Archive for Kids

Film & DVD Review: Brother Bear

RUNNING TIME: 80 Minutes DIRECTORS:Aaron Blaise & Robert Walker

Reviewed By Jacqueline

A great start! An old woman talks about her ancestors and their spiritual beings. A unique fantasy story emerges, she tells of, “a world full of magic” and “the ever-changing light dancing across the sky, the lights are powers to make changes to our world”.

Most importantly for the story she continues, “when each of us comes of age the great spirits reveal to us a totem that helps guide us through our lives”.

I’m curious, what are these totems? The old woman awards Kenai, (Joaquin Phoenix), with his totem, The Bear of Love. We learn of his two older brothers’ totems. Denhai, (Jason Raize) has been bestowed with the totem of wisdom, while his other brother Sitka, (D. B Sweeney), has been awarded the totem, the Eagle of guidance.

A great story unfolds of brotherly love and honour. Kenai’s life changes forever due to an unfortunate event. He can’t turn back time and finds himself being part of a bear world. He hooks up with a baby bear called Koda, (Jeremy Suarez), whom he adores and eventually loves. Together they set out on their long journey over the mountains looking for answers trying to turn back time. Unfortunately all is not well; an angry hunter carrying a spear tries to kill Kenai.

Kenai and Koda eventually find what they have been searching for. However, a twist in the storyline is one that changes Kenai’s life forever. He is transformed from a boy to a man and finds himself with an extended family.

You will enjoy the enchanting music from Phil Collins and Tina Turner. The animation is extremely colourful and exciting. A truly unique production, which comes highly recommended. Your children will love talking for hours on end about the colourful animals they have seen, such as the bears, mammoths, squirrels and moose. It is great that all of the animals were friendly and kind towards one another. Your little ones will enjoy sharing the experience of the great magical animal kingdom that brother bear experienced. They will be able to talk and talk with their siblings about brotherly love and totems for hours on end. One of the strengths of this animation is that it proves to be an enjoyable production for adults to watch with the added benefit that you will be able to share the experience and magic of Brother Bear with your children.

CREDITS

PRODUCER

Chuck Williams

SCREENPLAY

# Tab Murphy
# Lorne Cameron
# David Hoselton
# Steve Bencich
# Ron J Friedman

SONGS PERFORMED BY

# Phil Collins, (On My Way/No Way Out/Look Through My Eyes)
# Jeremy Svarez, (On My Way with Phil Collins)
# Tina Turner, (Great Spirits)
# The Bulgarian Women’s Choir, (Transformation)
# The Blind Boys of Alabama, (Welcome)

CAST – VOICEOVERS

# Joaquin Phoenix, (Kenai Bear)
# Jeremy Suarez, (Koda)
# Jason Raize, (Denahi)
# Rick Moranis, (Rick)
# Dave Thomas, (Tuke)
# D. B Sweeney, (Sitka)
# Joan Copeland, (Tanana)
# Estelle Harris, (Old Lady Bear)
# Michael Clarke Duncan, (Tug)
# Paul Christie, (Ram 1)
# Daniel Mastrogiorgio, (Ram 2)

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Film & DVD Review: The Polar Express

Certificate UK:U / USA:G
Running Time 100 mins

Reviewed by Patrick Harrington

Warner Bros. presents a film directed by Robert Zemeckis. Written by Zemeckis and William Broyles Jr., based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg.

A lot of the press attention for The Polar Express has centred on the technology behind its production .It’s the first feature-length usage of the process of Motion Capture or as the studio more accurately calls this (given the detail and complexity) “performance capture”. Actors were given costumes with sensors attached that map onto points in three-dimensional space inside the 3D computer environment. Many small points were placed on the muscles of their faces to capture every nuance of expression. The movement and expression flows and is natural but they then played with style, colour and other elements. Tom Hanks plays six parts: the conductor (that’s where he resembles himself the most closely), the boy, the boy’s father, the mysterious hobo, a Scrooge puppet, and Santa Claus. In most reviews this has been called an animated film. I don’t think that’s right. It’s certainly not live-action but I feel that it would be fairer to see it as a new medium. It’s easy to see why everyone is excited by the production process as it opens up so many new possibilities – especially as techniques develop and we move closer to ‘photo-real’ images. The process will raise ethical and even political issues in the future (but that’s another article!).

Some critics have found the film ‘creepy’ because of the mix of real expressions with not quite real representations. I can see where they are coming from – although it didn’t have that effect on me. It’s difficult to see how the fabulous artwork from Van Allsburg’s 1985 book could have been brought to life without the use of this technology. The rendering of ‘Lonely Boy’ is both subtle and beautiful. I loved the creativity displayed in the scene where a ticket is lost and is blown by the wind to an encounter with an eagle and other ‘adventures’. I also enjoyed the scene where hot chocolate is served on the train in a spectacular song-and-dance routine.

But enough of the technology – what about the story? It’s a good one. An unnamed boy lies in bed, late on Christmas Eve, entertaining doubts about the existence of Santa Claus. Like a lot of children around 8 or 9, he sifts and weighs the evidence. Then gradually he nods off. When he awakes, a locomotive has pulled up in front of his house. It’s the Polar Express, a train that makes an annual run to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. The boy runs outside in his bathrobe and slippers, and the conductor advises him to get onboard. Once there he finds other children, all wearing pajamas and all around the same age. From there, the movie unfolds as a series of adventures. There are some great set-pieces. We get high adventure, such as a sequence where the brakes fail as the train is racing along tracks that mimic a roller coaster, careening down a “179-degree grade” and racing through tunnels with a half-inch of clearance. Hero Boy and the Hobo ski the top of the train to find safety before the tunnel! The scene of an out-of-control dash with the train skidding off its tracks and going sliding out across a collapsing frozen lake is thrilling too. You will also enjoy the arrival at the North Pole, where the elves treat Santa Claus like the ultimate rock star.

The movie’s strong emotional pull stems from the way it expresses a loss of magic and wonder. It’s kind of nostalgic and wistful – even a little regretful. This aspect of the film gives it a complexity that will enthrall adults while the kids enjoy the action.

Cast & Credits

  • Body movement performers: Hero Boy/Father/Conductor/Hobo/ Scrooge/Santa: Tom Hanks
  • Smoker/Steamer: Michael Jeter
  • Hero Girl: Nona Gaye
  • Lonely Boy: Peter Scolari
  • Know-It-All: Eddie Deezen
  • Additional voice performers:
  • Hero Boy: Daryl Sabara
  • Smoker/Steamer: Andre Sogliuzzo
  • Sister Sarah: Isabella Peregrina
  • Lonely Boy: Jimmy Bennett
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    Film & DVD Review: Bear in the Big Blue House

    Bear in the Big Blue House: Potty Time With Bear
    Bear in the Big Blue House: Shapes and Colours With Bear
    Reviewed by Pat Harrington

    First, let me confess that I’m a big fan of Bear in the Big Blue House. I watch it on television with the kids and they enjoy it almost as much as me! I find myself humming the tunes in embarrassing situations and getting weird looks off people who recognise them!

    Bear was first seen on the Disney Channel but it has grown into one of the most popular kid’s shows. One reason I like Bear is that he has a lot of fun. He is a big, gentle and calm character. His ‘supporting cast’ of Treelo the lemur, Ojo the bear cub, Tutter the mouse and Pip and Pop the otters are great.

    It’s educational but not preachy. There are underlying morals but the show entertains. It’s a difficult balance to maintain but Bear in the Big Blue House accomplishes it. Add to that some well-written lyrics and tunes and you’ve got a hit.

    I was delighted to hear that a range of Bear DVDs was being released. Potty Time With Bear deals with teaching and encouraging basic bathroom skills and would be a good aid for parents. My only criticism is that is used the American diaper rather than nappy which might confuse some English kids. Perhaps we need an English English option on the soundtrack! Shapes, Sounds and Colours is very watchable and fun but not as good. I thought that it was a little too complex for younger children when it went into how colours could be mixed.

    Well worth buying, however. I look forward to seeing the next in the series when they are released in June.

    Potty Time With Bear Extras

  • Your potty chair
  • What’s that smell?
  • The Toileteers
  • Hello SongShapes, Sounds and Colours With Bear Extras
  • What’s in the mail today?
  • Some of the colours I see.
  • Me, I’m The Shape of a Bear
  • Listen UpProduct Information

    Certificate U Running Time 90 mins

    Technical Specifications

    Closed Caption Region 2

    Languages and Subtitles

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Italian
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    Film & DVD Review: Hoodwinked! (2005)

  • Directed by: Cory Edwards
  • Todd Edwards (co-director)
  • Rental/ Retail Release Date: 29th January
  • RRP: £19.99
  • Certification: UK:U / USA:PG (certificate #42224) / Finland:K-7 / Ireland:G / Canada:G (Ontario) / Norway:7 / Australia:G / Czech Republic:U / Germany:o.Al. / Singapore:G / Sweden:7 / Netherlands:AL / France:U
  • Running Time: 80 minsThis is the classic story of Little Red Riding Hood. But if you thought you were familiar with the story, forget it. This is told from four different perspectives Red (voice of Ann Hathaway), the Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton), Granny (Glenn Close) and a fairly dumb, axe-wielding woodsman (Jim Belushi).

    It starts at the end of the tale with the arrest of the four. They are accused of stealing ‘goodie’ recipes and interrogated by a long-legged frog, Inspector Flippers (David Ogden Stiers). Each suspect tells a different story that somehow cleverly ties the whole event together. It’s similar in its use of different perspectives to Kurosawa’s classic “Rashomon” but produced by computer animators at the Weinstein Company.

    The script is excellent. Adults will enjoy the puns. The kids will enjoy the many animal characters, such as pigs as policemen, a singing, hillbilly goat (Benjy Gaither), a squirrel on speed (director Edwards), a Huggy bear-type stool pigeon sheep (Chazz Palimeri) and a tricky little bunny, Boingo (Andy Dick). Having said that I really liked the hilbilly goat and his ‘Be Prepared’ song!

    Hoodwinked is full of twists and turns and is a good film for adults to watch alongside the kids.

    DVD Extras

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Critters Have Feelings Music Video
  • How to Make an Animated Film
  • Commentary with the Film Makers
  • Theatrical Trailer
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