Tag Archives: Morgan Freeman

Cinema Dispatch: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

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The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston

It’s not often that Disney just let’s something slide under the radar like this.  Every Marvel movie and Star Wars episode gets a HUGE marketing push (even the comparatively small Solo got more coverage than a lot of other movies), their animated films are almost always guaranteed to be at the top of the box office, even something as out there as A Wrinkle In Time was pretty omnipresent prior to its release.  With this film though it’s like they want to sneak it out as fast as possible which, given what we saw in the trailers, is probably a good call and even more reason for critics like me to make sure it gets it’s turn in the spotlight!  We may love Disney for a lot of things, but they’ve had their share of horrible mistakes and I’m not in a lenient mood this year!  Does this retelling of the classic tale turn out to be a Disney Blunder on the scale of Treasure Planet, or did they simply not know what to do with the greatness they had in front of them?  Let’s find out!!

Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) is the daughter of a wealthy English family who is not having a very good Christmas, mostly due to her mother (Anna Madeley) having died the previous year, and her father (Matthew Macfadyen) is insisting they at least put up appearances and go the Christmas ball as tradition dictates.  Oh and she has a brother and sister (Tom Sweet and Ellie Bamber), but who cares about them.  ANYWAY, Clara goes to the party in a rather dour mood and sees her kindly godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman) who makes clockwork novelties and presumably lost one of his eyes when a cuckoo clock got too close, but more importantly he seems to be the only one who understands Clara as she too has an affinity for mechanical devices.  However, there’s one that still eludes her which is a locked mechanical egg that she got as the last gift from her mother, and when Drosselmeyer sees it it’s clear that SOMETHING must be done!  Okay, see if you can follow me on this.  First, he sets up an elaborate gift giving system for the kids where very long strings are tied to a pole in the courtyard with each child’s name on one of the strings, and they have to follow said string to the gift.  Clara’s string apparently winds all through the house which leads to a… magic door I guess that takes her to the fantasy world of THE FOUR REALMS that’s populated by nutcrackers, fairies, and mice.  Well it’s certainly a good thing that none of the other kids mistook her string for theirs, though even if I was dutifully following a string with my name on it, I’d AT LEAST start to question something when it starts snowing and we’re no longer in the middle of the city, but I guess I’m not young enough to get the whimsy of being out in the cold without a jacket.  The string by the way leads to a key which could be the one needed to unlock Clara’s mechanical egg thingy, but alas it is taken by a mouse that runs off into THE FOURTH REALM which is a place of fog, dead trees, and clowns.  After meeting up with a nutcracker solider (Jayden Fowora-Knight) and making a valiant effort to chase after the mouse who took her key, she eventually retreats back to the big castle just outside THE FOURTH REALM where all the rich people are partying, the guardians of the GOOD realms are residing (Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez, and Richard E. Grant), and Clara’s mom is apparently still crowned as queen despite being dead for over a year which we soon learn is even LONGER in Fantasy World Time!  So with that, Clara is given the royal treatment but has to take on great responsibility in her mother’s absence to… I guess eradicate THE FOURTH REALM which is so obviously evil while also getting that key back and finally uncovering whatever secrets her mother left in that egg!  Will Clara be able to overcome whatever challenges face her once she goes back into THE FOURTH REALM?  What are the rulers of the other realms planning to do once Clara fulfils her duty, and will she be able to return to her old life?  Is it just me, or did almost NONE of that have to do with The Nutcracker!?

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“And THEN we signed the peace treaty with the dragons of marshmallow mountain which allowed trade ships to travel down the chocolate milk river.”     “uh huh.  That’s nice…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Ben-Hur

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Ben-Hur and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

On the list of unnecessary remakes that no one was asking for ever, I can’t imagine one being worse than this except maybe Citizen Kane or ANOTHER remake of The Jazz Singer.  Hell, I haven’t even SEEN the original Ben-Hur (I know.  Shut up!), and even I can tell this is completely unnecessary!  Oh well.  Maybe this will be a faithful adaptation that understands what made the original so great in the first place and gives its own modern interpretation of those amazing qualities?  Yeah… I doubt it too, but you never know!  Is this a new classic that can stand alongside the original film, or is this a half assed effort that’s hoping to make big bucks on the name alone?  Let’s find out!!

Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) is living his life of luxury as the rich prince of Jerusalem which by this point was embroiled in strife due to the Romans continuing to push into their lands and occupying them.  It’s not of much concern to him though because he’s the one percent, and nothing bad ever happens to them!  Well when his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell) goes off to join the Roman army and comes back years later as one of the lead occupies, things get a bit strained and Judah can’t keep living under a rock.  When some shit goes down that’s totally not his fault, his brother ends up enslaving him and sending him to be a rower in a warship until he keels over and dies; leaving the rest of his family to presumably die for whatever trumped up charges the Romans can think of.  Judah eventually escapes after five years however and SOMEHOW washes back up onto Jerusalem (boy was THAT convenient!) and meets some dude who trains chariot racers (Morgan Freeman) who agrees to help him get revenge on his brother and Rome.  Oh and Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro) is in the background somewhere.  Will Judah be able to avenge those who were so viciously taken away from him?  What will he find after his five year absence from his homeland?  Wait a minute… is this the story of Biblical Batman!?

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“First I make the cape, then the pointy hat, and then I stab him forty times in the gut. That’s plan A, but maybe I should come up with a plan B just in case.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Now You See Me 2

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Now You See Me 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment

Directed by Jon M Chu

I didn’t HATE the first movie, but I wasn’t really a fan of it.  While the magic performances as well as that one Dave Franco action scene were a lot of fun, the glue holding everything together was far from compelling and the twist at the end was MONUMENTALLY stupid; not just because it’s… well stupid, but also because of how it completely poisons the idea of repeat viewings as its one of those twists that unravels everything we saw and robs the story of any sort of tension.  That said I wasn’t opposed to the idea of a sequel, especially once it was revealed that they got Daniel Radcliffe to be in it!  Sure, the twist at the end of the first one kinda ruins THAT movie, but maybe they’ll build off of this one in an interesting and novel way!  Does this manage to continue the trend of sequels this year being better than the original, or is this movie trying to pull a fast one on all of us?  Let’s find out!!  Oh, and we’ll be going into spoilers for the last film, so just a heads up.

After the events of the last movie where the Four Horsemen who are composed of Danny (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt (Woody Harrelson), Jack (Dave Franco), and Henley (Isla Fisher, or Sir Not Appearing In This Film) fulfilled the mission given to them by The Eye, they are now members of the secret organization under the watchful… well EYE, of Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) who was the FBI agent chasing them throughout the first one; the big twist of that film being that he was in on it the entire time!  MAGIC SHOCK!  So after robbing Insurance Mogul Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) of his fortune and getting Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) to take the fall for it, the Horsemen have spent the last year in hiding; waiting around for a sequel… I mean mission, from The Eye.  Henley gave up after a while and went off to do her own thing (what exactly that is, I’m not sure considering she’s still wanted… I think) and Daniel is about to do the same if they aren’t given something to do, or at least get a chance to MEET this organization they’re supposedly working for with their only connection to them being Agent Rhodes.  The day FINALLY comes though as they get a new member Lula (Lizzy Caplan) to join The Horsemen and they plan to crash a part announcing the release of the next iPhone knockoff which supposedly has a chip in it that will steal ALL the users’ data so they can sell it.  I don’t know why this is a job for The Horsemen considering that shit would get discovered and jailbroken within fifteen minutes of its release, but whatever.  The plan doesn’t go as… well planned, as their party crashing is interrupted by ANOTHER party crasher who reveals that Jack is STILL alive (he was presumed dead after the events of the last film) and that Agent Rhodes is actually working with them!  Not only that, but during The Horsemen’s escape, they somehow find themselves ALL the way in China where some sniveling jackass named Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) reveals that he’s the one behind all of this and will get The Horsemen out of trouble (apparently he can do that) if they do a heist for him.  While all this is going on, Agent Rhodes is still in the US trying to evade law enforcement and is trying to piece everything together as to whom else could have been in on this plot against them, and his focus invariably shifts right to Thaddeus Bradley who is loving every moment of this.  Will The Horsemen be able to steal what Walter wants them to, and can he be trusted to keep up his end of the bargain?  How exactly will Agent Rhodes manage to get the truth out of Thaddeus about his involvement in all of this, and does this have anything to do with his past?  Look over there!  Now here!  Was THIS your card!?

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They don’t seem very amused by that…

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Cinema Dispatch: London Has Fallen

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London Has Fallen and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features, Gramercy Pictures, and Lionsgate Films

Directed by Babak Najafi

Look, Gods of Egypt was a mistake, alright?  Gerard Butler was certainly not the ONLY one responsible for that catastrophe and was frankly one of the few saving graces for a movie that deserved none.  He’s learned his lesson though and is coming back with a sequel to probably his second most popular film (after 300).  Will this be the shot in the arm his career needs after that unfathomable mess, or will this befall the same fate of pretty much every other sequel to a surprise hit which is to crash and burn spectacularly?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows Secret Service agent Mike Bannon (Gerard Butler) and President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) who are in London so that the President can attend the funeral of the recently deceased Prime Minister.  Not only is he in attendance though, but so are many leaders of the western world which is something this movie seems to think has NEVER happened.  Uh… world leaders get together all the time.  Has this movie ever heard of the G8 summit?  Anyway, the death of the Prime Minister turns out to be a ploy for a known arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Moni Aboutboul) to take his revenge on the US (and presumably the rest of the G8) for a drone strike that was targeting him, but managed to kill everyone at his daughter’s wedding.  There’s only ONE person who seems to think that something might be up though, and when shit hits the fan Mike Bannon is on the job to save the president and kill as many bad guys as possible!  While this is going on, Vice President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) is dragged back into the situation room to deal with ANOTHER crisis where the President is smack dab in the middle of utter chaos and he does… stuff.  I think.  Will Mike be able to save the President and the free world before the day is over? Is there a mole in the British military or spy network that helped these terrorist pull of their plan?  Did all the people they dragged back in from the first movie at least get a nice paycheck out of this?

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“Wait, is THAT the movie we’re in!?”     “Yes…”     “Sweet merciful baby Jesus.  WHAT HAVE WE DONE!?!?”

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