Tag Archive: morgan freeman


Now You See Me Review

A star studded cast embark on a game of cat and mouse as the FBI and Interpol attempt to catch four magicians who use the disguise of their magic show to conduct bank heists and give the stolen money to their audiences. This band of magicians are known as The Four Horsemen and are each solo artists brought together by a mysterious hooded figure and a series of tarot cards. When together the group pull off these bank heists as a way of being allowed entry to an exclusive group of magicians known as ‘The Eye’.

“The closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see”

The film opens every bit as you might expect: introducing the four characters separately, allowing for the audience to quickly get to know them and acknowledge their traits before they are put into the group dynamic. Up first is street magician J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) whose opening trick is cleverly conducted to work on the audience as well; then comes Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson), a mentalist who uses his ‘gift’ to find out dirty secrets about people and extort them of their money. The only female member of the group is Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), an escapologist and former assistant to J. Daniel Atlas. These three are joined by the only one of the magicians whose actual tarot card links to the Four Horsemen of mythology: Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) who seems to be more like a con artist than magician. These opening scenes are every bit as exciting as you would hope and introduce our heroes as being likeable characters, so much so that it has you gripped form the very beginning.

Jump one year later. Now we’re in Las Vegas watching the Four Horsemen put on a show under the watchful eye of benefactor Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and magician defrauder Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). Here it is that the magicians pull off the bank heist that gets them noticed by the FBI. However, what the audience will notice is just how long this scene drags out and unfortunately it isn’t the only one. As with the case with real life magic shows, the magicians tend to lengthen things out, giving long speeches and explaining what they’re going to do before they do something completely different. While this may be all fine and well at real magic shows, when you have less than two hours on a cinema screen some of the waffle has to be cut down.

“These guys, they’re tricky”

But then that’s why Jesse Eisenberg impresses the most. If it wasn’t for Eisenberg’s charisma then perhaps Now You See Me would run the risk of being slightly dull, but every time Eisenberg appears on screen he hastens up the pace (if not only for his fast talking) but he inhabits the character; it feels like Eisenberg is the only one who has done his research and knows about magicians… which isn’t really surprising considering he was the first name attached to the project.

The other horsemen each have their own moments of glory (although arguably Isla Fisher’s comes at the beginning and never really rears it’s head again) with Harrelson providing a few sporadic laughs throughout, while Dave Franco provides one of the most exciting sequences of the piece in a fight scene with FBI agent Mark Ruffalo where trick mirrors, slight of hand and playing cards all come into use. It really stands out as one of the best action scenes of the summer which is remarkable considering the strength and special effects of the other blockbusters such as Iron Man 3 or Star Trek Into Darkness.

“Want to know how they did it? Just say the magic word”

While each individual actor gets their moment in the limelight at one point or another, it is a slight downfall that the four central characters seem to have very little chemistry with one another. The conversations at times seem jarred and the jokes not as free flowing as you would expect. Perhaps the worst part of the film is the completely unbelievable relationship between Mark Ruffalo’s character and the Interpol agent played by Melanie Laurent. Even the two actors don’t seem invested in that storyline.

Throughout the film there are (almost too many) hints towards the fact that there is going to be a twist so part of the fun comes from guessing what that twist is going to be. There is a little foreshadowing throughout but the reveal should still come as a surprise. It’s a great idea, but arguably poorly executed which is where it is going to be let down. However, this is just a small problem compared to the plot holes scattered throughout the plot and the pointlessness of Michael Caine’s character.

“First rule of magic: always be the smartest guy in the room”

Had it been released at any other time of the year Now You See Me could have very easily run the risk of bombing in the box office. But this is summer and people expect certain things from a summer blockbuster: they want to laugh, be entertained, see great action sequences, wonderful set pieces and big budget effects. And that’s what Now You See Me can deliver. It has it’s flaws but all in all is a thoroughly enjoyable film that can be filed under ‘hit’ for director Louis Leterrier.

My Rating: 6/10

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This week has seen the release of two exciting films, albeit for very different reasons: The Lego Movie and Frozen, the new Disney film. The Lego Movie is one of the most exciting films currently being put together, not necessarily because of its story but because it’s a new way of making films that has never been done before; Disney’s Frozen is exciting because with Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph Disney seem to have returned to top form with their animation and Frozen could be another top notch film for them.

Take a look at the two teaser trailers (or don’t) and see which one you prefer:

THE LEGO MOVIE

UK Release Date: 14th February 2014

Stars: Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Chris McKay (directors), Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Alison Brie, Will Arnett

Plot: An ordinary LEGO minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together.

Coming from the very safe hands of co-directors Lord and Miller (21 Jump Street) and including a whole array of characters that have been seen in the Lego franchise previously (ranging from DC’s superheroes to the NBA all-stars) this looks like it should be a good ride, especially with Chris Pratt in the driving seat who is one of the finest comedy actors around today and absolutely hilarious in Parks and Recreation.

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FROZEN

UK Release Date: 6th December 2013

Stars: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee (directors), Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel, Tom Kane

Plot: Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.

While The Lego Movie certainly has the star power, Frozen has the advantage that it is coming from Disney. It is unknown at this time whether this little scene will be included in the film but it certainly has my attention as you can tell that it has been crafted with the heart and humour of Disney films gone by. Plenty of reindeer merchandise will be sold on the release of Frozen.
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The entertainment industry is an incredibly fickle one; one bad movie can see you go from the top of your game to the discard pile as quick as a flash. So it takes incredible determination, talent and motivation to continue on acting for so many years. 65 is usually the age of retirement over here in Britain but here are a few actors who show no signs of slowing down as they get older, just continuing to get better with age.

Robert De Niro – Born: August 17, 1943 – 69 years old.

This man really does need very little introduction. He’s been acting since the 1960’s but really made his name in the 70s with performances in The Godfather trilogy and of course his iconic performance as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. He’s become associated largely with gangster films but in the last decade or two he’s been slightly less picky with his roles and has taken fun roles rather than the intense ones he used to, as witnessed in Stardust and Meet the Parents. Five releases are slated for this year with more coming in 2014.

Sir Ben Kingsley – Born: 31st December, 1943 – 69 years old.

It’s actually unbelievable that Sir Ben Kingsley was once in English soap opera Coronation Street. Kingsley is often forgotten by mainstream audiences but he is clearly one of the best actors that England have ever produced. He won an Oscar for his role in Ghandi and continues to show his versatility with recent roles in Hugo, Shutter Island and Sexy Beast. Kingsley can now be seen playing Mandarin in Iron Man 3.

Sir Ian McKellen – Born: 25th May, 1939 – 73 years old.

McKellen is a true thespian. It took until the late 80s/early 90s really until McKellen became a certified film star and his career continues to thrive; really, since the turn of the century McKellen has become an actor that all different types of audiences want to see. He has shown off his talents in two iconic roles in particular, Magneto in X-Men and Gandalf in Lord of the Rings (a role he has reprised for The Hobbit trilogy), while at the same time continuing to do short films and television work as well.

Jack Nicholson – Born: 22nd April, 1937 – 75 years old.

What is there left to say about Jack Nicholson that hasn’t been said before? He is undoubtedly one of the best actors that has ever worked. That’s just a simple fact of life. He’s been acting since the 1950s and although he is taking longer breaks between work at the minute that doesn’t mean he is getting any worse. Over the years Nicholson has won three (THREE!) Oscars for his work and turned out great performances in the likes of The Shining, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Batman and The Departed. That’s a career well spent.

Morgan Freeman – Born: 1st June, 1937 – 75 years old.

He’s probably the only man in the world that people could just listen to every single day and never get bored. Has Morgan Freeman really ever been young? A lot of Freeman’s work up until the 90s was largely television work but what a decade the 90s became for him: Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption and Se7en saw Freeman in quite an incredible rise to fame. One that continues thanks to his role in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.

Robert Redford – Born: 18th August, 1936 – 76 years old.

Redford has slowed down in recent years but he is not only an acclaimed actor but also has been nominated for Oscars for his directing as well (and won). This is a man who starred in some of the most famous films of all time: The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He’s made something of a return to acting in the last couple of years with The Company You Keep (2012), All is Lost (2013) and he is set to appear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014).

Sir Michael Caine – Born: 14th March, 1933 – 80 years old.

This year, the great actor turned eighty years old. Unbelievable considering the energy and the emotion that he still brings to all of his characters. Michael Caine has a filmography to rival anybody, he really has reached the top of his game and been there for decades as well now! The Italian Job, Zulu, Alfie, Get Carter, Hannah and Her Sisters and of course more recently he has become a regular collaborator with Christopher Nolan: The Dark Knight trilogy, The Prestige and Inception. A true legend of the acting world.

Christopher Plummer – Born: 13th December, 1929 – 83 years old.

Remember The Sound of Music? One of the most iconic films of all time? Released in 1965? Well Christopher Plummer was in that. And his career is one that seems to have really got better with age and has, in fact, flourished since the beginning of the 21st century. He has recently had roles in A Beautiful Mind, Nicholas Nickleby, National Treasure, Syriana, Up, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and finally won an Oscar in 2012 for his role in Beginners.

These actors are true legends of their profession.

UK Release Date: 12th April 2013

Stars: Joseph Kosinski (director), Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo, Zoe Bell

Plot: On a spectacular future Earth that has evolved beyond recognition, one man’s confrontation with the past will lead him on a journey of redemption and discovery as he battles to save mankind.

After playing Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise will next star as Jack Harper in Oblivion. As much as I like Tom Cruise, and I am a big fan of his, I can’t help but think after watching this trailer that he might be a little bit miscast.

Oblivion is a big budget science fiction film and although Cruise seems to be getting his career back on track it is a risk having him in the lead role I think. And on top of that, the film doesn’t even really look like anything special. A few forums have already seen people theorising about the big plot twist and you can see some very obvious things being debated and you just know that they’re going to stick a cliche end on Oblivion.

The trailer does ask enough questions to get a few people interested. What happened to Earth? Who was the war between? Who and what is Morgan Freeman’s character doing on a supposed desolate Earth with what seems like a whole colony of people? And who is that women that Tom Cruise is shouting “who are you?” at. Good question, Tom.

‘Now You See Me’ Trailer

UK Release Date: 21st June 2013

Stars: Louis Leterrier (director), Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Isla Fisher

Plot: FBI agents track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.

It’s a heist movie where the bank robbers are magicians and the detective is played by the Hulk, what more could you want? Now You See Me is obviously going to be compared to The Prestige upon its release and already is being compared on the internet which makes sense, The Prestige was also about magicians and is easily one of my favourite films of all time.

You can’t deny that Now You See Me has a very ‘prestigy’ feel to it; what with the teleporting device, the magicians, the woman trapped in a tank of water and the appearance of Michael Caine but there is enough here to justify that it is a very different type of film. It looks, to me, that Now You See Me is a lot lighter than The Prestige, as it would have to be to gain the box office it must be expecting with a summer release date and a cast full of stars.

I’m already looking forward to it. I enjoyed the trailer very much and Now You See Me looks like a fun film, that fun best summed up by Dave Franco’s half a second of trailer time in which he manages to fit in the trademark Franco smile. Eisenberg’s scene in which he escapes the handcuffs and gets them on to Ruffalo’s character is quick but incredible and it’s good to see they made the EVER so sensible choice of having Morgan Freeman do the voice over for the trailer. Bring on summer 2013!

Last week it was rumoured that Matthew Vaughn was being heavily linked with the director’s chair of the new Star Wars film and it has been revealed that the shortlist for a director is now down to just 2 names (we don’t know if Vaughn is one of them but I expect he is). However, the news this week is that Michael Arndt is set to write the script. This is a fantastic choice from a critical point of view: Arndt won an Oscar for best screenplay in 2007 for Little Miss Sunshine and received another Oscar nomination for his most recent feature, the incredible Toy Story 3. Arndt is currently overseeing the writing of The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire and will then start work on what is sure to be another brilliant script, this time for Star Wars.

Jack Nicholson is being pursued to play Robert Downey Jr’s father in The Judge. Downey has said that he would love to work with Nicholson but the problem is that Jack Nicholson has only made three films since 2003: the critically acclaimed The Departed, The Bucket List and How Do You Know, the latter of the three showing that it is clearly not a quality script that Nicholson is after. The Judge follows a big-city lawyer (Downey) who returns home after the death of his mother only to discover that his estranged Alzheimer’s-ridden father is suspected of murder, so he represents his father in the case. Although this is by no means a done deal I think it would be perfect casting having Nicholson play Downey’s father.

The LEGO movie spoken about so long ago is finally taking shape and two big name actors have joined the cast this week: Liam Neeson and Will Ferrell. Ferrell will be playing the main villain of the film while Neeson lends his voice to the villain’s henchman. The synopsis for Lego: The Piece of Resistance is: an ordinary Lego mini-figure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil Lego tyrant from gluing the universe together. Ferrell and Neeson join an ever growing cast of Alison Brie, Chris Pratt and Morgan Freeman.

Finally, what began as an internet rumour has this week been confirmed as an official announcement. Transformers 4 has seen the casting of Mark Wahlberg become a reality. And if the Transformers franchise had cast an actual good action star and decent actor in the first place instead of Shia Labeouf and that waste of oxygen Megan Fox then perhaps I would be more inclined to have given them a watch. However, as I have no interest in supporting Michael Bay I am not even sure Wahlberg can persuade me to begin watching this franchise. Transformers 4 will also be taking place 4 years after the previous instalment, Dark of the Moon.

 

It is one of the most anticipated films of all time and how well it is received will determine how Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is seen by future generations; whether it really is one of the greatest film trilogies of all time or whether it burns out over two films and disappears without a trace after a poor final chapter. After watching Batman Begins and The Dark Knight yesterday, I was ready for whatever Christopher Nolan had to throw at me with The Dark Knight Rises…or at least I thought I was.

The previous two films opened wonderfully: Batman Begins brought us Bruce Wayne’s origin as a child (or at least part of it) and his place in the real world at present day, The Dark Knight brought us one of the best opening sequences of all time with the Jokers bank robbery. ‘Rises‘ introduces the audience to a new world, eight years after the last confirmed sighting of Batman, Harvey Dent is still celebrated as a hero and Gotham’s streets are free of crime thanks to a police department headed up by Commissioner Gordon (the role reprised once more by the brilliant Gary Oldman). We are introduced early on to new characters in the franchise; Bane, John Blake, Miranda Tate and Selina Kyle aka. Catwoman.

Of these newcomers it was Blake who I looked forward to seeing the most because the stature of his character struck my curiosity and he is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is one of my favourite actors. However, it was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman that really stole the show for me. Nolan has proved doubters wrong by writing a strong conflicted female character who is more than a match for Bruce Wayne himself. In Batman Begins and The Dark Knight I felt that the only places the films really lost points was in the fight scenes; I never found Batman’s fight scenes as exciting or thrilling as I should have because it always felt a little too staged, too jarred but when Catwoman kicks ass in The Dark Knight Rises she really goes for it and the choreography is excellent, the fights are seamless and exciting, they are really incredible sequences. The eventual final climatic fight between Batman and Bane (played by another brilliant English actor Tom Hardy) is better than any fight scenes of the previous two instalments as well.

The plot can be condensed into a simple sentence: Batman has to stop the city of Gotham being blown up by Bane. Replace the two character names and the name of the city and that plot could fit any generic action movie. But to do this, to try and explain the plot of The Dark Knight Rises in one sentence is to do yourself and the film a massive injustice. There are enough twists and turns, revelations and red herrings to keep the audience interested and invested in the story and it moves at the perfect pace; you can tell it’s a long film but everything, every tiny piece of detail and dialogue is needed and it is well worth sitting through!

The Dark Knight Rises is a brilliantly written film, it is directed beautifully and every single member of the cast, young and old, performs excellently to make this wonderful masterpiece. With a cast that boasts so many big names (Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Juno Temple, Cillian Murphy, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson and Matthew Modine) it would have been just as easy to let them run riot and it still would have been brilliant to watch but with Christopher Nolan at the helm this pool of talent brought their very best to the table to make one of the best films of all time and bring the final curtain on a trilogy that will define the superhero genre but the whole face of cinema for years to come.

My Rating: 10/10