MOVIE REVIEW: “The Shawshank Redemption” stars Tim Robbins (War of the Worlds , Mystic River), Morgan Freeman (Driving Miss Daisy, Olympus Has Fallen), Bob Gunton (Argo, Ace Venture: When Nature Calls), William Sadler (Die Hard 2, The Green Mile), Clancy Brown (Lost [TV series], Starship Troopers), Gil Bellows (House at the End of the Street, The Weather Man), Mark Rolston (The Departed, Aliens), and James Whitmore (Planet of the Apes , Them!). It is directed by Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Mist) who also wrote the screenplay. Based on the Stephen King short story, this film follows the struggle of Andy Dufresne (Robbins), who was sent to Shawshank prison for murdering his wife and her lover. While there, he makes friends, especially with one named Red (Freeman), and changes their lives for the better, but it does not always come without hardship.
Before I get into my review for this, I want to give a shout out to my good friend Brayden. Like Andy’s letters to the government in sending his prison some new books, Brayden has been pestering me for weeks on end to see this movie. Without him, I don’t think this review would have been crafted as soon as it has. Thanks buddy, for this was a terrific watch. And in saying that it is terrific, let me take it a step further: this has got to be one of the best films that I have ever seen. No, I’m not conforming to the general consensus because it has the highest rating on IMdB or because it is regarded by many critics as one of the best movies of all time. I am saying this from the bottom of my heart because it IS one of the greatest pieces of cinema to ever be released. Say what you will, but this is my opinion. Every once in a while, a film can can be so fantastic that it is just about perfect. So perfect that it wows me on every level. That is this movie, and I’ll tell you why. For starters, the story of this was beautifully, and carefully, crafted. You can tell that the screenwriter took his time with this plot and was passionate about it. He fleshed out the characters masterfully, and made the tale tell the story rather than the figures. They didn’t take us for simpletons and didn’t spoon feed us the story. Sure, Morgan Freeman narrated and told us many things, but it wasn’t like they were trying to make us grasp certain concepts. They were just filling in the blanks and giving a voice that represents Stephen King’s in the book that this originates from (I watched some of the bonus material on my Blu-ray for it). There are many things about this that drew me in, that kept me captivated and curious as to see what will happen next. Often this tale is unpredictable, as it doesn’t really map itself out, but rather puts us in a day-in-the-life of the prisoners at Shawshank. And by day-in-the-life, I should say a span of twenty or so years. This is a slow-moving storyline, taking its time to set up the relationships amongst characters and teach us lessons they learn from each other. The overall scope of this plot is one to pick apart and envelop oneself in. It tells us that with hope anyone can get far, and on a darker note, how it is hard to break a habit. It gives us insight on how prisoners become institutionalized after being cooped up so long in a cell, and how life inside prison can become home sweet home. It’s a scary concept, but so deep and understanding that it’s hard not to take pride in watching it unfold. I had fun with this. Not in a sick, twisted way of watching the prisoners go through heck, but in a cinema-respecting sense. This movie was food for the eyes and mind, and I ate it all up. The characters in this were awesome. Andy and Red shared the spotlight, and had some of the best onscreen chemistry that you can find. Andy was a quiet, but immensely intelligent guy who just wanted to be a nice person in order to feel human instead of a caged animal, while Red was a tired man who was basically the go-to guy at the prison. All the while you have a great supporting cast who create amazing moments and lasting impressions that surely melds the movie together. The directing of this was top-notch, and the cinematography of it all was great. Some of the shots in this film were terrific, especially the raising, bird-eye camera angles. The director loves to draw out real grit and raw emotion from his actors, and I enjoyed every bit of it. An aspect I found to be great of this release was its musical score. Some of the tracks in this were just too good, and brought this film to full circle. It’s odd, because even though this movie has received rave reviews, I didn’t expect much. I guess it’s because no matter how great a film is in critics’ eyes, it can be different in mine. But this one blew me away, and shocked me on a high level. Everything about this was so good, with an interesting first and second half, including a satisfying ending that brought a smile to my face. In finding issues, it is incredibly difficult. A few things were predictable in this, like what the warden was going to do to one inmate when he wanted to have a “chat” with him outside, but to be honest, it’s not like that is a major ordeal. On many levels, this release caught me off guard, more than making up for the pieces I could figure out. I never thought it would happen, but I’m actually going to give a second perfect rating in only a week-long time span. Don’t feel like I’m going soft on my rating system. This is a brilliant release, and for those who haven’t seen it should stop what they are doing and watch it. As Andy would say “get busy watching ‘Shawshank,’ or get busy dying.” Well…more or less. FINAL SCORE: 100%= Juicy Popcorn
This movie has been inducted into The Juicy Hall of Fame.
Here is the trailer: