Jane, a 9-year-old budding environmentalist on a quest to save endangered animals. Using her powerful imagination, Jane takes her best friends David and Greybeard the chimpanzee on epic adventures to help protect wild animals all around the world because, according to her idol Dr. Jane Goodall: “Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, can they be saved.”
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, “To all nature and environmental enthusiasts, sit tight because a great mini-series is coming your way! Jane, a new 10-episode action adventure series is the “complete package” full of imagination, thrills, and a whole lot of education, inspired by the work of famous conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall.” See his full review below.
Jane By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13
To all nature and environmental enthusiasts, sit tight because a great mini-series is coming your way! Jane, a new 10-episode action adventure series is the “complete package” full of imagination, thrills, and a whole lot of education, inspired by the work of famous conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall. Viewers are in for a real treat.
The series takes us through the imaginative short journeys of Jane Garcia (Ava Louise Murchison) and her best friend and partner-in-crime, David (Mason Blomberg), who set out to save the world’s vanishing species. While on their quest to help these species, this dynamic duo educates viewers about threatened wildlife and explains the importance of making a change for generations to come. Following each journey, these young environmentalists are joined virtually by a research scientist who not only shares so much information about specific species, but also shares their own experiences, which adds excitement to each episode. From bees to bats and bears, the Jane series is exceptional!
Each episode is so inspiring which is what I like most about Jane. Of course the adventure, action, and creativity are also enjoyable, but what makes this series stand out is the education we get about diminishing species and what can be done to save them. The visual effects also deserve a mention. The live action/CGI-blended scenes are outstanding. Set locations are perfectly chosen, allowing viewers to feel they are right there alongside the animals.
The Jane series delivers a message of hope. Each of us, no matter what age, needs to be committed in order to make positive change for our ecosystems. Every species is important on our planet, and if we can gain a better understanding of the problems that exist within nature, maybe we can fix them. We’re all in this together, and together we can make change –future generations are counting on us!
I give Jane 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Jane makes its global debut on April 14, 2023 on Apple TV+. Mark your calendars—this series is great!
Shy 13-year-old Alex flies from Kansas City to Mexico to meet his extended family for the first time. There he meets his grandfather and former lucha libre champion Chava, energetic, wrestling-obsessed cousin Memo, and fearless, hip cousin Luna. But just as Alex begins to get his bearings, he discovers a mythical creature living under his grandfather’s shed: a young chupacabra cub, which he recognizes from stories of the feared, full-grown chupacabra, fabled to feed on farmers’ livestock. Alex soon learns that his new friend “Chupa” has a secret history with his family, and that dogged, dangerous scientist Richard Quinn is hunting the misunderstood creature to try and harness his powers. To protect Chupa from impending danger, Alex sets off on the adventure of a lifetime, one that will push the bonds of his newfound family to the brink, and remind him that life’s burdens are lighter when you don’t have to carry them alone.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ashleigh C. comments, “Chupa is an entertaining and enjoyable children’s movie that definitely captivated me with its imaginative story and lovable characters… The film boasts stunning visuals, with vibrant colors and creative creature design that I love and believe that they are perfectly suited for young viewers.” See her full review and interviews below.
Chupa By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 19
Chupa is an entertaining and enjoyable children’s movie that definitely captivated me with its imaginative story and lovable characters.
The movie follows the adventures of Alex (Evan Whitten), a young boy who discovers a mysterious creature known as the chupacabra, AKA Chupa, when visiting his family in Mexico. Alex quickly befriends Chupa and, with the help of his new friend, Alex embarks on a wild and exciting journey to protect Chupa from those who would harm him.
Chupa is a must-see film for children and families looking for an entertaining and meaningful story. The film boasts stunning visuals, with vibrant colors and creative creature design that I love and believe that they are perfectly suited for young viewers. The cast is fantastic, with Evan Whitten delivering a standout performance as both a shy and adventurous Alex, and Christian Slater and Demián Bichir lending their talents to the supporting cast. What really sets Chupa apart from others is its heartwarming message about the importance of accepting and protecting those who are different. With its captivating visuals, talented cast, and important message, Chupa is sure to become a new favorite among young viewers.
The movie teaches children valuable lessons about empathy and kindness, while still making its mark as a fun and exciting adventure. Note that this film does contain violent themes and some inappropriate language.
I give Chupa 4 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Chupa release on Netflix on April 7, 2023. Don’t miss it!
The story of The Super Mario Bros. on their journey through the Mushroom Kingdom. A Brooklyn plumber named Mario travels through the Mushroom Kingdom with a princess named Peach and an anthropomorphic mushroom named Toad to find Mario’s brother, Luigi, and to save the world from a ruthless fire-breathing Koopa named Bowser.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie is the perfect video-game to movie adaptation! There’s lots of laughs for all ages and loads of references to the Mario Games for all fans. I enjoy this animated movie because it gives the iconic characters we all know and love the movie adaptation that they all deserve.” See her full review below.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is the perfect video-game to movie adaptation! There’s lots of laughs for all ages and loads of references to the Mario Games for all fans. I enjoy this animated movie because it gives the iconic characters we all know and love the movie adaptation that they all deserve.
In this movie, we learn the origin story of our favorite video-game brothers, Mario and Luigi. Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) are just your average brothers living and working in Brooklyn as plumbers, but when they find a warp pipe in the sewer, they get transported to the magical land where Toads, Yoshi’s and Koopa Troopas roam. Along the way, Luigi gets captured by the evil Bowser (Jack Black) and with the help of Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), Mario is forced to ‘level up’ and fight Bowser before he conquers the world.
There’s no need to play the video games to like this movie, but existing fans of the franchise will especially love it because of all the Easter eggs and familiar songs. This is such an imaginative story with characters and themes from some of my favorite games in the franchise – Mario Kart, Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong. I love how this has elements of the classic games but also new twists, like how Princess Peach in this movie isn’t like your normal Princess Peach in need of rescuing, because she can save herself and is very skillful at doing so. I also love how relatable the brothers are as they are from our world. We’ve been seeing a lot of high quality animation from Illumination recently, and this movie follows the trend. The animation is cheerful and lively and the quality is top-notch. Jack Black, as Bowser, is absolutely perfect in this role. His versatile voice makes for an almost manic Bowser – scary, evil, quirky and laughable – and he can flip the two like a light switch. Chris Pratt as Mario and Charlie Day as Luigi have a lot of chemistry and seem like very close brothers. Collectively, they are relatable and help us sympathize with the plot even more.
The messages of The Super Mario Bros. Movie are that family is the most powerful thing in the world (real and virtual) and when working together, you can accomplish anything.
I give The Super Mario Bros. Movie 4 of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Players of any Mario games will enjoy this. It comes out in theaters April 5, 2023.
After a small-town pilot mysteriously dies during flight, passenger Doug White is forced to land the plane to safety and save his entire family on board. Based on an astonishing true story of faith and survival, this film follows one man’s harrowing journey to save his family from insurmountable danger.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Based on a true story, (this film) will put you on the edge of your seat throughout its duration, with a compelling plot and sincere performances by Dennis Quaid and Heather Graham. It’s a film for aviation geeks and thriller fans, as well as general audiences.” See his full review below.
On a Wing and a Prayer By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
On a Wing and a Prayer, based on a true story, will put you on the edge of your seat throughout its duration, with a compelling plot and sincere performances by Dennis Quaid and Heather Graham. It’s a film for aviation geeks and thriller fans, as well as general audiences. My only advice: don’t watch this before you get on a flight!
On a Wing and a Prayer follows the story of Doug Smith (Dennis Quaid), a Louisiana pharmacist. On a family getaway, Smith hears of the death of his brother, a pilot, and is shattered to the point of questioning his faith in God. He is put to the test when, after the memorial services and as the Smiths are on their way home, the pilot of their private plane dies mid-air. Doug must pilot the plane to a safe landing and save his family from what seems like impending death, combating medical emergencies and a tropical depression….oh, and did I mention Smith has never flown for more than an hour before?
The cast of On a Wing and a Prayer dazzles. Dennis Quaid plays Doug Smith with conviction and honesty. In one of Quaid’s more serious performances (I don’t think he flashed his famous grin even once during the film), he takes on a paternal role that will have you spellbound. What I especially like about Quaid’s character is how unapologetically clueless he is at times; the film shows that even the “macho man” can be rendered helpless in an unfamiliar environment and stressful circumstances. But he never gives up. Heather Graham, who plays Smith’s wife, acts as the consummate copilot, remaining strong and supportive throughout the film.
I never saw Graham as an actress made for maternal roles, but there’s something uniquely warm about her portrayal in On a Wing and a Prayer. A good portion of the film is shot in the cockpit of a King Air plane, and the versatility of shots used is understandably limited. This leads to parts of the film not feeling as visually stimulating as they could: you’re staring at a medium closeup of Smith and his wife for forty minutes. In On a Wing and a Prayer, two kids enthusiastic about aviation track the progress of Smith’s flight, even biking to the runway to watch him land. This angle feels unnecessary in the film and leads to some confusion. On a Wing and a Prayer is certainly a dialogue-heavy film; the actors’ lines are what carry it. Still, the music could have been better utilized to accentuate the tension of the situation.
On a Wing and a Prayer promotes perseverance when times get tough. The film assures viewers, especially those who feel like all’s lost, that they have people in their corner who will support them at all costs, in the same way that the Florida air traffic control metaphorically held Doug’s hand throughout the whole harrowing experience. In terms of parental advisories, there are mentions of death, and Smith’s daughter suffers a violent allergic reaction onboard the plane. If you’re afraid of planes or of flying, this also might not be the best film for you.
I give On a Wing and a Prayer 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. On a Wing and a Prayer is available on Prime Video on April 7, 2023.
The journeys of the Mandalorian through the Star Wars galaxy continue. Once a lone bounty hunter, Din Djarin has reunited with Grogu. Meanwhile, the New Republic struggles to lead the galaxy away from its dark history. The Mandalorian will cross paths with old allies and make new enemies as he and Grogu continue their journey together.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “The Mandalorian is back for Season 3 and coming in hot! Episode 3 just dropped and it’s one huge plot-twist to what The Mandalorian fans have come to expect from the series. The creative team behind the show, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, are known to deliver huge surprises in past seasons and fans can expect the same mind-blowing shockers with this new season.” See her full review below.
By Tiana Sirmans, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
The Mandalorian is back for Season 3 and coming in hot! Episode 3 just dropped and it’s one huge plot-twist to what The Mandalorian fans have come to expect from the series. The creative team behind the show, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, are known to deliver huge surprises in past seasons and fans can expect the same mind-blowing shockers with this new season.
The Mandalorian: Season 3, Episode 3 (Chapter 19: The Convert) starts with Mando (Pedro Pascal), Grogu and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) at the end of their journey to locate water on Mandalor so Mando may be forgiven for his transgressions and become a Mandalorian again. Surprisingly, this episode takes a turn and focuses more on Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) as he works in the New Republic trying to adapt to the new lifestyle while he is constantly asked questions about his life experiences. His plans of a new experiment were practically going to be destroyed, which impacts him a lot. At the same time, he is also joined by one of his coworkers, Elia Kane (Katy O’Brian), who also appears in “Episode 3.”
I enjoyed the break in the series to learn more about Dr. Pershing. I look forward to seeing how this episode connects to the others and all the storytelling possibilities and characters that come from it. The special effects, character designs and the CGI universe continue to wow viewers. This episode is a little slower and less action-packed than the others since it focuses more on Dr. Pershing, but it is still entertaining. It still has intense fight and chase scenes. Fun fact: This is actually the longest episode in the entire series. The storytelling, though not what fans are used to, still takes you on a seamless journey from the previous episode.
This episode expands on the messages from the previous episodes and really touches on redemption and trust. Friendships are tested and true characters are revealed. Who people think are their friends may really not be in some cases and others are able to seek opportunities to redeem themselves and seek forgiveness.
TheMandalorian, Season 3: Episode 3 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. May the force be with you as you check out this eight-episode season currently running on Disney+, with new episodes every Wednesday.
Four years after solving their first murder mystery, Nick and Audrey Spitz (Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston) are now full-time detectives struggling to get their private eye agency off the ground when they’re invited to celebrate the wedding of their friend the Maharaja (Adeel Akhtar) on his private island. But trouble follows the Spitzes again when the groom is kidnapped for ransom soon after the festivities begin — making each glamorous guest, family member, and the bride herself a suspect. Murder Mystery 2 sends Nick and Audrey Spitz on a high-stakes case that finally gives them everything they’ve ever dreamed of: a shot at their detective agency finally becoming successful…and their long-awaited trip to Paris. The film is directed by Jeremy Garelick and also stars Mark Strong, Mélanie Laurent, Jodie Turner-Smith, Kuhoo Verma, with John Kani, and Dany Boon.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Calling all murder mystery lovers! Murder Mystery 2 is even more hilarious than the original and the plot twists will keep you guessing until the very end. I love how this movie has the perfect amount of suspense and comedy to keep me both interested and entertained.” See her full review below.
Murder Mystery 2 By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Calling all murder mystery lovers! Murder Mystery 2 is even more hilarious than the original and the plot twists will keep you guessing until the very end. I love how this movie has the perfect amount of suspense and comedy to keep me both interested and entertained.
The Spitzes have now – four years after their first mystery – created their own detective agency. However, they aren’t doing as well as they had hoped, so when their old friend (from the first movie) the Maharajah (Adeel Akhtar) invites them to his wedding, they take up his offer and use it as a much-needed break. However, Nick Spitz (Adam Sandler) and Audrey Spitz (Jennifer Aniston) seem to have bad luck on vacations, and this trip is no exception. The night before the wedding, Vik’s bodyguard gets killed and Vik gets kidnapped. So, the Spitzes must solve the mystery and get Vik back before he gets harmed!
Even though this is a sequel, it’s not necessary to watch the first movie. There are a couple characters from the old movie that reprise their role in this one, but it isn’t too important to know about their backstory to understand Murder Mystery 2. However, the first Murder Mystery is a very funny movie so I would recommend it anyway. And if you liked the first movie, you will love this one. I actually enjoyed this one more than the original because of its hysterical writing and engaging story. Although I enjoyed every single performance in this movie, the funniest performances come from Jennifer Aniston (Audrey), Adam Sandler (Nick), and Adeel Akhtar (Maharajah/Vik). The cleverness of the actors mixed with the crazy situations they find themselves in creates scenes that have so much humor. Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler have so much chemistry and throughout the movie, they seem like a genuinely married couple.
The messages of Murder Mystery 2 demonstrate the power of love and how going through difficult situations will only make it stronger and that it’s important to enjoy yourself along the way. The movie has mild profanity and violence and is rated PG-13.
Murder Mystery 3 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It comes out on Netflix on March 31, 2023.
A young girl dreams of a life riding horses but can’t because of a disability. When Bridget, the reigning equestrian champion is injured, the two girls come together to learn the importance of following your dreams and never giving up.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sydney S. comments, “I really enjoyed If I Could Ride’s message. The plot is very fascinating and compelling and is cleverly written. The characters are all teenagers that are going through struggles, physically and mentally.” Kyla C. adds, “If I Could Ride is an uplifting and engaging film that’s perfect for kids, teens, families and especially horse lovers. If I Could Ride emphasizes how anyone can form a life changing bond, even if they come from different backgrounds.” Anna Clara B. wraps it up with, “This is a very emotional story, well made. The storyline is well written and the girls’ personalities are well developed. They won my heart!…The film’s message is to never give up on your dreams; everything is possible; just try.” See their full reviews below.
If I Could Ride By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
I really enjoyed If I Could Ride’s message. The plot is very fascinating and compelling and is cleverly written. The characters are all teenagers that are going through struggles, physically and mentally.
The storyline follows a girl with a mobility disability who wishes she could ride horses. Another girl who is an outstanding rider gets hurt and the two girls start a friendship because they are both injured. It asks the question, “Who will step in to cover for the champion rider?”
There is more to this movie than a horse competition – the plot left me on the edge of my seat and the emotions of the girls are very relatable, especially for teenagers. The main characters are Jolie (Alexis Arnold), Bridget (Eva Igo) and Coach Jimmy (Tom Vera). Jodie has a back disability and Bridget is a champion rider, coached by Jimmy. They are all entwined in an intricate storyline that is well-planned and intriguing. The sets and locations stay true to the plot, as the action takes place mostly in the stable or the arena. My favorite part is when Jodie becomes strong enough to ride a horse. The look on her face is heartwarming and it’s rewarding to see her develop the strength and courage to ride. Sometimes, the lighting and the sound are a bit off and the camerawork is shaky at times, all of which are unsettling.
The film’s message is that friends and family are extremely important. They’ll always be there for you throughout hardships and we see that between Bridget and Jolie. It’s also about following your passions, especially when they make you happy. It promotes overcoming challenges and reminds us that we are capable of pursuing our dreams.
I give If I Could Ride 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. If I Could Ride comes out on VOD and DVD April 4, 2023.
If I Could Ride By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13
If I Could Ride is an uplifting and engaging film that’s perfect for kids, teens, families and especially horse lovers. If I Could Ride emphasizes how anyone can form a life changing bond, even if they come from different backgrounds.
If I Could Ride follows Bridget Van Heusen (Eva Igo) and Jodie Davis (Alexis Arnold), two girls from completely different worlds. Bridget is a rich, talented horse rider who is constantly pressured and berated to do her absolute best and uphold the Van Heusen legacy. Jodie is a poorer girl with a physical disability that prevents her from doing many things, including walking and riding a horse, her dream in life. Bridget must navigate her family issues and her own internal struggles; while Jodie must keep a positive attitude as she takes small steps towards her dream of riding a horse. An unexpected crossing of paths leads to an unlikely friendship that might last a lifetime.
The actors’ performances in If I Could Ride are what make this film so impactful emotionally. Eva Igo amazingly portrays every emotion that Bridget is feeling. Bridget’s life is very difficult, with doubts of whether her parents love her and constant pressure to do her absolute best every time she competes on horseback. Eva Igo shows her frustration and sadness building up throughout the entire film until it reaches its breaking point. The raw emotion truly makes the film’s message so much more effective. Similarly, Alexis Arnold’s performance as the optimistic, determined and unbelievably sweet Jodie is just as important for If I Could Ride’s theme. Alexis Arnold captures Jodie’s delicate personality in a way that gives the audience someone to root for. Both actresses show their characters’ development emotionally and physically throughout the entire film. Additionally, Tom Vera’s performance as Jimmy is vital for the plot. Tom Vera embraces Jimmy’s backstory and turns him into another treasured protagonist rather than just a backup character. Jimmy could just be Bridget’s trainer and the person who cares for the horses, but he instead connects his own background to his job and Bridget’s story. The landscapes in this film are beautiful — from wide open fields to forests crowded with towering trees to horse stables, every setting is simple yet magnificent.
The theme of If I Could Ride is that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. Jodie must overcome many obstacles if she wants to reach her final goal of riding a horse. If I Could Ride also shows how family life can really affect someone’s personality and feelings, as we see with Bridget and her situation. The film also focuses on forming bonds and taking steps towards good communication with people you love. There are some very sad and slightly scary moments, such as falling off of a horse and some scenes in hospitals.
I give If I Could Ride 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch If I Could Ride on DVD and VOD beginning April 4, 2023.
If I Could Ride By Anna Clara B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
If I could Ride is an emotional movie filled with amazing life lessons that I enjoyed.
The storyline follows two girls living in two different worlds – Jodie (Alexis Arnold) who dreams of a life riding horses but can’t because she has a physical disability and Bridgett (Eva Igo), the reigning equestrian champion. When Bridgett is injured, the two girls come together to learn the importance of following your dream and not giving up.
This is a very emotional story, well made. The storyline is well written and the girls’ personalities are well developed. They won my heart! Jodie’s live is difficult and, with the passing of her father, her hard-working mother works even harder. Bridgett lives at a beautiful farm, rides well, and is very competitive. She is unappreciative of what she has and is mean and belittling to everyone. These two girls’ paths cross and the story follows the success of one and the failure of the other. My favorite part is when Jodie’s mother motivates her when she’s sad. I enjoyed the soundtrack for the film, especially the voice of (name the singer here).
The film’s message is to never give up on your dreams; everything is possible; just try.
I give If I could Ride 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases on VOD and DVD April 4, 2023.
A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves brings the rich world and playful spirit of the legendary roleplaying game to the big screen in a hilarious and action-packed adventure.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mikella G. comments, “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a comedy-filled, action-packed film. Its intense build up thickens the plot as it goes on, and helps to develop an interesting, heartwarming storyline.” See her full review below.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 16
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a comedy-filled, action-packed film. Its intense build up thickens the plot as it goes on, and helps to develop an interesting, heartwarming storyline.
The film takes place in the Forgotten Realms and follows Edgin (Chris Pine), who is on an epic journey to find a long lost relic that supposedly will bring his wife and mother of his daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman) back to life. Unfortunately, while he’s gone, his long trusted friend Forge (Hugh Grant) betrays him, and Kira starts to become collateral damage. This quest completely takes over Edgin’s life, but he must stay determined in order to achieve his long term goals.
A huge standout in this film is the cinematography. Every camera angle is so strategic and well thought out, which makes everything feel so real. For instance, the scenes in the large arena feel so big and alive. The costuming is also great; every outfit is executed extremely well. Holga’s (Michelle Rodriguez) outfit really grabs my eye; every piece and every accessory is so cohesive and make her appearance really eye-catching. Lastly, it’s really refreshing how the two lead characters, Edgin and Kira have a platonic relationship. Kira is Edgin’s best friend who helped him after he lost his wife. Their dynamic is so strong and really moves the plot forward. It really contributes to women’s empowerment by showing Kira’s character as powerful and helping Edgin, rather than the other way around. She is powerful and shows that she’s capable of taking initiative.
The film’s message is to not lose sight of all the good things that are happening in the present, because you’re too focused on the future. Be aware that this film does include violence and many fight scenes.
I give Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters March 31, 2023.
Bestowed with the powers of the gods, Billy Batson and his fellow foster kids are still learning how to juggle teenage life with their adult superhero alter egos. When a vengeful trio of ancient gods arrives on Earth in search of the magic stolen from them long ago, Shazam and his allies get thrust into a battle for their superpowers, their lives, and the fate of the world.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “I laughed, cried, and literally felt every emotion watching this film. It is entertaining from beginning to end. The plot twists and special guest appearances are mind-blowing as well.” Avani M. adds, “… Zachary Levi makes this movie amazing! He is so funny as Shazam! because he portrays a teenager’s personality so well. He also shows that a superhero can have insecurities too. Helen Mirren is great as Hespera because she plays a very menacing villain…” Katherine S. adds, “This is a mediocre movie that I wasn’t particularly drawn in to. I feel as though it lost sight of the values and characteristics of the first movie. Although it does explore more about the origins of Shazam, the story and character development didn’t engage me as much as I hoped it would.” Zoe C. wraps it up with, “The most heartwarming superhero is back in a bigger and better second installment: Shazam! Fury of the Gods really delivers the goods… and the gods! This film is unique among the DC universe because how it gracefully combines humor with action; is completely relatable and absolutely family oriented entertainment all at once.” See their full reviews and interviews below.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods By Zoë C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 14
The most heartwarming superhero is back in a bigger and better second installment: Shazam! Fury of the Gods really delivers the goods… and the gods! This film is unique among the DC universe because how it gracefully combines humor with action; is completely relatable and absolutely family oriented entertainment all at once.
The “Shazamily” is back! This film takes off where the first one ended. Billy Batson (Asher Angel) has bestowed powers to his foster brothers and now, as a team, they will fight crime together. However, a great menace comes from the daughters of Atlas, a trio of sisters from the Greek mythology who are battling to take back the God-given powers activated by the word Shazam!
With a great storyline, fueled with lots of humor, themes relatable to teenagers, visually stunning action sequences, lots of heart, a dragon and even unicorns, Shazam! Fury of the Gods is a great option for movie goers like me and evokes the nostalgia of the great family / adventure / fantasy films of the 80s and 90s like Goonies, Jumanji, Flash Gordon and Superman. The special effects really work and I believed in all those creatures that this group of super heroes confronts. In this sequel, the storyline is a bit darker and actor Djiimon Hounsou reprises his role of Shazam with more screen time and funny lines. Acting wise, the Shazamily expands with the presence of Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and Anthea (Rachel Ziegler) playing the Daughters of Atlas. Mirren brings a lot of gravitas while Liu is always fun to watch and Zegler successfully misleads the audience in her role. Directing Shazam! Fury of the Gods is David F. Sandberg, who also directed the first film and proves to understand and give life eloquently to this franchise. Zachary Levi is the perfect Shazam; not only he is a great genuine comedian, but also, embodies the hero with contagious enthusiasm. Jack Dylan Grazer really shines in this film as Freddy Freeman, a bigger role and one where he connects so well with the audience.
This film brings to attention the marvelous mission of foster families and the role they play in society. Among the messages of this film are: keep the kid inside of you while you grow up; teamwork is important; the notion of “family” is the one you make and not necessarily the one you were born with.
I give Shazam! Fury of the Gods 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Shazam! Fury of the Gods opens in theaters March 17, 2023.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Enjoy Shazam! Just like that, our favorite foster family of heroes is back in Shazam! Fury of the Gods. I laughed, cried, and literally felt every emotion watching this film. It is entertaining from beginning to end. While people tend to be suspicious of sequels, this is well done and is sure to surpass the original. The plot twists and special guest appearances are mind-blowing as well.
Taking place in Philadelphia, Shazam! Fury of the Gods continues the story of Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who turns into his adult superhero alter ego, Shazam (Zachary Levi), when he yells “SHAZAM!” In this sequel, he is pursued by the Daughters of Atlas, who come to Earth to avenge their father’s death and retrieve the magical powers that the wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) took from their father, Atlas. Joined by his family of fellow superheroes, Billy must defeat the three ancient goddesses in order to save the planet.
Billy Batson/Shazam is the protagonist, but his extended family consisting of Mary (Grace Caroline Murray), “Captain Every Power” Freddie (Jack Dylan Grazer/Adam Brody), Darla (Faithe Herman/Meagan Good), Eugene (Ian Chen/Ross Butler) and Pedro (Jovan Armand/D.J. Cotrona) are just as important to this film. I find it interesting how all the characters aged up and are played by someone else in their hero form except for Mary, who is played by the same person for both the regular and superhero versions of her character. One of my favorite parts is when the heroes write a negotiation letter to the Atlas Sisters and they think Steve, the magical pen, has edited everything they said for him to write. When the sisters receive the letter, it includes all the side conversations, word for word, which makes a hilarious scene. The costumes are Halloween-worthy! And, of course, you can’t forget about the sand people, lightning and other captivating special effects.
Family is the constant theme throughout Shazam: Fury of the Gods. Billy constantly reminds his family – “All or None” – when it’s time to battle. Together they can take on the world, but when the family is broken it just causes unnecessary drama, and no one wins. Even with the Atlas sisters, while they are powerful, they struggle with sticking together and it causes sibling rivalries amongst them. Parents should be aware of severe foul language, violent scenes, death and some scenes that can be triggering, such as suicide.
I give Shazam! Fury of the Gods 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters March 17, 2023. Remember to stay for the end credit scenes.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
The hilarious Shazam-fam kids-turned-superheroes are back after four years of waiting! Shazam! Fury of the Gods is an entertaining and exciting sequel to the original Shazam! I like how the movie incorporates Greek mythology into the plot and explains the backstory of the powers and name of Shazam in this movie.
A few years after the first movie, we find Billy Batson (Asher Angel), aka Shazam (Zachary Levi) and his siblings still trying to balance being superheroes and teenagers. When the three angry daughters of Atlas come to seek revenge on humans, the fate of Philadelphia and the world is in their hands.
I recommend watching the first movie in this series before watching Shazam! Fury of the Gods, because it may be confusing otherwise. If you are fan of the first film, you will probably enjoy this one, but it doesn’t live up to the original. This is a mediocre movie that I wasn’t particularly drawn in to. I feel as though it lost sight of the values and characteristics of the first movie. Although it does explore more about the origins of Shazam, the story and character development didn’t engage me as much as I hoped it would. I do like how it relies less on topics, characters and plot points from other DCEU (DC Extended Universe) movies and I do love the humor. The clever writing and comedic timing helps lighten up some of the heavy scenes and makes this movie a Shazam! movie. My favorite performances are from Zachary Levi, as Shazam and Jack Dylan Grazer, as Freddy. Zachary Levi as the alter ego of Billie Batson perfectly captures the essence of an immature, irresponsible and bad-decision-making teenager trapped in a superhero’s body. Jack Dylan Grazer has the best execution of his role out of all the kids. He’s genuine, sweet and witty. The chemistry between Zachary and Jack is as strong as Shazam himself, which made me enjoy the comedic relief we get from both of them even more.
The message of Shazam! Fury of the Gods is that you can find your own family. Do take note that the film has plenty of profanity and superhero violence.
I give Shazam! Fury of the Gods 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters March 17, 2023.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods By Avani M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10
I enjoyed Shazam! Fury of the Gods a lot, because of its interesting and exciting story line and because of the soundtrack which makes the movie intense. Also, it is quite amusing and entertaining.
The story is set in Philadelphia around a family of six misfit foster children and teenagers. These foster kids are actually superheroes, led by Shazam! (Zachary Levi) to save the city. The villains are the Daughters of Atlas, Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalyplso (Lucy Liu). Hespera wants her “god powers” back and wants everything to be just again, but Kalypso wants much more. The villains first try to take the powers from the superheroes, so Shazam! leads them to a secret lair to strategize on how to defeat the sisters.
This film is so fun and exciting and Zachary Levi makes this movie amazing! He is so funny as Shazam! because he portrays a teenager’s personality so well. He also shows that a superhero can have insecurities too. Helen Mirren is great as Hespera because she plays a very menacing villain; even Shazam! says so. Finally, the young actors all give great performances, especially when they act as if they are regular teens when they are not in superhero mode. The theme of this film is to believe in yourself. There is a time when Shazam! says that he won’t be able to defeat the villains and wants to give his powers back to the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou). However, the superhero ultimately prevails. We learn that even “everyday normal people,” with no apparent talents, have powers. They just have to find their power within themselves, because everyone should be given a chance to prove themselves. I really like the special effects, especially the different realms, dragons and monsters. Hats off to Director David F. Sandberg. The dragon’s CGI is especially nice because it looks very frightening. The last thing that I really like are the fight scenes — they look so realistic.
The messages of this film are about believing in yourself and the importance of teamwork. The villains are too strong for anyone alone, so it’s essential for the superheroes to work together. Plus, the gods are arrogant, and teamwork always beats arrogance. You should know that there is some profanity and some scary monsters.
I give Shazam! Fury of the Gods 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters March 17, 2023. Remember to stay for the credits because there are two extra scenes.
The Magician’s Elephant follows young Peter, who is searching for his long-lost sister, and crosses paths with a fortune teller in the market square. There is only one question on his mind: is his sister still alive? The answer — that he must follow a mysterious elephant — sets Peter off on a remarkable journey to complete three seemingly impossible tasks that magically change the face of his town forever. The Magician’s Elephant is based on Newbery Award-winning author Kate DiCamillo’s classic novel.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avalon N. comments, “The Magician’s Elephant is a magnificent movie that totally transports you to the world of the story. It is one of my favorite animated movies that I’ve ever seen. The message of this film is to never give up hope because you never know what may come along to change your situation.” Keila V. adds, “I absolutely recommend watching this astounding film! The Magician’s Elephant is so well-done that it made me and my whole family get very emotional. The animation of this film is wondrous; the visual effects are glorious, beautiful and realistic.” See their full reviews and interviews below.
The Magician’s Elephant By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
The Magician’s Elephant is a magnificent movie that totally transports you to the world of the story. It is one of my favorite animated movies that I’ve ever seen.
This movie is about a young boy named Peter (Noah Jupe). He lives with a retired veteran of war who saved him in battle. The veteran, unfortunately, had to leave Peter’s sister, and she was blown up in an explosion. However, things take a turn when Peter sees a fortune teller who tells him his sister is still alive and to find her he must follow a magician’s elephant. When Peter tries to take the elephant, the king challenges him with three impossible tasks, and then after he performs those tasks — and only then — he will get the elephant.
The Magician’s Elephant has many notable characteristics, one of which is the animation style. Overall, the animation is flawless and very realistic. However, the clouds are one thing that doesn’t look quite as realistic, even though there is a real cloud formation called Mammatus Storm Clouds. There are also many cool locations, like narrow, twisting streets, and interesting characters throughout the film. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when the veteran has Peter march around his house saying, “Fish is small. Bread is stale. Life is not a fairy tale.” It is a very comedic moment. Another part that is very impressive is how they bring the story full circle, starting and ending with the fortune teller. Her main role is to tie together the whole story, which could make her the most important character of all.
The message of this film is to never give up hope because you never know what may come along to change your situation.
I give The Magician’s Elephant 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. It is available in select theaters on March 10, 2023 and on Netflix on March 17, 2023.
The Magician’s Elephant By Keila V., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 11
The Magician’s Elephant is an exceptional film that also provides a very important, valuable life lesson and it is a perfect movie to watch with family or close friends.
The story follows an orphan boy named Peter (Noah Jupe) who loses his sister at a very young age. Peter has always wanted to meet again with his sister but she has been lost since a newborn. Both of his parents passed away in a war and, ever since then, a strict and old soldier has taken care of Peter. On one special day Peter goes to the market to buy a small fish and stale bread, as that is what Peter and the soldier have for dinner every night, but instead of Peter buying dinner Peter spends his money on a fortune teller to answer his lifelong question. He asks, “Where can I find my sister?” and the fortune teller’s response is “Follow the Elephant…”
I absolutely recommend watching this astounding film! The Magician’s Elephant is so well-done that it made me and my whole family get very emotional. The animation of this film is wondrous; the visual effects are glorious, beautiful and realistic. The special effects are extraordinary — I love how all the colors and scenes match the storyline so incredibly well. My favorite scene is when the magician (Benedict Wong) brings the elephant back to the animal’s habitat and we realize that Peter is also helping another family get back together. This shows that Peter is not selfish at all. Peter is a kind-hearted soul who deserves to be reunited with his sister. He wants to find his sister so badly and so he obeys whatever the fortune teller tells him to do like, follow the Elephant, which he does. To get to the elephant Peter has to complete three impossible tasks given to him by the King. If Peter completes the three tasks he will earn the right to have the elephant and that will lead him to his dream. You will have to watch to see if Peter’s dream comes true!
The film’s message is to always care and love your family because, if you don’t have them, then who do you have to love? Another message is to always have hope for whatever you do or believe.
I give The Magician’s Elephant 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. It is available in theaters now and releases on Netflix March 17, 2023.
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