Benz Eye View: La La Land

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La La Land

Pros: 

1.) The cinematography is superb.  There are plenty of long and wide shots, giving plenty of opportunities for the actors show their acting abilities and for the audience to see more of the scene.  It is especially effective on the musical scenes, where the dance choreography are performed so well that it must have taken them a long time to perfect it.

2.) This film screams the musicals from the 50s like The Sound of Music, West Side Story, and The King and I.  Many of their songs are very entertaining, and it fits to the same 50s musical style.  Also, before you ask, it is true that there are musical films in recent days, but they fit into the modern era of songs.  This recent film that takes place in modern times feels like it belongs in the 50s.  It feels odd yet welcoming at the same time.

3.) The two main leads have great chemistry, but the interesting thing about them is their conflict.  Each of them have their own conflicts: Mia wants to be an actress, and Sebastian wants to own a jazz bar.  Eventually these two fall in love, and want to be together.  However, their own wants conflict their want to be together.  It may be a simple, but combine that with excellent performances by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, it becomes an interesting romantic film that happens to be a musical.

 

Cons:

1.) Other than a few preferences (i.e. a few songs did not work for me), there is nothing I can think of that is wrong with this film.

 

Overall: 

It is not every day that a film comes out, and pays tribute to the films of old.  In this case, La La Land is a fantastic tribute to the 1950s musical films.  Not only that, it is an amazing film to watch.  The story is simplistic yet compelling, the songs are entertaining, and the filmmaking is masterful.  This film is directed and written by Damien Chazelle, the same man who directed Whiplash: another masterful film.  I expect see more great films from this man, because he is talented.  Another recommendation from me as a potential film of the year.  Now if you excuse me, I feel like watching some musical films.

10/10

Benz Eye View: Sing

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Let’s start the holidays with a movie review:

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Sing

Pros: 

1.) The animation is not bad.  These characters look alive and…well, I know very little in terms of how animation works other than if it looks good.  It is probably not detailed enough in the same way that Disney did in Zootopia.  Meaning, the small details of animal movements (i.e. their ears move to hear where they need to hear) are not implemented here, but the movie still has good animation.

2.) I do appreciate the movie’s message: work hard, and you will achieve your dreams.  It is cliched, but it is kind of refreshing to me…

3.) …The message is reinforced with the characters’ progression.  There are multiple major characters to follow, and each are paced well (it helps that they are different animals, so you can at least remember what they look like if you do not remember their names).  You get spend time with them equally, know their own dilemmas, and like them well enough to hope that they succeed…

 

Cons: 

1.) …However, I feel like the finality of their dilemmas is somewhat underwhelming. The main plot is solved as a whole, but for most of the characters, I feel like that their plots are somewhat left open.  It may not seem like it at first, but it is somewhat distracting when you think about it.

2.) There are some dumb moments that adults may not be excited.  Children may not mind as much, but adults will probably wish for something else.

 

Overall: 

I honestly came to see this movie just to hate on it, because the trailers made it look lame. After watching it, I thought it was a pretty decent movie.  However, there is not much to say about it other than it is all right.  Children will probably enjoy this movie more than adults, but that does not mean it is insulting towards older audiences.  It is a decent movie for the family, and a good watch if you want to pass the time.

7/10

I hope you guys have a very Merry Christmas!  See you in my next review!

Benz Eye View: Assassin’s Creed

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Assassin’s Creed

Pros: 

1.) The actors tried their best in this movie.  They manage to emote very well, and act their way into this movie.

2.) The moments when we see the past, the people and the setting looks like they belong to the Spanish Inquisition.

3.) The action scenes look kind of cool and well-coordinated…

 

Cons: 

1.) …Assuming if you can see it clearly, because the cinematography and editing in those action scenes are terrible.  I can tell through some of the coordination that it looks good, but I cannot tell what is happening.  They cut way too many times, and the cuts they have chosen are camera angles that does not show the action well.  Here is an example of how to make a good action scene in the games:

While not perfect, I can at least tell what is happening.  Also, who’s bright idea is to keep cutting to the present day to see what Cal is mimicking towards his ancestor, Aguilar?  That disturbs the flow of the action scenes.  That is a really stupid move in the filmmakers’ parts.

2.) The CG is bad (with the somewhat exception of the Animus during the present time) with graphics that look like they belong to a last-generation game.  I think even the filmmakers knew that the CG is bad, so they tried to cover it up with smoke effects and low lighting.  As a result, it just made it look worse.  Here is how you can take advantage with the smoke effects:

Simple answer: make the lighting better, and the CG tolerable.

3.) I have absolutely no idea what is happening in this movie.  The story is so confusing (especially for people who have not played the video games) that I find that very few can follow it.  There are plenty of moments where logic just commits suicide and jumps out of the window of this movie, making the characters and actors look stupid.  I do not care about any of these people (even the Assassins from the past), and it results in my failure to care for them.  In addition, the movie spends more time in the present time than in the Animus.  The fans of the game can tell you that spending time outside of the Animus is the worst part of the game, because the characters in there are not as interesting as the characters in the Animus.  As a result, the movie’s Assassins are rarely fleshed out, and the only thing I got from them is that Aguilar and a female Assassin are a couple.  Here is another way to make interesting characters in the series:

If a video game trailer is more interesting than the entire movie, that is just sad and pathetic.

 

Overall: 

Assassin’s Creed is based on the video game series of the same name that has been around for nine years.  I have played these games up to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, so I will briefly say what I think of the games.  The first Assassin’s Creed has an interesting story premise, but with broken gameplay.  Assassin’s Creed II is much better with its compelling story and characters (particularly Ezio Auditore de Firenze), and refined gameplay.  Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood makes some interesting additions to the game while keeping Ezio around.  Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was a good finale for Altair and Ezio despite showing its age.  Assassin’s Creed III was a step backwards, and the ending made me so upset that I did not play another Assassin’s Creed game for a few years.  Recently, I finished playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and it undid the damage that the last game did with awesome ship battles and better protagonist.  I have yet to play Liberation, Rogue, Unity, Syndicate, Chronicles, and other spin-off games.  These games are so much fun (with some few exceptions), it kind of made sense to make a movie out of it.  Look at this video game trailer:

Plenty of potential for a movie.

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Despite the fact that there is already technically a movie, and it is not bad despite the overwhelmingly obvious green screen backgrounds.

Will this movie be as great as the story in the video games, or will it be like any of the other video game movie adaptations?  Sadly, it is the latter.  This movie is terrible, and I cannot believe they screwed it up even with the help of Ubisoft: the company that made the Assassin’s Creed games.  Notice that I put in plenty of trailers of the Assassin’s Creed games.  That is because they are more interesting than the movie itself.  Skip this movie, and just play the games.  They are more entertaining than this poor excuse of a movie, and it is just another addition of terrible video game movie adaptations.

2/10

What is the next video game movie adaptation that is coming soon anyway?

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Oh, crap…

Benz Eye View: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

It has been a while, but we are back with the Star Wars Marathon.  The first Star Wars Anthology film has finally been released.  Will it be a huge success, or will it be a wasted side story that no one will care?  Let’s begin…

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Pros:

1.) I remember seeing a title of an article a couple days ago that says that this film shows the meaning of war…Um, yeah.  That’s because it is called Star Wars.  All of the films shown this.  I think what the article meant is that this film shows a darker side of war in this series, which this film succeeds in.  The closest that the two Star Wars trilogies show that is in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  Rogue One goes a little deeper into that, and shows a different perspective of the series.  They show many Rebels committing dark actions, extreme factions of the Rebels fighting in a way that the Rebel Alliance would never do, and a few others that you should see yourself.  It is different than any of the Star Wars films we have seen, and it gives us a breath of fresh air.

2.) The practical and CG effects are utilized well just like The Force Awakens.  It is nice to see that they want to make the film alive by using practical effects and makeup.  The CG is done well…for the most part.  There are a few CG moments that look fake, and two characters with CG faces look…wrong.  Still, I appreciate their dedication in making this film look real.

3.) This film actually fixed a few plot holes from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  I will not spoil what they are, but I bet if you watched Episode IV after watching Rogue One, you may find moments in Episode IV have more meaning than you thought.  They even give some minor winks and explanations that have some impact for Episode IV (i.e. what happened to the original Red 5 before Luke Skywalker became Red 5).  It is a good touch and nod to the Original Trilogy.

 

Cons: 

1.) Rogue One is a group of people that contains Jyn Erso (daughter of the creator of the Death Star), Cassian Andor (a Rebel Intelligence Officer), Chirrut Îmwe (a blind Donnie Yen), K-2SO (an Imperial droid serving the Rebels), Bodhi Rook (a former Imperial defecting to the Rebels), and Baze Malbus (a Rebel mercenary).  All these characters are functional, but I did not feel the group dynamic with all of them.  Meaning, the characters do not interact with each other.  They only interact with some people, and acknowledge the others (i.e. Jyn interacts with Cassian, Chirrut interacts with Baze, K-2SO interacts with Jyn and Cassian, and Bodhi interacts with no one).  A good example of a group dynamic is the Guardians of the Galaxy.  All the characters (from Star-Lord to Groot) interacted with each other.  Rogue One has little interaction with their teammates, making their group dynamic weak at best.  Also, they are not very interesting characters.  Other than what I just put in and the very few character moments, there is nothing special about these people.  It is hard for me to care for these characters if they are only two-dimensional.

2.) There is some comedy in the film.  While they are funny, I find it to be distracting considering the tone of the film is dark.  Comedy has its place, but unless it is dark comedy, it does not work on a serious film.  I understand that they do not want it to be so depressing, but it feels out of place.

3.) The music in Star Wars is iconic.  It is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time, and John Williams is such a masterful music artist.  It saddens me that the music in this film is mostly unmemorable.  There are few musical moments that are memorable, but it is usually the original Star Wars music, and rarely something new.  Ironically, the musical composer for this film is Michael Giacchino, who composed Doctor Strange and the rebooted Star Trek films.  Think about it.  J.J. Abrams is not the only person who is involved with Star Trek and Star Wars.  Anyway, the music is a downgrade, and I hope the next anthology film has better music.

 

Overall: 

When Disney bought Star Wars, they also announced that the series will have their own anthology series.  The anthology films will have nothing to do with the Sequel Trilogy, will be their own films, and will not expand with their own sequels.  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released on Dec. 16, 2016.  Does this side story have its own story to tell?  I’d describe this film with two words: different and dark.  This is not your typical Star Wars film.  It feels like a film meant for older audiences instead for everyone.  It is a film that takes a closer look what war really feels like for some people in the Star Wars universe.  It has its own story tell, and it is told well.  It does suck that the original Expanded Universe has been declared non-canon as result.

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Kyle Katarn: a smuggler turned Jedi Master was the one who stole the plans of the Death Star for the Rebel Alliance in the original Expanded Universe INSTEAD of Jyn Erso.

However, if they plan to make good films, I will let it pass despite how much I am going to miss the Expanded Universe.

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To be fair, not all is lost.  Some EU Characters like Grand Admiral Thrawn appear in the new Star Wars universe.  (In this case, Star Wars Rebels)

Go and watch this film, and you will appreciate the Original Trilogy more than you thought.

8/10

I look forward for more Star Wars Anthology films in the future.

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Personally, I would LOVE it if they decide to make a Star Wars Anthology film about Galen Marek, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice.

For now, the next chapter of Star Wars will be in the form of Episode VIII.  Here is a fan trailer to prepare you:

 

 

 

Benz Eye View: Moana

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Moana

Pros: 

1.) This is Disney…what do you expect the animation will be like.  I will note that the water animation is incredibly well-done.  It is like the ocean has a mind of its own (which is actually true in this film’s case).

2.) The artistic designs are…who am I kidding?  This is Disney.  Let’s just say that Disney does not know how to quit on how to be artistically creative.  The Pacific Islander-inspired art is a nice touch on making this world look unique.

3.) The characters are fascinating enough to make you care for them.  There are Moana (the chosen one to help the islands), Gramma Tala (the crazy yet fun grandma), Maui (the proud show-off), and Heihei (which I feel like the only reason he existed is they need to put in the typical animal sidekick).  Most of these characters are great and enjoyable to watch (although Maui does have a certain problem that I will get to in a moment).

 

Cons: 

1.) I do enjoy the songs in the film.  The one that stands out for me is How Far I’ll Go.  I do find that a couple of the songs just did not work.  One sticks out like a sore thumb, because it is a pop song while the rest are Pacific Islander songs.  It is especially annoying when the character declares that he is going to sing about himself.  Not a good way to introduce a song in a musical.

2.) Considering that the film establishes that the ocean is alive and helpful to Moana, it could have helped her much more in the main plot.  To be fair, it does not goes as far as becoming a huge deus ex machina, but some of the things that happened could have been prevented if the ocean just helped out.  I get what they are trying to do it with it, so this does not really bother me, but I can understand if this bothers others.

3.) At first, I thought I have something against Maui for a while (I thought he was just an uninteresting character).  Eventually, I realized that something is wrong with the story.  The story itself is fine, but the emotional connection is not really that strong for Disney fans.  If you have been watching Disney films for a long time, you kind of know what is coming.  It contains the typical cliches of any Disney film even if it is slightly altered.  I still like the film, but if I am supposed to be emotionally invested, I barely did.

 

Overall: 

Moana is the latest Disney animated film to be released.  A friend of mine has told me that this film is as good as Frozen, which is my favorite film of 2013.  After watching it, I would not go that far.  It is a great film, but nowhere in the same level as Frozen (although it manages to put a pretty cool Frozen Easter egg).  Not that I expected it to be; the past Disney films show that Disney still got it.  While the story is pretty typical, I enjoy the characters and the world much more.  If you do not mind the typical story, I say Moana is a good watch for everyone in the family.

8/10

As for the Disney short Inner Workings, two words: not bad.

Benz Eye View: Loving

Hello, everyone!  Sorry it has been a while since I put in a review.  I had to be with my family in Thanksgiving, and I just recently came back from Playstation Experience 2016 (which is really great, and I have got to do video game reviews more often).  Now, I am back to do film reviews.  There is so many new films that are released that I am interested to watch and review, but I may not have time with them all (unless some of those are nominated for Best Picture, then I will watch and review them somehow).  With that said, here is my new review:

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Loving

Pros: 

1.) The main couple and the actors playing them work well together.  You can tell that they love each other deeply despite the difference of race.  Despite their flaws (one that I will get to in a moment), they want to take care of each other and their children.  The actors have great chemistry, and play their roles well enough to show that they know and loved each other for a long time.

2.) The film does a great job showing the problems of biracial marriage during the 1960s.  The ones who are against it make excuses on why it is bad (i.e. that is not God’s will, or white and black people do not mix together).  The tension on who Richard Loving should trust is decent.  Biracial is looked down upon at that time, and this film shows how bad biracial couples go through.

3.) I find the music to be pretty effective in the film.  Although it is by-the-basics music, it does well to express how the characters are feeling in that moment.  It helps make the situations calm if uneasy at the same time…

 

Cons: 

1.) …I argue that the music makes the film too calm, because it unintentionally makes it slow and sleepy for some people.  I will admit this: I slept through some parts of the film, because the music makes a good lullaby.  I should note it is probably because I just got back from the Playstation Experience, and I had little rest.

2.) While I do like the biracial couple, they need to lighten up a bit.  They are not really depressing, but I seen them being sadder than happy.  This is more my preference instead a huge fault, so I think you might handle it much more than I can.

3.) Child actors…Go figure.

 

Overall: 

Loving is based on the Loving v. Virginia case back in 1967.  I am going to say right now that this review is not exactly my best, because I have slept through some of it, and the person who came with me had to point out on some things to me what happened in the film.  The only time that this happened to me before was in the movie The Counselor, and that movie was boring.  Loving is not, but I blame more on myself than the film for me sleeping.  Overall, from what I watched, I liked it.  Not many comments other than the events of what happened in the film is the reason America has biracial marriages now.  Go see it with your significant other that is of a different race than yours.

8/10

I apologize if this is not the best full-fledged review ever.  I will make it up to you guys in the next one.