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Bastille ‘Wild World’ Review

 Today I’m writing something a little bit different than the photo heavy Japan posts that I have been posting for the last couple of weeks/months, and that is a review of Bastille’s second album ‘Wild World‘, released September 9th 2016.

I’ve only gotten into Bastille recently, and now I realise how much time I wasted without them. I prepped for V Festival with them and recognised what I’d missed out on. Then I died and went to heaven during their V set, before heading back down to a rainy Weston park. Here we are a few weeks later, and a day hasn’t gone by without Bastille blasting from my phone, TV, laptop – whatever I can force to play their music.

I’ve never written an album review before, so let’s see how this goes with a short first forray.
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Captain America: Civil War Spoiler Free Review

I’m going preface this with saying that Civil War may be my favourite Marvel film yet. Better than 2012’s The Avengers, better than Iron Man 3, hell even better than The Winter Soldier! The only one it may not beat for me is Captain America: The First Avenger, but I just love that film so much.

Civil War has been dubbed ‘Avengers 2.5’, and after seeing this film I fully understand that. We have a whole host of characters, new and old, rather than the typical ‘stand-alone’ Marvel affair, which would feature 1 or 2 of the Avengers. However, unlike The Winter Soldier, we aren’t seeing just Steve and Natasha fight together, we’re seeing the Avengers (and some newcomers), splitting into two factions and facing off over conflicting views on a piece of legislation affecting their activities as protectors of the world.

Civil War is very topical, and almost hits home too much with everything that has been played over and over on the news for the last few months. Maybe that’s just me as a law student who has studied terrorism and security a fair few times during my degree, but there is a level of realism to this film which the others lack. Somehow this works even with characters like the Vision, enhanced characters like Wanda, yet Civil War is grounded.

Civil War is much darker and grittier than the Marvel films we’ve come to know, looking back at The Avengers, there is little reflection on what just occurred in New York, even though thousands of people died in Manhattan. We see a few vigils and some people question whether the Avengers should be allowed to exist, and then we sort of forget about it. Sure, it comes up every now and then, but Civil War takes it home. The Avengers might be Earth’s mightiest heroes, but they invite challenge from the Earth’s deadliest villains, and many believe they take no responsibility for their actions.

We are introduced to a whole slew of new characters, Spider-Man, Black Panther and Everett Ross to name a few. I was hesitant about a third Spider-Man as Andrew Garfield was the perfect to me, but Tom Holland nailed it. He’s a natural as Spidey, and it’s nice change of pace to see an actual teenager play Spider-Man for once, and for Peter Parker to seem like your average teenager, not your average 30 year old ripped man playing a 17 year old. The comic book quick witted remarks that Spidey is known for came into a play a whole lot. All round awesome. I can’t wait to see more of him in Spider-Man: Homecoming!

My two favourite Marvel characters, Captain America and Spider-Man, interacting on the big screen was something I never thought I would see!

T’Challa (Black Panther) is a welcome addition to the cast, he is such a refreshing character. I don’t want to go into any details of his story, as this is as spoiler-free as possible, but it is nice having an already established hero enter the MCU without an origin story coming first.

Everett Ross, played by Martin Freeman, isn’t exactly a main character, but I was just happy to see my beloved Martin Freeman in the MCU. I wonder if we will see him and Cumberbatch on screen together at some point. Steven and Everett doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Sherlock and John.

The main thing that sets Civil War apart from other Marvel adventures, other than the fact it’s our beloved heroes beating the everloving crap out of each other, is a lack of a central big bad villain. We’ve had Loki, Ultron, Red Skull, Hydra, Whiplash, to name a few; this time we have Captain America and Iron Man. Both becoming morally grey characters, they play both the hero and the villain, it’s easy to see why the characters stand with each side. Both are right and both are wrong. Sure, there’s a few bad guys running around, but it’s on a much different scale to the average Marvel fanfare.

And as we’ve grown accustom to at this point, there are many, many action sequences, all executed extremely well! I would expect no less of the Russo brothers after the great job they did making The Winter Soldier fight scenes feel like something out of a video game. I feel like I need a PS3 controller in hand as Steve is in pursuit of the Winter Soldier.

Even though they were wrestling (literally, at times) with 10 characters sharing the screen in one fight, nothing felt rushed, skimmed over, or unnecessarily complicated. I have no clue how they did it, but hats off to you Russo brothers!

This film easily gets 9/10 Vibranium shields from me. I was beginning to get worn down with superhero movies, (we’re only about half way through all the currently planned films by Marvel!), but Civil War the breath of fresh air the MCU needed.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Spoiler Free Review!

Last night, at 00:01, I sat in a theatre completely sold out, full of Star Wars fans anticipating the start of The Force Awakens, the 7th film in the Star Wars series, and the 7th chronologically.

The film is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, which left the Empire crushed, however now, the First Order has risen, and the rebel alliance has had to evolve into the Resistance to survive. We follow a mix of fresh faces and well known old friends in the fight to bring peace to the galaxy once more.

This review will be split into Pros and Cons

Pros:

It feels like a Star Wars movie

This may sound obvious, but if you’ve seen the prequels, you’ll understand how a Star Wars film can feel nothing like Star Wars. JJ Abrams has successfully done that which it seemed couldn’t be done. The Force Awakens truly felt like we were back in the Star Wars universe, in the galaxy far, far away.

The Cast

The casting of this film was incredible. This is a breakout role for a few actors, namely Daisy Ridley (Rey) who absolutely nailed it, she is fantastic. John Boyega (Finn) did an amazing job, and managed to bring a real sense of humour to the role. Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) is quite possibly my favourite, Poe Dameron is a great character and I’m not sure anyone could have played him better.

Harrison Ford (Han Solo) is incredible back in the role as Han Solo after over 30 years, it is as if the last time he played Han was yesterday. There are no discrepancies in his performance in Return of the Jedi vs now. Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa) is also great, however for some reason I didn’t love her performance quite as much. I can’t put my finger on why, it could have been her writing, it could have been that Leia has matured more than Han as and so is a bit different, or maybe her performance. I kinda doubt the latter however!

Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma) did extremely well with her rather limited screen time.

Soundtrack

It’s a John Williams Star Wars soundtrack. I think that is enough said. His music can make any awful film better, i.e Duel of the Fates from The Phantom Menace soundtrack is one of my favourite pieces of music ever. I can’t wait for the soundtrack to come out in full.

He blended some old pieces together with new, including one of my favourites, Han Solo and the Princess. There was no way the soundtrack wasn’t going to be amazing.

Cinematography + Effects

I can’t go into detail here, but this film was visually stunning. At times, JJ definitely used the ‘show more, say less’ approach, which worked extremely well.

The mix of practical effects and CGI, for the most part, is great, especially with that now infamous scene from an early trailer, the X wings flying over a lake.

Badass women and diversity

The Original Trilogy did not have enough women, we had two named female characters, Leia and Mon Mothma, who features in all but a few scenes in one film. The Prequels didn’t have enough great women either, we had Padme and that was about it.

This film, we have Rey, the main character, who is female, and not sexualised, and not falling into the tropes that male writers tend to box women in as, looking at you, Moffat. She’s a character little girls who don’t love conventionally ‘girly’ things will adore.

And we have a female villain in the form of Captain Phasma, and also Leia as a General! The Star Wars universe is always in need of more women!

And the films new trio, Rey, Finn and Poe, is very diverse, with only one of the three being white. With the time we live in, ala Donald Trump, it’s great to see extremely mainstream media breaking down some barriers. Yes, I know there’s always more to be done, but this is a good step in the right direction.

Humour

This film is legitimately funny, and not ‘cheesy-cliche funny’, actually laugh out loud funny! The humour integrated really well into the rather serious world of Star Wars, and did not at all feel like Jar Jar Binks, misa so glad about that.

The next is going to be a mix of a con and a pro.

Storyline

I very much liked the storyline, however some are calling it lazy, which I understand. It almost feels recycled in a sense, but we already knew this from what was revealed early on. Although, I think not rushing in for a crazy new plot line when this is the first in a trilogy, and the first Star Wars film a lot of people will ever see, was a good idea. It will likely work better in the long run than it feels right now.

Cons:

Captain Phasma

Gwendoline Christie was severely underused as Captain Phasma, especially considering the amount of merchandise and promotion she has had. And Christie is a fantastic actress, it’s a shame we didn’t see more of her.

Plot holes

Maybe plot holes isn’t the best word, but there are definitely somethings which don’t add up or completely make sense, maybe they will soon enough, but right now they don’t.

CGI

The CGI wasn’t perfect at times. It was truly incredible for the vast majority of the film, but every now and then it felt a little unauthentic.

2 MORE YEARS

We have to wait 2 YEARS FOR THE NEXT ONE

Overall, I’d give this film a solid 8/10. It was a classic Star Wars film, it was more then enjoyable, it was a fantastic movie.

In order of ranking the 7 films, from best to worst, I’d go:

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Episode IV: A New Hope

Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

I didn’t expect The Force Awakens to be so good as to sit in with the Original Trilogy, but it was!

 

Right now, IMDB has it at 9.0/10.0, and Rotten Tomatoes has it at 95% with 188 reviews, and at 92% from over 110,000 audience members.

This is definitely the film of the year, so go and see it now! BEFORE YOU GET SPOILED!

Thanks for reading, and may the force be with you!

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Review (Spoiler free)

The other night, my roommates and I went to go see Mockingjay Part 2 at midnight! This was a LONG awaited event for me, as I’ve been hooked ever since I heard of the first film, and read the books in the week The Hunger Games came out in UK cinemas. And now it’s finally come to an end!

This will be spoiler free, as far as possible, I don’t want to give any plot points away.

First of all, I am not a huge fan of the book Mockingjay. Whilst I like it, it’s definitely my least favourite of the trilogy. I was very worried for Mockingjay Part 1, as the first half of Mockingjay was, to methe worst part of the series, however I absolutely LOVED it on screen, and it’s one of my favourite films in the franchise. I actually quite liked the rest of Mockingjay as a book, but I still think the first two beat it in terms of enjoyment.

So first I’m going to start with my cons of Mockingjay Part 2:

Soundtrack

This may seem a strange thing to complain about, but movie soundtracks can make or break a film. Part 2 reused so many tracks from the older films, but didn’t get them quite right. I can’t remember exactly, but I know the track at the start of Catching Fire, when Katniss is in the woods, is used during a fast paced scene in the Capitol. That didn’t make much sense to me, and seemed a little lazy reusing old tracks in unfitting scenarios.

Otherwise, I really like the music, but it reused too many old tracks, which kinda took you away from being immersed in the film. On the flip side, I loved that an instrumental version of ‘The Hanging Tree’ was played towards the start.

Pacing

This is a problem that can be traced back to the book. The pacing of Mockingjay was strange, especially when compared to the other two. The film however, didn’t fix this. At times when pacing should have been fast, it was slow, and at times where it should be slow, or rather, just a little slower, it was fast. Action scenes and tense scenes sometimes require it to be fast paced, but this can take away the impact of deaths. Which definitely happened here. The deaths in this film didn’t have the major impact they should have done, and seemed to just be given a second on screen before moving on.

Maybe this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it fits in with the severity of the rebellion, but it just didn’t feel like the way many characters deserved to go out.

Limited perspective

The books are limited by being stuck in Katniss’ perspective, when there’s a whole revolution going on, we are missing a huge chunk of what’s going on by seeing Panem through her eyes. This is a key issue in Mockingjay Part 2, in the last 35-45% of the film. I had hoped that the film would have utilised not being limited to Katniss’ perspective, and having the freedom to show what is going on anywhere, but instead it followed the book almost perfectly. You may think that may never normally be a bad point, and generally, I don’t think it is, but I wanted a more complete picture at the end. Not to have things have to be explained in monologues or be pieced together by characters, rather than simply being shown on screen when that option is available.

I should also note, I don’t really like the ending of the series. It wasn’t what I would have chosen, nor do I truly think it fits with what the entire saga is about. However, this is an issue with the book, and I know to many people, this is the perfect ending, so were probably thrilled to see it play out on screen.

Now for the pros!

The Sewers/Action scenes

To avoid spoilers, I won’t give any context to the scene, but wow did the film get this right. It went above and beyond what could be taken from the book, and somehow made this entire scene better than could ever be imagined. The sewers scene was destined to be on screen, and an amazing job was done with it. This was definitely my favourite part of the movie! You know it’s good when you’ve read the book and know what is going to happen, but you still find yourself questioning what the hell is going on and what the outcome will be.

The nail was hit perfectly on the head, I’m unsure a better job could have been done with this.

Every other action scene in the film was incredible. The CGI was pretty great, even though I’m not huge on CGI, the choreography was good, and everything felt realistic, even in this crazy dystopian world.

Cressida + Other characters

When reading the book, I didn’t care so much for Cressida, one of the few rebels who originates from the Capitol, however the film series made me care about her a lot more. Yes, I’m bias because Natalie Dormer plays her, but even so, she became one of my favourite things about Part 2. I’m desperate to know more about the Capitol rebels, at what point did they begin to hate the Capitol? How did they find each other? How did they escape and make it all the way to 13? How much danger were they in? Were 13 reluctant to take them in incase they were spies?

I’m glad the film made a point to include the Capitol rebels as wanted fugitives on the level of Katniss, Finnick, and other characters associated with the rebellion.

Nor did I truly care for Coin in the books, I always felt like my view of her was being warped by Katniss’ view. The films gave me the opportunity to build my own perspective and opinions of her.

Paylor was a character not given much time in the books, and the films made me seriously root for Commander Paylor, and want to see more of her. She was brought to life on film much more vividly than she was on page.

Departures from the book

Whilst I did appreciate the scenes in the book, which would have been towards the start of Part 2, featuring Katniss and Johanna, and the bond they form, it made sense to cut them out for the substantive part of the movie. Furthermore, streamlining the District 2 plotline gave more time for the main ‘chunk of the film’.

I loved the scenes in the Capitol, with Snow and others, who we were never able to see through Katniss’ perspective. Seeing the way the Capitol reacts to the rebellion growing stronger and stronger, until it is on their doorstop was fascinating. I would have liked a few more scenes from Capitol citizens, but we still were given enough, not every wish can be granted in a two hour movie!

Overall, this was a good ending to a great saga. Sadly, I think out of the latter 3 films in the saga, all directed by Francis Lawrence, this was the weakest. This is no way means it isn’t a good film, I would still give it a 7/10, but it fails to reach the heights the saga has previously hit.

If I had to rank the 4 films from best/favourite to worst/least favourite it would be:

Catching Fire

Mockingjay Part 1

Mockingjay Part 2

The Hunger Games

I hope you enjoy the movie if you see it, and Happy Hunger Games!