Showing posts with label Morgan Freeman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Morgan Freeman. Show all posts

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Now You See Me

For weeks, the cinema chain I pay my £14.99 to each month for unlimited movies has been teasing its clientele with the promise of a Secret Unlimited Screening. This one off, top secret screening would be open, free of charge to anyone with an Unlimited Card but the film was to be kept a secret. All we knew was that it would be a 12A Certificate movie and that it was being screened, across the country for one night only at 8:30pm, long ahead of its UK theatrical release. The brilliant marketing behind the scheme insured excitement, anticipation, discussion and a full cinema on a Monday evening for a movie which turned out to be Now You See Me. My initial reaction was one of slight disappointment as I was hoping for something like Pacific Rim which hadn’t been released anywhere else in the world for the selfish reason that a review would drive more traffic to this very page. I’d heard a couple of good things about Now You See Me from the States though so eagerly settled in for the next two hours.

Now you See Me is a heist movie in the vague style of the Oceans movies in that someone (a mastermind whose identity is unknown), draws together a group of experts in their fields to carry out heists on an epic scale. The difference here though is that the individuals chosen aren’t safe crackers, getaway drivers, contortionists or Matt Damon but are magicians. Their heists will involve magic and illusion to steal from banks and companies chosen by their puppet master. On the trail of the magicians is FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) who is teamed, much to his disliking, with Interpol agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent). Together the pair chases magicians Daniel (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt (Woody Harrelson), Henly (Isla Fisher) & Jack (Dave Franco) across the United States from show to show, always remaining two steps behind their cunning and trickery.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


I’m a big fan of clever, great looking science fiction but wasn’t really excited by the prospect of the latest Tom Cruise vehicle, Oblivion. The trailer seemed to suggest the great looks but gave little indication of the ideas to back up the visuals. I was wrong. Oblivion is a film which I enjoyed much more than I anticipated and as an overall package is a pretty decent film. It’s 2077 and the Earth has been partially destroyed by a war between humans and an alien force known as Scavengers. Although we won the war, we couldn’t save the planet as the use of atomic weapons left it mostly uninhabitable. With most of humanity relocated to Titan and the rest aboard an orbiting space station awaiting their departure, the last two people on Earth live above the clouds and form a skeleton crew in charge of maintaining drones which protect vital sea based energy converters from the few remaining Scavs.

Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is drone mechanic 49 who spends his days servicing downed drones while dodging the occasional Scav attack. His partner is Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) who monitors Jack from the clouds and she reports back to Control (Melissa Leo) aboard the orbiting space station. Jack finds himself suffering unusual flashbacks to a time before his birth and when a craft crashes into his sector he discovers that its only survivor is the woman from his flashback dreams. As Jack uncovers new and disturbing evidence after an encounter with the Scavs, it appears that all is not what it seems on Earth. Oblivion isn’t a fantastic film but when science fiction blockbusters these days are either comic book based or just loud, shouty, exploding Michael Bay style affairs, Oblivion harks back to the 1970s period of sci-fi about ideas which are set in a fleshed out and realistic world. Oblivion not only looks brilliant but has an engaging plot which is full of surprises.

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Spoiler Free

The final part of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy finds Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) broken, physically and mentally, eight years on from the events of The Dark Knight. Wayne has become a recluse, staying away from the limelight both as a Billionaire playboy and masked vigilante. Wayne is temped out of retirement though through a combination of curiosity about a wily cat burglar called Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and the threat of a powerful anarchist named Bane (Tom Hardy).

I’ve never been as much of a fan of Nolan’s Batman films as some people although I did like Batman Begins and really enjoyed The Dark Knight. Going in I’d avoided all spoilers and reviews but expected that I would enjoy the film. I was wrong though. I didn’t just enjoy it but thought it was one of the best, if not the best film I’ve seen so far this year. Nothing prepared me for just how good this film is.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Deep Impact

High School amateur astronomer Leo (Elijah Wood) discovers a comet on a collision course for Earth but he doesn’t realise it and sends his photos to an observatory where the find is undiscovered for several months. Meanwhile, reporter Jenny Lerner (Tea Leoni) believes she has a scoop regarding a sex scandal but has actually stumbled upon E.L.E. the Extinction Level Event comet which is on course to strike the Earth. To attempt to combat the comet, the USA and Russia build a space ship which is landed on the comet’s surface to drill nuclear bombs deep under its surface in an attempt to blow it up and save mankind.

It’s unfortunate for Deep Impact that it was released during the same summer as Armageddon, a film which is probably better remembered, cost twice as much and had a better known cast. That being said, Deep Impact comes off well against the aforementioned film. It’s CGI has held up well and the various family goodbyes are very emotional. The plot unfolds at a decent pace and features a couple of twists. On the downside there are some quite sizable holes. Firstly, it is extremely unlikely that an amateur astronomer would discover a comet heading for earth, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. Even if they did, the observatory they sent their discovery to would have more than one staff member and it would be thoroughly studied. Another problem is that if we were facing the end of the world, why would the Government only build one space ship? With all of the world’s resources at their disposal, why not build two and send them up a few days apart for backup? News network MSNBC also makes Tea Leoni their lead anchor for the biggest story in history despite never having done it before. How unlikely it that?!

The acting was mixed. I thought that Elijah Wood was alright and his girlfriend Sarah (Leelee Sobieski) was excellent. She bought a lot of emotion and sadness to some scenes. The crew of the space ship which featured Robert Duvall, Jon Favreau, Blair Underwood and Ron Eldard were all fine. They were all convincing as astronauts. Morgan Freeman was convincing and comforting as the US President although his main job appeared to be explaining the plot. It is a shame that lead actress Tea Leoni is so disappointing as it is extremely rare that an actress has such a pivotal role in an action-disaster movie. I didn’t feel that her performance was convincing as a reporter and she appeared to have little emotion given the circumstances. Overall I think that director Mimi Leder created an average disaster movie which is in no way great but passes a couple of hours. Leder’s record breaking success with the film however, (this was the highest grossing female directed film until 2008’s Twilight) is a damming statistic on the number of female directors working in Hollywood.


Saturday, 18 February 2012


Outbreak came at a time before infection type disaster movies were the mainstay of Hollywood. Since 9/11, film makers have shied away from the terrorist type disaster movies of the 1980s and 90s and films such as 28 Days Later, Rec and Contagion have taken over from the likes of Die Hard and The Siege. So Outbreak was perhaps slightly ahead of its time. I am too young to remember its initial release in 1995 but I can imagine that its actors were as big a draw as they are today with some of them at the height of their careers. Morgan Freeman features, a year after The Shawshank Redemption, Cuba Gooding Jr was a year away from his Oscar win for Jerry Maguire and Kevin Spacey had appeared in Seven and The Usual Suspects in the same year. With the additions of Dustin Hoffman and Donald Sutherland, this film is the definition of an all star cast.

The film is about a virus that is found in Zaire which later turns up in a small town in California. It has mutated and infected the town’s population and a team of military scientists which includes Dustin Hoffman and Cuba Gooding Jr must battle both the virus and the military to save the town and possibly America itself.

The plot is fairly formulaic with few surprises. Due to the nature of the story there is also little peril. At one point, the President orders the infected town to be bombed but you know this will never happen in a mainstream Hollywood movie. In another scene, Hoffman and Gooding Jr are in apparent danger when a plane is on course to hit their helicopter but again, you know this won’t happen. I think this is where films such as 28 Days Later and Children of Men have an edge as the danger feels more real and the characters more at risk. The film also features a lot of plot explanation which gave me the feeling that the writers thought the audience was too dumb to understand certain parts of the script. There was one very good plot device in which the outbreak of the virus in the Californian town happened in a cinema which I thought would have increased a cinema audience’s fright/enjoyment.

Kevin Spacey after being shown the finished film

Considering the film contained such an esteemed cast I didn’t feel like any one of them excelled. Either they cancelled each other out, weren’t trying very hard or the script and direction didn’t allow for any great performances. I have a feeling it is down to a mixture of the last two.

The film hasn’t aged too badly considering it is now seventeen years old and one of the two countries in which it is set no longer exists but this is a nuts and bolts disaster movie with a cast that promises a better film than it delivers.


Wednesday, 1 February 2012


Clint Eastwood directs, produces and stars in this 1992 Western which won four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. While I personally don’t think it is a great film it is certainly a good film. Eastwood plays William Munny, an ex gunslinger who has put his past behind him to raise his two young children singlehandedly after the death of his wife. Meanwhile in a small town in Wyoming, a young prostitute is attacked by a drunken customer. Her fellow prostitutes raise $1,000 as a reward for the person who can kill her attacker. Eastwood is approached by the ‘Schofield Kid’, played by Jaimz Woolvett, who asks Munny to join him on one last ride out. Munny also persuades his old partner Ned Logan, played by Morgan Freeman, to accompany him.

When I think Cowboy, I think Clint Eastwood

The strength of the film lies in Eastwood’s directing and in the superb acting. Eastwood creates a tense and claustrophobic atmosphere despite the film being set in mostly large open spaces. Eastwood plays Munny with great precision. His looks could kill and his rough voice and tired appearance create a feeling that he is too old for killing but he is capable of turning these perceptions on their head in a matter of seconds with his ability to quick-draw and shoot down anyone who stands in his way. Gene Hackman is also excellent as the Sherriff whose job it is to run Munny and his gang out of town. He is arrogant and sure of himself despite flaws which become apparent as the film unfolds. Frances Fisher is strong as the Madame prostitute behind the $1,000 bounty whereas Morgan Freeman just appears to be along for the ride.

Beautiful title shot

Where I feel the film is let down is its length. At 131 minutes long, it feels much longer. I also felt that the character of ‘English Bob’ played by the late Richard Harris was unnecessary and detracted from the main story of the film.

While Unforgiven is now considered to be a classic of the Western genre and although I liked it, I didn’t like it as much as most other people seem to.