Benz Eye View: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Pros: 

1.) I am intrigued of the 20s American side of the Wizarding world.  It works differently than the modern British Wizards, and I like that other countries have their own laws and rules for wizards and witches to follow that are different from others.  In other words, a good expansion of the Harry Potter universe.

2.) I really like the artistic designs in this movie.  The monsters, the costumes, the settings, and many others show that there is more to the wizarding world than what the Harry Potter movies have shown.

3.) Speaking of monsters, they are very enjoyable to look at, and have a surprising amount of personality.  Not only do they look different, but they act differently in many situations (i.e. one monster loves to take shining stuff like coins)…

 

Cons: 

1.) …I cannot really say the same thing about the characters.  For one thing, there are many, and they are hard to follow (I will explain in a moment).  Not only that, none of them are really that interesting (with the possible exceptions of Newt Scamander and Jacob Kowalski).  Especially for the side characters since they do not get that much screen time or mention.  If you end up watching the movie, try remembering Gellert Grindelwald (not the one in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1).  He will be brought up once or twice, but you are likely going to forget about him.

2.) When I said it was hard to follow, the reason is that there are four to five plot points that are poorly paced.  Here is how it is laid out:  A Dark Wizard named Gellert Grindelwald is terrorizing the American Wizard community, and he needs to be stopped.  Oh, wait.  First, Newt has to recapture some of his beasts that escaped from his briefcase, and Jacob (a Muggle, or a No-Maj in American terms) gets sucked into these problems when he fails to create his own bakery.  Also, a group of people is indoctrinating children to anti-witches, and one of them maybe some powerful force than no one has seen before.  There is so much to take in, and the movie shows very little of some of these plot points until it all converges to the last act.  The only one I have a good sense in following is Newt’s mission to capture all of the escaped beasts.

3.) When the movie reaches the part where Newt and Jacob enter his briefcase, and we see all the magical creatures inside, I realized the big problem with this movie: it takes too long for them showing what the world of the movie is like, and it spends little time telling a story.  It is amazing to see, but I want the story to move forward (which does not help when the story is a little lackluster).  It works in a book, but it does not really work in movies since it only has a limited amount of time to tell us how the world works, and move on.  The Harry Potter movies may have a similar problem, but not as bad as this movie.

 

Overall: 

I am a big fan of the Harry Potter books.  I have read them all (including the latest book), and seen all of their movies.  They may not be masterpieces, but I still enjoy them nonetheless.  Then I heard of a prequel starring a character from one of those textbooks that Harry Potter and his friends use for class.  At first, I thought, “That’s a dumb title for a movie.”  Over time, I thought it would be cool to see a new side of the Harry Potter world.  After watching it, this probably would have been better as a book.  Technically, there is a book version, but it is pretty much backstory and history of the wizarding world of Harry Potter, particularly the creatures.  I meant that the novelization version of this movie would probably be better (which is funny considering this movie was written by J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books).  It feels like it wants to explain more about how this world works, but it does not have enough time.  As a result, the story and characters suffer.  It could be improved on the inevitable sequels that they are planning on, but on its own, it really needs work.

6/10

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Benz Eye View: Hacksaw Ridge

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Hacksaw Ridge

Pros: 

1.) This film is pretty much the younger brother of Saving Private Ryan, because the war scenes are brutal.  They do not hold back at all: they show blood, guts, gore, intestines, bones, etc.  Thanks to the excellent cinematography, the film shows these battles in excellent detail, and does not hold back how brutal these battles are.

2.) It is amazing how Desmond Doss is truly convicted with his beliefs of saving people rather than killing, and his actions support this.  You cannot help but admire his determination to follow what he believes in despite how many people are against it.  That is what makes an interesting and compelling character.

3.) Even many of the characters are well-written enough to make you understand where they are coming from.  One good example is Tom Doss, Desmond’s father.  He is drunk man who keeps blaming on others, but it is due to his PTSD on World War I.  Other characters include the soldiers alongside Desmond who initially do not like him, because his conscientious objection could get them killed in battle…

 

Cons: 

1.) …There is a bit too many characters to count in terms of the soldiers going to war alongside Desmond Doss.  The film at least gives them some characteristics that make them stand out, but you may not exactly remember some of them, because the main focus is on Desmond Doss.

2.) The romance between Desmond and Dorothy is a bit rushed.  Not to say these two do not have good chemistry, but it feels like they are rushing their love for each other, so they can finally go to the part when Desmond decides to fight (or rather save) in World War II.

 

Overall: 

It has been a long time since Mel Gibson has gone back to directing ever since his breakdown.  For his return to filming, he decides to direct a film about a real WWII soldier named Desmond Doss.  How does he do with this film?  It is a big comeback, because this is one of the best films I have ever seen.  Great acting, great writing, and great directing makes this film perfect.  There are few holes, but it does not stop how great it is.  It is good to see that Mel Gibson has not lost his touch, and it is nice for him to return to film making.  It is also a great tribute to a WWII hero (which the film is pretty close to the true events), and all soldiers who fight for the USA.  Watch it, and be amazed with Mel Gibson’s directing, and Desmond Doss’s bravery.

10/10

Benz Eye View: Doctor Strange

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Doctor Strange

Pros: 

1.) This is the one thing that should pop into anyone’s mind when they think of this movie: the visuals.  I describe it (or everyone will describe it) as Inception, but on drugs.  The movie did a fantastic job following Steve Ditko’s art from the comics, and implementing them on-screen (even though you will have a taste on what a person on drugs feels like).

2.) This may not be much, but I do like the change of action sequences.  Remember, the Marvel Cinematic Universe gives us interesting battle sequences, but this movie gives us something different.  There is some kung-fu fighting, but there is also some magical fights.  These battles are so great that it gives Harry Potter a run for its money.

3.) We have seen many sides of the MCU, but it is refreshing to see the mystical side.  It feels like we are in another world as opposed to the last MCU film about government policies.  They explain so much how the mystic arts work, it is pretty refreshing…

 

Cons: 

1.) …However, this leads to a big problem: they explain so much yet so little at the same time.  Meaning, the movie talks about how their world works, and ends up raising some questions.  This probably will not bother everyone, but another problem that comes in is the payoff.  The movie sets up many things in the beginning, and their payoffs in the end are not really that satisfying (other than a few comedic jokes).

2.) Why do the villains suck in the MCU?  Not in terms of their threats (with a few exceptions), but in terms of writing.  Other than Loki (which he is better as a character than a villain), HYDRA, Ultron (to the lowest extent), and the Marvel Netflix Villains (i.e. Wilson Fisk, Kilgrave, and Cottonmouth), none of the villains are interesting, and Kaecilius is no exception.  What does he want?  To make the world free from pain and mortality.  Why?  Because he lost some people he loved.  Typical.

3.) There is one item used throughout half of the movie called the Eye of Agamotto.  Considering how that thing works, it should solve every problem in the MCU.  (SPOILERS) Many characters say that they should not use it in order not to break natural law, but  they use it anyway to stop the threat (END SPOILERS).  As a result, the ending is anti-climactic thanks to that object (although, I wonder what they will go with it considering what would happen if Thanos gets his hands on it).

 

Overall: 

Following Captain America: Civil War, we have the next movie in the MCU: Doctor Strange.  I was not really too thrilled when I heard that was going to be the next movie, but I thought I should give it a try to see how they do it.  How should I describe the movie?  I say that it is the Green Lantern movie, but slightly better.  There are things that can hold it up, but there are plenty of things that also hold it down.  Other than the visuals, the only thing that got me really pumped was the new Marvel Studios intro.

That kicks butt, but that is not really a good sign if that is only thing that is exciting.  Overall, the movie is a bit dull due to its by-the-books tropes with a few exciting moments.  Benedict Cumberbatch is great as Doctor Strange, but the movie itself is far from perfect.  Sorry Doctor Strange, but Captain America: Civil War is still my favorite Marvel Phase 3 film.

6/10

I did watch it in IMAX 3D, and it is only worth it on the trippy visual scenes.