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Momentum 2015 Gown Robe Nickers Olga Kurylenko, James Purefoy, Morgan Freeman, Jenna Saras, Richard Lothian, Karl Thaning, Lee-Anne Summers, Joe Vaz, Aidan Whytock, Brett Williams, Greg Kriek

Momentum: an ex-military ‘ghost’ turned bank robber and her team get tangled up in a conspiracy after a high-tech heist. Think Salt or Colombiana but on a tighter budget and with no characterisation. Kurylenko is just right for this role: she doesn’t get to act much, runs around in a sassy robe and knickers for the first act, then does enough pouting, shooting, and punching through the rest of the movie to distract you. Purefoy on the other hand is good fun as the devilishly smarmy antagonist – essentially reprising his Joe Carrol role from The Following. Good acting feels like a bonus here as this is all about the highly styalised action; and on that front the film delivers: prolonged bank heist, car chases, home invasion, abandoned factory & airport showdowns – no box is left unchecked. For a 15-rated film, it’s pretty severe – “very strong language, strong violence, sex, sexual threat” – to quote the BBFC rating, which doesn’t even mention torture or child abuse – I kept thinking it had to be an 18. The biggest thorn in the movie’s side is the scatter-gun approach in tone: it’s a bit sci-fy-y, a bit superhero-y, a bit revenge-y, a bit quirky, a bit tasteless-y, a bit dark, and a bit leery (the girls are formidable – but still run around in their panties and hooker boots)… it makes watching Momentum confusing at times: having to judge if certain parts should be funny, or shocking, and if parts are cliché, or a more knowing parody. Momentum is a brainless, action B-movie with a hack plot (nothing wrong with that) but sports a fascinating veneer of fringe A-list actors, slick visuals, ambitious action scenes – it’s not Citizen Kane, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the one-star reviews and relatively unknown status would lead you to believe. An entertaining action film aimed primarily at teenage lads.

Score: 5/10

Momentum 2015 Bum Buttocks Pants Panties Nickers Olga Kurylenko, James Purefoy, Morgan Freeman, Jenna Saras, Richard Lothian, Karl Thaning, Lee-Anne Summers, Joe Vaz, Aidan Whytock, Brett Williams, Greg Kriek

Momentum 2015  Phone call Olga Kurylenko, James Purefoy, Morgan Freeman, Jenna Saras, Richard Lothian, Karl Thaning, Lee-Anne Summers, Joe Vaz, Aidan Whytock, Brett Williams, Greg Kriek

Literally dialing in his couple of scenes

 

Lucy 01 Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Pilou Asbæk, Analeigh Tipton, Luc Besson,

Lucy: when a package of drugs erupts in her guts it begins to unlock the full capacity of Lucy’s brain, turning her into a superhuman. This is a beautiful film to take in; full of colourful, poppy, bright, neon visuals of everything from single cells to galaxies, the big bang to the future (in 85 mins!!) and huge sweeping shots of cities, cultures, and continents reminiscent of something like Koyaanisqatsi. To put it simply – Lucy is a full on Eye Boner, and the CGI shots in particular are world-class. The biggest argument against the film is that the ‘10% of the brain myth’ has been debunked… I don’t hear anyone letting the dodgy science of Jurassic World, or tech of the Avengers, or gravity in the Fast franchise ruin those films. This is Science FICTION; get off your high horse and eat a buffet of dicks. The idea makes for an interesting film, especially if you dig the ongoing next leap in intelligence debate. Scarlett – who is in almost every shot – is hypnotising as an increasingly cold and calculating being, but the real star is Besson who’s back on top form, taking a bunch of chaotic elements, making them look great, then slotting them together into an exciting and ambitious narrative. On paper Lucy’s individual components are everything I love about modern cinema; a great ‘world cinema’ director, Korean actors, bombastic action, high-concept / big ideas, colourful & stylish (Cinéma Du Look), and entertaining… what more could anybody want? It’s Limitless for Sci-Fi nerds; it’s infinitely more engrossing that the Tree of Shite; it’s arguably the best Sci Fi film since The Matrix. Although the film goes ‘all in’ with a single divisive plot point – and whether you buy in to it or not – there’s no denying that Lucy is (at the very least) enthralling and entertaining. Personally, I’d put this down as Besson’s masterpiece

Score: 9.5/10

Lucy Koreans Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Pilou Asbæk, Analeigh Tipton, Luc Besson,
Lucy Frenchies Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Pilou Asbæk, Analeigh Tipton, Luc Besson,

Se7en Seven 1 Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey, R. Lee Ermey, John C. McGinley, Richard Roundtree, Leland Orser,

Se7en (aka Seven, 7, Sept, Siete, Sieben, セブン, 七, 일곱 …) during a veteran detective’s final week a gruesome serial killer surfaces, whose work is based around the seven deadly sins. Despite being released in the mid-90s and framed as ‘modern’ this has a sense of timelessness; it’s puply and Noir to the core – especially Freeman’s character, who’s straight out of the 40s. This is just part of Fincher’s portrait of an extremely nihilistic vision of ‘downtown’ America – a nameless, timeless city characterised by sirens, rain, fear, vice and filthy, dilapidated buildings mirroring their residents. It’s a dingy look, but one that has subsequently influenced a lot of movies and TV (The US Killing as a prime example). Whilst the story takes a while to properly get going once it gains momentum it’s an unstoppable force -right through to the very last scene. It’s also remarkable that 20 years on it’s still effective, and shocking – which is a testament to Fincher’s directorial skill.  Despite all of the larger than life blood and guts, Se7en is all about the minor details; everything helps to flesh out the characters and explain their behaviours – allowing you to pick out more details every time you watch it, which is what makes it a classic.

Score: 8.5/10

Se7en Seven 2 Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey, R. Lee Ermey, John C. McGinley, Richard Roundtree, Leland Orser,

The Lego Movie Emmet Unikitty Kragle Batman Green Lantern Ninja Spaceman Metal Beard Wyldstyle

The Lego Movie: Emmet Brickowski is a follow-the-manual kind of guy, but when he bumps in to a master builder his life changes forever. Anyone that’s ever played with Lego can relate to the film’s settings, and it’s good fun just trying to spot old and quirky pieces like the glow-in-the-dark ghost. The entire film looks brilliant, vibrant and ridiculously detailed – characters even have slight thumbprints. There’s a grade-A voice cast, with a lot of distinguishable and entertaining character actors in the mix. It’s also one of the few films that is universally funny; covering the slapstick / physical gags but including a layer of smart ‘adult’ satire and running gags for the duration – it’s consistently funny. There are a few stumbling blocks though: the bigger action scenes are too fast/shaky/blurry to keep up with; the split realities at the end knocks the wind out of the finale’s sail; some of the Lego franchises feel shoe-horned in; and for a film that preaches “use your imagination” to everyone, it’s literally a scene-for-scene re-telling of The Matrix… which is a touch disappointing and hypocritical. However, all things considered, The Lego Movie is a damn fine kids film, and even a damn fine film by normal standards. Highly entertaining and uplifting, if unapologetically unoriginal, family BLOCK-buster.

Score: 8/10

The Lego Movie Wallpaper Green Lantern Superman Wonderwoman Robbin Batman FlashThe Lego Movie Poster Emmet House

Now You See Me 01 Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Mélanie Laurent, Michael J. Kelly, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, José GarciaNow You See Me: four lowly street illusionists/magicians are brought together to become the world’s most infamous magic show. Unfortunately, this film is just as obsessed with the special effects as it is with telling what’s quite an interesting story. Every time there’s a big trick or set-piece the camera starts whirring around in a physically-impossible, mind-bending and distracting manner. The plot is very entertaining, lots of humour and the story takes some major twists and turns before arriving at a surprising conclusion. The acting’s all solid, but in a film with Eisenberg, Harrelson, Fisher, Ruffalo, Laurent, Caine and Freeman – you shouldn’t don’t expect much less. In a time of infinite re-boots, re-makes and superhero movies – Now You See Me feels surprisingly fresh and different – big cast, and a great story, although spoilt by some flashy direction.

Score: 7/10

Now You See Me 02 Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Mélanie Laurent, Michael J. Kelly, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, José Garcia

Olympus has Fallen Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Rick Yune, Dylan McDermott, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Robert Forster

Olympus Has Fallen: international terrorists have seized a building of importance, are holding the resident workers hostage, and issuing fake demands – meanwhile a wise-cracking, off-duty, security guy is taking them out one-by-one, communicating to a black guy outside. Wait, is that not identical to Die Hard?! Yes! Yes it is – there’s even a scene where a villain meets the hero and pretends to be a good guy – come awn Hollywood. Must. Try. Harder. The initial hostile takeover of the White House is a 15 minute onslaught of bullets, blood, brains, explosions, headshots, slumping bodies, flying limbs, and shaky-cam R-rated mayhem. It feels like an intense level of any FPS war game. Most of the remaining fights/deaths are gory enough to be from a Tarantino flick. The film is also ridiculously patriotic: deliberately baiting the audience by reveling in the Korean’s destruction of the Washington monument, white house, the stars and stripes, and more generally ‘freedom’. Could have saved time by simply having the Koreans piss on a M*A*S*H DVD box set. Most scenes feel like green-screen / GCI, especially when cheap-ass looking gun turrets, helicopters, explosions and the bullet-ridden american flag appear. Despite all of these downfalls the action is big, loud and above average. Butler is entertaining and there’s a lot more laughs than your typical disaster film. Given that the real North Korea are kicking up a fuss at the moment, it’s also far more relevant than the Ruskies / Chinese standard baddies. Overall, Olympus has Fallen is a fairly entertaining Red-invasion B-Movie with A-budget and A-cast, however it also happens to be wrought with scenes, characters and twists you’ve seen a hundred times before.

Score: 5/10

The Heist The Maiden Heist Christopher Walken, Marcia Gay Harden, Morgan Freeman, William H. Macy, Breckin Meyer

The Heist (aka The Maiden Heist): three security guards plan to steal artworks that they’ve become too attached to over the years, before they’re shipped to a new museum in Denmark. The three lead actors are all great: Walken does his Walken thing in all of its Walken-glory, William H Macy does an ex-para caricature, and Freeman leads the pack as a flamboyant eccentric. The wife unfortunately feels like she’s in the wrong movie – played far too slapstick / old-timey, and really emphasising the play/theater direction and campy vibe of the movie. Famous and respected actors serving up some good acting, which is unfortunately counter balanced with weak script and pale direction. The story also feels quite familiar, and plays out exactly how you think it will. Although it’s a straight-to-DVD film, it’s still better than much of the mush that gets properly released, and with a cast like this, I’m surprised it never hit the big screens. The Heist is a perfectly fine, inoffensive, light-hearted, upbeat movie – but with Walken and Freeman on the box, the bar’s perhaps set a little higher than what the film delivers.

Score: 4/10

Dark Knight Trilogy Batman Begins The Dark Knight The Dark Knight RisesWhat makes a movie going experience unique? In the age of Blu Rays / high-definition torrents, and bargainous HDTVs / home cinema kits it’s becoming easier and more affordable to get a totally immersive film-viewing experience at home. To combat this and keep the footfall in the foyers cinemas are having to go above and beyond the standard experience. My local independent – Aberdeen’s cherished ‘Belmont Cinema‘ – has just screened back-to-back showings of the Dark Knight trilogy (all 7hrs 34min!), and although you can pick up the box set for under £30, the event was packed full of things that no amount of money or equipment can replicate.

The Dark Knight Trology Cast Harvey Dent Bane Gordon Ra's al Ghul Batman Catwoman Scarecrow JokerWith films this big there’s absolutely no denying that they’re best viewed in a proper auditorium. Christopher Nolan’s unmistakable eye-opening wide-angle style which is intentionally shot on celluloid for maximum effect; Wally Pfister’s I-MAX cinematography, Hanz Zimmer‘s deep brassy orchestrated scores, the pounding sound effects & sound editing, million dollar stunts, props and CGI… Sure, they all look fantastic on Blu Ray, but when you see them thrown up on a cinema screen and pumped out through a Dolby SR amp/speaker kit – the effect is nothing short of phenomenal.

DARK KNIGHT COSPLAY COSTUMES, CATWOMAN BATMAN, BRUCE WAYNE, Selina Kyle, The Cat

Batman and Catwoman: guardians of… the auditorium!

Beyond mere technical details there was an atmosphere in the theater that you don’t see often, and definitely couldn’t replicate at home: staff and punters dressing up as their favourite characters from the series (and further back down the Batman franchise), hardcore comic fans ‘nerding out’ in the foyers, people shouting out the big lines of dialogue – and particularly in the first two movies – there’s a lot of humour that really falls flat when you watch it on your own.

Add to this that the staff had gone out of their way to ‘make a day of it’, including an in-character Batman – with the voice – for the duration, special food/drinks promos, cosplay competition, a riddler quiz with awesome prizes, and giving everyone a goodie bag on the way out – it really did make the experience feel unique, and elevated it far beyond the scope of any regular visit to the movies. It also made the 1pm-10pm shift fly by.

DARK KNIGHT COSPLAY COSTUMES, THE JOKER, POISON IVY, HARLEY QUINN, Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, Dr. Pamela Lillian IsleyI believe that the variety and novelty of screenings and events like this will become a larger part of remaining cinema’s revenue, and Aberdeen’s Belmont Cinema is putting a lot of effort in to such programming. At Christmas there was a festive Die Hard screening, a 90s Action Classics season has just wrapped up (Matrix, Total, Recall Con-Air…) and coming up there’s a special screening of the notorious ‘The Room‘, a Wes Anderson retrospective, and one-off re-releases of cult cinema favourites such as The Princess Bride and the ABCs of Death – to name but a few!

Seeing the films together in one sitting also helps pull the story together, with a lot of detail slipping through the cracks of the three, and four year gaps in theatrical releases. More than anything, it’s a glowing testament to Nolan as a director: he has made three very individual, stand-alone movies that will appeal to general punters, whilst having enough detail and plot threads to make them a proper trilogy, AND appease hardened Batman fanboys.

DARK KNIGHT COSPLAY COSTUMES The Joker, Harley Quinn, Henri Ducard, Ra's al Ghul, Catwoman, Batman The Riddler, Robin

The staff really made the day, and led by example with their awesome costumes.

REVIEWS

Batman Begins (Review) – perhaps a little harsh on it, but the one that benefited the most from a proper theatrical viewing. It’s funnier with a crowd, and the ‘filler’ is more necessary when viewed as part of the entire trilogy. Overall, it’s an interesting examination of fear – last-minute cameo from Katie Holme’s nipples. Trilogy score: 7/10

The Dark Knight (Review) – the closest thing to a Bond film that Nolan has done. Travel, big stunts, cooler gadgets (and quips about them), peril, awesome villain – it feels in parts like Nolan was using this as a CV. SOMEONE PLEASE LET HIM DIRECT A BOND FILM!! Still awesome. Trilogy Score: 8.5/10

The Dark Knight Rises (Review) – less action, and a whole lot of plot to wrap up the trilogy. Still massive voice issues with Bane – I think my biggest gripe is that unlike the other sound like their being recorded on set, Bane’s booms from all speakers – giving him a bizarre omnipotence. The tone and accent are far too silly for such a bad badass. Still, great way to cap off one of cinema’s best Trilogies. Trilogy Score: 7.5/10

The Dark Knight Rises: eight years after The Joker’s antics Batman faces his latest, and toughest opponent – Bane. The tone straddles the story-driven Batman Begins, and the action/spectacle of The Dark Knight. Rises also functions surprisingly well as both a stand-alone movie, and trilogy wrap up: epitomised by Scarecrow, who appears, but isn’t dwelled on. The action set pieces are great (especially the Police Vs Goons fight!!) and when it’s matched with such slick visuals and the booming post-Inception soundtrack – it’s an unbeatable force. Of the three new characters, JGL does the most impressing, although it’s mostly because of the other two’s costumes: masking a performer like Hardy, reducing him to just eyes is nothing short of a travesty, and Hathaway amounts to little more than her catsuit, merely serving as a story catalyst. All other performances are rock-solid across the board – particularly Caine, who I’ve rarely enjoyed, but was surprisingly emotive in this. The biggest pain in my ass was the unresolved voice issues with Batman in costume, hospitalised Gordon being too gravelly to fully understand, as well as Bane whose voice is both hard to tune in to and so ridiculous that it wouldn’t be out-of-place in a South Park episode. I also felt that the duality between Bane and B Wayne was interesting, but even as someone who has never read the comics – it could probably have been explored further. What’s impressed me most about the trilogy is the dedication to keeping everything grounded and realistic – even with the list of ‘superhero’-style of characters, there’s always an explanation and it always feels plausible. I’ll take my hat off to Nolan, who has made yet another smart, sophisticated film out of ‘superheroes’ / comic book material – while keeping it accessible and enjoyable to all audiences.

Score: 7.5/10

MEOW!!!

RED: (Retired, Extremely Dangerous) A retired Black Ops soldier is targeted by a hit team, so he calls a favour on his old-time buddies to get to the bottom of it all. I guess the best thing about this newfangled trend of adapting the shit out of every comic ever made is that – on the whole – the source material is usually good, and abundant. Because of this, RED is watchable enough as the story predictably lurches forward, however the way it’s all presented on the big screen is nothing new – peppered with gratuitous fights, action and explosions. They must have known the story was ten-a-penny before they pulled in such a heavy-hitting cast: Malkovich steals every scene with his familiar oddball routine, and the only other person that turns in something good is the determined agent Karl Urban. Everyone else, including Bruce Willis, is on cruise control, and despite being OK, everyone seems more interested in making a quick buck than doing anything noteworthy. There’s a couple of ‘hostage humour’ laughs as Willis tries to win over a girl that looks half his age, and the overall script is decent. Between the massive cast and unusually low certificate for an ation/spy flick (all violence and most swear words are edited out or covered up) this is clearly all about getting as many bums on as many seats as possible. RED nowhere near as good as the sum of its parts – and ends up being nothing more than a Bourne/Salt/A-Team re-hash, with marginally more interesting than average geriatric characters.

Score: 5/10