Archives for December 8, 2020

Half Brothers * Fun Movie with Loveable Characters That Takes You on A Wild Adventure

Renato, a Mexican aviation exec, is shocked to learn he has an American half-brother he never knew about, the free-spirited Asher. They are forced on a road trip together, tracing the path their father took from Mexico to the US. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Carlee S. comments, “Half Brothers is a fun-loving movie with loveable characters which takes you on a wild adventure that will have you laughing. Along the way the characters learn about each other and their father.  They also learn a lot about themselves. These two brothers with opposite personalities must unite to uncover the hidden truth of the past.” See her full review below plus Benjamin P.’s interview with director Luke Greenfield.

Half Brothers
By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Half Brothers is a fun-loving movie with loveable characters which takes you on a wild adventure that will have you laughing. Along the way the characters learn about each other and their father.  They also learn a lot about themselves. These two brothers with opposite personalities must unite to uncover the hidden truth of the past.

The story begins with young Renato (Ian Inigo) enjoying time with his dad, Flavio (Juan Pablo Espinosa). Things change when Renato’s dad leaves Mexico to go to the U.S. to look for work and does not return.  Years later when Renato (Luis Gerardo Mendez) is a grown up, he gets a phone call saying his dad is extremely sick and he needs to come right away. He is torn between wanting to go and staying home to prepare for his wedding.  He decides to go and gets the surprise of meeting his half-brother, Asher (Connor Del Rio) who he did not know existed. Their dad sends them on a wild journey to get the answers Renato has wanted to know his whole life – why his dad never came back for him. Along the way, he gets to know his half brother as they go on a hilarious and bonding scavenger hunt across America to get the answers.

My favorite scene is when Asher steals the goat from the barn. It kept me laughing and intrigued. All the actors make this odd situation funny and memorable.  I also enjoyed the music selections playing during their road trips. They are catchy, uplifting and always enhance the mood of these scenes. Asher is an easy character to like. He always has a positive attitude and his clothing choices throughout the movie really fit his character.

The messages in this film are about how forgiving can be life changing, that it is okay to be yourself, and accepting others’ differences can lead to the best friendships. While forgiveness is not always an easy thing to do, it is better to forgive than to hold onto something that makes you unhappy. Being yourself is important. Just because you are different it does not make you less important. Accepting differences in others can lead to happiness.  You should know that there is some explicit language, the use of guns and violence and there is talk about some adult situations.

I give Half Brothers 5 out of 5 stars. It has some amazing messages that are delivered in a very humorous way. I recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. This film comes out in theaters December 4, 2020.

Mosul * Whirlwind of a Movie Anchored by Legitimately Visceral Sequences Throughout

An Iraqi journalist joins an army of uneasy allies in the battle to liberate the city of Mosul from the Islamic State. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “Mosul is a whirlwind of a movie anchored by legitimately visceral sequences throughout and brisk pacing that the film sustains from beginning to end. In an environment where streaming has become the predominant mode of consuming content, it’s gratifying to get a movie this immersive, one that never truly lets up and one that will certainly keep you invested in the different directions it goes in.” See his full review and interview below.

Mosul

By Benjamin P., Kids First! Film Critic, Age 14

Mosul is a whirlwind of a movie anchored by legitimately visceral sequences throughout and brisk pacing that the film sustains from beginning to end. In an environment where streaming has become the predominant mode of consuming content, it’s gratifying to get a movie this immersive, one that never truly lets up and one that will certainly keep you invested in the different directions it goes in.

Based on a New Yorker article from 2017 and produced by the Russo Brothers and the production company AGBO, Mosul takes place in the titular city and follows the exploits of the Nineveh SWAT team which gained their prestige through their clashes against ISIS forces. We meet the team through the eyes of Kawa, a rookie cop who is ushered into team by the steely commander Jasem, after they save Kawa and his seasoned partner mid-ambush. With ISIS on the retreat from the city and the arrival of a new command, the team has gone rogue and decides to carry out one final mission of their own, the details of which are kept from Kawa, but we come to find it’s rooted in a far more personal place than the ones they’ve gone through prior.

Through the absorbing bend much of the film takes, we are put in the heat of battle at every turn, but it’s rarely energetic and that becomes an effective element of the film’s tone. There is a weariness to each encounter with the enemy as they occur with increasing frequency and over the course of their journey; these soldiers are just trying to survive and here’s where Mosul cements its stakes breathlessly and efficiently. It begins to feel inevitable that the Nineveh will lose one of their own nearly every time they make contact with ISIS’s opposing forces. What sets Mosul apart from similarly tactical minded flicks is the moments of loss it frequently hammers home. In between the intensity of the action and each waypoint on their venture, there are moments of stillness where we get to witness the fighter’s true colors which makes their losses sting with greater severity, sometimes it’s commentating over a soap opera on television and at others, it’s cruising in a Humvee through the ruins of Mosul, as they’re reminded of why they fight and who they’re fighting for. The secret sauce that really makes those points of the film work when the team isn’t being rained down on by gunfire is that they’re still actively pushing the story forward and doing the necessary work to engage us with the characters at the center of the story. Mosul’s structure reminds me of that of a video game, with each conflict or objective so to speak, being separated by points of exposition and development, but it works for a mission-focused narrative in this case.

Mosul’s scenes of battle can get pretty brutal so I recommend this for ages 16 to 18 for some moments of extreme intensity and some graphic violence at times. Mosul is a raw testament to the heroism of the Nineveh SWAT team with an unexpectedly emotional conclusion and I greatly recommend it. I give Mosul 3.5 out of 5 stars. You can see it when it drops on Netflix on November 26, 2020.