Posts Tagged ‘morgan freeman’

lucy

A woman named Lucy, (Scarlett Johansson) living in Taiwan, has a shady boyfriend named Richard, (Pilou Asbaek) who she’s only been dating for a week. Richard wants Lucy to deliver a briefcase to Mr. Jang. (Min Sik Choi) Jang is too frightened to open the package himself, so he makes Lucy open it.  The suitcase contains CH4, a synthetic drug, which Jang wants to ship across Europe, and create a new addiction for kids.  Jang wants to use Lucy, and three others, as drug mules and sews the drug into her stomach.  Unbeknownst to Jang, the drug has the ability to enhance the capacity of the brain that is used by humans from 10 percent to 100 percent.  While in captivity,  Lucy gets beaten up by Chinese drug dealers, and the CH4 seeps into her system, and transforms Lucy into an omnipotent woman, bent on revenge on Jung and sharing her new found knowledge with world renowned theoretical scientist , Professor  Norman (Morgan Freeman)  Does she get her revenge?  Does she get to share her boundless knowledge with society?

I have very mixed feelings about Lucy.  It’s very much like Limitless with Bradley Cooper in concept, but Limitless was actually a better movie.  I resented the fact that Lucy began this movie as a dumb blonde party girl, literally a deer in the headlights, that’s a pernicious stereotype for a woman to overcome.    This movie tried to combine too many genres, action, science fiction, and art house, in trying to please everyone, it ended up pleasing no one.  The sequences with Scarlett Johansson were fun, it’s nice to see a female protagonist in an action movie, but the movie’s scope was too broad, it literally tried to account for all human history, and that was too much.  The science was gobbledygook, and sounded more like philosophy.  Also, when the French detective was introduced, the story became much too conventional, and it suffered for it.

Scarlett Johansson did what she could with a poorly written script and bad direction, she has a very emotional and touching speech with her mom early on in the film, but as her powers grow, she becomes emotionless, almost robotic, I’m sure that was the direction she was given, or the way the script was written. Johansson handles the action sequences with aplomb, and seems to relish the hero role.  She’s not sharing the screen with Avengers in this film, and she carries the film.  Morgan Freeman is good at taking outlandish sounding dialogue and making it sound plausible, there’s no exception here.  Amr Waked seems uncomfortable and adds little as Pierre Del Rio.  I really liked him in Salmon Fishing in The Yemen, but he does not make his presence felt here.

The direction by Luc Besson is too artsy, he puts in these visual vignettes in the middle of some scenes to explain the mood, it’s a totally unnecessary flourish and becomes distracting.  His direction of the actors was probably overdone as well, when a film features Morgan Freeman and Scarlett Johansson, he didn’t need to do much.  His script was weak, and his over visualization while pleasant to look at, is way over the top. It was a box office smash, due in large part to Ms. Johansson.  There will be a sequel.

Lucy:  This movie’s got some splainin’ to do.

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Transcendence

Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is a roboticist with a specialty in artificial intelligence, and his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) raises money for her husband’s research.  A tech savvy  group of neo-luddites headed Bree (Kate Mara) wants to stop Will’s research, and one of their group shoots Will, the shooting is considered minor until radiation is found within the bullets.  Will is dying, and decides to spend the last few weeks of his life in the laboratory.  Will thinks he’s found a way to upload his consciousness into a computer hard drive.  Can he succeed in such an ambitious goal?  Can the group who poisoned Will succeed in stopping Will’s vision of constructive artificial intelligence?

This movie should have concentrated on keeping the scope of Will’s projects small, and deal with the ethical issues of a man trying to download his consciousness into a computer and then an android, instead the movie makes the threat global, and gets the government involved, and throws in the requisite Hollywood paranoia about technology, put all of it together and you’ve got Transcendence.   It treats artificial intelligence more like a cult than a technology, and with each successive leap in technology, the film becomes more and more far-fectched.  I didn’t find the threat posed from Will excessively frightening.

Johnny Depp’s performance is dull, and listless, he’s trying to sound like HAL the disembodied computer voice from 2001:  A Space Odyssey, but that approach removes all the required urgency from his performance.  Will he ever give a full performance worth watching again? If Depp wants to make a good movie, he should team up with a top director.  If he wants to make science fiction, he should team up with Christopher Nolan, if he wants to make a screwball comedy, he should team up with Wes Anderson.  He seems to be settling for second rate directors and scripts. Rebecca Hall gives an oddly flat performance as well.  And Morgan Freeman gives his usual Mr. Know it All, voice of reason performance.  The viewer is supposed to trust him, without knowing who or what he represents.  Rooney Mara is supposed to be young and tech savvy, but her group is trying to kill a specialist in the field of robotics, am I supposed to root for her?

The movie was long, the pacing was slow, there were some nice slow motion shots of water droplets falling, but the director didn’t pull any great performances out of the actors, or any dazzling visuals, so the direction is nothing to write home about.  The director Wally Pfister was the cinematographer on movies like The Dark Knight and Inception, so the lack of stunning visuals is disappointing.

Transcendence:  Does not transfix the audience.

the lego movie

President Business (Will Ferrell) steals the Kragle, an object of unlimited power, from Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) a prophet who predicts that someone called the Special , will find another object called the Piece of Resistance, that has the ability to stop the all-powerful Kragle from inflicting any harm. An average construction worker named Emmitt Brickowski  (Chris Pratt) is so good at fitting in, and following all the rules, that he doesn’t leave an impression on anyone.

Emmitt is happy listening to his favorite song, “Everything Is Awesome” and watching his favorite show, “Where Are My Pants” both produced by the Octan corporation, whose CEO is President Business.   He follows the blueprints to build everything, and is perfectly content to go on living the way he lives. Emmitt is at the construction site after hours, telling someone to leave because it’s against the rules.  All of a sudden, he realizes that the intruder is the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen.  Her name is Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and she’s after the Piece of Resistance.  While Emmitt is transfixed by Wildstyle the Piece of Resistance becomes permanently affixed to Emmitt, and he can’t take it off.  Now that Emmitt has the Piece of Resistance he becomes a target of President Business and his loyal foot soldier Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) President Business is planning to use the Kragle to immobilize the citizens of his realm on Taco Tuesday, because he is a rigid dictator.  Can Emmitt evade Bad Cop and get the Piece of Resistance to the top of the Octan Tower before President Business uses the Kragle on his populace?  Is Emmitt the Special?  Does he fulfill the prophesy?

This is a wonderful movie.  The Everyman has a chance to rise to the occasion, and become the Special.  That might be a hackneyed premise, it may even be borrowed from movies like Star Wars and The Matrix, but that’s what makes this movie so endearing, it doesn’t take itself too seriously at all.  It’s even subtly subversive, ok obviously subversive, anti-corporate and wackily anti-conformist.  The Lego Movie does lose its focus a bit when it becomes solely about product placement when Emmitt zooms around the different playsets, but unlike Transformers (Similar toy, worse movies) The Lego Movie finds its footing, and has a satisfying ending, which is neither cloying nor saccharine, but heartfelt. More important than all the adult themes kids learn the importance of individuality, and also working together when necessary.  Those themes may seem contradictory, but they are not in this movie.

The voice talent is amazing in this movie.  Chris Pratt plays Emmitt as a low key hero.  Morgan Freeman is splendid, just hearing his golden voice as the prophet Vitruvius is worth the price of a rental.  Will Ferrell redeems himself after a string of lousy movies, as the evil President Business, but there’s more to his character than initially appears.  Elizabeth Banks has a great voice, she conveys a sense of innocence, and yet her voice sounds sexy.  Can I say she has a sexy voice in a movie aimed at kids?  Well it’s true.  Will Arnett is hilarious as Batman, and Liam Neeson makes a nice comedic turn as Bad Cop.  There are cameos by a few Star Wars stars, Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams add to the laughs, and professional voice actor Keith Ferguson does a pretty serviceable Harrison Ford impression as Han Solo. Shaquille O’ Neal even shows up as himself.  All the actors understood how much fun this movie was, and joined in the spirit of making a truly entertaining film.

The pacing of this movie is more like an action film than an animated film, so the 1 hour 40 minute length goes by in a flash, rent it and watch it with your kids, or watch it with your friends, it’s that funny.

The Lego Movie:  All the pieces fit to make a very good film.

Shawshank-Redemption

In 1947, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of killing his wife, and her golf-pro boyfriend, and sentenced to life in prison in the Shawshank prison in Maine.  He is almost immediately subjected to gang rapes by a group of prisoners called “The Sisters,” and this goes on for almost two years.  While tarring a roof in the prison, Andy offers tax advice to one of the guards.  The guards return the favor by buying Andy and the rest of the roof crew some beers, and taking care of  the Sisters for good.  Andy becomes friends with another lifer, named Red (Morgan Freeman) and asks Red to get a rock pick and a poster of Rita Hayworth, and he gets both.  Andy also starts to do taxes for all the guards and participates in laundering funds for Warden Norton (Bob Gunton)  Andy also writes letters to the Congress to fund the prison library, and not only gets a 500 dollar check from the Congress, but also eventually funding for a new library.

The librarian at the prison, Brooks Hadlin, (James Whitmore) is getting paroled from the prison, but he doesn’t want to leave, he’s been institutionalized and can’t make it in the outside world.  The parole board lets him out anyway, and Hadlin hangs himself.  In 1965, another prisoner named Tommy (Gil Bellows) comes to Shawshank prison.  Andy takes Tommy under his wing and tries to get Tommy his high school diploma.  Tommy has some important evidence about Andy’s case, does he get a chance to tell Warden Norton his story?  Does Andy go free?

The Shawshank Redemption is a great movie, similar in many ways to the Green Mile.  The same writer and director, Frank Darabont, are responsible for both movies and both movies are based on short stories by Stephen King.  There are no miracles in the Shawshank Redemption, as there are in the Green Mile, but it is an uplifting movie nonetheless, because it is about hope.  That hope is personified by Andy Dufresne, despite brutal torture at the hands of prisoners and guards alike, he brings hope to the prison, in the form of books and music, and he spreads that hope to the few friends he has made in the prison, Red and Tommy.

The acting is superb, most notably Robbins and Freeman.  Robbins believes with all his heart that he is not guilty, and he hopes that someone can prove that.  Robbins illustrates both hope and utter desperation in a deeply complex role, Andy is also extremely intelligent and uses all his wit, guile and knowledge to make his life as livable as possible while never giving up hope that he would one day leave the prison.  Freeman plays the opposite extreme, a man who knows he is guilty, but nonetheless thinks he has been rehabilitated.  But this movie owes its success to the ensemble cast, from Bob Gunton as a corrupt warden to Clancy Brown as a sadistic prison guard. From Gil Bellows to James Whitmore, this movie is truly a team effort.

The writing by Frank Darabont and his direction are excellent as well.  The viewer feels a sense of hope and roots for Andy, but the viewer is regularly and brutally reminded that this is a prison, and hopes come to prison to die.  The direction is excellent too, one shot really struck me, when Andy is first going into Shawshank, he looks up at the imposing walls outside the prison, and the camera shot is from his perspective, and the viewer senses Andy’s disbelief  that he is in prison, and disorientation at the imposing surroundings

This movie has something for everyone.  Watch it.

The Shawshank Redemption. Redeem yourself, by watching it.