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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review

Good day to you ladies and gentlemen and Merry Christmas! I hope you’re having a great Christmas session, today I’m here to share with you my late thoughts on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker via my podcast Film Focus.

I actually saw this film the day after it released, but I just got caught up with work and the build up to Christmas that I forgot to post it on here haha. 😛 But yeah I guess it is better later than never right?  So on episode 94 of the podcast, I finally get to talk about another the last major release of 2019 that’s been on my radar for a while in the form of The Rise of Skywalker. Now after The Last Jedi came out, the Star Wars fandom has been thrown into chaos with such a crazy divide between those who loved and hated it. So with all that in mind, JJ Abrams and the other filmmakers had a difficult task to create a satisfying conclusion that would satisfy everyone. So is Rise of Skywalker a film good or not? Well, check out this spoiler-free review to find out.

Anyway here’s the review:

If you haven’t checked out my podcast before you can find it here: https://soundcloud.com/film_focus

So have you seen The Rise of Skywalker and if so what did you think of it? Was it everything you wanted or were you disappointed or are you somewhere in between? Drop your thoughts in the comments section below and I’ll see ya in the next review, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2019 in Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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EPIC REVIEW: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (NO SPOILERS)

Howdy ladies and gents, how’s it going? So yesterday night, after month and months of waiting I finally got to see the last of my most anticipated films of 2017; Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The amount of waiting I’ve had to endure in the lead up to this film’s release has been painful, with all the marketing, rumours and speculation about the story and characters, you almost had to jump off the internet to have a clean viewing experience. Luckily I avoided most spoilers and watched all 7 main series films and Rogue One in chronological order over the last 3 days in preparation which was fun. So with all that out of the way how was the film, well read on and find out!

So the story can be described as the following:

“Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.”

I don’t want to go into too much detail so I shall be brief. This was a really interesting chapter in the SW saga, one that had a lot more depth, intrigue and surprises than I expected, and I love the film for that. Rian Johnson confidently steps into this universe with a sense conviction, darkness, intelligence and style that is clearly his own if you know of his work and it shakes up this world in really compelling ways. This film definitely channels Empire Strikes Back in terms of the tone and certain story aspects, but it is its own beast. There are drama and emotion on a level I’ve not seen in this series for quite some time, but there’s also a sense of levity to balance things out when necessary. This was also the most thought-provoking film of the series to date, it is very psychological and causes you to think about certain things in a different light. I really enjoyed the themes of the past coming back to haunt you, feeling out of place, good and evil, and the moral and ethical shades of grey. There were also a lot of bold decisions made that I did not see coming which gave me joy, heart-pounding tension and plenty to think about. And finally, I loved how this film expanded the mythology of this universe with history and visual and verbal details that makes you look at what you know it in a different light.

As for the cast they were great, everyone in this film does a great job, whether they were main cast, secondary or just had cameos, everyone had a moment to shine. Firstly there’s Mark Hamill who was just wonderful as Luke Skywalker. This time Luke was crumpy, defeated, yet a knowledgeable and witty old man who had to deal with the mistakes of his past and deal with issues of the present via Rey and Hamill was just as captivating as ever, he had so many scene-stealing moments. Daisy Ridley as Rey was really good, I enjoyed seeing her learn about her powers, see her interact with Luke and search for answers about her past. Ridley’s very charming and engaging and has definitely improved in this role since the first film. Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa was great, Leia had a big part to play in this film and I loved it. I enjoyed seeing tough yet humorous demeanour and her perseverance in the face of adversity. Fisher had great moments individually and with others and at times I did feel like shedding a tear. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren was great, I’ve been a fan of this character since the previous film and here we get a character really wanting to prove his worth, but also find a sense of purpose and focus and Driver plays this role with flair and subtlety. John Boyega’s return as Finn was great, he still has a great sense of humour but is also has great dramatic moments, he has a lot of good moments and Boyega’s charisma shines through.

Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron was also impressive, I enjoyed seeing more of him in this film and seeing a different side to his character. Isaac certainly has a commanding presence and stands out whenever possible whether it be for dramatic or humorous purposes. Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke was good, it was nice to learn more about this guy considering the mystery surrounding him in the previous film. Snoke was sinister and intimidating and Serkis was captivating in the role. Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux was interesting, he had some good moments, also Anthony Daniels as C-3PO was just as fun as ever, Gwendoline Christie returned as Captain Phasma and definitely had a presence and Lupita Nyong’o had a great performance as Maz Kanata. Newcomers Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro do well as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo and DJ, the former had an interesting role to play and I enjoyed her performance a lot, and the latter was certainly not what I expected but he was a memorable character for sure. But the most memorable of the new characters was Kelly Marie Tran as Rose, from the time she’s introduced she’s smart, decisive and loveable and I really enjoyed her story arc and interaction with Finn.

When it comes to the presentation it was fabulous. Visually the film looked lovely. I paid extra attention to the cinematography and it looked like everything was painstakingly crafted with certain tracking shots, zooms, use of lighting and framing, everything felt like it had a purpose and was done to the highest degree possible. The space battles felt like a mix of The Force Awakens and Rogue One with its own interesting elements mixed in, certain chases sequences looked lovely and the lightsaber moments were wonderfully choreographed in a classic yet unexpected manner. The CGI was very detailed, clean and realistic, while the practical effects continue to impress me with how much these characters, creatures and robots can be make-up, animatronics and puppetry. Also, the film score from John Williams was awesome. The Force Awakens had good music, but wasn’t overly memorable, whereas this film had a score with a much stronger presence which enhanced every scene it was used in. The themes he introduced from the last film stand out even more and some of the new music he creates is wonderfully varied yet consistent with what’s come before.

In the end, The Last Jedi, was a good film, a really good film. It surprised me in many ways, it also met and exceeded my expectations in certain areas and while not everything in the story and the use of certain characters didn’t go the way I would have liked, the film was still thoroughly engaging and entertaining. After looking at some responses to the film online I know this film won’t be for everyone but I say give it a try.

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

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2017 in Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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QUICK REVIEW: The Revenant

So there’s been a lot of hype surrounding this film for many months especially with Alejandro G. Iñårritu’s filming in natural light and Leonardo DiCaprio’s hopes for an Oscar win too, and after this film came out last year in the US there was so much hype and positivity for the film. For me I’ve been wanting to see this for SO long and my hype levels were super high, and finally got to see it last night and I can pass judgement.

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The plot can be described as the following:

I have to mention before I continue that I hate watching films in the cinema at night, I tend to get tired and drift in and out of the film and I did during the middle of this film so there were a few plot details that I missed. With that in mind I did enjoy this story. This was a tale of survival, trial over adversity and revenge. There was a great deal of tension, drama, suffering and loss involved and it was handled with a great deal of care, style and bluntness. Some of the events that took place in this film are just insane, things got violent, dangerous and cruel at several points, and its mad to think of anyone actually enduring any of these events. This story was certainly intriguing, however, it didn’t unfold the way I expected and felt a little on the long side, now I hate to say that, but towards the middle the film kind of dragged and the story wasn’t as engaging as it was in the first and last act.

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As the cast, they were great. Firstly Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass was amazing, this character had to endure so much mentally and physically and DiCaprio really committed 110% to this role with the physicality and emotional material he had to work with. Not to be dismissed, Tom Hardy was excellent as John Fitzgerald, he was a character who had his own agenda and a mean personality and Hardy was really good in the role and I think this is his best performance so far. Domhnall Gleeson was also great as Captain Andrew Henry and Will Poulter as Jim Bridger had a bigger role than I expected and he was really impressive especially in the dramatic moments.

Presentation-wise this film was AMAZING! Seriously the visual side of things was insanely good with such a great attention to detail with the cinematography with awesome shots of the landscape, wonderful lighting and use of colour, intimately framed camera shots and insanely choreographed tracking shots that were a marvel to watch especially during the action sequences where multiple characters were involved. as for the music it was pretty dramatic and poignant throughout thanks to the score crafted by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto and Bryce Dessner.

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In conclusion The Revenant was a good film with stunning cinematography and fabulous performances from the cast, that being said I think I let the hype get the better of me and I ended up not enjoying th film as much as I’d hoped. That being said this was an incredible film that needs to be watched in the cinema.

Rating: 7.5/10

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

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2016 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review (Spoiler-Free!)

So the day of reckoning has arrived (at least for us in the UK), Star Wars The Force Awakens has finally been released and I saw it in IMAX yesterday, and excuse the profanity, but it was some good shit. The wait for this film has felt like an eternity but I’ve seen in this new Star Wars film, and while a spoiler-free review seems impossible. I’m going to attempt it anyway. 😀

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The plot can be described as the following:

“30 years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat rises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of Heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.”

First thing I can say about this story is that it was really good. At first I thought this film would be just a retread of A New Hope, and throughout the film there’s certainly some call backs to that particular film, however as the story progresses it quickly evolves into its own tale with new characters, mythology and set up for even grander adventures in the future. What I loved about this film was its ability to connect with The Original Trilogy, but also feel totally fresh, exciting and unexpected. This film is full of humour, drama, mystery and intrigue, but at the center of it all it has heart. And for all the spectacle and larger-than-life elements, this was a very intimate and personal adventure for several of the characters involved and you could feel the emotion for sure. There’s also a lot of great references to the previous Star Wars films, and while you don’t have to have seen the previous films to understand TFA, you really can’t appreciate all of the subtle references or the dramatic moments involving the older returning cast members.

I have to hand it to J.J. Abrams and his team of writers for being able to pull this film off. This film really felt like Star Wars from a nostalgic standpoint, but it didn’t rely to heavily on it and created a lot of new material especially when it came to some of the humour and dialogue. Some of this material felt odd to be a in a Star Wars film, but it also helped the film feel relatable to modern film audiences. Also this film gets a little dark, sure it’s not the first time in this series, but certain moments were definitely violent and aggressive. Now this film isn’t perfect (although its pretty close), certain characters aren’t utilized to their full potential and certain plot points and mysteries you may be able to predict if you’re hardcore fan who has read the Expanded Universe/Legacy material or have speculated a lot online. But make no mistake, this film feels like the Star Wars you remember and it felt like a satisfactory follow-up to Return of the Jedi.

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Oh and the cast, they were great. A lot of these characters come from different backgrounds and this film did a good job of weaving them all together in coherent manner that felt natural. Firstly let me talk about Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as Rey and Finn, man I adore these two. Rey was this smart, cunning and interesting scavenger, while Finn was a defected stormtrooper from the First Order who was brave, extremely funny and emotionally scarred. Both of these characters have great chemistry together, but their separate adventures were also very personal and badass. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren was very badass, this character could have easily been a one-note villain, but there were layers to him, and discovering more about his personality and history as the film progressed was exciting and engaging. Oscar Isaac was great as Poe Dameron, just the definition of cool with a great deal of charisma, humour and confidence, and I have to give a shout out to BB-8 as he was one of the most adorable and humourous aspects of this film.

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And then there’s Harrison Ford as Han Solo, I loved him SO much. Ford, while certainly older, he felt like he hadn’t lost a step as Solo. This character was still just as charming, daring and hilarious as ever, however, he’d also aged and his perspective on certain things has changed a great deal, and while he was certainly used as a means to guide the new characters into this franchise, at the same time he had a key role to play and it was handled nicely. Carrie Fisher’s return as General Leia Organa was very nice too, Leia, while similar to the woman were known from the previous films, she’s changed too, she has a lot more responsibilities and it was cool to see a different side to her. Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata was another great new addition as she had such wonderful moments with some of the heroes, and Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke was quite fascinating, he was imposing, powerful and yet strange and mysterious too. The rest of the cast was either not given enough screen time or weren’t developed enough especially when it came to Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka and Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma.

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When it comes to the presentation, dear god I could nearly explode from the feeling of happiness this film gave me. Visually the film was beyond awesome. Everything from the gorgeous, pulsating space battles to the dirty/aggressive lightsaber duels to the lovely practical effects for the aliens and robots was stunning. What was great about this film was that it looked and sounded just like the previous films, but now with a swifter pace, a different style of cinematography, better use of practical effects and the CGI was clean, sharp and flawlessly executed. Oh and the music by John Williams, it was pretty damn cool. Now I will admit there weren’t any new themes that stuck out to me (like “Duel of the Fates” in the prequels), however the music is a mixture of new and old, but it has the Williams touch, that sense of magic and wonder, fear, intensity and joy that comes from a Star Wars film and it was a joy to hear it.

In conclusion Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to put it simply, the film just made me feel good. There’s a sense of satisfaction that I got after this film ended that I haven’t felt since The Avengers, all I needed this film to be was good and it exceeded my expectations in ways I never thought would happen. With an engaging new story, brilliant performances from the main cast members and stunning production values, Star Wars in back for fans new and old. Now the film does have issues and some fans will not be entirely happy with everything that goes down, but hell I really enjoyed myself with this film and I will probably see it several more times into the new year.

Critic Rating: 8.5/10

Fan Rating: 9/10

So are you going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens and if so are you hyped or worried? And if you’ve seen the film were you pleased or disappointed? Please be sure to comment below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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SIMPLE REVIEW: Ex Machina (SPOILER FREE)

Howdy ladies and gents, time for a fresh film review and today I’ll be talking about Ex Machina. This is a film I only found out about around a month ago because of the posters showing at my local cinema, but it was after I saw the trailer and heard Oscar Issac was in the film when my interest got raised. Recently there’s been a lot of praise about this film, is it warranted? Well read on and find out in this condensed review!

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The story for this film can be described as the following:

“A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.”

This is a thriller mixed in with science fiction and it is a wonderfully done in a story that is familiar, yet unique, intriguing and unsettling. What I loved was the fact that from the beginning  there was something in the air that felt off. There was a creepy atmosphere with great deal of tension and suspense. The film gets you to look at every detail and consider the possibility from the perspective of each of the characters and then it becomes a game to find out who is telling the truth and who is full of shit. As the film progresses and certain aspects come to light things get very dark, disturbing and different very quickly, and while I suspected some of the story elements that came to pass, there were certainly unexpected aspects that I did not see coming which was great. For all its dark elements they are moments of humour and there is one sequence which was one of the best things I have experienced in any film in a while.

When it comes to the cast they are all incredible. Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb is awesome as this young man who comes into interaction with Nathan and Ava and has a life-changing experience getting to know them. Caleb is bright and intelligent, but is also fascinated by Ava and questions what Nathan’s intentions are. Gleeson is an actor I’ve grown to like since his days in Harry Potter and here is so calm, cool and dramatic. Oscar Isaac as Nathan what a great performance. Nathan is a man with ambition, he’s smart, confident and charming, however he is also uncompromising and mysterious. Isaac delivers what could be his best performance to date, he goes from being laid back to funny to intimidating and everything in between and he handles the role with such charisma that he is hard to take your eyes off of him. Alicia Vikander as Ava is fabulous, Ava is the AI created by Nathan and stays within a specific area of his house. She’s super smart, but is also curious about the outside world and gaining human interaction. Vikander is incredible, she walks the line perfectly between being robotic and being human, whether it be the way she talks or walks has just enough humanity to be realistic.

In addition to that the presentation was lovely. Visually the film was beautiful with a good use of colour, great shots of the outdoors and the CGI was very stylish and realistic. And the soundtrack by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow is cool and adds the atmospheric and creepy nature of the film.

In the end Ex Machina is a smart, chilling and well-executed and it is one of my favourite films in recent history to deal with artificial intelligence and how it interacts with humans. I highly recommend this film, the story is great and the performances from the three main cast members is brilliant.

Rating: 8.5/10

So have you seen Ex Machina and if so what do you think of it?  Whatever your thoughts are be sure to drop them in the comments below and I’ll see you on the next review yo! 😀

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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The Star Wars: Episode VII Cast Announced!

Good day to you ladies and gentlemen and today I’m here to talk about some very important film news that was announced a little while ago today. The following information comes from superherohype:

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Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm have announced the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII! Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film. Click the photo above for a bigger version!

Director J.J. Abrams says, “We are so excited to finally share the cast of ‘Star Wars: Episode VII.’ It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”

Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer. The movie opens worldwide on December 18, 2015.

So damn, it’s happened. The truth is out. The information that us fans have been desperately wanting to know has finally been discovered. WE HAVE CAST CONFIRMATION AND ITS AWESOME! Finally, finally, finally we have the information on the primary cast of the next instalment in the Star Wars film series and my god it is glorious, for the most part. Now the obvious part is that we have the original cast back with our three main leads, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, there was no doubt in my mind or most fans minds that they would return, but just having this confirmation means so much and pretty much puts everything in perspective. Even getting Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhem and Kenny Baker makes me smile too. But I think the bigger news the new cast members who have been added to Episode VII. Some of these names have been rumoured while others are completely unexpected. To be honest I only know a few of these names. I know of John Boyega, but I’ve never watched Attack the Block, but good on him for coming so far in his career and getting into a massive franchise like this. Seeing both Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac makes me so happy, both of them were pretty good in Inside Llewyn Davis, especially Isaac though. But the main name that stand out to be is Andy Serkis. ANDY FRIGGING SERKIS! YES! To say that I love Serkis would be a huge understatement, I’ve been a fan of his ever since Lord of the Rings Trilogy and have loved most of the films he’s been and to see him land a role in the massive franchise that is Star Wars, I’m SO happy for him and I honestly am even more excited to see this film than before.

Also having that image above to see all the cast and director together just makes me grin. You can just see things happening and it makes me giddy. Now I just want this film to start shooting and then get to 2015 where we’ll see the next episode of Star Wars.

So what do you think of the cast news? Are you happy about it? Whatever your thoughts are be sure to drop them below in the comments and let me know. Laters people. 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in Films, Media

 

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