Benz Eye View: Moonlight

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Moonlight

Pros: 

1.) The actors are great playing calm and collective characters (with one notable exception).  Even the child actors play their roles well (despite the child actor playing Chiron has to be mopey all the time).  Even though it is calm acting, it is acting that is worth recognition.

2.) There are some great camera shots used in the movie.  Many first person shots, medium shots, tilts, pans, etc. show great cinematography…

3.) …This reflects with the director’s choices, and creates some interesting symbolism and visuals.  The ocean is what stands out as baptism symbolism (although I interpret that as something else, but that I will keep to myself), sound is absent in certain moments that reflects Chiron’s emotions, and so on.

 

Cons: 

1.) The movie is about a black gay child that we see from childhood to adulthood.  This reminds me way too much of Boyhood, and I thought that movie is overrated.  As a result, I found the story to be uninteresting.  There are some good and relaxing moments, but it does not really mean much if the story is not compelling, especially if it reminds me of movies that I have seen before, and probably did it better.  The only somewhat exception is the subplot with Chiron’s mom, but that does not get interesting until the last act.

2.) I can empathize with Chiron, but he is not interesting.  His conflict is that his life kind of sucks and depressing because of his mom.  Boo-hoo.  Get in line.  The only thing that the filmmakers did to make him stand out is that he is gay (which I will get to in a moment).  It is not enough since all Chiron does is mope on how life sucks especially with his emotionally abusive mom.  I get it, but that is not a compelling character when he does very little and barely stands out.

3.) Speaking about Chiron being gay, I think that is completely unnecessary.  Hear me out.  The fact they made Chiron gay does not really add anything.  There are a few moments that bullies make fun of him because he is gay, but I get the feeling it is also because he is secluded.  The filmmakers could have made him straight, and it would not really change much.

 

Overall: 

Catching up with Oscar-nominated pictures, we continue with the winner of 2016’s Best Picture: Moonlight.  So, does this movie deserve the Best Picture Award instead of La La Land, or does the Academy really need to learn to watch the films that are given to them?  Honestly, no.  It does not deserve the Best Picture Award.  Some of the reasons are due to my own personal tastes, and others are explained in the cons.  Personally, from the nominated films that I have seen so far, I prefer Hacksaw Ridge to win Best Picture.  As for Moonlight, it has some qualities that would be good for film class, but it is not really a fantastic movie.  If you want to watch it, go ahead, but I do not really recommend it for the casual viewers.

7/10

Benz Eye View: Collide

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Collide

Pros: 

1.) The two veteran actors, Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley are the only ones who are giving their best in this movie (even though it is not much).  Their characters are terribly clichéd, but at least they give their best shot in their acting careers.

2.) There is one action moment where a car attempts to escape a warehouse, and it is done in one shot.  It is not a bad moment, but it is probably the best moment compared to the rest of the movie.

 

Cons: 

1.) The two main leads (played by Nicholas Hoult and Felicity Jones) have very poor chemistry.  Not only are they not compelling, but their romance is weak.  I also get the feeling that the actors know this as well, and they try their best to cover up their indifference, but to no avail.

2.) Obvious CG is obvious.  It looks good enough to belong in a PS4 video game, but it looks distracting when it is in a live-action movie.  In other words, the post-production team needs more time to make the CG look like it belongs in the movie.

3.) There are editing problems right in the butt that it makes the action scenes look inadequate (which is thanks to the cinematography), and sudden random moments that can take people off the movie.  One example is in the climax of a car chase, the bad guys manage to take out Hoult’s car, but due to rapid-fast editing, they somehow crashed into a truck.  I have no idea what just happened, because it happened so fast.  If no one knows what is happening, they might as well watch something else.

 

Overall: 

Here is a little writing tip: when you introduce the main characters, make us learn to care for them.  That way, we empathize them when something terrible happens to them, and we want to see how they manage to go through their conflict.  A few minutes into this movie, they utterly failed at that.  Nothing about these characters are compelling, the plot is by-the-books nonsense, and the action is so out of control that it just makes me want to watch John Wick: Chapter 2 again.  Ultimately, this movie is forgettable and not worth anyone’s time.  If even the trailer does not seem to be trying to sell anyone to watch its movie, they know they failed.

3/10

Benz Eye View: The Great Wall

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The Great Wall

Pros: 

1.) It is nice to see a historical epic that is SO true to what happened in actual history.  In all seriousness, this movie has great action scenes that has some cool (and some not-so-cool) moments.  It kind of reminds me of some of the Chinese war epics that has similar action scenes like the ones in the movie.

2.) I kind of appreciate the imagery, particularly towards the colors.  Even though I am willing to bet that it is not historically accurate for Ancient China to have army with different colors of armor, it makes this movie stand out more by having its own image style.  It pretty much looks like the Chinese army version of Power Rangers.

3.) When it comes to history, I like to see many things from the movie match the history that takes place.  While it is clearly a fictional movie taking place in the Song dynasty, it does well showing that it is historical through its production and costume designs.  Add some color differentiation in their armor, and you have a movie that stands out in terms of appearance.

 

Cons: 

1.) Some of the dialogue needs to be rewritten, because it gets irksome due to its errors.  There are two main problems.  The first problem is that in the first third of the movie, the characters (particularly the white characters) keep stating what is happening around them.  The second and last problem is that when the Chinese are talking in Mandarin, other people translate what they say despite the English subtitles translating the Mandarin dialogue for us.  A little foresight is needed in those areas.

2.) The writing is pretty cliché and predictable.  There are not that many moments that will surprise you, and you may guess what is going to happen as soon as William and Tovar enter the Great Wall of China.  As for the story, there are going to be some moments in the lore that are questionable at best.  Maybe it was not established properly, or it is possible that certain questions had an oversight.  Either way, it is disappointing, especially if one of the writers is Tony Gilroy (the writer of the Bourne movies, Nightcrawler, and Rogue One).

3.) I might as well address this, and it is the fact that white people are in a predominately Chinese area, making plenty of people accuse this movie as whitewashing.  The director of the movie, Zhang Yimou has said that it is not like that. It is a movie that is rooted in Chinese culture, and it is meant to be shown worldwide.  Having watched this movie, it does provide a reason why there are white characters in Song dynasty China, but the creators can change them into Chinese characters, and nothing will change other than need of different backstories.  Overall, Matt Damon is not really needed except to boost the movie with his star power.

 

Overall: 

The Great Wall of China.  One of mankind’s greatest achievements, and there is a movie about it.  A movie about one of its legends: monsters are trying to cross to the wall, but many of the Chinese warriors bravely defend it through their courage and strategy.  With the help of one white person from the West, they managed to stop these monsters that attempted to invade their homeland forever…Yeah, I am willing to bet this legend is not real (unless someone actually points it out that it is).  However, I am willing to watch it.  I can safely say that this movie has many problems, but I enjoy it anyway. I am sure if you do think about, you might as well tear it down like CinemaSins would in their own videos, but I can describe it as a guilty pleasure.  I say turn your brains off, and enjoy the movie as it is like I did.  If you cannot, then I cannot recommend watching this movie.  Just watch John Wick: Chapter 2 instead.

6/10

Benz Eye View: The Lego Batman Movie

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The Lego Batman Movie

Pros: 

1.) You have probably seen YouTube videos of people creating stop-motion animation with Legos.  This movie does not have stop-motion animation, but does a create job recreating the look.  A good example replicating this animation is in Wreck-It Ralph, where the townspeople in the Wreck-It Ralph arcade move like the 8-bit video game characters.  The Lego characters move similarly, and the movie creates a unique animation just like its predecessor.

2.) There are plenty of references and jokes about Batman in many of his media portrayals.  I enjoy so many jokes of how Batman changed throughout the 77 years he has been around, and making fun of the things that is wrong with Batman.  They even made references to Batman media; some of them I did not really expect to be shown in this movie (and even some other references not belonging to Batman that I will not spoil).  I appreciate that as a Batman fan.

3.) Everyone knows that Batman is always serious and broody.  This movie’s interpretation of Batman shows him to be arrogant and conceited, and it is pretty funny.  It reminds of HISHE’s Batman except he is now a movie character made of Legos.

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In many ways, I am surprised this did not happen in the movie.  

As a result, we get to see the movie making fun of Batman by making him an egotistical jerk…

 

Cons: 

1.) …However, making Batman an egotist has its flaws.  The biggest one being that his arrogance gets really annoying over time.  I get that his biggest problem is that he will not admit his problems to his friends and families, but how he deals with it gets irritating.  It makes me want to be with the broody Batman again in his films (even Batman v. Superman).  A bit of advice: tone it down a bit.

2.) I found the movie to be a bit too fast-paced.  Action scenes go by pretty quickly, and I can barely tell what is happening unless it was on slow-motion.  Even some of the character interactions go by pretty quickly.  The movie is so fast-paced that I appreciated the slow moments that come by once in a while.

3.) I did say that the jokes are funny, but not all of them.  Some of them just go on a bit too long for my taste, and they deliver poor punch lines.  The worst joker (that is not who I am talking about) is Dick Grayson.  They made him into such an annoying optimistic child, I wondered when Batman was going to punch him in the face.  I understand why they have to change his character from his original counterpart, but they could have made him a better character instead of this Boy Blunder.

 

Overall:

Batman has been a huge superhero/cultural icon for such a long time that it was not long for a movie to be made just to make fun of him.

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I said make fun of him, not humiliate him.  

Enter The Lego Batman Movie, a spin-off to The Lego Movie.  Kind of interesting to make it a Lego movie considering that Lego is growing due to its approaches into other media (i.e. video games and movies).  Does this spin-off make Batman look good when he plays with Legos?  I can say the movie is constructed well for many people to enjoy.  I will not say it is Spaceballs-level of enjoyment and laughs, but it is made up with what they have: Batman, his ego, and his history throughout the years he has been around in our culture.  I still prefer The Lego Movie over this movie, but I do recommend it for the hardcore Batman fans (and Warner Bros. movie fans).  Any casual fans will have some fun as well, but may not get some of the references in the movie.  Grab your toy batarangs, and buy some Lego Batman toys.  Why?

orah-a

7/10

Benz Eye View: John Wick: Chapter 2

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John Wick: Chapter 2

Pros: 

1.) If you think about it, the story and world of this film series is absolutely ridiculous, and it embraces it proudly.  Keep in mind that there is a difference between ridiculousness and stupidity.  Ridiculousness is over-the-top in areas that will most likely never happen (i.e. the Marvel Cinematic Universe), while stupidity is mindless and dumb (i.e. comedies/spoofs).  John Wick is ridiculous, and it knows it.  People will easily buy into its world.

2.) There are many things that the film does not explain, but rather implies.  Like how the last film shows that John Wick is a force to be reckoned with so many assassins fearing him, the sequel also implies many things (though not as much).  In the visual medium, “show, don’t tell” is important, and they did well here.

3.) If you are wondering if the action scenes are as great as the last film, it certainly is.  Little to no shaky cam, medium to wide shots, and coordinated fight scenes create great action scenes that people can actually see…

 

Cons: 

1.) …There is one slight exception in the action scenes, and it takes place in a dark area with little lighting.  It is not terribly dark enough to not see what is happening, but it would be better to see what is really happening instead of the little lighting and the gun shots show what little there is to see.

2.) There are a few shots in the film that are obviously in front of a green screen.  When I mean obvious, I mean PAINFULLY obvious to a point that even someone who has no knowledge of green screens will wonder what is wrong with the background.

3.) There is one scene that takes place in some kind of mirror maze.  In writing, this makes it a good and tense action scene.  In terms of image, it is kind of disorienting for the eyes.  There are plenty of moments I cannot tell who is the real person or a reflection.  Good idea on paper, but it needs a better execution.

 

Overall: 

The first John Wick back in 2014 was a surprising action film that was so much fun, and made Keanu Reeves popular again since The Matrix Trilogy.  With its sequel, it retains much fun as its original.  I do not really have much more to say about this film.  It may not do anything new, but that is not what is aiming to be: an absolute thrill to watch, and makes great action that we can actually see awesome and painful.  Take note every movie that uses shaky cam to hide their poor excuse of action.

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I’m looking at you, Assassin’s Creed.

8/10

Benz Eye View: Lion

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Lion

Pros:

1.) The cinematography is the one thing that should catch your attention, because it is beautifully shot.  One of the very first shots in the movie is a young Saroo in front of a row of butterflies, and it looks glorious.  There are plenty of shots like these, but anyone can tell you that cinematography is excellent (which is no wonder that it is nominated for Best Cinematography).

2.) The movie knows how to manipulate emotions.  Kind of fitting considering the movie is called Lion, and it is somewhat similar to The Lion King.  Explaining how will spoil the movie, but let’s just say that it involves family.  I rather you watch it without knowing much about the movie to get the full emotional moments…

3.) …Those emotional moments have better weight thanks to the actors.  The two actors who stand out are Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.  Even though these two actors know how to cry and become emotional onscreen, their talents as actors still shine through others and each other.  I can truly buy that they are really have a mother-son bond.

 

Cons: 

1.) I found the first half of the movie to be pretty boring.  The first few minutes were integral, but the parts where young Saroo encounters some danger is not really necessary.  Skip to the part where Saroo ends up in an orphanage and gets adopted, and the movie would be better without the extra baggage.

2.) The cliché of “you do not understand how I feel despite the fact you are trying to help me” is in the movie, and it is as annoying as it sounds.  I do not care that it is based on a true story and it happened like that; I am not a fan of these clichés, especially if they are poorly used.

3.) (SPOILERS) A grown-up Saroo is trying to find his family, and he manages to find them by chance.  That is kind of insulting considering how hard he tried to find them via calculations.  It may not bother you, but it sure as heck bothered me.  (END SPOILERS)

 

Overall: 

Catching up with the nominated Academy Award films, the next one on the list is Lion: a movie based on a true story about Saroo Brierly.  From what I have seen, it is a good movie, but I do not think it deserves the nomination.  There are plenty of elements that deserve some notice like heart-warming moments, fantastic cinematography, and excellent acting.  However, there are some glaring problems like padding scenes, unnecessary moments, and an annoying cliché that can easily be resolved by getting some help.  Despite that, Lion is a good movie, and it deserves some credit as something worth watching.

7/10