Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman Dolphin Tale

Somewhere, someone owes Morgan Freeman $20. Because someone was foolish enough to bet Hollywood’s sagest actor that he couldn’t land roles in both the Ben-Hur remake and the pot-smoking teddy bear sex comedy in the span of 36 hours. And Freeman has proved this poor fool wrong. At least, that’s what I assume has happened. Here’s the news, which brings us the first official cast member for the latest adaptation of Lew Wallace’s classic Christian novel: Deadline announced that Freeman has come aboard Timur Bekmambetov‘s remake-stravaganza. He is playing Ildarin, the sheik who instructs Judah Ben-Hur in the ways of chariot racing. It’s most definitely a “wise old man” role, but that fits Freeman to a T — after all, he is our nation’s foremost expert in dispensing time-tested wisdom and then chuckling to himself, softly. It’s been said roughly six billion times that doing a Ben-Hur remake is some kind of film blasphemy (although it might just be following the example set when Exodus: Gods and Kings stepped on the toes of another Charlton Heston religious epic). Even though the Ben-Hur everyone knows was actually a remake of a 1925 silent Ben-Hur. Which, in turn, was based on a 1907 film reel, which was based on a book. Plus it was already redone as an animated feature in 2003 and a mini-series in 2010. So it’s not as though remakes have no precedence here.

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Morgan Freeman Laughing

In casting news that really makes you think about the significance of life on this big blue rock hurtling through space we call our world, Morgan Freeman has signed on for a “juicy role” in Seth MacFarlane‘s much-anticipated sequel to Ted, according to Variety. The aptly named Ted 2 will again be scripted and directed by MacFarlane, who will also return to voice the pesky little teddy bear with the loudest mouth. The details of the plot are scarce for the time being, but Freeman was apparently sought for his role — which makes sense, because if you’re going to attempt to go big you might as well go all the way to the top and fight for someone like Freeman. MacFarlane has been searching for high-profile celebrities to nail down supporting roles and cameos (still uncasted) to join the film and step out of their comfort zone for some gross-out humor and casual conversation with a talking teddy bear. What’s clear at this point is that the actor will play an “iconic” civil rights lawyer who steps into the mix when Ted lands himself in some legal trouble that needs to be resolved. To accompany Freeman, several members of the original cast will return, including Mark Wahlberg and frequent MacFarlane collaborator Patrick Warburton. The former starred as Ted’s best friend and partner in crime, John, who wished for the toy to come to life when he was a child and had the wish fulfilled during a particularly generous falling star. 

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Universal Pictures

The question of, “What would happen if we used more than ten percent of our brains?,” is one that has been posed before, but Lucy looks to answer it in a way that is both cerebral and action packed. Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is an American student living (and living it up) in Taiwan, but her entire world is turned upside down when a locked briefcase is handcuffed to her wrist and she finds herself in the middle of a ruthless drug ring. After meeting the elusive Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik), Lucy finds out what is in the briefcase and what Mr. Jang would now like her to do with its contents. Forced to carry the drugs inside her (scenes that will have squeamish viewers turning away), a sudden physical altercation causes the bag of drugs (CPH4, to be exact) to burst and Lucy to go from unassuming drug mule to an emotionless walking superhuman. Set on understanding what is happening to her, Lucy sets out to find Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) who has spent twenty years trying to theorize what Lucy has experienced in twenty seconds.

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Batman and Wyldstyle in The Lego Movie

It’s late, so let’s party. Circulating around the Internet today is a blooper reel for The Lego Movie. It’s so indescribably lovely to see this movie getting some lasting attention, especially when it leads long remembrance pieces about Clone High, the MTV ‘toon by the same very talented filmmakers. And when it gives me a reason to remind you of the time we talked them into telling us about what Clone High season two would’ve been like. That, and The Lego Movie is one of the happiest filmgoing experience of this and many other years. And its blooper reel is exactly the delight you’d expect from Chris Miller and Phil Lord. Also, Alison Brie says “hoo-hoos,” and we mean the naughty kind. Watch below.

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The Lego Movie arrives in theaters February 7, 2014, but there’s been no shortage of video content introducing us to the world and characters the interim leading up to the release. There are a lot of characters. And oh, what fun it appears we’ll be in store for. I’ll admit, I’m already kinda sold, but I’m highly biased. My love of Lego is borderline unhealthy.

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trailer transcendence

You may not recognize Wally Pfister‘s name, but you’ve most definitely seen his work. As cinematographer on all of Christopher Nolan’s films he’s been responsible for some of the most striking images to hit multiplexes and IMAX theaters over the past several years, but now he’s stepping out from behind the camera… so he can step behind it again in the role of director. His directorial debut, Transcendence, is a cautionary tale about scientists reaching for technological extremes and radical reactionaries who fear the eventual obsolescence of mankind. His film was already guaranteed to look incredible, but Pfister has gone ahead and stocked it with fantastic actors too including Rebecca Hall, Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, Clifton Collins Jr, and others. Check out the first trailer for Transcendence below.

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nowyouseeme-commentary1

Sandwiched between massive blockbusters (like Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel) and high-profile flops (like After Earth and The Lone Ranger), Louis Leterrier’s Now You See Me became the little movie that could over the summer of 2013. On a relatively modest summer budget of $75m, the film grossed $117m (and counting) on the domestic side and will finish its worldwide run with well more than $300m. This makes it the highest-grossing film from Summit/Lionsgate outside of the Twilight and The Hunger Games franchises. The new Blu-ray includes a commentary with director Leterrier and his producer Bobby Cohen on the theatrical cut of the film. Of course, because they’re revealing the secrets of the feature film magic trick, they discuss all the plot twists in the movie. If you haven’t seen the film yet and don’t want these points spoiled, you might want to rent it first before proceeding. Fair warning: spoiler alert! And now, on to the commentary.

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Last Vegas

Calling your movie Last Vegas and then juxtaposing that title against a black and white image of four older men in tuxedos laughing together makes it seem like the film could be about a couple things. Is it the dramatic but inspiring tale of four legendary Vegas crooners who transformed the strip with their velvety tunes in the town’s golden age? Are they ghosts forever doomed to repeat the same New Year’s Eve party in Las Vegas because they’re trapped in that photograph from The Shining? Seriously, is one of them dying or something?

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LAST-VEGAS

When the first teaser trailer for director Jon Turteltaub’s upcoming old-guys-in-Vegas comedy Last Vegas hit, it was a brief enough taste of what the film had to offer that it seemed like it could be entertaining fluff. Sure, The Hangover’s wild party montage formula is getting pretty played out at this point, but mixing in a little Grumpy Old Men could help to freshen things up a bit, and with a cast that includes Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, and Robert De Niro, clearly the film was shooting for an older audience than these party movies are usually trying to reach. It seemed like there was a good chance Last Vegas could draw its humor a little bit more from character and performance, and a little bit less from shock tactics and raunch than these movies usually do, which would be a welcome switch. Now that a full trailer has dropped, it’s hard to understand who the heck it’s supposed to be marketed toward though. Despite a report from The Wrap that the film is currently fighting being given an R-rating, this new ad is so toothless and glossy that it looks like it should be selling a PG comedy to people’s grandparents. And all of those “old people sure are old” gags—woof. You’ve got to check this trailer out, just to see how unfunny they are.

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Alison-Brie-strange

What is Casting Couch? A rundown of the day’s most notable casting news, concerning actors as new to the film world as young Iain De Caestecker or as seasoned as the spicy Kim Basinger. No discrimination here. Mad Men and Community beauty Alison Brie has once again found time in her schedule to do some work up on the big screen. Variety is reporting that she’ll be joining Justin Chatwin and Colin Hanks in the cast of a new indie called No Stranger Than Love. The story here is a weird one, as apparently Brie will be playing a small town art teacher who intends on starting an affair with the married football coach at her school, but whose plans get interrupted when he’s sucked into an inter-dimensional hole that appears on her living room floor. See? Weird.

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Diane Keaton Morgan Freeman

What is Casting Couch? It’s a rundown of recent news about actors getting new jobs. Today it’s mostly focused on handsome young fellows like Gael Garcia Bernal, Hayden Christensen, and Dylan O’Brien. Due to the fact that they’ve both been constantly working, prolific actors for an unmentionable number of decades, it’s kind of hard to believe that Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman have never appeared in a movie together; but apparently that’s the case. There’s one for the trivia buffs out there. Now one for the news hounds: apparently that streak is about to be broken. Myriad Pictures has announced [via Coming Soon] that the duo are now set to co-star in a comedy called Life Itself, which will see them playing a married couple who decide to make a mint by putting the New York City apartment they’ve spent most of their lives in on the market, but who then end up having second thoughts about trading all of their memories for cold, hard cash.

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Last Vegas

You haven’t lived until you’ve seen drunk Morgan Freeman. The actor has been having a lot of fun lately with his roles, but none of them compare to whatever is going on in Last Vegas. In fact, as Old Dogs Meets The Hangover as it sounds, the trailer for this movie starring Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Robert De Niro and Freeman actually makes it look like a bit of harmless fun. Probably not a lot of fun, but fun. Of course, it also looks like a vacation for wealthy actors and director Jon Turtletaub. This is what retirement looks like for living legends. Broad humor, twenty-something eye candy and fruity drinks. Oh, and they probably made a movie somewhere in there. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Oblivion

Oblivion is the kind of science fiction movie that plays with a lot of other movies’ toys and forgets to clean them up afterward. Then we all step on a HAL 9000 doll in the middle of the night when we’re going for that last piece of fried chicken in the fridge, and the bruise reminds us to yell rhetorically at the Tom Cruise-starring movie the next morning. How many times have we told it to pick up its things? The movie’s created some mixed responses, but it’s also left behind some huge questions. Plot holes, really, if we’re being honest. It’s messy for how hard it tries to be smart. Some of those questions are inconsequential, some slightly annoying and some vital to what could have been sci-fi success. On their own, they could have amounted to nitpicks, but the sheer number of them (and the severity of a few) made for a truly confused experience. Spoilers for Oblivion abound so beware, but if you’ve already seen or just plain don’t care, let’s dive in to the bizarre question marks looming high in the sky over Joseph Kosinski‘s latest film.

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Oblivion Movie

Joseph Kosinski‘s Oblivion is a lot like a fireworks display on a Tuesday. It has no real reason to exist, and while the visuals are exciting, they only impress for fifteen minutes before things get faulty and repetitive. In other words, leave it to Kosinski to make fireworks boring. In the film itself, those fifteen minutes are scattered unevenly through a wasteland that feels much longer than its runtime. Around the third hour of the two-hour-long movie, Morgan Freeman‘s gruff survivalist character describes an outside threat as without a soul, without humanity, merely a beautiful machine. He might as well have been talking about this movie. Jack (Tom Cruise) is a handyman soldier stationed at a beautiful house that stands above the wreckage that used to be the planet. His job is to repair drones that have malfunctioned or been brought down violently by Scavengers — the enemy that destroyed the Moon, that doomed mankind to head for an interstellar refuge and that still lives in small numbers despite the utter devastation caused by earthquakes and floods. That war was sixty years ago, but Jack and his romantic colleague Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are doing a tour of earthbound duty  to ensure that a few giant, floating rigs are able to suck up the remaining sea water in order to harvest energy. However, Jack is plagued by dreams of a woman (Olga Kurylenko) standing atop the pre-war Empire State Building and can’t shake the feeling that he knows her. Eventually, that […]

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Oblivion

Well now, this just seems cruel. While we’ve long known that the Earth would be getting busted up in Joseph Kosinski‘s upcoming Tom Cruise-starring Oblivion, no one ever said a damn thing about the moon (sweet, innocent moon!) taking some heat, too. Though most television spots for new films tend to be cobbled together from a bunch of previously-seen theatrical trailers, one of today’s two new Oblivion spots actually comes complete with some very intriguing new material (yes, like the moon-kablooey) that give us more insight to just what sort of things happened when the film’s aliens (or are they?) destroyed our planet. Yes, we’ve long known about some football stadium-related disasters, but it’s nice to get a larger sense of scope, particularly of the celestial body variety. Check out two new television spots for Oblivion after the break, including that moon-busting little ditty we’ve been teasing.

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NYSM

Let’s hope that Louis Leterrier‘s upcoming magician film, Now You See Me, fares a bit better than The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, because the director’s latest star-studded outing just looks cool as hell. The film centers on “The Four Horsemen” (totally a cooler name than just “The Incredible”), a pack of illusionists who pull off some mighty cool (yup, still cool) heists under the guise of magic shows. Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco as the Horsemen and Melanie Laurent, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, and Common in other, probably still cool roles, Now You See Me should shape up to be a, wait for it, cool time at the movies. Check out its stylish new poster up above. Now You See Me appears in theaters on May 31st. [Press Release]

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Aaron Eckhart as President Benjamin Asher in OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN. Photo credit: Phillip V. Caruso

It’s quite serious. That’s the one thing that FilmDistrict seems to want you to know based on these new images from Olympus Has Fallen, released exclusively to Film School Rejects this morning. It’s true, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about this one. Among them: Antoine Fuqua is a director who has dealt in more quality than anything else, as evidence by his gritty turns with Brooklyn’s Finest, Shooter, Training Day and Tears of the Sun; Aaron Eckhart‘s jaw structure, as seen in The Dark Knight, was clearly made to exist about a foot and a half above the Presidential podium; Gerard Butler plays a good redemption story, always delivers with a gun in his hands; and it’s got Morgan Freeman. On top of all that, it’s a movie about a siege of the White House, in which one man is the key to saving POTUS from some Asian-based threat. It’s also quite bloody and full of what the kids might call “mean mugging,” also known as serious people looking very serious.

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Olympus Has Fallen

Although Olympus Has Fallen foolishly begins with Aaron Eckhart playing the president, it eventually rights this wrong by replacing him with Morgan Freeman, the true ruler of this great nation. All it takes is a terrorist takeover of the White House. Luckily, we have Gerard Butler on the inside and presidential succession on the outside to ensure that the bad guys won’t win. This one from Antoine Fuqua is the first of two “White House being taken over while a secret service agent is the only hope” movies we’ll see this year. It hits in March, and Roland Emmerich’s version, White House Down, hits in June. Hopefully we’ll get a trailer for that soon so we can compare, but check out the aggressively average look at Olympus for now:

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Years ago, commercial director Joseph Kosinski was one of the hottest up-and-comers, with a bright, bright future. Then we actually saw that his feature debut, Tron: Legacy, didn’t play as much more than a technically impressive showcase for the filmmaker. He took $150 million and had Jeff Bridges saying stuff like, “Bio-digital jazz, man.” Money not put to good use, I say. Kosinski was then written off as a director with nothing more than a nice eye, no true knack for storytelling. But after seeing the first full-length trailer for his new sci-fi epic, Oblivion, I think maybe some of us spoke too soon. This original science-fiction pic, starring Tom Cruise roaming a desolated Earth, seems like a fairly routine hero’s journey, albeit told on a far more ambitious canvas than what we saw on display in Tron: Legacy. This trailer does a fine job of setting up film’s the world and Cruise’s character, Jack Harper (not to be confused with Jack Reacher). Take a first-look at Oblivion for yourself after the break (or on Apple.com).

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Now You See Me

Seeing as it’s a Louis Leterrier movie, of course the first trailer for Now You See Me is high energy and loud. Jesse Eisenberg is yelling into a microphone, people are disappearing with flashes of electricity, Isla Fisher’s smile is blinding you, and the contents of a bank’s vault are raining down on a jacked up theater audience. And this is all before the action starts. Then you gets showdowns and chase scenes, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine trading dialogue about grizzled old man doom and gloom, and Mark Ruffalo looking like he’s right in his wheelhouse playing a frazzled and out of sorts police inspector trying to keep up with a team of ultra-competent, bank robbing magicians. Sounds like this movie has something for everyone, no? Check it out after the break, and let us know what you think.

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