or things. Once Henry interacts with the objects such as a violin, a skateboard, a camera, a horse or a bear, these things or animals make Henry's imagination go wild. For example, Henry imagines such things as being a conductor or a detective. Henry also wants to learn and find out more about the objects he interacts with. At the end of each episode, Henry's mom calls him and Henry's imagination ends by him saying goodbye to the objects he was talking to.

The animation style of this DVD is simple and plain, looking as if it is hand drawn. Basically, all the objects have eyes and a mouth, including the house. What caught my attention is that Henry has a voice like a 12-year-old. He sounds much older than a little kid. I like how friendly his chats are with the different animals and objects. The episodes are so short that I didn't lose interest while watching them. My favorite episode is "The Day Henry Met A Dustbin" because, out of all the episodes, this particular one is the most realistic one for my age. Henry wants to be a garbage man so he can help his trash can and all the other trash cans in his neighborhood to be emptied, because the garbage man who had that route is sick and cannot pick up the trash that day.

The moral of these episodes is not let people, well in this case things, underestimate your abilities to do something you want to do or be. Henry is always positive; he can do whatever his imagination tells him to do.

I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8, but adults can watch it with their kids and might find it interesting. This DVD is available now, so look for it.

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Runtime: 135 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 2-7 Suggested Retail Price: $ 6.99 Media: DVD


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
SONGS FOR A HEALTHY MIND AND BODY
SONGS FOR A HEALTHY MIND AND BODY - KENDRA K
Series: AUDIO CD FOR AGES 2-5
Description - Songs for a Healthy Mind and Body is a music album written and recorded by children's music artist Kendra K. The songs are all about health and wellness of the mind and body. The songs teach kids about the importance of exercising and being active, eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, positive thinking, having good manners, respecting others and oneself, and being kind and loving to other people. https://youtu.be/l6fc0ebBi3A
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Kendra K. has delivered a bouncy fun collection of songs for the younger set with a positive message entitled 'Songs for a Healthy Mind and Body' and she hits the rubber nail on the head. Sweet accessible vocals and pop-flavored production values will have the crowd going crazy and eating fruits and vegetables, not throwing them. Step away from the TV, crank up the turntable (huh?) and dance, dance, dance, 'til the cows, cows, cows, come home! This upbeat CD is engaging for its intended age group, with lots of fun instrumentation. Absolutely positive messages, engaging and movement oriented. The songs are constructed around a theme of healthy mind and body and they all follow suit in a light pop style. Kendra K knows her young audience well, so all the songs are age appropriate. Lots of healthy exercise and healthy eating behaviors are encouraged, as well as other positive actions are modeled. She talks directly to the intended age group. I believe the artist leads and projects healthy choices for young people. Kendra K's voice is sweet and soothing. The production value supports her songs with fun arrangements. This album will be worn out by repeated listening, which is a good place to be when motivating youngsters. This definitely meets and exceeds the KIDS FIRST! criteria, is pretty well produced and entertaining. Recommended for ages 2 to 5 and 4 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by John Wood, KIDS FIRST! Music Specialist.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Songs for a Healthy Mind and Body is a positive, fun and educational collection of music that young children can both groove to and learn from. All the songs have their own unique sound and feeling that makes them special. There are many important messages included in the songs. It is refreshing for me, as a teenager, to listen to music that promotes a healthy mind and a healthy body, even if it isn't geared towards my age group.

A few of my favorite songs are "Beautiful Beautiful Day," "Fruits and Vegetables" and "Celebrate Everybody." They all have very powerful and significant messages incorporated into them. "Beautiful Beautiful Day" teaches kids to be grateful that you are alive and healthy and to embrace the fact that today is a new day. "Fruits and Vegetables" demonstrates the importance of healthy eating for kids. Finally, "Celebrate Everybody" encourages diversity and educates the importance of accepting people for who they are, regardless of their race or what they look like on the outside.

The lyrics on this CD are influential and educational and there is also a lot of fun and childish innocence in them. The album has a fairly diverse mix of sounds made up of tropical sounds, country sounds and much more. The music is cheery and energized, with many of the songs encouraging kids to dance.

I give Songs for a Healthy Mind and Body 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6. Even though the songs are meant for younger kids, I had fun listening to them. The sentiments within the songs are sentiments that everybody should hold onto and think about regardless of their age. It's essential that kids are taught how to act in order to prepare them for a better future. Music affects the way people perceive the world, especially when you're young, so it is crucial that kids listen to music with kind and encouraging attitudes. Parents can feel assured knowing that their child is listening to a healthy, yet entertaining soundtrack, with positive messages when they let their children listen to this CD.

Reviewed by Ella L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

On this CD, everyone get ready to move and grove to a whole new world with fun filled songs that tell us how to eat healthy and feel great, while having a fun time with our friends. The songs are ready, so turn them on and dance to the amazing beat that lies in Kendra K.'s Songs for a Healthy Mind and Body.

These songs are superb. Each one is very quick with a cute rhythm and rhyme to it. They also have fun morals for kids that want to learn how to eat right, learn how to get in shape and work out in fun new ways. This is one thing I enjoy, because it can help if we start healthy habits at a young age.

The first thing I noticed is the cover. I adore that it is so colorful and vibrant. It is also full of animated kids and animals. Singer and song writer Kendra K. stands out because she is a live, non-animated person on the cover. We get to see who she is and what she looks like in person. This is one thing that I found endearing, because it gives us a chance to get up close and personal with the artist of the songs we are listening to.

Even though I like all the songs, my favorite is Number 5, also known as "Be Kind." This song helps kids know their manners and how to treat others with kindness. This song is not only fun to listen to, but the moral behind it is fabulous.

I recommend this CD for ages 4 to 9 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. It is available now, so look for it.

Reviewed by Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Runtime: 24 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 2-5 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.97 Media: AUDIO



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