Archives for posts with tag: Kids Film & Theater reviews

Robinson Crusoe

I have been meaning to write the review for Robinson Crusoe since Saturday morning when we saw it, I haven’t until now for two reasons. One, we weren’t blown away and so I haven’t been inspired to write about it and two, I’ve had tonsillitis (still have tonsillitis) which when combined with the lack of things to shout about this film has, until now, created nothing.

Robinson Crusoe (although, of course it has a different title in the USA, The Wild Life) is a Belgian-French 3D computer-animated adventure action comedy released by Studio Canal.  Maybe this didn’t quite hit the spot as we saw the film in 2D, but I believe that 3D shouldn’t be used to enhance a film, it should be as entertaining and work just as well in 2D, because if a child has autism and 3D is just a bit too much for them why should they miss out on a film being good because of that?

Having now stepped down from my soap box…  It’s not a bad film, the animation is good, typical kids film style, the story line has goodies against baddies and overcoming adversity, typical kids film style, the characters are lovable, moral and build good friendships, typical kids film style, even the baddies as mean bullies are entertaining and comical, in typical kids film style.  The film is aimed at kids aged 6 and under and when I asked my 5 year old if he enjoyed it (as I ask him with all the films we see) he said yes… and that was it! No excitedly telling me about the bits he enjoyed or the who he liked most, just a yes.

The film sticks to the story we all know of Robinson Crusoe, the island, the dog, encountering new animals and pirates but it’s told from the perspective of the animals on the island which is a nice touch. However, you’ll be glad to hear for a kids film, no cannibals, although they were mentioned but not enough to spike the curiosity of my 5 year old to ask what they are.

The story in a nutshell, as written by Studiocanal (as I can’t quite manage to do this as it would take a level of creativity that my brain can’t quite reach at the moment as my tonsils are getting in the  way)

On a tiny exotic island, Tuesday, an outgoing parrot lives with his quirky animal friends in paradise. However, Tuesday can’t stop dreaming about discovering the world. After a violent storm, Tuesday and his friends wake up to find a strange creature on the beach: Robinson Crusoe. Tuesday immediately views Crusoe as his ticket off the island to explore new lands. Likewise, Crusoe soon realizes that the key to surviving on the island is through the help of Tuesday and the other animals. It isn’t always easy at first, as the animals don’t speak “human.” Slowly but surely, they all start living together in harmony, until one day, when their comfortable life is overturned by two savage cats, who wish to take control of the island. A battle ensues between the cats and the group of friends but Crusoe and the animals soon discover the true power of friendship up against all odds (even savage cats).

So to sum it all up this is a typical kids film. The plot is simple and straightforward and maybe that’s why it didn’t inspire us, albeit we saw it in 2D and this may have a bearing (and my tonsils, which are just about ready to move out and get their own place, wont have helped).  My son hasn’t asked a single question about the film since or mentioned any characters from it so we are giving it a 2.5 out of 5.   If you do see it, it’s in cinemas in the UK tomorrow, go for 3D if you can (and let me know if you think it makes it any better) otherwise wait for it to come out on Amazon or Netflix and see it at home of you have 90 minutes to while away.

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The Gruffalo – every parent (nursery worker and reception class teacher) knows all the words by heart – I promise you that.  If you are one of the above and you don’t then how have you got away with that?!  I’d like to know your secret.  We have read the book, along with the Gruffalos Child, more times than I would like to remember, seen the films, have the Gruffalo soft toy and the Gruffalo Childs fancy dress.  And now we have been to see the theater production!

gruffalo

A lovely end to Kids Week (if you don’t know about Kids week in London check it out here and get ready for next year). A fantastic production with 3 fantastic actors, a great set that moved adding an extra element to the scene, perfectly used ambient lighting and wonderful costumes. The production was an hour long but it whizzed by as although it used the wording from the book and the story line it was intermingled with the  odd catchy song and some silly messing about which was actually funny, mainly as it wasn’t too childish or over the top.  (No inappropriate adult humor which we have found in some productions) Our 4 year old found it hilarious and even got the giggles at one point.

As always with a children’s production there is some interaction with audience and some children and parents found themselves sitting next to the Gruffalo for a short time. This wasn’t over the top in length which meant it was fun for the children not directly involved to watch too.

An awesome production, as we have found with other Julia Donaldson’s books which have been turned into theater productions – all created by Tall Stories.  A definite must see! It’s on at London’s Lyric Theater until 6th September and then takes a tour round the country.  Check out where here.

And our 4 years olds favourite bit – “the funny big Gruffalo” (of course it was!)

The-Gruffalo-Lyric-Theatre

Since my son turned 3 we have been going to the theatre every so often. I didn’t realise, until it was pointed out to me by my mother in law, that there were theatre productions aimed at children and to be honest what a numpty – why wouldn’t there be!

I have to be honest, the first time we went to the theatre I was a bit apprehensive. I was worried that our son and also daddy would be bored but I was very wrong. Even some productions we have been to since which haven’t been great have still kept my sons attention and daddy’s too!

The first production we ever went to was Room on the Broom (courtesy of my mother in law) and to this day it is still the best production we have ever seen, and unfortunately for all other theatre productions has set the bar rather high. With just four people to play the witch, the cat, the dog, the bird and the frog this is an ingenious and colourful way of using puppets to cover all roles. The hour went by so very quickly and with all children’s production there is a level of interaction that you just don’t get with adult productions. The cast got a bit of the giggles at one point as one child in the audience decided to copy the howling of the dog and wouldn’t stop but it was all handled very well. A definite must see if you get the chance. 10 out of 10.

The latest production we have seen is Cat in the Hat at the Palace Theatre in Southend. It seemed a bit chaotic – but then I guess Cat in the Hat is. It looked great and was exactly as you would expect from the book but some of the scenes of chaos went on a bit too long with a repetition of action that even my 4 year old got bored of. He also kept jumping quite lot as it was very loud where were sitting – the downfalls of theatre – be careful to pick your seats well. There was a lot of interaction with this production which was great but only for those sat in the seats in front of the stage and not for those in the circle above the stage and so some of the time it was not possible to see what was going on at all. We expected more and although the hour went quickly, the chocolate buttons saved us some of the time. A take it or leave it production unless your child is really into Cat in the Hat. 5 out of 10.

As for what is next …… we really want to see Dinosaur Zoo!! Using life-like dinosaur puppets it looks like a highly interactive dinosaur adventure for ages 3 and over. Unfortunately it is only showing on weekdays near to us (not great for those who work during the week) so we may have to wait until it comes around to us again – which we hope is soon!

My 4 year old son has been dancing around saying ‘my arms are in the air like I just don’t care!’ since we first saw the trailer for Home, oh so long ago.

Directed by Tim Johnson and from the creators of The Croods and How to Train your Dragon, this Dreamworks animation stars Rhianna as Tip, Jennifer Lopez as Tip’s mum and Jim Parsons as Oh. This obviously meant that Rhianna released a concept album for the soundtrack so you can imagine what the tunes sound like. But even if you don’t rate Rhianna’s music you really can’t help but wave your arms in the air like you just do not care!

When an alien race called the Boov conquer earth and relocates the human population to the far corner of the world (you can imagine where that far flung place might be), all apart from Tip (Rhianna) who managed to hide from the aliens during the relocation process, a great friendship forms when Tip meets fugitive Boov Oh (Jim Parsons). We soon realise that Oh is not like his alien comrades and Oh realises that humans are not as simple as their leader has led them to believe and they form a great friendship and set out to find Tip’s mum (Jennifer Lopez). Along the way they get a little side tracked as they learn that the Boov’s enemies the Gorg are on their way to destroy earth which is all Oh’s fault…… maybe.

Running at 98 minutes this was a great film for ages 3 and up. The film isn’t scary even though aliens take over the earth (there was one moment when my 4 year old jumped) and it’s especially good for those who are learning and can understand emotion. With every Boov wearing their emotions all over their bodies as they change colour with how they feel which allows for some great moments around telling fibs and being ‘sad mad’.

Home official trailer

We really wanted to love this film and maybe our expectations were too high as it is a goodie but it was just lacking in a little……something. About an hour in my son was more interested in finding number 4 on the seats as the pace reduced but 10 minutes later and he was interested again. It wasn’t lacking any fun or one liners….. there are some great one liners that to be honest only a parent will like and probably use from now on – I will! When it looks like Oh may not keep his promise Tips face turns to anger and is met with ‘what is the purpose of your face?’ and Oh feels that ‘I do not fit in, I fit out’ – we all know how that feels…

This film is great for showing kids emotions and also about how people can’t be judged by the way they look – the Gorg, who are a bit scary to look at (SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT) are not anywhere near as scary as they seem and it turns out that they have a very good reason for following the Boov everywhere they go. Great for conversations around keeping promises, owning up to mistakes and not taking what isn’t yours.

Home is released on 20th March – go see it! All in all a good watch but just missing a little something….

I’ve heard Big Hero 6 being referred to as Frozen for boys. Why there has to be a gender differentiation I don’t know (that is a whole other blog post) but boy or girl Big Hero 6 has got to be the best film out of Walt Disney Studios in a long time. Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams and created by the team behind Frozen and Wreck it Ralph this action packed 102 minutes was not disappointing. My 4 year old was on the edge of his seat and at one point even got up and walked down the isle a little to be closer to the action.

The similarities to Frozen? Younger brother Hiro has his older brother taken away from him when he dies akin to how Elsa has her older sister taken away from her when Ana hides herself away from from the world. The obligatory group of friends help Hiro deal with the adventure he is thrown into as Elsa is by Olaf and Hans and the siblings are orphaned when their parents are in an accident, but that’s where the similarities end. There is no singing, but the soundtrack scored by Henry Jackman is Disney Epic, as you would expect and theme by Fall Out Boy adds to the greatness. The animation is right up there at the top and makes Frozen look bland in comparison.

An action-packed comedy, there is nothing more brilliant than an oversized inflatable huggable robot named Baymax, programmed to give top priority to human healthcare not wanting anyone to be hurt, embroiled in a superhero vs villain adventure full of chases, tight spaces and a teenage boy going through puberty. That in itself is enough to go see the film on but add the storyline, the emotion, watching 4 geeks, Baymax and Hiro turning into Superhero’s and then just add the names of Hiro’s friends and it gives you even more reason.

There are some themes to talk through with your child depending on their age. Death, losing someone, anger, revenge and why the bad man wanted to hurt the good guys are the main ones that my 4 year old asked about but it’s a fast paced colourful entertaining watch and for the likes of you and me it’s one that can be watched over and over again as many times as your child wants (with no songs to get stuck in your head). No jump in your seat moments that we noticed but there is a little fighting which comes with a superhero vs villain storyline but it’s ‘Disney fighting’ and the weapons are not your usual variety. My son wants to know if I can make him enough play dough that he can stick Daddy’s feet to the floor so he can’t walk anywhere.

Big Hero 6 Official Trailer

So would we rather watch Frozen or Big Hero 6 over and over again in our house? Big Hero 6 for sure!! I’ve already started planning the robot/superhero party for my sons next birthday and the cake will be pretty easy – big white robot, but then I guess that’s pretty similar to an Olaf cake it’s just that a Baymax will be a bit more epic.

The only reason I can think of which should stop you going to see Kingsman: The Secret Service is if you can’t get a babysitter (kids come before films obviously) In which case you either need to draft in some emergency childcare or rent and download this film as soon as it is available to do so because you don’t want to miss this one. It releases on Thursday (29th January) in the UK so start planning now.

Staring Colin Firth and directed by Matthew Vaughn you know it’s going to be brilliantly English but add Samuel L. Jackson to the mix and you have a film that crosses X-men with Lock Stock with an extra helping of humour. Basically my perfect film – action packed but lighthearted with twists to keep you on your toes.

With a star studded cast, Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton) who lives on a South London estate and finds himself drawn into the suit clad super-secret spy organisation headed by Arthur (Michael Caine) that his late father secretly worked for. Recruited as a trainee by Harry Hart (Colin Firth) he is flung into a very competitive training program. In the meantime tech genius villain Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) plans to solve the problem of climate change which seems tame but really isn’t when you get into the details.

Kingsman : The Secret Service Official trailer

I went into the cinema to see this film with very high expectations having been told how great it is and I wasn’t disappointed. There is enough fighting and gore to rival any Quentin Tarantino film but I can only describe these scenes as creatively artistic with colour and music used in the most ingenious way that you don’t seem to notice that someone has just had their throat slit and an axe lodged in their head.

Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) is a squeamish villain with a heart and a lisp that makes him hard to hate. He is actually lovable and his plan to solve global warming is obviously cruel (he is the villain, so is expected) but ingenious. His beautifully lethal side kick is the one to fear – I was glued to her every move as I sat munching popcorn.

You can’t help but like Eggsy (Taron Egerton) from the start even if he is heading for prison and is the stereotypical South London estate yob but he gives those yobs a good name and proves his worth over and over. Helped along by fatherly Harry Hart (Colin Firth), although you don’t want to get on the wrong side of him.

This film has enough edge of the seat moments – did you know how useful a shower pipe and a toilet u-bend can be in some situations? – and twists to keep you hooked but enough laughs to keep it light hearted. There are a couple of moments when you really feel for Eggsy’s baby sister and as a parent that knot in your stomach makes you want to watch through your hands just in case but not enough to leave any lasting can’t sleep thoughts. (or maybe that only happens to me if I see any child in horrendous situations?)

Running time is 1 hour 40 mins, add trailer time and depending on the showing times available at your local cinema you can have the kids in bed before you go and be back before the baby sitter starts to charge double time or gets board and starts trying on all your clothes or eats the full contents of your fridge.

A brilliant film with a brilliant cast, brilliant story line and brilliantly done. In a word Brilliant!
Go see it and then download it to keep, or buy the DVD.

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