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Alpha – A Beautiful Film About Survival and Nature

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Movie Reviews
Alpha – A Beautiful Film About Survival and Nature

An epic adventure set in the last Ice Age, ALPHA tells a fascinating, visually stunning story that shines a light on the origins of man’s best friend. While on his first hunt with his tribe’s most elite group, a young man is injured and must learn to survive alone in the wilderness. Reluctantly taming a lone wolf abandoned by its pack, the pair learn to rely on each other and become unlikely allies, enduring countless dangers and overwhelming odds in order to find their way home before winter arrives. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C., comments, “This is a beautiful film about survival. I love everything about this live action film. The editing flows nicely and there are many visually stunning scenes.” See her full review below.

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Alpha
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film critic, age 9

https://youtu.be/rgC9VMCHtEk

This is a beautiful film about survival. I love everything about this live action film. The editing flows nicely and there are many visually stunning scenes. The story is about survival, loyalty and, most importantly, following your instincts.

In this film, a boy named Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is attacked by a buffalo. His father thinks he died, so he leaves him on the cliff where he was attacked. When he finally makes it to the ground, a pack of wolves attack. One of the wolves is very hurt and he decides tries to help him. During the course of movie, they help each other in many different ways. At the end of the film, you discover a beautiful surprise about the wolf.

Please keep in mind that this film takes place in prehistoric times and the dialogue is not in English, but is subtitled in English. I could understand the movie perfectly, even though it isn’t in English. Keda becomes a man as the story unfolds. It is a coming-of-age story, wherein the boy and the wolf look out after each other as if they are  family. The boy tries to prove to himself and his tribe that he can become a man and can be strong. By bonding with the wolf, he accomplishes the unimaginable.

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This type of film is uncommon in contemporary cinema. The editing is very well done and there is a flash back at the beginning that helps you understand the back story. The costumes are tribal, which makes the characters seem more believable and tribe-like. The landscapes are quite extraordinary. In so many ways, this film is truly beautiful. Everything that happens takes place in natural environments.

The message of this film is that we should bond with nature, follow our own instincts and preserve our innate quality of being kind. I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars because of the beautiful  landscapes and touching story. I  recommend it for ages 8 to 18, as well as adults.  I was very lucky to watch this movie with my dog, because I attended a special screening that allowed dogs, so that experience was truly unforgettable. Alpha opens in theaters August 17, 2018 so, look for it.

 

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: It’s Always Sharkest – Blends Entertainment Into Science Education

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Movie Reviews
Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: It’s Always Sharkest – Blends Entertainment Into Science Education

Unknown to the world, Thomas Edison built a secret lab where he invented a virtual version of himself and a steampunk robot named Von Bolt. Years later, Angie, a twelve-year-old science prodigy, discovers the lab. Join Angie and friends as they learn and explore a variety of science topics from a shark s sense of smell to plants and pollinator s roles to radioactive decay to DNA and more! While visiting one of Kent s relatives, the kids come up with a great idea for attracting more tourists to his restaurant – the only catch is that it also attracts a very big shark with very big teeth! What will the Secret Lab Kids do? Guided by fun-loving Edison, Angie and friends will show just how fun science can be! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Talia J. comments, “I found this series fun and entertaining. The storylines are interesting. The characters have great personalities. It all makes learning fun. I recommend this DVD for ages 4 to 9…” Eden T. adds, “I think this is an amazing DVD of select episodes from the TV series with just the right balance of fact vs. fiction and is chock-full of science. The plots have twists that keep you hooked until the very end!” Izzy C. wraps it up with, “Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: It’s Always Sharkest is a really good blend of entertaining content mixed with lessons about science. This show is the perfect thing for kids to watch during summer break, because it is entertaining and yet, kids will also learn a lot.” See their full reviews below.

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Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: It’s Always Sharkest

By Talia Jacnuk, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Link to video review https://youtu.be/ygaR4Dw-2DM

 

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: It’s Always Sharkest is an entertaining DVD that helps children find fun in learning about science related topics.This DVD contains eight episodes. The series follows a group of children who find the famous scientist Thomas Edison’s secret lab, where he built a virtual version of himself as well as a robot named Von Bolt. Each episode includes a science related topic that teaches us about things such as DNA or a shark’s sense of smell.

 

This is the second DVD I have watched from this series and, I must say, they are lots of fun. The episodes are very informative and perfect for kids interested in science. There are a couple of different famous scientists that appear in the episodes, including John B. Watson and Charles Darwin. They help teach the kids about the different topics. It’s nice seeing a children’s DVD that is both funny and informative. There are lots of silly jokes embed throughout the episodes, which makes the episodes much more humorous. I am not in the target age for this DVD, but I would thoroughly enjoy it if I was younger. Believe it or not, I actually learned some things about sharks that I had no idea about! The episodes are short and sweet, which helps hold the audience’s attention. Some children’s TV shows tend to drag on for a long time, but these episodes are a perfect length at less than 15 minutes long.

 

I absolutely love the fun songs in this DVD. In each episode, there is a music video at the end of the episode. The songs are very upbeat and usually have a very catchy tune. The songs relate to what is being taught or something that relates to the episode we just watched. The songs bring lots of lightness to the series, which is perfect for a younger audience. The songs definitely will get the kids up and dancing.The animation brings a lot of character to the show. When animated programs have an overwhelming amount of colors and precision detail, it’s difficult for children to focus on what the show is trying to teach. This series has calm, relaxing colors and pretty basic looking characters. I think that helps kids stay focused.

 

I found this series fun and entertaining. The storylines are interesting. The characters have great personalities. It all makes learning fun. I recommend this DVD for ages 4 to 9 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. This DVD is out now so, look for it.

 

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: It’s Always Sharkest

By Izzy Cruz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Link to video review https://youtu.be/Zc76uh990Ig

 

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: It’s Always Sharkest is a really good blend of entertaining content mixed with lessons about science. This show is the perfect thing for kids to watch during summer break, because it is entertaining and yet, kids will also learn a lot. I watched this DVD during my summer  break and learned a lot from watching it.Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab is an animated TV series that teaches science to kids through entertaining episodes that are filled with adventure and fun. Thomas Edison is a hologram and the main characters can talk to him. The shows are all about science, but they are also funny and have lots of interesting characters who learn about science or are expert scientists. There is a group of kids named Angie, JD, Kent and Nicky who are the stars of the show. They are kids who are just a little bit older than me and work very well as a team, figuring out problems.

 

In each episode there are different stories and every single one explains how something works.  When I watched the shows, I learned how something works or why it happens. The stories taught me a lot and they also have lots of factoids, which I really like. I love factoids! The lessons are very good. I think watching these shows can actually help kids understand what is taught in their science classes in school.The animation is a bit simple compared to other flashy, animated shows. Also there are music videos between the episodes, which I found a little bit bizarre. But, they sort of wrap up the lesson that was taught in the previous episode.

 

Even though I learned a lot from this DVD, I also had fun. That is what makes it so easy to watch a bunch of these episodes in a row. This DVD definitely kept me entertained for a long time. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 10. It is available on DVD now, so look for it.

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Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: The Sharkest

By Eden T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 9

 Link to video review https://youtu.be/rXT5tgpmNPI

 

This DVD is a collection of episodes from the slightly odd TV series, Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab. It includes lots of science, but makes it interesting enough that you are not be bored. It features Thomas Edison as a hologram, a robot called Van Bolt and kids named JD, Angie, Nicky and Kent.In each of the eight episodes, the kids find a problem that seems unsolvable such as when their hamster starts growing rapidly in “Mutant Mascot.” They go through the Virtual Reality Window, which instantly transports them to a scientist who helps them. They usually end up finding a scientific solution.

 

Even though the whole series is built upon facts, the unrealistic parts make for some of the appeal. The talking shark in “It’s Always Sharkest” is so amusing that you will not care about the strangeness. The giant slime monster in “Slime Time!” is also fun.The scientific factoids are explained clearly so you will not forget them easily! Unlike actual teachers, the characters do not talking directly to you. I find it easier to learn when I feel “invisible.” Other kids might feel this way as well.

 

I think this is an amazing DVD of select episodes from the TV series with just the right balance of fact vs. fiction and is chock-full of science. The plots have twists that keep you hooked until the very end! I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 10. If you are a kid who loves science or a parent who wants your child to learn something, check this out! It’s available now in the usual places.

Alisa Knows What to Do: Season 1 – Action Packed Star Wars Like Universe With Thrills Around Every Corner

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Movie Reviews
Alisa Knows What to Do: Season 1 – Action Packed Star Wars Like Universe With Thrills Around Every Corner

Alisa Knows What to Do! is based on the extremely popular Russian science-fiction novels by famous Russian author Kir Bulychiov about a young girl from the future, Alisa Salazar. This animated series weaves a tale about the adventures of a group of teenagers living at the end of the 21st century. The world has changed yet the burning questions that occupied people at the beginning of the century are still pertinent today. Alisa and her friends not only battle evil and injustice but they are also concerned with global problems like the natural balance, both on the planet and in space.

 

Alisa Knows What to Do: Season 1

By Sahiba Kaur, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Link to Video Review https://youtu.be/kff1OWQvhMc

 

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Alisa Knows What to Do: Season 1, directed by Olga Baulina, is an action packed, Star Wars like universe where thrills are around every corner! Each episode seems as if I am watching a movie, with high depths of emotion, mystery, humor, and untold tales. The animation is realistic in some aspects yet surreal in others forming the futuristic universe of a myriad of planets and species.The story follows a group of five teenagers who can’t seem to escape trouble, in or out of school. When their daily actions lead them to trouble or Alisa becomes entangled in one of her father’s scientific cases, they work together to solve the case in front of them. Through a series of hysterical events and intense scenes, each teenager’s unique personality plays a role in their exciting victory.

 

The animation is a combination of a variety of elements because of its realistic yet science fictional story. On Earth, the humans are life-like with their facial features but their hair and outfits are an original, special addition to the teenagers. The city has skyscrapers with soft and circular edges forming distinctive spires. However, these obscure features are contrasted with the familiar bushes and trees decorating the streets. Each episode also consists of a journey to a different planet. On these journeys the clips of space are the most naturalistic, with beautiful hues of all different colors and millions of stars decorating the night like glitter. Once they land on the planet, any familiarity with our world today diminishes and a new surprising and imaginative world is created. These were my favorite parts of the shows because even though there is a world like ours, there are a variety of other ones in this episode which are fascinating and captivating to watch.

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Although the story and animation are original and engaging aspects, the dialogue and jokes can be cliché at times which takes away from the story. However, there are an abundance of humorous scenes and dialogue which made me smile and relate to these characters.The messages of Alisa Knows What to Do: Season 1 are countless but some of the most pertinent are to being different is wonderful, and teamwork can help you in any situation. I give this show 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Be sure to check out Alisa Knows What to Do: Season 1 on DVD June 13, 2018.

 

Alisa Knows What to Do: Season 1

By Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Link to Trailer https://youtu.be/j_DffUGkd5o

 

 

Based on the Russian science fiction novels by well-known Russian author Kir Bulychiov, this is the story of a young teen form the future (end of 21st century) and her group of friends. The characters are quite unique with their brightly colored outfits, hairstyles and personalities. Kids will enjoy watching them in their adventures. The group of teens goes on adventures, solving mysteries and battling evil. The animated series is fun and futuristic and, even has moments of edge of your seat excitement! I really like that this series is not only fun to watch, but also teaches about global problems of today. The group of friends is very concerned with global problems on the planet and in space. I give this 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 thru 14. This will be a hit with kids this summer and has over 10 hours of fun that will entertain them.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies – So Hilarious! True to TV Show, More Songs and Characters

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Movie Reviews
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies – So Hilarious! True to TV Show, More Songs and Characters

It seems to the Teens that all the major superheroes out there are starring in their own movies-everyone but the Teen Titans, that is. But de facto leader Robin is determined to remedy the situation, and be seen as a star instead of a sidekick. If only they could get the hottest Hollywood film director to notice them. With a few madcap ideas and a song in their heart, the Teen Titans head to Tinsel Town, certain to pull off their dream. But when the group is radically misdirected by a seriously super villain and his maniacal plan to take over the Earth, things really go awry. The team finds their friendship and their fighting spirit failing, putting the very fate of the Teen Titans themselves on the line.

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Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

By Dariana Alvarez, KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 12

https://youtu.be/hfrC5nEl1eU

 

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is such a hilarious film. During the premier at the Chinese Theatre, the laughs echoed around the room. The film stays true to the TV show, with inside jokes about Robin’s baby hands and beautiful butt. Even with those things from the TV show, the film still makes sense if you haven’t watched the show before. And, there are new things for people who have watched the TV show.This film is about the Teen Titans trying to get their own movie in order to become official superheroes. To do that, they need an arch nemesis and they come across Slade (Will Arnett). This causes them to get a movie deal with Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) who has some ulterior motives.

 

As an original viewer of the TV show, I can tell you that it’s classic Teen Titans with many added aspects. One of which is the songs. There are occasional songs in the TV show, but this movie is jam packed with amazing songs by Jared Faber that help keep it interesting and move the story along. They are so catchy that I could hear people singing them as they left the theatre. The jokes in this film only make it better. This film just keeps you laughing throughout and at the edge of your seat with all the action.

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The cast is really spectacular! They have the original five from the TV show – Tara Strong (Raven), Greg Cipes (Beast Boy), Khary Payton (Cyborg), Hynden Walch (Starfire) and Scott Menville (Robin). They also have a couple of new voices, including Kristen Bell (Jade Wilson), Will Arnett (Slade), Nicolas Cage (Superman), Stan Lee (Stan Lee), Halsey (Wonder Woman) and Lil Yachty (Green Lantern) who also does a remix of Go! My favorite character would have to be Beast Boy, because he is so hilarious and is always there for all the Titans. My favorite line is Robin’s catchphrase, “Crack an egg on it… ca caw!” It’s just so ridiculously funny and random.

 

The message of this film is the classic: “You don’t have to be super to be a superhero, you just have to be yourself.” I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because it kept me laughing and smiling for an hour and a half. I recommend it for ages 7 to 14, because the jokes are more geared to older audiences, with some really more for adults. Check it out when it opens, July 27, 2018.

 

Christopher Robin – So Much Love In This Film, With Themes Of Friendship, Love, Family And Tenderness

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Movie Reviews
Christopher Robin – So Much Love In This Film, With Themes Of Friendship, Love, Family And Tenderness

A working-class family man, Christopher Robin, encounters his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh, who helps him to rediscover the joys of life. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “If you’re a fan of Winnie the Pooh, it’s safe to say you are going to love this movie. But even if you aren’t, you might still enjoy it. This film is absolutely adorable and it makes you feel like a kid again.” KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer Kimbirly O. adds, “I am a life-long Disney fan. While it is not surprising I loved seeing the characters from the Hundred Acre Wood come to life via CGI transformation, I was surprised to see A.A. Milne’s beloved characters in their original book form, not their Disney animation form. See their full reviews below.

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Christopher Robin
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Link to Video Review https://youtu.be/VUD98NKtYqE

If you’re a fan of Winnie the Pooh, it’s safe to say you are going to love this movie. But even if you aren’t, you might still enjoy it. This film is absolutely adorable and it makes you feel like a kid again.

The story follows a grown up Christopher Robin, with a wife and daughter, as he struggles with his job and runs into Winnie the Pooh. The movie follows him interacting with his old friends, while also remembering what’s important.

This movie is straight up gorgeous. The Hundred Acre Wood is so lovely. It definitely looks like a place I would like to hang out and read a great book under a tree. It is just how I imagine Winnie the Pooh’s home to be. The special effects on the Pooh characters look great as well. There’s something charming about their designs, especially Pooh’s. I just wanted to hug all of them and take them home with me.

Speaking of cute, that’s a good way to describe this movie. Pooh is absolutely precious and is super charming. Every single one of his lines are just so pleasant. He’s very likable and he really made me think about my younger self. I feel like Winnie the Pooh is one of those franchises that you always associate with childlike wonder and this film represents that very well. There’s something kind of innocent in this film’s tone. There’s so many scenes that remind me of what it was like to be a younger child and it made me really happy.

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This movie also made me tear up a lot. I had tears in my eyes almost instantly, mainly because of how adorable a lot of the scenes are, but there are also a lot of pretty emotional scenes. We see how innocent Pooh is and how a child doesn’t stay a child but grows up to have different ideas about what is important.

The soundtrack is really pretty and atmospheric. The background music really works well with the setting and the instrumental version of the Winnie the Pooh song made me really nostalgic. The voice acting is also really great. Each of the Pooh character’s voices fit incredibly well with the actual characters. I can’t imagine any other voice than these ones. The Pooh characters are the real stars of this movie. Ewan McGregor is wonderful as the adult Christopher Robins. I felt the acting from Bronte Carmichael, who plays Madeline, Christopher’s daughter, to be average.

Be sure you stay till the end for a charming scene. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18 as well as adults. It opens August 3, 2018 so go see it with your family. Pooh is 93 years old, so everyone, no matter their age, can enjoy it.

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Christopher Robin

By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Link to Video Review https://youtu.be/0URpDxIjZrQ

 

What day is it? Why it is today, my favorite day. I am a life-long Disney fan. While it is not surprising I loved seeing the characters from the Hundred Acre Wood come to life via CGI transformation, I was surprised to see A.A. Milne’s beloved characters in their original book form, not their Disney animation form.

Christopher Robin does not spend a lot of time introducing the viewer to the characters from the idyllic forest where a young British boy spent time creating adventures with his friends – Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga and Roo. If one is not a Disney-phile, it may be hard to comprehend why a boy arrives from a tree to have picnics with animals.

That said, the Winnie the Pooh, Disney lover that I am, saw so much love in this film with its themes of friendship, love, family and tenderness. The vintage, live-action look is appealing and kept me intrigued wondering what the “silly old bear” would do next. Winne the Pooh is quite the adventurous wanderer as he goes in search of Christopher Robin who has grown up and works in London. The adventures suspend belief as grown-up Christopher Robin, well played by Ewan McGregor, originally annoyed by Pooh, remembers some of his favorite things, like “doing nothing” and realizing true north is his family and friends, plush or live.

As a grown man who has returned from World War II, married to Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and father of a daughter, Christopher Robin is an efficiency manager for a luggage company or “a fish in the sea” as Winnie the Pooh says. He is a work-a-holic and has a taskmaster as a thankless boss. When told he must work rather than go on holiday to the country with his family, Christopher Robin attempts to take Pooh back to the forest where he and his woodsy friends awaken the lost child from within. They also meet his daughter Madeleine (Bronte Carmichael) and another adventure ensues. Madeline assists Pooh in getting to Christopher Robin when he needs all of them most.

For a franchise, which has historically targeted the very young, the film has melancholy themes. Visually, it is beautiful with its artistic production values and cinematography. The score is also very good. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars for the casting, cinematography, life lessons, amazing cult Winnie the Pooh references and music. I recommend it to ages 8 to 18, due to some mature themes.  .

Photos © 2018 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

Gravity Falls: The Complete Series – Honestly, one of the best shows ever. Perfect for binge watching with friends!

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Movie Reviews
Gravity Falls: The Complete Series – Honestly, one of the best shows ever. Perfect for binge watching with friends!

Welcome To Gravity Falls! Twin brother and sister Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to the small town of Gravity Falls, Oregon to spend their summer vacation with their great uncle (Grunkle) Stan. Upon arrival, Grunkle Stan enlists the siblings’ help in running The Mystery Shack, a self-owned tourist trap that overcharges unsuspecting customers. While Dipper has a hard time getting used to his new surroundings, Mabel’s upbeat optimism comes in handy in her quest to find true love. But there may be more to Gravity Falls than meets the eye as Dipper and Mabel encounter strange occurrences and weird creatures. When Dipper stumbles upon an elusive book, he discovers it is the answer to uncovering the town’s mysterious happenings. Soon, Dipper and Mabel realize they must rely on each other to navigate this unfamiliar place. Meanwhile, Grunkle Stan guards a secret of his own: one that just might hold the key to unlocking the deeper mystery that is Gravity Falls. Includes All 40 Episodes! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. commented, “To be honest, this is one of the best shows I’ve ever watched. It is a perfect show to binge watch with friends due to the mysteries that keep you invested until they’re solved and the comedy is spot on.” Dariana A. adds, “Gravity Falls is a very thrilling series. It keeps you at the edge of your seat with new mysteries in every episode. With baffling things happening in every episode, all you want to do is keep on watching.” See their full reviews below.

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Gravity Falls: The Complete Series
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14
Link to Video Review https://youtu.be/vTunJdqetFY

To be honest, this is one of the best shows I’ve ever watched. I could talk for hours about how fantastic this series is. It is short for television show standards, but it is a perfect show to binge watch with friends due to the mysteries that keep you invested until they’re solved and the comedy is spot on.The story follows twins, Dipper and Mabel Pines, who are sent to Gravity Falls, Oregon for the summer with their Great Uncle Stan. Things change when Dipper finds a journal revealing that the town is filled with all kinds of paranormal creatures and the show follows the adventures that Dipper, Mabel and their friends undertake in this strange town.

 

It’s pretty much my tradition to discuss the animation and the animation in this show looks great. While I feel it is technically the weakest aspect of the show, it is anything but bad. The animation is still very charming and very atmospheric. There’s a nice “summer Oregon feel” to the world that makes the forest of Gravity Falls very inviting. Later episodes look great. The colors and scale of the setting quickly goes from great to amazing in the last few episodes. The character designs are also outstanding. I’m not sure why, but I really like how each character design has its own flare and shows off the individual personalities.The best thing in the show is definitely the characters. Aside from the Pines twins, their friends, Wendy and Soos are truly cool. Wendy’s personality is pretty much just being the coolest person imaginable. And I’m not making this up. She’s laid back, incredibly skilled and just cool in general. As for Soos (one of the many characters voiced by the show’s creator, Alex Hirsch), he’s just the sweetest character and a great guy overall. I have to give credit to the voice acting as well. I mentioned that the show’s creator, Alex Hirsch voices Soos. He also voices Stan Pines, Old Man McGucket, a bunch of background characters and the show’s main villain. It’s pretty hard to tell, unless you know he’s voicing these characters. Another stand out actor is Kristen Schaal who voices Mabel. Mabel’s adorable, hyperactive energy is all due to Kristen Schaal. The relationship between Dipper and Mabel is the epitome of what anyone with a sibling would be envious of and hope to model.

 

This show is also a perfect show for those who like theorizing about shows because this show is jam packed with mysteries, clues, codes and more. It keeps you invested.  I recommend this show for ages 7 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. The DVD box set also has some pretty cool stuff such as audio commentaries, shorts and funny deleted footage. It is must buy if you are a Gravity Falls fan! Available on DVD July 24, 2018.

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Gravity Falls: The Complete Series
By Dariana A. KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 12
 Link to Video Review https://youtu.be/6JuUqAGTdNU

Gravity Falls is a very thrilling series. It keeps you at the edge of your seat with new mysteries in every episode. With baffling things happening in every episode, all you want to do is keep on watching. Since this DVD includes all 40 episodes as well as the special features, you really can do just that!  Although it is a show about mysteries, the writers still find a way to insert comedy, so it has an element for every type of viewer.This show is about the twins Dipper (Jason Ritter) and Mabel (Kristen Schaal) Pines who summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon with their Great Uncle Stan (Alex Hirsch), working in his tourist trap, The Mystery Shack. During their vacation, Dipper finds an elusive book that contains writings about all the mysterious occurrences that happen in Gravity Falls.

 

Gravity Falls is anything but a predictable show. It has an amazing blend of comedy and mystery that keeps you wanting to watch until the end. This DVD includes every episode plus some special features such as deleted scenes, behind the animation and interviews with the cast and creators of the show, looking back at the past 40 episodes. This show has the perfect blend of every element a TV show should have, with a little something for every type of viewer. For example, Dipper and Mabel are twins, but complete opposites. Dipper is very logical and nerdy while Mabel is an imaginative free spirit. So, even there you have two different elements many people can relate to. One of my favorite characters is Soos (Alex Hirsch). He works at the Mystery Shack and accompanies Dipper and Mabel on many of their adventures. He is always there for the young Pines and is the first person to believe Dipper about his findings in the book and even helps the twins hunt down the Gobblewonker. The cast of this show really makes the characters. Jason Ritter’s voice is on the deep side, but it adds so much more to the character and his relationship with Kristen Schaal (Mabel Pines) higher pitched voice. Alex Hirsch who wrote, produced and voices the characters Gruncle Stan and Soos really makes the show what it is because the whole story is based on his own summer experiences. My favorite episode is season 2, episode 19, Weirdmageddon 2: Escape From Reality because it is so sweet to see the brother sister relationship in the way that Dipper saves Mabel in that episode.

 

The message of this show is about asking questions and investigating thing you’re curious about, just like Dipper does. I give this series 5 out of 5 stars for being the most unique comedy mystery sci-fi fantasy cartoon show out there and recommend it for ages 10 to 14 and beyond, because it has something for people of every age. You can find Gravity Falls: The Complete Series on DVD now so, look for it.

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Gravity Falls: The Complete Series
By Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
Link to Trailer https://youtu.be/VviwUvs3hd0

 

Let’s not mince words here, people! Gravity Falls may be one of the finest western animations of all time.  Large claim, no?  Allow me to back up why this show deserves this recognition.

 

Gravity Falls follows the main characters, Dipper and Mabel Pines, preteen twin siblings who are spending their summer vacation visiting their Great Uncle or “Grunkle” (and local con man), Stanford Pines in the small town of Gravity Falls, Oregon.  Stan lives in and operates a local tourist trap called the Mystery Shack, where he employees the other two main characters – lovable loser and gentle giant Soos, and local teenage, cool girl Wendy.  Not all is what is seems in Gravity Falls, as our characters are made to tangle with everything from abducting gnomes, autonomous video game characters, vengeful apparitions, living wax statues, time travelling police officers, extra-dimensional eldritch entities and many more! All the while, Dipper and Mabel attempt to unravel the many mysteries of Gravity Falls with the help of a mysterious journal that they find which catalogues all of the creepy goings on in this sleepy town.

 

Interesting premise, no?  The sheer plethora of all the different, and mostly antagonistic creatures the protagonists run into is staggering, and not a single one of them is boring.  But, despite a great plot, it’s the shocking amount of attention given to tiny details that exemplifies the deep quality of this program.  The show contains a large amount of Easter eggs and tiny plot devices that carry through the entire the series.  In fact, almost every ending credit contains a different word cipher puzzle that contributes plot details to the series!  But, if you had to pinpoint the most distinguishing feature of this series, it’s most certainly the pitch perfect writing.  It’s truly one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen and my children (age 2 to 17) both agree.  The humor varies so dramatically between all the main characters, yet they seem to mesh perfectly.  I truly believe this series is enjoyable for kids aged 2 to 18 and virtually any adult.  And, despite being aimed at kids, the story (delicately woven over 40 episodes) is astoundingly deep and touching by the end.  It’s strong emphasis on interpersonal relationships and personal character arcs is second to none and makes for a story that invests you in virtually every character in the show.  Full disclosure, I cried on several occasions while watching this program.  Also, without spoiling any plot for the readers, this series contains a genuinely terrifying antagonist for older viewers.  However, this antagonist is not frightening for the younger crowd, so you’ve nothing to worry about in that regard.

 

If this series can galvanize the attention of every toddler, pre-teen, adolescent and adult that gave it a glance in my house, I have no issue recommending this to a wide audience. The Special Edition DVD set contains a full DVD devoted to extras, ranging from commentary, childhood stories, shorts and deleted scenes. Before receiving this Special Edition, I had seen the full series probably a dozen times. Getting the chance to relive the fun with all the extras has been a blast. I give this series 5 out of 5 stars and honestly, I believe this series will stand the test of time.

 

 

Dream Big: Engineering Our World – Informational and Inspiring!

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Movie Reviews
Dream Big: Engineering Our World – Informational and Inspiring!

Narrated by Academy Award® winner Jeff Bridges, DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World is a first film of its kind for IMAX® and giant screen theaters that will transform how we think about engineering. From the Great Wall of China and the world’s tallest buildings to underwater robots, solar cars and smart, sustainable cities, DREAM BIG celebrates the human ingenuity behind engineering marvels big and small, and shows how engineers push the limits of innovation in unexpected and amazing ways. With its inspiring stories of human grit and aspiration, and extraordinary visuals for the world’s largest screens, DREAM BIG reveals the compassion and creativity that drive engineers to create better lives for people and a more sustainable future for us all. DREAM BIG is a MacGillivray Freeman film produced in partnership with American Society of Civil Engineers and presented by Bechtel Corporation. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jolleen M. comments, “I have to say, the camera shots and angles are truly amazing. They capture massive cities and buildings beautifully. There is obviously lots of effort that went into editing this film and adding suitable background music.” See her full review below.

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Dream Big: Engineering Our World

 

By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Link to Video Review https://youtu.be/-bfCnD19xe8

This film is really informational and the camera shots are amazing. The only drawback is that it gets a bit boring after a while. There is so much information that isn’t all that interesting. This documentary would really appeal to those interested in architecture and engineering. The film reveals stories about different engineers who all want to make the world a better place. They create buildings that won’t collapse in earthquakes and build bridges across rivers so people can get to school. It shows that engineering is an occupation that can really impact the world and make it a safer place.

 

Jeff Bridges, as narrator of the film, has the sort of deep voice that suits the documentary. Some of the information seems a bit random and doesn’t enhance the story. The best parts for me are when they tell the back stories of peoples’ lives and how difficult they are. After the engineers help them, I love seeing them so happy and having easier lives. Those are things that inspire people to want to become engineers.I have to say, the camera shots and angles are truly amazing. They capture massive cities and buildings beautifully. There is obviously lots of effort that went into editing this film and adding suitable background music. These all really help the viewer picture engineering as an art, that is very helpful. They show majestic buildings that glow at night, roller coasters that give so much happiness and thrills, and bridges that help you access high areas and look down at the scenery or up at the beautiful stars.

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My favorite scene is definitely the story about the engineers building a bridge across a river so kids could get to their school. Before the bridge, they literally risked their lives getting to school. Many people have drowned in the river, but they crossed it everyday in order to get an education. After the bridge is built everyone, including the children, is extremely excited and relieved. They are dancing, playing music and getting to school without risking their lives or getting wet. The bridge changed their lives. The moral of this film is that engineering is a profession that helps people. This film shows that engineering is interesting and rewarding. However, I did find parts of it a bit boring, with the exhaustive information.  I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages of 11 to 18, as well as adults. If you are interested in engineering, you will definitely enjoy this documentary. It is available now on DVD so check it out.

 

 

 

Big Fish & Begonia – An Emotional Masterpiece. Artistically Magical and Though Provoking

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Movie Reviews
Big Fish & Begonia – An Emotional Masterpiece. Artistically Magical and Though Provoking

It is a world within our world, yet unseen by any human, and the beings here control time and tide and the changing of the seasons. On the day Chun turns sixteen, she is transformed into a dolphin to explore the human world. She is rescued from a vortex by a human boy at the cost of his own life. Chun is so moved by the boy’s kindness and courage that she decides to give him life again. But to do this, she must protect the boy’s soul, a tiny fish, and nurture it to grow. Through adventure and sacrifice, love grows, yet now she must release him back to the sea, back to life in the human world. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sahiba K. comments, “An emotional masterpiece, Big Fish & Begonia is an artistically magical and thought provoking piece of anime. The animation is beautiful. I felt as if I was watching a classic painting come to life.” See her full review below.

Big Fish & Begonia

By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Link to Video Review  https://youtu.be/W73rIoo_ukQ

An emotional masterpiece, Big Fish & Begonia is an artistically magical and thought provoking piece of anime. The animation is beautiful. I felt as if I was watching a classic painting come to life. The story is unforgettable. Each scene left my heart yearning for the characters to succeed.The story follows a humble, brave girl name Chun who dedicates her life to help a kind boy, Kun, who gives his life to save hers after she travels from her magical to his human world. She goes to great lengths to bring him back and gives him all her love and care. However, when a variety of obstacles threaten Kun’s survival, Chun risks everything to save him.

 

The animation is mystical and brings Chun’s fantastical land to life. The characters from Chun’s world are unique and their strange characteristics bring a special quality that is unlike other films. Many characters have a quirky addition such as antlers or a completely other-worldly face with multiple eyes. These subtle additions enhance the fresh and original elements the film specializes in. The backgrounds and scenery take the animation to the next level. The water and ocean play a huge role in the film and the animation transforms the water, displaying its beauty and importance. At night the ocean reflects the sky, its stars and the sublime hues present; while during the day it is almost invisible and many objects look like they are floating through air. One of the most notable animation feats is the scenery. In many favorite parts we see Chun running across landscapes and the camera captures her world in the most artistic way.

 

The emotions of this film left me in awe, showing the friendship and love these characters are capable of. In every scene, I was either smiling or in tears because of the sacrifices they make for each other and for each others’ happiness. The music enhances the mood of these scenes with a mysterious and peaceful quality.The messages of Big Fish and Begonia are: 1. If your conscience is clear, it doesn’t matter what others think and 2. Follow your heart. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Check out Big Fish and Begonia on DVD August 7, 2018.

 

 

 

Skyscraper – Entertaining, towering pace and consistent acting led by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson

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Movie Reviews
Skyscraper – Entertaining, towering pace and consistent acting led by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson

FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Sawyer now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in Hong Kong he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he’s been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who are trapped inside the building…above the fire line. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “A towering pace and consistent acting provide for a memorable summer detour. This is sure to be a worthwhile watch for any action movie fans.” See his full review below.

Skyscraper

By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

 

Link to Video Review  https://youtu.be/_Mod-IIbsfE

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Skyscraper is an entertaining, yet derivative homage to 80s action films. A towering pace and consistent acting provide for a memorable summer detour. This is sure to be a worthwhile watch for any action movie fans.The movie follows former hostage negotiator Will (Dwayne Johnson), who now accesses building security after a tragic misfire left him as an amputee. While analyzing the world’s tallest and safest building, terrorists led by Kores (Roland Møller) mysteriously access building schematics to take control. However, things reach an all time low for Will once Kores takes Will’s family hostage and frames him for the infiltration. With everything left to lose, Will must push past his setbacks in order to sort out this mess and save his family.

Dwayne Johnson, as Will, is my favorite character due to his ever-present charisma and even relate-ability with his physical struggles. His love and determination for his family also make the movie all the more intense. Neve Campbell, as Sarah, is just as believable with her determination to the family and has more nuances than just resorting to a damsel in distress. Chin Han, as Zhao, brings a mysterious layer to his involvement with the skyscraper as his business is not what it seems. Roland Møller, as Kores, gives Dwayne Johnson a run for his money in terms of strength and is a formidable yet clichéd threat for him. However, his vibrant expressions are enough to lighten his clichéd dialogue. Noah Cottrell and McKenna Roberts, as Henry and Georgia, complete the pack as the cute twins of Will and Sarah, whose combined braveness helps forward the family dynamic. However, Henry’s asthma seems a little too situational at times.skyscraper.c.jpg

Rawson Marshall Thurber’s direction brings out a brisk pace with fresh new takes at fisticuffs and shootouts alike many 80s action movies. However, a few of the scenes lack in originality, feeling like a borderline copy of other action films. My favorite scene is the opening hostage negotiation, as it sets a thrilling and unexpected array of events, even if it is not set in the main skyscraper centerpiece. The other flaw is that it could have used more nuances in the scenarios as opposed to having such a predictable plot with unsurprising twists. At times, it feels more like a parody than a movie, with unintentionally funny scenes. However, the fact that it never takes itself too seriously adds to its quality and creates pure escapism.The movie’s message is to never judge a man by his impediments, as pure willpower can defy many obstacles. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of its intense action and language. The movie releases in theaters July 13, 2018, so check it out.

Photos Copyright: © 2018 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

ABC Monsters: The Complete Season – Fun, Educational Introduction to Early Language Skills

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Movie Reviews
ABC Monsters: The Complete Season – Fun, Educational Introduction to Early Language Skills

Enjoy the complete season of ABC Monsters! Embark on one phonics adventure after another while learning each letter of the alphabet in this complete set! Twenty six cuddly ABC Monsters live within the walls of Capital Castle. Each monster represents a letter of the alphabet but should any of the monsters go missing for longer than a day, all the letters will be wiped out from every book in Capital Town! So it’s very important to make sure that all the ABC Monsters are safely back in Alphabet Gardens before the sun goes down. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. The ABC Monsters are naturally curious creatures and often wander off from Alphabet Gardens to try and find new and fun items, inevitably getting themselves lost in the process. When Alice, Brian and Cherry Berry set out to find the ABC Monsters, they learn to spell multiple items that start with that ABC Monsters letter as well as play other phonics games and sing songs! Get set for a spellbinding series of magical adventures that engages the imagination all while making learning the alphabet exciting and entertaining!

ABC Monsters: The Complete Season

By Ella L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, age 14
Link to video review:https://youtu.be/zn2V-CE9CwQ

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ABC Monsters: The Complete Season is a fun and educational experience for young kids. It inspires them to learn, enjoy learning and even encourages them to participate in physical activity. It is creative and interesting all the way through. If I was a parent, I would use this DVD to help me teach my kid about the alphabet and early language skills.

I have reviewed other episodes of ABC Monsters previously and enjoy how each episode is different. For example, one of the episodes is based on introducing kids to the letter “A.” In this episode, the Alphabet Monsters are so excited about the archery competition when suddenly, all the arrows go missing! Alice, Bryan and Cherry Berry (the protagonists) go on a mission to find the missing arrows and the missing letter of the alphabet, which just so happens to be Letter “A.” On the way, they go on a lot of mini quests such as helping Amy the Alligator find her armband and help Farmer Alex find his apple. At the end of the episode, Alice, Bryan and Cherry Berry review everything we learned in the episode and include fun little songs and dances for us to do and sing.Everything about this show is child friendly and appropriate for a young age group. The storylines are consistent without being repetitive and are quite easy to follow. This show would be very entertaining for young kids. The visuals are bright and colorful which will attract young viewers. The music is upbeat and cheery. The characters are adorable and likable. I think that all of these aspects are important in order for kids to enjoy watching a program.

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I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 1 to 5. I believe that this show will intrigue kids with its cute characters and interesting plotlines. It will get them excited about learning, music and physical fitness. It will help parents teach their kids about spelling, grammar and phonics while keeping them hooked and wanting to learn more. This show offers quality entertainment for young children who need to be introduced to the alphabet. Parents can feel confident about using this DVD to enlighten their little ones about the English language. It is available on DVD now so, check it out.

 

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