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Favorite Movies of 2012

Here is my list of favorite movies of 2012 . You can read movies reviews of Parental Guidance, Rise of the Guardians, The Life of Pi, Frankenweenie, The Odd Life of Timothy Green , Brave, To the Arctic, The Hunger Games, The secret world of Arrietty, Chimpanzee, Les Miserables


Crivens, Brave is Fierce!

Brave is Pixar’s first arrow shot (literally) at a period movie featuring a princess. It’s about time.

Set in the Scottish kingdom of DunBroch, Merida is a headstrong princess who loves archery living with her triplet devilish brothers, her father, King Fergus and her mother, Queen Elinor. In Merida’s opinion, she and her mother couldn’t have been more unlike each other – especially when Elinor invites three clan leaders to present their first-borns to compete for Merida’s hand. This leads to a big falling out and Merida heads into the forest. She meets a woodcutter witch – your typical Disney hag complete with the warts and broomstick – who offers to change her mom in order to change her fate about the marriage.

The literal “change” casts a spell on her mother and threatens Merida’s family along with the entire kingdom. Merida sets about a journey filled with magic, danger, and love to undo her selfish actions.

I would go as far as to say that this has been Pixar’s darkest movie yet. It’s a fresh heart-warming tale about mother-and-daughter bonding with comic relief provided by the mischievous triplets – however, I regretted bringing my 5-year-old cousin with me to the theaters. Her eyes were squeezed shut whenever the vicious bear Mor’du appeared on screen. Pixar did a fantastic job of building up anticipation in every scene – I kept expecting some unforeseen danger to pop up even in the light-hearted scenes. At some points, the entire spell-changing fate kerfuffle was quite disturbing – the idea that someone as dignified as Queen Elinor could turn into a wild bear may be unsettling for younger viewers.

Even so, my other 7-year-old cousin cried and sniffed loudly during one of the poignant mother and daughter moments. Brave offers many important life-lessons about relationships and responsibility, to have the courage to face one’s mistakes. Merida breaks the tradition of the Disney princesses. She’s not your typical princess but I see her as the youngest and the most relatable. Her spontaneous and courageous personality will draw viewers of all ages.

Though Brave may not be the next Finding Nemo, Toy Story, or Monsters Inc., Merida adds some good to the world with her sweet, stubborn, impulsive presence. This new addition to Pixar’s filmography is not to be missed – for Disney lovers, Pixar fans, and lasses and lads everywhere. Don’t be a bunch of galoots and follow the Will O’ The Wisps to your fate. Brave is a PickIT! Ages 7+

First published @ Kidspickflicks

Earth Day 2012: Chimpanzee

Narrated by Tim Allen, Chimpanzee will take you on a wild adventure set deep in the African forests, a place hardly touched by mankind. A young carefree chimpanzee named Oscar thrives on his mother’s love, having the time of his life. Their tribe leader, Freddy, leads his followers in search of food. They travel into the unsafe territory of their stronger rivals, led by an intimidating chimpanzee named Scar. For generations, the land has been fought over by the two tribes, and Freddy’s tribe is in danger.

A frenzied battle ensues, leaving Oscar forever separated from his mom. He finds himself all alone, an orphan who has no one to teach him life skills. Miraculously, the most unlikely foster parent in the forest adopts Oscar, and together, they embark on a journey of love and friendship.

Disneynature captured stellar scenery – the mist shrouding the canopy of trees was simply picturesque. The African sunrise prompted a little girl beside me in the theater to softly hum the beginning of “Circle of Life”, the opening song of Lion King (coupled with the fact that the “bad” chimp was named Scar). The ingenious use of time-lapse cameras gave insight to the fact that the forest was a living, growing thing. Along with being a hero-and-villain type of movie, Chimpanzee was almost magical – Disneynature couldn’t help including the breath-taking shots of glow-in-the-dark fungi, sprouts rapidly shooting up, and mushrooms that smoked when touched by the rain.

Chimpanzee focuses on the personal aspects. The chimpanzees’ actions mirror what we do in life – caring for the young, using tools to find food, and enjoying life as it is. You will laugh time and time again at their lively frolics, which remind us to enjoy the journey. The adorable Oscar will have kids begging parents to buy a baby chimp for a pet.

As for language, there was one very out-of-place use of “idiot” in a joking, teasing way. The shaky cam style cut away the violence, resorting to a G rating. When Scar’s tribe attacked, I was shaken by the idea that chimpanzees, just like humans, fought each other. They beat the roots of trees to either announce their attack or victory, and the booming sound plus the frantic swelling of the orchestra may scare younger kids.

With every Disney movie, the moviemakers try to weave in a plot furnished with an adorably cute unassuming protagonist, a sinister villain thwarting plans, and a happily-ever-after type of ending. Even if the plot was a bit glazed over, it was a beautiful story nonetheless. The adoption of an orphan in any animal kingdom is quite something to see. Clearly, God has a heart for the orphans. Scripture says that God dwells in the hearts of the helpless. He shows His love for them in John 14:18: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Offering amazing detail along with a heartfelt touch of emotion, Chimpanzee is not to be missed. Also, stay seated for the credits. There is a captivating brief behind-the-scenes camera roll about the filmmakers’ hardships – swarms of bugs, jagged, rough terrains, and torrents of rain. Everyone is smiling despite the challenges, and it shows the audience how hard they worked to bring this story to screen. Celebrate Earth Day 2012 with your family at the movie theaters!

First published @ http://ChristianAnswers.Net/spotlight/movies/2012/chimpanzee2012.html

To the Arctic : A Vanishing Paradise

Watching To The Arctic is probably the equivalence of transporting yourself to a whole new world, a fading paradise that is unknown to us. Directed by seasoned IMAX filmmaker Greg MacGillivray, To The Arctic is the first film presentation of One World One Ocean, a non-profit organization that aims to educate the world about the importance of the ocean.  The trailers are a bit misleading – it’s not only just about a mother polar bear and her cubs, but rather, the film shows the wide array of animals affected by global warming. This 40-minute documentary truly succeeded in bringing out the majesty of the Arctic.

The film opens from a bird’s eye point of view, swooping in on the breathtaking Arctic cliffs. Filmed in the king of all 3D formats, IMAX really works to their advantage, immersing viewers in the harsh, frigid, magnificent realm of the Arctic. The fish eye lenses achieve extremely wide angles that give spectators a panoramic view from the sparse clouds in the sky above to the tiniest cracks in the ice below. The soundtrack by Steve Wood and Sir Paul McCartney lightens the atmosphere, a swelling, tangible symphony that has as much depth as the 3D sights themselves. Narrator Meryl Streep places meaning to every word, and brings in a goldmine of emotion to the script written by Stephen Judson that adds a tremendous amount to the overall tone of the documentary.

There’s a fine line not to cross – documentaries can be tedious if they push the environmental message too much. They can also be entertaining to the point we forget the gravity of the effects of global warming. To The Arctic succeeded in walking the tightrope without falling off, using the footage as the balance pole.

Sprinkled with awws and LOL moments, To The Arctic drove home the powerful message, especially with the combined elements of motherhood and survival. We embark on a journey with a mother polar bear, whose fierce devotion and willingness to die to protect her seven-months-old cubs touches the audience’s heart. Even so, polar bears can’t survive the rapid rupture of the ice. It is predicted that by 2050, the Arctic will disappear entirely. While they may be powerless to change the environment, we can do our part to protect their icy habitats. To The Arctic pulls at the heartstrings, motivating viewers to save the vanishing environment of the furry white bears as well as the walruses, birds, and caribou.

Travel on the ultimate journey to the wild Arctic for the noblest cause – to save the environment. Don’t let yourself sink into the mindset that one person can’t make a difference, because YOU can make a difference! Go to to help save the Arctic today.

Don’t miss this irreplaceable, thrilling IMAX experience! It’s a PICKIt! Ages 4+

Arctic Catastrophe  by Jeremy Hsiao (9 years old)

At the screening of To the Arctic

At the screening of To the Arctic

To the Arctic will whisk you away on a captivating, amazing and adventurous journey across the arctic. Much of the footage is astonishing. It is about how polar bears, caribou, and walruses struggle to survive in melting ice at the top of the world.

In one scene, a diver had to swim underneath the ice in the frigid ocean! He said that the water was so cold that it slowed your brain down. It was amazing how the diver was able to capture the magnificent shots of walruses and the polar bears at a close distance.

Grizzly bears traveled to the Arctic and adapted to their environment. They have become the polar bears we now know. Life in the Arctic may be hard for us, but for polar bears, it’s supposed to be paradise. But due to the green house effect the Arctic is heating up twice as fast as other places. Polar bears have slimmer chances of catching their prey such as seals in the frigid environment.

The 3D was the greatest I had ever seen in my life! It seemed like the ice was going to fly into your face in the beginning when it exploded. The IMAX effect was so great that once I thought a little piece of ice flew into my face! The IMAX enhanced the viewing experience. I thought that I was actually at the Arctic without being there.

To the Arctic is very educational and entertaining at the same time. The message of this film is to inspire people to take necessary steps to prevent the Arctic Ocean from losing its protective cover of ice in the years to come. The loss of sea ice not only affecting polar bears’ habitats but also everyone on the planet.

All ages can watch this movie. I rate this movie 5 stars and a Pick It! If you want to find out more information about the Arctic, watch it yourself!

First Published @ Kidspickflicks

Movie Review: The Hunger Games – An Unquenchable Fire

I feel that there has to be two reviews for this particular movie – one for the fans, and another for, well, the non-fans, or those with no background knowledge of The Hunger Games, the novel by Suzanne Collins.    My word to the non-fans: Read the books. Read my review. Then decide whether or not you want to see the movie.  But this review is for the fans who haven’t seen the movie. This review is also for those who have seen the movie and are merely curious to see what other teens think of it. (Haha, gotcha!)

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the 74th Hunger Games!

Directed by Gary Ross, flash forward into this post-apocalyptic setting, and the world as we know it has fallen.  The shining Capitol rose out of the dust and chaos, and underneath are the 12 districts, each serving its own function. To remind the citizens of their power, the Capitol holds an annual Hunger Games, a twisted source of entertainment for all of Panem. One boy and one girl (called tributes) are selected from every district to participate in the Hunger Games, a fight to the death.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a 16-year-old living in District 12, one of the poorest districts, manages to feed her mother, her beloved younger sister Prim, and herself by hunting in the off-limit woods. Katniss’ world is turned upside down when Prim is chosen as a tribute, and bravely volunteers to take Prim’s place in the Hunger Games. Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is her tribute partner, and they must play the angle of the star-crossed lovers to win the Capitol audience’s heart.

This was one of the best adaptations I’ve seen in a long time. It stayed true to the book as much as possible, and we (as an audience) are definitely sucked into the story, applying our background knowledge from the books to every character that appears on-screen.

Jennifer Lawrence embodied her character from head to toe. She became Katniss – her audacity, independence, and nerve shines ever so brilliantly on screen. Lawrence also brought out Katniss’ flaws, enabling fans to relate, connect, and love her as a well-rounded character. Josh Hutcherson is perfect as the easygoing, sweet, gentle Peeta, and Liam Hemsworth, with what little screen time he had, immediately established himself as the tough hunter Gale is. Woody Harrelson acted a lot like the Haymitch I imagined. Fans will not be disappointed in the roles of the tributes – although many are first-timers, they portrayed their characters flawlessly. I still wish they had more screen time, even though the movie is already two hours and twenty-two minutes long. The pacing is well done; audiences won’t squirm, but rather, their eyes will be riveted on the screen. The shaky-cam style wasn’t really my favorite – it was a relief when the camera stood still. Even so, it was a good technique that gave us quick, choppy shots that hid most of the violence.

And so now, to my initial conflict. Based on my review, how do you think I liked it?

I liked it very much, and that was why it bothered me. How can someone say that they like a movie about kids killing kids? The Capitol audience is entertained by watching the Hunger Games. We pay to watch the movie The Hunger Games. What difference is there? When you root for Katniss to win, you want everyone else to die.

As I was in great conflict, I wondered why I didn’t feel this way in the books. I came to the conclusion that Katniss’ anger towards the Capitol isn’t as prominent in the movie than the books. That moment with the berries is supposed to be monumental, something that will be remembered, but in the movie, it was over in a flash. Even so, her survival and willingness to give up her life for others still manage to win me over.

The deaths and killings are no way over glamorized, and I’m happy to report that the violence was toned down, true to its rating of a PG-13. We are not meant to cheer for the deaths. Even those who are part of the “bad” group reveal that they are simply hurt and scared, pawns that have been used in the inhuman system of the Hunger Games.

Fans will love it. Nonfans will probably love it. All I can say is that it turned out better than I expected, and that’s saying a lot. May the odds be ever in your favor. So watch with the world, ‘cause the world will be watching. Ages 12+

Check out my book review for the Hunger Games, and tell us your opinions below!

Movie Review – Bridge to Terabithia

Grade A

Starring Josh Hutcherson, Anna Sophia-Robb, Bailee Madison

MPAA Rating: PG

Genre: Drama

Everybody’s buzzin’ about the coming release of The Hunger Games. So, I decided to take a look into Josh Hutcherson’s acting past. He’ll be playing Peeta Mellark, co-staring with Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen.) What better place to start than Bridge to Terabithia?

This movie came out a few years ago, in 2007. Based on Katherine Paterson’s book, all I remember was that it was about a fantasy world with trolls that looked like school bullies. Oh, and that it had two amazing actors.

And that I loved it.

I don’t quite remember what it was that made me love it but recently, I reread the book and rewatched the movie.

And then I found the reason why I loved it.

Artistic-handed Jesse Oliver Aarons would prefer to blend in with the crowd, coming from a large, financially struggling family where he feels as if he doesn’t belong. On the other hand, Leslie Burke, his new, well-off neighbor and already the weirdo/outcast of the school, is open-minded, has a great imagination, and is not ashamed of who she is. Even with their differences, they form an amazing friendship, and become the king and queen of Terabithia, their fantasy world. It’s only until a terrible tragedy occurs that Jess realizes what Terabithia has brought out in him.

Many people expected a Narnia-like film, coming from the producers of Narnia. Yet the storyline is not about the kingdom, but rather the moving friendship between such contrasting characters. Leslie challenges Jess to open his mind and see things he hasn’t seen before. Even hours after I had watched the movie, I was still contemplating every aspect that was brought out on screen.

It’s about two very real characters and their famalies. It’s about their not-so-perfect relationships with their parents. It’s about dealing with financial struggles, tag-along siblings, and bullies. It’s about connecting with the coming-of-age audience.

It made me cry. It’s definitely a tear-jerker. Josh Hutcherson (Jess) and Anna Sophia-Robb (Leslie) were absolutely beautiful in their roles, but the real screen-stealer was Bailee Madison, who played the little tag-along sister.

I enjoyed it immensely, and I have to say, it will remain one of my favorite movies forever. Like I said, it gave me a lot to think about. Watch it with your family!!!


Published @

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Movie Review

Director: Stephen Daldry

Actors: Tom Hanks,  Thomas Horn  Sandra Bullock,  Zoe Caldwell, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis

Release Date : Jan 20th 2012


Based on the novel by Jonathan Saefran Foer, ELIC is about a bright young boy named Oskar Schell trying to make sense of the world around him after his beloved dad’s death in the attack of 9/11. When his father was still alive, they’d play a game called the Renaissance Expeditions – scavenger hunts that led Oskar all around New York. His father had designed it so that his son was put into situations to talk to people, and he left clues everywhere. Still struggling with his grief a year after his father’s death, Oskar finds an unusual key in an envelope with the name “Black” written on it. He is determined to complete the last Renaissance Expedition to stretch his final moments with his dad. He visits every single person with the last name “Black”, and the journey takes him all around Manhattan. Every door that opens has a heartbreaking story to tell, and Oskar realizes that the key may open the unlikeliest box ever, which may lead him back to the unlikeliest source ever – home.

Extremely Loud was incredibly moving. At one point I just stopped fighting back the tears and let it flow. The entire theater probably heard my hiccups. Putting the acting and filming aside, the very storyline about people coping with grief is heartbreaking, especially in the attack of 9/11. I was only two years old when it happened and I don’t remember anything about it, but through this movie I could feel the pain and anguish the families went through from Oskar’s perspective.

We see Oskar trying to mend himself, trying to hold on to his dad, trying to stretch the time he had left with him. He feels far away from his mom, and carries a very heavy burden on his shoulders. As one might expect, this movie calls for and demands a strong performance on the child actor’s part, the talented first-timer Thomas Horn, who delivered beyond what was anticipated. Even so, it was actually Tom Hanks (who played the father) and Sandra Bullock (in the role of the mother) and the supporting cast who drove the movie right to my heart. Oh, and don’t forget the mysterious inconsolable mute Renter (Max von Sydow), with the words “Yes” and “No” tattooed on his left and right hands respectively, who develops a unique friendship with our young protagonist.

ELIC is rated PG-13 for “emotional thematic material, some disturbing images, and strong language.” Oskar does use a variety of profanity. He says the f-word, two s-words, and a few others. He deliberately bruises and pinches himself as a response to his overwhelming emotional pain. Some scenes are intense, and only because the characters are well rounded and tangible. Yet the movie did not let me leave the theater feeling depressed – rather, the intertwined storylines were all about a journey of healing. The score was beautiful – it added such depth and brought out the poignancy in every single scene. Parents should be aware that this movie is not suitable for kids. This is a Pickit! Ages 15+

Published @

My Favorite Movies of 2011

I’ve watched so many movies this past year of 2011. I thank God for giving me such great opportunities to write movie reviews for KidsPickFlicks and Scholastic Kids Press Corps. These were some of my favorite movies that came out in 2011: You can read my movie reviews for Soul Surfer, Arthur Christmas, Dolphin Tale, Born to Be Wild, War Horse,  Hugo,  Winnie the Pooh,  Courageous,  On Stranger Tides,  We Bought a Zoo,  Adventures of Tin Tin, The Help, Mr Popper’s Penguins, Mars Needs Moms,  Monte Carlo

The Adventures of Tintin: A Rumbustious and Riveting Escapade

Grade :    B-

Starring   : Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Daniel Craig

MPAA Rating : PG

Genre  : Animation

Theatrical Release  : December 21st 2011

So apparently, Tintin’s Adventures has inspired readers all over the world except for America. Steven Spielberg’s goal was to open the minds of Americans to the book of comics by Herge.Well, I’m not sure if he succeeded or not.

You see, I have never read the books, unlike my eight-year-old brother. I had to rack my brains to follow the plot – there was too much dialog instead of telling the story. Captain Haddock’s voice was often slurred with whiskey, making comprehension hard. The action scenes were placed into the story a bit choppily and were often unbelievable – but overall, The Adventures of Tintin had a pulse that kept my eyes riveted on the screen.

Tintin is a boy reporter who seems to be living all alone with his faithful dog, Snowy. He purchases a model of a mysterious ship – the Unicorn – and is approached by mysterious vagabonds from all sides. He finds himself on a wild adventure with the last Haddock alive to figure out where the multitude of treasure lay at the bottom of the sea.

As I said before, I have never read the books, so I cannot say if the film stayed true to the characters and plot. Even so, I thought Tintin and the antagonist, Sakharine, were especially well done and brought to life. Haddock… not so much. If Tintin had not been so patient with the incoherent Haddock, I would have probably hated him. Oh yes, whiskey is ever-present from the moment Tintin meets Haddock. The Captain constantly talks about whiskey, and parents may want to talk to their kids that drinking whiskey does NOT bring back lost memories.

The flashback to the fight between Haddock and Sakharine’s ancestors gave me a flashback to Pirates of the Caribbean. I honestly thought the man in the red cape was going to reveal himself as Jack Sparrow instead of the Red Rackham.

Kids will enjoy the beautifully done, adrenaline-charged adventure, and parents should also sit through the movie – after all, it is a family film. There is a lot of violence (Tintin falls unconscious many times and how did Tintin acquire a gun?). Bursting with vividly voiced characters, this is a rumbustious but not-so-humorous adventure – Spielberg makes up for it by the action-packed scenes. Although I did not enjoy The Adventures of Tintin as much as War Horse, it definitely interested me into reading the books. It’s a PickIt! and a B-. Ages 8+

Review by Jeremy Hsiao

The Adventures of Tintin is action-packed, exhilarating, and extremely exciting. It has many invigorating scenes and visuals. In this adventure, Tintin has to find the three ships and scrolls, to figure out the secret of the Unicorn.

Soon, Tintin gets captured on a ship and meets Haddock, who is the captain of the ship. They both escape together and go on a wild adventure followed by Sakharine. Sakharine is the main bad guy in this movie, though there are others.

This movie is really great, but if you didn’t read the book you wouldn’t understand the plot. I think that the coolest scene in the movie is when they are escaping the ship through a hail of gunfire, outruning murderous sailors, and continueing with their swashbuckling and riproaring adventure. Even though the movie is a little violent, it is magnificent for adventure-loving kids.

I loved the mocap – the realism was amazing. It is mind capturing and I think this is the best animation I ever saw! It makes me want to read all of the Tintin books. I rate this fabulous movie 4 stars, and a Pick It!

First Published @

Rip-roaring Adventure by Jeremy

The Adventures of Tintin is action-packed, exhilarating, and extremely exciting. It has many invigorating scenes and visuals. In this adventure, Tintin has to find the three ships and scrolls, to figure out the secret of the Unicorn.

Soon, Tintin gets captured on a ship and meets Haddock, who is the captain of the ship. They both escape together and go on a wild adventure followed by Sakharine. Sakharine is the main bad guy in this movie, though there are others.

This movie is really great, but if you didn’t read the book you wouldn’t understand the plot. I think that the coolest scene in the movie is when they are escaping the ship through a hail of gunfire, outruning murderous sailors, and continueing with their swashbuckling and riproaring adventure. Even though the movie is a little violent, it is magnificent for adventure-loving kids.

I loved the mocap – the realism was amazing. It is mind capturing and I think this is the best animation I ever saw! It makes me want to read all of the Tintin books. I rate this fabulous movie 4 stars, and a Pick It!

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