Benz Eye View: Iron Fist

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Iron Fist

Pros: 

1.) I do appreciate the references on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (particularly the Marvel Netflix Series).  It reminds me that this takes place in world with Daredevil, Captain America, Iron Man, etc.  It is a nice touch (especially since returning characters like Claire Temple and Jeri Hogarth are in this series).

2.) Um…the last few episodes are tolerable.  That is just fine…

 

Cons: 

1.) …Unfortunately, I cannot really say the same thing to the series as a whole.  Where do I begin?  Let’s start with the characters: None of them are compelling.  Either I have seen these characters before, or they are not interesting enough for me to care.  There are moments when I start caring, but they are brief and get replaced by something stupid.  The only characters I actually truly care are the returning characters from previous Marvel Netflix series like Claire Temple or Jeri Hogarth.

2.) This series is excruciatingly slow.  If you want to see plenty of action, or a mixture of dialogue scenes and action scenes, you are going to be very disappointed.  There is more talk than action, and it is written poorly.  It would be fine if the characters are not stale, and some of the events are at least slightly unpredictable.  Not to mention since Danny Rand keeps mentioning K’un-Lun so much, I rather watch the series that takes place in that ancient city instead of New York.

3.) Let’s talk about the Iron Fist himself: Danny Rand played by Finn Jones.  You would think that since this is his own series, he would stand out more than any of the characters in a good way.  Not true in this case.  Before I explain, I like to explain the casting controversy.  Many people were not happy that Iron Fist was going to be played by a white actor instead of an Asian actor.  Two things I like to say about that.  First, Iron Fist is white in the comics, so they are just following the source material.  Second, as an Asian person myself, I really do not care.  He could have been played by a black actor for all I care as long as he performs well.  In this case, Finn Jones is probably the worst actor in the series.  In certain cases, I can tell he is trying, but his acting conviction seems to be lacking in many scenes, especially when he tries to look sad and angry, but he ends up looking like he needs to go to the bathroom.  Ironically, there is a minor villain played by an Asian actor that performed pretty well in his role, and he actually auditioned to play the Iron Fist.  I prefer him over Finn Jones any day.  As for the character, you might as well call him Batman or Iron Man except he only has kung-fu powers, and he is kind of stupid.  And if I hear him say “Because I am the Iron Fist” one more time, I will call Jackie Chan and ask him to show Iron Fist how a true martial artist works.

 

Overall: 

While Marvel is busy with their cinematic movies, they also have created their own TV series.  In the case of Netflix, they created four series to eventually coincide in a crossover series called The Defenders.  Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage are all great in their own ways, and now we have the last Defender in this new Marvel Netflix series: Iron Fist.  Does this new series punches hard in the right place to earn its place alongside the other Marvel Netflix series?  Unfortunately, I have to say that this series is one big blunder.  I feel like they were obligated to make this series so they can finally have that Defenders crossover.  This series is so bad that there are more cons that I can talk about here.  The series can be preachy, there are plenty of poor fight coordination, annoying repetition, and moments that are built up well with poor execution.  The series is not completely terrible since there are moments where I actually started to care what is happening, especially in the last few episodes.  The only reason I would recommend this show is to prepare for the upcoming Defenders series.  Otherwise, watch the other Marvel Netflix series or even Agents of SHIELD.  For the Iron Fist, its fist ends up with a serious damaging bruise.

Pass

 

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Benz Eye View: Power Rangers

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Power Rangers

Pros: 

1.) This movie certainly feels like a Power Rangers movie.  It keeps in some of the traditions of the original Power Rangers TV series like five teenagers with attitudes (but in a different way), they fight a group of foot soldiers, call in their zords to fight a big monster, etc.  Despite some changes from the original show, it feels like watching a longer episode of Power Rangers, which could be a good or bad thing depending on their execution (which I will get to in the cons).

2.) I really enjoy the cast playing the original Power Rangers.  While there are some differences in the originals, I enjoy the characteristics of each of the Rangers (with the somewhat exceptions with Zach and Trini), and the actors play them so well that I buy the chemistry with all five of them.  They are much better than the almost perfect originals of the TV series that seem to have little to no flaws.

3.) One of the biggest changes from the original that I really like is the movie’s portrayal with Rita Repulsa.  In the original, she is just a typical villain who has some charm.  In this movie, she is a terrifying threat that can be legitimately scary at times.  Some of the changes with her character actually makes some sense when you compare her to the original.  She may not be the most well-written villain you have ever seen, but she is better than the original.

 

Cons: 

1.) There are certain camera movements/shots and editing choices that can be really bothersome.  Some camera shots favor dutch shots for no good reason, inter-cutting over-the-shoulder shots when two characters speak in turn is disorienting, and other editing moments that makes it seem like the filmmakers are favoring style over substance.  These choices are important since the audience is watching the movie, so they should not make choices that can ruin the audience’s immersion.

2.) Since this is a superhero movie, it cannot escape the typical superhero clichés.  Five people get superpowers, they do not really like each other, and they have to use the power of friendship in order to beat their enemies (come to think of it, that sounds like a typical anime show).  I might as well watch Guardians of the Galaxy since that is a much better film than this repeated superhero cliché, which has a predictable story.  Not to mention that hardcore Power Rangers fans may have to wait a little while for some of their favorite moments to come on-screen.

3.) The movie has a Macguffin that is hidden in Angel Grove (how convenient).  Where is located?  In an area that is just a poor cover-up of a product placement that I have ever seen.  It bothers me so much that it has to be in this con.  They are not subtle at all, and they need to do better than what they just did.

 

Overall: 

I was a huge Power Rangers fan when I was young.  Every time I watched the opening theme of the show, I was always pumped to see the martial arts and giant monster battles.

It is a really dumb show now that I think about it, but it was a fun dumb show.  I watched it up until Operation Overdrive when it got really stupid even for my tastes.  The show even got a couple of movies in its line-up (which are just stupid now that I looked back at them).  With this new reboot of the Power Rangers movies, is it as faithful as the show as well as being a good movie?  To me, I am a little conflicted.  As a Power Rangers fan, I like this movie.  As a film person, it is just an average movie.  It is indeed faithful to show and adds its own tastes, but kind of fails to hold up as a great movie.  I am pretty sure Power Rangers fans will like it as it is, but average audiences will see it as a typical superhero movie.  There are enough moments that will give the fanboys some glee (despite how brief some of them can be), but typical viewers may not see it the same way.  I would not say that the movie is morphinominal, but it is at least a decent start for the movie franchise.

6/10

Benz Eye View: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Pros: 

1.) While the live-action remake is pretty faithful to the original 1991 film, there are some new story details that they added.  My favorite new detail is the backstories with Belle and the Beast.  While the backstories themselves are fine, it helps make the romance between Belle and the Beast a little bit more believable and relatable than the animated one.

2.) The set and costume designs are gorgeous.  All of it makes it believable that we are in mid-1700s France…and that is all I have to say about that considering I have do not have that much expertise in costume and set designs during that time.

3.) The characters are still as good and faithful as their original counterparts (with a few exceptions *cough*LeFou*cough*).  While certain moments make them look a little dumber than usual (besides, even the original had those moments, but for good reasons), they are still likable enough to make you care for them, and hope they live on happily ever after.

 

Cons: 

1.) There is some pacing issues in the first half of the movie rushing up until the “Be Our Guest” segment, resulting in some moments seem a little dumb or not as good as the original.  It seems odd considering that this movie is at least thirty minutes longer than the original.  Since there are some additions to this version, they did manage to fix the couple of plot holes in the original, but they also added a few more plot holes that is more noticeable than the previous version.

2.) The original songs are in the movie, and they are just as great here (there are even some new ones, but they are kind of forgettable).  All of the people singing do a decent job, but the one person that stands out is Emma Watson as Belle, and not in a good way.  Emma Watson is using Auto-tune, making it clear that she cannot sing.  It stands out very badly, so why cannot they at least get a voice double for her instead of Auto-tuning her “singing” voice?  See if you can notice it…

3.) There are times that the CG is done well, but there are times that the CG is clearly not done.  Look at the Beast: he looks good in some shots, but in other shots, he looks like he does not belong in a realistic environment.  Some green-screen shots do not really integrate with the actors in front of them, so they need to work on that as well.

 

Overall: 

Beauty and the Beast: one of the greatest classics in Disney’s Renaissance Era, one of the best films of all time (one of three animated films to be nominated for Best Picture), and one of my favorite films ever.  If I were to grade the original 1991 animated film, I would give it a 10/10 with great characters, writing, and animation; but with small flaws like few animation errors, and a couple of plot holes if you nitpick it hard enough.  Now, we have ourselves a live-action remake of a Disney classic.  When it comes to these live-action remakes, some are good (Cinderella (2015)) and some are bad (Maleficent).  Does this new live-action remake of a tale as old as time need to be retold?  It is good as it can be.  Keep in mind, I am trying not be bias as much as possible considering I love the original version.  That said, the animated version is still better than the live-action remake, but it still has some good elements like the original.  It still has great characters, but the writing is a little more flawed than the original.  The CG is tolerable enough, but it can no way stump the original’s animation.  The remake is good enough for anyone wanting a live-action version, but the animated one is the best one of all.  This is the best you are going to get in live action, but no other version can stump the animated Beauty and the Beast.

7/10

Benz Eye View: Kong: Skull Island

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Kong: Skull Island

Pros: 

1.) This movie certainly feels like a Kong movie.  If you think about it, there are elements in the movie that are similar to other Kong movies.  You have a group of people going to a mysterious island, a woman who has an emotional connection to Kong, monsters that are threats to other people besides Kong, and a man who is desperate to take out Kong by any means necessary.  It certainly fits in the mold of any Kong movie (or monster movies in that matter).

2.) While Kong is the main monster of the movie, there are other monsters as well, and they have pretty interesting designs.  In fact, I find the environmental and monster designs to be quite interesting and engrossing.  It certainly captures what a terrifying monster can be (especially in shots where they contrast the sizes between Kong and the humans), and how wild the environment is in a mysterious island.

3.) The final fight with Kong is pretty fun.  It reminds me of Godzilla (2014) with its final battle (even though it spent more time with the humans than the monsters).  It feels like a large-scale battle with the humans caught up in the middle.  In fact, Kong looks terrifying enough to scare any people in this movie.

 

Cons: 

1.) I can automatically tell which of the characters are going to be red-shirts by the time they enter the island.  Even if my predictions were not true, they are uninteresting, because the movie spends little time with them.  The only characters who are holding this movie together are the characters played by Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, and John C. Reilly, because the actors play their characters well…

2.) …Even if the actors do play their characters well, some of those characters seem to fall apart as the movie progresses.  One particular is Preston Packard (played by Samuel L. Jackson) who has an understandable background, but I lost sympathy with him by the end of the movie when he does something dumb that endangers his comrades.  Characters need to be interesting enough to make the audience care, but hopefully they do not do something stupid that makes the audience stop caring for them.

3.) There are moments and characters that seem to be important in the movie, but they end up not really using them that much.  Honestly, some of these characters are not really needed in the movie, especially the ones that are important in the beginning end up doing nothing in the end.  There is one unintentionally funny moment where one soldier is going to sacrifice himself to stop a monster, but let’s just say that the monster is not stupid.  Use these characters and moments that have been built up.  Otherwise, what is the point having them in the first place other than they are dead meat?

 

Overall: 

King Kong.  A classic monster in the film industry that was created back in 1933.  Ever since his creation, many film creators made sequels, rip-offs, or their own versions of King Kong.  Some of them are terrible, while others are not bad (i.e. King Kong (2005) by Peter Jackson).  Twelve years after King Kong (2005), we get a reboot of King Kong called Kong: Skull Island.  I found this reboot to be OK, but since this is a popcorn movie with monsters, that is fine within monster movies standards.  I do wish that the movie can be better than what we have, because I keep thinking about the Peter Jackson film twelve years ago, and the 1933 film.  I believe the filmmakers realize that their movie is not going to be as deep or well-developed as the other ones.  If you are going to watch it, at least watch it for a certain thing that happens after the credits, or when Kong is on the screen.  Otherwise, wait until the Blu-Ray comes out, and watch it with another certain movie that you will know what I mean when you see the after credits scene.

 

6/10

Benz Eye View: Logan

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Logan

Pros: 

1.) The action in this film makes the previous X-Men movies look like child’s play, because it is brutal.  It is so brutal, the creators of Mortal Kombat might as well make him a playable DLC character in one of their games.  There is blood, decapitations, and so much slashing.  This film is not for the faint of heart, because they are serious with their R-rating.

2.) When I first heard of the title of this film, I thought it was stupid.  Why did the filmmakers call it Logan instead of something interesting like Wolverine: The Berserker Mutant?  After watching the film, I completely understand why.  The film gives out a solemn and depressing tone throughout its run-time, meaning it may be a superhero film, it does not feel like it.  There are action moments, but the scenes that stick out the most are the quiet moments.  It is best if you see it for yourself, but these moments are very appreciative and needed in a film like this.

3.) I do not need to tell you that the acting is fantastic when you have Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman return as Charles Xavier and Logan respectively.  However, the one actor that deserves the praise is Dafne Keen as Laura/X-23.  She works amazingly well alongside Hugh Jackman since they both play characters with deep issues.  Dafne Keen can be quiet yet scary, ferocious in battle, and friendly when she is calm.  The cast is practically perfect in this film.

 

Cons: 

1.) The film mentions that the X-Men are popular in this world through their own original comic books, and it feels a little out of place.  It is even used a few times to help track down a certain location that Logan and Laura are going, making it feel somewhat contrived.  The film should probably stick it to something else like old news articles saying how popular the X-Men are instead of the comic books.

2.) The filmmakers did say that they try to use little CG as possible, and they did well.  However, some of the CG they did use are a little obvious.  The most obvious one is many of the driving scenes where they shot in the car’s interiors, and there are obvious green screens outside the car.  Not really that bad, but considering the low amount of CG used, they could have done better.

3.) Remember, this film takes place in alternate timeline after X-Men: Days of the Future Past, and there are some things that are not fully explained.  The film takes place in 2029, and plenty of things have happened between X-Men: Days of the Future Past and Logan.  As a result, many backstories either have passing mentions or not explained.  It should not completely bother anyone unless you are really nitpicky.

Overall: 

Wolverine has been a popular character ever since his creation back in 1974.  When he appeared in X-Men back in 2000, he is the most interesting character over any of the other X-Men.  As a result, he had his own set of movies.  X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a terrible movie that not only insults Wolverine, but also Deadpool (which he thankfully got a better movie much later).  The Wolverine (which is directed by James Mangold) is all right, but ultimately forgettable.  The new Wolverine film, Logan (which is also directed by James Mangold) is not only the best Wolverine film to date, but also one of the best X-Men films to date.  I get the feeling this what Mangold wanted to make when he directed The Wolverine considering he directed 3:10 to Yuma, a film that feels somewhat similar to Logan.  It is bloody, quiet, depressing, bittersweet, and calm that are perfectly placed together in a film.  I do recommend it to everyone, even the people who have not seen any of the X-Men films.  It is a great film overall, and a farewell to Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

9/10

So…since this is the last film for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, can we finally have Wolverine be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?