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Tag: Morgan Freeman

Reviews

Review: Angel Has Fallen

August 25, 2019

We witnessed how Olympus fell in 2013 and in 2016 London was under attack in “London Has Fallen”. We’re now three years later and so what could fall in 2019? Well, it seems that this time it’s the Angel (a.k.a. the protector of the politicians) himself. Director Ric Roman Waugh (“Snitch”, “Felon”) his “Angel Has Fallen” might be the most unnecessary “fallen” film but luckily for us, it doesn’t fall flat.

Welcome back, Mike Banning!

Let’s bring you up to speed as fast as the actions scenes in this movie just in case you haven’t seen the previous two films. Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is the arch-angel and protector of high profiled politicians. In “Olympus Has Fallen”, he had to rescue the former president from kidnappers and in the second instalment, he needed to stop the assassination of the world leaders.

What is it this time? It’s a mix of both. During a trip of president Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), who’s escorted by Banning and his team, an assassination is carried out on Trumbull. The aftermatch of this drone attack: eighteen men killed and both the President and Banning have slipped into a coma. After waking up, Banning’s life is about to change forever. Because he’s the only survivor of the attack and because his hair and skin cells were found on the device that was used, he’s being charged for the attempted assassination of the President.

Banning knows that he’s being framed and wants to prove his innocence. Sadly, this means that he has to leave his wife Leah (Piper Perabo) and their little daughter behind for all their sakes. Banning’s trying to uncover the real threat but at the same time, his agency and the FBI are doing everything they can to nail him down. Will he be able to expose who’s behind the attack or will he be the one who takes the fall?

While their cat-and-mouse game is in full swing, the president is still in a coma and so Vice President Kirby (Tim Blake Nelson) has to step in. However, this leads to hard political allegations and the leak of secret information. It goes from bad to worse when there are rumours of corruption. Which impact will this have on the political landscape and will president Trumbull come out of his coma or not?

Does there need to be more action?

No, absolutely not! If you’re looking for an explosive and fast-paced film, then you should watch “Angel Has Fallen”. The action is present right from the beginning. Banning is his usual self during his active operation: Quick, handy with a gun and ready to kill. That’s just the start of all the stunning action. One of the people you have to thank for that is director/co-writer Ric Roman Waugh. As former stunt man, he knows what’s like to be in the heat of the moment. From drones flying around your ears to multiple shoot-outs with loads of casualties and from extremely “fire-y” explosions to car chases. “Angel Has Fallen” is just packed with entertaining and intense action scenes.

Because one unit wasn’t enough to handle all the action, director Waugh decided to work with Vic Armstrong as his Second Unit Director. Together they made sure that every explosion and every bullet is being captured on screen from as many angles as possible. Whether it’s via steady-cams, handheld camera’s or tracking camera’s, you name it, they use it. While there are a few scenes that are being ruined by the rapidly moving camera (such as the training exercise and nightly ambush scene) or bad CGI effects, the audience is just being immersed into the heart of the action.

Up-close and personal

Both “Olympus Has Fallen” and “London Has Fallen” were about Gerald Butler in action, big explosions, and long and thrilling car rides and less about intimacy and the up-close stories. We’re not saying that this isn’t the case anymore in this movie (Butler has still plenty of screen time to show us his shooting, fighting, and combat skills) but in “Angel Has Fallen”, there’s also room for emotions and very personal moments. However, Waugh does what neither Antoine Fuqua (“Olympus Has Fallen”) nor Babak Najafi (“London Has Fallen”) could accomplish: Making this film about brutality and vulnerability

If you want to achieve that duality, you need to have a cast who can pull it off exactly how you want it. Ok yes, the characters are as predictable as the film itself but that doesn’t mean they’re badly portrayed on the screen. While sometimes overplaying Mike during the action scenes and underplaying him during the more emotional ones, Butler (“Hunter Killer”) still puts on a solid performance. Especially from the moment he comes face-to-face with his on-screen father Clay (played fabulously by Nick Nolte). Humour is making its way into the movie and there’s that personal connection we were looking for. Butler deserves some credits for those scenes but it’s especially Nolte (“Warrior”, “Affliction”) who rocks the screen as the estranged dad. Don’t get us started on that explosive scene right in the middle of the woods.

The director wanted to give this movie also a female touch when hiring Piper Perabo (“Black Butterfly”). With the most emotional ones, Perabo needs to be moving, gripping but also strong and that’s exactly what she’s as Banning’s wife. Starting as just the politician Trumbull in the first film to becoming Vice president in the second one, Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) is back and this time he takes on the role as president. “Angel has fallen” might be the movie in which he has the least dialogue. However, when he has some lines, he makes you listen as no one else can.

They get back up from a strong supporting cast which includes Jada Pinkett Smith (“Girls Trip”) as the secretive but righteous BFI agent Thompson, Lance Reddick (“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”) as Secret Service Director David Gentry who put his country before himself and Tim Blake Nelson (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”) as Vice President Kirby who does everything to gain power.

The end of the franchise is near

After the unsuccessful previous “fallen” films, you’re probably wondering why they made the third one as it would be unnecessary. However, “Angel Has Fallen” has proven to be the best film out of the three. With the new director behind the wheel, a predictable but more balanced (thrilling action versus emotions) storyline, humouristic moments and still some convincing acting performance, the trilogy ends on a high.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Angel Has Fallen (Official Trailer)

Also Read: The Internet picks the #BestMovieLineEver

Reviews

Retro Review: The Lego Movie

February 21, 2019

February Half Term is here so it’s time to enjoy some family time at the cinema. With The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part looking to storm the box office this half term, lets first take a look back at the original movie. Which proved all naysayers wrong and went on to become a box office smash and spawn a franchise of Lego spinoff movies. But half a decade later, does the first movie still hold up?

The story

Emmet (Chris Pratt) is a normal, generic Lego construction worker, happily going through his life conforming to the will of big businesses. But when he follows resistance fighter and master builder Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) off the beaten track he ends up fused with the legendary “piece of resistance”. This apparently means that he is the legendary “special”, prophesized to bring down Lord Business (Will Ferrell) and bring peace to the universe. The only problem is Emmet really isn’t special. He is not creative, does not possess the skills of a master builder (people who can build anything from everyday materials) and doesn’t wish to get involved. Never the less he is pursued by Lord Business.

While on the run Emmet must work with many colourful characters to find a way to stop Lord Business from freezing the world forever with his superweapon, The Kraggle. Can Emmet defeat the enemy with nothing to work with his but his everyday knowledge and fondness for double-decker couches?

What did I like?

The Lego Movie’s success really did come out of nowhere. Upon release, everyone thought it would just be another cash grab. With a celebrity voice cast collecting a paycheque. An inconsequential story and brand recognition placed above creativity. But the Lego Movie dashed all of those presumptions.

Firstly, the film looks amazing. The colour scheme is vibrant and full of variety making it an absolute joy to look at. The film also shows great affection for the Lego fanbase by having many of the characters move at a lower frame rate to give the illusion of stop motion animation, similar to Lego online videos. Which elicits plenty of affectionate charm and admiration for its creativity, backed up by gorgeously flowing animation.

Then there’s the sound. The voice cast is uniformly terrific. Everyone brings perfect comedic timing to their roles, Will Arnett’s Batman and Morgan Freemans Vitruvius being particular highlights. Each character’s voice suits and parodies their archetypes simultaneously. For example, Will Arnett’s send-up of Christian Bale’s Batman voice is made funnier through his self-aware smugness. So, the well-written jokes have extra layers to unpack through their delivery and timing. The sound design is also fantastic. The score is also beautiful, often adding an OTT silliness to the proceedings. Great thought is also put into sound details such as how walking, construction and fights sound in this Lego world. And all capped off with “Everything is Awesome”. A song that ridicules and celebrates corporate pop music in a way that ensures you’ll never forget it.

As well as looking and sounding amazing, The Lego Movie’s characters are all unique, funny and offer something to the story. Emmet makes for an easily likeable protagonist, being the only down to earth person who just wants to be nice. Wyldstyle, despite her hostile introduction, shows herself to be a strong person who takes Emmet’s self-lessness to heart and unites the world. And the supporting cast all offer different flavours of critique on “adult” perspectives or showcase the joy of childhood wonder. And the story offers different things to different generations. The simple nature of the story makes it easy for children to follow and the satire easily engages the adult viewers. And by the end, despite the cynical nature of some of the jokes, it brings both audiences together. Showing that sometimes we need to let go of adulthood for a while and be children again.

And that is the ultimate key to why The Lego Movie works so well. It blends adult craftsmanship and satire with childlike joy and enthusiasm in a way that feels complementary rather than derogatory to the overall experience. Ultimately showing that despite our cynical nature, we all have the potential to be special in our own way.

What I do not like?

However, amongst the achievements of this film there are a few missteps. The biggest problem being the way it represents women. There are only two prominent female roles in the film. Unikitty is repressed and Wyldstyle has penis envy. The twist does explain these choices and the characters never feel insulting or malicious. However their roles are still unflattering.

Lastly, some of the humour is a little too reliant on self-awareness or referencing popular culture. Though not a terrible source for jokes, most are even executed really well, their occasional overuse becomes tiresome. At some points, it even becomes alienating to people trying to become absorbed in the world and the story. The constant fourth wall breaking draws into question how invested we should be in characters who have no regard for the narrative. Though these moments are usually well delivered and spaced out enough to not be a huge issue.

Verdict 

While occasionally too self-aware, lacking a decent female insight and an overreliance on reference humour, The Lego Movie is a great family movie that deserves revisiting. It finds unique ways to appeal to both children and adults without feeling overstuffed or disingenuous. It includes a fantastic cast inhabiting interesting and hilarious characters in a beautiful world that clearly had a lot of passion behind it. And every time you return there’s something new to chew on. The Lego Movie is a testament to the power of imagination and storytelling and for me, the best animated film of the decade so far.

Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The Lego Movie (Trailer)

The Lego Movie is available on DVD and digital stores.