Reviews written by registered user
rannynm

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364 reviews in total 
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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Excellent action and style. Great acting and direction. Captures details with an 80s retro feel, 6 November 2017
9/10

Thor: Ragnarok impressed me because of its excellent action and style. The acting is top level and the wonderful direction captures every detail with an 80s retro feel. This is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for all Marvel fans.

The story is about Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the God of Thunder and former Avenger, who finds himself in the toughest match of his life when he is pitted against Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, who destroys his hammer in a fierce battle. Thor escapes through a space portal, but is transported to Sakaar, a planet known for its gladiator matches hosted by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). Imprisoned, Thor is forced to fight on the gladiator ring, only to find out his opponent is the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who is unaware of their previous comradery. Meanwhile on Asgard, Hela is the new leader and executes a strict dictatorship. Despite being captured, Thor is trying to set up a team with the Hulk, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to escape and stop Hela before it is too late.

Chris Hemsworth, as Thor, excellently presents his desperation, despite being a hero of great power. His new-born comradery with the Hulk is well presented, due to their great chemistry. Cate Blanchett, as Hela, is one of the best villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, due to her nefarious behavior and interesting backstory that shines a new light on Asgard's history. Mark Ruffalo, as the Hulk, is excellent in his Jekyll-Hyde personality between being Bruce Banner and being the Hulk. Due to this, he is my favorite character in the movie. Jeff Goldblum, as the Grandmaster, is quirky and fun like always. Tessa Thompson, as Valkyrie, provides an initially flawed companion to Thor, but stops running away from her problems and face them, when she decides to team up with Thor. Tom Hiddleston, as Loki, is as deceptive and charismatic as ever.

The direction by Taika Waititi is splendid. Every scene in the movie is filled with style and well-timed comedy. My favorite scene is when Thor activates his true potential in the final battle against Hela because it is a huge leap for the character, and it leads to one of the most epic battles in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe. My only problem with the movie is the tonal shifts the movie faces because the movie is filled with comedic scenes. However, in serious and emotional scenes, they feel rout of place. The message of the movie is about believing in yourself. Thor is only able to last in the battle with Hela when he realizes his true potential is beyond his hammer. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of its intense action and suggestive references.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org

8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Excellent action and style. Great acting and direction. Captures details with an 80s retro feel, 6 November 2017
9/10

Thor: Ragnarok impressed me because of its excellent action and style. The acting is top level and the wonderful direction captures every detail with an 80s retro feel. This is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for all Marvel fans.

The story is about Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the God of Thunder and former Avenger, who finds himself in the toughest match of his life when he is pitted against Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, who destroys his hammer in a fierce battle. Thor escapes through a space portal, but is transported to Sakaar, a planet known for its gladiator matches hosted by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). Imprisoned, Thor is forced to fight on the gladiator ring, only to find out his opponent is the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who is unaware of their previous comradery. Meanwhile on Asgard, Hela is the new leader and executes a strict dictatorship. Despite being captured, Thor is trying to set up a team with the Hulk, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to escape and stop Hela before it is too late.

Chris Hemsworth, as Thor, excellently presents his desperation, despite being a hero of great power. His new-born comradery with the Hulk is well presented, due to their great chemistry. Cate Blanchett, as Hela, is one of the best villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, due to her nefarious behavior and interesting backstory that shines a new light on Asgard's history. Mark Ruffalo, as the Hulk, is excellent in his Jekyll-Hyde personality between being Bruce Banner and being the Hulk. Due to this, he is my favorite character in the movie. Jeff Goldblum, as the Grandmaster, is quirky and fun like always. Tessa Thompson, as Valkyrie, provides an initially flawed companion to Thor, but stops running away from her problems and face them, when she decides to team up with Thor. Tom Hiddleston, as Loki, is as deceptive and charismatic as ever.

The direction by Taika Waititi is splendid. Every scene in the movie is filled with style and well-timed comedy. My favorite scene is when Thor activates his true potential in the final battle against Hela because it is a huge leap for the character, and it leads to one of the most epic battles in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe. My only problem with the movie is the tonal shifts the movie faces because the movie is filled with comedic scenes. However, in serious and emotional scenes, they feel rout of place. The message of the movie is about believing in yourself. Thor is only able to last in the battle with Hela when he realizes his true potential is beyond his hammer. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of its intense action and suggestive references.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A Shining Gem in the Cinematic "Cabinet of Wonders", 30 October 2017
8/10

Wonderstruck is a shining gem in the cinematic "cabinet of wonders." The film is adapted from the book Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, the same author who wrote Hugo Cabret. Directed by Todd Haynes and written by Brian Selznick, the film envelopes you in its beautifully detailed vision of old New York. The movie stars Oakes Fegley, Julianne Moore and Michele Williams. I love this film because it combines the artistic style of old black and white silent films with the more modern color palette of today's films.

Wonderstruck tells two similar stories that have a connection. One story concerns a twelve-year-old boy, Ben, in the 1970s, who, after losing his Mom, decides to run away and look for his father in the big city. Recently losing his hearing from a lightning strike, he must deal with his disability without knowing sign language. Luckily, when he arrives in NYC he makes a friend, Jamie, who takes him to the American Museum of Natural History. The other story follows a young girl, Rose, in the late 1920s. It is portrayed as a silent black and white film, as befits the time period. Rose is born deaf and never learned sign language or how to properly talk, but she is talented at creating artworks with paper. She is depicted as a very shy, quiet type, but loves visiting her brother who works at the Museum of Natural History.

This film reminds me of Hugo and The Night at the Museum because of the attention to historical detail and the wonder inherent in the natural world. I also enjoyed how it keeps changing from a silent, black and white film to a talky, color film. It gives you the best of both worlds - old style filmmaking and more modern. Each time the film shifts time periods, the music changes as well. The film revels in many different textures, such as the gritty reality of NYC in the 1970s, all the old curiosities in the Museum of Natural History and even the paper cityscapes that Rose creates. The crux of the film is the director's fascination with the old "cabinet of wonders" and how it is the precursor to the modern museum. This film itself is a "cabinet of wonders," revealing many treasures in its depths. My favorite scene is when Ben and Jamie explore the secret rooms in the Museum of Natural History.

Before Wonderstruck, I was not familiar with the director, Todd Haynes. Until now he has created mostly sophisticated, art house, independent films. This film can be considered a fascinating, art house, family film. I give Wonderstruck 4 out of 5 stars for its creative way it combines two different artistic styles. I recommend it for ages 12 to 18.

Reviewed by Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Incredible Practical Effects and Character Development, 30 October 2017
10/10

The film takes time setting up each of the characters, making them feel very well developed. The use of practical effects makes the movie seem more real, because real fire is used instead of CGI for the fire. The characters also act like true heroes and seem very real.

The storyline is about a group of firefighters who want to become 'hotshots,' which are the elite group of firefighters that work in the fire itself. When it comes time to assess them, their Chief doesn't agree with the assessor's opinion on not burning the wood and takes his own path which risks having their certification taken away. But the chief thinks it's better to do it that way so they burn the logs, making the correct choice in the situation and, as a result, they get their certification. After that, they go into many dangerous wildfires to protect nature and homes. One day when the Yarnell Mountain fire comes on June 30, 2013, they are especially challenged.

Josh Brolin portrays Eric Marsh the fire chief. He has proved his skill in many movies including Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy and as Beck Weathers in Everest. Miles Teller, the actor for Brendan Mcdonough, the protagonist, has been in Footloose and The Divergent series which were both huge hits.

One interesting thing about this film is its timing. I live in Northern California where huge fires in the North Bay have left many people homeless and injured. Another interesting thing is that Only the Brave is one of the movies in the 21st century with the most practical effects.

The message is to get awareness for the firefighter community, which it got 100% loud and clear. Kids will be influenced to save people's lives. There isn't much reckless behavior except when someone falls asleep while driving. I recommend this for ages 12 to 18 who will understand the shear force of the message of this film, although I think it was intended more for an adult audience. This movie is fantastic and I am happy to give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Abraham F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

Questioning Everything on Her Wacky and Interesting Adventures!, 26 October 2017
10/10

Mily is an adorably funny 8-year-old with a curious mind. She's always going on adventures in an attempt to answer various questions that she has about, well everything! I love all of her wacky and interesting adventures with her friends and family. They really make you want to be part of the fun. This is a great program for all children, but even more so for that child in your life that never seems to run out of questions. Something quite wonderful about this show that I particularly love is that, every once in a while I learn something new as well. It's nice to watch a kid's show that peaks your adult interest. The animation is neat and includes live backgrounds which are interesting and intriguing. The sound is mixed very well and the stories are just wonderful. Reviewed by Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Juror.

"Molang" (2015)
Each Episode Is Overrun With Happiness, 26 October 2017
10/10

Molang is full of fun and laughter! Molang and Piu Piu's innocent demeanor makes them lovable characters that I rooted for every step of the way. Their love for each other and their society made me fall in love with both of them. Each episode is overrun with happiness which made me smile nonstop.

The story follows the everyday life of a fluffy rabbit named Molang and its best friend Piu Piu the chicken. On their journeys together, Molang and Piu Piu face different situations and find creative ways to help others and fix their unique problems. Together, they happily enjoy the surprises their lives bring.

There is no dialogue in this show, but the animation and music easily make it understandable. The animation is bright and rounded giving it a soft and calming feeling. During the daytime, the trees, hills and grass are radiant shades of yellows, greens, pinks and oranges. It adds to the brightness of the mood when Molang and Piu Piu are adventuring through their world. During the night, the aura changes as the colors turn soft shades of purples and blues. The hills, trees, snow, sand and nature are drawn with different colorful patterns as are the walls, floors and ceilings which adds a playful and cheerful feeling. The character's expressions easily convey their thoughts and increase the visual appeal.

The music spoke to me as the dialogue would. Throughout the different episodes, the music changes whenever the situations change. For example, when Molang and Piu Piu are going to the beach or on vacation, the music becomes lively and venturesome. When they run into a problem, the music transforms to a slow rhythm. The music imbued the feelings of Molang and Piu Piu into me. It made me feel a part of their journey.

My favorite part of this show is the character, Molang the bunny. Molang never gets worried and always remains calm when everything seems to be going wrong for Piu Piu. Molang is quick to think of ideas and does anything to help others. Therefore, Molang took a spot in my heart.

The messages of the show address the importance of friendship, teamwork, kindness, loving everybody and helping those in need. I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8.

Reviewed by Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

Creative, Imaginative and Fun!, 26 October 2017
10/10

This creative animated series left me feeling intrigued the entire time. I enjoyed watching Henry act as an inquisitive 4-year-old. I am a little jealous because he is so intelligent and I wish I was that intelligent when I was 4! Throughout the series, I couldn't wait to see what Henry would encounter next.

Henry is a young boy who desires to learn something new in his everyday life. In each episode, Henry meets a new object and his imagination comes to life when he puts the object to use. He finds a soccer ball and acts as a referee, finds a shield and acts as a knight and even acts as a deep sea diver, swimming alongside marine life. The best part is, Henry builds so many friendships and everyone he meets is eager to help him find the answers to his questions.

Steve Austin, the series animator, makes the setting and characters look incredibly realistic, since they aren't picture-perfect. The animation looks pencil sketched, which makes the series more relatable, since nothing in life is perfect. Susan Broe, the series producer, incorporates a multitude of family-friendly themes to make this series fun for everyone to watch.

The music in the series is centralized with an orchestra, which is very calming for young kids and was for me also. It's very unique, which I greatly admire, because most TV shows today have similar types of music. My favorite episode is called, "A Parrot." Henry meets a parrot, begins talking to him and finds out it's his 101st birthday. He tells Henry about his famous grandfather parrot, which is hilarious because parrots aren't usually famous. It reminded me of going into pet stores and seeing talking parrots.

The message of the series is to explore everything life has to offer and to be nice to everyone you meet. Henry is grateful for his life and treats everyone with compassion and respect, which is what everyone should do. I give this show 5 out of 5 stars, recommend it to kids ages 6 to 18 and adults would enjoy it too. I love how every object comes to life in Henry's imagination and the unique plot had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Reviewed by Samantha M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

Wonderfully Engaging, Adventurous Host, Great Messages, 26 October 2017
10/10

This hilarious animated series is very educational and cute. Lily has a great heart and sets a good example for children who watch this. Lily is helpful, positive and caring to everyone no matter what. These shows teach really important morals about positivity, telling the truth and making sure you stay safe.

The episodes start when Lily finds some sort of weird treasure washed up on the beach. She goes to find out what it really is and what its true purpose is on Driftwood Bay, her imaginary island. She meets up with her friends on the island and some of them ask for her help. She tries to solve their problems and realizes that the tool she needs is one that she got on the shore. She realizes its purpose and learns a characteristic such as, grit, honesty, trust, forgiveness and being fair.

Orlagh O'Keefe voices Lily as a sweet, young and naïve girl. She sounds innocent and ready learn everything she can. Salty Dog (Peter Mullan) really does sound like an old, rusty dog who has been out on the sea for a while, but speaks English. Salty Dog sounds very old, but looks very young, which I find somewhat confusing.

The animation has a lot more details than most animated TV shows do. For example, they show each of the strands in the hair, their faces look very life like, especially in the way the mouths move. This animation is made with a lot of quality which I appreciate.

There are lots of messages in these shows. Lily models being positive, caring, helpful, staying safe and being truthful. She is a great role model for kids and this DVD about her adventures allow her to teach multiple morals in just one episode. Mainly the show educates kids about having good character and following the golden rule - be kind to others if you want them to be kind to you. Lily is kind to others, so she has a lot of good friends that stick by her side.

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

"Floogals" (2016)
A wonderful way for younger kids to learn about Planet Earth!, 26 October 2017
10/10

Floogal is a spectacular show. It has great animation, a great way to teach kids about day to day things and the Floogals are such a great way to get kids hooked on learning. It has an amazing dynamic and a review of everything they learn at the end, so the kids don't forget. It also never has a dull moment, so it will keep kids very interested and wanting to watch more.

Floogals is about three little aliens that move into a "hoomans" house. Everyday, they discover something new about Earth and they investigate. While doing that, they teach kids about all those things. There is a wide variety of episodes from teaching kids how mail works, to finding out how seeds grow.

This show has such amazing animation. The Floogals are little animated aliens, but they live in a live action world. It's so cool to see them pick up objects that aren't animated and they still look like real objects. Another thing I really like is the personalities of all the Floogals. Take Boomer for example. He relates to kids that are shyer and helps them be more out there just like him. I also love the way each episode is formatted. Every episode starts with the Floogals seeing something they don't understand. Then, they find funny uses for it and, in the end when they find out what it is, they go over everything they learned. It's a great tool to help kids remember what they learn. One of my favorite episodes is "Project Mail." I really like it because, as a kid, I never would have known how mail worked and this would have been really cool for me to watch at a younger age. If I could change one thing about the Floogals, it would be how long Boomer's name is. On the show they call him Junior-Floogal-Boomer. I think it would be better as just Boomer.

The message of this show is that you should go out and learn something new every day. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars for its great animation, awesome plots and incredible characters. I recommend this show for ages 3 to 6.

Reviewed by Dariana A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Unforgettable and Haunting Documentary, 16 October 2017

This haunting documentary about the life of a great jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan and his wife Helen is one I will not soon forget. Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin weaves the tale of their lives and their relationship through interviews with his friends and fellow musicians including saxophonist Wayne Shorter. He caps it off with an interview with Helen a month before her death in 1996. Through extraordinary black and white archival photographs, rare TV performances and an amazing soundtrack of Lee's music, we are transported to the NYC jazz scene from the 50s to the 70s.

As a music aficionado, I was aware of jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey, but not of Lee Morgan. The footage of his trumpet playing with these masters really drew me in. As one friend said in the film, "Lee really knew how to tell a story musically." His was an exceptional talent as a young teenager of 17. However, his addiction to heroin took him out and it wasn't until he met Helen, that he got back on his feet to play. Through her care, inspiration and love, she managed his career and uplifted him back to compose and play music and eventually form his own band, The Lee Morgan Quartet.

Lee had years of success playing not only clubs in the East but also on the West Coast. Some of my favorite parts of the documentary include footage on a TV show called "Soul", where he dedicates a piece to the activist Angela Davis entitled "Angela", and another TV show hosted by Steve Allen, a talk show host popular at the time. The other favorite part was with the jazz mobile workshop where he worked with young people on musical arrangements and gave them a chance to play and learn from him.

The twist and turns of Lee and Helen's life together end tragically when Lee plays at a popular club called Slugs, down in the East Village of NYC. On a snowy night in February 1972, his life is cut short at the young age of 33 by the woman who had brought him back to life. Following an altercation between sets, Morgan's common law wife Helen Moore, shot him.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 13 to 18 as well as adult jazz lovers. You can catch I Called Him Morgan on DVD and Blu-ray beginning October 31, 2017.

By Terry S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.


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