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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review (Spoiler-Free)

Howdy ladies and gents, time for a new film review and today I’m going to be talking about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the long-awaited sequel from Marvel Studios. Now back in 2014 I loved Guardians of the Galaxy, it was an unexpected surprise of that summer and so creating a sequel that would equal or exceed the previous film was going to be a mammoth task. But anyway I saw the film yesterday/this morning as part of a double bill at Cineworld and now I’m reading to pass judgement!

The story can be summed up as the following:

“The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand.”

At this point in time I’m finding it a tad difficult to formulate my thoughts into works. Guardians Vol. 2 is an interesting beast, it is really good and an overall fun adventure, however it’s also uneven and not as cohesive as the first film. So depending on how you felt about Guardians 1, this film will be more of what you enjoyed before or be a disappointment.

If the story does one thing well it is covering the main theme of family as this film has a strong emphasis on the ties between Peter Quill and his father, Gamora and Nebula, and of course the Guardians team themselves. This film shows what it means to be a family, whether you’re blood related, adopted or have a strong connection to someone and we also see the highs and lows of those relationships. Another strong element was the fact that the story also got quite emotional and dramatic and I didn’t expect that, but it was a welcome surprise. As for the humour, one the first film’s strongest points, it was a little hit or miss, some of the jokes were amazing and other didn’t land as well, plus they were coming a little too frequently for my liking, so anyone annoyed with the frequent humour in Marvel films won’t be a fan of this film. And lastly for the first time in a while Guardians Vol. 2 feels like a standalone adventure with ties to other films or the larger MCU being next to non-existent and there not being any major set up for future films. Now of course there is some set up for a sequel and some great references to the comics, but otherwise this was an isolated film, so anyone hoping for MCU connections definitely be disappointed.

As for the cast they were all very good, though some stood out more so than others. Chris Pratt is a standout as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, he has not only a great sense of timing for his humour but he’s incredibly engaging and has good dramatic moments too. Zoe Saldana was solid as Gamora, she had some good moments with Peter and Nebula, but like the last film I wish I had seen more from her. Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer like the last film had some great comedic moments, and some unexpected subtle dramatic material too, some of his jokes didn’t land but otherwise, good stuff. Baby Groot was adorable, hilarious and used well throughout, and Rocket Raccoon had some really solid moments in this film and like before, Bradley Cooper’s voice work was really great. Other returning cast members including Karen Gillan as Nebula and Michael Rooker as Yondu do really well, Nebula got a lot of additional story material that really enhanced her as a character and while Gillan’s performance was a little overdone at points I still liked her, oh and Rooker was incredible as Yondu having more dramatic and hilarious material than before and I loved the character. As for the new cast members Kurt Russell did well as Star Lord’s dad Ego, I thought he brought a dramatic sense of flair, personality and humour to this role and his scenes with Peter was great. Pom Klementieff as Mantis was so cute and funny, I liked her abilities and interactions with the guardians team and Elizabeth Debicki was interesting as Ayesha, she had some funny scenes, but other times it was a little awkward. I also appreciated the appearances from Sean Gunn, Laura Haddock and Sylvester Stallone.

When it comes to the presentation it was really solid. Visually like the previous film, we are treated to a gorgeous film with a vivid colour scheme, good cinematography, great artistic direction, really detailed CGI and action sequences that were fast, ferocious, inventive and fun to watch. The soundtrack for this film was pretty good, though not as recognisable and as varied as the previous film, and Tyler Bates returns for the film score and he crafts some really nice music, some returning themes and some new material that works well with the on-screen action.

So to conclude Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a solid sequel, it did well to advance the story of the characters, had good action, humour and heart. However, the uneven story, misuse of certain characters and a not so solid humour prevent it from being the amazing sequel I thought it could be. And so how would one compare this film to the other MCU films. Well as a sequel I’d say it’s better than the worst two films, Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World, and Iron Man 3, so I’d say it’s sort of on the same level as Age of Ultron, okay now here me out before you verbally attack me. Age of Ultron is a film I that had a lot of great elements within but overall wasn’t as consistent and enjoyable as the previous film and I felt a similar way about this film, while not as disappointing, I felt like this film wasn’t as straightforward or consistent as the last adventure, but it’s still worth a watch.

So have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and if so what did you think of it? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! 😀

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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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ONE PARAGRAPH REVIEW: Fire Twister

Howdy ladies and gents, time for a super quick review and while scanning Amazon Video I saw this film entitled Fire Twister, a you know with a title like that I had to check it out. And good gravy the film lived up to my expectations, it is so bad that it has to be seen to be believed. So Fire Twister is basically about a man-made fire tornado born out of an explosion which causes a lot of death and destruction, and so it comes down to a group of unlikely heroes lead by an ex-fire fighter to combat this threat. There’s mystery, intrigue, betrayal and lot of more. So firstly this film does not make a lot of sense, there are a lot of rules of that are just thrown out the window when it comes to physics and the logic of the characters. The way the story pans out features some of the most foolish, illogical and downright absurd material I’ve seen in film so far. The tries to be serious and dramatic with some of the backstory, conspiracy and certain character deaths that are supposed to carry weight, but it’s just dumb and meaningless and because of a poor script and bad acting it never becomes anything more than something you can laugh at or sigh at. And it doesn’t help that the characters are basic archetypes of people you’ve seen before, you have the generic hero, coward, smart guy, evil henchman and the bad guy operating from the background among others. There’s also these weird/crazy religious people included, an over-the-top tv reporter and terrible extras who have terrible reaction time. When it comes to the visual effects as usual with these times of films the visual effects are pretty cheap-looking, they don’t mesh well with the live-action footage and the continuity between scenes where there’s meant to be visual effects just isn’t there. But one of my favourite parts of this film is the kills, they are all memorable especially the first and last as they are so stupid and hilarious that they can’t be forgotten. Oh and how can I not talk about the fire twister itself, it was absurdly brilliant. The main question people will be asking is how can anyone not see this flaming inferno? It is a huge fiery tornado burning everything, it can’t be that hard to miss and yet several characters including the main cast seem to miss it until its right in their faces. The next thing you’ll question is the damage the twister can do, on occasions it can destroy whole areas of land, make houses explode and sucks people into their doom, and yet other times it can barely cook people, it can suck up cars and yet they don’t explode? And then you’ll wonder if this thing is sentient as the tornado seems to follow people randomly and can teleport from one spot to the next, I mean it’ll be right behind people one moment and then far away the next. In conclusion Fire Twister is terrible, but so, so funny, it is probably better to watch while drunk if you’re with friends but if you’re into cheesy/bad films that make you laugh check this one out. 😀

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2017 in Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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QUICK REVIEW: The Belko Experiment

Howdy ladies and gents and today I’m going to be reviewing The Belko Experiment, a film I’ve been looking forward to since I heard of its announcement with James Gunn writing and producing it. Now if you’ve seen the trailers for this film you’ve already decided if you’re going to watch it or not, for me the trailers were intriguing but I was mainly interested in the concept and Jame Gunn’s involvement and after seeing the film last night I’m ready to pass judgement.

The plot can be summed up as the following: “In a twisted social experiment, 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogotá, Colombia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed.” What I liked about this film was that there was a little more to the story beyond what was shown in the trailers, it gave a little more context as to why these characters are in this situation, why everyone in this company has chips implanted in their heads and has some interesting revelations that get revealed as towards the third act. I thought the film had a good mix of violence, humour, drama and a look into what humans are capable of when forced into life or death situations. The concept of having people being forced into killing each other isn’t new, anything from Battle Royale to the recent The Hunger Games films have depicted this in film and while this film had its unique elements, some of the story elements you could predict before they happened. Plus I feel like the film could have gone a little deeper with the mystery and surprises, also some of the humour felt misplaced in certain scenes. Other than those nitpicks I was entertained.

With the cast they all did fine, the film had its primary main cast of around 5 or so people and everyone else were secondary to background people with varying levels of significance. I just wish there was more ambiguity about who was the main character and had more screen time spread across some of the other characters to flesh them out too. With that in mind I’ll just touch upon a few people; John Gallagher Jr. as Mike Milch was  little annoying to watch because of his questionable moral and ethical choices, but by the end of the film I liked him more, Tony Goldwyn as Barry Norris was one of my favourite people, while not an entirely likeable character he had a certain point of view that made him interesting to watch. Adria Arjona as pretty good as Leandra Jerez and so was Melonie Diaz who had some notable scenes as Dany Wilkins, and John C. McGinley as Wendell Dukes, damn, he had one hell of a memorable performance and he played his role well. Also the appearances of Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn were solid, but I definitely enjoyed Gunn’s performance more. As for the action scenes were pretty good with some solid, creative and all round brutal deaths, and I gotta give a shout out to the special effects team for the make-up on the characters during some of those kills as it looked pretty realistic, oh and the film score by Tyler Bates was pretty good too. So to conclude The Belko Experiment was a strange, over-the-top and violent session with a few issues with the story and characters, but heck I had fun with this one and I reckon if you’re a fan of Gunn’s work you’ll enjoy it too.

So have you seen The Belko Experiment 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 April 22, 2017 in Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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The Fate of the Furious Review (Audio Edition)

Howdy ladies and gents, time for another film review and today we’ll be talking about another one of the big films of 2017; Fast & Furious 8 aka The Fate of the Furious… However this time it’ll be in audio form via my podcast, Film Focus!

Check it out below:

This episode went out last Saturday and I was meant to post about it on my blog last week, however I got a little too busy so I had to wait until now. I probably won’t do a written review so this will be the only review I do for this film, hopefully you find it informative and fun to listen to as it allows me to express my feelings on a film to the highest degree. Also if you have any feedback or suggestions I welcome them so be sure to holla at me in the comments section.

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 April 21, 2017 in Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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QUICK THOUGHTS: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Teaser Trailer

Howdy ladies and gents, how’s it going? So yesterday something of significance happened as we finally got to see the first trailer for Star Wars Episode VIII also known as Star Wars: The Last Jedi. So let’s waste no time and talk about that trailer!

Check out the trailer below:

So my initial impressions were this, “I am intrigued, wasn’t blown away, but so far so good.” Now I’ve seen from some people online that they’ve found the teaser disappointing or underwhelming and to a degree I can understand considering that 1) It’s the next Star Wars film we’re talking about, so people have high expectations and want to see something special. And 2) Some studios have become a little more open to revealing material for their teaser trailers with results varying from a decent amount to too much. With The Last Jedi trailer it did what a proper teaser should; it gave you a vague yet interesting idea of the story and tone, a look at the actors involved and had some cool visuals and music without giving away any spoilers. This trailer was very in line with the first teaser for The Force Awakens where you got glimpses into the film with various scenes of characters, scenery and action scenes, this teaser was pretty similar, but had a little more weight and drama to it considering that it is not only a sequel to The Force Awakens but also has our first story material for Luke Skywalker since Return of the Jedi.

What I liked about this teaser was the tone, it was very dark, very ominous and mysterious with the use of music and visuals. It feels in line with what’s come with the last film, but things feel a little more dire, aggressive and uncertain and I love it! This feels like the First Order are coming back in full force to mess up the New Republic with the space battles, the explosion of Poe’s ship inside that hanger area, the cool shot of Kylo Ren and the quick scene of Captain Phasma and her troops. What’s even more captivating is Rey and seeing her feel the force and being trained by Luke with saber combat and so on. It seems like her training will be extensive, physical and psychological. But I’m also hyped to hear Luke speak, just hearing him say lines like “Breathe.” and “What do you feel?” Was nice, but what was very curious was that final line about the Jedi needing to end. What does that mean? Does he mean he’s giving up being a Jedi himself or is he suggesting that the idea of the Jedi needs to be disbanded or reimagined? Or does it mean Luke’s going dark like some fans have feared? I doubt it’s the last one but its fun to speculate.

In the end I’m very intrigued and encouraged by the first footage of The Last Jedi, it looks like it will be a good time. December is too far away dammit and I need this film now!

So have you seen The Last Jedi trailer and if so what did you think of it? Are you hyped, curious or underwhelmed? Let me know in comments section below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2017 in Films, Media, Reviews

 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Jamiroquai – Automaton

Howdy ladies and gents, how’s it going? Today I’m doing a music review, yes, one of those! Its been almost 2 years since I reviewed Jack White’s Lazaretto album in 2015, but I knew I had to come back and talk about this album in particular. For those not aware, Jamiroquai are my favourite band of all time, I’ve been listening to their music since childhood and the wait for their 8th album, Automaton, has been the longest and most painful wait of any album in recent memory (other than Red Hot Chili Peppers’ The Getaway). So after listening to the album 3 times and finally getting free to blog I’m ready to review it!

Like I mentioned above, I’ve been jamming to Jamiroquai since childhood, probably around 1996 with the sounds of “Virtual Insanity“, “Cosmic Girl” and “Space Cowboy (Classic Radio Mix)” being my video into their sound. After that I had all of their main singles until 2004 and 2005 when I got The Return of the Space Cowboy and Dynamite and that’s when I really dove deep into their song and became a fan for life. Back in 2010 I really liked Rock Dust Light Star, I will admit it did take a few listens to truly appreciate some of the songs, but on the whole I thought it was solid. But after a while of hearing little to no updates as to when the next album would drop, especially after 2015, I thought I’d be waiting forever for something new. But thankfully 2017 was the year when Jamiroquai reemerged and I couldn’t be happier.

Now before we continue I just want to say as I always do, I’m no music buff, I just like the sound of music and like many people in the world I have an opinion. So don’t kill me if I don’t use the right technical jargon when I’m describing the music okay? Good, let’s continue.

So to start things off, Automaton is a damn good album, there’s no two ways about it. Jamiroquai have come back with a sound that is familiar, yet fresh and it has one hell of a presence. The best way to describe the sound of this album would be if Jamiroquai took the funk, disco and electronic sounds they’ve done in the past and mixed it in with some Daft Punk and this album would be the end result. It is not like the band have completely abandoned their acid jazz flare completely as there are increments that can be found throughout the album, but this album feels more like a follow-up to A Funk Odyssey with elements taken from Rock Dust Light Star too. Automaton has an eclectic set of songs and yet they all work in cohesion with each to create a wonderful listening experience which is fun, upbeat, heartfelt and groovy as hell.

The album begins with “Shake It On“, and it is good way to open the album with an upbeat and groovy song with a lovely chorus and has a mixture of electronic, funk and disco sounds. And then we have “Automaton“, the first single released from this album and I don’t care what some fans say, I love this song. Upon first listen it was a little strange with the flow of the music, distorted sound effects and modulated vocals of Jay during the verses, but once that chorus kicked in, the song had me. And since then the songs only become more addictive with its futuristic electronic sound with a bit of that classic sound sprinkled in around 3:25. “Cloud 9” was the next single released from the album and good gravy is it a good one, unlike “Automaton” which rubbed some fans the wrong way, this song feels more in line with the sound that the band’s done before. It is a chilled out and very groovy kind of song that gets better with every listen, and part of the reason I like so much is it feels a little like a combination of Daft Punk and Justice. “Superfresh” is another nice track that has a marvelously crafted disco-like sound that opens well and has a lovely chorus too.

And there’s “Hot Property“, good gravy that song is awesome. The way the song starts up with that bass and main melody, it reminded me of “Supersonic“, from there you have a song with a catchy chorus, a lovely breakdown around 2.27  which switches perfectly back into the normal sound around 3.10, the song is great especially for dancing. Something About You” is an enchanting little song that’s chilled out and not as flashy as some of the other songs on the album, but it has a feel-good vibe, its relaxed and has the lovely Jay Kay vocals too. This was when I was really getting those Daft Punk vibes where I was reminded of songs like “Something About Us” and “Fragments in Time“, very different songs but sort of similar in feel. I also really enjoyed around 2.41 where the guitarist is definitely channelling that Nile Rodgers style of work, and the final minute or so of the song with whimsical music and wonderful vocals, its magical to me. Then there’s “Summer Girl“, on my first listen this became my favourite song on the album. It feels like a spiritual successor to the band’s free song “Smile” from 2011. It’s GORGEOUS, the way it flows, and perfectly captures not only the vibe of summer and that feeling of elation when you’re in a relationship, but also channels that perfect Jamiroquai song it is insane. This song  is pretty much perfection to my ears with the groovy music, incredible chorus and the blend of Jay Kay and the female backing vocalists works perfectly together. “Nights Out in the Jungle” is a song on my first listen I kind of liked, but on subsequent listens I’ve dug it more and more. I like the beat, the chorus is addictive and it has a subdued yet playful nature to it.

Dr Buzz” stood out a lot on my first listen just because it felt more story-driven, dramatic and atmospheric, and yet it is still incredible. There’s a melancholy and somber tone that I get from this song and yet there’s so much beauty to be found from the musical composition (shout outs to the saxophone and guitar work towards the end of the song), but there’s also the vocals which are amazing especially with the verses, and chorus. Then there’s “We Can Do It” which has a nice sound and vocals, but it is my least favourite song on the album just because it doesn’t really grab me like other tracks. “Vitamin” is a song that caught me off-guard with its crazy upbeat tempo, ferocity and intensely groovy sounds, and yet it got its hooks into me and I feel in love. It feels like a true transformation/transition of the Jamiroquai sound from the late 90’s to now with the new beats and classic instrumentation. And the album ends with “Carla“, a track that’s wonderful in its music composition, and has great vocals, but what makes the song so special is the fact that its tribute to Jay Kay’s daughter which can clearly be heard in the lyrics and its beautiful.

My favourite songs for this album is tough as the whole album is pretty much amazing, but if I had to narrow it down these would be my choices:

  • Automaton
  • Cloud 9
  • Superfresh
  • Hot Property (personal favourite)
  • Something About You (personal favourite)
  • Summer Girl (personal favourite)
  • Dr Buzz (personal favourite)
  • Vitamin (personal favourite)

In conclusion Jamiroquai’s Automaton is a fabulous album that gives you what you want as a fan of this band, but at the same time they deliver new sounds which you didn’t know you wanted until I hear them. The album is great to listen to if you want to dance or chill out, it’s just delightful and I’m SO happy that Jamiroquai are bringing the funk back. If you’re a fan you owe it to yourself to check this album out if you haven’t already, it is one delicious session! 😀

Rating: 9/10 (This is the sound you need in your system)

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Media, Music, Reviews

 

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PODCAST: Film Focus Episode 29 – Double Review: Power Rangers & Ghost in the Shell

Howdy ladies and gents of the internet, as some of you may have seen, last year I started a film podcast entitled Film Focus and on this podcast I talk about various topics in film and reviews as well on a biweekly basis. The latest episode (which was out last week) features a double review for Power Rangers and Ghost in the Shell.

Anyway here’s the episode 29:

Now I’ve already done reviews for Power Rangers and Ghost in the Shell but I had to do a podcast episode to allow my thoughts to be fully formed, plus I also have a mini review on Get Out included in there too so I would recommend this episode highly because it was another really fun episode to record.

Here’s the time codes for the specific reviews:

  1. Mini Get Out discussion 01:34
  2. Power Rangers 03:30
  3. Ghost in the Shell 19:36

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 April 8, 2017 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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