Thor: Ragnarok – Excellent Action And Style. Great Acting And Direction. Captures Details With An 80s Retro Feel

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Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk, his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor’s quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “The acting is top level and the wonderful direction captures every detail with an 80s retro feel. This is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for all Marvel fans.” Nathaniel B. adds, “Marvel movies… They are either works of art with great plots, or completely confusing and the plots are like earbuds in a pocket – tangled and time-wasting. This one isn’t (thankfully) the latter. It has humor around every corner…” See their full reviews below.
Thor: Ragnarok
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Thor: Ragnarok impressed me because of its excellent action and style. The acting is top level and the wonderful direction captures every detail with an 80s retro feel. This is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for all Marvel fans.
The story is about Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the God of Thunder and former Avenger, who finds himself in the toughest match of his life when he is pitted against Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, who destroys his hammer in a fierce battle. Thor escapes through a space portal, but is transported to Sakaar, a planet known for its gladiator matches hosted by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). Imprisoned, Thor is forced to fight on the gladiator ring, only to find out his opponent is the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who is unaware of their previous comradery. Meanwhile on Asgard, Hela is the new leader and executes a strict dictatorship. Despite being captured, Thor is trying to set up a team with the Hulk, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to escape and stop Hela before it is too late.


(Talent interview)

Chris Hemsworth, as Thor, excellently presents his desperation, despite being a hero of great power. His new-born comradery with the Hulk is well presented, due to their great chemistry. Cate Blanchett, as Hela, is one of the best villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, due to her nefarious behavior and interesting backstory that shines a new light on Asgard’s history. Mark Ruffalo, as the Hulk, is excellent in his Jekyll-Hyde personality between being Bruce Banner and being the Hulk. Due to this, he is my favorite character in the movie. Jeff Goldblum, as the Grandmaster, is quirky and fun like always. Tessa Thompson, as Valkyrie, provides an initially flawed companion to Thor, but stops running away from her problems and face them, when she decides to team up with Thor. Tom Hiddleston, as Loki, is as deceptive and charismatic as ever.
The direction by Taika Waititi is splendid. Every scene in the movie is filled with style and well-timed comedy. My favorite scene is when Thor activates his true potential in the final battle against Hela because it is a huge leap for the character, and it leads to one of the most epic battles in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe. My only problem with the movie is the tonal shifts the movie faces because the movie is filled with comedic scenes. However, in serious and emotional scenes, they feel rout of place.
The message of the movie is about believing in yourself. Thor is only able to last in the battle with Hela when he realizes his true potential is beyond his hammer. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of its intense action and suggestive references. The movie releases in theaters on November 3, 2017 so check it out.
Thor: Ragnarok
By Nathaniel B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Marvel movies… They are either works of art with great plots, or completely confusing and the plots are like earbuds in a pocket – tangled and time-wasting. This one isn’t (thankfully) the latter. It has humor around every corner which blends well into the story, making it quite enjoyable. This new, highly anticipated third film has cutting-edge CGI. Colorful new worlds are brought to life with realistic scenery and quirky new characters. It’s surprising what modern-tech can do for a movie’s quality.

Thor: Ragnarok is action-packed, like most of Marvel Studios blockbusters. The music really helps drive the already epic fight scenes to make them feel even more epic. There is also a really interesting storyline. It takes Thor into many different places and situations. I really enjoyed watching this film and am excited to see how Marvel will wrap up all the films that they have made and will make.

The jokes enhance their fair share to the story. They are witty and fun and take nothing away from the thick plot. Most are quick witted and fit in well into what is happening. Very few are cringe-inducing or make you feel disappointed in the world. Two are especially funny, one is about the battle tactic ‘get help!,’ about which you will have to discover for yourselves. The other joke is when Thor puts together a team to fight Hela (Cate Blanchett) and calls them the ‘revengers.’ An obvious nod to the Avengers.

Like many modern films, there is very realistic CGI, but this one is more artful than most in the computer generated imagery area. All things – the projectiles, spaceships, even monsters look detailed to the point of realism. The scenery is also beautiful, the real ones as well as the computer generated ones.

The fight scenes are quick and smooth and also look great with modern CGI. The camera angles, the weapons, even the grunts all enhance the the action. The music helps the action more than anything else by amplifying the epicness of the combat. The plot is interesting and flows pretty smoothly. It begins with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who fights monsters and then gets stranded on a faraway planet where people are captured off the streets and forced to fight. He finds Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and tries to get him to help in taking down the death goddess, Hela, who is invading Asgard after breaking Mjolnir, Thor’s magic hammer. She is the reason Thor is stranded.

I like this film a lot, for its humor, CGI, plot and more. It is the best in the Thor trilogy. Some smaller things I like include the short Doctor Strange cameo and the inclusion of the “Contest of Champions.” I liked the cameo because they never really have been placed in previous films, other than the ones from ‘Marvel Man’ Stan Lee. The Contest of Champions is cool because I have heard of it before, mostly from the Marvel game, which I admit to playing a bit myself.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars, because it is very well done and I recommend it for ages 9 to 18. It does have a fair share of violence and some inappropriate language as well. This blockbuster will be in theaters November 3, 2017, so make sure to go see it!
Credit: KIDS FIRST!

Wonder – A Touching Film About Differences and Acceptance

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Based on the New York Times bestseller, Wonder tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to discover their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B., comments, “This is a movie I was anticipating since I saw the first trailer. The trailer alone had me in tears, so I already knew it was going to touch my heart. Well, wouldn’t you know, my assumptions were correct.” Benjamin P. adds, “Wonder is an uplifting film that translates to the screen very well, thanks to some spot-on casting and good performances across the board.” Juanita L., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer wraps it up with, “This film has messages of limitless love and developing and building friendships as Auggie says, “If you really want to see who people are…just look.” See their full reviews and Benjamin’s interview with the author of the book and film producer below.

 

Wonder

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

 

 

This is a movie I was anticipating since I saw the first trailer. The trailer alone had me in tears, so I already knew it was going to touch my heart. Well, wouldn’t you know, my assumptions were correct.

 

The story is about 10-year-old Auggie Pullman, a kid with facial deformities due to a gene disorder. He is starting 5th grade, middle school and struggles to fit in at a new school. Seriously, middle school is tough for everyone, so add to that being different and being home-schooled until 5th grade. It’s a minefield.

 

This movie is an adaptation of the book “Wonder” which is a popular read in middle school. No, I didn’t read the book, but now I want to, since I love this movie for multiple reasons. First, the acting is fantastic, particularly the emotional scenes, which is probably why I cried so much. This movie has some pretty good star power. Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and of course, Daveed Diggs, who stars in Hamilton, are all part of this cast. I absolutely love the characters in this film. A lot of the supporting roles actually have important parts and each character is unique and likeable as well. All except Julian’s mom, the only character that isn’t really redeemable. Still, Auggie’s parents, his sister, his friends, his teachers, and, of course, Auggie himself, Jacob Tremblay, make this movie exceptional. Not only that, the teachers and the principal at his school are so much better than teachers at actual schools. A big theme and important message, is the way parents raise their kids. I believe this is a true and good message.

 

One thing that makes this story unique is the different perspectives of other characters and their lives. Certain characters come off as mean, but you see through their life through their eyes and get a different view. Although the main focus is Auggie, characters like his sister get nice subplots that contribute to providing extra context of the character, but not drawing our attention away from the main plot. Some may complain that the entire story revolves around Auggie and I can understand those impressions. However, I think of it as a way of showing that Auggie changed many people’s lives for the better. The script is also really well done, with a good balance of funny and emotional writing.

 

I definitely give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. This movie comes out November 17, 2017 in theaters nationwide so go check it out.

 

Wonder

By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

 

Interview with Author and Director

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

 

Wonder is an uplifting film that translates to the screen very well, thanks to some spot-on casting and good performances across the board.

 

Based on a popular novel by R.J Palacio, Wonder follows Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a boy with a craniofacial disorder. He lives with his parents and his older sister. His mom enrolls Auggie in the fifth grade at a nearby school after years of homeschooling. Hesitant but confident, Auggie struggles to make new friends and encounters bullies. The movie follows different perspectives of people in Auggie’s life throughout the school year. Another key plotline follows his sister Via. She loves her brother, but sometimes feels like her parents ignore her. Now her grandmother, the only person who puts her first, is gone and her best friend has abandoned her for a new group of friends from summer camp. The movie triumphantly brings these and other viewpoints together for a full, rich storytelling experience as Auggie’s personality leads people to care less about what he looks like, but the kind of person he is on the inside.

 

Seeing A-list stars such as Julia Roberts, who plays Auggie’s mom, portray characters from one of my favorite books piqued my interest for this adaptation, but I did not expect the film to be so excellent in its execution. It maintains the spirit of the novel, without feeling sappy, thanks to the direction and screenwriting from Stephen Chbosky, the author and director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The emotion onscreen is just as raw as conveyed in the book and the scenes carry the same poignant effect. Just like with the novel, you fall in love with these characters and care about what happens to them. Jacob Tremblay is especially fantastic as Auggie and shows a compelling range of emotion. He brings confidence to the character and represents his softer sides as well.

 

The lesson of Wonder is that it shouldn’t matter what a person looks like, but who they are on the inside. Auggie is bullied for what he looks like, but people should not be judged by appearance, but rather by their character.

 

I recommend Wonder for ages 7 to 18. There are some scenes with characters in peril, as well as some scenes of bullying. Bullying is a hard topic to watch on film, but kids should be aware that it is an issue. I give Wonder 4 out of 5 stars. It is available in theaters now so be sure to check it out.

 

Wonder

By Juanita L., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
I enjoyed watching Wonder, based on the book by R.J. Palacio. It is a very uplifting story about Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a young boy with a facial difference who enters private school for the first time in fifth grade. Auggie has been home-schooled by his mother who decides it is time for him to have a real school experience. We can feel Auggie’s pain as he gets a taste of the best and the worst of human nature. He goes through 27 surgeries. Some of the students he meets are kind and accepting, others are not sure and some are just cruel. Auggie wants to do normal things and he is upset and afraid to face the kids’ reactions to his appearance.

 

One of my favorite scenes happens in the beginning when the director of his new school (Mandy Patinkin) introduces Auggie to a small group of students before school starts, thinking this will help ease the transition. I felt this was a wonderful way to help Auggie feel comfortable. You will have to see the film and decide if you think it works.

 

Auggie’s parents (Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson) along with his sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) provide unbelievable love and support to him. It is almost not real. The story and the characters show us a range of human emotions. Auggie wants to be treated like a normal kid.  Via wants her parents to give her some attention and ask about the day SHE HAD at school.  Mom has put her life on hold to care for Auggie and now sees a chance to complete her dissertation. Auggie’s father tries to be a supportive, understanding and caring father. This film has messages of limitless love and  developing and building friendships AS Auggie says, “If you really want to see who people are…just look.”

 

The visuals and music are excellent and bring an element of fun. The elements of bullying and some of the emotion around Auggie’s beloved dog might be intense for younger children. I recommend Wonder for ages 9 to 18 as well as adults. Be inspired and experience Wonder at your local theater when it opens November 17, 2017.

 

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

Murder on the Orient Express – A Classic, Suspenseful Mystery Movie With Fantastic Cast

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A lavish trip through Europe quickly unfolds into a race against time to solve a murder aboard a train. Everyone’s a suspect when Detective Hercule Poirot arrives to interrogate all passengers and search for clues before the killer can strike again. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Rohan F. comments, “Murder on the Orient Express is an incredible film. It is a perfect example of a classic suspenseful mystery movie.” Damon F. adds, “I always love mystery movies because they really get me thinking. This one is particularly puzzling. It kept me guessing till the end. The storyline pulls it all together well.” See their full reviews below.

Murder on the Orient Express
By Rohan D. F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

Murder on the Orient Express is an incredible film. It is a perfect example of a classic suspenseful mystery movie.  It is based on the detective novel by Agatha Christie. Watching this film really made me want to read the book.

The movie follows Hercule Poirot as he makes a journey aboard the train, The Orient Express. When someone gets murdered in the first-class carriage, while the train is temporarily stuck in snow, he interrogates the remaining passengers to find the culprit. As he slowly starts unraveling the different stories, lots of contradictory clues start to appear and they lead you, along with Hercule Poirot to finally make sense of this twisting tale. I really like how the movie allows you to connect to all the characters as they tell their stories in detail.

My favorite scene is the inevitable big reveal at the end of the film, when Poirot solves the case. I love mystery movies. This is the part when you find out if you are right about who you think committed the crime. I saw this film at in 70mm which was awesome. It gave the film a really authentic feeling.

I love how all the actors portray their characters. During the interrogations, you can tell that each character has something to hide. I really enjoyed Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot. I feel that he really fits the character and portrays how Hercule is feeling at any given time. His moustache is fabulous. I particularly like his moustache guard that he wears at night. This is very funny.

I love the attention to detail in this film. I like that there is a slow, rocking sound of the train throughout the entire movie and that there is always movement outside the windows, while the train is in motion. I also like the small connections to Agatha Christie’s other books. I love how they use black and white footage to represent flashbacks. This makes very clear what happened in the past rather than the present.

The moral of this film is that there is more to any situation than meets the eye.  Nothing is just black and white or right and wrong. There is a gray area in between where people’s actions can be both.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars for its real, authentic feel and recommend it for ages 10 through 18 as well as adults. This film opens in theaters November 10, 2017 so check it out.

Murder on the Orient Express
By Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

I was excited when I watched the film, Murder on the Orient Express. This movie is truly amazing. I always love mystery movies because they really get me thinking. This one is particularly puzzling. It kept me guessing till the end. The storyline pulls it all together well. The movie has an old-time feel since it takes place in the past. The screening I saw it at was on 70mm film which added to the overall feeling of it. Some parts of the movie are a bit scary, but there are very funny moments too.

The stars of this film are Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot, the protagonist, who is the most amazing detective. Penelope Cruz plays Pilar Estravados, a humble Spanish missionary and nurse. Willem Dafoe plays Cyrus Hardman, a stern German professor who keeps to himself while keeping an eye on everyone else. Other famous actors who are featured include Dame Judy Dench, a foreign princess, Michelle Pfeiffer, an American actress and Johnny Depp, a conman. They all play characters who are riding first class on the train, The Orient Express, when a murder occurs. Hercule Poirot must use his skills to collect the evidence and find the murderer. As the story unfolds, it is very hard to figure out who the murderer is and why. The tagline is “everyone is a suspect” and this turns out to be true, in the most unexpected ways.

My favorite part is in the beginning when Hercule Poirot solves a mystery of a stolen item and catches the culprit at The Wailing Wall. This scene is hilarious. Nothing about this movie is bad, I like when it shows the bottom of the old-fashioned train. Those scenes are particularly cool. The train drives through some awesome scenery on its journey from Istanbul to Paris. The message of this film is that things aren’t always what they seem. The movie is based on the book by Agatha Christie and has a perfect ending to have a sequel, as they mention where Poirot must go next, which is the name of another book by the same author.

This movie is really amazing. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars for its awesome storyline and message. The movie is rated PG-13 and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Younger children might not understand the concept of murder mysteries and it contains violence such as stabbing and gun shooting. I believe adults will really enjoy it too.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

 

 

 

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness – Unique and Unexpected with a Spiral of Surprises!

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All Little Wolf wants to do is stay at home with Mum, Dad and his brother, Smellybreff. However, Mum and Dad are worried that their precious son, Little Wolf, is not as bad as a small wolf should be. So they decide to send him off to Cunning College in Frettnin Forest to learn the Nine Rules of Badness from his Uncle Bigbad. Uncle Bigbad is a hopeless teacher, but armed with determination and native wit, Little Wolf thinks things out for himself. Sent out by his Uncle to round up a troop of boy scouts to eat for supper, Little Wolf discovers that the scouts have many useful skills that Little Wolf can learn from them. In the end, Little Wolf decides not to follow outdated rules of proper wolf behavior but to be true to himself. As a result, he inherits his Uncle’s fortune and becomes master of Cunning College. Based on a world-famous series of best-selling Little Wolf story books, this one-off is a treat for the whole family!

 

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness

By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

 

 

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness, directed by Karsten Kiilerich, is unique and unexpected! With its spiral of surprises, I never could predict what would happen in the next scene. The story also puts a twist on common fairy tales such as Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood.

 

The story follows Little Wolf (Alexander Pownall), who is not bad enough for his family. So his Mum (Lucy Whybrow) and Dad (Richard Hope) send him on a journey to Cunning College to learn from his Uncle Bigbad how to be a true bad wolf. On his quest, he learns the ‘Nine Rules of Badness.’

 

Alexander Pownall, the voice actor for Little Wolf, creates personality through his voice. His voice is high, making it sound like that of a young child. As Little Wolf ventures through the woods to reach Cunning College, I heard the fear in his voice and sympathized with him. When he writes letters back to his family and reads them, I heard the unwillingness to be where he was and the sense of defeat just through his voice. Michael Gambon, voice actor for Uncle Bigbad, has terror in his voice that gave me goose bumps. For example, when he is first introduced and he speaks, I knew Little Wolf was going to have a tough time in Cunning College.

 

The animation is dark but appealing. It sets the tone of the movie as it reflects Little Wolf’s feelings. For example, when Little Wolf feels that his trip was a waste of time and nothing good will come out of his journey, the scenery is dark, it is raining and there are shadowy clouds looming above him. The costume designs add to the personalities of each character. For example, Little Wolf has simple clothes that are similar to a schoolboy’s outfit, reflecting what his purpose is in the movie. Uncle Bigbad wears a grey suit, with a yellow shirt and blue tie which reflects his personality as an evil wolf but also one who has the potential to have color or goodness in his life.

 

My favorite part of this show is the animation. The type of animation that is used made me feel as if I was watching my own imagination. The message here is that goodness will always outshine darkness. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 15. This is available on DVD now so check it out.

 

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness

By Dariana A., KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 11

 

 

 

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness is a very odd type of film. It’s not your typical Dora the Explorer type of kids’ show, which is good because there are too many of those types of shows out there. This is a story and a good story at that. It teaches kids through a wolf who is supposed to be bad, but wants to be good.

 

The storyline is about Little Wolf who just wants to stay at home with his family, but his parents don’t think he’s bad enough to live up to the Wolf family name. So, they send Little Wolf to Cunning College to learn the Nine Rules of Badness from his Uncle Big Bad. But it turns out Uncle Big Bad isn’t such an amazing teacher after all.

 

As I said, the show is pretty great. The animation is wiggles a bit, even when they are standing still. This is probably intended, but it is kind of distracting. One of the things I really like about this show is its plot and the simple way it shows the lessons they are trying to teach without even saying so. This is what makes it a different type of kids’ film. It is also very slow paced. There isn’t very much action. One thing I wondered about the whole time is why Little Wolf always sneezes when he’s around Mr. Twister. Is he allergic? Michael Gambon, the voice talent for Big Bad is really cool. David Thewlis voices Mr. Twister, which is pretty awesome. I know and like both Gamgon and Thewlis from the Harry Potter films. Another thing I really enjoyed about this film is how scary they make Big Bad. I really was kind of scared when the character Big Bad came on and yelled at Little Wolf. That is probably my favorite scene because it really shows who Big Bad truly is.

 

The message this film teaches is that, even if you’re bad or scary, that doesn’t mean that you are happy. I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars because it has a cool, different way of teaching kids. I recommend this film for ages 2 to 6. This film is available now on DVD so, go check it out.

 

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

 

Daddy’s Home Two – Great Humor, Great Cast, Heart Warming Story with Co-Dads/Granddads

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Father and stepfather Dusty and Brad join forces to make Christmastime perfect for the children. Their newfound partnership soon gets put to the test when Dusty’s old-school, macho dad and Brad’s gentle father arrive to turn the holiday upside down. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ryan R. comments, “I really enjoyed this film for its humor and the new cast additions.  The humor is way better than the original. I must say that Paramount upped the comedy by a lot.” Ella L. adds, “This film is so incredibly hilarious. The humor is quite slapstick and exaggerated, but is written so well and timed so perfectly that it is not obnoxious in the slightest.” Rachael V. sums it up with, “The story is wonderful and heartwarming. It is a real treat to see co-dads in action. Seeing this huge split family come together and thrive is beautiful. My favorite part of this movie is seeing the fantastic work done in choosing the grandfathers’ roles.” See their full reviews below.

 

Daddy’s Home Two
By Ryan R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

 

 

Daddy’s Home Two is definitely worth seeing and is funnier than the first movie.  In this hilarious sequel to Daddy’s Home, we see Dusty’s (Mark Wahlberg) and Brad’s (Will Ferrell), friendship and co-parenting skills put to the test when both their dads show up for Christmas.<p>Towards the beginning of the film, one of the children expresses at a school play how sad it makes them feel about having two Christmas’s in two different homes.  After the play, Dusty and Brad come up with an idea and decide to tell the kids that they will have a together Christmas. Dusty’s dad, Kurt (Mel Gibson) and Brad’s dad, Don (John Lithgow) arrive during the time they are planning their perfect Christmas and that’s when things start to get crazy. Don is a very talkative, affectionate and emotional type of dad. Meanwhile, Kurt is very an ultra masculine, loner type of dad, who is not the greatest parent.  Kurt starts to instigate and stir things up between Brad and Dusty.  The question is, will they have a successful family Christmas or will it be an epic failure?

 

I really enjoyed this film for its humor and the new cast additions.  The humor is way better than the original. I must say that Paramount upped the comedy by a lot.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when they went to talk to Santa. That visit to Santa leads to a specific turkey hunt. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone because it is very entertaining. I also enjoyed the performances by the cast.  Wahlberg and Ferrell maintain their comedic chemistry like they did in the first film. The new cast members, John Lithgow and Mel Gibson are very comical and make it more entertaining with their facial expressions, sarcasms and crazy antics.  The jokes are amusing because of their delivery.  Lithgow and Gibson are the polar opposites and they are hilarious. Oh, and watch out for Scarlett Estevez and Owen Wilder Vacarro, those two are little scene-stealers. They each have moments where they really shine.

 

I must admit the movie can be a little childish and inappropriate at times. But overall it’s worth the watch. After all, everyone should experience a little joy and laughter around the holidays. The message I took away from this film is that the dads in this blended family were willing to work with each other, despite their differences in parenting, for the sake of their kids so they could have a Merry Christmas together. I give this movie four out of five stars and recommend it to ages 9  to 18 as well as adults. I also recommend it to those who like family comedies. This opens Friday, November 20, 2017 in theaters nationwide so, go check it out.

 

 

Daddy’s Home Two

By Ella L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

 

 

Red Carpet coverage: https://youtu.be/7G4OBLu278Q

 

This film is so incredibly hilarious. The humor is quite slapstick and exaggerated, but is written so well and timed so perfectly that it is not obnoxious in the slightest. The plot is interesting to follow. The writers squeezed a lot of important and comical events into a short amount of time. However it doesn’t seem rushed or forced.

 

Daddy’s Home Two, the sequel to Daddy’s Home, is directed by Sean Anders and stars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, John Lithgow and Mel Gibson. In this film, two kids urge their mom (Linda Cardellini), their dad (Mark Wahlberg) and their step-dad (Will Ferrell) to have a ”together Christmas.” They all agree before Dusty and Brad find out that both their dads (John Lithgow and Mel Gibson) are spending Christmas with them. The film follows this group of people as they try to enjoy a family holiday while tensions rise between each other.

 

The acting is awesome throughout this film. The delivery of the jokes is so on point and it makes everything funnier than it already was. I could not keep my eyes off of the screen the entire time because this film is so much fun to watch. I had an absolute blast watching it. The holiday theme makes it a great family movie to watch during the upcoming holiday season.

 

The message is about family and how important it is. I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18. You should know that there are slightly adult jokes. This film opens November 10, 2017 in theaters nationwide so go check it out whether you’re with friends, family or even by yourself. You will have blast.

 

Daddy’s Home Two

By Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Juror

Trailer https://youtu.be/yyW_EX7iRW0

 

The subject matter of Daddy’s Home Two hits close to home for my family as we are a mixed-family family and my children are in split households. When the first film came out, all of us went to go see it in theaters together. So we were all super excited to have the honor of attending the press screening and reviewing the sequel.

 

The story is wonderful and heart warming. It is a real treat to see co-dads in action. Seeing this huge split family come together and thrive is beautiful. My favorite part of this movie is seeing the fantastic work done in choosing the grandfathers’ roles. Watching this, you really believe that Mel Gibson is Mark Wahlberg’s dad and John Lithgow is Will Ferrell’s dad. They deliver such believable performances. On the other hand, John Cena’s character isn’t given enough character development to make a big impact. My least favorite part of this film is the ending. I can’t tell you what it is because that would be a spoiler. I will say that it takes place at a Showcase Cinema and maybe it’s  because I was at a Showcase Cinema watching this film, but I really did not enjoy the sequence of events at the ending.

 

All together though, the film is well done, light hearted and funny. It brings light to a difficult subject and hopefully inspires some parents and step-parents to try a little bit harder because, in the end parenting is about the children not parents. This movie is rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive material. I feel it is appropriate for ages 10 to 18 as well as adults. I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

“Christmas With a Plan!” Workbook is a must this upcoming holiday season!

Christmas With a Plan! workbook helps busy families enjoy an organized and memorable holiday. The 122-page book also serves as a keepsake journal of cherished memories and photos. Available at Amazon.com and everywhere books are sold. (PRNewsfoto/Ahearn Ink)

Anyone who has ever experienced a stressful or overwhelming Christmas season now has a new reason to celebrate: the release of “Christmas With a Plan! A Week-by-week Guide to Creating a Memorable Christmas.” This detailed and comprehensive workbook is filled with gift lists, Christmas card lists, budget worksheets, inventory sheets for decorations, letters to Santa, ideas for new holiday activities, places for photos, meal and recipe plans, calendars, advice and inspiration.  The 122-page book, which is published by Ahearn Ink and is available now on Amazon.com and everywhere books are sold, provides a step-by-step visual road map to creating an ideal and organized Christmas.

“Christmas with a Plan!” was developed by Joleen Peoples of Higganum, Conn., and is based on the successful planners she created for her PeoplesLifeOnPaper Etsy shop.  Her objective was to help readers navigate the Christmas season with joy and purpose, and to create a book that would serve as a family’s year-to-year referral guide and scrapbook of traditions and memories.

“I originally designed this guide as a six-week planner, but quickly realized it can be put into motion any time throughout the year when the mood strikes to begin thinking about gift giving, shopping lists, cards to send, and all the other details that make up the holidays,” Peoples said.  “We want readers to proactively use this guide to track what has been purchased, stay on top of budgets, manage checklists and calendars leading up to Christmas, as a place store notes and photos for brainstorming, and as an ongoing reference tool for future holidays.  There are countless ways this planner will help create a memorable and far more relaxing Christmas and we are excited to now make it available in book format.”

Thousands of people have purchased downloadable planners from the PeoplesLifeonPaper Etsy shop, which cover nearly 40 topics such as planning a family vacation, getting holidays in order, being a rock-star bridesmaid, getting chores scheduled, and organizing medical records.  This is the first planner that she has developed into a workbook.

I received a copy of this book and highly recommend! The book actually starts planning in October and I love that you can set Christmas goals, plan week by week and even put your holiday shopping list in this planner!  Makes it so more easy to be organized in this hectic season!

Look for it on Amazon.com and at other book retailers.

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book to facilitate this post. The image was also provided. 

Goodbye Christopher Robin – Great Film with Top-Notch Performances from Its A-List

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This film offers a rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children’s author A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and his son Christopher Robin, whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie the Pooh. Along with his mother Daphne (Margot Robbie), and his nanny Olive, Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books; the enchanting tales bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War. But with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family? KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “You may think this is about the creation of Winnie-the-Pooh, which it is, but it is also about how the beloved bear’s sharp rise to fame affected the family of A.A. Milne and the writer’s own struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.” Morgan B., adds, “Christopher Robin has a story with a magnificent heart, which is filmed brilliantly. I felt as if I was in England. I cried countless times because the characters are so relatable and there are many touching moments. The acting, photography and graphics are downright superb.” See their full reviews below.

 

Goodbye Christopher Robin

By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

 

Goodbye Christopher Robin is a great film with top-notch performances from its A-list cast. You may think this is about the creation of Winnie-the-Pooh, which it is, but it is also about how the beloved bear’s sharp rise to fame affected the family of A.A. Milne and the writer’s own struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

Goodbye Christopher Robin follows Milne’s young son and his playwright father who finds it difficult to pen any new plays after his experiences in World War I. Father and son begin to spend time together playing in the woods around their new home in the British countryside. Soon, Milne has his friend and fellow soldier, illustrator Ernest Shepherd, visit his homestead to craft stories based on the Milne family’s imaginative woodland adventures. Thus, Winnie-the-Pooh is created and a cultural icon is born. Milne gives his own son’s name to Pooh’s best fictional friend. Suddenly the press and public are eager to meet the real Christopher Robin. The onslaught of interviews and the dwindling time spent with his parents take a toll and he has trouble coping.

 

Domhnall Gleeson is great as A.A Milne. He shows us the effects PTSD can have on veterans and their everyday lives. Gleeson shows us the transformation from the playwright who feels lost in what he will do next to the author on top of the world grappling with how to deal with his fame and his faltering efforts to be a good father. Kelly Macdonald is also excellent as Christopher Robin’s angelic and kind nanny, Olive. She is really the only one watching out for Christopher Robin. Olive has a positive glow that stays strong to the end of the film. She is my favorite character and I compliment Macdonald on making the relationship she has with Christopher Robin so heartwarming.

 

I give Goodbye Christopher Robin an age rating of 12 to 18 for some subjects that could be troubling for younger audiences. If you’re looking for a bright testament to the legacy of Winnie-the-Pooh and the magic of childhood, this is not that film. But Goodbye Christopher Robin is an insightful, historical, sometimes dark drama that goes into other important topics. I give Goodbye Christopher Robin 4 out of 5 stars. It opens in theaters October 13.

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Goodbye Christopher Robin

By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

 

A creative imagination and playing games is fun, especially when you add the people that you care about your fun adventures! This is a story about what happens when someone takes those thoughts, turns them into books and shares them with the world. Goodbye Christopher Robin has a story with a magnificent heart, which is filmed brilliantly. I felt as if I was in England. I cried countless times because the characters are so relatable and there are many touching moments. The acting, photography and graphics are downright superb. They bring this true story to life.

War is devastating for everyone, especially the families of the soldiers. One of the worst wars in history was World War I. A.A. Mile returns from the war to rejoin his family and friends and has a hard time adjusting to normal life. Once he joins his son’s world of fun and adventure, starring a fluffy bear, he reconnects with his son and finds joy. A.A. Mile wrote Winnie the Pooh stories for his son. They were so good that he published them. He wanted to share his new-found joy with the world and make others happy. The war caused much heartache and Winnie the Pooh made people smile. He thought it would also make his son happy.

 

The cinematography and graphics in Goodbye Christopher Robin are fantastic. The scenes of the woods are very vivid with lots of brilliant colors. The scene when the snow suddenly drifts into the air to make springtime is terrific. I was surprised with its beauty. I love seeing snow fall in reverse.

The acting is fabulous. Each performer seems to have the perfect personality for their character. Christopher Robin (Will Tilston) is adorable and huggable just like Winnie the Pooh. His happiness with his stuffed animals jumps through the screen and makes you smile. He looks like the Christopher Robin we see in the books. A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) is played as a stern man. He wants his son to be happy, but he also wants to turn Winne the Pooh and his son’s stuffed animals into wonderful stories. His muse is his son. Through him, he heals from the war and finds his voice again as a writer. He wants to find fame as a wonderful children’s writer who brings joy to those who thought there was no joy left in the world. This is played perfectly because you hate him and feel sorry for him, at the same time.

 

Olive (Kelly Macdonald) is shown as the kind nanny who wants nothing but the best for Christopher Robin and treats him as if he is her own. She tiptoes a fine line between friend and paid help. I love her accent. Christopher Robin’s Mother, Daphne Milne (Margot Robbie) wants fame and money. She has no motherly skills, but she does try. At times, she doesn’t appear to care if Christopher Robin is okay, just as long as he does what he is told. She is thrilled with the New York Times articles and numerous invites for her family to attend events. I resonated with her emotions. Her crying scenes had me in tears. Older Christopher Robin (Alex Lawther) portrays his role in a very serious way. He creates an emotion of uncertainty. I could not decide if I liked him or not. Great acting sometimes creates an emotional roller coaster ride.

 

The best part of this film is when Christopher Robin and his father are in the woods making a door for owl’s house. If you are a fan of Winnie the Pooh like I am, it is thrilling to see all the different adventures come to life.

 

I recommend this for ages10 to 18. It is a complicated and emotional story. Adults will love the scenery, the acting and the cinematography. I give it 5 out of 5 fluffy Winnie the Pooh hugs. This film comes out in theaters October 13, 2017 so, go check it out.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

Wonderstruck – A Shining Gem in the Cinematic “Cabinet of Wonders”

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The story of a young boy in the Midwest is told simultaneously with a tale about a young girl in New York from fifty years ago as they both seek the same mysterious connection. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “Wonderstruck is a shining gem in the cinematic “cabinet of wonders”… I love this film because it combines the artistic style of old black and white silent films with the more modern color palette of today’s films.” Dariana A. adds, “Wonderstruck is such an amazing and inspiring movie. It has a great plot that is very inspiring to all kids. In the beginning, the story takes a while to develop so it’s a little slow. Once you get to the climax, there is never a dull moment.” See their full reviews below.

 

Wonderstruck

By Clayton P., KIDS FIRST Reporter, age 18

 

 

Wonderstruck is a shining gem in the cinematic “cabinet of wonders.” The film is adapted from the book Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, the same author who wrote Hugo Cabret. Directed by Todd Haynes and written by Brian Selznick, the film envelopes you in its beautifully detailed vision of old New York. The movie stars Oakes Fegley, Julianne Moore and Michele Williams. I love this film because it combines the artistic style of old black and white silent films with the more modern color palette of today’s films.

 

Wonderstruck tells two similar stories that have a connection. One story concerns a twelve-year-old boy, Ben, in the 1970s, who, after losing his Mom, decides to run away and look for his father in the big city. Recently losing his hearing from a lightning strike, he must deal with his disability without knowing sign language. Luckily, when he arrives in NYC he makes a friend, Jamie, who takes him to the American Museum of Natural History. The other story follows a young girl, Rose, in the late 1920s. It is portrayed as a silent black and white film, as befits the time period. Rose is born deaf and never learned sign language or how to properly talk, but she is talented at creating artworks with paper.  She is depicted as a very shy, quiet type, but loves visiting her brother who works at the Museum of Natural History.

 

This film reminds me of Hugo and The Night at the Museum because of the attention to historical detail and the wonder inherent in the natural world. I also enjoyed how it keeps changing from a silent, black and white film to a talky, color film. It gives you the best of both worlds –  old style filmmaking and more modern. Each time the film shifts time periods, the music changes as well. The film revels in many different textures, such as the gritty reality of NYC in the 1970s, all the old curiosities in the Museum of Natural History and even the paper cityscapes that Rose creates. The crux of the film is the director’s fascination with the old “cabinet of wonders” and how it is the precursor to the modern museum. This film itself is a “cabinet of wonders,” revealing many treasures in its depths. My favorite scene is when Ben and Jamie explore the secret rooms in the Museum of Natural History.

 

Before Wonderstruck, I was not familiar with the director, Todd Haynes.  Until now he has created mostly sophisticated, art house, independent films.  This film can be considered a fascinating, art house, family film. I give Wonderstruck  4 out of 5 stars for its creative way it combines two different artistic styles. I recommend it for ages 12 to 18. It opens October 20, 2017 in select theaters nationwide so look for it.

 

Wonderstruck

By Dariana A., KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 11

 

 

Wonderstruck is such an amazing and inspiring movie. It has a great plot that is very inspiring to all kids. In the beginning, the story takes a while to develop so it’s a little slow. Once you get to the climax, there is never a dull moment.  If you stick around, it’s an awesome movie! It also is a little hard for kids to understand, but if you are over 10, you should be able to follow it.

 

Wonderstruck is a story about a boy named Ben who gets in an accident in 1977 which causes him to become deaf and inspires him to run away in search of his father. This story intertwines with another, set in 1927, about Rose, a young deaf girl who runs away looking for a mysterious woman whose scrapbook she has. As the story progresses, we find out more about how their stories really are alike.

 

One of the many stunning things about Wonderstruck is the cinematography. The way they change from a silent film (Rose’s story set in 1927) to a movie that is set in a future time (Ben’s story set in 1977) is seamless. All the actors bring so much to the characters they play,  especially Oakes Fegley (Ben) and Millicent Simmonds (Young Rose) who are child actors and perform beautifully. Another marvelous thing about this movie is that it really gives you a look into what it’s like to be deaf. Rose’s story is a silent film, so you have to read people’s facial expressions to know what they are trying to say. During Ben’s time, there are moments where you can hear what Ben hears, which is almost nothing except for very faint sounds. Wonderstruck really gives you a glimpse into deaf people’s lives and you learn to relate to them through the filmed story.

 

My favorite character is Jamie (Jaden Michael) because he is Ben’s friend throughout the whole movie and that is his whole purpose –  to be there for Ben. My favorite scene is at the end when Ben is standing on the rooftop of a museum with Jamie and another person (I won’t say who because that’s a spoiler) and they are watching fireworks in the Queens’ skyline. I love it because of its beautiful cinematography.

 

The message of this film is that you may not always find what you’re looking for, but what you do find, might be better. This is a really fortune cookie message, but it’s the message I got because both Rose and Ben don’t find exactly what they are looking for, but still find something great. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars because it has stunning cinematography, star power, great acting and gives you a peek into what it’s like to be deaf. I would give it an extra .5 if the beginning wasn’t so slow. I recommend this film for ages 10 to 18.  It opens in theaters nationwide October 20, 2017 so be sure to check it out.

 

Credit: KIDS FIRST!