Benz Eye View: Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo_and_the_Two_Strings_poster
Kubo and the Two Strings

Pros:

1.) The claymation is not an easy animation technique, but if done well, the movie will look great.  While there are a few cracks here and there (i.e. some of the frames of animation do not match other frames of animation), the claymation looks great and unique; making these so-called clay figures alive.

2.) The first act is a decent way of opening to the world of the movie.  It sets up what these characters do, and why I should care for them well.  Also, the part where Kubo tells a story through moving origami is visually pleasing.  It is a nice start for a movie…

 

Cons:

1.) …However, the movie falls apart by the second act and after.  It slows down by a crawl due to uninteresting events and sequences.  The action scenes are not fun with its lackluster coordination, the funny scenes with poor punch lines, and the slightly predictable moments makes it boring.

2.) The two major characters, Monkey and Beetle (those ARE their names until later into the movie) are not interesting.  One big reason is the voice acting is not really strong, making it dry most of the time.  Even when they deliver jokes, they seem to be doing a shallow job.  Lastly, there are actually twists with these characters that come in one at a time.  You may not see the first one coming, but after that, you are going to see the second one coming from a mile away.

3.) The climax is lame.  I am not going to specifically spoil what happens, but after all the time going through a journey to stop the main villain, do you know how they beat him?  By some deus ex machina magical girl-type way possible: the power of love……Lame.

 

Overall:

This movie is disappointing.  It started off well with a good first act, but falls apart after that.  It does not make it a horrible movie, but it leaves enough to be desired.  This movie is good enough for the first act, but it is not enough to make me want to watch the rest of it.  The movie deserves a rental; not really worth your time, but there are some good moments here or there.

6/10

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Benz Eye View: Ben-Hur (2016)

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Ben-Hur (2016)

Pros:

1.) The theme of this movie is a little clever.  It is about how seeking vengeance will never make you feel better despite how others or even yourself think so.  The original had this theme as well, but this remake manage to create its own version that works decently despite its flaws.

2.) The sound effects and music team deserve some respects.  They are loud when the action starts rolling, painful when a character gets hit badly, and effective when it needs to be (i.e. sad moments like Jesus’s death and Ben-Hur’s realization).

3.) The best scene in the entire movie is the chariot scene.  It does have its issues, but with great action, tense moments, and painful instances, this scene somewhat improves the original chariot scene (although I still recommend the original with its brilliant production and editing moments).  It makes you feel like you are there instead of watching from the audience’s point of view.

 

Cons:

1.) The very few moments of CG are painfully obvious.  They look so bad, it looks like they belong on a last-generation console game system instead of a live action movie.  At best, they belong to a CG movie.

2.) The cinematography is awful.  Most of the time, the camera will not hold still.  Even in scenes where the characters are just talking, it is so noticeable that you wonder if the cameraman is drunk.  The scene with the Roman flagship has the biggest cinematography problem since it shakes so much in a tense action scene that I cannot tell what is happening.

3.) I am not a fan of the changes they made compared to the 1959 original film.  There are too many to list (and there are probably a few more that I either missed or forgotten), but the changes made are enough to make this movie its own instead of a rip-off the 1959 film.  However, it also means that the writing is pretty poor as a result with characters and story are not really that interesting.  Not to mention that original took its time with its story (arguably too much time), while the remake usually rushes from scene to scene with nauseating and confusing results.

 

Overall:

Based on the 1880 novel, Ben-Hur is one of the most popular films in film history, and one of my favorite films of all time.  With great story, characters, acting, production, editing, and music, it made its mark throughout film and culture.  When a remake was announced, I was naturally worried, because I felt that it would not be as good as the original.  I was right.  The remake is nowhere good as the original, but it is not terrible at least.  It does its own version of Ben-Hur (although I am unsure if it is closer to the book or not) without straying too far from its 1959 counterpart.  However, it has its share of problems that cannot be ignored.  The only reason to watch this movie is the chariot scene alone.  Anything else is either a side gift or an annoyance.  I recommend watching the 1959 film version to truly appreciate its genuine film-making and story.  The 2016 version gets a pat on a back for trying, but letting it know that it can no way surpass the original.

5/10

Benz Eye View: Sausage Party

Sausage_Party
Sausage Party

Pros:

1?) The movie is aware of its RIDICULOUS plot and premise, and they embrace it with no remorse.  Whether it is a good or bad thing is up to you.

2?) The movie is surprisingly violent in certain scenes.  It is sort of like Mortal Kombat style of violence considering what happens to the food.  Once again, whether it is a good or bad thing is up to you.

3.) This movie is actually funny.  There are plenty of areas where the jokes hit, and they can make you laugh out loud…

 

Cons:

1.) …That being said, many of these jokes are really disturbing and crude.  This is NOT a typical family animated movie; it is an ADULT animated movie, so this movie is definitely not for everyone.  They make so many sexual jokes, the characters themselves are walking sexual jokes.

2.) The animation is not that impressive, particularly on its details.  The environments and characters look stock, and it feels like they did not have time to completely finish their work, so they settled on what they have.  Overall, do not expect Disney/Pixar-levels of animation (to be fair, that probably might be the point considering there is a visual joke with Pixar).

3.) Let’s be honest, when it comes to movies produced by Seth Rogen, most of the actors are usually playing themselves or highly-ridiculous characters.  It is no different with this movie.  You can tell who is playing who with their voices (except one, which I did not recognize until the movie pointed it out).  Also, I do not recall their characters’ names, so I just remember them with either their foods or actors.

 

Overall:

So….Sausage Party.  That is a movie that suddenly exists in this day and age.  The premise of the movie that Seth Rogen stated is this: “What would it be like if our food had feelings?”  Well, we get this movie.  An R-rated animated movie for adults.  An animated movie produced by Seth Rogen.  The guy who produced Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express, and This Is The End (not a fan of those movies).  What could possibly happen?  Well, here is my overall reaction:

shocked
Sweet Lord in heaven!

I thought I knew what I was going to watch based on its premise (I did my best to avoid watching the trailers), but I never knew to be this…gross.  To be fair, it is not a bad movie.  It is a movie I do not want to see again, but it is not a bad movie.  However, it is certainly a movie that is not meant for everyone.  If you love Seth Rogen’s style of gross humor, this is a love letter to you. If you do not, RUN FAR AWAY!  For those who go to watch, I wish you luck my fellow film-viewing soldiers.

giphy
You have my respect.

6/10

Benz Eye View: Pete’s Dragon (2016)

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Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Pros:

1.) If the movie is going to have a child lead, he better do a good job at it.  Oakes Fegley as Pete did a pretty good job carrying this movie.  He is may not be an Oscar-worthy actor (since there are moments when he blunders), but he gets better at his role as the movie progresses.

2.) The best moments in the movie are between the actors.  All the actors give such great chemistry, and you buy that they know each other well for a long time.  When they talk to each other, it feels very natural.

3.) The setting has a nice natural and small-town feeling.  Feels good to have a movie filmed at an actual area (minus some of the green screen effects).

 

Cons:

1.) The main antagonist is pretty pathetic.  When he meets Elliot the Dragon, what does he plan to do?  Capture him.  After that, what does he want to do with him?  Even he does not know.  Not to mention his weak “battle” with the other major characters in the third act.  At least he does not hate them; he just disagrees with them.

2.) Elliot the Dragon stands out and not exactly in a good way.  They try to make him look realistic, but there is one small problem: the fact that he looks like a 3D cartoon character.  It reminds me of the Hulk in Ang Lee’s Hulk; they believe they made a realistic creature, but it actually looks unrealistic due to its cartoon-like features.

3.) The third act climax is pretty weak.  I knew that the way the movie is delivered that I did not expect a big climax, but the way it is delivered still makes it weak.  What is this climax?  A regular car chase.  Nothing to see here.

 

Overall:

Pete’s Dragon is a remake of the 1977 film of the same name.  Just so that we are clear, I have not seen the 1977 film, so I am reviewing this movie on its own merits.  It is pretty good, but it probably is not going to stand out for some people (maybe because of a certain R-rated animated movie, but you will just have to wait and see).  I honestly do not have much to say (especially comparing to the original), but if you want a good live-action Disney movie for the day, this is for you.  If you are looking for an animated movie that is meant for adults…um, watch South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut.

7/10

…OK, fine.  Next review is Sausage Party…hope you are happy.

Benz Eye View: Suicide Squad

Suicide_Squad_(film)_Poster
Suicide Squad

Pros:

1.) For those who are asking, there is actually some funny moments in the movie.  There are some lame jokes (probably because of the re-shoots), but the ones that work are funny.  It makes up for the bleak and overly dark Batman v. Superman.

2.) I really do like the character and environmental designs.  They managed to integrate the looks from the comics into the movie, and they look pretty cool (for the most part).

3.) The best characters in the movie are Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie) and Deadshot (played by Will Smith).  You actually get to know these characters and their backstories, making you sympathize and care for them (if you are into villains).  Not to mention that the actors stand out well over the rest of them…

 

Cons:

1.) …Speaking of characters, you barely get to know the rest of them.  Other than Harley Quinn and Deadshot, the only ones you get to know decently are Rick Flag and El Diablo (and technically Amanda Waller, but I feel she is a little out of character compared to the comics).  The rest  have very little point other than stand there, and wait for a threat to come in so they can finally fight.  The movie does not spend time with them, and they do not explain these characters enough other than they fight a certain way…

2.) …Speaking of explanation, they spent most of the first act explaining these characters, and it goes on for way too long.  In fact, there are a couple of instances where they explain certain things despite the fact that it either does not add anything to the story, or we already got the idea.  One moment, they show how Harley has her skin bleached, and it seems like something that should have been a passing mention since it adds nothing other than backstory.  Also, PLOT HOLES!

3.) I noticed so many technical and production issues that I am not going to bother listing all of them here.  From a technical standpoint, the camera and editing have some share of problems (especially in the second and third act).  From a production standpoint, if you are going to watch the movie, pay attention to Harley Quinn.

 

Overall:

With the terrible start of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (for those who are asking, I have seen the Ultimate Cut, and it only gets one extra point for clearing and explaining certain plot points), the DC Extended Universe needs to do something to get it rolling.  Enter Suicide Squad: a “superhero group” that is formed by the government using villains as members to work in missions so dangerous, they are considered suicidal.  That is an interesting group of meta-humans that I would like to see in the big screen…and it is not good, but not terrible either.  It is not exactly something write home about, but it is leagues better than the last two DC movies.  However, it is does not excuse the fact that this movie has problems (especially since Warner Bros. did re-shoots of the movie when Batman v. Superman received plenty of hate from the critics, just showing how unconfident these guys are with their products).  They still have a long way to go, but at least it is a slow start to the right direction.  However, if you want a pretty good Suicide Squad movie, watch Batman: Assault on Arkham.  Let’s see if they get better with Wonder Woman and Justice League, because if those two fail, I am just going to feel really bad for the DC fans.

4/10

Benz Eye View: Jason Bourne

Jason_Bourne_(film)
Jason Bourne

Pros:

1.) Jason Bourne is indeed back, and for good motivational reasons.  The story is interesting enough to see Jason Bourne go through similar events like the last films despite the tiring spy trends.  At least Jason Bourne himself is an interesting character over some of his situations.

2.) Even though I am not a fan of it, the shaky cam and fast-pace editing are done well in this movie (in fact, this film series is the only one that can manage shaky cam and fast-pace editing well).  It may be nauseating to watch, but due to certain production and editing decisions, it is somewhat easier to tell what is actually happening during these moments.

 

Cons:

1.) Other than Outcome being mentioned as one of the black ops listed in the CIA, there is no mention of the events of The Bourne Legacy.  For me, it is not that bad, but it feels odd that they did not bother explained what happened to Aaron Cross, Marta Shearing, or the other characters in the last movie.

2.) I am unclear with one of the major characters in the movie: Heather Lee.  Her motivations seem unclear.  The moments that did show some reasons why she is committing to certain actions still seem confusing.  Also, the actress playing her: Alicia Vikander is the weakest of all the actors since she usually shows one emotional trait: unhappy.

 

Overall:

Based on a popular book franchise, the Bourne films have been around since 2002.  It changed the way spy films are made, and made shaky cam and fast-pace editing popular (whether you like it or not).  The Bourne Identity introduced a compelling and interesting character, but suffers with a somewhat uninteresting story.  The Bourne Supremacy is much better with story, and new characters that are added into the mix.  The Bourne Ultimatum is on the same level as the last film with a somewhat satisfying conclusion.  The Bourne Legacy was all right with decent characters and story, but nothing to write at home.  With the new Bourne installment after four years of hiatus (nine if you do not include The Bourne Legacy), Jason Bourne is a welcome addition to the series.  However, it seems that the formula in the series is somewhat tiresome.  A super spy versus the corrupt CIA group is getting a little cliched now.  The movie is fine, but they need to come up with something new if they want to keep going with this.  At least Jason Bourne himself is still interesting, so watch it if you are fan of the series and the character.

7/10