Benz Eye View: Atomic Blonde

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Atomic Blonde

Pros: 

1.) If there is one actor who stands out in this movie, it is James McAvoy as David Percival.  Charlize Theron is fine as a hard-boiled heroine, but McAvoy stands out more for a bigger range of his performance from comical to serious.  Theron remains mostly serious throughout the movie, so McAvoy gets the most attention in acting despite Theron being the main actress.

2.) With the music, visual filters, and cinematography, I do like how the tone is consistent throughout the movie.  It feels grim, dark yet bright, and colorless.  While I am not that big into that type of atmosphere, I do admire that the filmmakers know how to make a steady tone.

3.) The action choreography reminds so much of the John Wick movies.  In fact, the director of this movie, David Leitch was involved in those movies.  The best action moments are the two “one-shot” sequences in a building and a hotel room.  They show the painful blows against each fighter, and how tired they are as the sequence continues.  They clearly got the idea from a certain Marvel Netflix show involving a blind man…

 

Cons: 

1.) …However, I spotted several ways where Charlize Theron’s character should have been killed or incapacitated.  I know she is supposed to be a strong woman, but with some of those blows she received in this movie, I am surprised that she was still standing.  It really pushes my suspension of disbelief, and I am sure that some people will not buy her survival skills.

2.) There is one big narrative problem: the entire movie relies on the main character, Lorraine Broughton talking about the events she went through to MI6.  Throughout the entire movie, I never felt that she was in danger, because she is the one narrating those events, meaning she clearly survived the whole case.  It would have been better if the movie started in the beginning, and then end with the interrogation.

3.) I found the story hard to follow.  The basics are simple: Lorraine has to find the List that contains the names of all the agents of the Soviet Union before they do.  The events leading up to the last act are confusing.  There are plenty of moments where I felt that movie halts for a bit, and a few plot points that are not properly explained enough.  As a result, I hardly cared for the dangers and tensions other than the aforementioned action sequences.

 

Overall: 

Based on the 2012 graphic novel called The Coldest City (I never heard of it either), Atomic Blonde really does not have much going for it.  Few things like the fight choreography are great to look at, but there is nothing much to comment about this movie other than it has been done before and done better (i.e. Casino Royale).  If the plot was easy to follow, I would give it a better rating, but as it stands, this is one movie that is best left closed other than fans of the John Wick movies, but that is slightly pushing it.

6/10

Benz Eye View: The Dark Tower

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The Dark Tower (2017)

Pros: 

1.) The two actors who stand out in this movie are Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey.  I found their acting subtler than any of their other roles in their past films, but they do stand out over the other actors who are simply doing their jobs, resulting of a lacking stand-out actor other than the previous two I mentioned.

2.) I like that the areas where the movie was shot in are on-location as far as I can tell.  I know this is a weak pro, but I can find very few pros that are worth mentioning (i.e. the CG is tolerable).

3.) I can see that the world of The Dark Tower has potential.  The movie mentions that there are plenty of worlds that are not yet seen, and I like that idea of the main leads going to these worlds one day…

 

Cons: 

1.) …The huge problem that this movie has is that they do not explain the world of this movie enough.  The first big warning sign is that the antagonist needs children in order to use his cannon-like object to destroy the Dark Tower.  Why is it only children?  Why not adults as well?  The movie gives out so many questions, and leaves many of them unanswered.  When it comes to fantasy, you need to give a good amount of explanation on how the world works (especially if the audience is not familiar with those worlds).  As a result, there are moments that are going to be considered plot holes or conveniences.

2.) The main child actor playing the child protagonist, Jake Chambers is not good.  I get his character is supposed to be depressed and down, but how the actor executes his role is outright dull.  He is not convincing when he is trying to be serious and emotional when certain scenes call his character for that certain moment.  In fact, when one certain scene calls for his character to be sad, his execution made me snicker.  The boy needs more acting classes, then he can work alongside and look as good with his better actors like Idris Elba.

3.) The action scenes are lackluster.  It is just the usual shooting scenes that do not really have much weight and tension.  Technically, there is tension, but I can easily guess what is going to happen, because those scenes are predictable and lack weight.  The only exception is the battle in the climax, but I found that there are several ways that the main characters should have died, but the movie gives a poor excuse on how they manage to survive.

 

Overall: 

Based on the novel series of the same name by Stephen King, The Dark Tower has been a popular book series since 1982 (a series I never read).  After several delays since the film project started back in 2007, the movie was finally released in 2017…and it probably should have delayed it a bit longer, because the final product is not good with the lack of explanation of its world being the biggest flaw.  I can see plenty of potential for this movie, and so did the creators, because they were planning to have a TV series that takes place after the movie if it succeeded.  Considering how the movie went out, I find it doubtful that will ever happen.  I have heard that this movie is unfaithful to the novels, so the fans must be pretty mad.  If you want something that is true to its source material, read the novels since I heard they are good.  If you want a movie that is a western sci-fi fantasy of 2017, just wait for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, because The Dark Tower is not the movie you are looking for.

4/10

 

Benz Eye View: The Emoji Movie

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The Emoji Movie

Pros: 

1.) The animation is not really that bad.  Sure, the characters are walking emojis, but they appear serviceable and…and…Pfft…Heh heh…Ha ha ha ha…

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Cons: 

1.) Oh, where do I begin?  How about starting out with the “jokes” in this family movie?  They suck.  They are predictable.  They do not land well.  They do not hold this movie together.  When I was in the theater, only three adults were laughing (they must have hated this movie so much that they lost their minds).  If not even the children were laughing at your family movie, you know you have failed at comedy.

2.) Since the majority of the movie takes place in a cell phone, I found the world inside it to be really confusing and convoluted.  There are apps for emoji, but there are also some apps for YouTube, DropBox, Facebook, and Just Dance.  No, I am not kidding; there are product placements everywhere in this movie.  The main character, Gene is supposed to be a meh emoji, but he is a malfunction that makes him a wide arrange of emoji; I do not know how that works, but fine.  This is one of those worlds that if you think about it too much, you are going to have a huge migraine due to how many questions of the functionality of the world like in the Cars movies (i.e. how do emoji spawn children?).

3.) There are SO many things I despise about this movie that I will try to list many of them in this con.  The characters are annoying and hard to bear (in fact, one character, Hi-5 the hand emoji creates many conflicts due to his stupidity) with their own sub-plots that no one will really care for such as Gene’s parents due to how dull they are (because their meh emoji, get it?).  The editing makes the movie move in a fast-pace that it barely leaves the audience and characters time to breathe, and somehow the movie still ends up feeling too long.  The message has been done to death before, but for some reason, it does not feel like it should belong in a family movie since the message is slightly adult (I would tell that you will understand it when you adults see it, but please do not).  The dialogue is so atrocious that I want these characters to shut up; here is one example of their WONDERFUL dialogue: “Emojis are the most important form of communication ever invented.”

giphy (1)

One sub-plot that the movie constantly keeps going back to is that Alex, the child who owns the phone that Gene and the other emoji live in, wants to talk to a girl that he has a crush on, but he is too shy to attempt it, so his solution is to send an emoji to her.  How about, oh, I do not know, TALK TO HER YOURSELF YOU IDIOT?!  Even the finale itself is confusing and filled with so much deus ex machina and plot holes that I am not bothering to cover it not because I do not want to spoil it, but because I do not even want to bother thinking about it.  Do you want to know the worst part of this movie that I realized?  This movie is trying WAY TOO HARD to be Inside Out.  Whereas Inside Out was really good, The Emoji Movie is utter garbage.  A clever film that is well-constructed and thought out versus a lazy movie that will be forgotten due to its lack of good ideas and moments; who do you think is going to win?

Overall: 

…Yep…It is as bad as you expected when you saw that teaser trailer.  There is an animated movie about emojis.  Whose bright idea was that?  Admittedly, I was willing to give this movie a chance.  I thought it might actually be good, because The Lego Movie did not look good in the trailers due to being one big product placement (which it is), but the film itself was great.  Until I heard that it was outright terrible.  For some reason, this did not discourage me from watching it, but instead gave me curiosity.  I decided to watch it with someone alongside me.  That person slept throughout most of the movie, the children did not appear to have any fun, and I end up leaving the theater like this:

giphy

I knew it was going to bad, but I somehow feel happy and enraged at the same time (I think I am becoming a bit of a masochist now).  There is nothing good about this movie other than the animation and Sir Patrick Stewart as the Poop emoji.

the-emoji-movie-poster-poop-patrick-stewart
That is honestly a fitting metaphor for this movie. 

If you want to have your sanity drained by this shameful attempt of a movie, go right ahead.  I cannot stop you.  However, if you want to save yourself from being a masochist, watch something else worthy for your time, because this is not the emoji movie you are looking for.  It is in another dimension where it is actually creative and funny instead of this piece of Poop_Emoji_2_grande.

1/10

There is a short (yes, there is A SHORT ANIMATED MOVIE) from Hotel Transylvania called Puppy!, and it might not be the best short in the world, but it is so much better than this movie.

Benz Eye View: Dunkirk

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Dunkirk

Pros: 

1.) The one thing that should be immediately apparent is the sound.  Other than it is SO FREAKING LOUD, the sound helps make the tension and suspense utterly real.  It makes you feel you are there with these soldiers when they are experiencing despair and helplessness in an area that might as well be a minefield.  Also, the cinematography (especially in the air battle scenes) makes each sequence effective and practical enough to reinforce the feeling of realism that goes alongside being part of what is happening in the film.

2.) I love how throughout the entire film that the tone is filled with despair and helplessness, and yet some areas of hope.  The actors (even Harry Styles of One Direction) play well in their character roles that vary from scared when being attacked by bombers to hopeful when trying to rescue the soldiers in Dunkirk.  Another thing that helps the tone is the music, which plays in a somber way that may not be memorable, but it is effective when it comes to the soldiers’ utter helplessness in Dunkirk.

3.) Christopher Nolan creates an interesting narrative by creating three stories from different points-of-views that cover different points-of-time (one is a week in the beach, another is a day in the ocean, and the last is an hour in the air) that eventually converges into one that goes along his style of creating a non-linear narrative.  It is well-executed with great pacing and editing that helps remind you that even though these narratives are not in order, they have one thing in common: the goal to get the soldiers home back to Britain.

 

Cons: 

1.) I can barely hear any of the dialogue over the sound effects and music.  I understand that this is a war film and they are meant to be loud, but not to the point that the dialogue becomes hard to hear most of the time.  The sound team did a great job with the sound effects, but needs to work on having dialogue rule over the sound…

2.) …It does not really help with the sound ruling over the dialogue, I do not really know any of the characters’ names.  In fact, I believe that the characterization is a little weak here.  There are a few exceptions, but the characterization is so weak that I am pretty sure I am not going to remember them anytime soon.  I will remember the events of the film and what those soldiers went through, but the main characters themselves have little to hold up.

 

Overall: 

I admittedly do not know much of the Dunkirk evacuation other than it eventually leads up to the Battle of Britain, so I was curious to see a film all about this moment which would be directed by Christopher Nolan of The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar fame.  He creates a three-way narrative that works very well with this film (not to mention a bit of a history lesson).  Nolan creates a tone that is filled with despair for the soldiers stuck at the beach and the ocean, but still hopeful thanks to the voluntary sailors who assisted at getting the soldiers out of Dunkirk and the very few Royal Air Force that are willing to defend them despite small numbers.  While it would have been better if the characters are more developed, the events themselves are tense, suspenseful, and inspiring.  With great production and post-production value, Christopher Nolan has created another great film about hope despite the bleakest moments in war.

9/10

Even though some soldiers may see the evacuation as a humiliation, it was still helpful that they managed to survive at all.  They may had lost that battle, but in the end, thanks to their courage and bravery despite overwhelming odds, The Allied Forces (from the USA to Britain) had won the war.

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Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old. – Winston Churchill

Benz Eye View: War for the Planet of the Apes

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War for the Planet of the Apes

Pros: 

1.) Like its previous installments, this film has excellent special effects/CG.  The apes themselves look life-like with their facial animations, appearances, and movements.  They do not look out of place when blending in with live actors and environments…

2.) …Many of the ape effects and movement are all thanks to the mocap actors, especially Andy Serkis as Caesar.  They act so much like apes (with higher intelligence), I keep forgetting that these people actually look like this:

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Kind of hard to take seriously during production.

Speaking of Andy Serkis, I cannot believe that this guy did not at least get a nomination for Best Actor in the past two films, because his performance is outstanding in this one as well.  He conveys so much emotion from anger to sadness to content when the scene allows it.  He better get a consideration for Best Actor in the Academy Awards, otherwise I will be ticked off (although considering what happened at the last Academy Awards, I would not be surprised considering the incompetency of the Academy).

3.) This trilogy knows how to show, not tell, because the film itself lets the audience swallow what happens in certain moments, and the characters’ emotions and reactions (as well as the music) speak how they actually feel instead of them talking about how they feel at the moment.  It makes many scenes powerful and emotional to the core.  Some things are more powerful if we see it rather than the characters talk about it.

 

Cons: 

1.) When a certain character gets introduced, the film gets a bit of a comedic tone alongside its serious and dramatic tones, and it does not really mix well.  Those comedic moments are pretty funny, but it feels out of place, especially when the film deals with serious moments for Caesar and his fellow apes…

2.) …Speaking of Caesar, there is a sub-plot involving his possible downfall into Koba’s (the antagonist from the last film) way of thinking.  This feels weak for two reasons.  One, it is pretty predictable.  I knew where it was going with it and how it ended, and it did not really surprise me, which leads to the second reason: they did not really go too far with it in my opinion.  I have seen similar movies do the same sub-plot, and did it better.  I feel like they should make Caesar take actions that go way too far, but in this film, they are either not that many or not too consequential.  Long story short, this film delivers a weak sub-plot about Caesar’s possible downfall into Koba’s beliefs.

3.) The antagonist in this film, The Colonel is lacking compared to the last antagonist, Koba.  He is stereotypical military religious nut-job who has some motivation, but it is weak at best, and forgettable at worst.  I was more interested in a certain plot device that drove the Colonel forward than the character himself.  In many ways, he kind of sucks leading his soldiers, because those soldiers suck in acting at certain tasks that I cannot believe that they overlooked.  How the Colonel goes out is pretty good, but he is not as compelling as Koba from the last film.

 

Overall: 

Based on the book called La Planète des Singes back in 1963, The Planet of the Apes films have been around for almost fifty years.  I unfortunately have not seen the original series (though I have been spoiled of the twist ending in the first film), but I have seen the 2001 remake directed by Tim Burton and not liking it (especially with the confusing ending).  For the reboot film series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a decent example of how to reboot films.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an outstanding film and a worthy sequel of a decent movie.  Does War for the Planet of the Apes outdo its predecessors, and make an amazing film?  While it is not as good as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, it is certainly better than Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  There are plenty of areas I can find they can improve on (i.e. the antagonist, a couple of sub-plots, the enemy base’s layout), but I find this to be a great film nonetheless with some fantastic mocap acting, special effects, visual storytelling.  It kind of bums me out that this film does not escape the curse of the third film being not as good as the second one, but it is still a great film.  If you enjoyed any of the Apes reboot films, you will enjoy this one as long you do not mind the slow pacing.

8/10

Benz Eye View: Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Spider-Man: Homecoming

Pros: 

1.) Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man is an absolutely great choice for the character.  Not only that, many of the major actors (from Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man to Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture) performed well.  In fact, all the major characters are utilized well for this film, mainly because they are utilized well in the story…

2.) …When I think of Spider-Man, I think of his famous catch phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  It is by far one the most important catch phrases in the world in my opinion, and it was implemented well in the Sam Raimi films (even the third movie to an extent), but not as much in the Marc Webb movies.  With sufficient writing and story, it is fulfilled in this film.  Considering Spider-Man is a teenager in this iteration, he clearly has much to learn, and his growth and hero’s journey in the film is great.

3.) The action scenes are cool, and funny in certain cases.  One thing that I have not really seen for Spider-Man that has not really been done before onscreen is that he does not really go into skyscrapers that much, and he ends up spending more time in areas with small buildings, making it hard for him to web-swing in certain areas.  In fact, many action scenes are challenging for the Wall-Crawler, which is a delight to see especially in the climax of a climactic battle.

 

Cons: 

1.) There are some scenes that I find unnecessary, making the film a bit too long.  Once again, saying what they are will be spoilers, but these scenes slightly drag the film a bit when it only needed a small moment to prove its point, then the film can easily move on…

2.) …There is ONE thing I want to talk about that I must spoil, so here is your warning.  (SPOILERS) There is this character named Michelle that I really do not like.  She constantly appears in the film, and she treats Peter Parker (and pretty much everyone else) like trash.  It is eventually revealed near the end that she calls herself “MJ.”  Meaning, it is implied that Michelle is Mary-Jane Watson.  Really?  I do not like her, and yet she is Mary-Jane, and will end up being Peter’s true romantic interest?  To be fair, producer and president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige said that she is not Mary-Jane Watson.  Three things come in mind: he is lying, he does not really know what is happening in the film, or he is telling the truth.  If she is going to be MJ, I would at least hope she reforms to be a better person over time.  Until then, I do not exactly accept this character as Mary-Jane Watson.  (END SPOILERS)

3.) The romance is pretty weak.  I can see that some people might argue that it is the point, but since there is a romance, I might as well criticize it a bit.  Peter Parker himself is fine, but Liz Allan is not really developed enough.  There are few character moments for her, but not enough make me truly care for her (except for one moment relating to her family).  While she is kind of cute, I will not be surprised if she does not end up with Peter anytime soon.

 

Overall:

Spider-Man: the most popular Marvel superhero, and one of two of my favorite superheroes (the other being Batman).  It was no surprise that he has several movie iterations.  With the Sam Raimi trilogy, Spider-Man (2002) was a great movie that has CG and several writing clichés that have not aged well.  Spider-Man 2 was an improvement over the previous movie despite a few pacing problems.  Spider-Man 3 was disappointing with over-bearing and confusing plots that did not work well together.  With the Marc Webb reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man was a decent movie that shows early signs that its studio, Sony cares more about creating a cinematic universe similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe than an actual film.  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was an absolute mess with those same signs being clearly obvious with its mess of a story.  It was so poorly received critically that Sony caved in (mostly thanks to the Sony leaks), and decided to share the Spider-Man film rights to Marvel Studios.  As a result, Spider-Man becomes part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by first appearing in Captain America: Civil War.  Now, he gets his own film in the MCU called Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Will this film truly represent who Spider-Man is as he is in the comics, or will the general audience get sick of the constant reboots?  I can safely say that it is a true “homecoming” for Spider-Man to enter the MCU.  I can say it is as good as Spider-Man 2, and that is because of the main character’s growth is well done, and his hero’s journey is mostly well-thought out.  It is so good to see my favorite Marvel superhero back on the big screen (even though he was rebooted…again), and officially part of the MCU.  Admittedly, I am worried on how he is treated by Sony (I mean, having Venom coming in right now is too soon).  However, if Marvel Studios can manage to steer Spidey in the right direction, I think it will be fine.  Any Spider-Man and Marvel fan will be proud of the MCU version of this famous superhero, and general audiences will get to enjoy Spider-Man once again.  Now, all we need is to have the X-Men and the Fantastic Four to come into the MCU, and we will have a true Marvel Cinematic Universe.

8/10

I did watch the film in 3D, and it is so not worth it.

Benz Eye View: Baby Driver

Baby_Driver_poster
Baby Driver

Pros: 

1.) The car chases have great cinematography and editing.  I can describe it to be Fast and the Furious, except better (to be fair, I only seen two of its latest movies, so I do not know if the previous movies can compare).  They are energetic, fun, and fast while having great camera shots/movements and editing that helps everyone know what is happening on-screen.

2.) One big thing that gets established early on in the film is sound and music.  Thanks to the editing, the beats in the music coincide with the sound in the film, making it catchy and stylistic.  Come to think of it, he loves to time his editing in his past films as well.  Think of movie trailers that plays certain moments in the music beats, and now implement that into a film.  If you are into music (which there are plenty of different songs), you will enjoy how this film implements them.

3.) Considering that the last movie I watched was Transformers: The Last Knight, this film’s directing is immensely better compared to the previous movie.  Michael Bay should take some notes from Edgar Wright, because this is how a film is directed.  Great cinematography, editing, action, and so many more is what makes a great film go around.  Compared to Michael Bay’s odd cinematography, out-of-control editing, blind action, and lack of direction, Edgar Wright creates a breath of fresh air in this film.

 

Cons: 

1.) You can argue that the last few moments of the first act are slow.  I understand that is establishing the characters and the romance a bit, but you cannot help feeling that is slow after going through a couple of intense car chases.

2.) There is a minor conflict that occurs in the third act that I felt had a pretty cheap resolve.  No spoilers, but it seems convenient that it was solved the way it did.

 

Overall:

Edgar Wright is one of the most talented film directors alive right now.  He has shown it with his Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End), and he probably would have been a great director for Marvel’s Ant-Man if Marvel Studios had not interfered.  It has been a while since his last directorial film (The World’s End) four years ago, so he made his latest film: Baby Driver.  The fact that it was written and directed by Edgar Wright already caught my attention, so I decided to check it out.  Guys, he did it again.  This is a fantastic film.  The story may be have done before, but how it was executed makes this film one amazing ride with sound and music.  Edgar Wright knows how to make a film (unlike a CERTAIN director who lost his charm with his last movie), and he is going to take you for a ride.

10/10