Tag Archives: Morgan Freeman

Outbreak (1995) 3.57/5 (5)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 67.6
Genre: Thriller, Action
Duration: 127 mins
Director: Wolfgang Peterson
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Donald Sutherland

Wolfgang Peterson’s star-studded thriller proves yet another mainstream success for 1990’s cinema as Dustin Hoffman’s USAMRID Colonel attempts to stay ahead of a lethal virus which is laying waste to a small California town. With former wife and CDC big-wig (Rene Russo) in tow alongside his own team (an Oscar-laden Kevin Spacey and Cuba Gooding Jr.), they go about town disobeying orders from their shadowy superiors, breaking quarantine, and any number of other drastic measures in the hope of manufacturing an antibody before Donald Sutherland’s nasty General destroys the whole town – simply to keep the virus for his own biological weapons programme! It’s a sweeping popcorn movie expertly crafted to draw every bit of tension out of an old plot and infused with all manner of personality, chemistry, and light humour by that glittering cast. Hoffman, in particular, seems to be enjoying himself no end while Russo shows yet again that she can not only hold her own next to any A-Lister in the business but enhance both of their performances with that endearing rapport she seems to so easily generate. Sutherland is the straight bad guy but Morgan Freeman gets his teeth into an altogether more textured role as the General who discovers that duty and honour make for poor bedfellows. Throw in a couple of cracking helicopter chases and a last minute dash to stop the town’s imminent destruction and you’ve got a decent night in front of the box.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015
Guilty Pleasures

Oblivion (2013) 3.5/5 (2)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Ugly – 66.1
Genre: Science Fiction
Duration: 124 mins
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Stars: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough

Take Moon, 2001, Omega Man, Silent Running, The Matrix, Planet of the Apes, Logan’s Run, Star Wars, and practically any other science fiction movie of the last 50 years, mix and match their plot points, add a bold yet rather pretty score and you get Oblivion. Tom Cruise and Andrea Riseborough play a couple of technicians entrusted to maintain the drones and water harvesters of a post-apocalyptic Earth so that the remnants of the human race can build a new life on the moon Titan. When the Cruiser happens across (literally) the woman from his dreams one day, he begins to suspect that all is not what it seems with his life and incurs the wrath of who or whatever has been issuing him his orders these last few years. To accuse Joseph Kosinski’s movie or his own graphic novel that it’s based on of being derivative is kind of redundant for so overt is the derivation that, structurally, it seems more akin to an exhaustive homage to the great science fiction of cinema. That it doesn’t function like a homage but a strange exercise in script construction is where the problem lies. So familiar are all the elements to the plot and premise that those source movies veritably intrude on Oblivion’s own attempt at a narrative to the point that we find ourselves struggling to feel engaged. Kosinski has certainly made a beautiful looking film though, a crisp fusion of old school cinematography and CGI punctuated with wide angle moments of grandeur worthy of the writer-director’s overall ambition. But while Riseborough manages to make her character work with a wonderfully creepy turn as Cruise’s paramour, the antiseptic nature of his character gives him little room to shine. Thus, we miss the presence he normally brings to his movies leaving Oblivion a rather cold movie to behold. For sci-fi fans, there’s much in the way of interest here but just noting to get our teeth into.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015
James-McAvoy-Wesley-Gibson-wanted-1663000-1680-1050

Wanted (2008) 3.19/5 (3)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Ugly – 60
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Duration: 110 mins
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Stars: Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman

It might seem redundant to state that a movie about a secret cult of weavers turned assassins is at best a guilty pleasure but so derivative is this one that it really does need saying. With its comic book premise that itself was cobbled together from dozens of better sources and with a sprinkle of madcap mayhem, James McAvoy stars as a painfully ordinary nobody who, after Angelina Jolie shows up to repeatedly beat the crap out of him, discovers his birthright is to be a super-assassin and avenge his similarly employed father. Absurdly obscure superpowers considered and colourless bad guy aside, this one kind of skirts along of the far boundaries of tolerance thanks to the rollercoaster of fun it serves up. So detached is it from making sense that you’ll gladly just give in and absorb the bullet-bending, car-flipping carnage and chuckle at the few decent jokes they manage to cram in between. McAvoy’s boyish charm helps a lot and when Jolie isn’t doing her smug “I-know-something-that-you-don’t” face, she cuts another fine action heroine. Together, they are fine but don’t expect the chemistry of Ford and Fisher. Noteworthy in his presence is Morgan Freeman who pops up in a (not atypically) curious cameo too but to little effect because Wanted is McAvoy and Jolie’s bag.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014

Seven (1995) 4/5 (1)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 74.2
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Duration: 127 mins
Director: David Fincher
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey

Not the crime masterpiece some would have you believe but David Fincher’s dark thriller about two homicide detectives searching for a killer who’s crimes reflect the seven deadly sins is nonetheless a strong effort that still packs a punch. The drawback, however, is that the film has too strong a sense of itself which at all times seems to drive the narrative instead of the other way around. As such, it often veers into cliche and melodrama concerning the hopelessness of humanity etc, etc. Thankfully, the integrity of the performances and the graininess of Fincher’s direction does help to attenuate this problem, somewhat. Fincher was still in his angsty punk-cinema phase so we have lots of edgy direction and gritty force but we also have signs of the more mature and disciplined director he was to become as he frames and paces his story immaculately. Brad Pitt is interesting and enjoyable as the cocky young detective while Morgan Freeman is excellent as the more seasoned and disillusioned detective. It’s not always easy to watch due to scenes of graphic and implied gore but it’s worth doing so if only for the dramatic close this film comes to.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014

Gone Baby Gone (2007) 3.86/5 (1)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 74.3
Genre: Crime, Thriller, Mystery
Duration: 114 mins
Director: Ben Affleck
Stars: Casey Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris

Ben Affleck turned many heads with this thoughtful and deftly crafted tale of two private investigators searching their local neighbourhood for traces of an abducted little girl. There are many things that make this film work so well but the writing, casting, and decision to make the working class Bostonian neighbourhoods so central to the story are paramount. Affleck co-wrote the script with Aaron Stockard and it’s fair to say that the result is one of the most insightful and authentic sounding screenplays. The cast of (mostly local) actors are just as integral to this authenticity as their accent, attitude, and mannerisms reel the audience in their world one scene at a time. Affleck captures the feel of the streets perfectly never missing a chance to contrast their geography and identity with the big city which is ever looming in the background of the interluding shots. The central characters are played with real authority too with Casey Affleck and Ed Harris being supremely engaging in very different ways. Ben’s younger brother is proving to be one hell of a unique character actor who never fails to make his unusual voice work for his characters. He leads the cast brilliantly here and being a local boy himself is never better than when he’s interacting with the locals. Ed Harris is equally interesting as the seasoned detective who Affleck and his partner Michelle Monaghan must work with. There are times when the freshness of the dialogue threatens to sound more important than the story but they always reign it in before it gets that far. The story of the missing girl never leaves the audience’s mind even though there are an array of other things going on and at all times it’s dealt with maturity and intelligence. The clever writing develops the plot into a well above average mystery thriller and there are some lightning quick moments of action and terror that are dealt with in the guttiest of ways. Kudos to all involved for sticking to their guns when it came to the decisions Hollywood normally balks at. Gone Baby Gone could stand to be 10-15 minutes shorter but in the main this is a terrific and unique thriller which reflects well on all involved.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014

Unforgiven (1992) 4.37/5 (5)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 78.4
Genre: Western
Duration: 131 mins
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Gene HackmanMorgan Freeman

Clint Eastwood’s undisputed directorial and acting masterpiece is one of the great revisionist westerns thanks largely to David Webb Peoples’ (Blade Runner) sublime screenplay. Eastwood stars as a former murderous and feared outlaw, William Munny, who changed his ways due to his wife’s staunch influence. When hard times hit upon him and his children, he reluctantly accepts an offer to track and gun down two men who disfigured a prostitute. The dark journey he undertakes sees him slowly transform back into the man he once was building up to one of the grittiest showdowns in western history as he and the sheriff (Gene Hackman’s nasty Little Bill) eventually lock horns. Unforgiven quite ingeniously plays on a mythological level despite its simultaneous forensic deconstruction of the western mythology. The story is replete with salty outlaws, each one more formidable than the last, and all going head to head in various memorable encounters. There are some real heavy hitters on the acting front with Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris significantly adding to the presence which Eastwood and Hackman provide. Hackman was given one of the best roles of his career and Eastwood was probably never better. The direction is inspired (not something one could always say about Eastwood’s movies) and in those moments when camera and dialogue come together seamlessly (such as the moment when Eastwood finally turns into “William Munny”) there are few western scenes that can compete.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014

Red (2010) 2.29/5 (3)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 64.2
Genre: Comedy, Action
Duration: 111 mins
Director: Robert Schwentke
Stars: Bruce Willis, Helen MirrenMorgan Freeman

Enjoyable espionage romp about a group of retired CIA agents led by Bruce Wills and including John Malcovich, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren. After a very good opening, Red repeatedly threatens to be quirkier and wittier than your average Hollywood comedy but never actually manages to pull it off. The actors are all as watchable as ever with Helen Mirren and Brian Cox particularly standing out. Mary-Louise Parker proves very funny in the opening scenes but becomes nothing more than baggage as soon as Willis’ character hooks up with his old buddies. Having said all that if you’re in the mood for a comedy this will do fine.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 3.37/5 (5)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 82.1
Genre: Drama
Duration: 142 mins
Director: Frank Darabont
Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton

The most satisfying film-going experience you can ask for as Tim Robbins’ Andy Dufresne defies all the odds by crawling through a river of shit and coming out clean on the other side. The Shawshank Redemption is what movies are all about! Okay, so it offers a veritable feast of cliché (the nasty warden, the old prisoner who keeps a bird, etc.) but that really doesn’t matter because it all fits together so perfectly. Robbins is truly excellent as Dufresne, the “tall drink of water” banker sentenced to life for murdering his wife and her lover. His face and expressions are a picture of ambiguity (which is integral to the story) but he always remains eminently likable. Morgan Freeman as the man he strikes up a lifelong friendship with is every bit his match and their chemistry is among the best ever offered up by the medium. Frank Darabont deserves most plaudits however, not only for his brilliant adaptation of Stephen King’s short story but for his sublime pacing and that masterful blending of Roger Deacon’s impressive cinematography and Thomas Newman’s soul-stirring score. The Shawshank Redemption is far from the best film ever made as some of the more populist movie lists imply but it’s eminently enjoyable and that counts for a lot.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013-2014

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) 3.15/5 (2)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Bad – 57.8
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Comic Book
Duration: 165 mins
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Morgan FreemanMichael Cain

Stunning but only in its capacity to underwhelm, The Dark Knight Rises may have had an army of fanboys defending its name on (and even before!!) its release but this supposed movie extravaganza is nothing but a damp squib. Christopher Nolan’s final contribution to the Batman franchise sees Gotham being held for ransom by a formidable foe named Bane (Tom Hardy) who hijacks the city under the threat of nuclear destruction. Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, a physically weakened Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) who has hung up his cape these last few years poses little threat to the savage Bane and must rediscover his zest for life in order to defend the city once again. Along for the ride are the usual assortment of characters from Michael Caine’s Alfred to Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon as well as a few newcomers, namely, Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a boy wonder type, and Mathew Modine as a bigwig in the police department.

After struggling with the coordination and overall pacing of the multiple subplots in Batman Begins yet seemingly mastering them in the The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises is a return to the hectic, rushed, and just plain muddled film-making of Nolan’s first installment. Side stories are merely introduced and with no time to let them nor the characters they’re built around develop, they’re accelerated, truncated, and fleetingly revisited all with the intention of bringing them together at the end. Unfortunately, given their slipshod construction we could care less about any of those characters by the time they get there. Even Batman elicits little in the way of the audience’s concern as the interminable final act plays itself out.

The character who suffers the most in this is Hathaway’s Catwoman as her early sequences showed some promise as the potentially treacherous nemesis of the Caped Crusader. But like every other character in this movie, the tension she offers peters out and the treachery becomes jarringly ordinary. Yes, it doesn’t help that Hathaway is operating in the shadow of Michelle Pfeiffer’s seminal turn in Batman Returns wherein she came to embody the very essence of feline treachery but in truth she was never even given a chance to compete. Tom Hardy puts in an interesting shift as the bad guy and Nolan sets up his character and introduces him effectively. However, because his brooding menace culminates in nothing more than a bunch of physical beatings he dishes out, the character ends up stagnating and even diminishing in threat.

On the technical front, Wally Phister’s cinematography, Lee Smith’s editing, and the visual effects are undoubtedly spectacular but with such an insubstantial story underlying them, the movie begins to feel like nothing more than a slideshow of striking images. This becomes rather jading and the film feels more and more like a visual marathon. The set pieces are elaborately set up but such is Nolan’s tendency to truncate every aspect of this film that, with the exception of the reasonably impressive opening sequence, they’re never allowed materialise into anything like what we saw in either of the first two installments. In fact, if it wasn’t for Hans Zimmer’s thrilling score we would barely notice the tepid action that this movie repeatedly serves up.

In the end, the abiding memories of The Dark Knight Rises are of the endless yet entirely nondescript hand-to-hand battles (somebody finally teach Nolan how to direct a fight scene, please!) and of Batman flying very slowly away from those fights in his nebulously shaped flying machine (don’t ask!). In fact, one desperately struggles to comprehend why so many have raved about the movie. It’s true that Nolan hires the cream of the industry’s technical talent and so his films have a very shiny gloss indeed but with such confused and unfocused writing and direction it’s all just a bottle of smoke.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014

The Dark Knight (2008) 4/5 (2)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 77.5
Genre: Fantasy, Action
Duration: 152 mins
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael CaineMorgan Freeman

Gotham’s self-appointed avenger dons the cape once more when a psychotic villain with a painted face begins taking over the city’s underworld with a view to “introducing a little anarchy”. If the biggest problem with Batman Begins was its pacing (and for the first 40 mins, it was!), then Christopher Nolan made up for it in spades with this follow-up as it’s a veritable master-class in that respect. Clocking in at almost two and a half hours, this film starts out at a reasonable pace and gets steadily faster never letting up for a second. The set pieces are bigger and better than those in Batman Begins, the script is tighter, and the story is the most ambitious yet for any of the Batman films. In the previous films, Batman skirts the line that separates his good and dark sides. In this film, he walks it as The Dark Knight attempts to shine a light on the very concept of Batman. The result is an enthralling action thriller.

As with Batman Begins, this movie is littered with heavy hitters who each give reasonably layered performances. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman are again solid in their respective roles of Alfred, Fox, and Commissioner Gordon. Aaron Eckhart is very good as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, while Christian Bale repeats his solid turn as Wayne/Batman. But no matter how good the aforementioned are, they are all battered off the screen by Heath Ledger’s utterly sublime portrayal of the Joker. His incendiary performance is as captivating as you’ll ever see in a comic-book film and worth every word of praise that was written about it. Nolan’s ambition to give the comic book universe a gritty realism was always going to be a difficult task given the fantastical nature of its villains and heroes and, while putting in a good effort in Batman Begins, he didn’t really achieve that aim. As such, The Dark Knight was somewhat of a make-or-break installment in his Batman project and thanks to Ledger’s inspired turn, he was able to convincingly inject a searing realism into the proceedings. In fact, one might say that it was entirely Ledger’s doing but we should probably give Nolan some credit.

Having said all that, The Dark Knight is not perfect. There are quite a few plot holes (albeit minor) and a few broad strokes made in the development of the story and some of its characters. There are several redundant and exceedingly tedious fight scenes which are just as formulaic as the fight-by-numbers scenes of the first film (and most of Nolan’s films) and Bale’s Batman-voice is as grating as ever. But these are minor quibbles in what is the most refreshing super-hero movie in the last 15 years and one superb film in its own right.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Batman Begins (2005) 3.52/5 (3)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 72.1
Genre: Fantasy, Action
Duration: 140 mins
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Michael CaineMorgan Freeman

Last 90 minutes excellent, first 40 awful. Batman Begins is a case of director Christopher Nolan trying to do too much in one film. It begins with Bruce Wayne in some prison camp – cue token action scenes – and proceeds to tell his story through the use of flashbacks that are completely out of pace with each other. In fact, the overall pacing of those 40 mins is erratic as Nolan attempts to get all the exposition out of the way. So the “more than a man” speech comes far too early and the dialogue in general is wooden, clunky, bombastic (“What you really fear is inside yourself. You fear your own power. You fear your anger, the drive to do great or terrible things”) or outright cringe-worthy (“you’re not the devil, you’re practice”). The action is nothing we haven’t seen before and if anything it’s old hat. The ninja scene is straight out of the opening scene of Rambo III which was already lampooned by Hot Shots Part Deux so why Nolan tried to have a serious stab at it is a mystery. There are some good ideas in the opening act though. Wayne becoming a criminal and witnessing the ambiguity of crime, Tom Wilkonson’s speech that prompted Wayne to disappear are all original and thought-provoking.

Happily, once Wayne returns to Gotham, this film really takes off and it becomes quite excellent. Everything becomes more focused. The pacing settles, the score comes into its own and we are treated to one outstanding set-piece after another (with the rooftop sequence particularly standing out). Even the dialogue tightens up and becomes much more effective because of it. The cinematography throughout is splendid but peaks as the night-time cityscapes provide the backdrop to the originally executed action sequences. The seriousness of the film is also counter-weighted in the second act with Michael Caine’s light-hearted portrayal of “Alfred” providing some genuinely funny moments. With the calmer pace, the actors are given room to breathe and Christian Bale starts to show us a much more interesting and charming Wayne (though here too the ‘millionaire playboy’ scenario was rushed). Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman become relevant to the story and add great support because of it. The contrast between the first and final two acts is so stark that one wonders why Nolan just didn’t begin at the 40 minute mark The backstory could’ve been subtly sewn into its fabric with a series of unspoken shots like in Marathon Man (the type of which Nolan did briefly employ in the final act) and the film would’ve been much more fluid because of it. That said the final 90 minutes definitely make it worth wading through the first 40.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013