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EPIC REVIEW: Incredibles 2 (Audio Edition)

Howdy ladies and gents of the internet, how are you all doing? It is time for another film review and today I will be giving you my thoughts on the long-awaited animated sequel; Incredibles 2 via my Film Focus.

I literally saw this film yesterday morning at the earliest screening and I was thinking about doing a written review, but I felt like an audio review would be best. So yeah please enjoy the sounds of me talking about this film.

Anyway here’s the review:

So what did you think of Incredibles 2? Did you like it more or less or the same as the previous film? Whatever your thought are be sure to drop them in the comment section below and I’ll see you on the review, laters! 😀

Also check out my podcast 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

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2018 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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Begin Again Review

Howdy people of the internet, today I return with my review for the film Begin Again. Now I had no intention of watching this film until my auntie told me that she really liked it, so I decided to give it a chance and saw it on Thursday. So what did I think of it? Well read on and find out!

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When it comes to the story it goes like this:

“Gretta and her long-time boyfriend Dave are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan, a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City.”

The story on display here is a very good one that is delightful, heartfelt and engaging throughout. While the film is primarily about people and their relationships with music it is more than just that. It feels like a film that is celebrating music in general, like its emotional powers, the in which it connects us and the way it can change the mood or atmosphere of any place depending on what music is being played. You can tell that the filmmakers are fans of music as there is a great sense of fun and playfulness, but also a level of realism and insight into the ups and downs of making it in the industry as a successful musician. Also thankfully I love how the film didn’t fall into the trap of having a generic love story approach with the main characters too.

On Location For "Can A Song Save Your Life?"

As for the cast they were all really good and were a joy to watch. Let’s start with Keira Knightley as Gretta. Normally I can’t stand Knightley, it is something about her face that just puts me off and in general the roles she plays are never that engaging or fun, but in this film she was actually tolerable. This is the first film I can actually stand her character in because her character, Gretta is just a normal human being who has dreams and aspirations but is also fragile and has experienced heartbreak. She’s headstrong, smart and surprisingly cool. And then there’s Mark Ruffalo who is in top form as Dan Mulligan. This is a man who has vision, he knows music and has had massive success in the past, however he isn’t in tune with what is going on in the music business today, he’s a bit of drunk and has issues with his ex-wife and distant daughter. He does come across as a bit pretentious but he is also very passionate and likes to take chances on things that he thinks will work. Together Knightley and Ruffalo have amazing chemistry together, they seem totally natural and fun together like they’ve been friends for ages and it makes for some very special and lovely moments on-screen.

Adam Levine as Dave Kohl, Gretta’s ex-boyfriend is also pretty good, to a degree I almost didn’t recognize him throughout the film because he didn’t seem like his ‘Maroon 5 front man’ kind of self, but I guess that’s a good thing. His acting was serviceable and as usual his singing is impeccable and it was only at those moments when I remembered him as the main guy from Maroon 5. James Corden as  was surprisingly nice and tolerable Steve, Gretta’s best friend. Now I don’t hate Corden but sometimes I do find him to be a bit insufferable, however here he was actually fun and did get me smiling on occasion because of his character’s dialogue. Hailee Steinfeld does well as Dan’s daughter, Violet Mulligan and the appearance from CeeLo Green as Trouble Gum was totally cool as he was just cool, quirky and hilarious as he seems in real life. And lastly both Mos Def as Saul and Catherine Keener as Miriam brought a lot of interesting elements to this film as their respective characters.

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And then there’s the soundtrack which features a collection of established music and original material by Gregg Alexander and holy man, it is amazing. Not since Inside Llewyn Davis have I been this engaged with the audio side of a film. Genre-wise while this film contains various types of songs from Stevie Wonder to Frank Sinatra, the original pieces of music are more a little more radio friendly. I’m not too good with identifying certain genres of music but a lot of this material had a pop/funk/folk kind of feel as separate and crossed over songs and it is the way in which it is executed, it sounds so good. Now while the music that style of music that Gretta does is not really my kind of jam normally, here in this film I really liked it and at several points during the film I kept saying to myself, “I’m gonna have to get the soundtrack for this film.” Honestly, it is that good.

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In conclusion Begin Again is a smart, realistic and heartfelt film that I had a better time with than I ever could have imagined. This is just a feel-good film with some really good acting, absolutely amazing music and beautiful sense of pride. I would recommend it purely based on how fun it is, even if you’re a bit sceptical, give it a try.

Rating: 8.5/10

So have you seen Begin Again and if so what did you think of it? Be sure to leave your comments below and I’ll see ya on the next film review. Laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2014 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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The Croods Review

Okay time to review a film I have had my eye for a while, the latest animated film form DreamWorks, The Croods. Now it’s come to my attention in recent years that DreamWorks have finally become a force to stand up against the animation powerhouse that is Pixar. Their work with Kung-Fu Panda 2, Puss In Boots and more recently Rise of the Guardians proves that they can deliver both good stories, characters and impressive visuals too. So when I saw the trailer for this film I was unsure about it at first, but then given DreamWorks’ recent track record it would have to be worth a watch right? So how’s the film? Read on to find out.

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So the story of the film involved The Croods, a cavemen family who have survived their lives by abiding by rules, living in fear and never leaving their cave to avoid danger. Though the eldest daughter Eep yearns for more and wants to be adventurous and free much to the annoyance of her father. After their cave is destroyed by the change in the Earth’s tectonic plates, the Croods must venture into unfamiliar territory and trek through this new, fantastical world with the help of an inventive boy by the name of Guy.

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I thought the story was good, the themes of family, change and adapting to survive was believable, relatable and understandable. Though for all of its unique aspects the plot was a bit basic and comes with a lot of the standard plot elements that are associated with children’s animated films. It does go down the Pixar route of having an emotional message implanted in the film and while it works well for Pixar, it’s not quite as impressive here.

When it comes to characters they are all pretty unique, interesting and has their own quirks. So let’s start with Nicolas Cage as Grug Crood, he was almost unrecognizable in voice as the head of the family who means well for his family, but is overprotective and fears change. His character was a little annoying due to his constant need to control all situations, but I could comprehend why he was like that. Emma Stone as Eep Crood was probably the most relatable character as the cavegirl who’s filled with curiosity and a desire for adventure. Stone did will to convey her emotions in this role and while her constant need for adventure was a little annoying at times her character was nice overall. And then there’s Ryan Reynolds as Guy, he’s like a smarter, more advanced caveboy who comes up with ideas and invents things. He’s also accompanied by a sloth called Belt which keeps his trousers up and provides moments of humour (which don’t always work by the way). Guy is also Eep’s love interest; both of them have interesting chemistry together and nice to see it build. Reynolds was actually likeable in this film providing some funny scenes especially when he screams, oh and one other thing to note about him the fact that his strength is nowhere as strong as the Croods which leads to some funny scenes.

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As for the rest of the cast they all do good jobs including Catherine Keener as Ugga Crood (Grug’s wife), Clark Duke as Thunk Crood (Grug and Ugga’s son), Cloris Leachman as Gran (mother-in-law of Grug and the mother of Ugga, Chris Sanders as Belt, (Guy’s pet sloth), Randy Thom as Sandy Crood, (Grug and Ugga’s ferocious baby daughter). When it came to characters my favourites were definitely Eep, Guy and Sandy.

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When it comes to the presentation of The Croods in this department is was flawless! The CGI was amazing and is possibly the best I’ve seen from DreamWorks so far (next to Rise of the Guardians). Thanks to the prehistoric setting, natural disasters and changes in location it made for a varied, colourful and fantastic-looking film. The level of detail in the locations, creatures and human characters was lovely. So many of the scenes and sequences were well crafted and have that great blend between the cartoon-like art style and realism. One particular sequence in the beginning really stands out; it was really energetic, loud, bombastic and athletic accompanied by some great music to match the action on-screen. The slick nature of the animation and the use of motion blur was stupidly impressive. Also the soundtrack by Alan Silvestri was nice and had some really memorable pieces near the beginning of the film and near the end too.

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So to conclude The Croods was good a good and solid animated film for all the family. However the film was not nearly as great as I’d hoped, the story was pretty basic and generic but from an animation perspective it was spectacular! I know DreamWorks can do better because I’ve seen it in the past. If you’re not too fussed about the specifics of an animated film then check out The Croods, its good, just not amazing.

Rating: 6.5/10 (A fantastic-looking film but it’s hampered by an okay story)

So what did you think of The Croods? Did you love it, hate it or just think it was alright? Whatever your thoughts are drop them below and I’ll see you on the next review yo! 😀

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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