Archives for February 16, 2019

The LEGO Movie 2 * Vibrant Voice Talent, Quippy Writing Make For A Cartoon Genre-Defying Blast!

The citizens of Bricksburg face a dangerous new threat when LEGO DUPLO invaders from outer space start to wreck everything in their path. The battle to defeat the enemy and restore harmony to the LEGO universe takes Emmet, Lucy, Batman and the rest of their friends to faraway, unexplored worlds that test their courage and creativity. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is a superb follow-up to the original film that lives up to the years’ worth of hype surrounding it.  Vibrant voice talent, including new standouts, and quippy writing make for a cartoon genre-defying blast.” Sahiba K. adds, “With all its clichés, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is as original as its predecessor! An intricately, well thought out plot steals the show along with jokes that hit my funny bone.” Zoe C. wraps it up with, “I loved that everything is still awesome! It’s dynamic, colorful and funny. While watching this film I saw how cool all the little LEGO figures look, because the animation is so well done that they look like they’re really moving and the amount of detail this film is incredible.” See their full reviews below.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is a superb follow-up to the original film that lives up to the years’ worth of hype surrounding it.  Vibrant voice talent, including new standouts, and quippy writing make for a cartoon genre-defying blast. Any fans of the LEGO franchise must check this out.

The movie follows five years since “everything was awesome,” as the citizens of Bricksburg suffered irreparable damage from the forces of LEGO DUPLO invaders. Bricksburg descended into Apocolaypseburg, where the citizens brood. Luckily, Emmet (Chris Pratt) always retains hope, even when General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) captures many of his friends. This takes Emmet on a journey across multiple unexplored worlds, including a central DUPLO musical land, as the fate of the LEGO galaxy relies upon him.

The ensemble cast not only features one role from Chris Pratt as, of course Emmet, but also as Rex Dangervest. He continues to shine as Emmet, with the reluctant hero taken to deeper territories as his hope to regain his friends is tested. Rex Dangervest shines and is my favorite character, as he remains a charming presence and even mirrors many of Pratt’s roles in Hollywood. His relevance to the plot also provides for some mind-bending revelations. Elizabeth Banks, as Lucy/Wyldstyle, continues in her heartfelt buddy dynamic with Emmet, as she even wants him to do something more intimidating. This proves for an interesting drive in his quest to find Lucy. New additions from Stephanie Beatriz and Tiffany Haddish are welcome ones, with their unique DUPLO builds taking the spotlight. In particular, Tiffany Haddish as Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi, shines with her malicious intent and deceitful musical numbers. Will Arnett, Allison Brie and Charlie Day return from the previous movie and continue their signature work, with all even having a moment to shine amid this gigantic cast.

Mike Mitchell spectacularly directs the movie with a great mastery of unconventional animation found within, that pans out beautifully. Also, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller return with a script that might even be funnier and more meta than the original. My favorite scene is the musical number between Batman and Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi that is just a true showcase of this series’ unique sense of meta-commentary and humor. My problems with the movie do stem from the real world scenes. Even though the dynamics between siblings Finn (Jadon Sand) and Bianca (Brooklynn Prince) is a very touching and even humorous one, it just doesn’t lead to much and feels tacked on, with the time gap seeming like something of an afterthought.

The message of this film is that everything will not always be awesome, but in times like those, we must always let people in and help others as much as we can. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. The movie releases in theaters on February 8, 2019, so check it out.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

With all its clichés, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is as original as its predecessor, The LEGO Movie! An intricately, well thought out plot steals the show along with jokes that hit my funny bone. The two types of animation, stop motion and CGI, are used at appropriate times, connecting the LEGO world and our world to merge reality with imagination.

Starting right where The LEGO Movie ended, the story follows Emmet (Chris Pratt) and his best friend, Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) who are now living in a post-apocalyptic world. When Lucy and his other friends, Batman (Will Arnett), Unikitty (Alison Brie), MetalBeard (Nick Offerman) and Benny (Charlie Day) are kidnapped by General Mayhem, Emmet must embark on a dangerous quest to save them and unravel an evil plot.

Chris Pratt voices two characters, Emmet and Rex, who are disparate characters. Emmet is innocent and kind while Rex is more hardened and a typical action hero. It is evident that Chris Pratt voices Rex because of Chris Pratt’s experience in the role of the action hero, but the way that he is able to contrast that with the sweetness of Emmet is commendable. Tiffany Haddish has an abundance of personality in her voice that is necessary for her character, Queen Watevra Wa’nabi. The uniqueness of her voice is key in helping understand who she is. Her character has an ability to change shape, preventing us from viewing who she really is, so her voice tells us the most about her personality. 

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is surprisingly a bit of a musical, with original songs. Ironically, my favorite song is actually in the end credits, although it is hard to pick a favorite. Each songs’ lyrics are comedic and manage to have very catchy beats. By the time I finished watching the film, “The Catchy Song” was stuck in my head all day, but I honestly did not mind. It might even be my favorite soundtrack from a movie.

The message of The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is to never change who you are. I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, because the jokes are suited for all ages and I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Be sure to check out The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part when it opens in theaters on February 8, 2019.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
By Zoe C. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10 

The LEGO Movie: The Second Part is fascinating and I loved that everything is still awesome! It’s dynamic, colorful and funny. While watching this film I saw how cool all the little LEGO figures look, because the animation is so well done that they look like they’re really moving and the amount of detail this film is incredible. 

This movie picks up where the first LEGO Movie ends and adds new exciting scenes. This film is about our hero Emmet (Chris Pratt) and his friend Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) battling in outer space. The Duplox LEGO blocks attack the regular LEGO world, specifically the citizens of Bricksburgh. Everyone tells Emmet he should grow up, because he thinks everything is always awesome and LEGOS are facing a terrible menace. We meet a new character named General Mayhem (Stephany Beatriz) whose identity is unknown and whose voice is very intriguing. She takes all of Emmet’s friends, including superhero Batman (Will Arnett) faraway for a strange ceremony. In this journey, they travel into galaxies and planets and they are part of several music episodes. While Emmet is sometimes insecure and Lucy is battle ready, they are forced into parallel adventures that lead them into a re-discovery of empathy and friendship.

I love how the movie uses all kinds of LEGO brands – LEGO Friends, regular and Duplox. There are many twists which make the movie a lot more interesting. At one point, you think the movie is over, but it’s really not. There are lots of new, fun characters and the jokes appeal to both kids and grown-ups. I also love that you can never really guess what is going to happen next, because there is always a twist. All the characters have very distinctive personalities. The work of the voice actors is fantastic, as they are in the first one. And, there are a lot of references to classic films.

In this film, human participation seems even bigger than in the first one. I like those scenes, because it makes it more evident that the story is told from the LEGO’s perspective. The rhythm is great and it is funny and touching at the same time. It’s awesome how the producers have created a world made of little, and not so little bricks, that is so engaging for all audiences.

Another thing I love about this film is how they took songs from the original movie and made them completely different. And, you don’t need to see the first movie to understand this one. This film proves that sequels can be awesome! 

The message of this film is that we don’t always need to grow up. Being mature does not mean that we lose our kindness, sweetness or imagination. I give this film 5 of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12 and adults as well. The Lego Movie: The Second Part opens February 8, 2019 and I totally recommend it! Be sure to watch our YouTube Channel for my videotaped review of this one.

Alita: Battle Angel – An Epic, Action-Packed Film With An Empowering Message for Girls

Alita is a creation from an age of despair. Found by the mysterious Dr. Ido while trolling for cyborg parts, Alita becomes a lethal, dangerous being. She cannot remember who she is, or where she came from. But to Dr. Ido, the truth is all too clear. She is the one being who can break the cycle of death and destruction left behind from Tiphares. But to accomplish her true purpose, she must fight and kill. And that is where Alita’s true significance comes to bear. She is an angel from heaven. She is an angel of death. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Rohan F. comments, “Alita Battle Angel is an epic, action-packed film. It has incredible CGI and accomplishes lots of world-building. It is based on the Manga series Battle Angel Alita by Yukito Kishiro.” Ivey H. adds, “This story empowers us young ladies. She is brave, strong through rough times and proves people wrong. I really felt the emotions and turmoil of this coming of age tale of Alita.” Siaki S. sums it up with, “I really like this film because, even though Alita is a cyborg, that doesn’t stop from her from doing everything she can to make her discover who she actually is. Although she is a machine, she is still treated as if she is a human being.” See their full reviews below.

Alita: Battle Angel

Reviewed by Rohan F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Alita Battle Angel is an epic, action-packed film. It has incredible CGI and accomplishes lots of world-building. It is based on the Manga series Battle Angel Alita by Yukito Kishiro.

When Doctor Ido finds a living machine in the scrap yard, he takes it back and calls it Alita. When she wakes up she realizes all her memories have been lost. She finds herself in a crazy world in Pig City, beneath the last floating city.  She tries to restore her memory and makes some friends and even more enemies. While it’s an interesting story, I feel like it’s not the focus of the film. Instead, the focus appears to be the battle scenes, because there are lots of them. While being beautiful and entertaining, I feel many were unnecessary.

I really liked the fight scenes. The unique fighting style used by Alita makes them interesting to watch. The CGI is incredible. I almost forgot Alita is a CGI character because of all the facial detail.  The sport Motor Ball is unique and explained quite well. I found the ending left me wanting more. The character design in this film is wonderful. All the different androids are visually impressive. They are so unique. You can tell what they can do just by looking at them. The sets are also very well designed and stick to the theme. The floating city is very intriguing. I enjoyed how they explained little bits of it. However, this movie feels like a long setup for a sequel.

The moral of this film is to not stand by while people are being hurt – to speak up in the face of injustice. Unfortunately, although this message is spoken a few times, it isn’t communicated very well throughout the plot of the movie and seems a bit like an afterthought.

The music is great. I enjoyed it without being distracted by it. It varies in each scene but keeps to a coherent theme throughout the film. My favorite scene is when Alita goes into the hunter-warrior bar and tries to recruit people. This scene is very entertaining to watch and is choreographed brilliantly. It also introduces a bunch of interesting hunter-warriors. They all have entirely different fighting styles which makes this scene interesting to watch. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 11 through 16. It opens February 8, 2019 so look for it.

Alita: Battle Angel

By Ivey H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This is an extraordinary animation film by James Cameron about a young girl who has forgotten her past and is trying to find herself.  This story empowers us young ladies.  She is brave, strong through rough times and proves people wrong. I really felt the emotions and turmoil of this coming of age tale of Alita. 

This story is set in the future, after terrible devastating world event. It is about two worlds, one above and one below. It is action packed with villains and heroes. Alita is found by a cyborg Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) in a junkyard. He refurbishes her into a cyborg part-human and part-machine. The young Alita is trying to figure out her past. Meanwhile, she discovers her hidden abilities to transform into an elite fighter, athlete and warrior. She never looses heart, as she becomes a young woman and haves to deal with several conflicts. 

The film is directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by James Cameron, a creative genius who is known for many other films such as Titanic and Avatar. The lead character, Alita is played by Rosa Salazar. Rosa truly takes you through the emotions of her character.  Alita’s human sidekick, Hugo, is played by Keean Johnson. He is her teenage first love.  The villains are played by Mahershala Ali and Jennifer Connelley. Ed Norton makes a cameo appearance at the end which makes me believe there will be a part two and we will see more of him.

The CGI and F/X in this film are so vivid and realistic. It is hard to tell animation from reality.  The cyborgs’ transformer bodies are so creative and the costumes really bring light to the characters. The music, lighting and scenes are enhanced by the 3D movie theater experience.

My favorite part is when Alita gets a new robotic body and is better than ever. It suits her. I also like when she decides to start a fighting league of her own. She signs up to be a bounty hunter,  then tries to rally other bounty hunters. They do not take her seriously, but they will soon learn she is a force to be reckoned with. The bounty hunter Zapan (Ed Skrein) and the bounty hunter that loves dogs are pretty cool characters.

The message in the film seems to never give up, even when the odds are against you. Never let anyone tell you who you are or who you should become. I really relate to the story line and it made me to want to be the best that I can.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 due to adult language and violence content. Adults will also enjoy this film. This film opens in theaters February 14, 2019. Look for it.

Alita: Battle Angel

By Siaki Sii, KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 15

I really like this film because, even though Alita is a cyborg, that doesn’t stop from her from doing everything she can to make her discover who she actually is. Although she is a machine, she is still treated as if she is a human being.

This amazing film is directed by Robert Rodriguez who also shoots, produces and scores many of his films in Mexico, as well as his home state, Texas. Rodriguez directed the 1992 action film El Mariachi, which was a huge commercial success.  The story line here follows the one and only Alita, who is found in the scrap yard and taken to a nearby clinic by Dr. Ido who repairs all cyborg visitors. As Alita awakes, she has no memory of what happened, where she is or even who she truly is. As she explores the world little by little, she has minor memory recall about who she really is.

The more Alita experiences her present life, she meets a lot of people who are just like her. Dr. Ido tries his best to keep her safe from any bad things coming into her life.

The main characters in the film are played by a veritable who’s who of talent: Alita is played by Rosa Salazar (Parenthood, American Horror Story). In Rosa’s portrayal of Alita, we see that she is more than just a machine; she is also a warrior. Hugo is played by Keean Johnson (Heritage Falls), who really portrays Hugo as being a really cool and trustworthy guy. Dr. Dyson Ido is played by Christoph Waltz (Spectre). Waltz really surprised me in this role which suits him well. Plus, even though he is older, he still has great moves. Chiren is played by Jennifer Connelly (Only the Brave, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Winter’s Tale). Connelly shows us what an interesting character Chiren is and contributes to the idea of how she doesn’t look bad, but actually is.  Mahershala Ali plays Vector. This character is quite different in how he communicates with the headmaster of Iron City, which is why people obey him. Ed Skrein plays Zapan as very intimidating, because of how he roams the streets as a big tough guy. You do not want to mess with him.

The sets are pretty cool. I like the set at the local plaza where Alita first learns to play the game motor ball. I also really love the music in this film because, depending on the scene, the music changes within it and drives the story line alone. The costumes are quite amazing and different. They aren’t like the usual bad guy costumes. They are enhanced with CGI, which makes them quite tremendous.

My favorite part of the film is when Dr. Ido comes to find Alita in a bar, where she is challenging hunter-warriors to fight with her if they lose. In between all of the chaos, Dr. Ido shouts “Stop it, Stop it right now!” Yet, no one listens to him until he says, “Or no one gets free repairs!” In less than a second, everyone releases each other from the chaos.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, as well as adults. I think that everyone watching this will enjoy all the good reaction parts as well as jump scares. It opens in theaters February 14, 2019 so look for it.