Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a prequel to the Harry Potter films about Newt Scamander’s adventures in 1920s New York. I was not very excited for this movie and did not see it in theaters, even so I was disappointed. The plot is scatterbrained, the twists can be seen coming from miles away and there is just too much CGI. The sole writer of the film is J.K. Rowling, an author not a film-writer, that shows heavily, the plot and the over-use of CGI wouldn’t have been a problem if this was a book instead of a movie. The characters don’t have much chemistry and the music almost never works with the scenes. Overall Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them spends too much time setting up its 4 sequels and showing off its special effects and not enough time being a coherent and entertaining story.

Kids over the age of 9 should be able to handle Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Available on iTunes and Amazon.

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TV Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017-)

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Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is an extremely unique and whimsical self-aware story about three siblings orphaned by a deadly fire uncovering dark family secrets and it is based on the book series of the same name. Neil Patrick Harris and Patrick Warburton are great, the child actors are pretty good and I really loved the soundtrack. The story is told/narrated by Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton) in a way that gives a feeling of peculiarity and freshness to the show. I highly recommend trying A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix because you have without a doubt never seen anything like it, at first it will seem very strange and unusual but you will quickly get used to it’s unique atmosphere and learn to embrace it by the time you finish season 1.

Although intentionally dark and despairing, this series is actually kind of lighthearted, kids 9 and up can probably watch it without a problem.

Available on Netflix.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

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Directed by Tim Burton, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (based upon the novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs) is about boy named Jacob who discovers a secret home for peculiar children (children with strange abilities). I was actually really enjoying the first half of this movie but the moment you see Tim Burton’s face in his cameo, everything goes very downhill. I really liked Chris O’Dowd’s scenes and Samuel L. Jackson wasn’t half bad, but Asa Butterfield’s acting however was not that great. I didn’t really feel for any main characters and the music doesn’t work with the film at all, especially during a certain scene involving cotton candy in which not a single element of the movie blends together, resulting in the worst few minutes of Tim Burton’s filmography that I have seen. If you’re a fan of the books then don’t expect a completely faithful adaptation. The 1st act is quite enjoyable, the 2nd act not so much, and the 3rd is not good at all, so unless you really like Tim Burton-isms, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will probably disappoint.

This film is a little creepier than most family movies but 12 and up should be able to handle it.

Available on iTunes and Amazon.

Book Review: Castle Waiting Vol. 1 & 2

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These two excellent graphic novels, Castle Waiting Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, are brilliantly simple yet complex at the same time. They follow the day to day lives of the diverse inhabitants of an old castle. The slow, relaxed pace of the story builds a rich and detailed world over the two books and every character has such an intriguing story behind them that you will not be able to stop reading!

The beautiful story of these books can be enjoyed by virtually all ages.

Inside Out (2015)

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I saw Inside Out for the second time recently at a screening at my local library with Josh Cooley, a head writer of the film, who provided a wonderful Q&A after the screening! Cooley grew up here and his parents also own a toy store in the area. The movie is a heartwarming story that takes place inside and out of the mind of a young girl named Riley who has just moved to San Francisco. The inside of her mind is composed of five emotions, Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. It is a powerful story that ironically, will evoke many of your emotions, the animation and score are great as well. I would definitely recommend Inside Out especially if you’re a Pixar fan.

Like most good animated films, this is aimed largely at adults but obviously it’s still a great movie for kids too.

Availabie on iTunes and Amazon.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

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UNMISSABLE

Hunt for the Wilderpeople finally came to a theater near me and it was definitely worth the wait! It is a breathtakingly excellent film about a rebellious kid named Ricky Baker and his foster uncle (played by Sam Niell) who both go missing in the New Zealand bush and the national manhunt that follows. The cast is delightful and the soundtrack is the best I’ve heard in a long while! Hunt for the Wilderpeople has comic genius, great morals, beautiful scenery, and is an amazing experience you just cannot miss!

There’s really not much in this movie to keep kids from seeing it and what little there is might go over their heads so I would definitely suggest watching this with your kids.

Available on iTunes and Amazon.

Zootopia (2016)

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UNMISSABLE

I don’t watch many animated movies, but Zootopia is the best one I’ve seen in quite a while. It takes place in a city of anthropomorphic animals in a world where primates never existed. The characters are good, the animation is great, and the plot is subtly genius. The only fault with this movie is I really can’t see most of the humor and underlying morals landing with young kids. Overall, you should defiantly see Zootopia, even if you don’t often watch animated movies. Any age could watch this movie, but like I said before, a lot of the great thinge about it will go over their heads.

Available on iTunes and Amazon.