The Magnificent Seven (2016 spoiler free)

This is a movie that I have been looking forward to seeing for months after the preview sank its hooks into me. It has all the right ingredients: an old west setting, an amazing cast, an accomplished director, and the perfect amount of action in the trailer that leaves you wanting more. If you have read my other reviews (check them out if you haven’t) then you’ll know how I feel about remakes: they are difficult to master and often face extra scrutiny if the original is considered a classic. The Magnificent Seven is a remake of a remake and that original film (Seven Samurai) is widely considered to be one of the best movies ever made. However, the fact that it is a remake coupled with some of the not so nice reviews I read did not manage to dwindle my desire to see it.

If you have seen either of the “original” movies then you should know the basics of the story. There is a small quiet town being taken advantage of by a merciless group of bandits, this time mining for gold. They are led by the ruthless Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) who uses violence and intimidation to get his way. One of the townspeople Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) reaches out to bounty hunter/lawman Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washinton) to help them fight back against their oppressors. Sam assembles a rag tag team of hired guns to battle Bogue and his army of mercenaries. Sam manages to recruit gunslinger Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), former military man Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), his partner Billy Rocks (Byung-Hun Lee), wild man Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), wanted fugitive Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and Native American bow master Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). Knowing that they are grossly outnumbered they come up with a plan to defend the town. This brings us to the climactic battle sequence which is fun and frantic and at times very intense. For those that haven’t seen either of the originals I will not spoil it for you.

This movie has a lot of very good qualities to it. As I mentioned before the actors all do a wonderful job with their roles. Bogue is played masterfully by Peter Sarsgaard and his character is just begging us to hate him. Sam Chisolm is portrayed by Denzel Washington who doesn’t really do anything we haven’t seen from him before. He just delivers the rock solid performance we have come to expect. Chris Pratt also does not vary too much from his known style but its not necessarily a bad thing: he is witty, a little smug and sarcastic, but overall very likable. Ethan Hawke turns in one of the better efforts in the movie as Goodnight Robicheaux. He is emotional and very believable. Byung-Hun Lee is energetic in his action scenes as Billy Rocks. Vincent D’Onofrio turned in a surprising role as mountain man Jack Horne. He was hilarious with his one liners and his delivery. Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier were both more than adequate in their roles. In addition to the outstanding acting in the film there were many other standout features. The set design and costumes were nearly perfect for creating an authentic old west feeling. The action sequences were all done superbly without relying on too much shaky camera work. I appreciated the comedic touches to break from the serious and sometimes slow moments as well.

This movie does not have that many negatives against it but there are a few. There are some slow moments in between the actions scenes and they happen to seem extra slow making the 133 minute run time seem even longer. The movie introduces many characters with not much back story. With so many interesting characters in this film, it would have been nice to have more background information to learn about why they are who they are. During the final shootout I had an issue with the depiction of the gatling gun being such an unstoppable force of destruction. Since gatling guns are most useful in short range situations (under 100 yards) it seems far fetched, even for a movie, that the gun could be so accurate and deadly at 400-500 yards. That obviously did not make me hate this movie but it was a detractor none the less.

Overall I quite liked this movie. It was a nice addition to the end of summer movie experience. The great actors combined with a compelling story line and fast paced action all added up to a fun day at the theaters. This modern version of a classic western earned itself a respectable 2 Apologies and I would definitely recommend it.

Young Frankenstein

I first saw this classic comedy when I was a kid, although I am not quite sure exactly how old I was. What I am sure of is that I was not interested at all in watching it. If not for my father forcing me to watch it, it would probably have been many years before I would have seen it. My opinions have changed greatly since then and I have very fond feelings for this film now. This movie is easily seated among the best comedies of all time and I can’t help but wonder if spoof type comedies would be as popular without this movie leading the way. As Gene Wilder just recently passed away it seemed a fitting time to sit down to re-watch Young Frankenstein and see how many apologies it deserves. Needless to say this review will contain significant spoilers but if you haven’t seen this movie over the past 42 years, then it is long overdue for you to watch it before reading on.

The plot follows Frederick Frankenstein (played terrifically by Gene Wilder) who is a respected doctor, researcher, and lecturer. Frederick works very hard to distinguish himself from his infamous grandfather, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, the mad scientist from Transylvania. He does not like to be associated with his grandfather’s research and even changed how his name was pronounced (Fronk-en-steen). When he learns that his grandfather has passed away and he stands to inherit the family castle, he travels to Transylvania in order to inspect his inheritance and maybe learn a thing or two about his grandfather’s work. Once there he meets his new hump backed servant Igor (masterfully played by Marty Feldman), who comically says his name is pronounced like Eye-gore in response to being told Frankenstein is pronounced Fronkensteen. He then meets his other servant Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman) and his lab assistant Inga (the beautiful Teri Garr) who is fun and flirty and the complete opposite of his boring fiancee (Madeline Kahn). It seems the longer Frederick stays in the castle, the more he can feel a connection with his grandfather. With help from Inga, he discovers Victor’s secret lab and personal library with all his research on reanimation. As he spends time reading through all Victor’s notes and books, Frederick starts to think he can continue his grandfather’s research and even reanimate a dead body! They come up with a plan to steal the gigantic body of a recently executed criminal and implant the brain of a renowned scientist to create a being with great physical strength and superb mental ability. Igor is sent to steal the brain but ends up stealing an abnormal brain that ends up being used in the monster (Peter Boyle). Frederick does succeed in reanimating his corpse, but soon realizes something is not quite right. Igor admits to using a brain from someone named “Abby Normal” which infuriates Frederick. Meanwhile the local townspeople have grown weary of having a Frankenstein back in the castle, since the last one was a mad scientist, and they want him gone. They send Inspector Kemp (Kenneth Mars) to visit Frederick and make sure another Frankenstein monster is not going to happen. During this meeting the monster escapes. Here they hilariously spoof scenes from the original Frankenstein movie with the monster’s interactions with a young girl and then a blind man (cameo by Gene Hackman). Eventually, Frederick and his team recapture the monster and plan a show to reveal his scientific success. It is a hilarious song and dance routine that leaves you laughing no matter how many times you see it. The monster manages to escape again, this time kidnapping Frederick’s visiting fiancee and having his way with her. She does not seem to mind much since the monster is very well endowed and she is superficial. The townspeople become the stereotypical mob with pitchforks and torches and Frederick is forced to take drastic action to save his creation by transferring some of his intellect into his monster. The procedure is a success as the monster is now able to rationalize with the angry mob. Frederick also received some endowment of his own from the monster in the transfer process that made his new wife Inga very happy. His former fiancee is also happily married to the now intellectual monster and everyone enjoys a happy ending.

I have already talked about several of the strengths in this film. The writing by Brooks and Wilder is outstanding with constant jokes flying left and right the entire movie. From subtle humor like Igor’s hump switching sides periodically, to some tasteful sexual humor (what knockers!), and plenty of physical humor gags to balance it all out. The actors all do a phenomenal job of being silly without being over the top all the time. Even the way the film is shot in black and white to appear older than it is was a wonderful directing decision. I also think the scenes that pay homage to the original movie through spoof are a very nice touch.

I don’t really have many negatives for this movie. I did feel that the fiancee was a pretty weak and boring character for how hilarious everyone else was. The only other character that had noticeable flaws in my eyes was Inspector Kemp. He had too many gags involving his prosthetic arm. Even with all the sexual jokes, the scene in which the monster takes advantage of Frederick’s fiancee seems out of place with the good natured feel of the whole film.  I would say the film seems to drag a little too long, despite only having 106 minute run time.

As I said before, this movie is a classic comedy and one of the best comedies of all time. It offers plenty of laughs each time you see it and it is also a refreshing throwback to a time when people were not as concerned with political correctness. I enthusiastically give this movie only 1 Apology in between fits of laughter. Leave a comment with your favorite scene from this movie or another Wilder movie you like!

Rest easy Mr. Wilder and thank you for so many years of entertainment.

-Movie Apologist

Ben-Hur (2016)

Remaking a movie can be a tricky endeavor. Remaking an Academy Award winning movie can be an even trickier endeavor. Remaking a movie that won 11 of those Academy Awards and is listed as #197 on IMDB’s best movie list seems like a nearly impossible task. This movie had a steep mountain to climb before I stepped into the theater and needless to say I did not have very high expectations for it.

This version does not deviate too much from the story we all know. Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) is a Jewish prince who is very close with his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell). As they grow older, Messala is longing to make a name for himself and joins the Roman army. Upon Messala’s return to Jerusalem, he betrays Judah and falsely accuses him of treason against Pontius Pilate. Judah is sent away to slave in the bowels of a ship as a rower for many years. He lets himself become consumed by revenge and anger, and eventually returns to challenge Messala at chariot racing in the arena. Most of that information is known without seeing those movies but if anyone has not seen Ben-Hur from 1959 or this version of Ben-Hur I won’t give away too much else related to the story.

The actors in this version are all respectable in their individual roles but lets be honest, no one is taking home an Oscar. Judah, played by Jack Huston, is leading the way with a strong performance. He shows a wide range of emotion throughout the film and is easily the standout in the film. Toby Kebbell is no slouch in his interpretation of Messala, but I think he is outdone by Huston. The lead actresses all turn in quality roles as well. Esther (Nazanin Boniadi), Naomi Ben-Hur (Ayelet Zurer), and Tirzah Ben-Hur (Sofia Black-D’Elia) all delivered acceptable performances for secondary characters. I can’t recall seeing them in many other roles but they definitely impressed with what they were given to work with. The most well known actor, Morgan Freeman, turns in a pretty standard role as Ilderim, who mentors Judah in the art of chariot racing. Now even though I did call his role standard, that doesn’t mean he was bad. It just means he does the traditional quality job we expect from Morgan Freeman without pushing the envelope too much. Another aspect that was mostly enjoyable about this movie were the special effects and the set design. Almost the entire movie looked gorgeous and the action sequences appeared real enough to cause Mrs. Apologist to squirm on a few occasions.

There is not an abundance of negatives about this film, but the ones it has do manage to hurt the overall rating quite a bit. There are several scenes of what should have been very cool action/battle scenes that just seem wasted with incredibly overused “shaky cam”. The camera moves around so wildly, jumps between extreme zoom ins, and odd angles so many times as the action continues that we begin to lose interest. As good as the actors and actresses mentioned earlier were, there were some very forgettable characters turned in as well. Pontius Pilate (Pilou Asbaek) was a very subdued role for someone that I imagined as much more lively. There were also some minor characters that were badly outperformed and seemed out of place.

Overall I was surprised with the quality in this retelling of Ben-Hur. I headed into the viewing with very low expectations and this movie proved to be better than I would have guessed. A serviceable story, a few  actors, and some entertaining action pieces led to another happy trip to the theater. But for me the drawbacks of the “shaky cam” along with some bland characters dropped this movie down to 5 Apologies, which is a higher rating than I was thinking when the previews were airing.

-Movie Apologist

War Dogs (spoiler free)

I developed an interest in seeing this movie at the very first viewing of the trailer. Seeing the trailer several more times during our recent trips to our local AMC Theater only increased our desire to see it. The movie shows strengths even before actually seeing it: two young talented actors (Jonah Hill, Miles Teller), a quality director in Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Starsky & Hutch, Old School), and an interesting plot line that is based on true events. Those all added up to some pretty high expectations heading into the showing.

The film plot follows the true stories of David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli and their rise from low level gun deals all the way up to landing a $300 million deal with the Pentagon. David (played by Miles Teller) is trying to provide for a nice life for himself and his girlfriend. He works as a massage therapist and has an idea to sell luxury bed sheets. Efraim (Jonah Hill) is his best friend from childhood who now has a small business dealing weapons to the US government and its allies. As they begin to work together, their jobs and personal lives get more complicated. It kept me drawn in waiting to see what would happen next. There are plenty of tense moments along the way with some humor mixed in to keep it light-hearted. I actually never heard about the true events this movie is based from before seeing the movie. Without having any knowledge of said events before hand, I think that worked in my favor and lead to a more enjoyable film experience because the plot unfolded as the director and authors intended it to unfold.

This movie offers its fair share of strengths. As mentioned before the two young stars really steal the show. Miles Teller does a good job as David, just doing whatever he can to provide for his family. He is likable and believable in that role. He makes it easy to feel what he goes through from scene to scene. He seems authentic, making David’s story feel so much more tangible. Hill turns in a tour de force performance as Efraim. He absolutely nails the role with his personality and style. This role is one of his best in his acting career. The director, Todd Phillips, did a outstanding job overseeing a more serious movie than he is typically known. With his film history, I expected the movie to be a little more aimed at the comedy side, but was very pleased that it was more dramatic. He did work in some funny scenes and dialogue to keep the movie fresh. Several scenes had outstanding cinematography. I do not want to delve too much into the scenes and give anything away just yet but feel free to give a more detailed opinion in the comments below. I also thought it was a nice touch to have the movie broken down into sections with little chapter title cards, if you will, to give us a taste with what may be coming up. It was something that was relatively minor but ended up making this movie stand out among its competition this summer.

The negatives against this movie may not be the biggest ones you’ll find in a summer movie, but they are there nonetheless. It does not avoid the pitfalls of cliche story telling. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything for potential viewers, so I won’t go into too many details. Another negative about this movie is it may not be exactly what viewers expect it to be. The combination of the trailer showing some comedy and the director’s film history can lead people to believe they are seeing a more of a comedy. It definitely has some comedy elements and some humorous scenes but overall it has more of a drama feel. I personally don’t think its a that much of a negative that the movie is more drama than comedy, but it was a little unexpected.

I really enjoyed War Dogs as a whole. I liked the actors, the story, and the cinematography. As it sits right now, War Dogs has the top spot as my favorite movie of the summer. I enthusiastically give this movie only 1 1/2 Apologies and I highly recommend it.

-Movie Apologist

The Departed

When you think of a modern classic movie, what comes to mind? I would hope that The Departed winds up on the short list in most of your minds. This movie combines everything you would want: a phenomenal cast playing the perfect characters, fantastic story line, well paced action, believable emotions, and some very well placed humor. It is currently sitting as #43 on the best movie list on IMDB, which I personally think is much too low. It has been a favorite of mine for 10 years now. This review may contain spoilers so I do recommend watching it first, coming back to read this, and leaving your thoughts below!

The Departed at its most basic level is about crime and corruption. The two sides involved are the Massachusetts State Police and an Irish gang led by Frank Costello (played masterfully by the great Jack Nicholson). The other two main characters in the story are Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon). Billy is an undercover police officer assigned to infiltrate Costello’s gang, while Colin is working as a mole within the department for Costello. As both Billy and Colin advance up the ladder of their respective groups, it becomes easier to see how the stress of leading double lives is breaking them down. Both the police and Costello have become aware of a rat working for the enemy and attempt to increase their efforts in identifying said rat. The plot moves swiftly along for the entire 151 minute run time. Honestly, it really does not feel that long because you are actively captivated for the duration. I do not want to spoil the entire movie for those who have not seen it, but trust me when I say that it packs quite a punch.

The strengths in this film are quite numerous. The cast is easily one of the strongest casts assembled. Besides the aforementioned three, (DiCaprio, Damon, Nicholson) we also have Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, Ray Winstone, Anthony Anderson, and Alec Baldwin for our viewing pleasure. In addition to having great actors, the character portrayals are far from boring cardboard cutouts. It is wonderful to see how they all interact with each other. It feels very genuine and authentic. Another aspect I enjoyed about the characters and the dialogue was how they weaved so much humor throughout all the seriousness of the movie. It was quite refreshing to have the comedic breaks since without it the movie would be even more intense than it already is. As I mentioned before, despite the rather long run time, it travels right along quickly and does not drag during any scene.

I really don’t have any true weaknesses for this movie. The only real complaint is that I have a love/hate relationship with Colin Sullivan’s character played by Matt Damon. He is so easy to hate but that is only because he plays the character so well. Even that could really be listed as a strength since it takes some talent to create such disdain.

It was easy for me to decide on a rating for such an epic movie. With all the strengths stacked up against the lone negative (which is really another strength) the rating chose itself: 0 Apologies! This movie is cinematic perfection and rightly deserves a spot in everyone’s DVD/BluRay collection.

-Movie Apologist

 

Sausage Party (Spoiler Free)

I was pretty excited to see this movie after first noticing the previews. It fits into a genre that doesn’t often have many options for us grown up movie goers, since mostly kid and family friendly films dominate the box office. When viewing the uncensored preview for this movie it was easy to see what we were getting ourselves into: foul language, crude humor, sexual innuendos, and animated food violence.

There are many strengths within Sausage Party. The cast is one of the main selling points with very solid comedy minds coming together: Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Selma Hayek, Edward Norton, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, Nick Kroll, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and Kristen Wiig make up the majority of the characters with some playing multiple roles. I really got a kick out of the voice acting and despite being an animated film, it was easy to appreciate the talent on display. In addition to the strong voices, there is some surprising humor packed into this party. I was not expecting to see many, if any, intelligent jokes during the 89 minute run time but I was proven wrong. There are plethora of jokes and jabs thrown into this script that some people may miss but they fit right in and help balance out the vulgarity of the rest of the movie. Obviously there is plenty of juvenile, dirty, sexual, “toilet humor” if you will, but even the majority of that is delivered well and I found myself laughing with the rest of the crowd. Anytime you give Seth Rogen the green light on an R rated movie about talking food, you should know there will be plenty of lowbrow comedy. Another thing I was not sure of heading into the showing was the plot. I really didn’t think they could write enough story to last for an entire movie. Once again, I was suprised by Rogen and company. I don’t want to spoil too much for those who have not seen the movie. The story follows Frank the sausage (Seth Rogen) and Brenda the bun (Kristen Wiig) on their lives within the grocery store where they live and the desire of all the food to reach “the great beyond” with the “gods” (humans). I won’t divulge any more information about the adventure but it was unanticipated with how well the story kept me interested.

While I was impressed with the various strengths, this movie does have several weaknesses and they are glaring. There is an opening musical number which starts out strong and funny but seemed to carry on too long and I began to lose hope in the movie as a whole. Even though majority of the humor is strong, there are plenty of parts that try too hard to be funny through shock value. These scenes push past the boundary of joyful tomfoolery and into vulgar buffoonery. Again I do not want to spoil anything but when you see the movie maybe you will understand. If you happen to disagree, leave a comment with your thoughts and discuss! With all the strengths in the story line, the ending was among the weak points. I thought the movie was going to end with an acceptable movie ending but the writers had other ideas it seems and the movie extended for several minutes that didn’t add any value.

Overall this movie presents a mixed bag. It has laughable moments mixed in with some cringe worthy moments. It has a fairly solid story that sometimes gets a little wayward. If your desire is to have a relatively quick (well under 2 hours) laugh with minimal thinking involved then Sausage Party may be for you. If you are easily offended then you probably aren’t interested anyway and should stay away. Sausage Party had some potential to distinguish itself as a higher quality juvenile humor animated film but didn’t quite deliver on all fronts. I will give it 5 Apologies but the filmmakers offer none of their own.

Leave your thoughts on the movie below!

-Movie Apologist

Captain America: Civil War

This review may contain spoilers, if you have not watched Captain America: Civil War, I recommend to stop reading and go watch it. Then come back and read and leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Right now is a wonderful time for fans of comic books and super heroes. We seem to have an endless stream of film choices out currently and even more coming out and in development. Marvel has a plethora of fans and has a solid lead in the sheer number of movies released in the last few years. Marvel is more than just volume when it comes to their movies: the fantastic quality is what really stands out. The Avengers universe has top the charts, but lets focus on on hero today. Looking specifically at the Captain America movies we see a trend happening: each one is even better than the previous entry. Civil War had some hype built up, just like each movie before it, but it delivered on almost all levels.

This movie was absolutely outstanding and very enjoyable. Someone who hasn’t seen the other movies (I’m not sure such a person exists) can watch this and still have a blast, but obviously it helps to see them all. While the title of the movie only has Captain’s name in it, this movie certainly has a large cast of super heroes.

The plot has the government, and most of the world, growing weary of the Avengers acting without consequences and wants to institute heavy regulations. Captain America/Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans) strongly disagrees with government regulation while Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) is experiencing massive guilt at his own actions, and those actions by the Avengers, which leads him to fully support regulation. This creates a split within the Avengers and two “teams” emerge. Siding against regulation with Captain are his old friend and former enemy Bucky/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). Their affiliation with Bucky brands them criminals in Iron Man’s eyes since he still holds Bucky responsible for past criminal acts. Iron Man gathers heroes to form his own team to uphold peace. His team is War Machine (Don Cheadle), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Vision (Paul Betany), and Spider-Man (Tom Holland). This movie has plenty more story to pair with the brewing war, alongside the moral divide, Colonel Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) is on a mission to control Winter Soldier through mind control and destroy the Avengers.

Let’s talk about the some of the things I loved about this movie. As noted above, the plot is strong and keeps you invested throughout the film. A good story can easily be defeated by weak characters and/or weak actors. Fortunately for us, we have amazing characters played by incredible actors. I do not feel that any of the actors hold the movie back, but there are a few that excelled and stood above the rest. Sebastion Stan, Robert Downey Jr, and Tom Holland are each spectacular in their roles. There are plenty of rabid fans waiting for Holland to star in his own stand alone Spider-Man movie (July 2017) and he showed he can hold his own in a movie full of big name stars. The action is captured well with several cool fight scenes: Black Panther/Winter Soldier/Captain America have an intense combat and chase sequence. One of the biggest scenes in the movie is the airport battle between both sides. All the heroes are gathered and thrown into a massive battle royal. While the action is expected in a super hero movie, humor is sometimes neglected. This movie packs plenty of one-liners and stirs in comedy to lighten the sometimes dark mood. Something we all know Marvel to do particularly well, but it was exceptional in this case.

There is much to love about this movie but there are a few things that lacked the wow-factor. The director was infatuated with shaky camera work during the fights and chases. I can only assume it was to add “impact” to the brawls, however it is so overly shaky that people who suffer from any degree of motion sickness will feel disoriented quickly. Those who do not mind some shaky camera work will even find it excessive. True to the Avenger style, Civil War is not a short movie. At 147 minutes long it can present issues to those who ordered the jumbo size fountain drink, but don’t want to miss any of the action.

Even the few negatives can’t detract from the immense quality of Civil War. This movie is among the best movies in the entire Marvel cinematic universe and among the best super hero movies of all time. As of now, it is my favorite of the Avengers Universe and earns only 1 Apology. I can’t wait for more of the movies in the Avengers universe to be released.

-Movie Apologist

Suicide Squad (Spoiler Free)

For comic book fans and super hero fans alike, there has been such hype generated for this movie in the years since it was announced. But when the movie finally came out, it did not receive the kindest reviews from movie critics. That does not seem to have stopped us fans from flocking to the theaters to see it. Like most fans, I did my best to not let the negative views affect my desire to see this movie and I was still very excited for it’s debut. After seeing it, I can say that the hate it received was not deserved. I want to express what I liked and didn’t like about the movie without giving anything away.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the movie and do recommend comic book and super hero fans to see it and share their own thoughts (please share opinions in the comments section below, but keep this review spoiler free for now).  Suicide Squad didn’t have that same feeling as many other super hero movies: organize super heroes together and have them save the day. The big difference is that the main characters are not heroes, they are villains being recruited to try to do some good.

These villainous characters are the main stars here and they deliver a fun experience. A character is only as good as the actor who is playing them, and lucky for us, we have a really good cast. The Joker, played by Jared Leto, is always an interesting character. The Joker has been played in the past by some very talented actors (Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Mark Hamill) which would seem to leave some big clown shoes to fill. Each actor has played the Joker with a touch of their own flair and Leto definitely adds his touch. He tiptoes down the line of perfect insanity and being too over the top but manages to stay perfectly insane. Margot Robbie does an unbelievable job as Harley Quinn. She absolutely nails the character from dramatic, wild-eye facial expressions to wacky speech to the physical appearance of someone committed. She steals the show and is supremely entertaining to watch with her insanity and spouts of comic relief. I also thought Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag and Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang turned in very strong performances as well.

The action sequences were well done. They did not have that shaky camera work that Marvel seems to love in their films. The plot does follow a pretty standard formula for a hero movie but it is serviceable. While I did enjoy the movie and thought it was an overall positive experience, it is not a perfect movie. There are some drawbacks that I will briefly go over without ruining any of the movie. It is not an overly long movie at 2 hours 3 minutes however it seemed to drag on. As much as I loved certain characters, there are plenty of characters that were weak and forgettable. I don’t want to say which ones at this point so I’ll let you decide that on your own.

I do look forward to the DVD/BluRay release with what I hope will be an unrated/rated R director’s cut. In the meantime we have this version which delivers quality action, some laughs, and manages to exceed the critic reviews.

This movie earned 2 1/2 Apologies. 

-Movie Apologist

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

I can remember seeing this movie in theaters and now it’s celebrating a 10 year anniversary, seems like a fitting time to write a review about it. This review may contain spoilers. I know not everyone is a Will Ferrell fan, but this movie is definitely one of his best efforts. The first scene sets the tone and lets you know what kind of movie you are about to watch. It is about a Nascar driver, Ricky Bobby and his rise, fall, and then rise again in the sport.

Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is a fantastic character. He is big, bold, brash, and hilariously stupid. His exchanges and interactions with his best friend and teammate Cal Naughton Jr (John C. Reilly) make up some of the best parts of the movie. One of my favorite scenes is after Cal moves into Ricky’s home and Ricky is living with his mom. Ricky is upset that Cal has betrayed their friendship by stealing his wife and home, but Cal still wants to be friends. Cal calls Ricky and is asking him how to have the stereo on at the same time as he’s watching tv, Ricky asks him why and Cal says “I like to party”. It cracks me up every time. Ricky keeps trying to end the phone call since he’s mad at Cal, Cal keeps extending the conversation. Ricky just exclaims “why am I still talking to you man?!” It is such a relatable situation, friends mad at each other and yet still sucked into conversation. We can laugh at that. What tops the hilarity of this scene is the level of dumb in the question Cal uses to initiate the conversation.

Another classic scene is when Ricky crashes his car and believes he is on fire. He strips down to just his underwear and helmet comically fast and is running around as he would if he were actually on fire. Cal leaves his car and rushes to “save” his him from the invisible fire. The ridiculousness in this whole scene leaves the commentators in the movie, as well as the viewers of the movie, to just sit back in awe and laugh. The film is saturated with scenes such as this, dramatic and comedic interpretations of Nascar culture and lifestyle, openly mocking the stereotypes.

Beyond just Ferrell and Reilly there are a number of high quality characters each played very well by the actors and actresses. Specifically, I enjoyed the contributions from Jane Lynch and Gary Cole as Ricky’s parents. They did not have the biggest roles but the scripts and humor fit the tone. Sasha Baron Cohen plays the main antagonist Jean Girard, a Formula One racer who was hired to beat Ricky. Sasha is known to play wild and crazy characters in his other movies and was appropriately cast for this unique character. He dialed back his usual intensity so as not to over shadow the main character. Overall it is a very enjoyable and funny movie, however it is definitely not what you would call a “smart comedy”. This is stupid humor but it will put a smile on your face over and over again.

Talladega Nights earns itself a very solid rating of  2 Apologies.

Suicide Squad

I am very excited to see this movie! Got my tickets for Sunday and I cannot wait to see it and write a review for everyone. I have seen some of the negative reviews out already but that has not deterred me in my desire to see the movie. All the characters are very interesting and I am anxious to see how they translate to the big screen. The cast looks pretty good with Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, and Joel Kinnaman. So I will definitely put together a review Sunday after I see it. Talk to you all later

  • Movie Apologist