Archives for December 23, 2016

Sing – A Wonderful New Animated Film That is a Feast for Both Eyes and Ears!


Set in a world like ours but entirely inhabited by animals, Buster Moon, a dapper koala who presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. Buster is an eternal, some might even say delusional-optimist who loves his theater above all and will do anything to preserve it. Now faced with the crumbling of his life’s ambition, he has one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “Sing is a terrific new animated film that is a feast for both eyes and ears!  From the creators of Despicable Me, Minions and The Secret Life of Pets, Sing is an instant classic.”  Mia A. adds, “Illumination Entertainment has done it again! The creators of Despicable Me, Pets and Minions have brought us more talking animals to love – and, this time they sing!” See their full reviews below.

By Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17


Sing is a terrific new animated film that is a feast for both eyes and ears!  From the creators of Despicable Me, Minions and The Secret Life of Pets, Sing is an instant classic.  It stars Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlet Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton and Tori Kelly. It is directed and written by Garth Jennings and co-directed by Christophe Lordelet.

The film concerns a theatrical impresario and koala bear, Buster Moon whose classic theater is not thriving.  However, he has a big idea to bring back the audience. He decides to stage a singing contest!  The only trouble is the flyer that is produced to advertise the contest is misprinted. Instead of “winner gets $1000”, the flyer says “$100,000.”  Of course, Moon doesn’t have the money, but the show must go on!  He holds an audition and decides on the finalists who will compete for the prize.  They include Johnny, a gorilla crooner with a Cockney accent (Taron Egerton); Meena, an elephant with stage fright but a beautiful, resonant voice (Tori Kelly); Ash, a punk rockette (Scarlet Johansson); Mike, a boastful mouse who sings jazz standards (Seth MacFarlane); and Gunter and Rosita a couple of pigs who sing and dance (Nick Kroll, Reese Witherspoon).  Moon also has an elderly iguana assistant, named Ms. Crawley (Garth Jennings).  There are many subplots including the fact that Mike’s dad is a Cockney mobster who expects Mike to be the getaway driver.  Each contestant is well fleshed out with a backstory that makes us care about each one.

My favorite part is when Gunter is about to go on stage for dress rehearsal.  In his German accent he says, “This place is about to explode with some major piggy power.”  Another great scene is when Rosita leaves her 25 piglets at home.  She is unable to get a babysitter, so she makes robotic contraptions out of everyday materials and puts them all over the house.  It wakes the piglets up, feeds them, gets them dressed and out the door with their backpacks and one contraption even says goodbye to the husband and all 25 kids as they exit the house.  It reminded me of the toy train scene in Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers.  This scene is visually very creative.

One of the best things about Sing is the many different styles of music.  It’s great for kids as they can learn about different music genres.  The film is bookended by The Beatles’ song Golden Slumbers.  It also includes some Motown songs, including Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing, jazz standards like My Way and recent pop songs like Call me, Maybe.  Overall, the soundtrack is really terrific.  According to some accounts, there are over 80 songs in the film.


Sing is perfect for the whole family.  Everyone will enjoy it.  I rate this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 5 to 18 as well as adults.



By Mia A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12





Illumination Entertainment has done it again! The creators of Despicable Me, Pets and Minions have brought us more talking animals to love – and, this time they sing!


Sing is about a Koala named Buster Moon who loves the theater so much that he buys a theater and follows his dreams. His theater is going through some hard times, so he holds a singing competition. Ash, Buster Moon, Rosita, Mike, Meena, Johnny and Gunter are some of the competitors, and they all have important stories to tell.


Each character has its own small subplot, so you get some good background information on each one. Voiced by big names including Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon and Seth MacFarlane, we get to know and love each character.  Ash is a rock singer who lives with a stuck up boyfriend. Rosita is a pig that has many kids and a husband, but she doesn’t feel appreciated by any of them. Mike is a little street mouse or rat with attitude that gets him in some interesting situations. Meena is an elephant that is super shy and Johnny is an ape that is stuck in a family job of robbery. My favorite character is Johnny because he believes in what he loves and never stops trying to pursue his dreams. He almost runs two lives, doing what he wants to do while also participating in the family business of robbery.


My favorite scene is the car wash scene. Buster Moon has to wash cars to make some money, so his friend Eddie helps him. Buster Moon washes as Eddie dries. This scene is very funny because they use their bodies to wash and dry.


The moral to this film is to never give up on your dreams. We see how all the characters have an event in their lives that holds them back from what they really want to do and what their true talents are. This movie is called Sing, so I expected some major singing. I like that there are popular songs incorporated into the movie. All the characters have amazing voices and some are very comical. The singing really made me want to get up and start singing.


The animation is super colorful, creative and detailed. You can see small details on the animals like the fur on the apes and the quills on the porcupines. I love how the animal characteristics and human characteristics are combined and balanced out perfectly to make a human animal. The animals may walk and talk like humans, but they also have some animal traits. The porcupine’s quills fly out and the apes run on their feet and hands.


I recommend Sing to ages 6 to 18 because this is a great family movie for all ages. I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars. If you are looking for good clean family fun, go enjoy Sing in theaters near you!


Passengers – Fantastic Acting, Beautiful Visual Effects, Intense Story and Surprise Ending



The spaceship, Starship Avalon, in its 120-year voyage to a distant colony planet known as the “Homestead Colony” and transporting 5,259 people has a malfunction in two of its sleep chambers. As a result two hibernation pods open prematurely and the two people that awoke, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Dunn (Jennifer Lawrence), are stranded on the spaceship, still 90 years from their destination. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “What happens when you blend fantastic acting, beautiful visual effects, intense story and a surprising ending? You get a unique and exciting film called Passengers.” Arjun N. adds, “The acting and stellar special effects impressed me. However, there are many logic errors and things, which don’t make sense. It is still very watchable.” See their full reviews below.




By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14



What happens when you blend fantastic acting, beautiful visual effects, intense story and a surprising ending? You get a unique and exciting film called Passengers. Surprisingly, the main genre is not action or adventure, but a romance. With that, of course, comes drama as well.
Passengers begins when a deep space colony ship called Starship Avalon encounters some technical issues. It has only been 30 years into its 120 year voyage and one passenger, a mechanic named Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), awakens from his hibernation pod. After a year of loneliness, he is joined by another person, who also wakes up named Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence). The two live on the ship completely alone and soon realize that the starship they call home needs some fixing. If they don’t do something, they and the 5,000 others aboard may die.
The concept of a romantic sci-fi is very unexpected and unique. Most viewers will be surprised because it is advertised as an action-packed adventure. It does contain some action elements, but most of the film is very romantic and dives deep into humans’ nature under unique circumstances. The romance itself is smooth and realistic. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are enjoyable as separate characters and together they are simply perfect. They talk to each other very lightly and make the story entertaining despite that we only watch the two of them for most of the film. That is another fantastic aspect of Passengers. Everything is simple from the sets to  the characters and even the story. That doesn’t make it a boring film. With dramatic acting and beautiful visual effects, it is very much an entertaining story, which is hard to achieve with so few elements.


There is a small issue in one specific scene which slightly ruins the entire story. The scene contains a medical bed that gives you several options, including stem cell regeneration. Although this seems normal in a sci-fi film, the main problem is that it ruins the entire story. Brain stem cells allow you to live much longer than normal, which kills the whole “90 years till everyone else wakes up, and we’ll be dead” element. This is the main problem with the characters. Another big thing about the stem cell aspect, is that they never have a role in the story. It is just an option for a robotic medical bed in the background, but because the option exists, it makes a huge part of the plot questionable.
My favorite scene is when both Aurora and Jim are awake and already getting close. One day, the ship’s A.I. tells all passengers to go to the observatory as it passes very close to a star. They run to the observatory to see the flames of a red giant, with the ship almost touching the surface. I loved this because it is a stunning visual scene mixed with intense music and spectacular acting which makes your adrenaline pump.


There are several mature moments, which make this unsuitable for younger children. I recommend it for ages 9 to 18 and give it 4 out of 5 stars because, despite it being a fantastic sci-fi romance, with beautiful special effects and fantastic acting, the fact that one scene jeopardizes the main conflict of the story is a big downside.  It is still an enjoyable film which I would recommend for all to see and opens in theaters on December 21, 2016 so, go check it out.






By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15


Passengers is a decent movie filled with romance and sci-fi vibes. The acting and stellar special effects impressed me. However, there are many logic errors and things, which don’t make sense. It is still very watchable.

The story is about two passengers, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), who are stranded on a spaceship, Starship Avalon, which is on a course to the Homestead Colony. This journey Is supposed take 120 years. Unfortunately, Jim and Aurora wake up from their hibernation pods thirty years into the journey. With 90 years left in the journey, the two try to go back to hibernation, but it doesn’t succeed. During the trip, the two fall in love and try to enjoy their time spent on the Avalon, but aboard the ship a series of malfunctions occur. Jim and Aurora must figure out how to save the ship and the lives of the others in the hibernation pods.
Chris Pratt delivers an excellent multi-faceted performance and steals the show as Jim, presenting both comedy and romance. There are also scenes where Jim emotes his sadness, frustration and loneliness before he meets Aurora. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Aurora, a writer who wants to capture new adventures, has good chemistry with Chris Pratt’s character. Michael Sheen as Arthur, an android bartender, delivers good comic relief and is an interesting character.


Morten Tyldum’s direction keeps the movie flowing at a fast pace especially in scenes when the ship is in danger.  The special effects are great, especially the space effects and the swimming pool scenes when there is a loss of gravity.  My favorite scene is the scene where Jim and Aurora first explore space. Their acting is marvelous. The idea of vending machines that can make all sorts of coffee is a cool one.  This movie does have numerous logic issues and the lack of realism makes some scenes really weird. There is a scene where Jim is faced against a big ball of fire. The only protection he has is a small shield. Also, the issues that happen, supposedly caused from something that happened two years back, are not believable because issues come immediately after such a big problem rather than in slow, short installments.


The movie has a great message.  Jim and Aurora heroically save the spaceship and more than 5000 passengers in hibernation in spite of the fact they know that they won’t be alive when they reach Homestead Colony. I give this movie 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 years old. I don’t recommend this movie for younger kids because it has few romantic scenes, which are not appropriate for them. This film opened in theaters on December 21st, so go check it out.