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The Smartest Kids in the World * Captures Stories of Teen Seeking Better Educational Opportunities

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Movie Reviews
The Smartest Kids in the World * Captures Stories of Teen Seeking Better Educational Opportunities

Based on Amanda Ripley’s New York Times bestseller, The Smartest Kids in the World chronicles a year abroad with four American teenagers, who study in countries that dramatically outperform the United States in education. We travel with them as they adjust from their local high schools in Wyoming, Orlando, Maine and The Bronx to high schools in Finland, South Korea, Switzerland and the Netherlands The film gives voice to students, hearing first-hand their discoveries and insight about how to reform U.S. high school education.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Rosemary K. comments, “I thoroughly enjoyed The Smartest Kids in the World and highly recommend it for everyone, especially students. Documentaries don’t usually interest me that much, but this movie, based on the New York Times bestseller by Amanda Ripley, captivated me with its themes and landscapes.” Rosabella P. adds, “This film captures the integrity and bravery among these teens. Our younger generation needs to learn more about the difference between learning in the USA verses learning abroad.” See their reviews and interview with one of the students, Simone Hassan-Bey below.

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The Smartest Kids in the World
By Rosemary K, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I thoroughly enjoyed The Smartest Kids in the World and highly recommend it for everyone, especially students. Documentaries don’t usually interest me that much, but this movie, based on the New York Times bestseller by Amanda Ripley, captivated me with its themes and landscapes.

The Smartest Kids in the World is a full-length documentary directed by Tracy Droz Tragos following four different U.S. students (Simone, Jaxon, Brittany and Sadie) as they travel for a year to different countries as exchange students. It focuses on different methods used in each country that makes students perform higher on tests. We learn what we should be doing differently in the United States and what other countries are doing great in terms of education.

Along with a storyline that captivates you and shows that it’s not always that easy to adapt to new places, this film, while showing the hard work of the students, also has many fun and relaxing parts that balance out the kids’ time while abroad. There are lots of beautiful landscape shots and calm music. All of this adds to the peaceful feeling you get from the movie, even though school can sometimes be quite the opposite of that. I really enjoyed seeing all of the students’ journeys and, although they aren’t acting, their on-camera appearances show the insights they gain along with their stories, accomplishments and comparisons of life abroad to life at home. One thing that is lacking is that it falls short in giving specific ideas of how to improve U.S. education. It does show what our schools are doing wrong it only touches on how to improve education in our country.

The message in this film is that the U.S. is often thought of as a perfect country, but in lots of areas, including education, this is not true. The students in this film found that the schools in other countries actually offer a range of more challenging, hands on, more choice-driven, even less stressful education – all of which contribute to higher test scores, higher education levels and higher graduation rates. We would benefit from looking beyond our boundaries to see how we can improve our educational system.

I give The Smartest Kids in the World 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It begins streaming exclusively on Discovery+ August 19, 2021.

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The Smartest Kids In The World
By Rosabella P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I enjoyed watching the film, The Smartest Kids In The World because it shows teenagers traveling to different colleges and high schools to figure out what education platform is better. Its view on education in the USA is a bit discouraging.
Inspired by the book by the same name, this documentary follows a group of teens that go to non-behavioral schools. Produced by award-winning filmmaker Tracy Droz Tragos, it follows four American teenagers that travel to four different countries for one school year in search of a better education for themselves.
We see how the kids have to learn new languages to get into these various schools and to make friends. All of their traveling about to find a better education is inspiring. I found it discouraging that the kids had to go outside the US in search of better schools when it seems that they should have been able to get good education in their own country. They traveled long distances and experienced many hardships in order to find a good school that would challenge their minds academically. We see that Pennsylvania schools don’t offer the best educational experiences. One student, Tracy Droz Tragos expressed the difference between rich and poor schools. Some students attended school in Switzerland, others attended schools in South Korea and elsewhere. The main characters are both interesting and disappointing. They are taking their future into their own hands and charging out into the world. During their adventures they are learning from one another, which is inspiring. The film doesn’t show us how change can happen in US schools, but it points out how desperately it is needed.
This film captures the integrity and bravery among these teens. Our younger generation needs to learn more about the difference between learning in the USA verses learning abroad.
I rate The Smartest Kids In The World 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It begins streaming exclusively on Discovery+ August 19, 2021.

Reminiscence * While The Film Has Some Strong Points, They’re Not Enough To Hold The Film Afloat

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Movie Reviews
Reminiscence * While The Film Has Some Strong Points, They’re Not Enough To Hold The Film Afloat

Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a private investigator of the mind, navigates the darkly alluring world of the past by helping his clients access lost memories. Living on the fringes of the sunken Miami coast, his life is forever changed when he takes on a new client, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson). A simple matter of lost and found becomes a dangerous obsession. As Bannister fights to find the truth about Mae’s disappearance, he uncovers a violent conspiracy, and must ultimately answer the question: how far would you go to hold on to the ones you love? KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S. comments, “The movie strives to be a romance and yet the love story is weak. While the film has some strong points, they’re simply not strong enough to hold the film afloat.” See her full review below.

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Reminiscence
By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Reminiscence is an overly long film with a lot of loose ends. The movie strives to be a romance and yet the love story is weak. While the film has some strong points, they’re simply not strong enough to hold the film afloat.

The storyline follows Nick (Hugh Jackman), a man desperately in love with Mae (Rebecca Ferguson). After she vanishes, Nick uses technology known as the Reminiscence, which lets users revisit memories that they’ve forgotten. Nick uses the memory technology to locate where and why Mae has left. Slowly the truth unravels only to reveal dirty secrets.

The movie definitely has its upsides. One of the film’s strongest points is the friendship between Nick and officer Watts. The two go way back, and it’s even confirmed by Watts that she’s in love with Nick. Watts does everything possible to prevent Nick from burning a memory in his brain from using Reminiscence too often. However, they have a falling out and their argument is never really resolved, ending in an uncompleted arc. The whole world is flooded; it is unclear as to why. It appears as though there has been a war – one in which both Nick and Watts are veterans of. The war is only mentioned; it’s never really addressed in depth, which leaves many loose ends. The war is the reason for the international flood and sinking of London, but there’s no description or overview of the war. Throughout the film, there are glimpses of memories of Mae and Nick together. These memories end up being repeated over and over, which can’t help but feel repetitive. Nick’s love for Mae is supposed to feel unending, but it feels limited by these few memories.

The lesson Nick learns is to believe in love. He goes the distance to learn the truth about Mae, refusing to believe that their relationship was one-sided. He goes against his closest friend and hardcore evidence to find the truth, even subjecting himself to the Reminiscence forever.

I give Reminiscence 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 16 to 18 plus adults. It is available on HBO Max August 20, 2021

Charlie’s Back And More Creative Than Ever With New Stories And New Adventures

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Movie Reviews
Charlie’s Back And More Creative Than Ever With New Stories And New Adventures

Once upon a time, there was… Charlie! A friend like no other! Charlie is YOUR silly, creative playmate and best friend. He is SOOOOO excited to take YOU on adventures with him. Charlie created Colorforms City out of his imagination so that he can tell the best stories possible… like a knight trying to save a balloon, adventuring to the other end of the rainbow, or Charlie’s epic quest to solve a mystery. Come along with Charlie and his friends as they solve problems using creativity, ingenuity, and the shapes Charlie sees all around him. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Maica N. comments, “Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is a show that will teach kids valuable lessons. I’ve seen previous episodes of Charlie’s Colorforms City, but this new DVD has a uniqueness of its own. The main thing that sets this DVD from previous ones is the new storylines.” Ella M. adds, “In this educational animated series, you’ll be inspired to create colorful and magical stories, while developing your critical thinking skills. So, buckle up and get ready for new and exciting adventures that are better than ever!” Rosabella P. wraps it up with, “What I love most are the fun stories that use different shapes and the many adventures the characters have, plus it uses a variety of learning methods. It emphasizes how you should always be kind to people even if you’re frustrated with a task.” See their full reviews below.

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Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures
Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 13

Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is a new DVD where we get to revisit our good friend Charlie who is back and more creative than ever. With new stories and new adventures, young kids will feel like they are a part of the journey too!

Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is about a young boy named Charlie (Jacob Soley) who loves to go on adventures and create stories. He lives in a very vibrant and fun place called Colorforms City, where everyone is friendly and works together. In this DVD, Charlie does things he’s never done before, like becoming a cowboy and having his own restaurant. Kids will learn so much as they join Charlie on his colorful journeys!

Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is a show that will teach kids valuable lessons. I’ve seen previous episodes of Charlie’s Colorforms City, but this new DVD has a uniqueness of its own. The main thing that sets this DVD from previous ones is the new storylines. We all know that Charlie is very fond of stories and in the episode “Sick Charlie” we see a plethora of stories in a short amount of time. That’s because Charlie has a case of “story sneezing.” Yup, that means every time Charlie sneezes, he is transported into another story. This is something Charlie has never experienced before, which can be a welcome adventure for fans of the show. It definitely shows off his out-of-this-world imagination. Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventure is geared towards younger audiences. Kids who are just starting school may even be watching this show, which is perfect if they want to have more practice learning about shapes, colors and using their minds to entertain themselves. Because the characters and the objects are two-dimensional, it’s simpler for young kids to understand. Audiences will never be overwhelmed when watching this DVD; they’ll only want more.

The message of this show is that you don’t have to wait to be creative. You can be creative anytime, anyplace. No matter where Charlie is, he’s thinking ingeniously and wondering what he can do next. This is very family-friendly and is perfect for parents to watch together with their young children.

I rate Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6. The DVD is available now, so make sure you check it out!

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Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures
By Ella M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Are you ready for a colorful, playful and interactive adventure that’s both fun and educational for the whole family? Then you’ve got to watch the amazing Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures. In this educational animated series, you’ll be inspired to create colorful and magical stories, while developing your critical thinking skills. So, buckle up and get ready for new and exciting adventures that are better than ever!
Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is all about exploring Colorforms City with Charlie and his two best friends, Red and Violet. In this series, you go on eight whimsical, interactive, storytelling adventures in Colorforms City while learning about different colors, shapes and sizes. Every story Charlie and his friends create is an adventure, so you never know what’s coming next because Charlie is always shaking things up! Whether Charlie’s a mechanic or a chef – you’re in for a real treat.
This cast is filled with so many talented actors throughout the series. Jacob Soley plays Charlie, your creative, fun companion. He connects with his character in such a way that you all will be best friends instantly. Tyler Barish plays one of Charlie’s best friends, Red. He is engaging and really connects with his character. Saara Chaudry plays Violet who delivers a dynamic performance. She is my favorite character because she always looks on the bright side of things. My favorite episode is “Mystery Charlie” because someone is stealing all the color from Colorforms City! Charlie and his friends have to work together using their problem solving and critical thinking skills to solve the mystery and save the day. Oh! And I just love the animation and music. The theme song is so catchy! When you hear it you can’t help but jump to your feet and dance
The intent of this DVD is to motivate kids to learn more about colors, shapes and sizes. With Charlie’s imagination leading the way, you’ll be inspired to create colorful and magical stories, while developing your problem solving skills. Charlie also teaches friendship skills such as being kind, respectful, supportive and being an active listener.
I highly recommend Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures for ages 2 to 6 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. This DVD is available now so, jump to it because you’ve got a great story to create!

Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventure
By Rosabella P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

What I really like about Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventure are the various episodes to choose from – Mystery Charlie, Charlie the Cowboy, Charlie the Inventor, Charlie’s Restaurant – and many more. I like that you can choose which episode you want to watch.
The various episodes on this DVD follow Charlie as he creates different stories with his friends Red and Violet and others. They get to learn and play at the same time.
My favorite episode is “Silliest Charlie” where Charlie disguises himself as a plant and tells his friends to come to his house to surprise Red and Violet. Then, Red and Violet don’t come, but a box shows up instead. Charlie thinks they aren’t coming and gets scared. What caught my attention was when Charlie sais, “shake it up rainbows” and fireworks come out of his head. The costumes are all terrific in all the episodes. We see Charlie as a plant, a chef and more. There are lots of different locations throughout these episodes -the park, Charlie’s house and my favorite, “The Pancake Café.” The music in this show is joyful music that will get little ones up and moving around. Whenever Charlie says “shake it up” beats come out of his head and a happy song plays for kids. There are special effects in the opening and closing that are fun and colorful too. The main character is Charlie (Jabcob Soley), a Canadian voice actor. Red is played by Tyler Barish, Violet is played by Sara Chaudry, an Indian Canadian actress. What I love most are the fun stories that use different shapes and the many adventures the characters have, plus it uses a variety of learning methods. It emphasizes how you should always be kind to people even if you’re frustrated with a task.
The message in this show is that you should always trust your friends when they need you.
I give Charlie’s Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventure 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6. It is available now on DVD so look for it.

Cultureverse * Immersive Audio Drama With A Unique Educational Twist On Myths And Folklore

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Movie Reviews
Cultureverse * Immersive Audio Drama With A Unique Educational Twist On Myths And Folklore

Cultureverse is an immersive audio drama that celebrates our collective cultural past. It is a place where myths and legends come alive in the modern world. In each episode, an ordinary kid encounters an extraordinary creature, myth, or folk character from their culture, embarking on an exciting journey of self-discovery. Cultureverse isn’t just an audio adventure, it’s a show that celebrates who we are, and where we come from.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Each episode of this podcast delves deep into a unique cultural tradition or concept, such as the Czech golems or the Dangsan Tree of South Korea. The podcast teaches these concepts using a simple, but effective storyline… Kyla C. adds, “Are you looking for a new podcast with amazing acting and hosting, creative stories and cultural values? Listen to Cultureverse, a brand new podcast created for tweens and teens to be entertained by fantastical adventures and educated about many cultures.” Kendal B. chimes in with, “Hosted by Kelly Marie Tran and Yara Shahidi, Cultureverse takes myths and legends from different cultures, adds fictional modern characters and a new storyline, which make them more interesting and understandable. Kids will enjoy the exciting characters and the fascinating creatures.” Kyla wraps it up with, “The message of Cultureverse is to learn and explore other cultures’ traditions. This theme is clearly conveyed in each and every episode. It’s great that passing on these positive messages is a top priority for this podcast.” See their full reviews below.

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Cultureverse
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Cultureverse is a unique educational podcast with hosts we all love – actresses Yara Shahidi and Kelley-Marie Tran! Kids will appreciate its high production quality and immersive plot lines.

Each episode of this podcast delves deep into a unique cultural tradition or concept, such as the Czech golems or the Dangsan Tree of South Korea. The podcast teaches these concepts using a simple, but effective storyline – a child learns more about their culture through a real-world scenario (for example, bullying during online classes). For example, one of the episodes centers around Cholito de Suerte, a magical, luck-giving creature in Mexican folklore. A young girl is in the process of rebranding her musical persona and really wants some cool sunglasses. One day, she finds the Cholito de Suerte in her locker, and she remembers that her grandmother said the Cholito is generous and kind to all those who take care of it. After she gives the Cholito food, it spits out lots of coins and she’s able to buy her sunglasses (and more) with the money. This cycle continues for a while until the secret of her Cholito is betrayed, after which a unique lesson is taught. The show is based on a beautiful idea and is executed very well.

Cultureverse has no set cast except for the hosts Yara Shahidi and Kelley-Marie Tran. There’s a new child voice actor in each episode. The script doesn’t differ much between the two hosts; it’s natural and maintains a good pace throughout the 20 to 25 minute duration. I really enjoyed Tran’s narration a bit more, but since the stories in each episode have such sustained, contained momentum powered by the child voice actors and plotline, it doesn’t make much of a difference who is hosting.

Cultureverse promotes cultural appreciation as opposed to cultural appropriation. It encourages kids to learn about different cultures, even providing them with some further reading at the end of each episode.

I give Cultureverse 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Cultureverse is available now online at https://www.trax.fm/cultureverse. Go check it out!

Cultureverse
By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

With a hint of culture and lots of interesting stories, the podcast Cultureverse is a great way to learn more about stories from the past in a fun way. Even though these stories from the past have been modernized to entertain children, some of the plots get a little random and off-topic. However, that doesn’t stop this podcast from being a great way to educate your child about different heritages.

Hosted by Kelly Marie Tran and Yara Shahidi, Cultureverse takes myths and legends from different cultures, adds fictional modern characters and a new storyline, which make them more interesting and understandable. Kids will enjoy the exciting characters and the fascinating creatures.

The voice acting and sound effects in this podcast are so extravagant and over-the-top that it feels like the sounds are coming out of the screen and into your room. It’s definitely a very creative concept for a podcast, especially because it makes kids want to learn and keep listening. This would be a good added tool in a classroom for a history lesson because, while it sounds like a normal fantasy book, it still keeps the key parts of the original stories or myths. It could also be used at a heritage day or a multicultural festival as added content.

This podcast’s message is to keep culture alive through stories, as they are the foundation of our heritage and we should not let them be forgotten.

I give Cultureverse 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. Cultureverse is available now online at https://www.trax.fm/cultureverse

Cultureverse
By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Are you looking for a new podcast with amazing acting and hosting, creative stories and cultural values? Listen to Cultureverse, a brand new podcast created for tweens and teens to be entertained by fantastical adventures and educated about many cultures. Co-hosted by Kelly Marie Tran and Yara Shahidi, Cultureverse is a must-listen epic-adventure podcast.

Each episode of the podcast features a new character, a new background and a new cultural adventure. The short introduction lets viewers know more about the character and their desires; then Cultureverse dives into the magical adventure. One of my favorite episodes is The Watermelon Prince. Based on a Vietnamese folktale, Mia (Vicky Win) is sucked into a world of magic through none other than a talking watermelon. In the universe of this folktale, Mia meets herself, but as a different person. When she returns from her adventure, she feels as if she’s found another part of herself.

Cultureverse is a podcast with many positive aspects. The hosts are warm, welcoming and educational in their pre-story and post-story talks. They are also very talented narrators that make the stories more interesting and enjoyable. All the voice-actors are great; they make each story more fun while creating a vivid picture for the audience. The plot is another strong point. Each episode starts off realistic, so I’m stuck in the mind of a character when the fantastical elements start. It helps that normal kids experience these crazy cultural adventures. If the characters were superheroes or other fantasy creatures, it wouldn’t be as relatable. This podcast is a great way to introduce a variety of cultural myths and folktales.

The message of Cultureverse is to learn and explore other cultures’ traditions. This theme is clearly conveyed in each and every episode. It’s great that passing on these positive messages is a top priority for this podcast.

I give Cultureverse 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 14. You can find Cultureverse on Trax at ahttps://www.trax.fm/cultureverse.

Come From Away * Life-Changing Stories of Passengers Diverted to Newfoundland Following 9/11 Attacks

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Movie Reviews
Come From Away * Life-Changing Stories of Passengers Diverted to Newfoundland Following 9/11 Attacks

Come From Away is a 2021 American-Canadian musical film comprising a live stage recording of Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s 2017 musical of the same name, which tells the true story of 7,000 passengers who were stranded in a small town in Newfoundland, where they were housed and welcomed, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The film, produced in response to the shutdown of Broadway caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, was directed by Christopher Ashley and filmed in May 2021 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in New York City, featuring members of the Broadway cast. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katie F. comments, “Come From Away is a modern musical telling the life-changing story of the stranded passengers diverted to Newfoundland following the 9/11 disaster. With an incredible cast, catchy tunes and a moving tale Come From Away is definitely a film to watch.” Avalon N. adds, “This musical is a lot like the film Hamilton in that it is a live recording of the stage musical and is based on real historical events and people. It is about the aftermath of 9/11 when 38 planes were forced to land on a small Newfoundland island and tells how all the residents of the town of Gander took care of 7,000 people who were on those planes while they were stuck there for five days.” See their full reviews below.

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Come From Away
By Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Come From Away is a modern musical telling the life-changing story of the stranded passengers diverted to Newfoundland following the 9/11 disaster. With an incredible cast, catchy tunes and a moving tale Come From Away is definitely a film to watch.
Twenty years ago, on September 11, two planes crashed into the world famous twin towers in New York City, after they were high jacked. American air space was closed and all planes in the air were forced to land; thirty-eight of them were diverted to and stranded in Newfoundland, Canada. This story follows the passengers and crew from one of the planes as they come to terms with life in their new surroundings, while forming new relationships and bonding with the locals. This is the filmed version of the award-winning Broadway musical, filmed live on stage at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in New York City, which tells the story of those 7,000 stranded passenger.
Throughout this film, twelve cast members each play a number of roles and it is very hard to single people out at times. All the characters are based on key individuals involved in the plane diversion. Some cast members who really stood out to me include: Jenn Colella who plays one of the pilots and a townsperson, Annette. She plays sets the bar very high for anyone who might play these roles in the future. Her amazing solos and riffs will knock your socks off. Sharon Wheatly plays Diane and Jim Walton plays Nick, two people who meet on one of the planes and, throughout their time in Newfoundland, start to feel a connection. Sharon and Jim are both very talented and share and amazing duet, “Stop the World.” The remaining cast members each bring something different to this amazing production in their own unique way, from comedy to heart-break. My favourite song is the opening song “Welcome to the Rock.” I love that it’s an upbeat dance number that introduces you to the cast and the characters they play. I don’t think I could choose a favourite part of the musical as all of it is just so interesting, moving and inspirational.
The message of this film is to remember how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away or changed forever. My thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this tragic event over the past 20 years.
I give Come From Away 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It premieres September 10, 2021 on Apple TV+.

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Come From Away
By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Come From Away is an amazing filmed version of the Broadway musical. With all the singing and dancing, this show is sure to get you up and dancing.
This musical is a lot like the film Hamilton in that it is a live recording of the stage musical and is based on real historical events and people. It is about the aftermath of 9/11 when 38 planes were forced to land on a small Newfoundland island and tells how all the residents of the town of Gander took care of 7,000 people who were on those planes while they were stuck there for five days.
This musical is different from most because there is no main character; every character is equally important. Also, all the actors play two roles, often both a passenger and a helpful Newfoundlander. The costume changes are incredible as they often do them while on stage, but that is so small that you might not notice it. Another cool thing is that in the back of the stage there is a door that some people walk through and then it shuts again, which I found intriguing. Some of my favorite characters are Kevin and Kevin, who are dating and Bonnie, who takes care of animals. One of my favorite scenes is when people are walking on chairs and others keep moving the chairs and the stage rotates so it looks like they are moving. It has so much music. I continued listening to it right after I finished watching the film and listened to it while i was writing this review.
The message of this show is twofold. First, that you can make the best of any situation and second, when you can help others, try to help.
I give Come From Away 5 out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It is available on Apple TV+ now.

Movie Review: Cat Daddies * Documents Different Cat Adoptions By Men, Each A Heartwarming Story

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Movie Review: Cat Daddies * Documents Different Cat Adoptions By Men, Each A Heartwarming Story

David Giovanni is living on the streets of New York, determined to stay together with his beloved cat Lucky. When he’s finally granted a spot in a transitional housing facility that accepts cats, the COVID-19 pandemic and a devastating medical diagnosis puts his future together with Lucky in doubt. David’s journey is interspersed with portraits of other “cat dads” from all over the country and some who struggle to navigate the unprecedented events of 2020 with their little furry friends. They include a group of firefighters, a stunt man, a truck driver, a Bay Area tech worker, a schoolteacher whose cat becomes a viral sensation, and an actor/Instagram influencer. These men couldn’t be more different, but they share an unconditional love of their beloved pets. Cat Daddies is a refreshing and timely exploration of modern masculinity and the unlikely bond between man and cat. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like the documentary Cat Daddies because it documents different cat adoptions or rescues, especially by men, and each one of their stories is a heartwarming story that touches you. I liked seeing each one of these men and their cats bond and their journey.” See his full review below.

Cat Daddies 

By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 13

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I like the documentary Cat Daddies because it documents different cat adoptions or rescues, especially by men, and each one of their stories is a heartwarming story that touches you. I liked seeing each one of these men and their cats bond and their journey.

This documentary is about different men or “cat dads” rescuing or adopting kittens from the streets. The film takes place in different states including California, New York, South Carolina and Arizona. You will enjoy different stories of an actor who adopts four cats and becomes an influencer by posting about his cats on social media, a fireman who adopts a cat that now is part of their crew and more. This film also documents the journey of a homeless man named David who suffers from cancer, and his cat Lucky. David became so selfless that it takes him a lot of thinking to go take care of his cancer in order to not leave Lucky unattended. Cats, like dogs, are good companions and can be supportive animals as well. Cats can feel when you are sad and they express their love in different ways from dogs, but that doesn’t mean the love they offer is less. We often see movies or stories of men and their dogs, but have you ever watched a heartwarming movie or film about men and their cats? Well, this is your chance! My favorite story is David’s. His love for his cat, Lucky, is bigger than himself. Before David admits himself to the hospital to take care of his tumor, he makes sure Lucky is in good hands. He misses Lucky terribly while he’s at the hospital. This film is a reminder that if you are looking to adopt a pet, remember there are plenty of adorable cats and dogs in shelters waiting for a warm, cozy and loving home. Why go to pet stores and buy a pet when you can rescue them? At the end of your journey you will ask yourself, “Who rescued whom?”

The message of this film is about how men express their masculinity as they melt with love and compassion over cats.

I give Cat Daddies 5 out of 5 stars and recommended for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is playing now at select film festivals, so look for it. By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Introducing Jodea * Entertaining, Exciting, Light-Heart And Humorous

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Movie Reviews
Introducing Jodea * Entertaining, Exciting, Light-Heart And Humorous

A struggling young actress’s fortunes change when a world famous movie director drives into the back of her car. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Josephine M. comments, “I love the romantic comedy Introducing Jodea directed by Jon Cohen and written by Chloe Tricos. It is completely entertaining, exciting and humorous. Its light-hearted, humorous plot lines center on romantic ideas, such as how true love is able to surmount most obstacles.” See her full review below.

Introducing Jodea

By Josephine M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

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https://youtu.be/7g6D0XeLuEY

I love the romantic comedy Introducing Jodea directed by Jon Cohen and written by Chloe Tricos. It is completely entertaining, exciting and humorous. Its light-hearted, humorous plot lines center on romantic ideas, such as how true love is able to surmount most obstacles.

Introducing Jodea is a teen romantic comedy about a struggling young actress, Jodea Maxwell (Chloe Traicos), whose fortunes change when a world famous movie director Zac Kawalsky (Jeff Coppage) drives into the back of her car. Desperate, the actress uses the opportunity to beg Kawalsky for a role in his latest movie, but her audition is woeful to say the least. However Zac’s agent Grant tempts him with a bet he can’t refuse, the condition being that Zac has one week to make Jodea a brilliant actress.

My favourite character is Chloe Tricos because she never gives up even when she is told that she cannot become an actress because she is ugly and she can’t act. Chloe keeps on trying and pushing until she succeeds. My favourite part is when Zac Kawaslky’s agent Grant (Kent Hatch) tells Jodea that she is a very bad actress, but Jodea still believes in herself and knows that she can do it, she just needs help. The production design and costume are on point and very well executed.  Introducing Jodea is very engaging and intriguing; it is definitely worth checking out. I can see it catching on with audiences.

We all like to feel that dreams can come true and that true love does exist, which is the message of this film – the traditional Cinderella story that’ll make you laugh and cry. The idea that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind and soul to it; that you should not give up when you get bad feedback and that you should be resilient and determined – that is important.

I give Introducing Jodea 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Introducing Jodea releases in theatres Friday, June 4, 2021. Save the date!

1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything * Captures A Year That Baby Boomers And Gen Xers Lived Through

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything * Captures A Year That Baby Boomers And Gen Xers Lived Through

 

In a tumultuous era, 1971 would be a year of musical innovation and rebirth. Fueled by the political and cultural upheaval of the time, fresh talent exploded onto the scene, stars reached new heights, and boundaries expanded like never before. Watch 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything, now on Apple TV+. This eight-part docuseries will take you back to the birth of the most original artists and songs that we still listen to 50 years later, including never-before-seen footage of The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, and more. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything is about resilience and inspiration, or rather inspiration through resilience. As these incredible musicians weathered the tempest that was the titular year, they funneled their energy toward releasing uplifting and rousing music that would echo with the general populace; they truly seized the opportunity. And I feel that it’s a great parallel to 2020 and now 2021.” See his full review below.

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1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

https://youtu.be/Rlj8r-qiCdY

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1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything is a beautiful docuseries capturing the reality of a year that Baby Boomers and members of Generation X lived through.  In this series, the blooming of unique soundtracks in a turbulent time is captured gracefully, using archival footage and interviews plus voiceovers from influential and iconic figures of the ‘70s.The eight-part docuseries focuses on the musicians and soundtracks that shaped the culture and politics of 1971; featured artists include The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed… and even Ravi Shankar. 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything goes to great depth (each episode lasts from 40 to 60 minutes) to illustrate how these musical icons were influenced by the changing tides of history, including the Vietnam War, and how they used their work to inspire hope and change in their not-always-beautiful world. From politically-tinted songs to dreams of unity, the show runs the gamut of songs and emotions. It’s truly a beautifully-executed series, though it tends to drag about three quarters of the way into each episode.

 

The series comes from a filmmaking team that includes figures from documentaries like the Academy Award-winning ‘Amy,’ and so you know it’s going to be an awesome piece of work. Asif Kapadia is the show’s series director and serves as executive producer along with James Gay-Rees, David Joseph, and Universal Music Group’s Adam Barker. And this undertaking truly is a team effort; the production team has meticulously picked snippets of interviews, radio broadcasts, film from the recording booth and performances, and more, all from 1971, and pieced them together to tell a beautiful, intricate story. As you watch more and more of the show, you begin to get sucked into the world that is being portrayed on screen, a surefire sign that the minds behind 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything did lots of things right! Despite the show dragging a bit here and there, your eyes will surely be glued to the screen whenever you watch the series.1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything is about resilience and inspiration, or rather inspiration through resilience. As these incredible musicians weathered the tempest that was the titular year, they funneled their energy toward releasing uplifting and rousing music that would echo with the general populace; they truly seized the opportunity. And I feel that it’s a great parallel to 2020 and now 2021; certainly, music has played a major part in getting us through the pandemic, and who knows? Maybe 40 years down the road, we’ll see a film about 2020: The Year That Music Changed Everything… Again.

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I give 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything 4.5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything releases May 21, 2021, on Apple TV+!

 

The Dark Hobby * A Compelling Documentary Exposing the Ugly Truth of the Aquarium Hobby

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Reviews
The Dark Hobby * A Compelling Documentary Exposing the Ugly Truth of the Aquarium Hobby

The Dark Hobby is an exposé of the devastation to species and reefs caused by the aquarium trade. This adventurous saga follows a band of Hawaiian Elders, conservationists and scientists who stop at nothing to protect marine wildlife. They file a lawsuit against the State of Hawai’i to halt the collection of reef creatures, a fight that goes all the way to the Supreme Court. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D., comments, “The Dark Hobby, a compelling new documentary film, exposes the ugly truth behind a hobby practiced by so many people globally – the aquarium hobbyist. This film sheds light on the secrets of wildlife trafficking through the corrupt commercial extraction of our most precious species occupying the world’s coral reefs.” See his full review below.

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The Dark Hobby (2021)

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

https://youtu.be/-I4jAKRGepw

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How can we fix what we don’t know is broken?  How can we make change for something if we can’t see what is wrong?  The answer is simple…we can’t unless we are aware that a problem exists. Hidden under the surface of our oceans within some of the riches habitats on the globe, there IS a problem and we must take immediate action to save our natural world before it disappears. The Dark Hobby, a compelling new documentary film, exposes the ugly truth behind a hobby practiced by so many people globally – the aquarium hobbyist. This film sheds light on the secrets of wildlife trafficking through the corrupt commercial extraction of our most precious species occupying the world’s coral reefs.

https://youtu.be/6MdXo-MCnDk

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Aquariums are certainly beautiful and enjoyable for humans, but they come at a huge cost to other living things involved in this “hobby” industry. The Dark Hobby highlights some alarming statistics within this captive industry that are sure to shock those that admire these artificial habitats. The film takes us to Hawaii’s Kona Coast where Robert Wintner, the film’s executive producer and long time marine activist, educates us on the dismal journey of marine life from capture to captivity. Several other activists and research scientists offer additional evidence on this ever so cruel hobby. Plucked from their natural habitat, 99% of marine wildlife die within the first year of captivity – only to be replaced following their death. The continuous demand to replace aquarium life drives many “aquarium collectors” into the business, causing great devastation to marine ecosystems. The Dark Hobby refers to fish keeping as a “global travesty demanding the world’s attention” and this film is sure to change minds.

The Dark Hobby takes us underwater to some of the richest marine habitats in the world. This exclusive footage is outstanding and beautifully captured by the film’s cinematographers. The Hawaiian ecosystems shown in this documentary are so diversified and viewers get a firsthand look at what could be lost if we continue to allow wildlife to be stolen.  The scenes with including Native Hawaiians speaking out to save their culture are especially powerful and a great addition to the film.

The message in The Dark Hobby is about the need to open our eyes and think critically about all that is involved in human entertainment.  Humanity can be driven at times by greed and selfishness, which can cloud reality.  Humans are taking away marine life’s most prized possession – their freedom – and this film gives us the information and education we need to speak out about giving that freedom back. I give The Dark Hobby 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults, especially animal activists, will also love this documentary. The Dark Hobby makes its debut May 21, 2021 on a variety of digital platforms. Please spread the word, it’s critical that this film’s message be heard.

A Week Away * Feel-Good Teem Rom Com of the Year!

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Reviews
A Week Away * Feel-Good Teem Rom Com of the Year!

Nowhere left to go, Will Hawkins finds himself at camp for the first time. His instinct is to run, but he finds a friend, a father figure and even a girl who awakens his heart. Most of all, he finally finds a home. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S. comments, “A Week Away is a total breath of fresh air! This film is set to be the feel-good teen rom com of the year with hilarious one-liners and catchy tunes. This is definitely a new Netflix knockout.” Katherine S. adds, “On the musical front, this movie has an impressive soundtrack. Kudos to the songwriter, Adam Watts, for the original songs in this movie. The choreography is splendid as everyone has a dance during the singing, and it is perfectly in sync with everything else. The setting for this movie is beautiful! The cabins have so much attention to detail; the forest is very realistic; and the lake is gorgeous. Now I want to go to Camp Aweegaway!” See their full reviews below.

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A Week Away

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

https://youtu.be/TINVwOUqv8s

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A Week Away is a total breath of fresh air! This film is set to be the feel-good teen rom com of the year with hilarious one-liners and catchy tunes. This is definitely a new Netflix knockout.

A Week Away follows juvenile delinquent Will (Kevin Quinn) as he goes to camp Aweegaway as a way to escape juvie. At the camp, he meets Avery (Bailee Madison). Soon, Avery tears down Will’s walls and shows him the ropes. The two of them, along with the rest of the campers, breakout in song and dance. The large dance numbers and intimate ballads balance out the storyline perfectly.

https://youtu.be/TINVwOUqv8s

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The cinematography is absolutely breath-taking. The shots of the early morning at the camp and the gorgeous dancing between Avery and Will at the dock are stunning. The sun shines down on the two as they dance together. The choreography is spectacular. The upbeat dance numbers with large groups make you want to dance with them. The songs are also incredible. After watching this movie, you’ll definitely want to add the whole soundtrack to your playlist. Along with this film’s spectacular visuals, the performances stand out. The intimate scenes between Avery and Will leave you rooting for these young teens from the lovely garden scene where Avery confesses how she’s exhausted of trying to be perfect, to Will’s vulnerable moment as he comes to terms with being loved and accepted.

https://youtu.be/CLcnY-LRQ0k

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The moral of the film is that your past doesn’t define your future. Once the truth about Will’s checkered past comes to light, he runs away, believing that Avery would reject him. She, on the contrary, accepts him with open arms. Over the week that the film takes place, Will’s character develops dramatically, as he learns to love himself and learns how God and faith guides souls.

I give A Week Away 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It is available on Netflix March 26, 2021.

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A Week Away

By Katherine S, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

https://youtu.be/Rk_KhtqMrRo

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A Week Away is a teen rom-com musical. It has attractive, lakeside outdoor settings, amazing choreography and solid faith-based messages.

This movie follows a teenage boy named Will (Kevin Quinn) who is a bit of a troublemaker.  He takes his actions a bit too far by stealing a police car, and when caught has the choice of going to a juvenile detention center or going to a faith-based camp with one of his foster families. He chooses camp Aweegaway, a place where some of the teens are only a week away from a life-changing experience. While at camp, Will meets Avery (Bailee Madison), who may very well be the catalyst for that change.

At several points during the storyline, A Week Away can be a bit cheesy and predictable, but this is a rom-com musical so it can only go in so many directions – and it’s still fun! On the musical front, this movie has an impressive soundtrack. Kudos to the songwriter, Adam Watts, for the original songs in this movie. The choreography is splendid as everyone has a dance during the singing, and it is perfectly in sync with everything else. The setting for this movie is beautiful! The cabins have so much attention to detail; the forest is very realistic; and the lake is gorgeous. Now I want to go to Camp Aweegaway! Kevin Quinn, who plays Will, possibly drew inspiration for this role from his character in Bunk’d, also about a camp. Bailee Madison is so believable as sweet and faithful Avery, who becomes Will’s love interest. My favorite character is Avery’s dad (Dave Koechner) because he is kind, silly and pretty inspiring. He is such a good dad role model.

The two primary messages for this movie are that nobody’s perfect and always keep your faith. There are a couple of examples of bad behavior in the movie, like someone stealing a car and running away from home.

I give A Week Away 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for ages 9 to 18. It comes out on Netflix March 26, 2021.

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