Archives for October 11, 2018

First Man: The Man Behind One Of The Most Famous Events In Human History

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award®-winning smash, La La Land, Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A visceral, first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie explores the sacrifices and the cost – on Armstrong and on the nation – of one of the most dangerous missions in history. Written by Academy Award® winner Josh Singer (Spotlight), the drama is produced by Wyck Godfrey & Marty Bowen (The Twilight Saga, The Fault in Our Stars) through their Temple Hill Entertainment banner, alongside Chazelle and Gosling. Isaac Klausner (The Fault in Our Stars) executive produces. DreamWorks Pictures co-finances the film. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “Along with its main focus on the intense, action-packed mission, First Man explores many avenues that include dramatic and intense moments which spawn from the heart-wrenching grief of losing a child to the intricate and beautiful romance with his wife, Janet (Claire Foy). Much of the movie has emotions that are quite far from being out of this world, specifically in its massive focus on the family.” See his full review below.

First Man

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Easily one of the most famous events in human history is centered on a singular man, Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling). Behind the Apollo Mission that landed the first human on the moon, Neil is a man with conflicts, a man with a history and a man with a mission.

Along with its main focus on the intense, action-packed mission, First Man explores many avenues that include dramatic and intense moments which spawn from the heart-wrenching grief of losing a child to the intricate and beautiful romance with his wife, Janet (Claire Foy). Much of the movie has emotions that are quite far from being out of this world, specifically in its massive focus on the family.

The film begins up close and personal seeing Armstrong in his daring mission on the rocket-propelled plane, the X-15. Immediately, the story shows just how dangerous space exploration can be and how close those who brave exploring the final frontier get to never returning home. It follows Neil and his story intimately from the X-15 mission to the loss of three astronauts (close friends of Neil’s) in Apollo 1, the near-lethal mission of Gemini 8 and, of course, the incredibly daring mission of Apollo 11, that landed the first people on the Moon. Throughout these milestones in space exploration, the story pauses to look at the relations and life of Neil, truly unveiling the blueprints showing who he was as a man.

While incredible in revealing a massive side of this well-known historical event, the film attempts to focus so much on a story that has little to tell. The length clocks in at just under two and a half hours, which feels very stretched after the adrenaline of the exciting opening scene wears off. Neil Armstrong is portrayed as a deep man with little visual emotions mixed with dramatic internal conflicts. While this decision allows for excellent character design, it makes him rather boring at times. It seems the writers wished to divide First Man into three stories – one, the story of Neil as a man; two, the story of Neil as a father and three, the story of Neil as an astronaut. All three have their pros and their cons, but mixed together, the film becomes daunting and stretched.

The cinematography sadly could have been better. Only a handful of camera shots do not shake. In most shots, the camera moves constantly or jitters. In the beginning, with the X-15 mission, this effect adds to the entertainment of the film. The audience quickly becomes sucked into the important and lethal mission with dangers at every corner. After two hours of shaky camera shots, that excitement changes to annoyance. While a mix would be ideal, and in more intensive scenes a camera shake would be appropriate, having the entire runtime featuring shakiness as well as many blurry shots, looks amateur and comes off as poor execution of what should be an interesting and captivating story.

However, the film does go beyond the moon in many ways – predominantly, in the acting. Neil Armstrong has deep faults and that stands as a challenge to any actor. Ryan Gosling nails the role in what turns out as an Oscar©-worthy performance of the famous astronaut. Others, including Claire Foy, also deliver extraordinary performances bringing each character to life. Despite the fact that no one can hear you scream in space, the sound design really belongs out of the world due to the quality and complexity of the sound effects. Much of First Man contains loud, intricate sound effects that vary and cover a massive spectrum. Perhaps more powerful would have been the use of silence in the most dramatic moments, sending chills to the entire audience.

My favorite scene is one of these moments of eerie silence. In this scene, three members of the Apollo 1 mission do a test in the Apollo capsule. It goes horribly wrong and the interior of the capsule catches on fire, sadly, resulting in losing the lives of all three. Yet, the film takes this a step further, as the three fallen heroes are not new in this scene. The viewer gets time to like them, understand them and befriend them – just as Neil did in real life. This makes their sudden and dramatic loss nothing short of shocking and cold, replicating the real-life impact it had on Armstrong.

Although, First Man has a strong beginning, a strong ending and many high points throughout, it also has many mistakes and things that could be improved that simply negate the extraordinary story of this story. For that reason, I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. The story is quite intensive and is best suited for older audiences that will understand the impact of the events so I recommend it for ages 12 to 18. This film opens nationwide in theaters on October 12, 2018 so, look for it. If you are a fan of space exploration, it is sure to make an impact, but even if you aren’t you will learn something new.

 

Photos: ©2018 Universal. All rights reserved.

 

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Hallow – Funny, Spooky, Mysterious and Fun

While collecting junk one day, best friends Sonny and Sam meet Slappy, a mischievous talking dummy from an unpublished “Goosebumps” book by R.L. Stine. Hoping to start his own family, Slappy kidnaps Sonny’s mother and brings all of his ghoulish friends back to life — just in time for Halloween. As the sleepy town becomes overrun with monsters, witches and other mysterious creatures, Sonny joins forces with his sister, Sam and a kindly neighbor to save Sonny’s mom and foil Slappy’s plan. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “The movie is funny and spooky in equal amounts. There is mystery and discovery all combined in the storytelling.” See her full review below.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween is spooky, fun and creative! It is very engaging and entertaining throughout the whole film.

The story is about a young boy, Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and his best friend, Sam (Caleel Harris) who finds a book. When they open it, a doll called Slappy comes out! The boys lose the book, but keep Slappy. The friends are very surprised and a bit scared when they discover that the doll can talk. He seems nice at the beginning. He wants to have a family. But later, the boy, his sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) and his best friend realizes he is strange and doesn’t want him to be part of their family anymore. Slappy has his own personal agenda and decides to create his own family. He makes Halloween come to life as he invades the whole town with monsters and all the creatures as allies. This is a very scary Halloween for the town of Wardenclyffe, where the story takes place, as all creatures make real chaos. Sonny, Sam and Sarah team up with neighbor Mr. Chu (Ken Jeong) to find the book that Slappy from to figure out how to stop him. They discover that the book can suck up monsters and they are determined to save the city.

The story is based on R.L Stine’s books. This is where Jack Black comes in as he reprises his role from the 2015 film, playing the writer who came to help. His performance as the author is excellent. I love his voice work giving life to Slappy the Dummy.

The movie is funny and spooky in equal amounts. There is mystery and discovery all combined in the storytelling. There’s kind of a homage to horror films, as we see some classic monsters. My favorite scenes are the ones with the Halloween decorations coming to life in the store and the fight with the gummy bears that become real and attack Sonny and Sam.

The effects are very well done. This story focuses on the 3 main characters and the actors did a good job carrying the film. There’s a tribute to the books and literature. There’s a beautiful metaphor with the blank pages in the book which is powerful. It is so interesting and kind of reminded me that reality is scarier than fantasy and there will be more stories to be written. The message of this film is, “when we face our own fears we learn how not to be scared.”

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween opens October 12, 2018, and is the perfect movie for kids this Halloween. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 6 to 13 and grown-ups as well.

Photos: © Columbia Pictures

 

 

Celebrate World Teachers’ Day with the Goliath Games Giveaway! Special SoCal City Kids Giveaway Opportunity too!

In honor of World Teachers’ Day, Goliath Games would like to recognize educators for their critical role in developing young minds.

Goliath has launched a giveaway for five winners to receive a 14-game prize pack – 7 games for home and 7 games for their child’s classroom.

Celebrate World Teachers’ Day by entering the Goliath Teachers’ giveaway. Open to US and Canada, participants have the chance to win the Ultimate Classroom Prize Pack featuring Let’s Go Fishin’, Lucky Ducks, Mastermind, Pop the Pig, Sequence, Googly Eyes, and Wordsearch.

This collection of interactive, educational games involves STEM skills such as sequencing, deductive reasoning, math practice, and more. The toy and game company have several educational games that inspire imagination, promote critical thinking, and allow children to discover the world around them.

To enter, please visit the official entry page: http://bit.ly/GoliathTeachersGiveaway.

We have also teamed up with Goliath and Pressman for a Giveaway! One winner will win an Ultimate Goliath/Pressman prize pack!

The winner will win the following games:

Goliath Games

Pressman Toy

These are great for the little older kids and would also make great holiday gifts!

To enter our giveaway please leave a comment below telling us which game you are most excited about! One winner will randomly be selected via Random.org. Deadline to enter is October 29th, 2018 at noon PST.

Self Disclosure: No compensation was received to post. Images and information were provided. 

Celebrate with Fido’s Fresh Halloween Looks from zulily!

Looking for Halloween costumes for your pets?

For those who find it too “ruff” to be away from Fido this All Hallows’ Eve enter zulily –  the online retailer known for its unique and fun assortment of pet and animal-themed merchandise, has rounded up this year’s top-selling pet Halloween costumes! From Ewok-adorable to mythical mania, we’re not “lion” around when we say these are must-have styles for your furry friends for Halloween and beyond. Here’s a behind-the-scenes video from their pet costume photo shoot.

Here are a few favorites we found on their site:

       

Self Disclosure: Information and images were provided by Zulily. No compensation was received to post.

Tips on How to Have a Relaxing Holiday

Even the most relaxing of holidays, like spa getaways and poolside vacations, might not necessarily be as relaxing as you think or hope they’re going to be when you book them. To make a holiday truly stress-free, you have to resolve to do a number of things yourself.

If you want to actually relax on your next holiday, then you have to put that work phone down, you need to leave all of your worries back home, and you have to be taking on board the comprehensive pieces of advice found below.

Book short-haul flights after lunch time

It might sound like a very unnecessarily specific thing to be doing, but resolving to only ever book short haul flights after lunch will make your holiday, particularly the very start of it, more relaxing. For one, it won’t mean that you’ll have to be getting to the airport in the early hours of the morning, and that’ll mean your sleeping pattern won’t be disrupted. Also, it means that you won’t be tired when you reach your destination, meaning you can get started right away settling yourself in.

Don’t make plans for your first day

After all that traveling you’ve done, with those long flights and those long hours, it’s imperative that you give yourself a break. If you don’t, then you’ll make yourself far more likely to be ratty as your holiday commences, and that’ll only ever result in your being more stressed going forward. So, don’t have any concrete intentions for your first day by instead ‘planning’ on having an unplanned day. This will allow you to wander around and get used to your new surroundings in your own time and at your own pace.

Go all inclusive

When you have to sort out your own food and drink, you make your holiday far more stressful than it needs to be. For one, you and your party have to take it upon yourselves to decide where you will all be eating each day and night, and that can be quite a difficult decision to come to if your numbers are large and there are a few picky eaters in your midst. Also, eating out every night will see your holiday finances dwindle, meaning you’d have to contend with the added pressure of needing to budget towards the end of your vacation. To avoid these problems and stresses, quite simply, go all inclusive. When you do, especially if you tap into the Teletext Holidays all inclusive deals, you will see yourself save time and effort, as well as your money, and this is all because your food and drink will be made readily available for you at all times.

Having a relaxing holiday is about doing more than booking yourself a tranquil and peaceful destination to travel to. It’s about you doing a number of things to accommodate relaxation, and taking the advice above is a good place to start when you do.

 

Children’s Books that are a must-read for Halloween!

Halloween is almost here! Can you believe it?! These two books are a must-read!

This first one would be a hit for the little ones! I like it because it is a fun read and not too scary! 

SKELLY’S HALLOWEEN by David Martin; illustrations by Lori Richmond (Henry Holt and Co. BYR, August 7, 2018, Ages 4-8)

 The holiday’s name is in the title! Focusing on what kids love most about Halloween–the candy–the book steers away from the spooky side of the holiday, focusing instead on the silly, sweet side and making it perfect for young readers. David Martin is a Parents Choice and Oppenheimer Choice award-winner and has written over 25 picture books for early readers.Lori Richmond is at the beginning of her career, with two books out so far but many more to come. Her illustrations are just the right balance of playful and cute.

The next one is a great one for children who are reading chapter books!

I like this one because it’s a little scary but a fun read too!

BABYSITTING NIGHTMARES by Kat Shepherd (Imprint, on sale 6/5/18, ages 8-12) 
The Babysitter’s Club meets Goosebumps as a diverse group of friends encounter supernatural problems on their babysitting gigs. Perfect for readers of both contemporary friendship novels and scary tales, the series is a new and original concept that’s sure to captivate audiences from the start! The main characters are four diverse 12-year-old girls: Rebecca has both Jewish and Chinese-American heritage, Clio is African-American, Tanya is Mexican-American, and Maggie is Caucasian-American. They each have varied interests, including history, theater, engineering, and baking. The chilling supernatural mysteries propel the plot, but each story is centered on the emotional connections between the girls, and the highs and lows of their friendship.

Self Disclosure: I received free books to facilitate this post. Images and information were also provided.