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Monthly Archives: November 2016

First Impressions on Pokémon Sun

Howdy ladies and gents, I’m back from the underground to give you my initial impressions on Pokémon Sun, one of the two new Pokémon games recently released for the Nintendo 3DS. Now the game’s been out in the US since last week whereas us here in the UK only got it a few days ago and I wanted to bring myself away from the game just long enough to share with you readers how I feel about the 7th generation of the main series Pokémon games.

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So how’s the game? Well it’s pretty darn good. Here’s the thing, I’m not gonna act like I’m blown away by this game, however there’s a lot of interesting updates and surprises here and there that make this game worth picking up especially for veteran players like myself. I consider Pokémon Sun like a new season in a long-running TV show with this new entry bringing the nostalgia and freshness at the same time.

My Main Thoughts

Pokémon Sun does a lot of cool things, with the new Alola region (influenced by Hawaiian islands) it presents you with a brand new opportunities for a different landscape an interesting sense of style, culture and atmosphere. And of course it changes a few things up with the story, game structure and most importantly the Pokémon themselves.

What I’ve really liked so far is how the core game mechanics are still the same; you run around battling and collecting Pokémon, fight Pokémon in the wild or in battles with trainers and you can assemble a unique crew of Pokémon and level them up. All that stuff I love and enjoy. But there are some newer elements that been brought to the table like:

  • The Interactivity: This game must have the most interactive NPCs in the series so far, most people have something important, funny and informative to say and story-wise I feel like the two previous generations beforehand, this game has characters that accompany you on your quest that feel like they have personality and tell you interesting things mainly relating to the connection between humans and Pokémon and the Alolan culture.
  • Change in Structure: So far I haven’t seen any gyms, instead you have island trials which are a welcomed change and while simple, its different and entertaining. Plus the way you advance from point A to B feels slightly different with the way you gain items and come across trainers, but maybe that’s just me.
  • Exploring: While the game prevents you from going off the main path if key story and character material is going on, you are allowed to look around and you are rewarded for exploring with items on the ground with some that are easy to find and some that are hidden. Also with the Alola region there’s some differences with the route structure, design of the towns and activities to pass time with whether you’re using taking pictures with the Pokémon Finder or messing around with the Festival Plaza, both of which I’ve gotten lost in for a while in the first 4-7 hours.
  • Pokémon Refresh: Basically this was Pokémon Amie from X & Y except expanded, I haven’t played X since 2013 or 2014 so I couldn’t tell you what’s different, but so far I really like Refresh. While its annoying when you accidentally hit your Pokémon instead of petting them, I do enjoy feeding, cleaning and petting my Pokémon. Your connection to them feels more intimate and some of the Pokémon animations are so cute and fun, plus the effects of your close connections really helps in battle when it comes to landing critical hits, evasion and avoiding status ailments.
  • Visual & Audio Presentation: The game looks great, the art and animation are the best the series has seen so far, and because of the varied/dynamic camera angles, you travel through this world seeing all of the beautiful detail from different angles, it feels cinematic and larger in scope than previous games. There’s also minor yet notable updates to Pokémon battle animations, attacks and environments too. Also the music is really good, while not as immediately impressive as X & Y, Sun’s soundtrack is probably the most culturally diverse in the series so far along with familiar-sounding songs too in the vein of generation 6 too, I’m really starting to enjoy some specific songs especially the Evolution music (that sound is beast!).

Up to this point I’m enjoying myself, this game feels a little more personal, versatile and different, while being more of the same that I’ve come to expect from the series. While Sun doesn’t haven’t that wow factor that X did when I started playing that in 2013, this game has easily stolen many hours away from me to the point where I feel bad for not playing it. I’ve literally just started to get lost in this game with all of the new features, level grinding and catching different Pokémon and trust that I spent around 8 hours just doing as little of the story as possible, I didn’t even pass the first trial around 11 and a half hours in! If I have some nitpicks about the game is that it is a little easy in terms of the difficulty, some Pokémon take a little longer than I expected to evolve and with the new Pokédex you’re told exactly where to go whereas in the old games you just found your own way forward, but that’s just the traditionalist in me haha. Honestly I can’t wait to see where this game goes and hopefully I’ll be playing it at least beyond Christmas.

So are you playing Pokémon Sun and Moon and if so 1) Which version do you have? And 2) Are you enjoying it? Be sure to comment below and I’ll see ya on the next blog post, laters! 😀

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Posted by on November 26, 2016 in Media, Video Games

 

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ONE PARAGRAPH REVIEW: Tower Heist

Howdy ladies and gents, time for another one paragraph review and today I’ll be talking about Tower Heist. Now I’ve been meaning to watch this film for a while because I missed in this the cinema due to its mixed reception, but over the years I’ve heard it wasn’t too bad so I decided to check it out and see what it was like.

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The plot can be summed up as the following: “The plot follows a group of employees of an exclusive apartment building who lose their pensions in the Ponzi scheme of a Wall Street businessman. So the group enlist the aid of criminal, a businessman and another employee of the apartment building, to break into the businessman’s apartment and steal back their money while avoiding the FBI agent in charge of his case.” I thought Tower Heist was a fun little film, I’ve always enjoyed a heist film and the fact that it was mixed with comedy was an added bonus. I liked the story, it was humourous but a enough heart so you cared about most of the key characters and their motivations. The pacing was swift, the action set pieces were good and while the humour wasn’t the funniest material, there were a good few moments that made me laugh. The plot wasn’t what I expected and while it hit some familiar beats that I’ve seen in films like this before, there was enough unique and unexpected aspects that made it worth a watch. The cast was all really solid too, I really enjoyed Michael Peña as Enrique, that dude is just naturally charismatic and funny, also Casey Affleck is someone I don’t think I’ve seen in a comedy before so I was pleasantly surprised at his performance as Charlie. Gabourey Sidibe was pretty funny as Odessa despite the questionable accent, Alan Alda was also good as Arthur Shaw and Téa Leoni as Claire Denham was great as she was very serious and by-the-book, but also sweet and funny. But the real stars of this film were Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy as Slide and Matthew Broderick as Josh Kovaks, Slide and Mr. Fitzhugh. Stiller is normally fun to watch and he brought a lot of charm and humour to this film, Murphy was also really great in this film, he had all of the key elements that make him so funny and magnetic as a comedic actor and this was the best film I’ve seen from him in a while and then there’s Broderick who I havent seen in many films in recent years, but here he was so funny because of his character’s cowardice and weak yet likeable persona. In conclusion Tower Heist was a good time and I’m glad that I watched it, the humour, action and music was solid and I would recommend it.

So have you seen Tower Heist and if so what do you think of it? Be sure to leave your thoughts on the comments below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2016 in Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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ONE PARAGRAPH REVIEW: Arrival

Howdy ladies and gents, time for another one paragraph review and today I’ll be talking about Arrival. Now this is a film I’ve heard a great deal about from film festivals and considering that it’s the next big film from Denis Villeneuve, there was a lot of hype surrounding it. All I’ve seen is glowing reviews for this left, right and center, so is it good or not? Well read on and find out!

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The plot can be summed up as the following: “A linguist is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications.Arrival is an interesting film, it takes a very different approach to the alien invading earth format that we’ve seen in recent years and instead goes for a more methodical, psychological and dramatic style instead. What I appreciate about this plot was how well-thought out it was, it was incredibly smart, insightful, dramatic and had all of the key elements of mystery intrigue that comes with really good sci-fi films. Not only were the aliens handled incredibly well, but also the humans and their reaction to the invasion. The overall film has a great sense of realism and logic, and the tension and suspense is handled well throughout the film. It is just the third act when a major revelation gets revealed that changed my perspective on the film completely and it is not that it wasn’t impressive, it was really cool and inventive, however, it kind of took away from the realism of the film and came out of nowhere in a way. When it comes to the cast they were all really good, Amy Adams was really good as Dr. Louise Banks, this kind of role required a very strong performance and Adams gave it in spades, while Jeremy Renner was equally impressive as Ian Donnelly, and the both of them have really good chemistry together, Forest Whitaker was also good as Colonel Weber,  while Michael Stuhlbarg continues to impress me from role to role as Agent Halpern, and Tzi Ma (who I remember from a brief appearance in the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) was good as General Shang too. Visually the film looks really great with some awesome cinematography and visual effects, and the film score from Jóhann Jóhannsson is well-suited to the action on-screen with an eery, atmospheric and subtly disturbing vibe, but with some moments of beauty and drama too. In conclusion Arrival was a pretty fascinating experience in the cinema that I think a lot of fans of sci-fi will enjoy, the film’s not for everyone and the pacing will definitely be on the slow side for a lot of audiences, but if you can get over that then you’ll have a good time.

So have you seen Arrival and if so what do you think of it? Is it “best of the year” material or not? Be sure to leave your thoughts on the comments below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2016 in Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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TAKE TWO! Begin Again

Howdy ladies and gents and welcome to a new series I’ve been wanting to try out on this blog for a little while entitled “TAKE TWO!” where I take a look a film I haven’t seen for a while and see if it still holds up, and today’s choice is Begin Again.

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Now for those not aware, Begin Again was this delightful little film from 2014, musical focused drama where the two main characters played by Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo both from two different areas of the music industry team up to create a unique album recorded in public locations all over New York City. When I saw it in the cinema I really liked it, I was pleasantly surprised as wasn’t sure what to expect but mainly wanted to check it out because of the reviews and Mark Ruffalo’s casting, but it was one of my favourite films of that year. So when I watched Sing Street not too long ago, I wanted to rewatch this film to see how it compared to director John Carney’s latest film, but also see if the story, characters, music and enjoyment level held up. And you know what? It does!

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One of the reasons I loved the film before and now is because its suck a feel-good film, and while there’s a focus on the drama and heartache, there is so much happiness, humour and joy that shines through the story, characters and music. What I liked about the story that is that its heartfelt and covered relatable issues like love and loss, the highs and lows of life, taking chances, forging new connections and following your dreams in the face of adversity. I also love the cast, everyone involved does a great job of making you care about these characters, you invest them and see their talent, strengths and flaws, unique qualities and personal drama and they work really well just as individual but also together because that’s where you’ll get a lot of enjoyment in this film. If you had told me back in my teens that I’d ever enjoy a film with Keira Knightley in it then I’d say you’re insane, but here she surprised me a lot, she was tolerable and dare I say likeable and I enjoyed her performance a lot. But then there’s Mark Ruffalo who was just incredible, he was very versatile, charming, charismatic and fun. This was I think the first film that introduced me to Hailee Steinfeld and she was really good too, I mean everyone’s great from Mos Def to Catherine Keener and CeeLo Green and James Corden were especially fun too. But I also have to mention Adam Levine, mate, I LOVE that dude’s voice, have done since the Maroon 5 days back in 2004. And even though I’m not overly keen on his band’s sound these days, his performance in this film reminds me of why I fell in love with his voice way back when as he still sounds incredible.

But on top of all that you have the music, and that is the soul of this film. This film really is about the music. Carney does a great job of making the music in this film, whether it is original or well-known, an integral and enjoyable part of this film. It feels like a celebration of music and makes you appreciate the art of creating music from the lyrical content to the creation of new sounds to way it can affect people emotionally. The use of popular artists like Stevie Wonder, The Walls and Frank Sinatra is great and further illustrates the film’s appreciation of music and its varied sounds, but the original songs are also great too, they quite varied, but are also catchy, personal, beautiful, joyful and some can even an emotional response from you too (I know it did for me). Even though a lot of this music isn’t my usual cup of tea, because of the way it’s presented in the story and the emotional content that’s tied to the musicians as they play, there’s a deeper level of appreciation for the songs, plus it also helps that the songs are wonderfully crafted and feature really good instrumentation as well as vocals. All of the songs have a sense of beauty, depth, wonder and emotion which you can hear in the lyrics and instruments. “Lost Stars” whether you’re talking about the Knightley or Levine version, there’s something about that song that gets me right in the soul every time I hear it, the same rule applies to “Like a Fool” which just hurts me when I hear those lyrics, but it’s so good at the same time. But then you have the sound of pure happiness with “Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home (Roof Top Mix)” which sounds and feels SO good, and just seeing such a varied amount of people come together to create such a great sound in a unique setting makes me so elated that its hard to describe.

So yeah if you couldn’t tell already I really enjoyed Begin Again and it definitely falls into the department of films I can watch over and over and never be bored with and if you haven’t seen it I imply you to do so because it is really fun and the music is great. And if you’ve seen the film already let me know what you thought of it in the comments below, until next time, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2016 in Film Reviews, Music, Reviews

 

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What I’m Currently Watching #29

Howdy ladies and gents, and welcome to What I’m Currently Watching where I give you a tiny update on what TV-based stuff I’m watching and give mini reviews/impressions on them. This is the 29th week, and I have to apologise for not being around last week but work got messy, anyway I’ve got a good few shows to cover but it’ll be less than most of the show’s that I’ve watched recently. With that out of the way let’s talk about some TV! 😀 Oh and careful for spoilers…

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 4) “The Good Samaritan”

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AoS continues to deliver some really good TV as we dive deeper into this season’s main plots involving Ghost Rider, the true mystery surrounding the scientists using the Darkhold and the power struggle between Jeffrey Mace and our heroes at SHIELD. I loved that we finally got to see the backstory about not only how Robbie and Gabe got into the accident that left Gabe without the use of his legs, but also find how Robbie got his powers and holy crap was that one heck of a reveal. While not specifically mentioned by name, it pretty much looked like Johnny Blaze was the one who gave Robbie his abilities and I couldn’t help but get really giddy about it, to have what looks like the classic Rider in the MCU was quite a wonderful revelation and I hope this isn’t the last time we see him in this season or on another TV show. This backstory also allowed us to see the guilt Robbie carries with him, but also allowed him to tell Gabe the truth (which he wasn’t too keen on at all). I like how everything is connected like how the Lacos who attacked Robbie and Gabe were because of Joseph trying to stop Eli’s work with the Darkhold or how the Darkhold not only had ties to Agent Carter with Roxxon and Zero Matter. Seems like the knowledge from the Darkhold has corrupted everyone that’s read it including Eli who we learn was the one who actually caused the creation of the ghosts and now has powers of his own too. Plus it was interesting to see Jeffrey use his authority as director to attempt to take in Daisy and Robbie, this definitely created friction between him and our team especially Coulson, and I liked how Jeffrey was no fool and knew about the secret spot where Robbie and Daisy were being held. But to then see Ghost Rider not only break out of the cell, but then see him fight and almost knock out Jeffrey was badass! Ghost Rider don’t play around. All I’m curious about now is 1) Where Simmons was sent off to and what she’ll find. 2) What Senator Nadeer will do once she finds out what happened with Mace’s failure to stop Robbie/Ghost Rider. And 3) How will Robbie and Gabe’s relationship advance in the future now that the truth is out, something tells me Gabe will be Robbie’s tether to his human form when he gets lost in the Rider’s anger.

The Flash (Season 3) “Monster”

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This week’s episode of The Flash was pretty decent, not great, but certainly had some good and memorable moments. There were a lot of things of note so let’s go through them point by point. Firstly there’s the new Harrison Wells who is funny, charismatic and totally different from the previous incarnations and he’s a little weird and doesn’t completely click with the Flash team, but to later find out he’s not smart and just an ideas man was surprising, but also quite funny too so I’m curious to see where his story goes. 2) Finally seeing Caitlin explore the nature of her abilities and turning to her mother for help gave us some pretty interesting results learning more about Caitlin’s complicated family history, and seeing a bit of her Killer Frost side when she froze that guy’s arm, and then learning that her power become permanent the more she uses it. 3) Seeing Julian at the forefront of the action with the main plot and then finally change his mind about Barry/Flash and open up about his past was nice and its cool to have him finally bury the beef with Barry and become friendly.

Star Wars Rebels (Season 3) “Imperial Supercommandos”

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To put it simply, this week’s episode of Rebels was awesome, I really enjoyed this episode. Even though it didn’t connect to the main storyline of season 3 with Thrawn, Maul and the Empire, it was still a really good episode because of the story and character development. So this was another episode that focused on Sabine and the Mandalorians which was great because as a casual fan I’ve only heard about how cool Mandalorians are, so when I see episodes focused on Sabine’s race, backstory and interactions with other Mandalorians I find it fascinating, insightful and just really good material for Rebels. It was great to see Fenn Rau’s arc in this episode from being a man who has no interest in joining the rebel alliance, to wanting to join after seeing the strength and loyalty of Sabine. Also Gar Saxon was a really great threat for our heroes to overcome, and I love that he was left alive, I hope returns later on in this season. I also love these Sabine and Ezra missions, they are a nice pairing because of their not only their skills but their personality differences too. As usual this show’s presentation was on-point, visually the show’s stunning with its use of colour, lighting and overall detail and feels miles ahead of Rebels season 1 and the music was also really good and I definitely got some John Williams prequel vibes (which is a good thing in my book but I feel like those film scores are  bit underappreciated). If I had one negative to put against this episode it would be the handling of Ezra’s abilities. Just at the start of the season we saw that this dude has gotten a heck of a lot stronger and more dangerous, so how comes in this episode he felt so weak and useful as season 2? One could argue that he’s weaker/back to normal because since he’s no longer using the Sith Holocron and tapping into the dark side or the people behind the show wanted to power him down so that the Imperial Mandalorians would be more of a threat, either way it felt inconsistent with what’s come before and I felt like Ezra could have done more considering how far he’s come since last season.

Well that’s what I’ve been watching. So have you seen or plan to watch any of these shows? If you have any thoughts be sure to drop a comment below and let me know what TV shows you’re currently watching  too. Until next time, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2016 in Reviews, TV Reviews

 

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PODCAST: Film Focus Episode 19 – Doctor Strange Review

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Howdy ladies and gents of the internet, as some of you may have seen, back in April I started a film podcast entitled Film Focus and on this podcast I talk about various topics in film and reviews as well. After such a long time off, I’ve come back from my hiatus to review the latest Marvel film, Doctor Strange.

Anyway here’s the 19th episode:

Even though I’ve done a written review, I had to get the podcast back online and talk about this film because even though I believe I was able to convey my feelings on the film in that review, I wanted do an episode where I could talk about this film so people could get a better sense of my excitement and expand upon or add some points that was in my written review.

As I mentioned before in each episode I’ll cover a different topic and since I don’t have much in the way of listeners or promotion, I’m here to spread the word about my podcast. 🙂

You can find my main site on Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/film_focus

Or if you’re on iTunes subscribe and rate me on there: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/film-focus/id1114233892?mt=2

So if you have some spare time on your hands and would like to listen to the ramblings of a passionate/strange man then please check it out, and share it with your friends if you can. Also you have any feedback or if you’d be interested in joining on future episodes be sure to let me know, until next time, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2016 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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