Benz Eye View: Saw

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Hello, viewers.

I want to play a game.  Right now, you are seeing that this reviewer is planning a Saw Marathon in a similar vein to the Star Wars Marathon in preparation of the upcoming Jigsaw movie.  Throughout its past seven-movie run, the series has earned its love and hate by many people for six years, and will reemerge in its eighth installment in Oct. 27.  This reviewer will be watching all seven Saw movies whether he likes to or not.  Will you be reading his reviews and take on his own perspective on how these movies succeed or fail, or will you ignore him and choose a safer option?  Read or ignore, dear viewers.  Make your choice.  

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Saw

Pros: 

1.) Here we go.  Where do I begin?  First off, I do find the premise of the movie very interesting.  Two people stuck in a bathroom, and they are told to play a little “game” by a serial killer that does not really kill people, they just end up failing at his “games.”  That premise alone intrigues me.  It sounds like a great idea for a film, but…well, I will get to that in the cons.

2.) There are some creepy and suspenseful (or in a few cases, funny) moments throughout the movie.  There are some good shots of dark areas, moments where that are uncomfortably quiet, and tone that are a mixture of dread and anxiety.  While there are areas that are predictable jump scares, it was used effectively at least by somewhat foreshadowing it through tension and slow moments.

3.) The twist in the end is downright awesome.  There are small signs of this twist, so it is not completely out of nowhere.  I will not spoil it for people who are curious to see this movie (if you REALLY are curious), but I have a feeling if there is at least one thing that an average moviegoer will at least like, it will be the twist moment.

 

Cons: 

1.) There are so many moments that are forced, convenient, or just does not make any sense (I know some of them are answered in the sequels, but I am reviewing the movie on its own and not on the sequels yet).  It does not really help that some characters have to be idiots in certain moments in order for some plot points to happen.  Then again, this is a horror movie, so having idiotic characters is part of the norm.

2.) It is clear that the movie has limited production.  From what I have heard, they only had time for two takes (three if they are lucky) of every line during an 18-day shoot.  It is clear with various shots like one car chase (or filming a car with an actor inside in front of a black wall with the video sped up), sets that are clearly in warehouses despite it meant to be in a different setting like a house, and editing that many people can consider to be reflective on how the characters are feeling in certain moments, but I can understand if others see as nauseating.  I grant it to the filmmakers that they managed to get things done despite those limitations, but they are obvious.

3.) The performances are not really top-notched, especially with great actors like Cary Elwes and Danny Glover.  Considering they had only two to three takes to give their best performance, that gives them a disadvantage.  As a result, some of the bad performances can range from hammy to outright hilarious.  Moments that are meant to be serious end up hilarious due to their poor one-take performances.  I know these actors can do better than what they have on-screen, and I understand the limitations, but it does not excuse what ends up in the big screen by the time the movie is finished.

 

Overall: 

In October 29, 2004, the first Saw movie was released in the United States, and it was the start of the torture porn craze in movies (whether you like it or not).  The series revolutionized the horror genre; whether or not it was for the better is up for debate.  You may be wondering: why on Earth would I review this franchise now?  Two reasons: curiosity and inspiration.  The reason for both of those is one of my favorite reviewers named Welshy, who is a big fan of the Saw series despite its flaws.  Because of him, I decided to review these movies myself, and see if I agree with him or not.

TGwtG-Welshy
Welshy was a big inspiration for me to watch the Saw movies.  I wish you still review movies, because they were great.  If you want to see his videos about Saw, they are on YouTube under “Welshy: Saw Retrospective.”  Just know that it only goes up to Saw V (or rather Saw IV due to license restrictions).  

Another reason is that Jigsaw is about to be released this Friday, so I thought, “Why not review the entire movie series?”  Well, I might as well brace myself for this series.  From the first movie alone, how does it hold up?  I can see some great ideas for this movie: an interesting premise, a thoughtful mystery, a suspenseful tone, and a horrific twist.  All of those could make a great horror thriller movie.  However, there are some areas that they desperately needed to improve.  Better production, improved writing, and finer acting could make the movie much better.  If you love a good horror movie, this will satisfy you.  If you want a well-written horror movie, look elsewhere, because this is clearly not it.  Then again, it might get better in the sequels, right?  Right?!

4/10

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Benz Eye View: Marshall

Marshall_(film)
Marshall

Pros: 

1.) I started to like Chadwick Boseman more and more as an actor ever since I have seen him in the film, 42.  With this film, it is no exception, because he is the stand-out actor.  He brings out all the charisma, the charm, the expertise, and the life to his character (particularly in the moments when he smirks in certain moments like when he is joking).  It is no wonder that he is Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because he has surely proven it with his acting abilities.

2.) I am sucker when it comes to the United States of America from the 1930s to the 1960s, because they had such great looking clothing and architect, and this film shows it well.  With suits and fedoras, it makes me think of classy in that timeline (minus the racism).  I digress though, the set pieces and costume designs are fitting with the timeline of the film.

3.) The chemistry between Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall and Josh Gad as Sam Friedman is excellent.  Both of these characters have their own reasons being in the trial; Marshall wants to help an innocent black man while Friedman was dragged into the trial.  One is clearly willing and experienced over the other, and it makes an interesting chemistry and conflict with both characters.

 

Cons: 

1.) Considering this is based on a true story, there are some details that they added in the film that is not really needed.  The biggest example is Marshall’s relationship with his wife, and their hopes of having a baby.  While it gives a good emotional moment by the second act, it does not really do much to support the plot and it does not get brought up again.  Moments like these may have been directed well, they are not needed in the long run.

2.) I know it is based on true events and they are bad, but can we get something other than the stereotypical antagonists that are racist because that’s why?  Even well-written antagonists have some interesting motivations and characters in them.  The only antagonist who is slightly interesting is Eleanor Strubing, but entire film deals with different antagonists first before dealing with her in the last part of the second act.

3.) While the film was strong on how Marshall dealt with racism when taking the case, I felt that Friedman’s experience is not as strong.  There are moments where he experiences bullying and prejudice against racist people, but I found the most interesting moment is when he has to deal with it towards his Jewish people since he is Jewish.  However, they do not go as far as Marshall’s prejudice, and while it does give connection between the two characters, it is not as strong.

 

Overall: 

Based on real life events of one of the cases of Thurgood Marshall, this man is one of the many stepping stones of the Civil Rights Movement, and the film does a good job showing why.  While a film about racism is a little tiring at this point, it is still well made for many people to enjoy, especially with Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall.  If you love a good legal drama film, I can recommend this film to you.  If not, trying waiting for Jigsaw next week; maybe that will fix your Halloween spirit or something.

8/10

Speaking of Jigsaw, I just got a mysterious video earlier from out of nowhere.  I wonder what it is…

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Hello, Benz Eye View.

Uh oh…

Benz Eye View: The Foreigner

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The Foreigner

Pros: 

1.) Since Jackie Chan is involved in this movie, of course his stunt performance and action scenes are great.  Even though it does not contain his usual cinematography from his old films, it is still done well enough to make the audience see what is happening, and to show the powerful and painful blows that Jackie delivers on-screen.

2.) There is some great acting in this movie, but the one that stands out (other than Pierce Brosnan for his attempt of an Irish accent) is Jackie Chan.  I have forgotten that he has done drama before since I am so used to him in comedy, but it is kind of refreshing to see him playing a depressing character who lost the only thing that means so much to him, and decides to go after the people who killed his daughter.

 

Cons: 

1.) Someone needs to tell the writers how to write exposition, because there are so many things that characters talk about that either the audience or the other characters already know.  When it comes to exposition, it has to be written so that the audience and the characters are informed in areas that they do not know.  In this movie’s case, there are done poorly to the point where there are a few scenes where they repeat the same information a couple times.  We get it.  Can we please on from the backstory that we knew back from the first act?

2.) I am slightly surprised that the movie spends less time with Jackie Chan, and more time with Pierce Brosnan.  As a result, the emotional connection with Jackie’s character (Ngoc Minh Quan) is not really that strong.  As for Pierce’s character (a.k.a. the antagonist named Liam Hennessy), I found him and his associates not as interesting.  The main reason is that there is so much conflict with those characters that it is kind of hard to follow (and on a side note, their Irish accents are so thick, I can barely tell what they are saying).  As a result, the main plot is slightly unfocused, and it spends time with certain characters who have their own complicated goals that conflict with others when the simplest plot is that Quan wants to kill the man who murdered his daughter.

3.) What I think kind of loses its appeal is the mystery aspect, or lack thereof.  I know the movie’s genre is action thriller, but it would be better if it is also a mystery.  When I saw the trailers, I wondered who was the person who killed Quan’s daughter.  When I saw the movie, they tell you straightaway.  The rest of the movie is Quan trying to find the killer, and how Liam and his associates are connected to the situation.  The movie would have been stronger if it became a mystery thriller with action elements.

 

Overall: 

Based on the 1992 book The Chinaman, this movie automatically had my attention since Jackie Chan is in it, and in a role that he usually does not play.  However, just because Jackie is in the movie, that does not mean the movie is great, so I had to keep an open mind.  The Foreigner is an enjoyable flick that I describe as the Taken movies, but competent.  It does get bogged down with a pretty complicated and somewhat unfocused plot, but it is made up with great performances and action scenes.  I am pretty sure anyone will enjoy this movie, especially if they are fans of the first Taken movie.  Just be aware that the plot can get slight convoluted for a while.

6/10

Benz Eye View: Blade Runner 2049

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Blade Runner 2049

Pros: 

1.) The two things that the first Blade Runner has that are passed down to its new installment are the visuals and the set designs.  The visuals look stunning and amazing that reflects with the set designs, which they blend in so well, you might think all the CG visuals look real.  Impressive blend of the two makes a fantastic-looking film…

2.) …What also helps with the visuals is the excellent cinematography.  There are so many excellent camera shots combined with great production values like a person in the shadows or the use of lighting.  It has been a while since I have seen a film using this type of technique in a long time: using production and camera work to reinforce the film…

3.) …What I mean by that is those two elements (visuals and cinematography) are used with the film’s interesting symbolism.  I cannot really describe all of it, but certain ones (like a scene involving a newborn replicant) makes the film visually interesting.  Combine the symbolism with interesting writing, and you got a film that knows how to tell a story with imagery.

 

Cons: 

1.) I am going to warn you that this film is VERY slow-paced, and that results in certain people looking at the film unfavorably (to be fair, the original did the same thing).  It takes its sweet time to get to certain points, but it does make it up with sweet visuals and camera shots.  However, this might not appeal to everyone (especially a hardcore fast-paced audience), so you have been warned.

2.) There is one moment in the film that could have easily resolved and ended the conflict faster.  No spoilers, but it did slightly bother me the more I think about it.  It is probably not that bad considering the revelation might not resolve the conflict immediately, but many plot points could have been avoided if this moment was discovered earlier.

3.) There is a group that appears later into the film that seems to be important, but does not really do much at all.  They are easily the most boring part of the film, and they barely contribute to anything.  I argue that if they are removed in the film (and change a few moments in the script), there would be little to no change in the story.

 

Overall: 

Blade Runner is one of the most popular sci-fi films of all time when it was released back in 1982.  I admit: I never watched it until yesterday just to prepare for its upcoming sequel.  From a single view, I can definitely see why it is popular, but I feel it is one of those films that requires multiple viewings in order to understand and appreciate certain elements like its visuals and symbolism.  All of this carries out in its sequel, Blade Runner 2049.  Does that make it better, or just as good as its original?  Admittedly, I cannot really say, because this film also feels like it’s required to watch it multiple times in order to understand and appreciate its symbolism and creativity.  I will say that this film is fantastic nonetheless.  It is not for everyone, though.  If you are fan of fast-paced action or getting to the point (i.e. Star Wars), you will not find it here.  However, if you are into sci-fi noir that is slow-paced, but takes its time to show off its creativity while telling a coherent story, this is a film for you.

9/10

Benz Eye View: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Pros: 

1.) The movie sure knows how to stylize their action scenes.  They show off with slow-motion shots and one-shot moments.  Even though those scenes pace a bit too quickly at times, the movie still has the same fun action moments as with the last film (although the church scene in the last film is the best one of them all).

2.) In this movie, they introduce a new group of agents called the Statesman, and I love these guys as much as the Kingsman.  They contrast each other from their gadgets to their clothing to their base, and yet they are pretty much the same as each other in many ways like their desire to protect the world from devastation.  It makes me wonder if there are other branches of agents like them.  Maybe a Japanese one called Bushidoman…that would be cool.

3.) A few of the subplots stand out over the rest of the movie.  Without spoiling what they are, my favorite one involves Harry/Agent Galahad and the other Kingsman.  It makes some interesting emotional moments, and it reminds me of the last film’s greatest traits…

 

Cons: 

1.) …While I enjoy these subplots, the movie goes on for way too long.  Many scenes establish the main plot and its subplots, but they drag it for too long that they are already needed.  In fact, one way that they drag it is that the main plot comes to a halt for ten minutes, and one of the subplots spends those ten minutes in its place.  They do that so often that I sometimes forget that the main plot exists (mainly because the main antagonist, Poppy Adams does not have a single ounce of charm as the last film’s antagonist, Richmond Valentine).  That is not a good way to pace a movie if the audience has to spend more time watching the subplots over the main plot; it ends up feeling like three episodes of a TV mini-series jammed together into a movie.  Either remove some of those subplots, or find a way to decrease the number of scenes, because the movie is long enough that it already is.

2.) Remember in the last film that Eggsy had his one moment with the Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden in the end?  In this movie, they are officially a couple.  I did not see this coming.  While it gives Eggsy some emotional stakes in this movie, I found the romance to be forced and weak.  Mainly because it was out of nowhere and expected it to be a one-time thing in the last film, the romance is not developed enough for me to really care.  In fact, I expected Roxy/Agent Lancelot to be the love interest for Eggsy.  (LIGHT SPOILERS) However, Roxy ends up getting killed early in the movie.  Great, thank you for that.  (END LIGHT SPOILERS)  To put it simply, the movie might have been a little better if the romance did not exist at all.

3.) The CG and green screen effects really stand out.  I do not recall that the last film had that bad of a CG and green screen effect, but this one takes the cake.  They do not look like they belong in a live action world as opposed to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which the CG and green screen effects blend perfectly with the live action people and places.  It kind of hurts my eyes looking at the movie when they show off those scenes.  Maybe given more time, those effect would have looked so much better than the finished product.

 

Overall: 

Ah, finally.  A movie I can finally talk about: Kingsman, a movie series based on a comic book series.  The first film, Kingsman: The Secret Service, was a fun action spy comedy film that is enjoyable to watch.  On the other hand, its sequel: Kingsman: The Golden Circle is not as enjoyable, or to be more direct, not as well-made.  There are still some great moments and traits in the movie: the actors still manage to play well in their roles, the world of Kingsman is still amazing, the characters (except for the antagonist) are still great.  However, the movie boggles down with its overly long running time, its poor CG and green screen effect, and it subplots that take over the main plot from time to time (to be fair, some of those subplots are good).  The last film was clever with its self-awareness while this movie has very little.  If you love the first Kingsman film, you will sadly be disappointed with its sequel.

6/10

Benz Eye View: American Assassin

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American Assassin

Pros: 

1.) There are many action scenes (and a torture scene) that are outright painful in a good way.  With good sound effects and action choreography, the movie emphasizes how painful each blow is.  While it uses shaky cam, it is not as bad many of the terrible movies that used so much shaky cam to the point that no one can see the action.  Adequate action at its finest.

2.) There are some good performances.  I expect that from actors like Michael Keaton and Sanaa Lathan, but the main actor, Dylan O’Brien actually did a great job playing a tortured soldier looking for revenge against terrorists after losing the woman he loved.  He did not strike me as an incredible actor, but his performance in this movie stands out from all his other performances from the small number of movies I have seen him in.  If he keeps this up, he may end up in the same level as Michael Keaton.

3.) Initially, there are plenty of tense moments.  Attacks that appear out of nowhere that end up scaring you, moments that makes you wonder if the characters are going to make it out of alive, etc.  Even if you have seen these moments before, it still is handled well…

 

Cons: 

1.) …However, that tension starts to wear off over time, and it is kind of predictable and tiring.  Also, the plot has a few confusing moments, especially how the climax concludes.  I will not spoil what happens, but let’s just say that my impression of the end of the climax is disbelief.

2.) While it is not used that often, the CG is noticeably bad.  Even people who are not experts in CG are going to notice how out of place they are in this movie.  They look like they belong in a PlayStation 2 cutscene.  Maybe they should avoid using CG since there are not that many in the first place.

3.) The antagonist himself is not interesting.  I get that he is supposed to be a reflection of the main character if he ended up making the wrong choices, but he still does not have anything compelling about him other than what I mentioned and that he is kind of a crybaby to his former boss.  In fact, I can sum up his character like this:

 

Overall: 

Based off of a book of the same name, American Assassin…is good.  I know…it has been a slow month for me.  Not that many movies released recently interest me that much nor has it given me much to say.

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…No.

I digress, so if you want to see any action thriller movies relating to the Bourne movies, this will satisfy your tastes.  Otherwise, go watch It if you want something to scare you.

7/10

Do not worry, I will make it up to you with a movie that I want to see next week.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I will enjoy that movie…hopefully.

Benz Eye View: Wind River

Wind_River_(2017_film)
Wind River

Pros: 

1.) There is a surprising amount of good acting, especially from the main leads.  It is surprising to me, because I am just so used to these two leads (Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen) playing as Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch from the MCU.  Besides that, I would not say that they are getting an Academy Award anytime soon (unless the Academy’s standards are pretty low considering their last awards show), but their above-average acting is worth noting.

2.) I found the setting of the film to be quite fitting for the characters.  The cinematography creates great wide shots of the environment that only the majority of the characters understand.  Not only is it a challenge for the main characters, but also links to them in a way.  In fact, how the antagonist and the protagonist see the environment is quite interesting.  To put it simply, I like how the characters have a connection to the setting.

3.) There are plenty of quiet moments between the characters, and I appreciate it due to the acting and character standpoints.  The acting point I already told you, but for the characters, they give out some interesting moments and explanations about themselves, others, and the setting.  It makes these moments peaceful and quiet in an area that is not like a city.

 

Cons: 

1.) The film has a slow pace, so this may not appeal to everyone.  I can see people complaining that the film is too long and certain moments should be cut out, but I argue that some of those moments are needed.  I will not change your mind if you see it as the former, but it is worth noting the film’s slow pacing.

2.) As much as I like the quiet moments between the characters, I wish that their arcs are better.  The characters themselves are fine, but I found their arcs weak at best.  The main character has reasons for his growth other than his dead daughter (which it looks he moved on from), but he seems to commit to the incident just cause.  The only exception is the FBI agent, but it is clear that Jeremy Renner’s character is the one in charge in the film.

3.) One plot hole that bothers me is that the snowstorms sometimes happen in the film.  Wouldn’t those snowstorms cover up the evidence of the crime?  Then again, if that were to happen, the film would automatically be over, or the writers would have to think of way to expand the film just to solve that dilemma.  That is one big plot hole that seems to be overlooked.

 

Overall: 

Another slow day in movies (other than It, but I refuse to watch that movie, because I am a bit of wuss), so I will review a film that was released a month ago.  I do not really have much to say about it other than I can see that this will not appeal to everyone.  This is a very slow-paced film; it takes its time on certain moments and the plot is nothing spectacular, but it makes up with good character moments.  Those quiet moments are possibly the strongest points in the film.  If you are interested in a slow-paced mystery thriller in the same style as Sicario (which is written and directed by the same guy), this is the film for you.  If not, just enjoy the clown that is waiting for you on the sewers in another movie.

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I wish…sort of.

8/10