Benz Eye View: Captain America: The First Avenger

Welcome back to the next installment of MCU Marathon, and we kick things off with film introduction to Captain America.

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Captain America: The First Avenger

Pros: 

1.) I am always a sucker when it comes to WWII America, and this movie completely embraces that timeline.  Not only do the costume and environmental designs look like they are from the forties, but the tone as well.  To put it simply, it is completely American.  It is SO American, the movie might as well have this song.

Although, I get the feeling that Captain America would not approve some of the things that are mentioned in the song, but I digress.  The best way that encapsulates the tone and timeline is in the Star Spangled Man sequence.  Not only is it a huge tribute to the Captain America comics, but shows what WWII America was like.

I love them embracing this, and the movie is better all for it.

2.) While Chris Evans as Captain America was a surprise for many people (especially since he was known for playing the Human Torch in Fantastic Four), the side actors deserve more of the attention.  Due to the side actors’ excellent performances, their characters end up having more intrigue to them than I thought.  Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine has a such a good and morale heart and has good reason to pick Steve Rogers for the Super Soldier Program despite looking like an adult with anorexia.  Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark shows where Tony Stark got some of his ego.  Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes is such an important character that he would appear in the other Captain America films.  Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter is just as important, but she is so good and interesting that she ends up getting her own TV series.

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I have not seen it, but I heard it was really good, but was unfortunately cancelled.  

My favorite side actor of all the bunch is Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips, because any of his lines are pure dialogue gold.

Other people who deserve attention but does not get enough screen time are the Howling Commandos.  All these casts and characters (even the slightly over-the-top Red Skull played by Hugo Weaving) deserve credit for this movie.

3.) One thing that reinforces the American tone is the music.  I love this music so much from the Star Spangled Man to the Captain America March.  It can go from patriotic to inspirational, especially when Captain America fights any HYDRA soldiers and the Red Skull.

How can you not love this?  It is a shame that this type of music was not used in later Captain America films, but at least this is fine music nonetheless.

 

Cons: 

1.) As much as I like Captain America, he is such a one-note character.  He wants to fight the Nazis, because he feels like he is needed to fight them as much as the American soldiers.  After he finally got what he wanted, he got less interesting as a result since all he has to do is take down HYDRA.  Thankfully, Captain America does get better as his films progress, but on his first try, he could have been a little better than an average Boy Scout.

2.) As I mentioned before, I like many of the side characters, but it is unfortunate that the movie barely spends time with them.  With Captain America being such an average Boy Scout, the characters slightly stand out over him.  I like to see more of the Howling Commandos, but they stick to the sidelines while Cap does all the work.  To be fair, certain characters like Peggy, Bucky, and Colonel Phillips stick around as much as Cap, but I slightly prefer them more than Cap.  That might be a good sign for great characters, but not that great of a sign when the main character is not as interesting as the side characters.

3.) There are certain writing issues that are problematic.  For starters, there are plenty jumps from scene to scene without any development (look at the lead-up to the climax as a good example).  Character growth and emotional moments are slightly weak (look at Captain America as an example).  There are plenty of clichéd characters (I am looking at you, Red Skull).  Captain America seemed to master using his shield despite the small amount of screen time we seen him using it (to be fair, it is implied that time has passed for the character, so he might have mastered it over that time).  Finally, how Captain America ends up frozen on ice is kind of stupid.

See what I mean?  It felt like the writers were obligated to have that scene, so he can finally join the Avengers in modern times.  Maybe they should have wrote the plane being damaged enough that Captain America can no longer fly it.  It is certainly better than crashing it for convenient reasons.

 

Overall: 

In many ways, having a Captain America movie should not have worked, because the character himself is not really that interesting.  He is a highly patriotic soldier who believes in truth, justice, and the American way (wait…that sounds like another character that should not have worked…and it did not), or as everyone else knows him: a Boy Scout.  Yet somehow, they managed to make it work.  Despite having a one-note character, the movie completely embraces the timeline and its characters, and has fun with it.  This is just as good as the first Iron Man, but it has its own quirks that makes it stand out on its own.  Thankfully, his films would get better over time, and while it is not perfect, Captain America: The First Avenger is certainly fitting for its time.

7/10

On the next movie review of the MCU Marathon, we look at the culmination of the past MCU movies.

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Benz Eye View: Thor

Another MCU film review coming up, and this one introduces the legendary Viking god, Thor.

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Thor

Pros: 

1.) I love the costume and environmental designs for Asgard.  To put it simply, they make the world of Asgard look otherworldly (or more specifically, super-heroic versions of Viking gods).  With those two designs, it makes Asgard look like its own world with a different culture and people.  It is unfortunate that the movie does not really spend much time in Asgard, because the world itself is interesting (though the sequels did explore Asgard a bit).  As it is, Asgard looks interesting enough for anyone to be intrigued.

2.) With the past three antagonists being amazingly uninteresting, it is a breath of fresh air that Loki stands out over those three.  First, it turns out that he is actually the adopted son of Laufey, King of the Frost Giants and an enemy of Asgard.  Second, when he finds out about it, he was not exactly happy.

Initially, he thought Odin was using him for his own purposes, but when Odin enters Odinsleep, he realizes he still deeply cares for his adopted father (acted tremendously well by Tom Hiddleston) and wants to prove that he is the righteous king of Asgard (until Odin disapproves, and Loki leaves Asgard).  That leads to the third reason: he is jealous of Thor for being chosen as the new king of Asgard.  Combine all three of these traits, and you have a great character/antagonist.  Admittedly, Loki’s plan is stupid considering that Odin would still know what he is doing during his Odinsleep, but Loki is still a great character nonetheless.

3.) Thor has an interesting arc here (and throughout his movie trilogy, but I will get to that when I do a quick overall update on Thor: Ragnarok).  He starts off as an arrogant warrior who wants to strike back at the Frost Giants when they attempted to steal back the Casket of Ancient Winters, the Frost Giants’ source of power.  When he tries to take on the Frost Giants despite Odin’s protest not to, he earned a one-way ticket banishment to Earth.  How Thor grows into a wiser character is an interesting idea.  His learning for compassion and wisdom from the people of Earth (or in an Asgardian’s case, Midgard) is a good idea for Thor’s character growth.  It would be a good start for Thor in his movie trilogy…

 

Cons: 

1.) …I just wish that the events on Earth are interesting.  It may be a good idea for Thor to learn humbleness in another world, but it does not help that none of the characters on Earth (except for Agent Phil Coulson) are interesting.  Jane Foster has no interesting traits about her (as for a love interest, I will get to that in a second), Erik Selvig had little point of being there, and do not get me started how annoying Darcy is in this movie.  Compared to the characters in Asgard, they are nothing to me.  As for the events on Earth, Thor’s growth feels rushed to me.  When he can no longer carry Mjolnir, and learned of Odin’s apparent death from Loki, it was a good low point for Thor, but not something that would make him humble immediately nor does his talk with Jane after that.  His growth seemed too easy for me, and the characters on Earth was little to no help.

2.) Speaking of Jane Foster, the romance between Thor and Jane is weak.  Nothing about these two have good chemistry with each other.  The only reason I see that these two would hook up is that she is needed for the audience to learn about the world of Asgard.  Other than that, these two are attracted to each other, because…they are played by Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, both are pretty attractive.  It does not help that this would continue in the sequel, and it is just as interesting as in this movie.

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Look at it this way: at least it is not like the romance between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala.  

3.) As much as I love the world of Asgard, there are certain things about that world that is not explained enough.  While it would later be explained in the sequels, there are many things that can be questionable if only watching the first Thor.  How does the Odinsleep work exactly?  Odin suddenly going to a coma out of nowhere deserves a bit of an explanation.  How does Heimdall’s power exactly work?  He can see all things in the universe, yet he cannot see what Loki has been plotting all this time.  He seems perfect to root out spies.  How in the world does Thor use his hammer exactly, particularly when he flies with it?  I would end up starting to accept some of these over time, but it can be distracting for some people.

 

Overall: 

The Norse god of thunder finally gets to shine in his first MCU movie appearance.  While this character certainly shines with his lightning hammer, I would not exactly call it bright.  For starters, the first half of the movie is great.  The world of Asgard looks interesting, Thor seems like a character that would have an interesting growth over time, and Loki clearly stands out over Iron Monger, Abomination, and Ivan Vanko.  However, when the movie progresses to Earth, that is when it starts to go slightly downhill.  The Earth characters are boring, the romance does not work, Thor’s growth is rushed, and many Asgardian moments are brought into question.  It is a shame, because I can sense the potential for this movie to be much better, especially since this was directed by Kenneth Branagh (director of the fantastic 1996’s Hamlet).  As it stands, it is a decent superhero movie that many can enjoy, but it could have been so much better.

6/10

As a side note, I do feel sorry for any history professor who is going to talk about Norse mythology, but many students will only think about the MCU version rather than the actual mythology.  I would imagine it would go like this:

Professor: Tell me, class. Who do you think is the Norse god of thunder, Thor?  Yes, you in the back.  

Student: He is a Marvel superhero that works with the Avengers-

Professor: Get out of my class and never return.  

On the next MCU film, we will discuss the First Avenger and the Captain of the Free World.

Benz Eye View: Iron Man 2

Welcome back to the MCU Marathon, and our next installment is considered to be the worse of the MCU films.

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Iron Man 2

Pros: 

1.) Despite all of the problems that this movie has, Robert Downey, Jr. is still great as Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man.  I already stated why in the first Iron Man review, so if you want to know some details, go to this review:

Benz Eye View: Iron Man

2.) Just like its predecessor, the CG is still as impressive as ever.  Once again, if you want to know the details, check out the first Iron Man review linked above this pro.

3.) While Robert Downey, Jr. deserves all the praise in his role as Iron Man, the other actors deserve some credit as well.  What makes these actors work is their chemistry with one another, especially with Tony and his friends.  Don Cheadle as James Rhodes a.k.a. War Machine fits right in the main cast despite replacing Terrance Howard (considering it was reported he was hard to work with).  Mickey Rourke was a welcome addition (even though he was wasted).  Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow would initially be all right in this movie, but gets better from The Avengers and after.  Even the director, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan had an expanded role that was nice to see.  Give the cast some credit; Robert Downey, Jr. needs someone to talk to in this movie.

 

Cons: 

1.) The overall plot is an absolute mess.  Where do I even begin with here?  There is an antagonist named Ivan Vanko who wants revenge against Tony Stark, because he wants to prove that Iron Man is not invincible.  After losing to him in a small battle at Monaco, he disappears from the movie until the third act since he has to help Justin Hammer, Tony Stark’s rival (who also acts like a teenager who does not know how to do business with others and fails to realize that Vanko is using him) to create Iron Man suit duplicates.  Not only that, Tony Stark’s arc reactor is slowly poisoning him (and how he deals with that I will get to in a moment).  Also, the United States government wants the Iron Man armor for themselves, but Stark refuses (something that should land him to jail, but that never happened).  This would eventually lead to a conflict between Tony Stark and James Rhodes since Rhodes has to get the armor from Stark.  I can unpack how none of this works, and it barely creates a cohesive movie.  One plot-line would disappear for a while, and when it comes back, I completely forgot it existed with the somewhat exception being Tony’s arc reactor poisoning him…

2.) …That sub-plot is pretty stupid considering how that was written.  First off, when Tony realizes that the arc reactor, the very thing that is saving his life, is poisoning him, he does absolutely nothing about it.  To be fair, he did try to find a cure for it (which is mentioned), but the movie shows him monkeying around most of the time from racing in Monaco to partying in his house.  It is not until Nick Fury comes in to tell him to get his butt back to work on that cure.  How he even found that cure is also puzzling to me.  Apparently, the cure (or in this movie’s case, the new element) is located in a diorama of the 1974 Stark Expo.  Unless if I am a complete idiot, how does that create a new element?  The fact that Tony Stark barely does anything in this movie makes it hard to like or care for him to the point that even the other characters feel exactly the same way.

3.) I understand why they had to do this, but the foreshadowing of the MCU is forced.  How was it forced?  At the lowest point for Tony (Rhodes just took one of the Iron Man suits from Tony), Nick Fury comes out of nowhere.  There is no foreshadowing, he just appears and tells Tony to get over his ego for a while and find a new element for his arc reactor.  Even if you have seen the after credits of the first Iron Man, it would still feel out of place.  The movie alludes to The Avengers in the end, but it was done improperly.  Thankfully, this was never done again in any of the other movies, but it could have been much worse.

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Much worse…

 

Overall: 

Many have considered Iron Man 2 to be the worst of the MCU movies, and they are not wrong.  Despite having Robert Downey, Jr. back with his great acting, and having fantastic CG, the movie’s script is what brought this movie down.  Tony Stark barely does anything to fix his problem with his arc reactor other than fooling around, and it had to take a deus ex machina in a form of Nick Fury to make him do something.  Ivan Vanko is such an uninteresting antagonist that was barely even used (and a shamefully wasted use of Mickey Rourke’s time).  I cannot take Justin Hammer seriously as a CEO and as an antagonist with his teenage-like attitude.  The other characters are not much help, either.  The fact that War Machine was introduced was probably one of the few interesting things in this movie, but it still would not have saved it.  Overall, if this movie barely had any potential other than a few key moments.  It was a good thing Marvel Studios learned their lesson from the errors of this movie.  Until then, only fans of the MCU and Marvel comics would be interested in a movie that would be best forgotten.

3/10

The next MCU movie review will be the introduction to the god of Thunder himself.

Benz Eye View: Rampage

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Rampage

Pros: 

1.) It should not be a surprise with the trailers, but the CG is pretty good.  What is especially effective is when the monsters become giants, and the movie shows it off when they stand along next to the smaller humans and humongous buildings (thanks to a bit of cinematography).  It most noticeable when Dwayne Johnson is alongside George and the other giant monsters.  It is an effective use of CG in a monster movie.

2.) If you want some monster action, then you will find it in the third act.  This might as well be a mini-Godzilla fight, because all the monsters fighting each other and the Army is just fun and awesome.  Each blow they deliver has impact and weight, making it clear how damaging those monsters can fight.  You might as well skip the first two acts just for this final act (more on that later).

 

Cons: 

1.) While the monsters are easily the stars (especially in the third act), the human characters take on the majority of the movie, and they are not interesting.  The movie tries to give a few of these characters some depth, but they are so typical and cliché, they might as well be cardboard boxes and it would not really change their character.  None of these characters are compelling, though I will admit that Harvey Russel (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) easily stands out among all the other characters.

2.) Speaking of the first two acts, they are a slog to go through.  The pacing is not only slow, many moments in the movie are stupid.  The main antagonists secretly created some pathogen that can rewrite genes on a massive scale, and they want it back.  Three animals (including the gorilla, George) already have the pathogen, and the antagonists plan to get them back is so stupid, a ten-year old can see that it will not work.  The writing itself has some problems like one character that seemed important ended up being a redshirt.  Overall, the writing in the first two acts is stupid, but at least the third act is dumb enough to be enjoyable.

 

Overall: 

It has been years since I played a Rampage game.  There is nothing really special as far as I can recall; it is just three huge monsters destroying buildings and eating people.  However, the one interesting thing from the games that the movie did not use is the fact that those monsters used to be people.  That would have been interesting if the movie did something with that, because on its own, this movie is not going to be interesting to anyone story-wise.  However, all the fun is contained in the last act: the monster brawl and the Army’s determination to fight them despite their futile efforts.  That is pretty much it: the movie is worth it only in the last act.  Otherwise, just wait until Avengers: Infinity War comes out in a couple of weeks.

5/10

Benz Eye View: The Incredible Hulk

We are back with another MCU Marathon with the next installment: The Incredible Hulk.

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The Incredible Hulk

Pros: 

1.) Many of you remember Mark Ruffalo playing Bruce Banner a.k.a. Hulk right now, but the character was originally played by Edward Norton.  While Ruffalo played Bruce Banner who is psychologically damaged but also fits into a comic book realm, Norton plays the same role but in a more dramatic and serious fashion.  If I have to pick one of these two, I prefer Norton.  In terms of appearance, he looks scrawny and weak compared to the Hulk.  In terms of character, not only that he plays a believable scientist, but also how tortured he is (more on that in a moment).  I will even argue that Norton is a better actor than Ruffalo, but that is my opinion.  If he can pull off a hugely sympathetic character than the next actor, it will make me wish that he is in the MCU.

2.) This Hulk looks so much better than the 2003 version.  In Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003), that giant green behemoth looked a realistic cartoon character that does not fit into the real world.

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If you saw Hulk (2003), you would know how ridiculously out of place this Hulk looks, especially when he gets bigger.

Compare that to The Incredible Hulk version, and he looks better by comparison.

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Something about him looks more realistic, and he fits into with the live actors.

The character would look better as the MCU progresses, but this Hulk is a good start and indicator of the CG getting better as more MCU films come and go (with a few exceptions in certain scenes of other films like Black Panther).

3.) Talking about Bruce Banner himself, I like how this character has been interpreted and introduced.  The movie starts with him already in hiding and trying to find a cure for the Hulk.  There is already a deep sympathy for the character, and we want him to succeed on his mission, not to just get rid of the Hulk since he sees him as a monster, but also to be back with his love interest, Betty Ross.  A great way for the audience to get invested with the main character.

 

Cons: 

1.) I get what they are going for this, but Emil Blonksy a.k.a. Abomination is a forced villain, or putting it mildly, a poorly-written antagonist.  Let’s face it: having the Hulk face the military several times gets boring, especially when we know that the military stands no chance against him.  Blonksy could have been a good idea as an antagonist, but they made him into a veteran commando who becomes arrogant and wants to challenge the Hulk, and he changes into an obsessed monster who goes crazy due to General Ross’s version of the super-soldier serum.  It would have been more interesting if Blonksky volunteers to use the serum, but it goes wrong, and he becomes the insane Abomination.  Ross has to deal with two monsters, and Banner has to find a cure for not only himself, but also Blonksy.  It does not work, and the two monsters eventually fight each other just like in this movie.  There are probably better ideas than that, but it is certainly better than what this movie thought up on using their main antagonist.

2.) Pacing is tolerable in the first half of the movie, but it got unbearable for the second half.  If you want to see a bunch of Hulk action, there is very little in here.  I am willing to excuse that since this is about Bruce Banner trying to find a cure, but certain sub-plots go on for a little too long.  As much as I like seeing Banner’s tortured soul plot, it gets a little bit tiring when they keep showing it over and over.  The second half does get better when Hulk and Abomination fight, but it felt like a long time coming (especially since the trailer advertised this).  The elements in the plot and story are great at first, but they started to slog over time.

3.) Oddly, some areas of the plot and sub-plots felt…missing.  What I mean that there is something more to this story, but they either did not have time or they had to delete those scenes to spare time.  Interestingly enough, there are some deleted scenes that add a little more weight to the story (and even explains certain plot holes like how Leonard Samson knew that Bruce Banner is hiding with Betty Ross).  It adds some motivation and character to these people.  However, if they were to add them in, the pacing would end up being more intolerable.  I would suggest some rewrites, but it is too late now.

 

Overall: 

I consider The Incredible Hulk the black sheep of the MCU not because the film rights for Hulk is still technically owned by Universal Studios, but this is the most serious and dramatic of the MCU movies.  There are small amounts of comedy, but it feels out of place considering how serious this movie is, but I digress.  Ever since the failure that is Hulk (2003), Marvel Studios decided to make a loose reboot/sequel (you may consider this a sequel to Hulk (2003) if you want to) of the Hulk to fit into the MCU (which considering how this movie ended with Tony Stark talking to General Ross, people finally took the idea of a Marvel film universe seriously).  How does this movie hold up?  Well, it is one of the weaker MCU movies.  There was some potential for this, but it was not exactly executed in the best way.  While I like how psychologically tortured Bruce Banner has become since he has the Hulk inside him, that can only go on for so long until it gets slightly tiring.  This will disappoint people who want to see some Hulk action, because you are not going to get much.  It is a shame that this is the only Hulk movie made in the MCU, so Marvel Studios has to make the character’s arc through other movies about other Marvel superheroes.  Until then, this is the best that MCU has for the Hulk: a movie about a scientist looking for a cure for the green monster inside him, and it is not really remembered by many people.

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Kind of like how Betty Ross was never seen again after this movie.

6/10

Benz Eye View: Iron Man

We are getting close with the release of Avengers: Infinity War (especially since Marvel Studios changed the release date to one week earlier).  With that upcoming film, I decided to do another film marathon: The Marvel Cinematic Universe Marathon.

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Here are some rules for this marathon.

1.) It is pretty obvious, but I am only going to review movies/films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Any Marvel movies that are not part of the MCU (i.e. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy, The Blade Trilogy, The X-Men Film Universe) will NOT be reviewed in this marathon.

2.) I am only concentrating on the MCU films, NOT the TV series (i.e. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, Inhumans).  I have reviewed the Marvel Netflix series which is its own separate category (speaking of which, I need to work on Marvel’s The Punisher and Jessica Jones Season 2).

3.) I will only review up to Avengers: Age of Ultron.  I do have reviews of some of the MCU films (particularly Phase 2) in my Movie Reviews in Facebook, but I decided to re-review them, because they are not exactly reviewed well and they are amateurish at best.  If you want to see the other MCU films I have reviewed in this blog (starting with Ant-Man), it is under Old Movie Reviews in the tabs (but I will save time by adding it at the Marvel Cinematic Universe Marathon Tab).  However, I will make a small and quick overall update for each of those films taking place after Avengers: Age of Ultron.

4.) I WILL SPOIL these films/movies for these reviews other than upcoming MCU films, so if you do not want to spoiled, I recommend you watch these films/movies first, then come back and read these reviews.

With those rules out of the way, let’s begin with the very first MCU film that started it all:

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Iron Man

Pros: 

1.) If there is one thing that stands out from this movie (and upcoming MCU films), it is Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man.  Not only is he the perfect actor for this character, but he clearly enjoys it with all his charisma and egotistical wit and a hint of care and kindness.  He makes this character his own and is one of the few actors who does that so well, it is hard to imagine who will play him if he ever stops playing the character (i.e. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, etc.).  It is no wonder he has kept playing Iron Man up till now, because he is the man that carried this film (and the MCU) together (especially since this is the film that revived his career).

2.) While it has aged a bit, the CG is incredible.  The most noticeable special effects are on the Iron Man suit itself.  When it starts to assemble or certain parts move around during flight sequences, it looks amazing.  It is as if that it is an actual mechanical suit instead of a CG suit.  Not to mention how detailed it is when you see certain parts and gears that are part of the suit.  I would imagine that some engineering groups would like to create a suit similar to Iron Man, but I digress.  It is a shame it did not win an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, but it at least deserved its nomination.

3.) As for the titular character, Tony Stark goes through an interesting arc.  He starts out as a billionaire weapons CEO who only cares about making weapons, women, and himself.  By the end of the movie, he becomes humbler (and I am using that loosely) and caring about the people who needs help from their troubles.  His journey and growth to what he was to what we know him now is a good one.  Not bad for a superhero with a huge ego.

 

Cons: 

1.) The villain/antagonist of this movie is poor.  You might as well get use to this for those who somehow have not seen any of the MCU films, because deep villains are in short supply.  In this movie’s case, Obadiah Stane a.k.a. Iron Monger is a typical jealous partner of Tony Stark who believes that he can do better than Stark can.  There are already several villains/antagonists that existed before him, and he does not stand out despite being played by Jeff Bridges.  I am fine with used stereotypes if it is done well, but this is not one of them.  He is just a throwaway villain who will be forgotten and never mentioned again as soon as he gets killed off by the end of the movie.

2.) There are some issues I found in the writing.  After Tony Stark escapes from his imprisonment, the movie starts to slow down.  What I mean is that his emotional journey seems to be done after he starts wearing the Iron Man suit to save the civilians in the Middle East.  I get the feeling that they ran out of ideas up to that point and forcefully put in Obadiah Stane as the main antagonist, and you know how I feel about that.  While they slightly foreshadowed that in a couple of scenes (i.e. the Ten Rings bargaining for more money, and Obadiah watching the news about the jet “accident”), they are pretty weak.  A little more re-writes would probably save this.

3.) There are some good scenes like Tony creating the Mark II Suit, Iron Man rescuing the citizens in the Middle East, and the final battle between Iron Man and Iron Monger, but the rest of these scenes are not really engaging.  Normally, those scenes can be a slog to go through, because they just typically progress the plot, and little more.  However, what saves them is Robert Downey, Jr.’s acting abilities as Tony Stark.  Without him, this movie would easily be an average superhero flick with some great special effects.

 

Overall: 

Before the MCU ever began, there were already several superhero movies from Marvel and DC (and other comic book companies like Image or Mirage Studios) ranging from Superman (1978) to Spider-Man 3.  Interestingly, producer Kevin Feige (who is also the President of Marvel Studios and a huge Marvel fan) was involved in a majority of Marvel films ranging from Blade to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.  He eventually produced Iron Man and had Jon Favreau to direct (and starred as Tony’s bodyguard and chauffeur, Happy Hogan) and Robert Downey, Jr. to star in it.

From this video alone, you can see why Downey was hired.  Eventually, Iron Man was created, and it turned out to be a great movie.  They managed to create a B-grade superhero into one of the biggest superheroes in not only comic books, but also in cinema.  With a great leading actor, an interesting superhero, and stunning special effects, this movie was an enjoyable ride despite its rough flaws.  While no one at the time took the after credits sequence that foreshadowed a cinematic universe seriously, it at least sparked some interest.

Either way, the Iron Man movie was at least a fun movie that everyone (especially superhero fans) enjoyed.

7/10

Stay tune for the next MCU film review with the rebooted movie of a certain green giant.

Benz Eye View: Isle of Dogs

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Isle of Dogs

Pros: 

1.) One thing that Wes Anderson is known for is his visual style, and it is no different here.  I admit that the only Wes Anderson film I have ever seen is The Grand Budapest Hotel, and while enjoy that film (it was my best film of 2014), I have noticed his visual style was interesting in that film as in his latest installment.  He likes to have flat space camera movement with many characters or objects in the foreground, midground, and background.  He likes for you to pay attention to certain things in certain times like a character in the background if all the other characters in the foreground are looking at him.  Interesting use and delivery of visual style makes this film unique.

2.) The stop-motion animation looks great, especially on the dogs.  Stop-motion is never easy, but this film did a great job making each of the dogs and humans unique.  You have dogs who range from cute to ugly, and Japanese people who have odd looks on them (I am looking at Tracy Walker).  My favorite moments are when a bunch of these characters attack each other, and it results being in one of those clouds of dust.  Not only is that kind of funny (and it reminds me of similar moments in anime), but how they animated this is pretty clever.  Aardman Animations would be proud of them.

3.) Another stand out is the music, particularly when the music involves taiko drums.  Not only does it fit the setting, but it is used effectively on tense moments.  Considering the plot, it also acts like war music for the dogs and the Kobayashi.  Even so, I enjoy the music as pure entertainment value, and I would like to hear over and over, especially Taiko Drumming.

 

Cons: 

1.) There were some characters I would love to see over and over, but their roles are smaller than I hoped.  It may be due to the chemistry between these characters or how the actors played well in their roles, I just like to see them more, but due to certain circumstances, they are barely seen after halfway into the film.  It is fine considering that the film has to focus on the main leads: Atari and Chief…

2.) …On the other hand, there were some characters that I do not really want to see as much, which are Tracy Walker and her protesters.  Their sub-plot may have merit, but it seems distracting with the better plot towards Atari and the dogs…

3.) …Which leads to me arguing with one thing: the film would probably be better if it is only in the dogs’ perspectives.  The events in Japan should be reduced to Atari talking about it briefly to the other dogs, and the rest of the film should be the search for Spots, while expanding on the other dogs’ roles.  I am fine with the events with Tracy, Watanabe, and Kobayashi, but the journey with the dogs are more interesting to me.

 

Overall: 

This is certainly an odd film considering that it is written and directed by Wes Anderson.  As a result, this might not be a film for everyone.  The pacing is slow, the story is not that original despite being written well, and the animation might not appeal to everyone.  Despite that, I argue that the best thing about this film is the production.  If you have seen any of Wes Anderson’s films (in my case, The Grand Budapest Hotel), his style of directing and visuals is interesting to say the least.  If you are a fan of Wes Anderson’s style and like stop-motion animation, this will be an interesting film to watch.  If you are not a fan of either category, this film will be a huge slog to go through.

8/10