The Shawshank Redemption: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #40

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

There are hundreds of thousands of movies out there to watch. Some of them are bad, some are good, but every now and again, you will get a film that is so brilliant and it is loved by all and is usually someone’s favourite movie. 1994 was a year full of these incredible films. Pulp Fiction, The Lion King, Dumb and Dumber, Forrest Gump, Speed and there are still more movies I haven’t mentioned. One that stands out is The Shawshank Redemption. It’s ranked as the best movie of all time on IMDb with a 9.2/10 rating and is loved by millions. Some readers have been asking me for quite some time to finally get round to reviewing it and with that, I present to you my review on The Shawshank Redemption.

Directed by Frank Darabont (also known for The Green Mile) and with a story from Stephen King is The Shawshank Redemption. Set in 1947, Andy Dufresne is sentenced to a double consecutive life sentence following the murder of his wife and her lover, but Andy knows he didn’t commit the crime. He is put in the Shawshank State Penitentiary. While serving his sentence, Andy meets Red, a prisoner who he befriends. As their friendship develops, Andy grows bored of prison life and longs to escape from a place he knows he doesn’t belong to.

Andy Dufresne was played by Tim Robbins and is his most iconic role to date. Robbins’ portrayal of Andy was fantastic. He had range, emotion and his performance was so brilliantly done, but it is bettered by the on-screen chemistry between Andy and Red, played by Morgan Freeman. Similar to Tim Robbins, Red is Freeman’s most notorious role. Morgan Freeman was absolutely amazing in this film. As hard as I tried, I could find no fault with his depiction.  Freeman was nominated for an Oscar for his role, and rightfully so. It is rare to find a performance as impeccable as this and reminded me of how perfect Samuel L Jackson was in Pulp Fiction. Bob Gunton played Warden Norton, the nemesis in our story. He was great as the sinister warden and he was awesome in this film. One of my favourite characters in the Shawshank Redemption was the caretaker, Brooks, played brilliantly by James Whitmore. His character arc could have had more development and I would have loved to have seen more from his character, but nonetheless, I loved this character. One of the best things in the Shawshank Redemption was the character chemistry. Whether it be between Brooks and Red or Andy and Warden Norton, each actor was able to adapt and act out a convincing and incredible relationship with one another.

The storyline was one of the smartest and most interesting I’ve ever seen. Stephen King ditches the typical horror story and opts for a different and new plot about a prisoner’s experience. Those who have seen the film know how it ends, and it was so cleverly and intricately done. That’s down to the collaborative effort of Darabont and King. The way it was depicted on the screen (from Frank Darabont’s direction) and the way that Stephen King had the story planned out with Andy’s funny walk and the posters and everything else was so intelligently done.


Andy finally is free from Shawshank Penitentiary.

Admittedly, The Shawshank Redemption is not a perfect 10/10 movie, and there were things I didn’t like about the movie. It can be a little boring in places and it does drone on in places. It’s really in the last 45 minutes or so of the film where it is truly wonderful. Red is allowed out of prison, Andy plans his great escape and we see how it is done. The film has its high points, but seeing the final escape and how Andy did it was so perfectly coordinated and the way it was shown on screen was just so brilliant and mesmerising to watch. It brings together everything we’ve seen in the movie in a neat and amazing ending to the film. I loved watching Red and Andy reunite out of prison as it brought a smile a huge smile to my face and was the perfect ending to a great film.

One of the best things about the Shawshank Redemption is that it remains true to real life. It shows Brooks suffering and eventually going to hang him. It shows the Warden realising he has no escape and shooting himself. It shows the feelings and emotions and actions of those involved in prison life. The movie is bold and is not afraid to show that life goes on and is full of good things and bad things.

The Shawshank Redemption is considered to be one of the best movies of all time for a number of reasons. Firstly, the brilliant acting from all cast. It is a shame that it was released in the same year as Forrest Gump, as it would have done well at Award Shows, but Forrest Gump beat them to it. Secondly, the film is bold and brave enough to show the harsh reality of what people in that environment (not just prisoners, but wardens and caretakers too) experience. Thirdly, the incredible escape scene where all is revealed and we see that the wrongly accused Andy gets his well-earned freedom. And lastly, Morgan Freeman’s epic voiceover. Nothing can beat that.

Overall, the Shawshank Redemption gets a 9.1/10 from me. It was an amazing film that everyone should watch at least once in their lives. Despite being a bit dull in places, it is evident to see why so many people love this movie.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. I’m going through a website design phase so let me know what you think of the new layout. Check out my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest in movie news, behind the scenes pictures and everything else you could want. Also, follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Did any of you see the Lion King Teaser Trailer? The animation is gorgeous and it looks promising. But let’s face it, we’re all waiting in excitement for the Avengers 4 trailer with the big reveal of what the title will be. Anyway, join me next week for a review of an indie heist movie that’s not based on a true story. It IS a true story. See you then!


Game Night: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #39

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

One of my favourite things about flights (if there ever was something you could love about flights) is in-flight movies. As a film fanatic, it’s awesome to see new movies that you have yet to see being shown on board. On the flight to and from Beijing, I was treated to a wealth of brilliant movies that were on my watch list. From American Animals (review coming soon!) to Upgrade, there were so many choices. One of the films that I’ve wanted to see since it’s trailer release way back in January was Game Night. It has a fantastic cast, an interesting plot line and seemed promising.

Directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (who have previously collaborated on films such as Spider-man: Homecoming and Horrible Bosses) and starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams is the comedy Game Night. Max and Annie are a competitive couple who regularly have game nights with their friends. Recently, their neighbour, Gary, divorced his wife, and the pair hasn’t invited him to a game night since. When Max and Annie begin to try for a baby, it is unsuccessful for them as Max is stressed out. This is because his brother Brooks is in town, and Max feels inadequate compared to him. At a game night hosted by Max and Annie, Brooks embarrasses Max in front of all his friends, before inviting them all to a game night at his for the following week. At Brooks’ game night, he reveals to the guests that someone will be kidnapped and they must work in their couples to figure out where they are. As an incentive, Brooks says that the winner will get the keys to his car, a Stingray Corvette, which also is Max’s dream car. The night goes horribly wrong when real kidnappers intervene and take Brooks. It’s now down to Max, Annie and their friends to save Brooks and game night itself.

First off, this was actually a hilariously awesome movie. I rewatched it on the plane as I loved it so much. Jason Bateman played Max, a fun-loving guy with brother issues. Bateman is a great actor and Game Night is no exception from his talents, but there were definitely people who were better than him. The same could be said for Annie, played by Rachel McAdams. She was fantastic in this film and had me in fits of laughter at parts, and this film further proves her brilliant acting ability. For me, the best character has to go to Billy Magnussen’s Ryan. Ryan was one of the funniest characters who never failed to make me laugh. He was an interesting character, and that’s down to Magnussen’s flawless acting in this role. Ryan was such an amazing character that he’s earnt a spot on my favourite characters list (find the list here!). This was my first time watching Billy Magnussen in a film/TV show, and he didn’t disappoint. His date for the majority of this film was Sarah, played by Sharon Horgan. Horgan’s comedy was well suited to the tone of the movie and was so perfectly suited to the comedy from Billy Magnussen’s Ryan. Another hilarious character was Kevin, played by Lamorne Morris. I found his comedy in the film started off really good but gradually fell as the film went on. He was still funny in the film, but half of it came from situational comedy with his on-screen wife, Michelle. Kylie Bunbury played Michelle, and as previously mentioned comedy was mainly from scenes with Lamorne Morris’ Kevin. The main six characters (Max, Annie, Ryan, Sharon, Kevin and Michelle) had one of the best character chemistry dynamics I’ve seen in a film. In their respective couples and as one group, the characters had such a lovable relationship that was so brilliantly portrayed by them. It was evident to see that Brooks, played by Kyle Chandler, disrupted this dynamic. Chandler played Brooks well, especially in terms of making him an unlikable character. His humour had its moments but majority of the time it fell flat and failed to make me laugh. It’s worth mentioning Jesse Plemons’ character, Gary. He provided a (not-so-big) plot twist, and while some may have thought he was a good, funny character, I found myself thinking the opposite. The plot twist was decent, but his character was just awkward and failed to make me laugh.

The music was something to be majorly appreciated. It could have been better, sure, but for what it was, you had to respect it. I like how the movie both started and ended with a Queen song, both related to the film somehow. The movie made good choices in terms of songs used. I liked the use of ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ by Third Eye Blind for Annie’s little karaoke scene and ‘Quando, Quando, Quando’ by Engelbert Humperdinck for the film’s credits (where the credit’s featured a hilarious plan from Gary). The best songs in the movie were ‘We are the Champions’ at the film’s ending and Drake’s ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ for the reveal of which celebrity Michelle had slept with. I actually loved that scene, but I’ll come on to the best scenes later.

Game Night Day 14

Ryan successfully steals the Fabergé Egg, which leads to the best scene in the movie.

The storyline was good and I like the idea of taking something that is relatable but taking it to the next level, but it did reach a point of going too far. The film tackled the story well, but it was too rushed in places. All it needed was just a few extra minutes for a few scenes to improve on the movie. The film didn’t fall down the usual hole that most films do, whereby they are too slow moving. However, it’s better to spend more time on something while it may be slow moving (even though I hate this!) than to actually rush through scenes. One of the best things that Game Night had was the camera work. It reminded me of some of the camera work seen in Edgar Wright’s films. It had imaginative scene transitions, my favourite being Max and Annie falling on a train which transitioned to the dice being rolled in Risk. The tilt-shift shots that made the city look like something out of a board game were visually stunning, and I loved the camera work for when the characters were in the car, as it looked like something out of a video game like Grand Theft Auto. The best camera had to go to the one-shot take but played on a different level. This was seen when stealing the Fabergé Egg, in a fantastic chase scene which left me in complete awe over how incredible the camera work and the scene execution was. Click on this link to watch the scene.

There were a few scenes in the movie that I loved so much. The opening with ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ with the montage of Max and Annie dominating in every game was the perfect introduction for the movie. Everyone meeting at Max and Annie’s for game night was great fun to watch and was a smooth and interesting way for us to meet every character. Admittedly, Ryan’s character introduction was the best for me, the highlight being his montage of past dates, as it was side-splittingly hilarious. The next best scene was Ryan and Sharon going to ‘Murder We Wrote’, which saw Chelsea Peretti (Gina from Brooklyn 99) in a hilarious role, where it is revealed that the kidnappers are real. After this scene, we get a juxtaposing scene with Max and Annie who haven’t discovered this yet. Though it was in the trailer, the scene of removing the bullet from Max’s arm was good fun to watch, but ruined by the trailer. From there, the next best scene was going to the mansion and discovering the secret fight clubs (and Ryan’s reaction to this was amazing!). In the mansion, two great scenes took place. The first was the reveal of which celebrity Michelle had slept with. It featured Drake’s ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ and a fake Denzel Washington in a pay-off to an inside joke and a funny scene. The second was the Fabergé Egg chase scene. It used a one-shot take in a style similar to that of Ryan Coogler’s that was just so awesome to watch. Click on this link to watch the scene, I promise that it is worth it! The ending was a nice end to what was a fantastic film, showing a nice conclusion to the film we’d just seen as well as giving us the possibility for a sequel.

Overall, Game Night gets an 8.6/10 from me. It was a film that I was hyped to watch and it definitely delivered. It had gorgeous camera work, brilliant acting and really good comedy, despite having a few little issues that didn’t ruin what was a super movie experience. Game Night is a film that I can’t wait to rewatch and I highly recommend it to everyone. It has comedy, action and everything else you could want from a movie. Game Night is available on Now TV from Friday 16th November, on HBO (if you have a subscription) and should be added to Amazon Prime over the Christmas period.

On Monday 12th November, the world lost a real-life superhero. Stan Lee, co-creator of Marvel Comics, passed away, aged 95. Stan was a living legend, and his work for Marvel Comics has paved the way for the world of cinema for years to come. His creations such as Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four will live on, but the universe will never forget Stan Lee. May he rest in peace.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and more! I’ll be doing more polls soon, so give it a follow to have your say! Also, follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Next week, I review what is considered to be one of the best movies of all time, if not the best. The clue is Morgan Freeman. Can you guess which film it is? See you next week for its review!

Chun Yi: The Legend of Kung Fu: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #38

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

Last week, I was in China for an Economics and History trip. It was my first time to Asia and was honestly a once in a lifetime experience. It was brilliant to embrace Chinese culture first hand and experience so many must-do excursions while on the trip. From the Great Wall of China to eating scorpions on Wangfujing Street, visiting the Terracotta Soldiers in Xi’an to seeing stunning historical sites up close and personal, like Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. While on the trip, we were fortunate enough to watch Chun Yi: The Legend of Kung Fu. It is a theatre production that shows one of the most notorious aspects of Chinese culture, Kung Fu.

At the Red Theatre in Beijing (but has been shown internationally at some points during it’s run), The Legend of Kung Fu tells the story of a young boy who is upset, as his mother has abandoned him at a temple. Here, he meets the ancient master of Kung Fu, who explains that there was once a boy, called Chun Yi, who was in the same situation as him. He had been abandoned by his mother and reluctant to join the dojo. Through a series of stories told through Kung Fu, we see how Chun Yi became the master of Kung Fu and is, in fact, the ancient master speaking to the young boy in real time.

Chun Yi: The Legend of Kung Fu combines intricately choreographed Kung Fu with some traditional dance, as well as some fantastic Kung Fu stunts. From being able to hang your body off of a spear by placing the spike under your chin to lying on a bed of nails then a slab of cement put on your chest before a sledgehammer breaks the cement slab and you emerge unscathed. Out of all the shocking stunts shown in the production,  I loved one of the stunts in particular. The first was an adult Chun Yi who was able to shatter metal bars into shards by hitting against his head. Personally, I wasn’t entirely impressed by the stunts. No offence to the production team behind the Legend of Kung Fu, but I have in fact seen some better stunts performed. In 2015, my father took me to see Shaolin, a production showing some of the most daring and incredible stunts in Kung Fu. It had real Shaolin Monks (as there were in this production as well) hanging from their little finger while breaking metal bars against their body among other great stunts.

The choreography was amazing. I loved the mesmerising dance of Chun Yi and his lover spinning in the air in a well-performed aerobics dance. I must hand it to the young actors in the production. They were so talented for such young kids and were able to do flips and roly poly’s on their heads with such confidence and ease.

The storyline was admittedly a little weak. I completely understand the storyline is not one of the main concerns for the show’s creators, but I found that it certainly impacted my enjoyment of the production. There were two main issues for me. Firstly, it was very cliché. I thought the ending would have some greater significance to the story overall, like maybe the ancient master telling the young child that he would be Chun Yi and that maybe Chun Yi resides in all of us. But no, turns out that the ancient master is Chun Yi. I could’ve guessed that. That’s one of the most overused clichés in the book and left me a little disappointed after the show. Secondly, the story was quite unrealistic for me to believe. I understand that it’s a story, but there’s got to be a sense of reality that kicks in at some point. Chun Yi may be this wickedly talented Kung Fu god, but I want to see him face a challenge and experience some hardship. We only saw a brief glimpse into this when he battled some of the rival monks, but other than that it seemed that nothing was a challenge to Chun Yi.

Overall, Chun Yi: The Legend of Kung Fu gets a 7.0/10 from me. It’s a great production but I felt that I didn’t enjoy as much as I could have. If you do ever find yourself in Beijing and looking for something to do, I recommend going to the show. It makes for an entertaining night out, but don’t set your hopes too high.

For those wondering, China was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am so glad I was able to go on the trip. I have so many awesome memories and can’t wait to return to the East soon! The trip wouldn’t have been as fantastic as it was if it wasn’t for the people who accompanied me on the trip, so thanks to my friends and my teachers for making this a trip that I will cherish with me for life.

Thanks for reading this weeks review. It’s not your typical movie review. It’s not even a movie! But if I’ve reviewed TV shows in the past (here’s a link to my TV show reviews in case you wanted to check them out), why can’t I review a theatre production? Follow me on Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and everything else you need! Also, follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Join me next week when I review a comedy from 2018 that I finally got a chance to watch. See you then!