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Movie Review: Strange World * Highlights The Dynamics Of A Modern Family; Filled With Diverse Characters And Strong Messages

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Movie Review: Strange World * Highlights The Dynamics Of A Modern Family; Filled With Diverse Characters And Strong Messages

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ original action-packed adventure Strange World introduces a legendary family of explorers, the Clades, as they attempt to navigate an uncharted, treacherous land alongside a motley crew that includes a mischievous blob, a three-legged dog and a slew of ravenous creatures. The voice cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal as Searcher Clade, a family man who finds himself out of his element on an unpredictable mission; Dennis Quaid as Searcher’s larger-than-life explorer father, Jaeger; Jaboukie Young-White as Searcher’s 16-year-old son, Ethan, who longs for adventure; Gabrielle Union as Meridian Clade, an accomplished pilot and Searcher’s partner in all things; and Lucy Liu as Callisto Mal, Avalonia’s fearless leader who spearheads the exploration into the strange world.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S., comments, “Strange World certainly is strange! This sci-fi adventure is full of surprises, highlights the dynamics of a modern family, and is filled with diverse characters and strong messages.” See her full review below.

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

Strange World certainly is strange! This sci-fi adventure is full of surprises, highlights the dynamics of a modern family, and is filled with diverse characters and strong messages.

Strange World follows the Clades – Jaeger and Searcher – legendary explorers of the city of Avalonia who could tackle any challenge and adventure. However, when Jaeger goes on a mission and doesn’t return, Searcher stops exploring the outside world and finds an energy source called ”pando” that greatly affects Avalonia. But when pando suddenly starts dying, Searcher must go on an important mission to fix the problem and explore the untraveled and “strange” lands.

“Strange World” releases November 23, 2022. © 2022 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

My favorite part about this movie is the production quality. The world building of the “strange world” is so detailed – it’s phenomenal. The new and weird creatures that they discover look like they could be straight out of Dr. Seuss or Avatar, and they fit right in. All of the places they discover are so exotic. This movie also intentionally focuses on representing a diverse and inclusive set of characters and shows us what the world is actually like. My favorite voice performances are by Jake Gyllenhaal (Searcher), Gabrielle Union (Meridian) and Dennis Quaid (Jaeger). Jake Gyllenhaal is perfectly cast as Searcher, the protective and caring dad and husband. Gabrielle Union portrays her character, Meridian, as a wise and admirable role model. Dennis Quaid’s voice really fits the big and booming Jaeger Clade. The first half of the storyline is strong. However, closer to the end, there is a big plot twist that younger kids may find confusing as it is a bit complex.

The message of the movie is to remind parents not to put too many job and profession expectations on their kids and allow them to make their own choices. It also has environmental messages about respecting and caring for the Earth and its resources.

I give Strange World 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. This movie releases in theaters on November 23, 2022.

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Movie Review: The Fabelmans * Touching And Mesmerizing Film Recounting The Origins Of Director Steven Spielberg

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Movie Review: The Fabelmans * Touching And Mesmerizing Film Recounting The Origins Of Director Steven Spielberg

The Fabelmans is a 2022 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and written and produced by Tony Kushner and Spielberg. It is a semi-autobiographical story loosely based on Spielberg’s adolescence and first years as a director, told through an original story of the fictional Sammy Fabelman, a young aspiring filmmaker who explores how the power of films can help him see the truth about his dysfunctional family and those around him. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy, with Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and Judd Hirsch in supporting roles. It is dedicated to the memories of Spielberg’s real-life parents Arnold Spielberg and Leah Adler.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “The Fabelmans is a touching and mesmerizing film that celebrates the acclaimed director Steven Spielberg while recounting his origins as a filmmaker. The film is absolutely emotional; it’s mainly about family and deals with the vicissitudes of family interaction while paying homage to cinema.” See her full review below.

The Fabelmans By Zoë C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The Fabelmans is a touching and mesmerizing film that celebrates the acclaimed director Steven Spielberg while recounting his origins as a filmmaker. The film is absolutely emotional; it’s mainly about family and deals with the vicissitudes of family interaction while paying homage to cinema.

As a kid, Sam Fabelman learns an important lesson from his father, one of the basic principles of filmmaking: retinal persistence. Like magic, films are a simple succession of still images which gives the illusion of movement. When Sammy attends his first movie projection the event turns into a life changing experience. The story follows his life while he discovers his passion for movie making supported by his family: his dad Burt (Paul Dano), his mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams), his 3 sisters, and his uncle Ben (Seth Rogen). His father is an electrical engineer, his mother a concept piano player and the fusion of technicality with art certainly shaped his craft. The family’s dynamic was beautiful yet cloudy at times; a source material turned in melodrama, perfect for great storytelling.

I love the humanity that The Fabelmans displays. And I loved the way the film showed and captured Sam’s life overall, in the sense that it didn’t just feel like you were watching a story. As the audience I could really understand and feel the emotions Sam was feeling. The core of the storyline are the characters and the relationships between them. Despite the Fabelmans are not a perfect family, they stand out in their unity and the bond between them. The relationship between Sam and his mom, masterfully performed by Michelle Williams, is mesmerizing to watch. There’s complicity that it is put to the test, generating wonderful conflict. Williams scenes are like study material for an actor. But every cast member is great at its craft in this film. The camera moves fluidly from the family dinners, to the action scenes contained in Sam’s early films through the corners of the houses where the family moved and the places that hide the deepest family secrets. Janusz Kaminski’s photography resembles the era and has the perfect warmth, and the score of John Williams stays in our hearts. The Fabelmans deserves a nomination on each major category in the upcoming Academy Awards: Best Film, Best Original Script, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Score and Williams and Dana most probably will nod Best Actress and Best supporting actor respectively.

My favorite scenes are Sam experimenting and reproducing the train crash he watched in his first movie experience and Mitzi watching herself in his son family movie. My favorite quote: “Guilt is a waste of an emotion” which I consider profoundly meaningful of what this movie is telling its audience. The message of the film is to be able to find balance in adversity. Families are not perfect, but true bond should prevail.

The Fabelmans is PG 13 due to mature thematic elements and brief violence and drug use.

I give The Fabelmans 5 out of 5 starts and recommended for audiences 12 to 18 and adults. The Fabelmans opens in theaters November 23, 2022.

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Review: Limitless With Chris Hemsworth * Entertaining And Educational As Hemsworth Tests The Limits Of The Human Body And Finds What May Lead To A Longer Life

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Review: Limitless With Chris Hemsworth * Entertaining And Educational As Hemsworth Tests The Limits Of The Human Body And Finds What May Lead To A Longer Life

A different way we can live better for longer: regenerating damage, maximizing strength, building resilience, shocking the body, supercharging memory and confronting mortality.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “This six episode docu-series is entertaining to watch, and, at times, educational – in a very fun way. Limitless With Chris Hemsworth tests the limits of the human body and finds what may lead to a longer life.” See her full review below.

Limitless With Chris Hemsworth By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

This six episode docu-series is entertaining to watch, and, at times, educational – in a very fun way. Limitless With Chris Hemsworth tests the limits of the human body and finds what may lead to a longer life.

Limitless With Chris Hemsworth follows — you guessed it — Chris Hemsworth, occasionally with his friends and family, on a six-episode journey to find ways to boost longevity and quality of life.

It’s fascinating to see some unexpected ways we could achieve longevity and a better life. Of course, not all of these actions can and/or should be imitated by the average person, but there are ways that you can modify what’s in the episodes and apply it to your own life. Examples include fasting for one day a month or turning the shower on cold for the last 30 seconds or spending time in a sauna – these practices can help lead to a longer life. Some of the episodes include Stress-Proof, Memory, and Strength. My favorite episode is Acceptance, where Chris gets to experience firsthand what it’s like to be old and how to accept that. I really found it interesting to watch Chris Hemsworth outside of the MCU and be just himself. It adds something more personal and makes the audience feel connected to him in a new way.

The message of Limitless With Chris Hemsworth is to accept aging because it’s a part of life, and yet there are ways to make life healthier and longer lasting. There are some very risky things done in this show that should not be done without expert supervision.

I give Limitless With Chris Hemsworth 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This series comes out on Disney+ November 16, 2022.

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Movie Review: Blue’s Big City Adventures * Big Dreams, Superb Dance Numbers, Multi-Talented Guests Appearances & More

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Movie Review: Blue’s Big City Adventures * Big Dreams, Superb Dance Numbers, Multi-Talented Guests Appearances & More

Blue’s Big City Adventure follows Josh (Josh Dela Cruz), who gets the opportunity of a lifetime to audition for Rainbow Puppy’s (Brianna Bryan) Broadway musical, and Blue (Traci Paige Johnson) as they skidoo to New York City where they meet new friends and discover the magic of music, dance and following one’s dreams. The entire “Blue’s Clues” crew is reunited for this special movie event, with the beloved animated friends and all three hosts–Josh, Steve (Steve Burns) and Joe (Donovan Patton)–together for the first time in the Big Apple.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S., comments, “The Blue’s Clues & You cast takes a bite out of the “Big Apple” to follow their dreams in their new hit movie musical, Blue’s Big City Adventures! This film has something for the entire family — from big dreams, superb dance numbers, multi-talented guests appearances — all while still managing to fit in Blue’s clues to help along the way.” See her full review and interviews by her, Mars and Jet on and off the Blue Carpet!

Blue’s Big City Adventures By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The Blue’s Clues & You cast takes a bite out of the “Big Apple” to follow their dreams in their new hit movie musical, Blue’s Big City Adventures! This film has something for the entire family — from big dreams, superb dance numbers, multi-talented guests appearances — all while still managing to fit in Blue’s clues to help along the way. While watching this magical film, you feel the joy and entertainment you always get from the Blue’s Clues franchise!

Blue’s Big City Adventures follows Blue’s Clues & You host, Josh, (Joshua Dela Cruz), as he heads to New York for a dream audition for Rainbow Puppy, (Brianna Bryan), who is following her own dream of creating her first Broadway musical. As Josh and Blue (Traci Paige Johnson) start on the adventure of a lifetime to the big city, Josh realizes he left his handy-dandy notebook with the audition information and now has to uncover clues to help him get to the audition before three o’clock.

I love how well this film highlights all the incredible things that make New York, New York. From the busyness, its famous pretzels, Times Square jumbotrons, street performances, taxis and even, being known as the place where dreams are made true. This film is the perfect tour guide to New York. There are sensational cameos such as B.D. Wong, who helps Rainbow Puppy cast for her musical. The camera angles and the music are special features and contribute to keeping the storyline interesting and flowing, especially for younger viewers. Fun Fact: Joshua Dela Cruz’s real-life story is very similar to his character Josh’s in this film, in that he moved from Dubai to America to fulfill his dreams of being on Broadway the way Josh travels from Storybook World to New York to be on Broadway.

Of course, keeping with the Blue’s Clues’ theme of teaching life’s lessons, Blue’s Clues Big City Adventures, is packed with different messages. The biggest takeaway is how you should never give up on your dreams, otherwise, how will you know if you can make them a reality? Josh faces different obstacles while trying to pursue his “big break,” including being nervous and losing his handy-dandy notebook, but he stays focus on his goal and ready to show what he can do.

I give Blue’s Big City Adventures 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults who will love it too. This is truly the perfect movie for a family. Blue’s Big City Adventures is available on Paramount+ beginning November 18, 2022.

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Review: Circuit Breakers * So Many Messages And So Many Distinctive Stories That Showcase Incredible Technology

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Review: Circuit Breakers * So Many Messages And So Many Distinctive Stories That Showcase Incredible Technology

Follow the futuristic anthology as it tackles children’s issues through a sci-fi lens. But not everything is what it seems, and their curiosity leads to chaos.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avalon N. comments, “Circuit Breakers is a show that I would watch over and over again. It has so many messages throughout the series and so many distinctive stories that showcase incredible technology that was created specifically for this show.” See her full review below.

Circuit Breakers By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Circuit Breakers is a show that I would watch over and over again. It has so many messages throughout the series and so many distinctive stories that showcase incredible technology that was created specifically for this show.

This show has seven episodes in the first season, each with different characters, unique technology and new messages. One of the storylines is about a dancer trying to get onto a dance team; another features a kid who is willing to do anything to get onto the track team. Most episodes revolve around a person trying to achieve a goal and using new, innovative technology to do so.

Circuit Breakers makes very fine use of advanced technology, implementing computers and robotics that I have never seen before. One of these features a mirror that tells you if you’re doing your dance moves correctly and gives an overall percentage; it also uses a memory machine that takes you back to previous memories using a photo from a phone. The way this machinery is portrayed is very impressive as well. It looks like something that people may use right now, even if they don’t. Another thing I found very extraordinary is the inclusion of many diverse characters, with each episode featuring a new set of characters. This gives a new light to each episode and lets a large variety of actors get a chance for a bigger role in the series. Finally, the cinematography is exceptional quality; each scene is clearly focused and uses so many angles for us to observe the action.

There is a different message in every episode; some of them are: never cheat your way to victory and be happy with what you have.

I give Circuit Breakers 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases on Apple TV+ November 11, 2022.

Movie Review: A Christmas Story Christmas * The Long-Awaited Sequel To A Christmas Story Is Full Of New And Old Faces And Plenty Of Hilarious Scenes

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Movie Review: A Christmas Story Christmas * The Long-Awaited Sequel To A Christmas Story Is Full Of New And Old Faces And Plenty Of Hilarious Scenes

A Christmas Story Christmas follows the now-adult Ralphie as he returns to the house on Cleveland Street to give his kids a magical Christmas like the one he had as a child, reconnecting with childhood friends, and reconciling the passing of his Old Man. Peter Billingsley returns to the role that has made kids of all ages anticipate Christmas morning like no other.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “A Christmas Story Christmas is the highly anticipated and long-awaited follow-up to the classic Christmas movie, A Christmas Story. It’s full of new and old faces and, of course, plenty of hilarious scenes. This movie certainly gets you ready for the holiday season.” Allison B. adds, “A Christmas Story is a must-watch and part of many families’ holiday traditions. Holiday memes, ads, cards and messages are riddled with the film’s iconic quotes and scenes (remember the LEG LAMP?). For diehard fans of this Christmas classic comes the long awaited sequel, full of the adventure and comedy like what made the first movie so memorable.” See their full reviews and interviews below.

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

A Christmas Story Christmas is the highly anticipated and long-awaited follow-up to the classic Christmas movie, A Christmas Story. It’s full of new and old faces and, of course, plenty of hilarious scenes. This movie certainly gets you ready for the holiday season.

Peter Billingsley returns as Ralphie in A Christmas Story Christmas. He’s back and all grown up, and tries to give his kids a magical Christmas, just like the ones he had when he was younger. But with an unexpected loss, he must do it by himself. Can he live up to his dad’s standards and give his kids the perfect Christmas?

As the title suggests, this movie is the sequel to A Christmas Story, nearly 40 years in the making! It isn’t necessary to watch the original movie to make sense of this one; however, there are references to the original movie that may be a bit confusing for those who haven’t viewed it. Also, A Christmas Story is one of my favorite Christmas movies and is a joy to watch, so I do recommend it before watching this one if possible. One of my favorite parts of this movie is the fact that most of the original cast members play their same characters. Flick (Scott Schwartz), Schwartz (R.D. Robb), Randy (Ian Petrella), and even Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) all make an appearance. It is surreal (in a good way) to see what these former childhood actors now look like all grown up. I’ve never searched for their current appearances, so they are all a pleasant surprise. I also love how the sequel stays true to the original movie with all the sets, transitions and personalities of the characters. The narration is even similar to the first movie. Peter Billingsley, on top of just acting in this movie, also co-wrote and produced it. Kudos to him for all the work he did to bring us this movie. Speaking of some of the actors, my favorite performances are from Peter Billingsley (Ralphie), Julie Hagerty (Ralphie’s mom) and Erinn Hayes (Sandy). Peter Billingsley keeps all his mannerisms and quirks from Ralphie even in his adult years, which makes this movie feel familiar and comedic. Julie Hagerty replaces Melinda Dillon as Ralphie’s mom, and she fills her shoes so well. Erinn Hayes plays the newly introduced character Sandy and fits right in. She makes me feel as if she has been there forever because of the amusing interactions she has with other characters. The actors have so much chemistry, no doubt due to the fact that most of them have known each other for so long.

The primary message of A Christmas Story Christmas is that sometimes, it’s the thought (and effort) that counts. This movie also deals with the loss of loved ones. There is some mild profanity and consumption of alcohol.

I give A Christmas Story Christmas 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Fans of original movie will enjoy this movie as well as those who are unfamiliar with the original. It comes on HBO Max November 17, 2022.

A Christmas Story Christmas By Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

A Christmas Story is a must-watch and part of many families’ holiday traditions. Holiday memes, ads, cards and messages are riddled with the film’s iconic quotes and scenes (remember the LEG LAMP?). For diehard fans of this Christmas classic comes the long awaited sequel, full of the adventure and comedy like what made the first movie so memorable. Can Ralphie Parker honor his dad, create holiday magic and achieve his dream of becoming a writer – all before Christmas day? A Christmas Story Christmas is a hilarious and touching continuation of the life of the character we know and love which will pull at your heartstrings this festive season.

A Christmas Story Christmas follows a grown-up Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) as he tries to navigate the adult struggles of Christmas after his father passes. Ralphie and his family – his wife (Erinn Hayes), daughter (Julianna Layne) and son (River Drosche) head to Indiana from Chicago to console Ralphie’s mother (Julie Hagerty) and spread some holiday cheer. What Ralphie doesn’t know is that filling his late father’s shoes is no small task. Frantically shopping for presents and buying the biggest tree imaginable, Ralphie tries to create the best Christmas for his family, all while trying to meet his Christmas writing deadline. Yuletide joy and Christmas spirit are ever present throughout this exciting film.

The true magic in this movie is in how sentimental and relatable it is for families who have lost a loved one, but still have the audience cackling with laughter. I don’t think I have ever heard so many giggles in one theater. Layne, as Ralphie’s young daughter, contributes many funny moments, displaying expert comedic timing, being sarcastic, adorable and relevant all at once – a huge feat for such a young actress. Another hilarious element of this film is the relationship between Ralphie’s mother and his wife. These two actresses perfectly capture the beauty and awkwardness of in-laws. Their petty remarks had the audience rolling on the floor laughing. A Christmas Story Christmas is definitely a feel-good classic in the making.

The key message of this film is that when people show up for each other, there can be magic. Ralphie is only one hero of this story. Each Parker family member comes through in times of need, and that is what makes their Christmas so memorable and full of light. Without the support of family, such happiness and prosperity is far less likely.

I give A Christmas Story Christmas 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 18 to 18, plus adults. You can see A Christmas Story Christmas on HBO Max beginning November 17, 2022.

Movie Review: Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams * Inspiring And Innovative, Exploring A Creative World That Shaped Our Lives

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Movie Review: Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams * Inspiring And Innovative, Exploring A Creative World That Shaped Our Lives

Salvatore: Shoemaker Of Dreams is a portrait of a man whose vision, passion, and craftsmanship made him “shoemaker to the stars,” an architect of Hollywood magic, and an enduring cultural, fashion, and artistic influence.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mikella G. comments, “Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams is a striking documentary that’s inspiring and innovative. It welcomes you into a creative world that shaped multiple aspects of life today.” See her full review below.

Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 16

Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams is a striking documentary that’s inspiring and innovative. It welcomes you into a creative world that shaped multiple aspects of life today.

Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams follows the life of Salvatore Ferragamo, the incredible shoemaker with insane intellectual talent. By the age of 16 he was off to America where his career exploded as he built a huge reputation in the film business. Although he provided shoes for some of the biggest icons in history, life wasn’t always the easiest for him. However, Salvatore Ferragamo remains one of the most loving, caring and well-known shoemakers to this day.

I really enjoy the storyline of this film; it’s not only extremely inspiring, but educational as well. It shows viewers how you can do anything that you put your mind to. I also appreciate the fact that it includes interviews with people who know Ferragamo and understand his culture. It really emphasizes the importance of his childhood and how that shaped him. Additionally, the structure of the film is really helpful. Using actual video clips from Ferragamo’s life, plus close friends and family members that explain his history is a really nice feature. This allows us to view Ferragamo on a more personal level. Plus, the quality of the more dated clips still have great sound and picture quality, which gives it a modern feeling, while remaining authentic to the time period. I also enjoyed the soundtrack and background music. The music is subtle and really makes a difference. In most of the montages, there is light piano playing in the background which elevates the film and really sets the mood/tone.

The message of Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams is to always follow your heart, passions and dreams.

I give Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams in select theaters November 18, 2022.

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Movie Review: The Santa Clauses * The Perfect Show To Welcome Christmas And The Winter Season, Proving That Family Matters Most

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Movie Review: The Santa Clauses * The Perfect Show To Welcome Christmas And The Winter Season, Proving That Family Matters Most

Scott Calvin is back! After being Santa Claus for nearly thirty years, he’s as jolly as ever. But as Christmas declines in popularity, so does his Santa magic. Scott struggles to keep up with the demands of the job, as well as being there for his family. Upon discovering there is a way to retire from his post, Scott considers stepping down as Santa Claus and finding a worthy successor so that he can become a better father and husband.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ari P. comments, “This is the perfect show to say hello to Christmas and the winter season. It proves that perseverance is everything and family matters most. This is a great way to bring up past Christmas classics, The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3.” Keila V. adds, “This series has a modern spin to classic songs, vivid colors, great humor and realistic special effects, which all combine to bring a classic holiday story to life in a refreshing new way.” See their full reviews below

The Santa Clauses By Ari P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Hang up the stockings; get out the cookies and milk, and say ho-ho-ho to The Santa Clauses! This is the perfect show to say hello to Christmas and the winter season. It proves that perseverance is everything and family matters most. This is a great way to bring up past Christmas classics, The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3.

The show starts off with Santa himself, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) and his elf, Noel (Devin Bright), giving presents to loving children all over the world, but something goes wrong: Santa’s magic starts malfunctioning. Almost a whole year goes by after the catastrophe and the magic is back to normal, but during a present delivery, another incident happens – something really bad. After all that mess, Scott realizes that he has to do the two things he has dreaded all 28 years of his career — find a new Santa and retire. Scott tries to find a new Santa within his first son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd) and his other son, Buddy (Austin Kane), but neither seem interested, and it leaves Scott heartbroken and stressed over finding the perfect new Santa Claus.

The thought of Christmas and snow and everything that makes winter the “holiday season” absolutely delights me, which is why this show is perfect. My favorite parts are the amazing special effects used to enhance the magic of Christmas. I love when Scott and Noel are flying above all of the houses with the reindeer — even if it is just a lot of green screen and wiring. It gives the perfect image of Santa Claus trying to make every child in the world happy and believe in the magic of Christmas. I also love how the director, Jason Winer, keeps the original characters, since we all like them. Scott “Santa Claus” Calvin is still the enjoyable, ambitious character he once was 28 years ago, and Charlie is still the spontaneous, kind young man he has been and always will be.

The message of this show is that family will always come first, no matter the situation. Scott Calvin has proven again and again that, even when Christmas is in danger, he always makes room for his family.

I give The Santa Clauses 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It begins streaming on Disney+ November 16, 2022.

The Santa Clauses By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The Santa Clauses is a perfect series to watch with your family during the holiday season. I loved its spin on classic songs and its message about taking time for family.

The story follows Santa Claus (Tim Allen) making serious decisions for the future of the holiday season when he feels his magic starting to fade away. Mrs Claus (Elizabeth Michell), who has been living in the North Pole for almost 30 years, sees an opportunity to start a normal life, back in the city around normal people, with her family including her two children, Cal (Austin Kane) and Sandra Calvin-Claus (Elizabeth Allan- Dick).

This series has a modern spin to classic songs, vivid colors, great humor and realistic special effects, which all combine to bring a classic holiday story to life in a refreshing new way. One of my favorite scenes is when Santa, with his big belly, tries to get into a house – watch and see the secrets of being Santa! Kids around the world love and believe in Santa Claus. One girl in particular, Grace Choksi (Rupali Redd) insists on telling her father, Simon Choksi (Kal Penn) that Santa Claus is real and has always helped her decorate the house during the most magical day of the year. On one Christmas Eve, Grace receives a present from Santa Claus, which makes her Father research the truth about the existence of Santa Claus. Kal Penn, a businessman, with lots of interesting ideas, wants to find ways to make his business successful and sees an opportunity when he looks at the sky and watches Santa flying across the sky on his sleigh. For our beloved Santa, understanding that it is time to find a replacement isn’t easy but he certainly has fun watching the Elves take the challenge to help him. I can’t wait to watch the next episode of The Santa Clauses!

The message of this series is that magic is real if you believe in it and, if it is time to take a break and focus on your life, health and family, don’t think twice.

I give The Santa Clauses 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is available at Disney+ beginning November 16, 2022.

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Movie Review: Transformers: Earthspark * An Action-Packed Adventure With Heartwarming Friendships And Strong Family Bonds

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Movie Review: Transformers: Earthspark * An Action-Packed Adventure With Heartwarming Friendships And Strong Family Bonds

A new species of Transformers must find their place and purpose among Autobots, Decepticons, and the human family who adopts them.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Madeleine H. comments, “I like the series Transformers: Earthspark! It is an action-packed adventure with heartwarming friendships and strong family bonds that I enjoyed with my whole family.” See her full review and red carpet interviews below.

Transformers: Earthspark by Madeleine H. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I like the series Transformers: Earthspark! It is an action-packed adventure with heartwarming friendships and strong family bonds that I enjoyed with my whole family.

Fans familiar with the Transformers franchise will enjoy the familiar characters and meet some new ones. Anyone new to Transformers will quickly become acquainted with their history while discovering the first bots born on Earth along with a brother and sister duo, Robby Malto (Sydney Mikayla) and Mo (Zion Broadnax), who share a unique bond. Robby and Mo recently moved from Philly to small town Witwicky where their mom, Dot Malto (Benni Latham) has taken a job as a park ranger and they have left their friends behind. When Robby, frustrated with his new life, decides to bike back to Philly, his sister Mo, who is never left out of his adventures, follows along. A strange encounter with Autobots and some unusual spiderbots has them tumbling off a bridge and discovering a secret cave. Their curiosity and sense of adventure lead them to forming a bond with the first earthborn bots, Twitch (Kathreen Khavari) and Thrash (Zeno Robinson) who they are emotionally connected to. Through some humorous activities and harrowing adventures Twitch and Trash become the vehicle bots that suit their personalities and are part of the Malto Family.

The production quality is superb with vivid animation and crisp colors; the images are so realistic. For example, the texture of Mo’s hair looks real. The voice acting is excellent with each character distinct and believable. Robby is voiced by a female but sounds like a teen boy and when Mo and Robby take a tumble their grunts and groans sound believable. And of course, the action is exciting and explosive! When the Transformers click into action the battles are fast and furious. The sound effects really enrich the story and propel the action. The Autobots whirl and rev into their Transformer selves. In terms of the storyline, the amazing bond that Robby and Mo share is special, and the strength and determination of Mo is truly inspiring. It’s so great to see a female protagonist take the lead. Another strong female character is Skywarp (Nicole Dubuc); she is smart, self-assured and fierce. There are old school favorites from previous films in the franchise like Optimus Prime (Alan Tudyk), Mr. Malto (Jon Jon Briones) and Bumblebee (Danny Pud) who I love seeing here.

The message in these episodes revolves around togetherness and learning to fit in. These episodes are sure to be great fun with the classic struggles with the Autobot Decepticons Transformers robots, the togetherness of the human Malto Family, and the first Transformers robots to be born on Earth – the Terrans, who are learning how they fit in.

I give Transformers: Earthspark 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. Transformers: Earthspark premieres on Paramount + Friday, November 11, 2022.

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Movie Review: The Pay Day * A Supremely Well-Shot Entertaining Heist Film With Suspenseful Storyline

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Movie Review: The Pay Day * A Supremely Well-Shot Entertaining Heist Film With Suspenseful Storyline

Set in a post-pandemic world, The Pay Day follows a broke and frustrated IT technician (Kyla Frye) who is charged by a crime boss (Simon Callow) to embark on a one-woman heist to steal valuable data worth millions on the black market. As if the dangerous pitfalls of her mission weren’t enough, the sting gets more complicated when a charming con artist (Sam Benjamin) interrupts her mission attempting to swipe the loot for himself.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “A supremely well-shot entertainer, The Pay Day is a perfectly pleasant film for those looking for a heist film, even though there are some stilted dialogues and scenes that drag.” Mikella G. adds, “A stand out in this movie is the suspenseful storyline. I could never anticipate what was going to happen next. Just as I thought I figured it out, something completely different happened. For example, Jennifer and Cameron’s (Sam Benjamin) relationship goes through many different levels, and just when I thought I understood where their relationship was going, it turns out completely different.” See their full review below.

The Pay Day By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

A supremely well-shot entertainer, The Pay Day is a perfectly pleasant film for those looking for a heist film, even though there are some stilted dialogues and scenes that drag.

The film follows a frustrated and recently-fired IT technician (Kyla Frye) who is charged by a crime boss (Simon Callow) to embark on a one-woman heist to steal valuable data worth $500 million on the black market. Like all good heist films, it’s about people who feel neglected in society. Frye’s character is being evicted, and she feels that the whole world is against her. This opportunity to steal data is her chance to make it big. When a suave conman (Sam Benjamin) interrupts her mission to steal the loot for himself, matters grow even more complicated.

The cinematography in The Pay Day as well as the casting are two of the high points. Frye’s portrayal of a harried, desperate programmer looking for a way to make some cash is equally stirring and entertaining… though the film does focus on the latter more, due to the writing. This heist film sometimes wants to be a comedy and other times a romantic film, which makes it feel a little disjointed and somewhat like a series of sketches. For example, random flirting between Benjamin and Frye occupies 20 minutes of the film while Frye tries to extract files from a computer — whose, we don’t know yet. Speaking of random things, there are a bunch of odd elements in the film that seem either implausible or infantile to the point of being ridiculous, like a scene where a character survives a shot to the heart and another with a stilted and suggestive exchange about pomegranates. It’s largely the writing that makes the first half of the film drag, save for some scenes that really hit it out of the park. There are also tons of stereotypes thrown in, and some will make you cringe. For example a crime boss lounging with his cronies in a dimly lit bar; Pink Panther-esque background music; the typical green zeroes and ones speeding across the screen of a computer being hacked; and a scene where the protagonist sprints through sterile white walkways of every generic office complex.

The Pay Day promotes resourcefulness and resilience. There are some sexually suggestive scenes and discussions of smoking and alcohol.

I give The Pay Day 4 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Pay Day releases in theaters on November 14, 2022.

The Pay Day By Mikella Giustino, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The Pay Day is a mysterious, intense film that is filled with questions and surprises. It is unpredictable, and has a crazy turn of events.

The Pay Day follows the life of Jennifer (Kyla Frye), a struggling computer tech trying to get out of debt. She is approached by Gates (Simon Callow) who runs big undercover money-making operations and he offers her a deal that she cannot resist. However, on Jennifer’s mission she discovers that there’s quite a bit of information that she was blind too, and she must learn to adapt to these quick changes and obstacles that are thrown her way.

A stand out in this movie is the suspenseful storyline. I could never anticipate what was going to happen next. Just as I thought I figured it out, something completely different happened. For example, Jennifer and Cameron’s (Sam Benjamin) relationship goes through many different levels, and just when I thought I understood where their relationship was going, it turns out completely different. This is a great aspect of the film, because it keeps the audience interested and engaged. Furthermore, the pace of the film is great; It held my attention the entire time, and doesn’t feel too long or too short. At some points, the storyline gets confusing due to the structure of the film. There are a few flashback moments, and then it reverts back to preset time, but it’s not always clear that the switch is taking place so at times it feels like there is a lot going on. Lastly, each character is very strong; each has its own unique personality and the chemistry between all of them is evident.

The message of this film is that, when you listen to your heart, it will always lead you to do the right thing in the end. This film does have loud violent noises, including gunshots.

I give The Pay Day 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch The Pay Day in select theaters beginning November 14, 2022.

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