Benz Eye View: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Pros: 

1.) The movie sure knows how to stylize their action scenes.  They show off with slow-motion shots and one-shot moments.  Even though those scenes pace a bit too quickly at times, the movie still has the same fun action moments as with the last film (although the church scene in the last film is the best one of them all).

2.) In this movie, they introduce a new group of agents called the Statesman, and I love these guys as much as the Kingsman.  They contrast each other from their gadgets to their clothing to their base, and yet they are pretty much the same as each other in many ways like their desire to protect the world from devastation.  It makes me wonder if there are other branches of agents like them.  Maybe a Japanese one called Bushidoman…that would be cool.

3.) A few of the subplots stand out over the rest of the movie.  Without spoiling what they are, my favorite one involves Harry/Agent Galahad and the other Kingsman.  It makes some interesting emotional moments, and it reminds me of the last film’s greatest traits…

 

Cons: 

1.) …While I enjoy these subplots, the movie goes on for way too long.  Many scenes establish the main plot and its subplots, but they drag it for too long that they are already needed.  In fact, one way that they drag it is that the main plot comes to a halt for ten minutes, and one of the subplots spends those ten minutes in its place.  They do that so often that I sometimes forget that the main plot exists (mainly because the main antagonist, Poppy Adams does not have a single ounce of charm as the last film’s antagonist, Richmond Valentine).  That is not a good way to pace a movie if the audience has to spend more time watching the subplots over the main plot; it ends up feeling like three episodes of a TV mini-series jammed together into a movie.  Either remove some of those subplots, or find a way to decrease the number of scenes, because the movie is long enough that it already is.

2.) Remember in the last film that Eggsy had his one moment with the Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden in the end?  In this movie, they are officially a couple.  I did not see this coming.  While it gives Eggsy some emotional stakes in this movie, I found the romance to be forced and weak.  Mainly because it was out of nowhere and expected it to be a one-time thing in the last film, the romance is not developed enough for me to really care.  In fact, I expected Roxy/Agent Lancelot to be the love interest for Eggsy.  (LIGHT SPOILERS) However, Roxy ends up getting killed early in the movie.  Great, thank you for that.  (END LIGHT SPOILERS)  To put it simply, the movie might have been a little better if the romance did not exist at all.

3.) The CG and green screen effects really stand out.  I do not recall that the last film had that bad of a CG and green screen effect, but this one takes the cake.  They do not look like they belong in a live action world as opposed to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which the CG and green screen effects blend perfectly with the live action people and places.  It kind of hurts my eyes looking at the movie when they show off those scenes.  Maybe given more time, those effect would have looked so much better than the finished product.

 

Overall: 

Ah, finally.  A movie I can finally talk about: Kingsman, a movie series based on a comic book series.  The first film, Kingsman: The Secret Service, was a fun action spy comedy film that is enjoyable to watch.  On the other hand, its sequel: Kingsman: The Golden Circle is not as enjoyable, or to be more direct, not as well-made.  There are still some great moments and traits in the movie: the actors still manage to play well in their roles, the world of Kingsman is still amazing, the characters (except for the antagonist) are still great.  However, the movie boggles down with its overly long running time, its poor CG and green screen effect, and it subplots that take over the main plot from time to time (to be fair, some of those subplots are good).  The last film was clever with its self-awareness while this movie has very little.  If you love the first Kingsman film, you will sadly be disappointed with its sequel.

6/10

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Benz Eye View: American Assassin

American_Assassin
American Assassin

Pros: 

1.) There are many action scenes (and a torture scene) that are outright painful in a good way.  With good sound effects and action choreography, the movie emphasizes how painful each blow is.  While it uses shaky cam, it is not as bad many of the terrible movies that used so much shaky cam to the point that no one can see the action.  Adequate action at its finest.

2.) There are some good performances.  I expect that from actors like Michael Keaton and Sanaa Lathan, but the main actor, Dylan O’Brien actually did a great job playing a tortured soldier looking for revenge against terrorists after losing the woman he loved.  He did not strike me as an incredible actor, but his performance in this movie stands out from all his other performances from the small number of movies I have seen him in.  If he keeps this up, he may end up in the same level as Michael Keaton.

3.) Initially, there are plenty of tense moments.  Attacks that appear out of nowhere that end up scaring you, moments that makes you wonder if the characters are going to make it out of alive, etc.  Even if you have seen these moments before, it still is handled well…

 

Cons: 

1.) …However, that tension starts to wear off over time, and it is kind of predictable and tiring.  Also, the plot has a few confusing moments, especially how the climax concludes.  I will not spoil what happens, but let’s just say that my impression of the end of the climax is disbelief.

2.) While it is not used that often, the CG is noticeably bad.  Even people who are not experts in CG are going to notice how out of place they are in this movie.  They look like they belong in a PlayStation 2 cutscene.  Maybe they should avoid using CG since there are not that many in the first place.

3.) The antagonist himself is not interesting.  I get that he is supposed to be a reflection of the main character if he ended up making the wrong choices, but he still does not have anything compelling about him other than what I mentioned and that he is kind of a crybaby to his former boss.  In fact, I can sum up his character like this:

 

Overall: 

Based off of a book of the same name, American Assassin…is good.  I know…it has been a slow month for me.  Not that many movies released recently interest me that much nor has it given me much to say.

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…No.

I digress, so if you want to see any action thriller movies relating to the Bourne movies, this will satisfy your tastes.  Otherwise, go watch It if you want something to scare you.

7/10

Do not worry, I will make it up to you with a movie that I want to see next week.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I will enjoy that movie…hopefully.

Benz Eye View: Wind River

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Wind River

Pros: 

1.) There is a surprising amount of good acting, especially from the main leads.  It is surprising to me, because I am just so used to these two leads (Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen) playing as Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch from the MCU.  Besides that, I would not say that they are getting an Academy Award anytime soon (unless the Academy’s standards are pretty low considering their last awards show), but their above-average acting is worth noting.

2.) I found the setting of the film to be quite fitting for the characters.  The cinematography creates great wide shots of the environment that only the majority of the characters understand.  Not only is it a challenge for the main characters, but also links to them in a way.  In fact, how the antagonist and the protagonist see the environment is quite interesting.  To put it simply, I like how the characters have a connection to the setting.

3.) There are plenty of quiet moments between the characters, and I appreciate it due to the acting and character standpoints.  The acting point I already told you, but for the characters, they give out some interesting moments and explanations about themselves, others, and the setting.  It makes these moments peaceful and quiet in an area that is not like a city.

 

Cons: 

1.) The film has a slow pace, so this may not appeal to everyone.  I can see people complaining that the film is too long and certain moments should be cut out, but I argue that some of those moments are needed.  I will not change your mind if you see it as the former, but it is worth noting the film’s slow pacing.

2.) As much as I like the quiet moments between the characters, I wish that their arcs are better.  The characters themselves are fine, but I found their arcs weak at best.  The main character has reasons for his growth other than his dead daughter (which it looks he moved on from), but he seems to commit to the incident just cause.  The only exception is the FBI agent, but it is clear that Jeremy Renner’s character is the one in charge in the film.

3.) One plot hole that bothers me is that the snowstorms sometimes happen in the film.  Wouldn’t those snowstorms cover up the evidence of the crime?  Then again, if that were to happen, the film would automatically be over, or the writers would have to think of way to expand the film just to solve that dilemma.  That is one big plot hole that seems to be overlooked.

 

Overall: 

Another slow day in movies (other than It, but I refuse to watch that movie, because I am a bit of wuss), so I will review a film that was released a month ago.  I do not really have much to say about it other than I can see that this will not appeal to everyone.  This is a very slow-paced film; it takes its time on certain moments and the plot is nothing spectacular, but it makes up with good character moments.  Those quiet moments are possibly the strongest points in the film.  If you are interested in a slow-paced mystery thriller in the same style as Sicario (which is written and directed by the same guy), this is the film for you.  If not, just enjoy the clown that is waiting for you on the sewers in another movie.

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I wish…sort of.

8/10

Benz Eye View: Inhumans IMAX (First Two Episodes)

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Inhumans

Pros: 

1.) There is a somewhat interesting lore/world that is shown in this TV series.  True that these types of worlds have existed before in other media (coughX-Mencough), but there are some things that kind of differentiate them a bit, such as how these people receive their powers (and a huge freaking dog).  It is one of the few things that help this show stand on its own…

2.) …The other thing that helps this show is the main lead: Black Bolt.  The actor playing the character does a good job acting as a character that has to lead his kingdom, but cannot talk due to how powerful his voice can be, and has to reduce his speech with hand signals.  I can tell through the actor’s facial reactions that the character has to restrain himself from using powers, and lead his kingdom and family with leadership and inner strength…

 

Cons: 

1.) …While Black Bolt is slightly interesting, I cannot really say the same thing about the other characters.  When the inciting incident occurs, they cannot seem to figure out how to deal with the problems properly.  Some of them just wait it out with idiotic consequences, others try to do something resulting those characters being utterly incompetent.  Even Black Bolt suffers this problem, but I can withstand the character’s idiocy due to his inability to speak.  Even the antagonist is a cliched jealous brother who wants to take over the kingdom of the Inhumans.  Other than Black Bolt, nothing about these characters stand out.

2.) These two episodes are annoyingly predictable.  First, the show has a jealous brother who wants to lead the kingdom.  What do you think is going to happen?  The main characters are forced to leave their kingdom, and head towards Earth.  Predict what is going to happen next.  I swear, if what I think of how this show’s season is going to end happens, it shows how poor the writing is for this series.  The writing is so poor that Iron Fist can do a better job.  Maybe the show will get better with future episodes, but as it stands, this is not how you capture the audience’s interest.

3.) I can list a few more things wrong with these first two episodes of the show, so here are a few I can list.  The CG is pretty bad, but since this is a TV series, I will give it a slight pass (although, Doctor Who had better CG).  Some actors are terrible in their performances, there are moments in the show that are not needed (although, they may be building it up to something that I do not really care for), and certain moments that are meant to be serious end up being funny.  First impressions are important, and this is not how you do it.

 

Overall: 

With the MCU rising in movies and Netflix series, its weakest area is arguably their TV series (with the somewhat exception of Agent Carter).  I have only seen a couple of episodes of Agents of SHIELD, and it did not really capture my attention.  Now, Marvel recently released the first two episodes of their new show: Inhumans in theaters before the show gets released a few weeks later.  Originally a film that was going to be released in Phase 3 of the MCU, this superhero group was built up in Agents of SHIELD, and they get their own show.  How well did its first two episodes leave their impression?  Two words: not well.  If this is how the MCU is going to introduce their alternate version of X-Men (admit it, they are thanks to certain film studio that is too stubborn to let go or at least share ALL of the film rights of those characters), their first impressions are not good.  The show is predictable, the characters are unbearable (other than Black Bolt to an extent), and so many other errors that keep this show down.  Maybe the show gets better as it progresses, and I admit that some part of me wants to continue watching it despite its huge amounts of flaws, but as it stands, the first two episodes of the Inhumans makes you want to watch another group of superheroes that stand out from society.

Skip It*

*I am changing the Pass rating with a Skip It to avoid confusion.

Benz Eye View: Marvel’s The Defenders

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Marvel’s The Defenders

Pros: 

1.) All four members of the Defenders: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist have their own character arcs that actually converge into the main plot: four heroes have to fight an evil organization before they deal their evil power to the world (in this case, New York).  It is written well enough to give these people reasons why they have to join together to stop one big organization that has built up in two of the Marvel Netflix series.  Not only that, all four characters have their own plot lines involving their own personal problems.  Overall, the narrative is written well enough to give these four heroes an excuse on why they have to join together to become the Defenders.

2.) For the first couple of episodes, I really like how each of the main characters have their own visual tones.  Those tones are red (Daredevil), purple (Jessica Jones), yellow (Luke Cage), and green (Iron Fist).  While it is not that noticeable as the episodes progress, I do like the visual color symbolism that represents these characters that we have been following for a couple of years now.

3.) I love how the characters interact with each other thanks to the written dialogue and acting.  It shows how these actors (particularly the four main leads) are having fun with each other while acting out in their roles.  Iron Fist and Luke Cage are great friends despite a rocky start, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have a rocky relationship since they were former lovers, Daredevil and Jessica Jones are in a not-so-great lawyer-client relationship, and so many more.  That is just including the main characters; some of the side characters get some time to shine as well.  However, the series knows how to focus on what is important: the four main leads, and they did so wonderfully.

 

Cons: 

1.) While the heroes are well-realized, I cannot say the same thing with the villains.  It is a shame since despite having great performances from actors like Sigourney Weaver, none of the villains have a shred of compelling moments whatsoever.  I really wanted to like them, but their motivations are so cliched and typical that I lost interest in them as the series went on.  In contrast, the past Marvel Netflix antagonists (i.e. Wilson Fisk, Kilgrave, and Diamondback) are compelling enough to be a match with the other heroes.  While the villains in this series are still a competent threat, they are not as interesting as the past villains we had in each of the series.

2.) There are some great action scenes, but there are also some poor ones as well.  I blame it on the cinematography on certain action moments, because they use the low-lighting shots that are way too close to see what is actually happening in these fights.  The worst action moments involve Madame Gao, because all she does is some sort of Force Push-like attack that looks lame, because the actress is way too old to move like a karate master (and I cannot really blame her).  Also, there are attack blows that clearly did not hit, and some people do not seem to take the fight seriously and just flail the bodies around just to look like they are attacking.  I did say that there are some good action scenes, but the bad ones are really obvious.

3.) I found the last half of the series to be the least interesting compared to the first half.  Whereas the first half was establishing the events of the series (the first episode is admittedly a catch-up episode, which is nice if slightly boring), the second half does not really hold up as much.  It reminds me of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies.  The first one is a mystery movie while the second one is not since the characters know who the criminal is and they have to stop his evil plan.  This parallels with this series: the first half is a mystery while the second half is stopping the villains, except not as interesting as the mystery portion.  The pace is slow (the first half had slow pacing, but the series took advantage of it), it is kind of predictable, and I have seen other shows and movies that do the same thing, but better (coughAvengerscough).

 

Overall: 

Two years ago, the first season of Daredevil was aired on Netflix as part of Marvel’s Netflix series coinciding with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  From those past two years, Jessica Jones, Daredevil (Season 2), Luke Cage, and Iron Fist were released on Netflix as well.  All of those shows were building up to the newly released The Defenders.  Does all that build-up work as well as The Avengers five years ago?  To a certain extent, yes, but it could have been done better.  I enjoyed all four main characters (three to be exact, because Iron Fist still kind of sucks) and I like how they joined together to face a huge threat that they cannot fight alone.  That is the main reason why this series is pretty good to begin with: the four main characters.  Their interactions, heroism, and characteristics are what makes anyone appreciate this series and its build-up for the past couple of years.  However, it does have some noticeable flaws like the antagonists and the narrative falling apart in the second half.  If you wanted to have four of the Marvel Netflix heroes join together to fight an evil organization, you will get it here.  However, with the flaws that I have pointed out, it could have been so much better.  Here’s hoping the second season is much better, as well as the other Marvel Netflix series and the upcoming Punisher series.

Occasional Viewing

Benz Eye View: Birth of the Dragon

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Birth of the Dragon

Pros: 

1.) The movie spends plenty of time talking about the lore of kung fu, and it is interesting.  While it has been done before, it is intriguing why these Shaolin monks believe in kung fu and their religion.  It feels like they are talking about a world that is different than ours (then again, all religions do that).  It is probably thanks to the two leads’ acting that they made it believable and compelling.  It makes me want to learn more.

2.) I do enjoy the fight choreography.  I can tell these actors know how to fight with their fast and balanced movement.  Other than Railroad Tigers, it has been a long time since I watched a kung fu movie, and it is refreshing to see one after watching so many action movies.

3.) I like how the two main leads, Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man have their own interpretations of kung fu and how they express them.  The two are different sides of the coin; one is a show-off and arrogant while the other is calm and reserved.  It fits in how they fight and act in certain situations.  It also gives an interesting personal conflict of how they share their beliefs in kung fu.

 

Cons: 

1.) There is one plot involving a Chinese girl in the movie that I have a couple problems with it.  The first reason is that I find it a little hard to believe that the events in that plot are actually real.  The second reason is that it does not feel like it belongs in this movie.  It already talks about the conflict between two masters who have different views on how to use kung fu, and it suddenly has a plot that feels shoehorned in.  Maybe it actually did happen, but it does not really work here…

2.) …The big reason why that it does not really work is because the side characters involved are not interesting.  They only seem to exist just to move the plot forward with no compelling characteristics.  I do not even remember their names or characteristics other than the basic ones; they are that bland.  Even the antagonists feel shoehorned in despite having some presence in the movie.  In short, the only reason for this movie to exist in terms of characters are Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man who have a better compelling plot.

3.) As much as I love the fight choreography, I am not a fan of its cinematography.  One of the things that Wong Jack Man said was that kung fu should not be stylized; I guess the cinematographers and editors did not take that advice.  While it may not look that bad and there are times where we actually see the fights, I do not like how they keep cutting and have long shots where the characters are in the background.  Not to mention the slow-motion moments were not needed, and times where the fights suddenly cut to black.  Let us see the action up close instead from afar, and decrease the number of cuts.

 

Overall: 

Admittedly, I have not really watched many of Bruce Lee’s work throughout my life (I watched more of Jackie Chan and Jet Li’s movies) or even any movies and shows based on him.  Plus, I heard a movie about Bruce Lee coming in theaters, so I decided to check it out since it has been a while since I watched a kung fu movie.  After leaving the movie, there are plenty of things left to be desired.  I do not really mind the movie that much, but it could have been so much better.  The lore about kung fu is interesting, the conflict between the two kung fu masters is compelling, and the fight choreography reminds me of the kung fu movies of long ago.  However, the movie is driven down with a below basic narrative, uninteresting side characters, and fight cinematography that is sometimes in the same level as a below-basic action movie.  Watch it if you are fan of Bruce Lee and kung fu movies, but I get the feeling you will end up wanting to watch a Bruce Lee movie instead.

5/10

Benz Eye View: The Hitman’s Bodyguard

HitmansBodyguard
The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Pros: 

1.) Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson work well together as action stars and a comedy duo.  They give a good chemistry that makes the movie more enjoyable than it is.  While the actors are just playing themselves, they are clearly having fun with each other (at least, Samuel L. Jackson is having fun).

2.) The action can be quite entertaining.  While it can be shaky at times, they are heart-pumping and enjoyable enough to make any action fan stick to their seats to see what happens next.

3.) I found the first half to be a slog, but the other half is when it gets more entertaining.  The stakes and threats increase as the movie progresses, and it gets exhilarating as it happens.  The first half was kind of slow and has to get some plot elements (and bickering between the two leads) out of the way, and it makes the second half much better with a bigger conflict and action sequences.

 

Cons: 

1.) The movie is sadly predictable.  Here is a big hint why: the movie is about two people, one is a hitman and the other is a bodyguard, not getting along with each other, and they have to go to one place in order to make sure that a tyrant gets sent to jail.  From that logline, you know what is going to happen, so I will not even bother spoiling it for you.  If the movie has a little bit more originality, than at least we will not know what is going to happen for a little bit.

2.) I mention before that Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson are great as a comedy duo, so it is unfortunate that many of the jokes (particularly not involving the two leads) do not land.  Many of those jokes are weak or cheap (i.e. fart jokes).  It is good thing those two leads are around, because this movie would be a bigger slog to go through.

3.) There are obvious moments that an actor is front of a green-screen if you pay attention; they look like they belong in the news shows.  It takes you out of the movie for a bit, and when an action scene occurs with that screen, the scene itself loses its tension.

 

Overall: 

Must be another slow weekend in the movie theaters if they released a movie like this.  I really do not have much to comment other than this movie is just OK.  If you want another buddy comedy action movie that is currently in theaters, this will do just fine, but there are better ones that are in Netflix (i.e. Hot Fuzz).  Look at the movie like this: it is closest thing for Deadpool being in the MCU co-starring Nick Fury and Elektra.  Futile, I know, but what else can I do?

6/10