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The Meg (2018)
8/10
An Entertaining Homage to Shark Flicks with Vibrant Special Effects
10 August 2018
The Meg is a somewhat entertaining homage to old-era shark flicks. A frightful direction and vibrant special effects provide a serviceable summer-end movie. Fans of shark flicks may want to check it out.

The movie follows a Shanghai-based, deep-sea team as they seek to postulate new discoveries among the underwater trenches. However, their discoveries go awry when a previously thought extinct Megalodon attacks their submersibles and threatens to roam the Shanghai seas. With time on the run, team leader Dr. Zhao (Winston Chao) recruits former rescue diver Jonas (Jason Statham). Unbeknownst to everyone, Jonas has previously encountered the same Megalodon and must now confront his fears to save those aboard.

Jason Statham, as Jonas, is always a vibrant presence with his charm and smarm making gold of the cheesy script. He also excels in his underwater stunts, creating some nail-biting thrills. Bingbing Li, as Suyin, proves herself as a smart, yet impatient presence, who wants to prove herself. However, she does fall key to an unnecessary clichéd father-daughter subplot, but makes the best of what she is given. Winston Chao, as Dr. Zhang, greatly presents his fears and desperation for Suyin and the mission, in spite of the weak backing for the emotional stakes of the two. Rainn Wilson, as Jacks, heightens his stereotypical rich guy presence with well-timed remarks alike his in The Office. Shuya Sophia Cai, as Meiyang, is my favorite character in her banter with Statham and brave actions power her from just being a 8-year-old damsel in distress. She truly excels in her first, breakout role. Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, and Cliff Curtis complete the rest of the pack, each giving a unique performance, even if the characters can be viewed as expendable at times.

Jon Turteltaub's direction allows for brisk thrills taking inspiration from Jaws, but allowing for his own unique takes on the genre. My favorite scene is the final act, as it goes all in with the illogic of the shark conflicts allowing for a fun conclusion. The other flaws are the inconsistency of the tone and writing of the movie, which goes from serious to knowingly funny at times and the placement of the scenes feels off at times. The movie also suffers by detracting from the shark conflict and focusing on poorly written character situations. In fact, it takes a long amount of occasionally grueling time and development for the Megalodon to even show up.

The movie's message is that being a hero can come with its fair share of compromises. I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, because of intense action, gore and some language.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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9/10
- So much love in this film, with themes of friendship, love, family and tenderness
1 August 2018
What day is it? Why it is today, my favorite day. I am a life-long Disney fan. While it is not surprising I loved seeing the characters from the Hundred Acre Wood come to life via CGI transformation, I was surprised to see A.A. Milne's beloved characters in their original book form, not their Disney animation form.

Christopher Robin does not spend a lot of time introducing the viewer to the characters from the idyllic forest where a young British boy spent time creating adventures with his friends - Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga and Roo. If one is not a Disney-phile, it may be hard to comprehend why a boy arrives from a tree to have picnics with animals.

That said, the Winnie the Pooh, Disney lover that I am, saw so much love in this film with its themes of friendship, love, family and tenderness. The vintage, live-action look is appealing and kept me intrigued wondering what the "silly old bear" would do next. Winne the Pooh is quite the adventurous wanderer as he goes in search of Christopher Robin who has grown up and works in London. The adventures suspend belief as grown-up Christopher Robin, well played by Ewan McGregor, originally annoyed by Pooh, remembers some of his favorite things, like "doing nothing" and realizing true north is his family and friends, plush or live.

As a grown man who has returned from World War II, married to Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and father of a daughter, Christopher Robin is an efficiency manager for a luggage company or "a fish in the sea" as Winnie the Pooh says. He is a work-a-holic and has a taskmaster as a thankless boss. When told he must work rather than go on holiday to the country with his family, Christopher Robin attempts to take Pooh back to the forest where he and his woodsy friends awaken the lost child from within. They also meet his daughter Madeleine (Bronte Carmichael) and another adventure ensues. Madeline assists Pooh in getting to Christopher Robin when he needs all of them most.

For a franchise, which has historically targeted the very young, the film has melancholy themes. Visually, it is beautiful with its artistic production values and cinematography. The score is also very good. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars for the casting, cinematography, life lessons, amazing cult Winnie the Pooh references and music. I recommend it to ages 8 to 18, due to some mature themes. Reviewed by Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.
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10/10
Amazing storyline, great humor
30 July 2018
I laughed so much when watching this film! It has an amazing storyline as well as great humor. There also is wonderful CGI and acting. There are a lot of characters in this film, but I never became confused or overwhelmed.

Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place around the same time that the film Avengers: Infinity War (another film in the MCU series) takes place. It shows what Ant-Man is up to while the rest of the avengers are fighting a war. There are a lot of hilarious jokes that I enjoyed, but younger children might not understand. There also is a little bit of bad language in this film.

Paul Rudd, who plays the main role of Ant-Man / Scott Lang, is such an incredible actor. In some of the uncomfortable scenes, he really gets into his character and is unfazed by some of the weird stuff he does. He is also a hilarious character and brings comedy to this action filled film which makes it even more enjoyable. Hannah John Kamen, who plays the role of Ghost (a new character who was affected by the Quantum Realm and now has powers), is also a very good actress. Just through her face she expresses so much desperation and sadness. Even though the things that she does are violent and unnecessary, you can't help but have empathy for her.

The CGI in the Quantum Realm is out of this world. Even though I have never seen anything like it before, all of the movement and colors make it seem real. It is truly incredible that they are able to make a world that we have never seen before look as if it is real and not like some imaginary magical world.

My favorite part of the film would be a spoiler. So instead I'll talk about my favorite character, Jimmy Woo, the detective. He is my favorite character because, first of all, he is extremely hilarious when working or talking with Scott. Second, he is such a determined and hardworking character. He really wants to do his job right. Even though he isn't perfect, I still give him credit for working so hard.

There are multiple morals in this film. The ones that stand out to me are about family and helping others. Hope Pym (Evangeline Lilly), the daughter of the Wasp who gets stuck in the Quantum Realm, misses her mom so much and does everything she can to rescue her. But the Ghost also needs the Wasp to save herself which would be fatal to the Wasp. I don't want to give too much away, but they both need the same thing and they have to find a way to make it work. Whether that is through just fighting it out or other means.

As you can probably tell, I was intrigued the whole time watching this film and I really enjoyed it. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Adults too will enjoy this film. You should definitely check it out to see what happens!

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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10/10
So Hilarious! True to TV Show, More Songs and Characters
28 July 2018
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is such a hilarious film. During the premier at the Chinese Theatre, the laughs echoed around the room. The film stays true to the TV show, with inside jokes about Robin's baby hands and beautiful butt. Even with those things from the TV show, the film still makes sense if you haven't watched the show before. And, there are new things for people who have watched the TV show.

This film is about the Teen Titans trying to get their own movie in order to become official superheroes. To do that, they need an arch nemesis and they come across Slade (Will Arnett). This causes them to get a movie deal with Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) who has some ulterior motives.

As an original viewer of the TV show, I can tell you that it's classic Teen Titans with many added aspects. One of which is the songs. There are occasional songs in the TV show, but this movie is jam packed with amazing songs by Jared Faber that help keep it interesting and move the story along. They are so catchy that I could hear people singing them as they left the theatre. The jokes in this film only make it better. This film just keeps you laughing throughout and at the edge of your seat with all the action.

The cast is really spectacular! They have the original five from the TV show - Tara Strong (Raven), Greg Cipes (Beast Boy), Khary Payton (Cyborg), Hynden Walch (Starfire) and Scott Menville (Robin). They also have a couple of new voices, including Kristen Bell (Jade Wilson), Will Arnett (Slade), Nicolas Cage (Superman), Stan Lee (Stan Lee), Halsey (Wonder Woman) and Lil Yachty (Green Lantern) who also does a remix of Go! My favorite character would have to be Beast Boy, because he is so hilarious and is always there for all the Titans. My favorite line is Robin's catchphrase, "Crack an egg on it... ca caw!" It's just so ridiculously funny and random.

The message of this film is the classic: "You don't have to be super to be a superhero, you just have to be yourself." I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because it kept me laughing and smiling for an hour and a half. I recommend it for ages 7 to 14, because the jokes are more geared to older audiences, with some really more for adults.

Reviewed by Dariana A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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10/10
Fantastic! Filled with Adrenaline-pumping Action! Best in the MI series
28 July 2018
So far, this summer's action and adventure films have been very boring. However, Mission: Impossible - Fallout is far from boring. It's full of adrenaline-pumping action! I believe that this is the best summer action / adventure film of the year and the best Mission Impossible film to date.

In this film, we see Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he receives a mission he chooses to accept, but fails to complete, because of an ambush. As a result, Ethan and his IMF team must work together with the CIA and other familiar allies to stop Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), John Lark (Henry ) and his group, known as the Apostles, from trying to execute a nuclear threat to the world.

What I really enjoyed about this film are the sound designs, stunts, plot, cast and all the mind-blowing illusions IMF uses to trick the bad guys. I must say, the sound design is fantastic. The audio for explosions and gunshots sound authentic. It sounds so real that I felt as if I was in the scene. The stunts are intense because, if you don't already know, Tom Cruise does all of his stunts. When he performs them, it is hard to watch since he jumps off of many things such as planes and buildings. I felt so nervous that these stunt are real. The stunts are so nerve racking because most of the movie isn't made with CGI's, so most of the stunts are done exactly how the movie shows it. The story is very interesting. I like that you really don't need to see the other films to understand what goes on in this one.

The cast overall is superb. Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames are excellent as the IMF, since every delivery is spot on. I like that Benji is the most nervous character and you feel what he feels when a dangerous event happens. Also I enjoyed the performance of Sean Harris, who really brings in the mystery of this character, since he doesn't speak a lot until the end of the film. Rebecca Ferguson, as Ilsa Faust, makes a great curious assassin, since she always goes the opposite way of the IMF and always finds something different and important, which helps the IMF. Also, Angela Bassett and Alec Baldwin's performances as Erica and Alan are fantastic. I like how their relationship is shown as contradictors, because they both argue their own points. It is a shame we don't get to see more of this in the film. Henry Cavill, as August Walker, is also fantastic. I like how Ethan and August have different ideas about what they should do in the missions and they both try to incorporate their ideas, but those ideas come at a cost.

I really like how each scene feels more intense than the last scene. At one point, I thought that the movie was going to end a certain way and I was so nervous about what was going to happen that I almost fell out of my seat. Finally, what I extremely like about this movie is the tricks the IMF use to trick the bad guys. In certain scenes I was surprised that it was an illusion. My favorite illusion is the masked one where Benji wears a mask that allows him to look like anyone.

This movie had a lot of great things going for it. The only thing I did not like about it is that it shows way too much in its trailer. However, it is fantastic. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to people who like action / adventure and thriller movies. I recommend it gor ages 13 to 18, as well as adults.

Reviewed by Ryan R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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10/10
Beautiful Setting, Hilarious Storyline, Great Music
28 July 2018
This film has many beautiful settings and hilarious scenes that had the audience laughing. I love the unique story line that is unpredictable and interesting. Although I enjoyed it, younger children might not understand some of the jokes. This film is for more mature audiences.

We learn more about Donna's (Meryl Streep, Lily James). We learn about Sophie's (Amanda Seyfried) three possible dads and what risks Donna took for Sophie. Sophie now is pregnant and finishing up her mother's dream of fixing up the property to become a beautiful hotel.

Lily James has to do a lot of difficult acting in this film and she pulls through. She fits the personality of the younger Donna perfectly, which is great because it makes it easier to see the connection between younger and present day Donna. All the actors have amazing singing voices, whether they are singing solos or blending their voices with the others. They break out in song often and I wasn't bothered about that at all. They are all great dancers and seem to really just have fun.

The sets are so pleasing to the eye. The setting on a Greek island with gorgeous views are amazing. All of the cities look authentic and colorful, which makes everything even more pleasing to watch. The costumes are colorful and flashy as well.

My favorite part of the film is when two of Sophie's three possible fathers attend her party and they bring many guests. Sophie is so happy to see her fathers in that scene and to have everyone see how much hard work had been done to renovate the property. I also like this scene because, on the boats people, are climbing everywhere, dancing and singing together. This scene is really hyped up and has so much energy.

One message of this film is that family should always love you and be there for one another, no matter what. In this film, Sophie's three dads all stick with her and support her, even though they are very busy. They never abandon her or her mother.

This is definitely an unpredictable and interesting film. To better understand it, it would be best to watch the previous one, Mamma Mia. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults.

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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8/10
Wonderful voice acting and distinctive animation separate this from most animated films.
23 July 2018
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation is an entertaining animated film filled with unique creativity. Wonderful voice acting and a distinctive animation style separate this from the majority of animated films. This is sure to be a worthwhile watch for all families.

The movie follows Dracula (Adam Sandler) as his boring hotel business and lack of love continue to bring him down. Wanting to bring back his joy, daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) surprises Dracula and the rest of his best friend-monster pack with an adventurous monster cruise. Initially angered by this, Dracula slowly begins enjoying himself and even finds a new crush in the mysterious yet charming cruise captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). However, things take a left turn when former nemesis Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) hunts the cruise, threatening the lives of all monsters aboard.

Adam Sandler, as Dracula, is my favorite character as his transformation to being his old adventurous self is well-presented. His love for his daughter and kind acceptance of humans also provide for a nice central message. Selena Gomez, as Mavis, continues to shine by providing an equally strong father-daughter bond with Dracula. Kevin James, as Frankenstein, greatly presents a dumbfound friend to Dracula whose deteriorating body assures for some inventive comedy. Steve Buscemi, as Wayne/Wolfman, regales with his signature voice highlighting the character's parenting struggles with his many cubs. David Spade, as Griffin/Invisible Man, equally entertains despite not having a corporeal form. Last but not least, Keegan Michael-Kay, as Murray/ Mummy, completes the pack with his unique, child-like nature. Kathryn Hahn, as Ericka, adeptly portrays her mysterious past and interesting attraction for Dracula. Jim Gaffigan, as Abraham Van Helsing, exhibits a new take on the legend monster hunter.

Genddy Tartakovsky brings out his zany and fast-paced direction in new ways. In spite of that, this is nowhere as memorable and groundbreaking as his other works, such as Samurai Jack and Dexter's Laboratory. My favorite scene is the opening one which quickly introduces us to the Dracula-Van Helsing rivalry and sets the stage for a grand adventure. The biggest flaw in the movie is that some of the humor comes across as farcical and this could dissuade adults from watching. Also, the plot is rather one-note and forgettable, especially when compared to the standard of Tartakovsky's other work.

The movie's message is to never discriminate against a person based on their looks and instead, appreciate them for who they are. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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Skyscraper (2018)
10/10
An Entertaining, Yet Derivative Homage to 80s Action Era
23 July 2018
This science fiction film grabbed my attention from the beginning, because of its very interesting plot and fascinating storyline. It made me feel driven to discover what would happen at the end. From the beginning of the film, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen, because it has a combination of topics that I love seeing in movies - action and suspense! These drew me in. I wanted to finally find out what the outcome of the movie would be. I also liked it because I admire Dwayne Johnson's exceptional work as an actor. He is very expressive with his actions and makes the audience empathize with what he is going through. Because of that, I always follow the movies he works in.

Skyscraper is about a past FBI leader and war veteran called Will Ford who is now managing security programs for skyscrapers. He's been sent on a once-in-a-lifetime work opportunity to establish security measures for the tallest and safest building in the world, located in China. Suddenly, the skyscraper turns into flames and the security measures fail. He is the primary suspect since he is the only one authorized to control the security. As the story progresses, Will must find those responsible for the destruction in order to clear his name and somehow rescue his family who are trapped inside the building, above the fire line.

My favorite scene in this film is when Will runs away from the authorities, climbs up the construction equipment, moves it so that it will point at a floor close to the fire line, and jumps towards a broken window. I love this scene because it shows what a man is capable of doing for his family's welfare. He risks his life in order to save them from the fire that is threatening their lives. Aside from that, I was astonished at all the special effects used to create this action sequence. The post production of this scene is flawless. It all seems as if it really happens. You don't notice the editing at all.

The main message of this film is that family comes before anything else. Some people are driven to do the impossible because of the love they feel towards their family. In this film, Will's devotion to his wife and kids is very impressive and is admirable. It sends a very family oriented message and teaches a valuable lesson that can be applied to anyone's life. I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 and up.

Reviewed by Alejandra G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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8/10
Informational and Inspiring!
20 July 2018
This film is really informational and the camera shots are amazing. The only drawback is that it gets a bit boring after a while. There is so much information that isn't all that interesting. This documentary would really appeal to those interested in architecture and engineering.

The film reveals stories about different engineers who all want to make the world a better place. They create buildings that won't collapse in earthquakes and build bridges across rivers so people can get to school. It shows that engineering is an occupation that can really impact the world and make it a safer place.

Jeff Bridges, as narrator of the film, has the sort of deep voice that suits the documentary. Some of the information seems a bit random and doesn't enhance the story. The best parts for me are when they tell the back stories of peoples' lives and how difficult they are. After the engineers help them, I love seeing them so happy and having easier lives. Those are things that inspire people to want to become engineers.

I have to say, the camera shots and angles are truly amazing. They capture massive cities and buildings beautifully. There is obviously lots of effort that went into editing this film and adding suitable background music. These all really help the viewer picture engineering as an art, that is very helpful. They show majestic buildings that glow at night, roller coasters that give so much happiness and thrills, and bridges that help you access high areas and look down at the scenery or up at the beautiful stars.

My favorite scene is definitely the story about the engineers building a bridge across a river so kids could get to their school. Before the bridge, they literally risked their lives getting to school. Many people have drowned in the river, but they crossed it everyday in order to get an education. After the bridge is built everyone, including the children, is extremely excited and relieved. They are dancing, playing music and getting to school without risking their lives or getting wet. The bridge changed their lives.

The moral of this film is that engineering is a profession that helps people. This film shows that engineering is interesting and rewarding. However, I did find parts of it a bit boring, with the exhaustive information. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages of 11 to 18, as well as adults. If you are interested in engineering, you will definitely enjoy this documentary. It is available now on DVD so check it out.

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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Dayu haitang (2016)
10/10
An Emotional Masterpiece. Artistically Magical and Though Provoking
20 July 2018
An emotional masterpiece, Big Fish & Begonia is an artistically magical and thought provoking piece of anime. The animation is beautiful. I felt as if I was watching a classic painting come to life. The story is unforgettable. Each scene left my heart yearning for the characters to succeed.

The story follows a humble, brave girl name Chun who dedicates her life to help a kind boy, Kun, who gives his life to save hers after she travels from her magical to his human world. She goes to great lengths to bring him back and gives him all her love and care. However, when a variety of obstacles threaten Kun's survival, Chun risks everything to save him.

The animation is mystical and brings Chun's fantastical land to life. The characters from Chun's world are unique and their strange characteristics bring a special quality that is unlike other films. Many characters have a quirky addition such as antlers or a completely other-worldly face with multiple eyes. These subtle additions enhance the fresh and original elements the film specializes in. The backgrounds and scenery take the animation to the next level. The water and ocean play a huge role in the film and the animation transforms the water, displaying its beauty and importance. At night the ocean reflects the sky, its stars and the sublime hues present; while during the day it is almost invisible and many objects look like they are floating through air. One of the most notable animation feats is the scenery. In many favorite parts we see Chun running across landscapes and the camera captures her world in the most artistic way.

The emotions of this film left me in awe, showing the friendship and love these characters are capable of. In every scene, I was either smiling or in tears because of the sacrifices they make for each other and for each others' happiness. The music enhances the mood of these scenes with a mysterious and peaceful quality.

The messages of Big Fish and Begonia are: 1. If your conscience is clear, it doesn't matter what others think and 2. Follow your heart. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18.

Reviewed by Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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Skyscraper (2018)
10/10
, towering pace and consistent acting led by Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson
13 July 2018
Skyscraper is an entertaining, yet derivative homage to 80s action films. A towering pace and consistent acting provide for a memorable summer detour. This is sure to be a worthwhile watch for any action movie fans.

The movie follows former hostage negotiator Will (Dwayne Johnson), who now accesses building security after a tragic misfire left him as an amputee. While analyzing the world's tallest and safest building, terrorists led by Kores (Roland Møller) mysteriously access building schematics to take control. However, things reach an all time low for Will once Kores takes Will's family hostage and frames him for the infiltration. With everything left to lose, Will must push past his setbacks in order to sort out this mess and save his family.

Dwayne Johnson, as Will, is my favorite character due to his ever-present charisma and even relate-ability with his physical struggles. His love and determination for his family also make the movie all the more intense. Neve Campbell, as Sarah, is just as believable with her determination to the family and has more nuances than just resorting to a damsel in distress. Chin Han, as Zhao, brings a mysterious layer to his involvement with the skyscraper as his business is not what it seems. Roland Møller, as Kores, gives Dwayne Johnson a run for his money in terms of strength and is a formidable yet clichéd threat for him. However, his vibrant expressions are enough to lighten his clichéd dialogue. Noah Cottrell and McKenna Roberts, as Henry and Georgia, complete the pack as the cute twins of Will and Sarah, whose combined braveness helps forward the family dynamic. However, Henry's asthma seems a little too situational at times.

Rawson Marshall Thurber's direction brings out a brisk pace with fresh new takes at fisticuffs and shootouts alike many 80s action movies. However, a few of the scenes lack in originality, feeling like a borderline copy of other action films. My favorite scene is the opening hostage negotiation, as it sets a thrilling and unexpected array of events, even if it is not set in the main skyscraper centerpiece. The other flaw is that it could have used more nuances in the scenarios as opposed to having such a predictable plot with unsurprising twists. At times, it feels more like a parody than a movie, with unintentionally funny scenes. However, the fact that it never takes itself too seriously adds to its quality and creates pure escapism.

The movie's message is to never judge a man by his impediments, as pure willpower can defy many obstacles. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 because of its intense action and language. The movie releases in theaters July 13, 2018, so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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8/10
Entertaining family film with distinctive animation style and wonderful voice acting
9 July 2018
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation is an entertaining animated film filled with unique creativity. Wonderful voice acting and a distinctive animation style separate this from the majority of animated films. This is sure to be a worthwhile watch for all families.

The movie follows Dracula (Adam Sandler) as his boring hotel business and lack of love continue to bring him down. Wanting to bring back his joy, daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) surprises Dracula and the rest of his best friend-monster pack with an adventurous monster cruise. Initially angered by this, Dracula slowly begins enjoying himself and even finds a new crush in the mysterious yet charming cruise captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). However, things take a left turn when former nemesis Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) hunts the cruise, threatening the lives of all monsters aboard.

Adam Sandler, as Dracula, is my favorite character as his transformation to being his old adventurous self is well-presented. His love for his daughter and kind acceptance of humans also provide for a nice central message. Selena Gomez, as Mavis, continues to shine by providing an equally strong father-daughter bond with Dracula. Kevin James, as Frankenstein, greatly presents a dumbfound friend to Dracula whose deteriorating body assures for some inventive comedy. Steve Buscemi, as Wayne/Wolfman, regales with his signature voice highlighting the character's parenting struggles with his many cubs. David Spade, as Griffin/Invisible Man, equally entertains despite not having a corporeal form. Last but not least, Keegan Michael-Kay, as Murray/ Mummy, completes the pack with his unique, child-like nature. Kathryn Hahn, as Ericka, adeptly portrays her mysterious past and interesting attraction for Dracula. Jim Gaffigan, as Abraham Van Helsing, exhibits a new take on the legend monster hunter.

Genddy Tartakovsky brings out his zany and fast-paced direction in new ways. In spite of that, this is nowhere as memorable and groundbreaking as his other works, such as Samurai Jack and Dexter's Laboratory. My favorite scene is the opening one which quickly introduces us to the Dracula-Van Helsing rivalry and sets the stage for a grand adventure. The biggest flaw in the movie is that some of the humor comes across as farcical and this could dissuade adults from watching. Also, the plot is rather one-note and forgettable, especially when compared to the standard of Tartakovsky's other work.

The movie's message is to never discriminate against a person based on their looks and instead, appreciate them for who they are. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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Uncle Drew (2018)
9/10
Pretty funny underdog sports film. Great for families!
28 June 2018
Uncle Drew is a very funny, underdog sports film. While I am unfamiliar with all the NBA and WBA stars, I enjoyed the film because I related to the feelings and thoughts of the senior athletes. The use of make-up and prosthetics makes it even funnier.

Dax (LilRel Howery), a basketball obsessed Foot Locker salesman whose dream to coach a tournament- winning street ball team, is drowned by his longtime rival, Mookie (Nick Kroll). Mookie steals his prize player Casper (Orlando Magic Forward, Aaron Gordon), his team and his materialistic girlfriend Jess (Tiffany Haddish).

Dax spends his life savings on Harlem's Rucker Classic registration entry fee and is desperate to get another team when he learns from Louis (Mike Epps) and Angelo (J.B. Smoove) about the legendary street player Uncle Drew. Dax finds 70-something Uncle Drew (NBA all Star Kyrie Irving), a street-ball legend who famously played in the same tournament 50 years earlier. Uncle Drew agrees to play for Dax if he can recruit his own roster of players. The adventure begins as the duo road trips to convince Drew's old teammates to join the team. We see Preacher (Chris Webber), wheel-chair bound Boots (Nate Robinson), Big Fella (Shaquille O'Neil and legally blind Lights (Reggie Miller).

My favorite scene is when Dax, because of a declined credit card at a gas station, makes a $100 bet with a girls' high school coach. His team is defeated and his guys pitch in to cover it and fill the van's tank. Dax learns about their hearts and realizes they are a team.

The film contains some suggestive jokes, a few curse words and a brief scene with nudity. Uncle Drew has strong messages about team work, taking risks to reach your goals and playing for the love of the game. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, as well ad adults. The film opens in theaters nationwide June 29, 2018. Be sure to check your local theater's listings.

Reviewed by Juanita L., KIDS FIRST! Reviewer. For more reviews of family friendly films, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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8/10
Genuinely entertaining! Great performances and outstanding visuals.
21 June 2018
I've never really been a huge fan of the Jurassic Park franchise. I felt it went on for way too long and it needed to end. But, I was surprised by how much I liked this movie. It is genuinely entertaining and, I think it's a good way to conclude the franchise, even though I know it probably won't be the end.

The story takes place three years after the events of Jurassic World. When the island the dinosaurs inhabit is about to be destroyed by a volcano, Claire and Owen go to rescue the remaining dinosaurs.

So first I want to talk about visuals. It's not really a surprise that the visuals are really good. The dinosaurs look great. Combine that with great sound and the fact that, you can essentially feel the scale and weight of the dinosaurs. It feels as if they are actually there. Along with some really cool shots of the island and the Lockwood Mansion, the presentation of this movie is fantastic. The shot that was used in the trailers of Owen running from the volcano with the dinosaurs and being encompassed by ash, looked really compelling to me. It is one of my favorite shots in the movie and the presentation helps a lot. But, there is one particular scene that they hold on a brontosaurus that really tugs at your heartstrings. It probably wouldn't have been as good if it wasn't for the way the shot was directed. (J. A. Bayona)

The actors in this movie are also really good. Chris Pratt as Owen stands out to me, but that's mostly because I really like Chris Pratt. But, Chris Pratt is still very good. He has great comedic timing and he is really funny in general. However, he's the second best actor. Hands down, the best actor in the whole movie is Isabella Sermon as Maisie, the granddaughter of Benjamin Lockwood. This girl is absolutely amazing in this film. Talented child actors are hard to come by and wow, this girl is really fantastic. Her scenes are very compelling and she clearly is very invested in her role. I really felt for her, especially during the emotionally terrifying scenes. This is Isabella Sermon's first role and she is great. I genuinely look forward to what she has next in store. She has a bright future ahead.

Now, I mentioned earlier that I felt this movie would be a good conclusion to the franchise. The Jurassic Park franchise has been around since the 90s and the series is still going. I feel like it's been going for too long and I hope it doesn't continue for much longer. I know the series is very popular, but a lot of franchises have worsened from going on for a long time just because of their popularity.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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10/10
Inspiring film about love, determination and overcoming the odds
15 June 2018
Coming to My Senses is an inspiring film about love, determination and overcoming the odds. This film will touch the hearts of everyone who watches it. The documentary not only puts life into perspective, but it teaches everyone that life's not about the destination but the journey and the steps we have to take to get there.

This is a documentary about Aaron Baker, a motorcyclist who breaks his neck and is left completely paralyzed. Doctors tell him he has a million-to-one chance of ever being able to feed himself again. Even after he receives this news, he chooses to ignore the people who doubt him and, over the course of 16 years, fights to gain as much mobility as possible. The documentary follows his final journey, which is to walk 20 miles across Death Valley.

This documentary is one of the most inspiring films I have ever watched. I cannot comprehend how brave and strong Aaron Baker is. The film gives the audience the perspective of his entire family throughout his journey of recovery. I immediately felt a strong connection to his family and truly felt their struggle. My favorite relationship in this film is between Aaron's mother and himself. They both go through depression and overcome it together. Aaron's mother sticks by his side through his hardships, which allows their relationship to grow strong. One of the most powerful lines in this film is when Aaron's mother is released gets out of jail for drunk driving and gets onto a bus where Aaron is waiting for her. Aaron gives his mother the choice to pack her bags and leave so she can do what she needs to. She is in a very bad place at the time and responds to him by saying, "You might not need me, but I need you." This line is absolutely beautiful. I can feel the love that Aaron's mother has for her son.

The one rather extraordinary aspect of this film is how humorous it is. It covers such a serious subject (spinal cord injury) so I expected it to be austere. This assumption was completely wrong. Aaron Baker is a very silly and playful guy. He chooses to make light of his situation and occasionally makes fun of his injury. This surprised me, because I have never watched a documentary about a serious topic that joked about the topic. That silliness and pure happiness that surrounds Aaron allowed me to stay interested in him and his journey.

My favorite scene is when Aaron is in the hospital right after his motorcycle accident. His sister decides to paint his nails, which makes him frustrated at first. After she is finished, he looks at his toes and visualizes which color toe he wants to move. He then discovers he is able to move the toe he wants to. The doctors don't believe he is able to do this, but he decides to ignore them. This is the first step on his long journey to recovery. This scene is funny and heartwarming at the same time. Aaron paints his toenails throughout the film which symbolizes his recovery. This quirky and sweet action gives the documentary great character.

This documentary is one I will never forget. The story is very influential. It blows my mind how he was able to go from paralyzed and dependent on people for his most basic needs, to walking on his own and even cycling. The film helps bring attention to people who struggle with mobility. A topic such as this is important to share with the world since it gets people talking and more educated about spinal injuries.

I recommend this film for people ages 13 to 18 as well as adults. The film deals with some harsh topics such as depression, which is why it skews towards teens. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Talia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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9/10
The Best Documentary I've Ever Seen! I Still Hear Its Catchy Theme Song In My Head.
11 June 2018
Won't You Be My Neighbor? is the best documentary I've ever seen! I still hear its catchy theme song in my head. I usually don't like documentaries because they are very slow paced. But this one has jokes throughout that makes it so much more interesting to watch. I not only learned a lot about Fred Rogers' life and career, but also about how television shows were made and produced back in the 1960s.

This documentary is about Mr. Rogers and his television show for young children "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Produced by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville, we learn about Mr. Rogers' ideas on how important it is to talk to children about every aspect of life and how television can be used as a positive influence. During his show, Mr. Rogers sings songs about specific topics so that kids, as young as pre-school age, can understand the topic of the day.

The film shows scenes from the actual show as well as behind the scenes. I really enjoyed the interviews with the crew from the show. Those parts made me belly laugh. The film brings back the original lessons of the show and re-promotes them. For adults, this film might make them remember watching the show as a child and they might find some episodes to share with their own kids. For children, this film might spark an interest in the show and make them want to watch it, just like I did. The film gives everybody something. One thing I love about the film is that it really goes in depth about Mr. Rogers' sunny disposition and how he truly was like that in real life, even through all his struggles. It shows us that there are still kind people in the world. My favorite scene is when Mr. Rogers goes to Congress to try to get the funding to save PBS. That scene shows who Mr. Rogers really is, his personality and love for children. By the time he finishes his speech, I was tearing up and could hear the audience sniffing.

The message of this film is to love yourself as you are, just like Mr. Rogers says in his song. I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18 because it talks about topics such as divorce and war, in a serious way, which is not appropriate for very young children. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars because of its amazing message and all the cool inside facts about Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. This film opens nationwide June 8, 2018 so check it out. Reviewed by Dariana A., KIDS FIRST Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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Ocean's Eight (2018)
9/10
Fun, light weight summer film. Very enjoyable
10 June 2018
I happen to be a fan of heist movies, don't ask why. Maybe it's their Robin Hood aspect in many cases. This one differs from most with it's all female cast of thieves spearheaded by the charismatic Sandra Bullock and filled out with a veritable who's who of women - Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway who steals the show. The plot is a romp, the costumes are absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous and the jokes work. If you are looking for a lightweight summer movie, this is it. I give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. Reviewed by Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Adult juror
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10/10
Family friehnely, clever, great music!
2 June 2018
Breaking news from London - garden gnomes have been kidnapped! "Oh fertilizer!" This is one of many amusing jokes from the very British characters in Sherlock Gnomes, sequel to the 2011 animated film Gnomeo and Juliet. Although the plot of this family-friendly movie is somewhat predictable, it is still quite funny and clever.

In this sequel, the formerly star-crossed lovers Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) are married and have just moved to London where they are appointed by their parents as joint heads of the garden. Both Juliet and Gnomeo feel the pressures of their new leadership roles and the marriage begins to suffer through lack of communication and mutual appreciation. Meanwhile, their gnome friends are disappearing from homes all over London, and they attempt to search for and save them. With the help of Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp) and Watson (Chiwetel Ejiofor), the adventure begins - to defeat the evil pie company called Moriarty (Jamie Demetriou) and save all gnomes. We also see that poor Watson is quite ignored and under-appreciated by Sherlock.

My favorite aspects of this movie are the music, Johnny Depp and the "planning" sequences. I love the song choices used in transitions between scenes. If you are a fan of Sir Elton John, you will be pleased to hear many of his hits, including "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," "I'm Still Standing," "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and a fantastic new song performed by the great Mary J. Blige. Johnny Depp is hilarious with his condescending British accent. I have seen almost every movie he has ever been in and he never disappoints with his comedic intensity. Another interesting thing that happens is when we see the inner workings of Sherlock's mind in 2-D black-and-white animation. One clinker for me is when super-intelligent Watson, looking for Gnomeo, says "Gnomeo, Gnomeo! Oh don't make me say it - wherefore art thou, Gnomeo?" (Of course "wherefore" means "why" in Romeo and Juliet.)

The message of this story is a good one - that you will succeed by respecting the people who support you. Sherlock learns that lesson when he realizes that Watson feels that Sherlock isn't listening to him or respecting him. Juliet learns it when she realizes that Gnomeo feels as if Juliet is ignoring him, too.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars because, almost all the scenes kept me laughing, the music is great, and I love the message. I recommend this movie for ages 7 to 18.

Reviewed by Lucia F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more film reviews, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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10/10
Although the plot is predictable, still funny and clever
28 May 2018
Breaking news from London-garden gnomes have been kidnapped! "Oh fertilizer!" This is one of many amusing jokes from the very British characters in Sherlock Gnomes, sequel to the 2011 animated film Gnomeo and Juliet. Although the plot of this family-friendly movie is somewhat predictable, it is still quite funny and clever.

In this sequel, the formerly star-crossed lovers Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) are married and have just moved to London where they are appointed by their parents as joint heads of the garden. Both Juliet and Gnomeo feel the pressures of their new leadership roles and the marriage begins to suffer through lack of communication and mutual appreciation. Meanwhile, their gnome friends are disappearing from homes all over London, and they attempt to search for and save them. With the help of Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp) and Watson (Chiwetel Ejiofor), the adventure begins - to defeat the evil pie company called Moriarty (Jamie Demetriou) and save all gnomes. We also see that poor Watson is quite ignored and under-appreciated by Sherlock.

My favorite aspects of this movie are the music, Johnny Depp and the "planning" sequences. I love the song choices used in transitions between scenes. If you are a fan of Sir Elton John, you will be pleased to hear many of his hits, including "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," "I'm Still Standing," "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and a fantastic new song performed by the great Mary J. Blige. Johnny Depp is hilarious with his condescending British accent. I have seen almost every movie he has ever been in and he never disappoints with his comedic intensity. Another interesting thing that happens is when we see the inner workings of Sherlock's mind in 2-D black-and-white animation. One clinker for me is when super-intelligent Watson, looking for Gnomeo, says "Gnomeo, Gnomeo! Oh don't make me say it - wherefore art thou, Gnomeo?" (Of course "wherefore" means "why" in Romeo and Juliet.)

The message of this story is a good one - that you will succeed by respecting the people who support you. Sherlock learns that lesson when he realizes that Watson feels that Sherlock isn't listening to him or respecting him. Juliet learns it when she realizes that Gnomeo feels as if Juliet is ignoring him, too.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars because, almost all the scenes kept me laughing, the music is great, and I love the message. I recommend this movie for ages 7 to 18.

Reviewed by Lucia F, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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RBG (2018)
10/10
Not only inspires you, but motivates you to change the world like she did
11 May 2018
I have been a fan of Justice Ginsburg since she first came into focus in the 70s, as an advocate of women's rights. This documentary about her life offers insight into her personal history and the people around her who supported her for so many years. She is an inspiration in so many ways. Shy and somewhat introverted, she never let that keep her from pursuing a career path that was unique for woman at the time. She entered Harvard Law School in 1956, one of 9 women in a class of 500 men. I resonated with her story about the Dean reportedly asking the female law students, "How do you justify taking a spot from a qualified man?"

Justice Ginsburg proudly speaks about being born and bred in Brooklyn. In the 70s she co-founded the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU. We listen to Gloria Steinem and Nina Totenberg reveal tales of her past that make you realize how pivotal her involvement in the women's movement was. Filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West dig into the substance of this woman with a judicious zeal usually reserved for our deceased heroes. As a staunch feminist, her nomination to the Supreme Court could have been way-laid had not President Clinton been wowed by her in the first 15 minutes of her interview with him. Then, he knew that he had to put her on the Court.

The love story between Ruth and Martin Ginsburg is nothing less than awe-inspiring. I love how she tells about her undergraduate years at Cornell where there was a four to one ratio of boys to girls. "Every mother wanted to send their daughter there because, if you couldn't find a husband there, you were hopeless." She reveals that during her freshman year, she never dated the same boy twice. That is, until she met Marty, who was the first guy that recognized she had a brain. When President Carter brought her to the federal bench, Marty gave up his success career as a tax attorney in New York to move to DC to support her. He recognized Ruth for the super star that she is and later, when she was nominated to the Supreme Court, rallied on her behalf with endless enthusiasm. Also noted is that he was the cook in the family. Her children tell how they had to keep her out of the kitchen.

One thing I really like about this film is that it focuses on Justice Ginsburg's life long fight against gender discrimination. She experienced it first hand as a fresh law school graduate that could not get a job in any law office in New York City because "they didn't hire women." She has never given up the fight, and there have been many - for women in the military who were discriminated against for pay and benefits, for widowed men who couldn't get survivor benefits. She chose her plaintiffs carefully, picking a male to show that gender discrimination worked against both men and women.

Although this film may lack verve in terms of groundbreaking filmmaking, it is stunning beautiful in telling the story of a contemporary hero. 84-year-old Justice Ginsburg is an icon of our times. A woman who has weathered extremely difficult conditions and sits on the highest court in the country as someone dedicated to equality - for women, for people of different races and cultures - for all of us. She is a modern heroine and, as shy and quiet as she is - carries a big stick! I have been touting this film to all the young women and men in my universe and sending them to it. Most walk away stunned. My 20-year-old friends never even knew who she was before going to see the film. Many weep as they watch it. Now, that's something. That's important. If this film manages to get one young person's attention and give them the courage to stand up for what they believe, then these filmmakers have something to be outrageously proud of. I believe they have.

Reviewed by Ranny L., KIDS FIRST! Juror.
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10/10
Great message, supports Dr. Goodall's excellent work
4 May 2018
Change for Chimps is a short movie about a little girl who wants to save chimpanzees. I really like how there are so many different sets and locations including the beach, school, the park, the streets and houses of real people. The sound quality is great and I like that they used real chimpanzees. There is very little dialogue. I recommend it to the KIDS FIRST! Film festival because it has a great message and is educational as well as entertaining. The message of this movie is that chimpanzees shouldn't be in cages. They should be free to roam free in the forest. The fact that this film supports Dr. Jane Goodall's work is another plus. For any festival focused on the environment, preservation of endangered species and youth activism, this is a plus! I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults will like it too. Reviewed by Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic
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10/10
Mind-bending! Wow! Just Wow!
26 April 2018
Wow! Just, wow!! Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building up to this movie for ten years. This movie is glorious. All I can say is, you will not be expecting what happens. It left me screaming inside. I still cannot believe it.

The storyline is about the Avengers and their allies needing to team up to stop the titan Thanos from collecting The Infinity Stones and destroying half the universe.

Now, because all the Marvel characters are finally coming together, Marvel fans will obviously be excited. And when basically every single character appears on-screen, the theater erupts into claps and screams of joy. I always love it when a studio or company can make people feel such excitement for their characters. It's just really cool.

This movie features lots of different locations that the characters travel to. I must admit, some of these locations are absolutely gorgeous and others, totally desolate, but still incredible. I love the shots in space and on different planets, especially the snowy planet that Thanos goes to at one point. In fact, the whole movie looks fantastic. Everything - from the costumes, the camera angles, the scale, the special effects - everything! I was so invested in the visuals the entire time.

Also, let's be honest, this is Marvel, we all expect this movie to be absolutely hilarious. And it is. No surprises there. I laughed so hard at Iron Man and Doctor Strange arguing, Star Lord being jealous of Thor and basically all of Spider Man and Drax's dialogue. Comedy always seems to be Marvel's greatest strength. The writing, in general, is fantastic. I love the interactions these characters have, even the dramatic moments. That's coming from someone who usually hates dramatic moments, because I hate being sad in movies.

This is a superhero movie, so obviously there are some pretty cool action scenes. And yeah, this movie has some awesome action scenes. Probably my favorite is the huge fight in Wakanda that is shown in the trailer. The fight is absolutely massive and straight up amazing. The shots and the way the characters work together are just glorious. I felt so immersed in all the action.

Since this movie is connected to the other Marvel movies in their Cinematic Universe, there is the possible question about whether you need to have seen all the other movies in order to understand this one. I would say, not all of them, but at least a few certain ones. I recommend that you brush up on your Marvel characters before you go, just to be ready.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, as it gets pretty dark.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids (2018)
Season 17, Episode 1
10/10
Incredibly fascinating to watch a team of scientists use technology to scan the pyramids in a non-intrusive way.
23 April 2018
This film is simply fascinating. We follow a remarkable scientific team of people using physics, science and technology to unlock the secrets of the pyramids. It is not only entertaining, but has so much educational value as well. It is amazing to watch as those involved in the scanned pyramid project unlock the secrets of the pyramids and find proof and real evidence. It flows well. The scenes of the pyramids are truly amazing! It's a real mystery and a great opportunity to see what lies within the Great Pyramid at Giza. This is an historic discovery that the whole family will enjoy learning about. I really like learning about the non-invasive way this team of scientists use technology to scan the pyramids and, once again, this film shows just how far technology has come even in the last 20 years. I give this 5 out of 5 and recommend it for ages 6 to 18 as well as adults. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
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10/10
Beautifully filmed story that delivers a poignant message about protecting elephants
23 April 2018
Phoenix Wilder and the Great Elephant Adventure is a movie about an orphaned kid named Phoenix Wilder, who goes to a strange new country, South Africa, to live with his aunt and uncle. Phoenix then gets lost in the South African savannah and finds and rescues an elephant from a gang of elephant poachers. He becomes friends with the elephant as they are both looking for their families and, together they take down the elephant poaching gang.

I really enjoyed that they use real elephants in this movie. I kept wondering how they trained them. I also like that they found a way to not have a single gun being shot throughout the entire film. A few of the scenes look like things are going to get violent, but then they don't. The scenery in this movie is amazing. There is so much wildlife! When Phoenix is on safari with his uncle, some of the scenes we see through his camera are absolutely fabulous. This film really makes me want to go to the South African savannah.

The three main characters in this movie are Phoenix Wilder (Sam Ashe Arnold), the orphan that gets lost, Aunt Sarah (Elizabeth Hurley), Phoenix's new guardian and Uncle Jack (Tertius Meintjes) Sarah's husband. The movie switches between following Phoenix to following Uncle Jack and Aunt Sarah. Phoenix is trying to survive, save his elephant friend's family and find help. The others are trying to find him and get him back home. Other characters are Blake Von Stein (Louis Minnaar), the villain who is the leader of the elephant poachers and Col. Ibori (Hlomla Dandala), the army commander that helps Jack and Sarah find Phoenix and chase the poachers.

My favorite scene is when Phoenix uses the elephant to attack the poachers. This scene is very funny because the poachers are just hanging out at their camp when suddenly a boy (Phoenix), riding an elephant, jumps out and rips apart their camp. My favorite character is Phoenix because he shows that kids can do mature stuff. Phoenix shows his survival skills throughout the entire film. The message of this movie is that elephants should be protected because they are smart and beautiful creatures. Over 3,000 elephants are killed every year by poachers taking part in the illegal ivory trade. If this continues, they will become extinct. Another message that this film delivers is that kids can survive if they believe in themselves.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Younger kids might not understand the message of this film. I believe adults will like this movie too.

Reviewed by Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
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Rampage (2018)
7/10
What it lacks in complexity, it makes up for in pure spectacle and fun!
13 April 2018
Rampage is a healthy dose of CGI mayhem, anchored by the star power of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. What Rampage lacks in complexity and story, it makes up for through pure spectacle and fun.

Rampage is loosely based on the classic arcade game of the same name and follows Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), a primatologist (basically a monkey scientist) who takes care of a gorilla named George. Davis and George share a close bond with one another. When a sample of a mysterious substance lands in his enclosure, George inhales it. The good-natured gorilla turns into a building-sized behemoth. The same thing happens to a few other animals, making the threat even larger. With the help of a scientist with a tortured past and a sarcastic, Southern-accented government operative, Davis seeks out George to protect him from harm, while still trying to end the wrath of these animals.

My favorite part of this film is the extended high-action showdown. This part reminds me of what made the game so fun: seeing these behemoths battle on an expansive urban playground where skyscrapers are like jungle gyms. We get to see the monsters battle each other and all the plot threads unfurl into monster madness. The supporting characters get some memorable character moments and Davis Okoye comes into his own as an action hero.

Dwayne Johnson spews charisma with every line. So this, mixed with his great comedic timing, make him a good choice to play an action hero, which is exactly what he does here. Johnson makes lines that would normally sound poorly written and cheesy, quotable and cool. Johnson also brings to the screen Davis's bond with George well, considering one half of the pair is entirely CGI. Johnson also delivers certain lines that manage to poke fun at Rampage's insane concept.

I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18 due to suggestive content, language and violence. Rampage is more violent than average blockbuster and, there are a few scenes that I had a hard time watching. If you are a fan of the arcade game, be sure to look out for some Easter eggs that tie the film back to its source material.

I give Rampage 3.5 out of 5 stars. While not a cinematic masterpiece, if you're looking for a big-budget battle of large creatures with entertainment to spare, this film is for you.

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