Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Shawshank Redemption Review

The Shawshank Redemption

Release Date: 15th February 1995 - Australia

Production Companies
Castle Rock Entertainment (presents)

Roadshow Distribution

Genre: Drama

Rating: MA15+ (Not Suitable for Young Children)

Runtime: 142 minutes

Budget: $25,000,000

Box Office Gross: $58,000,000 (Worldwide)

Plot Summary
Andy Dufresne, a New England banker convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, is sent to Shawshank State Prison where he meets Red Redding, a seasoned lifer. Despite twenty years on the inside, the prison bars fail to contain their spirits; and the pair forge an unlikely friendship, one that overcomes pain, suffering and ultimately leads to a chance at freedom.

Tim Robbins - Andy Dufresne
Morgan Freeman - Red Redding
Bob Gunton - Warden Norton
William Sadler - Heywood
Clancy Brown - Captain Hadley
Gil Bellows - Tommy
Mark Rolston - Bogs Diamond
James Whitmore - Brooks Hatlen
Larry Brandenburg - Skeet
Neil Giuntoli - Jigger
Brian Libby - Floyd
David Proval - Snooze
Joseph Ragno - Ernie
Scott Mann - Glenn Quentin

Writer/Director - Frank Darabont
Based on Short Story "Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption" - Stephen King
Executive Producer - Liz Glotzer 
Executive Producer/Unit Production Manager - David V. Lester 
Producer - Niki Marvin
Production Designer - Terence Marsh
Costume Designer - Elizabeth McBride
Director of Photography - Roger Deakins
Film Editor - Richard Francis-Bruce
Music - Thomas Newman


1995 Academy Awards
Best Picture - Niki Marvin (Nominated)
Best Actor in a Leading Role - Morgan Freeman (Nominated)
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published - Frank Darabont (Nominated)
Best Cinematography - Roger Deakins (Nominated)
Best Sound - Robert J. Litt, Elliot Tyson, Michael Herbick
and Willie D. Burton (Nominated)
Best Film Editing - Richard Francis-Bruce (Nominated)
Best Music, Original Score - Thomas Newman (Nominated)

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION was seen and admired by many film buffs, even the website of IMDB rated it as #1 on the top 250 films. A well-renowned cinematic iteration of a book by Stephen King. It easily beats a few movies that were based on his other work like STAND BY ME and MISERY for example. It accomplishes pure significance and love to the modern film industry. The film was poorly-advertised during its release then re-airings on television quickly changed that into a pop-cultural phenomenon. It's not so surprising that SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION was one of the year's best movies that were destined to win the Best Picture Oscar and was snubbed in favour of FORREST GUMP (click here). I also like to point out that THE LION KING (click here) should have had this distinction, if it were nominated. A prison drama about one man who befriends a fellow inmate as they struggle to regain their hope and freedom in a prison run by a corrupt warden. Frank Darabont has never filmed a Hollywood big-budgeted picture and this is his first foray into the motion picture industry. This was his known directorial debut as Frank was moving on to direct other projects that were not yet filmed specifically until later years.

Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman were both handing out their sensational performances in a movie like SHAWSHANK. Their roles as the inmates considering that one is a rogue and the other is a seasoned veteran that are in a friendship which is the heart of the story. It's a crime that none of these two well-known actors won the Best Actor award which goes to Tom Hanks for his role in FORREST GUMP. The actors who take on the roles of corrupt officials like Bob Gunton who was perfect as the awfully corrupt warden. So does Clancy Brown for his supporting role as the ruthless prison guard. The music by Thomas Newman was hauntingly beautiful and moody and without a doubt, is his greatest composition that he has written for a feature film. 

This was a genuinely moving movie which will be known in its most importance as a timeless masterpiece. Age hasn't affected SHAWSHANK as the film was highly regarded and continues to inspire us. Highly recommended for those that were new to Stephen King and will watch it for the first time.

Star rating: (10/10) Best Movie Ever

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Muriel's Wedding Review

Muriel's Wedding

Release Date: 29th September 1994 - Australia

Production Companies
House & Moorhouse Films
Film Victoria
CiBy 2000

Roadshow Distribution 

Genre: Comedy

Rating: M (Not Suitable for Young Children)

Runtime: 101 minutes

Budget: $9,000,000

Box Office Gross: $15,765,571 (Australia)

Plot Summary
Socially awkward Muriel Heslop wants nothing more than to get married. Unfortunately, due to her oppressive politician father, Muriel has never been on a date. Ostracized by her more socially adept friends, Muriel runs into fellow outcast Rhonda Epinstalk, and the two move from their small Australian town to the big city of Sydney, where Muriel changes her name and begins the arduous task of redesigning her life to match her fantasies.

Toni Collette - Muriel Heslop
Rachel Griffiths - Rhonda Epinstalk
Bill Hunter - Bill Heslop
Sophie Lee - Tania Degano
Daniel Lapaine - David Van Arkle
Jeanie Dryman - Betty Heslop
Matt Day - Brice Nobes
Gabby Millgate - Joanie Heslop
Roz Hammond - Cheryl
Gennie Nevinson - Deidre Chambers
Belinda Jarrett - Janine 
Pippa Grandison - Nicole
Daniel Wyllie - Perry Heslop
Chris Haywood - Ken Blundell
Barry Crocker - Himself

Writer/Director - P.J. Hogan
Producers - Lynda House and Jocelyn Moorhouse
Production Designer - Patrick Reardon
Costume Designer - Terry Ryan
Director of Photography - Martin McGrath
Film Editor - Jill Bilcock
Music - Peter Best

Of all the movies that were produced in Australia from the past through to recent years like PRISCILLA (click here), THE CASTLE (click here) and MAD MAX are considered to be the nation's top films. There's one other movie that belongs in this said category and was released in the same year as PRISCILLA - MURIEL'S WEDDING is an Aussie melodramatic comedy that though it can be black and painful at times. It showcases the topical and worst elements of Australian society and engages viewers into its themes of acceptance. Containing heartbreak and awkward laughter with songs from ABBA impacts the film as optimistic and melancholic. It has succeeded, if it wasn't for actress Toni Collette as being its titled female character and Director P.J. Hogan doing a terrific job in caricaturising a shameless world in a black comedy.

Collette gets a moment of applause as the social misfit who longs to get married and struggles with her personal issues. Aussie legend Bill Hunter was truly fantastic as the rotten political father who mistreats and ignores his family. Rachel Griffiths was a supporting player in their lives as was Jeanie Dryman for portraying Muriel's put-upon and depressed mother.

MURIEL'S WEDDING is a great movie that though it is memorable and inspiring for a broad audience. It is highly recommended for viewers that are into Australian comedy and drama.

Star rating: (8/10) Very Good Movie

Monday, 10 April 2017

The LEGO Batman Movie Review

The LEGO Batman Movie

Release Date: 30th March 2017 - Australia

Production Companies 
Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Animation Group
DC Entertainment
RatPac-Dune Entertainment (in association with)
The LEGO Group
Animal Logic
Vertigo Entertainment
Lin Pictures
Lord Miller
Roadshow Distribution 

Genre: Animation/Family

Rating: PG

Runtime: 104 minutes

Budget: $80,000,000

Box Office Gross: $311,950,384 (Worldwide)

Plot Summary 
There are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker's hostile takeover, LEGO Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up. 

Voice Cast
Will Arnett - Bruce Wayne/Batman
Rosario Dawson - Barbara Gordon/Batgirl
Ralph Fiennes - Alfred Pennyworth
Siri - Puter
Michael Cera - Dick Grayson/
Zach Galifianakis - The Joker
Jenny Slate - Harley Quinn
Jason Mantzoukas - Scarecrow
Conan O'Brien - The Riddler
Doug Benson - Bane
Billy Dee Williams - Two Face
Zoe Kravitz - Catwoman
Kate Micucci - Clayface
Riki Lindhome - Poison Ivy/Wicked Witch of the West
Eddie Izzard - Voldermort
Seth Green - King Kong
Jemaine Clement - Sauron
Ellie Kemper - Phyllis
Channing Tatum - Superman
Jonah Hill - Green Lantern
Adam Devine - The Flash
Hector Elizondo - Jim Gordon
Mariah Carey - Mayor McCaskill
Lauren White - Chief O'Hara/Various

Director - Chris McKay
Batman Creators - Bob Kane and Bill Finger
Superman Creators -  Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Story/Screenplay - Seth Grahame-Smith
Screenplay - Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern and John Whittington
Executive Producers - Benjamin Melniker, Michael Uslan, Will Allegra, Matthew Ashton, Brad Lewis, Steven Mnuchin, Zareh Nalbandian and Jill Wilfert
Producers - Roy Lee, Christopher Miller, Phil Lord and Dan Lin
Co-Producers - Jon Burton, Ryan Halprin,
John Powers Middleton and Amber Naismith
Production Designer - Grant Freckelton
Head of Story - Trisha Gum
Animation Supervisor - Rob Coleman
Film Editors - David Burrows, John Venzon
and Matt Villa
Music - Lorne Balfe

A self-referential, playful and lighthearted take of Batman was an interruption from the gloomy and dour interpretation that many fans see in the comics, films, games and TV shows. Unlike the few that came before this film the others were too campy and colourful like the 1966 Adam West film and the last two films from the Burton/Schumacher quadrilogy - BATMAN & ROBIN (click here) was the worst of them all. Many movies of the Dark Knight stayed true and come close to the original tone until now. Because of the worldwide phenomenon of THE LEGO MOVIE (click here) that rejoiced younger audiences into playing their Lego versions and sets. While the older audiences and even parents relive their childhood memories of their block building years. THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE isn't quite as entertaining as the original movie that spun-off from its success. It definitely has shown a softer side of Batman to young kids that were too young to watch the darker versions. It puts the fewer recent entries like BATMAN V SUPERMAN (click here) into shame.

The voice acting, humour and animation hasn't been largely diminished as the feature would have prided itself to be. Actor/comedian Will Arnett returns to do the voicing of the caped crusader as he clearly enjoys being silly with it unlike George Clooney. Zach Galifianakis voices the Joker as much saner than Jack Nicholson, Jared Leto and the late Heath Ledger's previous interpretations. Michael Cera was enthusiastic as Batman's boy-wonder sidekick Robin. I was very disappointed that a lot of Batman's known rogues gallery were underused. Particularly Two-Face who was voiced once again by Billy Dee Williams. The actor hasn't had a good chance to portray this villain's complex personalities as he only portrayed his good side as Harvey Dent in Tim Burton's BATMAN (click here). But when Tommy Lee Jones took over this character from him and turned it into a comically exaggerated version of Two-Face. The original actor was unneeded until he was on the right track of voicing the character but only for a minimal screen-time. 

Many of the villains that were not from the DC universe were certainly out of place for a movie like LEGO BATMAN. These include -  Lord Voldermort, Sauron, The Daleks, etc shouldn't be added as they should belong only to the other franchises. It's more disappointing that the producers decide not to let Ralph Fiennes return as the dark wizard from the HARRY POTTER series, even though he is busy voicing Alfred.

In my opinion, LEGO BATMAN is probably not the most serious movie in the Batman genre and neither the best. It has many allusions to remind older fanatics that this film self-parodies the image of the masked vigilante. This would be a surprise twist to many viewers who were into Batman. This movie is suitable for all ages.

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Beauty and the Beast

Release Date: 23rd March 2017 - Australia 

Production Companies 
Walt Disney Pictures
Mandeville Films

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Australia 

Genre: Family/Musical

Rating: PG

Runtime: 129 minutes

Budget: $160,000,000

Box Office Gross: $1,263,521,126 (Worldwide)

Plot Summary
When Belle goes looking for her
father, Maurice, she finds him
imprisoned in a tower within a
dark castle by the Beast. She
offers herself as a prisoner in
exchange for her father's

She finds to her amazement
that the inanimate objects in
the castle are alive, and can
talk. She makes friends with
them and is told that the Beast
is not as terrible as he appears.
She slowly gets to know the
frightening creature, just as the
townsfolk are preparing to rescue her.

Emma Watson - Belle
Dan Stevens - Beast
Luke Evans - Gaston
Kevin Kline - Maurice
Ewan McGregor - Lumière
Stanley Tucci - Maestro Cadenza
Emma Thompson - Mrs. Potts
Ian McKellen - Cogsworth
Gugu Mbatha-Raw - Plumette
Audra McDonald - Madame Garderobe
Nathan Mack - Chip
Josh Gad - LeFou
Hattie Morohan - Agathe/Enchantress
Adam Mitchell - Young Prince
Haydn Gwynne - Clothilde
Gerard Horan - Jean the Potter
Adrian Schiller - Monsieur D'arque
Harriet Jones - Queen
Henry Garrett - King
Zoe Rainey - Belle's Mother
Daisy Duczmal - Baby Belle
Jolyon Coy - Young Maurice 
Director - Bill Condon
Based on Fairy Tale - Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont (Uncredited)
Screenplay - Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos
Executive Producers - Don Hahn, Thomas Schumacher and Jeffrey Silver
Producer - David Hoberman
Co-Producers - Steve Gaub, Jack Morrissey, Greg Yolen and Alexander Young
Co-Producer/Unit Production Manager - Jeremy Johns
Creative Consultants - Gary Trousdale
and Kirk Wise
Production Designer - Sarah Greenwood
Costume Designer - Jacqueline Durran
Special Makeup Effects Designers - Dave and Lou Elsey
Director of Photography - Tobias A. Schliessler
Choreography - Anthony Van Laast
Special Effects Supervisor - Paul Corbould
Special Effects Co-Supervisor - Gareth Wingrove
Visual Effects Supervisors - Kelly Port
and Glen Pratt
Songs: Music/Score - Alan Menken
Songs: Lyrics - Howard Ashman and Tim Rice
Film Editor - Virginia Katz 

In 2017, there are two anticipated movies that are currently grossing in the box office as they are yet to finish screening in theatres. The first of these movies was the remake of Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Because it was hyped and follows the success of Disney's previous live-action iteration of THE JUNGLE BOOK (click here). This newly enchanted version is a much preferable film than the feature-length adaptation of POWER RANGERS. The new Beauty and the Beast film is surprisingly faithful to the story-line of the animated incarnation that was made 26 years ago during the Disney Renaissance. It's almost as magical but not as simplistic as the original 1991 film, the music and singing in the new release does not match the original well known and loved compositions. The whimsicality is also toned down for the remake and a few subplots and new songs were added to the movie for its newfound invigoration.

Emma Watson has done a great job in moving away from her fame of HARRY POTTER as the bookworm of a beauty Belle. She has an excellent singing voice and was trained by the actress that originally voiced Belle in Disney's original version. Dan Stevens was wonderfully clever in his CGI form as the monstrous Beast. Luke Evans was good at being the vain and arrogant Gaston, even though his character is not like the one we see from the animated feature. Even Ewan McGregor, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson have their moments as being the other characters. The visuals are outstanding and seemed more advanced than the 2D animation.

The remake of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was darker and more complex than the original version which was lighthearted and tame like any Disney animation before. It's not lazy, nor dull and fans may grow tired of Disney's trend of remaking their classics. Even the forthcoming version of THE LION KING isn't going to be any better and it will forever haunt the fans of the original. Overall, I did get to enjoy it while in theatres, it stands as a semi-decent and must-see film.

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie

Monday, 3 April 2017

Viva Las Vegas Review

Viva Las Vegas

Release Date: 20th May 1964 - USA 

Production Companies
Metro Goldwyn Mayer (presents)
Jack Cummings Productions (Uncredited)
Winters Hollywood Entertainment Holdings Corporation (Uncredited)

Genre: Musical
Rating: G

Runtime: 85 minutes

Budget: $1,000,000 (estimated)

Box Office Gross: $9,442,967 

Plot Summary
All musically gifted race-driver Lucky Jackson wants in Las Vegas is to score enough money for a new car motor so he can win the Grand Prix. When he encounters sexy swimming instructor Rusty, he considers staying around longer. After Lucky loses his winnings in the hotel pool, he's forced to remain in Vegas long enough to win back his dough - but now he also has to win Rusty's heart. Unfortunately, so does his slick racing enemy, Elmo.

Elvis Presley - Lucky Jackson
Ann-Margret - Rusty Martin
Cesare Danova - Count Elmo Mancini
William Demarest - Mr. Martin
Nicky Blair - Shorty Fansworth
Jack Carter - Himself
Teri Garr - Showgirl
The Jubilee Four - Themselves

Producer/Director - George Sidney
Writer - Sally Benson
Producer - Jack Cummings
Art Directors - Edward C. Carfagno and
George Davis
Costume Designer - Donfeld
Director of Photography - Joseph F. Biroc
Choreographer - David Winters
Film Editor - John McSweeney Jr.
Music - George Stoll and
Robert Van Eps (Uncredited)

I wasn't exactly into the music from the legendary Elvis Presley who was also known as The King and was one of the great musicians of rock and roll. I preferred Michael Jackson and The Beatles, to hear all of their tremendous catchy tunes and inspiring ballads. Though I did listen to a few tracks of Elvis and covers from music streaming and a few mixed CDs, namely the title track from one of his better lighthearted musical comedies VIVA LAS VEGAS. I didn't even watch the movie until it was on a special feature session at Parkes Shire Library when I first visited the Parkes Elvis Festival. A popular hit film of 1964 that was released with the King's few other musicals as well as A HARD DAY'S NIGHT from The Beatles, VIVA LAS VEGAS has been a wildly entertaining classic that many fans considered it the all-time best of his movies. Decked with flashy musical numbers and a sensational racing climax from start to finish. A lot of people have seen Elvis sing and dance many times in films, televised appearances and stage concerts, but this is the most fun that he ever had in a movie since JAILHOUSE ROCK.

Elvis and Ann Margaret definitely pulled the strings of their romantic chemistry and based on what I have heard, they had an off-screen relationship together. Although much of this is true, it absolutely works for the better.

All in all, VIVA LAS VEGAS is a great, bonafide classic and though it brings out the best in his style of music. This film is highly recommend for those who were all fans of Elvis's music.

Star rating: (8/10) Very Good Movie