Benz Eye View: Inhumans IMAX (First Two Episodes)

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Inhumans

Pros: 

1.) There is a somewhat interesting lore/world that is shown in this TV series.  True that these types of worlds have existed before in other media (coughX-Mencough), but there are some things that kind of differentiate them a bit, such as how these people receive their powers (and a huge freaking dog).  It is one of the few things that help this show stand on its own…

2.) …The other thing that helps this show is the main lead: Black Bolt.  The actor playing the character does a good job acting as a character that has to lead his kingdom, but cannot talk due to how powerful his voice can be, and has to reduce his speech with hand signals.  I can tell through the actor’s facial reactions that the character has to restrain himself from using powers, and lead his kingdom and family with leadership and inner strength…

 

Cons: 

1.) …While Black Bolt is slightly interesting, I cannot really say the same thing about the other characters.  When the inciting incident occurs, they cannot seem to figure out how to deal with the problems properly.  Some of them just wait it out with idiotic consequences, others try to do something resulting those characters being utterly incompetent.  Even Black Bolt suffers this problem, but I can withstand the character’s idiocy due to his inability to speak.  Even the antagonist is a cliched jealous brother who wants to take over the kingdom of the Inhumans.  Other than Black Bolt, nothing about these characters stand out.

2.) These two episodes are annoyingly predictable.  First, the show has a jealous brother who wants to lead the kingdom.  What do you think is going to happen?  The main characters are forced to leave their kingdom, and head towards Earth.  Predict what is going to happen next.  I swear, if what I think of how this show’s season is going to end happens, it shows how poor the writing is for this series.  The writing is so poor that Iron Fist can do a better job.  Maybe the show will get better with future episodes, but as it stands, this is not how you capture the audience’s interest.

3.) I can list a few more things wrong with these first two episodes of the show, so here are a few I can list.  The CG is pretty bad, but since this is a TV series, I will give it a slight pass (although, Doctor Who had better CG).  Some actors are terrible in their performances, there are moments in the show that are not needed (although, they may be building it up to something that I do not really care for), and certain moments that are meant to be serious end up being funny.  First impressions are important, and this is not how you do it.

 

Overall: 

With the MCU rising in movies and Netflix series, its weakest area is arguably their TV series (with the somewhat exception of Agent Carter).  I have only seen a couple of episodes of Agents of SHIELD, and it did not really capture my attention.  Now, Marvel recently released the first two episodes of their new show: Inhumans in theaters before the show gets released a few weeks later.  Originally a film that was going to be released in Phase 3 of the MCU, this superhero group was built up in Agents of SHIELD, and they get their own show.  How well did its first two episodes leave their impression?  Two words: not well.  If this is how the MCU is going to introduce their alternate version of X-Men (admit it, they are thanks to certain film studio that is too stubborn to let go or at least share ALL of the film rights of those characters), their first impressions are not good.  The show is predictable, the characters are unbearable (other than Black Bolt to an extent), and so many other errors that keep this show down.  Maybe the show gets better as it progresses, and I admit that some part of me wants to continue watching it despite its huge amounts of flaws, but as it stands, the first two episodes of the Inhumans makes you want to watch another group of superheroes that stand out from society.

Skip It*

*I am changing the Pass rating with a Skip It to avoid confusion.

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Benz Eye View: Marvel’s The Defenders

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Marvel’s The Defenders

Pros: 

1.) All four members of the Defenders: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist have their own character arcs that actually converge into the main plot: four heroes have to fight an evil organization before they deal their evil power to the world (in this case, New York).  It is written well enough to give these people reasons why they have to join together to stop one big organization that has built up in two of the Marvel Netflix series.  Not only that, all four characters have their own plot lines involving their own personal problems.  Overall, the narrative is written well enough to give these four heroes an excuse on why they have to join together to become the Defenders.

2.) For the first couple of episodes, I really like how each of the main characters have their own visual tones.  Those tones are red (Daredevil), purple (Jessica Jones), yellow (Luke Cage), and green (Iron Fist).  While it is not that noticeable as the episodes progress, I do like the visual color symbolism that represents these characters that we have been following for a couple of years now.

3.) I love how the characters interact with each other thanks to the written dialogue and acting.  It shows how these actors (particularly the four main leads) are having fun with each other while acting out in their roles.  Iron Fist and Luke Cage are great friends despite a rocky start, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have a rocky relationship since they were former lovers, Daredevil and Jessica Jones are in a not-so-great lawyer-client relationship, and so many more.  That is just including the main characters; some of the side characters get some time to shine as well.  However, the series knows how to focus on what is important: the four main leads, and they did so wonderfully.

 

Cons: 

1.) While the heroes are well-realized, I cannot say the same thing with the villains.  It is a shame since despite having great performances from actors like Sigourney Weaver, none of the villains have a shred of compelling moments whatsoever.  I really wanted to like them, but their motivations are so cliched and typical that I lost interest in them as the series went on.  In contrast, the past Marvel Netflix antagonists (i.e. Wilson Fisk, Kilgrave, and Diamondback) are compelling enough to be a match with the other heroes.  While the villains in this series are still a competent threat, they are not as interesting as the past villains we had in each of the series.

2.) There are some great action scenes, but there are also some poor ones as well.  I blame it on the cinematography on certain action moments, because they use the low-lighting shots that are way too close to see what is actually happening in these fights.  The worst action moments involve Madame Gao, because all she does is some sort of Force Push-like attack that looks lame, because the actress is way too old to move like a karate master (and I cannot really blame her).  Also, there are attack blows that clearly did not hit, and some people do not seem to take the fight seriously and just flail the bodies around just to look like they are attacking.  I did say that there are some good action scenes, but the bad ones are really obvious.

3.) I found the last half of the series to be the least interesting compared to the first half.  Whereas the first half was establishing the events of the series (the first episode is admittedly a catch-up episode, which is nice if slightly boring), the second half does not really hold up as much.  It reminds me of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies.  The first one is a mystery movie while the second one is not since the characters know who the criminal is and they have to stop his evil plan.  This parallels with this series: the first half is a mystery while the second half is stopping the villains, except not as interesting as the mystery portion.  The pace is slow (the first half had slow pacing, but the series took advantage of it), it is kind of predictable, and I have seen other shows and movies that do the same thing, but better (coughAvengerscough).

 

Overall: 

Two years ago, the first season of Daredevil was aired on Netflix as part of Marvel’s Netflix series coinciding with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  From those past two years, Jessica Jones, Daredevil (Season 2), Luke Cage, and Iron Fist were released on Netflix as well.  All of those shows were building up to the newly released The Defenders.  Does all that build-up work as well as The Avengers five years ago?  To a certain extent, yes, but it could have been done better.  I enjoyed all four main characters (three to be exact, because Iron Fist still kind of sucks) and I like how they joined together to face a huge threat that they cannot fight alone.  That is the main reason why this series is pretty good to begin with: the four main characters.  Their interactions, heroism, and characteristics are what makes anyone appreciate this series and its build-up for the past couple of years.  However, it does have some noticeable flaws like the antagonists and the narrative falling apart in the second half.  If you wanted to have four of the Marvel Netflix heroes join together to fight an evil organization, you will get it here.  However, with the flaws that I have pointed out, it could have been so much better.  Here’s hoping the second season is much better, as well as the other Marvel Netflix series and the upcoming Punisher series.

Occasional Viewing

Benz Eye View: Birth of the Dragon

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Birth of the Dragon

Pros: 

1.) The movie spends plenty of time talking about the lore of kung fu, and it is interesting.  While it has been done before, it is intriguing why these Shaolin monks believe in kung fu and their religion.  It feels like they are talking about a world that is different than ours (then again, all religions do that).  It is probably thanks to the two leads’ acting that they made it believable and compelling.  It makes me want to learn more.

2.) I do enjoy the fight choreography.  I can tell these actors know how to fight with their fast and balanced movement.  Other than Railroad Tigers, it has been a long time since I watched a kung fu movie, and it is refreshing to see one after watching so many action movies.

3.) I like how the two main leads, Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man have their own interpretations of kung fu and how they express them.  The two are different sides of the coin; one is a show-off and arrogant while the other is calm and reserved.  It fits in how they fight and act in certain situations.  It also gives an interesting personal conflict of how they share their beliefs in kung fu.

 

Cons: 

1.) There is one plot involving a Chinese girl in the movie that I have a couple problems with it.  The first reason is that I find it a little hard to believe that the events in that plot are actually real.  The second reason is that it does not feel like it belongs in this movie.  It already talks about the conflict between two masters who have different views on how to use kung fu, and it suddenly has a plot that feels shoehorned in.  Maybe it actually did happen, but it does not really work here…

2.) …The big reason why that it does not really work is because the side characters involved are not interesting.  They only seem to exist just to move the plot forward with no compelling characteristics.  I do not even remember their names or characteristics other than the basic ones; they are that bland.  Even the antagonists feel shoehorned in despite having some presence in the movie.  In short, the only reason for this movie to exist in terms of characters are Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man who have a better compelling plot.

3.) As much as I love the fight choreography, I am not a fan of its cinematography.  One of the things that Wong Jack Man said was that kung fu should not be stylized; I guess the cinematographers and editors did not take that advice.  While it may not look that bad and there are times where we actually see the fights, I do not like how they keep cutting and have long shots where the characters are in the background.  Not to mention the slow-motion moments were not needed, and times where the fights suddenly cut to black.  Let us see the action up close instead from afar, and decrease the number of cuts.

 

Overall: 

Admittedly, I have not really watched many of Bruce Lee’s work throughout my life (I watched more of Jackie Chan and Jet Li’s movies) or even any movies and shows based on him.  Plus, I heard a movie about Bruce Lee coming in theaters, so I decided to check it out since it has been a while since I watched a kung fu movie.  After leaving the movie, there are plenty of things left to be desired.  I do not really mind the movie that much, but it could have been so much better.  The lore about kung fu is interesting, the conflict between the two kung fu masters is compelling, and the fight choreography reminds me of the kung fu movies of long ago.  However, the movie is driven down with a below basic narrative, uninteresting side characters, and fight cinematography that is sometimes in the same level as a below-basic action movie.  Watch it if you are fan of Bruce Lee and kung fu movies, but I get the feeling you will end up wanting to watch a Bruce Lee movie instead.

5/10

Benz Eye View: The Hitman’s Bodyguard

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Pros: 

1.) Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson work well together as action stars and a comedy duo.  They give a good chemistry that makes the movie more enjoyable than it is.  While the actors are just playing themselves, they are clearly having fun with each other (at least, Samuel L. Jackson is having fun).

2.) The action can be quite entertaining.  While it can be shaky at times, they are heart-pumping and enjoyable enough to make any action fan stick to their seats to see what happens next.

3.) I found the first half to be a slog, but the other half is when it gets more entertaining.  The stakes and threats increase as the movie progresses, and it gets exhilarating as it happens.  The first half was kind of slow and has to get some plot elements (and bickering between the two leads) out of the way, and it makes the second half much better with a bigger conflict and action sequences.

 

Cons: 

1.) The movie is sadly predictable.  Here is a big hint why: the movie is about two people, one is a hitman and the other is a bodyguard, not getting along with each other, and they have to go to one place in order to make sure that a tyrant gets sent to jail.  From that logline, you know what is going to happen, so I will not even bother spoiling it for you.  If the movie has a little bit more originality, than at least we will not know what is going to happen for a little bit.

2.) I mention before that Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson are great as a comedy duo, so it is unfortunate that many of the jokes (particularly not involving the two leads) do not land.  Many of those jokes are weak or cheap (i.e. fart jokes).  It is good thing those two leads are around, because this movie would be a bigger slog to go through.

3.) There are obvious moments that an actor is front of a green-screen if you pay attention; they look like they belong in the news shows.  It takes you out of the movie for a bit, and when an action scene occurs with that screen, the scene itself loses its tension.

 

Overall: 

Must be another slow weekend in the movie theaters if they released a movie like this.  I really do not have much to comment other than this movie is just OK.  If you want another buddy comedy action movie that is currently in theaters, this will do just fine, but there are better ones that are in Netflix (i.e. Hot Fuzz).  Look at the movie like this: it is closest thing for Deadpool being in the MCU co-starring Nick Fury and Elektra.  Futile, I know, but what else can I do?

6/10

Benz Eye View: Atomic Blonde

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Atomic Blonde

Pros: 

1.) If there is one actor who stands out in this movie, it is James McAvoy as David Percival.  Charlize Theron is fine as a hard-boiled heroine, but McAvoy stands out more for a bigger range of his performance from comical to serious.  Theron remains mostly serious throughout the movie, so McAvoy gets the most attention in acting despite Theron being the main actress.

2.) With the music, visual filters, and cinematography, I do like how the tone is consistent throughout the movie.  It feels grim, dark yet bright, and colorless.  While I am not that big into that type of atmosphere, I do admire that the filmmakers know how to make a steady tone.

3.) The action choreography reminds so much of the John Wick movies.  In fact, the director of this movie, David Leitch was involved in those movies.  The best action moments are the two “one-shot” sequences in a building and a hotel room.  They show the painful blows against each fighter, and how tired they are as the sequence continues.  They clearly got the idea from a certain Marvel Netflix show involving a blind man…

 

Cons: 

1.) …However, I spotted several ways where Charlize Theron’s character should have been killed or incapacitated.  I know she is supposed to be a strong woman, but with some of those blows she received in this movie, I am surprised that she was still standing.  It really pushes my suspension of disbelief, and I am sure that some people will not buy her survival skills.

2.) There is one big narrative problem: the entire movie relies on the main character, Lorraine Broughton talking about the events she went through to MI6.  Throughout the entire movie, I never felt that she was in danger, because she is the one narrating those events, meaning she clearly survived the whole case.  It would have been better if the movie started in the beginning, and then end with the interrogation.

3.) I found the story hard to follow.  The basics are simple: Lorraine has to find the List that contains the names of all the agents of the Soviet Union before they do.  The events leading up to the last act are confusing.  There are plenty of moments where I felt that movie halts for a bit, and a few plot points that are not properly explained enough.  As a result, I hardly cared for the dangers and tensions other than the aforementioned action sequences.

 

Overall: 

Based on the 2012 graphic novel called The Coldest City (I never heard of it either), Atomic Blonde really does not have much going for it.  Few things like the fight choreography are great to look at, but there is nothing much to comment about this movie other than it has been done before and done better (i.e. Casino Royale).  If the plot was easy to follow, I would give it a better rating, but as it stands, this is one movie that is best left closed other than fans of the John Wick movies, but that is slightly pushing it.

6/10

Benz Eye View: The Dark Tower

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The Dark Tower (2017)

Pros: 

1.) The two actors who stand out in this movie are Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey.  I found their acting subtler than any of their other roles in their past films, but they do stand out over the other actors who are simply doing their jobs, resulting of a lacking stand-out actor other than the previous two I mentioned.

2.) I like that the areas where the movie was shot in are on-location as far as I can tell.  I know this is a weak pro, but I can find very few pros that are worth mentioning (i.e. the CG is tolerable).

3.) I can see that the world of The Dark Tower has potential.  The movie mentions that there are plenty of worlds that are not yet seen, and I like that idea of the main leads going to these worlds one day…

 

Cons: 

1.) …The huge problem that this movie has is that they do not explain the world of this movie enough.  The first big warning sign is that the antagonist needs children in order to use his cannon-like object to destroy the Dark Tower.  Why is it only children?  Why not adults as well?  The movie gives out so many questions, and leaves many of them unanswered.  When it comes to fantasy, you need to give a good amount of explanation on how the world works (especially if the audience is not familiar with those worlds).  As a result, there are moments that are going to be considered plot holes or conveniences.

2.) The main child actor playing the child protagonist, Jake Chambers is not good.  I get his character is supposed to be depressed and down, but how the actor executes his role is outright dull.  He is not convincing when he is trying to be serious and emotional when certain scenes call his character for that certain moment.  In fact, when one certain scene calls for his character to be sad, his execution made me snicker.  The boy needs more acting classes, then he can work alongside and look as good with his better actors like Idris Elba.

3.) The action scenes are lackluster.  It is just the usual shooting scenes that do not really have much weight and tension.  Technically, there is tension, but I can easily guess what is going to happen, because those scenes are predictable and lack weight.  The only exception is the battle in the climax, but I found that there are several ways that the main characters should have died, but the movie gives a poor excuse on how they manage to survive.

 

Overall: 

Based on the novel series of the same name by Stephen King, The Dark Tower has been a popular book series since 1982 (a series I never read).  After several delays since the film project started back in 2007, the movie was finally released in 2017…and it probably should have delayed it a bit longer, because the final product is not good with the lack of explanation of its world being the biggest flaw.  I can see plenty of potential for this movie, and so did the creators, because they were planning to have a TV series that takes place after the movie if it succeeded.  Considering how the movie went out, I find it doubtful that will ever happen.  I have heard that this movie is unfaithful to the novels, so the fans must be pretty mad.  If you want something that is true to its source material, read the novels since I heard they are good.  If you want a movie that is a western sci-fi fantasy of 2017, just wait for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, because The Dark Tower is not the movie you are looking for.

4/10

 

Benz Eye View: The Emoji Movie

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The Emoji Movie

Pros: 

1.) The animation is not really that bad.  Sure, the characters are walking emojis, but they appear serviceable and…and…Pfft…Heh heh…Ha ha ha ha…

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Cons: 

1.) Oh, where do I begin?  How about starting out with the “jokes” in this family movie?  They suck.  They are predictable.  They do not land well.  They do not hold this movie together.  When I was in the theater, only three adults were laughing (they must have hated this movie so much that they lost their minds).  If not even the children were laughing at your family movie, you know you have failed at comedy.

2.) Since the majority of the movie takes place in a cell phone, I found the world inside it to be really confusing and convoluted.  There are apps for emoji, but there are also some apps for YouTube, DropBox, Facebook, and Just Dance.  No, I am not kidding; there are product placements everywhere in this movie.  The main character, Gene is supposed to be a meh emoji, but he is a malfunction that makes him a wide arrange of emoji; I do not know how that works, but fine.  This is one of those worlds that if you think about it too much, you are going to have a huge migraine due to how many questions of the functionality of the world like in the Cars movies (i.e. how do emoji spawn children?).

3.) There are SO many things I despise about this movie that I will try to list many of them in this con.  The characters are annoying and hard to bear (in fact, one character, Hi-5 the hand emoji creates many conflicts due to his stupidity) with their own sub-plots that no one will really care for such as Gene’s parents due to how dull they are (because their meh emoji, get it?).  The editing makes the movie move in a fast-pace that it barely leaves the audience and characters time to breathe, and somehow the movie still ends up feeling too long.  The message has been done to death before, but for some reason, it does not feel like it should belong in a family movie since the message is slightly adult (I would tell that you will understand it when you adults see it, but please do not).  The dialogue is so atrocious that I want these characters to shut up; here is one example of their WONDERFUL dialogue: “Emojis are the most important form of communication ever invented.”

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One sub-plot that the movie constantly keeps going back to is that Alex, the child who owns the phone that Gene and the other emoji live in, wants to talk to a girl that he has a crush on, but he is too shy to attempt it, so his solution is to send an emoji to her.  How about, oh, I do not know, TALK TO HER YOURSELF YOU IDIOT?!  Even the finale itself is confusing and filled with so much deus ex machina and plot holes that I am not bothering to cover it not because I do not want to spoil it, but because I do not even want to bother thinking about it.  Do you want to know the worst part of this movie that I realized?  This movie is trying WAY TOO HARD to be Inside Out.  Whereas Inside Out was really good, The Emoji Movie is utter garbage.  A clever film that is well-constructed and thought out versus a lazy movie that will be forgotten due to its lack of good ideas and moments; who do you think is going to win?

Overall: 

…Yep…It is as bad as you expected when you saw that teaser trailer.  There is an animated movie about emojis.  Whose bright idea was that?  Admittedly, I was willing to give this movie a chance.  I thought it might actually be good, because The Lego Movie did not look good in the trailers due to being one big product placement (which it is), but the film itself was great.  Until I heard that it was outright terrible.  For some reason, this did not discourage me from watching it, but instead gave me curiosity.  I decided to watch it with someone alongside me.  That person slept throughout most of the movie, the children did not appear to have any fun, and I end up leaving the theater like this:

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I knew it was going to bad, but I somehow feel happy and enraged at the same time (I think I am becoming a bit of a masochist now).  There is nothing good about this movie other than the animation and Sir Patrick Stewart as the Poop emoji.

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That is honestly a fitting metaphor for this movie. 

If you want to have your sanity drained by this shameful attempt of a movie, go right ahead.  I cannot stop you.  However, if you want to save yourself from being a masochist, watch something else worthy for your time, because this is not the emoji movie you are looking for.  It is in another dimension where it is actually creative and funny instead of this piece of Poop_Emoji_2_grande.

1/10

There is a short (yes, there is A SHORT ANIMATED MOVIE) from Hotel Transylvania called Puppy!, and it might not be the best short in the world, but it is so much better than this movie.