Benz Eye View: I’m Not Ashamed

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I’m Not Ashamed

Pros:

1.) I really like how the movie depicts Rachel Scott as a Born-Again Christian.  It did a great job of how she struggles to be a Christian, but ends up concentrating her own wants instead of the others’ needs.  As a result, she becomes influenced by her non-Christian friends instead of vice-versa.  The fact they actually noted how hard it is for a new Christian to actually grow in Christ is pretty refreshing.

2.) They are gutsy enough to show (or at least, imply) some inappropriate moments in the movie.  It may not be a big deal for regular movies, but for Christian movies, this is a nice change of pace.  I do not expect sex scenes in Christian movies (because I do not want them to go THAT far), but at least they did something that has some impact for the movie, and not because they need to get more people to watch their movie for inappropriate reasons.

3.) This should not be a surprise, but just in case.  (SPOILERS)  When the movie reaches the part where Rachel is killed by the shooters of the Columbine massacre, it has a big impact.  The aftermath of her death actually does a great jobof how much impact she has on the people in Columbine High School.  It is a little messed up that it does not really concentrate on the other victims, but at least the movie points out that the main focus is Rachel Scott.  The scene is very emotional, and it probably gives a big tribute to Rachel Scott herself…  (END SPOILERS)

 

Cons: 

1.) …I just wish the emotional impact is a little stronger.  Do not get me wrong.  Rachel Scott is a nice character with a good amount of flaws, but her interaction with most of the characters in the school is a little weak.  Other than three characters (one of them is not even from Columbine High School), the movie does not really spend much time with Rachel reaching out to others in pain.  As a result, the scenes where these people get better are forced, mainly because there are a bit too many of them to follow (but you may know them through their stereotypes).

2.) If you are not a fan of teenage angst and coming-of-age cliches, prepare to have plenty of them.  Since this is in high school, I knew this was coming, but this is a fair warning for those who are not big fans (like me).

3.) I might as well cover this since this movie involves the Columbine massacre, but I am not a fan of the portrayal of the Columbine shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.  They portray them as unfeeling teenagers who think killing is cool, because survival of the fittest.  Their starting point is that they are made fun of by other teenagers (which there is only one scene), and the two swear to kill them.  Since this movie is about Rachel Scott, the two shooters barely get any screen time, and so they manage to get their guns and bombs without any explanation (like where are their parents?).  The only good thing I see in this is that the two are pretty much Rachel’s failures.  If she had reached out to them sooner, the massacre may not have happened.  Also, the foreshadowing of the Columbine massacre is REALLY not subtle.  It is not because of the scenes with the shooters, but with scenes with Rachel drawing a picture of thirteen tears, and how she feels that she is not going to college for some reason (I do not care if this actually happened, it is not subtle).

 

Overall: 

The 1999 Columbine High School Massacre was the deadliest high school shooting in US history.  I was only a 1st grade boy when that happened, and I did not even learn about it until the rise of the Internet, and when the Virginia Tech massacre occurred.  When I heard there was going to be a Christian movie about one of the victims of Columbine, I thought, “Oh no.  Do not tell me that they are going to be preachy about this stuff during the Columbine massacre of all things.”  After watching the movie, I think the Christian movie industry are learning.  Is it a fantastic movie?  Not by a long shot.  They still have some Christian cliches (i.e. they are still a bit preachy), but I found this movie to be OK.  There are going to be  few things that some people are not going to like (i.e. the Columbine shooters’ portrayal, and the one thing about Rachel Scott that did not actually happen in the movie), and I completely understand.  However, I am willing to say that this Christian movie is actually a good watch, but with some problems mixed in. Everyone (especially Christians) should watch this, but do not expect it to be a masterpiece, and you may not like everything that is shown on-screen.  While it may not be the best tribute to the victims of Columbine, it at least has its heart in the right place.

5/10

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Benz Eye View: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Pros: 

1.) Like the last movie, the action scenes are impressive.  They are shot very well, and I respect the fact that Tom Cruise actually does his own stunts unlike most actors who use stunt doubles.  These scenes range from fun to painful thanks to the sound team.

2.) The small amount of comedy in the movie is pretty funny.  It gives some light-heart and human moments to these characters in serious situations.

3.) The relationship between Jack Reacher and Samantha Dayton is pretty decent.  It starts out rocky at first, but it grows over time, and ends in a pretty heart-warming moment.  It also gives an emotional conflict with Jack Reacher whereas the last movie did not…

 

Cons: 

1.) …On the other hand, the relationship between Jack Reacher and Susan Turner is dull and annoying.  The romantic subplot between the two barely has any chemistry, and the one fight conversation is pretty dumb.  Honestly, it would have been a little better if the two just remained friends instead of them being possible lovers…

2.) …Although, all the characters (except Jack Reacher) need improvement as well, because none of them are compelling.  They are just the typical stereotypes like the female soldier, the rebellious teenager, the corrupt one, etc.  You are not going to remember these people at all in a few hours.  Yeah, already forgot.

3.) The story is not interesting, either.  It has a decent start, but it gets worse as it progresses.  Here is log line for the movie: a retired military veteran gets hooked into a corrupt military scheme after he learns a friend is framed for it.  Sounds familiar?

 

Overall: 

Jack Reacher is based on the novel series of the same name.  The first movie in 2012 was decent, but I find it a little hard to believe there was going to be a sequel.  Well, they did make one, and it is not really that good.  While the titular character is kind of cool, his situations and other characters are not as well-rounded or fascinating.  If the conflict is not as interesting as the character, it is not going to make us care what happens, because we know he is going to win.  The one of few things that works is the emotional conflict between Reacher and Samantha, but that can only go so far.  I say skip this movie since if you have seen the last one, you might get the idea that Jack Reacher is going to win this one (especially since he is played by Tom Cruise).

5/10

Benz Eye View: Shin Godzilla

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Shin Godzilla

Pros: 

1.) One thing that the original Godzilla film succeeded in was showing how humanity reacted with the existence of Godzilla, and this film is no exception.  The one big way they show it is the political side of Japan: their initial reactions of what initially appeared to be an ancient whale creature to how they deal with Godzilla are genuine.

2.) There are some pretty intense shots, and it fits well into the main situation in the film: a big freaking monster is destroying Japan.  Good shot examples are low angle shots of Godzilla represents the civilians’ point of view of how huge that monster is, and many over-the-shoulder shots that make us pay close attention on who exactly we are supposed to see.

3.) There is a reason why Godzilla is known as the King of the Monsters.  The film makes it clear that Godzilla causes so much damage, and cannot be stopped.  He is a walking atomic bomb that leaves nuclear damage as well as physical damage.  To Japan (actually the world, but Japan has it worse), he is a force of nature that is incredibly difficult to be destroyed.

 

Cons:

1.) I feel sorry for the editing team, because there are SO MANY cuts.  The film cuts so much that it kind of feels disorienting.  I also sympathize with the camera people, because there are so many camera shots that they have to put in for the director.  I can say that they worked hard on that, and I congratulate them for it.  On the other hand, the editing team needs to slow down on the cuts.

2.) There is so much to follow, and it ends up being annoying, because they introduce characters, places, and things via subtitles.  When those introductions come in along with the characters’ lines’ subtitles, you get the feeling of so much information shoved right into your face.  As a result, you may not remember any of the characters’ names other than Godzilla.  The film needs to learn to trust their audience on these things.

3.) I cannot really explain it, but compared to American CG, Japanese CG seems a little off.  I think it is best if you watch to get an idea what I am talking about.  Maybe I am wrong in this area, and Japanese CG is just different than American CG.  If I am, then disregard this con.

 

Overall: 

Godzilla.  King of the Monsters.  One of the most popular cultural icons in Japan.  It has been 12 years since the last Godzilla movie in Japan.  There was an American Godzilla movie in 2014, but that does not count.  Now, the 31st Godzilla film releases in limited American theaters, and it is great to see the monster again.  The film captured the spirit of the original 1954 film well, which is how Godzilla is symbolic to the atom bomb, and show how the Japanese and the world react to it as its main purpose.  If you expect Godzilla to fight another monster in this film, you are not going to get it.  If you like to how the world reacts to such a monster, go watch this film, especially if you are a hardcore Godzilla fan.

8/10

Benz Eye View: The Accountant

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The Accountant

Pros: 

1.) Ben Affleck’s characters, Christian Wolff is a strange yet interesting character.  He is an autistic man who was trained not to let his disorder be his disadvantage.  Despite his weakness, he overcame it by being a better person than he is (kind of like Daredevil).  Wolff may not be a sociable person, but he makes it up with accounting and fighting.

2.) I would describe the action as the more grounded-in-reality of version of John Wick.  It may not be as awesome as the movie I mentioned, but it is a bit more brutal.  Whereas John Wick takes out his enemies quickly (as far as I remember since it has been a while since I watched that movie), Christian Wolff makes sure that his enemies are actually dead.

3.) I admit: I am tired of typing this, but the acting is really good, especially with Ben Affleck playing an autistic, intelligent, action man.  Comment me if you can think of something more diverse for me to say in my reviews, because even I am a bit tired of it.

 

Cons: 

1.) The moments that involve accounting confuse me.  Unless if you have some understanding of it, those moments will confuse you as much as it did for me.  At least it shows how smart Wolff is in his field.

2.) There is a sub-plot with two characters investigating Christian Wolff.  While it gives an interesting look at his backstory, this side story is not as interesting as the main plot.  The performances are well done, but it distracts what is happening with Wolff, a much better character.  The filmmakers should probably add the backstory as flashbacks…

3.) …Speaking of flashbacks, they are distracting as well.  It does serve to give backstory to Wolff just like the sub-plot, but flashbacks must be used sparingly in order to proceed the story.  If overused, the filmmakers might as well make a prequel to this movie.  This is not like Christopher Nolan’s films where he uses flashbacks well, but the filmmakers really want to try, and they are less than successful.

 

Overall: 

How should I describe this movie?  As I stated earlier, it seems to be a bit more grounded-reality version of John Wick.  I recall that I like that movie for its fun action sequences, and this movie may not have the same level of great action sequences, it certainly gives us an interesting character.  Come to think of it, I like to see Christian Wolff and John Wick cross over, but I digress.  The Accountant is a fun movie that may be slow at times, but it gives an interesting lead character with great action and decent story.

7/10

Benz Eye View: Deepwater Horizon

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Deepwater Horizon

Pros: 

1.) The filmmakers did a fantastic job showing the horror and destruction of Deepwater Horizon.  Murphy’s Law applies here, because there is so much carnage, you sometimes wonder how some of these people survived that event.  With many editing cuts, production destruction, and realistic danger, this might as well be a ride in Universal Studios Theme Park.

2.) Even though this is pretty brief, I find the aftermath to be very powerful.  There is little to no dialogue, and they show many people’s reaction on what happened after the oil incident.

3.) There is a joke by a child character that I did not see coming…It is a pretty gutsy move.

 

Cons: 

1.) The first half of the movie is completely boring.  It took too long to establish many things, and foreshadowed events that is not really subtle.  Some of the scenes need to be cut to save the audience the boredom of writing cliches, and just get to the oil spill.

2.) Another thing they need to cut is the exposition.  They explained so much on how the oil industry works that I got tired of it.  If it goes to the point where a person no longer cares how it works, you failed at writing expositions.  Be as brief as possible without taking too long.

3.) While the actors are fine with their roles, and their characters are not really bad, they are not interesting.  You got a family man who wants to come back home to his wife and child, the fearless leader, the smart girl, the dumb boss who wants to have money, I can go on.  I did start caring when the oil spill occurred, so at least they are decently written.

 

Overall:

The oil spill of Deepwater Horizon ten years ago was the worst oil spill in history.  With a movie about those events, I wondered how they are going to turn it out.  For the most part, it does what it need to do, but does need some improvements.  They certainly got the danger done very well, but the writing and characters need some refinements despite the fact that this is based on a true event.  Unless if you are patient, you have no choice, but to slog through the boring first half.  I say rent the movie, and skip the first half, because that is where the fun really begins.

6/10

One last thing: the movie did not bring any shame to the people who died in that event, and it is a good tribute to send them off along with the survivors.  May those who died rest in peace, and those who lived move on with their lives.

Benz Eye View: Luke Cage

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Luke Cage

Pros: 

1.) Luke Cage has invulnerable skin, correct?  So I wondered, “How are they going to make a conflict on a character with that ability?”  Turns out, they found a way.  Give him legitimate and well-written emotional conflicts.  He may be bulletproof, but that does not mean he is invulnerable to emotions.  Not to mention that his friends do not have those powers, so that gives him a bigger reason why ends up being a hero in this series.

2.) Speaking of Luke Cage, the characters throughout the entire series are well-written and interesting.  Added to the fact that they all acted very well, they all have purpose on what happens to each other, and at Harlem.  Even Claire Temple from Daredevil and Jessica Jones fits well in this series.

3.) Speaking of Harlem, they surely got the atmosphere and setting of the series well enough.  They mention so much black and Harlem culture, it feels like I entered a new world, and enjoyed the good and bad people in it (even if I do not understand some of the people that they are talking about).

 

Cons: 

1.) This is a minor con, so it is not that bad.  I understand why Luke Cage is not exactly happy with his life all the time, but that can go on for so long.  I am a bit tired of him complaining that his powers are a curse or something.  I get why you are unhappy, but you need to lighten up.

2.) Something happens in the middle of the series that I will not spoil.  I will say what happens is…extreme, and I like it.  However, that ends up changing…something.  I am OK with it, but it dulls the series a little bit.

3.) I find the ending a bit anti-climactic, and the final battle is a little bit silly.  I am not going into detail on what happened, just to say that it goes a bit into the comic book exaggeration, and the battle between Luke Cage and the main villain is not exactly satisfying.

 

Overall: 

The Marvel Netflix series continues with this new superhero, Luke Cage.  He appeared in Jessica Jones, and he finally gets his own series…and it is great.  Marvel is doing an excellent job with its Netflix series, and with Iron Fist, the Defenders, and even Punisher series coming up, they do not seem to be stopping.  With great themes, writing, and acting, Luke Cage may not have that many super-heroic moments, but it is another welcoming addition to the Marvel Netflix series.  We await for the Immortal Iron Fist!

Watch It

Benz Eye View: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Pros: 

1.) Have you guys noticed the lighting in Tim Burton’s movies?  They are done well to set the mood and areas (I will get to that in a moment).  It is no different here.  While there are some bright areas in the movie, the moments that are dark with some to little lighting makes the area seem out of this world, and a bit scary.

2.) When it comes to mood, the movie has a balanced tone.  When it needs to be peaceful and wonderful (if strange), it shows off many of the peculiar children’s powers, and how they use it everyday life.  However, I find it more interesting when they go to a darker tone.  How?  I will just say it is scary enough for children, but a bit entertaining for adults (this is Tim Burton we are talking about here).

 

Cons: 

1.) It feels like the movie suffers from being slow and fast at times.  The most apparent is the first act.   It feels slow, because most of it is in flashbacks that are set after a certain character dies, and he appears in the flashbacks (why couldn’t they just set that before the character dies?).  It makes you want to make the movie go faster, because it is just boring.  However, it also feels fast, because it feels like certain areas are not really explained enough, or they realize that the stuff in the beginning is boring, so they not-so-subtly rush to the second act.

2.) I do not feel like I know the world of the movie that well.  They do explain some basic stuff, but it feels insufficient.  Compare it to X-Men and Harry Potter, you understand them much better than the Peculiar People and its world.

3.) I do not know these characters that well.  I do not mean the main and major characters (i.e. Miss Peregrine, Jake Portman, Emma Bloom, and Mr. Barron), I mean the other Peculiar Children.  Other than their peculiarities, I would not even begin to explain who these characters are other than their one-note personalities.  Kind of reinforces my previous con.

 

Overall: 

Based on the 2011 book of the same name, this movie seems to be baiting towards the X-Men and Harry Potter fans, because that is what I am getting here.  Think about it: Miss Peregrine is Professor Xavier and Dumbledore, Jake Portman is Wolverine and Harry Potter, Emma Bloom is Jean Grey and Hermione Granger (or Ginny Weasley depending how you look at it), Mr. Barron is Magneto and Voldemort, and the monstrous hollowgasts are a combination of Slender Man and the Necromorphs (OK, actually mutants and Dementors, but still…).

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…Think about it.  The hollowgasts look like a combination of the Slender Man and the Necromorphs.
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Here is the Slender Man…
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…And here is a Necromorph (Dead Space).  See what I mean?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It makes me feel like I should watch those movies instead of this one, because I can only describe it as OK.  Not really much stands out from this movie.  Maybe the fans of the book will appreciate it more, but by movie standards, there is not much to see here.  Watch it if you have nothing better to do.

6/10