Dumbo – One of the Most Beautiful Films I Have Ever Seen!

From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure Dumbo expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “This film is absolutely amazing – a bit dark, but beautiful and the visual effects are very good… This is the perfect tale for the imagination of the great director Tim Burton. Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer adds, “Director Tim Burton’s mind truly is a circus – a beautiful, colorful, vivid and artistic mind. While he adds his dark macabre to this classic Disney tale, it is done in such a way to engage the viewer and bring another dimension to the film. Dumbo is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen…” Arjun N. has another take, “Despite Tim Burton’s flair, Dumbo shows promise, but ultimately fails to take flight. Still, the movie does boast apt direction and talented cast.” See their full reviews below.

Dumbo 

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

This film is absolutely amazing – a bit dark, but beautiful and the visual effects are very good. I was so excited to see this film because Dumbo is such a classic and I really wanted to see it not in animation form. It is a story about outsiders and the beauty in the strange. This is the perfect tale for the imagination of the great director Tim Burton.

The story is about a circus elephant who is a baby. His name is Jumbo but later he is renamed Dumbo. He was born with big ears and people around him think he is weird and worthless. In this environment with lots of extraordinary people, this peculiar elephant shouldn’t be so strange, but people make fun of him and are actually cruel. His protective mother who works in the circus gets really mad and is sent far away for misbehaving. Dumbo is sad because he is separated from his mom. The kids in the circus, Milly and Joe, don’t have a mother either. They are the sons of Holt (Collin Farrell) who returns from war to work at the circus. The kids feel empathy for the baby elephant and try to comfort him. They come up with a way to get Dumbo involved in the circus after they discover he can fly. They think if they make enough money they can buy her mom back and the elephants can be reunited. The flying baby elephant becomes the circus’ main attraction and the owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) receives a tempting offer. The family circus becomes part of a huge amusement park, but they are losing all that kept them united.

The story develops a little bit slowly at the beginning. I definitively love the scenes with Dumbo flying and the scenarios and costumes are gorgeous, but overall it is not as emotional as I expected. The cast is amazing, but the kids don’t deliver as much sentiment as the story requires and they play a key role. Eva Green is charming and believable. Her character Collette Marchant, the girl that “flies” is many the most intriguing one. Danny Elfman’s music creates an ideal atmosphere. 

This film has a very positive and powerful message – even if we are different, it doesn’t mean we should be treated differently, because that’s what makes us beautiful and makes us stand out from the ordinary. We have to accept people the way they are. I give this film 4.5 out of five stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12 and adults as well. Dumbo opens in theaters March 29, 2019.

Dumbo

By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Director Tim Burton’s mind truly is a circus – a beautiful, colorful, vivid and artistic mind. While he adds his dark macabre to this classic Disney tale, it is done in such a way to engage the viewer and bring another dimension to the film. Dumbo is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen thousands of films. What’s impossible is possible when you believe. I believe in Dumbo.

When I heard Disney was creating a live-action version of their classic animated film Dumbo, I was skeptical as Dumbo is one of my childhood favorites. The live-action film I screened brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. It is so BEAUTIFUL –  the colors come alive in every frame, from the costumes to the imagery. Dumbo is so loveable, believable and beautiful. His eyes captivate you from the first time you see the baby to his final frame. For the only character in the film who doesn’t speak, you hear his journey of love and pain purely.

Dumbo plays homage to a Mother’s love and a quest of survival for motherless children – human and animal. It is so beautifully cast from our hero Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell), to his amazing, innocent children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins), to the nefarious V. A. Vandevere (evilly played by Michael Keaton) and the con-man we come to love, Max Medici (Danny DeVito). In my eyes, the children and Dumbo are the stars of the show. V.A. Vandevere teaches the audience a lesson in greed and Max Medici showcases his desire to make a buck with true transparency! This traveling circus offers many journeys for the cast and audience.

As a true Disney fan, I see the essence of many iconic Disney places and films. The balloons remind me of UP. The pink elephants remind me of Fantasia. Dreamland, a fictionist theme park made me think of Disneyland (I mean, DL…) – and all the theme parks at Walt Disney World and the merch! Plenty of merch to sell at Dumbo’s circus tent. The sublime imagery is seen throughout the film.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, as well as adults. Warning: there are some scary parts (Nightmare Island in Vandevere’s Dreamland theme park, hallucinogenic pink elephants and a SNAKE – not my favorite creature). The casting is great. The costumes are authentic and the music will move you. Danny Elfman is the master of music in film! Could this be another Oscar nomination? Pay attention to a new twist on the classic song “Baby Mine.” You won’t believe who sings this classic song!

Bring your tissues! This film opens in theaters nationwide March 29, 2019.

Dumbo

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Despite Tim Burton’s flair, Dumbo shows promise, but ultimately fails to take flight. Still, the movie does boast apt direction and talented cast. Any Disney fan may want to check this out, but proceed with low expectations.

The story expands upon the beloved classic story as Dumbo, a newborn elephant with oversized ears, becomes a star. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) to caretake the young one. Dumbo quickly becomes the laughing stock. But, once Holt’s kids discover he can fly using his ears, Dumbo soon becomes the superstar of the circus and gains the attention of beguiling tycoon V.A. Vandevere with his Dreamworld amusement park. Vandevere’s schemes are not what they seem as he wants to monopolize Dumbo and threaten the circus’s goodwill.

First off, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins, as Milly and Joe Farrier, are absolutely fantastic in their first-ever roles. Nico shines with her scientific interests and discovering Dumbo’s flying capability. Whereas Finley nails his jockey attitude. Colin Farrell, as Holt Farrier, shines as their father who always means well for his kids and the safety of all. Sure, his Southern accent is quite jarring at first, but he grows into it. Danny DeVito, as Max Medici, is my favorite character as he has many scenes in the first half and is truly funny in every scene. It’s a shame that a lot of his screen time is axed by a meandering second half. Michael Keaton, as V.A. Vandevere, unfortunately falters with a comically over-the-top performance. While Keaton’s work is normally strong, here it just doesn’t mesh with the movie’s scenarios. Sure, at times, he sells the role of a tycoon well, but really his character always appears out of place.

Tim Burton aptly directs the movie, but the writing doesn’t do this visually spectacular experience any wonders. Every scene is well produced, but the movie’s pacing is all over the place. The special effects are also quite underwhelming at times. Some moments are impressive, but at times it comes across as artificial and unreal. The movie’s second half also meanders into some bizarre territory, primarily due to its unimpressive villain. In spite of this, Dumbo’s first flight scene is awe-inspiring, and is definitely my favorite scene.

The message of this film is that being different isn’t always bad. It can come to be a true talent. I give this film 3 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 March 29, 2019 so check it out.

Images © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

Nancy Drew And The Hidden Staircase – Timeless and Entertaining

A bit of an outsider struggling to fit into her new surroundings, Nancy and her pals set out to solve a mystery, make new friends, and establish their place in the community. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “Now, it’s no secret that Nancy Drew is timeless. The books were first written in 1930 and they have been inspiring women ever since. I believe Nancy Drew is timeless and we all need a little girl power!” See her full review below.

Nancy Drew And The Hidden Staircase
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

This movie is very entertaining which is why we go to the movies. Even though I have no nostalgic attachment to the Nancy Drew books, I really enjoyed this film.

The story is about Nancy Drew who has just moved to a small town called River Heights. She meets an elder woman named Flora who claims her house is haunted. Nancy decides to investigate with the help of her friends, George and Bess, and Flora’s “mean girl” niece, Helen. My biggest issue with this movie is the mystery. I understand that this movie is aimed at younger kids, yet I feel the mystery is too easy to solve. However, that is my only major problem with this film. Plus, I didn’t mind this that much, since even though the mystery is obvious, I mostly let it slide as I enjoyed the characters so much.

One thing I really like about this film is the typical mean girl character, Helen. At first it seems like Helen is just a stereotypical popular girl. Instead, she’s only mean for a little bit of the movie. Halfway in she actually goes through a character arc. I really like this as I honestly feel mean girl characters are so overdone at this point. So it is nice to see this character done differently. However, my favorite character is hands down Flora. She is a very funny and so memorable. Everyone needs to have an Aunt Flora in their life. Flora had some of the best lines in the movie.

I really like the cast of this film. Sophia Lillis as Nancy Drew is fantastic. She is very engaging and I hope to see more of her in the future. Linda Lavin as Flora is amazing. She brings so much charisma and humor to every scene she is in. Zoe Renee as George and Mackenzie Graham as Bess are also pretty good supporting characters. I wish they were in the movie more.

Now, it’s no secret that Nancy Drew is timeless. The books were first written in 1930 by Carolyn Keene and they have been inspiring women ever since. I believe Nancy Drew is timeless and we all need a little girl power!

I give this movie 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. This film comes out on March 15, 2019 so look for it.

Photos ©Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Books of the Week

Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. would like to introduce Mega Awesome Notebook by Kevin Minor.

This book is fun and I think tweens and teenagers will love this one!

Late for school, a young cartoonist accidentally microwaves his notebook while trying to heat his breakfast. This releases a radioactive cloud of awesomeness that makes the drawings in his notebook come to life. Now he has to make it through a typical teenage day of schoolwork, bullies, and general awkwardness while trying to hold on to his sanity. Dud, a character he has drawn, becomes the boy’s nemesis as they spar on the page through algebra, English, and art classes. Can Dud help the boy face his real-life struggles—girl trouble, social awkwardness, and divorced parents who work a lot—rather than hide behind his notebook?

Find it here.

This one is a must-buy!

The Book of No Worries
ISBN: 9781912413997 | $12.95

An essential guide that covers a multitude of worries and anxieties that a young person may face while growing up – from peer pressure to puberty and all the worries in between.

This friendly and funny book aims to reassure tweens that their worries and fears are normal and offers practical tips for managing anxiety and stress. From problems at school to relationship woes, body image issues to troubles at home, all worries are recognized and case studies and questions from real-life anonymous readers offer positive tips and advice to help young people survive angst and stress that can bring them down. 

I really think that this one is a must-buy and it will be very insightful and helpful for children especially those ages 8+.

This one is a fun one to read! I love how interesting it is!

How to Think Like an Absolute Genius
ISBN: 9780711239852 | $15.95

Be curious! Be imaginative! Be determined! Develop your talents by drawing inspiration from the greatest of geniuses. In a world that changes quickly, the future belongs to those who have an open, flexible mind: like John Lennon, they will imagine the impossible; like Walt Disney, they will work as a team; and like Copernicus, they will be able to think backwards! If you’re worried you might not be up to the job, have no fear! This fascinating book will show you the way. Meet 27 geniuses from different eras and disciplines –  artists, scientists, thinkers or writers – and learn from their “creative methods”. Packed with facts, games and activity ideas to boost your intelligence, creative, inventive, and critical thinking skills, this book will show you that you can become absolutely awesome at whatever you put your mind to!

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the above books to facilitate this post. Images were also provided.

Superpower Dogs – An Inside Look at Life-Saving Dogs Trained in Disaster Response and More

Join an immersive IMAX adventure to experience the life-saving superpowers and extraordinary bravery of some of the world’s most amazing dogs. In this inspiring true story, our best friends are also real-life superheroes. Journey around the globe to meet remarkable dogs who save lives and discover the powerful bond they share with their human partners. Follow ‘Halo’, a rookie puppy training to join one of the most elite disaster response teams in America. Meet ‘Henry’, an avalanche rescue expert in the Canadian Rockies, ‘Reef’, a Newfoundland lifeguard with the Italian coastguard, ‘Ricochet’, a Californian surf legend helping people with special needs, and the Bloodhound brothers, ‘Tipper and Tony’, who are leading the fight to save endangered species in Africa. As we discover the incredible abilities of dogs and the astonishing science behind their superpowers, we’ll never look at our best friends the same way again. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Lukas L. comments, “This movie really shows that all dogs have super powers with their amazing senses, even if they are not trained to dig 15 feet into the snow or lift forty times their own weight.” See his full review below.

Superpower Dogs
By Lukas L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 12

I loved watching the film Superpower Dogs.  The camera work is absolutely amazing with so many interesting shots and lighting angles in this 3D IMAX production.  The director really worked with so many special effects to get lots of close ups and precise detailing. You really see things from the dog’s point of view, as well as its trainer’s. It is a very entertaining movie that appeals to all ages. This movie really shows that all dogs have super powers with their amazing senses, even if they are not trained to dig 15 feet into the snow or lift forty times their own weight.

The movie features a disaster response dog named Halo and her journey to become a service dog for disaster response.  She is joined by five other dogs named Henry (avalanche rescue), Reef (water rescue), Ricochet (emotional support dog who enjoys surfing) and Tony and Tipper (endangered species protection in Kenya).  Their trainers play extremely important roles in the film and also in their training. It shows what all the dogs do, but the main focus is on Halo.

This is a documentary so there are no actors involved.  It is directed by Daniel Ferguson and produced by Dominic Cunningham-Reid, George Duffield and Taran Davies. The cinematographer is Reed Smoot.  Big propos to all the crew! There are all kinds of special effects where they show us a peak of the dog’s anatomy. It is very realistic, but purposefully made as a special effect, which is so great. Also, they show a physical representation of scents from a dog’s perspective, since they have very exquisite smelling skills. It is difficult to bring smells to life but this IMAX movie does it! 

The only bummer for me was I wish they gave a little more attention and time to the other dogs in the movie. I think the director only had 45 minutes, so I imagine it would be hard to include lots of details about all the dogs and their trainers.

The message of the film is that all dogs have superpowers, even if they are not rescue dogs. This movie can will appeal to all animal lovers (even cat lovers), even though the main focus is on dogs.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, as well as adults. This film is playing now at select IMAX theaters. Go check it out!

Wonder Park – Whimsical Animated Fantasy With Great Messages

June, an optimistic, imaginative girl, discovers an incredible amusement park called Wonderland hidden in the woods. The park is full of fantastical rides and talking, funny animals – only the park is in disarray. June soon discovers the park came from her imagination and she’s the only one who can fix it, so she bands together with the animals to save this magical place and bring back the wonder in Wonderland. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ivey H. comments, “This animated fantasy film is awesome! It has a good message for younger viewers, is whimsical, bright and colorful.” Nathalia J. adds, “This refreshing film will have you on the silliest adventure ever. Make sure to buckle up for this wild ride through the imagination of the “Wonders in Wonderland.” See their full reviews below.

Wonder Park

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

This animated fantasy film is awesome! It has a good message for younger viewers, is whimsical, bright and colorful. The music is very inspiring.

The storyline is about a little girl’s extraordinary imagination. She and her mom have a special bond, sharing a passion for creating a magical place called Wonderland. Then, an unexpected life-changing event occurs, causing June’s world to change forever. She becomes very depressed and decides to put Wonderland away. She quits doing the things she loves most. Will the wonder ever come back to Wonderland?

The lead character June is played by Sofia Mali. Her voice-over work is outstanding. You’re really able to connect with her adventurous heart, emotions and struggles as she experiences them. Steve, the porcupine is played by Jhon Oliver. He secretly admires Greta the hog. He had me laughing throughout the film. Whenever he gets nervous, he loses his sharp quills and you had better run!

The jokes in this film are very practical, as June is somewhat of math genius. Some of my favorite scenes are the homemade roller coaster that June and the neighborhood kids attempt to make. One particularly funny scene is when they are on the bus and June wants to escape. This is when she discovers there is really a Wonderland. The park is full of unexpected rides, zero gravity fun and chimpanzee zombies.  June remembers how she created Wonder Park by whispering into her stuffed animal Peanut’s ear and remembers that anything is possible. Her stuffed animals are her inspiration and caretakers of the park. The music and singing really carries you through the scenes. They are very relaxing and beautiful. The theme song “Wonder” was written by Ali Dee, Doug Davis and Anthony Mirabella and performed by Rachel Platten. The screenplay is written by award-nominee Josh Appelbaum.

I like that this film, which is a fun animation, has a much deeper meaning. It is very emotional and I cried a few times.  Junes has a loving father and mother that encourage her to create and dream. However they face difficult times, as many families do. Many children may face times in their life that are not easy to understand. Losing someone close to you and having your life turned upside down breaks your spirit. So you stop being a kid and stop enjoying life and doing the things you love to do. Here, June stops imagining a land where everything is different.

There are some scenes where June and her friend make risky decisions like going off on her own. I recommend this film for ages 4 to 12. Teens may enjoy it also. It opens in theaters in the United States and Spain on March 15, 2019. Look for it.

Wonder Park

By Nathalia J. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Are you ready for a wonderfully fun and imaginative family adventure family movie? This exhilarating, thrilling, interesting and adventurous film was created by Josh Applebaum and André  Nemec. This refreshing film will have you on the silliest adventure ever. Make sure to buckle up for this wild ride through the imagination of the “Wonders in Wonderland.”

This film follows a wildly creative girl named June who, with her mother spend countless hours imagining, designing and building models of an amazing park, all from their imagination. The heart of Wonder Park exists in the relationship between June and her mom, which is extremely beautiful to me. It reminds me of my mom and me.

As the film progresses, you get to see June enter this world in real life and from a different perspective. You also get to see June go on a wildly and festive ride through her imagination. She gets to encounter her own fantasy characters, which she created when she was little.

The lead characters are young June (Sophia Mali), Cooper (Ken Jeong), older June (Brianna Denski), Greta (Mila Kunis), Boomer (Ken Hudson Campbell) and many more.  My favorite character is clearly the favorable and cheerful Boomer. I adore Boomer because he is the friendliest and most outgoing character of them all. I also love that he is always positive and gives second chances to all his boon companions. An example is when June explains how she generated the darkness in Wonder Park. When June apologizes to Boomer she feels as if she disappointed him. Though he is always friendly, he felt unhappy when June let him down.

The animation by Peter Chan and Nathan Fowler is simply marvelous. It is colorful, unique and imaginative – from the beautiful sky to the detailed roller coasters, to the crazy popping popcorn machine. This animation should be acknowledged because it is amazing to see the Wonder Park as such a bright and innovative Wonder Land.

This film has no bad language or dangerous actions that children might attempt to imitate. It does teach children to always carry an imagination throughout their life because it can be healthful and healthy throughout good and bad times.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, as well as adults. This film opens in theaters march 15, 2019.  Make sure to go check out this astonishing and adventurous film at your local theater.

Photos © 2018 Paramount Animation, a division of Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

Octonauts: Reef Rescue – Amazing Way To Learn A Lot About Different Sea Creatures

The Octonauts are a team of adventurers who explore the world’s oceans, rescue aquatic creatures and protect their habitats – from the bustling eco-system along the Amazon River to the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench. Deploying a set of aquatic vehicles, Captain Barnacles, daredevil ex-pirate, Kwazii, medic Peso and the rest of the crew embark on missions around the globe before returning safely to their home base, the Octopod. On this exciting DVD, join the Octonauts as they journey to a colorful coral reef to rescue the creatures that live there! Come along with Dashi as she saves a pair of surfing snails. And when poisonous sea snakes get stranded on a beach, Peso must figure out a way to get them back into the ocean. Enjoy these adventures and more with the Octonauts! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “I really like the DVD Octonauts: Reef Rescue, because we experience a new adventure with each episode.  The animation is simple and has a rainbow of splashy colors.” Lukas L. adds, “The character animations are very simple and that works for me.  Also, they have the most adorable little personalities and vegetable helpers.” KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer Rachel V. wraps it up with, “The Octonauts are a group of anthropomorphic animals that go on maritime adventures which often include educational experiences with undersea creatures and locations. Despite how cutesy this series may look on the surface, it has a decent amount of depth in its premise, with the characters going on adventures that feel like something you might find in Star Trek.” See their full reviews below.

Octonauts: Reef Rescue

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I really like the DVD Octonauts: Reef Rescue, because we experience a new adventure with each episode.  The animation is simple and has a rainbow of splashy colors.  The music is also very playful, supporting the kaleidoscope of action in each different rescue mission.

Octonauts: Reef Rescue has a lot of lively characters, led by Captain Barnacles, who is a bear.  His crew also includes a number of other animals including a penguin, an ex-pirate kitten and a sea otter.  The most creative characters are vegimals – yes, part vegetable, part animal.  And, each rescue ends swimmingly! (ha ha) The DVD includes eight episodes, each a different adventure.  It is an amazing place to learn a lot about different sea creatures including a convict fish, very cute baby sea turtles, a tiger shark, poisonous yellow-bellied sea snakes and my favorite – surfing snails.  I had no idea snails could surf on bubbles.

There are so many positive messages throughout this DVD.  My favorite is the importance of team work.  The episodes also show how to protect the sea habitat and how much hard work and fun it is to rescue sea life. 

Octonauts Reef Rescue is very kid-friendly. It promotes positive social behavior, teamwork and kindness to one another and animals. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 through 8. Adults will also enjoy this as they watch it with their kids and will probably learn something new. This DVD is available now, so look for it. I recommend it.

Octonauts: Reef Rescue
By Lukas L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I surprisingly really enjoyed watching the loveable Octonauts: Reef Rescue. The character animations are very simple and that works for me.  Also, they have the most adorable little personalities and vegetable helpers.

The stories on this DVD are about a polar bear, cat, a penguin and their friends that explore, rescue and protect underwater sea creatures and their habitats. In these episodes, we learn about baby sea turtles, sunfish, tiger sharks and more. There is always a conflict in every episode and they manage to come up with the cleverest ways to save the day.

The series stars voice-talent actors Ross Breen, Teresa Gallagher and Simon Greenall and is produced by Adam Idelson.  I really like the animation and give props to the animator Willian Muir. He keeps it very simple so that all ages can enjoy watching it. It is not just the main characters that I enjoyed. Oh, no no no, I really enjoyed the animated sea creatures as well. A lot of these sea creatures have very hard textures to mimic, so they make it through very nicely, plus we get a little sneak peak of the actual animals themselves at the end and that’s pretty cool.

This is the kind of where they make learning fun, which they succeed at.  There is not really a moral, but I it definitely promotes a love of ocean life. This show is great at teaching kids about marine life and their habitat. When I was younger, I was obsessed with animals of all sorts and I adored this show. Watching it again reminds me why I loved it so much!  There are not a lot of other shows that are dedicated to teaching kids about ocean life, so that’s a plus.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 9. The DVD is available now, so look for it.

Octonauts: Reef Rescue

By Nathalia J. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Are you ready to dive into adventure with your favorite underwater explores? This 90 minute, eight-episode, action-packed, powerful, thrilling and stimulating DVD is loaded with excitement in every episode. You get to join the Octonauts as they go on adventures through the glamorous, lovely, attractive and stunning reef to rescue creatures in need of help.

The Octonauts are a team of adventurers that explore the world’s oceans and protect the creatures and habitats therein. You get to watch the Octonauts save a pair of surfing snails through a rutted wave in the tide and save baby turtles from an enormous wave and explore the lives of sunfish, yellow belly sea snakes and colorful fish. 

The lead characters are Ross Breen (Captain Barnacles), Teresa Gallagher (Dashi), Simon Greenall (Captain Barnacles) and produced by Adam Idelson.


This show promotes positive social behavior by presenting kind actions through rescuing others. It promotes team work, working together and solving problems on an ocean adventure. Sounds like fun, huh?! This DVD is a great way for kids to learn about reefs and so much more. Each episode is filled with beautifully colored stories that will keep you engaged.

My favorite episode is the most adventurous and informational Episode 7, because it shares multiple facts about the biggest fish in the ocean, sunfish.  Fun fact: When sunfish get the case of the itchies, smart fish masticate the itches off the sunfish which stay in the sunfish’s skin.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 11. This DVD is now available now so look for it!

Captain Marvel – A Must-Watch for Any Superhero Fan!

Captain Marvel is an extraterrestrial Kree warrior who finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her people and the Skrulls. Living on Earth in 1995, she keeps having recurring memories of another life as U.S. Air Force pilot Carol Danvers. With help from Nick Fury, Captain Marvel tries to uncover the secrets of her past while harnessing her special superpowers to end the war with the evil Skrulls. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “This film makes good use of its 90s setting. There are a lot of jokes involving technology and pop culture from this period that work well. Also, the soundtrack has a nice selection of songs from the 90s that complement the film very well.” Arjun N. adds, Captain Marvel is a solid, if slightly flawed entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A talented cast and savvy direction make for a crowd pleaser. Any superhero fan must watch this as the hype for Avengers: Endgame arises.” See their full reviews below.

Captain Marvel

Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Captain Marvel is a fun, if sometimes flawed superhero adventure that further develops the cosmic landscape of the Marvel movies with good performances from Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson.

Captain Marvel takes place in 1995 and follows Vers, a Kree warrior with flaming fists on her way to becoming Captain Marvel who finds herself on Earth after a mission gone wrong. She teams up with a detective named Nick Fury to pick apart the secrets of her past. Meanwhile, Vers has to stop the shapeshifting Skrulls from infiltrating the planet and putting an end to the war with the Kree.

I like the performances in this film. Brie Larson is good as Captain Marvel and brings an understated verve to the role. Larson is good at delivering quips, but also has a few pretty powerful moments in her performance that help develop Captain Marvel as a character. Samuel L. Jackson is also good as Nick Fury. This is a different Fury from what we’re used to with Jackson offering some nuanced clues about the changes Fury will face in the future. In Larson and Jackson’s third onscreen collaboration, the duo brings great chemistry and the scenes with them playing off of each other are easily some of this film’s best moments.

This film makes good use of its 90s setting. There are a lot of jokes involving technology and pop culture from this period that work well. Also, the soundtrack has a nice selection of songs from the 90s that complement the film very well. The setting doesn’t feels like an attempt to cash in on nostalgia, but the 90s theme gives the film a more pronounced tone and humor. I also really enjoyed the element of mystery that comes with the Skrulls’ ability to shapeshift into anyone and its clever use throughout the film.

I do find quite a few flaws with this film. Jude Law’s performance as Yon-Ragg, the Kree leader, is disappointing. He feels so self-serious; it’s as if he’s in a different movie. There is a lot of exposition throughout the first half that, after a while, is a chore to listen to. Action scenes range from well-choreographed to hard to tell what is going on.

I recommend this film for ages 9 to 18, for some sci-fi violence and language and give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. Captain Marvel falls a bit short of being completely marvelous, but it’s enjoyable and well worth the price of admission. I recommend you go see this film when it comes out on March 8, 2019.

Captain Marvel

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Captain Marvel is a solid, if slightly flawed entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A talented cast and savvy direction make for a crowd pleaser. Any superhero fan must watch this as the hype for Avengers: Endgame arises.

The story follows Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes. Set in the 90s, this adventure follows her struggle to regain her past as one mysterious incident created her powers. Amidst this, a galactic war arises between the Kree, her brethren, and the Skrulls, shapeshifting fugitives, as Carol remains the only one powerful enough to end the war. This war takes to Earth, with S.H.I.E.L.D. in its adolescence investigating. With this, Carol must team up with no other than a nascent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as the two investigate all sides to this war.

Brie Larson, as Carol Danvers, surprised me and is my favorite character as she is nothing like what the controversial trailers portrayed – hardened and emotionless. In fact, she is very sassy and witty, like Tony Stark, and even humanizes the character with her relatable struggles. Sure she is stoic and hardened to some extent, but she does everything she needs to, as audiences need to be sold of her importance in not just Avengers: Endgame, but the whole MCU, and that’s exactly what we get. Samuel L. Jackson, as Nick Fury, is absolutely incredible, even if certain character decisions from a writing standpoint are very questionable, with one reveal just baffling. The dynamics between Danvers and Fury is one of the movie’s best, with a buddy cop feel to it. It is investing to watch the younger, more inexperienced Fury, with certain nods to his future being a neat addition. The same goes to Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson. It is a welcome surprise to see the simpler days of these two. Ben Mendelsohn, as Talos, also gives his all with his Skrull leader a formidable foe and he is more charismatic for it. As twists and turns reveal, he and his race became a sympathetic asset, with their kind being one of the most intriguing amongst the MCU roster. Last but not least, Jude Law, as Yon-Rogg, is interesting in his mentorship of Carol, and the twists regarding his character add for an emotional edge.

Anna Boden and Ryan Fledge aptly direct the film, with a stylish approach somewhat like Thor: Ragnarok. Every scene is well produced, but the style and vision are sometimes lost amongst the craft. The special effects are mostly on standard, but the de-aging effects for Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg rise far above the standard. They don’t look fake, and all expressions are truly natural. We are truly in the future of seamless CGI. My favorite scene is when Danvers truly becomes Captain Marvel, unleashing her full power amongst an enemy crew.

The message of this film is to never give up. Danvers takes several hits, to the point of giving up, but she always rises up to the challenge. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 due to some intense violence and language. The movie released in theaters on March 8,, 2019, so check it out.

Sesame Street: Celebrate Family – Learn About The Importance Of Family

Celebrate your family with this fun-fest of five family stories from Sesame Street! First, Abby’s family has dinner at Elmo’s house, where Abby learns that different families can have fun working together to make a meal. Then, Cookie Monster realizes he’s forgotten a gift for his mommy for Mother’s Day what should he do? For Father’s Day, Rosita wants to make a video for her dad, but she needs some help from her friends. Next we meet Rudy, Abby’s new stepbrother! And finally, Hooper’s Store is throwing a special party for kids and their grandparents. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Each episode has an abundance of vibrant energy and many great lessons for families.  This DVD is a great place to learn about the importance of family.” Nancy F. adds, “!  It is absolutely amazing to watch with its focus on positive messages that teach kids about family values. It also shares terrific lessons about kindness and many other uplifting messages.” Ella L. wraps it up with, “Even as a teenager, I felt the happiness that radiates through the screen. This movie is musical, creative, filled with positive messages and very importantly, is representative of real life relationships.” See their full reviews below.

Sesame Street: Celebrate Family

By Katherine Schell, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I absolutely love each episode of Sesame Street: Celebrate Family, because the characters are so colorful and cute. Each episode has an abundance of vibrant energy and many great lessons for families.  This DVD is a great place to learn about the importance of family.

Sesame Street: Celebrate Family has five parts covering different topics with all of the different Sesame Street characters. The stories include Abby and her stepfamily visiting Elmo for a fun “father/kids’ night” learning about the different things families do together. We get to see the challenges that Cookie Monster has trying to make something for his mom on Mother’s Day. He just likes to gobble everything up because it reminds him of cookies (surprise!).  For Father’s Day, Rosita makes something special for her dad since he’s away from home. We also get to see a grandparent’s party and learn about different grandparents such as Baby Bear’s grandpa.

The main characters are, of course, Elmo, Abby, Rudy (Abby’s step brother) and Rosita. The puppeteers are fabulous with all their actions and different voices. The songs are so stinking cute, catchy and easy to follow along with. My favorite part is when Cookie Monster eats the locket he planned to give to his mom because the picture reminded him of how they eat cookies together. You probably guessed that my favorite character is Cookie Monster. If so, you guessed right.

There are several positive messages throughout the DVD.  My favorite is that family is so very important, and you should take time to celebrate with them. Family is important no matter what you do or how different yours is. These episodes also touch on ways to have self-control, acknowledge your differences and give love to your family and friends. They also show that it is okay to be nervous about meeting new people, and that you can still celebrate even if your special person isn’t there. Each episode makes me want to celebrate family even more. 

Sesame Street: Celebrate Family is very kid friendly. It promotes positive social behavior and treating one another appropriately. There is no bad language and nothing risky or dangerous that children might imitate. I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 through 11. Adults will also enjoy this show. This DVD is available now, so look for it. I recommend it.

Sesame Street: Celebrate Family

By Nancy Fifita, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The DVD Sesame Street: Celebrate Family is incredibly adorable!  It is absolutely amazing to watch with its focus on positive messages that teach kids about family values. It also shares terrific lessons about kindness and many other uplifting messages. What I really love and appreciate is how each character highlights a different point of view that all relate back to friendship and family. This film is filled with catchy music, comedy, valuable lessons, and features funny and adorable characters.

The DVD is centered on five family stories from Sesame Street!  The first adventure is about Abby and her families’ dinner with Elmo’s family. She discovers that not all families are the same; each has their own way of doing things. The second story involves Cookie Monster and Mother’s Day. He is great at creating gifts, but always ends up devouring them. He finally is able to restrain himself from eating the cookies he gives his mom as a gift for Mother’s Day. The next story is about Father’s Day and how Rosita wants to make a special video for her father. In order to complete the video she needs help from her friends. Then there’s a story about Abby and her new stepbrother Rudy! The last adventure shows happiness through a special celebration held for grandparents at Hopper’s store.

The characters we see here include Elmo (Kevin Clash), Abby (Leslie Cadabby), Rudy, Rosita, Cookie Monster (David Rudman), Oscar (Caroll Spinney), Slimy, Prairie Dawn (Fran Brill), Elmo’s Father (Bill Barretta) and Abby’s Father. I love all the messages that are taught in the different episodes. Each gives cute and warm fuzzy feelings as it focuses and draws attention to the importance of family relationships, family support and having family right by your side.

My favorite moment on this DVD is when Elmo Face Times his grandparents. It is a simple gesture and form of communication, but their reaction of joy and happiness is priceless. It teaches us an important lesson that, even if distance separates us from family, there is always a way to keep in touch, especially in the world of modern technology.

I rate this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 11 and adults as well. This DVD is so adorable, with meaningful lessons and teachable moments. I’m sure that anyone that watches it will truly enjoy it!  It is available now so look for it!

Sesame Street: Celebrate Family

by Ella Ladd, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Sesame Street: Celebrate Family is a fun and entertaining DVD that both kids and parents will be able to enjoy. Even as a teenager, I felt the happiness that radiates through the screen. This movie is musical, creative, filled with positive messages and very importantly, is representative of real life relationships. I assume that the purpose of this show is to entertain children, while teaching them about the variety of families that exist. 

Sesame Street: Celebrate Family follows Elmo and all his friends as they navigate through different relationships and figure out what the word family really means. Throughout the series, topics such as siblings, step-siblings, parents and grandparents are discussed. Different songs about different members of one’s family showcase the love and admiration Elmo and his friends feel towards their family. The film is very well written, with loads of content and humor that kids will absorb and enjoy thoroughly. The cheerfulness of Elmo and the Sesame Street community ought to make your kids want to laugh, play and sing along with them. Their positivity is absolutely contagious.

The aspect of the show that stands most are the positive messages. Elmo even says that “families come in all different shapes and sizes.” I am impressed by the progressive way that families are depicted in this show. All the families are different; none are a cookie-cutter mother-father-kid experience. Elmo and his friends also teach kids to love their families and treat their parents with love and respect. This DVD shows that family isn’t necessarily what you are born into. It’s the connections, relationships and bonds that you build with the people around you, regardless of age, color or any other hereditary aspect. Family is thicker than blood and that message is well portrayed here. 

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 10, as well as adults. This is an awesome show that helps kids develop their own personal values and character. Sesame Street: Celebrate Family does indeed celebrate families. The DVD is available now so, look for it! 

Sesame Street: Celebrate Family

By Kimberly M, KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

This delightful DVD carries the Sesame Street legacy of learning and fun, mixed with new characters, updated theme song elements and scenery. The various segments included here celebrate family, including Mother’s and Father’s Day and introduces one of the main character’s new stepbrother.

The storylines have meaning and there is nothing threatening about them. One can rely on Sesame Street for great live action cinematography, great characters and thoughtful stories. I always enjoy the uniqueness of the Muppet costumes along with the Sesame Street set. The characters bright colors stand out and help hold the attention of younger viewers.

As to the characters in this show, I like seeing the older characters along with some new ones. We see Oscar, Elmo, and Abby meeting and learning about new human fraternal twin siblings.

Another favorite part for me is the segments where they sing about different types of families. In one segment, the human twin siblings argue over music until they find common ground with jazz. That’s fun!

Sesame Street excels at presenting humor in their sketches, effectively making kids and older viewers laugh along. I enjoy that this DVD celebrates all different aspects of family. It is geared primarily for young children and they will benefit by learning about sibling rivalry and other aspects of family that may be unfamiliar to them.

There are no unsavory aspects to this show. Sesame Street has a long-standing reputation, since 1969 of creating conscientious programming for preschoolers and this DVD is reliably thoughtful, educational and fun. The DVD is 140 minutes in length and can easily be enjoyed by watching it in segments. I truly enjoyed it and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for ages 2 to 5, as well as adults. It is available now on DVD, so look for it.