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JOHN WICK | DVD Review

RELEASED: October 24th 2014
DIRECTED BY: Chad Stahelski & David Leitch
WRITTEN BY: Derek Kolstad
PRODUCED BY: Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Michael Witherill & Eva Longoria
MUSIC BY: Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard
STARRING: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick & Willem Dafoe

John Wick: Chapter 1 is the explosive debut of the John Wick franchise; the third entry of which is in cinemas now. The film follows the titular retired hit-man after some punks steal his car and kill the dog his deceased wife left for him, and he is forced to get back in the game and get his revenge – racking up a sizeable body count in the process.

When I first watched John Wick, I went in with no expectations after randomly picking it up for £3 one morning after work. My positive opinion of it has remained with me ever since and prompted me to go see the second film, which I also enjoyed. With John Wick: Chapter 3 now in cinemas, I sat down to watch the film again for the first time in three years, this time with my action-cynical girlfriend in tow, to see if she would join me at the cinema. The end result, whether that be due to me seeing it through her eyes, or me just taking more of it in, is that this film is perhaps not as good as I’ve been thinking it was for the past few years.

The strength of John Wick comes from the trio of star Keanu Reeves, and the two directors, Chad Stahelski and (the uncredited) David Leitch. When it comes to action, Reeves immerses himself in a role, doing his best to do as many of the stunts as he can, and making sure he’s an expert in whatever action style he’s portraying. Similarly, Stahelski and Leitch are former stuntmen, who have experience working on action films with excellent choreography such as Captain America: Civil War. Here, as they make their directorial debut, you can see them bringing all that excellent stunt knowledge and style to the director’s chair(s), and the result is some beautiful action sequences.

The choreography is immense, and watching Reeves’ John Wick mow through his attackers with his ‘gun fu’ fighting style is gripping and visceral. The locales these fights take place in often make what you’re watching vibrant and alive, and so scenes like ‘the club’ section of the movie really shine and stick with you.

But outside of that, this film is a bit lacking. The story is simple (but admittedly poignant), and the script is not so great. While there are some funny lines, the dialogue is mostly quite weak, with awkward lines and a lot of (as Rachel pointed out) people just saying each other’s names. It’s meant to show that Wick is well known amongst this assassin’s community, and it works, but it also makes you feel like the action is wholly the focus (which it is, pretty much) at the expense of the dialogue. Of course, how well this dialogue comes off is also affected by the actor delivering it. Keanu, in true Keanu style, straddles the line between the amusing, detached assassin, and a hammy mess of a man. Ian McShane, conversely, brings a lot of gravitas to his lines, as he hints at potential set-up for the sequel, while other characters, like Palicki’s Ms Perkins or Nyqvist’s Tarasov, unfortunately, can’t make the weird lines they have to sprout feel genuine. Not necessarily their fault though.

Ultimately, John Wick is a great action spectacle in the first half, full of colourful shots and excellent action, but falls down as soon as you start to look too closely. The excitement also starts to drop off in the third act, as the rather short runtime still somehow seems to drag on.

All-in-all, I give John Wick:

I really hope Chapter 2 is as good as I remember.

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Posted by on May 19, 2019 in Movie & TV Reviews

 

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POKÉMON: LET’S GO, PIKACHU! | Nintendo Switch Review

“Gotta catch ’em all!”

RELEASED: November 16th 2018
DEVELOPED BY: Game Freak
PUBLISHED BY: The Pokémon Company & Nintendo

Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu / Eevee! are remakes of the first generation of Pokémon games, specifically the special edition Pokémon: Yellow, where, instead of getting to choose from a Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle as your starter Pokémon at the beginning of your journey, you are instead given a Pikachu (or Eevee, depending on the version you buy). Similarly, rather than being a straight-up remake, Let’s Go! meshes in some of the gameplay mechanics of the popular Pokémon GO! mobile game, to create a new-user friendly variant of the classic Pokémon games that hoped to capitalise on GO!‘s huge success.

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Posted by on May 18, 2019 in Pokémon

 

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DETECTIVE PIKACHU | Film Review

RELEASED: May 10th 2019
DIRECTED BY: Rob Letterman
WRITTEN BY: Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Derek Connolly, Nicole Perlman & Rob Letterman
PRODUCED BY: Mary Parent, Cale Boyter, Hidenaga Katakami & Don McGowan
MUSIC BY: Henry Jackman
STARRING: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Rita Ora, Diplo, Ken Watanabe & Bill Nighy

Twenty-three years after the release of Pokémon Red and Green (/Blue, to western audiences), Pokémon has finally hit our screens as a live-action movie. And unlike the majority of video-game adaptations, it’s pretty darn good!

The film follows former aspiring Pokémon trainer Tim Goodman (Smith), as he is forced to venture into Rime City after his father, an ace detective, dies on a case. There, he meets his father’s amnesiac Pokémon partner, Pikachu (Reynolds), who for some unknown reason, Tim can understand. Pikachu is adamant that Tim’s father is actually alive, and so the pair set off the solve the cases of Pikachu’s amnesia and Tim’s dad’s disappearance, both of which are somehow connected to the mysterious genetically engineered Pokémon Mewtwo.

When it comes to making a live-action Pokémon movie, there’s one thing that the creators had to get right – the Pokémon. Which, fortunately, they do. Rime City is rife with Pocket Monsters ranging from those we first met in Red and Blue back in the late nineties, all the way up to appearances from newer creatures who debuted in the Sun and Moon entries just a few years ago.

Fan favourites like Charizard and Greninja get their time in the spotlight, while a wealth of other Pokémon such as Treecko, Pidgeotto and Rattata proliferate the background. The world truly feels alive, and you can totally buy into the harmonious relationship between humans and Pokémon, and how that all works.

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Posted by on May 14, 2019 in Movie & TV Reviews

 

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POKÉMON: ULTRA SUN | Nintendo 3DS XL Review

Detective Pikachu is in cinemas now, so it’s time to dive back into the Pokémon universe!

RELEASED: November 28th 2014
DEVELOPED BY: Game Freak
PUBLISHED BY: The Pokémon Company

After playing Pokémon: Omega Ruby and Pokémon: X, I moved on to the most recent core series game in the Pokémon franchise, Pokémon: Ultra Sun.

Set in the new region of Alola, Ultra Sun sees a young kid from Kanto move to the Hawaii-esque paradise, where they are given their first Pokémon and sent to test him or herself in the island trials. As the player treks across the four magical islands, meeting various friends, rivals and Pokémon along the way, a sinister beast tries to plunge the world into darkness, while a new species of Pokémon known as ‘Ultra Beasts’ make their presence known from other dimensions.

There is a lot of new stuff going on this game, and as someone who’s now played through six out of the seven (soon to be eight) Pokémon regions, I can say the set-up of Alola is a welcome refresher. Gone are the Pokémon gyms and linear paths, gone are the cumbersome HMs, gone are the various previous generations starter Pokémon’s exclusivity.

Instead, Alola treats you to a whole new area to explore in any way you want, with a horde of different Pokémon from across the seven generations, all presented yet again in fabulous 3D format.

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Posted by on May 11, 2019 in Pokémon

 

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GHOST IN THE SHELL | Film Review

RELEASED: March 31sts 2017
DIRECTED BY: Rupert Sanders
WRITTEN BY: Jamie Moss, William Wheeler & Ehren Kruger
PRODUCED BY: Avi Arad, Steven Paul & Michael Costigan
MUSIC BY: Clint Mansell & Lorne Balfe
STARRING: Scarlett Johannson, Pilou Asbæk, Michael Carmen Pitt, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche & Takeshi Kitano

Ghost in the Shell follows Scarlett Johansson as ‘Major’ Mira Killian; a young Japanese woman resurrected in an artificial body after an untimely death and put to work as a new breed of police operative. However, after coming into conflict with a dangerous hacker, Killian begins to suspect that not everything she’s been told about her lost past is completely true.

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Posted by on May 8, 2019 in Movie & TV Reviews

 

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Console Wars: A Layman’s Perspective, Part II

I’ve been a bit quiet over the past week, and while I will return to my readthrough of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers series, at the moment, I’m feeling a bit of an Avengers burnout, due to the fact the cinema I work at has been crazy hectic with all the people turning out to watch Endgame.

So, as a bit of a change of pace, and due to the upcoming release of Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, I’m turning my attention back to video-games – as my busy week drove me to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a while…

I bought a Nintendo Switch.

I’ve been wanting to try out the Switch for some time. I’ve played a couple of rounds of Mario Kart on my step-nephew’s console at a family get-together, but that was the extent of my experience with it. However, after being paid, I traded in a few things and picked up a second-hand console for a very reasonable price. Very very reasonable, in fact, as it looks like it’s basically brand new – apart from the fact that the box looked like it had been mauled by a feral child.

So, with the Switch now in-hand, I figured it’s time to return to that age-old debate of which company’s putting out the best console? Once again, I’ll be looking at it from a ‘layman’s perspective’, as someone (as I said in part I) who “doesn’t know all the technical mumbo-jumbo or gamer-speak”.

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AVENGERS: ENDGAME | Spoiler Review

I got up this morning to go and watch Avengers: Endgame a second time. After working the midnight release, and checking the screens, I continued to notice little things that I wanted to experience again – so with today being my day off, I went back to the cinema for a rewatch.

With that in mind, I’m going to discuss the film in full. However, it will be exceptionally spoiler heavy, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, do not read this review. Don’t click ‘read more’. Don’t even look at the tags. Go watch this movie. But if you’re needing something to read, my original review can be found here.

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Posted by on April 26, 2019 in MARVEL, Marvel Studios

 

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