Bad Times at the El Royale

Every once in a while a movie comes along that draws you in without giving you any information in the previews. Well that’s exactly what we have here with Bad Times at the El Royale. The previews show a great cast with a cool 60’s atmosphere but not much in the way of plot. Now its true most movies try to keep the plot pretty wrapped up but in general you have a basic idea of what the movie is about before going to the theater. But in talking about this movie with friends and family I still literally had no idea what this movie was really about besides there are a bunch of strangers staying in a hotel. That is all and despite knowing almost nothing else about the movie I was still tremendously excited to see this one and couldn’t wait to get to the theater to check it out.

A lot of things to like about the second movie from director Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods). If you had seen his previous film then you know he has a unique style of story telling and you should be ready to expect the unexpected. The cast is very impressive here with a few standouts. Jeff Bridges is outstanding as Father Daniel Flynn, a forgetful priest. At this point in his career, Bridges is almost expected to turn out great performances so it shouldn’t surprise you when he delivers. Now what may surprise you is Chris Hemsworth as Billy Lee, a charismatic fellow who steals the scene whenever he is on screen. I have not seen Hemsworth deliver a performance quite like this one so far in his career. The remaining characters all bring their own intrigue and mystery to the entire roller coaster of a film. Another interesting thing about the El Royale is the cinematography. There are lots of unusual camera angles and scrolling views that help heighten the suspense. I also really enjoyed the set design of the hotel itself. It absolutely nailed the time period and really helps reel you into the feeling of being in 1969 (or somewhere there abouts).

While this movie is absolutely enjoyable it is not without its blemishes. I did feel that the movie dragged a bit through some scenes on its way to the 141 minute run time which can be a bit long for those with shorter attention spans. I also found myself wanting a little more background on a few characters. Additionally there are some branches of the plot that get mentioned and then stay unresolved. I didn’t find too much to complain about beyond those things but it indeed kept it from a perfect review.

In the end all you really want out of a movie theater trip is to be entertained and this movie surely does that much. If you are looking for a wild ride then sit down, strap in and let this one blow your hair back with a rousing 2 Apology effort from Drew Goddard. Definitely looking forward to more entries to his filmography. I would recommend checking this one out if you get the chance.

-Movie Apologist

GoldenEye

James Bond. Agent 007. That is a name that almost the entire world can easily recognize. He’s suave, sophisticated, and just such a cool character. Who do you picture when you hear someone introduce themselves as Bond…James Bond? Can you remember the first Bond movie you ever watched? GoldenEye (the 17th Bond film) happened to be my introduction to the world of James Bond and I can remember being very excited to rent it from the Blockbuster near my dad’s house. There was a rather large gap between Bond films as this premiered in 1995 and the previous entry “License to Kill” was 1989, so there were some definite expectations. But even with that extra added pressure Pierce Brosnan is forever emblazoned as Mr. Bond in my brain and this movie is the reason why.

First and foremost when discussing one of the legendary Bond films, you have to look at the man playing Mr. Bond. Pierce Brosnan is now the face that goes with the name James Bond. He was smooth and confident and at times also very funny. The story is entertaining even though it may not be the most ground breaking. Agent 007 has to save the world from some bad guys with a plan to hijack a military satellite and do a lot of damage. I really enjoyed the action sequences and there are several large set pieces where the tension is cranked up to 11 and keeps you locked in. Almost all the characters are fairly interesting and the actors came through for pretty strong performances. Two actors that really shine here (besides Pierce Brosnan) are Sean Bean as Agent 006 and Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp. They both really owned their roles and seemed to fully embrace their characters. Even the minor characters made big time impacts with limited screen time. A lot of things to like in this one and I could probably ramble for awhile.

While this movie is very enjoyable and memorable it is not without its minor faults. It feels a bit long in a few sections on its way to a 130 minute run time.  Only one character sort of let me down, Natalya, a Russian programmer. She spends equal parts being helpful and otherwise making shrill noises. There is also quite a bit of campy/cheesy humor along the way which is part of the James Bond experience but I understand how it can rub some people the wrong way. Even for me there is some over the top cheesiness, some extra cheese if you will.

Goldeneye holds a special place in my heart (and movie collection) since it introduced me to the super cool, super suave world of James Bond. It is a movie that I will watch every time it is on, even with commercials, and even though I own it. (full disclosure, may have a problem :P) I love the action and the witty one-liners from 007. Even on rewatches the movie still holds up after over 20 years of viewing. James Bond charms his way to a stellar 1 Apology rating and has started off the Pierce Brosnan era with a bang.

Suburbicon

I really enjoy watching trailers for movies, they really have one job: to make you want to see the movie being previewed. Suburbicon had a very intriguing vibe based on those trailers. It appeared to be a gritty, dark, noir thriller with an all star cast including Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Issac while being directed by George Clooney. Who wouldn’t want to see that? Mrs. Apologist and I went into the theater with pretty high expectations.

Suburbicon had such potential to be great but it definitely was a let down. Despite being such a disappointment there were a few strengths. The setting is an interesting one: little “picture perfect” community in the 1950’s where a shocking home invasion shakes things up. The real standout in the cast is Oscar Isaac who stole the show as an insurance investigator. He’s funny, sly, and easily the most interesting character in the fold. There weren’t many other redeeming qualities to be seen.

This movie did have an abundance of glaring weaknesses. It seemed to me that Clooney didn’t have any idea of which genre he wanted his movie to be. It looked like a dark, gritty thriller but functioned more like a dark satire. I found myself laughing throughout the majority of the movie. There are elements that don’t move the plot forward and that don’t develop any of the characters. They just happen with no purpose. The characters are all bland and boring besides Oscar Isaac. The story is fairly predictable as it plods along through the entire 105 minute run time, which ended up feeling more like 3 hours. Clooney delivers an absolute train-wreck of a film.

It is not often that a movie will disappoint so thoroughly from start to finish. The plot, almost all the characters, the dialogue, everything let me down. Oscar Isaac was the only reason that I stayed to finish this disaster. The person in charge of creating the trailers should be commended since they made Suburbicon look like a gem instead of the turd that it turned out to be. Being the movie lover I am (and since I’ve been told I’m quite forgiving) it is pretty rare that I give out such a harsh rating but this debacle earns the worst score I have given out to date: 8 Apologies! Even if its free on one of your movie channels I would advise you to steer clear and watch literally anything else.

-Movie Apologist

A Quiet Place (spoiler free)

When it comes to critical and box office success, horror/suspense is not usually the first genre that comes to mind. So when a new scary movie comes out and is getting generally positive reviews while raking in money at the box office, it definitely triggers some additional interest in my book. The fact that this movie was directed, written, and stars the goofy guy (John Krasinski) best known as Jim Halpert from the hilarious show “The Office” is the icing on the cake. Mrs. Apologist and I really enjoy scary movies so naturally this one found its way to the top of our list to see.

I don’t want to spoil this movie with too much detail about the plot. This is a tale about survival in the face of mass devastation and death. We start off right away seeing the Abbott family doing their best to not make any noise as they search for supplies in a very empty small town store. It seems something has thoroughly wiped out everyone and everything. The painstaking effort to be as quiet as possible while on their supply run leads us to assume that too much sound brings a swift death. I’ll leave the rest of it for you to discover on your own. It becomes quite interesting to see how they function on a daily basis while living in almost complete silence.

What isn’t to like about this film? John Krasinski completely blew me away as he wrote, directed, and starred in this thriller that had me on the edge of my seat for almost the entire 90 minute run time. The pacing is near perfection as it doesn’t move along too quickly but doesn’t drag its feet either. The whole concept of “be quiet or you can die” was well done and I have never heard an entire movie theater sit in such silence! There are a few legitimate jump scares thrown in for good measure and believe me, they will make you jump. I loved the family in this movie, each actor/actress was convincing and I truly cared about their well being. John Krasinski is wonderful as Lee Abbott, the father doing all he can to keep his family safe from constant threat. He is joined on screen by real life wife Emily Blunt as she plays his movie wife Evelyn. Their on screen chemistry is powerful between themselves as well as their children. It is very refreshing to see such a unique entry into the horror/thriller genre.

I enjoyed this movie so much that I don’t really have any complaints for this section! Everything from the story to the suspense to the actors all added up to an superbly entertaining trip to the theater.

This movie is an instant classic in the eyes of this fanatic and I will be sure to add it to my collection the first day it is available. I get a kick out of the horror/suspense genre but too often I find movies too derivative or predictable or just flat out not scary enough. This movie checks all the boxes and felt refreshing in a sea of sequels and remakes. It may not shock you to discover that I give this movie an spectacular rating of 0 Apologies since I have been raving about this movie for awhile now. If you are a fan of the genre then this is a must watch but be careful not to make too much noise.

-Movie Apologist

Annihilation (spoiler free)

This movie is one of those that immediately snagged my interest from the very first time I saw the teaser trailer. Natalie Portman in a suspenseful sci-fi type movie? Sign me up! On top of that was the fact that this is the second movie by director Alex Garland (also directed Ex Machina which I really enjoyed) I was no doubt very excited to get to the theater to see this one.

Now I really will do my best to avoid any spoilers here since I think the story is a big strength. I also have not read the book this film is based on so I cannot say how closely it follows. Basically there is an area called “The Shimmer” that is gradually increasing its radius indefinitely. Very little is known about whats lies inside the boundary since no one seems to make it back out once they venture in. All that is known is there is a lighthouse that seems to be the origin for this abnormality.  Lena (Natalie Portman) is a biologist and professor who volunteers for an expedition inside The Shimmer with a team consisting of a physicist, an anthropologist, a paramedic, and a psychiatrist. Once inside The Shimmer the team seems to find more questions than answers: electronic equipment issues, memory lapses, unknown wildlife and plant life that seems to violate the natural laws. What is The Shimmer? What happened to the previous teams? How do they stop The Shimmer from encapsulating the entire world? Their mission to find the lighthouse and stop The Shimmer from expanding is not an easy one and we are just strapped in for the ride.

There is an abundance of strengths here. Natalie Portman delivers a terrific performance. She is strong, smart and very believable as she displays a full range of emotions, nailing every one of them. The director, Alex Garland, is truly gifted and his storytelling is compelling and keeps you invested to the very end. I really enjoyed the suspense throughout the film and he did a fantastic job sprinkling in with some genuinely terrifying scenes. I found myself on the edge of my seat for the majority of the film. This movie also happens to be gorgeous to look at. The world inside the Shimmer is full of wonder and beauty but, at times, also pure horror. Mrs. Apologist really enjoyed the science aspect as well.

Not too much to complain about in this one. Despite having a pretty good pace, I thought it was just a hair too long at 115 minutes. Especially towards the end it sort of drags out some scenes in an attempt to really set the tone. Another small issue was that  they don’t really go into many details with the science aspect of things, so it can be a little confusing. Another possible drawback is that there are some pretty gruesome scenes that may be too intense for some viewers.

Even though I felt it was slightly on the long side, I really enjoyed the movie as a whole. It was nice to have a different genre of movie choice from the usual lot of comedies and super hero flicks. I don’t have much of an expertise or background in science, but that did not stop me from having a great experience. The story had me hooked from the first scene and the suspense definitely kicked my heart rate into overdrive on several occasions. Portman delivers one of the strongest performances of 2018 so far and Alex Garland proves he has top notch skills as a director despite his short portfolio. Annihilation has set the bar fairly high for movies in 2018 with a well deserved 1 Apology. Check it out if you enjoy suspense and/or science fiction.

-Movie Apologist

IT (2017)

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: remakes can be extremely difficult to pull off successfully. That is especially true when talking about something that has such a cult following like Stephen King’s It (1990). With such a well respected performance by Tim Curry it is easy to see that it was going to be a tough act to follow. Before going to see IT I was very excited since the previews were some of the best in recent memory but there was also a little doubt creeping in since there were several horror movies that had built up too much hype before being massive let downs.

I’ll try to give out some basic details of the plot without giving too much away. The story is set in Derry, Maine in the late 80’s as school is beginning to let out for summer. There have been increasing reports of missing children. Bill and his group of friends Richie, Eddie, Stanley are trying to figure out where the kids are going and avoid being harassed by the school bully Henry too much. As the summer progresses the group gains a few more misfits with the additions of Mike, Beverly, and new kid Ben. Each of the kids has begun to see scary visions and apparitions which all seem to be connected to the same creature known as Pennywise the Clown.  As they dive deeper into their investigation of the missing children they seem to find more questions than answers.

This remake does have several strengths to its credit. The main group of kids played by Jaeden Liberher (Bill), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben) Sophia Lillis (Bev), Finn Wolfhard (Richie), Chosen Jacobs (Mike), Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie), and Wyatt Oleff (Stanley) all deliver terrific performances as grade school kids who are on a terrifying journey. They show a wide range of emotions throughout the film. Another standout is Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. There were massive shoes to fill (ha) from the great Tim Curry but he definitely delivered a high quality portrayal. He is both funny and also fairly chilling in his interpretation of the role. I thought the pacing of the movie was another strength. The movie has a 135 minute run time but it zips right along moving from scene to scene and fright to fright. Those frights are indeed another strong point here compared to the last few horror/suspense movies I have watched recently. There is a good balance between suspenseful scares and the more traditional jump scares that had Mrs. Apologist watching from behind her own fingers.

There were not very many weaknesses but IT was definitely far from a perfect movie. I did happen to think that some of the scares were predictable. Some of the story also followed that same predictability but that is easy to do when dealing with a remake. While there were mostly high quality scares there were also a handful that just didn’t work out and came off as cheesy which almost brought down the entire creepy vibe the movie worked so hard to establish.

Remakes can be a very tricky bunch, especially when the first version was well received and generally well reviewed. Expectations that are built up pretty high can sometimes lead to big time letdown but luckily for us this movie packed enough of a punch to keep us entertained for the night. If you’re in the mood for some scares and don’t mind some occasional gruesome violence then I would recommend checking out 2017’s version of IT with a very respectable 2 Apologies.

-Movie Apologist

Assassin’s Creed

Sometimes the hype for a movie can be built up so high that it can’t possibly reach those lofty expectations. There can be many factors that lead to hype: good actors, great premise, and captivating previews among other things. I had built a substantial hype for this movie myself. It has actors that I really enjoy (Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Irons) and was based on a video game series of the same name with a very interesting premise. Even if the movie was pretty good it probably wouldn’t have matched the hype level that had been established.

For those of you that have not played any of the Assassin’s Creed video games, the plot revolves around a centuries long conflict between the Assassins and the Templars. While this movie does not follow the games exactly, the basic idea is very similar. Both factions are in search of an artifact called the Apple of Eden which the Templars want to use in order to control mankind and the Assassins work to keep the Apple out of Templar hands. As the movie opens we see Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) running away from home as a youngster after his mother is murdered and then we jump way ahead to an adult Cal on his way to his execution. He awakens later inside Abstergo Industries and Dr. Sophia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard) informs him that he is legally dead but he is still needed for important research at Abstergo. They have developed a machine, called the Animus, which allows someone in the present to relive memories of distant ancestors. Sophia and her father Alan (Jeremy Irons) need Cal to continually enter the Animus and to locate the Apple of Eden for the Templars. They claim to want to use the Apple to rid the world of violence but their bosses seem to have more nefarious motives. Cal does not know of the history between the two factions as he relives his ancestor’s memories. I won’t drone on with the plot too much but its more of the same: Cal enters the Animus, fights some people, exits the Animus and talks with Sophia and the cycle repeats.

There wasn’t an abundance of strengths in this film but there are indeed a couple that keep it from being too much of a train wreck. The set design and the costumes were easily the standouts in the movie. When Cal is using the Animus and is “in the past” through his ancestor’s memories the sets and buildings look great. All the Assassins and Templars all look the part during these “memories”. Another strength here is the action sequences are entertaining when the “shaky cam” doesn’t try to take over. Unfortunately there isn’t much more than that to enjoy.

Where to start on the weaknesses? This movie is flat out boring. I’m not sure how you take such quality actors and mix in some story from an entertaining video game series and end up with almost 2 hours of pure snoozefest.  I definitely dozed off for a bit as did Mrs. Apologist and the movie seemed to go on forever. The acting was a big disappointment which I’m attributing to the poor script since the actors themselves are strong in most of their other roles. The dialogue is unbelievably dry and absolutely wastes the acting talent. The story becomes more of a minor part since most of the movie is used as a method of character development to set up the sequel. The movie feels incomplete and more like a set up for the sequel instead of a standalone movie.

This movie left a lot to be desired. I was very excited to see it since I loved playing the games, the actors are usually very enjoyable and the previews made it seem like a can’t miss blockbuster but Assassin’s Creed is the perfect movie to put on if you need a good nap! Get ready for muddled plot lines, unbearable dialogue, with just a sprinkle of action to keep you from sleeping all the way through. I woke up to give this bumbling adventure 7 Apologies and we’ll wait to see how the sequel does.

-Movie Apologist

 

 

John Wick 2 (spoilers)

Sometimes picking a movie to watch can be a difficult process. There are almost endless selections across multiple formats and it is easy to spend more time searching for a movie than actually watching a movie. Usually when I can’t pick a movie I find myself settling on action movies where there may not be too much of a plot but are still enjoyable because of the badass action. Fortunately for all my action movie fans out there John Wick 2 packs in plenty of amazing action and doesn’t totally ignore the plot. I absolutely loved the first movie so I couldn’t wait to sit down and watch the second one.

The plot does not overly complicate itself. If you have seen the first movie then you know that John Wick (Keanu Reeves) was a retired assassin with a massive reputation who gets pulled back into the game by the actions of a young Russian mobster. Chapter 2 essentially picks up right after the events of the first movie. After John briefly reenters his unique world to get revenge on the people who wronged him in the first movie he receives a visit from a fellow assassin: Santino D’Antonio. He has heard that John is back in the game and he needs to call on John to pay him back on a marker, which is sort of like a blood oath type favor. (A marker is given out between assassins when one needs a favor and it must be honored when requested. If refused then your life is basically put on the line.) John does not want to honor his marker with Santino and is adamant that he is still retired, despite the stories to the contrary. Since the marker was refused, John has now broken the honor code. In order to show John that he is serious in his request, Santino blows up John’s house. Eventually John agrees to hear Santino’s request but he isn’t happy about it. He is tasked with killing Santino’s sister Gianna who has a seat at the High Table: a group of powerful assassins and Santino wants that seat. John reluctantly accepts the assignment to clear his debt and goes about planning and setting up. I won’t spoil the rest of the movie from there but I can tell you it is quite exciting and action packed.

There are strengths galore in this movie. The action and fight choreography are second to none and they are on full display for the majority of the film. If you appreciate action then you will love John Wick Chapter 2. Keanu Reeves really is impressive with his dedication and training for this role. You can see how comfortable he is holding the various firearms and he looks natural in his movements while shooting and fighting. In addition to Keanu, the other actors are all enjoyable in their roles. Riccardo Scamarcio is bit bold and quite smug as Santino and his performance sort of makes you want to punch him in the face but that’s really a compliment to his acting. The rapper Common plays Cassian, one of Gianna’s bodyguards, and he delivers a no nonsense, straight forward tough guy.

Really the only weakness I found in the movie was the character Ares, played by Ruby Rose. She is a deaf bodyguard for Santino and is easily out shined by the other characters. She doesn’t necessarily do anything wrong she just doesn’t do anything particularly great either. She seems to be included in the cast since she was a trending celebrity at the time. I didn’t find anything else to dislike here.

Even though I felt Ares was a weak character it wasn’t a huge detraction from the movie as a whole. It kept me entertained for the entire 122 minute run time and didn’t feel like it was too long. I loved the action and was wowed by the choreography. The actors all played their roles well and worked with each other to keep the story moving along. You really can’t ask for much more from the action genre as this movie stands out from the crowd with a spectacular rating of 0 Apologies. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, as long as you don’t mind the violence.

-Movie Apologist

The Lego Batman Movie (spoiler free)

There are two things that can be enjoyed by kids and adults throughout their lives: Legos and Batman. Naturally this movie was to be expected after the massive success of “The Lego Movie” and with how the popularity Batman’s character received in that movie it was bound to get a spin off. I was very excited to see this one as Batman is easily my favorite super hero and Mrs. Apologist was equally excited since she is a certified Lego fanatic. “The Lego Movie” set up some pretty high standards for Lego Batman in his standalone movie to follow but with a phenomenal cast and Chris McKay back to direct, it seemed poised to match up nicely.

The plot is pretty standard here. The Joker is on his quest to take over Gotham City and Batman is out to stop him. We see Joker’s diabolical plan to destroy Gotham city thwarted by Batman early on and we also see Joker’s feelings get hurt by Batman since Batman is kind of a loner who does not seem to appreciate the symbiotic relationship they have. Next Bruce Wayne attends a gala for Commissioner James Gordon’s retirement while his daughter Barbara prepares to  take his place. This gala gives young orphan Dick Grayson the opportunity to introduce himself to Bruce and try to get himself adopted. Bruce is very distracted as he seems to be instantly smitten with Barbara until she starts talking about her plans to have the police work with Batman since Batman hasn’t caught any of the major villains in Gotham. Joker has now rounded up all the major bad guys in Gotham and attacks the gala with a new evil plan. Its up to Batman to save the day yet again! I do not want to spoil the movie too much so that’s where we will leave the plot summary at this time.

This movie does have several strengths on its side. They assembled a great cast for this movie just like in “The Lego Movie”. We have Will Arnett back as the main star and he does a fantastic job with his delivery and his tone. Michael Cera (Robin/Dick Grayson), Rosario Dawson (Barbara Gordon), Ralph Fiennes (Alfred Pennyworth) and Zach Galifianakis (Joker) round up the main group of characters and they each deliver their own flair to the roles. Also included in the cast is Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Billy Dee Williams, Zoe Kravitz, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Ellie Kemper, Channing Tatum, and Jonah Hill round out the voice stars here. The humor is another standout with plenty of silly jokes for the kids and quite a few jokes slipped in there for the adults as well. It wouldn’t be a Batman movie without some action and the action flows fast and furious throughout, keeping the 104 minute run time lean and exciting. I also really enjoyed the references to all the previous Batman films.

There weren’t too many glaring weaknesses in the movie but it did have a few cheesy or predictable moments, which are to be expected in a family movie. The story was just a bit lackluster with much of the focus was on how Batman is lonely and Joker is insecure. Some of the humor feels a little forced at times which again can be a symptom of movies aimed at children/family. The bar was set pretty high from “The Lego Movie” and Lego Batman just didn’t quite have all the goods to exceed it.

Overall “The Lego Batman Movie” provided enough action and humor to be enjoyable but I’m not sure that there is enough there to warrant multiple views unless you’re under 10 years old. It takes an excellent cast with some quality jokes and action and comes out with a very solid rating of 2 Apologies. You could certainly pick a worse movie for a night out at the theater by yourself or with the family.

-Movie Apologist

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (spoiler free)

There are few world wide movie phenomenons like Star Wars. It generates such buzz and attention from fans and critics alike. Like many Star Wars lovers I got hooked when I was a kid and watched the original movies over and over. Naturally when I saw the trailer for Rogue One I was very excited to see it. Since we are still a year away from Episode 8 and a whole year since Episode 7 came out, this serves as a nice taster to keep everyone from going crazy during the long wait.

There could be minor spoilers from previous Star Wars entries.

The story gives some new information about an old event: the creation and subsequent destruction of the Death Star. Since this movie takes place between the events of Episode 3 and Episode 4 you should know  the basics if you have seen the previous films. Anakin Skywalker has become Darth Vader and his Empire is creating a massive weapon called the Death Star. As we all know at the end of Episode 4 the Rebel Alliance destroys the Death Star using stolen plans. What we don’t know is the story of how they got those plans but that is the story told during this chapter. We do get introduced to some new characters (Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor) and we also get some some familiar characters including the great Darth Vader. The main character we follow is Jyn. She is the daughter of one of the best scientists in the Empire and we get to watch her develop from a young girl into a rebellion fighter. She is tasked by the Rebellion with a mission to find her father and discover more information about the weapon the Empire is building. Not only do they have to confirm the existence of the super weapon but then they have to steal plans and get those plans back to the Rebellion. It is no easy task. As the Rebellion embarks on their plan, the Empire is also steady at work trying to destroy the Rebellion.

This movie is very enjoyable and has several strong points. First and foremost the movie has a slightly different feel than previous Star Wars entries which was a refreshing change as it felt more like a war movie set within the Star Wars universe. The battle scenes are hard fought and feel more real than before. The action is fast paced and fun to watch. The acting here also was nominally improved from several of the previous chapters. Felicity Jones puts forth a wonderful performance as Jyn Erso. Diego Luna portrays a convincing role of a captain in the Rebellion who may not always believe in the cause he fights for. Forest Whitaker puts out a fantastic effort as war hero Saw Gerrera. Star Wars has always been very good about injecting humor into the movies to keep it fairly light hearted and that doesn’t change here. Humor is mostly applied from the new droid character K-2SO and from blind monk Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen). As we have come to expect from the Star Wars saga the special effects are awesome, the sets and scenery are gorgeous, and the space battles are sleek and stylistic.

There aren’t many negatives in this movie and the few that exist don’t detract too much from the plot or the overall enjoyment. As a fan (nerd) watching the previews over and over I couldn’t help be excited about seeing a powerful Darth Vader working to destroy the Rebellion. We do get to see some very cool Vader moments but in my eyes there just wasn’t enough screen time for the coolest villain in the series. Similarly I wanted a little more character development for Saw Gerrera. I really enjoyed him but some backstory into why he was the way he was would have only added to my satisfaction.

In the end, this movie provided exactly what all Star Wars fans needed during the two year wait between Episode 7 and Episode 8. It delivers a quality story (even though its not necessarily a brand new story) that bridges the gap between the new trilogy and the original trilogy and leaves us excited for Episode 8 next December. I enthusiastically gave this movie 1 Apology and will soon be rewatching it along with the Episodes 1-7 with Mrs. Apologist to get pumped up for the next one.

-Movie Apologist