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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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QUICK REVIEW: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Howdy ladies and gents, I’m back for another film review and today I’ll be talking about the live-action version of Ghost in the Shell. Now I had been apprehensive about this film for a while now, and I’m sure a good number of people across the world have been too. This western adaptation of the original manga and anime film from 1995 is one of the most talked about and respected films in the eyes of a lot of critics and film fans, so remaking it was always going to be uphill battle. Now I know there’s been a lot of talk about the white-washing of the main character and I don’t want to get into that, the main reason I wasn’t keen on this film was because of the director, not only because I didn’t think he was the right man for the job, but also because of his foolish adulterous actions in the past. But yeah that shouldn’t come into play when we’re talking about this film. So how is Ghost in the Shell? Well read on and find out!

So the story can be summed up as the following:

“Cyborg counter-cyberterrorist field commander The Major (Scarlett Johansson) and her task force Section 9 thwart and humiliate criminals, hackers and terrorists. Now, they must face a new enemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage Hanka Robotics’ artificial intelligence technology.”

I thought the story had a lot of interesting ideas of about what is to be human, freewill, the future of technology, the pros and cons of being cybernetically enhanced and so on. If you’ve seen any sci-fi film involving robots and technology then a lot of the themes and concepts this film presents will feel familiar, and while this film does do a good job of presenting some of these elements, I don’t think it had the right writers or director necessary to make think and feel on that deeper, dramatic and more emotional level. It is surface level material that’s fine but you’ve seen it done better in other films. For the most part the film was pretty interesting, but it did have a few moments where it really slowed down and some of the information the characters were going on about just didn’t matter to me, it felt like pointless jargon that needed to end quickly. Oh and don’t expect me to do any comparisons to the 1995 film, I haven’t seen in around 9 years and I wasn’t too keen on it, I thought the sequel was much better, so I only noticed some visual similarities but I couldn’t confirm them for sure.

As for the cast I thought they were fine, though only a handful of them stood out. Scarlett Johansson as Major Mira Killian was fine, she handled her material the best she could, at times I felt like she was getting into that Lucy territory where she couldn’t express any emotion because of the nature character, but for the most part she was fine. Takeshi Kitano as Chief Daisuke Aramaki was pretty cool, Kitano has a nice screen presence and I loved his tone of speaking and how imposing he was, but I feel like he was a little wasted in this film. Pilou Asbæk as Batou was nice, I enjoyed his performance and Juliette Binoche as Dr. Ouélet had some good scenes and interesting scenes with Johansson. Michael Pitt as Hadley Cruz was pretty intriguing and had some of the most captivating material in the film, also seeing Chin Han around as Togusa was fun and he had some nice scenes too and finally Peter Ferdinando as Cutter was just generic and not as engaging as he should have been.

When it comes to the presentation it was easily the best part of the film. From a visual standpoint the film was great, the world that the special effects team created for this film was clearly inspired by not only the original film but also Blade Runner, it is colourful, large in scale, layered with all sorts of details from the design of the robotic humans, to the various holograms dotted all over the city. It was all very impressive and pretty to look at. The action scenes were fine, some stood out more so than others, but I feel like the creativity went the visual style of the film and wasn’t applied to fight scenes which felt a little bland and lacking in creativity, oh and some of those uses of slow motion were unnecessary too. The film score from Clint Mansell and Lorne Balfe had some interesting moments especially when there started tapping into the otherworldly nature of the original film’s music, but overall it was decent.

In the end Ghost in the Shell was alright, as someone who wasn’t expecting much it ended up being better than I anticipated. Now I’m not saying the film is great, but it wasn’t total rubbish either. I enjoyed some of the action, the visuals were pretty cool and some of the themes were intriguing, but in the end it didn’t have the depth and direction necessary to make it anything more than just an okay film.

So have you seen Ghost in the Shell and if so what did you think of it? And how do you feel it compares to the original? Please drop me your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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Films To Look Out For In 2017 Part 1

Howdy people of the internet, it’s a new year so you know what time it is, it’s time for my own personal preview of upcoming films that I believe deserve your attention entitled: Films to look out for in 2017! In PART 1 I’ll be covering films released from now until March, and there are more notable films during this period of time than any year before it.

Now before we begin I have two main things I need yo point out:

  1. Obviously a lot films come out, so if they’re not on my list it’s either because I don’t know about them or I don’t care…
  2. 2016 films getting their UK releases this year don’t count! So there. 😛

Okay then, let’s start 😀

The Bye Bye Man

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Release Date: January 13th (USA & UK)

Trailer:

Now I’m not a horror fan, people who follow this blog are well aware of that… However, I’m always curious about new horror films and a few always seem to make it on my yearly preview lists. From the look of the trailer it looks incredibly generic, predictable and to a degree quite funny with some of the crazy scenarios going on, but there are some interesting ideas in there. The reason this film is on here is because I’ve heard some mentions about it online so it has my interest.

XXX: Return of Xander Cage

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Release Date: January 19th (UK), January 20th (USA)

Trailer:

The funny thing is that I haven’t seen any of the previous XXX films due to lack of interest, however, with the release of this film I feel like I need to go back and get caught up. I don’t know much continuity this new film will have to the previous ones but I am curious. Plus, the trailer for this film looks frigging ridiculous, but in that over-the-top fun kind of way. I don’t think it’ll be as fun or as entertaining as the Fast and Furious films but hell I’ll give it a watch because of my boy Donnie Yen!

Split

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Release Date: January 20th (USA & UK)

Trailer:

There’s three reasons I’m interested in this film: 1) The premise about someone with multiple personalities sounds interesting. 2) James McAvoy is awesome so I’m always curious about his new projects. And 3) M. Night Shyamalan seems to be on an upswing since The Visit so I’m hoping he’ll continue to get better.

T2: Trainspotting

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Release Date: January 27th (UK), March 3rd (US)

Trailer:

I don’t have the massive attachment to Trainspotting like a lot of film fans do, and its not that I hate the film, far from it, I just saw it at a later time and I don’t know if it had the same kind of effect on me as it did for people who saw it closer to the film’s release. I saw it in my late teens and really appreciated it, plus some of the more disturbing material will stay in my memories for years to come, the toilet and the baby scenes messed up my mind for a good few weeks. I’m just curious to see if Trainspotting 2 will be good or just be another unnecessary sequel.

The Space Between Us

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Release Date: February 3rd (USA), February 10th (UK)

Trailer:

I hadn’t heard about this film until I looked it up and the trailer makes the film more intriguing to watch than the premise I read online. While I felt like I could predict how a good few of the story elements play out, I just like the unique story with a human born on Mars who trailers to Earth to experience life in a totally different way. The cast looks solid and I think there will be  lot of dramatic material to experience which should be fun.

The Lego Batman Movie

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Release Date: February 10th (USA & UK)

Trailer:

Batman was one of the standout part od the The Lego Movie, so when they announced The Lego Batman Movie it felt like a no brainer, though I thought it was a bad idea as you’d be getting too much of a good thing as a whole film. That being said, so far the marketing has been good and while I haven’t laughed out loud at any of the material, it does look pretty funny and Will Arnett seems to be on-point as Batman so I hope the film turns out well.

John Wick Chapter Two

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Release Date: February 10th (USA), February 17th (UK)

Trailer:

John Wick was a really fun film, while not as amazing as some people suggested online, it was better than I expected and I really liked the action and Keanu Reeves in the central role. Once I saw the first trailer for this sequel I was totally in, it looks so filthy and fun, and Lawrence Fishburne! Woo! Can’t wait for this film, I’m hoping it’ll just as good if not better.

A Cue For Wellness

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Release Date: February 17th (USA), February 24th (UK)

Trailer:

I heard about this film on Collider Movie Talk last year and after I saw the trailer I was intrigued. Psychological horror tends to make for the best viewing experiences and I like the cast especially with Dane DeHaan and Jason Isaacs. Plus the trailer has a disturbing atmosphere, creepy imagery and messed up experiences for all of the patients at this facility,

Fist Fight

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Release Date: February 17th (USA), March 3rd (UK)

Trailer:

This film on paper sounds like something I’d hate, it is a concept that sounds stupid and absurd, but it is at the same time the kind of foolishness that could make for some laughs especially with Ice Cube and Charlie Day at the center of it. The trailer looks absolutely silly and it has the stuff I like and dislike about comedies at the same time, I feel like this could just be an adventure set in the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia world and that’s what makes me want to watch the film.

Logan

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Release Date: March 3rd (USA & UK)

Trailer:

Logan was a film I was down to watch for a while now, but that trailer was what pushed this film into the “must watch” category. That trailer was the most unexpected and awesome piece of marketing that I think I saw last year, the tone, violence and choice of music presented a more mature, melancholy and brutal kind of comic book film than what we’ve seen in the X-Men film series so far. It could still be bad, but I’m hoping, Jame Mangold, the writers and Hugh Jackman have crafted something beautiful to send of this version of Wolverine in style!

Kong: Skull Island

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Release Date: March 10, 2017 (USA & UK)

Trailer:

I’ve been hyped for this film since its announcement and the cast only increased my hype and the first trailer really impressed me with the tone, visual style and atmosphere. It wasn’t until the second trailer when I started to feel hesitation, while it showed off more of the island, Kong himself and the other monsters, the humour was pretty hit and miss and the tone didn’t feel as intimidating as the last one. I just hope the film is action heavy but scary too.

The Wall

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Release Date: March 10th (USA), March 17th (UK)

Trailer:

I’m not too keen on war films but some of the more recent films in the genre have caught my interest and the fact that Doug Liman is directing this one already has my interest, but then you add the crazy/intriguing premise and an interest pairing of Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena, and I think you could have a really good film to watch if it’s executed well.

Beauty and the Beast

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Release Date: March 17th (USA & UK)

Trailer:

The hype for this film is ridiculous, most friends that I know who are major Disney fans are stupid hyped for this film and apparently so is the rest of the internet if you look at all the views for the trailers online. I think I’m the only one who doesn’t love the original, probably because I saw it once and while it was good, it’s not in my top 10. Yeah I said it, suck it haters! But I am curious to see how this live-action version compares, it looks very pretty, but some of the redesigns to the characters look questionable, but hell if its even half as good as 2015’s Cinderella then I’ll be a happy lad.

The Belko Experiment

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Release Date: March 17th (USA)

Trailer:

I don’t know if this film is getting a UK release because according to IMDB its only coming to America in March but I hope that I’ll get to see it in the cinema because this looks like it’ll be some messy and interesting fun.

Life

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Release Date: March 24th (USA & UK)

Trailer:

So now we have the second Mars-related film on the list in the form of life with a premise that sounds interesting and a solid set of main actors in the form of Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds.

Power Rangers

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Release Date: March 24th (USA & UK)

Trailer:

As a fan of Power Rangers during the peak of its popularity I have a lot of nostalgic attachment to the franchise and this new reboot at this current point in time good be either really good or really bad. Now I know that in order to sell this film to new audiences that changes have to be made, and I didn’t expect them to be so dramatic with that first trailer, that being said it does look interesting with its mix of Chronicle and The Breakfast Club, I feel like there are familiar beats with the story and characters that I’ve seen before, but it does look like a unique interpretation of the show while still keep some of the original elements intact. I hope that it is good.

Ghost in the Shell

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Release Date: March 24th (USA) March 31st (UK)

Trailer:

This feel has been a long time coming, I was never really down with the idea of a live action version of Ghost in the Shell but with all the talk about it from Hollywood I never thought it’d ever get made. But here we are in 2017 just under 3 months away from its release in cinemas and so far the trailers look pretty cool with the visual imagery and ties to the animated film. I don’t have a huge attachments to the original anime so if this film is good then I’ll be happy, if it sucks then you know we can always wait for Akira right? Haha… But seriously I hope that never happens.

Alrighty then, that’s PART 1 done. Thanks a lot for reading. Are any of the films listed on your personal list of films to watch? Whatever your thoughts are be sure to drop them below and I’ll see you for PART 2! Laters 😀

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2017 in Films, Media

 

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Scarlett Johansson to Star in Live-Action Ghost in the Shell!

Howdy ladies and gents, time for some film news and today we have quite an interesting story for you in the form of a big development for the upcoming live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. The following information comes from superherohype:

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Back in October, it was revealed that Scarlett Johansson had been offered the lead role in DreamWorks’ live-action remake of Ghost in the Shell and now Variety brings word that the actress has accepted the role! Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders will helm the feature from a script by William Wheeler, based on the series by Masamune Shirow.

Produced by Avi Arad, Ari Arad and Steven Paul and with the backing of Steven Spielberg, the rights to Shirow’s original 1989 complex futuristic thriller, about the members of a covert ops unit that takes on technology-related crime, were picked up several years ago with plans to use the latest 3D technology to film it. In Japan, the huge success of the comics led to a number of anime film adaptations, a TV series and a series of video games with DreamWorks releasing the second anime film in North America.

Johansson’s involvement in the film does raise questions about her place in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Black Widow. Though she is set to appear in this summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, could production on Ghost in the Shell prevent her involvement in Captain America: Civil War? It’s unclear at this point, though production on “Civil War” is set to begin this spring in Atlanta, Georgia, targeting a May 2016 release.

So, seems like this film is definitely going ahead then. I’ve never been completely keen on this project since the outset because I don’t think certain anime properties don’t need to adapted and westernized because the spirit and beauty of the original material normally gets lost and butchered. However, since GITS is not a property I’m not too attached to personally, I am a little more open to the idea of there being an adaptation if the right people were part of the project.

Now I’m going to talk about the three aspects surrounding this film.

1. Scarlett Johansson

So now we have Scarlett Johansson cast as the lead (after being first attached to the film a few months ago) and to be honest I’m down with it. Johansson is a great actress, she’s also proven in recent years that she’s a capable woman of action with her role as Black Widow in Iron Man 2, The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier and more recently with Lucy. And while I think there could have been other actresses in the role, I think Johansson is needed for a film like this to raise interest beyond the existing fanbase.

2. Rupert Sanders is directing

The another big aspect is the fact that Rupert Sanders is directing this film. Obviously he wast he man behind Snow White and the Huntsman, it was decent film however there was nothing significant or memorable about it, so I have my reservations about bringing him onto a project like this. He’s not had that many films under his belt and the one that he did wasn’t that great. Plus add on top of that, he likes to seduce his actresses. Sure, what happens in his personal life should not be related to his work as a director. However, when he decided to have relations with Kirsten Stewart, the star of the film he was directing, it makes me question his priorities a little bit. Hopefully this man can keep his head in the game and help craft a good film.

3. Avi Arad is a Producer

Now, I looked at the news story and saw that Johansson is attached, okay cool. Then saw Rupert Sanders was attached, not so keen, but heck I’ll bite. But then I saw the name Avi Arad named as one of the producers and my interest turned to concern. If you’re a fan of the Sony Spider-Man films or at least know of the people behind them, then you know who Avi Arad is. He is one of the most opinionated producers behind the Spider-Man films who in my opinion used to be a smart and innovated man, but these days he’s corrupt, out of touch and has no idea how what he’s going on about. He’s been looked as one of the main people responsible for ruining Spider-Man 3 and more recently The Amazing Spider-Man 2. And to have him attached to this film does make me wonder if he has any ideas and may use them to corrupt the production of this film. That being said, I don’t know how much creative control he’ll have and whether the input he’ll have will be positive or negative, I just hope if there are any problems with this film that it doesn’t come back to him.

In conclusion I’m curious to see how this film will shape up over the course of 2015, Ido wonder how this will affect Scarlett Johansson’s commitment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I guess only time will tell. So what do you think of this news and the points that I’ve brought up? Whatever your thoughts are be sure to leave them in the comments below and I’ll see ya later! 😀

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2015 in Films, Media

 

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