Benz Eye View: The Case for Christ

The_Case_for_Christ_poster
The Case for Christ

Pros: 

1.) In case you are wondering, this film avoids the typical Christian clichés like being preachy (most of the time) and having Bible quotes being slammed into your face (although in this case, it is somewhat necessary since this film is about a non-believing journalist trying to disprove the Christian faith).  It maintains a realistic feel of actual people instead of two-dimensional characters that might as well be replaced by human Bibles.

2.) The film spends a long amount of time analyzing this case for Christ, and does so that gives people something to think about.  They check out Christian and Agnostic views, and they give historical, scientific, and psychological points of view on the Christian faith, and it is kind of refreshing and interesting to learn these things, regardless if you are a Christian or not.

3.) The film does an excellent job to show that the main character, Lee Strobel is investigating the case for Christ for personal reasons instead of a professional one.  It ends up not only affecting his relationship with his wife and family, but also his professional life as an investigative journalist.

 

Cons: 

1.) This is so minor that it may not bother everyone, but the film is really bright.  It is so bright that it reminds me of the lens flares in the recent Star Trek films.  Tone down the brightness, please.

2.) The subplot between Lee and his dad may have a good outcome, but the process is pretty weak.  It is the typical father-son issue that is uninteresting compared to the rest of the film.  It is delivered well, but you might groan for the fact that you have seen this plenty of times before.  At least the film points it out and has a good payoff.

3.) While there are some good points that are made in the film, I feel like there are some areas that they did not go far enough.  Regardless if the actual Lee Strobel met with them or not, why couldn’t he ask some atheist professionals about the case with Christ?  Lee can use the advice towards the Christians and Agnostics, and they can counter those theories with their own.  That can reinforce what the film is going towards: the validity of the Christian faith.

 

Overall: 

So we have ourselves another Christian film.  The last Christian movie I reviewed was I’m Not Ashamed from last year, and I thought that movie was pretty decent.  I also believed that Pureflix (the Christian film company that made these movies) are starting to learn how to make these movies instead of a Sunday sermon in movie form.  I stand by with that statement with this film as well, because it is actually really good.  I am sure that the target audience (Christians and maybe skeptics) may enjoy this film more than others, but I stand by this is an actual good film.  Not sure if the actual events are true, but the film is still great regardless.  This film helps make you think regardless what you think of the Christian faith.  I recommend a watch for everyone at least once (including non-believers), although I bet I know who is going to like it more than the others.

8/10

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Benz Eye View: The Fate of the Furious

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The Fate of the Furious

Pros: 

1.) Since this the eighth movies in the series, I expected that the character chemistry to be strong in this, and I was correct.  I can buy that these characters have known each for years (especially since many of the actors have worked on the series for years), and it is shown throughout their many interactions.  Even characters who were introduced in the last movie interact with the old characters as though they were friends for a while.

2.) When it comes to this series, it always involves cars, and the car action scenes are thrilling.  With some pretty good editing, the car sequences can be heart-pounding and exciting (the best part is the New York car sequence).  The physical fight scenes are fine, but the car scenes are where this movie excels in.

 

Cons: 

1.) I was hoping this would not happen as a non-Fast and the Furious fan, but there are many references from the past movies.  A few of them I am guessing are from the past movies, but if they are not, it makes those moments nonsensical and confusing.  In many cases, these references end up becoming deus ex machinas despite them being foreshadowed.

2.) I did expect many turn-off-your-brain moments, but there are some I just cannot suspense my disbelief.  You will know them when you see it, and you may end up thinking exactly what I was thinking when I first saw them.  It may bother you, or it may not.  Either way, it is too much for me.

3.) I kind of knew what was going to happen as soon as Charlize Theron’s character, Cipher first appeared into the movie.  Many moments are kind of predictable due to the movie’s direction and writing, and certain moments that are built up do not work that well.  One thing that does bother me is that Jason Statham’s character, Deckard Shaw (the villain from Furious 7) gets along with the main characters a bit too quickly.  They were enemies in the last movie, so I do not buy that they get along that quickly.

 

Overall: 

The Fast and the Furious series has surely changed over the years.  It started as a movie series about illegal car races, and it is now a high-octane action movie series featuring cars.  I am the last in the bandwagon when it comes to these movies, so I started with Furious 7 back in 2015, and I thought it is a fun turn-off-your-brain movie.  I can say the same thing when it comes with this movie, just not as fun.  There are many faults that I cannot ignore when compared with last movie I watched years ago.  I believe newcomers will not have much as fun as the people who know these characters ever since the series started.  However, if you do want a turn-off-your-brain movie, this is a heart-pounding roller coaster of a movie.

6/10

Benz Eye View: Your Name

Your_Name_poster
Your Name

Pros: 

1.) You remember Groundhog Day, and how it sets up their own set of rules on what happened throughout the entire film?  This film does the same thing, and while it takes time to understand what is going on, it gives out a fun and hilarious time with the two main leads (Their initial reactions of the body-switching alone are funny enough).

2.) The writing has no flaws that I can find throughout the entire film (except for a couple that I shall not spoil).  The film has two main leads who have their own set of problems, and they end up helping and falling in love with each other in the process.  It reminds me of Freaky Friday, except it is much better conceived, and it has a stronger emotional connection.

3.) This film’s 2-D animation is very beautiful and drawn so well, it makes me nostalgia over many of the old 2-D animated films (i.e. old Disney films).  The environments look life-like and the characters appear natural, especially without the exaggerated anime facial expressions.  I miss these types of animations considering the huge amount of 3-D animations we have been receiving throughout the recent years…

 

Cons: 

1.) …Speaking of 3-D animations, there are some of them in the film, and they stick out pretty badly.  It is not bad enough where it completely ruins the immersion of the film, but it is noticeable enough that anyone who has decent knowledge of animation would know how it looks.  Integrating 2-D and 3-D always looks off, and this film will not change that perspective.

2.) Here is one thing you should keep in mind when it comes to Japanese cinema: their filmmaking is much different when compared to American filmmaking.  One example is that they spend more time explaining stuff rather than showing it, and in some cases, that is not even enough.  If you are not a fan of that type of storytelling, you might not completely get what is truly happening in this film without paying close attention or multiple viewings (in this case, I somewhat doubt it).

3.) Considering this is an anime, there are some anime clichés that I am not fond of even when I was young.  Even certain romance clichés fill in this film like the typical “I have fallen in love with you despite knowing you for a couple of weeks” cliché, and it does not really help that two main leads “technically” have not met each other.

 

Overall: 

Well, here is something I have not really done much (if at all) in this blog: reviewing an anime film, especially since I reviewed a movie based off of an anime last week.  I heard of Your Name before, and how it is the most popular anime film in Japan back in 2016.  Now that it is finally released in the West (I watched it in the Japanese dub with English subtitles), I can clearly see why it is.  The film is nearly perfect in what it delivers: an emotional story about two high school kids switching bodies a few times a week to help each other’s problems, and beginning to fall in love with each other in the process.  As an average anime fan, this film makes me want to watch anime films (especially the most popular ones like any of the great Miyazaki films) considering how different they are with the Western films.  I hope to see many more anime films in the future and many more deeply-emotional films with great writing and animation.  Now excuse me, I need to go back playing Persona 5.

9/10

Benz Eye View: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Ghost_in_the_Shell_(2017_film)
Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Pros: 

1.) The visuals look amazing.  When the movie shows shots of the city, the holographic images looks fake yet real at the same time.  Even certain CG characters (i.e. the Geisha robots) look realistic.  Not all of the CG is perfect, but props go to the visual effects team in making life-like visuals…

2.) …Speaking of life-like, the word of Ghost in the Shell reminds me so much of every other cyberpunk medium like Deus Ex, Robocop, Blade Runner, The Matrix, etc.  I enjoy how much they show rather than tell what the technology of that world is like.  If it makes me feel like going to that world, the filmmakers did a great job immersing people into the movie in terms of its world.

3.) There are many cinematic shots that look pretty cool.  Many of them are reminiscent to the original 1995 anime film.  If there is one thing that the movie does well, it makes many of the scenes look cool…

 

Cons: 

1.) …However, just because it looks cool, that does not mean it is cool.  For one thing, the filmmakers have made some changes from the 1995 film, and those changes are not good.  Talking about it will spoil the movie, but let’s just say the intentions from the original does not compare well into this movie.

2.) I watched the original 1995 film a few years ago, and I remember that there are many philosophical and religious discussions and symbolism.  This 2017 movie tried to do the same thing, but it is not as strong.  In many cases, it is just outright pointless.  It is brought up only to be forgotten with a decent action scene.  I feel like they were trying, but they got bored and just rushed to the key plot points from the original.

3.) Just like the Iron Fist, this movie gained controversy for the fact that they hired a white woman to play a Japanese woman.  This angry reaction is slightly more justified, but given the fact that the director of the 1995 film is fine with Scarlet Johansson as the Major, I will be fine with it as well.

Even the Japanese are fine with it.

However, the movie itself actually gives a reason why the Major is white instead of Japanese.  If you are one of the many people who hated that the Major is played by a white person instead of a Japanese one, then you are going to hate the reason why she is white in this movie.

 

Overall: 

Based on the anime film in 1995 that is based on the manga of the same name, Ghost in the Shell is ridiculously controversial in terms of its casting of Major Motoko Kusanagi.  Just like I said in my Iron Fist review, I really do not care as an Asian person myself as long as the movie itself is good.  Going back to the movie, I have seen the 1995 anime film once a few years ago, and I thought it was interesting yet strange.  Watching this movie, I do remember some of the events that happened in the original, but not enough to make me bias with the new movie on its own.  As a cyberpunk movie, I enjoy its delivery of its source material, but it seems clear they want to make it deep, but lack the effort.  They are trying to make it mean something, but it ends up making me want to watch the original or any other cyberpunk films.  If you want to see futuristic action movie with an interesting world, this movie is a decent start.  That said, if you are a fan of the Ghost in the Shell anime film, I suggest you stay away since there are enough changes that are likely going to tick you off.

6/10

I did watch this movie in 3D, and it is not worth it at all since the 3D effects are not used that much.