Starring: Tom Hanks, David Morse, Michael Clarke Duncan, Doug Hutchison, James Cromwell, Michael Jeter, Sam Rockwell, Bonnie Hunt, Barry Pepper, Dabbs Greer (his final film), Gary Sinise
Director: Frank Darabont
Summary: The lives of guards on death row are affected by one of their charges
Other Nominations: Supporting Actor (Duncan), Adapted Screenplay, Sound
I have a lesser opinion of this movie than most average moviegoers seem to-ranking this as one of the 40 or 50 greatest movies ever made is ludicrous to me. First, at 189 minutes, it’s far longer than it needs to be and you really feel that length sometimes-not so much in what scenes should they have cut, but did every scene need to go as long as it did. We also get a major genre shift (well, sub-genre, it’s still a drama throughout) at about an hour in that personally did work all that well for me. This is probably why I thought the movie tailed off a lot in the last 45 minutes or so, because it’s at that point where it rears its head with increased frequency at you can’t just have “normal” scenes at this point.
I will say there’s several things that I liked a lot though. The execution scenes are all compelling and completely different, with the second being one of the most genuinely horrifying things I’ve ever seen in a movie. The cast is good: Hanks is solid as he always was during this time period even if I wouldn’t call this one of his best performances; Duncan is probably the best person who could have ever possibly played the role of Joe Coffey, as he has imposing size (made even bigger through clever camera tricks and specially-built sets) and his eyes have a true soul to them; and Sam Rockwell is good here as he is in basically everything (he was easily the best part of Iron Man 2 for instance). The movie has some really exceptional moments that keep you engaged, but unfortunately it has just as many clunkers as well (especially during the ending stretch) and some of the tear-jerker moments felt cloying. I liked it, but I just don’t get the unreal praise a lot of people have for it.