Archive for Morgan Freeman

Review: London Has Fallen

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2016 by Tom Austin-Morgan

london has fallen

Look at that poster. I mean, really?

There’s not much point reviewing this film in any serious way, it’s much the same as Olympus Has Fallen except even more overblown. In fact, you may as well just go and read my review of that film and replace any mention of ‘the White House’ with ‘London’ and ‘North Korea’ with ‘Pakistan’.

The plot is ludicrous, Gerard Butler’s accent is all over the shop, especially when he’s in scenes with another Scottish actor, Aaron Eckhart grimaces and grits his teeth through his scenes and Morgan Freeman is clearly only here because he needs to pay for a new kitchen.

There have been some damning reviews criticising the film for being overtly racist. I didn’t find that to be the case, certainly the antagonists are no more caricatured than the Korean terrorists in Olympus Has Fallen. But, right now nonspecific terrorists from the middle-east with no proper affiliation to internationally recognised countries are the ‘bad guys’ at the moment, just like North Korea was the ‘enemy’ of America when the first film was made.

Overall, it’s the same film, but more unwieldy. The first worked because it’s basically Die Hard in the White House. It was confined. London Has Fallen falls down – so to speak – because it has fewer restrictions. This kind of action film needs restriction to keep it on track.

If you like big dumb action films, this is fine. If you’re looking for cinematic excellence why are you reading a review of London Has Fallen?

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Review: The Lego Movie

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2014 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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Lego is one of the most successful brands in the world, starting life in the shed of Danish carpenter, Ole Kirk Christiansen – who set up the company in 1949. The company has expanded ever since, spilling out into theme parks, lucrative movie tie-ins, computer games and now a full-length feature film.

The plot focusses on Emmet, a regular construction worker who builds things in a team and always follows the instructions until, one day, he stumbles upon a group of super-builders who are fighting against the tyranny of Lord Business, who controls the Lego world with instructions that the populace follow in complete obedience.

This is the thrust of the movie; don’t be constrained by the instructions, use your imagination and you can create what you want. Which is, kind of, the point of Lego. And, why wouldn’t a Lego movie be about anything else? Well, for a start, it could have been about anything. Literally. But instead, this is a very formulaic, paint-by-numbers, nuts-and-bolts film that is pretty devoid of any real soul.

Understandably, the calls of “but it’s a kids film” will be flung my way, but it could have been made a much more inspirational story and have a slightly more likable character at the centre of the action. Emmet, voiced by Chris Pratt, is fine and lovable when he’s playing by the rules, unaware of the control asserted on his world by Will Ferrell’s Lord Business. Emmet is upbeat and fun-loving, but when he is recruited, wrongly, but the master builders, led by Vitrvius (Morgan Freeman)among assorted heroes such as Batman (Will Arnett) and love interest, Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Emmet turns overly reluctant and a little whiny. This is overcome by the end of the film, but doesn’t detract from his character’s personality in general.

The Lego computer games are peppered with sly bits of humour and there are moments in this film that elicits laughter, but not enough to raise it into the big leagues of Pixar or even DreamWorks.  The funniest moment for me involved the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, involving cameos from Anthony Daniels as C3PO and Billy Dee Williams as Lando, but not Harrison Ford as Han Solo.

I think, in the end, this film is missing something that the games have nailed. It’s difficult to say what it is, but perhaps it’s because the games are based on an existing script and story line? Whatever the reason, The Lego Movies is fun which you watch it, but not engaging or funny enough.

Review: Olympus Has Fallen

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , on April 28, 2013 by Tom Austin-Morgan

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I went into this with no expectations at all and not a lot of idea about the plot far short of the fact that the White House is stormed by terrorists and Gerard Butler takes them all out. Essentially Die Hard or Under seige (which is actually name-checked in the poster!). And that’s pretty much what I got.

The basic plot is that Butler’s character, Mike Banning, worked as one of the President’s (Aaron Eckhart) secret service aides until an unfortunate accident sees him move to a desk job. Meanwhile the South Korean Prime Minister visits the White House to talk about tensions with the North, something that has been in the news a lot recently. But in amongst the Prime Minister’s staff are North Korean terrorists who assassinate the PM and take the top brass of the US government to the bunker deep underground and begin to make their demands. While this is going on Banning rushes across town and manages to get into the White House under a hail of bullets and RPG fire.

The body count in the first half hour is ludicrous and it doesn’t stop there either, from here on in Banning begins to take out the terrorists one by one while trying to find the President’s son who is missing and being searched for by the terrorists. Here is where the similarities between this and the aforementioned action classics begins. There are bone-crunching fight scenes, knives through skulls, crashing helicopters, lots of explosions and gun fire and quite a bit of bad language and tough talk.

In actual fact this is the closest to a Die Hard film since the first Die Hard, which is a great thing as that franchise has been on a downhill slide since the first installment culminating with Live Free or Die Hard, I can’t name a single person I know who went to see that, which says a lot! This, however, I couldn’t recommend highly enough, it’s a real throwback to the 1980s/90s action films, it doesn’t take itself too seriously (though I did expect a few more quips) and really lets rip with the action sequences.

One thing I will say is that the casting of Morgan Freeman as the Speaker of the House of Representatives who has to step up as the President and Vice-President have both been kidnapped might have been an oversight. He is far more believable as a president than Eckhart, who actually seemed more Presidential as Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight. I mean, Freeman has played a President in Deep Impact and God in Bruce & Evan Almighty!

Don’t expect much in the way of a cohesive plot, but if you want to switch off your brain and watch something really stupid, really loud and quite violent then this is the film for you.

Review: Oblivion

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , on April 20, 2013 by Tom Austin-Morgan

Oblivion-Poster

Hey, it’s been a while. But sci-fi season is starting up again in earnest, so expect a few more articles from here on in. Anyway, this is the first big budget film where Tom Criuse plays a character called Jack since his last film.

Instead of being some sort of secret agent (or am I thinking of Mission Impossible?), this time Cruise is playing the last man on Earth who is essentially a caretaker. The rest of humanity has left Earth for Titan, a moon of Saturn, after a global war fought against shadowy aliens called ‘Scavs’.

Apparently the Scavs invaded Earth after destroying the Moon (a la Despicable Me), therefore affecting the natural order of things, the world is then finished off by a mixture of earthquakes, tsunamis and the ensuing invasion, which was eventually won by the humans, but only after ruining the rest of the planet with nuclear weapons. It’s Jack’s job, along with support from his partner, Victoria (the film stealing Andrea Riseborough), to repair the drones that protect the massive fusion generators that suck up sea water and turn it into fuel for the human colony on Titan from attacks from Scavs.

What we get is actually more of a romantic drama between the two main characters, where Jack seems to have a memory from his life before the war. Everyone , apparently, had their memories wiped. He remembers a woman and a trip up the Empire State Building. Victoria, on the other hand, is much more in control of herself and seems more single-minded about the job at hand. Then a craft crashes and the sole survivor is a woman (Olga Kurylenco) who  throws Jack’s world into a spin and forces him to re-evaluate his enemy, his allegencies and his own existence.

Oblivion is an odd film. The visuals and the world created by director Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) are brilliantly constructed, from the open shots of post war New York with all its landmarks buried beneath hundreds of metres of silt leaving gorges that were once streets and just the tops of buildings like the Empire State still visible, in one shot you can see the torch from the Statue of Liberty, which is clearly an homage to Planet of the Apes. Add to this the ultra modern living quarters of Jack and Victoria which is suspended in the air by long supports (like in The Jetsons)  and looks like an advert for all the most modern, minimalist home appliances, complete with an entirely glass swimming pool. The design for the transportation is pretty good too with round drones that are like massive versions of the floating droid in the Star Wars film that sedates Princess Leia, Jack’s craft is a pretty sleek an holds a foldout motorbike…handily for Cruise as he never seems to do a film unless his character gets to ride a bike.

So, as well as a film full of ideas and visuals from other sci-fi movies and cartoons (come to think of which there’s the omnipotent ‘god’ being is a giant machine with a red-eye, like Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey), it also contains a lot of the tropes from Tom Cruise films. In the first 20 minutes you have Tom waking up topless, taking a shower and then riding a motorbike there’s also a bit of underwater hanky-panky thrown in there too. As the film progresses it turns into a lot of jumping in slow motion while things explode in the background, but this is a Tom Cruise film after all!

Actually I rate Cruise quite highly, as megastar action actors go he actually can act, but the script isn’t up to very much. Even Morgan Freeman seems to coast through his role despensing knowledge in a Morgan Freeman-y way. But, as I hinted at earlier, I though the strongest actor in the whole film was Andrea Riseborough who managed to convey how much she cared for her husband in both a heartfelt and, at times’ creepy way. She had quite a malevolent quality to her in some scenes.

It’s not the most original film ever made, it’s hard to be original in the sci-fi genre, but the visuals are stunning and it is a fun romp that doesn’t end with the traditional cliffhanger for possible sequels, which makes a nice change. From and acting standpoint, both Cruise and Riseborough are excellent with the latter actually out doing her megastar opposite number.

Jospeh Gordon-Levitt Latest Signing For Dark Knight Rises

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2011 by Tom Austin-Morgan

After starring in Christopher Nolan’s last film, Inception, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been signed on to the cast for the new Batman movie; The Dark Knight Rises.

He could be playing the character Alberto Falcone, son of Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) from Batman Begins. In the comics Alberto Falcone becomes The Holiday Killer, who embarks on a killing spree of Gotham’s mobsters after his father’s death and the takeover by Sal Maroni. All the murders coincide with national holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day.

Other Inception cast member Tom Hardy will be joining Gordon-Levitt as the villain Bane, an unstoppable juggernaut fuelled by a drug called Venom which gives him incredible physical power. He is one of the only villains who has come close to killing Batman.

Also cast alongside regulars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman, reprieving their roles as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Alfred, Jim Gordon and Lucius Fox, respectively, is Anne Hathaway. She plays Selina Kyle, who becomes Catwoman in the comics. Whether or not she is going to be a villain or a friend to Batman remain to be seen, but either way she will more than likely be the main love interest in the new film.

The inclusion of Alfredo Falcone would give a unifying thread to the mobsters featured in the trilogy from the rise and fall of the Falcone family, through the succession of Maroni onto what could be the last Falcone taking back control of the Gotham underground. Strangely this mirrors Batman’s own rise and fall in popularity with the establishment and citizens of Gotham. The Falcone character also lends itself to the more realistic theme Nolan has set his trilogy in.

The film is due for a UK release on 20th July 2012.

(Ed. 22/03/2012) Forget all that you have just read, as it turns out that Gordon-Levitt is being considered for a part in the film but there is no official word on which character he will play. But other speculation includes The Riddler, Robin or Jean-Paul Valley, who replaces Bruce Wayne as Batman after Wayne is injured by Bane (which could work just as well as the Falcone character in Nolan’s trilogy).

Nolan has already ruled out Robin, The Riddler, Mr Freeze and The Penguin but, as with all things Nolan, who knows what the eventual outcome will be in his world of bluff and double-bluff. I’ll keep you updated.