In a dazzle of sound and color, the Goldie Blox and the Movie Machine app opens by leading the viewer through a brief backstory—introducing Goldie, her diverse group of friends, and their decision to become movie makers to save the town film festival—setting the stage for app users to become film makers themselves. The free app, which ties in with a movie making activity set which can be purchased for $30, allows users to make brief stop-motion movies. Providing numerous backdrops, pre-drawn cartoons which can be dropped in to scenes, a palette of colors and brushes for writing or drawing, and options for including one’s own photographs, the movie-making options are nearly endless.
Just as a recent New York Times Magazine cover story took on the matter of women directors, actors, and other film industry workers combating sexism in Hollywood, Goldie Blox and the Movie Machine seeks to empower girls as movie- makers by targeting them with this app. Rather than leaving it to the adults—or to the boys—girls are encouraged to see themselves as having not just the creative vision but also the practical know-how needed to create stop-motion short films. Successful in establishing a sense of being “girl-centered” without taking an easy, stereotypical route, the app is not excessively pink or lavender, and offers a variety of backdrops including underwater scenes, a city street, and a stage. Notably, it avoids offering such tired “girl” backgrounds as a ballet studio, fashion studio, or kitchen. This being said, it must be noted that it is “Goldie,” with her flowing blonde hair and upturned nose, who headlines this app, and not one of the “diverse group of friends in the backstory,” which CommonSense Media says “will inspire all kids to be creative problem-solvers.”
Despite this shortcoming, the app is mostly commendable. Though tied in with the Goldie Blox and the Movie Machine toy, this toy is not advertised on the app and never mentioned past the initial tutorial, where it is presented as completely optional. CommonSense media reviews the app favorably, suggesting 8 and older as an appropriate age range for app users. Indeed, since the app requires focus, manual dexterity, and the ability to see a project through from beginning to end in order to be really satisfying, the suggested 8+ age range is an appropriate one. The app is attractive, well-designed, and both easy and fun to use, encouraging creativity, technical know-how, and an understanding of how stop-motion film works.
– A. Smith