Tag Archives: Morgan Freeman

“Oblivion” (2013) – Review

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Director: Joseph Kosinski

Writers: Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gajdusek, and Michael Arndt

Stars: Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo, and Morgan Freeman

It is the year 2077. Through voiceover we discover humans have fought and won a war against an alien race. But the victory came with a price, the earth itself. Mankind has resettled on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The only two remaining humans on earth are Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) and Jack (Tom Cruise). Together they serve as technicians that maintain the drones left behind to protect the hydrogen fusion plants from the scavengers–the last of the alien invaders that still roam the planet. In two weeks, when their mission is complete they will depart to the Tent, a large space station orbiting the planet where the remainder of humanity resides before heading to Titan.

Jack and Victoria function as a working married couple. Together they live in a home base in the sky. Victoria mans the base while Jack flies around the planet to repair damaged drones. Both report to Sally (Melissa Leo), their control officer stationed in the Tent. But Jack is haunted by dreams of a different time and place. It has been sixty years since the war and Jack was not born before it. Yet he has dreams of New York before the fall and meeting a woman at The Empire State Building. He is drawn to the earth and its ruins. Unbeknownst to Victoria he has created a home in ruins of a cabin by a lake where he has collected different items throughout his tour: books, records, paintings, and pictures.

But one day something different has happened. After stopping a transmission from the scavengers aimed out to space, an old capsule drops from the sky and lands at predetermined coordinates. Once Jack arrives there he discovers humans in stasis, but is only able to save one after the drones arrive to destroy the scene. The one he saves is occupied by the mystery woman of his dreams, Julia (Olga Kurylenko).

Oblivion is a beautiful film with fully realized visuals. Joseph Kosinski, the director, has a definite aesthetic for his art direction. Unfortunately, much like Tron: Legacy, his films are all style and no substance. You leave the theatre not really caring for the characters. At 126 minutes, the film feels the entire length of its running time. Editing the film down fifteen to twenty minutes may not have aided with adding substance to the characters, but it at least would have improved the overall pacing of the film.

As for the acting, it is solid across the board. Tom Cruise carries the film well, and his relationship with Andrea Riseborough as Victoria is believable. You understand how the both of them can be together, and understand the differences they have as people and ultimately what they are looking for. Cruise and Kurylenko also develop a good chemistry together for the short amount of screen time they have together.

Oblivion is more an homage to previous Sci-Fi films than an original effort on its own. Here is a little bit of Hal from 2001, and a bit of the Mother Ship from Independence Day, and lets throw in a few visual cues from Planet of the Apes and Omega Man, and a twist from Moon.

Overall this is a solid–and expensive–“B”-movie.

Grade = B-

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.

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“Dark Knight Rises” (2012) – IMAX – Movie Review

Click on image to view trailer

Director:  Christopher Nolan

Writers:  Jonathan & Christopher Nolan

Stars:  Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Ann Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Cain

The Dark Knight Rises begins in Central Asia eight years after the events of The Dark Knight.  A wanted Russian nuclear scientist, Dr. Pavel (Alon Aboutbol), is being transported by plane along with three captured hooded mercenaries.  While in the air another plane intercepts the first.  In short order, Bane (Tom Hardy) reveals himself as one of the hooded prisoners, his men disable the plane, they kidnap the scientist, and destroy the C.I.A. plane.  Bane is revealed to be feared, cunning, methodical, and his men fanatically loyal.

In Gotham, the lie of Harvey Dent is still being perpetuated.  A law in his name has sent many to jail, and a city holiday exists in his honor.  The Batman is still wanted for Dent’s crimes, and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is battered and a recluse.  All the while Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is being psychologically eaten from the inside by the poison that is the lie of Harvey Dent.  Gotham is ripe for the fall.

The Nolan Batman Trilogy comes full circle with the story of Rises roughly following Batman Begins.  Instead of Falcone and the Scarecrow there is Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn) and Bane.  And just as Falcone thought he controlled the Scarecrow and then was later betrayed by him, the same occurs between Daggett and Bane.  As in Batman Begins where Bruce Wayne is trained in the lair of his enemy, hereto he receives an education about himself in his enemies prison.  And most important of all, Ra’s Al Ghul’s (Liam Neeson) words are made true:  a man can be destroyed, but a legend can never die.  What’s amazing about the story is how little the Dark Knight is actually in it and how much the legend of him is–especially through the eyes of John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).  It is John Blake who calls Batman to action, it is John Blake who brings hope, it is John Blake who remains true through all the evil and lies, and it is John Blake who rises along with Bruce Wayne.

The look of the film is real as opposed to dark.  Gotham in the first two films is overwhelmingly oppressive.  Here Gotham is New York, not some hyper-realized version of it.  Even at its darkest moments in the story there is always light symbolizing hope.  The destruction of the stadium and bridges occurs during the day and not the night.  The prison pit of the damned has a great oculus where only day is ever seen.  The final battle between good and evil occurs during the sunlight of a cold winter’s day.

The story is amazingly well paced.  Though clocking in at 164 minutes, the movie never drags and only has minimal fat–specifically the Police Commander Foley (Matthew Modine) storyline.  More importantly, moments of humor are allowed to occur.

The acting is strong across the board, especially the poignant scenes being between Alfred (Michael Cain) and Bruce Wayne.  Cain and Bale have developed a natural chemistry together, and you can feel their affection for each other.  Almost as strong are the interactions between Gordon-Levitt and Oldman.  Their relationship a microcosm of a father and son.  In the beginning, a son places his father on a pedestal; a god to admire, learn from, and emulate.  But by the end, a son sees his father with open eyes; a man with faults who has made mistakes, a man you can still learn from but can also learn from you.

Hathaway succeeds in bringing both a very accurate depiction of the Catwoman from the comics to the big screen, as well as a very realistic portrayal of the character.  An important observation to note is Selina Kyle is only ever Selina Kyle and is never mentioned as Catwoman.  And what of Tom Hardy as Bane?  He brings a raw physicality and menace to the role.  And there is something to be said to have that British voice behind the mask, as well as his eyes.  There is a tragedy in seeing Tom Hardy’s face in a flashback of Bane and knowing that he becomes a monster.

If not for the final ninety seconds a great movie could have been a perfect film.  If only the film would have ended with Blake’s tale and no other.

Grade = A-


“Dolphin Tale” – Review

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Director:  Charles Martin Smith

 Writer:  Karen Janszen, Noam Dromi
Stars:  Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, and Morgan Freeman
Dolphin Tale is a good, wholesome family movie aimed more at  kids than their parents.  It is partially based on the true story of a rescued dolphin, Winter,  that gets a prosthetic tale.  In this case, the story focuses on how Winter changes the life of the little boy, Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), who helped save her.
Sawyer is the son of single mom, Loraine (Ashley Judd), and has abandonment issues because his father left the family and never came back.  His grades are suffering, and he is in summer school.  During this time of vulnerability, his closest male role mode, his cousin Kyle, is leaving for the military, and Sawyer feels lonelier and more withdrawn.
On his way to school one morning he sees something laying on the beach, goes to investigate, and discovers a beached dolphin tangled up in rope and a crab trap.  Quickly he untangles the dolphin, marine rescue shows up, and the dolphin is rushed away.  The following day, Sawyer visits the ramshackle aquarium to see how the dolphin is doing.  What follows is a boy’s discovery of the wonders of life as he and Winter both heal, and how people can make a difference.
The movie looks good and movies along quickly.  The story is aimed at kids, and there are a few unbelievable plot twists.  Also, certain initial adult aimed sub-plots go nowhere.  But overall, all the actors are game and you leave the film feeling better.  All the kids I was surrounded by in the audience  thoroughly enjoyed the movie–except during those adult sub-plots at which time the young audience members proceeded to talk with each other.
The only real negative of the film is the 3D.  There was no reason to watch this film in 3D, and it appears to be released in this format only to take more money away from parents.  If you can find it in a normal showing, then go for it.
Grade:  B

“Dolphin Tale” – Trailer

Dolphin Tale

Click on image to view trailer

Believe it or not, I will be viewing an advanced screening of this film–so it will be nice to put a review up the same day as the wide release.

 
When I originally agreed to watch it, I though it was a documentary with Morgan Freeman as narrator.  Suffice it to say, I was wrong.  It’s a family film, and judging by the trailer a cute one.