Archives for August 21, 2018

Ringo and Star, Aug. 23rd Pets of the Week

Drum roll for Ringo and Star (yes, spelled with one r, but she’s a little girl—Ringo, of course, is the boy)! They’re six-month-old roommates and love to have a good time together. They’re spunky, lovable, quirky, friendly and very playful—we couldn’t get them to hold still for photos! Start your own Octopussycat’s Garden—meet the Fab Two at the Companion Animal Village at 7700 East Spring St., (562) 570-PETS. Ask for ID#A607877 for Ringo and ID#A607875 for Star.

(This rescue encouraged by the usual suspects.)

 

Credit: Companion Animal Village.

Alpha – A Beautiful Film About Survival and Nature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Gravity Falls: The Complete Series
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

To be honest, this is one of the best shows I’ve ever watched. I could talk for hours about how fantastic this series is. It is short for television show standards, but it is a perfect show to binge watch with friends due to the mysteries that keep you invested until they’re solved and the comedy is spot on.

The story follows twins, Dipper and Mabel Pines, who are sent to Gravity Falls, Oregon for the summer with their Great Uncle Stan. Things change when Dipper finds a journal revealing that the town is filled with all kinds of paranormal creatures and the show follows the adventures that Dipper, Mabel and their friends undertake in this strange town.

It’s pretty much my tradition to discuss the animation and the animation in this show looks great. While I feel it is technically the weakest aspect of the show, it is anything but bad. The animation is still very charming and very atmospheric. There’s a nice “summer Oregon feel” to the world that makes the forest of Gravity Falls very inviting. Later episodes look great. The colors and scale of the setting quickly goes from great to amazing in the last few episodes. The character designs are also outstanding. I’m not sure why, but I really like how each character design has its own flare and shows off the individual personalities.

The best thing in the show is definitely the characters. Aside from the Pines twins, their friends, Wendy and Soos are truly cool. Wendy’s personality is pretty much just being the coolest person imaginable. And I’m not making this up. She’s laid back, incredibly skilled and just cool in general. As for Soos (one of the many characters voiced by the show’s creator, Alex Hirsch), he’s just the sweetest character and a great guy overall. I have to give credit to the voice acting as well. I mentioned that the show’s creator, Alex Hirsch voices Soos. He also voices Stan Pines, Old Man McGucket, a bunch of background characters and the show’s main villain. It’s pretty hard to tell, unless you know he’s voicing these characters. Another stand out actor is Kristen Schaal who voices Mabel. Mabel’s adorable, hyperactive energy is all due to Kristen Schaal. The relationship between Dipper and Mabel is the epitome of what anyone with a sibling would be envious of and hope to model.

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

Gravity Falls: The Complete Series

By Dariana A. KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 12

Gravity Falls is a very thrilling series. It keeps you at the edge of your seat with new mysteries in every episode. With baffling things happening in every episode, all you want to do is keep on watching. Since this DVD includes all 40 episodes as well as the special features, you really can do just that!  Although it is a show about mysteries, the writers still find a way to insert comedy, so it has an element for every type of viewer.

This show is about the twins Dipper (Jason Ritter) and Mabel (Kristen Schaal) Pines who summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon with their Great Uncle Stan (Alex Hirsch), working in his tourist trap, The Mystery Shack. During their vacation, Dipper finds an elusive book that contains writings about all the mysterious occurrences that happen in Gravity Falls.

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

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

Gravity Falls: The Complete Series

By Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

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

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

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

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