Benz Eye View: The Book of Henry

The_Book_of_Henry_film_poster
The Book of Henry

Pros: 

1.) When it comes to child actors, they can easily make or break a film.  In the case of this film, the child actors did a fantastic job in their roles.  They do act like legitimate children even if one of the child characters is abnormal due to his intelligence.  They work well alongside with the adult actors, making their on-screen relationships appear genuine.

2.) All these characters are genuine with their obvious strengths and weaknesses.  A few of them I question whether or not they are needed to be there, but they are good enough for certain emotional moments.

3.) Even though it takes a while to reveal itself, the conflict can be rather nerve-wracking.  What happens in the film is a little more extreme than I thought it would be, but it makes some moments in the film exhilarating.

 

Cons: 

1.) The first act of this film is longer than I expected due to how slow it is.  I get it is trying to establish what is happening, but in terms of screenwriting, that is not exactly how you should write them (I understand that the rules of screenwriting are not really set in stone and can be changed depending on the writer’s style, but they must do a good job at it).  One character I thought was going to be the main character ends up not being one (which can happen in writing, but it just feels odd).  The film needs to balance on its three-act structure.

2.) Halfway into the film, the tone changes from family-friendly into something slightly sinister and dark.  The change of tone is jarring, and may annoy plenty of people in the process, and change how they see the movie.

3.) There is one plot hole I noticed after watching that could make or break some people for liking this film.  I will not say what it is, and I hope you will figure it out after watching the film, but let’s just say that the entire film would not have happened if these characters notice this flaw.

 

Overall:

I really do not have much to comment about this film’s origins since I came into it without any knowledge of it other than one word of mouth saying that it is good.  I decided to check it out, and it is surprisingly good.   What is a bigger surprise to me is that critics do not like this film at all.  I understand that there are things in the writing in this film that is different from the usual screenwriting method, but I think it actually works to an extent.  It has been a while since I have seen an original film (and since I have noticed that many of the films that I have watched are sequels, prequels, based on other media, etc., that is a good welcome).  Sorry if I am vague in certain areas, but I would like you to watch it without any knowledge about the film since I believe it will have a bigger impact for you.

8/10

Benz Eye View: The Mummy (2017)

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The Mummy (2017)

Pros: 

1.) Tom Cruise is certainly trying out of all the other major cast members (other than Sofia Boutella, but I will get to her in a second).  When he has to be emotional, he does it well.  When he has to be confused (although I am betting he is as confused as I am in this movie), you can buy it.  He still has the talent to act as he did in his old movies.

2.) Sofia Boutella as Princess Ahmanet is quite intimidating and scary at times.  While I do not think of her as great as Imhotep from the previous Mummy movies, she can certainly hold on her own as a threatening antagonistic force that is not meant to be messed with by anyone.  She may not have the same abilities as her previous Mummy antagonists, but she has powers that can frighten any normal human being.

3.) There are some interesting references to the old Universal Movie Monsters.  Not to going to say what they are, but they are nice tribute to old those classical films.  In fact, there is an Easter Egg that refers to The Mummy (1999).  There is even one (and I may be looking this a bit too closely) that reminds me so much of Friday the 13th.  I know that is not much of a pro…

 

Cons: 

1.) …That is because there are so many things wrong with this movie.  Let us start with the characters.  I do not like any of them.  Some are annoying and others are unlikable.  They try to give chemistry with many of these characters (like the friendship between Nick Morton and Chris Vail, and the romance between Nick and Jenny), but their chemistry is as thin as toilet paper (also the actress who plays the love interest, Jenny, sucks).  The movie tries to make us care for them, but they failed so badly, I wanted Princess Ahmanet to hurry up and kill them.

2.) The action scenes are lackluster.  Very few moments did the action scenes become engaging (i.e. Ahmanet throwing around Tom Cruise, and the sandstorm scene).  I might as well describe these scenes as rag-doll zombies being thrown towards the actors as they try to run away.  The filmmakers should really look at The Mummy (1999) as a decent example on how to make an action scene engaging.

3.) There are so many things wrong with the writing.  Besides the poor characters, there are scenes that serve no purpose to the movie whatsoever.  Since this movie involves Ancient Egypt, they mention the Second Crusader Knights are involved.  They give a reason, but it still feels a little contrived to suddenly have Ancient Egypt and Second Crusader Knights being connected somehow.  Not only that, the characters make poor decisions that should have gotten them killed.  Also, since this is a new cinematic universe, the movie is building up certain things for other movies.  It does a better job on foreshadowing than the DCEU, but they are noticeable.

 

Overall: 

The Mummy.  One of the classical movie monsters; a Universal Movie Monster.  While I have not seen the original Mummy movies (unfortunately), I have seen the Sommers movies starring Brendan Fraser.  The Mummy (1999) was enjoyable if not flawed.  The Mummy Returns was still enjoyable despite bigger amounts of flaws.  The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor has flaws that could not be ignored, making the movie dreadful instead of fun.  Now we have The Mummy (2017): a movie that kick-starts the Dark Universe: a cinematic universe that has the Universal Movie Monsters cross over in the same movie universe.  I do recall that there was an attempt in making this universe in the movie Van Helsing (2004), and it did not do well.  Does this movie a good start for this universe to grow into a multitude of movies?  To put it simply, no.  It is a bad start in a similar fashion of how Man of Steel started the DC Extended Universe.  Poor characters, bad writing, and lackluster action are what makes this movie and Man of Steel similar to each other.  I hope they learn their lessons with the failures of this movie, because if they do not, this world of gods and monsters will cease to exist very easily.

3/10

Benz Eye View: Wonder Woman (2017)

Wonder_Woman_(2017_film)
Wonder Woman (2017)

Pros: 

1.) The film does a great job making visual atmospheric differences between Themyscira and London.  Themyscira is bright and heavenly while London is bleak, dark, and hellish.  The visuals (not the CG, which they do stand out pretty badly) makes each location seem unique from each other…

2.) …Which relates to Wonder Woman since she has a great character arc.  She starts out wanting to fight evil, because she believes that good and evil are simple.  However, she eventually realizes that good and evil are much more complicated than she thought.  While the delivery of the arc could have been better, I appreciate how Diana Prince grows throughout the entire film, and how she ends up in the events of Batman v. Superman (despite a few questions that I have for the character).

3.) If there is one thing that the DC Extended Universe is doing well over the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is the music.  Wonder Woman’s theme has been playing throughout the film bit by bit, and it fully plays in certain battle scenes.  This is how you make a great theme as opposed to Marvel where there are very few good musical moments (i.e. The Avengers).

 

Cons: 

1.) If you want a superhero film with plenty of battle scenes, you are going to have to wait, because the pacing is so slow when the second act begins, particularly when Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor leave Themyscira.  The film develops many scenes, plot points, and characters throughout its run time, but it takes too much time for anything interesting to happen.  You probably will not even remember some of the characters that are introduced other than the major ones.

2.) Sadly, there are some below-average acting in this film.  Fortunately, it is not outright terrible, and can be considered passable in certain moments, but they are noticeable.  There are moments where I wondered why the director chose shots where the actors were stuttering with their lines.  I would be fine with them stuttering, except it happens so often, I cannot really ignore it.  Unfortunately, the one actor who suffers the worst with below-average acting is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.  When she is acting and fighting normally, she is fine, but when she has to be emotional, she cannot do it.  I can see some potential in her, so she may need some acting lessons, otherwise she will be replaced pretty quickly if her acting does not get better.

3.) Apparently, the director loves slow motion so much that she uses it in most if not all of her action scenes.  While it is cool to see, it gets tiring over time.  Tone it down, and let the cinematographers do their job (although they need to work on it as well in certain action moments).

 

Overall: 

The DC Extended Universe’s competition against the Marvel Cinematic Universe started off poorly.  Man of Steel was awful, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was even worse, and Suicide Squad was slightly better, but was still bad.  The DCEU’s next installment: Wonder Woman is out now.  Will Wonder Woman do a better job in the DCEU where Superman, Batman, and even the Suicide Squad could not?  In a word, yes.  They FINALLY learned their lessons, and made an actual good film.  They made a superhero compelling, her character arc interesting, and a film that is a breath of fresh air over the dark and dull movies before it.  I hope they continue this over the other films in the DCEU (I am looking at you, Justice League).  Until then, if you wanted a good DCEU film, it has finally come in the form of Wonder Woman.

8/10

Benz Eye View: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Pirates_of_the_Caribbean,_Dead_Men_Tell_No_Tales
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Pros: 

1.) It feels like a long time since we have seen Jack Sparrow back in action, and it is surely nice to see him again.  Out of all of the characters in this movie (other than Barbossa), Jack Sparrow easily stands out over everyone with his witty and weird characteristics (something unusual for a pirate), which it is to be expected since he is by far the most compelling character you have ever seen throughout the series.  He is the one character that holds this franchise together after all.

2.) There are some good character arcs that follow through this movie.  Admittedly, they are just adequate, but a big improvement over the forgettable On Stranger Tides.  The character who has greatest arc over all the other characters is Hector Barbossa.  Not going to spoil why, but let’s just say he has the best emotional weight for the movie.  Overall, the characters and their arc are more compelling than its predecessor.

3.) The main antagonist, Captain Armando Salazar and his crew are fearsome.  Remember Barbossa and his crew when they were cursed and their true forms are revealed under the moonlight, and Davy Jones and his crew with their Kraken?  Those guys were truly a force to be reckoned with, and Salazar and his crew are no exceptions.  It was what’s missing with Blackbeard on On Stranger Tides: not only are these guys extraordinarily threatening (and well-designed monsters), but they are also interesting.  They may be somewhat typical, but at least interesting enough over a legendary pirate with a magical sword who wants to live longer.

 

Cons: 

1.) There are some other antagonistic forces in the movie: The British Royal Navy, and these guys are a bunch of idiots.  (SPOILERS) They are only in half of the movie, and they are easily dealt with by Captain Salazar. (END SPOILERS)  There is very little use to these characters, so they might as well write them off since there is little use of their existence in this movie.  There is even a witch character that seems important, and she only appears twice for a few minutes.  They are just pointless, and I will not be surprised if no one remembers these people other than they are the descendants of the Stormtroopers.

2.) I rewatched all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (even On Stranger Tides) before watching this one, and I noticed some story continuity errors.  Saying all the ones I noticed will spoil the movie, but if you are a Pirates fan, you will notice it as well.  One example is that some of major crew members from the first three movies mysteriously returned despite suddenly disappearing in On Stranger Tides.  I thought they were killed by Blackbeard, but they are back apparently…

3.) …Including the two British Navy soldiers/goofballs from the first and third movies, and these are characters who overstayed their welcome.  They are examples of the third con for this movie: the comedy is poor.  There are some moments where I found amusingly funny, but I felt that the comedy bits are written by an amateur, which it is not, because it is written by Jeff Nathanson, who also wrote Rush Hour 2, and I found that film to be hilarious.  All I can say is better luck next time, because he can write comedy better than that.

 

Overall: 

Who would have thought that a movie franchise based on a ride would do so well?  The Curse of the Black Pearl was a surprising hit that nobody thought would do well.  Dead Man’s Chest was a step down from its predecessor, but it still holds some value if you overlook its flaws.  At World’s End has numerous problems with few things holding it together.  On Stranger Tides…wait, there was a fourth movie?  Jokes aside, that movie was so forgettable, I do not think anyone would notice if it was wiped from existence.  After six years of rest, does this movie at least surpass its forgettable predecessor?  It sure does, but it does not really share the same amazing heights as Curse of the Black Pearl.  The charm of these movies may have dissipated throughout the years, but I can tell the filmmakers are trying to make a good movie with elements like Jack Sparrow, the supernatural antagonists, and the incredible music.  It will impress the fans of the franchise, and newcomers will have some enjoyment.  I can honestly say that it is great to see the great Captain Jack Sparrow back in action after all these years.

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Although, you are going to have a bit of a competition if you want be top dog in Disney again.

7/10

Benz Eye View: Alien: Covenant

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Alien: Covenant

Pros: 

1.) Throughout the first act, the movie does a good job on its world building.  It gives us how the world works, what the group wants, and the atmosphere/tone of the movie.  It may be pretty slow, but Ridley Scott still knows how to create magnificent-looking worlds with their own feats and fantasies.

2.) I believe that the most stand-out performance in this movie easily belongs to Michael Fassbender as Walter and another certain character that appears in the movie that I will not spoil.  Even though he can appear in bad movies,

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Yes, even that.

Fassbender can still act well, and this movie is no different.  Playing an emotionless yet dutiful android that will help his comrades no matter what also makes him stand out from all the other characters and actors.

3.) The movie looks very creative with a combination of both sci-fi and ancient sets and designs.  It has unique visuals that combines sci-fi and fantasy elements, and it is a nice refreshing take in the genre as far as I know (other Aliens vs. Predator, but we are not going to talk about that)…

 

Cons: 

1.) …Speaking of visuals, the CG and special effects are not really impressive.  I will admit that I am bit spoiled since the Marvel Cinematic Universe has great CG lately.  That being said, the CG in this movie is a bit abnormal.  They do not look that real when compared to actual living actors onscreen.  It has been a while since I have seen the Alien franchise, but I recall that those films manage to barely show the Alien itself with certain shots, quick-cut editing, and low lighting, and those creatures look great.  In this movie, you can tell that it is CG, and it shows the Alien plenty of times.  It looks wrong for some reason, and it ruins what made the Alien great in the first place: terrifying when you can barely see it.

2.) Since this movie is a sequel to Prometheus, it touches upon themes of existentialism and creation.  However, the movie gives you questions that they are not really going to answer.  Remember how Prometheus made a big deal about who created the human beings on Earth?  They quickly gloss over the theme in this movie, too.  If you are going bring up certain themes, then go explore these themes instead of doing a repeat of the original Alien except bigger, or in a worst-case scenario, Fant4stic.

3.) The characters might as well be wearing red shirts, because they are a bunch of idiots.  Granted, some of their actions do have some good reason, but they even point out how risky and stupid those actions are at times.  There is also the typical horror cliché of one person going alone in an area that they REALLY should have someone with them when they are dealing with a monster that is out there trying to kill them!  Have these people ever seen horror movies in their lives, especially since this takes place in the future?  Not to mention that a certain twist that happens that these people should have seen coming, but they did not bother to think about until much later.  Overall, these guys deserve to die.

 

Overall: 

I admit that I am not an Aliens fan, but I do understand its appeal (especially the Alien Xenomorph itself).  Alien was a great sci-fi horror film.  Aliens went up to the next level with its suspenseful action.  Alien 3 was not really up in par with the previous films.  Alien: Resurrection…well, let’s not talk about that.  Prometheus was an interesting turn for the norm, but it falls apart the more you think about the movie’s structure.  Now, we have the sequel to Prometheus and the prequel to Alien: Alien: Covenant.  I have been hearing that Alien fans are not really happy with this movie.  For me, I can see why, but I do not hate it.  Maybe it is because I am not really that attached to the franchise, and I am more interested in other things.  In any case, Aliens: Covenant tries to be deep with its themes of existentialism like in Prometheus, while satisfying the Alien fans by having the Alien Xenomorphs this time around.  However, it fails on both accounts.  I say if you are an Alien fan, you will find yourself disappointed.  If you have nothing else to watch, this movie will have to do for any regular sci-fi fan…or just watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

6/10

Sorry that it has been a while since I made a review.  I was having some personal things to deal with, but now I am back.  I will make it up with an upcoming review of a media that I have not done in a while, which it is coming soon.  For one, I really wanted to review this.  For another, it is because of a calling card that I just got.

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Huh, I didn’t see that coming…

Benz Eye View: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Pros: 

1.) All the characters have such great chemistry with each other.  What this film does is pair each of them with certain characters that work opposite to the other, and play with that (i.e. Rocket with Yondu, Gamora with Nebula, Drax with Mantis, etc.).  It makes their conversations natural and funny despite the characters being complete opposites at times.

2.) Even though it is pretty obvious at times, the CG looks great.  It may be thanks to the last MCU film, Doctor Strange, but it seems like Marvel is improving on the computer graphics department.  Especially on action scenes, the CG is bright, colorful, and amazingly well-done (there are a few glaring errors, but not enough to fully distract people).  It is actually an improvement over many of previous MCU films:

3.) Considering that this is a sci-fi film, the costume, alien, and environmental designs are awesome.  It is hard to be creative, because…I am Groot.  Seriously, it reminds me of many other sci-fi films (i.e. Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who) in a good way, because it shows how creative the filmmakers when making this film (which helps since this is based off of a superhero comic book series).

 

Cons: 

1.) There are a few jokes that I did not expect in this film, because they are way too adult.  This is not part of the Marvel Netflix series that is aimed for older audiences, it is part of the MCU which is aimed for everyone.  They do not belong, and many family members will be caught off guard with these lewd jokes.

2.) The central plot is not really clear until near the climax.  There are several different subplots that could be considered as the main central plot, but it is not clear since they get equal amount of time (most of it, but I will get to that).  As a result, it is kind of confusing which to truly follow, because many of these subplots are different from each other, and do not really come together until the climax.

3.) A few of those subplots are pretty forgettable, because it gets easily glossed over with the more important subplots.  Not going to lead to any spoilers, but let’s just say that certain characters that were written to be a big deal easily get forgotten with a much bigger threat.

 

Overall: 

Continuing with the MCU, we get the sequel of the Guardians of the Galaxy.  When that group was announced to be part of the MCU a few years ago, I was with everyone else and thought, “Who in the world are the Guardians of the Galaxy?”  When the movie was released, the small-known superhero group became a huge success.  Now, we have the sequel of a successful superhero group that has improved from its predecessor, but lacked in other areas.  Characters are great as usual, but the narrative is a little jumbled up until the climax where the fun truly begins.  Some of the new characters are great on their own, but there are others that are either underused (which it is a shame, because they got some great actors like Sylvester Stallone to be in this film) or kind of a joke.  Either way, this film will please Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy fans since it is so much as they intended it to be: a fun ride.  If you are one of those fans, you will be glad to see the next film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

8/10

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