Archives for February 25, 2019

THE LOS ANGELES ZOO PRESENTS CHARACTER MEET-AND-GREETS WITH PEPPA PIG AND PJ MASKS


Photo Credit: Jamie Pham/GLAZA
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens presents special costume character meet-and-greets featuring Entertainment One’s (eOne) preschool stars of Peppa Pig, airing daily on Nick Jr., and PJ Masks, airing daily on Disney Junior, at the Los Angeles Zoo. The PJ Masks will be visiting the Zoo on Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Peppa the Pig will be visiting the Zoo on Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. High attendance anticipated. 
Visit http://LAZoo.org/characters to reserve your family’s time slot for a meet-and-greet. FREE ADVANCE ONLINE RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. 
WHEN:
PJ Masks — Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3, from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Peppa Pig — Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10, from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 
INFO: RESERVATION REQUIRED FOR MEET-AND-GREET. All meet-and-greet activities are free with paid Zoo admission, which is $21 for general admission (ages 13 to 61); $18 for seniors (ages 62+), and $16 for children (ages 2 to 12). No ticket is required for children under age two. Admission for Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association members is free. 
WHERE: Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Credit: The Los Angeles Zoo.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – Beautiful Conclusion to One of Animation’s Best Trilogies

As Hiccup fulfills his dream of creating a peaceful dragon utopia, Toothless’ discovery of an untamed, elusive mate draws the Night Fury away. When danger mounts at home and Hiccup’s reign as village chief is tested, both dragon and rider must make impossible decisions to save their kind. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World brings one of animation’s best trilogies to a beautifully done conclusion.  Maturing voice talent and wild animation make for a mix of satisfying and bittersweet that just works.” Brandon James R. adds, “best movie of 2019, so far. This movie has something for all ages. It’s filled with lots of action, surprises and humor. This full length animation, co-written and directed by Dean DeBlois, is a definite must see!” See their full reviews below.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World brings one of animation’s best trilogies to a beautifully done conclusion.  Maturing voice talent and wild animation make for a mix of satisfying and bittersweet that just works. Any fans of this franchise in general must check this out.

The movie follows Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), now chief of Berk, alongside lover Astrid (America Ferrera) seeking to create a dragon utopia. Plans take a shift when Toothless smittenly chases and falls in love with a female Night Fury, dubbed Light Fury, the last of its kind. However, when dragon hunter Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) seeks to finish what’s he started and eliminate all the Night Furys, starting a cat and mouse game, all of Berk must leave the only home they have known and journey to a mystical hidden world and prepare counterattack. True destinies are revealed, dragon and rider will do whatever it takes to protect and find peace for all they treasure.

Jay Baruchel leads this ensemble cast as my favorite character Hiccup and is impressive in showcasing the growth of the character. From the first movie, we follow him from teen to adult, and his struggles to lead or even marry Astrid remain the movie’s compelling center. His iconic bond with Toothless goes to further extents as he finds wrong in not providing his pal with the life he truly wants and a loving partner. Light Fury provides a great love interest for Toothless and some of the movie’s most impressive special effects, with their chase being one of the most visceral scenes put into any animated film. America Ferrera provides a smart adviser to Hiccup and also a best friend, with their decision to marry being one of the most beautiful and realistic aspects of this conclusion. This line-up of heroes wouldn’t be complete without a formidable villain and F. Murray Abraham’s Grimmel gives us one. Grimmel is truly charismatic and a force to be reckoned with. He steals every scene he’s in. Watching his cunning plans unfold is a true treat. Cate Blanchett returns as Valka, giving Hiccup more advice in his adulthood. However, Gerald Butler’s cameo appearances in flashbacks truly characterize Hiccup’s bond with his parents. Most of the other Vikings from past movies return, with Kristen Wig’s Ruffnut being a huge standout, and her improvisation is the funniest scene.

Dean DeBlois spectacularly directs this film, with a mastery of some of the greatest animation of the decade. He continues the great work found within the past two entries and challenges himself with the Hidden World, which is the biggest visual feast of the film. My favorite scene is the entire epilogue which wraps up the movie and series perfectly. It remains one of the most emotionally effective conclusions in any movie, and no fates are left unanswered. My only problems with the film are with its initially slow pace, that don’t showcase the truly grand, epic ending at first. Still, the pace quickly picks up with its fair share of epic battles and, while it’s not always of that same epic scale, the characters bring out the heart of the film.

The message of this film is that love is an irreplaceable bond, unlike any other that applies to all living things, from family to lovers, to even pets. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, due to some intense scenes and mild language. The movie releases in theaters on February 22, 2019, so check it out.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
By Brandon James Roy, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon: Hidden World is the best movie of 2019, so far. This movie has something for all ages. It’s filled with lots of action, surprises and humor. This full length animation, co-written and directed by Dean DeBlois, is a definite must see! 

Following the format of any great adventure, screenwriters DeBlois and Cressida Cowell, include everything needed to keep the continuity flowing from the first installment of How to Train Your Dragon to this one. In what is supposed to be the last movie of this trilogy, we see Hiccup, now as the spirited ruler of Berk, protector of the dragons and boyfriend of his longtime friend, Astrid. Hiccup discovers that Toothless, his best bud, is not the only Night Fury alive. He learns that danger is coming and that the only option of surviving is to seek out the Dragon Utopia that his late father once spoke of before a hired tyrant named Grimmel finds it first. There’s lots of fire, fighting, roaring, funny bits and mushy stuff too, but you have to watch it to find out who gets the best of who. 

Cinematographer, Gil Zimmerman, is terrific at laying out the scenes, which help the viewers understand the story. We get to see how the Vikings really feel about their dragons and what happens when Hiccup finally meets his match. Every moment feeds off the first and excitement is built off of reflections from the first two movies. The production designers and art directors help keep viewers connected to the characters by giving us realistic scenes and sets that capture you with bright lights and strong graphic details. When darkness comes, critical moments become more authentic. When there’s action, you can’t help but stay focused. Toothless’ upgrades and the new, much larger dragons are epic!

Jay Baruchel is super cool as Hiccup, my favorite character. He’s grown, has the best dragon ever, is Chief of the Vikings and everyone loves him, except the Night Fury Slayer and those dragon captors. He has crazy friends like Tuffnut & Ruffnut, who keep you laughing throughout the movie. Hidden World is a screen adaptation of the book series by children’s author, Cressida Cowell. It sends you on a fun journey with some curious characters with strange outlooks on life. These anthropomorphic characters make you forget that you are actually watching an animation.

Lessons to take with you after seeing this flick are to make good choices and to allow others to do the same thing, even it doesn’t benefit you. I give DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 18, as well as adults. It’s one film for everybody! Grab your friends and parents and get to your local theater for the premiere, February 22, 2019. Remember to like and subscribe to our channel. Until next time, I’m Brandon for KIDS FIRST! Film Critics. That’s a wrap. Peace out!    

PigPen Theatre Co.’s THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON at The Wallis is One-Of-A-Kind Theatrical and Musical Experience


Saturday, March 2 to Sunday, March 17, 2019, at the
Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts

PigPen Theatre Co.’s THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON, a fantastical song-filled fable for all ages, directed by Stuart Carden and PigPen Theatre Co., opens at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts on Saturday, March 2 and continues through Sunday, March 17, 2019, in The Wallis’s Bram Goldsmith Theater. Featuring a spirited indie-folk score performed live by PigPen, this one-of-a-kind theatrical experience is the touching tale of a man charged with the task of keeping the moon shining bright. A mysterious disappearance sends him on an epic adventure over land, sea and sky and ultimately reminds him — and us — of the unwavering power of love. The production, which had award-winning runs in New York, Chicago and Boston, combines PigPen Theatre Co.’s signature shadow puppetry, wonderfully melodic music, wildly imaginative staging and ever-changing characters. The Old Man and The Old Moon’shigh-energy ensemble is comprised of PigPen Theatre Co.’s Alex Falberg, Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillen, Ryan Melia, Matt Nuernberger, Arya Shahi and Dan Weschler.

Critics have described The Old Man and The Old Moon as “a rare example of true theatre magic” (TheaterMania) and “a glorious fusion of music and theatrics!” (BroadwayWorld).The New York Times said, “words play second fiddle to the giddy feelings it inspires.” New York Magazine called PigPen Theatre Co. “absurdly talented, delightfully uninhibited and unpretentiously playful.”

“It’s a joy to bring The Old Man and The Old Moon to Los Angeles on the heels of its sold-out engagement at San Diego’s Old Globe,” says The Wallis’ Artistic Director Paul Crewes.”With PigPen’s inventive stagecraft, wonderful music and spellbinding storytelling, this production is sure to touch audiences of all ages.”

Tickets, $35 to $105, are on sale now and, available at TheWallis.org/OldMan. The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills. To purchase tickets and for more information, please call 310-746-4000 or visit: TheWallis.org/OldMan.

Credit: Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.