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The Shawshank Redemption

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Shawshank Redemption

Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman
Director: Frank Darabont
Rated: R
RunTime: 142 Minutes
Release Date: September 1994
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Bob Gunton, Clancy Brown, James Whitmore, William Sadler, Mark Rolston, Gil Bellows, Jeffrey DeMunn

Review by Steve Rhodes
4 stars out of 4

Want to see a near perfect film? Like to see a movie where the people in it will undoubtedly get one or two best actor nominations (and possibly a best director)? Like slow moving almost dreamy films? Well, have I got a recommendation for you: see THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION!

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION is based on a Stephen King book. Please do not get turned off. This is NOT a horror show or even close to it. It is the story of a strange quiet man (Tim Robbins) and his friend as well as the story's narrator (Morgan Freeman). 95% of the movie is set in a prison. Robbins and Freeman are both lifers. Everyone in the prison claims to be innocent with the exception of Freeman and the only one that appears to actually be innocent is Robbins. Robbins was a bank vice president on the outside. Freeman's specialty in prison is getting things for other prisoners. This plot setup happens in the first few minutes of the movie. After that it turns into a film about relationships and a dandy little mystery as well.

The acting is phenomenal. I knew Freeman could be this good (remember him in GLORY?), but I had no idea the depth of Robbins acting ability (my favorite of his before this was SHORT CUTS). Numerous excellent feature parts as well, especially the sinister warden (Bob Gunton) and the blood-thirsty head guard (Clancy Brown). Must have been a dozen other prisoners in memorable acting roles. Casting was right on the mark.

The director (Frank Darabont) really knew how to set the right pace and keep it. He made no mistakes in my book. The well written script (Frank Darabont and Stephen King) helped immensely as did the dark and somber cinematography (Roger Deakins).

You can not say too much about this show without giving key facts away so I will leave it at recommending you see it on a large screen with a quiet audience as this is one picture that will absorb you, and you want no interruptions. It starts well and ends well, but the 98% in the middle is the best part. See it now!

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION runs 2:25. The editing (Richard Francis-Bruce) was perfect, and I would not have cut out a minute of it. It is correctly rated by the MPAA as an R. It actually has much less violence and profanity than you would expect in a prison show. I would have no problem in letting mature teenagers see it - take 'em with you, it is a serious show. I strongly recommend this perfect gem of a show, and I award it my top rating of ****.

Copyright 1994 Steve Rhodes

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