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Movie Review: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse * Mind-Blowing, Engaging And Suspenseful. Surpassed All Expectations

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Movie Review: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse * Mind-Blowing, Engaging And Suspenseful. Surpassed All Expectations

Miles Morales returns for the next chapter of the Oscar®-winning Spider-Verse saga, Spider-Man™: Across the Spider-Verse. After reuniting with Gwen Stacy, Brooklyn’s full-time, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is catapulted across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. But when the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles finds himself pitted against the other Spiders and must redefine what it means to be a hero so he can save the people he loves most.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Nathalia J. comments, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is mind-blowing, engaging and suspenseful…This film surpassed all expectations and I believe is the absolute finest Spider-Man film…” David E. adds, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider Verse is an incredibly enjoyable film that definitely captivated me with its abundance of exciting Spider-Man references. I really like the inclusion of Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya).” Rayce S. wraps it up with, “I love Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The cinematography is excellent and the pacing is amazing. It has some of the best storytelling that I have seen in years … It also brought back the joy of seeing Spider-Man for the first time. See their full reviews below.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse By Nathalia J. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson is mind-blowing, engaging and suspenseful. Following the 2018 release, Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse, this film surpassed all expectations and I believe is the absolute finest Spider-Man film that follows the plot of Miles Morales.

The storyline follows 17-year-old Miles Morales, who was bitten by a radio-active spider, gained spider-like abilities, and became the one and only Spider-Man in Brooklyn, NY after the death of Peter Parker. Miles is working hard to balance school and social life, while trying to live up to his parent’s expectations, all while saving the world. During this time, an old friend, Gwen Stacey (Hailee Steinfeld) comes to visit Miles. As she leaves, Miles follows her and is catapulted across the universe, jumping from universe to universe on an extreme adventure where he needs to refine what it means to be a hero so he can save those he loves most.

This film managed to keep me hooked throughout the entire two plus hour run time. It equally balances elements of comedy and drama, while portraying the characters experiencing some real life situations. My favorite character is Miles’ long-time, devoted friend, Gwen Stacy, a.k.a Ghost-Spider. Gwen comes from an extremely rough home situation. Considering her father, soon-to-be police captain, has a personal hatred for Ghost-Spider, she spent most nights debating her worth as a person — if her own father does not see the good she does as Ghost-Spider, what is her purpose? However, this allows her to quickly bond with Miles, whose father also works in the police field. In this film, Gwen experiences obvious character development and proves her loyalty to Miles. Even though she associates herself with the “spider-verse” secret society, which eventually works against Miles, she tries endlessly to keep Miles away, since she knows the danger. She never encourages him to join, nor does she even inform him of it. Once it is made clear the spider-verse secret society is in no way going to help or agree with Miles, she makes it clear whose side she is on. Eventually she gathers alongside a few other Spider-Men and forms her own group, specifically devoted to saving Miles. Though it hasn’t been confirmed, Gwen and Miles do have a relationship developing — the chemistry between them made me want to see Gwen save him even more.

The film’s message is to always make the right choice, even if it does not benefit your own wants or needs. You must always rise above and make the choice between selfishness and selflessness.

I give Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters June 2, 2023. Check it out!

Spider-Man: Across the Spider Verse By David E., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Spider-Man: Across the Spider Verse is an incredibly enjoyable film that definitely captivated me with its abundance of exciting Spider-Man references. I really like the inclusion of Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya). He is serious, yet funny with his British accent, which is also Daniel Kaluuya’s native language.

The story continues the journey of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who has been Spider-Man for a year and four months. As he navigates the multiverse, Miles must find his place while facing his past and confronting new challenges.

This film delivers an exciting multiverse adventure, packed with surprising Easter eggs for Spider-Man fans to enjoy. The storyline fits perfectly within the realm of animated superhero movies, providing a solid foundation for the narrative of superheroes. The film has a lot of twists and turns, which keeps the story engaging throughout. The camera work is incredible and seamless, especially how they formatted the graphics and shape patterns, with no noticeable issues. Shameik Moore delivers an outstanding performance as Miles Morales, embodying the essence of both Spider-Man and Miles, who is just a kid that has superpowers. Hailee Steinfeld portrays an ideal daughter and friend who cannot understand why there is chemistry between her and Spider-Man, which showcases her exceptional acting abilities. Jason Schwartzman, as The Spot, brings an intriguing twist and laughter with a sense of darkness to the character, challenging our expectations. The movie concludes with exceptional music and an ending that left me on the edge of my seat, eagerly anticipating the next installment.

The film’s message: “You can’t save everyone you want,” reminds viewers of the limitations that come with being a hero and how you shouldn’t forget to be yourself. It’s important to note that there is a small amount of profanity in this film, so parents should take that into consideration.

I give Spider-Man: Across the Spider Verse 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for 12 to 18, plus adults. It swings into theaters June 2, 2023. Make sure to mark your calendars and experience this thrilling Spider-Man journey firsthand.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse By Rayce S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I love Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The cinematography is excellent and the pacing is amazing. It has some of the best storytelling that I have seen in years and the character development in this film is absolutely astonishing. It also brought back the joy of seeing Spider-Man for the first time.

The storyline follows Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) propelled through the Multiverse and coming across a group of Spider-People tasked with safeguarding the very existence of the multiverse. Miles must reevaluate what it means to be a true hero when the heroes disagree about how to handle a new threat.

This film made me feel like a kid again watching Spider-Man swinging through the sky — that’s what makes this film great. It brings back memories of my childhood and I think it will for others also. This film takes its time and hits on moments that make it truly an amazing film. The voice acting is phenomenal. Miles Morales excels at bringing out his character even better than he did in the first film. That’s not all; Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) brings more heart to her character compared to the last film as well. My favorite voice actor is Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac). His voice suits this character so well and there are some scenes where you notice how great a voice actor he is. The voice acting isn’t the only thing that makes this film special. I really appreciated the cinematography. After watching this film some scenes stayed in my mind because they are so stunning. They impacted my experience in a positive way. The character development and the storytelling are both spectacular. There are moments where you feel sad; moments when you feel joy; and moments when it builds suspense. The movie runs 2 hours and 20 minutes and doesn’t rush at all. For me this film was more than I expected and I loved every second of it.

The film’s message is that anyone can be Spider-Man. No matter where you come from; no matter wgat your past or your future is — you can be who you want to be. You can do your own thing. This film shows us that sometimes you have to do your own thing and make sure that you never feel like you don’t belong.

I give Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters June 2, 2023.

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Movie Review: Shooting Stars * So Motivational, Relatable And Hilarious! You Don’t Need To Be A Basketball Lover To Enjoy This Film

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Movie Review: Shooting Stars * So Motivational, Relatable And Hilarious! You Don’t Need To Be A Basketball Lover To Enjoy This Film

Based on the book by LeBron James and the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Friday Night Lights, Buzz Bissinger, Shooting Stars is the inspiring origin story of a basketball superhero, revealing how LeBron James and his childhood friends become the #1 high school team in the country, launching James’s breathtaking career as a four-time NBA Champion, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “I love the new movie, Shooting Stars. You don’t need to be a basketball lover to enjoy this one! This movie is so motivational, relatable and hilarious. It is a must-see, and definitely a “slam-dunk.” David E. adds, “I love this storyline and learning how Lebron’s career got a jump start when he played with these childhood friends. That’s what makes the film so good, with its multiple sources of first and second hand stories.” See their full reviews below.

Shooting Stars By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I love the new movie, Shooting Stars. You don’t need to be a basketball lover to enjoy this one! This movie is so motivational, relatable and hilarious. It is a must-see, and definitely a “slam-dunk.”

The film highlights the inspirational story of the ultra-famous NBA player, LeBron James and his high school friends. It takes place in 1994 through 2003, during his childhood and high school years, and focuses on the “Fab Four” – young LeBron James (Marquis Cook) and his best friends Lil Dru Joyce (Caleb McLaughlin), Willie McGee (Avery Wills) and Sian Cotton (Khalil Everage).

I’ve never been an avid basketball follower or fan, but that didn’t make Shooting Stars any less of an enjoyable movie for me. Even though I never played basketball seriously, I can relate to this movie as a high school athlete. It was so interesting to learn things I never knew about LeBron James and his life. And what’s great is that if you want to learn even more about LeBron, you can read the book by LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger, Shooting Stars, which the film is based on. Since the film was produced by LeBron himself, it provides an accurate representation of his early years. In a voiceover in the first-look teaser trailer James says, “People think they know my story, but this is our story.”

The sets, locations and props all reflect the time period and give us a bit of nostalgia. Additionally, the actors look so much like the people they play. Speaking of which, Marquis Cook, Caleb McLaughlin, Avery Wills, Khalil Everage, and Sterling Henderson work so well together and have a lot of chemistry. Additionally, they all are fabulous basketball players. Shooting Stars marks the acting debut of Marquis “Mookie” Cook as young LeBron James. Although he is a rookie actor, Cook has a substantial basketball background. He is not only a top-ranked high school athlete but has also participated in the 2023 All-American games. Throughout the movie, be on the lookout for some cameos!

The message of this movie is to follow your passions and work hard for them. Additional themes are that your family isn’t just blood and that teamwork is important when you’re trying to achieve your goals. Be aware that there is some profanity and language that people may find offensive.

I give Shooting Stars 5 of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Athletes and LeBron fans will particularly enjoy this movie. It releases exclusively on Peacock June 2, 2023.

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

I really like Shooting Stars — it has a perfect balance between brotherhood, basketball, family and friends and dramedy. Lil Dru is my favorite in the film.

Shooting Stars is based on the book by LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger. It starts in the year 1994 as we watch 10-year-old Lebron James (Marquis “Mookie” Cook) and childhood friends Lil Dru (Caleb McLaughlin), Sian Cotton (Khalil Everage) and Willie McGee (Avery S. Wills Jr.) play together and bring a story of friendship to their senior year in 2003 and their high school team becomes #1 in the country.

I love this storyline and learning how Lebron’s career got a jump start when he played with these childhood friends. That’s what makes the film so good, with its multiple sources of first and second hand stories. The pace feels really fast. Watching this film makes me realize what well-deserved credits go to the camera team. Shooting Stars was filmed in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. Marquis “Mookie” Cook’s performance as young Lebron is outstanding. This is Cook’s acting debut and he gives a great performance, especially portraying both the humor and anger of Lebron. Plus, he has a great deal of expertise laying basketball is a top-ranked high school athlete.

Caleb McLaughlin’s portrayal of Lil Dru gives truth to the idea that size really doesn’t matter. Avery Willis Jr. as Willie Mc Gee, the second-best basketball player of the Fab 4 is also noteworthy. And finally, Khalil Everage is the funniest playing Sian Cotton — when he is on screen the movie just gets better. The movie ends with the Fab 4 enjoying their lives.

The film’s message is that friends are your family. Be aware that there is a lot of profanity in this movie

I give Shooting Stars 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Shooting Stars can be found on Peacock beginning June 2, 2023.

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Movie Review: The Little Mermaid * An Absolute Triumph, Showcasing The Beloved Tale In A Fresh And Captivating Way

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Movie Review: The Little Mermaid * An Absolute Triumph, Showcasing The Beloved Tale In A Fresh And Captivating Way

The beloved story of Ariel, a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure, “The Little Mermaid” stars singer and actress Halle Bailey as Ariel. The youngest of King Triton’s daughters, and the most defiant, Ariel longs to find out more about the world beyond the sea, and while visiting the surface, falls for the dashing Prince Eric. While mermaids are forbidden to interact with humans, Ariel must follow her heart. She makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, which gives her a chance to experience life on land, but ultimately places her life – and her father’s crown – in jeopardy.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Hanadie K. comments, “This mesmerizing musical, starring the talented Halle Bailey, is an absolute triumph! The Little Mermaid showcases the beloved tale in a fresh and captivating way, with stunning visuals that bring the underwater world to life.” Allison B. adds, “From acclaimed director Rob Marshall comes the retelling of the beautiful, adventurous fairytale we all know and love. This beloved Disney classic has captured the hearts of past generations and certainly captured my heart once again.” Mikella G. wraps it up with, “Halle Bailey beautifully executes her role as Ariel. She feels like a real life Disney princess and speaks with such elegance. She makes the film feel like fantasy that has come to life.” See their full reviews below.

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

Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This mesmerizing live-action musical, starring the talented Halle Bailey, is an absolute triumph! The Little Mermaid showcases the beloved tale in a fresh and captivating way, with stunning visuals that bring the underwater world to life. The CGI is seamless, creating a truly immersive experience that surpassed my expectations.

In this adaptation of The Little Mermaid, we follow the enchanting journey of Ariel (Halle Bailey), a young mermaid who longs to explore the human world. The film stays true to the heart of the original story, emphasizing themes of self-discovery, love and the importance of staying true to oneself.

Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo by Giles Keyte. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Little Mermaid delivers exceptional performances, breathtaking visuals, and captivating storytelling. Halle Bailey performs remarkably, capturing Ariel’s curiosity, spirit, and powerful voice. Casting a Black actress in the iconic role of Ariel is a decisive step toward diversifying the portrayal of princesses on screen. It offers young audiences, particularly Black girls who have rarely seen themselves in mainstream media, a chance to see a character they can deeply identify with, and I love that! The cast is rounded out with renowned actors who bring depth and charm to their respective roles. Tony winner Daveed Diggs gives a comedic, clever and heartfelt performance as Sebastian the Crab. Awkwafina’s delightful portrayal of Scuttle the Seagull and Jonah Hauer-King’s as Prince Eric brilliantly captures the original characters’ essence while bringing their unique charm and charisma to the roles. They skillfully breathe new life into these beloved characters, adding depth and memorable moments that both longtime fans and new audiences will appreciate.

(L-R): Halle Bailey as Ariel and Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo by Giles Keyte. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The costumes, designed by Colleen Atwood, beautifully capture the underwater kingdom and the human world above. The music score by the talented duo of Oscar winner Alan Menken and Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda is magical, seamlessly blending Menken’s enchanting melodies with Miranda’s vibrant and rhythmic compositions, resulting in an unforgettable and captivating musical experience.

The Little Mermaid carries a powerful message of self-acceptance, courage and pursuing one’s dreams. It promotes positive social behavior and portrays relationships built on understanding and empathy.

I give The Little Mermaid 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. It releases in theaters on May 26, 2023. Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of Ariel and embark on a magical adventure!

The Little Mermaid By Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

From acclaimed director Rob Marshall comes the retelling of the beautiful, adventurous fairytale we all know and love, The Little Mermaid. This beloved Disney classic has captured the hearts of past generations and certainly captured my heart in this one. Based on the original motion picture from 1989 and the fairytale by Hans Christian Anderson, The Little Mermaid is a timeless masterpiece that continues to captivate audiences of all ages.

The Little Mermaid begins with a look at life under the sea from the perspective of King Triton’s youngest mer-daughter, Ariel (Halle Bailey). Ariel is a beautiful, adventurous and free-spirited young mermaid who longs to experience life in the “world above.” Ariel encounters the human world when she saves a young prince (Jonah Hauer-King) and falls in love with him. She makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to become human so she can be with him, but things don’t go as planned. This movie is full of adventure, romance and memorable songs – both old and new.

(L-R): Scuttle (voiced by Awkwafina), Flounder (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), and Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This film definitely has a stronger emphasis on action than the original. There are many scenes where the live action element adds to the suspense and drama in the film. For example, in the song “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” there are many impressive special effects. Towards the beginning of the movie, there is a scene with a shark which was not in the original, and that keeps the audience on their toes the whole time. What I enjoyed the most about The Little Mermaid is that it is not a replica of the original film. It shares scenes and songs that we all know and love, but it is different enough from the original.

(L-R): Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric and Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo by Giles Keyte. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I particularly enjoyed Halle Bailey’s portrayal of Ariel and Melissa McCarthy’s of Ursula. Bailey gives the character a more adventurous and brave attitude, which makes Ariel a great role model for children everywhere. McCarthy, while being scary, manages to maintain great comedic timing which adds to the character of Ursula immensely. The updated elements, such as the special effects, music and actors, offer a fresh perspective of this tale.

The film’s message is about the importance of being true to oneself and following one’s dreams, even if it means making sacrifices along the way. The story encourages us to pursue our passions and not be afraid to take risks, even if it means living outside our comfort zones. It also explores themes of love, family and the consequences of making deals with others.

I give The Little Mermaid 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to18, plus adults. You can see The Little Mermaid in theaters starting May 26, 2023.

The Little Mermaid By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

(L-R): Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric and Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Little Mermaid is a lovely nostalgic movie that brought me back to my younger years, and really put me in a fun, exciting, happy mood.

The Little Mermaid is a live-action remake of the original 1989 film. It follows the life of Ariel (Halle Bailey), a mermaid who sometimes feels trapped underwater. One night, her Aunt Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) finds her in a vulnerable state and uses that to her advantage. Ursula casts Ariel with a spell, finally giving her the ability to have legs and walk on land. However, every good thing must pay a price, and Ariel eventually begins to lose sight of who she is. Ariel must learn to be strong and prove her strength, with the help of her friends of course!

Javier Bardem as King Triton in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

A huge standout in this film is the CGI. A majority of the film takes place underwater and uses animation. All of the coral, fish and colors are so vibrant. The movement of the water feels so realistic, and I never second guessed the reality of the circumstances. Additionally, the scenery on land is outstandingly beautiful. The island that it is on is breathtaking, and the castle’s architecture side-by-side with the ocean really makes everything come to life. It’s definitely a destination that I find myself wanting to go to. The cinematography really lives up to my expectations for a Disney production. Furthermore, the characterizations are a big standout.

Melissa McCarthy as Ursula in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Melissa McCarthy completely embodies her role as Ursula. Her confidence and ability to perform is evident and she does Ursula justice. Her character is believable gave me chills watching her. Additionally, Halle Bailey beautifully executes her role as Ariel. She feels like a real life Disney princess and speaks with such elegance. She makes the film feel like fantasy that has come to life. Ariel’s wardrobe is also striking — her mermaid tail is beautifully and intricately designed –the colors and scaling really pops underwater.

The message of The Little Mermaid is to lead with kindness, and always follow what your heart tells you.

I give The Little Mermaid 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. The Little Mermaid releases in theaters May 26, 2023.

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Movie Review: Prehistoric Planet 2 * This Season Unveils New Species And Habitats Which Occupied Ancient Earth 66 Million Years Ago

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Movie Review: Prehistoric Planet 2 * This Season Unveils New Species And Habitats Which Occupied Ancient Earth 66 Million Years Ago

Experience the wonders of our world like never before in this epic docuseries from Jon Favreau and the producers of “Planet Earth.” “Prehistoric Planet” season two continues to bring Earth’s history to life like never before as the series presents new dinosaurs, new habitats and new scientific discoveries while taking viewers around the world in an epic five-night adventure. With new dinosaurs like the Tarchia, one of the largest Ankylosauri, to returning fan-favorites like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, and many more, “Prehistoric Planet” returns with an all-new season of prehistoric wonders.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, “Prepare to be wowed by an incredible new documentary mini-series to be released this month. Back for its second season, Prehistoric Planet 2, produced by the world-renowned team from BBC’s Natural History Unit, unveils new species and habitats which occupied ancient Earth 66 million years ago.” See his full review below.

Prehistoric Planet 2 By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Prepare to be wowed by an incredible new documentary mini-series to be released this month. Back for its second season, Prehistoric Planet 2, produced by the world-renowned team from BBC’s Natural History Unit, unveils new species and habitats which occupied ancient Earth 66 million years ago. I was really looking forward to watching this expansive series with its advanced technology and I was not disappointed.

The show takes viewers back millions of years to examine a variety of new species within their unique habitats. Based on new evidence provided by paleontologists and other experts within the field, these filmmakers are able to authentically recreate the Jurassic world and highlight the many interactions within and between species, and show how these magnificent creatures needed to fight so hard for their survival. This impressively animated series brings Earth’s history to life with such extraordinary detail.

Prehistoric Planet 2 is an educational masterpiece! There is so much to appreciate in this series. The CGI is state of the art; the CGI images are, by far, the best I’ve seen. The highly technical scenes are so dramatic and bring great adventure into our homes. Although the information portrayed by the biodiverse species in each episode has great merit from new found evidence by archaeologists, a lot of guesses and inferring goes into the depiction of these creatures. The information about these species makes perfect sense and I was truly inspired by each episode. Narrated by beloved 97-year-old David Attenborough who excels as he explains to viewers the lives of so many unique species. He brings great excitement and emotion to Prehistoric Planet 2. Parents need to be aware that some of the graphic content regarding survival strategies may be too intense for younger viewers.

The message throughout each episode of the show is about understanding the biological dynamics of our ancient Earth. We all find dinosaurs fascinating, but there is much more to be learned about their relationships, adaptations and survival mechanisms. Gaining knowledge about past species not only helps us better understand their existence on Earth and it also helps us build more complete ancestral connections to species living today. Education is priceless!

Prehistoric Planet 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Prehistoric Planet 2 releases on Apple TV+ May 22, 2023

Movie Review: A Feel Good Comedy That Puts You In A Happy Optimistic Mood

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Movie Review: A Feel Good Comedy That Puts You In A Happy Optimistic Mood

The highly anticipated sequel follows our four best friends as they take their book club to Italy for the fun girls’ trip they never had. When things go off the rails and secrets are revealed, their relaxing vacation turns into a once-in-a-lifetime cross-country adventure.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mikella G. comments, “Book Club: The Next Chapter is a feel good, comedic film. It’s entertaining and light hearted, putting you in a happy optimistic mood. I really enjoy the beautiful scenery shown throughout the film. As the four friends travel throughout Italy, we see the sights of Rome, Venice and Tuscany.” Julie S. adds, “What a delightful romp this is! I came away from watching it with an extra spring in my step and a sense of joie de vivre. The cast truly had a good time and it’s contagious. It’s in theaters now, so drop what you’re doing and catch a matinee today. You’ll be glad you did.” See their full reviews below.

Book Club: The Next Chapter By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 17

BC-TNC_FP_0085_R (l-r) Diane Keaton stars as Diane, Jane Fonda as Vivian, Candice Bergen as Sharon and Mary Steenburgen as Carol in BOOK CLUB: THE NEXT CHAPTER, a Focus Features release. Credit: © 2023 FIFTH SEASON, LLC

Book Club: The Next Chapter is a feel good, comedic film. It’s entertaining and light hearted, putting you in a happy optimistic mood.

Book Club: The Next Chapter, a sequel to Book Club, brings together four best friends, who finally reunite after being in quarantine. In order to celebrate Vivian’s (Jane Fonda) big news and go on their long awaited girls’ trip, the group departs for Italy. While on their trip, they encounter many obstacles and surprises, providing the ladies a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

4195_D026_00021_R Director/Co-Writer/Producer Bill Holderman and actors Mary Steenburgen, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Don Johnson on the set of their film BOOK CLUB: THE NEXT CHAPTER, a Focus Features release. Credit: Fabio Zayed / © 2023 FIFTH SEASON, LLC

I really enjoy the beautiful scenery shown throughout the film. As the four friends travel throughout Italy, we see the sights of Rome, Venice and Tuscany. Most of the movie was filmed on location, which is an incredible aspect that really elevates the film. Everything is so colorful and eye-catching, which definitely made me much more engaged. When I look at a fun and exciting scene, I’m automatically more interested in what I’m watching. This movie definitely has that effect. Additionally, the characters really stand out. Each of the women has such a distinct personality. For example, Diane (Diane Keaton) is more reluctant and very set in her ways. Carol (Mary Steenburgen) is very optimistic and wants to be adventurous. Then there’s Vivian who is finally stepping out of her comfort zone and taking a leap of faith, and lastly Sharon (Candice Bergen) who knows exactly what she wants, and won’t let anyone change her opinions. All the characters have different personalities but they all cohesively work together.

BC-TNC_FP_0046_R (l-r) Mary Steenburgen stars as Carol, Jane Fonda as Vivian, Diane Keaton as Diane and Candice Bergen as Sharon in BOOK CLUB: THE NEXT CHAPTER, a Focus Features release. Credit: © 2023 FIFTH SEASON, LLC

Each actor excels in her role and really brings her character to life for a second time in this sequel. The strong chemistry and friendship between these women is evident, and really made me feel so fulfilled and happy to watch them on their adventure. The storyline is a lot of fun and has many dynamics. While the women are in Italy they encounter many rough patches. They constantly have to reroute their trip, and even run into people and memories that slow them down a little. However, they still come out stronger than ever in the end. This film is exciting to watch, and definitely held my interest the entire time.

The message of Book Club: The Next Chapter is a reminder to take risks and live life to the fullest because you never know when you might no longer have that opportunity. Be aware there is some light profanity.

I give Book Club: The Next Chapter 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases in theaters May 12, 2023.

Book Club: The Next Chapter By Julie S., KIDS FIRST!

4195_PP_D002_00040-00060_RCC (l-r) Diane Keaton stars as Diane, Jane Fonda as Vivian, Candice Bergen as Sharon and Mary Steenburgen as Carol in BOOK CLUB: THE NEXT CHAPTER, a Focus Features release. Credit: Riccardo Ghilardi / © 2023 FIFTH SEASON, LLC

What a delightful romp this is! The four life-long friends Viv, Diane, Sharon and Carol are played by superstars Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton and Mary Steenburgen run away with the show. We see how their friendship has persevered the ups and downs of life for decades, through marriage and divorce, child-bearing, work ups and downs… they support each other unconditionally. In this sequel to the 2018 comedy Book Club, they are reunited after the pandemic and, after learning that Viv plans to marry, decide to take a bachelorette trip to Italy – a destination they’ve had on the horizon for some time.

4195_D018_00176_RC3 (l-r) Mary Steenburgen stars as Carol, Candice Bergen as Sharon, Diane Keaton as Diane and Jane Fonda as Vivian in BOOK CLUB: THE NEXT CHAPTER, a Focus Features release. Credit: Riccardo Ghilardi / © 2023 FIFTH SEASON, LLC

The script is filled with silly jokes and passion for all that Italy has to offer – food, wine, landscapes and beautiful men. The significant others of the four, played by Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, Giancarlo Giannini and Andy Garcia are equally entertaining. If this doesn’t make you want to pack your bags and head to Rome or Tuscany, then your spirit definitely needs a jump start.

I came away from watching this with an extra spring in my step and a sense of joie de vivre. The cast truly had a good time and it’s contagious.

I give Book Club: the Next Chapter 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults, due to some mild profanity. It’s in theaters now, so drop what you’re doing and catch a matinee today. You’ll be glad you did.

Movie Review: Captivating And Inspirational Documentary That Highlights An Important Story And Really Connected With Me

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Movie Review: Captivating And Inspirational Documentary That Highlights An Important Story And Really Connected With Me

An intimate portrait of a misunderstood American icon, this emotional and uplifting documentary about Yogi Berra takes us beyond the caricatures and “Yogisms,” and into the heart of a sports legend whose unparalleled accomplishments on the baseball diamond were often overshadowed by his off-the-field persona.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mikella G. comments, “It Ain’t Over is a captivating inspirational documentary that highlights an important story, and really connected with me. I definitely felt moved and more knowledgeable afterwards.” See her full review below.

It Ain’t Over Mikella G., KIDS FIRST!, age 16

It Ain’t Over is a captivating inspirational documentary that highlights an important story, and really connected with me. I definitely felt moved and more knowledgeable afterwards.

This film tells the story of Yogi Berra (Lawrence Peter Berra), an Italian immigrant who had a talent for baseball from a young age. Although he had an outstanding ability to catch balls, he was extremely unappreciated in the sports industry when he first started out. Yogi didn’t exactly fit the image of a stereotypical NBA star at the time, but he didn’t let that stop him. After many rocky patches, Yogi eventually found a home with the New York Yankees, where he managed to work his way to a top position, and became one of the best players in baseball history.

I really appreciate the structure of the film; it’s easy to follow and gives a lot of insight about Yogi as a person. Throughout the film are interviews with people from Yogi’s life, including his close family and friends. These are people that knew him personally and their input helps create a strong foundation for the film. It helped me get a better understanding of who Yogi was, and the positive effect that he left on people. Additionally, the storytelling is strong. The film incorporates so many important details of Yogi’s life in such an honest way. There are examples of people such as Jackie Robinson, who he really helped and respected. This documentary is going to make the world remember Yogi Berra in a positive and bright way, which defines who he was. The cinematography is outstanding. I really enjoyed the incorporation of archival footage from Yogi’s life, along with present day videos that showcase the evolution of professional baseball.

The film’s message is to always follow your dreams no matter what other people tell you.

I give It Ain’t Over 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in select theaters on May 12, 2023.

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Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 * The Perfect End To This Marvel Trilogy – An Emotional Journey And A Bit Of A Tearjerker

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Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 * The Perfect End To This Marvel Trilogy – An Emotional Journey And A Bit Of A Tearjerker
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3. © 2022 MARVEL.

In Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 our beloved band of misfits are settling into life on Knowhere. But it isn’t long before their lives are upended by the echoes of Rocket’s turbulent past. Peter Quill, still reeling from the loss of Gamora, must rally his team around him on a dangerous mission to save Rocket’s life—a mission that, if not completed successfully, could quite possibly lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the perfect end to this Marvel trilogy. It’s an emotional journey, and, for me, a bit of a tearjerker – bring some tissues.” Kendall B. adds, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a hilarious movie with a thrilling plot, funny one-liners, and incredible special effects. It’s a great movie that left me waiting for the next scene.” Emma D. adds, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 is a disappointing final installment of a beloved trilogy, largely due to a confusing plot and weird dialogue. Although the visuals are engaging, the film lacks the comedic element and enthusiasm of the first two.” Mikella G. wraps it up with, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is an outstanding film. It’s filled with action and adventure, while still tackling important issues.” See their full reviews below.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the perfect end to this Marvel trilogy. It’s an emotional journey, and, for me, a bit of a tearjerker – bring some tissues. I connected strongly with the characters and throughout the movie deeply cared about them. I also love this movie because of the strong messages, astonishing CGI and the “marvelous” acting.

(L-R): Will Poulter as Adam Warlock and Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo by Jessica Miglio. © 2023 MARVEL.

This movie switches between Rocket’s (Bradley Cooper) backstory and the mission to save Rocket embarked on by Star Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Groot (Vin Diesel), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax (Dace Bautista), and Mantis’ (Pom Klementieff). The new Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) also joins them, but she isn’t the same Gamora we knew. Can the Guardians save Rocket and the galaxy in time? Watch to find out! As always, make sure to stay until the end of the credits!

Zoe Saldana as Gamora in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo by Jessica Miglio. © 2023 MARVEL.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of my favorite franchises within the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and director James Gunn and the actors are the biggest reasons why. Gunn has made these movies unique and distinct from the other Marvel movies. Although it’s still funny, this movie resonates emotionally with the audience more than the first two Guardians. You can feel the pain and traumatic experiences of the characters. Star Lord as Chris Pratt is perfect. I’ve never seen a role as good as this one for Pratt, and for me he will always be Peter Quill. Even though Rocket is completely CGI, Bradley Cooper’s voice performance makes me believe he is real. My favorite character is Drax (David Bautista) because he is very sweet and funny, and whenever he’s on screen, I enjoy it immensely.

The message of this movie is that friendship and teamwork are the most powerful forces in the galaxy. This movie contains some profanity, violence, and some gross scenes.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 gets 4 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy fans will definitely enjoy this movie. It comes out in theaters on May 5, 2023.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

(L-R): Karen Gillan as Nebula, Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, and Dave Bautista as Drax in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo by Jessica Miglio. © 2023 MARVEL.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a hilarious movie with a thrilling plot, funny one-liners, and incredible special effects. It’s a great movie that left me waiting for the next scene.

The story starts showing the Guardians living in harmony; however Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Peter (Chris Pratt) have been kind of down lately. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is not remembering her past life after the events of the Infinity War, and Rocket remembering things about his old life before the Guardians and how horrible it was. When a failed attempt by a new unknown superhero (Will Poulter) to take Rocket back to his creator, the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), Rocket is injured, and this brings him closer to death every second. After reuniting with Gamora, Peter is on a mission, along with Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and, of course, everybody’s favorite plant, Groot (Vin Diesel), to save not only Rocket but the whole galaxy.

(L-R): Miriam Shor as Recorder Vim, Chukwudi Iwuji as The High Evolutionary, and Nico Santos as Recorder Theel in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo by Jessica Miglio. © 2023 MARVEL.

This film has many amazing assets with its strongest being the CGI. Throughout the movie we are treated to insane special effects, including ships flying throughout the galaxy. The incredibly realistic galaxy makes the movie so much fun to watch. The actors are all well cast. Rocket’s backstory is so perfectly executed and we learn why Rocket behaves the way he does during certain situations. The whole explanation brings tears to your eyes. Gamora and Peter’s relationship is explored as it jumps back into their love story, slowly hinting at a possible relationship in the future. My favorite characters are Drax and Mantis. The friendship between these too is so sweet and unbelievably hilarious. The two are always teasing each other and the dialogue between them is among the many notable highlights of this film. My favorite part of the movie is when the Guardians try to bring Rocket back to life and he reconnects with some of his old friends in his mind. It’s such a sentimental scene and changes the entire feeling of the movie, in a good way.

The film’s message is that sometimes friends can feel like family and that is worth fighting for. Throughout the film the Guardians stick together through difficult situations — all to save Rocket because he is one of their friends and they will do anything to save him. Peter tries to explain this to Gamora in one scene when she doesn’t understand why they will put their own lives in danger to save Rocket.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theatres May 5, 2023.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 By Emma D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 is a disappointing final installment of a beloved trilogy, largely due to a confusing plot and weird dialogue. Although the visuals are engaging, the film lacks the comedic element and enthusiasm of the first two.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 picks up after the Guardians appearance in Thor: Love and Thunder and follows their struggle with the loss of Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Her loss has affected Peter (Chris Pratt) the most, and he struggles with depression, which negatively affects the group — and as a result they are lost when it comes to the future. When a man arrives to capture Rocket (Bradley Cooper), the gang has to fight to save his life and go deep into Rocket’s past, discovering things they never knew were possible.

(L-R): Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Dave Bautista as Drax, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Karen Gillan as Nebula, and Pom Klementieff as Mantis in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

The plot is confusing with too many details and unnecessary characters, which makes the story overly complicated. I often had to replay moments in my head to try to grasp what was going on. Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) and his mom (Elizabeth Debicki), although quite entertaining, are irrelevant to the plot. Gamora also seems unimportant since the relationship status between Peter Quinn (Chris Pratt) and her has already been established in past films. Her absence would have made a more significant impact by showing how much her absence affects Peter and the group. The villain is the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), and although Iwuji is excellent in this role and can be truly terrifying, the character itself is pretty bland. It is hard to take him seriously when all of his actions, although sometimes gruesome, seem lackluster in comparison to previous Marvel villains. The visual effects are stunning, and the scenes in space are breathtaking — I highly recommend watching it at the movie theater. However, some of the visual effects are a little too realistic, especially with the animals, and can be very uncomfortable to watch. The movie also misses the comedic element that I loved about the series, which is a shame since the actors are all hilarious. The soundtrack is fantastic and helps break up the more serious moments and serves as excellent background music for fight scenes. I love all the interactions between the actors in the main group, as those are the most heartwarming and funny scenes. The best part of the movie is the ending, which is a perfect ending for the series.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 promotes the idea of friendship and fighting for the ones you love. The movie is more violent than most Marvel movies, which is something that parents should be aware of. The visual effects of the animals can be discomforting and a little scary. The film also addresses alcoholism and depression, which may not be appropriate for younger audiences.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 gets 3 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It comes out in theaters on May 5, 2023.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

(L-R): Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Dave Bautista as Drax, and Pom Klementieff as Mantis in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is an outstanding film. It’s filled with action and adventure, while still tackling important issues.

The storyline follows the Guardians for a third time as they reunite with Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and embark on their journey to save Rocket (Bradley Cooper). The crew goes through multiple rough patches when discovering Rocket’s past, and they learn that they must work together to defeat the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi lwuji).

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3. © 2022 MARVEL.

A huge standout in this film is the soundtrack. Every song fits the moment perfectly and really gives a fun nostalgic feeling to the film. The track includes music from the Beastie Boys, Bruce Springsteen and more. Additionally, the cinematography really stands out. I enjoy the camera angles showing the High Evolutionary Corporation. They zoom into certain moments when baby Rocket is in his cage, and use different but intentional angles. Even the transitions from flashback moments to present time are smooth, and flow nicely. Plus, the visual effects are top notch. Every fight scene is attention grabbing, and very engaging. All the sound effects are so realistic. For example, even something as simple as someone chewing food, has top sound quality. Additionally, there’s a moment where Nebula (Karen Gilman) pops her muscles back into place, which is a super cool effect that definitely stayed in my mind after watching the film. I really felt that I was in another galaxy. The colors, lights and imagery are very realistic, and bring you right into the world of the Guardians. There is some outstanding acting in this film, especially Chukwudi Iwuji, who completely embodies his character, High Evolutionary. His acting is so strong and completely sucks you in. There is a scene where Iwuji almost tricks the audience into thinking he’s a good person then, moments later, snaps back into his villainous side, which stood out to me. He has a way of creating an uncomfortable, but intriguing feeling, where his tricks that he uses in the movie, reflect on the audience. With Rocket one of the main driving factors of the story, Bradley Cooper really taps into his role. He shows a side of Rocket that has not yet been revealed, and creates a sympathetic feeling for the viewers. As an audience, we get to experience a raw, honest version of Rocket that feels human-like as well. There are times that I feel like I could relate to him, which really highlights the acting abilities of Bradley Cooper.

The film’s message is to never stop fighting for the ones you love. Be forewarned that this film has harsh violence and profanity.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters May 4, 2023.

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Movie Review: Chevalier * Stunning Story About An Accomplished Black French Musician Who History Overlooked

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Movie Review: Chevalier * Stunning Story About An Accomplished Black French Musician Who History Overlooked

Inspired by the incredible true story of composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner, Bologne (Kelvin Harrison Jr. in a tour de force performance) rises to improbable heights in French society as a celebrated violinist-composer and fencer, complete with an ill-fated love affair and a falling out with Marie Antoinette (Lucy Boynton) and her court.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic David E. comments, “I really like Chevalier, because of its story about segregation in France when Black people were slaves. I like the violin aspect of it as well.” See his full review below.

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

Kelvin Harrison Jr. in the film CHEVALIER. Photo by Larry Horricks. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

I really like Chevalier, because of its story about segregation in France when Black people were slaves. I like the violin aspect of it as well.

The story takes place in 18th century Paris and is inspired by the incredible life of composer Joseph Bolognue, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). The illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner, Bolognue, rises to improbable heights in French society as a celebrated violinist-composer and fencer, complete with an ill-fated love affair and a falling out with Marie Antoinette (Lucy Boynton) and her court.

Kelvin Harrison Jr. in the film CHEVALIER. Photo by Larry Horricks. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

I really enjoyed the storyline. It is amazing and really shows us what life was like in the 18th century. The pace is intentionally slow and that’s what makes it so good. It reminds me of a great meal that you would just want to savor. You can really imagine it taking place in your mind. The camerawork is excellent; it makes you feel as if you are in parts of the scene. Production on this film began on September 7, 2021, in Prague, Czech Republic and ended in November 2021. The setting was supposed to take place in France and the sets and locations really look very French. Kelvin Harrison Jr. gives a tour de force performance as Joseph Bolognue / Chevalier. He blew me away with his performance. Samara Weaving’s portrayal of the Queen uses a rude and not too shabby voice and she changes sides like when you flip a light switch. Lucy Boynton, the love interest of Bolognue, seems to be a typical woman who men fall in love with. I didn’t feel the inclusion of her as his love interest added much to the storyline. I don’t particularly care for the film’s ending, but it does kick off the French revolution.

Kelvin Harrison Jr., Samara Weaving and Alex Fizalan in the film CHEVALIER. Photo by Larry Horricks. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

The message of this film is never try to get rid of a Black man.

I give Chevalier 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It is available in movie theaters beginning April 21, 2023

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Review: Frog and Toad * Love How This Show Reminds Us Of How Opposites Complement Each Other

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Review: Frog and Toad * Love How This Show Reminds Us Of How Opposites Complement Each Other

Frog is a frog. Toad is a toad. They have a lot in common … but they are also very different. Frog and Toad are best friends who know that the true secret to friendship is not only enjoying the things you have in common, but embracing the things that make you different. Since our differences are what makes us special, Frog and Toad celebrate what makes them unique!

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Keila V. comments, “I love how this series constantly reminds me of how opposites really do complement each other. The animation is adorable, although some scenes are quite unrealistic. The storyline is terrific and the voice actors are fantastic. The voice actor for both Frog and Toad (Kevin Michael Richardson) is so enthusiastic.” See her full review below.

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

Frog and Toad is a new TV series based on the classic fictional children’s story. In every episode Frog and Toad go on a new adventure and each adventure provides a valued life lesson.

The story follows a very joyful Frog and a groggy Toad on unique journeys around their neighborhood. Frog and Toad are the best of friends and spend every day together. Toad loves to bake, relax and enjoy his life at a slow pace; while Frog, on the other hand is an outgoing, upbeat and cheerful character. The main theme of the story in all the episodes is how Frog and Toad always help each other and never leave one another’s side.

I love how this series constantly reminds me of how opposites really do complement each other. The animation is adorable, although some scenes are quite unrealistic. The storyline is terrific and the voice actors are fantastic. The voice actor for both Frog and Toad (Kevin Michael Richardson) is so enthusiastic. Throughout the series we see the characters really being authentic to what they are trying to say and, in one particular scene, Frog is trying to convince Toad to wake up from hibernation on the first day of spring (even though toads hibernate until late spring).

My favorite scene of the series is in the episode called “The Letter” where Frog hears Toad say that he has never gotten mail before. Frog goes back home to write Toad his very own first letter and after he finishes it, he brings it to the town’s post office and tells the little postman (a snail) to take the letter as fast as he can to Toad’s house. As you know, snails are awfully slow, so when Frog goes back to see Toad he is lying in bed and feeling upset that he isn’t getting any mail and thinks he never will. Little does he know Snail is on his way, but definitely taking a while to bring his letter. Frog is a true friend to Toad because he waits two days with Toad waiting for Snail to come and bring his very first mail. You just have to see it!

The message of this series is to always enjoy our friends and appreciate our life; we only have a certain amount of time. Another message is to love the outdoors, just as we see Frog and Toad love spending their time going on walks and having a picnic. This teaches children not just to be on their electronics but to also savor the great outdoors!

I give Frog and Toad 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. It is releases on Apple TV+ April 28, 2023.

Movie Review: Peter Pan & Wendy * This Disney Live Action Remake Of Peter Pam Creates A New And Exciting Experience

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Movie Review: Peter Pan & Wendy * This Disney Live Action Remake Of Peter Pam Creates A New And Exciting Experience

Based on J. M. Barrie’s novel Peter and Wendy and inspired by the 1953 animated classic, Peter Pan and Wendy is the timeless tale of a young girl who, defying her parents’ wishes to attend boarding school, travels with her two younger brothers to the magical Neverland. There, she meets a boy who refuses to grow up, a tiny fairy and an evil pirate captain, and they soon find themselves on a thrilling and dangerous adventure far, far away from their family and the comforts of home.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avani M. comments, “I like Peter Pan & Wendy because of the magical and mysterious place called Neverland. The cinematography is so beautiful and made me wish I could be there.” Carlee S. adds, “This Disney live action remake of the classic film creates a new and exciting experience. The film takes viewers on an adventure that delivers the characters and story people have grown to love while adding some interesting new twists.” See their full reviews below.

Peter Pan & Wendy By Avani M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I like Peter Pan & Wendy because of the magical and mysterious place called Neverland. The cinematography is so beautiful and made me wish I could be there.

In Peter Pan & Wendy, Wendy (Ever Anderson) doesn’t want to grow up and Peter Pan (Alexander Molony) doesn’t grow up in Neverland. Peter comes to take Wendy and her brothers John (Joshua Pickering) and Michael (Jacobi Jupe) to Neverland with his friend Tinkerbell (Yara Shahidi). When Wendy and her brothers go with Peter Pan and Tinkerbell they encounter Captain Hook (Jude Law) and he shoots Wendy out of the sky. Then we are introduced to the lost boys when they save Wendy.

Peter Pan & Wendy definitely meets the KIDS FIRST! criteria and has great messages and awesome performances. Jude Law is great as Captain Hook because he portrays an angry and hurt character at the same time. Alexander Maloney is a convincing Peter Pan because of his youthful look. Ever Anderson shows a range of emotions from her defiance of growing up to wonder at the sight of Neverland and bravery as she faces the Pirates. I really like how Neverland is shown as a luscious green island with lots of trees and plants. It is a single mysterious island in the middle of the ocean with nothing surrounding it. The cinematography is beautiful and colorful, contrasting a luscious Neverland with the darker, more serious England. I also like how Peter and Wendy fly up into the sky and go through a portal to get to Neverland.

This film has a few themes, the biggest of which is that it is okay to grow up. Wendy refuses to grow up at first, but when she sees how she doesn’t grow up in Neverland she becomes happy that she actually can grow up and have a full path ahead of her. Another message is that you cannot accomplish everything by yourself. Peter Pan tries to defeat Captain Hook all by himself, but realizes that he needs the help of his friends.

I give Peter Pan & Wendy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It is available on Disney+ now.

Peter Pan & Wendy By Carlee S., Kids First! Film Critic, Age 18

Peter Pan & Wendy brings to life the timeless story of children who escape to the childhood world of Neverland. This Disney live action remake of the classic film creates a new and exciting experience. The film takes viewers on an adventure that delivers the characters and story people have grown to love while adding some interesting new twists.

As the film begins, Wendy (Ever Anderson) is playing around with her younger brothers John (Joshua Pickering) and Michael (Jacobi Jupe). Wendy is soon going to attend a boarding school; however, she dislikes the idea of having to grow up and move away. Peter Pan (Alexander Molony) sneaks in one night trying to capture his shadow and he decides it would be best to take Wendy and her brothers with him to Neverland to prolong Wendy’s childhood. When they reach Neverland they encounter an evil pirate, Captain Hook (Jude Law), lost boys (and girls), and others. Captain Hook has his sight sent on capturing and destroying Peter Pan and anyone else who is young.

The film brings the classic story to life in a commendable way. My favorite scene is when Captain Hook takes Wendy and the lost boys captive on his pirate ship. After a fight, Captain Hook forces Wendy to walk the plank. The scene is suspenseful and keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat. The detailed costumes fit well with each character and many closely resemble their clothing from the original animated movie. Captain Hook has on his iconic red coat that has a lot of intricate details and he wears a black pirate hat to top off the outfit. Tiger Lily (Alyssa Wapanatahk) wears a seemingly authentic Native American outfit in this version. The CGI in this film is spectacular! It is especially notable in the scenes in Neverland, with Tinkerbell (Yara Shahidi), when they fly, when they encounter the crocodile, and with the pirate ship. Ever Anderson, as Wendy, and Alexander Molony, as Peter Pan, are enjoyable to watch as the main characters. Alyssa Wapanathk speaks Native American in parts of the film which gives her character a realistic feel. I also enjoyed seeing the different sides of Captain Hook’s character. We don’t see a lot of Neverland or places such as Mermaid Lagoon, which I would have loved.

The film’s message is to find the joy in growing up. Wendy is clearly scared at first because she is nervous about growing up and facing the unknown. Growing up means things change and that can be quite scary. However, it also means new adventures and experiences. Be forewarned that there is some mild violence such as the fighting on the pirate ship and with the crocodile.

I give Peter Pan & Wendy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases April 28, 2023 on Disney+.

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