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.

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

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

The Accountant (spoiler free)

As we exit the summer blockbuster movie season we can sometimes lower our expectations for entertainment at the theaters. Luckily for us, The Accountant does not allow itself to take advantage of those lowered expectations: it delivers fast paced action, a taut storyline, and talented actors to bring it all together. I never thought I would be excited to see a movie based on an accountant but I was very excited to see this movie as the previews looked excellent! I will try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible but I do recommend treading carefully if you have not seen the movie yet.

The movie starts with a pretty simple plot as we learn that Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is an accountant even though he has a form of autism which affects his ability to interact with other people. Despite his condition he seems to make a very good living uncooking the books for various criminal organizations. A junior accountant (Anna Kendrick) at a medical prosthetic company seems to have found an error in the books with a very large sum of missing money. As Christian takes on his new client we learn that he has been on the radar of the US Treasury Department for several years. Ray King (JK Simmons), Director of Financial Crimes at the Treasury, is nearing his retirement and wants to amp up the effort to identify and capture the man they call “The Accountant”. They have little information about him beyond the fact that he does the books for very dangerous people and somehow manages to survive. But as the Treasury department tries to close in on their target and as Christian dives deeper into his assignment we get more into the story as the mystery unfolds.

I really enjoyed this movie as a whole. It has several strengths to stand on. Most of the actors are excellent. Ben Affleck turns in a very strong performance as an accountant with high functioning autism. He was smart, tough, and funny though sometimes unintentionally. JK Simmons is a well respected actor and delivers a no nonsense turn as Director of Financial Crimes. He does not do anything out of the ordinary but is consistently solid. The action scenes are fast and sometimes brutal but help deliver that kick of adrenaline that helps move this movie along during the story setup. Though the pacing can be a little slow at times, it uses these moments to develop the characters and the story into more of a mystery instead of just a basic shoot-em-up action flick. Though not a major twist, there is a pleasent twist that I did not see coming! They also mixed in some humor to keep the movie from becoming too serious.

There are not too many drawbacks for this film but indeed there are a few. Anna Kendrick does not offer much value as Dana Cummings, the junior accountant who discovers some anomalies in the books at the robotics company she works for. Beyond that one contribution she wears thin on the patience of the audience. I was also disappointed with John Lithgow as I really appreciate most of his work and I felt he didn’t have as much freedom to deliver a complex character that could match his talent level. Even though I enjoyed the story and was surprised by one of the plot twists, I did find it to be slightly predictable at times.

This movie really hit the mark for what I was in the mood to see. The action, story telling and quality acting made this stand out from other standard action movies that rely on over the top action with cheesy lines and no plot what so ever. I give “The Accountant” an excellent rating of 1 Apology and would absolutely recommend it to everyone who enjoys a movie with brains and brawn. This was a very good start to the fall movie season and hopefully it sets the table for many more entertaining trips to the theater for the rest of the year. Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts on the movie below!

  • Movie Apologist

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

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