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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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+.
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!
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.
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.
Follows the iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Caro and his editor, the literary giant Robert Gottlieb, in this chronicle of a unique 50-year professional relationship. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Robert Caro and legendary editor Robert Gottlieb, have worked and fought together for 50 years, forging one of publishing’s most iconic and productive partnerships. Directed by Gottlieb’s daughter, Lizzie Gottlieb, Turn Every Page explores their remarkable creative collaboration, including the behind-the-scenes drama of the making of Caro’s The Power Broker and the LBJ series. With humor and insight, this unique double portrait reveals the work habits, peculiarities and professional joys of these two ferocious intellects. It arrives at the culmination of a journey that has consumed both their lives and impacted generations of politicians, activists, writers and readers, and furthered our understanding of power and democracy.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “I found this documentary so interesting because it balances entertainment, humor and education. I like that this documentary teaches us about many people that no one truly knows about, especially those from my generation. I learned so much about the power and influence Robert Moses held in New York City and the power and influence President Johnson wielded during his political career. Their impact is so deep and wide and yet so different.” See her full review below.
Turn Every Page – The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Turn Every Page – The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb is not only a terrific documentary, but also a very entertaining film. It isn’t an action-packed movie where you’ll be glued to your seat, but it is a wonderful story about two of the most important people in our literary community – Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb.
Robert Caro is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author best known for his biographies of President Lyndon B. Johnson and New York political figure Robert Moses. Robert Gottlieb is an American editor who has been editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster, Alfred A. Knopf, and The New Yorker. Caro and Gottlieb have worked together for more than 50 years. Documentarian Lizzy Gottlieb, Robert Gottlieb’s daughter, spent five years on the film and gives us an up close and very personal view of each of these amazing men, their work, their passion for their work and their working relationship.
I found this documentary so interesting because it balances entertainment, humor and education. I like that this documentary teaches us about many people that no one truly knows about, especially those from my generation. I learned so much about the power and influence Robert Moses held in New York City and the power and influence President Johnson wielded during his political career. Their impact is so deep and wide and yet so different. And this is also true about Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb, as they contributed so much to American literature working together and also are very different. They have such a passion for what they do—they even ‘go to war’ over commas and semicolons. One of my favorite lines from the movie is from Robert Gottlieb, “He does the work. I do the cleanup.” This movie also shows what goes on behind the scenes of writing a book. There is so much that goes into it, and it’s enlightening to know what that is. Watching this documentary may even inspire you to read The Power Broker about Robert Moses or the Lyndon Johnson biography series.
The message and purpose of this documentary is to highlight the shared dedication and working relationship of these two literary men. There is some language that might be offensive to some.
I give Turn Every Page – The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, but especially adults. The film is playing now in select cities.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.