Benz Eye View: The Hateful Eight

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The Hateful Eight

Pros:

The acting is great.  One great thing about it is that the actors make small details in their acting that work pretty well.  It is especially needed in the first half of the film (I will get to that in a moment).

The comedy is really dark, and it fits well into this film.  This IS a Quentin Tarantino film after all, and he puts in his unique storytelling style into the comedy.  It is utterly ridiculous, and I love it (except for one thing that I will get into later).

Speaking of storytelling, the mystery is intriguing enough to make you wonder what is going on, and who is involved.  Is it this guy or the other?  You can certainly trust some people, but even the film makes you question them enough if they have something devious in their sleeves.

Cons:

The first half of the film goes on for WAY TOO LONG.  The actors did well enough to make it tolerable, but it ends up getting boring.  They show almost every detail on what is happening to these people, particularly their backstories.  You have to be pretty patient to get through this overly two-hour long film (or in some versions, three hours).

Since this film used 70 mm film format, you will notice the two black bars from the top and bottom rows of the screen.  Because of that, I can only recommend going to a theater that supports the 70 mm format in order to remove this issue.  Everywhere else, if you have a problem with it, get used to seeing those bars.

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EX:A. Standard 35mm  B. Super 35  C. Technirama sequential exposure negative  D. Magnetic Track CinemaScope  E.  70mm  F. Optical Track CinemaScope

There is a certain thing that happens to a character that is very cringe-worthy.  I will leave it that.

Overall:

Quentin Tarantino is one of the most unique filmmakers today.  He makes very intriguing films that stand out (i.e. Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, etc.).  Funny enough, this film was almost never made since its script was leaked into the internet.  This made him cancel the film (and he thought about making it into a novel) until he changed his mind after he made a live read of the script.  Now with this film, I thought it was pretty good.  It still lives up to Tarantino’s quirky film-making.  I would not go as far as saying this is one of his best works (you can thank the first half of the film for that), but it is a worthy addition to his film-making credit.  If you are a huge fan of Tarantino’s work, this is really the film for you.  However, everyone else will just end up sticking to watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens…again (a film that he despises, but look it up if you want the full story).

8/10

Benz Eye View: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The moment is finally here.  We end the Star Wars Marathon (until the next Star Wars film) with the one we have been anticipating.  This will be a day long remembered indeed…

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

There are going to be MINOR SPOILERS in this review.  Not bad enough that is going to ruin the experience, but I like to give a fair warning since everyone wants to see it for themselves.

Pros:

The brand new characters in the film are excellent.  The three new characters that deserve recognition are Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren.  You get to know their motivations, advantages, and weaknesses for each of them.  It also great to see some of the old characters again (Han Solo, Chewbacca, etc.).  They all fill in their role nicely, even C-3PO.  They are more alive than many of the prequel characters.

There are great practical and special effects.  You can tell that some of the aliens and creatures (with great designs) are alive, and the ones that have to use puppetry seem to be living beings.  They only use CG when they have no other choice, and even they are great most of the time.

You can tell they were giving their all for this film, because the production makes this film immersive just like the Original Trilogy.  The sound effects (my favorite is Kylo Ren’s lightsaber), the costumes, the music (composed by the great John Williams), and many more tell me that they did not want to let the audience and fans down.  Not to mention the direction by J.J. Abrams is completely different from George Lucas’s, and very good at that.  His creativity and imagination is strong with him.

 

Cons:

Many will argue that this film treads a bit too much into the Original Trilogy.  I am not going to give the details due to spoilers, but I can see the point as there are elements that they borrowed from the original films (particularly A New Hope), making it seem a little bit less creative.

There are plenty of foreshadowing in this film.  Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope had this as well, but they were very subtle about it, and they made the audience want to ask for more.  This one makes the audience ask for what is going to happen next in the sequel.  It does not end in a cliffhanger, but it is worth noting.

I wish we get to know some of the new characters.  We get to know Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren, but the other characters barely get enough screen time.  I like to know more about Poe Dameron and General Hux, because what they do and how they interact with others (i.e. General Hux does not fear Kylo Ren) are very interesting.  One character that got plenty of attention is Captain Phasma, because she is a female Stormtrooper officer that is not a sex appeal, but she barely gets time in the screen.  Hopefully in the next two films, we will know them better.

 

Overall:

On October 30, 2012, Disney announced that they bought Lucasfilm, the film company that created Star Wars, from George Lucas with $4.05 billion.  When all was said and done, they also announced that they were going to do a Sequel Trilogy for Star Wars, making everyone cheer for joy.  Not everyone was happy when they heard that one cost of that is they have to consider almost everything that happened in the Star Wars Expanded Universe non-canon.  Besides that, everyone was thrilled to see the old cast together again with a few new faces.  Today, December 18, 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released into theaters.  Was the hype worth it?  Did it overcome its predecessors (especially the Prequel Trilogy)?  Did everyone who bought their tickets early, and wait in long lines to see this movie become satisfied?  Is it the Star Wars film that everyone had been waiting for a long time?

…YES!  This is the film that Star Wars fans have been waiting for in thirty years.  I wonder what took them so long to make another one after the Original Trilogy.  They probably could have made a prequel about Darth Vader and his story of how he went to the dark side and…wait.

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Oh, yeah.  I forgot.

Is Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens better than the prequels?  Of course they are better.  It kicked their butts.  Is it better than the Original Trilogy?  I do not want to get to that yet, because there are still two more films coming in our way along with the Star Wars Anthology Series.  If you REALLY have to ask, I say it may be a bit better than Return of the Jedi.  Regardless, it is great to see a really good Star Wars film again.  I would say go and watch it, but who am I kidding?  You already are, or you are just waiting for my review as confirmation.  Well, here is your confirmation.  Grab your lightsabers, and charge into a theater near you.

9/10

I did watch this film in 3-D, and the only thing that is worth it is the space battles…That’s it.  It also probably interfered with some of the visuals, so I do not recommend it.

If I have to sum up the entire review and movie-going experience, it is through this:

Well, it is done.  This marks the end of the Star Wars Marathon until the next two films and anthology films come out.  I hope you enjoyed my Star Wars reviews, and enjoyed the films themselves despite some of them being pretty bad.  Until then, I leave you with an iconic ending to the first Star Wars film.

 

Benz Eye View: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Here is another addition to the Star Wars Marathon on a movie no one asked for…

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

 

Pros:

The animation looks good.  I still prefer other animated films (i.e. Frozen, Big Hero 6, How to Train your Dragon, etc.), but the animators did a fine job making the characters and environments part of this world.

The voice acting is decent for the most part.  Many of the characters who had poor acting delivery in the prequels are a bit more alive in this movie.  Matt Latner and Catherine Taber as Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala respectively actually make the characters living beings, and seem to have a good romantic chemistry (for the few seconds they have been together).

The battle sequences are awesome.  They move really swiftly, but you can actually see what is going on between the combatants with some of its wide shots instead of the medium and close-up shots.  Reminds me of Jackie Chan’s movies and his stunt choreography.

 

Cons:

The dialogue is atrocious.  Not only do they state the obvious when it already happened, they are also forced and not needed.  They even keep restating the plot over and over so we can get it in our dumb heads.  I do not care if it is delivered well by the voice actors, it is still terrible.

There is stuff that are a bit too vulgar for children, and stuff that are bit too dumb for adults.  An example for adults is that they have a scene where one of the Republic ships has a decal of a sexy alien, and for children is that they make the battle droids extremely stupid to the point where you wonder why did CIS make them like that.

There are three to four different plots in this movie; way too many to follow, and none of them are interesting.  In fact, Padme’s plot does not come in until the last fourth of the movie.  It all leads to the main plot of rescuing Jabba’s son, which is stupid since we never see his son again (unless if he seen in the TV series) and Jabba gets killed in the Original Trilogy.

 

Overall:

Oh, boy.  You guys forgotten about this movie, haven’t you?  Well, Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released into theaters on August 15, 2008.  This was originally supposed to be the first few pilot episodes for the upcoming animated TV series, but George Lucas was so amazed by the animation, he thought it would be a good idea to make those episodes into a movie instead…That explains so much.  I was hesitant to review this movie since it is not really part of any of the Star Wars trilogies, but I decided to do so anyway since it was released into theaters, and we have one more day until Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Plus, it (and its TV series) are canon the current Star Wars Universe.  Regardless, this movie is bad.  How bad?  I agree with the critics who said that it is even worse than the prequels.  This should have been at least a made-for-TV movie, but they had to follow George Lucas’s idea.  You may not care for some of the characters in the movie if you have not seen Star Wars: Clone Wars (not Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  One is 2D animated while the other is 3D).  I only seen the first season the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series, and I remember enjoying it.  However, I did not enjoy this movie, and it is best for it to be forgotten in the sands of Tatooine.

2/10

Well, tomorrow is the big day.  Tomorrow is when Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released into theaters.

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Artwork by Adam Relf

Stay tune for my upcoming review tomorrow (or Saturday at the latest).  Here a couple of pretty good fan trailers to hype things up.

 

Benz Eye View: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

We end the Prequel Trilogy of the Star Wars Marathon with a film that we have been waiting for…

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Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Pros:

If you did not care about the characters from the last two movies, you will in this one.  Many of them are actual human beings (if they are not aliens) that interact, joke, recollect, and care for each other.  A big example is Anakin and Obi-Wan’s chemistry of teacher to student, brother to brother, and father to son.  It makes it more heartbreaking when the two inevitably fight each other in the climax.

Anakin Skywalker’s descent to the dark side is very good.  Plenty of political thrills, religious questioning, and desperation to save a loved one are good themes for this movie.  Combine them with a Palpatine/Darth Sidious (a great devil archetype), and you got a good reason why Anakin became Darth Vader.  Also, good amount of symbolic imagery for Anakin.  Finally, one very good scene that has no words between Anakin and Padme is an example of show, don’t tell.

This next installment of Star Wars returns to being immersive like the Original Trilogy.  Great looking and different variety of environment, creature, droid, and planet designs make this one of the main reasons why this movie stands out over the other prequels, and why it is at least the closest we can get for a prequel to be in the same level as the originals.

 

Cons:

The romance between Anakin and Padme still sucks.  However, it is mainly because of the dialogue between the two.  Anakin’s desperation to save Padme due to his love for her works, but how Padme goes out is just…stupid.  Also, Hayden Christensen barely improved from the last movie, but he still does not do a good job.

Even though the battle scenes are excellent, the movie still overuses the CG and green screen (although they do a much better job than the last two movies).  However, the climactic battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan is too-well coordinated.  Very few times that they actually make the characters mess up in their battles.  You may argue that they are using the Force to fight much better than usual, but it still is a too-well choreographed fight.

I notice a few plot holes and some logical insults.  The biggest one is when Obi-Wan said, “Only a Sith deals with absolutes.”  No…everyone deals with absolutes, including Jedi.  You may argue that is a Jedi belief, then it is a stupid Jedi belief.

 

Overall:

The final movie of the Prequel Trilogy, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was released into theaters on May 19, 2005.  George Lucas was working on this movie before Attack of the Clones was released into theaters, which may say something about how focused he was on Episode II.  The third episode of the series is considered to be the best/more tolerable of the prequels.  By watching this movie, you can tell they were giving their all into finishing this (some more than others), especially when you note that this movie is more symbolic than any of the other prequels: The use of cinematography, lighting, and settings is one of the reasons why this prequel works well.  Other than the artistic side, it is one Star Wars movie worth recommending to watch, but you have to watch through the other boring and badly done prequels before this to get a better idea.  Could the prequels be better?  I will get to that, but for this movie, it is a definitely a watch as it is the one we had been waiting for since the start of the Prequel Trilogy.

8/10

Here is a viewing and listening comparison I noticed when watching both the Original and Prequel Trilogies.  There are times when I have to look away from the TV screen to work on something.  For the Original Trilogy, not only did I enjoy what I saw, but also what I hear when I am not looking.  However, for the Prequel Trilogy, there are few times that I enjoy what I saw, and fewer times that I hear; the one that I paid more attention to is Revenge of the Sith.  Take that into consideration when you watch both of the trilogies.

With the prequels, many people asked if George Lucas is going to do a Sequel Trilogy, in which he said no every time.  However, we all know that we are about to get one in a couple of days.  Besides that, what do I think about the Prequel Trilogy?  I can see why George Lucas did this, because I see the potential of a story on the origin of Darth Vader.  However, the reason why it is hated is because there are many elements of the movies that he just screwed up.  Some pretty poor writing, overuse of green screen and CG, and the lack of feeling in the world of Star Wars is what makes the prequels unpopular.  I do not think it is as bad as everyone said, but it certainly not as good as the originals.  Let us hope that the sequels will do a better job.

Now that the Prequel Trilogy is over, here is a tribute video that I found:

Now we have one more movie in the Star Wars film series.  “Wait,” you may ask, “You already reviewed all six films.  There is nothing left to review.”  No.  There is one more movie out there, and it is a movie that you guys probably have forgotten.

Star Wars Holiday Special
NO!  Not that!  I am not reviewing that!

Benz Eye View: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Continuing in the Star Wars Marathon, we also continue the Prequel Trilogy with…

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Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Side note: Terrible trailer for showing pretty much the entire movie.

Pros:

Obi-Wan Kenobi is the best character in this movie.  Not only does he seem to be the only one of the major characters alive in this movie (mainly because the other major characters do not seem to have that much emotion), but his actor, Ewan McGregor made his role his own while still making sure it is the Obi-Wan we know from the Original Trilogy.

I do like that the movie is showing signs of Anakin Skywalker’s descent to the dark side.  His journey on becoming a Jedi, but struggles to keep his emotions and anger into check.  He will become Darth Vader in the end (whether you guys like it or not), but the signs of how he became what he was is interesting (I just wish the acting and delivery is better).

The action scenes are really cool.  Sure, most of it is in a green screen or CG, but they are just fun enough to keep you on your toes.

 

Cons:

This is absolutely one of the worst romances I have ever seen.  Not only is it kind of creepy, but Anakin and Padme have no chemistry.  Terrible and wooden dialogue makes it cringe-worthy, and it does not help that Hayden Christensen does a terrible job on his acting performance (I did hear that he is actually a decent actor, so this is probably George Lucas’s fault).

Like the last movie, they are overusing the CG again.  It gets ridiculous, especially in the climactic battle where almost every soldier (clone troopers and droids) are completely CG.  The biggest example is Yoda himself; he may be a moving, living creature, but you can tell that it is a CG model.

Even though it is not as bad as The Phantom Menace, the plot is just barely interesting.  Obi-Wan’s investigation may have been tolerable, but the rest is just not worth mentioning.

 

Overall:

In May 16, 2002, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones was released into theaters.  After Episode I, fans were not looking forward to the next two movies.  This discouraged George Lucas, and he struggled to write and direct the next iteration of Star Wars.  From what I can tell, he did a bit better than the last movie, but that is not saying much.  The story is nothing to write home about, the dialogue is stiff (and the romantic dialogue belongs to a horrible fan fiction), and the CG stands out over the live actors.  I really do not have much to say about this movie; it is just there so we can finally get to the movie where Anakin becomes Darth Vader.  Until then, you are just going to have to go through one of the worst romances in movie history.

6/10

I barely had much to say about this movie, so I will let Doug Walker explain it in a few seconds.

Tomorrow is the last movie of the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, and arguably the best of them.

Benz Eye View: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

We continue the Star Wars Marathon with the Prequel Trilogy, starting with…

EPI_TPM_poster
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Pros:

Regardless how you feel about the prequels, there is still a great amount of creativity.  The music, the sound, the aliens, the costumes, the mythology (more or less), and many others still show that this is a Star Wars movie.

Even though it goes on a bit too long, my favorite scene in this movie is the Pod Racing.  It is very reminiscent to Ben-Hur‘s chariot scene, but this scene has more risks and dangers than the chariots just crashing into each other.

The battles in this movie are better than the ones in the Original Trilogy.  After getting through the way too long amount of political subplot, the battles in the climax are a huge relief and great entertainment.  The best battle is the duel between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Darth Maul.  Considering that Darth Maul is played by martial artist actor Ray Park, the choreography is excellent and fast-paced enough to make one exhilarating duel.

 

Cons:

It is not very good when you start a movie with Asian racist stereotypes.  In fact, there are plenty of racist stereotypes in this movie.  The biggest offender for this is Jar Jar Binks.  Not only is he not funny, but he is also really annoying, and a racist stereotype for African-Americans.

Despite making great-looking alien, droid, and monster designs; the CG REALLY stands out.  Unlike the Special Edition versions of the Original Star Wars Trilogy, almost everything in the movie has CG instead of practical effects.  They are not bad, but you can tell they are CG creatures and backgrounds.

There are plenty of things wrong with this movie in terms of story, lore, and mythology.  Ignoring some of the bad dialogue and its delivery, the writing is inefficient.  Some areas they spend are way too long, other areas they spend are too short, and other areas they should have never had covered (i.e. midi-chlorians).

 

Overall:

In May 19, 1999, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released into theaters.  EVERYONE was excited to see a new installment to Star Wars.  They all lined up for the first prequel for the new Star Wars.  They took their seats, wait through the commercials, the movie starts, everybody cheered, the movie ends, and everyone booed at it.  This is not the movie they were looking/hoping for, because it seems to contradict many things from the original Star Wars films.  Is it as terrible as everyone has said?  For me,…I do not think it is that bad.  Is it better than the original trilogy?  NO!  The original trilogy will always be the best of the Star Wars trilogy (although we will see how the sequel trilogy will do).  There are still some good things about this movie specifically, it is just cluttered with other sorts of production and story messes.  The one BIG problem that I see in this movie is that they are setting up for future sequels for the Prequel Trilogy.  This would be OK, but with so many story problems, they did a really poor job on it.  Not to mention Jar Jar Binks and Jake Lloyd as a young Anakin Skywalker, the audience were really not happy.  I still see some of the good things over the bad, but it was not a good start for the Prequel Trilogy.

5/10

This movie was so bad to many people, a man named Mike J. Nichols created a fan edit for the movie in 2000 called Star Wars Episode 1.1: The Phantom Edit.  It is said to be much better than the original.  I have not seen it, nor do I plan to review it, but I may one day.

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Star Wars Episode 1.1: The Phantom Edit

Stay tune tomorrow for the next review for the next movie.  Until then, here is something for you Jar Jar Binks haters.

Benz Eye View: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

The Star Wars Marathon continues with the conclusion of the Original Trilogy…

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Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Pros:

Our favorite characters are back, and better than ever.  The character with the biggest change is Luke Skywalker, and he is an example of a character following the Hero’s Journey.  My favorite moments in the movie are with him, especially when he is interacting with Darth Vader.

The battle sequences (with the exception of the Ewoks battle) are exhilarating.  One of the greatest battle sequences is the space battle above Endor.  It is like the space battle above Yavin 4 in the first Star Wars film, but amplified since it has more risks and dangers.

The monsters, costumes, and production designs are well-thought out.  As usual, it is what makes the film series alive and immersive.  The ones that deserve the most credit are the rancor and Jabba the Hutt.  In fact, I just notice some interesting details that they added on Jabba, like the disgusting slime and boogers.  No wonder Carrie Fisher hated the slimeball.

 

Cons:

Some of the changes from the original are stupid.  I was fine with most of the changes from the last two films, but the ones in this movie I am not fond of.  Two big examples are the singing scene in Jabba’s Palace (an example of bad CG), and (exclusively on the Blu-Ray version) Darth Vader’s “NO” scene when the Emperor is electrocuting Luke (a scene that ruins the emotional moment with Darth Vader).

I know that this part of the plot is important, but the Jabba plot goes on for a third of the movie.  Not the worst thing about the movie, but it goes on a bit too long in my opinion.  It does have purpose, but it feels like the filmmakers are obligated to do this, so they can actually progress to the story they have intended.

This movie is pretty slow, especially in the first two acts.  The battle scenes and emotional moments are what make the movie a little more tolerable, but it is does drag on without them.  Very few moments are gripping, and they cannot make the movie stand out.

 

Overall:

In May 25, 1983, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was released in theaters.  The movie did well, but it is considered the worst of the Star Wars movies (until the prequels came out).  Not to say it is a terrible movie, but it does not live up to expectations when compared to the last two films.  I am going to have to agree with them as well.  There are plenty of great moments, and it is indeed a Star Wars movie, but it does not overcome its predecessors.  It is a good conclusion to the original trilogy (especially if you bring the prequels in mind…or not).  I still recommend it since there are still great moments like the battles and emotional scenes.  It may not be the best of the originals, but it does not stop Star Wars from being one of the greatest film franchises ever.

7/10

With the end of the Star Wars Original Trilogy, George Lucas became busy for the next couple of decades.  In 1984, he created the first digital editing systems: the Editdroid and Sounddroid.  It helped make editing much easier for filmmakers.

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Editdroid

In 1985, Lucasfilm’s computer division created a unique computer animation: 3D animation.  It was later sold and re-branded into an animation company that EVERY ONE OF YOU should know.

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Look familiar?

After helping Steven Spielberg on the special effects of the film Jurassic Park, George Lucas decided to “perfect” his vision.  In 1997, he released the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition.

It was great to see the films back in theaters again, but fans and audiences notice some of the changes that they did not like (i.e. special effects that really stand out, some additional audio, different visuals, etc.).  Whether you like it or not, Lucas would end up changing much of the Original Star Wars with the DVD and Blu-Ray releases.  As of this blog post, he still refused to release the original unaltered version of Star Wars that many die-hard fans want.

Now that I am finished with the Original Trilogy, here is a little tribute video I found:

Tomorrow, I will take a look and review the Prequel Trilogy…oh, boy.

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Don’t listen to him!